|Written by Raymond Bellcourt,
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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 thatís 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 donít 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 thatís
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 didnít want you guys to
speak. I asked is Erma running the T.E.C. now, he said no she just
donít want you to speak. If thatís 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. Thatís
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 solicitorís 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 solicitorís 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 Ermaís 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 thatís
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
youíre going to use enticements, everyone should get one.