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Forum News Service, Published September 20 2013

Former Spirit Lake chairman withdraws suit

GRAND FORKS - Roger Yankton Sr. has withdrawn his lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking relief from a restraining order that had been issued against him by the Spirit Lake Tribal Court.

The former tribal chairman had alleged the Aug. 6 restraining order, which barred him from entering the tribal headquarters or contacting tribal officials, had made him a virtual prisoner on the reservation and prevented him from performing his duties as chairman.

That restraining order has been lifted, Yankton noted in a filing this week with the federal court in which he asked that the case be dismissed. District Judge Ralph Erickson, finding all pending motions in the case moot, ordered it dismissed without prejudice Thursday.

The tribal court lifted the restraining order after the Northern Plains Intertribal Court of Appeals in Aberdeen, S.D., sided with Yankton opponents and affirmed results of a July recall election that had removed him from office.

Leander “Russ” McDonald, an administrator at the tribal college in Fort Totten, was elected chairman following Yankton’s recall.

McDonald and other members of the Spirit Lake Tribal Council had asked the federal court to dismiss Yankton’s suit in part because the court lacked jurisdiction in a sovereign tribal matter.