Wednesday, June 29, 2016

St. Croix Chippewa Tribal Disenrollment Headed to Wisconsin Court

From the Washburn County Register:

 Five recently disenrolled members of the St. Croix Chippewa Tribe are appealing the tribal council's decision to disenroll 10 of its members. The case will be heard before a judge from the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe in Eastern Wisconsin next month. 

The five, members of two families, have retained legal counsel and are claiming the council's action was without just cause, saying they meet the enrollment requirements set forth by the tribe's constitution. The other five former members have chosen to not challenge the ruling or have not retained legal counsel. 

The case, which may be the first and largest legal challenge to a disenrollment action by the St. Croix Chippewa in its history, is "laced with politics," according to attorney Joe Paeiment of Stillwater, Minn., but he added the case is primarily about the civil rights of his clients. "They are protected under the Native American Civil Rights Act just as non-natives are protected under their own civil rights act," Paeiment said. 

Attorney Jeffrey Cormell, who responded to questions on behalf of council members, said the decision to disenroll the 10 members is about the failure to follow enrollment guidelines. "This is to stand up for our policy and procedures and follow our ordinance," Cormell said.  "What's the use of having an ordinance or policy if it is allowed to be waived?" 

Allegations that policy and procedure have not been adhered to by the council in the past have been noted by those challenging the council decision. Longtime member Dora Mosay Ammann said her adult children, Brooke and Tony, are among those challenging the decision.  The siblings fought for years to regain enrollment after being removed from the rolls 30 years ago only to suddenly be re-enrolled 3 years ago and then disenrolled again six months ago. “It depends on who is on the council at the time,” Ammann noted. 

Among other aspects of case are a moratorium on new adult membership, the most recent version of which was passed by the council in 2005, and an alleged vendetta by a member of the tribal council. That person was unavailable for comment. The case has apparently renewed ongoing discussion on the future of enrollment requirements for the 1,000-member St. Croix Chippewa, which is currently among fewer than 10 of 562 federally recognized tribes in the United States to require a blood quantum of 50 percent.  Most tribes require one quarter or less or have membership based on lineal descent.  
A recent survey sent by the council to members seeks input on what, if any, changes should be made regarding enrollment requirements.  Members have until June 30 to respond. -

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