Yesteryears -- Dec. 15, 2017

2012 – The second annual Salmon Celebration began in the rain at the Tribal fish weir. At the start of the ceremony, Travis Mercier welcomed “our relatives home for the year.” Toward the end of the dinner program in the Tribal gym, he encouraged more than 100 guests to save the remains from their salmon for return to Agency Creek, effectively thanking the fish by putting nutrients back into the water. Greg Archuleta and Jordan Mercier built an alder fire in the rain and prepared the ceremonial salmon.


2007 – Tribal Elder and key Restoration figure Jackie Whisler was honored at a celebration of life in the Tribal gym. Whisler, 56, passed away after a long battle with cancer. Her son, Doug Colton, remembered his mother leading Cub Scout groups, helping with Little League and making chocolate chip cookies. He also recalled the many long days and nights his mother spent working on Restoration efforts in the 1970s and early 1980s. “She was always saying it would pay off in the long run,” he recalled.

2002 – Bill Pierce, interim Spirit Mountain Casino chief executive officer, was profiled. The Cherokee Tribal member grew up in Willamina, joined the Marine Corps after high school and then Oregon State Police. When Tribal gaming was established in 1995, he was assigned to auditing all eight Tribal casinos. After working in various capacities for the Tribe after retiring from police work, he was named interim CEO at the casino. “We appreciate the fact that he grew up in this part of the country,” Tribal Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy said.

1997 – Tribal youth Luhui Whitebear was honored for her volunteer work with a $5,000 gift at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. She was feted for her service on the Oregon Native Youth Council, serving as president of the Native Youth Club at her high school, coordinating a youth empowerment conference, establishing a weekly tutoring program, visiting incarcerated Native youth and promoting the value of education.

1992 – The Tribe was actively pursuing two grants with the goal of obtaining funds for future operations of Spirit Mountain Development Fund. “The end result … prosperity for the Tribe,” a Smoke Signals article stated. It also noted two possible business ventures in the research stages. “The research is timely but important for determining areas of concentration for future SMDC projects.”

1987 – The Tribe hosted its annual Christmas Party at Grand Ronde Elementary School. Santa Claus was set to make a special appearance and a bazaar was held with proceeds benefitting the Tribe’s annual powwow. Parents were reminded to keep a watch over their children during the meal to avoid injuries and property damage.


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