General Council briefed on Tribal Lands' projects
By Danielle Frost
The Tribal Lands Department may have a small staff, but it is working on some big projects, Manager Jan Michael Reibach said at the Sunday, Oct. 7, General Council meeting held in the Tribal Community Center.
“Our mission is a lot broader than you might think,” Reibach said. “It really does take a whole Tribe to take care of its lands.”
That mission is “to support the Tribe in exercising its sovereignty by identifying, acquiring, protecting, restoring and managing Tribal lands and resources throughout the Tribe’s ceded lands and other areas of interest.”
“We work in six major areas and have a small department of three amazing staff people,” Reibach added.
He complimented Project Administrator Brandy Humphreys, Tribal Realty Coordinator Teresa Brocksen and Administrative Assistant Amanda Wilson.
“They have done a great job for the Tribe,” he said.
Reibach said the Lands Department works closely with the Legal and Finance departments as well before showing a map of the Tribe’s ceded lands and current land ownership.
“What makes us different (than others) is primacy,” Reibach said. “We are the first Tribal people here and have been here since time immemorial.”
Reibach discussed the six responsibilities of the Lands Department, which include the Portland Harbor cleanup, self-governance, Tribal realty, land acquisition, special projects and the Northwest Power & Conservation Council.
Reibach touched on the Tribe’s community lands, which are owned locally and include sites such as Spirit Mountain Casino, housing, Uyxat Powwow Grounds, Tribal government headquarters and Fort Yamhill.
“The Tribe has also become a leader in recovering and management of conservation properties,” Reibach said.
These conservation properties are part of the Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program. Through the program, the Tribe has acquired six properties totaling almost 1,156 acres and received more than $1.8 million in stewardship funds for future operations and maintenance.
Reibach said that there is more progress underway with conservation projects, such as a new application filed with the 60.86-acre Ahsney property in Polk County and a donation of more than 667 acres of conservation lands near Grand Ronde.
“We have an excellent relationship with Bonneville Power Administration, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and are leading with funding and acreage,” he said. “This Tribal Council has mandated more conservation lands and Cheryle Kennedy (chairwoman) has been a big part of that. … We have earned a reputation of taking care of our land and that’s a good thing.”
Reibach briefly discussed Public Law 114-263, which was enacted in December 2016 and granted automatic Reservation status to the Tribe’s trusts properties. This means that any application within the original Reservation boundary shall be processed under the “on-reservation,” regulations, which are less arduous than the “off reservation” applications.
Reibach highlighted the 269.45-acre Rattlesnake Butte property in Lane County, the Tribe’s first out-of-area successful trust application, and Kilchis Point, 25 acres of Tillamook County forestland, the Tribe’s second out-of-area trust application.
At the conclusion of Reibach’s presentation, Finance Officer Chris Leno gave a financial update in executive session that lasted approximately 40 minutes. Leno was asked four questions by audience members.
Since the presentation was delivered in executive session, Smoke Signals cannot report on the details. However, Tribal members can contact Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez to order a compact disc of the meeting.
During announcements, Kennedy thanked staff for “being very diligent” while at Willamette Falls installing a ceremonial fishing platform. The Tribe was granted permission in August by the state to build the removable fishing platform at the falls, but has faced opposition from Portland General Electric, which claims it owns the land and that the Tribe must come to an agreement with the utility, other Tribes who have claims to the area and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
“Our Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez was out there on the rocks,” Kennedy said. “We’ve experienced some hardships out there, things that have happened out on the river and falls that were disturbing to me.”
She said that PGE released a “tremendous” amount of water, which left workers stranded for a few hours.
“It’s disturbing to see these actions are well and alive,” she said. “But this is more than 15 fish (the Tribe is allotted to catch). It is reminding us of the cultural practices we learned from our parents and grandparents. To have that returned to us, there are no words to define it.”
Louise Coulson, Adam Langley and Ed Larsen won the $100 door prizes and Linda Brandon, Connie Bobb, Cherie Butler, Dorothy Leno and Gary Shortt won the $50 door prizes.
The next General Council meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, in the Tribal gym and will offer an overview of the proposed 2019 Tribal budget.
The meeting in its non-executive session entirety can be viewed by visiting the Tribal website at www.grandronde.org, clicking on the News tab and then Video.