POPLAR — Members of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes elected a new chairman and several new council members and approved constitutional amendments in elections last weekend.
The election was held Saturday. About 2,000 of 3,900 registered voters cast ballots.
Voters elected six new Tribal Executive Board members and a new chairman, and kept eight incumbents — six council members, vice chair, and sergeant at arms. Thirty-six tribal members filed to run for 12 seats on the Tribal Executive Board.
Challenger AT “Rusty” Stafne was elected tribal chairman with 932 votes. Incumbent Floyd Azure Sr. came in second with 688 votes and John Morales Jr., a former chairman, came in third with 367 votes.
Vice Chair Ann Lambert and Sergeant at Arms John G. Weeks were re-elected to two-year terms.
Several incumbents retained their seats on the Tribal Executive Board, and six new people were elected. The highest vote getter is new council woman Stacey Summers with 773 votes reservationwide. Grant Stafne, another new TEB member, was elected with 750 votes. Incumbent Terry Rattling Thunder, of Brockton, was elected with 715 votes. Pearl Hopkins received 692 votes. Hopkins is new on this administration but served on the TEB for years.
Roxanne Gourneau, newcomer and former Tribal Court judge, received 683 votes. Gourneau also served on the Tribal Council before as a TEB member and Vice Chair.
Incumbents Tommy Christian, Dana Buckles, Garrett Big Leggins, Ed Bauer, and Charles Headdress were re-elected. Christian received 637 votes, followed by Buckles, 628 votes, Big Leggins, 625 votes, Bauer with 584 votes, and Headdress with 565 votes.
New council woman Marva Firemoon earned 602 votes. This is her first time serving on the TEB.
Rick Kirn, a former councilman, was elected with 596 votes.
Fort Peck tribal voters also approved four of 10 constitutional amendments and one referendum item, while rejecting the rest of the amendments by a wide margin.
Approved was Amendment No. 5, which sets a code of ethics for the Tribal Council to follow. This received 1,072 votes.
Another amendment allows the Tribal Courts to exercise civil and criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians in domestic violence cases. Before this amendment, if an Indian victim of domestic violence were abused by a non-Indian perpetrator, the perpetrator could only be tried in Federal Court (in this case Great Falls). This amendment puts the Tribes Constitution in accordance with the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. This measure was approved with 1,219 votes.
Amendment No. 8, approved with 1,115 votes, clarifies that the Tribal Council can use government powers to protect and preserve cultural and spiritual sites, medicinal plants and natural foods within the reservation.
Amendment No. 9 requires all claims councils, district councils and other organizations recognized as legitimate by the Tribal Government to submit an annual audited fiscal report. This was approved with 1,037 people voting for the amendment.
A referendum that would allow the people to elect judges to the Tribal Court was also approved by tribal voters with 1,011 affirmative votes.
Before this, Tribal Court judges were picked by the Tribal Council.