Nooksack Tribe fires elder who spoke out against disenrollment

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 continues to retaliate against an elder who has criticized the removal of hundreds of people from the rolls, Indian Country Today reports.

George Adams is a staunch defender of The Nooksack 306, the group threatened with disenrollment. At a meeting in February, he spoke in the Lhéchelesem language as he accused Chairman Bob Kelly and other leaders of forgetting about their traditions

“I told them in our language, ‘You folks put your head down.’ That’s how our ancestors would admonish somebody who’s out of line. ‘Put your head down. Shame on you.’ And that’s when I was summarily escorted out the door," Adams told ICT.

Before he was removed from the meeting, Kelly started yelling at Adams to "Talk in English!" ICT reported. But that wasn't the only time the elder was punished for his views -- when he ran against the chairman in an election in 2014, he was fired as the tribe's language instructor.

“Three days before the election they fired me ‘at will,’“ Adams told ICT. “They were trying to intimidate other employees. I was an employee of the tribe with the Nooksack language program.”

As a result, the tribe's after-school language program has ended, according to ICT. Adams is one of the very few speakers of Lhéchelesem, one of the Coast Salish languages.

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Disenrollment Kills Nooksack Language Revitalization Program (Indian Country Today 6/29)

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