Tribal Government & News

Letters to the Editor -- July 15, 2021

07.14.2021 Dean Rhodes Letters
Cecil Rose Russell Porter


Dear Smoke Signals:

I read with much interest the articles on boarding schools for Native American children in the latest edition of Smoke Signals. My grandmother, Cecil Rose Russell Porter, was taken from her home in Tiller, Ore., in 1908 by the state of Oregon and incarcerated in Chemawa Indian School in Salem. There she was kept until 1918 when she was 19.

Over the course of that time, many relatives from the Norwest family on the Grand Ronde Reservation tried in vain to get custody of her. Her mother, Rosalia Nippising Quintal Russell, died at her birth in 1899. Her older sister, Agnes, was also sent to Chemawa and later back east.

Our family was fortunate to ask for and receive a 60-page transcript of grandmother Cecil’s entire records of her stay at Chemawa. We got these records, after much red tape, from Seattle where all Northwest Native and Alaska Native records are archived at NARA Pacific Alaska Region.

The pages of the transcript are filled with letters from Native American family and family friends pleading with the state of Oregon to allow her to at the very least come to their homes for visits. She was never allowed off the Chemawa Indian School grounds. A book could get written about the toils and troubles in those letters both from grandmother and from the relatives. Several hearings were held during her incarceration about allowing her to be with her family. In every instance, the requests were turned down.

I am sure her story is one of thousands that document the taking and locking up of Native children.

Bradley M. Kowing

Roll # 1816


Dear Smoke Signals:

Our Spirit Mountain Casino is about to undergo a sudden change, which I feel is not in the best interest of the Tribe or the casino. As most have heard by now, it is being planned to shut down the buffet at the casino. What a huge mistake! We go to the casino as friends, family and community. Two weeks ago, seven of us met at the buffet for a birthday lunch for a 78-year-old man. We had fantastic meals with great service by our waitress. So enjoyed the seating and not like in a food court.

There have been thousands of dollars spent in advertising alone that has stated the “drawing card” to the casino as being “the premier casino and entertainment center of Oregon with the largest buffet in the state.” We have even seen it stated on “Wheel of Fortune” on television! People can go to any of the other seven casinos in Oregon to gamble. We are not in Las Vegas, nor are we a mall where folks want a food court! Our only reason people come to our casino is to enjoy each other and to have a great meal at the buffet and then go gamble some more.

You do not make money off of the food, but rather off the playing floor and what keeps folks there is being able to eat a fabulous meal and stay at the lodge. Without the big buffet and all its varied foods in one place, not a food court, people will now start coming again now that the COVID-19 is being lifted. This is the worst time to shut down the buffet! The summer traffic to the coast going and coming is something we have depended on. Please speak out as otherwise I hate to see us lose our casino. It belongs to our Tribe; that is why it even exists. We are community!

I hope that the temporary CEO, Tribal Council and other officers of the casino reconsider this most drastic decision.

Susie Shaw (Tribal wife and former employee of Spirit Mountain Casino and Lodge)

Cornelius, Ore.