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Two top Crow Tribe officials on Thursday moved to recall the tribe's chairman, Alvin "A.J" Not Afraid, who questioned whether their actions complied with the tribe's constitution.

The recall petition, signed by Vice-Chairman Carlson "Duke" Goes Ahead and Vice-Secretary Shawn Backbone, also seeks to remove the other elected executive official, R. Knute Old Crow. It cites misuse of tribal funding and "abuse of authority" as reasons for initiating the removal process, but does not offer any further specifics.

Under the tribe's constitution, an executive branch official can be removed after a petition, signed by the remaining executive branch officials, receives at least a two-thirds vote of the tribe's general council. The elected four-person executive branch comprises the chairman, vice-chairman, secretary and vice-secretary. The general council comprises all members of the tribe who are eligible to vote.

The petition calls for a recall vote to be held during the general council's Jan. 19 meeting at the Crow multi-purpose building in Crow Agency.

Reached by phone, both Goes Ahead and Backbone declined to comment Friday.

In response to calls from The Gazette, a spokesman for Not Afraid issued a statement Friday evening condemning the petition as a "public misuse of the constitution." The executive branch's legal counsel determined that the document is invalid, according to the statement.

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"Simply put, two elected officials of the Executive Branch cannot remove the other two officials of the Executive Branch," the statement reads.

The section of the Crow constitution that addresses the removal of officials does not explicitly spell out whether more than one executive branch official can be removed at the same time. It wasn't immediately clear Friday what authority would make that determination.

In the statement, Not Afraid is quoted as indicating that the recall effort is related to the tribe's recent financial troubles, although no specific allegations are addressed.

"I understand that as our tribe transitions from corruption to transparency, there are many elected officials who will be frustrated, especially as the light of justice shines in their direction," Not Afraid said in the statement. "But trying to take advantage of the tribe's difficult financial situation should not be tolerated."

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Morning Reporter

General assignment reporter for the Billings Gazette.