Grand Ronde tribe roiled by membership dispute
Dec 17, 2013
By The Associated Press
GRAND RONDE — A dispute over enrollment has divided members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, which operates Oregon's largest tribal casino.
The dispute stems from the tribal council's decision to review the tribe's rolls and drop some of its members. The tribe numbers about 5,200 and has grown by almost 50 percent since it opened its casino nearly two decades ago about 30 miles west of Salem in the Coast Range.
Members no longer enrolled in the tribe lose their shares of tribal income — currently $3,600 a year — as well as access to tribal housing, health care and schools.
The tribal council has moved to drop 13 members from enrollment, the Salem Statesman Journal reported. Officials say there's a four-step process, including appeals. The council also sent the cases of 17 people back to a committee reviewing the tribal roll.
The review of tribal rolls, a 3-year-old effort, has touched off acrimony, with Tribal Chairman Reyn Leno telling the community newspaper some members might not be Native American.
Similar disenrollment efforts are underway in 17 states, according to a University of Minnesota professor, David E. Wilkins, a Lumbee tribal member who specializes in the topic.
Grande Ronde member Garry Williams, 78, has asserted in tribal court the audit violates tribal law governing confidentiality of enrollment records.
“Our cousin Garry filed this complaint in an effort not only to protect the rights of our own family, but to protect the rights of the hundreds of tribal members whose lives will be devastated by receiving a letter of potential disenrollment resulting from this illegal and unethical audit,” said Mia Prickett, a family spokeswoman.
Tribal spokeswoman Siobhan Taylor said constitutional amendments reflect members pushing to tighten membership requirements.
Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com
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