Thursday, May 17, 2012

Open Letter to Snoqualmie People: Stand UP for YOUR Rights, The BIA is Worthless

Dear Snoqualmie Citizens, My name is Debora Juarez and I am an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation. I also act as legal counsel for my Tribe and many more: I have been a lawyer for 25 years. When was young I helped take over Fort Lawton, and in my teen years I helped take over Cascadia (old Indian hospital) and protested on the Puyallup and Nisqually River for tribal fishing rights. I am part of Frank's Landing community and I represent our Indian school, Wahelut as well. All my Relations are in Blackfeet Country, Yakama, Warm Springs, and Puyallup . I served as legal counsel to both Governor Mike Lowry and Gary Locke. I was one of the trial lawyers in federal court in "Bolt II - the Shellfish case". Which we won and was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court. And, many, many years ago I represented the 7 unrecognized Tribes, including Snoqualmie. I was at Evergreen Legal Services, Native American Project during that period where we also challenged Jude's Boldt's health and senility. In short, I am a part of and understand Indian Country.

I was asked to look at the injustices the Snoqualmie People have endured for many years, most recently the political and financial actions of an expired tribal council and their illegal participation, as voting members, on the Snoqualmie Entertainment Board (SEA). This invalid council has suspended tribal elections for two (2) years and they continue to exercise a power they do not possess: they are not a tribally elected council. They have been making discretionary decisions that go right to the the core values of the Snoqualmie Tribal government. This includes determining the financial and political matters of the Tribe. Think Fiji.

As legal Counsel, I have never directly addressed a tribal citizenry (except my own tribe), but I feel compelled to say something. My words come from my heart with all due respect and honor to your People and Ancestors. I am an outsider just watching all of this upheaval and pain unfold. I am speaking as an Indian Woman, Mother, Grandmother, who was born and raised on the reservation, and as an Indian citizen committed to the betterment of all Indian people.

I know tribal politics, greed, predatory non-members, and the sickness that the casinos have brought to Indian country. Tribal leadership is casino crazy. Many Tribal governments think sovereignty is a "magic wand" and they can do as they please. Often, there is no checks and balances and many tribal council's hurt and deny their own people their civil rights and dignity. We all know that is true.

In all my years of representing Tribes, I have never witnessed such a staggering case of greed, arrogance, mean-spiritedness, secrecy, and the vindictive and retaliatory behavior of this "elected tribal council". In addition, I have never witnessed a tribal council, with absolutely no checks and balances, use the tribal treasury as their own personal bank account, SUSPEND constitutionally mandated elections for two (2) years, dismantle a court system, fire judges that rule against them, shut down the tribal administrative building in order to ignore a court order, issue CRIMINAL trespass orders via resolution based upon the vote of the (without the "alleged wrong-doers" present), fire tribal members for "talking about tribal politics", pass Resolutions that nobody can sue the tribal council or their employees, fire people at will, allow two members to sit on Council who actually plead guilty to theft and "padding" their timesheets.

We all fought so hard for self-governance, sovereignty, tribal courts, tribal police, only to have our own tribal governments treat us worse than Anglo Courts ! These acts would never ever occur, let alone be attempted, in any Washington State court. Never. I am writing this because I just can't stand watching this anymore without doing something ! A handful of tribal members and non-members have high-jack your Tribe and do what they please with absolutely no consequences.

And, my favorite (which we have on tape) sit in council chambers and actually VOTE on who to bring criminal charges against (with legal counsel and the prosecutor present, and the "alleged defendants !) and vote who NOT to bring theft charges against, more recently, Matt Mattson (please see Judge Woodward's written opinion) - we also quoted the language of the judge in both our letters to the BIA. The BIAhas never responded. I could go on and on. It is unbelievable, and sad.

Now, you have Matt Mattson preparing to deliver a speech about your financial health to a bunch non-members ! That is outrageous and disgusting ! Matt Mattson doesn't believe he owes you anything, not even the courtesy to tell you how he spends your money. You are the shareholders, he is suppose to be addressing the People he works for: The Snoqualmie citizens.

I don't understand how this cancer grew and why it continues to swallow your dignity, spirit and pride.

The Snoqualmie People have a beautiful casino, but you have no land base, no burial fund to care for the families that have lost a loved one (like all tribes do), your Elders do not have health care or housing, no treatment facilities, you receive no per capita from your Casino, there is no designated college fund or trust fund set up for your minors, you are not allowed to use YOUR own suite at Safeco field, tribal members still go to the tribal food bank, their is no housing (which you need to bring your people home) and, if you are lucky, you may have a functioning court that day to hear your case or file an appeal, if the Council hasn't banned or placed (unheard of) "sanctions" against you or your family.

But I learned you paid for Matt's sailboat, his hockey team, his country club membership, his Oregon bar dues, his cigar club, the list goes on and on.

So, I ask you all to please come together and demand your tribal elections. Put your differences and suspicions aside for one day and do the right thing: Do what is best for your future and children. This has to stop.

Sincerely,

Debora

Nah Too Yii Misti'Stucki Holy Mountain Woman

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