Kansas and regional news

Kansas and regional news

Kickapoo Council accused of fraud

Tensions mount over planned megacasino as election date nears

September 21, 2005


A former employee of the Kickapoo Tribal Council has accused several council members of fraud and mismanagement.

The accusations coincide with an Oct. 1 election, the recent suspension of a council member and efforts to open a megacasino-resort near the Kansas Speedway in western Wyandotte County.

"We are tired of the corruption. It just keeps growing and growing," said Josephine Cisneros, a candidate for the tribal council and a former accountant at the tribal office near Horton. "We want to take our tribe back."

Cisneros said she was one of three "whistle-blowers" who staged a protest last week outside the tribal offices near Horton. She declined to identify her colleagues.

Ruth Ann Croshaw, of Wahoo Neb., plays a two-cent slot machine at the Golden Eagle Casino, 6 miles west of Horton.

Ruth Ann Croshaw, of Wahoo Neb., plays a two-cent slot machine at the Golden Eagle Casino, 6 miles west of Horton.

The group, she said, is upset that tribal leaders have spent millions of dollars developing plans for a new casino.

"Our money should be spent on social services, on our elderly," Cisneros said. "It's not reaching the people."

Council member Emily Conklin, an outspoken proponent for building a casino in Wyandotte County, was suspended last week, pending an investigation into allegations of credit card misuse.

Attempts to reach Conklin for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

"We punched a hole in their power," Cisneros said, referring to Conklin's suspension.

Dan Watkins, a Lawrence attorney who represents the tribe, said Cisneros' criticism of the tribal council was baseless.

"There are a lot of unfounded charges flying around," Watkins said. "That's not an unusual occurrence in highly contested tribal elections."

He added: "It does more harm than good for tribal leaders to deny unfounded allegations."

Casino plans

In a May interview with the Journal-World, Kickapoo Tribal Chairman Steve Cadue defended the tribe's joining the Sac and Fox Nation to propose building an 80,000-square-foot, $175 million resort and casino in Wyandotte County.

The proposal called for closing the separate Kickapoo- and Sac and Fox-run casinos after the new casino opened.

Without such a plan, he warned, the tribes were vulnerable to persistent calls to allow state-run casinos in or near Dodge City, Junction City, Kansas City, Pittsburg and Wichita.

Opening state-run casinos, he said, would lead to sharp reductions in tribal revenues. He declined to say how much the tribe nets from its Golden Eagle casino, but those who study the industry said it's between $8 million and $12 million annually.

Most of the money, Cadue said, has been distributed to tribal members or spent on services and on-reservation improvements.

Earlier this year, the tribes agreed to pay $4 million for an 80-acre site northwest of the Kansas Speedway.

Cadue did not respond to messages left on his office answering machine Tuesday.

Though lawmakers convened several hearings, efforts to expand in-state or on-reservation gaming stalled during this year's legislative session.

Because Cadue is not up for re-election, Cisneros said she and her supporters hope to unseat his supporters, incumbents Bobbi Darnell and Rozella Ramirez.

"We've got people in office who were elected based on popularity - not on their qualifications," she said.


John1945 12 years, 8 months ago

Incidentally, I think Josephine is right on track. If a reservation is simply a good place to sell cheap cigarettes and stash casinos, it's pretty hard to justify their continued existence.

If on the other hand a reservation is a place to continue, perpetuate and nourish a healthy native culture then the argument for their continued existence and expansion is even stronger.

Densmore 12 years, 8 months ago


Either you know what you are talking about or you do not know what you are talking about. If you do know, kindly tell us why these circumstances exist. In other words, what is it that causes Native Americans to allegedly spend so much time fussing at each other?

kcwarpony 12 years, 8 months ago

Seems the same could be said about the non-native America people also, look at the last presidential election. We were doing fine until the white European interlopers decided to assimilate us and now some of our people act like you. Greed and money will do it every time.

