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Old 09-29-2004, 05:30 PM   #1
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Comanche Nation Chair Wallace Coffee charged with felony

Let's keep all these individuals in our prayers....

http://www.nativetimes.com/index.asp...rticle_id=5199

Comanche Nation Chair charged with felony
Case could have far-reaching implications

LAWTON OK
Sam Lewin 9/29/2004

The Chairman of the Comanche Nation faces felony charges for allegedly allowing an abusive father to regain custody of two children. The case could also jeopardize his standing as a member of an advisory panel for an Indian legal program at Arizona State University.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation says Wallace Coffey admitted that he returned the two boys, ages 13 and 10, even after being specifically ordered not to by a tribal court and by the FBI.

Coffey’s secretary told the Native American Times that her boss was out of the office Wednesday attending a funeral and not available for comment. Other Oklahoma media organizations have reported Coffey has been unreachable for the entire week.

The case began this spring when the FBI began probing abuse allegations that were leveled by the two children. Other relatives also accused the father of abuse. The FBI asked that the boys be removed from the father’s custody, and the tribe’s children’s court complied. The FBI says tribal administrator Michael Burgess ordered child welfare director Elizabeth Woodard to return the boys.

The FBI charges that Woodard told her employees to return the children and that Burgess fired a caseworker that tried to remove the children again.

Both Woodard and Burgess face felony charges of obstructing justice, an accusation they will face at a hearing in October. Coffey’s secretary said Woodard and Burgess no longer work for the tribe.

The FBI says Coffey admitted he was involved in the decision to return the children. He too has been hit with a felony count of obstructing justice. He faces a possible prison term of one year and a fine of $5,000.

Coffey is also a member of the Indian Legal Program’s Advisory Council at A.S.U.

Professor Paul Bender was one of the organizers of the program. He said he was unsure if the allegations against Coffey could affect his position on the advisory council, saying it likely hinges on the final outcome of the case.

“ It would depend on what the facts are. Until we have that the facts we can’t know for sure,” Bender said.
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Old 11-01-2004, 06:44 PM   #2
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What Happens When You Want More

I feel for Wallace Coffey but they (tribes) opened themselves up for all that when they started signing "compacts" and signing away their sovereignty. He has to remember that he may be the Chair of the Comanche Tribe but they have to answer to the FBI and when they said no they have the authority now to enforce what they say. I guess he thought his sovereignty was what it used to be! And he learned real quick just how much "sovereign" is left to us in the state of Oklahoma! We all know that to get grants and look like a "high rollin" tribe, you have to do things their way and sign away your sovereignty or be that "po" Ndn tribe. Me. I'd rather be that po Ndn with his sovereignty than have that casino and everyone breathin down my back!

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Old 11-01-2004, 07:56 PM   #3
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Sovereignty?

Yer kidding right?

Indians ain't got diddly!! You ask me, the casino tribes have MORE going for them than the rest of us that ain't got jack!!

They can now afford to "buy" their sovereignty like the rest of America does. It ain't no secret that when you "lobby" in Washington, yer really just trying to pay someone off to hear your side and to see what deals you can strike up in the process.

When we can issue a coin or currency that is considered legal tender and is accepted by the US and all it's foreign possessions, and we can meet and talk on EQUAL terms.....then I'd say we're sovereign. Right now, the US still just sees us as it's "children" who need to be led around and told what they do or do not need.

As for grants.

My own tribe enters into "understandings" with outside, federal, state or local non-native governments, without sacrificing our so called "sovereignty".

Our ancestors had more sovereignty than we will ever have, or hope to have. They declared war on the US, defended boundaries, established boundaries that we're to be respected or else something went down and it got messy with casualities on both sides of the line.

Soon as we signed off on stuff.....mostly by supposed leaders that the government itself appointed....we lost it all.

But, hey...we can dream right?


