The present so-called governing body of the Douglas Indian Association, under the leadership of Dorothy Owen, has once again disrupted the Jan. 6, 2003, Tribal Council election mandated by DIA's constitution and by-laws. Did you know that it has been exactly three years since DIA's electoral vote has been honored? The Owen group has already failed to hold the January 2002 election prescribed by DIA's constitution and by-laws. This is the eighth time they have said they would hold an election, including claiming on numerous occasions to DIA members, the BIA, and the Interior Board of Indian Appeals, that they were working on redoing the election they disputed in 2001.
On Nov. 20, 2002, some of DIA's members voiced their relief and even appreciation when the Owen group informed everyone present at the general membership meeting that election planning was underway for January. They mailed out newsletters to members, which cited election-related deadlines pertaining to enrollment applications, candidate petitions, and absentee ballot requests. They also paid for adds in the Juneau Empire, which advertised the Jan. 6 election and later the list of candidates. However, on Jan. 3, we were notified by the BIA that the Owen group had written them a letter (at the 11th hour) saying they "need more time." Yet, they have already wasted two years languishing in offices they are not entitled to hold.
The Owen group's list of delay tactics has become longer than Pinocchio's nose. At least the legendary wooden puppet had some shame. DIA members can't afford to wait that long with this group. Bear in mind that this handful of individuals are not by themselves, the "Tribe," nor were they duly elected by DIA voters as our governing body. Instead, for the last two years, (as a result of the BIA's violation of their official policy of non-interference in tribal government business), they have clung to non-tribally recognized offices and hand-picked other persons to make a quorum.
DIA members have been promised time and again that a Tribal Council election will take place. This time around, even the BIA denounced the Owen group's rationalization for needing more time and strongly recommended they proceed with the election on Jan. 6. What did the Owen group do in response? They placed their staff on administrative (paid) leave and locked out DIA voters on the day of the election! They have virtually slapped DIA members in the face and made a mockery out of our fundamental right under DIA's constitution and by-laws to elect our leadership. We need to mobilize DIA's membership to end this sham.
Clarence "Butch" Laiti
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