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Ottawa Coalition for Tribal Responsibility - Petition for Constitutional Preservation

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We, the General Council of the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma, after reviewing the proposed changes to the Constitution, have determined many deficiencies and deletions that create a tremendous concern regarding the adverse impact these changes would place on how our Tribe is governed and the motive behind those interested in passing such changes. Several Tribal members have conducted a side-by-side analysis of the 1979 Constitution and the one submitted for approval. Collectively, we have derived a short list of proposed changes that would effectively benefit nobody except those who might benefit from supreme power and diminished transparency and accountability. The Constitution, as proposed by Ethel Cook, would:

  • stifle the will of the General Council by increasing the number of required signatures to a petition from 20 to 100;
  • provide the Chief with too much unchecked power;
  • establish an unnecessary Tribal court that would impose tremendous additional financial liability on the Tribe;
  • further stifle the voice of the people by dismantling the Grievance Committee;
  • eliminate the office of Treasurer, thus granting the Chief unlimited and unchecked spending power.

The revisions proposed have never been presented to or discussed with the General Council. The Tribal officials who are pushing these changes have effectively stripped the Tribal members of our rights to review records in the Tribal office, making it virtually impossible for us to research misuse of funds or other resources. A system having no checks and balances makes it easy to hide fraud.

It is important to note that any Constitutional changes would take effect immediately, leaving nothing to be done without the BIA's involvement. This could take 5 - 10 years in some cases.

It is, therefore, the intent of the General Council to demand all efforts seeking approval of any Constitutional revisions be terminated. If the Business Committee wishes to revise our Constitution to any degree, proposals should be submitted to the General Council when it convenes on 06 May 2017.

This petition is respectfully submitted to the Business Committee of the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma by the Ottawa Coalition for Tribal Responsibility.

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