By News-Register staff • 

Willamina board makes no decision on flag issue

WILLAMINA - The Willamina School board took public comment but made no decision Tuesday night related to a previous request by Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde member Angie Fasana to hang a tribal flag in the high school gymnasium.

This was the third meeting at which the board discussed the issue. It expects to render a decision when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 23.

About 100 people, an overwhelming majority of them tribal members, filled the school cafeteria for the meeting. The tribal flag issue was listed as a discussion item on the agenda, and it remained that way.

Fasana asked that the board amend the agenda and make it a decision item. The board completed its regular meeting before moving into executive session on unrelated matters.

When the board returned to open session, Chair Craig Johnson quickly adjourned the meeting, much to the disappointment of those who remained and were hoping the board would make a decision.

Eleven people addressed the board on the issue. It was understood that each individual would have three minutes to speak, but many went over the time limit. The board said it would allot 30 minutes for the topic.

In addition to Fasana, speakers included Tribal Council Chair Reyn Leno, who was extremely critical of the board for waiting so long to make a decision. He said he's disappointed and more than angry at the group.

He wrapped up his comments by telling the board, "If you can't tell me why (a decision to hang the flag has not been made), then I believe there is something personal or racial going on."

None of the board members - Clinton Coblentz, Dan Heidt, Linda O'Neil, Ken Onstot and Johnson - commented on the issue.

See Friday's print edition for additional details.



"If you can't tell me why(a decision to hang the flag has not been made),then I believe there is something personal or racial going on."
-Tribal Council Chair Reyn Leno

The tribal flag represents members of only one race. It is not all inclusive. The local tribes bestow monetary grants because they are required to in order to fulfill their end of the compact with the State of Oregon. By entering into this compact with the State, the local tribes are required to donate 6% of their yearly net profits from the Spirit Mountain Casino, which in turn granted the local tribes permission to considerably enlarge their casino operations.

Deciding whom will or will not get these grants from the Casino Fund, is left solely up to the tribes. The grants afforded are not truly altruistic in nature, they're more akin to paying a State mandated property tax if anything.

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