LAWRENCE, Kan. - Four tribes in Kansas announced they are replacing Mamie Rupnicki, current president of the Haskell Indian Nations University Board of Regents. Her replacement will be Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribal Council member Jackie Mitchell.
The reason given for Rupnicki's replacement was that she no longer is a tribal council member and the tribes believed the representative of the four tribes in Kansas needed to be a council member.
Rupnicki served on the Haskell board for four years.
Asked to comment, George Tiger, board spokesman, said he was surprised , adding he had not been informed yet about Rupnicki's removal. He said she would be missed on the board.
"I didn't know. That's their call (the Kansas tribes')."
Tiger said Regents Vice President Ruben McClusky would preside at the next meeting, but that elections are scheduled so who the next president will be is up in the air.
The 15-member board includes a representative of the Haskell Student Senate. Each member represents a number of tribes in his or her region. Tiger represents 13 areas in Oklahoma.
It had been rumored following her removal as Prairie Band Potawatomi chairwoman that Rupnicki would be replaced on the Haskell board, but no action was taken until now.
Tiger said her aggressive style was often mistaken for cockiness. "I think personally that Mamie was very aggressive, but people have a hard time differentiating the two," Tiger said. "I think she chaired at a time when that aggressiveness was needed. She did a really good job."
As the battle over a proposed trafficway on the southern end of the university campus heats up again, Tiger said he believes her no nonsense attitude would be sorely missed.
"I would say that we will miss her. There has been some concern about her health though recently. There were a couple of times when she couldn't attend. But she is a fighter and regardless if it is at Haskell or a tribal government or the national scene, she has always been known for her aggressiveness. We will miss that.
"I think that the respect for Mamie on the board was the fact that she raised her family and went back and got her education," Tiger said. "Then she was in a leadership role in her own tribe. That says a lot about an individual. She's just a go getter."
Rupnicki's replacement Jackie Mitchell has a master's degree in early childhood education and is the former director of the Early Childhood Education Center on the Potawatomi Reservation.