The Latest: Elder tries to intervene in tribal standoff


CHARLESTOWN, R.I. (AP) — The Latest on the Narragansett Indian power struggle in Rhode Island (all times local):

2:55 p.m.

An elder from a Rhode Island Indian tribe is trying to end a standoff between two factions that’s led to the occupation of a tribal building.

Charlestown Police Chief Jeffrey Allen said Thursday that the elder went inside the administration building that a group of mostly female members of the Narragansett Indian Tribe has occupied since Tuesday.

The standoff comes in a power struggle against impeached Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas.

Tribal member Bella Noka says it’s mostly women because they don’t want the men getting hurt if Thomas supporters try to forcefully regain the building. She says they won’t leave until the federal government intervenes.

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs said Wednesday that it won’t step in.

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12:30 p.m.

The leader of the Narragansett Indian Tribe says he will forcefully take over his tribal administration building unless a faction occupying it since Tuesday leaves immediately.

Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas (SAY’-chem) said Thursday afternoon that he was on his way to the occupied tribal administration building in Charlestown, Rhode Island.

Both sides had filed temporary restraining orders but U.S. District Judge John McConnell ruled Thursday morning that his court lacks jurisdiction because it’s a question of tribal sovereignty.

Thomas then received a tribal court ruling that he says allows his side to regain control of the building.

A lawyer for the faction inside the building says Thomas supporters were gathering outside it early Thursday afternoon. Attorney Misty Delgado says she’s concerned the situation could become physical.

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10:12 a.m.

Members of a Rhode Island Indian tribe are in their third day of occupying their tribal government headquarters in the latest round of a power struggle with the chief they ousted.

Members of a recently elected Narragansett Tribal Council said they took over the administration building Tuesday because Chief Sachem (SAY’-chem) Matthew Thomas has refused to relinquish power after they impeached him in October.

They changed the locks on the building and slept on couches on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Councilwoman Chastity Machado says she’s hoping for a resolution Thursday when a federal judge holds a conference call with lawyers representing both factions.

The conference is to consider a temporary restraining order filed on Wednesday by Thomas and his supporters who say the building occupation is unlawful.

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