Foes delay showdown with tribal council
July 20, 2011
By Dan Catchpole
A move by opponents of the sitting Snoqualmie Tribal Council to hold new elections stalled after a key organizer called for the group to stand down.
About 40 tribal members voted June 18 for a resolution to oust the current council, which they say is trying to illegally hold onto power.
The meeting had been called by the tribe’s head chief, Jerry Enick. Before the resolution could be presented to the Tribal Council, Enick delayed the impending showdown in an email sent on his behalf to fellow opposition members. The email said that he wanted broader support before moving on the council.
Enick declined to comment.
Tribal Council members and the tribal administration say that the government is acting legally and that many members of the opposition have been disenrolled or kicked out of the tribe, which has more than 300 adult members.
In response, the council is considering suspending or removing Enick as tribal chief, and has asked him to appear at its July 21 meeting. He was requested to appear at an earlier meeting, which he missed.
Enick called the June 18 meeting after the Tribal Council postponed the Snoqualmies’ annual general membership meeting in May, when new elections are typically held.
The council postponed the elections earlier that month saying that the tribe’s membership must be vetted by Sarah Little, a Seattle-based genealogist. However, opponents of the council say that the audit is politically motivated and that member rolls from 2004 are legitimate.
The tribe expects to have the results soon, according to Tribal Administrator Matt Mattson.
Arguments over who is and who is not a Snoqualmie stalled a general membership meeting called by council members in January in an effort to strip the 77-year-old Enick of his title.
The dispute is the latest episode in an ongoing fight that has gripped the tribe since 2007.
Council members have said the June 18 meeting was illegal.
For the time being, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs has declined to get involved in the current dispute. But it has stepped in during other episodes.
If no general meeting is called for several months, the situation would become a concern, said Stan Speak, the Pacific Northwest regional director of the bureau.