By the way, there is a great deal of unity among the tribes and among the tribes and their members. There are over 500 federally recognized American Indian tribes in the United States and only a dozen or so with these problems. Each tribe has it's own government to deal with the only difference is that you never hear any news about a tribal government unless it's negative. These problems do not exist everywhere.

Densmore 12 years, 8 months ago

Look at Kansas republicans. They spend an inordinate amount of time fighting each other.

Actually, I don't know why I am bothering with this post. larryville, you might be a nice person, but at best, you are obviously without a clue. Additionally, your sweeping generalizations are indicative of bigotry.

John1945 12 years, 8 months ago

Actually Densmore, if anyone is bantering about sweeping generalizations without a clue, I think it would be you.

Larryville has obviously been around a reservation and seen some of the problems that have been inflicted on them (often by calloused government bureaucracies) from outside influences. And kcwarpony also seems to bring a certain amount of info to the table. He's also right, you don't hear about the tribal councils that are doing a good job, just the ones that aren't.

However, other than your deep psychological profile of Larryville's inner likes and dislikes, what knowledge do you have to bring to the debate?

shoehornin 12 years, 8 months ago

It seems to be an issue of progressive Natives v. gambling-savvy Natives. Those progressives are concerned about the people, diversification and responsible representation, while the opposite are convinced gambling is the long-term solution to their historical economic problems.
It reflect poorly on the tribe when the only news one hears about the Kickapoo is in the LJW under the headline 'Fraud' so I think Josephine's accusations may have merit. While this may be the secondary motivation for all the fuss, I see the growing concern of the people and their well-being a larger issue. How long will gambling fuel the engine of tribal progress? Is there incentive for tribes to look to other means of generating capital? What about green-energy production?

Densmore 12 years, 8 months ago

Nice try John, but there is no "debate."

larryville may have good intentions, but is begging the question. At issue is not whether Native Americans spend more time bickering at one another than do other folks. That is a ridiculous proposition. At issue is the identification of the underlying socio-economic problems within the Native community. larryville's "just stop bickering" approach may be well intended, but demonstrates an ignorance of the severity of the difficulties that Natives must deal with on a daily basis. His remarks are reminiscent of the "why can't they just pull themselves up by the bootstraps" mentality demonstrated by many white folks for the past one hundred years.

I am without a clue when it comes to the following comment, made by yourself: "However, other than your deep psychological profile of Larryville's inner likes and dislikes, what knowledge do you have to bring to the debate?" I did not realize that I was making a deep psychological profile. You are easily impressed, Johnny.

Finally, regarding your question about the knowledge that I bring to the "debate," I must admit that I am no expert. I bring an earnest interest and not expertise. My interest in current Native affairs began after studying US History. I once had a special interest in the Plains Indians, particularly with regard to religious systems, such as the matriarchal system of the Pawnee. My study of the past lead to an interest in the current. For quite some time, I subscribed to the Lakota Times and came to get a better idea of this country from the view of certain Native writers and intellectuals.

So, I've answered your question. However, there is no debate.

Have a nice evening.

John1945 12 years, 8 months ago

You have answered my questions indeed, and I thank you for the sincerity and thoroughness of your response.

My only issue was with the characterization of larryville's "bigotry". Perhaps I'm overly sensitive to such characterizations since ad hominem arguments tend to appear on this forum like weeds every time there's so much as a minor disagreement.

Thanks again for your response and a pleasant evening to you also.

WWinkler 12 years, 8 months ago

A big problem is lack of good ongoing information about native America. How about a daily or weekly column in LJ World. How about statistics on how Indians are doing living OFF reservations vs. living ON? We don't get much solid information except from a few like Dan Wildcat and Mike Ford. Can we move beyond Dee Brown's "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee"? And is anyone concerned about the INUITS?

kcwarpony 12 years, 8 months ago

For news about Indians and Indian Country you go to Indianz.com. Headlines Monday thru Friday. LJ World has made appearances there due to the SLT and news from the upcoming Supreme Court case about Kansas distribution tax on gas sold on the rez will no doubt be headlined there also.

