DIA counterclaims

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, May 23, 2003

Related Letter:

Election questions

In her May 20 letter, Dorothy Owen expressed observations regarding the upcoming May 27 election of Douglas Indian Association. She claims, "The tribe already hosted a fair and legal election on March 3," but asks, "Why is the Bureau of Indian Affairs sponsoring another election?"

Owen and four others lost council seats in January 2001, so she invalidated that election and remained in a non-elected capacity (compliments of the BIA, provided they hold another election). Owen misled the BIA, the Interior Board of Indian Appeals, and the tribe's membership 12 times, claiming election planning was underway. The election they finally held failed to produce nine duly elected council members.

Owen said, "When I was president, the BIA demanded in the election of March 3, 2003, the council follow the ordinance to the letter." But she and her small following, calling themselves "the tribe," concocted a new ordinance to allow five of them to stay in office without being elected. Then, they arbitrarily removed four Base Roll descendent candidates from the ballot. To make absolutely sure these individuals didn't proceed to win council seats, they abolished the write-in privilege.

Despite multiple warning letters from the BIA regional director advising Owen to correct these infractions, she held an election for only four seats, although neither she nor the "holdover council" held a legitimate claim to office. Asked by the BIA how they've come to see themselves as still being council members, they answered, "I appointed her and she appointed me ..." etc.

Owen says, "Now, everything is changed with a new election scheduled on May 27 that the tribal members were not aware of. No notice other than the announcement in the newspaper." Thanks to the announcement many do know about the election. We know Owen does. She negates her own statement, "No notice for any member who would like to run as a candidate so they could submit a petition." After all, the ad she read in the newspaper addressed that, too.

Owen claims that the BIA's interference resulted in the tribe being six months behind on sponsoring a resolution for this year's funds. Well, why is that since her council was the "governing body" for 27 months until April?

The Tuesday, May 27, election is real this time around for all nine council seats. DIA has finally recovered its right to elect its own leadership.

Clarence "Butch" Laiti

Juneau



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