Appeals court to hear Turtle Mountain dispute

The Associated Press
7/27/09

BELCOURT, N.D. (AP) – A tribal appeals court has set a July 30 hearing to determine whether the governing council of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa has the authority to remove the tribal chairman.

The council voted on July 12 to remove Chairman Richard Marcellais (MAR’-sel-ays), who also is a state senator from Belcourt.

Don Bruce, Marcellais’ attorney, says the council alleges that Marcellais failed to perform his duties as chairman while serving in the Legislature. Marcellais has denied that.

Conflict between the council and chairman has existed for some time over a variety of other issues. Before the council’s July 12 vote, Marcellais had suspended the pay of council members for two weeks for what he considered to be failure to perform their jobs.

A tribal judge earlier determined the council was within its authority and barred Marcellais from the tribal office until a removal hearing could be held. Marcellais appealed and has continued to act as chairman.

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