Tribe takes care of its own and also helps take care of us
The waves of European immigrants streaming to America’s Atlantic coast and interior in the 1600s and 1700s, and pushing west to its Pacific coast in the 1800s, viewed the people who already lived here primarily as sub-human obstacles to be removed if not exterminated.
Armed and outnumbered, the invaders not only denied Indigenous peoples the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but also property, which they seized by force. and deceit at will.
Locally, the tide only began to turn in 1983, less than 40 years ago, when a shrunken remnant of the original 61,000-acre Confederate Tribes of the Grand Ronde Reservation was officially restored by the federal government. .
Given the history of this makeshift amalgamation of more than 30 different tribes and bands – all with different culture, language and daily life traditions forged in different parts of western Oregon, Southwest of Washington and Northern California – it’s quite amazing how strong he has become. And not just for its own members, but also for the rest of us.
Whether we like it or not, many of us are descended from people who robbed Aboriginal people of their property, their culture and, too often, their very lives. The descendants on the native side have not forgotten, but they have forgiven, which testifies to the humanity that we have denied them.
Since its restoration, the Grand Ronde has built a massive complex of casinos and lodges that employs over 1,000 people, attracts spendthrift tourists in droves, and funds a charitable arm that pumps millions into worthy local causes every year. They have also diversified the tribal economy and heritage through the acquisition of the Blue Heron Paper Mill site in Oregon City, the Multnomah Kennel Club Dog Track site in Wood Village, various job-creating business ventures, and tribal trust lands. as opportunities presented themselves.
They have developed an extensive tribal housing stock for seniors, loosely defined as anyone 55 and older. They established their own police force, fire and ambulance services, court system and network of clinics, as well as a tribal newspaper run with a high degree of autonomy.
When the critical moment came for the Newberg-Dundee Bypass, the tribe donated $4 million. When the pandemic threatened to overwhelm local resources, the tribe shared its vaccine supply with all comers, including a wide range of Yamhill County residents and the entire Portland Trail Blazers basketball team.
The tribe also helps underwrite a wide range of other civic efforts, including the Yamhill County Transit System, the Willamina School System, the Willamina Ambulance Service, the State Parks System through the Area Fort Yamhill State Heritage Center and a Community Addiction Services Network. It has partnered with both Linfield University and various public and private K-12 school systems on culturally relevant curricula.
Le Grand Ronde has proven to be a wise steward of the natural and cultural resources of its historic territory, both on and off the reserve. They have invested heavily in preservation and restoration efforts for the benefit of us all, their latest showcase being Oregon City’s Willamette Falls, with the paper mill dismantled and the scars inflicted by mining removed. From the factory.
Based on a 1985 reservation plan, a 1988 comprehensive plan, a 1990 homeland plan and a 1996 master plan, they are currently developing a Grand Ronde 2033 – Shawash-ili?i 2033 plan. It will guide the development through the 50th anniversary of tribal restoration, now just 11 years off.
The Grand Ronde has treated us infinitely better than we have treated them historically. We owe them a great debt of continued gratitude for the many ways they have helped enrich their lives and ours.