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Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes sue Oklahoma district judge over frozen funds

The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes are now suing a Custer County district judge as they try to free up millions of dollars frozen by a Clinton bank at the end of April.
by Andrew Knittle Published: May 17, 2012

— The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes are suing a Custer County district judge as they try to free up millions of dollars frozen by a Clinton bank at the end of April.

Custer County District Judge Doug Haught is named in an amended complaint filed Tuesday by the tribes' attorneys in federal court. The tribes had already filed suit against First Bank and Trust Co., claiming roughly $6.4 million was illegally frozen on April 24.

“Defendant First Bank's decision to bring the State Court Action, and Defendant Haught's decision to maintain jurisdiction of the State Court Action, harm the rights of the Tribes to govern themselves by their own laws, as well as harm the rights of individual tribal members to elect and be led by a Governor of their choosing,” the amended complaint states.

Bank officials stated they wanted the funds frozen because of an ongoing leadership dispute within the tribe.

Janice Prairie Chief-Boswell, who is the tribes' disputed governor, and Leslie Wandrie-Harjo, who was lieutenant governor at one time, each claim to be governor of the tribes. The dispute, which has gotten ugly at times and divided the tribes into factions, has raged for more than a year.

A June 8 hearing is set to resolve the banking issue, but a Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes spokeswoman said the effects of the freeze have already caused hardships.

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by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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