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About Smoke signals. (Grand Ronde, Or.) 19??-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 1, 2018)
U.S. POSTAGE PAID
PERMIT NO. 700
JANUARY 1, 2018
By Dean Rhodes
Smoke Signals editor
mendments to the Grand Ronde Tribe’s
2006 gaming compact with the state of
Oregon that will allow Spirit Mountain
Casino to offer games appealing to younger cus-
tomers received official approval from the federal
government on Wednesday, Dec. 13.
Tribal Council approved the amendments on
Sept. 13 and then the proposed amendments were
forwarded to the Department of the Interior for ap-
proval per provisions outlined in the Indian Gam-
ing Regulatory Act regarding Class III gaming.
The amendments include an update of the defi-
nition of “video lottery terminal” to broaden its
meaning, which will allow Spirit Mountain Casino
to offer more interactive slot machines as they
change over time. Games that include an element
of skill also will be allowed under the amendment.
“Hopefully this definition will not need to be
amended in order to accomplish our obtaining
those machines,” Senior Staff Attorney Deneen
Aubertin Keller said during the Sept. 12 Legisla-
tive Action Committee meeting.
Spirit Mountain Gaming Commission Executive
Director Michael Boyce said during the Sept. 12
meeting that the new video lottery terminal defi-
nition will “allow for any game we could foresee
in the future. It’s a pretty wide-open definition.
… From what we can see in the future, this will
allow the casino to offer those games.”
The Tribal Attorney’s Office has been working
with the state to amend the compact for two years
to deal with the changing technology, Tribal At-
torney Rob Greene said in September.
Grand Ronde becomes the first Pacific North-
west Tribe to update its definition of a video lot-
tery terminal to accommodate the new machines
hitting the market that are not available in
Washington state, giving Spirit Mountain Casino
a potential edge in the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s a real competitive advantage for us at this
point in time,” Greene said.
“I’m sure the other Tribes are going to greatly
appreciate this because we have done all of the
hard work,” Tribal Council member Denise Har-
vey said. “Now this is something they can model,
which will be much easier for them.” n
Photo by Michelle Alaimo
Tribal Council Vice Chair Chris Mercier, fifth from right, helps Gov. Kate Brown, in front of Mercier,
cut the ribbon during a ceremony held for Phase 1 of the Newberg-Dundee Bypass on Monday, Dec.
18. Also in the group of local and state representatives are Tribal Council Secretary Jon A. George,
behind Mercier, and Tribal Council member Denise Harvey, third from left, and next to her is her
granddaughter Hallie Brewer. The Tribe donated $4 million to help fund the bypass project. Although
it was the ribbon cutting ceremony, the bypass will not open for public use until Jan. 6, 2018.
Tribe helps celebrate Newberg-Dundee Phase I
By Danielle Frost
Smoke Signals staff writer
EWBERG — The Newberg-Dundee
Bypass’s first phase is finally complete,
thanks in part to a $4 million donation
made to the project by the Confederated Tribes
of Grand Ronde.
Local, state and federal officials and Tribal
Council members and staff gathered on the
bypass on Monday, Dec. 18, to celebrate the
completion of the project’s first phase that is
literally decades in the making. The first sec-
tion of the bypass will officially open to traffic
on Saturday, Jan. 6, but the ribbon cutting
was held earlier due to the holidays.
The Tribal funds, originally designated in its
gaming compact with the state to help build a
new interchange at the convergence of state
highways 18 and 22, helped Yamhill County
and three of its city governments – Newberg,
Dundee and McMinnville – fund their $20
million share of Phase 1 of the project, which
also included $192 million from the state and
$45 million from the federal government.
Tribal Council Vice Chair Chris Mercier
spent more than eight years as a repre-
sentative on the Yamhill County Parkway
continued on page 8
Former Tribal leader ‘Chips’ Tom walks on
By Dean Rhodes
Smoke Signals editor
Leon "Chips" Tom
ormer Tribal Council mem-
ber and Tribal Elder Leon
Clinton “Chips” Tom, who
many considered to be the face of
the Grand Ronde Tribe because of
his prominent role in a mid-2000s
Spirit Mountain Community Fund
billboard and TV ad campaign,
walked on at the age of 89 on Sat-
urday, Dec. 16.
Tom was born on July 15, 1928,
to Michael Clinton Tom and Cora
(Voutrin) Tom in Grand Ronde.
According to a Smoke Signals pro-
file published in February 2007, he
attended Grand Ronde Elementary
and Willamina High schools, as
well as Chemawa Indian School.
He lettered in three sports – base-
ball, basketball and football.
“Chips is arguably the finest ath-
lete that ever attended Willamina
High,” said Rod Pedersen, who
played with Tom at Willamina High
In an April 2009 Smoke Signals
story, Tom recalled playing base-
ball for the Grand Ronde Tribal
continued on page 10