The “Nooksack 306″ continue to fight, but a disenrollment process that will strip them of their membership is moving forward this week.
Seattle Times reporter Paige Cornwell has the story:
From the time he was a young boy paddling a homemade raft in Puget Sound, Phillip Narte grew up believing he was a Nooksack Indian.
“It was ingrained in us that we needed to be on the water, that we were Indian and water was in our blood,” said Narte, now 56.
The Nooksack Tribal Council disagrees. Earlier this year, the council voted to disenroll 306 members because the council believes they don’t meet membership requirements.
If finalized, the Nooksack action will be the largest tribal disenrollment in Washington state history.
The 306 members designated for disenrollment are all descendants of Annie George, who they say was a full-blooded Nooksack. Her children married Filipinos and moved to migrant-worker communities in Washington. George is not listed as an original land allottee or on the 1942 census, according to her descendants.
Tensions within the tribe have existed for decades, members say. The 306 members of the Rabang, Rapada and Narte-Gladstone families say they were enrolled in the 1980s, about a decade after the tribe became federally recognized.
The group alleges its disenrollment is racially motivated because of their Filipino ancestry. Members likened their disenrollment to an “ethnic cleansing.”
The tribe, however, has a long history of intermarriage with Filipinos, a tribal judge wrote in court documents, making their argument “that they are targeted because of their Filipino ancestry questionable.”
Members of the tribal council did not respond to numerous requests for an interview, but in a written statement to The Bellingham Herald, Chairman Kelly denied the disenrollment process was because of race or politics.
“We have been respectful and patient throughout this process, and it would be unfair to our community if we were to allow these people to remain members in the absence of any proof,” Kelly wrote.
Read the rest of the story here.