Two Winnebago tribal councilmembers removed from their positions after refusing to take hair follicle drug test

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WINNEBAGO, Neb. (KCAU) – The Winnebago Tribal Council has announced on Thursday evening the removal of Tori Kitcheyan and Melton Frenchman, effective immediately.

The council said both of them were removed on the grounds that they didn’t complete their Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Test and was found in violation of the Principles of Ethical & Moral Conduct Policy for Tribal Council Members in agreement to its disciplinary powers in Article IV Section four of the Winnebago Constitution and Bylaws.

The Winnebago Tribal Council will hold a special election by July 16 to fill the two tribal council seat.

To read the full statement from the Winnebago Tribal Council Chairman Coly Brown, see the Facebook post below.

On Thursday morning, there was a peaceful demonstration that was held over the use of hair follicle drug tests for tribal councilmembers in Winnebago.

The demonstrators were across the street from the Blackhawk Community Center where the fate of two tribal councilmembers were discussed in an executive session, which was closed off to the public.

Community members said Tori Kitcheyan and Melton Frenchman refused to take the drug test, while the rest of the tribal council have taken the test. But about a week ago, she did take the drug test, while he hasn’t.

There were two different groups of demonstrators: one is for the use of the drug test and the other one is against the drug test.

One demonstrator said that the two councilmembers need to test like the rest of the council have.

“Our drug-free is our leadership. They’re our governing body. They set an example for our youth. This is a small community, everybody knows what everybody does. Our children are a lot smarter than we think and so we have to lead by example. If we’re leading a life that’s not that of a leader, then how do we expect our children to be any different,” said Ladonna Holstein, a peaceful demonstrator.

For some people in the Winnebago Tribe, the drug test goes against their cultural beliefs.

“I’ve sat in council meetings where our council says ‘Our culture is so important, who were are as Winnebago people is so important.’ Yet, they’re making themselves and the members of the council do something that’s against our cultural teaching,” said Sarah Snake, another peaceful demonstrator.

Both groups of demonstrators agree that it’s important to have a drug-free community and to set an example for the future generations to come.

“It’s very important! So many of the problems, the social problems, that we have to deal with are associated with drug use and alcohol use. If we can do anything to curtail that, even living by example. I think that’s what we should be doing, as the adults, the grown people. We have several role models our tribe and our tribal council should be role models,” said Michelle LaMere, a peaceful demonstrator.

According to Healthline, a hair follicle drug test can analyze signs of drug use within the past 90 days.

The test is performed by taking a small amount of hair from the head using scissors. It’s normally used to test for amphetamine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, marijuana, cocaine, PCP, and opioids.

The results of a negative test can be determined within a 24-hour window after the hair is removed from the head.

A positive test result is confirmed after 72 hours while an inconclusive result isn’t common when the testing procedures are followed.

Laboratories conduct the two tests to guard against a false positive.

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