Ousted tribal leader in North Dakota sues in federal courtGRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Ousted Spirit Lake Chairman Roger Yankton has filed a lawsuit in federal court, seeking relief from restraining orders that he says violate his rights.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Ousted Spirit Lake Chairman Roger Yankton has filed a lawsuit in federal court, seeking relief from restraining orders that he says violate his rights.
Yankton and Leander "Russ" McDonald have been embroiled in a dispute over who is the North Dakota tribe's rightful leader since tribal members in July voted to recall Yankton, whom some accuse of corruption, intimidation and ineffective leadership. McDonald, a vice president at the tribal college, was sworn in as chairman, and a legal battle has ensued.
Restraining orders bar Yankton from the tribal offices, from having contact with the tribal council and from coming within 100 feet of McDonald. Yankton maintains he is the tribe's duly elected chairman and says in his lawsuit that the restraining orders issued without a hearing make him "a virtual prisoner on the reservation."
"Tribal agents must provide due process and cannot violate one's First Amendment right to associate and free speech," Yankton said in the lawsuit.
The tribe has until early September to respond to the lawsuit that was filed in mid-August.
The lengthy and convoluted leadership struggle has complicated the tribe's efforts to restore trust in its child protection system, which came under fire last year with reports of children being abused and killed. The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs stepped in last October to bolster and oversee the child protection system.