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Mass Disenrollment Hits the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde

Up to 1,000 members (nearly 20% of the membership) of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon will be receiving letters of potential disenrollment, resulting in what could be the largest termination of American Indian citizenship in United States history.

15 members of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde have already been disenrolled, and 79 cases are pending the outcome of hearings scheduled for December. These are the result of the second wave of disenrollment letters that were sent out in September. Tribal Council refuses to discuss the matter, with Tribal Councilman Toby McClary publicly stating that he did not want to disclose the details and incite panic within the membership.

The Grand Ronde Tribal Council’s mass disenrollment efforts contribute to a national Indian disenrollment epidemic, with disenrollment “expanding throughout Native America, with Native nations in at least seventeen states engaging in this practice,” according to leading tribal political scientist, David Wilkins (Indian Country Today).

Mass tribal disenrollments have broken out in Washington State and California and now Oregon (Seattle Times; New York Times).

The disenrollment proceedings stemmed from an illegal audit of the Tribe’s membership rolls by an outside auditing firm based in New Mexico and include nine sets of parameters, including dual enrollment, lineal descent, blood quantum, adoption and paternity.

One of the families facing disenrollment are the descendants of Chief Tumulth, who was a signatory of the seminal 1855 Kalapuya Treaty (also known as the Treaty of the Willamette Valley and the Dayton Treaty). Tumulth was the first chief of the Watlala Band of Chinook Indians, or “Cascade Indians,” whose ceded lands extended from Cascade Locks west to Ft. Vancouver on both sides of the Columbia River, following the Sandy River into Portland including Franz Lake National Wildlife Refuge in the Columbia Gorge.

“We are appalled that our own tribe, our own relatives, are claiming that we are some how no longer Grand Ronde. We descend directly from a tribal Chief, a man who signed the Treaty that would later establish the Grand Ronde Reservation,” stated family spokesperson, Mia Prickett.

This all comes after Grand Ronde aggressively exploited Chief Tumulth’s indigenous ties to the Columbia Gorge in efforts to fend off other Oregon tribes from engaging in traditional and commercial activities in the area.

“What my entire family is now facing is nothing short of cultural genocide,” continued Prickett. “Grand Ronde was terminated by the federal government in the early 1950s.  And now our own people are seeking to eliminate our tribal existence.”

After President Ronald Reagan restored the Grand Ronde Reservation in 1983, Chief Tumulth’s direct descendants applied for membership and were unanimously approved for Grand Ronde citizenship. By 1994, the 7thgeneration of Tumulth’s family was enrolled as Grand Ronde members.

Now thirty years later, upon the eve of the 30thRestoration Celebration, the Grand Ronde Tribal Council seeks to disenroll the entire family. The Tribe has commissioned videos that run on a loop at Spirit Mountain Casino, in both the lobby and hotel rooms, which reference the family and  Chief Tumulth. The family is also highlighted in several tribal publications that span from the Tribal Newsletter, Smoke Signals, to slicks on ceded lands and tribal history and even on informational brochures at Multnomah Falls.

Most recently, Grand Ronde received a prestigious award for conservation efforts in the Gorge, related to the Tribe’s stewardship of Chief Tumulth’s ceded lands. Present at this private gala was Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.

Chief Tumulth’s direct descendants are involved with the tribe on several levels, including being members of the Canoe Family, teaching the tribal language Chinuk Wawa, and participating in ceremonies as drummers.  Other family members include World War II Veteran, Lt. Colonel Carroll Grenia; Chuck Williams, published photographer and author of “Bridge of the Gods, Mountains of Fire”; Gorge conservationist Valerie Alexander; and Medical Doctor Lise Alexander.

“This isn’t just about me and my family. This is about the other 900 tribal members who will find a letter of potential disenrollment in their mailbox. This is about all of us,” concluded Prickett. 

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3/16/2014

article Future remains unclear for Nooksack tribe following tribal council elections
(Washington) -- After what tribal members are calling the largest voter turnout in Nooksack Indian Tribe history, the unofficial results of the Saturday, March 15,...

3/14/2014

article The Deadly Trend of American Indian Disenrollment
(California) -- Four people are dead and two critically injured after a recent shooting spree in the tribal headquarters of the Cedarville Rancheria, a small American...

3/13/2014

article The 'Nooksack 306' protesting tribal disenrollment
(Washington) -- "Disenrollment is tearing our community and family up," said RaeAnna Rabang. "We are not moving forward we are regressing. This is very...

