The Nooksack Tribe of Washington is under fire in federal
court after disenrolling more than 300 of its citizens. Photo: The Nooksack
The disputed leader of the Nooksack Tribe continues to blame "non-Indians" for a governance crisis that has attracted the attention of the Trump administration.
Bob Kelly has served as chairman of the Washington-based tribe for years but the Department of the Interior does not recognizes him or his council as legitimate. His faction has maintained its grip on power by removing critics from the rolls, refusing to schedule elections and taking over the tribe's judiciary, according to the agency.
In an email to The Seattle Times, Kelly called the claims, which are contained in a strongly-worded brief filed by federal government attorneys, “absurd and based on lies.” He pinned the controversy on a group known as The Nooksack 306, whom he contends do not qualify for tribal citizenship.
“The fact of the matter is that we have a group of non-Indians attempting to take over control of a federally recognized tribe with the assistance of a few bad apples within the Department of Interior,” Kelly told The Times. He had referred to the group as "non-Indians" when the tribe removed them from the rolls last year.
Kelly's faction is asking a judge to release an estimated $14 million in Bureau of Indian Affairs and other federal funds that are being held up as part of the dispute. A decision is expected by the end of April, The Times reported.
Read More on the Story:
Feds call Nooksack tribal council ‘illegitimate’ and ‘abusive’
(The Seattle Times 4/6)
administration calls out Nooksack Tribe for 'abuses of power' (4/4)
tribal disputes continue to trip up federal court system (03/23)
Court turns down another tribal disenrollment dispute (02/27)
epidemic affects dozens of tribes across the nation (01/18)
Tribe tries to evict family amid mass enrollment purge (12/22)
of Nooksack Tribe defends purge of 'non-Indians' from rolls (11/23)
Health Service warns Nooksack Tribe about disenrollees (11/22)
of Indian Affairs rebuffs Nooksack Tribe on disenrollment (11/17)
Galanda: Every tribe should be troubled by disenrollments (11/17)
Tribe moves to disenroll 306 after holding referendum (11/10)
of Indian Affairs questions Nooksack Tribe's government (10/18)
Tribe creates new court and puts chairman in charge (10/14)
Tribe ignores court orders as disenrollment dispute stalls (08/01)
Tribe fires elder who spoke out against disenrollment (06/29)
tribal judge group questions firing in disenrollment case (05/11)
Tribe fires judge and loses attorney in disenrollment crisis (05/04)