Yesteryears - September 1, 2023

08.31.2023 Danielle Harrison Yesteryears


2018 – U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici visited Grand Ronde and toured Chachalu Museum & Cultural Center. Others on the tour included Tribal Council Vice Chair Chris Mercier, Tribal Council member Denise Harvey, Tribal Council Secretary Jon A. George, and Tribal Council member Brenda Tuomi. After the tour, Bonamici talked with Tribal officials about police funding and Chemewa Indian School.

2013 – Tribal Council voted to disenroll 13 members for violating the dual enrollment provision of the Tribal Constitution. Seventeen other cases were sent back to the Tribal Enrollment Committee for re-examination. The meeting began with Tribal Council member Chris Mercier moving to suspend the process until the Tribe could find a way to help those facing disenrollment. The motion failed 5-4.

2008 – Tribal member Kass Ritchey, 24, became a homeowner using the Tribe’s Down Payment Assistance Program. He approached the Housing Authority for assistance at the suggestion of his mother, and three months later was a homeowner. The down payment assistance program helped make homeownership become a reality for many Tribal members, issuing almost 900 grants since its inception in 1990.

2003 – The Hall of Legends opened at Spirit Mountain Casino and included 53 feet linking the casino with the lodge next door. The hall told the story of the Tribe. Elaine LaBonte, Tribal management mentee, organized the project by gathering ideas from staffers and the Tribe’s Cultural Resources Department. They gathered hundreds of artifacts, artwork and stories for the hall.

1998 – Tribal members elected three Tribal Council members in the Sept. 5 election. They were Ed Larsen, Kathryn Harrison and Bob Haller. Tribal Council announced the winners at a General Council meeting. Approximately 80 eligible Tribal members voted in person and the rest were in the form of absentee ballots. It was also the first year the votes were counted using a ballot tabulation company instead of a hand count by the Election Board.

1993 – Oregon Gov. Barbara Roberts signed a gaming compact with Tribal officials, marking the end of negotiations between the state and the Tribe to build a Tribally-operated casino. It was the Tribe’s hope that the gaming facility would be in operation within a year, employ 600 people and offer a badly needed economic boost to the area. The gaming facility was to include a 1,000-seat bingo hall, video machines, keno and a buffet-style restaurant. Future plans included a hotel, golf course, retail space and other recreational amenities.

1988 – The Tribe celebrated its fourth annual powwow with more than 1,300 attendees. “Our powwow gets bigger every year and we are indebted to all who helped prepare for our event,” Tribal Council Chairman Mark Mercier said. “Believe me, it takes a lot of careful planning and hard work to make an event of this magnitude a success.”


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