The Grand Ronde Reservation Act Amendment was introduced in both the House and the Senate this week in Washington, D.C. The amendment, which was introduced by Representative Kurt Schrader and Senator Jeff Merkley D-OR., included the support of Senator Ron Wyden D-OR., Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and David Wu — will streamline the way the government brings former reservation land back to the Grand Ronde reservation.
The original Grand Ronde reservation was diminished and then eliminated by the federal government’s allotment and termination policies. Tribal members and tribal government have worked to rebuild the Grand Ronde community since its 1954 Termination. Their efforts resulted in the Grand Ronde Restoration Act of 1983 and the Grand Ronde Reservation Act of 1988, which restored 9,811 acres of the tribe’s original reservation of more than 60,000 acres.
“Our Tribal people have worked tirelessly to pursue our goal of sovereignty by buying back parcels of our original reservation and providing on-reservation jobs and services to our members,” Cheryle A. Kennedy, tribal chairwoman of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, said. “It’s uplifting to see the strong support our representatives in Congress and our local county governments have given this effort. We would not be here without their help and encouragement. It’s a shining example of government-to-government cooperation.”
Instead of having two processes to bring each piece of former reservation land back into the reservation after purchase – one to bring the land into trust and another to make it reservation land – the Reservation Act Amendment, among other things, allows the tribe to combine the process.
“The current process is time consuming and often takes years to complete,” Tribal Attorney Rob Greene said. “The amendment means a significant savings of time and resources.”
The tribe has worked with county and federal officials to gain support for the plan. Both Polk and Yamhill counties have given the amendment their full support. Any potential loss for property tax revenue is offset by the Grand Ronde Tribe’s funding improvements in the community, including a new $1 million fire station and $6.4 million in upgrades to Grand Ronde Road.