Crow vice chairman, vice secretary seek to recall Executive Branch counterparts

Chairman, secretary advised removal petition “is invalid”
Thursday, January 10, 2019

File photo by Andrew Turck

Crow Chairman Alvin “A.J.” Not Afraid speaks to his constituents on Nov. 2 in Crow Agency’s Multipurpose Building. Vice Chairman Carlson “Duke” Goes Ahead and Vice Secretary Shawn Backbone drafted a removal petition on Jan. 3 both for Not Afraid and Secretary Knute Old Crow.

The Crow Tribe’s Executive Branch leadership has been split down the middle following a Thursday, Jan. 3 petition signed by the vice chairman and vice secretary seeking removal of the chairman and secretary.

Vice Chairman Carlson “Duke” Goes Ahead and Vice Secretary Shawn Backbone, the petition states, intend to accomplish their counterparts’ removals via a recall meeting. Said recall, they add, is scheduled at 9 a.m. on Jan. 19 in Crow Agency’s Multipurpose Building – 45 minutes before the scheduled Crow Tribal General Council meeting at the same location. For the uninitiated, the term “general council” refers to all enrolled Crow members.

To support their objective, Goes Ahead and Backbone cite sections of both the Crow Constitution and Crow Law and Order Code dealing with an official’s alleged “abuse of authority” and “misuse of tribal funds.” If a member of the Executive Branch does either of these actions – among others – tribal law includes a process through which he or she may be removed by secret ballot of the general council.

A successful removal petition, the Crow Constitution states, must pass by a two-thirds majority vote and include no fewer than 25 percent of the general council. In addition, it continues, the chairman or his designee conducts the hearing, but “no member of the Executive Branch shall preside over the meeting at which his removal is being considered.”

Chairman Alvin “A.J.” Not Afraid and Secretary Knute Old Crow, according to an Executive Branch press release drafted Friday, were advised by tribal legal counsel “the [petition] is invalid.”

“Simply put,” it states, “two elected officials of the Executive Branch cannot remove the other two officials of the Executive Branch.”

The Constitution states a removal petition requires “the unanimous vote of the remaining officials not named in the petition.” Though Goes Ahead and Backbone’s document may appear to match up with the text of this requirement, the Constitution’s article on the matter does not contain language specifically regarding the removal of more than one person at a time. This language also is not specifically present in the Law and Order Code.

When reached for comment, Backbone said he’d check with Goes Ahead. Neither offered further response.

Not Afraid, quoted in the press release, stated, “This is a difficult time, as the tribe cleans up its accounts and faces the consequences of the mismanagement of the past.” Auditors throughout 2018 have found millions of dollars in funds misplaced or misused by the tribe going back decades. Financial issues also have resulted in mass layoffs throughout the Crow Nation.

Considering these challenges, Not Afraid continued, “trying to take advantage of the tribe’s difficult financial situation will not be tolerated.”

“I am proud of my people – of all of us together – for staying the course,” he stated. “It is painful, but in order to clean up the corruption, it must happen. The vice chairman and vice secretary would have us back to the old way of misusing funds, and I cannot do that. My conscience will not allow it.”

To move forward, the press release states, “the dignity and legitimacy of the Apsaalooke Nation rests on the shoulders of its elected officials – this means following due process found in the law, as laid out by our tribe’s forefathers.”