....sorry. Back to the subject at hand.
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Old 11-02-2004, 04:54 PM   #4
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I'm not sure if this is of topic or not, but since when does the FBI become involved in allegations of child abuse...I have been a teacher in several states and worked with child protective services/ DHS and I've never heard of the FBI being involved in a case where there was possible abuse or neglect or anything of that nature ..anyway, I am sorry to read of this happening and am also wondering about the care the children are recieving at this time- are they still in the care of the father, have the allegations been disproved, has the case been dropped by OK. DHS? etc, etc, etc..just my thoughts on the topic..OP
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Old 11-02-2004, 07:00 PM   #5
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Orange, the FBI is or I should say "was" the only law enforcement that had jurisdiction on "Indian" land(s) and now, today, tribes wanted to get their law enforcement grants and so they signed "compacts" to allow other agencies (law enforcement) the rights to go on Ndn land and arrest Ndns.
In taking the scraps offered to us we do and have been giving away more and more of our sovereignty! The need to show progress is nothing more than saying we'll trade for a trinket of beads in exchange of getting that measley $45,000.00 grant! We need to protect those rights given to us. I think it is so important that tribal members realize what their leaders are sacrificing (things that don't belong to them but to the people) and oppose their blatant disgregard for something our ancestors paid for by their very lives and blood. These greedy tribal leaders (not all don't get offended) are being used.
To the other person, we can be successful, does it have to be thru gambling? Is that all our land is worth, what happened to a successful business like manufacturing plants or retail sales? What!? You think your tribe is doing so well, tell me what you get out of your tribes casino earnings? I can probably answer that, not a dime! Who helps the alcoholic young man living whever he can, who helps that young mother who isn't educated and has small children and no way to care for them Who helps that ndn elder who only gets a ssi monthly check and can't pay his bills cause he helps provide for others? What?! You don't have any socio-economic problems in your tribe, the casino fixed all that. Around here there's a couple of pawn shops that have alot of ndn regalia from those "harmless" casinos. I haven't seen these 2 tribes help their people or any other ndn as far as that goes. They still put in for grants to help build their casinos, why don't they make enough to let some smaller tribe that doesn't have a casino use that grant money to build them a senior citizen center or something they don't have now. I can answer that too, cause with money comes greed, even among us ndns. So, your debate about sovereignty isn't about your tribes success its about losing soverienty to make the almighty dollar!
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Old 11-02-2004, 07:36 PM   #6
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AAhhhaa

Thanks Tsogoudle..I have to show my ignorance on that as continuing to occur...the native communities with which I am familiar all have their own tribal police and I have always understood that the area police could enforce once off of tribal lands..I didn't grow up traditional so I am sometimes unsure as to some things..anyway, even in most child abuse/ neglect cases I have been involved in I guess those families didn't live on tribal land so there would have been differtent circumstances...but thanks for the explanation..
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Old 11-03-2004, 12:47 AM   #7
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Independence and sovereignty is all well and good but the point of the article is that child abuse was determined and rather than place the children in a safe environment, the tribal authorities ordered the children to be placed back into an abusive situation and even fired one of the caseworkers who refused to do so. The focus of this discussion should not be whether the FBI has jurisdiction, but whether or not the children are being protected. The children should not be used as pawns in some power play between fed and tribal authorities.
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Old 11-03-2004, 03:22 AM   #8
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ď It would depend on what the facts are. Until we have that the facts we canít know for sure"
This is good advice for this topic. I know Chairman Coffey, and I know he is a good man. I know that he has done a lot of good things for our tribe. And yes, that, to me, includes the casinos my tribe has built. As far as the previous post concerning retail sales and manufacturing.... How many tribes out there are participating in meaningful manufacturing that is profitable? We all know that the big companies would rather build their plants in Mexico, Indonesia, and other countries, rather than in NDN country. Its cheaper, and they don't have to deal with as much red tape.
What good has come from our casino? Check out the Comanche Nation Funeral Home some time. Ask the people who have used it how much it means to them, that their loved ones are being interred with dignity and respect for our traditions.
Check out the New Pathways Halfway House as far as treatment for alcoholism goes. And the elderly payments. And the programs that have begun to help out the native american artists in the community.
Are casinos the answer for all the problems our tribes endure? NO! Absolutely not! But what they are is an opportunity, or a stepping stone, towards a better future.
As far as sovereignty goes, let me point out a quote by President Bush, "We gave you sovereignty". What! You don't "give" sovereignty. But that is how we are looked upon by the federal government. How can we lose something that we don't even HAVE???? Soverignty is a joke! Like Mr. Bojangles pointed out, we haven't been sovereign for a over a hundred years.
Lastly, the most important point. If the allegations prove to be true, that these children have been abused, then all guilty parties should pay and pay dearly. I have no qualms about that whatsoever.
Mr. Burgess is back on the job, currently, because it was determined that the Comanche Business Committee didn't have the authority to fire him as he is an elected official. Just wanted to correct that article.
And like Smokin Ace said, lets keep these folks in our prayers......
Numunu1971
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Old 11-03-2004, 10:41 AM   #9
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alot of mixed messages...

