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  • Writer's pictureKevin Gunter

Is Tetlin ruled by intimidation and fear?

Tetlin members, let's talk... nobody likes bullies, right? But apparently our tribal leadership has decided that being bullies is the only way to get what they want from their local Tetlin constituents.

Recently, tribal members living in the village decided to petition for information about the Council’s finances. Almost 40 residents of the tiny town of Tetlin signed up in just one day. Sadly, however, one by one, signers were subjected to home visits from Council officers and their staff to intimidate them into removing their names from the petition.

Sounds more like Mafia state than tribal self-governance. Maybe because Tetlin’s laws do not address “civil rights”, the Tetlin Council feels they don’t have to act civil.

Unrest is growing among Tetlin tribal members. Let’s talk about how the Council disenfranchises and punishes members who do not live in Tetlin.

BIA enrolled Tetlin membership is approximately 400 members. Federal grants are distributed to the tribe by enrollment-based formulas. Yet when it comes time to give out financial benefits to enrolled members, the Council and their staff say, you don’t get anything because you don’t live in the village.”

Less than 100 adult members live in Tetlin. That means the Council pockets a whole lot of money that should be distributed among all Tetlin members. Tetlin’s Constitution tells us that benefits are to be shared equally…

Article V - RIGHTS OF MEMBERS SEC. 3. Right to Share in Benefits. — Members of the Village shall have equal chance to share in the benefits of the Village

Tetlin’s Council also discriminates against Tetlin members who don’t live in the village by restricting our voting rights. We are told you can't vote in the upcoming January 10, 2024 elections. But Tetlin’s Constitution and Bylaws says differently…

Article V - RIGHTS OF MEMBERS SECTION 1: All members of the Village aged 21 or over have the right to vote in Village meetings and elections.

The word Village, with a capital "V" here, identifies enrolled members of the Native Village of Tetlin — not the geographic “Tetlin Village”. How can the Council take away rights granted to us under our tribal Constitution that they are elected to uphold?

I love my Tetlin roots, my family, and friends. However, I have chosen to raise my child in a healthier environment and to maintain gainful employment. For this, our “so-called leaders” penalize me and take away my tribal rights because I do not live in a village that has no running water, no waste system, no employment base, and let’s not forget is ruled by a toxic Council.

Tribal members have needs for good paying jobs, nearness to medical facilities, opportunities for higher education, healthy housing, and a higher quality of living than has been made available for us in Tetlin.

Members who live outside the village of Tetlin are not declaring that we will never return and we are not being disloyal to our tribe.

Are certain Council members just concerned that a strong membership showing at the upcoming election will call for them to answer questions that Tetlin residents are afraid to ask? Such as…

  • Where has over $5,000,000 in COVID Relief funds gone from just 2020?

  • Where has over $21,300,000 in federal grants gone since 2009 that was intended to increase the tribe's quality of living?

  • Where is the $75,000 a year that has been paid to the Council since 2008 according to the Manh Choh Mineral Lease (that’s $1,125,000)?

  • Are Council members paid by the KINROSS team like they did with the former Chief so he would lead the tribe under their directions?

  • Where does the Council have the right to lease land to private businesses and allow them to sub-let their lease (Young Timber)? And where does that money go?

Is it just possible that the Council does not want all adult Tetlin tribal members to vote in the upcoming election because they know they cannot control members who do not live in the village directly under their intimidation?

Maybe it’s time for Tetlin "outsiders", some 300+ strong, to blow the dust off our Constitution and Bylaws and put our powers as the Native Village of Tetlin into action.

Article IV — POWERS OF THE VILLAGE SEC. 4. Rule-making Power. — The Village may make rules which are not against law to carry out the words of this Constitution.

If it’s true, that the majority rules… then there’s a lot more of us (Tetlin outsiders) than there are of them. Maybe it’s time to organize to make NEW rules that will UNITE our tribe and NOT DIVIDE it by discriminating against and intimidating our own members.


Please email comments on Kevin's blog to: David Flenaugh
and your comments will be forwarded to Kevin Gunter

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