Lewis 2008, Termination of the Grand Ronde Tribe, Chapter 9

Lewis, David, Termination of the Confederated tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Dissertation, 2008. (Pre-final draft 2007)

Chapter 9

The Post-Termination Era

Chapter Outline

This chapter discusses and presents information about what effects termination had on the tribal people. Included are oral histories from tribal elders who experienced termination firsthand. I also present how people survived through the termination era, and the work to begin restoration of the tribes.


Following the termination period came a time of confusion for many Indians. Before termination, individual Indians and tribes and their affairs were mainly managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Now all management was lifted, and the Indian peoples were left to make their own way in society. Before termination, Indians did not pay taxes while living and working on tribal lands. Now their property and work was fully taxed. Before annual funding and support was given to tribal governance and infrastructure, now nothing was given to support the existing leadership. The elimination or termination of all federal supports for continued tribal existence caused a complete collapse of the tribal government and of the community infrastructures. Tribal members, unable to find jobs in the former reservation communities, had to move away to urban centers to find work. The movement of these tribal members was aided by the federal government programs of education and relocation. These were the last programs that many of the tribal members would ever utilize as Indians.

The post-termination era begins in 1956 for the western Oregon Indians.[1] This time period spans an era associated with disenfranchisement, dislocation, and invisibility for the western Oregon Indians. The era ends with the federal restoration of most of the tribes that were terminated and the recognition of several new federally recognized tribes whose members dissociated from the previous western Oregon tribal reservations. The restoration period for Oregon tribes extended over nearly three decades, with restoration occurring for the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon in 1983.[2]

The other tribes in Oregon, on the Warm Springs and Umatilla Reservations were never terminated, but had faced that threat in the 1950s. They survived attempts to terminate them by remaining united in their refusal to participate or discuss the program with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.[3]

The termination era contributed to the anonymity for the Indians affected. Where before, Indian decisions and actions were being tracked and managed by the federal government’s various agencies, in this era the lives of Indian people wre no longer documented. They had dissolved into Oregon society so that they were living like most other Americans. Before termination, reservations were a hot-bed of scientific research on Indian languages and culture, but in the termination era this nearly ended, with much of the research occurring in cities and subsequently becoming Urban Studies.[4] During the 1960s and 1970s, original research among western Oregon Indians was nearly non-existent; most documentation used research done fifty to 100 years earlier. Therefore, most of what we know about the termination era is from a few rare government reports and from tribal members’ oral histories of the era.

Indian Perspectives on Termination

Indian people on reservations were well aware of the intentions of the government and many families on reservations took preemptive actions to relocate themselves from the reservations before the eventual and unknown liquidation date (Tom 2006). Bob Tom, then a young man in the 1940s, remembered his family moving to Salem, Oregon, from the Siletz Reservation because of the inevitable liquidation of the reservation. At that time, logging was on the decline and Bob’s father took that opportunity to find other work.[5]

A lack of work was a common theme for many Oregon Indians. Indians had endured a century of discrimination, poverty, starvation, disease, and general powerlessness while living on the reservations. The pay rate for Indians was exactly half what non-Indians made, and this rate was in effect well into the 20th century (Lewis 2002).[6] In addition, Indians were dependent on the Federal Government for health care, education, social services, food, and other basic essentials. The Indian Agents and the BIA were regularly inefficient and deficient administrators, and Indians became trapped in an extremely oppressive system. Therefore, the desire to “escape” the reservation to find a living wage, good health services, and equal treatment was extremely powerful. Many Indians began identifying as “white” and their pay scale and access to services in society grew. Many people also felt that as long as they were identified as native, they would never be considered Americans nor gain the opportunities of other Americans. This situation was noticed by the Congress and was one of the selling points for termination legislation (Affairs and Representatives 1945; McKay 1950). This is supported by the fact that Indians were treated “worst than dirt” by mainstream Americans.[7] Many Indians lost contact with their reservation communities completely; some were never told about their Indian heritage, causing greater loss of connection and culture.[8] When the news that the liquidation of the reservations was coming, many Indians took the chance to get out before everything collapsed (Tom 2006).

Effects of Termination


Due to termination, the western Oregon tribes did not understand what rights they had in society. Termination eliminated federal recognition and the associated rights to claim services and land, but did not terminate the tribes directly. For the western Oregon Indians, the tribal organizations were allowed to remain in existence.[9]  However, the structure of the tribal organizations was limited for a time because people could not maintain a living in the rural economy. The former reservation native population scattered away from the reservation to find work to support their families. Many natives took advantage of government relocation or education programs to move away from the former reservations. Many tribal members moved to cities, took positions in society, and assimilated well. While others remained on the former reservation lands, many on the family Indian allotments. The terminated Indians were made to purchase the properties which their family had already occupied for several generations, many since the Dawes Severalty Act allotments made in 1897 (Washburn 1975).

Many people assumed that they had lost all rights as Indian people in the United States. Many others challenged this assumption by continuing to practice their rights to hunt and fish within their traditional homelands. In Oregon, there were some conflicts over rights to hunt and fish, the most famous played out in the lawsuits commonly called the Belloni Decision where Indians won the decision (Belloni 1969).

Termination legislation did not include the elimination of tribal rights to hunt and fish. This issue had been a politically charged point from the beginnings of the meetings between Grand Ronde tribal members and the Indian Office. The unwillingness of the tribes to agree to an elimination of their hunting and fishing rights caused Congress to leave those issues unaddressed in the termination legislation. The hunting and fishing issue was brought up early in the termination discussions (McKay 1950). For the Grand Ronde tribes, there had never been guaranteed hunting and fishing rights written into their treaties and as such they did not have “treaty rights” to practice these traditions. Grand Ronde members in the post-termination era chose to acquire Oregon State hunting and fishing tags and licenses like the general population.

There was conflict among tribes in Washington State over fishing rights. The tribes in Washington State had “treaty rights” to fish and hunt in their traditional territories. When these tribes were terminated, their hunting and fishing rights were also not addressed in their termination legislation. In the late 60s and 70s there were local conflicts between Washington State native people and state law enforcement over tribal people’s right to fish. These conflicts caused legal battles that culminated in the Boldt decision (1974), which allowed Indians the right to fish in their traditional way and forced Washington State to recognize the Indian’s right to a fifty percent portion of the annual fish harvest (Belloni 1969; Boldt 1974).

Though the Indians had established their fishing rights, the conflict proved that tribes needed a political organization that would work to protect their cultural and sovereign rights to practice their traditions. A series of continuous and discouraging battles could eventually cause the further decline of tribal culture.[10] Terminated natives came together to form new tribal organizations, like the Small Tribes of Western Washington (STOWW) and worked toward federal restoration of their tribes (Tom 2006).

During the termination era, Indians from terminated tribes had an additional level of confusion about their cultural and political identity. The terminated Indians were considered assimilated by the government, which caused many other tribes to assume that these people were no longer culturally Indian (Kennedy 2006; Tom 2006). Many of the terminated Indians, after moving to the cities, became the urban Indians. The characterizations of these people as terminated Indians or urban Indians became a highly negative label for these people. Those who were known to be terminated or who identified as terminated were not allowed to take part in Indian celebrations and Pow wows by un-terminated tribes (Tom 2006). The non-terminated Indians thought terminated Indians had willingly terminated (Tom 2006).

Similarly, public understanding of the terminated tribes was that they no longer existed, as if they had virtually become extinct.[11] In the 1950s, the western Oregon tribes and peoples were nearly invisible, and that, apparent invisibility remains today a common element of the tribal and individual interactions with the public and with state and federal organizations. Western Oregon Indians literally disappeared from history and anthropology books except as footnotes or ethnological accounts from 100 years earlier.[12] Similarly, maps of the United States reservations and federal lands eliminated the Grand Ronde, Siletz, and Klamath reservations from the landscape. To this day, official USGS maps created between 1956 and 1980 are still common teaching tools in university and public school classrooms. These maps do not depict any reservations in western Oregon or in the Klamath Basin, adding credibility to the notion of invisibility or extinction.[13]

The intentions of the termination policy were to free Indians to assimilate into American mainstream society. What it did was scatter tribal members throughout a wide region as many were forced to move away from the reservation to find work. In 1975 Grand Ronde tribal council member Merle Holmes testified before the Task Force Ten hearings in Salem, Oregon about the effects of termination on the tribal community:

Mr. Bojorcas: the rationale used in terminating tribes was instead to put the Indians in the mainstream of society. Has that been successful in the Grand Ronde case?

Mr. Holmes: It would have if it put them in the mainstream of society, in as much as it run most of us out of there. There was no way to make a living in there. After I went out of the service, I came out and ended up here in Salem and I don’t know, there’s no way I could have got anywhere if I would have stayed there. Nobody wants to walk around in the woods soaking wet all winter long, and its not the kind of life for most of us, and it scattered us all around. We have people who took advantage of the education. I know one gentleman who lived in California. He was educated in diesels there, and he still lives there.

Ms. Hunt: So termination not only did ruin tribal structure, but any sense of community in being able to do things on a collective basis?

Mr. Holmes: this is true. We’re pretty much victimized being isolated like we are in Grand Ronde. There’s the nearest town, Willamina. You’re looking at nine miles there. So you have to drive to Lincoln City and we’re isolated to just the lumber industry to sustain. So we need the vocational training to get the people into a little bit of a better blue collar work (Ten and Commission 1976:133-134).


Merle Holmes points out the disintegration of the tribal community and suggests to the commission that something needs to be done to help the Grand Ronde community get organized again.

Tribal members who stayed in contact with their relatives maintained some cultural traditions and kinship relations, but many people lost all connection with their extended families and cultures. The resulting generations of descendants became disassociated from their culture and extended family members. Native families who left the reservation formed new family groups and cultural nodes that began traditions of diaspora settlements inside and outside of their traditional homelands of western Oregon. This pattern existed for several generations. For Grand Ronde, many families settled or resettled in Eugene, Roseburg, Portland, Salem, Washington State, California, or even Michigan.[14] Many of these diaspora communities became culturally associated with the tribal traditions in the areas they moved to. Some families who had kinship relations with other tribes moved to those tribal reservations to access services and to find a common tribal community bonds. There are specific families who moved to Warm Springs and Yakima reservations after termination (Kennedy 2006).  A few families moved to far flung regions of the world such as Europe and Kenya.[15]

Wherever these families went, they assimilated into the societies and cultures around them. Some people maintained a native identity and joined pan-Indian groups. But others that remained in Oregon near the former reservations found ways to maintain their traditional culture and language. In the late 1960s Pow wow traditions began to form among rural and urban Indian groups in Oregon. Most of the universities established American Indian student associations and these groups began their own urban cultural events, many in pan-Indian traditions that resonated with a large number of tribes.

The Grand Ronde expression of “Indian-ness” therefore is incredibly varied. There is not a normal expression of being an Indian at Grand Ronde as people operate within and incorporate within their identities cultural identity aspects of American culture, and cultural traditions from different native societies throughout North America. This is not an uncommon situation for tribes throughout Indian Country, but is prevalent among terminated tribes.

