Tribal Council elects Kennedy as chair, Mercier as vice chair

Longtime Tribal Council member Cheryle A. Kennedy was re-elected as Tribal Council chairwoman on Wednesday, Sept. 13, and former Tribal Council Chairman Chris Mercier became vice chair in the wake of the Sept. 9 election.

Tribal Council Secretary Jon A. George nominated Kennedy to fill the seat vacated by Reyn Leno’s departure from office. She was elected unanimously.

“I appreciate the vote of confidence,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy had previously served as Tribal Council chair for 11 years before Leno was elected chair in September 2012. Leno did not seek re-election this year after 21 consecutive years of service on Tribal Council that included serving the last five years as chairman.

With the vice chair position vacated by Kennedy’s elevation, Tribal Council member Brenda Tuomi nominated Mercier to be vice chair. He also was elected unanimously.

Mercier served as Tribal Council chairman from September 2006 to September 2007 and won his fifth term on Tribal Council on Sept. 9.

The meeting was the first for newly elected Tribal Council members Lisa Leno and Michael Langley.

Reyn Leno and former Tribal Council member Tonya Gleason-Shepek attended the meeting.

In other action, Tribal Council:

  • Appointed Matt Thomas to the Tribal Employment Rights Commission to a term expiring in March 2020;

  • Sent amendments to the Enrollment Ordinance out for a first reading, which will allow Tribal members time to comment on the proposed changes. The proposed amendments would return final say on loss of membership cases to Tribal Council, allow Tribal members or applicants to view electronic versions of their entire enrollment file and enrollment files of lineal ancestors in the presence of Enrollment staff, and make the Tribal roll not subject to the ordinance’s confidentiality provision, among other changes;

  • Approved paying up to $7,500 in membership dues to the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians;

  • Approved an amendment to the Tribe’s gaming compact with the state of Oregon that will update the definition of a video lottery terminal to provide Spirit Mountain Casino flexibility as the machines change over time. Spirit Mountain Gaming Commission Executive Director Michael Boyce said during the Sept. 12 Legislative Action Committee meeting that the new definition will “allow for any game we could see in the future.” The amendment now must be approved by the Secretary of the Interior.

  • Approved an emergency amendment to the Children & Families Ordinance that modifies the permanent plan provisions to meet federal funding requirements.

Also included in the Sept. 13 Tribal Council packet was an authorization to proceed that renewed the Oregon Native American Chamber lease at the Portland area office that waives the rental rate of $575 a month for the entire year.

Cultural Resources Department Manager David Harrelson gave a presentation at the start of the meeting that discussed the cultural value of fire as an instrument of rejuvenation on Tribal ancestral lands.

The entire meeting can be viewed on the Tribal website at by clicking on the News tab and then Video.