SEMINOLE Nation voters elect new chief, assistant chief

Wednesday, August 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WEWOKA, Okla. (AP) _ Seminole Nation voters elected a new chief and assistant chief in a weekend runoff election, according to results released Tuesday.

Kenneth Edward Chambers beat Leon Lusty 523 (52.6 percent) to 472 (47.4 percent) to win the chief's job.

Mary Ann Emarthala won 68.7 percent of the vote for assistant chief, defeating Jeffery D. Harjo 679-309 (31.3 percent).

Chambers succeeds Jerry Haney, who was suspended by the tribal council in June and then lost in the general election in July. Assistant Chief James Factor also was beaten in the general election.

Chambers and Emarthala will take their oaths of office in September.

Haney and Factor feuded during their tenure, and the tribe has been at odds with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs because two groups within the tribe were excluded from tribal affairs.

The Freedman are descendants of black slaves who found refuge with the tribe and later became a part of it. In a referendum election in July 2000, tribal members voted to remove the Freedman bands from the tribe.

Federal officials said they won't recognize tribal decisions or elections that occurred after the referendum vote.

The tribe also has clashed with the National Indian Gaming Commission, which has repeatedly cited the tribe for having illegal Class III gaming at its casinos.

The Seminoles so far have won their court battles with the commission, but federal prosecutors are planning to appeal.