Tribal Government & News

September ballot to include three advisory vote questions

07.09.2018 Dean Rhodes Tribal Council, Elections

For the second year in a row, Tribal voters will be asked their opinions on three topics when they cast their ballots for Tribal Council during the Sept. 8 election.

Tribal voters will be asked the following three questions:

  • Should the Tribal Constitution be amended to allow the enrollment of applicants who have enrolled brothers or sisters by the same Tribal parent(s) and who meet the pre-1999 constitutional enrollment requirements?

  • Should Spirit Mountain Casino offer additional amenities to make it more of a destination resort?

  • Should the Tribe look into offering financial assistance for education/training in areas not covered by existing programs?

Although the results of the advisory votes are not binding on Tribal Council, they do influence council decision-making.

For instance, in 2017’s advisory votes the only question that received overwhelming Tribal support was creating market-rate housing for Elders, which was supported 792-408. Since then, Tribal Housing staff have worked on making market-rate housing for Elders a reality.

Tribal voters voted “no” last year on all three parts of an enrollment requirements question. Removing the requirement that an applicant be born to a parent who was a Tribal member at the time of the applicant’s birth was opposed 683-541; removing the requirement that the applicant be born to a parent who was a Tribal member at the time the enrollment application is filed was opposed 705-493; and returning to the pre-1999 amendment blood quantum requirements was opposed 654-574.

A three-part question about the Tribe possibly entering the marijuana business received a “yes” vote twice. Tribal voters favored the Tribe getting involved in the medical marijuana business (818-445) and hemp production (761-467), but narrowly voted against becoming involved in the recreational marijuana business (632-601).

The first educational meeting to discuss this year’s advisory votes was held at Wednesday, July 11, following the Tribal Council meeting.

About 30 Tribal members attended the meeting, which started at about 7 p.m., and they dined on sandwiches and watched an informational video created by Deputy Press Secretary Sara Thompson.

The video told the story of Travis Wilson, son of Natural Resources Department Manager Michael Wilson and his wife, Denise. Travis is not a Tribal member while his three siblings are Tribal members. Same parents. Same blood quantum. Different enrollment results because of the 1999 amendment.

An information sheet distributed during the meeting discussed the three advisory vote questions.

Regarding the enrollment question, the sheet said: “The Tribe’s constitutional enrollment requirements were amended in 1999 and 2008. Since then, constitutional amendments to enrollment requirements have not received sufficient votes to pass. Advisory votes on enrollment requirements continue to be suggested at each of the community meetings. The most common concern raised at the community meetings is repairing split families where some siblings are enrolled while other siblings are not due to the 1999 amendment.

“One of the reasons for this split is based on whether children were born before or after the 1999 amendment. Children born and enrolled before the amendment qualified under the original requirements, but their brothers and sisters born after the 1999 amendment do not qualify under the new requirements. This split in families may be corrected by applying the pre-1999 amendment enrollment requirements to applicants with siblings who were enrolled prior to the 1999 amendment. This advisory vote is presented to see if the membership would like to fix the split family issue by amending the constitutional enrollment requirements.”

Regarding casino amenities, the sheet said: “Over the last several years, Tribal members have advocated for additional amenities at Spirit Mountain Casino, including, but not limited to, a full-service RV park, spa, pool, salon, bowling alley, cinema and shopping center. This advisory vote is presented to see if the membership would like staff to research additional amenities at Spirit Mountain Casino.”

And regarding more financial assistance, the sheet stated: “Over the last several years, Tribal members have requested an expansion of programs and services that qualify for funding assistance. More specifically, educational programs and trainings that are not covered by existing programs, including, but not limited to, additional trade school funding, tutoring expenses and private school tuitions. This advisory vote is presented to see if the membership would like staff to explore program and service expansion within the Education Department.”

Tribal members were asked for advisory vote topics after General Council meetings held in Portland, Eugene and Grand Ronde earlier this year. Tribal Council then met to review all of the suggestions and eventually selected those that “seemed especially pressing and could be dealt with in the coming year.”

Additional advisory vote informational meetings are scheduled for:

  • 6 p.m. Thursday, July 26, at Portland State University’s Native American Student and Community Center, Room 170., 710 S.W. Jackson St.;

  • 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, at the Lane Community College Longhouse in the Great Room, 4000 E. 30th Ave., Eugene;

  • 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug.22, at the Tribal Community Center, 9165 Grand Ronde Road, Grand Ronde.