The Nooksack 306 backed four candidates for council but all were defeated in an election whose results are being contested. Image: The Nooksack 306

Nooksack Tribe plans to revive disenrollment campaign despite many warnings

The Nooksack Tribe finally held an election for four council seats after being sanctioned by the federal government. But the results are being challenged by citizens who might be kicked out by the tribe, again.

According to unofficial results, voters re-elected four disputed incumbents to the seats. The incumbents defeated a slate of candidates being backed by The Nooksack 306, a group of citizens who have been repeatedly targeted for disenrollment by tribal leaders.

Chairman Bob Kelly, whose position also has been disputed, has since told The Seattle Times that he plans to restart the disenrollment proceedings once the results are confirmed.

“At this point we have no reason to believe that they are Native Americans and we will proceed with a second round of disenrollment hearings as soon as the election is certified by the election board later this week,” Kelly told the paper.

Kelly's threat comes after he agreed to include The Nooksack 306 in the election in order to restore the flow of federal funds to the tribal government. The Trump administration had refused to recognize him and the council as legitimate, since elections hadn't taken place as required by tribal law.

But Kelly was recognized as a a "person of authority" under an agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He is due for re-election in 2018, The Times reported.

The agreement with the BIA calls on the tribe to send the election results to the agency's regional director in the Pacific Northwest, for "endorsement." The Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs -- a political position in Washington, D.C., that's currently vacant -- is then required to recognize the new council, provided that the regional director approves the results.

John Tahsuda, a citizen of the Kiowa Tribe, is holding the post in an "acting" capacity, pending confirmation of Tara Sweeney, who is Inupiat, to the leadership role.

Some Nooksack citizens are questioning the results of the election and an attorney who has worked with them has called the election "fraudulent."

An appeal was submitted to the tribe's election board on Monday. The agreement with the BIA requires "final resolution of any challenges" before the results can be recognized by the federal government.

The tribe's federal funding, estimated to be around $14 million, had been withheld until Kelly agreed to hold a new election.

Read More on the Story:
Nooksack chairman vows to continue disenrollments in wake of contested election (The Seattle Times December 5, 2017)
Incumbents lead Nooksack election results amid allegations of fraud (The Seattle Times December 5, 2017)
Tribal membership, federal dollars and a casino on the line with Nooksack election (KUOW December 4, 2017)

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