Smoke signals. (Grand Ronde, Or.) 19??-current, April 01, 2017, Page 14, Image 14

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S moke S ignals
APRIL 1, 2017
'My way was to get it don
from front page
School and became a logger and
log truck driver like most every-
body else his age. Like many other
Grand Ronde Tribal members, he
started working alongside his fa-
ther at an early age.
“I started riding with my dad in
the log truck when I was 8, 9 years
old,” says Larsen during an inter-
view at the Elders Activity Center
in Grand Ronde. “I would get out
and open the gates and put the
chains up. I set chokers when I was
a sophomore in high school when
my dad had logging jobs.
“My dad was Chinook and French
Canadian. He passed away in 1964.
I started driving truck right after
Ed’s mother was Verna Larsen
(Riggs) and her mother was Lena
Bobb (Norwest). Lena’s parents
were Frank and Mary Norwest.
Verna’s father was Lewis Riggs and
Lewis’s parents were Solomon and
Jennie Riggs.
Ed is the eldest of Verna and Ed
Larsen Sr.’s six children. His sis-
ter, Jeanne Larsen, passed away
in 2012, and his other sisters are
Carol Larsen, who lives in Salem,
and Susan “Susie” Gilliam, who
lives in Dallas. His brother, Mike
Larsen, passed away in 2013 and
his other brother, Kenny Larsen,
lives in Grand Ronde.
Ed has always taken great pride
in being Native American and he
said it was something he picked up
from being around his father.
“He used to joke about it,” says Ed
of his father. “When he played ball
there was a pitcher named ‘Lefty’
Johnson – a Swede guy. He told
the old man, ‘I got a dead Indian
buried under the mound out here.’
My old man shot back, ‘When you
Courtesy photos
An old family photo of Tribal Elder Ed Larsen’s family. Members at the time, from left, are his sister Carol, mother
Verna, brother Mike, front, Ed, his father Ed and sister Jeanne.
throw that ball you better duck
because there will be a dead Swede
laying right on top of him.’ He was
pretty witty. Mike and I used to
joke that we got our mouth from
the old man and our strength and
perseverance from our mom. He
was really strong.”
Ed says working with his father
taught him a lot and that he has
carried those teachings with him
throughout life. He said he learned
how to operate a cat and a yarder
as well during his time working in
the woods.
He continued to drive log trucks
for Siletz Trucking part-time even
when he owned the store. His late
wife, Shirley, ran the store while he
drove and took care of the business.
Ed spent more than 21 years
dedicated to driving truck and 35
years dedicated to Shirley.
When the Tribe started the pro-
cess of establishing Spirit Moun-
tain Casino back in the 1990s when
Ed was on Tribal Council, he was
acknowledged as a key figure in
the effort to win over West Valley
residents and business owners.
He was nominated for his first
run for Tribal Council by Tribal
Elder John Mercier, who at the
time was in his 20s.
“I remember it quite clearly be-
cause we used to go and visit him
at the store,” Mercier says. “I didn’t
even give it a second thought. Now,
all these years later, I would defi-
nitely give it a second, third, 10th
Photo courtesy of Gary Littlejohn
thought before I would ever nomi-
nate anybody. He was a thoughtful
person and he showed me he could
pull it off.”
Ed served as the Tribal Council
secretary from 1994-95 and reached
the vice chairman position in Sep-
tember 1996. He served as vice
chairman off and on until 2000.
Ed might be as well known for
his memory as his kindness. He
remembers names and details of
conversations and events years
past. He has become a walking book
of Grand Ronde Tribal knowledge.
“In many respects that is a good
description,” Tribal Attorney Rob
Greene says. “The thing that has
always impressed me about Ed and
continues to impress me about him
is his phenomenal memory. He can
remember the smallest details from
so many years back, it’s incredible.
Whether he was on the council or
the board (Spirit Mountain Casino
Board of Directors) he brought that
same sharpness of mind to the is-
sues and he would report back to
the council the various things the
board was considering.”
Greene said he first met Ed when
he was on the board of directors at
the casino and the property was
“I think one of the things about
Ed is he was comfortable in any
situation in terms of his ability to
communicate with people,” Greene
says. “I attended a number of meet-
ings with Ed and he was always
very comfortable and I think made
people who he was talking with feel
very much at ease. He was a won-
derful ambassador for the Tribe. He
was excellent at that.”
Ed’s style of leadership was to
bring everyone together.
Ed Larsen, front row second from
right, was selected for the second
team of the 1960 Oregon A-2 High
School All-Star team while playing
for Willamina High School.