Last Real Indians



CONTACT: Michelle Roberts


Tribal Children in Head Start, K-8 and High School Denied School Supplies & Clothing Assistance Again; Grassroots Fundraising Campaign Started

Deming, WA – Last month, the Nooksack Tribal Council Faction lead by Bob Kelly again voted to deny $250 back-to-school stipends to 70 Nooksack children who are proposed for disenrollment. Those children—who are part of the three families known as the Nooksack 306—range from three year olds attending Head Start, to teenagers in high school.

On August 15, 2015, Councilwoman Carmen Tangeant, who voted against the maneuver along with Councilpersons Nadene Rapada and David Williams, issued an open letter, which states: “There are 70 school aged children ages 4-18 being left behind for a 2nd year in a row due to pending Nooksack Tribal disenrollment since February 2013. . . . These children are caught in the fight of the largest federally recognized tribal disenrollment in Washington history.”

Also last month, the Kelly Faction excluded four graduating Nooksack 306 high school and college students from a traditional Pendleton blanket honoring ceremony, citing their proposed disenrollment. Renowned Nooksack artist Louie Gong, who produces his own Native blankets, has pledged to honor those young Nooksack adults instead of the Tribe.

“It is beyond shameful for Bob Kelly to make our children, students and graduates pawns in his disenrollment game,” said Nooksack 306 spokesperson Michelle Roberts. “But we are teaching them to be stronger and more resilient individuals because of it all.”

As for current Nooksack 306 Head Start, K-8 and High School students, Councilwoman Tangeant has started a grassroots campaign to raise $17,500 so that each of the youth can be gifted $250 for school supplies and clothing. She and other Nooksack 306 supporters have raised nearly $1,300, and even though school has now started for the children, donations are still being accepted at

The Nooksack 306 youth were also denied the monies last year, and their families were denied $250 Christmas support payments last December as well.

Last summer, Tribal member Giovanni Coleman wrote the Nooksack Tribal Council: “I am 8 years old and I am sad because I have no supplies for my 1st day of school. I want you to know that it was wrong to do that to all of us kids.”

Miana Rabang, a Nooksack teenager, also wrote to the Tribal Council: “I don’t understand why we couldn’t get school supplies for school because we are all still enrolled. About this whole disenrollment I feel so rejected.”

The Kelly Faction never responded to the children’s written concerns, and has not held a public meeting of the Nooksack Tribe to face such criticisms, in nearly two years.

Nooksack’s back-to-school and Christmas support monies are funded through Class II and III gaming revenues generated at the Tribe’s two casinos. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act requires that the Tribe pass, and the U.S. Department of the Interior approve, a revenue allocation plan for the per capita and non-discriminatory distribution of Nooksack gaming monies. The Nooksack Tribe has never passed a revenue allocation plan.

The National Indian Gaming Commission is actively investigating the Kelly Faction’s prior illegal disseminations of gaming revenues and denials of those funds to Nooksack 306 family members and youth.

Meanwhile, the Nooksack 306 disenrollment, which began in December of 2012, remains halted by the Nooksack courts. That is because the Kelly Faction has also failed to secure Interior’s approval of disenrollment procedures designed to expedite the termination of the Nooksack 306. Those “1-800 Disenrollment Hotline”-procedures have been widely condemned.

“There isn’t a law, protocol, moral or ethic that Bob Kelly and his followers will honor,” said Roberts. “Thankfully the world sees right through them.”