|Melinda Gopher, Ojibway-Blackfeet|
President of the Ahontoays Band, #172 OFA
Band Council members are Melinda Gopher, Band President, Missoula, MT; Belynda Hayes, Great Falls, MT; White Eagle Edmundson, Missoula, MT; Arlene Gopher, Missoula, MT; Candace Sanders, Missoula, MT, Mindy Thibert, of Great Falls, and Gerald Gopher, of Hawaii.
Upon informal advisement with Dr. Lee Fleming of the Office of Federal Acknowledgment, the Ahontoays council moved to close enrollment--the council learned it MAY NOT add descendants who were part of a prior and denied federal recognition effort. The incomplete letter filed by Robert Gopher was revised and completed by the council in late October and a certified census forwarded to the OFA upon the federal agency's consultation.
|Chief Rocky Boy, Founder|
Rocky Boy Indian Reservation
Based upon her testimony under oath, and under penalty of perjury, the council submitted the first and only certified roll to the OFA on October 23, 2013. Bear Claw Tribe, Inc. made a Congressional Claim for Federal Recognition in 1992 before the 102nd Congress, upon a claim for 42 acres of land.
The council's preliminary findings also indicate because the 1992 Bear Claw claim was made from 1992-1997, that the group does not meet the definition of a splinter group consistent with FR 73-30146, the OFA process for reviewing whether there is a legitimate leadership dispute in the band. The incomplete letter of intent submitted by the late Robert Gopher was dated February 1, 1996, the band is listed as #172.
"That does not mean we will not work with the other Loud Thunder clans, it only means that until this litigation is closed, we will not even vote on a path forward. It is time to end the litigation. Until that happens, we have ceded to the plenary powers of Congress. The other clans can thank Phyllis Parker and Charles Walking Child, because the Bear Claw claim has proven to diminish their rights to a great degree, that is why my late father didn't want anything to do with it, or them."
|The late Dorothy Gopher, whose estate|
triggered a three year battle.
"We are calling for an amicable end to the litigation at this time and for Phyllis Parker and Mike Gopher to cease and desist from defrauding the local court in Great Falls. We are aware Parker has been tampering with the Ahontoays Band records since at least 2006, and has presented herself to OFA officials as a tribal official, she is not. The court must abide by Congressional power, as we are, and defer to the OFA's authority, and to our authority as a band. Phyllis Parker never was a member of our band, and even though Mike Gopher attempted to add the Bear Claw claimants, they did so in a spirit of bad faith, after they knew their shoddily researched congressional claim was going down in flames. I am calling in them to stop defrauding the court or face the consequences."
|Iron Claw Bear Woman, |
Mary Chippewa Gopher
The Gopher family is proceeding with its effort to obtain registration and dual enrollment for its clan before the Indian Registrar, a branch of the Canadian government. The family is preparing for a comprehensive land claim and pursuing a self governance agreement with the Canadian government. The family hopes to renew cultural and tribal ties it has long held in the province of Saskatchewan.