JosephineCisneros 12 years, 8 months ago

This comment is in 2 parts. This is the first of 2 parts.

Follow-up and correction to Article in Lawrence Journal titled

"Kickapoo Council accused of fraud"

The issues within the Kickapoo Government is not about the Megacasino, it is about the needs of the tribal people not being met.

The protest held was for the following reasons and for these reasons only.

¢We would like for our public officials to abstain from using any function of their office or their duties in a manner which could place, or appear to place, their personal economic or special interests before the interest and the needs of the tribal people.

¢The group of Concerned Kickapoo Tribal Members want to insure that tribal council officials of the Kickapoo Nation are held to the highest standards of ethical conduct. We would like for them to provide fair, honest and efficient government for the Kickapoo Nation.

Corrections to the Lawrence Journal Article:

Cisneros is NOT one of three that staged a protest last week. She is one of the 100+ tribal members who participated in the protest. She just happened to be available for comment when the Lawrence Journal reporter called.

Instead of our money being spent on social services it should say MORE money should be spent on social services and the elderly. The money from the Golden Eagle Casino is not reaching the people.

I did not say that we punched a hole in their power. Cisneros said, that a summary of the happenings to what had occurred as a result of the protest, by one tribal member was, "We punched a hole in their power".

Dan Watkins, the Lawrence attorney who represents the tribe, said Cisneros' criticism of the tribal council was baseless. Mr. Watkins appeared only to be informed about the issues from the administrative level. He has not tapped into the issues from the point of view of the tribal membership. Therefore maybe his defenses of the council are baseless.

There is found evidence by tribal council peers, which was shared by them who made this finding a follow-up to the direction of corrective tribalism serving their respective membership.

Watkins states that it does more harm then good for tribal leadership to deny unfound allegations. He doesn't feel the same harm or the continued abuse of mismanagement and lack of procedure of policy, ethics and tribal law.

JosephineCisneros 12 years, 8 months ago

This is the 2nd of 2 parts.

The proposal called for closing the separate Kickapoo and Sac and Fox-run casinos after the new casino opened. We the membership feel that this is more external at this point of business then internally significant to the tribe's civilization.

The tribal membership sees a mega casino as no longer feasible. If membership would vote today on the feasibility of a mega casino, there would be a vote of no. The current tribal council would continue pursuing a mega casino regardless of the cost to the tribal membership, not in dollars and cents.

Because Cadue is not up for re-election, Cisneros said she and her supporters hope to unseat his supporters, incumbents Bobbie Darnell and Rozella Ramirez. The purpose of the protest was not political although the reporter asked the question if Cisneros was running for office. The intent of the protest was to ask for the voluntary resignation of 3-officer's positions, which would have included Mr.Cadue. Never was it intended for Rozella Ramirez to resign. In our initial Press Release we requested the suspension of our leaders pending an investigation. Never did the Concerned Tribal Members mention any names.


Dan Watkins whom the press identified as attorney spokesman for the tribal council is assumed to be a party to a contractual agreement the (KDETA) Mr. Watkin's proposed contract, which the concerned tribal members have scrutinized, would be a continuation of the waste of financial resources by tribal council.

SUMMARY RESONSE FROM INTERVIEWEE (CISNEROS): I never provided any names of individuals. The reported appeared as though he already knew certain information about the protest. It appeared that the Journal reporter was planted. The Lawrence Journal was one of 3 media reporters that responded to the press release. The Hiawatha Daily World and St. Joseph Gazette also responded to the Press Release. St. Joseph reporter said that he would wait until the story was bigger. The Hiawatha Daily World reporter met with a group of concerned tribal members shortly following the protest event, late Friday afternoon. That story may carry more weight of the actual happening of the protest. Who lives in Lawrence? The interview was probably set-up because on several occasions during he interview the reported asked, "What do you think Steve Cadue's comments might be?" Cisneros' response was that it was unimportant what Steve Cadue thought. The tone of the reporter appeared as though he already had a story and was looking for few missing pieces of information to complete his story.

shoehornin 12 years, 8 months ago

Hasn't the LJW been known for producing shotty reporting about Indians anyway? They are nothing more than a supposed thorn in the side of economic development in Lawrence anyway, right? I can't say I'm suprised the author of the story was inaccurate.

