Food For Thought..Just When They Think They Have the Final Say!

Snoqualmie Tribe chief calls for membership to throw out Tribal Council

June 13, 2011

By Dan Catchpole

Snoqualmie Tribe Chief Jerry Enick is calling on the tribe’s members to throw out most of their elected officials. The longtime chief has called for a meeting of the general membership Saturday, June 18 in Monroe.

The Tribal Council has done nothing wrong, and Enick is acting beyond his authority, says Tribal Administrator Matt Mattson.

The catalyst came when the Tribal Council voted in early May to postpone the tribe’s annual general elections until July, after an audit of the tribal membership is finished.

For several years, the Snoqualmie Tribe has been plagued by completing claims of who is and is not a member. At stake is control of the tribe’s casino proceeds. In an effort to quell the ongoing fights over membership, the Tribal Council voted in January to hire an outside genealogist to audit the member rolls using records from the tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

But the council cannot simply postpone the election, Enick says.

As the tribe’s head chief, it is his responsibility to act.

“I oversee what’s going on in my tribe. If I see something that’s going wrong, I attempt to take care of it,” he says.

Without an election, the Snoqualmies have no functioning government, because most council members’ terms expired on June 1, according to Enick. The lack of a legitimate government could threaten the tribe’s financing agreements for Snoqualmie Casino.

That concern is overblown, Mattson says.

The tribe hasn’t broken any parts of the loan agreements it has with the bondholders, who provided $330 million to start the casino, he says.

The ongoing political fights don’t hurt the tribal government’s ability to provide services to its members and Snoqualmie Valley residents, according to Mattson.

The tribe runs two medical clinics in the Valley. Together they handle more than 5,000 patient visits a year. It also runs a food clinic in Carnation, among myriad other social and cultural services it provides