By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Zara Ellis Saddler, PhD, was banished during the regular session of Tribal Council on Thursday, April 14. As a result, she is no longer allowed on any of the tribal lands of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians unless under the order of a court subpoena.
Resolution No. 693 (2011), submitted by Yellowhill Rep. B. Ensley and passed unanimously on Thursday, called for her banishment and states, “Tribal Council has good reason to believe that Zara Ellis Saddler is a threat to the integrity, law and order on Tribal lands and territory or the welfare of its members by engaging in certain indiscriminant business practices.”
Saddler operates Qualla Imports, Inter-tribal Center for Social Change (ICSC) and has been accused of falsifying claims of affiliation with various EBCI tribal members and entities to further her business. In December 2010, the EBCI Office of Budget and Finance issued a “Notice of Tribal Business License Cancelation and Order to Cease Conducting Business on EBCI Trust Land”.
Two months later, Principal Chief Michell Hicks wrote a letter to Saddler informing her that she was “no longer allowed to enter an Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians government building or facility.” If she had, Chief Hicks related in the letter that she would be charged with Second Degree Trespass.
On May 5, 2010, Chief Hicks wrote a cease and desist letter to Saddler stating, “This correspondence is in response to a recent complaint from Mr. John W. Grant, a local Cherokee craftsman, regarding the unauthorized use of his name in the promotion of an upcoming event being organized by your organization, Inter-tribal Center for Social Change (ICSC). This complaint is the most recent of multiple complaints received upon unauthorized claims of affiliation with local crafters, tribal departments, local educational establishments and tribal government.”
Chief Hicks’ letter stated that, in addition to Grant, “unauthorized affiliations” were claimed by the following: Lori Reed, craftsperson; Mara Nelson, EBCI TERO; Roseanna Belt, WCU Cherokee Center; Joel Queen, then-director of Oconaluftee Institute of Cultural Arts; and Marina Robbins, local advertising company owner.
The One Feather was unable to locate Saddler for comment.