On Friday, Jan. 13, the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, the governing body on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, suspended Councilman Patrick Schildt for 10 business days, following accusations that Schildt had taken illegal payments from companies hoping to extract oil and minerals from reservation lands.
Patrick Thomas, chairman of the council, declined to reveal which natural resource extraction companies are alleged to have paid Schildt. He did say that “There are a lot of companies wanting to come [onto the reservation] and drill. Everyone wants a piece of the action.” Thomas also declined to discuss which companies in particular are seeking to extract oil and minerals on the reservation, for fear of scaring them off.
On Jan. 30, Schildt will have a chance to go before the council and present his side of the story. Afterward the council will vote on whether or not Schildt can remain in office. A six-vote majority of the nine council members is needed to remove Schildt, who was elected in June 2004.
Four councilmen, including Thomas, Jay St. Goddard, Jimmy St. Goddard and William “Allen” Talks About, voted for Schildt’s suspension.
Schildt, a career consultant for the oil and mineral extraction industry, could not be reached for comment, and will not be allowed in his office until after the Jan. 30 council meeting. According to a Jan. 14 Great Falls Tribune article, Schildt denies any wrongdoing, and says he is being targeted because he recently asked the regional offices of the FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Inspector General to investigate tribal departments, which he alleges have misused federal funds. Councilman Hugh Monroe, who with Councilwoman Betty Cooper voted against Schildt’s suspension, confirmed that this is Schildt’s belief.
Monroe says he voted against Schildt’s suspension because he originally felt that voters, not the council, should decide who gets to represent them, but now seems resigned to the necessity of Schildt presenting his case to the council.