Tribal Government & News

35th Restoration Celebration set for Sunday, Nov. 18

11.13.2018 Danielle Frost Events, Spirit Mountain Casino

If you go

35th Restoration Celebration

When: Doors open at 10 a.m., a meal will be served at noon and a powwow will follow at 3 p.m. All are welcome

Where: Spirit Mountain Casino, 27100 S.W. Salmon River Highway

RSVPs: Not necessary

More info: 503-879-1418


By Danielle Frost

Nov. 22, 1983, is a day that will forever be etched in Grand Ronde Tribal history.

It was the day that President Ronald Reagan signed House Resolution 3885 restoring the Tribe, which had been terminated 29 years earlier, to federal recognition. His signature on the bill officially ended a dark time.

The Tribe is preparing to celebrate 35 years of Restoration and all of the accomplishments that have come with it.

Tribal Council Secretary Jon A. George grew up in Grand Ronde during the 1960s and ’70s, when all the Tribe had left to its name was a 2.5-acre cemetery. Most people who lived in the area struggled to make ends meet in a rural economy with scant opportunity. Many Tribal members moved away after Termination in 1954 to survive, leaving their roots so they could feed their families.

The seeds of Restoration were just beginning as George became a young adult, but he always knew his Tribal family was important.

“To see how far we have come in that time is incredible,” he says. “Growing up here, we had nothing, but we still had family. No one locked their doors and everyone looked after each other.”

George serves on the Restoration Committee, which is charged with arranging the celebration. The group has been meeting regularly for months to plan the event at Spirit Mountain Casino down to the smallest detail.

“The main thing I am looking forward to is seeing all of the Tribal families coming together and connecting to those who haven’t been here yet,” George says. “We are all one Tribe and should celebrate that.”

The 35th anniversary will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 18. Tribal Council chose that date because Nov. 22 is also Thanksgiving Day this year. RSVPs are not necessary.

A meal will be served at noon and a powwow begins at 3 p.m. Specials include Golden Age, Tiny Tot, Youth Council Intertribal spot check, and past and present Grand Ronde Royalty members. There also will be recognition of Restoration Elders. Entertainment will be provided by the Grand Ronde Canoe Family.

Everyone is invited to attend the celebration. Last year’s event attracted almost 300 people despite it being held the day before Thanksgiving.

“Even before we were restored, I was always connected with family and we knew we were still a Tribe,” George says. “This is another opportunity for all of us to come together and celebrate. I am so glad we are restored and have connected with the old values.”

George says one example of a return to old values is the Tribe recently erecting a removable fishing platform at Willamette Falls, located in the Tribe’s ceded lands and a place of historical and ceremonial importance. The Tribe had not fished from a platform at the falls in more than a century.

“It is so important that we are able to do these things … to reconnect with the old ways,” he says.

Tribal Council member Kathleen George says that the annual Restoration celebration is another way to honor the Tribe’s ancestors and Elders for their perseverance and sacrifices.

“When I think about Grand Ronde’s Restoration I find myself reflecting on the power of perseverance and determination that has defined the Grand Ronde Tribe and our ancestors,” she says. “The persistence and determination of our ancestors who survived incredible hardship including Termination of our federal recognition should always be a lesson for us.”

She says that the Tribal Elders who pursued Restoration when the odds were stacked against them is a reminder not to allow obstacles to block the path of where the Tribe needs to go.

“Being born from such courageous people we should always persevere,” she says. “We owe it to the people we come from and the sacrifices that they made.”

To find out more about the Tribe’s Restoration effort, see the 28-page special section in this edition of Smoke Signals.