Sunday, April 22, 2012

Interesting: Cheating Chukchansi Council Plans To Start a Tribal Court! Will They be the FIRST on Trial?

Chukchansi Indian leaders who have struggled for months with internal strife are considering starting a court to address appeals and serve as an oversight body for the tribal council. Last month, more than 90% of the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians tribe's general council -- a group of about 500 people -- voted to start a tribal court that would resolve internal disputes. Since, there hasn't been any apparent movement to get the ball rolling. But this week, Chukchansi spokesman Roger Salazar confirmed that the tribe's leaders plan to start a court. "Any time you establish something new in government, you want to make sure you do it right," Salazar said. "It's going to take time to set up a committee to explore the issue, bring findings back to the membership and ultimately establish a tribal court. In the end, we hope the process will help make the tribe stronger for generations to come." Long-standing differences between rival Chukchansi groups, one headed by Reggie Lewis and the other by Morris Reid, came to a head in December when a tribal council meeting spun out of control. Since, there has been an occupation of tribal offices and a still-frazzled relationship between the sides, which differ mostly over enrollment and election issues. The tribe's lawyer, Arizona-based Robert Rosette, said he doesn't know how long it will take to establish a court. Some can be created in months, but others take years. "Tribal courts vary as much as the tribes themselves," he said. But Santa Rosa lawyer Tony Cohen, who represents tribes, said a tribe can create a court system "overnight if you find a court ordinance that appeals to you." Putting off establishment of a court, critics say, could slow the resolution of conflicts related to elections, disenrollment and barring members from tribal facilities. But Rosette said that even if the Chukchansi tribe starts a court, it might not have standing to rule on disenrollment and other membership issues may not be covered by the Chukchansi tribe. "Most membership issues are driven by tribal constitutions," Rosette said. "The way tribal constitutions are typically framed, those membership decisions are left to the governing body of the tribe." Indian tribes are sovereign nations, not beholden to state or federal civil laws when dealing with internal issues. When someone is disenrolled, barred from tribal services or even injured on Indian land, they often can't appeal a final decision to a higher authority. Read more here:
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