LAME DEER, Mont. — A Montana Indian tribe has voted to oust its president for reportedly neglecting his duties and violating tribal bylaws. But President Jace Killsback said he plans to stay in office after a tribal court ruled last week that the complaint against him was not sworn under oath and not specific enough.
Robert McLean, an attorney for Northern Cheyenne Tribal Councilman Dana Eaglefeathers, told The Billings Gazette that he filed an amended complaint Thursday with a sworn statement and a list of allegations against Killsback.
Killsback said he did not have enough time to respond to the amended complaint before the 9-1 vote to oust him on Friday morning.
Killsback denied the allegations against him. He said they were the result of a small group of dissidents and that he intends to remain in office.
“Right now, (the court) has decided, as the law of the land, that the complaint is defective,” Killsback said Friday. “Essentially, what the council did was violate the constitution.”
The court found the initial complaint against Killsback, which said he lacked the qualifications to be president, was not sworn under oath and did not include enough detail to give him adequate notice of the allegations against him. The court also denied Killsback’s request for a temporary restraining order, saying his filing did not include a sworn affidavit.
Hearing officer Ronald Bigback Sr., who recommended the council oust Killsback, said he believed Killsback had enough time to prepare for Friday’s hearing after the amended complaint was filed.
“This is an important meeting. He should be here in person,” Bigback said. “That, to me, is just not caring. It is just negligent.”
It was not clear Friday if the Bureau of Indian Affairs would recognize the council’s vote. Spokeswoman Nedra Darling did not return phone calls seeking comment. The BIA office was closed for a federal holiday on Monday.
Tribal councilman Benji Headswift said he believed the removal was effective on Friday.
Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com