Tribal members are being asked whether or not they should allow the amending of the Article VIII Amendment.
According to tribal officials, Article VIII defines the requirements for amending the tribe’s constitution. The proposed Article VIII Amendment would remove the federal government’s process to amend the tribe’s constitution, and replace it with a 100 percent tribal process.
According to documents circulated by the tribe discussing the vote, the new amendment process will grant greater protections to the tribal members, ensuring that they are involved in every future amendment to the constitution.
The tribe’s constitution is one of many tribal constitutions that were written during the Indian Reorganization Act era, when the federal government used the same template for many tribes’ constitutions.
All of these constitutions included federal oversight with the amendment process.
There had been talk for many years among Lac du Flambeau tribal members about making the proposed change in the constitution. Eventually a constitution committee, comprised of Gilbert Chapman, Phillup (Bub) Chapman, Betty Jack, Richard Jack (Chair), John LaBarge, Flo Ninham and William (Billy) Schuman, developed the proposed amendment over the course of a year.
Part of the drafting process included six community meetings, where tribal members provided valuable input. Many of the ideas shared at the meetings were used to refine the amendment and to add increased protections for the members of the tribe.
Tribal officials say the change will not give the tribal council more power over tribal members.
In fact they say the amended Article VIII will actually grant more protections to tribal members.
These protections include:
• Allowing the People to petition for constitutional amendments;
• Requiring a public mailing be sent to all eligible voters;
• Requiring at least three community meetings before an election; and
• Requiring more tribal members (51 percent) to participate in the amendment election.
According to tribal officials, Article VIII does not address exclusion or banishment. Article VIII only pertains to constitutional amendments by defining the amendment process.
If the proposed amendment passes all future amendments will use the new procedures found within the proposed language, including a 100 percent tribal process and increased protections for tribal members.
If the amendment passes, the tribe’s election code will be revised to include the 100 percent tribal process. The current process used to elect tribal officials will largely remain the same.
However, there are plans to amend the tribal election code to more fully define the roles and responsibilities of the election board, allow for off-reservation absentee voting, allow for judicial review of election board decisions, a right of action in tribal court to dispute elections, and to restrict further amendments to the election code by requiring a referendum vote of the tribal members.
If the proposal does not pass, all future amendments will use the same process that currently exists, including requiring final approval by the federal government.
Voting will be held Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the William Wildcat Sr. Community Center.
Tribal members may obtain more information and have questions answered by calling Richard Jack – at the William Wildcat Sr. Community Center at 715-588-3303, or on his cell phone at 715-892-8728.
Joe VanDeLaarschot may be reached at email@example.com.