Letters to the Editor
To the Office of the Reservation Attorneys, through the news media, on behalf of Colville Indians for justice.
In light of precedents set by former Colville Business Council who in the 1950s and 1990s immediately informed tribal members of claims settlements, called general membership meetings, and in the 1990s put the issue to a vote, I and other elders expected this example to be followed by current Colville Business Council regarding the recent (2012) $193 Million claims settlement.
Also, in the light of the above-mentioned decisions by leaders of the governing body of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation we elders had questions of the Business Council as to why we were not given a general membership meeting and why we were told through the news media that we would get only a portion (20 percent) of the money.
Our questions went unanswered and we elders endorsed the petition launched by younger tribal members asking the Business Council to disburse another portion (30 percent) of the funds.
In August 2012, when the majority of votes in the ensuing referendum were for the 30-percent disbursement, we elders were appalled that the Business Council gave tribal programs the authority to withhold money from tribal members responsible for certain debts. Such holds were to be put on their share in the 30 percent disbursement.
These holds placed against the members’ share of the claims settlement were held without fair notice, which brought hardship on elders and other members. They also went against the previous precedents set by tribal government leaders and were not acceptable to us.
Therefore, we not only sanctioned the initiation of another petition, this time for the remaining 50 percent of the claims settlement money totaling 100 percent distribution to the members, but we helped circulate it and present it to the Business Council in two parts on Oct. 13, 2012 and December 10, 2012.
We do not accept another news release (Dec. 10, 2012) issued by the Business Council as a response to our petition, and we reiterate on behalf of all who signed that we want full distribution of the rest of the $193 million claims settlement.
In the spirit of inherent rights as shareholders of the Colville Reservation,
Yvonne L. Swan