CONTACT: Ted Wright, Executive Director, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation

September 30, 2019

PHONE: (541-429-7362) 321-2672






CHAIRMAN BURKE: “Sally Kosey first tried her case in the media, and has now filed an action in tribal court. We are sworn to uphold the constitution of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and that is what we intend to do.”


PENDLETON, OR Today seven members of the Board of Trustees of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian

Reservation were notified that former Trustee Sally Kosey is suing them in Tribal Court.  She seeks reinstatement to the at-large seat from which she was vacated by majority vote of the Board on August 5, 2019.


Kosey has made numerous statements about the Board’s action of August 5th, and has attacked their character and integrity.  These false statements and attacks cannot go unanswered.


First and foremost, the Board of Trustees acted not in violation of the CTUIR Constitution, but to uphold it.  They acted not as “rogue” leaders or “haters,” but as elected officials sworn to protect the integrity of the tribal government. 


Between 1949 and 1976, Elections were administered with only the guidance of the Constitution.  The CTUIR Constitution has always required all Board of Trustee members to live within the Reservation Boundaries. 


In 1976 the Board enacted the first CTUIR Election Code.  The Election Code residency requirements mirror the exact language of the CTUIR Constitution.


All current and previously elected Board members either lived or moved within the current Reservation before swearing an oath of office to uphold the CTUIR Constitution and Bylaws.  That oath includes the CTUIR Constitution residency requirements.


Kosey claims that she lives within the reservation boundary of 1855, which at that time included most of Pendleton, and therefore is eligible to hold office.  No other member of the elected Board of Trustees lives outside the current reservation.   Kosey is the sole exception. She has very publically refused to move onto the Reservation. 


Ms. Kosey and other detractors act as though references to the current “diminished” Reservation boundary are attacks on sovereignty and the integrity of the Confederation.  But the truth is, since 1949 every elected Board of Trustees member have resided within the current boundary.  Again, Kosey is the sole exception.

Our elected leaders should have our shared experience of living on the Umatilla Indian Reservation. They should be experienced in the unique challenges of tribal governance and land preservation.


All Trustees, past or present, have done and would do everything in their power to get the Tribe’s lands back and restore the original Treaty of 1855 land base. And to that end nearly 20,000 acres have been added since the mid-90s. Recognizing the current boundary isn’t giving up the fight, it’s being realistic and responsible about when and how to fight.  


The legal issues surrounding recent events will be resolved in Tribal Court and this Board will abide by their findings, win or lose.


We look forward to resolution of this matter.  The Election Code amendments are meant to be clear and minimize future residency disputes. 


We exercised our legislative authority to update the Code, as we have with the dozens of other tribal government codes.   Under Article VI, Section 1(d) of the Constitution and Bylaws, the powers of the Board of Trustees include the authority “to promulgate and enforce statutes governing the conduct of all persons and activities within the boundaries of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.” 


In the meantime, we will continue the fight to protect our Treaty, Constitution, and the interests of our citizens, the Walla Walla, Cayuse and Umatilla people. 

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