Cheryl Little Dog was reportedly among the seven people arrested during an attempted government takeover in Browning on Tuesday. The suspended tribal councilor was leading between 60 and 70 people in protest of the current tribal government that they say is corrupt.
According to multiple sources, Little Dog was arrested late Tuesday afternoon and charged with assaulting a police officer and obstructing justice. She was reportedly taken to a jail on the Rocky Boy Reservation because Browning does not have a wheelchair-accessible prison. According to Little Dog’s attorney, Roberta Cross Guns, she is being held without bail.
On Tuesday morning, protesters gathered outside of tribal headquarters in Browning, demanding that Chairman Willie Sharp Jr. and the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council hand over power.
“This is a peaceful takeover. We don’t want any violence,” Cross Guns said.
The protest comes after a year of political unrest on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Last summer, members of the ruling council suspended five other councilors and dozens of tribal employees. Since then the nine-member panel has been partially vacant and Sharp’s administration is ruling under an emergency declaration.
In August, Little Dog brought her case to a traditional customs court and it ruled in her favor, stating a new tribal council needed to be put in place. A traditional customs court is a board led by tribal elders. Its order demands that an interim council be put in place until a special election is held.
But on Tuesday afternoon, Sharp said he was not about to hand the government over to the protestors.
“The traditional customs court has no legal authority over the tribal council,” Sharp told the Beacon.
On Wednesday morning, Sharp addressed the arrests, saying the police and tribal council were trying to maintain order and protect the public.
“I know it looks bad,” he said. “But we need to take measures to protect the tribe.”
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