Yesteryears - May 15, 2023

05.12.2023 Danielle Harrison Yesteryears

2018 – Tribal Council signed off on a loan agreement with the British Museum in London that would bring 16 items from the Summers Collection to the Tribal museum Chachalu for an exhibit called “Rise of the Collectors” that would run through May 2019. Part of the agreement stated that the Tribe would not invoke sovereign immunity and seize the items once they were in the Tribe’s possession. Tribal Historic Preservation Manager Briece Edwards said the items were selected to complement cultural programming that would occur during the almost 12 months that the items would be displayed in Grand Ronde.

2013 – Tribal Government Day at the State Capitol honored the ways Oregon’s nine Tribes were teaching their children educationally and culturally. Tribal Council member Cheryle A. Kennedy briefed Government Day attendees about Grand Ronde Tribal efforts in educating its youth while speaking in the State Capitol rotunda. Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno carried in the Grand Ronde flag during the opening ceremony as an All Nations drum played. All nine Oregon Tribes attended the event.

2008 – Tribal member and Natural Resources employee Jake McKnight won his mixed martial arts fight in a split-decision against Ray Armstrong at the Salem Armory. His coach was Chris Toquero. It was McKnight’s debut event as a professional fighter.

2003 – Tribal member Denise Ripley was hired to lead the Tribe’s Mentorship Program, which was a two-year pilot program designed to “create opportunities for Tribal members to acquire the necessary education, experience and skills to perform positions of leadership and responsibility for the Tribe,” according to the program’s mission statement. Ripley worked closely with Tribal members James Buxman and Elaine LaBonte as they sought to advance their careers. “You have to design (each program) to the environment they’re in,” Ripley said. “We’re totally flexible. Communication with department heads is key.” 

1998 – The Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Cultural Resources Protection Department joined forces to preserve a 75-acre wetland area near Corvallis that a band of the Kalapuya people considered part of their home country. The area, adjacent to Marys River, held special meaning for many Tribal people. The land was originally going to be a housing development, but when the historical and cultural importance of the area was revealed, the plan was halted.

1993 – Tribal Chairman Mark Mercier attended the Forest Conference held in Portland with President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. The purpose was to discuss both sides of the timber crisis with various political figures, business owners, Tribal officials and environmentalists.

1988 – A hearing on recently introduced legislation by Oregon Rep. Les AuCoin to establish a 9,811-acre Reservation for the Tribe was held in Washington, D.C. On the same day as the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs hearing, Sen. Mark Hatfield introduced companion legislation in the Senate to show his support for the establishment of a Reservation in Yamhill County. AuCoin called the Reservation bill a compromise that worked in the interests of the Tribe and the community.


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