Blackfeet Tribal Councilman Cited for Criminal Offense
Blackfeet tribal councilman Roger “Sassy” Running Crane was charged with a criminal offense late Wednesday afternoon, then released on his own recognizance, following a confrontation with another tribal council member at the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council offices in Browning.
According to Blackfeet tribal councilmember Shannon Augare, five or six police units from the Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services surrounded Running Crane’s vehicle on the outskirts of Browning as the councilman attempted to return to his home in Heart Butte.
“He was simply wanting access to his tribal council office, which the other faction has chosen to occupy with an illegally appointed member of the council,” Augare said of the events leading to Running Crane’s arrest.
Josh Black Weasel, chief of Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services, told the Tribune this morning that his office is preparing a statement about the incident. The Blackfeet Tribal Court declined to comment when the Tribune requested an order documenting the incident.
Both Running Crane’s and Vielle’s status as council members is contested in an ongoing split within the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council stretching back several months. Running Crane allegedly entered tribal council offices in Browning and found his personal office occupied by Leon Vielle.
In response to the confrontation, Vielle allegedly asked the Blackfeet Tribal Court and BLES officers to enforce a provision of the Blackfeet Constitution known as “Ordinance 67,” which makes it a criminal offense to threaten a tribal official.
Running Crane’s vehicle was halted by BLES officers around 5:30 p.m.
The Tribune will update this story as more information is confirmed.