Tribal Government & News

Tribal Council statement regarding false and misleading information

08.12.2014 Ron Karten Tribal Council, Enrollment


Justin Martin, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Lobbyist

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Siobhan Taylor, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Public Affairs Director

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August, 12, 2014

Grand Ronde Tribal Council Statement Regarding False and Misleading Information

Grand Ronde: Over the years our Tribal membership, through constitutional amendments, has consistently pushed for tightening our Tribal enrollment.   An enrollment audit was a task assigned in the Tribal Strategic Plan for 2010, which was adopted in August of 2009. That plan was formulated after nearly two years of development that began with a Strategic Futures conference in 2007 involving Tribal leaders and members. The plan directed Enrollment to audit all enrollment files and applications, track reasons for denials, and audit blood quantum records with the goal of strengthening the Grand Ronde Family Tree.  

Over the last year Tribal Council meetings have become increasingly contentious and non-productive - largely due to the on-going disagreements over loss of membership issues. The Tribal Council therefore proposed amendments to the Enrollment Ordinance that remove the Tribal Council from the process for involuntary loss of membership. Specifically, the amendments give the Enrollment Committee the authority to issue decisions regarding involuntary loss of membership. The Council believes removing such decisions from the influences of the political process and leaving it to respected members of the Enrollment Committee is a more appropriate way of addressing these sensitive and difficult matters. It is the goal of Council to ensure these cases are handled fairly and without bias. 

The Council adopted these amendments under the emergency temporary enactment provisions of the Government Organization and Procedures Ordinance in early July. This ensures that the same process is applied to all involuntary loss of membership matters regardless of whether they are currently pending before the Tribal Council or Enrollment Committee. All pending disenrollment cases are now being remanded to the Enrollment Committee for a final decision as required by the Enrollment Ordinance.

Unfortunately, a number of false and misleading articles and statements have been published and appeared on social media regarding this entire process. We feel it is our duty to our membership and to members of the public to clarify that misinformation being disseminated by a few individuals.

 Some of those statements falsely contend that individuals provisionally disenrolled by the Enrollment Committee have now lost their healthcare and housing benefits.  That is simply false.  Recognizing the importance of healthcare and housing, Tribal Council voted to allow individuals faced with involuntary loss of membership continued access to healthcare and housing throughout the appeal process.  Prior to the amendments, individuals' benefits would have ceased immediately following a decision by Tribal Council to remove them from the rolls.  Our empathy for these individuals led us to this extension of benefits.

Other statements implying that members are being subjected to new enrollment criteria are also incorrect.  And the numbers of individuals they claim have been disenrolled are also overstated.  Out of 6,100 files reviewed 14 members were disenrolled by Tribal Council (dual enrollment) in August 2013 and 86 members were remanded back to Committee by Tribal Council (lineal descent) in July 2014.

Additionally, statements implying individuals have been denied hearings before the Committee or Council are completely false.  Countless hours of testimony from individuals facing disenrollment have been given before the Committee and Council over the course of many days and weeks.

The Tribal Council has diligently worked to remove these decisions from the influences of political process in a more appropriate way.  We understand these are sensitive and difficult issues and want to ensure each case is handled fairly and without bias. 

We want to remind our membership that there is a judicial process to appeal these decisions to Tribal Court and the Court of Appeals.  

As elected officials, we took an oath of office to uphold our Tribal Constitution and the laws of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.  In that same pledge, we swore that we would perform all duties required of us by the Constitution and the laws of the Tribe.  For those reasons, we must move forward.  This has not been an easy decision for Tribal Council.  All of these issues have weighed heavily on each and every one of us.   We cannot let any past errors override the clear language of our Constitution.