Stop the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Publication

of  the

Catawba Final Membership Roll


             The Eastern Regional Office of the Bureau of Indian affairs (BIA), under Franklin Keel (attorney and current Eastern Regional BIA Director), has apparently made a public statement on Thursday, June 22, 2000 in South Carolina that he intends to fast-track to publication the Catawba Proposed Final Membership to its third and final publication known as the Catawba Final Membership Roll.   Mr. Keel has publically declared his intentions to rush this document to publication in the Federal Register before July 11, 2000. 

            Why Mr. Keel's urgent need to publish before this date?   Because on July 11, 2000, a member of the public who was denied tribal enrollment is in the process of filing a federal law suit against the actions and inactions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, including the Eastern Regional BIA Office.  This harmed member of the public, Ms. Judy Canty Martin, began this action after the Catawba Executive Committee Members denied her enrollment on March 13, 2000, and the BIA upheld the Executive Committee Members' decision.  On or about May 3, 2000, the Bureau of Indian Affairs issued a form denial letter to Ms. Canty Martin, through its Eastern Regional Office, stating that the BIA would not reverse the actions of the Executive Committee Members.   The BIA denied Ms. Canty Martin her heritage and identity as a person who descended from known Catawba tribal members.

            Ms. Canty Martin filed a Motion for Temporary Injunction to prohibit the BIA from finalizing and publishing the Final Catawba Tribal Roll.   The first Motion was denied.   The federal court in Denver stated that the denial was based on  Ms. Canty Martin's failure to exhaust all administrative appeals.  In other words, at the time that Ms. Canty Martin filed this motion, she had not yet had written confirmation from the BIA that they would deny her appeal.  However, there were legal grounds under which the court could have ruled for Ms. Canty Martin, including the prior statements by the BIA that they did not believe that the petitioner qualified for tribal enrollment.   The BIA, of course, had not seen any of the petitioner's prior legal documents supporting her enrollment plea.  Please visit the Catawba Tribal Recognition Documents page for addition background and/or obtain copies of documents.  If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail your questions to the webmaster.

            The federal district court assigned a pre-trail hearing date in Denver, Colorado between Ms. Canty Martin, Mr. Kevin Gover (attorney), Assistant Secretary Of the Interior for Indian Affairs, and Mr. Franklin Keel (attorney), Director for the  Eastern Regional BIA Office.  The purposes of this meeting are to see if this matter cannot be resolved between the parties prior to going to court,  to identify the subject matter to be litigated, and to agree upon the length of the briefs to be submitted by  Ms. Canty Martin vs. the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

            Ms. Canty Martin has since filed an amended Motion for Temporary Injunction which the court denied without comment, and she has now filed an appeal to the Federal Court of Appeals on the denial of the Motion for Temporary Injunction.

            Mr. Franklin Keel has been placed on legal notice that a federal action will take place against the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the matter of the Catawba Tribal enrollment process.  He is fully informed that the federal court in Denver, Colorado has issued a hearing date on July 11, 2000 to attempt to mediate this matter.  Mr. Keel's conduct to rush the Final Catawba Tribal Roll to publication is further evidence of the Bureau's hostile nature towards Ms. Canty Martin, other harmed members of the public, and his contempt for the legal process.  Clearly his conduct and statements support a total lack of concern in having this matter mediated.   His actions will compell the members who are harmed by such conduct to full litigation in federal district court.

            As a federal employee, Mr. Keel has a duty to protect the federal government from law suits.  His conduct, rather than preventing such legal action,  will in fact ensnare the federal government in lengthy litigation.  The action of Ms. Canty Martin involves legal claims that the BIA has violated her US Constitutional rights of due process and notice and the right to associate with people of her choice.  Additionally,  Ms. Canty Martin believes that the BIA has violated the Adminsitrative Procedures Act by failing to provide regulations/policies that a common person can comprehend.  In this case, the BIA is itself confused about enrollment standards which were never clearly stated nor applied consistently.  Therefore, it appears that even a government-attorney/director cannot comprehend the enrollment standards.  Also,  Ms. Canty Martin raises the argument that the BIA has failed to apply and enforce the Catawba Indians of South Carolina Lands Settlement Act of 1993 Section 7 Membership statutory language.

             We are asking those concerned about the actions and inactions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to please contact the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and support our request for an immediate investigation into the conduct of Mr. Franklin Keel as Director of the Eastern Regional BIA Office and into the conduct of  Asst. Sec. Kevin Gover for his continued support of  Mr. Keel's conduct as director. 

