Yesteryears - May 15, 2022

05.12.2022 Danielle Harrison Yesteryears
2017 (Smoke Signals file photo)

2017 – Tribal Elder and former Tribal Council member Wink Soderberg was featured in Smoke Signals for his “enterprising life.” Soderberg grew up in Grand Ronde in the 1930s when it was a much different place, with no running water in his home and an outhouse a 50-yard sprint away. “My mother always kept us involved with Indians,” he said, referring to his childhood. “When the federal government terminated us that didn’t make any difference to her. She still kept every record she could get for my family and my brother’s family.” Soderberg served six years on Tribal Council and continued to stay active by serving on the Tribe’s TERO Commission.

2012 – The Grand Ronde Tribe’s efforts to continue improving the local community received a $500,000 boost from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Tribe was selected to receive a federal grant that would help it build a new, more accessible food bank near the Tribal campus.

2007 – Tribal members rallied together to raise money for Tribal member Jackie Whisler, who had been battling cancer for more than a year. She was an active member of the Grand Ronde community for most of her life and played a key role in the Tribe’s Restoration effort. She also worked for several years as a language specialist for the Tribe.

2002 – The fifth annual Government-to-Government Summit was held at Spirit Mountain Casino. The summit gave Tribes across Oregon and state elected officials an opportunity to share their views on various issues and talk about possible opportunities for collaboration in the future. Gov. John Kitzhaber expressed his thanks and appreciation to the Tribes for inviting him to the event. “It’s an honor to be here today,” he said. 

1997 – Tribal and Spirit Mountain Casino representatives announced that the first grant recipient of the nonprofit Spirit Mountain Community Fund would be the Life Flight Network of Oregon. Tribal Council presented the organization with a check for $174,000, which would be used to enhance its ability to save lives in rural medical emergencies.

1992 – The Tribal Education Department held an open house that included representatives from all of the area schools, as well as Oregon’s colleges and universities. Education Department officials highlighted accomplishments, such as reducing the high school dropout rate among Tribal students from almost 50 percent to 19 percent. Another accomplishment was the plan to open a Tribal Head Start program in the fall.

1987 – Tribal representatives from across Oregon met with Gov. Neil Goldschmidt at the Capitol building in Salem. The meeting, which was organized by the Commission on Indian Services, provided Tribal leaders the opportunity to meet the new governor and discuss local and state-related Native American issues. Tribal Council Chairman Mark Mercier attended on behalf of the Grand Ronde Tribe.


Yesteryears is a look back at Tribal history in five-year increments through the pages of Smoke Signals.