Adopted member, now chairman Bob Kelly:
As chairman, he felt that he had a sacred duty: to protect the tribe from invasion by a group of people that, he would eventually argue, weren’t even Native Americans. “I’m in a war,” he told me later, sketching family trees on the back of a copy of the tribe’s constitution. “This is our culture, not a game.
At the time, Rudy and Kelly were friends, allies on the council. At the long oval table where they met to discuss Nooksack business, Rudy always sat at Kelly’s right. But the debate over whether Rudy’s family qualified as Nooksack tore them apart. Today, more than four years later, they no longer speak. Rudy and his extended family refer to Kelly as a monster and a dictator; he calls them pond scum and con artists. They agree on almost nothing, but both remember the day when things fell apart the same way. “If my nephew isn’t Nooksack,” Rudy said in the council chambers, “then neither am I.”
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