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Schrader, Bonamici Lead Push to Modernize Grand Ronde and Siletz Tribes’ Hunting and Fishing Agreements

Today, U.S. Representatives Kurt Schrader (OR-05) and Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) introduced two separate bills as a step forward for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, so they have the ability to work toward amending and modernizing their hunting, fishing, trapping and animal gathering rights. The House bills serve as companions to the Senate bills, introduced by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and co-sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden: S.3123 amends the Siletz Reservation Act of 1980 and S.3126 amends the Grand Ronde Reservation Act of 1986.

The two bills championed by Reps. Schrader and Bonamici address consent decrees that were issued by the State of Oregon and the federal government at the time of Restoration. Incorporated into the Siletz and Grand Ronde Reservation Acts passed by Congress, these agreements expressly extinguished any pre-existing rights Tribal members had to hunt and fish in their ancestral homelands. The proposed legislation would not mandate or recommend any new agreements. Instead, the bills would amend the Reservation Acts to permit the 1980 and 1986 hunting and fishing agreements to be replaced, amended or otherwise modified through new government-to-government agreements between the Tribes and the State. Once new hunting and fishing agreements are complete, the legislation allows the State and the Tribes to return to Federal Court to request the termination or modification of the consent decrees currently in place. While provisions in the bills facilitate a process to amend the Siletz and Grand Ronde Reservation Acts, the proposed legislation states that these Reservation Act amendments do not alter or change the treaty rights of any other Indian Tribe. 

“It is clear Congress must act so the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians finally have a process in place to amend and modernize hunting and fishing agreements that are so vital to their Tribal sovereignty and cultural identities,” Congressman Schrader said. “I look forward to working with Congresswoman Bonamici on this important legislation as a first step toward correcting historic wrongs brought on by harmful consent decrees that were incorporated into the Siletz and Grand Ronde Reservation Acts.”

“For too long the people of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians have been denied their full right to hunt and fish in their ancestral homelands,” said Congresswoman Bonamici. “The consent decree these Tribes were forced to sign is racist and unjust, and we must right this wrong by passing this legislation to restore their hunting and fishing rights.”

“For decades federal law has blocked Siletz tribal members from exercising their inherent right to hunt and fish in their ancestral homelands,” said Delores Pigsley, Tribal Chairman, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. “We applaud Rep’s Schrader and Bonamici for introducing this legislation to finally get that over-reaching law off the books.”

“For nearly 40 years, the consent decree has placed unfair and unjust conditions on the Grand Ronde Tribes’ sovereignty. The introduction of this legislation brings this issue to light and presents us with the first step in righting this historic wrong,” said Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy. “We’re grateful to Congressman Schrader and Congresswoman Bonamici for bringing this issue forward.”