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Caddo Tribe to get new leadership

ANADARKO - The Caddo Nation found resolution, if not an ultimate solution, to its leadership division which has hindered the tribe's progress over the past year.

Judge Ronald McGee of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Court of Indian Offenses ruled Monday that former Chairperson Brenda Edwards is out of her post but also that all tribal officers  Phillip Smith, Bonnie Christine Noah, DeLita Butler and Ann Donaghey  must vacate their posts on the tribal council and new elections must be had within 60 days, according to his decision. Edwards and the other faction have been at odds since she was recalled from office in September 2013.

"So did we win?" asked Phillip Smith, former vice chairman. "Yes, in a way we won. Brenda Edwards is no longer the chairman and the employees who abused the administrative leave for almost a year are gone but so are all the elected officials of the Caddo Nation." 

"In a way, I am kind of disappointed because the court was asked to make Brenda Edwards, the recalled chairman, bring back all the funds and property that she and her followers have stolen," Smith said. 

Edwards was unable to be reached for comment. 

The turmoil began shortly after Edwards began her tenure in August 2013 for a second term as chairman. There had been an escalating conflict between Edwards and other tribal council members, due to a recall petition and election that resulted in the Bureau of Indian Affairs labeling the tribe as "high risk." The designation was imposed for failure to comply with terms and conditions of current contracts and grants, specifically delinquent financial and program reports and contracts that haven't closed out. The BIA continued to recognize Edwards as chairwoman until an injunction was handed down March 13. The court prohibited Edwards from conducting tribal business, including acting as the Caddo chairwoman  including expending tribal funds or funds granted from any governmental source, except to sign payroll checks for the tribe's employees. She was granted the legal ability to sign payroll checks for the tribe's employees during an early April hearing. She was required to submit monthly expense reports to the court in concert with an amended injunction that limited her ability to write checks on behalf of the Caddo Nation.

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