Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Banished Snoqualmie File Civil Rights Lawsuit

Lynda V. Mapes
Seattle Times staff reporter

Nine banished members of the Snoqualmie tribe have filed a federal lawsuit in the latest round of an ongoing fight for control of the tribe, poised to open one of the state's most lucrative gambling casinos this fall. Tossed out in April, the banished members, including the tribal chairman, several council members and a minister of the Indian Shaker Church, filed suit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, claiming violation of their civil rights.
Named in the suit are the Snoqualmie council members who banished them, stripping them of their tribal identity; barring them from tribal lands, and cutting them off from any tribal benefits, including health-care services. "This is a sad, sad time," said banished tribal member Lois Sweet Dorman. "This was supposed to be a time to celebrate together; the promise of prosperity to enable us to provide for our people. We worked so hard for our sovereignty. Most of us are elders of this tribe; this action is unbelievably harsh and cruel."

In the suit, attorney Rob Roy Smith of Seattle said the banishments should be overturned because his clients' liberties were illegally restrained by violation of the Indian Civil Rights Act. Passed by Congress in 1968, the act is intended to safeguard the fundamental civil rights of tribal members, such as their right to due process, free speech and peaceable assembly. The banished had no opportunity to confront their accusers or exercise their right to free speech, and were unlawfully accused of "treason" and meeting as an "illegal shadow government" in violation of their right to peaceable assembly, according to the suit. They are also denied their liberty in being barred them from tribal lands and services, the suit stated.

Matt Mattson, tribal administrator, declined to respond except by e-mail on Friday: "The tribe is not aware of the suit and really cannot comment without knowing more details.(What do you think? They aren't aware?)

Read related story HERE and HERE


Anonymous said...

The Indian Civil Rights Act has been left for tribal enforcement. A federal court will most likely excuse itself based on it being the wrong jurisdiction. I would forget the lawsuit and head directly to Congress while the subject of dis-enrollments is a front burner issue with the Congressional Black Caucus. Congress has the plenary authority to intervene on tribal citizenship/membership issues, the federal courts do not.

Anonymous said...

We have been writing to Congress members and get no response. I doubt we could even get a meeting with anyone in WA D.C.

If you know of a way to get Congress to listen... please let us know.

OPechanga said...

The way they will listen is for more people to send in their letters.

Snoqualmie, Pechanga, Picayune should have 1,200 letters sent in, now, add Enterprise and many others..that will make a statement.

How many of the family has GIVEN up?

Anonymous said...

The case will be heard in court! The family has not GIVEN up! We fight for the rights of all our people.