Law | Politics

DOI orders leaders of Chippewa Cree Tribe to reinstate chairman

Ken St. Marks. Photo from Native News Project / University of Montana

The Interior Department has sided with the ousted chairman of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of Montana.

The tribal council removed Ken St. Marks from office last month even though he won election to the post. Hilary Tompkins, the Solicitor at DOI, said he must be reinstated with back pay and must be reimbursed attorney's fees and legal expenses, The Havre Daily News reported.

According to the paper, Tompkins determined that St. Marks is protected by the whistleblower provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He has been cooperating with federal investigators who have indicted at least a dozen people as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe on the reservation.

The tribe is now being required to pay up front for work on a $361 million water project, the Associated Press reported. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, an agency at DOI, won't let the tribe handle federal funds directly due to corruption on the reservation.

In related news, the tribe's court invalidated a recent council election because one vote was cast by a non-member.

Get the Story:
Feds order St. Marks be reinstated (The Havre Daily News 12/19)
Tribal court invalidates Chippewa Cree election (The Great Falls Tribune 12/19)
Chippewa Cree paying up front for pipeline (AP 12/18)

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