On Saturday members of the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe voted to reinstate all nine tribal members banished after an election dispute. The nine fought the banishment in federal court, where a judge earlier this year partially overturned the banishment, stating the tribe had not followed due process. The membership was tasked with reconsidering the banishment Saturday.
The tribe re-gained federal recognition only in 1999, has about 650 members, and opened a new casino just last fall near Seattle. According to reports, the Snoqualmie rolled the dice on a mountain of debt — $375 million — for a chance at prosperity.
At the meeting on Saturday the tribe also discussed what to do about a leadership split on its tribal council that led to a breakdown of the function of tribal government. It was reported that the council was so badly split, in part over another disputed election last year, that council members refused to regularly meet with each other. Late last year elders dissolved the feuding council and took control of the tribe until a new election could be held, but did so without constitutional authority.
According to reports the tribal administrator resorted to locking tribal offices, and the federal government froze some of the tribe's funding. After mediation suggested by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs this month, tribal offices were reopened, and grant money unfrozen. An interim council — the one in place before the disputed May election — was put in place until a new election is held. The membership Saturday agreed to schedule a new election, perhaps as soon as in three weeks.