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Oklahoma tribes' accounts to remain frozen, federal judge rules

A federal judge has ruled that bank accounts belonging to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma are to remain frozen until a leadership dispute within the tribe is resolved.
by Andrew Knittle Published: May 11, 2012

Lisa Liebl, a spokeswoman for the tribes, said tribal leaders “were more disappointed than surprised” by Russell's ruling.

Liebl said tribal employees — numbering 500 or so, not including casino workers — are working a reduced 32-hour workweek because of the frozen funds, and that checks written by the tribe to employees, contractors and vendors already had bounced by the beginning of this week.

Documents submitted by the tribes' attorneys claim that freezing the $6.4 million would disrupt many important social services afforded to its members, including housing assistance and a food voucher program.

Liebl also said emergency medical services, firefighting units, substance abuse programs and other services would likely be scaled back if the funds remain frozen.

“Now, we'll just wait for our court date on June 8. ... That's all we can do at this point,” she said. “We're still locked out of those accounts, those frozen funds, so we have no idea what's happening with all of that.”

Liebl said the tribes' Lucky Star casinos should remain operational with the funds frozen, but said earlier in the week that even that was uncertain.

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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