What make the BIA act in one case, but shuffle their feet and stick their heads in the sand in another?
The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs is quietly taking sides in a power struggle that has torn apart tribal government on the Fort Apache Reservation despite declaring neutrality in the dispute, records show.
Records obtained by The Arizona Republic suggest that the agency has undermined Tribal Court authority in an ongoing dispute between Chairman Ronnie Lupe and the Tribal Council and courts.
Lupe has defied a suspension vote by the council and an arrest warrant issued by the chief judge for the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Lupe and tribal attorneys contend that those orders violate the tribal constitution and are therefore moot.
Chief Judge Chief Judge Reagan Armstrong Sr. complained to a regional BIA director in March that the one of the top BIA agents in Arizona told police not to enforce the arrest warrant. The letter from Armstrong to Bryan Bowker complained to Bowker that Warren Youngman, BIA assistant special agent in charge for Arizona, instructed the police chief in Whiteriver not to arrest Lupe because federal authorities recognize him as the Apache leader.
Correspondence between Bowker and Lupe says the BIA offered to mediate the conflict. That proposal was accepted by five council members, who said the tribe is in crisis.
But it was rejected by the chairman as an invasion of tribal sovereignty. Lupe did later ask for a federal review of the Tribal Court led by Armstrong, and the bureau agreed to conduct that inquiry.
We must have the BIA look into corruption on reservations where tribal councils are stripping the citizenship from tribal people, denying voting rights, using strong arm tactics to scare voters... WHERE ARE YOU BIA?