A Secretarial Election to decide whether tribal members should be able to recall Tribal Council members is once again on the horizon for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
The Missoulian reports that the U.S. Department of Interior Board of Indian Appeals has dismissed a challenge from the CSKT Tribal Council, clearing the way for a vote on the proposed constitutional amendment.
The proposed amendment to allow enrolled members to petition to recall their representatives is being pursued by The People’s Voice, a group on the reservation that organized over a separate issue involving the distribution of $150 million the tribes collected in what is known as the Salazar Settlement.
The People’s Voice, which wants all of the $150 million distributed equally among the membership – just over half of it was, in 2012, with the balance placed in an investment account by the Tribal Council – launched petition drives seeking to put the money issue on a tribal election ballot, and the proposed amendment on a Secretarial Election ballot.
Currently, only the Tribal Council itself can remove one of its members.
Howard Toole, attorney for the group, argued to the Board of Appeals that the Tribal Council was trying to push a political issue into the court system
“The court chose a more narrow ground” to dismiss the challenge, Toole told the Missoulian, but the bottom line is that “the tribes’ effort to shut down a Secretarial Election failed.”
An election board has been appointed according to Cheryl Finley of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Flathead Agency office, and it will soon set a date for the election.
– Vince Devlin