|June 5, 2014
Enrollment, living wills big topics at St. Ignatius District Meeting
By Adriana Fehrs
Patty Stevens held a monthly district meeting on May 21. She discussed wills, living will, and tribal enrollment. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
ST. IGNATIUS — Tribal Council representative Patty Stevens held a monthly tribal district meeting on May 21, Wednesday night. Wills, living wills, power of attorney, and enrollment were discussed.
Stevens says, “We’ve had a couple of people asking to have someone come in a talk about wills. I think it can be confusing, so I brought in some individuals from the legal department to answer questions.”
Justin Kalmbach, CSKT Civil Attorney, clarified a few important aspects of wills and living wills. “Nominating a single person to carry out your final wishes is the first step in making a will,” he informed the group. He added, “and you personal representative does not need to be a family member.” For those who were confused he informed them that it is best to only have one person elected to be your personal representative, it reduces uncertainty and prevents future fighting.
Stevens asked about debts left from a passed loved one. “A personal representative is not responsible for the bills left by someone who has passed on. Creditors have four months to start collecting, and so that personal representative needs to make an announcement in the newspaper, so creditors will know,” stated Kalmbach.
To make a will, an individual has to meet three requirements: they need to be at least 18 years of age, be of sound mind, and have a knowledge of their possessions.
Geraldine Vallee speaks her support on counting blood quantum from other tribes during the St. Ignatius tribal district meeting on May 21. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
Travis Arlee asked, “Do I need to list all of my assets, and can I leave them to a child under the age of 18?” Kalmbach informed him that you should eliminate doubt and ambiguity; if you can, list all of your assets, and if you leave your possessions to someone under 18, you will need to list a guardian of that child, who will take care of your assets until that child is 18.”
The next step is let family, friends, and any court system know of your will. Some court systems will file and hold a will. Stevens says, “The Tribal Lands Department will help you write your will, and they will file it for you.”
“A living will is a form of advance directive, leaving instructions for treatment. Another form is a specific type of power of attorney or health care proxy, in which the person authorizes someone to make decisions on their behalf when they are incapacitated,” says Kalmbach. The document must be given to your main health care provider, and is stored in your medical records. Two individuals must witness the signing of a living will, and it must be notarized. He says, “A living will must be type written, but a will can be hand written, I suggest in blue ink.”
Dolly Linsebigler supported the movement to include blood quantum from other tribes. “I have a great grandson, he’s Indian, but he can’t get enrolled because my father was cheated out of his blood quantum,” says Linsebigler during the last St. Ignatius tribal district meeting. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
Kalmbach states that it is important to pick an individual you trust – someone who you think will act in your best interest. Living wills also prevent forced guardianship.
Next on the agenda, Ruth Swaney brought up the topic of enrollment. “We are a sovereign nation, and so we should be able to determine our own enrollment,” Swaney explained, when addressing whether or not CSKT should include blood quantum from other Kootenai and Salish bands. “In January of 2003, this topic was brought before the tribal council, and they told us that it should be determined by the people. Lawrence Kenmille, [CSKT Enrollment], says it needs to be approved by the Elders. Not much has been done since then, and so I am bringing it before the people now.”
Dolly Linsebigler supported the movement. “I have a great grandson, he’s Indian, but he can’t get enrolled because my father was cheated out of his blood quantum,” says Linsebigler. Charles Tellier agreed with the elder, adding, “If an individual is here, living on this land, participating in cultural events, their blood should be considered.” Most in attendance agreed that all Indian blood should be counted. Ruth says, “You can never have too many Natives.”
Next month’s topics will continue the discussion on tribal enrollment, and will include a discussion on the open Head Start position in Arlee.