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Published July 17, 2013, 08:56 AM

Yankton back in as Spirit Lake Nation chairman

FORT TOTTEN, N.D. (AP) — Roger Yankton Sr. is back as the Spirit Lake Nation chairman after winning an appeal at tribal court, Tribal Secretary Nancy Green said.

FORT TOTTEN, N.D. (AP) — Roger Yankton Sr. is back as the Spirit Lake Nation chairman after winning an appeal at tribal court, Tribal Secretary Nancy Green said.

Yankton is expected to be sworn in Wednesday in Fort Totten. Leander "Russ" McDonald, the man tribal members picked to replace Yankton, will be sworn in as a member of the tribal council representing the Fort Totten District, Green told the Grand Forks Herald.

Earlier this month, tribal members voted 284-145 to recall Yankton in a vote prompted by petitions accusing him of corruption, intimidation and ineffective leadership. McDonald, vice president for academic affairs at Candeska Cikana Community College in Fort Totten, was sworn in as chairman.

Tension between Yankton's supporters and opponents were strong enough then that the Bureau of Indian Affairs posted 15 police officers at the meeting place, the Four Winds School, to keep the peace. Officers from other BIA jurisdictions were brought in.

The tribe has gone through years of upheaval, particularly with its child protection system. The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs took over that system last October after heavy criticism that it was failing to protect vulnerable children on the reservation. The criticism began to mount after the May 2011 slaying of a 6-year-old boy and his 9-year-old sister, who authorities said had been sexually assaulted.

In the most recent incident, a St. Michael woman pleaded guilty to felony child abuse and witness tampering in the death of her 2-year-old granddaughter, who authorities say died of a head injury after being pushed down a hill.

McDonald, who lost to Yankton in the 2011 election for chairman, was briefly installed as chairman earlier this year by tribal elders. He later agreed with Yankton, however, that tribal law required a petition and a recall assembly.

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