Tribal Council OKs increasing Burial Fund assistance

Tribal Council approved Burial Fund Ordinance amendments during its Wednesday, Feb. 7, meeting that will provide additional monetary assistance after the walking on of a Tribal member.

The amendments will increase the burial benefit $500 from $5,500 to $6,000 and the reception benefit from $300 to $400.

Tribal Senior Staff Attorney Deneen Aubertin Keller said during the Tuesday, Feb. 6, Legislative Action Committee meeting that the Tribe did not receive any membership comments when the proposed amendments were sent out for a first reading.

It is the first increase in the Burial Fund benefit since July 2014 when the burial amount was increased from $3,500 to $5,500 and the reception amount doubled from $150 to $300.      

In other action, Tribal Council voted to sign the “We Are Still In” declaration that commits the Tribe to continue working on climate change goals outlined in the Paris Accord, which the Trump administration announced the United States would withdraw from in June 2017.

Tribal Attorney Brooks Wakeland said at the Feb. 6 Legislative Action Committee meeting that signing the declaration makes a Tribal statement recognizing the dangers of climate change and conveys the Tribe’s intent to continue to take actions to reduce carbon emissions, promote renewable energy sources and adopt policies and practices consistent with the accord’s ideals.

Wakeland said that numerous companies, such as Apple, Tribes and universities have signed the declaration.

Tribal Council member Jack Giffen Jr., the Tribe’s principal delegate to the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, said that Grand Ronde supported the declaration at the recent Winter Convention held in Portland.

In other action, Tribal Council:

  • Approved 2017-18 memorandums of understanding with the Willamina and Sheridan school districts that formalize a collaborative relationship between the districts and Tribe for the betterment of all students attending those schools. Approximately 70 of Sheridan’s 740 students identify as Native American and approximately 267 of the 857 students in Willamina are Native American;

  • Approved a contract with Kal Ent. Inc to provide the Tribe’s Finance Department with additional assistance in implementing the Abila/MIP Microix accounting software that was purchased in 2015. A staff report stated that the additional contractor services are needed because of a staffing shortage. The contract cannot exceed $250,000;

  • Approved the purchase of 33.26 acres in Lane County at Chahalpam using $57,000 in Bonneville Power Administration funds through the Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program. Tribal Lands Manager Jan Reibach said the purchase increases the Chahalpam-area holdings to more than 460 acres and the Tribe’s total acreage purchased using BPA funds to more than 1,100 acres. The Tribe will manage the area along the North Santiam River for conservation and wildlife habitat purposes;

  • Approved a Juvenile Prevention Agreement with the Oregon Department of Education’s Youth Development Division that brings the Tribe $50,000 every two years to fund services for school-age children that support academic success and reduces criminal involvement;

  • Approved the Whisp Logging Unit timber harvest on the Reservation that will involve two cutting blocks and is estimated to earn the Tribe $2 million in timber revenue;

  • Approved the enrollment of two infants into the Tribe because they meet the requirements outlined in the Enrollment Ordinance and Tribal Constitution;

  • And approved one Restoration Roll correction that would add one Tribal member to the roll. The correction now must be approved by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Also included in the Feb. 7 Tribal Council packet were approved authorizations to proceed that allow staff to work with Vice Chair Chris Mercier to research other Tribal constitutions and prepare a report, approves cutting down four Douglas fir trees on the Thompson property to use as wrapping for the main exhibit hall at Chachalu Museum & Cultural Center, authorizes the transfer of $60,000 to build a Brentwood Box exhibit display case, authorizes the Tribe to apply for a $65,000 grant from the Notah Begay III Foundation to focus on reducing obesity and diabetes, and authorizes the Tribe to apply for a $28,040 grant from the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs to increase veterans services to Native Americans.

Cultural Resources Department Manager David Harrelson gave the cultural presentation to open the meeting and discussed Tribal Chiefs’ Day, which falls on Monday, Feb. 19.

Harrelson said that Tribal chiefs were leaders and signed treaties, but they were not equivalent to European kings.

“They had a life about obligation and responsibilities,” Harrelson said, adding that women could be chiefs in Native American Tribes.

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