3/7/2014

article GALANDA: An Essay on the Federal Origins of Disenrollment
(Washington) -- Disenrollment is not indigenous to Native America. It is a creature of the United States. The origins of disenrollment are traced to the United States...
article Something is Threatening Native Americans and It's Called Tribal Disenrollment
(USA) -- Last week, we gave props to Netflix series, "House of Cards" for dedicating two episodes to a real-life problem plaguing Indian Country – Tribal...
article OHA Asks Native Hawaiian Roll Commission to Reopen Enrollment
(Hawaii) -- The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is asking the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission to reopen its roll to allow Hawaiians who have not yet signed up an opportunity...

3/4/2014

article Washburn on Membership Disputes: Should US Trample on Sovereignty?
(Washington D.C.) -- A recent Associated Press article called “Disenrollment leaves Natives 'culturally homeless'” talks about the "...
article BLOG: Interior Department official shows no enthusiasm for intervening in tribal membership disputes
(Washington) -- The 306 people facing loss of membership in the Nooksack Indian Tribe have been trying to get the attention of the U.S. Department of the Interior in...

3/3/2014

article ‘Nooksack 306’ Wards Off Disenrollment With Multiple Legal Actions
(Washington) -- Two members of the “Nooksack 306” – Nooksack Indian Tribe citizens who are fighting disenrollment – are awaiting an appeals court...
article Chippewa ousters revive discord
(Michigan) -- After festering for nearly two decades, the specter of expulsion has returned to Indian country. The recent ouster of 50 members from the Saginaw Chippewa...

3/2/2014

article March 15 Vote Could Reverse WA Indian Tribal Membership Purge
(Washington) -- On March 15, 2014 a very important vote will take place on the Deming, Washington Reservation of The Nooksack Indian Tribe.
article Nooksack’s Michelle Roberts Submits Open Letter to Jewell & Washburn
(Washington) -- Secretary [Sally] Jewell, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs [Kevin K.] Washburn: In the wake of the Cedarville tragedy, will you now honor your...
article Chippewa ousters revive discord
(Michigan) -- After festering for nearly two decades, the specter of expulsion has returned to Indian country. The recent ouster of 50 members from the Saginaw Chippewa...

2/7/2014

article CHANATE: Trickster Teaches the Prairie Dogs How to Disenroll Their Members
(Colorado) -- Trickster was on his way to the National Gathering of Tricksters when he came upon the Red Whisker Prairie Dog Village. At the gathering each trickster...

2/6/2014

article Qalipu Mi'kmaq membership guidelines confuse applicants
(Newfoundland) -- People trying to join the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation band say they're getting confusing answers about membership guidelines.

2/4/2014

article Column: In defense of outrage...
(Michigan) -- Plus ca change, plus c’est les memes choses. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson granted an interview to The New Yorker magazine recently...
article OP/ED: Over 100 Indian Nations Pay Citizens a Dividend
(USA) -- Of the nearly 240 tribes that run gambling operations, the AP reports that “half distribute a regular per-capita payout to their members.” Such...

2/3/2014

article BLOG: When a Citizens' Dividend Sets Off Citizenship Disputes
(USA) -- I've complained here before about the ways the argument over a universal basic income often ignores basic-income-style policies that actually exist in the...

1/20/2014

article As Indian casino revenues grow, a tribal 'disenrollment epidemic' sweeps across the nation
(Oregon) -- Mia Prickett's ancestor was a leader of the Cascade Indians along the Columbia River and was one of the chiefs who signed an 1855 treaty that helped...

1/18/2014

article Nooksacks move ahead on revoking tribal memberships
(Washington) -- Within a day of a Nooksack Tribal Appeals Court ruling that upheld tribal leaders' power to determine who qualifies for membership, tribal police...

1/15/2014

article COLUMN: BIA Should Not Be Allowed to Make Enrollment Decisions for Tribes
(Washington D.C.) -- All Native Americans should be deeply concerned about a recent federal court decision ordering the BIA to decide who can be a member of one...

1/5/2014

article Disenrolled tribal members seek federal recognition
(Michigan) -- A group of Mt. Pleasant-based Native Americans, including 66 removed from the rolls of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in November, are seeking federal...

