Nooksack Indian Tribe members threatened with expulsion from the tribe have scheduled a protest march and rally in Seattle Friday, Sept. 20.
Those who support tribal Chairman Bob Kelly and the expulsion process had planned their own rally near the tribe's Deming headquarters about the same time. But an event organizer tells me they have decided to cancel it and focus on the Nooksack Days cultural events that also get under way on Friday.
Those facing expulsion say they will rally with their supporters in Occidental Park, South Main Street and Occidental Avenue S. at 11 a.m. At 11:45, they plan to march to the Norton Building, 801 Second Ave., for a noon rally there.
A law firm that is defending the expulsion process on behalf of Kelly and his tribal council backers has its office in the Norton Building.
A total of 306 members of the 2,000-member Whatcom County-based tribe are facing loss of tribal membership and the housing and medical benefits and fishing rights that go with it. Kelly and his supporters argue that the 306 were mistakenly granted tribal membership in the 1980s, and their removal would correct that mistake.
The 306 are descended from the late Annie George. Kelly and his backers say George's name does not appear on a key tribal census, or on a list of those who got tribal land allotments. But spokesmen and attorneys for the 306 have submitted probate records and anthropologists' opinions arguing that she was Nooksack, and they contend her name must have been left off the records by mistake.
A majority of the tribal council voted in favor of the expulsion move in February, 2013. The dispute became public in March, 2013 , when the 306 facing expulsion began issuing press releases and fighting for their status in tribal court.
On August 29, 2013, some of the 306 staged a protest rally outside Kelly's home on 21st Street in Bellingham.
Seattle Attorney Gabriel Galanda has been busy trying to get tribal or federal courts to call a halt to the tribal disenrollment process. He has succeeded in getting a stay from a tribal appeals court, but the tribal council has been doing its own legal maneuvering to get around that stay.