In the 1970s and 1980s, pan-Indianism was the primary expression of Indian identity in urban settings. Large native groups formed around universities, urban Indian health organizations, radio stations like KBOO in Portland, and in Title IX Indian education parent committees. Pow wows occurred regularly in high schools and in western Oregon organizations like the Parents Committee in Eugene became a powerful community group for native activities.

The parents committees for the individual school districts were formed after 1972 when Congress created the Office of Indian Education in the U.S. Department of Education. It is during this time that the Oregon Indian Education Association was formed to bring Indian educators throughout the state together. Tribes and urban Indian communities worked together to improve the educational status of their children. During this time tribal committees formed to work toward the restoration of the tribes (Tom 2006).

Through the nearly thirty years of termination of the Grand Ronde tribe, many families remained at poverty levels. Seasonal agricultural traditions like hop and berry picking ended for many families. Following termination, Indians stopped being a prominent ethnic group in the Independence hop yards.  Many Indian men had been loggers before termination and remained in the industry afterward. Grand Ronde men established a long tradition that exists into the present of being some of the best and hardest working loggers in Oregon (Day 2006; Jeffers and Jeffers 2006; Jeffers 2006; Tom 2006; Tom 2008).

Despite all of the problems that Grand Ronde Indians faced, they found ways to preserve their culture within their lifestyles as terminated Indians. The following are stories of many of the extraordinary measures that Indian people took to maintain community connections and find a way back to a community consciousness.

Examples of Tribal Lifestyles Previous to Termination

Cheryle Kennedy

Cheryle Kennedy is an elder, a member of the Grand Ronde Tribe and currently the Chair of the Tribal Council. Mrs. Kennedy’s enrollment number is #1 from the Grand Ronde Restoration roll, and #3 on the Termination roll. Mrs. Kennedy has served several terms as a tribal council member and as Chair of the council. She is married to Vernon Kennedy, a member of the Burns Paiute Tribe.  In the 1990s Mrs. Kennedy helped raise the funds for the Health and Wellness Medical facility, and was the director there for several years. Mrs. Kennedy’s life was typical for many natives from the Pacific Northwest during the termination era: Her parents traveled between and beyond Indian reservations searching for work, visiting relatives, and maintaining their culture. Mrs. Kennedy describes her early life, the period from 1948 until just after final termination in 1956:


DL-So you grew up for much of your life at Warm Springs, is that true?

CK-That’s pretty true, my father was an engineer, as so we traveled a lot and we stayed in many different places. He was an engineer for other tribes, so if there were projects like, we stayed up around Fort Hall and Pocatello, in the period for the projects in the housing development, who we was responsible for. We stayed up by the Colville Tribe, for I don’t know how long it was, I was young. Felt like a long time. But generally they were summer, probably around four months for the season, building season, four to five months. After my father died, we lived with our grandmother, and of course she was totally tied to Grand Ronde. So its been a long time here. Every summer coming spending the summer, entire summers out here and down at the coast and that kind of thing.

DL-so when did parts of the family move to Warm Springs? Maybe you can talk about some of your family history?

CK-Ok, Well, we always came here to Grand Ronde. All of my teen years, from little to all of my teen years. And I guess to back up a little bit before that. My grandmother was born and raised here. So was my mother.

CK- My grandparents, Elmer and Pauline, separated, and I think divorced, back about in 1930s, late 20s, early 30s possibly, during the time of the World War II. And there were these camps that were set up to train people to do work to support the war. Some of those camps was, they called them CC Camps.

DL-Conservation Corps?

CK-Yeah, was set up near Warm Springs at Hee Hee. And that’s where my grandmother had met her next husband Oren Johnson, and my grandfather Elmer Tom, met his wife of Christine Wewa. So that was when that occurred. Then they went to the shipyards in Portland[16], my grandma was a welder, and I still have her welding card. And my mother was probably teenager, maybe seventeen or so and that when she met my dad. He was also a welder, because that is what it seemed like they were doing with Indian people is, making welders and that kind of labor, of Indian people. So he was there and that’s how they met, and married. And then came back here for a while. But he was an engineer, and he was a degree person, and so that’s how that movement took place. When jobs came up he was called upon to step in and lead those construction developments.  He was employed by the Warm Springs tribe as the head of their department. And that’s another reason we were there. But he was killed, he was murdered, when I was a young child. He had received notice that there was some kind of a land sale, and he was an Indian man, he was an enrolled member of the Flandreau Santee-Sioux tribe, and he was notified there was some kind of land sale and somebody was coming back and he should come back and take care of his side of it, so he went back, and he was murdered on his way back and robbed. So there were six of us kids then two had already died, and for my mother that was a huge task to take on, and so the four oldest kids which included Pauline, John, Pat and I were then adopted by my grandparents, and the two younger ones, Leroy and Deborah stayed with mom, though we were all together, but just for practical purposes that’s how things came out. So I was raised then in my grandparents’ home. And my grandmother, I think one of the things about the Grand Ronde people is they’re matriarchal[17], and so grandma really handled that role very well. She was a leader, in the sense of us children, she taught us some very good skills, not only how to work and how to care for yourself, but also how to deal with people, how to approach people, being respectful of them. There’s some real strong values that we got from her.

My biological grandfather also lived at Warm Springs, and he wasn’t really that close to us because he now was raising his new family. But we seen him, quite frequently, and we remained close to his children there who were my mother’s younger brothers and sisters.

DL-that’s good, and so when were you born?

CK- I was born in 1948.

DL-48, ok so you are talking about in the 50’s then, you came to Grand Ronde and lived with your grandparents.

CK- well, no, we came, my grandmother lived at Warm Springs after the CC era, the ship building era, and all that, she and Oren came and lived here at Grand Ronde for, I’m not sure how long. But then they moved to Warm Springs because he had property and home and all of that over there. So we went there, but we’d come and it was grandma’s practice that we’d spend the summers here.

That’s how we knew about Grand Ronde and our family here and all of the ways that she learned from her mother, we continued.

DL-so there was a lot of traveling.

CK- oh yeah. It seemed like as a kid it was long, those old Model Ts putting up over the mountain.[18]

DL-I remember that in a car, it just took so long.

CK-It was, so then the things that we did in the summertime as we got older too, grandma continued to believe that working is an important ethic and I don’t think she portrayed it though so much like work but as a way of life. So we met and worked among the Grand Ronde people in all of the hop yards and the berry-picking[19] and…

DL-so that was pretty prevalent.

CK-yeah that was the way they lived.

DL-did you do that in Grand Ronde area or in Salem?

CK-it was more around Independence… that area was where they had these houses, those camps that were set up. And so we were among all of our relatives. It was fun (Kennedy 2006).


As reflected by Mrs. Kennedy’s experiences, native families did not fit the nuclear family model, and frequently children would be raised by grandparents or even aunt and uncles. This is partially owing to the low life expectancy of American Indians that has historically been an issue, as well as cultural norms that the extended family would often take responsibility for the raising of the next generations. This is a traditional native way of bringing up children in a tribal setting.

Travel between and beyond reservations was common with natives in Oregon. This is still true throughout Indian Country[20] where many natives today have relatives on several reservations and were travel during the summer Pow wow season is a common cultural phenomenon among many tribes. Therefore, this has formed into a survival strategy that takes advantage of available income opportunities during the key seasons that helped keep the families connected.

Seasonal travel cycles is echoed in the annual work cycles associated with the reservations throughout the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere in Indian Country, with native peoples leaving the reservation to find work in agriculture during the summer. The annual tradition approximates that of the pre-reservation life ways of Tribal cultures.[21]

Cheryle Kennedy recalls the time as “fun” even though the lifestyle must have been strenuous with annual travel to various reservations and long days of hard work in the hot summer months. There was a rigorous family spirit in practice then, where it was not uncommon for cousins to visit and stay awhile with relatives. Even children had to contribute to the family’s resources, picking in the hop and bean fields and taking responsible roles in helping raise their siblings.

Most important is the willingness of families and relations to help each other out, to remain in contact despite hardships. Today the journey from Grand Ronde to Warm Springs is 4 hours or more by car, in the 1940s the journey must have been an all day affair. But the families had a desire to maintain close relationships with each side despite any barriers. Cheryle’s family would travel into the Grand Ronde area at the right time for agricultural work. This was a common enough practice of the people from Warm Springs to travel into the Willamette Valley to find work (Kennedy 2006; Tom 2006).[22]

Norma Lewis

Norma (Mercier) Lewis grew up in Grand Ronde. She is a daughter of Julius Mercier and Gertrude (Hudson) Mercier, and granddaughter of John B. Hudson Jr. and Hattie (Sands) Hudson, Francis Mercier and Marie (Petit) Mercier. [23] Norma is a direct relation to a treaty signer Alquema on the Willamette Valley treaty. Her grandfather John (Mose) Hudson Jr. was a primary informant for Melville Jacobs and was likely the last speaker of the Santiam Kalapuya Language for Grand Ronde. In discussions with Norma she would always say that she did not remember much about her family history, but when speaking with her about the history she was able to reveal much that I had not heard before about how they lived at the Grand Ronde Reservation:

NL- I grew up in Grand Ronde. We lived on an acre of ground, we had a little property, we had a little house. [laugh] people would call it a cabin now, because it, no insulation, no electricity, you could almost see through the cracks. It was comfortable, we had a wood stove in the winter, you know when we needed heat. And then when I was about, it must have been about, I was pretty young, its hard to think because I can remember when the folks bought me a tricycle, I was about five I think, 4-5 and they bought me a little used tricycle for Christmas, you know, they’d gather things for us. They couldn’t afford to buy nice presents, well then they didn’t have anything much. Anyway, and then we moved to a farm that belonged to my grandfather. And he left all of his animals on there, like cows, horses, everything, chickens, geese. And so we made a living, always ate real good because we had all of the beef, we had a big vegetable garden, you know, and mom did a lot of canning. And the only thing we really had to go to town for was flour, sugar, coffee, whatever, things like that. We had everything else. And then I was about 12 or 13 and we moved off of that property, down to our acre. It was connected property but they had that acre leased to them. I mean given to them by my mother’s father, so it was just taken off of a part of that property that we moved up to, which was just a few blocks.

…. and then from there, I lived there then until I was 18 years old in that place.

DL- and was that the property that you told me was just off of the main highway? In Grand Ronde?

NL- well yes it was at old Grand Ronde, they called it that, old Grand Ronde, and then you go down between and new Grand Ronde is on the other side past the government buildings.

DL- so old Grand Ronde is by maybe St. Michaels?

NL- yes, its on that Hebo Road. Off of the Hebo but then you went up a gravel road. And then for years, when I was young, clear up until I don’t know how long, they didn’t have a road back in there but it was just a dirt road, but in the winter time, well they finally got money together and they planked it with big planks, and they run on these planks up to the house, for years. And the planks would slide out and people would drop in and get stuck, oh I can remember times like that.  And then, I never did have electricity in that house, lived in that house when they had electricity. I was married and everything and later on they did have electricity up that road.

NL- they used to have dances in private homes. And I was always too young to dance or anything my mother would take us kids up there, we’d sit, it would be a neighbor, we never did have anything at our house because it was too small, but these people, they’d have a piano player and we’d go up there, that was our, we never went anywhere else, except we’d maybe go to Sheridan once in a while when we were kids. And then they had a government hall that, oh, occasionally like, they’d have a dance, basket social, pie socials, gatherings, everybody would have fun and all of the people at Grand Ronde would come. Mostly everyone.

