PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On August 13, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law a bill that stripped 61 Western Oregon tribes of their status, including the Siletz, Grand Ronde, Coquille, Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw tribes.

The law, signed 68 years ago and believed it would Americanize Native people across the country, meant the tribes could no longer be called “Indians” in the eyes of the federal government.

The Oregon Encyclopedia said the Western Oregon Termination Act “meant that they owned land or property without the federal protective responsibilities that were guaranteed them in the 374 United States-Indian treaties that were negotiated and ratified between 1778 and 1871. Termination stripped Indians of their identity, a part of the process to assimilate them into the mainstream American culture.”

Cheryle Kennedy, the chairwoman of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, said they are using this date to honor their history.

“We were here before Oregon was a state. We had treaties before Oregon was a state,” Kennedy told KOIN 6 News. “How could Oregon infringe upon our rights when we already had a treaty established? That’s something that still goes on today.”

On August 19, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde will hold its annual contest powwow with food, music, dancing and drums.