Tribal Government & News

Letters to the Editor -- Dec. 1, 2015

11.30.2015 Dean Rhodes Letters

Dear Tribal members:

This is written to address a letter by Rosemary Jameson that appeared in the Nov. 15, 2015, issue of Smoke Signals. Her letter was misleading and included a number of inaccuracies and omissions that I plan to clarify here.

Rosemary urges that Tribal members contact Tribal Council and ask for enrollment issues to be voted on separately and to not be “bundled.” She then erroneously identifies the July 2015 proposed constitutional amendment removing a “parent on the roll requirement” as a single issue. The problem is that the “parent on the roll” is actually two different requirements that were bundled together and which consisted of:

  1.       Parent on the roll at time of birth;
  2.       Parent on the roll at time of application (unless deceased).

While Rosemary rails against voting on bundles, what she wanted Tribal Council to move forward with was a bundle. This is indisputable. These were listed on the sample ballot sent to BIA as two different requirements. They are also listed as two separate requirements on the checklist for membership which we on Tribal Council review when voting to enroll a member.

These points were all discussed at the July 29 Tribal Council meeting and again at the Oct. 22 special Tribal Council meeting. In fact, in a letter Rosemary Jameson herself wrote to Smoke Signals on Nov. 1, 2011, which was during the last constitutional election on enrollment, she personally identified these two requirements as being distinct and deserving to be separated out for different votes.  But, for whatever reason, she either changed her mind or plain old forgot. Rosemary omitted those key facts from her letter.

The Oct. 22, 2015, meeting which took place was not easy. But those of us who chose to delay moving forward were very clear and sincere in our desire to see enrollment justice for all of those families adversely impacted by the 1999 amendment. In my opinion, to turn our backs on some families without even trying to help them would have only made a divisive issue more so. It would have created a lot of resentment among those split families as some would get to experience the joy of seeing their 16-year wait ended, while others would be left out in the cold, wondering why Tribal Council chose to leave them behind.

Mrs. Jameson mentions the Restoration Roll correction as being an avenue for correcting one of the problems created by the 1999 amendment. There may be some truth to that, but at this point we don’t really know. We don’t know who will apply, what their situations will be and whether they will be able meet the requirements to be added to the Restoration Roll per our Enrollment Ordinance. For her to put that forth as an alternative to a constitutional amendment, especially when we just don’t know, could be giving some people false hope. I really wish she hadn’t done that.

I, too, would like to see the unintended consequences of the 1999 amendment resolved. But I would like to see a solution that does not entail helping some families and deliberately turning our backs on others. No family in this Tribe is better than any other.

Chris Mercier

Roll #1821


Dear Smoke Signals:

I would like to give a big thanks to Susie Lash, who did all of the cooking, from scratch to boot, for the Veterans Day meal held at the Tribal Community Center. I’d also like to thank all of the kitchen volunteers and Royalty girls for helping to serve the Elders.

A big thanks also for the people who made the wonderful baskets for the raffle: Rita LaChance and family, Reina Nelson, Susie Lash, Kathy Soderberg, Claudia Leno and Leonette Galligher.

And thanks to Tribal Council for donating a Pendleton blanket for the main raffle prize.

Steve Bobb Sr.

Roll #38


Dear Tribal members:

I am writing this to make you all aware of what some of our Tribal leaders are trying to accomplish. The very definition of what it means to be a Grand Ronde Tribal member is in danger of being radically altered.

In the near future, Tribal members will be receiving a letter with proposed constitutional amendments. We will be asked to vote on these initiative/referendum changes, without a clear understanding of what is trying to be accomplished. My personal understanding of the intentions behind these proposed changes has me greatly concerned. The proposed changes to initiative/referendum require far fewer voters to sign a petition (a reduction from 33.3 percent to 15 percent) in order to bring a Tribal matter forward to a General Council vote. Another requested change will allow the change to our Constitution if 20 percent (down from 30 percent) should vote on the matter.

Why do these proposed changes bother me? Because the person on Tribal Council who wrote these proposed changes is the same person who stated in his most recent run for election that he wanted to rewrite the Tribal Constitution since it has become antiquated (in his view), and he wants to change what is required to become an enrolled CTGR member. I see these proposals as his first step toward accomplishing his goals. These proposed changes are unnecessary and unwanted by me and I hope the majority of the Tribe.

Most disheartening is the fact that our Tribal leaders had a golden opportunity to fix the one enrollment issue that has affected the most Tribal families: the parent on the roll issue. The five leaders who rejected this positive solution for all Tribal members did so in order to try and force the General Council to support their other proposed enrollment changes.

In other words, they are refusing to change the parent on the roll issue unless the General Council accepts a package deal that will completely redefine the definition of CTGR members and will open the floodgates for thousands more to join our Tribe and undeservingly usurp our Tribal funds.

This package deal will also open the rolls to calculate all Indian blood as Grand Ronde blood, allowing new Indian blood to be Grand Ronde blood. This new blood does not have to be traced back to the Grand Ronde rolls and can literally be from anywhere. These same five leaders are the same people who are supporting the above constitutional amendments.

Please join me in voting NO to all of these proposed constitutional amendments. Also, I hope that many Tribal members will voice their opinions to Tribal Council by e-mail and at Tribal Council meetings. Our leaders need to fight for what is best for all Tribal members and not just for those who voted them in.

Delores J. Knight

Roll #340