Chippewa Cree Tribe swears in chairman more than a year later

Ken St. Marks. Photo from Native News Project / University of Montana

Ken St. Marks was sworn in as chairman of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of Montana last Thursday, some 16 months after winning an election for the post.

St. Marks was removed by the tribal council in March 2013 but won his seat back in a special election in July 2013. However, his rivals prevented him from taking office, leading to a lawsuit in tribal court.

The tribe's appeals court ruled for St. Marks on Wednesday, The Havre Daily News reported. It said the tribe's election committee was wrong to invalidate the results based on a dozen questionable ballots.

“Though the Election Board was correct in finding a violation of the Election Ordinance, in this case, the particular violation had no practical effect in the outcome of the election,” the appeals court wrote, the Daily News reported.

St. Marks always contended his removal last year was politically motivated. He said he was targeted because he asked federal investigators to look into corruption on the reservation.

The U.S. Attorney's Office has since brought criminal cases against at least a dozen tribal leaders, employees and associates.

Despite the victory for St. Marks, the tribal council remains in limbo due to a pending challenge to the November 4 election. Four winners have been prevented from taking office over one contested ballot, the Daily News reported.

Get the Story:
St. Marks sworn in as Rocky Boy chair (The Havre Daily News 11/21)
Tribal appeals court upholds 2013 election (AP 11/21)
Rocky Boy swearing in deferred (The Havre Daily News 11/14)

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