Thursday, July 28, 2016

Landmark Case in St. Croix Tribal ENROLLMENT Now in the Judge's Hands.

Hopefully some GOOD NEWS coming at St. Croix

The case involves the enrollment status of Brady Lowe, Jordan Lowe, Seth Stolpan, Brooke Ammann and Anthony Ammann. In order to gain back their tribal membership, they appealed their disenrollment, their only option left to gain back their tribal membership.

The key points of the case start with the tribe having burden of proof that the Lowe brothers, Stolpan, their cousin, and the Ammann siblings were erroneously enrolled by the previous tribal council.

That enrollment action took place on Aug. 5, 2013, and is the centerpiece for much of the case. The petitioners’ names included on that enrollment resolution were approved by the council 5-0, according to meeting minutes and tribal government documents.

However, Frank contended that the resolution was not approved by the full tribal council. Full council approval is required by tribal ordinance for enrollment into the tribe. Beverly Benjamin, a tribal council member at the time, testified that for the roll call vote on the resolution she did not verbally vote and was against the resolution.

The petitioners contend that the tribal council intended to enroll them because of the witness testimony of four people: Aimee Awonohopay, council member at the time; Sunshine Crowe, director of enrollment at the time; Phyllis Lowe, council member at the time; and Teri Lowe, enrollment assistant at that time. Each of these people testified that the council voted on a voice vote to approve the enrollment.

“The overwhelming evidence from the people who were at that hearing was that there was a clear intent on the part of those five council members to enroll those individuals,” said Paiement.

Frank stated that calling the case an issue of disenrollment was inaccurate in that they would have to have been legal members of the tribe first in order to be disenrolled.
“The tribe’s issue from the beginning is that these people did not become legal members,” said Frank. According to Frank, the tribe’s focus is on making sure the law and procedures of the tribe are followed, in this case the laws and procedures of tribal enrollment.

Frank pointed out that documents to support the requirement of at least half St. Croix Indian blood were lacking for all the petitioners. However, both the Ammanns and the Lowes testified that there is no reason or evidence to prove they should not be enrolled in the tribe. Frank also called into account the adult moratorium in place for the tribe which makes any adult ineligible for enrollment.

This, he stated, should have barred any adult from entering the tribe. Paiement contended that the vote by the tribal council to enroll the adults in 2013 was a repeal of that moratorium. Both parties did agree on the point of asking the court to consider the credibility of the witnesses for both parties carefully.

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