Tribal Government & News
Letters to the Editor -- Oct. 1, 2016
Dear Smoke Signals:
“Uphold the Constitution” is the simple phrase that I’ve read many times in the past few months and weeks. Many state it’s “black and white.” It’s simple. Well, I feel compelled to respond to the false interpretation that is floating around our Tribal community.
Many present as fact that the Chief Tumulth clan members were enrolled in error and that they did not meet the constitutional requirements of our Tribe.
That is not true.
And they were enrolled by my great-grandmother, Martha Mercier, and many other respected Tribal Elders unanimously and consistent with the Constitution at the time.
It is right there in black and white.
The Constitution in the 1980s and 1990s read, “For purposes of this section, descent from a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon shall include lineal descent from any person who was named on any roll or records of Grand Ronde members prepared by the Department of the Interior prior to the effective date of this Constitution.”
Any roll or record. Prior to the Constitution.
Our foundational treaties are clearly “any roll or record of Grand Ronde members.” Here's how:
Is the treaty a record? Yes.
Does the treaty include Grand Ronde members? Yes.
Is the treaty prior to the Constitution? Yes.
Thus the treaty is a record of Grand Ronde members prior to the Constitution and Chief Tumulth's lineal descendants were eligible for enrollment. The wisdom of my great-grandmother and other Tribal Elders is clear. It was no mistake.
In the enrollment record of the Chief Tumulth clan (Williams family), it clearly states that our Tribe enrolled them because they “proved that they would have been eligible for enrollment prior to Termination.”
It’s not hard to understand why. Here is a family descended from one of our treaty signers. A family of the same Cascade blood that we claim as our own. A family that, but for the murder of Chief Tumulth and forced relocation of his heirs, would have likely been born on the Grand Ronde Reservation. By the way, there was evidence presented during their trial, with expert testimony supporting it, that Susan Tumulcha, a Chief Tumulth descendant, did appear on an official Grand Ronde roll in the late 1800s. But that wasn’t the basis for the initial enrollment decision.
The Enrollment Committee and Tribal Council based their unanimous decision on the fact that these treaty signer’s descendants were eligible for enrollment. End of story.
Dear Smoke Signals:
Congratulations to the newly elected Tribal Council members. I’d like to make some requests as you begin working as a new team.
We, as a Tribe and individual Tribal members, have limited resources. Limited time, money, talent and opportunity. That means that as leaders you need to have a laser focus on identifying programs, services, investments and opportunities that maximize outcomes for each and every Grand Ronde Tribal member wherever they live.
Please focus on developing and supporting a high-functioning government organization that delivers life-enhancing opportunities for our members. Let’s look at policies and programs that ensure that our next generations are well-educated, well-loved and cared for, and focused on being the best individuals they can be. That they have dreams and the belief that their dreams can come true, and let’s give them the tools to make those dreams reality.
Let’s work on economic development opportunities that balance risk and return as well as provide meaningful work opportunities for members.
Let’s focus on building and maintaining first-class community assets: government buildings, businesses, housing, recreation areas, etc. Let’s be sure that our members understand the responsibility of caring for all of our resources for long-term benefit and community safety.
Let’s work on the addiction issues that plague some of our members. Their addiction impacts not only the individuals, but their families and their community. Let’s promote health and wellness.
Please practice transparency with members. We have the right to know what is happening on our behalf. Where is our money invested and what debts are being incurred on our behalf? We’d like to know.
Thank you for all you’ve done to date. Our food bank is a critical community asset that’s a shining star. Our health services and health assistance program allow members to experience health and wellness. Our per capita payments allow members additional personal financial security. Thank you for support of our language and culture programs. It helps us as Tribal members as well as educates others about who we are.
Your jobs can be thankless. It’s stressful and you feel pulled in a hundred directions. Please come together and make this year one that shows that we are the caring, compassionate organization we strive to be.
Please look for new ways to gather Tribal member input before making major decisions and listen to and share responses. One example is budgeting. Do members submit questions? Do their questions get answered? Can those questions and answers be shared with all Tribal members?
For those of us who are members: Let’s find ways to support our leadership. Find positive ways to make your voice heard even if it’s just to say “thank you” when our leadership makes decisions that you agree with.
Shelley (Hanson) Sneed