DL- so you did a lot of, picking berries?

NL- oh yes. We picked berries and walnuts, hops.

DL- in that area or did you go somewhere?

NL- no we would have to go and camp in these places and one was around Independence, one was right down here at Wheatland Ferry

DL- Wheatland Ferry, that’s were the hop fields are, where they are now?

NL- uh huh, yes. Yes in that area yeah. There was a lot more than there is there now. And then the walnuts, we’d have to go there out of Sheridan there. And they had the hilly mountains and they’d have walnuts back there, and we’d work back there. That was the only way, means that us kids had to get our school clothes.

DL- did your whole family go, or just the kids?

NL- Mom, and my sisters, well we were only all girls anyway, Daddy would always stay home. He’d stay home. We’d be gone several, couple of weeks maybe, is all, you know, he’d come and get us.

DL- Was that something that a lot of Indians did?

NL- oh, most of the Grand Ronde Indians, men, were loggers. They worked in the woods. I really don’t remember. A few of the families would do that yes. Yes.

DL- was there a cannery in Grand Ronde?

NL- no. well the only thing they had was, the Indian tribe, we’d pick berries and they’d pay us so much a gallon to bring these blackberries, they were wild blackberries, you’d got back in the, and they’d grow the vines, and we used to like pick a gallon a day or something. And we knew where these good patches were, and they we’d take them in there and they’d make this uh berry jam. They called it moccasin foot, or something like that.


Norma offered us a view of the Grand Ronde reservation from a family who had been on the reservation from its beginning. Norma describes many of the activities that most tribal members performed, agricultural picking, the Gay Moccasin jam, social events, and how people were very poor in the reservation. Norma made no mention of any help from the BIA as the Indians had to grow or raise their own food or gather it in the surrounding forest lands.

The jam project and the government hall building were part of the 1930s-1940s Rehabilitation programs of the Federal government which included the Conservation Corps, mentioned by Cheryle Kennedy previously. The programs included building houses for tribal members, helping Indians grow gardens, and establishing a principle industry for each reservation. In western Oregon, the tribal canneries were financed and built by at Grand Ronde, Siletz reservations, Chemawa Indian school and at Empire, Oregon for the southwestern Oregon Indian community. However, the success of the canning program was economically minimal despite sales to vendors like Sunriver Resort, J.C. Penney, and the railroad.  The cannery lasted for about ten years before discussions of liquidation of the reservations gained prominence. The program lost BIA support in the late 1940s.  The cannery continued to be used by Grand Ronde Indians into the 1970s with community members annually collaborating to can their crops in quantities. Elders at the tribe still talk about how they would line their pantries with hundreds of jars of canned foods using the facilities at the cannery.

The period of Norma’s childhood spans 1920s-1940s, which was the time before talk of termination began. There was a different feeling about the reservation and the community was active working together in agriculture and in social events. Even hop picking was a social event to Grand Ronde Indians as a good portion of the tribe would move to the hop yards in the Independence or Wheatland Ferry areas for several weeks of the summer.   This period is before discussions of termination began to change the way people felt about the reservation. There was no mention of the fear that Cheryle Kennedy and Bob Tom experienced as children in the 1940s and 1950s.

Bob Tom

Robert (Bob) Tom is an elder of two native communities in western Oregon, Siletz and Grand Ronde reservations, as his father was from Grand Ronde and mother was from Siletz. Bob Tom was a central figure in the restoration of the Siletz Reservation testifying in Congressional hearings and serving as the first executive officer of the tribe at restoration. As a young man, Bob Tom contributed greatly to the early restoration efforts at Siletz and was instrumental in the formation of the tribal government and in the subsequent efforts for restoration of the Tribal economy, culture, and education. Today, Bob Tom is a regular participant and MC in tribal cultural gatherings, Veterans Pow wows, the Grand Ronde Culture Committee, and state- level policy and project meetings. Bob Tom also enjoys golf, and is a regular visitor to tribal golf courses across the country. In his youth, Bob Tom was part of the Indian Basketball town league, and played in particular on the Warm Springs team, who accepted him as a team-mate despite the termination of Siletz. As part of the Warm Springs team Bob traveled to many other reservations in Indian Country to play in Indian basketball tournaments.

Bob Tom’s early years were spent at the Siletz Reservation. Bob Tom describes his life at Siletz and why his family moved to Salem in the 1940s just before the tribe’s termination:


BT-We lived in… my folks moved to Salem in 43, 44, and my dad and mom moved there specifically so that we could go to public school there and get a better education.  My dad and mom may have bought into the termination methodology of “you need to go out there and compete with the greater society, as an equal.” But there were still some things that supported the move, there was production logging by some big logging companies, that were logging out the Siletz area in a short period of time versus any gradual scale. They brought in machinery and men from other states and other towns and just started doing production logging. The logging was going to run out there, you could see that, and my dad was a timber faller, and so, because that was going to happen, and then also to get us into where we could get a better education, because my dad said, probably the rest of your life you are going to work amongst non-Indian people and you need to be able to compete, to get a good job, to support your family.

And so we moved in 43, 44. Wasn’t very well received by family and tribal members from Siletz, they just thought you were being uppity or thinking you were better that somebody else and moving away and it was kind of a traumatic time for a lot of our family, and what people thought about that.  Even though later on some more of our family started moving to Salem, and to Eugene, about the time of termination, to go to school and to get other jobs.

And so, living in Salem, being in high school and playing sports I had a whole set of friends and set of activities, high school kind of activities. So termination wasn’t a traumatic thing for me individually because my mom and dad moved us there in 44 in preparation of being on our own and competing on our own.  And so, that’s what the government forced a lot of people to do, but they forced a lot of people to do that, termination didn’t force us to do that, we had already decided to do that. And so termination wasn’t traumatic personally (Tom 2006).


Bob Tom’s family was clearly affected by the knowledge that termination policy was on the horizon.  His parents planned ahead for the traumatic effects of having to compete in American society, and established their family in Salem in order to ease them into American society and to gain access to a better education for their children. The inevitability of termination or liquidation of the tribes was well socialized into Indians at Siletz and Grand Ronde through continued discussions by the Indian agents from Portland (Pryse 1954).

Similarly, Norma (Mercier) Lewis was not that involved in the termination of the Grand Ronde tribe. For Norma, the tribe member may have been dissociating from the reservation a few years after termination. Norma’s mention of funds are likely the awards from the Indian Claims cases which many Grand Ronde members were awarded a few years after termination as the stated termination award is $35 (Office 1956).

NL-You mean when the Tribe broke up? Is that what you are saying?

DL- yeah

NL- well it did that long before ’54, that I know of.

DL- what do you mean by that?

NL-well when we were… it could be around ‘54 I’m thinking because at that time they sold all of the property. And they gave the tribal members that they had on the rolls, they gave them all a dividend on that. And I think the first we got was possibly about $500 but it could have been a little more, the second payoff was about a $1000, for each member. And that was when they broke up. It was no longer a tribe. But you know when I was young, of course at that time I was married and had all of my children, by that time. But years ago, I mean you know I wasn’t very interested in whats going on and I just had a kid’s normal child’s life (Lewis 2006).


In comparison, Cheryle Kennedy and Bob Tom and Norma Lewis had very different upbringings and experiences with termination. The stability of Bob Tom’s childhood is in contrast to Cheryle Kennedy’s movement between reservations, although they both had strong families. Norma Lewis’ experiences were as a young adult already caring for several children and living outside of the reservation in Sheridan, and so her experience was somewhat dissociated from termination. Norma would have received the termination and Indian claims awards directly while both Cheryle and Bob would have had trust accounts established for them and therefore did not have a direct experience with the awards. These tribal members were affected by termination differently and both Bob and Cheryle had foreknowledge that termination was inevitable. Today, Bob and Cheryle are leaders in the larger Oregon native community and promote similar visions of the importance of education and culture within the Grand Ronde tribe.

Inevitability of Termination/Liquidation

The federal government’s strategic planning toward termination increased tribal members’ understanding of the concept. In the late 1940s, well before termination was inevitable, Indian Office agents spent a good deal of time speaking to Indian leaders about termination (Pryse 1954).  The original plans for termination were termed as liquidation which was part of the discussion with the tribes.  The decade or so of federal dialogue about liquidation/termination and the reinforcement of this notion by the Indian Agents socialized many tribes into believing that termination was inevitable. As previously explained termination was then sold to the American public and to some tribes under the notion of freedom, as in the freedom of Indian people from continued government mismanagement of their resources and services. Indian Office administration had become a form of oppression and an impoverishment of the reservation tribes as tribal economies were dependent on Indian Office resources. Naturally, liquidation seemed attractive to many Indians since they would supposedly become equals in American society and be in control of their own finances. Indian Claims awards to the tribes confirmed that the Indian Office had indeed mismanaged the tribal rights and resources for a century.

Office of Indian Affairs Commissioner John Collier attempted to solve this problem by handing over to the tribes the management of their own affairs, called self-determination, through the Indian Reorganization Act (1935). However self-determination was too late and did not solve the “Indian problems” soon enough such that by 1945 Congress was discussing abandoning the program (Thomas 1943). Commissioner Collier was then forced to resign in favor of more aggressive actions by Congress which would lead to unimpeded termination of the tribes and the dissolution of the Indian Bureau.

Contemporary tribal members remember well of hearing from their parents a constant dialogue about the future termination of their tribe.  Information about the progress and inevitability of termination came from Abe Hudson, who took a job as a custodian at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem to remain close to where decisions were being made. Abe likely took the position so the the tribe would gain current imformation on Indian affairs and because the tribe was unable to support his travel back and forth between Salem and the Grand Ronde Reservation, a distance of about 30 miles. Abe would return to Grand Ronde on the weekends and bring news of the current Indian issues being discussed nationally (Kennedy 2006).

Cheryle Kennedy witnessed Abe’s discussion sessions when her family visited Aunt Maude’s house on the reservation.  As a child of about age six, she understood that something bad was about to happen:


DL- So you were six when termination came around. How do you think that affected your family life?

CK- Well ya’know for…, we knew we were involved in the sessions, when we would come. We had an uncle, Abe Hudson, married to my aunt, grandma’s sister, that was on the council, and also worked as a custodian at the state capitol. And, when we would come to visit Aunt Maude, which grandmother was a strong believer in family. You don’t ever, nothing keeps you apart.  I mean you might have disagreements and that kind of thing but nothing is so bad that, you know, shouldn’t see one another.  So she made, [?] to her sisters, and to her aunts and uncles, some lived, many here, some in Salem. But we always went to Aunt Maude’s, it was very important [grandma] would say, this awful thing is going to happen to us, as Grand Ronde Indian People, and that we need to be, we need to be aware and I remember they’d be sitting around the table like that and talking and sometimes other relatives would be there, and it was like this, ya’know as a child you just sense, ya’know, our… We’re scared! Something dreadful is going to happen. And we don’t know how to stop it. And so that is kind of the sense that I had. I guess you can’t really comprehend, at least I didn’t as a child, what it meant when they said you’re not going to be Indian any more. That just… I don’t know how that could happen. How could that happen? And so that was more the talk about what I heard and understood. We knew that something bad was coming cause I was Indian.

