Blackfeet Tribe Elects New Council

Despite concerns about the election’s legitimacy, both factions of the Blackfeet council accept results of June 24 election

By Justin Franz

The two dueling factions of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council have accepted the results of this week’s general election, clearing the way for a unified government for the first time in eight months.

On Friday, the council faction led by Roger Running Crane and Shannon Augare sent a letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs urging the government agency to accept the results.

On June 24, Harry Barnes, Joe McKay, Nels St. Goddard, Tyson R. Wolf and Scott Kipp were elected to five open seats on the tribal council east of the divide. However, Augare and Running Crane’s faction, which also includes Leonard Guardipee and Chief Earl Old Person, said the election was illegal because the election board was not appointed by the full council, but rather by Chairman Willie Sharp Jr.’s faction.

On Friday, Augare told the Beacon that even though the election was illegal, his faction would accept the results. The four council members sent a letter to BIA Acting Regional Director Darryl LaCounte urging him to also accept the results.

“While the four of us believe the constitution was not followed, we don’t see any reason to delay seating these new members,” Augare said. “We need a working government now.”

The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, the Browning-based governing body on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, has been in turmoil for more than two years, but the situation took a turn for the worse last October when the council split into two factions. The five new members will be seated on July 10 and a new chairman will be selected by secret ballot at North American Indian Days.