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CSKT set to update tribal IDs

By Adriana Fehrs

The new tribal IDs was designed by Leslie Camel-Stewart. (file photo)The new tribal IDs was designed by Leslie Camel-Stewart. (file photo)

PABLO — The tribal council plans to update tribal identification cards in the near future. Laurence Kenmille, Enrollment Research Manager of the Enrollment Department for CSKT, says, “It is an ongoing process. We continually update our ID so they fit the needs of tribal members, the government, and businesses.”

The current tribal IDs are based on a format created and implemented in 2006. The updated cards have a hologram, a picture of the medicine buffalo in the upper left hand corner, a picture of tribal chiefs in the background, a bitterroot on the back, and a reissue date. The medicine ?buffalo’ was added after Louie Caye petitioned to have it on the card to represent protection. The hologram and background was added to deter alterations or duplications of the IDs. Kenmille says, “In the past there were people taking off the laminate and changing the information on the card.”

There have been problems with Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) accepting tribal IDs as legal forms of identification. Kenmille attributes that to the changes in employees [in the CBP]. “CSKT has always had a great relationship with CBP, I think it’s because of the new employees not understanding our relationship [between CSKT and CBP] is why there has been problems with tribal members trying to cross back into the US with their tribal IDs.” Since 2008 Homeland Security has authorized tribal IDs as a legal document to enter into the US. Only about a week-and-a-half ago did problems arise. Current tribal IDs have no information showing address or US residency; CBP would not allow reentry with out another form of identification showing proof of US citizenship. CBP would not accept the IDs, and any person trying to reenter the US faced problems.

CSKT is planning on meeting with Homeland Security, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), Leonard Two Teeth of the Tribal Council, and several Chiefs from Canada to come an agreement on the new IDs’ requirements. Currently, the agreements are very broad. There have been discussions on adding a chip that would tell CBP within 15 feet of border who is approaching, and a strip that would allow for the updated IDs to be swiped to pull up the individual’s information. Plans of adding a person’s address on the card are also in place. Homeland Security also wants the new IDs to state that the ID holder is a US citizen.

The tribal council and the governor of Montana are hesitant about the updates. There are issues with privacy infringement; Kenmille says, “When the ID is swiped, it would bring up all of that person’s information, all of their background information and that would infringe on privacy rights.” The other issue is the tracking capabilities the CBP would have if chips were added to the IDs. “Before, the CBP could track a person up to ten miles [from the border], and if the chips were added, they would be able to track someone up to 100 miles [from the border].”

There have been several entities to adopt similar updates. So far, five other tribes have strips and chips on the back of their tribal IDs — the closest being the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho. The state of Washington uses as similar format as well.

Kenmille says, “We will have to work fast to come to an agreement, since Canada is no longer accepting Tribal IDs [as a from of legal documentation to enter back into the US].” He feels that a suitable agreement is attainable, and can happen in a relatively short amount of time.

The costs for the updated tribal IDs will mainly come from fees when buying a new ID. Only a portion of the costs for the updates will come from the fees, and CSKT will fund the rest of the costs. A tribal member’s first ID is free, then after that it is $2. Tribal council will soon deliberate on new costs for IDs, meaning that the updated IDs could potentially cost more in the future.

Future goals are to streamline the IDs. Kenmille says “the updated IDs will make it easier for storeowners to accept the tribal ID. The updates will overall, make it easier for tribal members to use the cards on a daily basis, and will help businesses be more comfortable accepting them,” and “Crossing the border [into Canada and back in to US] will also become easier once the updates are done, allowing individuals to cross more freely to see family with less of a hassle.”

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