News

Council Fires

The San Carlos Apache Tribal Council, famous throughout Indian country for the frequency of its political meltdowns, has apparently started the new year with yet another battle threatening the tribal government's ability to operate.

In December, New Times documented the vicious and apparently illegal removal from the council of reformer Margarite Faras by her political enemies ("Tribal Belt," Robert Nelson, December 14).

Tribal Chairman Raymond Stanley recently announced on local radio that Faras' removal was in fact illegal and instigated primarily by her political foe, Vice Chairman Velesquez Sneezy. Stanley stated that it is Sneezy, not Faras, who should have been removed from the council because Sneezy had a misdemeanor assault conviction against him. Sneezy recently lost an appeal of that conviction.

Stanley and others also are accusing Sneezy of once again spending tribal funds for his own benefit. One of the accusations: Sneezy held a Christmas party in honor of himself at the Apache Gold casino that cost the tribe $5,000. Sneezy now says he's paying off the bill out of his own pocket.

So now Sneezy and Stanley are at war for control of tribal government. According to sources within tribal government, Stanley attempted to call a special council meeting to discuss the removal of Sneezy. Sneezy and his allies on the council blocked the meeting and, apparently, are drumming up charges of their own against Stanley and his supporters.

With a year of purging under his belt, Sneezy would appear to have the numbers.

Neither Stanley nor Sneezy returned calls for comment.

Meanwhile, Faras continues to watch the new developments from the sidelines. A tribal judge dismissed her request for reinstatement to the council, saying Faras must take up the issue with the tribal council because she had not exhausted her appeals options before the council. Faras is appealing the judge's decision.

"With everybody already purged, what do you think happens when I go to this council?" Faras says. "The courts are the only legitimate hope for justice."

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Robert Nelson