Grande Ronde Tribes take another shot at descendants of chief

Attorney Gabe Galanda discusses disenrollment in Indian Country. Photo from Facebook

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Oregon are accusing the descendants of a historic leader and their attorneys of using the media to influence a disenrollment dispute.

Only a few outlets covered a September 1 tribal court decision that upheld the removal of 86 people from the rolls. Yet the tribe's attorneys want the descendants of Chief Tumulth, who signed the 1855 Willamette Valley Treaty, and the Galanda Broadman law firm to be held in contempt for allegedly violating a gag order in the case.

"Petitioners should be ordered to cease and desist from publishing the parties briefings and otherwise using the media in attempt to influence matters on appeal," tribal attorneys said in a court filing that was posted by Turtle Talk.

Turtle Talk is operated by the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University College of Law. The blog regularly posts filings and documents from a wide range of tribal, federal and state court cases across the nation but otherwise is not involved in the dispute.

A descendant of Chief Tumulth visits the grave of the chief's youngest daughter. Photo from
Grand Ronde We All Belong / Facebook

The tribe's attorneys, however, allege Chief Tumulth's descendants and Galanda Broadman are giving documents to Turtle Talk and other outlets in order to influence the case. As purported evidence, a screenshot from the Facebook page of Gabe Galanda, a principal at the law firm, shows links to posts about the dispute from Turtle Talk, Last Real Indians and Indianz.Com.

"Even if petitioners were to disclaim responsibility for the initial posting of the briefs on Turtle Talk, the willful re-posting of the article and link by Mr. Galanda violates the court’s September 18th order," the tribal attorneys said, citing a September 2014 gag order in the case.

Indianz.Com's September 2 story was based on information submitted by Mia Prickett, a spokesperson for the descendants being disenrolled, and on documents from the tribe's publicly accessible document repository. Neither Prickett, nor anyone from Galanda Broadman, has supplied briefs to Indianz.Com.

Last Real Indians, whose writers have spoken out against disenrollment, also has not published any briefs. Turtle Talk's two most recent posts on the subject, dated September 4 and September 2, appear to be the only place on the Internet where briefs filed in Grande Ronde court can be found.

The late Ida Altringer served as elder grand marshal for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde prior to her passing in 2008. After her death, the tribe's enrollment committee disenrolled her. Photo from Grand Ronde We All Belong / Facebook

Disenrollment is a hot topic in Indian Country but the only other outlet that covered the September 1 tribal court decision was Oregon Public Broadcasting. Still, tribal attorneys are seeking to prevent anyone else from reading more documents from the case.

"The general public’s curiosity about such matters should not trump the tribe’s desire to keep these matters outside the general public’s view," the filing stated. "For these reasons, the entire record in this matter should remain sealed."

Galanda, who is a member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in California, has been an outspoken critic of disenrollment in Indian Country. In addition to representing people who have been removed, or are facing removal, from their tribes, he sits on the leadership board of the National Native American Bar Association, which took a stand on the controversial issue earlier this year.

"A tribe's (or its non-Native lawyers') efforts to chill free speech by threatening judicial sanction against disenrolled Indians for publicizing their disenrollment, is about as fascist as it can get," Galanda wrote on Facebook after the tribe made its filing seeking to hold him in contempt of court.

Council chambers of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Oregon. Photo from Grand Ronde We All Belong / Facebook

Chief Tumulth was executed a year after he signed the 1855 treaty that recognized the government-to-government relationship between the Grande Ronde Tribes and the United States. He wasn't able to move to the tribe's future reservation or join a base roll that is now used to determine membership.

"Chief Tumulth did not ever relocate to the future CTGR Reservation, and thus merely had eligibility for CTGR membership that was not effectuated," Judge David Shaw's wrote in the September 1 decision.

Tumulth descendants are pursuing an appeal of the ruling. The Grand Ronde appeals court has published just two decisions in enrollment cases since 2003, according to the tribe's official document repository.

"We WILL speak out against disenrollment," the chief's descendants said on Facebook. "We WILL tell our story. We All Belong!"

Tribal Court Decisions:
Val Alexander et al v. CTGR | The Estate of Arthur Williams v. CTGR | The Estate of Becky Grenia v. CTGR | The Estate of Carroll Grenia v. CTGR | The Estate of Dan Altringer v. CTGR | The Estate of Debbie Grenia v. CTGR | The Estate of Ida Altringer v CTGR

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