The Ketchikan Indian Community Tribal Council has deemed a recall campaign against most of the Tribal Council members invalid. In an announcement Tuesday, the council president rejected the move.
The petition rejection was announced in an official statement from the office of the tribal administrator.
In the statement, Council President Irene Dundas says “regularly scheduled elections are the place for tribal citizens to exercise their power to vote for candidates of their choice. While our Tribe’s governing laws allow for the recall of elected council members, there was confusion about which law this recall was filed under.”
The memo lays out a number of technicalities that led to the petition’s rejection. First, it says, the petitioners did not gather the required number of signatures necessary for a recall election under KIC law; current rules require 5 percent of KIC members to sign a recall petition. The petition filed only included 243 signatures, which fell under the required 287 needed, according to the statement.
The statement also reveals that the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs has ruled that a January vote to alter the KIC Constitution was invalid. In an earlier interview with KRBD, Dundas said that the BIA was reviewing potential irregularities regarding that vote. She said voters were not given enough information before and during the election to make an informed decision on the issue.
Those constitutional amendments are at the center of the recall controversy. At a May 31st KIC Tribal Council meeting, Dundas was appointed as acting tribal administrator. She then, in that role, dismissed KIC Human Resources Director Carleen Howard. The recall targets those members of the council – that is, seven out of eight – who voted to appoint Dundas as administrator.
Members of the recall committee charge that under the new Constitution, the council president is not allowed to serve as administrator at the same time. But, now that the Bureau of Indian Affairs has decided the new constitution is invalid, the recall campaign has lost its signature rallying cry.
Richard Jackson, who is leading the recall campaign, could not be reached for comment on this story. But he told KRBD earlier this month that if the council decided not to take up the recall petition, he would seek to call a special meeting of the council. He also said there might be other legal avenues.