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Apache offices change hands in Anadarko
Federal Indian agency can mediate the dispute, official says

By Tony Thornton Published: September 10, 2008
ANADARKO — Armed guards loyal to Apache Tribe Chairman Alonzo Chalepah took over the tribal headquarters by force on Tuesday, a rival official said.

The takeover occurred three days after tribal members voted to remove Chalepah and Vice Chairman Mary Rivera from office.

City, county and federal law officers were monitoring the situation Tuesday afternoon, said Terry Bruner, acting regional director for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

What's the fight about?
Two factions within the tribe have been at odds since June, the month after Apache Tribe voters re-elected Chalepah, said Ron Ahtone, who serves on the tribe's five-person business committee with Chalepah and Ahtone.

At a June meeting of tribe members, Chalepah "called the meeting null and void and walked out” when voters began calling for his ouster, Ahtone said.

At a special meeting Saturday, the tribal council — consisting of adult tribe members — voted 70 to 0 to recall the chairman and vice chairman, Ahtone said. He said under the tribe's constitution, 50 voters is a quorum.

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