Petition Calling for Removal of Chairman Delgado Filed

 EDelgado 

By Nate Wisneski - Kalihwisaks (nwisnes@oneidanation.org) 

Over 600 Oneida Tribal citizens made their voices heard as a petition calling for the removal of Chairman Ed Delgado was turned in to the Tribal Secretary’s office on Friday, August 2.

The Oneida Tribe’s Removal Law requires signatures totaling 30 percent of the previous general election. The petition was handed in with 623 signatures while 522 were needed.

Petitioner Brian Doxtator along with 20 others who supported his petition process claim Delgado ignored General Tribal Council (GTC) directives, tribal policies and procedures, and the tribe’s Code of Ethics law.

“It goes back to 1982 and the (GTC) directive is very specific to stay out of day-to-day affairs. It’s not just one scenario. We can’t say getting involved in day-to-day affairs has not occurred over the last 20 years. To some degree, more with some Business Committees and less with others, but this is out right blatant,” said Doxtator.

Doxtator cites a case where the Community Support Services Fund (CSSF) policy and procedures were not followed by the Chairman’s office.

The CSS fund requires applicants to have less than three months of non-payment before assistance will be offered. The CSSF also has procedure allowing a $500 maximum payment amount.

Documents show after an individual was denied for not making a utility payment for at least three months and their appeal denied, the Chairman’s office directed the CSSF administrator to make a $600 payment to pay a utility bill for an individual. 

Doxtator also claims that Delgado circumvented the process regarding a tribal member needing assistance in Arizona. 

A tribal elder needed medical attention but needed tires for his vehicle to return home and receive dialysis treatment. Delgado directed Don White, the tribe’s Governmental Services Division Director, in an email to assist in repairing the tribal members vehicle.

“I know there is a fine line between day-to-day involvement and my responsibilities as the Chair, but without the General Manager there are instances where we need someone who can make a directive to get something done,” said Delgado in the email. “I am accepting this responsibility at this time. I am directing you to assist this tribal elder in getting his car fixed so he can get his dialysis treatment here in Green Bay. If something happens to him as we try to manage this request through our process, we will all be ultimately responsible.”

Doxtator feels this is over stepping his authority as Chair.

“He is actually telling them to go ahead and give this person or that person assistance. Not only did he tell them to give them assistance, it was over and above what the policy says,” Doxtator said. “He is using the community support fund as his personal checkbook to help people.”

Delgado defended his decision.

“I don’t think any leader, if he had the resources, would allow a person in that much need of a medial facility, would sit back and say there is nothing I can do. You’re going to have to wait and we’ll discuss this. You act,” Delgado said. “Our customs and traditions of our tribe always looked out for our people and no leader would ever turn their back on those needs. That’s not being an Indian leader.”

Doxtator also address tribal traditions and why he feels removal is the only answer.

“I don’t want to compare us to our chief system but the Clan mothers chose the chiefs, they approached the chief three times and they gave him an opportunity to clean up his act. We don’t have that here. All we have is the Removal Law. People have talked to him and said you are doing something wrong. He needs to go, he is not willing to change his ways. He is saying I can do it, I am the Chair,” said Doxtator.

Doxtator’s ideal situation would not be the removal of Delgado but another means to address misconduct tribal wide.

“I don’t agree with removing him. It’s not the best answer but because of the continuous violations we are pushed to it’s the only conclusion. If we had sanctions laws or even if the GTC could fine you $500 for every email you send to a division director… we don’t even have that,” he said. “All we have is removal.”

The Oneida Enrollments Department has verified the signatures and it will be forwarded to the Oneida Appeals Commission. They review the merits of the petition. If the Oneida Appeals Commission determines that the petition alleges sufficient grounds for removal, a hearing is conducted.

If the Oneida Appeals Commission determines at the hearing, that sufficient grounds have been proven, then a GTC meeting will be scheduled within 45 days after the Appeals Commission’s findings are submitted. At the GTC meeting, a two-thirds vote of the GTC is needed to remove an elected official.

Delgado has filled an injunction with the Oneida Appeals Commission questioning the timeline that the signatures on the petition were collected.

Delgado feels the topic may not even reach the GTC.

“I don’t think any court of law would uphold these charges. A negotiator negotiating, a leader encouraging, and helping our elders and children. I can’t imagine them saying that’s wrong and it’s wrong to try to save lives,” Delgado said. 

Delgado feels he is supporting and protecting tribal ways.

“As Chairman, I support our proud history as Oneida people and I believe that Indian leaders must stand up and accept responsibility for the continuance of the Oneida customs and traditions, the protection of our people and our resources. To do otherwise would be negligent and weird,” he said in a prepared statement.