Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana Judicial Codes
Approved: 1998; Last amended: 2004
RESOLUTION No. 2000 - 10
Re: Resolution to enact the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana Membership and Enrollment Ordinance
WHEREAS, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana (the "Tribe") is a sovereign Indian Nation, recognized as such by the United States of America; and
WHEREAS, the Tribe exercises all the power and authority of a sovereign nation that has not been specifically limited by Congress; and
WHEREAS, the Tribe is empowered by its sovereign status to exercise its Legislative, Executive and Judicial powers; and
WHEREAS, the Tribe is desirous of establishing a tribal membership and enrollment ordinance, setting forth the criteria, policy and procedures for enrollment in the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana,
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that, the Tribal Council of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana hereby adopts the attached Membership and Enrollment Ordinance
This resolution was duly acted upon by the following council members at a meeting held on the 11th day of April, 2000, with a quorum present.
LOVELIN PONCHO - Chairman
BERTNEY LANGLEY, Secretary/Treasurer
COUSHATTA TRIBE OF LOUISIANA MEMBERSHIP AND ENROLLMENT ORDINANCE
I. Authority - This membership ordinance of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana is enacted by the duly elected Tribal Council pursuant to its authority to establish the procedures necessary for the effective governing of the Tribe. Such authority of the Tribal Council, firmly rooted in tribal tradition, has been consistently recognized by all governmental and commercial entities as the proper method whereby this Tribe exercises its inherent sovereign powers.
II. Purpose - The purposes of this membership ordinance are to establish eligibility criteria for membership in the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana and to establish guidelines, rules and orderly procedures to maintain a current membership roll of all persons eligible for membership.
III. Definitions - The following terms and phrases, when used in this ordinance, shall have the meaning ascribed to them.
A. "Adopted child" - one whose natural parents' parental rights have been terminated by a court and given to another.
B. "Adoption" - the legal action whereby parental rights of natural parents are terminated by court order and assigned to another.
C. "Adult" - A person 18 years of age or over.
D. "Applicant" - a person who has submitted an application for membership in the tribe prior to final action on the application.
E. "Base enrollees" - those individuals who are designated as tribal members without further test of eligibility. For this tribe, the base enrollees are those persons whose names appear on the current approved membership roll of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana on the date this ordinance is enacted.
F. "Coushatta Indian blood" - Indian blood derived from a biological ancestor who was recognized as a member of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana.
G. "Current approved membership roll" - the listing of all persons designated by the Enrollment Department of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana as members of the tribe on the date of the enactment of this ordinance, without further test of their eligibility, unless dually enrolled.
H. "Direct descent" or "direct lineal descent" - biological descent where lineage can be traced from parent to child in each generation.
I. "Disenrollment" - an official act by the tribe to deprive a member of the right to tribal membership.
J. "Documentation" - the supply of legal evidence to support a statement of fact. No enrollment action shall be taken without documentation to support the decision.
K. "Family tree chart" - the form used to show the line of descent of an applicant from a base enrollee.
L. "Incompetents" - persons who have been legally determined to be unable to take effective actions on their own behalf.
M. "Member" - an individual who has met the membership criteria of an Indian tribe and is officially enrolled with that tribe.
N. "Minor" - a person under the age of eighteen years.
O. "Notarized" - a document attested before or authenticated by a public officer (a notary) who witnesses the signature and certifies that it is authentic.
P. "Received Any Benefits" - Obtained anything of value other than housing services, health services or education services from or through another tribe as a result of membership in that tribe. This term does not include the receipt of property or money by inheritance from an individual member of another tribe.
Q. "Relinquishment" - personal, voluntary action taken by a tribal member or an individual legally authorized to act on the member's behalf to terminate the member's relationship with the tribe.
R. "Resolution" - a formal statement of a decision by a tribal entity.
S. "Sponsor" - a parent or legal guardian who has the legal authority to take enrollment actions on behalf of another person because of age or incompetence.
