Yesteryears -- June 1, 2023

05.31.2023 Danielle Harrison Yesteryears

2018 – Tribal Elder Steve Bobb Sr., 69, finally received a Willamina High School diploma during the class of 2018 graduation ceremony. Bobb was on track to graduate 51 years earlier, but dropped out three months shy of earning his diploma after he and two friends were suspended for tampering with a fire alarm. As a veteran, Bobb was eligible to be awarded the diploma and Willamina staff worked with his wife of more than 50 years, Connie, to surprise him.

2013 – The Tribe continued its effort to amend the Grand Ronde Reservation Act and streamline how the Tribe took land into trust with Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno making his second appearance in Washington, D.C., in less than a year to testify in favor of H.R. 841. The legislation was introduced by Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader and sought to end the two-step process that required the Tribe take each piece of former Reservation land into trust with approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and then request the land be designated Reservation land by Congress. The legislation would allow the Tribe to streamline the process.

2008 – The Memorial Day ceremony in Grand Ronde included a keynote speech from then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski at the West Valley Veterans Memorial. Approximately 50 Tribal and family members and veterans from across the West Valley gathered for the event. It was also the first Tribal ceremony held with fresh ceremonial meat.

2003 – Seven gates were installed to protect forests on the Grand Ronde Reservation during high fire hazard days. “We’ve got $180 million plus worth of timber,” Natural Resources Manager Pete Wakeland said. “We’re putting a lot of our timber resources at risk if we’re not closing down during high fire danger.”

1998 – Tribal Information Day was celebrated at the State Capitol building with a proclamation presented by Oregon Secretary of State Phil Keisling to kick off the day set aside for Oregon citizens to learn firsthand about Tribal culture, history and community programs. Traditional dancers and drummers attended the event, and Tribes also provided informational tables. Tribal leaders said that the proclamation honoring Oregon Indian nations was a significant recognition of Indigenous sovereignty

1993 – The first year of the Tribe’s Head Start program wrapped up and was touted as the “first of its kind” in Grand Ronde. It was developed in conjunction with the Yamhill Community Action Program of McMinnville. Nineteen children attended the program, which was staffed by teacher Angela Bedortha, assistant teacher Mary Cook and family services advocate June Olson.

1988 – A harmful 1950s-era Termination policy, H.R. 108, was repealed by Congress as part of an education reauthorization bill passed by the House of Representatives and Senate. The 1953 policy led to an era of Termination amongst Native American Tribes. Eventually, most of the Tribes that were terminated under the policy were restored to their former status as federally recognized Tribes, but the policy remained on the books for years longer.


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