Blackfeet Protesters Released in Browning

By Beacon Staff

Cheryl Little Dog and six other protesters arrested Tuesday during an attempted Blackfeet tribal government takeover have been released. Little Dog, a suspended Blackfeet Tribal Business Council member, was being held on the Rocky Boy Reservation but was sent back to Browning on Thursday night because she needed medical attention.

On Tuesday morning, 50 or 60 protesters, calling themselves Blackfeet Against Corruption, gathered outside of tribal headquarters demanding that Chairman Willie Sharp Jr. hand over power. Seven people were arrested on a variety of charges, including assaulting police officers and obstructing justice. Little Dog and other protesters said it was a “peaceful takeover” and that police became aggressive.

Little Dog was sent to a jail on the Rocky Boy Reservation because there is no wheelchair-accessible prison in Browning. On Wednesday afternoon, she demanded that she be released for medical reasons and the Chippewa Cree Tribal Police took her to Devon where she was transferred to the custody of Blackfeet police. On Wednesday night she was taken to the hospital in Browning where she was treated for an infection and muscle fatigue. A doctor told police she needed to be released and sent home.

“It was very humbling,” she said Thursday morning. “I’m glad to be home and with my family. It’s good to be home.”

The protest came 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. This week, Sharp said the customs court has no legal authority over the tribal council and he does not plan on giving up power.

Little Dog and the others are due to appear in court this week. The former councilor said she does not plan on giving up her cause and stands by her statements that the current council is corrupt.

“I’m not going to stop,” she said. “I’m going to keep doing what is right for the Blackfeet people.”

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