casinos have a love-hate relationship with everyone. here in Cali where most tribes don't have their own land--that's right, no reservation--casino initiatives are always found on ballots because a tribe buys land to build a casino so they can have a revenue stream. the locals get upset because they read 'CORRUPTION' in big letters. The word 'CASINO' is still synonymous with 'THE MOB' out here. A stretch sometimes, but if you look at alot of the casino accords tribes have, they are with companies like Bally's, Trump, Steve Wynne, etc. translate Vegas, Atlantic City NJ translate 'Mob?' Who knows for sure. They aren't tellin'...

Someone said that casinos give nothing to tribes. Not True. One example (and I'll research others): Grande Ronde, Oregon. They have a beautiful, new tribal health clinic (not IHS) on their land. Their members get pretty good healthcare.

Someone inferred that other tribes don't benefit from tribes that do have gambling. Which is why there was an initiative in Cali a few years back that mandated non-gaming tribes receive a cut of gaming tribes profits. Of course, enforcing this has been a nightmare. To enforce it, requires accountability and everytime the State tries to get a law passed to hold the gaming tribes more ACCOUNTABLE we scream 'RACISM'. Obviously, we aren't all taking care of our own. Maybe it will take more government interference to ensure non-gaming tribes get a piece of the action. In my book (no pun intended) WHATEVER IT TAKES. NDN Country wants to be seen as contemporary, mainstream, be respected and have their 'SOVREIGNTY' mean something? Play by the rules! Just like other businesses, casinos/gaming tribes need to play with the big boys if they want to be a part of the future, not whine and cry foul and hide behind mamma's skirt.

I got off track here. Sorry. Wallace Coffey has the right to make a statement. Let's hear it. Until then, I refuse to pass judgment on the man.
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Old 11-03-2004, 01:25 PM   #10
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Thanks for your input on this post Numunu...I know you are speaking from the heart and giving us information that is very important... that said I did not intend to make this a discussion about who has jurisdiction by my comment and I did close my first statement with questions about the current care that those children were recieving...
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Old 11-04-2004, 05:17 PM   #11
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Numanah71, you have more right to an opinion on your casino than me as I'm not Comanche. I see things differently than you as far as casinos/sovereignty. You know as I do these "casinos" just came to pass thru that little weekend Bingo. It wasn't until some tribes back east began gaming and Donald Trumpp threw a fit and casinos opened rampantly. As the white man saw that it wasn't their idea of "economic development" they wanted the casinos stopped. I do think alot of shaddy characters are behind those casinos, look what happened in Lawton, OK, 2 or 3 people lost their lives and they all worked at a casino (except the creep that murdered them icb!) The newspapers mentions what a card shark one guy was, he came from Chicago?!?! It sounded scary to me.
And as far as your casino goes, aren't there alot of white people running that casino? I think they are the dominent employees? Whose in charge of management, ndn or white? I'm just curious. If I was a casino type ndn I'd have to say that I'd bet on the white odds!
And I bet your funeral home was built with matching federal funds. Do they bury their tribal members free o charge? I say thats not much of a benefit since you have to pay for the funeral costs anyways. Well. I don't want to single your tribe out or say that your tribe shouldn't be benefiting from an opportunity. I liked what you said here "Are casinos the answer for all the problems our tribes endure? NO! Absolutely not! But what they are is an opportunity, or a stepping stone, towards a better future." And your tribe should be looking at means of staying above water. I am glad my tribe doesn't have a casino. They graveled over it for years! But most didn't want it. In the future, I'm sure we will see the reasons why.