12/28/2013

article Challenged Nooksack tribal members win small victory but get no cash
(Washington) -- The 306 people fighting to stay on the Nooksack Indian Tribe's membership rolls won a rare legal victory recently when Tribal Court Chief Judge...

12/27/2013

article Family fighting ouster from tribe gets court win
(California) -- A family fighting the San Pasqual Band of Mission’s efforts to eject them from the tribe got a victory in court this week. The Valley Center tribe...
article Indian Tribe Ejection Was Properly Enjoined
(California) -- A federal court had jurisdiction to issue an injunction in a long-running dispute over a family's membership in the San Pasqual Band of Mission...

12/17/2013

article Nooksack Tribe Cites ‘Missing Ancestor’ As Reason To Disenroll 306 Members
(Washington) -- It's a frosty morning at the Nooksack tribal courthouse in Deming, Wash., and caution tape and tribal police block the entrance.
article Grand Ronde tribe roiled by membership dispute
(Oregon) -- A dispute over enrollment has divided members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, which operates Oregon's largest tribal casino.

12/16/2013

article 'We’ll Always Be Nooksack': Tribe Questions Ancestry Of Part-Filipino Members
(Washington) -- Adelina Parker lets up on the gas as she drives through her childhood stomping grounds. “Up there, that was all Filipino farmers and strawberry...

12/15/2013

article Tribe battles over who qualifies
(Oregon) -- A dispute over enrollment has divided members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, which operates Oregon’s largest tribal casino about 30 miles...

12/12/2013

article Disenrollment Demands Serious Attention by All Sovereign Nations
(Arizona) -- For most people, their sense of who they are—their identity—is at least partially defined from connection to others and to a community. When...

12/9/2013

article Disenrollment Tragedy: Family of 1855 Treaty-signer Getting Booted
(Oregon) -- The weekend before Thanksgiving has long been the day of thanks for the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde because it was Restoration Day.

12/5/2013

article Mi'kmaq First Nation Assembly weighing legal options for enrolment challenge
(Newfoundland) -- The Mi'kmaq First Nation Assembly of Newfoundland has asked its lawyers to figure out the best way to legally challenge the rejection letters being...

12/4/2013

press release Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Respond to Salem-News.com Article
(Oregon) -- The Council knows this process is not any easy one for the Tribal community but the Council is committed to getting through it with diligence and compassion.

11/28/2013

article Mass Disenrollment Hits the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde
(Oregon) -- Up to 1,000 members (nearly 20% of the membership) of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon will be receiving letters of potential...

11/20/2013

press release Mass Disenrollment Hits the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde
(Oregon) -- Up to 1,000 members (nearly 20% of the membership) of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon will be receiving letters of potential...

11/19/2013

press release Mass Disenrollment Hits the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde
(Oregon) -- Up to 1,000 members (nearly 20% of the membership) of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon will be receiving letters of potential...

11/18/2013

article TURTLE TALK: Tribal Court Rejects Effort to Stop Automatic Disenrollment of Nooksack Members in Violation of Court Order
(Washington D.C.) -- Apparently, four Nooksacks have been automatically disenrolled, since August, in violation of a Stipulation and Order in Lomeli providing that...

11/10/2013

article Guest column: Disenrollment is important issue for Tribe
(Michigan) -- The recent decision by the Tribal Court of Appeals to uphold Article III, Section 1 (c) of the Tribal Constitution illuminates inadequacies in the document...
article Tale of lost records and controversy
(Michigan) -- A brief history of critical developments in determining membership in the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe:

11/7/2013

article WILKINS: The Disenrollment Disaster: My Citizenship Is Better Than Yours!
(Minnesota) -- I have followed with keen interest the divisive issue of disenrollment of tribal members across Indian country. It is a complicated and depressing subject...

11/4/2013

article Tribal judge strips four, and 40 descendants, of membership
(Michigan) -- Four members of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, two elders and two who are deceased, will be removed from membership rolls under a decision issued by...

10/30/2013

article Judge delays ruling on Tribal disenrollment
(Michigan) -- Noting the impact of his decision and vowing not to issue a hasty ruling he’d regret, a Saginaw Chippewa Tribal judge on Wednesday asked for time to...

10/20/2013

article Expelled Nooksack Tribe members win representation
(Washington) -- Nooksack Tribal Court Chief Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis has ruled that 306 people facing expulsion from tribal membership rolls are entitled to legal...

