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Patrick Springer, Published April 09 2010

Tribal council votes to suspend chairman

The Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota tribal council voted Thursday to suspend its chairman after a throng of protesters rallied and called for his removal.

The 7-3 vote came after the chairman, Michael Selvage, left the meeting, said Michael J. Roberts, a tribal member and one of those calling for the move.

“It’s a first step,” Roberts said of Thursday’s action, taken at tribal headquarters in Agency Village, S.D., on the Lake Traverse Reservation, about 90 miles south of Fargo.

Further steps, many involving greater transparency and oversight of the tribe’s finances, also are needed, said Roberts, who was fired as the executive of the tribe’s gaming operations after he brought allegations of mismanagement to the council last fall.

The tribal council’s vice chairman, Garryl Rousseau, now will serve as acting chairman. Tribal elections are scheduled in August for the primary and November in a general election.

The council also voted, again

7-3, to suspend dealings with a company Selvage is associated with, Red Shield/Red Arrow.

Selvage and Red Shield/Red Arrow are mentioned in a letter recently sent by criminal investigators for the Internal Revenue Service seeking information about the tribe’s finances and business dealings.

Calls seeking comment from Selvage, Rousseau and the tribal attorney were not returned Thursday.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522