United States Commission on Civil Rights

Confidential Draft Report
“Enforcement of the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968”

May 1990

Indian Civil Rights, page 33
     A little more than a month later, BIA Area Director Earl J. Barlow wrote to Chairman Jourdain and advised him that he could not disregard the directives contained in the Elbert memorandum. [69]  He then sent a memorandum to the Superintendent of the Red Lake Agency, [70] advising him that private attorney Richard Meshbesher intended to enter an appearance before the Red Lake Court.[71]  With respect to the tribal order to remove Meshbesher from the reservation, Barlow instructed the Red Lake superintendent to ignore the order:

As indicated in my December 27, 1985 letter to Chairman Jourdain, it is the position of the Bureau of Indian Affairs that defendants have a right to counsel, including attorneys, in the Red Lake Court.  Although Tribal Resolution 237-85 has established criteria for purposes of admission to practice before the court, the criteria are so restrictive that it is a virtual certainty that no professional attorney could qualify for admission to practice.  Imposition of those criteria would have the effect of denying the right to counsel and,
     [69]  Letter from Earl J. Barlow, Area Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior, to Roger A. Jourdain, Chairman, Red Lake Tribal Council (Dec. 27, 1985).

     [70] U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Memorandum from Earl J. Barlow, Area Director, Office of the Area Director, to Superintendent, Red Lake Agency (Jan. 10, 1986).

     [71]  Meshbesher had previously brought suit in Federal court to terminate Federal funding of the Red Lake Court as a means of instituting reforms.

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