FORT DUCHESNE, Uintah County -- The chairman of the Ute Tribe Business Committee has asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs to conduct an investigation into alleged irregularities on recall petitions filed with the tribe by three recall organizers. The three were behind a failed recall drive that sought to oust the entire six-member Business Committee.

According to the Ute Bulletin, chairman Ron Wopsock has submitted a letter to David Allison, BIA superintendent for the Uintah/Ouray Reservation, requesting that he immediately begin a probe to determine if the petitioners violated tribal laws through the forgery of names or changes on petitions.On Dec. 6, the Business Committee accepted the six recall petitions, The documents were given to the tribe's Vital Statistics office for a decision on whether the signatures were valid. To force a recall election, the names of one-third of the eligible voters in an elected official's respective band must be confirmed.

In verifying the signatures, Vital Statistics determined that dates, names or other information may have been changed or added to the petitions after they were signed and that people were mislead regarding the reason for the petitions, said Wopsock. Some names may also have been forged, he said. Such actions would be in violation of the tribe's law and order code. Recall organizers contend the tribe's elected officials should be replaced because the Business Committee signed away the tribe's sovereign rights by negotiating three agreements with the State of Utah and Duchesne and Uintah counties. Business Committee members say those agreements strengthen the tribe's position with other governments.