Eugene General Council meeting focuses on enrollment amendment vote
By Dean Rhodes
Smoke Signals editor
EUGENE -- The Tribe kicked off its educational effort regarding the Nov. 15 vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to revamp enrollment requirements on Sunday, Oct. 2, at the Valley River Inn.
About 50 Tribal members, as well as Tribal Council members and Tribal staff, packed a conference room to listen to Tribal Executive Officer Chris Leno give a briefing on the amendment proposal and its possible effects.
Held in an almost three-hour executive session because it delved into Tribal financial matters, the briefing cannot be reported on in detail in Smoke Signals.
The Eugene meeting was the first of four scheduled educational meetings where Tribal Council members and Tribal staff will be on hand to answer questions and listen to concerns about the amendment proposal.
Tribal Council members attending the Eugene meeting included Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy, Vice Chair Reyn Leno, Secretary Jack Giffen Jr. and Tribal Council members Kathleen Tom, Chris Mercier and Valorie Sheker.
Tribal Council member Toby McClary was traveling to a gaming conference and Tribal Council members June Sherer and Steve Bobb Sr. are on medical leave.
In June, Tribal Council voted 5-4 to send a bundle of four proposed enrollment changes to the General Membership. The Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the calling of the election on June 16.
The all-or-nothing proposal would change the following requirements for Tribal enrollment:
- It would reduce the relinquishment time from five years to two years that a person must wait to become a member of the Grand Ronde Tribe after officially leaving another Tribe;
- It would eliminate the requirement that new members have a parent on a Tribal membership roll at the time of their birth;
- It would redefine Grand Ronde blood as “all Indian blood derived from a direct ancestor whose name validly appears on any roll or record of Grand Ronde members prepared by the Department of Interior or the Tribe prior to or since the effective date of this Constitution.”
- And it would establish an annual quota of no more than 5 percent and no less than 2 percent of currently enrolled members may be accepted as new members, excluding newborns.
On Sept. 14, Tribal Council voted 4-3 to continue with the election process and rebuffed an effort to put it on hold and seek an advisory vote on whether Tribal members wanted the proposal bundled or as four separate votes.
The next three educational meetings will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, at the Monarch Inn, 12566 S.E. 93rd Ave., Clackamas (off Interstate 205); 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Riverhouse Hotel, 3057 N. Business 97, Bend; and after the 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, Tribal Council meeting in the Governance Center in Grand Ronde.
Tribal members who will be at least18 years of age on Nov. 15 have until Monday, Oct. 17, to register to vote in the election. If Tribal members do not specifically register to vote in this election, they will not be eligible to vote.
For the amendment to change the Tribal Constitution, at least 30 percent of Tribal members registered to vote must cast ballots and at least two-thirds of those voters have to approve it.
This is the third time since 1983’s Restoration that Tribal members are voting on enrollment requirements. In 1999, Tribal members approved tightening up enrollment requirements and in 2008, one of three proposals – the current five-year relinquishment period – received enough support to be written into the Tribal Constitution.
Before the executive session began, Tribal member Jan Michael Looking Wolf Reibach played a blessing song on flute and Tribal member and Cultural Resources Manager David Lewis briefed the General Membership on the recent return of a Kalapuya shovel-nose river canoe to the Tribe by the Willamette Heritage Center at Mission Mill.
Lewis also said he is currently working on a comprehensive history of the Grand Ronde Tribe.
Tribal members Delores Edwards, Perri McDaniel and Eloise Winter won the $50 door prizes while Boaz Wolpe won the $100 door prize.
The next General Council meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, at the Tribal Community Center in Grand Ronde. It will discuss the proposed 2012 Tribal budget.