Nooksack tribal disenrollment delayed again

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDAugust 27, 2013 

The Nooksack Tribal Court of Appeals has intervened again to halt a move to strip hundreds of people of their membership in the 2,000-strong tribe.

In a ruling issued Thursday, Aug. 27, the panel of appeals judges agreed to re-impose a stay that suspends the disenrollment process for 275 of the 306 Nooksacks whose tribal ancestry is being challenged by Chairman Bob Kelly and his supporters on the tribal council.

The appeals court first halted those procedures for all 306 affected people on Aug. 14. But on Aug. 21, the court reconsidered after hearing legal arguments from tribal attorneys, and said disenrollment could proceed on all but the six people who were named as plaintiffs in a suit against Kelly and other council members.

But Gabriel Galanda, a Seattle attorney representing the challenged Nooksacks, went back into court submitting evidence that he represented 275 of the 306 facing disenrollment. He also argued that attorneys for the tribe had previously agreed not to move ahead with the disenrollment process until legal issues had been settled.

The appeals court accepted that argument and ordered a temporary halt to any moves to strip the 275 of tribal membership. But the judges had some tart words for both Galanda and tribal attorneys.

"The pleadings filed by counsel for both parties have obfuscated rather than shed light on the issues before us," the judges said in a footnote to their latest ruling. "Although it should be unnecessary, given the pleadings filed to date we are compelled to remind counsel the outcome of this litigation is of the utmost importance to the parties and they deserve that their legal representatives conduct this litigation with professionalism."

Reach John Stark at 360-715-2274 or john.stark@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Politics Blog at bellinghamherald.com/politics-blog or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldpolitics.

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