Tribal Government & News

Seven nominated for 2024 Tribal Council elections

06.30.2024 Kamiah Koch Elections


By Kamiah Koch

Social media/digital journalist

Seven Tribal members were nominated during the 2024 Tribal Council nominations held in the Tribal Governance Center on Sunday, June 30.

Tribal Council incumbents Cheryle A. Kennedy, Jon A. George and Michael Cherry; and Tribal members Pamala Warren-Chase, Tonya Gleason-Shepek, Valeria Atanacio and Andy Jenness are each seeking one of the three up-for-election seats on Tribal Council.

Warren-Chase, 57, was nominated by her sister, Linda Warren. Warren-Chase is employed as the Spirit Mountain Community Fund Administrative Assistant. She was previously nominated for Tribal Council in the early 2000s but ended her campaign during the race.

Gleason-Shepek, 53, was nominated by her cousin and current Tribal Council member Matthew Haller. She won a seat on Tribal Council in 2014 and served one term. She is retired from the State of Oregon Department of Human Services and also served on the Tribe’s Social Services Committee.

Atanacio, 34, was nominated by Adrainne Llaneza. She currently serves on the Tribe’s Education Committee and previously worked for the Tribe as the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coordinator. She is employed as a Principle Consultant for her business, Native Mama Scholars, LLC. 

Jenness, 58, was nominated by his daughter, Kayla Gottfried. Jenness is employed by the University of Oregon and currently serves on the Editorial Board and as the Chairman of the Spirit Mountain Gaming Inc. Board of Directors.

Kennedy, 76, was nominated by Stanford Kneeland. She has served on Tribal Council for nine consecutive terms, dating back to 2000 and an 18-month term in the 1980s. She currently serves as the Tribal Council Chairwoman and holds the record as longest-serving Tribal Council member.

George, 63, was nominated by his son, Tynan George. George has served on Tribal Council since 2012. He served as Tribal Council Secretary for three terms between 2012 to 2021.

Cherry, 54, was nominated by her son, Caden Leno. She has served on Tribal Council since 2021 and currently serves as the Tribal Council Secretary. Before that, she was the Spirit Mountain Community Fund Director.

This year marks the 11th consecutive year of single-digit candidates running for Tribal Council. The last time 10 or more candidates threw their proverbial hats in the ring was in 2013.

Tribal Council candidates will have a 600-word statement published in the July Tilixam Wawa that will be mailed to voters before ballots are mailed out. Tribal Council candidate statements are due to Smoke Signals by 5 p.m. Monday, July 8. These can be emailed to or brought to the Publications Department on a flash drive. Hand-written statements will not be accepted and the Publications Department will not edit statements. These will run “as is.” The 600-word limit is firm and any letters that go beyond that will be cut off after 600 words are reached.

In addition, Smoke Signals will continue its practice of interviewing all of the candidates and placing their podcast interviews on

The Tribal Council Candidates Forum will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 25, in Tribal Council Chambers. All candidates must attend in person but Tribal members can join in person or via Zoom. To join online, you can register at Submit all candidate questions by 5 p.m. July 25, to Stacia Hernandez at

This year’s election will be held on Saturday, Sept. 7, with elected council members being sworn into office on Wednesday, Sept. 11.

Ballots are sent to the Tribal member's address on file with Member Services. If you have recently moved or not updated your address in some time, please contact Member Services at 503-879-2116 to confirm the address on file. The Election Board cannot change addresses.

Election office hours will be 9:30-2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from July 24 to Sept. 5. The office is located in the Tribal Community Center. The number is 503-879-2271.