Tribal Government & News

Tribal Council approves forming a new company for small business investment

10.13.2021 Dean Rhodes Tribal Council


By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde will soon have a new limited liability company.

Tribal Council approved forming Upqwena LLC during the Wednesday, Oct. 13, meeting, allowing Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez to file the required paperwork with the state of Oregon. The company will invest in small business opportunities, Hernandez said, with the focus being on SBA 8(a) opportunities.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, the 8(a) program helps socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs gain access to the economic mainstream. Companies must be controlled at least 51 percent by designated minority owners, which includes Native Americans.

Companies in the 8(a) program can receive sole source contracts up to $4 million in goods and services and $6.5 million in manufacturing from the federal government.

Upqwena may establish subsidiary LLCs for individual and small business projects, the executive summary states.

Hernandez said any 8(a) business opportunities will be brought back before Tribal Council for approval before proceeding with actual investments.

Upqwena joins the Tribe’s other LLCs, which include Dakta (SAM Medical Products) and HuyHuy (Shasta Administrative Services).

Upqwena is Chinuk Wawa for “basket.”

In other action, Tribal Council:

  • Approved applying for a $750,000 Housing and Urban Development Indian Community Development Block Grant that would help fund a new 3,500-square-foot child care center. Planning & Grants Department Manager Kim Rogers said the full cost of the center would be approximately $2.1 million with the other funding coming from myriad revenue streams, including a projected $400,000 in foundation awards. The center would have three classrooms with nine children each, significantly increasing the number of 0- to 3-year-olds the Tribe could care for;
  • Sent an amendment to the Enrollment Ordinance out for a first reading. The amendment would add the ability to use genetic testing of other family members if a parent is unable to be located or refuses to provide DNA. The first reading will give Tribal members 30 days to comment on the proposal;
  • Approved a $251,420 contract with Scholten Construction of Willamina to repair and replace the pavement on Murphy Road, which runs adjacent to Spirit Mountain Casino;
  • Approved appointing Spirit Mountain Casino Assistant General Manager Camille Mercier to the Spirit Mountain Community Fund Board of Trustees, replacing Ron Reibach, who has decided to step down. Mercier's term will run through September 2023;
  • Approved the Tribal Housing Department’s 2022 Indian Housing Plan to be submitted to the Department of Housing & Urban Development’s Office of Native American Programs. The Tribe expects to receive $2.8 million in funding during fiscal year 2022. Tribal Council also approved an Abbreviated Indian Housing Plan that will allow Housing to use $1.943 million in COVID-19-related funding to develop low-income housing for Elders and renovate the basketball court in Tribal housing;
  • And approved the enrollment of one infant into the Tribe because he or she meets the requirements outlined in the Tribal Constitution and Enrollment Ordinance.

Also included in the Oct. 13 Tribal Council packet was a staff directive for all supervisors to document and track Tribal assets that should be returned by each employee upon their separation from Tribal employment and an approved authorization to proceed to pay indirect costs on a $4,000 mini-grant from the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs to help prevent veteran suicide.

To watch the entire meeting, visit the Tribal government’s website at and click on the Government tab and then Videos.