DL- and so that came out because of conversations you overheard when you were at Abe’s house, or at Maude’s house.

CK- Yeah.

DL- Were you aware just how much Abe was involved in Indian legislation?

CK- It was very important to him, I knew that, from his discussions there. I know that my mother had told me that when she was little, she would go with her grandpa, which was John Warren. He was on council, and Margaret[24] also kind of cites the same thing. They would go together and they would go and they would sit, ya’know, it would be late and he would be sitting with council meetings going on. It seemed like it was always an important part of our family, about what was happening to the people (Kennedy 2006).


The family dynamic is proven here as even terrible news or news of future events were shared with everyone, even children. But the family becomes even more important during that period of time after termination when family relations were dissolved through government programs meant to assimilate Indians into American society.

Bob Tom goes further in describing the feeling of inevitability that he had as a child in the 1940s:

BT- In my discussions with my mom and dad, my mom was on the tribal council at Siletz,

DL- What was her name?

BT- Aurela Tom. In talking with my mom and dad both about termination the way they explained it to me was that the federal government in the 30s, the late 30s, first they called it liquidation, that was the first name they used, liquidation, and then they go from liquidation to termination, and created the public law, in that public law they named some tribes that would be the first tribes to have termination applied to them, or tried to have it applied to them. They said that IHS[25] and the BIA continually talked about liquidation or termination and the fact that it was inevitable, its going to happen, and its going to happen here. And so if no one has ever had the federal government and its agents keep a steady focus and a steady pressure, saying something’s going to happen, you know if you’ve never experienced that, you might not understand how a lot of people felt. Its going to happen. Its inevitable, that was kind of the feeling amongst a lot of people, that its inevitable and its going to happen (Tom 2006).


Cheryle’s and Bob’s understanding of the impending event reads true to the details and issues that the community would have had to discuss. The feeling of inevitability was a common mantra likely repeated by the Indian Office Indian Agents when they came to Grand Ronde and Siletz reservations.  Indian Agents, mainly E. Morgan Pryse, Portland Area Director, in the 1940s and early 1950s began the discussion of the subject of liquidation, then later termination, before the general council and tribal council. At the meetings Pryse would bring news, hosted discussions with several tribes in attendance, and asked for tribal petitions regarding termination. The discussion of such issues well before they actually occurred and as they progressed would lead the tribe to assume that this was an inevitable occurrence.

The continual inculcation of future termination was indeed a renewed subject nationally for BIA educators. Throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s BIA monthlies like Indian Education published articles about the need to increase acculturation of the Indian students, the student’s need to compete with Americans, and reports of upcoming changes in the Indian management policies.

Freedom from Oppression

Termination, however, did not occur without Indian involvement. Certainly, there was some form of agreement or ‘representative agreement’ from the Indian tribes concerned.  In 1952, elders from Grand Ronde and Siletz expressed their approval of a plan to free the Indians from oppression:

John Mose Hudson…“It was just 100 years too late,” Hudson said, “many of our old people died of broken hearts because of the way they were treated.” William Simmons… thinks the complete emancipation will be a fine thing for the younger generations… and Coquelle Thompson thinks federal withdrawal will be a healthy thing for all concerned. …Thompson… admits some of the elder coast Indians harbor considerable bitterness about the treatment they and their fathers received (Oregonian 1952:21).


As expressed earlier, termination had to occur with some agreement or representative agreement from the Indian tribes concerned.  As shown previously, Grand Ronde tribal membership had agreed to the earliest attempt to terminate the tribe and passed several acts to put their affairs in order to prepare the tribe for early termination (Committee 1951; Oregon 1951a; Oregon 1951b; Pryse 1950).   However in the final draft of the second attempt at termination in 1953 Grand Ronde failed to sign that act. Regardless, Indian Superintendent E. Morgan Pryse sent all of the evidence and documents he had, to make it appear as if the tribe had agreed to termination. In the end, the prospect of freedom was attractive, but the final legislation was not agreed to as it was not representative of the original agreement of 1951 (Pryse 1950).

Bob Tom eloquently expresses the political and generational complexities of re-analyzing the decisions of his ancestors. In his statement we get a sense of how the Indians were treated and how badly they wanted their freedom:


DL- Do you feel the government told everybody what was going to happen?

BT- No, they just, the government just worked with some people,

DL- a few people?

BT- yeah,

DL- and council?

BT- When it comes to termination, when it comes to treaties, I was always brought up to not think or to not say anything negative about actions that my ancestors made or took because I had no idea of what they faced, I had no idea of the amount of information. And I can’t read their mind, but I was brought up not to think or to say anything negative about an action that my ancestors took, in regards to treaty or any kind of tribal action, and so I don’t. I don’t know. I do know that when we started trying to reverse termination there were a lot of people, our own tribal members that resisted having any reservation. They didn’t want to have a reservation! A lot of those people were older people that remembered what the treatment was like from IHS and the BIA when there was a reservation.

DL- So they didn’t want to return to that treatment.

BT- There was some awful, awful, treatment, any kind of treatment that you want to name, when there’s sort of a colonialism setting, it happened. Anything that happens between two groups of people when one is in the power position and one isn’t, any kind of abuse, name it and it happened (Tom 2006).


Bob Tom further describes some of the issues that parents had to contend with when faced with the policies of acculturation and the education of their children:


BT-There was this notion that it was inevitable, there was also this “do it for your kids,” your kid needed a good education. Kids don’t need to speak the language, they don’t need to dance and sing, they need a good education so they can be equals out there, in the world of work, because that’s where they are going to be out with non-Indian people. So if you wanted to do something good for your kids, get them a good education. That was bought into by the Indians of the United States whether it was a contiguous reservation, checkerboard reservation or terminated reservation, parents at that age all bought into that. I had friends from clear across the country to here in the northwest who can’t speak their language, where their older and younger brothers and sisters can. But there was this period when the Federal government applied this notion of if you want to be good to your kids quit teaching them the language and get them in school. And, that goes across the United States so its beyond the terminated, but that did have something to do with it here, at Siletz. People were buying into that, people were buying into the notion that you would be a full first class citizen, get rid of the other restrictions that Indians had. In Siletz, you grow up and at my age there were restaurants you couldn’t go into at Newport and Toledo. They said dogs allowed, Indians not, right on the front window. There were places you couldn’t go. And even the older people it was even worse, you grew up know you weren’t a first class citizen. This whole notion of if your terminated you’re going to be first class citizens, and a whole bunch of other little restrictions would be lifted and supposedly make one’s life better (Tom 2006).


As Bob Tom aptly describes, the issue had to do fundamentally with the discrimination against American Indians in American society. In the 1940s, racism in the United States was a tangible reality not just for African-Americans but also for most other ethnic minorities.  Kathryn Harrison, Grand Ronde Tribal elder remembered the time when her husband Frank returned from war. Frank was “not welcomed into any community as a patriot or war hero. Instead, he found signs on stores and movie houses in the West warning: “No Indians or Dogs”” (Olson 2005:69). In addition, when Frank began working in logging, “typical taverns barred Indian patrons,” but not Mexicans nor Hawaiians (Olson 2005:70).

Many of the decisions being made by parents related intrinsically to their feelings of social inequality. The desire to provide their children with better opportunities came with a cost: the loss of the tribal culture and language. This desire for freedom from their substandard status and environment was manipulated by the BIA into a different definition of freedom The BIA and Congressional definition of freedom was an access to government services and to society. There was never any attempt in the liquidation/termination legislation to deal with the racial or cultural issues that native people faced.

Cultural Survival and Identity within the Termination Era

Cheryle Kennedy’s account of the 1960s and 70s shows us that family kinships and the maintenance of those relations were important to maintaining cultural and familial understanding:

CK- Well again, my father died at the same time as about termination.  And, so for us, what we seen from our family that the only one close relative that remained here, although there were lots of uncles and aunts that were elders at that time, like George Leno, and Gus Leno, Agnes Leno Mercier, Dolly Leno Pichette, stayed here yet.

DL- so a number of people kept their land.

CK-  yeah, Myrtle

DL-because there was an attempt by the BIA to have their allotted lands sold off, but from what I can figure out, many people did sell out and left, there were some people who said their grandfather sold their land and moved to British Columbia. But then a lot of Grand Ronde people kept their land because.

CK- They were in fee,

DL- so they didn’t totally sell out.

CK- right they still had their places and, so there was a place for us, ya’know, to come back to, and visit with relatives. So there were many though that left, many of our relatives that we lost track of because we didn’t know where they went! I know that we were related to the Smiths and Rosemary Smith ended up marrying a Smith at Warm Springs too so she didn’t have to change her name. Still Rosemary Smith. Her father Lawrence Smith, seemed like we would still see him when we would pick berries during the summertime. And I thought maybe he lived around Portland someplace. But then the other daughter must have been on relocation, Maurine, and ended up in Oakland[26], and that’s where she grew up. I mean that’s where she had a family then raised all of her children and grandchildren, they are still there. So I always wondered about those kids who were close to my age and now John is in Portland, came back about, maybe I don’t know, a dozen years ago or so, reconnected kind of with the tribe and lives in Portland. Stays in contact with the Portland Office there. But that’s how we just kind of wandered. Ya’know, what happened to all of the people? Sometimes names will come up and think, yeah where’d they ever go? And we’re related to the Petite’s, and some that just kind of disappeared. They live way over on the east coast! And we haven’t seen them for decades. So termination, ya’know, really had its toll, I think on the heart of the Grand Ronde people, which is the families.

DL- the community and the families and their relations to each other?

CK- That’s right and you had to survive however you could, make ends meet, we went wherever that would lead you to then. A lot of times you just ended up staying. At the time of restoration in 83 the surveys that we conducted, and I was part of that, showed that over half of our members lived outside of Oregon, and now, about 75 percent of the members live in Oregon. But at that time we were only surveying about 900 people, now there’s about 5,000. So we have a lot more people who returned. At least to Oregon.

DL-So what was it like in the 60’s, did your summers here continue?

CK- We continued because my aunt still lived here and all of the other old, they’d be great-aunts, and uncles, lived here. So, we still continued, come every summer and spend time down at Taft. Grandma, took us there and said this is the spot I was raised. My parents brought us here we did all of our, summer gathering, and canning, and drying, and whatever. We still do this. So, we’d be down there and aunts and uncles, we’d come and stay at Aunt Nora’s and make our tours. By then… of course in the sixties there was a lessening of the going to the fields for work. I don’t know why that happened. But it seems like that took place. Maybe the hops died, I don’t know. The stringbeans…, it seems like we didn’t do too much of that. I was like 17, or in that age, but up to like 13 we…(Kennedy 2006).



