Letters: Council has 'stranglehold' on White Earth Reservation
I'm writing this letter to make some points that didn't get in the article I wrote in the April 25th paper. I stated in that article that the Reservation Business Committee (RBC) now requires the people to put in a request a week ahead of time to be heard at the next RBC meeting. This gives her (Erma) time to hand pick who will be allowed to speak and what questions they can ask. After all that, if you're chosen you get three minutes. Just don't ask a question that calls for accountability, because you will be out of order. Actions like that sure put a damper on the people's ability to ask for accountability. Like I said before, it's not just our right but an obligation to question any elected person, especially if wrong doing is suspected. This is why we are asking the Secretary of the Interior to do his job and review all resolutions and ordinances passed since Erma's taking office, and some before her time.
The petition asking for the chairwoman's removal was presented on 10-22-10. Harvey Bonga was asked to present the petition. At that time the chairwoman should have left the meeting. She refused, became very disrespectful to Mr. Bonga. The people were all saying they wanted to hear what he had to say. She made one more power grab before finally leaving. She kept yelling at Mr. Bonga, saying he was out of order, then she motioned for the police (who the people call her goon squad) and the police couldn't wait to please her and they moved in on Harvey to stop him from presenting the petition. That's another violation of our constitution.
The people all stood behind Harvey and the police were told to stop by the chief of police. You can view this for yourself on Youtube. I remember when Chip Wadena ran his own removal hearing. Erma was up in arms calling Chip a dictator, crook and many other things, then she turns around and does the same thing. Erma was also the one yelling the loudest when Chip used reservation money to pay for his legal fees but when asked where the money came from to pay a law firm out of the Twin Cities to review the petition against her, she replied the General Fund. Erma also knows it's wrong to write bad checks, yet she bounced $7,500 worth of checks at the Shooting Star Casino. That's a felony and she still hasn't been charged. Why isn't the secretary-treasurer of the band on top of this situation? What we were told is the previous manager of the casino was marched out the door and Eugene McArthur was brought in, the previous manager would not clear up the bad checks for her. We don't know the status of the checks at this point. I do know that the Indian Gaming Act forbids credit establishment. Once the checks go into collection, a person should be charged. I believe we need a forensic audit of casino funds to clear up any questions.
In the chairwoman's article she stated that the majority of the membership was satisfied with her actions and the 1,000 people that showed up for her band address says it all. What she failed to say is all of the tribal employees were given the day off with pay if they attended the meeting. There's nothing like speaking to a captive audience. That really does say it all. I wonder what all that support cost the White Earth people?
The RBC made the choice not to act on the petition, so now it goes to the Secretary of the Interior and if a new petition is needed, then we should include the other four members of the RBC as well. Allowing her to continue makes them as guilty as she is.
We absolutely need to get a handle on the absentee voting or things will never change. If people really care about the reservation then they need to realize that. They need to come home to vote. Maybe the election should be held during the Annual Pow Wow, when many members come home. The politicians will fight this tooth and nail, but it needs to be done. All you need to do is look back at all the crooked elections held here and you can see why. In the last election over 900 ballots were thrown out because the head of the election board said the handwriting didn't match. I don't believe any one of them are handwriting experts. This means Erma didn't get 66 percent of the vote and either Boone Wadena or myself would have run against her.
I wish for once anyone with information, employees too, would come forward. That's the only way to break the stranglehold they have on your family, job, home or whatever. Megwitch. -- Ray Bellcourt, White Earth