Back to the main point, doesn't it seem odd that just out of thin air the FBI looked into charging Mr. C? It makes me wonder if they won't be controlling the tribal governments thru things like this. I am against any interference from state or govt on ndn lands. I think this was predicted years ago.
Those abused children do have the right to be placed in safe homes and the tribes owe that much to their young minors.

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Old 11-04-2004, 06:35 PM   #12
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Please understand my whole point of posting this article was that we should keep Wallace Coffee, along with everyone else involved in this situation, in our prayers. It is a sad state of affairs...regardless of how much money the tribe is making....regardless of who slipped up where....the point is that a family is in trouble...and all of our prayers are needed. I have always had a great deal of respect for Mr. Coffee in seeing him on the pow-wow trail. As a leader, I am sure he has had to make decisions which everyone may not agree with - comes with the territory, however. I pray that the children are safe...I pray that healing comes to this family in question....and I pray that the Comanche tribe and Wallace Coffee Godspeed in this situation. All parties mentioned will continue to be in my prayers.
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Old 11-05-2004, 09:00 AM   #13
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This is some good stuff Tsogoudle..... First lemme say that the Comanche Nation Casino is one of the only NDN Casinos managed and operated by the tribe itself. Most tribes hire management companies (i.e. "white people") to operate their casinos, but the Comanches don't.
Whether the funeral home was built with matching funds, I do not know. Do they bury members free of charge? I believe there is a set amount of money, like $1,500 dollars and anything over is on you. Thats still better than nothing! But more importantly is the reaction from the people who have used it, they all say the feel as if they were treated with dignity.
Please don't misunderstand me on tribal sovereignty. I love the idea of sovereignty.... I just don't see it. I do know that this case is going to affect tribal sovereignty, I just wonder whether it will be for the betterment or detriment of the NDN people of the U.S.???
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsogoudle
Numanah71, you have more right to an opinion on your casino than me as I'm not Comanche. I see things differently than you as far as casinos/sovereignty. You know as I do these "casinos" just came to pass thru that little weekend Bingo. It wasn't until some tribes back east began gaming and Donald Trumpp threw a fit and casinos opened rampantly. As the white man saw that it wasn't their idea of "economic development" they wanted the casinos stopped. I do think alot of shaddy characters are behind those casinos, look what happened in Lawton, OK, 2 or 3 people lost their lives and they all worked at a casino (except the creep that murdered them icb!) The newspapers mentions what a card shark one guy was, he came from Chicago?!?! It sounded scary to me.
And as far as your casino goes, aren't there alot of white people running that casino? I think they are the dominent employees? Whose in charge of management, ndn or white? I'm just curious. If I was a casino type ndn I'd have to say that I'd bet on the white odds!
And I bet your funeral home was built with matching federal funds. Do they bury their tribal members free o charge? I say thats not much of a benefit since you have to pay for the funeral costs anyways. Well. I don't want to single your tribe out or say that your tribe shouldn't be benefiting from an opportunity. I liked what you said here "Are casinos the answer for all the problems our tribes endure? NO! Absolutely not! But what they are is an opportunity, or a stepping stone, towards a better future." And your tribe should be looking at means of staying above water. I am glad my tribe doesn't have a casino. They graveled over it for years! But most didn't want it. In the future, I'm sure we will see the reasons why.

Back to the main point, doesn't it seem odd that just out of thin air the FBI looked into charging Mr. C? It makes me wonder if they won't be controlling the tribal governments thru things like this. I am against any interference from state or govt on ndn lands. I think this was predicted years ago.
Those abused children do have the right to be placed in safe homes and the tribes owe that much to their young minors.
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Kio-Manche
Oklahoma Proud!!!

Last edited by Numunu1971; 11-05-2004 at 09:04 AM.. Reason: left out a word
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