A tribal hearing officer has ruled that the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe cannot revoke the membership of an 87-year-old elder, despite the fact that she is not directly descended from a person listed on one of the Tribe’s base rolls. OP: See articles by Susan Bradford on Saginaw Tribe HERE and some drug running accusations here
But the disenrollment case of Anna Bell Atwell may not be over, according to her attorney.
“Tribal government officials, both certifiers and enrollment department staff, had a policy that collateral tracing to a constitutional base roll was sufficient to satisfy the tracing requirement for membership eligibility for enrollment,” said a ruling from the Tribe’s Office of Administrative Hearings.
Atwell became a member of the Tribe in 1988 during the Tribe’s open enrollment period, a time when the Tribe reached out to Natives who might qualify to become members. She is a direct descendant of a man named Edmund Chatfield; his brother, the name of his brother Lyman Chatfield, appears on an 1885 list of Natives who received land allotments from the federal government and serves as a Tribal base roll.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled with this decision if I had written it myself,” said Paula Fisher, Atwell’s attorney. “It is written in a way that will be helpful for other families that descend collaterally from constitutional base rolls.”
The Tribe’s constitution specifies that Tribal members must be at least one-quarter Indian and descended from someone listed either on a base roll compiled in 1982, or from one of several lists compiled during the 19th century.
The Tribe’s enrollment ordinance now specifies that members must be direct descendants, but at the time Atwell became a member, it said only “descended.” That was interpreted to mean that descent from siblings of people named on the base rolls also counted.
The decision noted that numerous people with “collateral descent” are members of the Tribe in good standing, and Atwell’s case is no different. Read the full article here
Read about Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indian Disenrollment HERE and more from Susan Bradford HERE