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Tribes protest BIA Superintendent

Native American Tribes protested, Wednesday, against the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Anadarko.  Tribal members from at least seven Southwest Oklahoma tribes are protesting the BIA because they say the organization is not making good judgment calls with regard to individual tribal issues.  According to protestors these issues include those involving tribal leadership, financial affairs, and oil and gas leases. 

The BIA is the federal governmental body that monitors tribal issues.  And, the tribes say the BIA is not recognizing each tribe's general council which they say has the final word on all matters.  Although each tribe as its own individual issue with the BIA, they say that no matter the issue, it all boils down to corruption on the part of the BIA.  And, they say, something needs to be done.

They say they are protesting because of the person in charge at the BIA agency - Betty Tippeconnic, the superintendent who oversees each tribe's government.  Tribal members say they are flat out "tired of the corruption" and lack of recognition of general council decisions.

For example, Emily Saupitty, an Apache tribal member says they BIA won't recognize that its tribe voted and ousted two committee members for wrong doing.  "The people have the final say so.  That's the voice and that's the rights, according to the constitution of every tribe," says Saupitty.  "The BIA knows the law.  They are supposed to go by our ordinance and they won't, they won't listen to the people or anybody."

And, the protesters agree.  They say the BIA is not listening to the voice of the tribes.  They say that whenever the tribes make a decision on an issue, the BIA overturns it or doesn't back it up.  And, tribal members say, that's not right.  They say that since BIA doesn't support the tribes, it causes friction among its people and they never progress as one.  Everyone suffers as a result.

"The main issues we are looking at are our babies.  Their futures are being manipulated and taken away from," said Saupitty.  All the protesters ask is that a new BIA Administrator step in.  One that will support the tribes.  Tribal members say that since this protest started and word has gotten out, more and more people are bringing in what they say is proof of discrepancies that could amount to fraud and manipulation.

The protesters say they plan to stay out all week or as along as it takes until the BIA addresses each tribe's concerns.  Neither BIA or Betty Tippiconnic have returned phone calls from 7News.

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