Tribal Government & News
Meeting continues to address enrollment issue
By Kamiah Koch
Social media/digital journalist
The Tribe added another meeting on Tuesday, April 4, to the long line of meetings held the last several years to address Grand Ronde enrollment concerns.
Tribal Council Chambers were transformed into a new seating arrangement, bringing Tribal Council members and approximately 40 people together in an informal circle. Another 130 people joined the hybrid meeting over Zoom.
Tribal Council members in attendance included Secretary Michael Langley, Michael Cherry, Jon A. George, Kathleen George, Lisa Leno and Brenda Tuomi.
A PowerPoint was presented by Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez and Tribal Senior Staff Attorney Holly Partridge. Langley moderated the executive session meeting that lasted almost four hours.
Because the meeting was held in executive session, Smoke Signals cannot report details of what was discussed.
On Wednesday, March 22, Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy announced a yearlong pause on enrollment actions. Kennedy stated almost 70 percent of current living Tribal members have lower provable blood quantum than what is on file with the Tribe.
The Grand Ronde Tribe has specific blood quantum requirements in its Constitution. Using blood quantum to determine enrollment dates back more than two centuries, when Indian agents would conduct census taking in Tribal communities and assign blood quantum amounts to families, with little to no scientific process.
Widespread errors in the memberships’ files were first identified in an enrollment audit conducted in 2012 that became the foundation for a divisive era of disenrollment proceedings within the Grand Ronde Tribe. The audit was eventually deemed unreliable by Tribal Council.
Since 2019, Tribal Council has been researching, conducting meetings and hiring staff to find a fix for these errors.
In order to change the requirements of enrolling new Tribal members, the membership must approve a constitutional amendment, which requires at least 30 percent of all registered voters cast ballots and two-thirds of those voting must approve the amendment.
The only three constitutional amendments that have passed were the 1999 amendment, which tightened enrollment requirements, an increase in the relinquishment period approved in 2008 and a 2022 amendment, which bans disenrollment except in cases of deliberate fraud or dual enrollment.
If Grand Ronde Tribal members would like to receive a link to watch the Tuesday, April 4, meeting, email Hernandez at email@example.com.
Future enrollment-oriented meetings are slated for:
- Thursday, April 13, at 5:30 p.m. in the Governance Center/Zoom;
- Wednesday April 19, at 5:30 p.m. in the Governance Center/Zoom;
- Thursday, May 4, at 5:30 p.m. at Portland State University Native American Student and Community Center/Zoom;
- Wednesday, May 17, at 5:30 p.m. in the Governance Center/Zoom;
- Thursday, June 1, at 5:30 p.m. in the Governance Center/Zoom.