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Letter to the Editor: Vizenor targets dissent
Monday, May 04 2015
 
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 well.

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.

Raymond Bellcourt

White Earth, Minn.


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