Tribal Government & News

Letters to the Editor -- July 15, 2020

07.14.2020 Dean Rhodes Letters


Dear Smoke Signals:

We would like to start by saying “thank you” for letting us address the Tribal Council and the Tribal membership in this manner.  

We appreciate our ancestors who were true warriors who fought to keep our Tribe together. As most of you know, every day is a battle being Native American Indian and fortunately none of us have had to endure the hardships, pain and suffering that our ancestors had to keep our Tribe united. 

For various reasons, our mother was unable to enroll in the Tribe before her passing. She was 1/4th Grand Ronde. My siblings and I are 1/8th Grand Ronde. 

Our grandmother, Mary Lachance Spohn, was born on the Reservation along with her siblings as well as her mother and father. Our grandmother and great-grandfather are on the Restoration Roll of the CTGR. Our great-grandmother was on various Grand Ronde rolls before Termination, but she passed away in 1917.

As with many on the Reservation, they all experienced tremendous hardships, but were able to take comfort in the united family within the Tribe.

Our grandmother, great-grandmother and great-grandfather have since passed, but unfortunately their family is not united. Their family and many other families like ours have become divided due to the 1999 enrollment amendment, which states an applicant must be “born to a parent who was a member of the Tribe at the time of the applicant's birth.”

We would like to propose the Tribal Council bring this issue up for discussion during a current Tribal Council meeting and put forth as a standalone survey question and placed on a ballot in this fall's Tribal Council election so the Tribal membership can vote to remove the current constitutional membership requirement to be “born to a parent who was a member of the Tribe at the time of the applicant's birth.”

If such a proposal could be approved this fall and then be placed on a constitutional amendment ballot it would bring hope to our family and all the other families within the Tribe in similar situations. Please help us and others to claim our Native American Indian heritage birthright.  

We hope to count on your support and vote in changing the current membership requirement to be “born to a parent who was a member of the Tribe at the time of the applicant's birth.” 

Melissa DeVoss Bayles

Chris DeVoss

Jill DeVoss Burkhalter