May 25, 2012

Amendments proposed

Amendments proposed
Changes would expand tribal business council
By Jerry W. Kram

The members of the Three Affiliated Tribes living on the Fort Berthold Reservation could get a bigger voice if amendments to the tribal constitution now under consideration are adopted, says Titus Hall, director of the constitutional committee.
Hall said the committee was created by Tribal Chairman Tex Hall in 2010 and has representatives from each of the six segments and tribal elders’ organizations. The committee has been holding meetings in the communities across the reservation and have come up with four suggested changes they would like to see adopted this summer. The amendments will have to be approved by the tribal business council and put to a general vote before they go into affect.
The four amendments would set out a process that would allow tribal members to recall the elected members of the tribal business council, hold referendums on ordinances, resolutions and rules passed by the council, require elections to fill vacancies on the council and make representation on the council proportional to segment population.
“The constitution sets out the basic rules of how we are going to govern ourselves,” Hall said.
Hall said the tribal constitution already has a clause allowing members to petition for a referendum. However, the definitions for the number of required signers is vague and allows petitions to be challenged. The new amendment would set the number of required signatures as 30 percent of the number of voters in the last district election in each segment. The vote would be binding on the council if 30 percent of qualified voters participate in the election. Certain provisions, including appointments by the tribal chairman, budget approval, leases and contracts are not subject to referendum.
The second proposal would allow petitions to recall members of the tribal business council. If the council receives a petition to recall a member, it has 15 days to certify the petitions and another 30 days to hold a recall election. The recall vote would be on the question of whether the council member should be removed from the council. If a member is voted off the council, an election would be set to choose a new representative.
“Sometimes you make a mistake and elect the wrong leader,” Hall said. “Sometimes you have change them.”

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