Yesteryears - Aug. 1, 2022

07.28.2022 Danielle Harrison Yesteryears, Spirit Mountain Casino
Smoke Signals file photo, 2017.

2017 – Grand Ronde was preparing for what could be the most anticipated 101 seconds in modern history when a total solar eclipse would make landfall in Lincoln City and head across the United States. Grand Ronde was right in the middle of the area of totality, a 60-mile wide zone in which the moon would completely block the morning sun. Spirit Mountain Casino and the Tribe were preparing for an influx of people, as the event was expected to attract one million plus to Oregon along the swath of totality.

2012 – The Tribe continued its effort to amend the 1988 Grand Ronde Reservation Act to streamline how the Tribe takes former reservation land into trust when Tribal Council Vice Chair Reyn Leno testified before the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. The proposed amendment by Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader would end the two-step process that required the Grand Ronde Tribe take each piece of former Reservation land into trust with approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and then request that the land be designated Reservation land by Congress.

2007 – The Tribe hosted its annual Elder Honor Day and started the program by announcing a king and queen from the Elder community. They were Gene LaBonte and Marcella Norwest. Tribal Cultural Education Specialist Leslie Riggs led the Lilu preschool program in a Chinuk Wawa meal song, complete with drums and followed with an Elder participation song. Raffle prizes at the event included dart boards, BBQ grilling skillets, cordless drills, luggage, dust busters and gardening tools.

2002 – Three teens – Kevin Linton, Cedar Westley and Nathan Meuller – participated as part of a Tribal youth summer maintenance crew, helping Tribal Elders with various yard work tasks. The main purpose of the program was to provide an employment experience for the teens along with a sense of civic pride in a community setting. The youth mowed grass, pulled weeds and picked up trash. “My goal is to get them used to the idea of showing up, putting in the hours and doing things responsibly,” Tribal Maintenance Coordinator Lonnie Leno said.

1997 – Grand Ronde Tribal Council and Spirit Mountain Casino hosted a dinner for the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development. Representatives visited Spirit Mountain Casino to learn everything they could about casino operations, economic development and contributions to the community. Attendees were provided with a bus ride from Portland, a tour of the casino and dinner. During the meal, entertainment included two songs in Chinuk Wawa from Tribal children and a Chinuk story from Tribal Elder Ila Dowd.

1992 – A new HeadStart preschool was set to open in Grand Ronde, part of a cooperative effort between the Community Action Agency of Yamhill and the Tribe. The program was free of charge and provided services such as classroom teaching, identification of health issues, breakfast and lunches, parent involvement, social service assistance for families, bus transportation, and curriculum that promoted positive self-image and taught about the heritage and cultural traditions of the Tribe.


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