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Published September 20, 2013, 02:58 PM

Former Spirit Lake chairman withdrew suit after restraining order lifted

Roger Yankton Sr. has withdrawn his lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking relief from a restraining order that had been issued against him by the Spirit Lake Tribal Court.

By: Chuck Haga, Grand Forks Herald

Roger Yankton Sr. has withdrawn his lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking relief from a restraining order that had been issued against him by the Spirit Lake Tribal Court.

The former tribal chairman had alleged the Aug. 6 restraining order, which barred him from entering the tribal headquarters or contacting tribal officials, had made him a virtual prisoner on the reservation and prevented him from performing his duties as chairman.

That restraining order has been lifted, Yankton noted in a filing this week with the federal court in which he asked that the case be dismissed. District Judge Ralph Erickson, finding all pending motions in the case moot, ordered it dismissed without prejudice on Thursday.

The tribal court lifted the restraining order after the Northern Plains Intertribal Court of Appeals in Aberdeen, S.D., sided with Yankton opponents and affirmed results of a July recall election that had removed him from office.

Leander “Russ” McDonald, an administrator at the tribal college in Fort Totten, was elected chairman following Yankton’s recall.

McDonald and other members of the Spirit Lake Tribal Council had asked the federal court to dismiss Yankton’s suit in part because the court lacked jurisdiction in a sovereign tribal matter.

Record defended

Yankton said Friday that “community members are still asking questions” about the recall process, and “I’m working yet on some issues.” He said he continues to consult with his attorney, but he did not indicate whether he plans to further contest the tribal chairmanship.

Yankton defended his stewardship of the Spirit Lake Tribe and denied allegations made against him by opponents.

“I didn’t do anything improper or mismanage anything,” he said. “I didn’t take millions or fix up my house (with tribal funds) or anything,” he said.

Yankton’s opponents have alleged widespread corruption and mismanagement during Yankton’s administration. They also have faulted him for allowing a culture of child abuse and child sexual abuse to deepen and fester on the reservation.

He has said he inherited serious financial and management problems when he took office early in 2012 and had been making progress in addressing those problems.

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