10/18/2013

article Embattled members of Nooksack tribe win small victory in expulsion fight
(Washington) -- Nooksack Tribal Court Chief Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis has ruled that 306 people facing expulsion from tribal membership rolls are entitled to legal...

10/4/2013

article Court ruling could lead to massive Tribal disenrollments
(Michigan) -- Two people who became members of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe under so-called “collateral descent” during open enrollment during the 1980s...

9/21/2013

article Tribal families battle effort to reject them
(Washington) -- If Adelina Parker's family is ejected from their tribe they could lose federal funding, health care and their homes.

8/27/2013

article Nooksack tribal disenrollment delayed again
(Washington) -- The Nooksack Tribal Court of Appeals has intervened again to halt a move to strip hundreds of people of their membership in the 2,000-strong tribe.

8/20/2013

article Tribal expulsion back on track for 300 Nooksacks
(Washington) -- Just when it looked as though a move to expel 306 people from the Nooksack Indian Tribe might be delayed, the tribal appeals court has cleared the way...

8/18/2013

article Banishment orders issued for 58 on LdF reservation
(Wisconsin) -- You may remember Operation Pandora, the multi-agency effort made public late in June that is making it harder to traffic drugs on the Lac du Flambeau...

8/15/2013

article Nooksack Judge Halts Removal Of 306 Tribal Members
(Washington) -- Hundreds of members of the Nooksack Tribe near Bellingham won a temporary victory Wednesday. Hearings were scheduled to start this week to potentially...
article Tribal appeals court halts removal of Nooksack members
(Washington) -- Members of the Nooksack Indian Tribe who could have been stripped of their membership as early as Friday, Aug. 16, have been given a reprieve.

7/1/2013

article Tribal Membership Revocations: Dialing For Dollars?
(USA) -- Over the past several years, there have been a series of publicized tribal enrollment revocations of enrolled members - including former tribal leaders - and...

6/26/2013

article Nooksack tribal voters approve tightening of membership rule
(Washington) -- Nooksack Indian Tribe voters have approved a change in their constitution that will make it more difficult for people to enroll - or re-enroll - as...

6/25/2013

article Vince Two Eagles: The rez of the story on enrollment matters
(South Dakota) -- Vince Two Eagles discusses tribal enrollment matters on his "Rez of the Story" column:

6/6/2013

article Can you find the big secret in this casino?
(California) -- The Pala Indian reservation sits 40 miles northeast of San Diego, on 12,333 acres in the middle of the San Luis Rey River Valley. If you approach from...

5/23/2013

article Tribal standoff / Protesters arrested at Oroville’s Berry Creek Rancheria
(California) -- Shortly before noon on Thursday, May 16, Butte County sheriff’s deputies ended an 11-hour standoff at the Berry Creek Rancheria tribal headquarters...

5/22/2013

article Nooksack Tribe Seeks To Cut 15% Of Members
(Washington) -- What’s considered the largest proposed disenrollment of tribal members in Washington State is still moving forward, following a tribal court’...
article Tribal judge refuses to block disenrollment of 306 Nooksacks
(Washington) -- Nooksack Tribal Chief Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis has cleared the way for tribal officials to go ahead with plans to strip 306 people of their membership...

5/21/2013

article Maidu protesters say dispute is over membership
(California) -- It's the same story heard across California in Indian gaming country — family against family with complex claims about the blood lineage of...
article Tribal Protestors Speak Out
(California) -- It's been five days since 20 protestors were arrested inside the tribal offices behind Gold Country Casino in Oroville, and they are now speaking out...

5/20/2013

article Embattled Nooksacks face tough fight in tribal court
(Washington) -- The sweeping legal authority of the Nooksack Indian Tribe's elected council could make it difficult for 306 tribal members to avoid the loss of...
press release Ninth Circuit Sides with Cahto Tribe in Enrollment Dispute
(California) -- The Cahto Tribe of the Laytonville Rancheria, a small Northern California Tribe, can claim a Ninth Circuit Court of appeal victory in a case involving...

5/16/2013

article Deputies remove protestors barricaded in Oroville tribal offices
(California) -- An 11-hour protest inside Berry Creek Rancheria headquarters ended with about 20 people who had barricaded themselves inside tribal offices taken into...
article Oroville standoff ends with numerous arrests
(California) -- A lengthy standoff at the tribal headquarters of the Berry Creek Rancheria of Maidu Indians in Oroville ended in multiple arrests Thursday afternoon.
article Violent Melee Breaks Out During Tribal Standoff
(California) -- A tribal dispute at the Berry Creek Rancheria in Oroville ended peacefully after an 11-hour standoff by a group of protestoers.
article Nooksacks facing disenrollment await judge's ruling
(Washington) -- More than 300 members of the Nooksack Indian Tribe must wait another week to find out if they will face loss of tribal membership and the benefits that...

