By Tim Leeds 

Little Shell set Havre meeting for Saturday


The council of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians chaired by John Sinclair is holding a meeting in Havre Saturday, in the midst of a controversy over its office in Great Falls.

Sinclair announced the meeting Monday evening. It is scheduled to start Saturday at 1:30 p. m. in the Fireside Room of the District IV Human Resources Development Council building at 2229 5th Ave.

Sinclair also said Monday that he is looking into taking legal action against the council headed by John Gilbert for taking possession of the building the tribe owns in Great Falls.

Gilbert's council was elected in 2010 after a group of tribal members disputed the leadership of Sinclair, including the election in which his council was selected being delayed from November 2008 to the start of 2009.

Sinclair has maintained that his council is the legitimate leadership of the tribe.

Last week Gilbert's group announced that it was taking possession of the building the tribe owns in Great Falls and will use it to provide services and events for tribal members.

Sinclair has said that after the state withheld funding from the tribe in 2010 and personnel could not be employed to staff the office, it was closed and tribal documents moved to Havre to keep them secure.

Sgt. Bryan Slavik of the Great Falls Police Department confirmed that Sinclair had called in a complaint about Gilbert's group moving into the office.

The issue was referred to the Great Falls chief of police and city attorney and they determined that the issue was civil in nature, not criminal, Slavik said.

He said the police department told Sinclair and Gilbert's groups that they needed to get their attorneys and resolve the issue themselves.

"The fact of the matter is, there is nothing we can do, legally, " Slavik said. "It is a civil issue between those two groups. "

Gilbert's group has sent out a request to Little Shell tribal members to help Saturday to clean the office, located at 1626 6th Ave. N.

Sinclair said some of the items to be covered in the meeting in Havre Saturday will be to talk about his trip to Washington to testify in the Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on the bill sponsored by Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus to grant the Little Shell federal recognition, as well as the council's trip to Bismark, N.D., to negotiate on the Pembina Judgement, and discussing the formation of a tribal court committee.

Buffalo meat also will be distributed to elders and others in need, Sinclair said.


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