Yesteryears - Oct. 1, 2023

09.28.2023 Danielle Harrison Yesteryears

2018 – The seventh annual Coffee & Conversation was held in southern Oregon to commemorate the 1853 treaty signing at Table Rocks and the September 2011 signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Bureau of Land Management and The Nature Conservancy to manage the Table Rocks area north of Medford. “I hope our joint efforts are helping turn the dial to a better place,” Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy said in a conference room of the Courtyard Marriott Hotel adjacent to Medford’s airport. “From the smallest insects to the birds and wildlife there, all are important to us.”

2013 – The Grand Ronde Tribe brought home four first-place awards at the 10th annual Traditional Dugout Canoe Race held during the Mill-Luck Salmon Celebration and Canoe Races in North Bend. The four first-place awards were given in the Co-Ed, Youth, Women’s and Men’s races.  

2008 – The Tribe held a Chankal Celebration after pieces of rock, likely used by the Kalapuya people and other Tribes from across the Northwest, were found on a property it had purchased on Skyline Road in Salem. The rocks were recognized as fertility artifacts from thousands of years ago. The Tribe purchased the property in 2007.

2003 – A sunrise blessing ceremony was held at Portland State University’s new Native American Student and Community Center. The student center, built with the help of a $250,000 grant from the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, was a large, open communal structure located on the PSU campus. It provided a place for community activities, ceremonial and social functions, community outreach programs, storytelling and art activities.

1998 – The Tribe filed a lawsuit against the Grand Ronde Water Association in a final effort to end a yearlong disagreement over the cost of a water hook-up for the Tribe’s Grand Meadows Housing Project. The two sides were locked in a dispute over initial water hook-up fees. The Tribe had agreed to pay $2,500 for a new water hookup, but after the project was complete, it received a bill for $92,500 instead. The Tribe attempted to solve the dispute informally and was unsuccessful, then through proposed arbitration, which was rejected by the Water Association. 

1993 – A groundbreaking for Spirit Mountain Resort included traditional ceremonies as well as statements from Tribal Council Chair Mark Mercier, Vice Chair Kathryn Harrison and Spirit Mountain Development Corp. General Manager Bruce Thomas. Additionally, a committee comprised of Harrison, Merle Holmes and Tammy Cook were working with historians and others in an effort to incorporate the Tribe’s cultural heritage into the final design.

1988 – Ray McKnight, Marvin Kimsey and Merle Holmes won the Tribal Council election, garnering 98, 77 and 74 votes, respectively. McKnight was the only incumbent re-elected as Gene LaBonte and Merle Leno did not receive enough votes. Chairman Mark Mercier thanked both for their service, noting that the process of getting the Tribe’s Reservation approved had stretched over the past five years and was “no cakewalk.”



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