A recent newscast depicted criticism of the Cowlitz Tribe and certain administrators who are enrolled in the tribe. Contrary to the assertions made in the newscast, there are no constitutional issues concerning "Cowlitz Enrollment" records. The newscast displayed incorrect, out of date, and incomplete enrollment records that were in fact stolen documents. The newscast referenced a new lawsuit on these issues. That lawsuit was dismissed by the federal court on January 3rd, the day of the newscast, a few days after it was filed as a frivolous law suit.
The Tribe’s genealogies were subjected to thorough research and scrutiny by the US government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) professionals prior to our federal recognition. We are confident in the accuracy of our official enrollment records, as is the US government.
The newscast tried to connect this story to our pending reservation and casino. The newscast used the stolen documents that are more than forty years old; a full twenty years before there were any Indian casinos in the United States. Any effort to link our tribe’s recognition documents and gaming is completely false and disingenuous.
Enrollment is a tribal prerogative of self-government. Many tribes face challenges around enrollment issues when people think they can gain benefits by joining a tribe or by changing their enrollment, essentially “shopping” for better benefits. Individual tribes have policies to protect their government and members from such efforts.
Cowlitz Tribal leadership is comprised of many hard working, lifelong committed tribal members who have served the tribe for decades, beginning long before recognition. The tradition of tribal service has carried through several generations in our 150 year fight for restoration of a small part of our homeland, which is now affirmed by the BIA as our initial reservation.
Cowlitz leadership works very hard for our Tribe, our Elders and Youth. Our reservation will provide many benefits for the Cowlitz Tribe and our neighbors in the community. We will continue to conduct ourselves with dignity and with respect for the community. The newscaster, and those fueling him with false information, should consider doing the same.
Chairman, Cowlitz Indian Tribe