Tribal Government & News

General Council briefed on economic development

03.12.2015 Dean Rhodes Elections, General Council

By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

A packed General Council meeting heard Tribal Economic Development Director Titu Asghar give a 20-minute presentation in executive session about the Tribe’s economic development efforts during the Sunday, March 1, meeting held in the Community Center.

After his presentation, Asghar fielded eight comments and questions from the audience.

Since the briefing was held in executive session, Smoke Signals cannot report on the details of the meeting. However, the presentation was recorded and Tribal members unable to attend can request a copy from Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Martin at or by calling 503-879-2304.

Following Asghar’s presentation, Tribal Attorney Rob Greene briefed General Council on the two proposed amendments to the Tribal Constitution that will be decided in the March 14 election.

On Nov. 5, Tribal Council asked the Secretary of the Interior to call an election to amend the Tribe’s Constitution to do two things: Remove Secretary of the Interior oversight and approval of amendments to the Tribe’s Constitution and to institute term limits for Tribal Council members. The latter would allow future Tribal Council members to serve three consecutive terms – nine years – before requiring a person to take a year off before they could run for office again.

On Nov. 18, the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ regional director called the election for the two amendments.

Voter registration packets were sent to Tribal members of voting age on Jan. 13 with a deadline to register of Feb. 6. Official ballot packets were mailed to the 1,091 Tribal members who registered to vote in the election on Feb. 20 and ballots must be received by the Grand Ronde Post Office by noon Saturday, March 14, to count.

The first amendment, if it passes, would remove federal oversight over future constitutional amendments and the election process would be supervised by the Tribal Election Board. In addition, all Tribally registered voters would be allowed to vote on proposed constitutional amendments, not just those who specially register with the BIA.

The second amendment would end the current practice of Tribal Council members serving an unlimited amount of time by requiring future Tribal Council members to take a year off after serving three consecutive three-year terms. After the 12-month break, a Tribal member could then serve another three consecutive terms.

To amend the Tribe’s Constitution, 30 percent of those who registered to vote must cast a ballot. In this election, at least 327 Tribal members must vote and two-thirds of those voting must approve the amendment for it to take effect.

Greene fielded about 10 comments and questions after the presentation from audience members and Tribal Council members.

Tribal members who registered but did not receive a ballot should call the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Warm Springs Agency Office at 541-553-2439.

In other action, the next General Council meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, April 12, in the Tribal Community Center instead of April 5, which is Easter.

Isabelle Grout, Robert Wiggs and Sean Gerbrandt won the $50 door prizes and Tribal Elder Julie Duncan won the $100 door prize. In addition, necklaces created by Tribal Council member Jon A. George and food items donated by Veronica Gaston were raffled off.

George, Brian Krehbiel, Bobby Mercier, Travis Stewart, Jade Unger and members of Tribal Royalty performed the cultural drumming and singing to open the meeting.

An edited version of the meeting without the executive session can be viewed on the Tribal website,, under the News tab and then click on the Video link.