T. "Tribe" - The Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana.
U. "Tribal Council" - The duly elected representatives of the Tribe authorized to take governmental actions, including the making of enrollment decisions.
IV. Membership Eligibility Criteria
The membership of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana shall consist of the following persons:
A. All persons whose names appear on the attached current approved membership roll of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana on the date of the enactment of this ordinance without further test of their eligibility, unless dually enrolled.
B. All persons whose names do not appear on the attached current approved membership roll of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana but do appear on the attached listing compiled from the 1985 Health Roll, or on the attached listing compiled from the 1988 Application of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, provided they
1 . Possess one quarter (1/4) or more degree Coushatta Indian blood,
2. Are not currently enrolled with any other Indian tribe, band, nation, community or village
3 . Submit an application for membership with required documentation establishing eligibility
C. All persons who are direct lineal descendants of persons identified in subsections A. or B. above, provided they
1 . Possess one quarter (1/4) or more degree Coushatta Indian blood
2. Are not currently enrolled with any other Indian Tribe, band, nation, community or village.
a. A person who was enrolled as a member with any other Indian Tribe, band, nation, community or village may relinquish that membership and become eligible for membership in the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana only if
1 . He/she became enrolled in the other tribe, band, nation, community or village while a minor and only if
2. He/she did not receive any benefits, as defined in this ordinance, during membership and only if
3 . Application for membership with the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana is submitted not later than the nineteenth (19th) birthday of the applicant.
3. Submit an application for membership with required documentation establishing eligibility.
V. Filing an application for enrollment
A. Who must file? All persons not listed on the CTL membership roll on the date of the approval of this ordinance must file an enrollment application. Applications for minors or incompetents must be filed by parents or legal custodian. A separate application must be filed by each individual seeking enrollment.
B. When and where to file an application All enrollment applications must be filed with the Enrollment Officer of the Tribe. Application forms may be obtained by oral or written request from the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, Post Office Box 818, Elton, LA 70532, 308-584-1465. There is no deadline for filing enrollment applications for membership purposes. However, the Tribal Council may from time to time establish a deadline for filing of enrollment applications for specific purposes.
C. What the application must contain - Each enrollment application must be completed in its entirety and must contain sufficient personal information to properly determine the applicant's eligibility for enrollment The enrollment application shall show the following:
1 . All names by which the applicant is or has been known.
2. The mailing address of the applicant, including the mailing address of the sponsor if different from that of the applicant.
3 . The applicant's and/or sponsor's telephone number.
4. Date and place of applicant's birth.
5 . Applicant's social security number.
6. The name of any tribe(s) other than the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana from which the applicant is descended.
7. The name of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana ancestor through whom the applicant is claiming eligibility for membership.
8. The requirement of a "yes" or "no" answer to the question: Is the applicant an enrolled member of another tribe, band , nation community or village?
9. The requirement of "yes" or "no" answers to the questions: Is the applicant adopted? Were any of your Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana ancestors adopted?
10. Certification that the information given in the application is true and accurate as known by the applicant or sponsor.
11 . A statement reminding the applicant or sponsor that it is a criminal offense under tribal law to present false or untrue information for enrollment purposes.
12. Signature of applicant or sponsor (with relationship to applicant). Applications for minors require the signatures of both parents, proof of legal custody by the signing parent or a certification that the non-signing parent is not a member of another tribe.
13 . Date the application was signed.
D. Documentation to accompany all applications - Since the burden of proof is on the applicant, the application must be accompanied by the following documentation:
1. Family tree chart
2. Applicant's original state-issued birth certificate
3 . If the applicant's natural mother was not a tribal member, or if the tribal blood of the father is required to establish eligibility, one of the following also must accompany the birth certificate:
(a) a marriage license showing that the applicant's mother was married to the tribal member father at the time of the birth.
(b) a notarized affidavit of paternity signed by both the applicant's mother and father.
(c) a court order or determination of heirship declaring a specific tribal member to be the natural father
(d) a DNA or genetic marker test (obtained at the applicant's sole expense) determining the probability that a specific tribal member is the natural father of the applicant to be not less than 97%.
