Smoke signals. (Grand Ronde, Or.) 19??-current, April 01, 2017, Page 11, Image 11

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    S moke S ignals
APRIL 1, 2017
Minor’s Trust Fund program totals $170 million so far
MONEY continued
from front page
as possible the younger adults that
have gone through the program to
talk to us about your experiences.”
George said Tribal leaders want
input from Tribal members who
have been through the program.
He said they want to know what
worked and didn’t work, as well as
ways to improve the program.
George also addressed rumors
that Tribal Council intended to
change policies regarding Tribal
members receiving their funds at
age 21.
“This is an opportunity to talk
as family and as a community,”
George said. “I want to make sure
that I tell you from the start this is
not about changing the amount of
money invested in the program or
taking money away. … This is all
about talking to you and listening
to you talk about the program and
how to make it better.”
George said the Minor’s Trust
Fund program has been in place for
21 years and provided $170 million
to Tribal members.
“That’s a big deal,” George said.
“It’s a program that provides up-
and-coming 21 year olds with
$100,000 or more. And soon it will
be more than that so it’s a big deal.
It’s an important program. We’re
doing this meeting in Grand Ronde
to start the conversation.”
George said that Tribal Council
has directed staff to plan three
more meetings on the topic in
Eugene, Portland and Salem. He
also said staff is discussing how
to include members throughout
the country in the discussions and
that they have been looking at
different options on how to make
that happen.
Tribal Council Vice Chair Cheryle
"What we talked about was
information and also education for
the parents. We need to educate
the parents on what they
need to be telling their kids and
grandkids what to do."
~ Steve Bobb Sr.
A. Kennedy shared her thoughts on
young Tribal members and how to
manage their money.
“We wanted to make sure that
our young people, our children and
the generations to come will have
opportunities that we as terminat-
ed people didn’t have,” Kennedy
said. “Many opportunities weren’t
afforded to us, but we wanted them
for our children. We wanted to
make sure that your futures were
secure. We knew that we lived in a
poverty era and we didn’t want that
for our children.”
Attendees broke into seven small
groups of 10 to 12 people. Each
group was moderated and ideas
from each group were written down
on flip charts.
At each set of tables was a ques-
tionnaire for people to fill out. Staff
wanted to know from participants if
they had received their trust funds
or if they were about to receive
them. The questionnaire asked
people who had received the money
how it had been used.
Staff also asked participants if
they had a chance to do it all over
again would they do anything dif-
ferently and if those who had been
through the program had any sug-
gestions on how to make it better.
The questionnaire also sought to
know if participants felt like they
needed to talk to someone about
their experience and asked for
contact information so staff could
follow up.
Tribal members Bryan Lang-
ley, Mercedes Reeves, Meghan
Zimbrick, Angie Blackwell, Leslie
Riggs, Cristina Lara and Angey
Rideout acted as moderators and
they were assisted by Elaine Lane,
Dana Ainam, Audra Sherwood and
Chris Martin.
Tribal members intensely dis-
cussed how to best assist the Tribe’s
young people in handling sudden
Many participants were grand-
parents and parents of young peo-
ple who had been through good and
bad experiences with their funds
and were willing to share what they
had experienced.
One father of a young Tribal
member shared their discussion
about his son receiving quarterly
per capita payments and how he
taught his son the reality of what it
is like to pay bills with your money
instead of having it put away for
the future. He told his son that if
he took the per capita money then
he would have to make his own car,
insurance and cell phone payments,
and pay his share of the family bills
instead of his parents.
Other groups came up with a list
of resources they would like to see
provided to each young member
before receiving life-changing sums
of money and also after the money
has been distributed.
One group shared that they
thought staggering payments
might be a good idea and that they
would like to see an educational
requirement like a GED or com-
pletion of a financial literacy class
before the funds are distributed.
“We feel as parents of kids who
have gotten the money that we need
more information on the money –
what the taxes are going to be and
that kind of thing,” a Tribal mother
said. “Just more information before
that money comes.”
One family shared that they
would like to see people share their
stories with young people who are
about to receive their funds. One
Tribal father suggested the sharing
of those experiences, both good and
bad, as a way to show young people
both sides of the issue.
Tribal Elder and former Tribal
Council member Steve Bobb Sr. sat
in on one of the group discussions.
Afterward he shared what his
group had discussed.
“This is a very passionate sub-
ject for me,” Bobb said. “I think
what a lot of us have talked about
at these tables is the exact same
thing. What we talked about was
information and also education for
the parents. We need to educate
the parents on what they need to
be telling their kids and grandkids
what to do.”
Bobb used his own family as an
“That’s what we did. I had a cou-
ple of my grandkids turn 21 and
two of them are going to turn 21
this year and I’ve got a pile more
coming up,” Bobb said. “In the end
what will work is it’s going to have
to be information and education.”
One young Tribal member said
that many of the members at her
table had recently turned 21 and
would be willing to talk to other
Tribal members about to receive
their money in an effort to help
them make informed choices.
“We could talk to them and say
this is what’s available, this is what
I did. Here are some options,” she
Once the discussions wrapped up,
George complimented the people
who participated and said discus-
sions will be ongoing.
“You took a huge step tonight,”
George said.
Two days before the meeting on
March 15, Tribal Council member
Kathleen George said on a podcast
hosted by fellow Tribal Council
member Chris Mercier that she
was most concerned with negative
reactions she had seen online to
having the meeting.
“I think there has been some
strong reactions, both positive and
negative, to what is really a com-
munity conversation,” Kathleen
George said. “This is an opportunity
to talk about an important program
– one of many the Tribe has – which
is how we administer the minor’s
trust funds, how those funds are
delivered to Tribal members and
the experience they have when they
come into a great deal of money.”
Kathleen George said that in her
discussions with people that some
are saying the discussion is long
overdue and others are saying that
they feel Tribal Council has no busi-
ness asking anyone any questions
about their finances.
“The opinions that are the most
concerning to me are some very
vehement opinions that said you
shouldn’t even be able to talk
about this,” Kathleen George said.
“It almost feels like a suspicion of
motives or kind of pre-judging the
conversation before the conversa-
tion even gets to happen that really
somehow suspects that the motive
of even having a conversation is
somehow bad or wrong.
“I think it’s the kind of conver-
sation we should be having and
I think it does our whole Tribe
a disservice to suggest that we
shouldn’t even be able to have these
conversations. I think that flies in
the face of having our membership
be more involved in our government
so I hope we are going to have more
of these conversations.”
Tribal Council Chairman Reyn
Leno and Tribal Council member
Jack Giffen Jr. stood nearby and
took the whole scene in together.
“It’s good for this meeting to hap-
pen,” Leno said. “But many of these
things are already in place for the
membership and Baird (Robert W.
Baird investment consultants) can
help people with their investments
when they turn 21. So I guess this
is an opportunity to expand the
education process for everyone.” n