Climate makes BOT priority list

By the CUJ

MISSION – For the first time, climate change and enrollment are listed among the top priorities for the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR).

The BOT adopted seven priorities by resolution on June 22, more than six months into their 2020-2021 term, which has been hijacked by a historic flood and a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

The Board’s priorities, listed in no particular order, include climate change and enrollment, plus housing development, workforce development, health and wellness, communications, and tribal treaty rights.

Tribal treaty rights is a perennial priority, and housing, health, and communication were on the 2018-2019 list. However, education as well as economic and community development, which have been regular priorities since 2004, moved off the list this year.

“The Board acknowledges that there are numerous issues, needs, programs, and activities within the Tribal government and community that require their attention, but in order to make significant progress in certain areas over their term of office, they developed a short list of focus areas and will work on these first and foremost,” according to the resolution.

Members of the CTUIR management team, which includes all department directors, have been assigned to focus area teams to develop action plans to address each of the priorities identified by the BOT.

BOT Chair Kat Brigham said climate change/adaptation, in conjunction with the CTUIR’s First Foods vision, is an issue around the world. The Tribes, she said, have to play a larger role in preparing for the inevitability of climate change.

“It’s our responsibility,” she said, noting the current work of the CTUIR, which includes Colleen Sanders, the climate adaptation planner and the Energy and Environmental Services Program, which is involved with several energy conservation and generation projects.

According to a BOT priorities document, climate change/adaptation goals include promoting more affordable access to renewable energy options for tribal members; making renewable energy options a requirement of every new development; providing incentives for families, businesses and all the CTUIR to address climate change via conservation and renewable energy options; and increasing and broadening natural disaster preparedness.

The BOT wants a review of the Enrollment Department and the Enrollment Commission, according to the priority document. It also plans to review a population study conducted several years ago. No action was taken on that study by the previous board.

“We need to address concerns and come up with a strategy for keeping our membership,” Brigham said.

Look for a full list of the BOT priorities and goal breakdowns on the CUJ website at