Impeachment hearings: Tribal members speak

The council house was packed to the gills Monday, May 22, as tribal members gathered to watch the impeachment proceedings against Principal Chief Patrick Lambert. They filled the seats, with additional fold-up chairs brought in to line the aisles. They stood in the halls, craning necks to watch the action, and they packed the lobby, where a livestream of the hearing played on a TV.

And, during breaks, they filtered out to the parking lot, gathering in groups to discuss what was happening. A Smoky Mountain News reporter spent these breaks in the parking lot, too, polling tribal members on their reactions. 

“I don’t know why they’re trying to prosecute the chief now when throughout the prior administration, it was bad. But they don’t want to get caught. They aren’t getting caught from what they did wrong. Their hand’s caught in the cookie jar, and by gosh now they’re going to try to get it out before they get the lid slammed on their hands. That’s what’s going on.”

— Carolyn Bird West, Snowbird community member

“Still I think 80 percent are behind him (Lambert), I really do. You’re going to see a handful that’s making an ass of themselves but you see us, we’ve been praying about this. We’ve been praying about things like this and we have to look to the Lord.”

— Rock Burgess, 63, Wolfetown community member

“He’s doing what we voted for him to do. Just doing his job.”

— Hazel Jumper, 51, Wolfetown community member

“I have had a past with him (Lambert), so I feel very strongly about the whole thing but I also came here with an open mind to see really what all it is. Because all I have heard is ‘the last administration, the last administration, the last administration.’ Well, show me what you’ve got on the last administration, but right now we’re worried about this administration. Don’t deflect on that one to cover up what may be going on in this one.”

— Collette Coggins, former Tribal ABC Board member

“The councilmembers are trying to give the tribe a black eye. It’s not right. Patrick (Lambert) has done lots of great things for the tribe so far. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”

— Randy Adams, 61, Snowbird community member

“To be honest with you, none of this should be going on. None of it. “

— Clement Calhoun, 55, Big Cove community member

“I’m concerned that our councilmembers are called as witnesses and they will sit as a jury. It’s a double standard, and I don’t see any way our chief can get a fair hearing. That really upsets me. Our tribe is better than this.”

— Lois Dunston (her son Sage is Lambert’s chief of staff)

 “They’re used to this corruption, and they don’t want it stopped. That’s why they’re fighting so hard. Impeach Patrick (Lambert) because he’s finding out what all they did do for the last 11 to 12 years. It’s been going on that long, this corruption.”

— Agnes Adams, 68, Snowbird community member

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