Around 30 community members attended our Community Meeting last night, which is great! I know that sometimes it’s hard to make it to these meetings, so it was wonderful to see so many people turn out. Enrollment Officer Rosie Carter and Enrollment Specialist Ada Anderson gave a presentation about our enrollment process. They highlighted some of the requirements for enrollment, including direct descendency and residency. They explained how the process works, the complete application is reviewed by the Enrollment Committee, then the committee makes a recommendation to the Board of Directors. From there the Board either approves or denies the application.
During the discussion groups our community was asked if they thought our enrollment ordinance needed to be revised, whether the process was fair, if Tulalip should use a blood quantum requirement for enrollment, if members are satisfied with the minor’s trust accounts and what type of information the Enrollment Office should provide to better help tribal members.
We had some lively discussions. A lot of our citizens feel that the Enrollment Ordinance needs to be revised, but there wasn’t a consensus on how to change it. There was concern about families who are able to enroll some children, but not others. There was concern about whether we should require residency when there is limited access to housing on the reservation. Some members thought we should delay giving out minor’s trust accounts until our kids are older, maybe age 21 or even 25. And some tribal members asked Enrollment to provide more information on the process for amending our constitution.
Overall it was a very good meeting. It made me happy to see so many tribal members gathered together to talk about how our enrollment process and how to change it to better reflect us as Tulalip people. Chairman Mel Sheldon reminded us that we’re not the only ones who have struggled with these questions. In the past leaders like George Williams also struggled with issues like enrollment.
We want the process to be fair and we want to make sure that our people are taken care of, but how do we define ourselves as a people? Is it based on who your parents are and where they lived? Is it based on the percentage of Indian blood or how in touch you are with your tribe? For that matter, how can you measure culture or participation in culture? These are tough issues, so it was great to see the discussion from our members, and to get your opinions.
During our next Community Meeting, February 25th, we will be talking with our Legacy of Healing staff. Future meetings this year will include our beda?chelh case managers, information about the Maplewood development, TERO department, Solid Waste and Recycling, Youth Services, Problem Gambling and Treaty Rights/Intellectual Property Rights. We’ve got most of the year planned out, but we have room for a couple more Community Meetings. If you have an idea, and don’t see a meeting set up to address it, please call my office or leave a comment on the blog.
We really welcome your ideas and input, so once again, thank you for attending our community meetings and helping us decide the future direction of the tribe.