Tribal Government & News

Oregonian publishes Tribal op-ed about ‘unjust consent decree’

11.30.2021 Dean Rhodes Tribal relations, Federal government

By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

Oregon’s largest newspaper published an op-ed by Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy on Sunday, Nov. 28, in which she argued that the “unjust consent decree” that the Grand Ronde Tribe had to agree to in the 1980s should be renegotiated.

The Oregonian ran Kennedy’s “In My Opinion” column on the cover of its Opinion section.

Kennedy wrote that the mid-1980s effort to obtain Reservation land following 1983’s Restoration cost the Tribe a “significant price.”

“The state demanded that the Tribe sign a consent decree that severely limits our sacred rights to hunt and fish,” she wrote. “Unless we agreed, the state would not support establishing a Reservation; forcing us to remain a landless people and suffer the unbearable loss of our heritage and identity.”

Kennedy said the Tribe has been bound by the “biased” rules within the consent decree for almost 40 years. Tribal members’ ability to hunt and fish is confined to Reservation land and nearby areas and Tribal members cannot hunt or fish in culturally significant areas or during appropriate times of the year for ceremonial purposes.

Kennedy said the Grand Ronde Tribe is seeking restoration of its ancestral rights to hunt and fish and is encouraged that Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden have submitted a bill in Congress that would give the Tribe an opportunity to review the consent decree and work with the state of Oregon to update the Tribe’s hunting and fishing rights.

“Restoring our rights … will allow us to nourish our Tribal members, provide for our community and honor our ceremonial teachings,” Kennedy wrote. “Restoring our hunting and fishing rights will help correct the injustice that has been perpetuated against our people for decades, it will strengthen our traditional role as caretakers of the land and begin to heal past wrongs. … Through this new legislation, we are only asking for the chance to work with the state of Oregon to regain what was taken from us.”

To read the entire op-ed, visit