Takelma, the traditional language of the Nahankuotana, or Cow Creek people, means “my friend”— a common greeting in the Umpqua and Rogue River valleys, located between the Cascade and Coast ranges of Southwestern Oregon. Through elder persistence and the support of Cow Creek leaders, the Takelma language is experiencing a resurgence. “It seemed so fitting to us to name our coffee company after our recently resurrected Takelma language,” Michael Rondeau, CEO at Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, said at Takelma Roasting Company’s ribbon-cutting on July 12, The Roseburg News-Review reported.
Takelma is proudly printed across stacks of coffee bags at Takelma Roasting Company, the tribe’s newest endeavor. Takelma sustainably sources its coffee beans from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil and Sumatra. The tribe’s intention is to craft a quality product while being mindful of fair trade and its environmental impact. The Band considers Takelma Roasting an extension of its cultural connection to people and place.
One-hundred percent staffed by tribal members, the integrity deeply rooted in the Cow Creek culture is reflected in their coffee products. “Together, they make sure high quality beans are sourced for Takelma Coffee, that those beans are roasted daily, and that beans purchased from Takelma Coffee are always freshly roasted,” said Travis Hill, Umpqua Indian Development Corporation (UIDC) director of hospitality.
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On July 12, the tribe cut the ribbon to commemorate the launch of Takelma Roasting Company. The freshly roasted beans will be brewed and served at the tribe’s hotels, truck and travel stop, and other businesses—namely Seven Feathers Casino Resort, which boasts K-Bar Steak House, Cow Creek Restaurant, The Gathering Place Buffet, Stix Sports Bar and Kabi Café. The tribe will additionally distribute its coffee and equipment wholesale to other companies and organizations in Douglas County, Oregon. (Takelma is the largest coffee roasting production company in the county, according to news reports.) Delicious, single-origin coffee and rad Takelma gear, like mugs and t-shirts, are also available to purchase on the Takelma Roasting e-commerce website.
When examining its profit and loss statistics, the tribe discovered the high costs of coffee to serve the customers of its many businesses. Takelma Roasting Co. is one way the tribe is cutting its overhead and improving its bottom line. It’s the newest branch of the UIDC, the Cow Creek Band’s primary economic development engine.
The Cow Creek Band runs a diverse range of businesses from Seven Feathers Casino Resort to K-Bar Ranches, managing more than 4,000 head of cattle, large alfalfa, wheat crops, and sugar beets on more than 5,000 acres of Tribal properties; Anvil Northwest, offering full printing and design services; Umpqua Indian Utility Cooperative, the first utility in the Northwest both owned and operated by an Indian tribe; and more.
“Takelma truly is at the heart of our rich and vibrant culture, one of reverence towards the land, its resources, and our elders,” states TakelmaRoasting.com. “It is through our oral traditions and Takelma language that our heritage and life’s important lessons are passed down from one generation to the next. Our customs also imbue in us a deep sense of generosity and hospitality towards our family, friends, neighbors, and guests.”