BIA planning Constitution vote by April 11

Warm Springs Agency BIA Superintendent John Halliday received a letter from the agency regional office approving a membership secretarial election on proposed changes to the tribal Constitution.

The election will be held sometime before April 11, Mr. Halliday said. Members over the age of 18, who wish to participate in the election, will have to register to vote with the BIA.

The agency is planning to send out the registration forms as soon as possible, said Superintendent Halliday.

There are 3,550 members who will be eligible to participate.

Meanwhile, a three-person election panel is being formed. The BIA representative on the panel is Denys White Schjoll. The petitioners have chose former tribal chief judge Walter ‘Spud’ Langnese as their panel member. The third position will be filled by Tribal Council.

There are several proposed changes to the tribal Constitution, as presented in the petition. Some of the questions can be answered on the same ballot, while questions that are not correlated to other proposals will be on separate ballots. This is being done in accordance with the BIA legal counsel, Mr. Halliday said.

If one or more of the proposed changes passes, this would be the first time the tribal Constitution is amended as a result of a BIA petition election. Proposed changes to the constitution include:

Reduction of the Tribal Council from 11 members to 9, with no member serving for life. Terms would be for three years (except for the initial Council, some members of which would serve longer terms, until the annual rotation is in place.)

Another proposed change: Three new Council members would be elected each year. And elections would be secretarial, conducted by the BIA.

Current Council elections are tribal elections. How the Tribal Council elections are conducted—by the Confederated Tribes, or by the BIA—seems to be an example of a proposed change that could be subject to a separate ballot from other proposed changes.

Under the proposed amendments, the Council members would be elected by the membership at large, rather than by district.
Under the existing tribal Constitution, three Council members are elected from the Simnasho and Agency districts, and two from the Seekseequa District.

Another proposed amendment: “The Tribal Council members shall receive as compensation for their services as follows: Chairperson $80,000; Vice-Chairperson $70,000; all other members $60,000, and mileage from home to place of meeting and return at a rate used by the federal government…” Also:

Expenses shall be paid from available tribal budgeted funds. Benefit programs and reimbursement expenses will follow tribal organization polices as budgeted. Tribal Council members will be available to the membership, committees and necessary business on behalf of the tribe beyond the monthly Tribal Council agenda from their office.”

There are other proposed, such as: A Council member may be removed by for cause by a 2/3 vote of the Council, after notice of charges and allowing that member an opportunity to be heard.