What's Up/ Aug. 22 '05

    Mountain Ute chairman resigns after arrest

    Cortez, Colorado (AP)

    The chairman of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council has stepped down after recent arrests for alleged domestic violence and drunken driving. Selwyn Whiteskunk, 41, resigned August 2, three weeks after more than 30 tribal members began circulating a petition calling for his ouster. Vice Chairman Manuel Heart, 43, will serve as interim chairman. Whiteskunk was sworn in last November. Last month, he was arrested after Bureau of Indian Affairs officers stopped him near his home in Towaoc. Authorities said his blood-alcohol level was 0.224 percent, nearly three times the legal limit for driving.

    Man gets 11 years in prison for stabbing death

    Rapid City, South Dakota (AP)

    A Wanblee man will serve just over 11 years in prison for stabbing to death a man on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Wicahpe Milk, 21, was convicted of second-degree murder in May in the killing last October of Arlen Bissonette, 20, of Pine Ridge. Jurors acquitted Milk's brother, 19-year-old Petan Milk.

    Former Mill City mayor sentenced in tobacco case

    Salem, Oregon (AP)

    Former Mill City Mayor William “Bill” Downer has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years of probation for buying tax-free chewing tobacco from a tribal reservation and selling it in Oregon. Downer, who was mayor from 1996-1998, was found guilty on 30 related counts, fined and ordered to serve two years’ probation and pay more than $5,000 in restitution. He bought the tobacco on the Yakama Reservation in Washington.

    White River man

    gets 19 years for killing

    Pierre, South Dakota (AP)

    A White River man has been ordered to spend 19 years in prison for killing another man on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. Brian Bear Heels, 20, pleaded guilty in federal court in Pierre to second-degree murder for the slaying of Jerry Medicine Bear. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Bear Heels hit Medicine Bear with an iron bar in the Upper Swift Bear Community in Mellette County on Sept. 2. Bear Heels could have gotten up to life in prison.

    Last member of Coushattas’ former leadership resigns

    Elton, Louisianna (AP)

    The last member of the Coushatta Tribal Council’s former leadership reportedly has resigned, saying the new leaders have shut him out and he and his family have been harassed and threatened. Roy Fletcher, who was spokesman for the former leadership, e-mailed a copy of William Worfel’s resignation letter to the American Pres, which reported the resignation August 13. “The council has intentionally shut me out of discussions regarding important decisions that the council must face and deal with on a daily basis,” said the letter, addressed to new Chairman Kevin Sickey. “My supporters, my family and I have been physically threatened and harassed for me trying to do my job.

    Mobridge man sentenced for drunken driving deaths

    Pierre, South Dakota (AP)

    A Mobridge man was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for a drunken driving accident that killed two minors and an adult. Phillip L. Young Hawk, 34, pleaded guilty to a September 2004 accident on the Standing Rock Reservation. Seven people were in the vehicle when it crashed.

    Turtle Mountain chair calls complaint a nuisance

    Belcourt, North Dakota (AP)

    The chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa says a complaint that seeks his removal from office is a nuisance, and is groundless. The complaint, filed August 1 in Turtle Mountain Tribal Court, asks a judge to remove Chairman Ken Davis because of a past felony. It also seeks to throw out the November 2004 tribal election. “People are entitled to a legal government. We don’t have it right now,” said Belcourt attorney Donald Bruce. The complaint was brought against Davis and the tribal election board by Ricky Parisien, a voter, on behalf of tribal voters and candidates. Davis said a felony conviction in 1968, when he was 18, has been expunged.

    Catawba sue state:

    claim right to video poker

    Columbia, South Carolina (AP)

    The Catawba Nation sued the state of South Carolina during late July, claiming the tribe has the right to operate video gambling and other gaming machines on its reservation in York County. The lawsuit comes after the Catawbas tried to build an electronic, high-stakes bingo parlor in Santee to offset losses the tribe said it has incurred in competition with the South Carolina lottery. The tribe’s attempts to set up the bingo hall have been stymied by legislative opposition. After holding out hope for two years that a bill allowing the bingo hall would pass the General Assembly, the Catawbas filed the lawsuit in state court.

    Transportation bill’s

    rider would cut authority

    over environment

    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (AP)

    Oklahoma’s American Indian tribes would be prohibited from regulating the environment on their land under a provision attached to a transportation bill that has passed Congress and is awaiting President Bush’s signature. The “rider” on the $286 billion legislation appears aimed at overturning an Environmental Protection Agency decision to authorize the Pawnee Nation to set its own water standards. The state Department of Environmental Quality has filed a legal challenge to the EPA decision. Tribal attorneys said they didn’t learn of the environmental provision until after the massive transportation bill passed the House and Senate on July 29. President Bush has said he will sign it. Almost two dozen other Oklahoma tribes have applied to the EPA for similar status.

    Bill could block plans

    for Oklahoma City casino

    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (AP)

    The Shawnee Tribe’s plans to build a casino in or near downtown Oklahoma City could be blocked if a bill passed by Congress gains the president’s approval. A six-year highway bill approved by Congress on July 30 included an amendment repealing language from earlier legislation that might have allowed the Miami, Okla.-based tribe to build the casino in downtown Oklahoma City or the Bricktown entertainment district. A 2000 bill included a provision that the Secretary of the Interior “shall” put land into federal trust for the tribe as long as that property is in Oklahoma but outside another tribe’s jurisdictional area.

    Nez Perce Tribe gets

    first female police chief

    Lapwai, Idaho (AP)

    Former Lewiston police officer Leslie Hendrick, an enrolled Nez Perce, was sworn in August 1 as the first female police chief of the Nez Perce Tribe, the second woman named to a high-profile tribal post in the past three months. In May, Rebecca Miles was elected as the first chairwoman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, which oversees governance of the 3,000-member tribe in north-central Idaho. Miles said the tribe received several applications from tribal members for the opening created when former chief Tom Idol resigned in late May, but Hendrick was the most qualified – and the only woman. Her husband, Keith Hendrick, has served as police chief of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and for the city of Lapwai.

    Federal suit to stop

    telescope project is dismissed

    Tucson, Arizona (AP)

    A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a tribe asking that the National Science Foundation’s $13.5 million telescope project on Kitt Peak be halted. The ruling will allow the Tohono O’odham Nation and the foundation to work together on differences and get on with the project, said Richard Green, manager of Kitt Peak National Observatory. Tribal leaders filed suit in March, claiming that the foundation had repeatedly refused to consult with them on its construction of the telescope project on Kitt Peak. In response to the suit, the foundation issued a stop-work order in April and also offered to restart studies relative to historical, cultural and environmental issues.

    Five indicted in killing

    Phoenix, Arizona (AP)

    A federal grand jury has indicted five people in the beating-strangulation death a woman on the Fort Apache Reservation. The indictment, handed up on July 20, lists several charges, including first-degree murder, kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder. The five defendents allegedly kidnapped Martha Bones on July 2. She was then beaten and kicked with steel-toed boots before she was strangled with a belt, prosecutors said.The defendents include Jeremy Wayne Hoffman, 21; Carlton James, 24; Alvin Wayne Johnson, 22; and Gallson Cheney, 24; all of Whiteriver. The fifth is Blanca Gonzales, 28.

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