Tribal Government & News

Tribal Council OKs Molalla River Native mascot agreement

03.30.2017 Dean Rhodes Tribal Council, Culture, Education

First came Banks.

Then Scappoose.

Now Molalla River.

During its Wednesday, March 22, meeting, Tribal Council approved its third memorandum of agreement with an Oregon school district that will allow the Molalla River School District to retain its Native American mascot as long as it adopts more culturally appropriate imagery.

The Banks School District west of Portland retained its Braves mascot under the first agreement, which was approved by the Oregon Board of Education on Thursday, March 23.

Scappoose, northwest of Portland, signed an agreement with the Tribe to keep its Native mascot name, the Indians. The agreement went out for a first reading from the Oregon Board of Education on Thursday, March 23.

And now Molalla River will be working to retain its Indian mascot under the third agreement.

Although the Oregon Board of Education initially banned the use of Native mascots in public schools, a legislatively mandated exception to the ban was approved in early 2016 and school districts are allowed to work with any of Oregon’s nine federally recognized Tribes toward keeping and modifying their mascots into something more culturally appropriate.

Molalla River will cease using a Native Indian profile in full headdress in favor of a seal that features a bear and coyote standing amid a forest of trees.

“Grizzly and Coyote are integral to the Molalla people and are symbolically juxtaposed with one another,” states a Molalla River presentation. “The stylized trees portrayed as stacked triangles represent both fir trees and the Molalla people. In a nod to collegiate design, the graphics nestle into the power of a circular emblem.”

The Tribal-school district agreement features many of the same requirements as previous documents. The agreement will be for 10 years with the Tribe and school district reviewing it annually for the first five years and again during the ninth year.

The agreement requires the Molalla River School District, which started using the Grand Ronde Tribe’s fourth-grade Tribal history curriculum in 2015, to begin using the eighth-grade curriculum no later than this spring.

In addition, the school district agrees to sponsor a Native Club open to high school students who desire to participate.

Molalla River School District Superintendent Tony Mann said that 18 of the district’s 2,335 students identify as Native American.

Like Banks, Molalla River received assistance and advice from Grand Ronde Cultural Resources Department Manager David Harrelson in creating a new, culturally appropriate seal.

During the Tribal Council meeting, Tribal Council Secretary Jon A. George and Tribal Council member Jack Giffen Jr. complimented school district representatives for sincerely working on the issue with the Tribe.

“This has been quite a process,” Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno said. “It has been a win-win for everyone.”

In addition to Mann, Molalla River School Board members Neal Lucht, Craig Loughride and Ralph Gierke attended the Tribal Council meeting.

The Molalla River School Board approved the agreement on Thursday, March 23. It will follow the same process and go to the Oregon Board of Education for a first reading and then final approval.

The Grand Ronde Tribe partnered with the Molalla River School District because Molalla is centrally located within the homelands of the Molalla people, who signed the 1855 Willamette Valley Treaty and were removed to the Grand Ronde Reservation. The Molalla are one of the five major Tribes of the Grand Ronde confederation.

In other action, Tribal Council:

  • Approved the agenda for the Sunday, April 2, General Council meeting to be held at 11 a.m. at the Valley River Inn in Eugene. The program presentation will be from the Tribe’s Tribal Employment Rights Office;

  • Appointed Spirit Mountain Casino Advertising Supervisor Angela Sears as a volunteer to Tribal Court’s Tribal Member Review Board;

  • Approved two Tribal credit cards for use by the Youth Education Department to pay for off-Reservation student activities with vendors who do not accept purchase orders;

  • Approved an application to the National Park Service for a $50,000 Tribal Heritage Grant to fund repairs at the Grand Ronde Rail Depot;

  • Approved a new two-year contract with Tribal Court Chief Judge David Shaw;

  • Approved the annual performance review for the Grand Ronde Housing Department, which is required by the Indian Housing Block Grant program;

  • Approved amendments to the Tribe’s Elders’ Retirement Program & SSI Program Ordinance. Tribal Attorney Holly Partridge said the proposed amendments received no comments from Tribal members when they were sent out for a first reading. The amendments provide for an Elders’ SSD Program and make minor technical changes;

  • And approved the enrollment of two people into the Tribe because they satisfy the requirements outlined in the Enrollment Ordinance and Tribal Constitution, and OK’d the correction of blood quantum for one Tribal member.

Also included in the March 22 Tribal Council packet were authorizations to proceed that:

  • Authorized staff to evaluate opportunities for solar power development on Tribal lands;

  • Approved international travel for Cultural Resources Department employees Briece Edwards and Jessica Curteman to attend an archaeology conference in Vancouver, British Columbia;

  • Directed staff to bring amendments to the Name Change Ordinance and Small Claims Ordinance forward to Legislative Action Committee for action;

  • And approved relocating the coffee cart to a site near the Employment Services Building with a cost for the required infrastructure improvements not to exceed $22,000.

George opened the meeting with a cappella cultural singing.

The meeting, in its entirety, can be viewed on the Tribal website,, by clicking on the News tab and then Video.