On Saturday, the Eastern Shoshone Tribe's General Council dismissed two elected tribal officials.
For the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, the General Council is the last word on any laws passed or actions taken. The Council is not an elected body, but a quorum of enrolled tribal members, and it has the power to dismiss the elected officials who sit on the tribe's six-person Business Council. It did that over the weekend, voting Wes Martel and Ivan Posey from their seats, as well as the tribe's Attorney General, Kimberly Varilek. Business Council Chairman, Darwin St. Clair, Jr., says he’s not sure why, and he hasn’t seen this kind of dismissal before.
“General council although has the authority to make these kinds of decision on behalf of all its tribal members, I don’t know if it was very well thought out, in that unfortunately we kind of stifled our government,” says St. Clair, Jr.
The Business Council, according to tribal law, requires a quorum of four people to vote. With one seat empty because of the death of a sitting councilman and the two dismissals on Saturday, the three current members can’t act on anything.
“That could include but not limited to enrollment, our tribal enrollment, our contracts that we have with various government and or businesses, any financial requests, any kind of correspondence that we may agree to, settlement disbursements, any petitions,” says St. Clair, Jr.
The Wind River Indian Reservation tribes just received settlement money from a lawsuit with the federal government over mismanagement of mineral royalties. But Northern Arapaho tribal members will likely see their money sooner, since the Eastern Shoshone Business Council can’t vote to release the funds.
A special election is scheduled for April 15th. Only one person is on the ballot, but if sworn in, the Business Council's quorum would be met.