Mrs. Kennedy’s family life remained strong with extended family throughout the termination era. The non-terminated reservations, like Warm Springs, served as a haven for many Indian people who still wanted to live in a native cultural lifestyle. This is true across Indian country. As well, many cultural phenomena were passed on by Cheryle Kennedy’s grandmother:

CK- And so one time she took me out, she said I’m going to teach you what I know, and for whatever the purpose of that plant was, and I want you to write down, and so I told her OK. And when I was very young even, she used to take me around, and we’d ride around and we’d collect plant, and she’d have me dry them and keep them. But she didn’t never, when I was little, she didn’t talk to me about what they were for. Just we’d gather. We would gather and when I think about it, besides the ones she’d dried, she always kept. And then I remember in the winter time she’d throw some in a pot. And if we were sick, and put it in that white cloth, its gauzy-like, and she’d hang it around our neck, or she’d make us drink some. I guess I never really did think about things like she was doctoring us from, but that’s what she was doing! So anyhow, this was about, oh maybe 20 years ago, because I have picture in my car when I drove her all over doing that. It might have been about 80, so that was 26 years ago. And we picked all of these plants and she showed me some that were used like for cataracts. And we gathered that. There was one a blue plant that she said we…(Kennedy 2006)


Post-termination reality for the Indians was an example of what European immigrants may have felt, especially the Irish and Italians, as a people cut off from their land and cultural heritage. Bob Tom explains some of the complexities of being Indian and non-Indian at the same time in an account very similar to that of Cheryle Kennedy’s:


BT- So, tribes were terminated, you received the last services for many of my relatives that worked at Chemawa if they weren’t working there already, then they would have to when they applied for a job they wouldn’t get Indian preference, which gave you so many points in that when you were being hired, you got extra points for being an Indian. But, once terminated even if you could tell someone was an Indian visually the BIA wouldn’t give you preference points for being Indian. It affected a lot of out tribal members that worked for IHS and the BIA. It created a terrible status for a lot of Indian people. It got to where being called a terminated Indian was one of the ugliest things you could call somebody, [by] another Indian, between Indian people. If they called you a terminated Indian, they were saying something really negative. A lot of tribes, a lot of tribes that resisted termination, or a lot of tribes where termination was never even applied or attempted, felt that the terminated tribes just sold out. Sold their land, and wanted some money and sold out hunting and fishing rights, everything. And looked down on somebody that would do that, and so being called a terminated Indian was a very, very negative thing. A lot of my family and a lot of my relatives and fellow tribal members faced that. I was lucky, I never faced that, after high school, a couple years after high school, I started playing Indian basketball for the Magpies from Warm Springs Oregon. I and a kid from Colville, and a kid from Lapwai, were the only three non-Warm Springers playing for them, and I traveled all over Oregon, Washington and Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Northern California playing basketball, against reservations, and in Indian basketball tournaments, and no one ever said that, even on the programs it would list what tribe you were from, and they would list me as Siletz, I still never did face people using that derogatory term toward me. But I had other family and other friends from tribes that would happen to them. And a lot of them stayed away from a lot of Indian functions just because of such a negative term. And it went from termination “terminated Indians” to “urban Indians” that was the next really ugly term. It kind of disappeared when a lot of people, their own family moved to urban areas to go to school or go to work, so pretty soon if they called you an urban Indian in a negative way well they’d also be also talking about their relative, so that kind of disappeared, I think, only for that reason (Tom 2006).


This post-termination discrimination is likely expressed contemporaneously within issues of urban versus reservation Indians. Even deeper, there is a legalistic discrimination applied politically between restored tribes and non-terminated or continuous-reservation tribes over issues of land claims for cultural and natural resources. However, it’s obvious that the discrimination many Indians sought to escape from in white American society become doubly applied with the discrimination expressed by non-terminated tribes against the so-called “sell-out” terminated Indians. The discrimination became doubled because many Indians were still discriminated against by white Americans and so they ended up belonging nowhere, apparently dispossessed from any culture, white or Indian, for nearly three decades.

Similarly, Cheryle Kennedy experienced a sense of social and cultural disconnectedness associated with being a terminated Indian:


DL- So that’s kind of one of the things that occurred after termination. I’ve been told that being called a terminated Indian became sort of a dirty phrase. Did you hear that a lot?

CK- Oh Yeah. Yeah, you’re just kind of worthless. You’re not, not white, you’re not…, well what are you? Well for…, I was always Indian. I mean that’s all there was. Even though other tribes looked down on us, and then when you went for services, of course being at Warm Springs, we’d, if we had a toothache or whatever, you were always told you can’t come here, you’re not Indian.

DL-So it must have been tough living out at Warm Springs in that environment.

CK- Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

DL- Did everyone treat you that way at Warm Springs?

CK- We had a lot of friendships and that kind of thing. The agencies[27] were more of that opinion, so we didn’t really…

DL- Most of the people…

CK- The people were OK. There wasn’t a… I think Warm Springs has something of a melting pot of other Indian people. But there were quite a few Grand Ronde people there (Kennedy 2006).


Kathryn Harrison, a Grand Ronde elder, describes a different situation in the post-termination era. Kathryn Harrison and her children never settled down in one place very long and lived in a constant state of poverty. This lifestyle began before termination and continued into post-termination. The family lived in Oregon, dump truck driving in Idaho, berry picking in Arizona, and back to Lebanon, Oregon for logging. They traveled from blue collar job to blue collar job barely making a living. Kathryn’s oldest girls left the family to early marriages to escape the poverty. Other relatives married into the Umatilla Tribe which became a haven at times of need for the family. Finally, fed up with her husband Franks’ alcoholic binges, Kathryn and the children left him (Olson 2005:78-81).

Kathryn Harrison’s experience was not unlike many tribal members. For many, the lack of money and a foundation for building a life kept many families on the edge of poverty. Health and basic needs like food and clothing suffered. In attempts to deal with the stress of that life, of living powerless in society, many people turned to alcohol. Others, like Kathryn, chose to work harder to make a better life for themselves and their family.

Another example of a tribal member growing up during the time of termination is that of Don Day. Don is a tribal elder at Grand Ronde who is active in helping restore the tribal culture. Don’s passion is in the field of native traditional technologies and he combines his work with archaeological studies at the University of Oregon. Don has been instrumental in restoring knowledge to tribal members about how to split cedar planks using strictly traditional tools, wood splitting wedges and wood mallets. His work lends itself to building of traditional plank house structures similar to those built by the Yurok and Tolowa in northern California, and at Siletz Reservation in Oregon. Don has collaborated with many Northwest tribes about cedar plank splitting, his most significant contribution with the Haida First Nation of the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Don did not come early to his talent with traditional technologies and had a difficult life for the first 40 years, having been a soldier in Korea and Vietnam and having to contend with healing from racial abuse in his childhood upbringing:

DD-Ok, spent some earlier time growing up in the back streets of the capitol city of the state of Oregon, in Salem. Through grade school its like, I think I was suspended from all of the schools in Salem for fighting, because I was an Indian person. I had no idea what that was, at that time. Joined the service at a real young age, 17, and turned 18 in Korea, 20 in Vietnam, and when I came back from the service I had my own ideas about life and death, and they didn’t involve an education at all, because of what I’d seen, what I’d experienced at the age of 20. I believe I brought back a full on attitude as an alcoholic and I know that it took me like 30 years or so to find out that I was one. It was all directly related to the past experience in Vietnam era in that time….

What I was able to find out about my father and mother, my father is Joseph Lloyd Day a Siletz tribal member who was a prisoner of war and was also diagnosed with alcoholic disease, if I remember correctly he passed when he was 50 years old. He had divorced my mother when I was approximately 2 years old so never really met him until I was like 21 or something like that. And then it was a short time later that he had a massive heart attack and died at a Veterans hospital in Washington State, a VA hospital. My mother at that time was Rose Lee Peters, daughter of Mary Peters of Dallas Oregon, and Henry Peters, and they were… my mother married a non-native person by the name of Albert Bennett. He became my step-father, who gave me that title as “you black little bastard”, which I thought was my name until I was 20 years old.  So there’s a whole lot of what, culture, implied something… I grew up with that in my life for I don’t know 30 years anyway. Until I finally realized that I wasn’t that person (Day 2006).


Don’s life took a difficult trajectory from his youth and did not improve much until about he was 30 years old. This is not unlike the experiences of Frank Harrison (Olson 2005), and many other tribal members who had wartime experiences and did not have a healthy tribal community to return to. Don had to find a way to heal himself and find who he was. In his 40s, Don entered Chemeketa Community College and settled on archaeology as a passion which has led him to the brink of a master’s degree. Like other tribal members at Grand Ronde, Don is working to restore the culture, and making progress some 25 years after the tribe is restored.


Political and Legal Restoration Movement

As mentioned previously, Bob Tom became an instrumental figure in the restoration effort by the Siletz Tribe. He and Grand Ronde elder Kathryn Harrison, both enrolled Grand Ronde members, two of the key figures in the restoration of the Siletz tribe, which was successful in 1977. Their efforts likely established methods and models that led to the restoration of five Oregon tribes including Grand Ronde (Olson 2005:91-102).  Of the restoration effort, Bob Tom describes in detail the events that led up to his involvement in Siletz tribal restoration:


BT- I was living here in Eugene, and I was in University of Oregon New Careers Education Program. It was for older non-traditional students. And you work half time and you went to school half time through this new careers program, and I was executive director of Associated Consultants Incorporated. It was a nonprofit organization that was set up to work with voc rehab clients. So I was half time director of Associated Consultants Incorporated and half time student at University of Oregon New Careers Education Program. But I would go up to Salem to visit my mom, and when I went up there one time, and we were sitting just like this having coffee and tea, just talking, and she said, son, she said, your uncle he is trying to do something good for the people, trying to help the people, and they have their meetings over in Siletz, how come you’re not supporting your uncle, how come you’re not helping him do what he is trying to do? I didn’t say anything, but when I went home I thought about it, kept thinking about it and a couple of weeks later I went back to visit her, and after that couple of weeks it was clear I didn’t have a good answer why I wouldn’t help him. And so I started going to meetings, started supporting the people who were doing something, trying to do something about it. So I got involved just because my mom asked me why I wasn’t, and I didn’t have a good reason why I wasn’t doing anything, something I could do. So I started going to all of the meetings, and from 72’ til 77’ no one ever got any gas, meal, motel or any kind of reimbursement. There was never any kind of support for anybody that was working on the Siletz Restoration Bill, and everybody put miles and miles on their cars. The biggest group of people that worked on the Siletz Restoration Bill were from Portland, Salem, and Eugene. There weren’t a lot of people from Siletz that came to the meeting, there were some your know but they weren’t overwhelming. So, started going to meetings, got on the tribal council, got into lobbying. I don’t know if you ever watch that lobbying movie, The People are Dancing?

DL- I’ve been trying to find it.

BT- So I got involved because my uncle was involved, my mom wondered why I didn’t help, why I wasn’t helping him, why I wasn’t trying to do something good for the people. And so I got involved, I got…I was on the tribal council and my uncle also got us…we also become members of an umbrella organization, up out of Tacoma, out in Washington.  Its called Small Tribes of Western Washington. It an umbrella association and was made up of federally recognized tribes and non-federally recognized tribes in the Puget Sound area. And they had a big office and they got to go out to Fort Lewis and got excess property. They got food, they got some grants, some grants were limited to federal tribes. Some of them grants were, for everybody. So this umbrella organization, my uncle went up there and visited them, and visited them, and they finally accepted the Siletz tribe as one of the members of the Small Tribes of Western Washington. They were very instrumental and very helpful. I think they helped pay for most of the mileage the first time we went back to D.C. to lobby. And then they helped with some expenses in Oregon, with some of our expenses.