            Mr. Keel's prior statements to US Congressmen, US Senators, and the public will show that the BIA has an agenda which is to prevent individuals from associating with their tribal people.  Mr. Keel sent a letter to US Congressman Bill Richardson (N. M.) declaring that he would a apply a five-prong enrollment criteria standard upon those seeking Catawba tribal enrollment.   Mr. Keel advised Congressman Richardson that he was certain that none of those who would petition for tribal enrollment would be able to meet the five-prong test for tribal enrollment.  This standard was not part of any Catawba enrollment criteria applied in the past, nor was it codified in the Settlement Act of 1993.   Despite this fact,  Mr. Keel stated to Congressman Bill Richardson that he decided to do a five-prong test based on his conclusion that Congress had intended this test but simply did not include it the federal statute that applied.  Mr. Keel declared to US Congressman that he had done a Congressional intent analysis and determined that a five-prong enrollment stand would apply to the Catawbas.   This means that Mr. Keel would have had to return to the Congressional record and found specific language in the Record stating that Congression intended to have these specific five-prong elements as the Catawba Tribal enrollment standards.  A subsequent Freedom of Information Act request was submitted to Mr. Keel asking for his citations in these records to the language that Congress had intended a five-prong test should be applied.  Mr. Keel responded in a July 8, 1997 letter that no Congressional intent standard need apply but only a plain reading of the language of the federal statute need be applied.   Mr. Keel never sent a correcting letter to US Congressman Bill Richardson about his error in application of the federal law. 

            Mr. Keel and the BIA have displayed arrogant and hostile attitudes in dealing with the public in regards to the Catawba tribal enrollment process.  This hostility ranges from ignoring telephone calls and/or written requests for basic information relating to the Catawba enrollment process (eg. standards of enrollment,  rules to appeal,  rules of intial review, and complaints that the Catawba Executive Committee Members were ignoring requests for informaton)  to failing to respond to complaints of clear expressed biases against applicants by BIA employees, including Mr. Franklin Keel himself.  Mr. Keel routinely refuses to reply to Freedom Of Information Requests submitted to him until additional pressures are brought upon him.  

            The BIA has lost legal documents entrusted to its care.    The BIA is unable to produce the identical enrollment criteria used to develop the 1943 Catawba Roll nor the 1961 Catawba Tribal Termination Roll.  So,  the BIA simply fabricated the standards for the 1961 Catawba Tribal Termination Roll.  It has lost prior submitted Proposed Final Membership Rolls.  Keel stated in a FOIA response that his office received so many documents that they simply dumped them in a pile and never bothered to log in the date on which the documents were received.

            The BIA has failed to respond to questions from the public as to whether or not the Catawba Final Membership Roll is a mere Per Capita Dispersement Roll or if it is also the basis upon which all future enrollment will be based.  It is our opinion that the Final Membership Roll is both a Per Capita Roll and the basis for future enrollment, though there are newspaper statements attributed to the BIA that this is merely a Dispersement Roll.   The language of the applicable federal statute would suggest otherwise (ie. that it is a dual roll).  

             We are requesting that if you are concerned over this abuse of governmental power and find that the conduct of Mr. Franklin Keel and Mr. Kevin Gover are offensive to your sense of justice, would you please write the U.S. Senators whose names have been attached? Respectfully request that these US Senators have an immediate inquiry into the actions and inactions of these federal employees with respect to the rights of the American public.

Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Chairman Colorado (202) 224-5852
Daniel K. Inouye, Vice Chairman Hawaii (202) 224-3934
Frank H. Murkowski Alaska (202) 224-6665
John McCain Arizona (202) 224-2235
Slade Gorton Washington (202) 224-3441
Pete V. Domenici New Mexico (202) 224-6621
Craig Thomas Wyoming (202) 224-6441
Orrin G. Hatch Utah (202) 224-5251
James Inhofe Oklahoma (202) 224-4721
Kent Conrad North Dakota (202) 224-2043
Harry Read Nevada (202) 224-3542
Daniel K. Akaka Hawaii (202) 224-6361
Paul Wellstone Minnesota (202) 224-5641
Bryon L. Dorgan North Dakota (202) 224-2551


The address for these senators is


For your convenience, we have made three sample letters to senators available for download in the space below. Each of these letters is available in the MS Word 2000 (.doc),and the plain text (.txt) formats. Letter 1 was written for those petitioning for Catawba Tribal membership. Letter 2 was written for enrolled Catawba Tribe members who are concerned about the treatment of the petitioners and the general manner in which the tribal membership matter is being handled, and Letter 3 is for non-Catawba individuals who are nevertheless concerned about a Federal agency treading on the US Constitutionally protected rights of a group of individuals as well as the increased litigation that is resulting from the various actions and inactions of the BIA.

Download Letter 1 (For those individuals petitioning for Catawba Tribal membership)

Download Letter 2 (For concerned individuals already enrolled in the Catawba Nation)

Download Letter 3 (For concerned individuals not of Catawba heritage)


For WordPerfect users, we have archived all three of these sample letters into a single self-extracting zip file since modern web-browsers no longer support the transfer of files in the WordPerfect (.wpd) format. To obtain the WordPerfect version of these letters, you will need to first download the sample_ltr_wpd.exe file to a temporary directory (eg. c:\temp). Next, click the RUN command (in the menu under Start). When the RUN window appears, enter c:\temp\sample_ltr_wpd.exe as the executable file to be run. When this executable file begins running, a form will appear prompting you for a directory to which the WordPerfect files are to be copied. Make your directory selection in this form and click the Unzip button. At this point, the WordPerfect versions of all three sample letters will be copied to the directory you selected.

Download   sample_ltr_wpd.exe   (Self-extracting archive of all three sample letters in the WordPerfect format)


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