Tribal Government & News

Tribal Council, SMGI Board scheduled to meet Wednesday, March 27

By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

According to Tribal Council agendas distributed on Friday, March 20, Tribal Council and the Spirit Mountain Gaming Inc. Board of Directors will meet at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, at Spirit Mountain Casino.

The agenda undoubtedly will include discussion of the Tribe’s unprecedented move to close the gaming facility on Thursday, March 21, and whether it will re-open on Thursday, April 2.

The move to close the Tribe’s primary economic engine was an effort to protect customers and personnel from the spread of the coronavirus and to help “flatten the curve.”

The original closure announcement stated that Tribal Council and the SMGI Board would review the decision as necessary.

Other than that, Tribal Council has scheduled daily 10 a.m. meetings with its executive staff to discuss updates regarding the Tribe’s response to the coronavirus pandemic – all in executive session -- and a 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 24, Legislative Action Committee meeting that currently has no action items on the agenda.

The Oregon Health Authority reported on Sunday, March 22, that the number of COVID-19 cases in the state has risen to 161 with two new cases originating in Yamhill County. So far, the state’s death toll from the virus is five.

Meanwhile, the Oregon Health Authority announced that the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde will receive $35,500 to help fund its response to the virus. The funds are part of $4 million being distributed to local public health authorities and Tribes.

The funds can be used to support reporting, monitoring and controlling of COVID-19 in communities, identifying and screening of contacts to COVID-19 positive patients and education, prevention and related communications activities to share information with the public and community partners.

“We believe that those funds will have a significant positive impact on our state’s capacity to perform COVID-19 response functions at the local level,” said Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen.

“Honoring the government-to-government relationship is important in our coordinated response to COVID-19,” said Julie Johnson, director of Tribal Affairs at the Oregon Health Authority. “We are appreciative of this funding to provide support at the local level. We know everyone is working extremely hard to protect all of our communities across the state.”

Other Tribes receiving the same amount of funding are the Warm Springs, Burns Paiute, Siletz, Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw, Klamath, Coquille and Cow Creek. The Umatilla Tribe will receive $40,500.

At this time, the Tribal government remains operative with a minimum of staff reporting to work at the Governance Center in Grand Ronde. Tribal members needing information and assistance are encouraged to call or e-mail; walk-ins are strongly discouraged.