Tribal Government & News

1,463 Tribal members register to vote in Nov. 15 election

10.24.2011 Ron Karten Elections, Enrollment

Interest among Grand Ronde Tribal members in the Nov. 15 Constitutional Amendment election regarding enrollment requirements is slightly less than the interest that occurred in 2008's enrollment election.

According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Siletz Agency Office, 1,463 Grand Ronde Tribal members registered to vote in the upcoming election. Of the 3,834 Tribal members who could have registered to vote, 38.2 percent did.

In 2008, 1,491 Tribal members out of 3,578 eligible registered to vote for a 41.6 percent registration turnout.

In early June, Tribal Council voted 5-4 to send a bundle of four proposed enrollment changes to the General Membership. The Bureau of Indian Affairs approved calling of the election on June 16.

The all-or-nothing proposal would change the following requirements for Tribal enrollment:

  • It would reduce the relinquishment time from five years to two years that a person must wait to become a member of the Grand Ronde Tribe after officially leaving another Tribe;
  • It would eliminate the requirement that new members have a parent on a Tribal membership roll at the time of their birth or at the time of their application;
  • 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 and no less than 2 percent of currently enrolled members may be accepted as new members, excluding newborns.

On Sept. 14, Tribal Council voted 4-3 to continue with the election process and rebuffed an effort to put it on hold and seek an advisory vote on whether Tribal members wanted the proposal bundled or as four separate votes.

Tribal members who will be at least 18 years of age on Nov. 15 had until Monday, Oct. 17, to register to vote in the election. Tribal members who did not specifically register to vote in the election will not be eligible to vote.

For the amendment to change the Tribal Constitution, at least 30 percent of registered Tribal members - 439 -- must cast ballots and at least two-thirds of those voting have to approve it.

Ballots are scheduled to be sent out Wednesday, Oct. 26, to all eligible registered voters. The ballots must be returned to the BIA in the postage-paid return envelope before noon Tuesday, Nov. 15.

This is the third time since 1983's Restoration that Tribal members are voting on enrollment requirements. In 1999, Tribal members approved tightening up enrollment requirements and in 2008, one of three proposals - the current five-year relinquishment period - received the two-thirds support to be written into the Tribal Constitution.