Yesteryears - Nov. 1, 2023

10.31.2023 Danielle Harrison Yesteryears


2018 – A culture milestone was reached when the Tribe was finally able to ceremonially fish at a removable platform at Willamette Falls. “I stand here with pride in my heart and know the battle my ancestors went through so we could have this celebration today,” Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy said during a celebration event at the McLean House in West Linn. The Tribe had applied for and received approval for a waterway structure registration application from the Department of State Lands in August and the fishing platform at Willamette Falls was completed in late October.

2013 – The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde was honored with a prestigious conservation award by one of the state’s premier conservation groups, the Portland-based Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership. At its annual gala, the group presented the Tribe with its annual Stewardship Award.

2008 – Tribal youth Savannah Ingram, 13, of Gresham was chosen as one of eight students from Gordon Russell Middle School to travel to Gresham’s sister city of Ebetsu, Japan, as a representative of the city. As part of the exchange program, Savannah and the other seven students participated in weekly Japanese culture classes, learned to speak Japanese and created a formal introduction in the language. “I’m so excited to go to Japan so that I can learn about the culture, but also share my Native American culture with my host family,” Ingram said.

2003 – The Tribe was preparing to celebrate 20 years of Restoration. Tribal Council member Ed Larsen recalled that before Restoration, many of the cultural traditions were not learned. “It wasn’t like we were a Tribe,” he said. “We were told we were Indians, but we didn’t know the traditions you should learn growing up.” The 20th anniversary celebration was planned for Nov. 22 at Spirit Mountain Casino and would include appearances by Tribal leaders, state and federal government officials, Native music, food and a concert by Crystal Gayle.

1998 – Tribal Council voted to change the name of the Tribal newspaper back to Smoke Signals. It had been changed to Grand Ronde Review earlier in the year and feedback wasn’t positive. “If the majority of the members want Smoke Signals, then it will stay the same … If the majority want Grand Ronde Review, or another name … it will be changed at that time. But for now, we are going back to the original name.”

1993 – Tribal member Mike Reibach and his partner Simone Copley talked about their business, Red Thread Designs, which was dedicated to the promotion of wellness and recovery. Red Threads was a line of apparel designed and sewn by Copley, while Reibach was responsible for the business operation. The couple had a booth at the Tribe’s Contest Powwow, where the clothing was a popular addition. “Red Threads spiritual base comes partly form asking ourselves, ‘How can I help myself and others at the same time?’ The business is successful if we can be of service to the Indian community,” Reibach said.

1988 – Approximately 300 Tribal members and friends of the Tribe gathered to celebrate the reestablishment of the Grand Ronde Reservation. The 9,811-acre Reservation for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde was approved by President Ronald Reagan in September. The president’s signature on the bill ended an almost five-year effort by the Tribe to establish a land base and opened the way for the Tribe to build for its future. The bill immediately put the land, located in Yamhill County, into trust for the Tribe with the Department of the Interior. “I am confident in every way that the creation of this reservation will contribute to an improved standard of living for the entire area,” Tribal Council Chairman Mark Mercier said.

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