NPR: Grand Ronde Tribes moving to disenroll descendants of chief

NPR reports on a disenrollment effort within the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Oregon:
The tribe's enrollment committee is considering kicking out an entire family that traces its lineage back to the funding of the modern tribe more than a century and a half ago. The family is related to Chief Tumulth, leader of the Watlala, a tribe that controlled river traffic along a key section of the Columbia River.

"If you search for 'Chief Tumulth,' you'll find that he's, as some people claim, the most famous Chinookan chief that there ever was," says Jade Unger, Tumulth's great, great, great, great grandson.

After Unger heard about Chief Tumulth as a teenager he began to study the tribal language, Chinuk Wawa, and learned the traditional methods of hunting and fishing. Studying his ancestors, he began to learn about himself.

Eventually, Unger was enrolled at the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. In 1855, Tumulth played an early role in the confederation's founding by signing an important treaty with the U.S. government.

Unger says for nearly 30 years his family was embraced by the tribe, that is, until last September, when everything changed. The tribe's enrollment committee told Unger and 78 members of his family that a recently completed audit showed they were enrolled in error.

Get the Story:
For Native Americans, Losing Tribal Membership Tests Identity (National Public Radio 4/1)

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