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Indian Health Service warns Nooksack Tribe about disenrollees

Filed Under: Health | National
More on: bia, disenrollment, elections, ihs, nooksack, washington
     
   

Members of the Nooksack Tribe of Washington convened a general council meeting on July 14, 2016, to fill seats on the tribal council but the leaders of the tribe have proceeded with their own election. Photo from The Nooksack 306

Another federal agency is warning the Nooksack Tribe of Washington about the impacts of its enrollment purge.

The tribe is in the process of disenrolling more than 300 members from the rolls. But the Indian Health Service is questioning the validity of the action due to the lack of a quorum on the Nooksack council.

"Accordingly, until the tribe has a sufficient quorum and a final decision is reached regarding the status of the 331 members in question, Nooksack must ensure that they receive access to health care services," a November 18 letter to Chairman Bob Kelly reads.

"Failure to comply with the eligibility provisions of the tribe's contract with IHS, and with IHS' eligibility regulations, may require the agency to take necessary measures to ensure health services are provided in accordance with applicable federal law," it continued.

The letter, a copy of which was posted by Turtle Talk follows a similar one in which the Bureau of Indian Affairs refused to recognize the results of a referendum that called for the removal of The Nooksack 306 and others from the rolls "immediately." The election was not open to all citizens and was called by a council that lacks a quorum, according to the agency.

The tribe has since conducted a series of 10-minute hearings via telephone to inform people from The Nooksack 306 that they are being removed.

The tribe also has moved to fill the open seats on the council. But since the primary election takes place December 17, anyone who is removed by that time won't be able to vote.

"No 306 on the Voting List," the group said on Facebook, referring to the tribe's official 2016 voter's list.

The list appears to contain fewer than 600 names so the tribe has cut its rolls by about 33 percent by removing The Nooksack 306 and others.

The group also said no one from The Nooksack 306 was allowed to run for office.

Despite the missives from the BIA and the IHS, the agencies have not taken direct action to punish the tribe for its enrollment purge. But the tribe could see its share of federal funds withheld further down the line.

Related Stories:
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Gabe Galanda: Every tribe should be troubled by disenrollments (11/17)
Nooksack Tribe moves to disenroll 306 after holding referendum (11/10)
Bureau of Indian Affairs questions Nooksack Tribe's government (10/18)
Nooksack Tribe creates new court and puts chairman in charge (10/14)
Nooksack Tribe ignores court orders as disenrollment dispute stalls (08/01)
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Peter d'Errico: Nooksack Tribe fuels bad stereotypes about courts (03/25)
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