Tribal Government & News

Tribe celebrates 37th anniversary of Restoration virtually

11.30.2020 Danielle Harrison Tribal Council, Events
Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy addresses the Tribal membership from achaf-hammi during the virtual 37th Restoration Day celebration held on Sunday, Nov. 22. The Tribe did not hold an in-person celebration this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


By Danielle Harrison

Smoke Signals staff writer

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde’s 37th Restoration Celebration was the first ever to be virtual, but some of the traditions, like raffles and gifts, remained an important part of the event.

Restoration began at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 22, with a pre-recorded message from Tribal Council posted to the Tribe’s website.

The video opened with Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy welcoming attendees virtually at achaf-hammi, the Tribal plankhouse. Behind her sat Tribal Council members Jack Giffen Jr., Secretary Jon A. George, Kathleen George, Steve Bobb Sr., Lisa Leno and Denise Harvey. After an invocation by Bobb, Kennedy reflected on Nov. 22, 1983, when the Tribe was restored by the federal government, and all of the work that had gone into the battle to achieve it.

“Over 37 years ago, our people fought a good fight,” Kennedy said. “A fight for our Restoration, to be federally recognized and sit among all the Tribal Nations across the United States. It was a long battle, but we were successful. Thanks to those who worked intimately in this struggle, led and gathered together by Marvin Kimsey, Margaret Provost and Merle Holmes. These are the ones we call our founding fathers.”

Restoration was moved online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and state and Tribal restrictions on large gatherings. Kennedy urged remote attendees to celebrate the day with immediate family members and share a meal together, provided it was done safely.

“The accomplishments that were done, what it means, today, what it means for our children, we celebrate,” she said. “For the many Tribes that formed Grand Ronde, we all rejoice together.”

Kennedy recalled that after the Tribe was terminated in 1954, there were only 900 members on the Termination Roll. She was one of them.

“Many of us, those Elders among us today, we need to appreciate and help them,” she said. “You have to think of the feat that was accomplished. The United States, the most powerful nation in the world, admitted they were wrong and they restored us to Tribal Nation status. So today, let’s celebrate, and be the thankful and grateful people we are, and remember our future is bright.”

The video continued with views from inside Chachalu Museum & Cultural Center, and then featured Jon A. George near uyxat Powwow Grounds.

“(At one time) this was not a good location,” he said. “We were forced marched here. It was a prison. The government tried to tell us we were no longer recognized as Native Americans. We started out with those three visionaries (Provost, Holmes and Kimsey) and in 1983, it happened. We became a Native nation once again.”

In closing, Kennedy called on Tribal members to stay strong and persevere.

“Today, we know that we can all rejoice together,” she said. “Let’s continue to be a helpful people as we look to the future.”

On the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Facebook page, Tribal Council Vice Chair Chris Mercier and Jon A. George conducted a raffle for Amazon and Visa gift cards. Winners will have their prizes mailed out. Additionally, Tribal Communications Director Sara Thompson has said that small gifts were being sent out to Tribal members.

“On Nov. 22, 1983, Grand Ronde’s federal recognition as a Tribal government was restored when the Grand Ronde Restoration Act was signed into law,” a statement on the Tribe’s website said. “Every year since then, we have gathered as a Tribe, a community and a family to celebrate our Restoration. Even with our 37th celebration moving online, we want to get small gifts to our Tribal members.”

Those who have not yet registered for a gift can do so by visiting, click on the “Celebrating 37 Years of Restoration” link and below there is an online form to fill out. Additionally, the video presentation and the raffle event can be viewed on the site.

Kennedy has said moving the Restoration Celebration online allowed the Tribe to honor the day while keeping Tribal and community members safe.

“We’re saddened that we won’t be able to gather in person for this year’s Restoration Celebration,” she said. “But even in this time of uncertainty, we still want to recognize this important day and honor those that made Restoration a reality for the Grand Ronde Tribe.” 

It was the first time since 1984 that the Tribe did not host an in-person event. The decision was initially announced in a Facebook post on Friday, Oct. 23.

“Grand Ronde’s federal recognition as a Tribal government was restored when the Grand Ronde Restoration Act was signed into law. Every year since then, we have gathered as a Tribe, a community and a family to celebrate our Restoration. Unfortunately, 2020 has left us in unprecedented times and we can’t gather in person this year. Restoration will still be celebrated, but the celebration will look a little different because we’re moving it online.”

On Nov. 22, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed House Resolution 3885 restoring the Grand Ronde Tribe, which had been terminated 29 years earlier, to federal recognition. His signature on the bill officially ended the dark time of Termination.

Every year since, the Tribe has held a celebration. It includes a meal, giveaways, speeches, dancing, drumming, singing and a Restoration Powwow. Approximately 200 Tribal members, family, friends and elected officials traveled to Grand Ronde last year for the event held in the Tribal gym.

In an e-mail to all Tribal employees on Friday, Nov. 20, Kennedy said that Restoration is a bright spot in an otherwise bleak year.

“This Sunday marks the 37th Restoration of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde,” she said. “I am grateful that this date is a time marked in history because we all have endured dreadful situations this year: The epidemic, wildfires and personal difficulties brought on by COVID-19. (We now) have this bright spot to celebrate while keeping safe. This journey has pronounced how loyal, committed and caring staff of the CTGR are. I appreciate what you do and the sacrifice you are making. My prayers for your safety and good health are spoken daily.”