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Nooksack Tribe loses bid to prevent some from voting in election

The Nooksack Tribe of Washington is trying to remove 306 people from the rolls. Photo from The Nooksack 306 / Facebook

The Nooksack Tribe of Washington can't prevent potential disenrollees from voting in an upcoming election, a tribal court judge ruled on Tuesday.

The Nooksack 306 protested when the tribe sought to bar those who are 18 and over from the polls. But until they are formally removed, they can exercise their voting rights, Judge Susan Alexander said.

"If Plaintiffs are eligible for enrollment, then they are entitled to vote, and that is the end of it," Alexander wrote in the decision.

The tribe, however, has postponed the upcoming vote, The Bellingham Herald reported. No election supervisor has been hired and no one has been able to file for four council seats.

“It’s just been delayed because of the litigation,” Chairman Bob Kelly told the paper.

The tribe changed its membership ordinance in a way that disqualifies the Nooksack 306 because their ancestor doesn't appear on 1942 census. Previously, all they had to document was their Nooksack blood.

The ordinance was approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs but the Nooksack 306 are asking the Interior Board of Indian Appeals to review it.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the tribal court case, Belmont v Kelly.

Get the Story:
Nooksack judge: Tribal members facing disenrollment may vote (The Bellingham Herald 1/27)

Interior Board of Indian Appeals Decision:
Two Hundred and Seventy-One Enrolled Nooksak Indians v. Northwest Regional Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs (July 9, 2015)

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