34th Restoration celebration set for Nov. 22 in the Tribal gym

10.30.2017 Dean Rhodes Culture, History, Events

If you go

34th Restoration Celebration

When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22. Canoe Family and program at 10 a.m., meal at noon and powwow at 3 p.m.

Where: Tribal gym, 9615 Grand Ronde Road

More info: RSVP to Public Affairs at 503-879-1418 or


Tribal members will have a chance to give thanks for two days in a row during the fourth week in November when the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde’s annual celebration of Tribal Restoration occurs on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the day before Thanksgiving.

The celebration will feature a Canoe Family performance and program, noontime meal and afternoon powwow held in the Tribal gym in Grand Ronde.

This year marks the 34th anniversary of Restoration to federally recognized status following 1954’s Termination.

After the Grand Ronde Tribe was terminated, Tribal Elders Merle Holmes, Margaret Provost and Marvin Kimsey started the arduous task of regaining federal recognition in the 1970s that culminated on Nov. 22, 1983, when President Ronald Reagan signed the Grand Ronde Restoration Act.

The federal government also returned 9,811 acres to the Tribe as a Reservation on Sept. 9, 1988, which also occurred during Reagan’s administration.

The Restoration effort began in the 1970s. One of the first acts Tribal members took toward Restoration occurred when Kimsey and Holmes testified before Task Force 10 of the American Indian Policy Review Commission in Salem in March 1976.

The commission was created to gather information about American Indian Tribes and make recommendations. Task Force 10 was specifically concerned with western Oregon’s terminated Tribes.

Kimsey and Holmes, as well as representatives from as many as nine other Tribes, recounted the effects of Termination and what it had brought upon the Grand Ronde Tribe.

Kimsey and Holmes said that Tribal members did not understand the devastation that Termination would wreak on the community and they explained how the last 820 acres of the Tribe’s original land base was sold and that the Tribe’s cemetery was all that remained of the more than 60,000 acres of Reservation land that was reserved by President James Buchanan’s executive order of 1857.

Fourteen Tribal members filled out detailed questionnaires for Task Force 10. Among those providing information were Russ Leno, Velma Mercier, Kimsey, Holmes and others.

Those Tribal members and many others, working with Oregon Sen. Mark Hatfield and his staff and representatives at the Native American Program Oregon Legal Services, provided information about employment, health, housing, educational needs and the problems associated with not having a land base. Together, they strategized how to achieve Restoration.

In October 1983, Tribal Elder Kathryn Harrison and her son and daughter, Frank Harrison and Karen Askins, as well as Kimsey and Jackie Whisler testified before the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee about restoring the Grand Ronde Tribe to federal recognition.

Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Les AuCoin, the Grand Ronde Restoration Bill had 57 letters of support and no opposition. It passed the House on Nov. 7, 1983, and was introduced in the Senate by Hatfield four days later. The bill passed the Senate on a voice vote.

Less than two weeks later, Reagan signed the Restoration Bill into law.

“Basically we had a name and a cemetery. Nothing more than that,” former Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno has said previously about the importance of marking Restoration Day. “Everything on top of that people should be very thankful for.”

The 34th Restoration Celebration begins with a Canoe Family performance and program starting at 10 a.m. followed by a meal in the Tribal gym at noon. There will be a break at 2 p.m. and a powwow beginning at 3 p.m. There also will be youth specials during the powwow in honor of Saige Selwyn, a Tribal youth who walked on in 2015.

The Planning Committee for this year’s celebration includes Tribal Council Secretary Jon A. George, Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez, Tribal Council Administrative Assistant Shannon Simi, Culture Committee members Tracie Meyer, Joanna Brisbois and Shayla Murphy, Cultural Resources Department employee Julie Brown, Food Bank Coordinator Francene Ambrose, Tribal Elders Faye Smith and Steve Bobb Sr., Portland Area Office Tribal Services Representative Lisa Archuleta and Public Affairs Administrative Assistant Chelsea Clark.

Grand Ronde Tribal vendors who wish to set up a table during the event should contact Ambrose at 503-879-3663. Space for vendors is limited.

RSVP to Public Affairs at 503-879-1418 or send an e-mail to so that organizers can determine an approximate number of attendees.

The 35th Restoration Celebration will be held Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Spirit Mountain Casino, according to an authorization to proceed approved by Tribal Council on Oct. 26. Otherwise, 2018’s Restoration Day would have fallen on the same day as Thanksgiving.


Includes information from previous editions of Smoke Signals.