Community Meetings Reflect on Tribal Enrollment Issues

09.01.2021 By: The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde

Community Meetings Reflect on Tribal Enrollment Issues

GRAND RONDE, ORE- More than 250 Tribal members gathered for virtual and limited in-person Community Meetings to discuss some of the enrollment and membership issues currently facing the Tribe.  Held during May and June, the tribally sponsored meetings were designed to open the dialogue between Council and the membership on the enrollment challenges facing the Tribe and provide Tribal Members the opportunity to share their opinions while providing comments and recommendations to Tribal Council on the path forward.  Prior to the meetings, every adult tribal member was mailed, “Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community: Membership and Enrollment 1936 to Present,” as background information. 

Over the course of the meetings, the comments from the Tribal Membership centered around eight main themes:   

Blood Quantum: The Tribe received more than twenty-five comments regarding the blood quantum requirements for membership in the Tribe.  Most of the comments suggested eliminating a minimum blood quantum requirement.  Other people supported more “open” requirements for membership or lineal descendancy, maybe with some limits.  People offered many different reasons in support of their suggestions.  A few people suggested that the Tribe should allow including Indian blood from other tribes, and some people wanted to declare people on a certain list, such as the Restoration Roll, full-blood members, although others opposed the idea. 

1999 Amendment to the Constitution: The Tribe received more than twenty comments that were critical of the 1999 Amendment to the Constitution that added the requirements that a parent must have been on the roll at the time of a person’s birth and at the time of application for membership, which created the “split family” issue.  Most comments favored an outright repeal of the 1999 Amendment and the added requirements.  Many people offered strong testimonials of the harmful effects of the “split family” issue.  No one spoke in favor of keeping the 1999 Amendment.

Low Voter Participation and Turnout in Elections: The Tribe received fifteen comments expressing the need to boost voter participation and turnout in elections to the amend the Constitution.  People suggested researching the cause of low voter participation, using more technology to reach out to voters, developing a communication plan, and forming a voter committee. 

2/3 Voter Approval for Amendments to the Constitution: The Tribe received twelve comments in favor of eliminating the requirement for amendments to the Constitution to be approved by a 2/3’s majority vote of the People.  One person spoke in favor of keeping the 2/3’s requirement. 

Elimination of BIA Secretarial Elections: The Tribe received seven comments in favor of eliminating the requirement for amendments to the Constitution to be approved at a Secretarial Election conducted by the BIA.  No one spoke in favor of keeping this requirement. 

Disenrollment: The Tribe received seven comments against any “disenrollment” of Members of the Tribe in the future.  In support of their comments, Members offered personal and heartfelt testimony about the harmful and painful impacts of past disenrollment actions. 

“Bundling” Issues on the Ballot: The Tribe received five comments objecting to the practice of “bundling” or grouping multiple proposed amendments to the Constitution into one question on the ballot.  All comments suggested using a ballot that allows voters to decide each proposed amendment separately. 

Enrollment Records: The Tribe received a few comments about the need to improve or correct the flawed or missing enrollment records of the Tribe.  People offered general comments such as the need to “clean up our records” or to “correct the errors” in the records. 

Tribal Members may request a complete copy of Mr. Lyttle’s draft summary from the community meetings by emailing stacia.martin@grandronde.org. Tribal Council will be accepting comments on that summary until Friday, October 1st.  Comments may be sent to stacia.martin@grandronde.org.

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