White Earth Tribal Council rejects petition to oust Chairwoman Erma Vizenor
The White Earth Reservation Tribal Council took possession of a petition to remove White Earth Chairwoman Erma J. Vizenor at a special meeting on April 26.
The attached letter dated May 7 was sent to the petitioners and it stated the Council will not act on the petition because it was not supported by a sufficient number of signatures as required by Article X of the Revised Constitution and Bylaws of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe:
"I am writing to inform you that because it was not supported by a sufficient number of signatures, the petition you submitted pursuant to Article X of the Revised Constitution and Bylaws of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Constitution ("MCT Constitution") for the removal of Erma Vizenor will not be acted on by the White Earth Reservation Tribal Council.
"Following submission of your petition, a committee of Tribal members was appointed to verify that the signatures supporting the petition that you presented satisfied the constitutional requirement of 20 percent of the resident eligible voters of the White Earth Reservation. Each of the verification committee members agreed that the following number of names would not be considered for the reasons stated below.
"Of the names supporting the petition that you submitted, 86 were eliminated because the names of the individuals were printed, and no corresponding signatures were present. Based on the attached interpretation of Article X of the MCT Constitution by Mark Anderson, the attorney for the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, the word "signature" means that a person's signature must be present. A printed name does not meet the plain meaning of the word "signature" as required in Article X.
"Another 49 names were eliminated either because the names could not be read, or because there was no individual identifying information such as date of birth, address or enrollment number to distinguish the name from other Tribal members with the same name.
"Finally, five persons signed the petition you submitted twice. Only one signature for each of these five individuals was counted.
"After subtracting the names for the reasons specified above, the number of remaining signatures supporting the petition you submitted totaled 375. According to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Office of Tribal Operations, 542 signatures are necessary to meet the requirement of Article X of 20 percent of the resident eligible voters of the White Earth Reservation. Because the petition you submitted did not meet the threshold number of signatures required to be a valid petition for removal pursuant to Article X of the MCT Constitution, the merits of the petition will not be considered. The petition you submitted is dismissed."
The letter is signed by Secretary-treasurer Franklin B. Heisler.