Tribal Government & News

Warm Springs files petition asking ODFW to repeal Grand Ronde’s MOA

05.16.2024 Danielle Harrison


By Danielle Harrison

Smoke Signals editor

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs has filed a petition with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, requesting that the agency repeal or amend the historic memorandum of agreement between it and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, which expanded the Tribe’s cultural hunting, fishing and gathering rights to off-Reservation areas.

The MOA signed between the Tribe and ODFW on Aug. 4, 2023, expanded the cultural hunting, fishing and gathering area from the 1,300-square-mile Trask Unit to more than 11,000 square miles.

In the petition filed on Tuesday, May 7, Warm Springs states the reasons for its request are because the MOA “creates conflict” with the terms of the Warm Springs Tribe’s 1855 treaty and also due to what it asserts is a “legal error” in the decision making process, as two of the commissioners who voted in favor of the MOA were allegedly acting during expired terms of office.

According to ODFW, voting after a term has ended isn't unusual.

"Members of the public who volunteer and are appointed to serve on Oregon’s various boards and commissions regularly continue to serve in these positions after their terms expire," ODFW Spokesperson Michelle Dennehy said.

In a press release, Warm Springs said that Grand Ronde’s MOA ignores the cultural connections to Willamette Falls and other areas in western Oregon that the Warm Springs Tribe has “customarily used since time immemorial and places one Tribe’s interests over others in a way that clashes with Tribal sovereignty.”

Grand Ronde Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy said that rather than celebrating the expansion of hunting and fishing rights for a fellow federally recognized Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, “is threatening a restoration and expansion of rights that only concerns the state of Oregon and Grand Ronde.”

“In contrast to what the Warm Springs Tribe claims, our MOA with the state, which came after an open, public process, does not create a conflict with the treaties of any Tribes, nor does it ignore any other Tribe’s cultural connections to any ancestral lands or create exclusive rights for Grand Ronde,” she said. “In fact, our MOA is nearly identical to agreements other western Oregon Tribes have with the state. We were the last Tribe in western Oregon to get an MOA with ODFW. Four others had already gone through the process and had been approved… I hope that the Warm Springs Tribe would have bigger priorities than continually attacking the Grand Ronde Tribe and trying to pull us back from the important gains we have made in restoring and expanding our Tribal rights on our ancestral homelands.”

As per the Administrative Procedures Act, the ODFW Commission has 90 days from when it received the petition to either accept or deny it, according to Dennehy. If they accept the petition, it starts a process for commission consideration at a future meeting. She added that acceptance does not mean the petitioner is granted their request. 

This is a developing story and will be updated.