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Published April 11, 2013, 10:43 PM

Tribal Elders vote to expel entire council

Tribal Elders on the Spirit Lake Nation voted late Thursday afternoon with an overwhelming majority to oust the entire tribal council. This comes just one day after a council member came forward with allegations of corruption among the tribal council and government.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

Tribal Elders on the Spirit Lake Nation voted late Thursday afternoon with an overwhelming majority to oust the entire tribal council. This comes just one day after a council member came forward with allegations of corruption among the tribal council and government. The vote came at the end of a meeting that lasted more than two hours. Elders discussed corruption among the council and a lack of progress in the tribe's social services program, with many saying they're ashamed to be a part of the Spirit Lake tribe.

Elders talked about a number of problems they see on the reservation in a meeting hastily arranged by elder Bernice Juarez.

Juarez: "It's a hurry up meeting, but I wanted to to be done today.

Elders painted the picture of a self-serving tribal council full of nepotism that doesn't listen to tribal members.

Elder: "...Respected elders that are refused. They don't want them to get up and speak. They quiet them down and push them aside."

They say the council has stood idly by while tribal programs suffered, especially the embattled social services program.

Elder: "We don't see no improvements around here. I don't know if your home is being remodeled. Or yours."

Elder: "Our children. What's happening to them?"

Bernice Juarez says the elders have the right to oust the council because it hasn't given tribal members a forum to express their frustration.

Juarez: "We have every legal ground because they did not hold a general assembly."

She says she knows the vote will be challenged, but that she trusts it will stand.

Elder: "Let's stand up and let's get rid of them, and put some new ones in there, that could stand up for us and listen to us."

Tribal elders say they're planning a meeting tomorrow morning with the Fort Totten BIA superintendent to discuss where to go from here.

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