Solving the question of who belongs to the Snoqualmie Tribe has become an important issue among many of its members. Working toward that solution, a group of people claiming the required one-eighth blood quantum called a meeting of the tribe's General Council to discuss the issue, Sunday, March 10, at the Preston Community Center.
"Hopefully we can bring unity to our people," said Milan Gabel, Jr., one of the organizers, who hopes the meeting will lead to new Tribal Council elections and ultimately, an amended constitution."We do want to be able to amend the constitution, to bring the rest of them that are under an eighth (in)," Gabel said.
According to Gabel, the General Council includes all Tribe members who have at least one-eighth Snoqualmie heritage, or blood quantum, which is required to vote or run for office in the tribal government, and to receive per capita distributions. The problem is that, since the Snoqualmie Tribe was formally recognized by the federal government in 1999, Tribe members have been unable to agree on who qualifies as one-eighth Snoqualmie, and who doesn't. The disagreement has led to delayed council elections, the ouster of some members, and calls for sitting council members to resign.
Although the results of the last enrollment audit weren't formally accepted, some members received notification letters with their own status in the tribe, Gabel said. These letters were used to determine who could participate in Sunday's meeting.
The current Tribal Council was elected in August, by voters identified as one-eighth or more Snoqualmie in a 2004 enrollment report that excluded people who felt they should have been included.
"In 2004, a base roll was never properly done," said Gabel, one of those excluded. "That was never completed."
No one from the Tribal office has responded to requests for comment on the meeting, as of press time.