Tribal Government & News

Tribal Council resending constitutional amendments to voters

11.13.2014 Ron Karten Tribal Council, Elections

Tribal members should be voting on two proposed amendments to the Tribe's Constitution between mid-February and early March now that Tribal Council has again asked the Secretary of the Interior to call an election during its Wednesday, Nov. 5, meeting.

The amendments, which would institute term limits on future Tribal Council service and remove the Bureau of Indian Affairs from Tribal constitutional elections, were originally scheduled to go before Tribal voters on June 6, but irregularities that occurred at the BIA's Siletz Agency Office caused Tribal Council to ask the BIA to cancel the election on May 14.

Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno said in May that the Tribe had "learned of several procedural errors … these errors were caused by the BIA Siletz Agency Office's failure to follow federal regulations for conducting secretarial elections. Unfortunately, Tribal Council believes the integrity of the election process has already been seriously compromised."

At the Tuesday, Nov. 4, Legislative Action Committee meeting, Tribal Attorney Rob Greene said the new election will be overseen by the BIA's regional office in Portland and that the BIA will pay for the cost of the previous failed election.

Greene added that a training session will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 25, between BIA staff and the Tribal Elections Board to ensure the constitutional election is conducted properly. The BIA also will pay for the training session, he said.

Greene estimated that with an expedited review of the proposed amendments' wording, since they have already been approved by the Solicitor's Office, that an election could be held in late February to early March.

The first proposed amendment would remove the BIA's oversight role regarding Tribal constitutional elections.

The second proposed amendment would establish term limits of three consecutive terms on future Tribal Council service. After three consecutive three-year terms, a Tribal Council member would have to take a year off before being eligible to run again and serve another three consecutive terms. The term limits, if approved, would not be retroactive and would not affect current Tribal Council members who have already served three or more consecutive terms.

To change the Tribal Constitution, at least 30 percent of those registered to vote with the BIA must cast ballots and 66.7 percent - two-thirds -- of those voting must approve an amendment.

In other action, Tribal Council approved a per capita distribution date of Dec. 12 and the enrollment of three infants into the Tribe.

Tribal Council also OK'd a settlement with the Indian Health Service regarding contract support cost claims from fiscal year 1996 through fiscal year 2011. The settlement must now wind its way through the federal government.

Also included in the Nov. 5 Tribal Council packet were authorizations to proceed that:

  • Moved Tribal Council meetings to 4 p.m. in December, January, February and March to accommodate the dark and inclement weather during the winter months.
  • Moved the Dec. 7 General Council meeting up an hour to 10 a.m. to accommodate the Tribal Council Christmas Party.

Tribal Council member Jon A. George, Land and Culture Department Manager Jan Looking Wolf Reibach, Education Department Manager Eirik Thorsgard and Cultural Youth Education Specialist Travis Stewart provided the cultural drumming and singing to open the meeting.

The meeting can be viewed in its entirety at the Tribal website,, under the Video ta