Tribal Government & News

Riggs appointed to Grand Ronde Editorial Board

01.12.2022 Dean Rhodes Tribal Council
Leslie Riggs


By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

Former Grand Ronde Education Department Manager Leslie Riggs is the newest member of the Editorial Board.

Tribal Council appointed Riggs, 54, to the board that oversees the editor of Smoke Signals during its Wednesday, Jan. 12, meeting. He will serve the remainder of the three-year term that belonged to former Public Affairs Director Siobhan Taylor, who walked on in August 2021, through March 2023.

“The need for a free press for the Grand Ronde Tribe is of the utmost importance,” Riggs said in his application letter. “Undue influence by staff, Tribal Council or the membership could create an atmosphere not unlike that in which we are experiencing now in the news media. … Smoke Signals requires the ability to report the news, no matter how it impacts individuals. Once again if it is constructive, legal and does not go against journalistic ethics.”

Riggs served as head of the Tribe’s Education Department from February 2015 until September 2018. He previously worked for the Tribe as the VR/477 Program manager and as an employment and training specialist. He currently works for the state of Oregon as a Tribal liaison between the Oregon Youth Authority and the state’s nine federally recognized Tribes.

He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Ethnic Studies. He currently lives in Salem.

The five-member Editorial Board was created with the passage of the Independent Tribal Press Ordinance in December 2016. Board members supervise the editor of Smoke Signals and ensure that the Tribe’s newspaper can report news of interest without any undue influence and without any particular political interest, and that staff members adhere to the highest journalistic ethics.

Current members include Tribal members Mia Prickett, Andy Jenness, Shelley Sneed and Angela Sears.

“We are excited to have Leslie join the Editorial Board and believe his past experience of working for the Tribe and with Native youth will help further the mission and reach of Smoke Signals,” Prickett, who chairs the Editorial Board, said. “I think he is going to be a great addition.”

Previous Editorial Board members have included Cultural Resources Manager David Harrelson, Tribal member Monty Herron, Taylor and former Smoke Signals staff writer Ron Karten.

In other action, Tribal Council:

  • Re-appointed Tribal Council member Denise Harvey to serve as the principal delegate to the National Indian Gaming Association and approved paying the $25,000 in annual dues:
  • Approved two logging units – the Mulak and Bugle – as presented by Natural Resources staff members. The Mulak will generate at least $1.392 million in net revenue while the Bugle will make at least $311,490 for the Tribe;
  • And approved the Natural Resources Department applying for a maximum $120,000 grant from the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Endangered Species Program that will help it continue developing management plans for five of the 10 conservation properties acquired through the Bonneville Power Administration’s Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program. Tribal Council also approved Natural Resources applying for a maximum $102,785 grant from the BIA’s Invasive Species Program to continue restoration efforts at the Chahalpam conservation properties located in Marion County.

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