Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp and three other members of the tribal Business Committee are the subjects of a recall vote that will be considered at a special general council meeting next week.
In addition to Sharp, the recall is aimed at Vice President Andrew Mail, Treasurer Larry Ralston and Secretary Latosha Underwood. The Business Committee they serve on is the tribe’s governing body. About 50 tribal members signed the petition, which was written by tribal member Coni Wilson.
Wilson declined comment to The Daily World. In a letter to the Nugguam, the official Quinault newspaper, she talked in broad terms about filing the petition. “It is with a sad and heavy heart, without malice or personal reasons that I am proceeding. I realized the impact of this action and weighed the impact of the decision against the damages to the nation now and for the future generations by the inaction or action of our elected officials. … The legacy we inherited is priceless and we cannot undermine or weaken this inheritance but strengthen it and hand it down proudly to our future generations,” wrote Wilson in her letter.
Quinault President Fawn Sharp declined comment to The Daily World.
Stephen Frank, a tribal member and teacher at Taholah School, also wrote a letter to the Nugguam in support of the petition. He did agree to talk to The Daily World. Frank said he signed the petition because he feels that Sharp and other tribal leaders aren’t held accountable to the rest of the Quinault Nation, which leads to out of control spending. Frank specifically mentioned spending for the Paddle to Quinault, the firing of the police chief in the past year and the Lake Quinault closures.
“The government shouldn’t run 98 percent of the economy,” Frank said. “There’s too much money being pushed in each direction and no accountability. And things were especially out of control this year.”
But without a change in the Quinault constitution, which was adopted in 1975, Frank said he worries that there won’t be any real change. Under the constitution, the Quinault Business Committee — which includes the president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and seven council members — can levy and collect taxes, manage tribally-owned lands, engage in any business that will further the economic well-being of the nation and of members of the nation and administer the nation’s funds, among other powers.
“Our constitution doesn’t fit the needs of the people anymore,” Frank said. “There’s a lot more money to manage than when it was written.”
And while Frank said that many tribal members feel the same way he does, he’s not sure which way the vote will go. All enrolled Quinaults aged 18 and older can vote at general council meetings, but a quorum of voters must be present or the recall petition will be dismissed.
“This is really depressing, I don’t know what’s going to happen next week,” Frank said.
The special general council meeting will be held in the Taholah School gymnasium Nov. 16 at 10 a.m. Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m.
Amelia Dickson: 360-537-3936 or firstname.lastname@example.org and @DW_Amelia on Twitter