Yesteryears - Jan. 15, 2024

01.12.2024 Yesteryears


2019 – Tribal Council approved a memorandum of understanding with the city of Salem, which is in the area ceded in the Willamette Valley Treaty of 1855. Salem also designated Jan. 22 as Willamette Valley Treaty Commemoration Day. Tribes and bands represented by the signing of the 1855 treaty, ratified two months later, included the Kalapuya, Santiam, Tualatin, Yamhill, Ahanchuyuk, Mary’s River (Chelamela), Mohawk, Winfelly, Calapooia, Northern Molalla, Santiam Molalla and Clackamas Chinook (Clowewalla, Watlala and Multnomah).

2014 –Tribal Ceded Lands Program Manager Michael Karnosh, Tribal Planner Rick George and Tribal Land and Culture Department Manager Jan Reibach updated the membership on the Tribe’s ceded lands plan at a General Council meeting. The land ceded by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in seven treaties signed in the 1850s totaled more than 13 million acres, covering most of western Oregon, parts of southwestern Washington and northern California. The ceded lands plan was a direct result of the 2010 Tribal Strategic Plan, which sought to assert Grand Ronde rights in its ceded lands and educate the public about these lands. The Ceded Lands Program, created by the Tribe in 2007, became part of the Land and Culture Department in 2013.

2009 – Cultural Resources Department Manager and Tribal member David Lewis prepared a 500-page dissertation, “The Termination of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde of Oregon,” earning a doctorate from University of Oregon. Lewis thanked Tribal Elders Don Day, Pat Allen, Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy and the Tribe’s Education Department for their ongoing support. His journey through higher education spanned 22 years, beginning in 1987. He was one of the first Tribal members to earn a doctorate.

2004 – Grand Ronde Postmaster Phil Burris, a Cherokee-Choctaw Tribal member and Navy veteran, took care of 328 post office boxes and two letter carriers who delivered mail to 360 addresses in Grand Ronde. Burris began his Postal Service career in 1981 and planned to stay in Grand Ronde until retirement. He arrived early every morning to raise the U.S. flag and lowered it every night. He even slept at the post office during an ice storm to open it on time the next day.

1999 – Alaska Native Ted Mala was hired in December as the Tribe’s new executive officer. Mala grew up in a northwest Alaskan village and attended boarding schools. He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and master’s degree in public health from Harvard, becoming a member of the Association of American Indian Physicians. He was a professor and director of the University of Alaska Public Health Institute before coming to Grand Ronde, and also served as the secretary of health for the Alaska governor’s office.

1994 – The Tree of Giving, sponsored by the Tribal Social Services Department, and coordinated by Mychal Childers and April Howren, was a “huge success” during its second year. More than 60 Tribal, staff and community members participated to help children with special needs have a Merry Christmas. 

1989 – Tribal Council established a Tribal burial fund, which covered Tribal members and their immediate families, and designated council member Merle Holmes to administer the fund. The burial fund would be paid for through Tribal timber revenues.


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