Freezing the tribes' bank accounts will not totally block tribal leaders' access to funds, since they have some smaller accounts in other banks and continue to receive cash flow from casinos, Meacham said.
“If they are motivated to pay employees, they have access to money to pay employees,” he said.
Still, Meacham said banking officials know that freezing accounts could create hardships.
“It's certainly not something the bank took lightly,” Meacham said. “It was done only as a last resort.”
Meacham said the bank tried to come up with creative ways to keep the accounts open, including negotiating with Boswell and Harjo to try to work out an arrangement where both signatures would be required on checks until the leadership dispute is resolved.
That effort failed because of the bitterness of the dispute, he said. Banking officials eventually decided they had to take action, he said.
Strange as it now seems, Boswell and Harjo ran on the same ticket and took office in January 2010, with Boswell serving as governor and Harjo as lieutenant governor.
They soon parted ways, however, with Boswell suspending Harjo for insubordination and Harjo turning to the tribal legislature and courts for assistance in ousting Boswell.
The dispute has escalated, with each setting up competing administrations. Boswell continues to operate out of the tribal headquarters in Concho, while Harjo and her allies have set up an office in El Reno. Each side recognizes different tribal court judges, who have issued conflicting rulings.
Harjo and Boswell factions issued competing news releases Thursday and Friday — each blaming the other for the current crisis.
“Ms. Harjo's continuous, greedy quest for control and power has certainly gone too far this time, jeopardizing essential governmental services to both Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal members and nonmembers alike,” states the news release by Boswell's faction.
Harjo responded: “If Boswell upheld the Cheyenne and Arapaho Constitution with an honest and transparent government, there would be absolutely no reason for the bank to immediately ‘administratively' freeze our accounts.”
The tribe claims 12,185 enrolled tribal members, 8,664 of whom live in Oklahoma, according to Wikipedia.