In this excerpt, Antone Minthorn talks about the drafting of the Umatilla constitution and the return of sovereignty and self-governance.
Bio: Antone Minthorn has served for more than twenty years with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) in various roles, from chief planner to chair of the board of trustees. He is a founding board member of Confluence.
The tribal people or the farmers, the tribal farmers decided tribal council that day — they wanted to hire an attorney and it happened to be Charles Lewis. I’m not sure the issue of how they found out about Charlie Lewis, but he was a very young attorney that lived in Walla Walla. I think he helped form that draft, that constitution, 1949-1950 tribal constitution that created general counsel and board of trustees.
But I also understand that at an earlier time that there was a Nez Perce tribal member here. He was enrolled in Nez Perce, but lived in Umatilla all his life.
But Nez Perce at that time, I think, was adopting a constitution and bylaws where they could elect their own officers. And I think that was kind of the model that they were looking at. But Charles Lewis was hard, and I think he’s the one that drafted the president constitution and the values that we have today in 1949 and 1950. And it also should be mentioned, too, that there were women on that committee that were considering that the return of sovereignty, the restoration of sovereignty and self-governance.