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Shoshone-Bannock Tribes call for Sheriff Rowland’s resignation

FORT HALL, Idaho (KIFI) - The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes said in a release Thursday it is disappointed in Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland’s comments posted Wednesday and wants him to resign.

The incident did not directly involve tribal community members, although, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes said Rowland made racist comments about the Fort Hall Reservation.

In the Idaho Attorneys' investigation, Rowland said, “I have been doing this job for 36 years, I have had drunk Indians drive down my cul-de-sac. I’ve had drunk Indians come to my door. I live just off the reservation, we have a lot of reservation people around us that are not good people.”

Members of the Fort Hall community disagree with Rowland's statement including Chairman Devon Boyer, who said, “Rowland's use of racial slurs about ‘Indians’ is extremely offensive.”

According to the Tribes' Attorney, “Local law enforcement has a long history of violent criminal conduct towards tribal community members, stemming back decades. Race relations between local law enforcement has been controversial and sometimes violent.”

“We ask Rowland to officially step down as Sheriff and offer a public apology to the Fort Hall community," Boyer said. “We hope the woman and the children involved will be able to heal from this traumatic incident. This incident should not have occurred but proves racism still exists. We need major relationship building between our communities.”

The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes is the largest reservation in the State of Idaho and in the southeast region with more than 6,000 tribal members. There are more than 1,226 reservation residents that live in Bingham County and more than 800 Native American youth who attend the public schools in Bingham County.

According to the Idaho Attorney General Office, Rowland has been charged with felony aggravated assault after allegedly threatening a youth group with a gun.

You can read our previous story HERE.

Commissioner Whitney Manwaring released the following statement:

"I am deeply disappointed and saddened, both on a personal and professional level, by the disparaging remarks attributed to Sheriff Rowland about our tribal neighbors in Fort Hall.  I have spent many happy years playing sports at Timbee Hall, enjoyed supporting their Relay races, and have enjoyed a kind and helpful working relationship with them in all of my time as Bingham County Commissioner.  Some of my family’s and my closest and most trusted friends are tribal members and residents of Fort Hall.  I would welcome them to my home any time.  I offer my inadequate but sincere apology and will continue to work to promote a better relationship with the tribe however I can."

Commissioner Mark R. Bair released the following statement:

As a Bingham County Commissioner I felt like addressing the recent news article deserved a timely response, and given the nature of how the commission works, we are not able to legally join and discuss the issues.  Instead, I am able to speak individually as an elected official. 

I have read the comments in the news article attributed to the Sheriff about the Native American Community.  I whole-heartedly disagree with those comments.  It is my experience that Bingham County does not operate with the mindset of those comments.  I truly care about the Native American Community and have witnessed great relationships develop through our interactions over the years and I will strive to keep those relationships positive and make this a community where everyone can feel safe and protected. 

As a Bingham County elected official, I have a lot of faith in the judicial system.  I believe that the legal issues going on with Craig Rowland in his personal life should resolve and will resolve within the judicial system and not through the media. 

Bingham County Commissioner Jessica Lewis released the following statement:

I am shocked and disappointed in the comments printed about Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Members. The Reservation and its members are, and have always been, an important part of Bingham County.  The comments reflect the beliefs of one individual and in no way do I agree with or condone them. Having a positive relationship with the Tribe is extremely important to me and I hope that we will be able to repair the damage caused by these hurtful comments.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho

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