Tribal Government & News

Tribal Council amends Enrollment Ordinance

07.15.2014 Ron Karten Tribal Council, Enrollment

Tribal Council voted to amend the Enrollment Ordinance to give the Enrollment Committee authority to make final decisions on involuntary loss of Tribal membership cases and to remove Tribal Council from that enrollment process during a special meeting held Wednesday, July 2.

Since the amendments to the Enrollment Ordinance were adopted on an emergency basis, they became effective immediately. Tribal Council will follow regular procedures for final adoption of the amendments, including seeking Tribal member comments.

Those facing involuntary loss of membership - disenrollment - retain the ability to appeal the Enrollment Committee's final decision to Tribal Court and the Court of Appeals under the new rules.

Tribal Council Vice Chair Jack Giffen Jr., Secretary Toby McClary and members Ed Pearsall and June Sherer supported the amendments while Denise Harvey, Cheryle A. Kennedy and Kathleen Tom opposed them. Tribal Council member Jon A. George abstained.

Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno said that the amendments were proposed as an emergency because current cases involving Tribal members facing disenrollment had become too politicized. By adopting the new rules immediately, he said, the current lineal descent disenrollment cases and those in the future will be handled under the same guidelines.

"Over the last year, Tribal Council meetings have become increasingly contentious and non-productive largely due to the ongoing disagreements over loss of membership issues," Leno said about the emergency amendment during the July 2 meeting. "The Tribal Council is therefore proposing amendments to the Enrollment Ordinance that would remove the Tribal Council from the process for involuntary loss of membership.

"Specifically, the amendments would give the Enrollment Committee the authority to issue decisions regarding involuntary loss of membership. The council believes removing such decisions from the influence of political process and leaving it in the hands of respected members of the Enrollment Committee is a more appropriate way of addressing these sensitive and difficult matters.

"The council wishes to adopt these amendments under the emergency temporary enactment provisions of the Government Organization and Procedures Ordinance. This will ensure that the same process is applied to all involuntary loss of membership matters regardless of whether they are currently pending before the Tribal Council or the Enrollment Committee."

Tribal Council heard input from more than 20 Tribal members during the 2.5-hour meeting.

The new process means that Tribal members facing a disenrollment recommendation from Enrollment staff will have their cases heard before the Enrollment Committee, which will make the final decision on involuntary loss of membership.

If the Enrollment Committee decision is to disenroll, the committee's decision can be appealed directly to Tribal Court, which can either affirm the decision, remand it back to the Enrollment Committee or reverse the decision.

Tribal members also can appeal a Tribal Court ruling not in their favor to the Court of Appeals.

If a Tribal member does not appeal an Enrollment Committee decision, then 31 days after the decision the Tribal member will no longer be considered a member of the Tribe.

The amended ordinance also institutes timelines on the Enrollment Committee, the Tribal member appeal process and Tribal Court.

If the Enrollment Committee votes for disenrollment, then the member will be designated as "provisionally disenrolled." During the appeal process, Tribal members will continue to receive health care and certain housing benefits. All other rights and benefits, such as per capita and voting, will be suspended until the appeal process is completed.

Suspended monetary benefits will be separately accounted for and held by the Tribe through the appeal process.

If Tribal Court upholds the Enrollment Committee's ruling, the suspended monetary benefits will be returned to the Tribe and the Tribal member will be considered disenrolled as of the date of the committee's decision.

If Tribal Court reverses the Enrollment Committee's ruling, the suspended monetary benefits will be paid to the Tribal member and other rights and benefits will be restored.

The new process will apply to 86 current cases of Tribal members facing involuntary loss of membership over lineal descent issues, as well as any future cases.

The July 2 meeting can be viewed on the Tribal website,, under the Video tab.