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Douglas Indian Association of Alaska

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A new election may be needed to establish which of two rival factions is in charge. Officials at the BIA say they support another vote. Each faction claims the presidency and control of the association, a federally recognized tribe with 403 members who trace their heritage to the Taku River. One is led by Dorothy Owen, elected president in January 2000, and who vows to continue to hold office until a valid election takes place. The other is led by George Mather Jr., who said he was chosen president in the Jan. 8 vote. Mather calls Owen's faction "poor losers.'' Owen says Mather conducted a "hostile takeover'' of the BIA's office in downtown Douglas Jan. 20. The locks have been changed with the help of the landlord, Owen said. "We followed our constitution and bylaws ... I can't see how they can say 'hostile takeover,''' said council member Clarence Laiti of the Mather faction. BIA Regional Director Niles Cesar wrote to Owen March 1 saying the agency "presently recognizes that body ... in place prior to Jan. 8, 2001,'' meaning Owen's. Owen and her group plan a new election, but the bylaws require that a new superintendent and election committee be in place a month in advance.