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Petition would halt removal of Shoshone councilmen

Apr 22, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Eastern Shoshone tribal members showed support in a petition that circulated last week asking the Eastern Shoshone Business Council to place a stay on actions taken at the general council meeting April 5 that ousted longtime leaders Ivan Posey and Wes Martel and tribal attorney Kimberly Varilek.

The discussion to remove the individuals began when an agenda item was presented by tribal member Wade LeBeau.

To remove Martel and Posey, the Shoshone General Council decided to suspend a section of the election code that governs removal of elected tribal officials. Posey said he left the meeting and when he returned there was a vote on the floor to remove him and he was given no explanation or an opportunity to speak. The motion passed on a 34-26 vote, Posey said.

The petition Posey presented April 10 included roughly 471 signatures. The document also requests that the ESBC call for a special general council meeting to go over the actions taken.

"I totally understand the situation this leaves our remaining council in," Posey said. "This is an attempt to calm the situation and address the actions that (were) taken."

ESBC chairman Darwin St. Clair Jr. said in a letter that he didn't agree with the process taken at the meeting but acknowledged the authority and actions of the SGC. He explained that it would be fair if tribal members followed the regular removal process instead of suspending the election code.

"If our process had been followed, we may have ended up with the same result; however, there may have been less dissension and animosity towards one another," St. Clair said. "However, the SGC is the supreme governing body of our Tribe and in that capacity and under the advice of legal counsel (of) the AG, suspended the Election Code and moved forward with the removal."

Because the ESBC was left with a quorum of only three

councilmen -- St. Clair, Mike Lajuenesse and Robert "Herf" Hereford -- they could not conduct official business and could be sanctioned or fined if they did.

St. Clair said animosity against tribal members divided families and encouraged better behavior in order to be good role models for children.

"When we think of our future, is this how we want our future to act towards each other or other people that are different than them?" St. Clair asked tribal members in a letter. "Because we disagree does not mean we have to hate or fight each other, but that a need to find common ground to advance and empower all our people."

Posey expressed similar hopes to settle the issues and tension.

"I'm optimistic through prayer and tribal member involvement this will be resolved." Posey said.

The new business council member, Clinton D. Wagon, was sworn in Wednesday and now can consider the petition.

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Eastern Shoshone