4. Documentation proving the direct descent of each Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana ancestor from an enrollee of this tribe if neither the applicant's father nor mother is an enrolled member of the tribe.
E. Additional documentation to accompany application of applicant who is adopted. In addition to those items identified in subsection D above, an applicant who has been adopted must also submit documentation proving that a natural parent is a member or a descendant of a member of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana. Usually this documentation will consist of a copy of the adoption decree together with either the original birth certificate showing the natural parent(s) or a legal document identifying the natural parent(s). However, a certification from the Secretary of the Interior or his/her authorized representative pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (P. L. 95-608) shall be conclusive evidence of the relationship to the natural parent(s).
VI. Processing an application for enrollment
A. By tribal enrollment officer The tribal council shall designate a tribal employee to serve as the tribal enrollment officer. All applications shall be received or routed to this coordinator who shall take the following actions or assure that these actions are taken by other members of the enrollment office staff:
1 . Stamp the application form and all enclosures with the date on which they were received and acknowledge receipt of them.
2. Make a folder for the application and supporting documents.
3 . Make sure the application is complete. A copy will be made of an incomplete application and the original will be sent back to the applicant to be completed. The date the incomplete application was returned to the applicant will be noted. The copy will be retained in the applicant's folder along with the supporting documents pending the return of the completed original application.
4. A completed application submitted without supporting documents will be retained in the applicant's folder. A letter will be sent requesting the needed documents.
5. Compute the applicant's degree of Coushatta Indian blood.
6. Check with any other tribes, bands, nations, communities or villages from which the applicant is descended to verify whether or not the applicant is a member of any of those groups. Although not necessary to determine eligibility for membership in the CTL, a certification of the applicant's degree of Indian blood of the other tribe(s) may also be requested, as a service to the applicant, in order that this information may be added to the tribal roll.
7. Assist the applicant as much as possible in determining ways that might help in establishing eligibility.
8. Recommend for membership the applicants who have proven they fulfill the membership requirements as shown in this ordinance.
9. Prepare resolutions accepting eligible applicants and forward the resolutions to the Tribal Council for action.
10. Recommend for rejection the applicants who have not proven they fulfill the membership requirements as shown in this ordinance.
11. Prepare resolutions rejecting ineligible applicants and forward the resolutions to the Tribal Council for action.
C. By the Tribal Council
1 . Adopt resolutions approving eligible applicants and rejecting ineligible applicants.
2. Direct the enrollment officer to notify the accepted applicants of their acceptance into membership.
3. Direct the enrollment officer to notify the rejected applicants by certified mail of their rejection, giving them their right to appeal the rejection to the tribal court as provided in section VIII of this ordinance. Such rejected applicants shall also be advised that a new application may be submitted when the needed documentation of eligibility has been obtained.
VII. LOSS OF MEMBERSHIP
There are two ways in which membership in the tribe may be lost. One is voluntary and is called relinquishment. The other is involuntary and is called disenrollment.
1 . By an adult member - Any adult member of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana may voluntarily relinquish his/her membership. Such relinquishment must be in writing and the member's signature must be notarized. No formal action by any tribal body is required for the relinquishment to become effective. The enrollment officer shall note the date of the relinquishment (and the tribe which the member has joined, if that is the case) on the tribal roIl, notify the Tribal Council of the action, file the relinquishment form in the former member's folder and move the folder into the drawer designated for former members.
2. By a minor member - The membership of any member of the Tribe who is not at least 18 years of age may be relinquished by his/her parent or guardian. The relinquishment must be in writing, and the signature of the parent or guardian must be notarized. The enrollment officer shall take great care to determine that the individual who signed the form has legal custody of the affected minor member. Then the minor's relinquishment shall be processed the same as one for an adult.
