The Diamond Desert Blanket. Photo: Pendleton

Oregon politician donated Pendleton blanket given by Umatilla Tribes

An Oregon politician gave away a Pendleton he received from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation because it posed an ethical dilemma, The Associated Press reports.

Ted Ferrioli, the Republican former leader of the state Senate, received the blanket on December 31, 2017. He knew that its value -- $249 -- possibly exceeded the $50 limit he was allowed to accept from the tribe during the year, according to a letter he sent to the Government Ethics Commission.

"As you all know, the bestowing of gifts is a deeply rooted part of Native American Culture, in meaning, far greater than the material value of the item given, particularly if the gift is smoked or fresh salmon, a handmade article, a 'first foods' item like dried camas, huckleberry or medicinal plants, or a blanket," Ferrioli wrote in the January 2 letter.

Returning the gift to the tribe "may be considered an insult," he said as he asked the commission for an opinion on what to do. In a January 4 response, he was told he could keep it if he was able to show that the nine individual members of the tribe's board of directors had paid for it out of their own funds.

On the other hand, if the blanket had been purchased with "tribal funds," Ferrioli was "prohibited from personally accepting" it because it exceeded the $50 limit, the letter stated.

In light of the dilemma, Ferrioli decided to donate the Pendleton to the Senate, the AP reported. Based on a photo taken by Andrew Selsky, it looks like the Diamond Desert Blanket, priced at $249 for the "Twin" size.

Ferrioli sponsored several Indian bills when he was in the Senate, the AP reported. He now serves on the Northwest Power & Conservation Council, a multi-state governmental body whose decisions affect tribes in the region.

Read More on the Story:
Tribe’s gift to Senate GOP leader creates ethical quandary (The Associated Press February 27, 2018)

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