I lived over on Riverview, just south of Eugene. In that little valley there, and I got on the executive board at Stowe, and I drove up there twice a month at Stowe. I would get on the freeway a half a mile from my house and when I got off the freeway it was less than half a mile to the office. So I was on the freeway twice a month up there. And finally it got to a point that I had to decide if I was going to continue my involvement at the tribe, to reverse termination, or if I was going to continue in my New Careers half time job because it got to the point where I couldn’t spend enough time with either one. And so I just quit school, quit my job, and just worked on the restoration and lobbied. That film, I showed that film, if I could gather five people together I’d show that film (Tom 2006).


Cultural Restoration

One of the most powerful things that drew Grand Ronde people together was a sense of common genealogy. We all come from the same bloodlines and the same homelands, and we have similar tribal ancestries. We are one large family that is working together to restore a common sense of place, a sense of belonging to this land. The western Oregon landscape and environment is a powerful force within this restoration movement.

But the journey of restoration is not easy. Many in the tribal community suffer from a sense of dissociation from their identities as Indian people. The dissociation from that identity, culture, and indigenous association with our land is a debilitating feeling. In attempts to manage the fear and anger of dispossession, many in the tribe turned to alcohol and drugs and anything that would appease their thirst for a sense of belonging, and make up for the feeling of powerlessness. Many people despaired and found little help out of their socio-psychological problems.

These histories tell us of the disappearance of tribal languages, of the terrible experiences that the people endured of poverty, drug, and family abuse, and of a people living with Indian identities while not being accepted into either Indian or white society. There was racial and political discrimination against terminated Indians, a subject which has yet to be fully analyzed.

The Native peoples during the 1960s and 1970s were fighting to rebuild their former culture and lifestyle, and regain land they had once owned,. They worked against incredible odds, and amidst feelings of betrayal by the federal government and by the non-terminated tribes. The most difficult barrier was the need to correct an injustice and find a balance, since  they knew they had been wronged by the government, by society and by other tribes. The tribes knew their people deserved to be recognized under federal laws. This is the story of the termination era for western Oregon Indians.

The stories in this chapter deal with decades of despair and of people finding ways to come through and survive incredible hardships. Those who were successful found camaraderie and a common goal in the restoration of the tribes, and they have inspired following generations who also seek increased restoration of their tribal society.

Bob Tom describes some of the cultural and familial issues that Siletz had to work with alongside political and legal restoration:


BT- It was the early 70’s when a small group of people said that termination hadn’t worked. Menominee were working on their’s, in Wisconsin, so they knew something was going on. So they said, this isn’t working, it didn’t work. Because the tribe was terminated with the public law, you had to reverse that public law with another public law. So the effort had to be in the Senate and the House, in Congress. So right to start with there was a big task with getting the House and Senate to say some of their constituents from previous years had made a big mistake. They had to admit that some other Congressman or Senator had made a big mistake, for them to allow the reversal of a previous decision. So a few people said hey you know, that didn’t work, lets start some meetings and decide what we can do, what we want to do. So over at Siletz they started just a little piece of paper, mimeographed, and started word of mouth trying to say we are going to have a meeting in Siletz, to talk about the situation. It wasn’t very well responded to. They had meetings, they had an A frame there, they had a legion hall, and a grange hall, and they had to rent it, rent them to have a meeting. So they started doing it though, my uncle was one of them.

DL- what was his name.

BT- Lindsey John, he was one of them that started that. My mom, his sister, they both lived in Salem, she would ride over with him, not to be involved with the political, but to help with the kitchen and the serving. And then there were some other elders that would come, Ed Ben’s mother and father, Muschap, Gladys and her mom, Pearl Relatos, and there was some older people that just enjoyed coming and visiting and helping with the dinner and food, and visiting. Later on it was important because you could see those ladies. When more people started getting involved, young people would come. A lot of people didn’t know who they were related to, they didn’t know their family history.

DL- already

BT- Already, So they would be visiting with those, the old people would be introducing themselves. Oh you’re so and so’s son, Oh you’re… So they started talking. They really enjoyed that and they served that valuable purpose. Making people feel good, making sure they knew who they were (Tom 2006).


This sense of place and family relates to that sense of place and family that Cheryle Kennedy also expressed. The restoration of Grand Ronde and Siletz was not the restart of a corporation but the restoration of a fully functioning cultural society. Therefore the early efforts for restoration had to address not only economic, legal and political issues but cultural and genealogical issues of re-establishing relations between people, and restoring cultural traditions.

Mrs. Kennedy also elucidates many strategies for the survival of the culture within the family structure:


CK- I’ll say this about the termination era, my grandma was a very proud, proud woman, and I know that, you can’t see the picture here but, I don’t know if you ever met my grandma but, I look at her every day,

DL- oh yeah

CK- That’s her, that’s my sister, she’s gone now too, and that’s Margaret[28]. But, she’s the one who, is still in all of us kids. Grand Ronde people are very important people, they’re very strong people, and her Rogue River background, and she’d laugh about it, she’d say, yeah my, my father would tell my mother, “yeah that’s just your mean Rogue River blood, that’s why you won’t listen.” She’d talk about the distinctions in the tribes, and of course with Rogue River and Umpqua[29] from her side. But it was very important, she had a lot of pride in who she was and about where she came from, and she instilled that in us and we were going to maintain the tribal identity and this is who you are. So, when we’d come and spend our two or three months in the summer out here, that’s what we did. We just caravanned around to all of the relatives, knowing who they are. This is who you’re…, This is your uncle, this is… Ya’know that was just always here, that oral history. It was very strong. Her fluent language, she was a fluent Chinook[30] speaker. While she said that, Mose Hudson[31], who was Uncle Abe’s brother was fluent in Kalapuya. She said it’s a very hard language to, to speak, because something about your tongue. I don’t know about it. She said that for her the Grand Ronde people are really first and foremost, in her thinking, in her training. So, I think I’ve been very fortunate, because not all Grand Ronde members have that, kind of a, person that’s going to safeguard and make sure that you know who you are, and carry it on. So termination, that piece of it, because we had a strong tribal identity, and a lot of self worth in being native, when others looked at you and said you weren’t, that was, that was a hard thing (Kennedy 2006).


Kathryn Harrison chose to work for Siletz restoration despite not being a Siletz tribal member. Harrison became involved at Siletz as they had “an intact Indian culture…I never had to wonder if my relatives and the rest of the Indian community in Siletz would be there” (Olson 2005:94). Ultimately, Kathryn’s reasons for working at Siletz in the early 70’s were related to her sense of Indian-ness, her cultural identity:

My Indian-ness is as strong as ever these days as I work around the Siletz community as a member of the Lincoln County Mental Health Advisory Board, as a member of the Board of Directors for the Home Health Agency…. I see so much that could be accomplished. With restoration, our work will be just beginning….

There is a growth of pride in the eyes of our young people as they share … the culture of the tribe. Since the restoration bill started… there is a new spring in our step, a feeling of expectation in the air, a hoping that maybe this time the Indians will acquire something- something desperately needed. And it will be our own (Harrison 1976; Olson 2005:95).


From a place of relative insecurity, Kathryn found that at her empowerment in a foundation of her Indian identity. In the 1970s she was able to harness that empowerment at Siletz to help the tribe become restored. Without that sense of Indian identity restoration may not have occurred for Siletz, much less any tribe who was successful at restoration. The sense of a tribe’s cultural identity, its association with the land, culture and language, establishes the foundation for the tribe practicing its sovereignty.


Jeffers Family


Members of the Jeffers Family are descendants of the ancestral Jefferies family from Grand Ronde. They lived in the Eugene area before termination and maintained contacts with grandparents, William Jeffers & Josette Quinelle, who owned a land allotment at the Grand Ronde reservation. This land was sold during termination proceedings. Members of the family today are highly active in working on enrollment issues and working with the Grand Ronde Satellite Office in Eugene.

Ivan was born in Eugene in 1920 and has lived here and other places in Oregon and Washington his whole life. He was a logger and owned at least three “outfits” in his life. He apparently only knows about logging and told many logging stories. He never lived at Grand Ronde nor ever visited the reservation as a working adult as he was too busy. He knew where his grandfather’s property was at the reservation and said that a brother of his grandfather also owned property. This property was all taken away from them by the government when termination came. He doesn’t know what the people did after termination but William the grandfather might have gone up to Canada to farm.

Ivan’s family in the Eugene area was challenged by their distance from the tribe. In the 1960s when there was some tribal member meetings happening at Grand Ronde Ivan’s family would travel their and maintain their family on the rolls. Busy making a living in logging, Ivan himself had little time for such meetings but his children and aunt attended regularly. Of termination Ivan knows very little as his family had moved away well before termination occurred. Ivan said “I remember hearing about it… but I was too busy taking care of other business” (Jeffers 2006).

One man, Ivan Jeffers, 86, worked his whole life in the timber industry. He relates that he owned three logging companies during his career and has many stories and associations still with the industry. This history is not unlike many other tribal members who were professional loggers and traveled throughout the western States, even up to Alaska in the logging industry. In Ivan’s interview he related many stories of his experiences with logging. Ivan was very illustrative on commenting about college  scientists who in his words “knew nothing about logging” (Jeffers 2006). Ivan commented on the environmental movement issues in saying “trees don’t save water, they use water, thousands of gallons a day,” and that “when the tree needles turn red, the beetles are gone, they live in the green trees,”  and that “those big beautiful trees, they are all rotten inside,” and “ there are no more Douglas firs growing, they are red firs” (Jeffers 2006). Ivan’s knowledge of logging practices is encyclopedic from working in the industry for over 40 years.

Ivan’s experiences are very similar to many people with families associated with the Grand Ronde Reservation as, beginning in the early 20th century, Indians who did not match the correct blood quantum, one half, to qualify for a Dawes Indian Allotment, nor could find work or fair treatment at the reservation, left to work and live in the Willamette Valley. In the Eugene area, the Jeffers family established a home outside of Eugene. Their homestead was off the highway enough that for many years they had to ford a stream to cross to the highway (Jeffers and Jeffers 2006). From this original homestead, the Jeffers families have spread out and now maintain residences in the Eugene and Springfield area with literally hundreds of descendants in the area (Jeffers and Jeffers 2006; Jeffers 2006). In Grand Ronde during the termination era, 1956-1983, few of the Jeffers maintained a close association with the Grand Ronde area. Like many Tribal members, the Jeffers family had little opportunity to participate in culture and social gatherings that included the larger Grand Ronde community.

The tribal community has little memory of how the Jeffers family is related to other tribal families, their history at the reservation, and information about their cultural heritage and tribal affiliation. Although parts of the Jeffers family had somewhat disassociated themselves from the reservation before termination, there were few opportunities for re-association until after restoration in 1983. This has clearly affected long-term familial associations within the Grand Ronde community, since at least two generation of Jeffers experienced termination. Still, powerful matriarchs and patriarchs of the Jeffers family have sought to teach their culture and restore their family’s associations with Grand Ronde and maintained some connections during the post-termination era.

