Tribal Government & News

Tribal Council votes 5-4 to send enrollment amendments to voters

06.06.2011 Ron Karten Tribal Council, Elections, Enrollment

Tribal Council voted 5-4 on Thursday, June 2, to send a bundle of four enrollment changes to the General Membership for a vote.

The proposals would change the following parts of the Tribe's enrollment requirements:

  • It would reduce the relinquishment time from five years to two years that a person would have to wait to become a member of the Grand Ronde Tribe after officially leaving another Tribe;
  • It would eliminate the requirement that new members have had a parent on the Tribal membership roll at the time of their birth;
  • It would redefine Grand Ronde blood as "all Indian blood derived from a direct ancestor whose name validly appears on any roll or record of Grand Ronde members prepared by the Department of Interior or the Tribe prior to or since the effective date of this Constitution."
  • And it would establish an annual quota of no more than 5 percent of enrolled members may be accepted as new members.

The "bundled" proposal was supported by Tribal Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy, who broke a 4-4 tie. Also supporting sending the proposal to Tribal voters were Tribal Council Secretary Kathleen Tom and Tribal Council members Valorie Sheker, Chris Mercier and Wink Soderberg.

Opposing were Tribal Council Vice Chair Reyn Leno and Tribal Council members Jack Giffen Jr., Toby McClary and Steve Bobb Sr.

Much of the 100-minute meeting on June 2, which can be viewed on the Tribal Web site under the Videos tab, involved a back and forth about whether it was better to bundle the four amendments into one vote or allow Tribal voters to decide an each amendment separately.

In February 2008, Tribal membership voted on three separate enrollment proposals, but only OK'd a five-year relinquishment period by enough votes - two-thirds majority -- to amend the Tribal Constitution.

A proposal to remove the rule of having a parent on the roll at the time of the applicant's birth was supported by 60.9 percent of voters and a change in the definition of Grand Ronde blood was backed by 55 percent of voters.

In 1999, Tribal membership voted to tighten enrollment criteria by more than the two-thirds requirement.

Tribal attorney Rob Greene said the enrollment election may occur before the Sept. 10 Tribal Council election, or it could be held afterward depending on Tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs scheduling and timelines.

To change the Tribal Constitution, at least 30 percent of qualified voters must cast ballots and the proposal must be approved by at least 66.7 percent of those voters.

Tribal Council scheduled an election planning meeting for Tuesday, June 7.