3 . Forms and effective dates Any member desiring to relinquish shall be encouraged to do so on a conditional relinquishment form. In such case, the relinquishment shall become effective upon the acceptance of that individual into the membership of another tribe. The member's name shall not be removed from the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana's current membership roll until documentation of the acceptance into the other tribe's membership is received. Should a member insist upon relinquishing in writing without using the conditional relinquishment form, the tribe will comply with the member's wishes and remove the member's name from the current tribal roll with the effective date being the date the relinquishment was received by the enrollment coordinator.
4. Membership after relinquishment An adult member who relinquishes his/her membership in the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana has permanently severed his/her ties with the tribe and shall not be permitted to rejoin the tribe. A minor member whose membership has been relinquished by a parent or guardian may submit an application for membership after he/she becomes 18 years of age. Such application shall be processed as though the individual had not previously been a member.
B . Disenrollment: The burden of proof in disenrollment actions rests with the tribe.
1 . Who may be disenrolled A tribal member shall be disenrolled when it is discovered that he/she
a. was erroneously enrolled in that he/she did not submit adequate documentation proving he/she met the constitutional membership criteria at the time of enrollment. This "erroneous enrollment" may have resulted from fraudulent submissions, mistakes in blood degree computations or inadequate research. NOTE: This provision does not apply to base enrollees, except for dual enrollment, i.e., those whose names appear on the official, approved membership roll on the date of the adoption of this ordinance, since they are, by definition, members without further test of eligibility.)
b. is found to be currently enrolled with another Indian tribe and to have received benefits as an adult as' a member of the other tribe.
c. is found to be currently enrolled with another Indian tribe who has not received benefits as an adult as a member of the other tribe and does not relinquish the membership in the other tribe within thirty (30) days of receipt of a certified letter from the Enrollment Officer informing him/her of the necessity to submit the required relinquishment
2. Procedure for disenrollment A member identified as subject to disenrollment pursuant to the above sub-section shall be notified by certified mail, return receipt requested, of the intent to disenroll. Included in the notice shall be the date set for a hearing before the Tribal Council to consider the matter. Following the hearing, whether or not the affected member makes any appearance or response, the Tribal Council shall determine if the member is to be disenrolled. Such decision shall be documented in a Tribal Council resolution. The disenrolled member shall be notified of the action taken by certified mail, return receipt requested. Such notice shall include the appeal rights outlined in section VIII of this ordinance.
3 . Membership after disenrollment Persons who have been disenrolled may submit new applications for membership when adequate documentation of eligibility has been obtained. Such applications will be processed as though the individual had not previously been a member.
A. Eligible appellants The following persons shall be eligible to file an appeal:
1 . Any applicant who has been rejected for membership or
2. Any person who has been disenrolled
B. Timing of appeal Each notice of rejection or disenrollment shall provide that an appeal must be received within thirty (30) days of the receipt of the notice in order to be considered. The date stamped on the receipt of the certified letter shall be considered the beginning of that 30 day period.
C. Filing of appeal The notice of appeal must be filed with the tribal court of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana. The date the appeal is received in the tribal court office shall be considered its date of receipt. An appeal must be in writing. No appeal may be filed by any form of electronic communication. Failure to file an appeal within thirty (30) calendar days shall waive any right to an appeal.
D. Handling of appeal Upon receipt of an appeal, the tribal court shall obtain the appellant's file from the enrollment office for review. The tribal court shall set a date not less than twenty (20) nor more than sixty (60) days from the date of mailing of the notice for a hearing on the appeal. The tribal court shall notify the appellant of the hearing by certified mail. This notice shall outline clearly again the basis for the rejection of the appellant's application or the basis for the appellant's disenrollment and shall inform the appellant of his/her right to be heard in person or by representation. This notice shall also inform the appellant that new evidence may be presented for consideration. Following the hearing whether or not the appellant makes any appearance or response, the tribal court shall document its decision by a court order and notify the appellant by certified mail of its decision. The decision of the tribal court shall be final.