However, the distance has cost the family much in turns of tribal membership rights at the tribe. Many tribal elders report that throughout the 1970s there were general community meetings. During these meetings they would sign up their families on the tribal rolls. There is no information on where these rolls ended up or who maintained them. Ivan remembers signing his family up on the tribal rolls several times:

IJ- My Aunt Georgia was always after us to go sign up, we signed up a long time before that but they said we didn’t sign up down there but we did. And then we went back down and signed up again. The first time my Aunt Georgia took all the kids down there and signed them up the first time. They went and signed up at Grand Ronde. And then went back down the second time and signed up again.

DL- Maybe in the 80’s when they tribe was restored?

IJ- Might have been before that… probably ’65 (Jeffers 2006).


Contemporaneously many of these distant families, those not living immediately in the Grand Ronde area are struggling to prove their right to be tribal members under the strict membership policies. And while older members usually are able to get on the roll, their descendants are struggling. The membership barriers limit access of these tribal descendants to social and cultural services at the tribe and as such continues to affect their tribal identity. While they remain Indians, as much so as many other tribal members, they do not have an opportunity to re-associate themselves with the tribe on many levels and begin the process of restoration of their tribal identities. In effect they remain terminated Indians, caught in a bureaucratic system which began with tribal termination and continued into the present.

LaChance Family

The LaChance surname is an old name associated with Grand Ronde. Members of the family were listed on the Grand Ronde termination rolls. In the termination era, the family dissociated with many families at Grand Ronde and began their own restoration efforts. Today members of the family are enrolled at the Cow Creek Band of Upper Umpqua Tribe as well as at Grand Ronde. This situation spotlights one of the most dramatic of the changes from the termination era. Several families formerly associated with the Siletz and Grand Ronde reservations banded together with the small tribal organizations in southwestern Oregon to become newly restored tribes in the 1980s. Where before these tribes did not originally have permanent reservation land-bases, and their governments went largely unrecognized and unsupported by the federal government, today they are fully recognized tribes with reservations.  As such many western Oregon Indians are now eligible to enroll in several different tribes, Grand Ronde Community, Siletz Reservation, Cow Creek Band of Umpqua, Coquille Indian Tribe and Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw.

The LaChance Family has old roots among the fur trappers of the Fort Vancouver days. During the termination era, in 1960, one of the LaChance families was struggling to survive performing low-income labor in the suburbs of Seattle:

Dear Mr. Foster:

As a follow-up to your letter of June 3, 1960, concerning the Alvin L. LaChance, Sr., family, I wish to report the following information.


While it is true that the LaChance family reside in a trailer court in a suburbe [sic] of Seattle, it is one of the more permanent type, very modern, large and well kept.


Both Mr. And Mrs. LaChance and their children were seen at the time of my interview and appear to be a fairly stable and cohesive family unit. When questioned about the ties with relatives in Brookings, Oregon, Mr. LaChance reported that his mother, Mrs. Stella LaChance, resides in that Oregon community and that he and his family lived there from approximately August to December of 1959, while he was working there.


Mr. LaChance is presently employed for the Independent Magazine Distributors in Seattle, where he has worked for approximately one and a half months. Prior to that time, he was employed with a service station in Seattle, after coming up from Oregon. His previous employment before August 1959, was with the Salem News Agency in Salem, Oregon, for two years and with the American News Company for one year. He gave seemingly valid reasons for terminating employment at those jobs.


Mention was made of the family plan for use of the minors’ funds, which I believe is on file in your office. Nan has had the usual difficulty with her teeth, possibly complicated by poor dental care, and now wears a partial lower plate, and is in need of orthodontic correction. This would be the primary area of need for her funds.


While the children are now out of school, they have been attending Kenmore Elementary School, which is within a reasonable distance from their home. This is given as one of the reasons why the family has moved at least once since arriving in Seattle, that is, to be closer to a school.


On the basis of my interview and appraisal of the family. I would recommend that the minor’s funds be released to the parents.


Sincerely Yours,


David J. L’Esperance, Agency Social Worker (L’Esperance 1960)


The above agency correspondence gives us a valuable snapshot of what this family was going through following termination. Poor health, multiple moves, and low income ($385/mo.) had forced them live in a trailer park. Before termination, tribal reservation houses came with plenty of land, and natural resources. The LaChances’ lifestyle and culture was dramatically different from that of 4 years previously. The judgment funds were the last remaining money due to the family following the Umpqua Indian claims lawsuit. The judgment fund money for Alvin LaChance Jr. and Nan LaChance was released to the family on July 25 and July 30, 1960 to take care of their dental needs. However the overall poor quality care they received would follow them and cause adverse health effect for many years.

Reporting and predicting the effects of termination

In 1975, when tribal members were questioned about the effects of termination, they stated that they did not realize the severity of the Congressional Act, t they didn’t understand they would lose the right to send their children to Chemawa Indian School, that all services were to be taken away, and that they would indeed cease to be a tribe (Commission 1976; Schwartz 1997:256). The Indians were left jobless, since the promised vocational trainings of the BIA occurred for a small percentage of tribal members (Office 1956). The timber areas of Siletz were logged off and there were no more timber jobs, and so most Indian people moved into the Willamette Valley to find work.

In 1976, Bob Tom, a Siletz Council member who was at the Salem hearings noted:


With self-identity and self-concept being a national problem, our people are in a position of not being first class citizens in the white society. Without federal recognition, we are not first class citizens in the Indian world either (Commission 1976:63).


This situation weakened tribal governments in western Oregon and they were unable to maintain and support cultural, economic or social aspects of Indian life. The resultant degradation of language and cultural knowledge is a result of the federal termination process.  Indian families of Western Oregon became the poorest in society, even among Indian tribes, and felt the effects of alcoholism, broken homes, death, disease, divorce, and lack of employment that continues to this day.

The Final Report asserts, “There is simply no evidence that termination in any way on any measure had a positive effect on Klamath or Western Oregon Indians” (Commission 1976).  In effect, the termination of Indians did not solve the “Indian Problem” only created new and more pervasive problems that the now restored tribes are still attempting to solve. The Western Oregon Indians did not consent to termination and the results are the disintegration of tribal society and culture. The Final Report of 1976 concludes these issues by advising that the wrongs done to the Indian people must be corrected.

The ultimate problem with termination is the government’s disregard for the terms of the agreement. As mentioned elsewhere, members of the tribes were in a contractual arrangement with the United States government and the only way to terminate that agreement was for the tribes and the government to agree to this arrangement.  In the findings of the Report on Terminated and Nonfederally Recognized Indians[32]  for western Oregon, is this statement:



No referendum vote on the subject of termination by Oregon Indian Tribes ever took place” and “A strong case can be made that most Indians were unaware of the important features of the termination bill, and that cooperation and participation in the passage of the bill was extremely limited (Commission 1976:52).



The actions of telling tribal stories of the challenges of the termination era represents a need to restore the tribes’ history to its rightful place within the histories of humans and is an effort to decolonize the tribe. Linda T. Smith utilizes her Maori cultural perspective to approach the issues of indigenous decolonization as it is manifesting in many colonial contexts:

Every issue has been approached by indigenous peoples with a view to rewriting and rerighting our position in history. Indigenous peoples want to tell their own stories, write our own versions, in our own ways, for our own purposes. …a powerful need to give testimony to and restore a spirit, to bring back into existence a world fragmented and dying (1999:28).


Manifesting at the Grand Ronde tribe as restoration, the stories document and bring into common knowledge the experiences of native peoples with termination, one of the last actions of the federal government to eliminate the tribes of western Oregon forever.

The post termination era, more than any other era, is a mystery for many people. Very few studies of this era exist, and for tribal people who lived through the era, there was little time to take stock in what was occurring. Termination then has caused a negation of tribal culture and identity, a fragmentation of what once was common knowledge to all tribal members. In turn, several generations of Grand Ronde tribal members following termination have suffered a negation of their understanding of history, community and kinships. Linda T. Smith writes:


the negation of indigenous views of history was a critical part of asserting colonial ideology, partly because such views were regarded as clearly ‘primitive’ and ‘incorrect’ and mostly because they challenged and resisted the mission of colonization (1999:29).


After the Grand Ronde Reservation was terminated, all of the remaining land was sold to the public. This had been a priority of the federal government since before the tribes were removed to treaties, because the reason that the tribes were removed was to free up the land for white settlement, and to protect the remaining Indian people from further genocide. The effort was carried forth through several stages of reduction of reservation lands and into the 20th century with further losses of lands under the Dawes Act. Finally termination completely dispossessed all western Oregon Indians from their traditional homelands. What remained was a new immigrate population of natives in the cities, a population cleansed of its claims to aboriginal rights.

We can assume that this history shows that the continued existence of “tribes” contests the continued efforts by the United States to colonize all of the land. The tribes and their culture represented a challenge to the United States in offering another vision of how to use the land, that there are other ways to use the land. The need for these resources came from demographic movements due to war, and environmental collapse which created a need to continue United States colonization in the west.

The oral histories of the termination era document the reality for Grand Ronde tribal members. The freedom that was supposed to solve all of the “Indian problems” simply caused deeper and broader problems as many people were completely dispossessed from their history, community and culture.   Those that did survive with some sense of who they were as native people chose to work to restore the tribe. Their stories challenge the United States government in its attempt to assimilate all tribal people, and fully colonize the tribe, and eventually erase it from history. The Grand Ronde efforts constitute what Linda T. Smith calls a resistance and struggle for justice from colonization:

Telling our stories from the past, reclaiming the past, giving testimony to the injustices of the past are all strategies which are commonly employed by indigenous peoples struggling for justice. … the need to tell our stories remains the powerful imperative of a powerful form of resistance (1999:34-35).


The stories are validations to many in the tribe that termination was a terrible act of colonization perpetrated on the native people of western Oregon. By validating these stories, all tribal communities with similar experiences may join together in resistance to the any future actions by the federal government to erase the tribes. The tribes may also work together to continue working to heal from the effects of termination.

Finally, the attempts to negate tribal history, community and culture have cause much confusion about termination and details of what was agreed upon, what actually occurred, and what were the effects. Tribal members commonly understand termination in the context of rumorized visions of the events. The confusion lends itself to contested versions of history from the federal government perspective and sanitized history from the tribal perspective. Linda T. Smith has noted that this is a common issue with indigenous societies working to restore themselves:


Indigenous attempts to reclaim land, language, knowledge and sovereignty have usually involved contested accounts of the past by colonizers and colonized (1999:33).


At Grand Ronde there are contested accounts of termination and many of the historical phenomena around that time period. As we have shown previously, the indigenous account of termination is more accurate than that of the United States Congress. It serves the United States’ purpose to have history written that says the Indians at Grand Ronde approved of their own termination.


Affairs, Committee on Indian, and House of Representatives

1945    H. Rept. No. 2091, 78th Cong., 2nd sess. Majority Report by James F. Connor, Chairman, Karl E. Mundt, Vice-Chairman, Antonio Fernandez, John R. Murdock. In H. Res. 166, Hearing Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Indian Affairs House of Representatives, 78th Congress, 2nd sess. Part 4, Washington, D.C. December 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 13, 1944 Washington, D.C.: GPO.

