Courtesy Nooksack 306 Facebook Page

‘Nooksack 306’ Wards Off Disenrollment With Multiple Legal Actions

Gale Courey Toensing

Kelly did not respond to a request for comment.

In an open letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn, posted on Indian Country Today Media Network February 25, Roberts implored the federal officials to intervene in the Nooksack disenrollment conflict. She cited the violence that erupted at the Cedarville Rancheria when former tribal council chair Cherie Lash Rhoades gunned down five people, killing four of them, and stabbed a sixth.

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Roberts cited a media report that described the Cedarville killings as “the latest, and most chilling, example of tribal violence over power struggles and disenrollments.”

“So we have worried about the dispute turning violent on our reservation. History teaches us that when democracy falters, when there is no due process, when free speech is stifled, people take matters into their own hands,” Roberts wrote.

However, according to the Associated Press, Rhoades was being evicted from her home, but not disenrolled from the tribe.

Roberts called disenrollment “a creature of the federal government.” It was foreign to Indian people until the 1930s, when the United States began ‘reorganizing’ tribes and the Interior Department began “foisting boilerplate constitutions on tribes” that include disenrollment provisions. “Our traditions do not… Disenrollment is therefore your business,” she told the federal officials.

Interior Department spokeswoman Nedra Darling said the department cannot comment on pending litigation.

Moreno Peralta, the Nooksack spokesman, said the Nooksack 306 group is prepared to take the disenrollment conflict into the international arena, but must first exhaust all available legal venues here.

“As clichéd as it sounds, we have not yet begun to fight. We still have two lawsuits pending before the Nooksack tribal court judge and three appeals before the Nooksack appeals court. We are hopeful that the Nooksack appellate judges will strike down the entire disenrollment,” Peralta said.


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