5/15/2013

article No Role for BIA in Tribal Disenrollment Ruling
(California) -- The 9th Circuit on Wednesday narrowly overturned a ruling that would have forced the small Cahto Tribe in northern California to re-enroll 22 members.

4/11/2013

article Nooksack Indian Tribe in Disenrollment Fight
(Washington) -- Ethnic cleansing – the forced removal of a population from a designated piece of territory – is nothing new in America. The earliest example...

3/21/2013

article Nooksack Tribe In Membership Dispute
(Washington) -- Nooksack tribal members who are of Nooksack and Filipino decent, including two council members, say they’re being expelled because of racism and...
article Racism Allegations and Sovereign Immunity Surface in Suit Against the Nooksack Tribe
(Washington) -- In last week's cover story, we looked at allegations of racism in the tiny Sauk-Suiattle tribe, and the difficulty of seeking redress due to a legal...

3/19/2013

article Nooksack leaders trying to kick hundreds out of tribe
(Washington) -- Accusations of racism are pitting members of the same Indian tribe against one another. Leaders of the Nooksack nation are trying to kick out hundreds of...
article Nooksack tribe faces fierce dispute over tribal membership
(Washington) -- Four members of the Nooksack Indian Tribe have filed a lawsuit in tribal court hoping to overturn a tribal council action stripping them and 302 other...

3/13/2013

article TURTLE TALK: Federal Court Dismisses Pala Band Membership Claims On Sovereign Immunity Grounds
(California) -- Judge William Q. Hayes of the Southern District of California ruled that sovereign immunity barred claims against the Pala Band of Mission Indians...

1/10/2013

article Disputed Dry Creek tribal members lose appeal of disenrollment
(California) -- Two longtime Dry Creek Rancheria members who were running for office in a high-profile political battle learned Thursday they lost their appeal to stay...

12/4/2012

article GUEST OPINION: Tribe responds to PD editorial on 'disenrolling' members
(California) -- As the tribal administrator of the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians and a tribal member, I am writing in response to The Press Democrat editorial...

11/27/2012

article 9th Circuit dismisses Colville descendants' enrollment lawsuit
(Washington) -- Three descendants of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington can't challenge the tribe's enrollment procedures, the 9th...

11/20/2012

article PD Editorial: Power, abuse in determining tribal roots
(California) -- No one is more likely to hear from long lost relatives than the man who just won the lottery. The same is true of an Indian tribe that has or is about to...

11/18/2012

article Tribal roots dispute delays Dry Creek Pomo election
(California) -- Disputes over tribal membership have flared up again among the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, prompting an indefinite postponement of the...

10/27/2012

article Children of San Pasqual members press for enrollment in tribe
(California) -- Shonta Chaloux, 38, grew up on the San Pasqual Indian Reservation. He has served in tribal administrative positions and is a descendant of San Pasqual...

9/10/2012

article Will Parrish: The Disenrollment Of Clayton Duncan
(California) -- For as far back as Clayton Duncan can trace, the maternal side of his family has belonged to the land in and around Robinson Rancheria: a federal Indian...

7/21/2012

article Decision expected in Tribal disenrollment cases
(Michigan) -- A Tribal judge will decide if some people granted membership in the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe who would not meet today’s ancestry requirements...

7/18/2012

article Decision expected in Tribal disenrollment cases
(Michigan) -- A Tribal judge will decide if some people granted membership in the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe who would not meet today’s ancestry requirements...

7/12/2012

article Chukchansi family files federal suit
(California) -- After months of conflict between two rivaling factions, both claiming to be the rightful tribal council of the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians,...

6/18/2012

article Pala tribe affirms decision to expel 154 members
(California) -- The 154 people ousted from the Pala Band of Mission Indians in February were officially stripped of their tribal membership last week even though the...

5/11/2012

article Evictees, attorneys provide statements
(California) -- Evicted former members of Robinson Rancheria met with Lake County Publishing Thursday to share their experiences of a Tuesday eviction from the...

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