Snoqualmie Members Overturn Banishment In Federal Court

In a legal first, Tribal members have been victorious in Federal court challenging a Tribal banishment action.  

On April 30, 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington granted the Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by nine Snoqualmie Tribe members challenging a banishment imposed by the government of the Snoqualmie Tribe in May last year. A copy of the Findings and Conclusions may be read here.  The Court held that the Tribe's government violated the Petitioners' due process rights under the Indian Civil Rights Act and vacated the full banishment.  As a result, the Petitioners' membership in the Tribe, as well as their benefits, are restored.  The Court also imposed a time restriction on a pre-existing social banishment that prevented the Petitioners from coming onto Tribal land and attending Tribal events. The Court also reduced the open-ended social banishment to 90 days. 

The decision comes after the first trial held in Federal court under the 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act seeking relief from a tribal banishment action. This is the first Federal court decision to overturn a banishment after trial upon a finding of a denial of due process. As previously discussed on this site, banishment is increasingly being employed by various Tribes to deal with disciplinary and other control issues.  The Snoqualmie decision could have profound effects on the way Tribal governments deal with political and criminal issues involving their members, with banishment decisions now being scrutinized in federal courts.

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Comments (2) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Susan Owen - June 22, 2009 12:24 PM

I am hoping you can help me. I am a non-Indian married to a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokees in NC for almost 20 years. We have 3 minor children and we lived on the reservation until I was banished 2 years ago. I was accused of drug possession, but I had a prescription and even took the pharmacist to the council meeting with me but the tribal council would not let her speak. Now my husban and I are forced to live separately, dividing our kids' time between us while I am paying rent for a house just 5 miles off the reservation. The drug case was thrown out of nearby Jackson County court and I have never been convicted of a crime in my life. I do not know where to turn for help and our lives are being ruined by this. My husband will not sell our home on the reservation and move because his mother's grave is located there on his property. Please help or tell me who to contact. I am at the end of my rope and I cannot afford another lawyer at this point. You may reach me by e-mail or at:

Susan Owen
P.O. Box 755
Whittier, NC 28789

(828) 300-0464

whitebuffalo - October 13, 2009 10:25 AM

Hasn't this drug war been a farce, after 40 years of systemic drug poisoning, our protecters lock up all of the victims they created in 4 decades, yet they make no moves to stop the true perpetrators. Those perpetrators stood with their mouths shut and backs turned while my neighbors and friends were poisoned by poison profiteers for most of my life, lock them up.

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