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Devils Lake Journal - Devils Lake, ND
  • Statement from Spirit Lake Tribe, chairman

  • On behalf of the Spirit Lake Tribe, as elected tribal governing council, we wish to clarify that the current composition of the Spirit Lake Tribal Council remains the same.
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  • On behalf of the Spirit Lake Tribe, as elected tribal governing council, we wish to clarify that the current composition of the Spirit Lake Tribal Council remains the same. Roger Yankton, Sr. continues to serve as tribal chairman and all existing council members remain in office until the Spirit Lake Tribe finalizes its general election. Upon conclusion of the general election there will be three new council positions consisting of Secretary/Treasurer, Ft. Totten District Council member and St. Michael District Council member.
    On Sunday, April 14, a group of tribal members conducted a meeting and characterized it as a general assembly. During this meeting, it was claimed to have concluded with the election of a new tribal chairman. Unfortunately, this particular gathering was not open to all members of the tribe who wished to attend; it was not open to members who wish to publicly state their concerns for the conduct being displayed by a faction of individuals, the apparent violation of the constitution and by-laws of the Spirit Lake Tribe was questioned, some enrolled members reported they were not allowed to sign in as attendees and were, in fact, turned away at the door.
    In following the tribe’s constitution and by laws, the correct procedure for any recall and election process clearly permits the “membership to recall or reinstate a member of the tribal council upon filing with the council office a petition containing the signatures of not less that 20 percent of the qualified resident voters of the district or districts of the council member or members involved.” In this instance, no such petition was circulated or filed with offices of the council. In failure to follow the governing principals of the tribe, the results of the gatherings on April 14 and 15 are invalid. The fact was shared by some members who in attendance of the gathering, acknowledged proper procedures were not followed.
    This fact was again reiterated to Chairman Roger Yankton in his office on April 15 by Russel McDonald. McDonald acknowledged the constitution and by-laws of the Spirit Lake Tribe were not followed and apologized for his part in the gathering and show of ceremony appointing him as the tribal chairman.
    On Tuesday, April 16 the Spirit Lake Tribe conducted its primary election. Amid low voter turn-out, the current tribal council members were in receipt of numerous calls from the community members requesting clarification of the status of the Spirit Lake Chairman, whether the primary election was going to proceed and the legality of ballots containing the name of persons seeking two different positions of tribal office. The Spirit Lake Council believes this confusion resulted in disenfranchising tribal member’s votes due to the misleading actions on April 14 and 15.
    The series of events undertaken by selected individuals serves to divert resources and focus from the critically important work and continues to divide the tribe further. Only by working together can we make the lives of the Spirit Lake Oyate better. The tribal council takes seriously the public trust placed in them and will continue to strive to improve the status of the Tribe as a whole.
    Page 2 of 2 - The statement is signed by Roger Yankton, Sr., verified by Darren Walking Eagle, Chief Administrative Officer.
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