Spirit Lake chairman removed from officeThis Thursday, all Spirit Lake council members, with the exception of Roger Yankton, voted to uphold Wednesday's Intertribal Appellate Court ruling that stayed Yankton's installation as chairman.
This Thursday, all Spirit Lake council members, with the exception of Roger Yankton, voted to uphold Wednesday's Intertribal Appellate Court ruling that stayed Yankton's installation as chairman.
Until just after 5:00 Thursday, Yankton was in his tribal office weighing his options. We are told there were about 50 tribal members who oppose Yankton gathered outside the tribal chairman's office, but all of this ended peacefully. The next meeting of the Apellate Court is scheduled for August 9.
That Wednesday court ruling staying Yankton's reinstatement came about an hour after Yankton was again sworn in as chairman. Russ McDonald, who was previously voted to replace Yankton, chose to remain in his position as Fort Totten representative because he says that if Yankton were to win an appeal and be reinstated as chairman, all the work McDonald would have done will be wiped away.
The ruling was part of a series of back and forth litigation. After allegations of abuse of power, corruption, intimidation and failure to pull the tribe out of a child protection crisis, a successful recall vote petition was drafted last month which lead to Yankton's removal and Russ McDonald being sworn in as chairman with a vote of 284-145 on July 1. Tension between Yankton's supporters and opponents was strong enough that the Bureau of Indian Affairs posted 15 police officers, including officers from other jurisdictions, at the polling place, the Four Winds School, to ensure the peace was kept.
McDonald earlier lost an election against Yankton for the position in 2011, and was briefly installed earlier this year as chairman when tribal elders claimed the right to oust Yankton at a special general assembly, but McDonald later agreed with Yankton's contention that tribal law required a petition and recall assembly.
The ruling came as a result of the Spirit Lake tribe renewing an arrangement with the Intertribal Court Wednesday morning. The original arrangement had been allowed to lapse in 2011, according to appellate court administrator James Bluestone, Jr.