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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Spirit Lake recall meeting of Yankton set

  • A recall meeting to decide whether Spirit Lake Tribal Chairman Roger Yankton should remain in office has been scheduled for Monday at Four Winds School on the reservation, tribal sources said Wednesday.
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  • A recall meeting to decide whether Spirit Lake Tribal Chairman Roger Yankton should remain in office has been scheduled for Monday at Four Winds School on the reservation, tribal sources said Wednesday.
    The 10 a.m. meeting, prompted by the filing of petitions bearing the signatures of about 580 tribe members earlier this week, would be open to all tribe members, sources said.
    The recall meeting was not posted Wednesday on the tribe’s website, which did note that the monthly general assembly had been rescheduled from this past Tuesday to next Tuesday.
    Yankton would be allowed to speak on his own behalf, and those who wish to oust him as chairman also would have a chance to speak before all members present vote by secret ballot.
    If the vote were to go against Yankton, who was elected chairman in 2011, nominations would be taken for a successor and an election would be held. The winner would be sworn in immediately as chairman, according to leaders of the recall effort.
    Erich Longie and other members of the tribe who led the petition drive have alleged that Yankton has failed in day-to-day leadership of the tribe and has used intimidating tactics against critics. Longie said tribal election officials had checked and certified the petition.
    Yankton could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He has declined to respond to several requests for comment over the past several weeks.
    Longie and others have said the recall effort is separate from the ongoing controversy over child abuse on the reservation and the tribe’s response, which has drawn considerable criticism. That issue flared with the announcement June 13 that a Spirit Lake toddler had suffered a “mysterious death.” The child’s stepmother faces an abuse charge in federal court.
    In a written statement issued by Yankton’s office June 20, the Spirit Lake Tribal Council objected that “some are using this tragedy to attack the tribe.” The statement went on to claim the council “has a demonstrated record of its commitment to improving social service programs.”

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