Letter to the Editor: Vizenor targets dissent


To the editor:

First I would like to thank Tara, Kathy

and Punkie for standing up to a dictator. Chairwoman Vizenor stated

in the paper that the three new RBC members put a gag order on the

tribal newspaper. The truth of the matter is the new members lifted

the gag order that Erma, (Gees) and the previous RBC has on the

paper. Until now, no one could submit an article if in opposition to

her motions. If you did, it was sent to her to scrutinize and decide

if it got printed. If that’s not withholding info from the

membership, what is?

It is my opinion that the so-called

referendum was not constitutionally done. First of all the T.E.C.

would have to call for a Secretarial election and second they would

have to request the Secretary to hold a Secretarial election. That

did not happen. Vizenor keeps saying that the people overwhelmingly

voted for her constitution but the people have no way of knowing who

voted. There was never a voter list posted anywhere. A voter list is

a requirement for this type of election. It is for the membership to

review and to see if the people voting were eligible voters. With no

list we don’t know who voted. We were told by an employee that

there were boxes of ballots sitting around at the RBC office. They

were returned for whatever reason. It was said approximately 1,500

ballots that somehow made it to the election office and were counted.

If true, that brings her members down considerably.

Vizenor also stated that withholding

information from the people is like what North Korea does. If that’s

not the frying pan calling the kettle black! Vizenor has been doing

this for years. Marvin Moneypenny, myself and others have been trying

to address the T.E.C. of our concerns that Vizenor has been violating

the constitution. We were denied. We wrote letters to the Executive

Director of the MCT (Gary Frazer) to get on the agenda to speak our

concerns again we were denied.

When the T.E.C. meeting was held at

White Earth, we asked again to be heard. The meeting was adjourned

when I asked the President of the T.E.C., Norman Deschampes, why he

suddenly closed the meeting. He said Erma didn’t want you guys to

speak. I asked is Erma running the T.E.C. now, he said no she just

don’t want you to speak. If that’s not a dictator, what is it? At

that point not just Erma was violating our Constitutional Article

XIII rights of members but also the T.E.C. was violating them as


The T.E.C. has been up to some

unconstitutional actions. They have been making interpretations to

the constitution that are amendments without going through the

amendment process. If you change the meaning of anything in our

constitution or if you just change one word that is an amendment. The

last two interpretations take the cake. The T.E.C. changed the

meaning of the 2/3 requirement to remove a corrupt RBC member to mean

4/5 or four out of five RBC would have to vote to remove. That is

interpretation 14-11 then in 15-11 they now say the accused cannot

only sit in on their removal but they vote on their removal. That’s

like putting the bank robber on his own jury.

Look at interpretation I-80 which

states only the T.E.C. can interpret the constitution. If you read

the constitution you will find no power and no provisions that says

they can do that. The only powers that the T.E.C. and the RBCs can

have are spelled out in the power clauses of the MCT Constitution.

The Secretary of the Interior is named throughout the constitution

and it is his or her duty with the solicitor to make sure these types

of violations do not happen. In 1994 when the solicitor’s office

purported to give more power to the T.E.C. by giving them deference

to interpret their own constitution that was a constitutional

violation. By the solicitor’s actions, he amended our constitution

and without an amendment. That is a violation of the constitution.

There is no provision in the constitution that allows the solicitor

to do that. Even Congress cannot amend it only the membership of the

entire tribe. What Erma’s constitutional did was double the burden

of the membership. It was 33 1/3 percent to remove a corrupt

individual now that has changed to 66 2/3 percent. The T.E.C. went

along with that with the 4/5 interpretation. It amounts to nothing

less than a power grab. At the State of the Band address, she was

like shocked that so many people came. 80 percent were employees that

had to go if they wanted their pay for the day.

She even paid for a bus load to come

from Minneapolis. The paper said standing room only, well that’s

why. Nothing like a captive audience. Gaming coupons were used to

entice the people to go, but not everyone got one. Only the people

seated at the tables not the members that were not at a table. If

you’re going to use enticements, everyone should get one.

Raymond Bellcourt

White Earth,