Tribal Government & News
Letters to the Editor - Aug. 1, 2012
Klahowya nayka tillixam, Klahowya!
I thought it was time I share a few thoughts concerning the low voter participation issue that has plagued our community over the years. This condition is the result of lack of understanding and poor education. I'm talking about Indian education and what it means to be an indigenous human being - something so hard to be in this world of two worlds we live in.
Being Indian isn't easy, but we have a vast amount of tools and knowledge to pull from to help us and guide us. These guides are found in our traditions.
Sadly, too few of our people have had little opportunity to learn or study these great gifts given by our ancestors. Sad because without the sharing and passing on of these traditional knowledges - what I call the great way - we hurt ourselves and run the risk of losing them. We lose too much more, what is left to say that we are Indian?
So for you members who are disengaged for whatever reason and not voting - you have a duty to do your part. Learn the traditions and you will discover all it means, what a gift it is to be a Native person. This ain't no free ride or right of birth; it takes work to be an Indian. It's the hardest thing you will ever do, but so full of beautiful blessings. We do not take without gifting back. Yes, that's part of those traditions. No more easy ride people, do you part!
Walter F. Simmons
Dear Smoke Signals:
Recently I received a postcard from a Tribal member, Brenda Tuomi. I don't know Brenda, who is running for Tribal Council, but she brought out an interesting fact: Only 33 percent of those eligible to vote actually vote in Tribal elections.
One-third of the Tribe is determining what happens to all of us because that one-third votes. We can only hope that this elite one-third does their homework before they decide any issue.
In 2010, the Supreme Court issued the infamous "Citizens United" ruling where unlimited corporate funds can be used in elections. People decry this ruling because they say it means elections can be bought by whoever has the most money.
I don't like the ruling, but the deeper meaning to me that is people are swayed by bright colors and loud, repetitive voices. Since we have to "live with" this ruling for now, we have to adjust and do research and dig deep for underlying motives on issues that have meaning in our lives.
The same goes for Tribal elections: Can we trust that the one-third that decides Tribal issues have done their homework? Wouldn't it be better to do your own research and cast your own vote?
Thanks to all of you who take the time to cast a thoughtful ballot.
(Editor's note: Voter turnout in the 2011 Tribal Council election was 32.88 percent. In 2010, it was 29 percent.)
Dear Smoke Signals:
I left Chiloquin to start college at Chemeketa Community College. When I moved into the Willamette Valley back in 1991, I met Jeanne Larsen at Nanitch Sahalie.
Jeanne welcomed me with a warm heart, open arms and a wonderful smile. That warm and kind friendship that she gave to me I will cherish forever.
I am grateful and blessed that Jeanne crossed my path. We are going to be at a loss for a long while.
It may take a few years or longer. Our hearts will heal slowly.
Jeanne, your love and the memories will live forever in our hearts. My heart and prayers go out to the family.
Dear Grand Ronde Tribal members:
Each year we hear talk about change for our Tribal government. For the last few years talk of giving voice back to the Tribal members has increased greatly. There are many ways we can address giving voice back to the general membership and a great place to start is by voting.
Last year, there were 3,844 eligible voters; only 1,264 voted. That means we did not hear the voice of 2,580 of our Tribal members.
I would like to encourage all eligible voters to vote. I know it can be discouraging at times for many different reasons. Sometimes we may feel our vote won't matter. Sometimes we may feel disconnected from our Tribe. Sometimes we may not know the candidates. Sometimes we may feel as though we don't have time.
Just imagine how 2,580 voices could change the outcome of our elections. Imagine how 2,580 voices could change the direction of our Tribe. Just imagine how we could affect the success of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde if all 3,844 eligible members came to the table.
Please let your voice be heard. Register and vote.