FORT YATES, N.D. (AP) – A tribal court injunction will prevent members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe from voting on seven proposed constitutional amendments in an upcoming council election.
Tribe members will go to the polls Wednesday to weigh in on tribal council positions. But a series of proposed revisions to the constitution won’t be included on a newly printed ballot, the Bismarck Tribune reported .
Judge Michael Swallow found Friday that the tribal council failed to follow a preamble to the constitution, which says the council must “recognize the traditional laws and customs of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.” Swallow said the council didn’t follow the tribal custom of using “eyapahas,” who would go through villages and spread important news.
He said elders in the courtrooms agreed that it is customary and traditional for people to be informed and consulted on matters of concern.
“Failure to follow customs and traditions destroys who we are as a people. ... (It) causes irreparable harm and destroys who we are,” Swallow wrote.
Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said he thought the revisions the council created had merit and were the result of a lot of work. He said the council won’t appeal the injunction because the timing is too close to the election.
“It will be up to the upcoming council whether to bring it back around and work on it, or continue to accept the judge’s ruling,” Archambault said.
A Constitution Reform Committee recommended the proposed amendments. Among the revisions removed was one to make the constitution gender neutral and another to refer to individuals as tribal citizens rather than tribal members. Other amendments would have increased maximum court penalties from one to three years’ imprisonment and fines from $5,000 to up to $15,000.
The request for an injunction was filed by former Congressional candidate Chase Iron Eyes.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com