Tribal Government & News

Tribal Council remands disenrollment cases

05.14.2014 Ron Karten Tribal Council, Enrollment

After two days and more than 11 hours of testimony, Tribal Council voted 5-4 on Thursday, May 1, to remand 86 recommendations for disenrollment back to the Enrollment Committee so its members can consider new material presented by the 16 affected families.
The Enrollment Committee forwarded recommendations of disenrollment to Tribal Council on March 18 after holding approximately 80 hearings in December and January. The committee concurred with Enrollment staff recommendations for disenrollment on the basis that the Tribal members did not meet the constitutional lineal descent requirement at the time they were enrolled.
Those named in the disenrollment cases trace their lineage back to Chief Tumulth. The Cascades Indian chief signed the 1855 Willamette Valley Treaty, but was unjustly hung by Lt. Phil Sheridan before the Grand Ronde Reservation was established.
The Chief Tumulth descendants contended that a treaty should be considered a record of Grand Ronde members prepared by the Department of the Interior.
Many of Chief Tumulth's descendants also contended that they descend from Susan, one of Chief Tumulth's five wives. They maintain that Susan appears on an 1872 census roll of Grand Ronde Indians prepared by the Bureau of Indian Affairs with the name Susan Tumolcha, which they contend is a slightly different spelling of the last name Tumulth.
The Tribal Constitution before Sept. 14, 1999, required, among other things, that members be "descended from a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon" and provided that "descent … shall include lineal descent from any person who was named on any roll or records of Grand Ronde members prepared by the Department of the Interior prior to the effective date of this Constitution."
Before the two-day meeting, Tribal Council scheduled eight days to review the enrollment files, listen to Enrollment Committee hearing recordings and read the information submitted to the Enrollment Committee.
Because of the gravity of the issue, Tribal Council waived the usual five-minute time limit on providing input at its business meetings.
Late on Thursday, May 1, Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno broke a 4-4 tie on the motion to remand the cases back to the Enrollment Committee, saying he believes committee members have a right to review the new material that was presented. He was joined by Tribal Council Vice Chair Jack Giffen Jr., Tribal Council Secretary Toby McClary and Tribal Council members Ed Pearsall and June Sherer in sending the cases back for review.
Tribal Council members Kathleen Tom, Denise Harvey, Jon A. George and Cheryle A. Kennedy said they voted against the motion to remand because they were ready to vote on the disenrollment cases at that time.
The Tribal Council meeting is available for viewing on the Tribal website under the Video section.
The disenrollment cases are the result of an enrollment audit that started in early 2013. The audit fulfills one of the tasks assigned by the 2010 Strategic Plan, which directed the Tribe's Enrollment staff to audit enrollment files and applications, track reasons for denials and audit blood quantum records with the goal of strengthening the Tribal family tree.
In other action on April 30, Tribal Council approved the May 18 General Council agenda, which will feature a presentation on economic development and reports from the Veterans Special Event Board and Health Committee.
The General Council meeting was postponed from May 4 so that Tribal members could attend the memorial service for Tribal Elder Charles G. Haller.