FROM THE ARCHIVE

McCaleb steps into Seminole Nation dispute

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FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2002

Assistant Secretary Neal McCaleb is playing the diplomat of sorts by calling a meeting with two tribal leaders who claim to control the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma.

McCaleb will sit down today with Ken Chambers, the Seminole's elected chief, and Jerry Haney, the ousted chief, in hopes of ironing out a dispute that drew national attention and resulted in a shutdown of tribal businesses to the tune of more than $3 million. "He's concerned about the people," said Bureau of Indian Affairs spokesperson Nedra Darling.

Chamber was elected last summer but the BIA refuses to recognize his leadership. Instead, the agency considers Haney to be the principal chief.

That determination resulted in a Court of Federal Regulation decision which threw the tribe into a financial and political crisis. The emergency orders, which were issued earlier this month, called for the ouster of Chambers and his administration and put 600 tribal employees out of work temporarily.

Chambers continued to hold onto power as Haney tried to set up shop. The orders, however, were subsequently reversed.

Chambers said he agreed to attend the meeting and report back to his tribe's council. "Only [the council] can negotiate on behalf of the nation," he said in a statement.

The talks take place at McCaleb's old stomping grounds in Oklahoma City. The trio will meet in his former office at the state Department of Transportation.

Relevant Links:
Seminole Nation of Oklahoma - http://www.cowboy.net/native/seminole

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