A. Contents of individual folders: An individual folder shall be established for each tribal member and applicant. The folder shall contain the following items:
2. Family tree chart
3. Birth Certificate
5. All other documentation on the person pertinent to membership
6. Death Certificate
B. Access to records
1. The roll A listing of only the names of members may be viewed by any individual member of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana who comes into the tribal office. However, neither the roll nor any portion thereof may be copied and/or distributed to any person or organization except upon written permission of the Tribal Council. The Tribal Council shall exercise its discretion in using and/or releasing information from the roll for the benefit of tribal members or tribal programs.
2. The folders Information in individual folders shall be considered confidential. It shall not be available to anyone except that individual member (or his/her parent or guardian) and to the enrollment officer, the Tribal Council and the tribal court when such examination is necessary in considering enrollment decisions.
3. Special concern An adopted person's eligibility for enrollment is determined through one or both of the natural parents. Documentary evidence submitted to support an adopted person's application must show relationship to the natural parent through whom eligibility for enrollment is determined. The information concerning adopted persons shall be recorded as confidential and shall not be made available to any other person. This information shall be stored in locked file cabinets and adequate safeguards shall be installed to ensure that the confidentiality of these records shall not be violated.
C. Updating records: Upon receipt of appropriate documentation, the enrollment coordinator is authorized to update the information on the tribal roll. The following documentation is deemed adequate for such actions to be taken:
1 . Name change - Marriage license
or Divorce decree
or Court order changing name
2. Address change - Written statement signed by tribal member over 18 years of age
Notarized statement or affidavit stating custody of minor with address change
3. Death - Death certificate
Bureau of Indian Affairs records
Obituary notice from newspaper
Notarized statement from an individual who attended the funeral or who saw the grave marker and can provide date of death
Any change for which none of the above documents is available must be authorized in writing by the Tribal Council stating the reason for the change without usual documentation. A copy of that written authorization shall be placed in the individual's folder.
X. Computing Degree of Tribal Blood:
A. Initial Computation - Degrees of Coushatta Indian blood as, shown on the roll of the tribe at the time of the enactment of this membership ordinance shall be considered accurate unless or until a different degree of Coushatta Indian blood can be proven to the satisfaction of the Tribal Council. "Coushatta Indian blood" means Indian blood derived from a biological ancestor who was recognized as a member of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana.
B. Changing Blood Degrees - Once the degree of tribal blood has been recorded for a member on the tribal roll, it shall be changed only when the following procedure has been completed:
1. Whenever a member requests a change in his/her blood degree the enrollment officer shall research the request. The enrollment officer is also authorized to initiate research into the accuracy of blood degrees shown on the tribal roll as time permits.
2. If a determination is made by the enrollment officer that a member's blood degree has been erroneously computed, a resolution documenting the basis for the recommended change shall be prepared for Tribal Council action. If the Tribal Council agrees that the member's blood degree should be changed, it shall adopt the resolution authorizing the enrollment officer to make the change for the member and for all other persons affected by the change. Such a determination by the Tribal Council to change a degree of Coushatta blood shall be made only when the new blood quantum is established beyond a reasonable doubt either by submission of incontrovertible documentation or by presentation of a overwhelming preponderance of evidence. (NOTE: Although the degree of Coushatta blood shown on the tribal roll for a base enrollee may be corrected pursuant to this provision, such base enrollee shall remain a member of the tribe no matter what the corrected blood degree is.)
3. All persons affected by the change shall be notified of the change by the enrollment officer. Any person whose blood quantum has been changed has the right to appeal pursuant to section VIII of this ordinance only if the change results in disenrollment.
This ordinance may be amended by the Tribal Council at any regularly called meeting at which a quorum is present.
XII. Certificate of Enactment:
We, the undersigned, as Chairman and Secretary of the Tribal Council of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, do hereby certify that a quorum was present at a regularly called meeting of the Tribal Council on the 11th day of April 2000, and that the foregoing ordinance was enacted with the affirmative vote of 5 for, 0 opposed and 0 abstaining. Therefore, the ordinance is duly enacted and the date of this meeting shall be the effective date of the provisions of this ordinance.
Lovelin Poncho, Chairman
Bertney Langley, Secretary - Treasurer
Leonard Battise, Member
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