Thunderbird Adorns USCG North Bend Helicopters

Southern Oregon has been home to tribal nations of Native Americans long before America became known as “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

In honor of Native American Heritage Awareness, the command of U.S. Coast Guard Sector North Bend adorned the MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopters with original artwork modeled after cultural references from the confederation of local tribal nations.

To symbolize the close partnership and respect between the groups, the Thunderbird was designed jointly between the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians and the 13th Coast Guard District.

In traditional tribal stories, the Thunderbird was father of the ocean, father of the food, giver of the tides and bringer of the storms. His favorite people were the Salmon People.

If the Salmon People, or any other water peoples, were shown disrespect, then fishing could suffer, great storms could form or tsunamis could strike.

The “salmon with waves” in the wing of the design references a traditional tribal story that warns against such disrespect.

The “way up above road” on the tail of the design represents the trail to the creator, and the “scallops” (triangles) featured throughout are commonly found on traditional tribal basketry.

“I think the public should remember that these symbols have existed in this area for thousands of years,” said Jesse Beers, the cultural stewardship manager for the Confederated Tribes. “And that they speak to the need for stewardship and respect for our foods, lands and waters.”

Learn more here.


Leave a Reply