Coos Bay tribe mourns death of chief James Lott Sr. at 52.
The chief of a Coos Bay tribe died in his sleep over the weekend in Bend. James Lott Sr., elected to the position in 2000 by the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, was 52.
Tribal spokeswoman Liz Cawood said Lott died of heart complications March 19 on a trip to Bend to make arrangements for the annual youth snow camp.
"Our tribe has lost a leader who believed in family and cared deeply for our traditions," Chairman Ron Brainard said. "Our sorrow is great and our hearts are heavy. Our sympathy is extended to the chief's family. We were blessed to have the chief serve our tribe."
While Lott's role was largely ceremonial, he had a vote on the tribal council and was instrumental in keeping the culture of the tribes intact, overseeing traditional events. The 800-member tribe historically occupied land between the Siuslaw and Umpqua rivers from the coast to Eugene and now owns the Three Rivers Casino in Florence.
Born in Bend, Lott served in the Army from 1972 to 1974 and was stationed in Germany. He was a sergeant with the Yamhill County sheriff's office from 1985 to 1992 and was elected chief in 2000. He had one son and five daughters, and was engaged to marry Carol Lynn Byrd.
The council has 60 days to schedule an election for a new chief. Any tribal member 21 years or older may submit a letter of interest to stand for the election, run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Tribal offices in Florence, Springfield and Coos Bay will be closed Thursday and a public viewing will be held from noon to 7 p.m. at Major Family Funeral Home, 112 North A St. in Springfield. A memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at the Many Nations Longhouse at the University of Oregon, 1630 Columbia St. A potluck will follow.