Smoke signals. (Grand Ronde, Or.) 19??-current, September 01, 2013, Page 13, Image 11

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    Smoke Signals 13
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TRANSITION continued
from front page
He had to resign his job and ad
just to a whole new work schedule
almost immediately.
"It's eye-opening," said George,
"to understand what it takes be
hind the scenes to operate the Tribe
as a whole, and all its economic
Together with the behind-the-scenes
knowledge, George said
he also sees a far more personal
response to serving.
"It's such an honor to speak for
the membership," he said. "It's
always been an honor to work for
the Tribe, but it's more of an honor
to be a leader."
George worked at Nanitch Sa
hallie, the Tribe's former youth
treatment center, as a Food Service
assistant from 1991-98 and as a Vo
cational Rehabilitation specialist in
the Portland office from 1998 up until
his election in September 2012.
His 21 years as a Tribal employee
have made his first term on Tribal
Council something of a whirlwind.
"Boy, I'll tell ya, it's ... what a dif
ference," he said.
Toby McClary is currently Tribal
Council secretary. Before being
elected in September 2009, he
worked at Spirit Mountain Casino
as Shipping and Receiving supervi
sor. Before that, he was a staff pho
tographer with Smoke Signals.
McClary said he was surprised on
Tribal Council with "the amount of
time it takes to do the job correctly.
The level of decision-making was
surprising to me."
For Tribal Council member Kath
leen Tom, "Being on Tribal Council
is an honor the membership has be
stowed on me, a responsibility that
I don't take lightly. Being an em
ployee has con-
with a two-year break in between.
She said her strong belief in and
support for the Tribal Constitution
has meant a lot of pressure and re
sponsibility, particularly with the cur
rently unfolding enrollment audit.
"Sometimes it's very difficult
when there is a blurred line," she
said. "It's difficult when you feel that
a person is really a Tribal member,
but the details
straints. I think
a large part of
the organization
has forgotten
we work for the
We are here to
serve the mem
bers, not the or
ganization." Tom worked
at Nanitch Sa
hallie from
1989-2002 and has served on Tribal
Council since 2005.
"It gave me the freedom to have a
voice," Tom said. "It gives me that
voice for the people, and to make
decisions for what's in the best in
terest of our membership."
Work on Tribal Council gave June
Sherer "a whole different perspec
tive. You're like a bird looking down.
You have access to a lot of informa
tion that employees don't have."
Sherer worked in marketing for
the casino from 1996-99 and has
been on Tribal Council since 1999
"It's eye-opening. To under
stand what it takes behind
the scenes to operate the
Tribe as a whole, and all
its economic developments."
Jon A.George
Tribal Council member
of the Constitu
tion require the
decision. We've
got a mess to
clean up, and
it's not a fun
For outgoing
Tribal Council
member Chris
Mercier, who
has now moved
on to law school
in Michigan, the biggest change
was the difference in how people re
sponded to him as an employee and
as a Tribal Council member.
As a Tribal Council member,
he said, "There are people who
won't like you no matter what, and
people for whom you can do nothing
wrong." But, he says, "It's true what
they say, if no one's mad at you, you
haven't made a decision yet."
Mercier served on Tribal Council
starting in 2004, as chair for one
year. He worked as a reporter at
Smoke Signals intermittently from
2000-02. In 2002-03, he worked at
Spirit Mountain Casino as a cage
cashier, and as the Tribal librar
ian in 2001. And back in 1996, he
worked at the casino and part-time
for Smoke Signals.
I le said it was difficult to adjust to
the new level of interest members of
the Tribe had in him as an elected
official. While people came up and
"bent his ear" as an employee at the
casino or in the library, he said it
"tends to be a lot more intense on
Tribal Council."
In addition, Mercier said he was
surprised at how some who sup
ported him when he was running
opposed him when he arrived at
Tribal Council.
Of those powers that Tribal Coun
cil afforded him, he focused on
transparency in government. "I'm
glad we revamped our Web site," he
said. 'There are a lot of documents
for download. You can watch a lot of
meetings live. That's transparency,
George, wrapping up his first
year on Tribal Council, said he has
been impressed that the nine-member
leadership group has specialists
in almost every area.
"Each of us operates in our gifts,
with our special knowledge. ...
Cheryle (Kennedy) knows health
care, June knows Affiliated Tribes
of Northwest Indians and my spe
cialty is culture.
"We are all experts in a field." 0
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