Tribal Government & News

Educational meetings clarify proposed amendment


By Kamiah Koch

Social media/digital journalist

Grand Ronde Tribal staff hosted the first of four educational meetings on Thursday, Oct. 13, to discuss the proposed constitutional amendment of limiting disenrollment from the Tribe to cases of proven fraud or dual enrollment.

Approximately 15 Tribal members and eight Tribal staff, including Tribal Council members, attended the hybrid meeting at Portland State University and over Zoom.

Tribal Council members in attendance included Vice Chair Chris Mercier, Secretary Michael Langley, Kathleen George, Denise Harvey, Lisa Leno and Brenda Tuomi.

Mercier co-hosted the meeting with Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez and Senior Staff Attorney Holly Partridge.

Hernandez and Partridge began the meeting with a brief summary of the proposed amendment, important dates and frequently asked questions.

“I think with a clear conscience, it is important we pass this amendment because why would we want to leave future generations with an issue like this?” Mercier said.

Several Tribal members asked questions clarifying what qualifies as “fraud” and the process of determining a case of fraudulent enrollment.

Partridge explained that fraud was an intentional misrepresenting of the facts in the enrollment process.

“The person being enrolled intentionally provides false information to get enrolled in the Tribe, that would be an example of fraud,” she said.

Partridge added that with the suggested amendment, the Tribe would have to prove false information was provided intentionally, which is difficult to do.

Mercier added he doesn’t think there are going to be a lot of cases of this but it has happened in the past.

Mercier and Partridge reiterated that the proposed amendment is intended to keep Tribal members in the Tribe, not a new way of kicking members out.

One Tribal member expressed concern that members enrolled at the time of Restoration with a signed affidavit could be considered fraudulent enrollment with today’s enrollment criteria. Partridge confirmed the Tribe would only apply the enrollment criteria established at time they were enrolled.

Mercier coaxed a few more questions from the small group of attendees and offered to hear arguments against the amendment. There were no challenges and members continued to make statements supporting the amendment.

Questions stalled after one hour and Tribal Council members made closing remarks.

“It is time to begin the healing,” Leno said. “Tribal members should feel safe and confident in being Tribal members.”  

The next educational meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18, in Tribal Council Chambers in Grand Ronde and on Zoom.

The third meeting was changed to 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Salem Public Library, 585 Liberty St. S.E., and on Zoom.

The final meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, in Tribal Council Chambers in Grand Ronde and on Zoom.