U.S. District Judge Joseph Anderson gave the nation two weeks to schedule its first tribal meeting in two years. In an Oct.11 order he said the tribe should hold the meeting within a month. The ruling addresses a lawsuit filed two years ago by 16 Catawba dissidents against the tribe's executive committee which has acted as the governing body since 1993, when the Catawbas won a $50 million land-claim settlement and federal recognition as a tribal government. "The burden is on the executive committee to demonstrate a valid source for any power it exercises,'' Anderson wrote. Because the committee's terms expired, any contract decisions it made could be questioned including a high-stakes bingo parlor, renovation of the Rock Hill mall and a proposal to create a regional waste-water treatment plant on Catawba land. The executive committee questioned the courts' jurisdiction, saying the dispute is a tribal matter. The committee's attorney, Jay Bender, of Columbia, said Wednesday an appeal is almost certain. Deborah Crisco, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said she looks forward to having a voice in the use of settlement money and other tribal decisions. The tribe edged closer to completing federal requirements and publishing its final roll in local newspapers this month.
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