Tribal Government & News

1,546 register to vote in July 8 constitutional election

06.14.2016 Dean Rhodes Elections, Enrollment

More than 1,500 Tribal members registered with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to vote in the July 8 constitutional amendment election.

According to the voter list released by the BIA, 1,546 Tribal members registered, surpassing the 1,491 Tribal members who registered to vote in the February 2008 constitutional election. About 40 percent of eligible Tribal members registered to vote.

Other recent constitutional amendment elections have seen about 1,100 Tribal members register to vote in 2012 and 2015, but those elections did not concern enrollment requirements.

The July 8 election will mark the sixth time Tribal members vote on proposed changes to the Tribal Constitution and the fourth time the proposals involve enrollment criteria.

Three educational sessions regarding the two proposed amendments to the Tribal Constitution were held in May in Portland, Grand Ronde and Eugene. A video of the Grand Ronde session can be viewed on the Tribal website, In addition, a PowerPoint presentation prepared by Tribal staff was mailed first class to all adult Tribal members at the end of May.

Tribal Council decided in identical 5-2 votes to send the proposed amendments to voters during its April 6 meeting.

The first amendment would, if approved by voters, remove the parent on the roll at time of birth and time of application requirements and add language defining “Grand Ronde blood.”

The new definition, with new wording in italics, would read: “Grand Ronde blood is defined as all Indian blood derived from a direct ancestor whose name validly appears on the official Tribal membership roll prepared under the Grand Ronde Restoration Act; provided, that such roll may be corrected by Tribal Council with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior or the official Tribal membership roll prepared by the Tribe between Nov. 30, 1984, and Sept. 14, 1999; provided that such roll may be corrected by the Tribal Council in accordance with the Tribal Enrollment Ordinance.”

The second proposed amendment would reduce General Council participation requirements for initiatives, referendums and the calling of special General Council meetings.

Currently, the Tribal Constitution requires at least one-third of the adult membership – more than 1,300 people – to sign a petition for an initiative, referendum, recall effort or membership-proposed constitutional amendment to proceed.

Tribal members were required to register to vote with the BIA for the special election. Thirty percent of those who registered to vote must cast a ballot – 464 -- and two-thirds of those voting must approve of the proposal for an amendment to be adopted.

Ballots were scheduled to be sent to all registered voters on Monday, June 13, and they must be returned to the Grand Ronde post office by Friday, July 8, to count.

The list of registered voters can be viewed at the Tribal website.