Tribal Government & News
Tribal voters reject constitutional amendments
Tribal voters overwhelmingly rejected two proposed amendments to the Tribal Constitution during a Bureau of Indian Affairs-conducted election that concluded on Friday, July 8.
The first proposed amendment, which would have changed enrollment requirements and expanded the definition of Grand Ronde blood, was rebuffed 639 to 412, or 60.8 percent of voters opposing the idea.
The second proposed amendment, which would have altered the requirements for initiating a referendum or initiative and the calling of a special General Council meeting, fared even worse, with 670 Tribal members voting “no” and 382 in favor for a 63.7 percent to 36.3 percent split.
Of the 1,546 Tribal members who registered to vote with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 68 percent participated by casting ballots.
To change the Tribal Constitution, 30 percent of those who registered to vote have to cast a ballot and two-thirds of those voting must approve of the proposal for an amendment to be incorporated.
The two proposed amendments to the Tribal Constitution were sent to voters in identical 5-2 Tribal Council votes on April 6.
The first constitutional amendment proposed to changed Tribal enrollment requirements.
Currently, Tribal membership requirements for new applications include, among other things, that applicants have at least 1/16th Grand Ronde blood quantum, were born to a parent who was a member of the Tribe at the time of the applicant’s birth and at the time of application, unless the parent is deceased.
Grand Ronde blood is currently defined as “all Indian blood derived from a direct ancestor whose name validly appears on the official Tribal membership roll prepared under the Restoration Act, which may be corrected by Tribal Council with approval from the Secretary of the Interior.”
The proposed amendment would have eliminated the requirements that an applicant be born to a parent who was a member of the Grand Ronde Tribe at the time of their birth, as well as the requirement that their parent be a Tribal member at the time of their application.
It also would have changed the definition of Grand Ronde blood to allow applicants to use all Indian blood derived from a direct ancestor who not only validly appears on the Restoration Roll, but also the Tribal membership roll prepared by the Tribe between Nov. 30, 1984, and Sept. 14, 1999.
The second proposed amendment would have reduced the General Council participation requirements for exercising the power of initiative or referendum and the calling of special General Council meetings.
The amendment would have reduced the number of General Council signatures required for an initiative or referendum petition from 33 percent of the voting-age membership to 15 percent. Using current Tribal enrollment numbers, the amendment would have reduced the number of signatures needed from 1,323 to 601.
In addition, the amendment would have reduced the number of qualified voters who must vote in an initiative or referendum election from at least 30 percent – or 1,202 Tribal members using current enrollment numbers – to 20 percent, or 802 Tribal members.
The amendment would not have affected the required margin of approval, which would have remained at 66.7 percent of those actually voting to make the election results binding on Tribal Council.
The amendment also would have reduced the number of General Council member signatures required to call a special General Council meeting from 33 percent to 15 percent.
The election results continue a Tribal trend of not garnering enough support to change the Tribal Constitution. The last proposed amendment to receive more than two-thirds approval from the voting membership was in February 2008 when 76 percent of Tribal voters OK’d increasing the relinquishment period from one year to five years. Since then, other Tribal Constitution amendment proposals regarding such issues as enrollment, term limits and a Tribal primary election have failed.