Montana News

Mar 29, 2011 11:54 PM by Kay Rossi (KRTV Great Falls)

Chippewa Cree members rally together in frustration

ROCKY BOY'S RESERVATION- Chippewa Cree members who are upset about tribal council dealings on the Rocky Boy's Reservation gathered Tuesday on the reservation to air concerns and find solutions.

One after another tribal members stood up to let out concerns and frustrations with their local tribal government.

"Why do they need to make $125,000 a year? I'll step in and do that job for $40,000," said Theron Oats, a tribal member, speaking about council members' salaries.

One of the frustrations aired was over the Northern Winz Casino between Box Elder and Havre.

Tribal members say it's over a million dollars in debt but still the tribal council continues to invest in it.

Some also talked about a sub-standard education system and inadequate school funding.

Others talked about a poor health care system and increasing crime rates on the reservation.

"We don't provide adequate services for young people in need," said Russell Standing Rock. "I believe all the money, even the department of justice, all the money they've given to our tribal courts for upgrades, it has not been happening."

The group said many jobs on the reservation have gone to outsiders while some tribal members struggle to find work.

Another concern was how federal funds are being used.

Rather than spending thousands on the Northern Winz Casino or on the community's annual Pow Wow event, members want more money to go to crime prevention and education services.

"That money that was there should have gone for the services of our people," said standing Rock, of the federal dollars.

Some were concerned about the amount of money tribal council members and other leaders make compared to the average worker.

Oats recommended starting a petition to pass a measure where members can vote on tribal leadership salaries.

"We're the ones that voted our councilmen in here. Why can't we vote for their salaries?" asked Oats.

Still others are holding out for an April 6 hearing in tribal court over a protest on one council member's right to hold office.

If the court finds in favor of the protestors, a new election could be held.

KRTV, KPAX and KAJ's sister station, was unable to get a response from the Chippewa Cree Tribal Council about the allegations.

The council simply responded "no comment."

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