Margaret Provost walks on at age 88

08.30.2018 Dean Rhodes History, Walking On

Margaret June Provost, the last of a trio of Tribal members credited with starting the Grand Ronde Restoration effort, has walked on.

Provost was born June 11, 1930, to Loren Leo and Nora Warren Kimsey. The announcement of her walking on was posted on Facebook by family members on Thursday, Aug. 30.

Provost convinced her younger brother, Marvin Kimsey, and Merle Holmes to attend a meeting of the Association of Urban Indians in Lebanon in 1972 and from there the seeds of Grand Ronde Tribal Restoration grew.


Provost was a housewife and mother, and was working for metal processing company Teledyne Wah Chang in Albany when her supervisor asked her why the Grand Ronde Tribe wasn’t trying to get restored in the wake of the Menominee Tribe’s restoration.

“I said, “I don’t know. Who would do it?’ and he said, ‘What about you?’ ” Provost recalled in a video filmed for the Tribe’s 25th Restoration in 2008.

Marvin Kimsey walked on March 4, 2018, and Holmes walked on in 2004.

“We will forever be indebted to Margaret for her work and dedication, which placed the Grand Ronde Tribe on the path to Restoration,” the Grand Ronde Tribal Council said in a collective statement released Thursday, Aug. 30. “As a Tribal Council, we look to the future, but we do so on a foundation that was built by those before us. Those who fought for our existence. Those like Margaret.”

“It is with a sad and emotional heart that I reflect back upon a very special lady,” said Tribal Council Secretary Jon A. George. “Our families connected through Reservation times, Termination times to the incredible beginnings of Restoration to today. I grew up with her nieces and nephews, the Kimsey children. Our parents hung out together. I sat on the Health Committee, the Powwow Committee and the Culture Committee with Margaret. She was known for her fry bread back in the day.

“I reflect on the times when we weren’t a Tribe, and she would tell me, ‘We were all closer then. We didn’t have anything to fight over and we cared for one another. All this money has only caused greed and ungratefulness in some people.’ Her wish was that people would just get along and be thankful for what we have. Those are powerful words from such a kind and loving, sweet lady. I love you, Margaret Provost, and I’ll do my best to live up to your words. May the Lord give your family peace and understanding at this time. I will miss you terribly. Goodbye for now. Sweet journey my beautiful friend and hayu masi for what you have done for us all.”

Provost served as chair of the temporary Tribal Council in 1975 and after 1983’s Restoration served on Tribal Council from 1990-93 and 1995-98. She ran for Tribal Council 14 times after Restoration, making her last run in 2011.

Provost also served on the Tribe’s Ordinance, Health, Powwow, Culture, Enrollment and Elders committees. In her later years while living in Grand Ronde, she was a devoted caregiver to her mother, who lived to be 102 and walked on in 2011.

In her final Tribal Council candidate statement printed in 2011, she explained why she was running after an eight-year break: “Because I love my people, the same reasons that prompted me to seek Restoration. We need to be better, show compassion for our members by lifting them up when they need a helping hand and giving them the tools to be productive people.”

Provost was the only Enrollment Board member who publicly supported the 2016 Court of Appeals decision that ruled that the Tribe had waited too long in its attempt to disenroll descendants of treaty signer Chief Tumulth.

Provost’s grandparents were Cecille Leno Warren and John M. Warren and her great-grandfather was Chief Bogus of the Umpqua Tribe. Bogus was killed by vigilantes during the 1856 Trail of Tears that saw Tribal members marched from Table Rocks near Medford to Grand Ronde during the winter months of late February and March.

Bollman Funeral Homes is assisting the family. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 7, in the Grand Ronde gym, 9615 Grand Ronde Road. A meal will follow at the Elders Activity Center, 48940 Blacktail Drive.

A full Walking On notice will appear in the Sept. 15 edition of Smoke Signals.