Congratulations to mctlaw attorney Derril Jordan for his legal victory on behalf of Chief Wilson Yargee and Second Chief Rovena Yargee of the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town (“AQTT”) in eastern Oklahoma over tribal leadership.
“Tribal leadership disputes are never cases that we want to see,” says Jordan. “Such disputes usually mean tribal energy and fiscal resources are spent fighting each other rather than advancing the tribe’s collective interests. Plus, an internal dispute can go too far when one side seeks to take the issue outside of the tribe, inviting outsiders, like a federal court, to impose their interpretations of tribal law on the tribe.”
In this case, dissident members of the Town filed a lawsuit in federal district court alleging that the Chief and Second Chief were removed from tribal office—a claim that the Chief and Second Chief dispute under tribal law.
Judge Ronald White of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma granted the motion to dismiss written by Mr. Jordan. The Judge correctly held that “the AQTT has the tribal machinery to choose and determine its own legitimate governing officers. To the extent the AQTT members believe the tribal machinery requires any improvements or amendments to ensure due process is given to its members and their elected officials, such is up to the AQTT and its members. . . . [W]hen a dispute is an intratribal matter, the Federal Government should not interfere. . . . [W]hether an AQTT governing official was properly removed from office and whether he had general authority to act on behalf of the Tribe in a governmental capacity are pure questions of tribal law, beyond the purview of the federal agencies and the federal courts. . . . The motion to dismiss [Docket No. 31] filed by the Yargees is hereby GRANTED.”