Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

January 5, 2012

From the Enrollment Department regarding enrollment issues

The FIRDO organization has been publishing statements in the media that are not totally true or factual. The statements made are not true and as ORM/Enrollment Director are defaming my character and questions my professional credibility. It is due to these false statements that I feel it is necessary to respond to the accusations made from this so-called organization referred to as FIRDO.

In their advertisements, FIRDO, Flathead Indian Reservation Defense Org. have been making statements regarding Enrollment that are not factual and misleading to the public and although many tribal members know these statements are false, some tribal members may believe them to be true. First, I would like to clarify that I have no idea who makes up the FIRDO organization, which screens and approves their material for publication, or who, what, or how many people are affiliated in the organizational membership. They have never approached me to get clarification on any subject matter regarding enrollment. I have asked tribal members on the rez if they are familiar with the organization and if they are members- they say they know about FIRDO because of the advertisements but know nothing about them and are not members. I am aware of one (1) family that is active in the FIRDO organization and that’s all. I have yet to find an individual(s) who are members and have reviewed the statements and approved such statements for release, with the exception for that one family.

To clarify and/or dispute FIRDO’s accusations regarding the enrollment of “Non-Indians” into the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. First of all, the Tribe does not enroll “non-Indians. In the early 1900’s, the Chiefs of the tribes did adopted some individuals who were “non-Indians, but were parents of children who were Indians from this tribe. The Chiefs adopted these individuals in an effort to protect the young children, who were Indians from this tribe, and to keep the family and extended family together. Since the adoption of the Tribal Constitution in 1935, no person, has been enrolled into the tribe that is “non-Indian” If FIRDO has knowledge of an individual(s) submitting falsified documents for enrollment and FIRDO is able to provide legal documents to show otherwise, please do so, and enrollment will diligently work to correct this error. The Tribal Council will not review tribal member status unless the biological parents present historical events regarding the member and the error or individuals provide formal documentation depicting the error. Innuendoes, finger pointing or accusations will not be reviewed by the enrollment staff as per council direction.

FIRDO insinuates in their article that I am enrolling individuals into the tribe that are non-Indian (other ethnic race) and I have made recommendations to the tribal Council, for which on my recommendations enrolled non-Indians (other ethnic race). I assure the Tribal Membership that the Enrollment Staff or myself have never enrolled a non-Indian (other ethnic race), nor have we ever recommended to the Tribal Council to approve an application for enrollment of a non-Indian (other ethnic race). ORM/Enrollment takes their responsibility seriously and would never jeopardize the sovereignty of the Tribe. Every applicant (Indian decent) must meet the minimum requirements set forth in the Constitution and its amendments. Applicants requiring Council approval are scrutinized by the Enrollment staff and then by the council and if all the questions are not fully answered are sent back to Enrollment for further review and findings or disapproved. Every enrollment the Tribal Council has reviewed meets the minimum legal requirements under the Constitution of the Tribe. The Tribal Council just can’t pick and choose who will or can’t be members; they are mandated by the Constitution (the Tribal Members Law) to enroll applicants meeting the Law. In all my years on the Tribal Council and as the ORM/Enrollment staff, I have never reviewed an application that was non-Indian. I have no idea where FIRDO gets the impression were enrolling non-Indians.

When FIRDO states the term non-Indian, if they are referring to mixed blood, keep in mind, there are only 142 full bloods left on this reservation. 142 out of 7,800 members, mixed blood makes up 98% of our membership and I will lay odds the majority of families associated with FIRDO are part of these statistics. The Tribal Council doesn’t have any leeway regarding eligibility for enrollment on mixed bloods. If an applicant meets the minimum requirements under the law at the time of birth, the individual(s) are entitled to be enrolled.

I again make this plea, if FIRDO has knowledge of a non-Indian being enrolled, provide the enrollment office with the documents that an error exists and the error will be fixed. If FIRDO is just making off the cuff generalities, than I appeal to its membership to reign in those responsible for making false statements for the purpose to enhance their own personal political agenda.

FIRDO claims to be instrumental in the defeat of the Split Family Secretarial election. They may have been active against the issue; however, it was the Tribal Council that took the initiative to combat the issue after the BIA disapproved the Councils request for a Secretarial Election on the use of other Indian blood. FIRDO may have been active against the Split Family issue and FIRDO’s concerns were not being heard and the Tribal Council wasn’t really concerned about the issue until the draft wording to vote was provided. It was then the Tribal Council directed the Legal dept. to develop an instrument for membership review due to the fact, the petition signed by a large number of tribal members was amended from the original intent of split family to encompass all descendants to be eligible for enrollment. The Tribal Council provided valuable information and statistics regarding the original petition as signed by members and the actual wording approved by the bureau of Indian Affairs which totally changed the original intent of the petition and the members who signed the petition became disgruntled and pleaded with the council to step in and protect them and defeat this new initiative.

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