The Fort Peck Tribes are deeply disappointed in the Sept. 30, 2017, Billings Gazette article concerning the July 2013 detainment of individual tribal members.

The Fort Peck Tribes want to clarify that neither the chairman, the tribal executive board or any committee of the tribes authorized a formal directive to law enforcement to undertake any detainment of any citizens of the Reservation.

In fact, I was Chairman of the Tribes at the time of the incident and was in Washington, D.C., on tribal business. I had no communication with law enforcement regarding this incident.

The Tribes regret the detainment occurred. The Tribes were also unaware of the BIA’s internal investigation into the July 2013 incident until the report surfaced through the media in July 2016. A copy of the investigative report was submitted as part of the lawsuit filed by an individual without notice of the report or intention to file suit to the Tribes. The lawsuit has now been recommended for dismissal due to a failure to prosecute. The Tribes were not ever formally served with the lawsuit despite the court’s leniency.

Unfortunately, the BIA did not forward a copy of the investigative report to the chairman or the tribal executive board for their review and action. The Board reviewed the report upon learning of it but took no action due to the pending litigation. Now the Tribes will be working with tribal law enforcement to ensure that such an incident does not occur in the future.

The Fort Peck Tribes demand that the Billings Gazette retract the Sept. 30 article and issue a formal apology immediately.

Floyd Azure

Chairman, Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes

Editor’s note: Chairman Azure’s letter does not invalidate the facts reported in the article. The Gazette confirmed with the BIA that repeated attempts to contact Azure about this matter were unsuccessful. Throughout the past year, several attempts to contact Azure by other reporters about this subject were unsuccessful. The BIA stands by its investigative report which formed the basis for this story, and Azure acknowledges the incident and that the tribes are working to “ensure that such an incident does not happen again.” Therefore, The Gazette stands by its story.