Grand Ronde tribal member Matthew Wilkinson stands in the ceded lands of his great-great-great-great grandfather Chief Tumulth. The tribe disenrolled Wilkinson in 2014.

This story originally appeared on Underscore.news.

Being Indigenous and living in the homelands of her ancestors is the most important part of Erin Bernando’s identity.

It’s a history she can trace back to Ta-hon-nah Tumulth, a chief of a Chinook band of Cascade Indians who signed the Willamette Valley treaty in 1855 and lived near present-day Cascade Locks in the Columbia River Gorge. The treaty that Ta-hon-nah Tumulth signed led to the formation of a reservation for what would become the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

Yet, that connection to Chief Tumulth would be used against Bernando and dozens of her relatives during one of the most divisive periods of the tribe’s modern history. That painful period exposed broad disagreement over how the tribe determines its formal requirements for belonging that persist today.





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