Leader of Kiowa Tribe challenges BIA's intervention in election

Amber Toppah. Photo from Kiowa Tribe

The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma is in a leadership crisis but attempts by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to resolve it are being met with resistance.

Chairman Amber Toppah has remained in charge even though the BIA hasn't recognized a tribal election since December 2010. The agency decided to call a special election in order to settle the matter.

“After 4 years of a broken government and apparently with no means for the Kiowa Tribe itself to reestablish its government, there is no recourse other than to invoke the tribal authority granted to the Bureau,” Dan Deerinwater, the BIA's regional director, said in a public letter to tribal members last month.

The vote, however, is hold because Toppah has asked the Interior Board of Indian Appeals to review Deerinwater's decision. Another faction within the tribe -- whose leaders say they were elected in December 2013 -- is also questioning the BIA's intervention.

"The BIA came in and completely ignored the results of the (2013) election," attorney Bryan Newland, who represents the 2013 council, told The Lawton Constitution. "What has made this unusual is that nobody was asking the BIA's opinion."

Deerinwater sent out another letter last week to inform tribal members of the IBIA proceeding.

Get the Story:
Lawyer: BIA acting like ‘rogue government officials’ (The Lawton Constitution 3/1)
BIA puts promised Kiowa election on hold (The Native American Times 2/27)
BIA calls emergency election to end turmoil affecting Kiowas, other tribes (The Lawton Constitution 1/29)
BIA decides to intervene in Kiowa conflict (The Native American Times 1/28)

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