Jodi Rave: Tribal governments and transparency

"Jeanne Hobbs wanted financial assistance from her tribe to get her roof fixed.

She was told no money existed.

Next, a tribal officer arrived at her doorstep intent on enforcing a new ordinance on the Rocky Boy's Reservation in Montana that allowed the tribe to seize personal property - including homes, cows and computers - if a person had allegedly made defamatory remarks about a tribal leader.

If the accused was found guilty, the tribe could sell the property, banish the citizen from the reservation for up to five years and levy a $5,000 fine.

A second offense could lead to "relinquishment of enrollment" and a permanent ban from the reservation.

Banned citizens would be considered "legally dead and a nonentity with no civil rights," nor could they "come before the courts of the tribe for any reason."

The tribal officer asked the 70-year-old to go with them to police headquarters to answer questions about a defamatory letter that had been circulating on the reservation.

The "slander-libel" ordinance adopted Feb. 7 made it a tribal offense for anyone to harm the reputation or integrity of another, either with spoken or written statements.

The ordinance was intended to protect tribal leaders, tribal employees, appointed subcommittee members and immediate family members.

"Politics have changed quite a bit over the years," said Chippewa Cree Chief of Staff Richard Sangrey."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: Speak ill, get kicked off reservation (The Bismarck Tribune 3/29)

Relevant Links:
Jodi Rave - http://www.missoulian.com/jodirave

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