Former leader of Paiute Tribe to appeal removal over NFL gifts

Gari Lafferty
Gari Lafferty, the ousted chairwoman of the Paiute Tribe of Utah. Photo from NMAI

Gari Lafferty, the former chairwoman of the Paiute Tribe of Utah, is disputing her removal from office.

Fellow leaders voted 5 to 0 last week to remove Lafferty after she accepted gifts from the Original Americans Foundation, the non-profit set up by the Washington NFL team. She claims she didn't do anything wrong so she will take the case to tribal court.

“This is uncharted territory for the Paiute Tribe," Lafferty told The St. George Spectrum. “I haven’t done anything wrong. … I say, ‘The chair has four legs and I’m still holding onto one.’ I’m not going to let them bully me.”

Lafferty's change of heart comes after she acknowledged that accepting a free trip to Washington, D.C., and other items of value from the team might have violated the tribe's ethics rules. "I can’t lie. It did cross my mind," the former leader told The Washington Post last week.

On behalf of the tribe, Lafferty also solicited three vans, two of which were delivered by the Original Americans Foundation. However, the Cedar Band has returned one vehicle, the Spectrum reported.

The Kanosh Band took the other van, Lafferty told the paper. It appears that the band is keeping the vehicle.

As for the third van, the tribe told the Original Americans Foundation that it would not accept the gift, the paper reported. The tribe also voted not to accept future donations from the team or the organization.

"The role of a tribal official is to act to make the tribe better, but the actions of Gari Lafferty since she took office have served neither the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah nor its elected council," Vice Chairwoman Jeanine Borchardt said in a press release last week. "Gari Lafferty's actions served only her self-interest. We are deeply saddened in taking this action."

The tribe plans to hold an election on April 30 to replace Lafferty. The chair will be chosen by tribal members among the remaining members of the council.

Five bands -- Cedar Band, Indian Peaks Band, Kanosh Band, Koosharem Band and Shivwits Band -- make up the Paiute Tribe. The council consists of one representative from each band.

Each band also maintains federal recognition separate from the Paiute Tribe.

Get the Story:
Former Paiute chairwoman to appeal ouster (The St. George Spectrum 4/4)
Utah tribal leader removed from office over Redskins gifts (The Deseret News 4/3)

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