Belloni, Robert

1969    United States v. Oregon, 302 F. Supp. 899; 1969 U.S. Dist. (Belloni Decision). Vancouver, WA: Center for Columbia River History.

Boldt, Honorable George H.

1974    United States v. Washington, 384 F.Supp. 312 (Boldt Decision). Olympia, WA: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

Commission, American Indian Policy Review

1976    Final report to the American Indian Policy Review Commission, Task Force Ten: Terminated and Nonfederally Recognized Indians, Vol. 10. Salem, Oregon: United States of America.

Committee, Grand Ronde Business

1951    Grand Ronde Resolution of August 22, 1951. G.R.B. Committee, ed. Grand Ronde, Oregon.

Day, Don

2006    Interview with Don Day. D. Lewis, ed. Eugene.

Harrison, Kathryn

1976    Testimony of Kathryn Harrison before the U.S. Senate Committee on Insular and Interior Affairs, March 30, 1976 In Harrison Family papers. Grand Ronde.

Jeffers, Gloria, and Betty Jeffers

2006    Interview with Gloria and Betty Jeffers. D. Lewis, ed. Eugene.

Jeffers, Ivan

2006    Interview with Ivan Jeffers. D. Lewis, ed. Eugene.

Kennedy, Cheryle

2006    Interview about Termination. D. Lewis, ed. Grand Ronde, Oregon.

L’Esperance, David J.

1960    Correspondence of David J. L’Esperance, Agency Social Worker, to Mr. Don C. Foster, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Area Director, Portland, Oregon. In RG 75, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Portland Area Office. Seattle: National Archives Records Administration, Northwest Regional Repository.

Lewis, David G.

2002    Native Experiences and Perspectives as Revealed in the Indian Correspondence in the SWORP Archival Collection In Changing Landscapes. R. Losie, ed, Vol. 3. North Bend, OR: Coquille Indian Tribe.

Lewis, Norma

2006    Interview about Termination. D. Lewis, ed. Salem, Oregon.

McKay, Office of Governor Douglas

1950    Transcript of the Conference on Indian Affairs, July 14, 1950. Conference on Indian Affairs, Salem, Oregon, 1950. State of Oregon.

Office, Portland Area

1956    Western Oregon Termination (Public Law 588-83d Congress-2d Session (68 Stat. 724)) Final Accomplishment Report. In Bureau of Indian Affairs, Portland Area Office. Portland: National Archives Records Administration, Northwest Regional.

Olson, Kristine

2005    Standing Tall: The Lifeway of Kathryn Jones Harrison. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Oregon, Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of

1951a  Resolution: “approve Draft of Bill (62 stat. 1049), with proposed amendments”. G.R.B. Committee, ed. Grand Ronde, Oregon: Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon.

1951b  Resolution: “The Secretary of the Interior is requested to terminate his supervisory power over operation and disposition of Tribal lands, and, Tribal Lands be fee patented to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde”. G.R.B. Committee, ed. Grand Ronde, Oregon: Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon.


1952    Guardianship of Indian to end after 100 years, Oregon Indians Express Views on Impending Emancipation. In The Oregonian. Portland Oregon.

Pryse, E. Morgan

1950    Program for the Early Withdrawal of Selected Activities and Withdrawing Federal Supervision over Indian at Grand Ronde-Siletz and Southwestern Oregon. In RG 75, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Portland Area Office Records. B.o.I. Affairs, ed. Seattle: National Archives Records Administration, Northwest Regional Repository.

Pryse, E. Morgan

1954    Statement of E. Morgan Pryse, Area Director, Portland Area Office: Feb 17, 1954. In RG 75, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Portland Area Office Records. Seattle: National Archives Records Administration, Northwest Regional Repository.

Schwartz, E.A.

1997    The Rogue River Indian War and its Aftermath, 1850-1980. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai

1999    Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London ; New York, Dunedin, N.Z.: Zed Books, University of Otago Press.

Ten, Task Force, and American Indian Policy Review Commission

1976    Transcript of Proceedings, Task Force on Terminated and Nonfederally Recognized Indian Tribes, Salem, Oregon. Seattle: National Archives Records Administration, Pacific Northwest Region.

Thomas, Elmer

1943    Survey of Conditions Among the Indians of the United States: Analysis of the statement of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in justification of Appropriations for 1944, and the Liquidation of the Indian Bureau, Partial Report. H.o.R. Committee on Indian Affairs, ed. Pp. 21. United States Senate. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.

Tom, Bob

2006    Interview about Termination. D. Lewis, ed. Salem, Oregon.

Tom, Leon

2008    Interview with Leon “Chips” Tom. D. Lewis, ed. Grand Ronde.

Washburn, Wilcomb E.

1975    The Assault on Indian Tribalism: The General Allotment Law (Dawes Act) of 1887. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company.



[1] The post-termination era begins in 1961 for the Klamath Indians, the last tribe terminated in Oregon.


[2] For The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians in 1977, and for the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians, 1982, for the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw, 1984, for the Klamath Tribe, 1986, and for the Coquille Indian Tribe, 1989. There are additional tribes that underwent processes like termination. The Clatsop and Nehalem were one such group that were removed from federal recognition in 1911. Additionally there are tribes that were never restored, like the Tututni and Rogue River people who had remained in Southwestern Oregon and did not maintain associations with any reservation. The final Oregon Tribes to mention are the Nez Perce and Modoc tribes of Idaho and Oklahoma, who were never terminated but do not hold federal land within the state. One additional tribe had been terminated in Oregon, the Burns Paiute Tribe who were originally removed to the Malheur Reservation in 1872, but which was closed in 1882.  The closure of the Malheur Reservation was not called “termination” at the time, but was closed as a result of the Bannock War in 1878. The Burns Paiute are therefore, arguably, the first restored tribe in Oregon, in 1973. Since they had not undergone termination in the 1950s they are not considered in the same termination category as the terminated tribes.


[3] The Western Oregon Indian Termination Act terminated over 60 Indian tribes by their original tribal name, or that name which they had been given by anthropologists and others during the previous century, not by their association with Siletz or Grand Ronde reservations. This is an important distinction because it relates back to their original tribal association under the treaties. It is a misconception to say that the Siletz and Grand Ronde “tribes” were terminated, because those entities did not legally exist in the 1950s, they were instead members of the Siletz and Grand Ronde reservations but owed their Indian treaty rights to their origin tribes. Therefore the Termination Act named all of these 60+ tribes by name. Many of these people continued their associations with the reservations and now are members of restored tribes. But, some tribes remain terminated.


[4] This is a noticeable phenomenon. It is possible that the growth of Urban Studies in the 1950s and 1960s was a result of the termination of many reservations and the demographic movement of so many Indians into the cities through the various government programs. In a sense science followed Indians into the cities.


[5] Logging was one of the largest employers of Indians in Oregon, and throughout the Northwest, California to British Columbia. Indians had a special affinity to it as they knew the land and knew the trees (Bob Tom Interview March 2006). Indians served at logging team leaders because of their great skills, (Elmer Hostler Smith River Rancheria (Tolowa) interview 1998). Also Don Day (Grand Ronde) personal conversations 1999-2006.


[6] Correspondences “Annual reports of salaries of regular employees” by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Indian Agents from Grand Ronde and Siletz Reservations 1870-1885, Southwest Oregon Reservation Project Collection, University of Oregon Department of Special Collections and Manuscripts, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene. As shown in the reports each year the Indian employees earned exactly ½ of the salary of the white employees for the same job.


[7] Gary Lewis, personal communication 2006.


[8] This is a normal statement made by Tribal members in Oregon, many have “just found out” maybe a year previously and did not know why they were never told. This situation corresponds with my personal experience. As a young man in the 1970s, I was told I was Indian but at that time the Tribe was not federally recognized.


[9] It was different from the Klamath termination. At Klamath the Indians were expected to leave the tribal membership.


[10] This is my own assumption based on the evidence at hand.


[11] Personal experiences.


[12] There are many examples of this. A dramatic example is in the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon. There, the divide is not one hundred years but instead 50 or 60, where during the termination era there is no information or representation of that time period in the museum displays. The permanent displays show a gap from 1930s to the 1980s. This gap is represented by the doorway into the next gallery. I noticed this situation in 2006.


[13] An example of this was personally seen in a Portland Community College (Sylvania) anthropology classroom in 2007.


[14] According to the Tribal enrollment department.


[15] For example my family lived in Germany and Italy for about 5 years as my father was in the Army.


[16] The Portland Oregon shipyards which greatly expanded during World War II. Many women and minorities and those not eligible for enlistment took jobs at the shipyards where thousands worked in temporary housing so vast that it was a city in itself. This industry collapsed following WWII.


[17] This is a common societal dynamic among Indian tribes although in recent generations, with many Grand Ronde people subjected to assimilation, many families have become patriarchal.


[18] Highway 20, the Santiam Highway, which begins at the I-5 junction at Salem, OR and crosses the Cascade Mountains to about Redmond, OR.  This is about a 4 hour trip to Warm Springs.


[19] A common work for Oregon Indians, who left the reservations in the summers to take part in the agricultural harvest as whole families.


[20] A common phrase which encompasses all of the reservations and communities living within a native cultural worldview.


[21] In the pre-reservation cultures, tribal societies traveled about an annual cycle of hunting, fishing, and gathering “camps”, typically named a “seasonal round.” This is usually categorized by anthropologists as a “complex hunter-gatherer society.” However, the impermanence of the categories and anthropological characterizations do not take into account the fact that archaeology and tribal oral history has established these tribal societies in the same location for as much as 10,000+ BCE in many locations throughout the Pacific Northwest. This extremely stable tribal society, or at very least tribal cultural cycle, exhibits a permanence that deserves more examinations and likely a more highly developed characterization of the “camps” as a different variety of native settlement imbued with a permanent association like that of a “city”.


[22] There are oral histories of Warm Springs people traveling to the Portland area to pick blueberries and recently I heard a story of people from Arizona traveling to the Willamette Valley every year to work in agriculture.


[23] Norma Lewis is my grandmother, she passed in 2008.


[24] Margaret Provost, Grand Ronde elder and member of the first Grand Ronde restoration committee.


[25] Indian Health Service, a series of health clinics across the country, ran by the BIA and available only to Indians.


[26] Oakland, California, a common location where Indians moved as part of the Indian Relocation Program.


[27] The Bureau of Indian Affairs Indian Agencies situated on many reservations for management purposes.


[28] Margaret Provost.


[29] The so-called Rogue River and Umpqua tribes. They are sometimes grouped under the same title, Rogue River, but are actually from several distinct languages, Athapaskan (many dialects), Takelma, Shasta (Sasti/ Chasta) and Umpqua (also Athapaskan but from the Umpqua River).


[30] Chinook Jargon, or now Chinuk Wawa.


[31] John Moses Basile Hudson Jr., a key informant for many linguists who came to Grand Ronde for their studies. He spoke two Kalapuya languages, Santiam and Marysville, Chinuk Wawa and English.


[32] Final report to the American Indian Policy Review Commission, Task Force Ten: Terminated and Nonfederally Recognized Indians, October 1976

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