Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, right, greets Chairman Alvin Not Afraid, Jr. of the Crow Tribe prior to a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing in Washington, D.C., on March 8, 2017. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Chairman of Crow Tribe ordered arrested in dispute with judicial branch

Alvin “A.J” Not Afraid, the chairman of the Crow Tribe, has been hit with an arrest warrant as part of an ongoing dispute with the judicial branch.

According to The Billings Gazette, the Montana-based tribe hasn't paid 15 employees of the judicial branch for multiple pay periods, resulting in more than $34,000 in unpaid wages. Other bills have gone unpaid as well, the paper reported.

So Judge Kari Covers Up last week ordered Not Afraid to release more than $86,000 in tribal funds. When he didn't do that, she issued an arrest warrant for him, the paper reported.

The tribe has faced financial issues recently, with some officials blaming budget difficulties on a decline in coal revenues. In calling a special session in July, the Crow Nation Legislative Branch said employees were owed $300,000 in back wages because "many ... have worked without pay for numerous pay periods."

Lawmakers approved a resolution authorizing the $300,000 expenditure, along with other expenses.

Amid the turmoil, the judicial branch has faced questions about its operations. The Bureau of Indian Affairs even sent a review team to the reservation to investigate, The Billings Gazette reported earlier this year.

A report sent to Chairman Not Afraid in February said the court system was plagued by mismanagement of federal funds and a hostile work environment, according to the paper. Alleged misuse of funds to pay judges and employees was one of the concerns raised by the BIA.

Separately, a federal audit showed that the tribe failed to account for $14.5 million in federal transportation funds. Not Afraid blamed his predecessor for the mess.

Read More on the Story
Arrest warrant issued for Crow Tribe chairman citing contempt of court (The Billings Gazette September 6, 2018)
Crow court to tribal chairman: Pay our wages or be arrested for contempt (The Billings Gazette September 5, 2018)

Office of Inspector General Report
Audit of Agreement No. A13AP00043 Between the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Crow Tribe (June 2018)

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