CHINOOK (AP) - The county is taking its former at-large election system before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a 2-1 vote, Blaine County commissioners agreed Friday to appeal a 2002 lower court ruling despite opposition from some residents.
''It just blew me away to hear that this commission wanted to do this, in my opinion, ugly thing to take this to the Supreme Court,'' Nancy MacLean, a Sister of Providence who lives at Fort Belknap, told the board.
Commissioners would not comment on the decision, saying they were under orders by their legal counsel, Colorado-based Mountain States Legal Foundation, not to discuss the matter.
''We were told to call out what the vote was and say no more,'' Commissioner Art Kleinjan said.
Commissioner Dolores Plumage, elected in 2002 as the board's first Indian member, cast the lone vote against appealing.
The county hopes to overturn a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling earlier this year. The appeals court upheld a federal judge's 2002 decision declaring the county's election system unconstitutional because it discriminated against American Indians.
The system of electing county commissioners, the federal judge said, resulted in white residents voting as a bloc and unfairly prevented Indian-preferred candidates from getting elected.
The U.S. Justice Department sued the county over the system in 1999.
County commissioners believe the federal government overstepped its constitutional bounds.
At least 45 percent of Blaine County is American Indian. But an Indian had never been elected to the County Commission until 2002, when the lawsuit forced the county to create three voting districts, including one with an Indian majority.