By Tim Eberly
Representatives from five Indian reservations in Montana met in Great Falls on Saturday to discuss filing a class-action lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Almost 200 people attended the Five Intertribal Grassroots Gathering, a six-hour event that included a pipe ceremony, round dance and traditional Indian dinner, all of which were planned around the meeting to discuss grievances about recent BIA secretarial elections.
Residents from the Rocky Boy, Fort Belknap, Blackfeet, and Crow reservations attended.
"All the other tribes just spoke about how they were affected by the BIA and what happened to them," said Jolene Swimmer, vice chairman of the Chippewa Cree Grassroots People at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation. "They had a lot of issues to cover."
Native Americans from several of the reservations contacted Russell Standing Rock, spokesman for the Chippewa Cree Grassroots People, after the group on April 11 protested a March secretarial election at Rocky Boy.
After the protest march, the Chippewa Cree tribal council passed a resolution to ask the BIA to declare the election null and void.
Swimmer said the intertribal group is in the process of planning another meeting about a possible lawsuit.