Tribal Government & News

Leno testimonies before Oregon Legislature on Thursday, Feb. 9

02.10.2017 Dean Rhodes Tribal Council, Education, State Government

To:                  House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee

From:             Reyn Leno, Chair, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde

Date:              February 9, 2017

Subject:         Please Support House Bill 2405


Chair Clem, Vice-Chair McLain, Vice-Chair Sprenger, and Members of the Committee:

My name is Reyn Leno, I am Chairman of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and a member of the Oregon Department of Veteran’s Affairs Advisory Committee. Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you today.

Oregon is truly unique when it comes to the relationship between the state and the tribes. Together, we have done amazing things, from Governor Atiyeh and the creation of the Commission on Indian Services, to Governor Kitzhaber’s Executive Order 96-30, and then passage of SB 770, which put into statute the government-to-government relationship. We should all be proud as Oregonians of the work done to solidify a strong bond between the state and the tribes.

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde supports House Bill 2405, which would make funding assistance available to tribal governments for construction and restoration of memorials honoring veterans.

I would also like to urge the legislature to support the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs and to utilize additional funding approved through Measure 96 above that which is currently budgeted. Veterans are underserved, more than two-thirds of the 350,000 veterans in Oregon are not receiving federal services and connecting to services is severely delayed.

As you may know, The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde has an agreement with the US Department of Veterans Affairs that allows the Tribe to serve Native veterans through the Tribal health clinic. By allowing Tribal clinics to provide health care to Native veterans, as well as be reimbursed for that care through the Department of Veterans Affairs, Tribes help Native veterans living in rural areas who cannot access or travel to the Veterans Affairs facilities in Portland, and whom in many cases prefer to be seen by a culturally sensitive provider.

HB 2405 is a solid step in the right direction and we ask that you also help to create legislation that allows Oregon tribes to serve non-Native veterans who live in rural communities as either spouses or residents, but also face the same logistical problems in accessing health care.

In closing, CTGR encourages continued support for HB2405 and for all Oregon’s veterans and asks that you please prioritize programs that support Native and non-Native veterans and ensure that veterans programs are adequately funded.

Thank you


Date:             February 9, 2017

To:                  Senate Education Committee

From:             Reyn Leno, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde

Subject:        Senate Bill 13

My name is Reyn Leno and I am the Tribal Council Chairman of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you today.

As a sovereign nation, the Tribe has worked hard to build positive government-to-government relationships across all levels of government. We are proud to have a strong relationship with the State of Oregon.

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde supports Senate Bill 13, which directs the Department of Education to develop curriculum relating to the Native American experience in Oregon and to provide professional development related to that curriculum.

There are nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon. The history of our peoples, who have lived in Oregon since time immemorial, is significant for all Oregonians but today is either ignored or poorly described in our schools. Most Oregon students learn more about the Sioux and Apaches than they do about the Umpqua, Molalla, Rogue River, Kalapuya or Chasta.

Senate Bill 13 is an investment in Native American communities. The nine tribes in Oregon have invested in local schools and we are still living with dire outcomes. For example, the current Native American graduation rate in Oregon is only 56.4 percent, and our children are not performing at grade level for many subjects including basics like Math and Science. Many teachers are not prepared or equipped to discuss issues surrounding Indian Country, such as tribal sovereignty, tribal government land removal, termination and restoration. Some of the history is complicated and can be difficult to discuss.

Grand Ronde has always recognized the importance of teaching Native history in Oregon. The Tribe has developed a history curriculum because of the need for historically accurate and culturally relevant curriculum in Oregon schools about Oregon’s first peoples. In 2014, this curriculum was provided to Willamina School District and is now in 10 school districts in Oregon. The Tribe,through the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, has also made funds available for the other Oregon Tribes to develop tribal-specific history curriculums. It is the Tribe’s goal to build respect and understanding of Tribal history and culture, to give all youth the opportunity to learn about Oregon’s Native history, and to foster a culturally respectful representation of Native Americans.

In closing, CTGR encourages support for Senate Bill 13 because it will have a significant impact on the lives and education of Native people and all Oregonians. It will also correct the years of omission from Oregon’s history curriculum of the 9 sovereign tribes. With this Bill we can focus our efforts towards what is important -- the education of our children.