Things have quieted down in the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community after a rough start to the week when a civil lawsuit hearing in the tribal court ended with two judges being suspended.
Thursday, the judges, Chief Judge Brad Dakota and Judge Violet Ayres, met before the Tribal Council to have their suspensions reviewed. In a vote of seven to five, the KBIC Tribal Council lifted the suspensions and both judges reinstated. Power and water were ordered to be turned back on at the courthouse immediately following the meeting as well.
At the time of the suspension, Ayres was hearing a civil lawsuit brought forward by Fred Dakota to sue Shalifoe and Treasurer Eddy Edwards for holding a public ballot to vote on the Baraga Lakeside Inn purchase, which Shalifoe said should not have been heard in the court in the first place.
Along with the lifted suspensions, any and all processes related to the civil suit were ordered to cease.
According to tribal members who attended the meeting, both members of the council and members of the community became heated in their arguments. Shalifoe said although it got rowdy at times, he feels it ended amicably and said everyone is just ready to move on.
He said the dispute over the voting style of a popular referendum has been ongoing in the tribe since this is the one of the first times the council has ever used its right to hold one. The council is now making it a priority to make amendments.
â??For some reason, the people felt that they were intimidated to vote publicly. So, learning that-- and it is a learning process since itâ??s the first time in 80 years that we have done this,â?? said Shalifoe. â??If we think we should hold it in several districts, voting districts, we can hold it in all districts. Like I said, itâ??s a learning process.â??
Other council members said earlier in the week many felt the situation seemed similar to the uprising in the mid-90s. They said the memory of that time seemed to make people more eager to get the current situation resolved quickly.
Shalifoe, however, still maintained that he was never concerned of another uprising. He did say, though, that he and the community are ready to put the issue in the past and propel the KBIC to successes in the future.
â??Our community is in change; we want to go forward,â?? he said. â??I feel that most of our constituents on the tribal council right now are excited about the change. So, letâ??s go forward.â??
Shalifoe said the council is moving forward with the building and financial plans with the new casino, and though nothing is set in stone nor has been voted on, heâ??s personally hoping to have things progress to be able to break ground before winter.
Neither Chief Judge Brad Dakota nor Judge Violet Ayres could be reached for comment on Thursdayâ??s matters.