FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2013
CONTACT: Moreno Peralta, Nooksack Tribal Member
PHONE: (206) 619-7056
NOOKSACK TRIBAL CHAIRMAN BOB KELLY AND TRIBAL COUNCIL FACTION SEEK TO ILLEGALLY TERMINATE 306 NOOKSACK TRIBAL MEMBERS
LEAD BY KELLY, AN ADOPTED NOOKSACK INDIAN, A 6-PERSON MAJORITY SEEKS TO DISENROLL THREE LARGE FAMILIES FROM THE TRIBE DUE TO THEIR FILIPINO BLOODLINES (AND NOT GAMING PER CAPITA)
Deming, WA – On Friday, a group of enrolled Nooksack Tribal Members filed suit in Nooksack Tribal Court against a group of Tribal Councilpersons and enrollment department officials led by Tribal Chairman Bob Kelly, to prevent them from taking further illegal action to disenroll 306 Nooksack Tribal Members from the Tribe. Those 306 enrolled Nooksack members descend from the Rapada, Rabang and Narte-Gladstone Families.
“This is purely and simply a matter of tribal family politics and vengeance. But it is of the grossest kind. That is because Bob Kelly and his faction are attempting to eliminate us from the Tribe because we are part Filipino,” said the Families’ spokesperson, Moreno Peralta. “It is racism and cultural genocide that we are facing.”
Tribal Elder Sonia Lomeli, a 74-year-old diabetic who needs kidney dialysis, is now at risk of losing her health care along with her membership. She fears dying. Tribal Elder Norma Aldredge fears losing her home, in her retirement. She has already been treated for physical and emotional reactions to her proposed disenrollment, having broken out in a full-body rash. Terry St. Germain, who has never had a career other than in Treaty fishing, worries about how he will feed his eight children.
Peralta has six children, five of who are Nooksack; two biological and three adopted. He and his two biological children are being threatened with disenrollment. “This situation has made for some difficult discussion around our dinner table,” Peralta said. “Two of my kids are afraid of being made into non-Indians. My three other Nooksack children can’t really comprehend that happening to their siblings.”
The 306 enrolled Nooksack members descend from the Rapada, Rabang and Narte-Gladstone Families, and originally from a full-blooded Nooksack Ancestor named Annie George. Before the Nooksack Tribe was re-recognized as a tribal government by the United States in 1973, George’s children married Filipinos and integrated into migrant worker communities to survive; they worked in fields and canneries throughout the Pacific Northwest, including Eastern Washington, British Columbia and Alaska.
The Nooksack Tribe possesses aboriginal ties to lands throughout Northwestern Washington State (including Whatcom County) and Southern British Columbia. The Tribe was a signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliott of 1855. Since 1973, the Tribe has since governed itself under various iterations of a Nooksack Constitution and Bylaws, which define Tribal enrollment criteria and set forth various Tribal governance processes and protocols. (See Nooksack Indian Tribe, About Us.)
Article II, Section 1(h) of the Constitution provides that members include those “persons who possess at least one-fourth (1/4) degree Indian blood and who can prove Nooksack ancestry in any degree.” It is not disputed that each of the 306 possess more than 1/4 Indian blood and have Nooksack ancestry.
Still, since early 2013, the Kelly-lead Nooksack Tribal Council faction has violated the Nooksack Constitution and Tribal Law in an attempt to terminate the Rapada, Rabang and Narte-Gladstone families, by:
1. Refusing to call a regular public meeting of the Tribal Council on each first Tuesday of the month, for fear of recrimination by the Nooksack Membership at large.
2. Commencing the disenrollment process against the descendants of Annie George through enrollment staff who serve at the pleasure of the Council, rather than through the Nooksack Membership as is required by the Constitution.
3. Amending the Tribal Elections Ordinance to disallow the 306 proposed disenrollees those voting rights with which to prevent against their disenrollment.
4. Amending the Tribal Judicial Code to assert sovereign immunity against any action against the Tribal Council in order to also prevent the 306 proposed disenrollees from suing to prevent their disenrollment.
5. Passing a Resolution to request a Department of the Interior Secretary convene a Tribal election to amend the Tribal Constitution to delete Article II, Section 1(h) of the Constitution.
6. Adopting a nepotism policy for the first time in the Tribe’s history in attempt to disqualify Tribal Council Secretary Rudy St. Germain and Councilperson Michele Roberts, who are each proposed for disenrollment and of the Rapada/Rabang/Narte-Gladstone families.
“It seems that Bob Kelly and his faction will stop at nothing to destroy us. And they will most certainly not be stopped by the Nooksack Constitution or Tribal Code,” continued Peralta. “Bob Kelly is a bigot. It kills me that he doesn’t have even one drop of Nooksack blood.”
For additional information, see:
Complaint (with a list of the 306 proposed disenrollees)
Declaration of Nooksack Elder Sonia Lomeli (with Exhibits)
Declaration of Noosack Elder Norma Aldredge (with Exhibits)
Declaration of Tribal Council Secretary Rudy St. Germain (with Exhibits)
Declaration of Tribal Fisherman Terry St. Germain (with Exhibits)
Declaration of Gabriel S. Galanda (with Exhibits)