John1945 12 years, 8 months ago

Ranney's stuff is consistently high quality regardless the topic, regardless the political perspective of those he writes about.

In this case, by her own story, only 3 reporters even expressed interest, and of those only Ranney's written about it thus far.

Josephine certainly doesn't come out badly in the story. In fact, I think the presentation is quite sympathetic to her concerns.

kcwarpony 12 years, 8 months ago

ku_thunder, Thank you for speaking up and giving us your report of events. As you can see, Kickapoo is not my nation. I give people the benefit of the doubt until I learn otherwise. I don't know about you but I get weary always having to watch over the shoulders of our council members or self-centered individuals, no matter whose tribe it is. This is not the way it is suppose to be. Stay Strong

kcwarpony 12 years, 8 months ago

larryville_79, We have no reason to believe that what Josephine C. stated above is not the truth and that she has other intentions. Are you personally involved with what is going on at the Kickapoo rez? Do you have information about the situation there that has not been reported? Do you know the people involved? If not, please do not play the second guessing games.

ku_thunder 12 years, 8 months ago

sorry kcwarpony, some of us that are familiar with the kickapoo rez, know exactly what josephine's intentions are. I am familiar with all the players involved, and know her views are not the truth she speaks of. I was in attendance at the protest meeting, and know for certain there was not 100+ as she would have you believe. I would put it closer to 40 and I know half of those "participating" were actually just waiting to see adults act like children. I know I was actually waiting to see what evidence the protesters produced. They mentioned obtaining credit card statements, so in a closed meeting (meaning only kickapoo members were present), it was a perfect time for producing copies for tribal members, or at the very least producing one to be circulated around for each of us to see. Instead we were treated to a two-page blanket of accusations without any back-up. I was always told to back up what you say. But the protester's chose not to. As far as josephine's intentions, all I know is at the same meeting, she questioned the tribe's committment to the elderly. I know our elderly our taken care of and have services. The tribal government cannot be a solve- all solution, it's up to family to take care of family. That's the way natives are supposed to be. TRIBAL. I can only knowingly wonder if Josephine can say the same. I just hope that come election time, like one of our elders said "kickapoos don't need complainers to represent us, we have plenty of those".

NDN_time 12 years, 8 months ago

These types accusations and blatant Exaggerations are unfortunately normal for the tribe during election season, not unlike any other government body. Steve Cadue is a man of integrity who has done positive things for the tribe. Jealousy and Conspiracy is the norm when elections come near or when some families feel they don't have enough power. sigh Sad but true. I've seen it myself and it sickens me. The tribes members should be working together, not using the counsel and the media to push their own agenda.
Like most allegations during election time, I would suspect there is no concrete evidence of wrong doing on the Counsels part. I fear the consequences of some of our members taking office and running the tribe into the ground all for the sake of jealousy, power and greed. P.S. I also believe the headline is a bit meladramatic: "Kickapoo Counsel Accused of Fraud" Give me a break

KickapooTribalMember 12 years, 8 months ago

Part I: Every tribal member deserves the right to be informed of what is happening to our tribe; likewise, every tribal member, whether living on or off the reservation, should make an effort to understand why we seem to address the same problems year after year. Most of the time, it seems the tribal governmental system forgets who it is that they work for and serve. One thing is certain, the issues that Josephine addresses are real and they are happening to real people within the KTIK. We are writing this in hopes that each tribal member will base their vote on informed decision making.

Much to our surprise, we have another attorney working for us in Lawrence. The news article quotes Dan Watkins as saying the issues that Josephine and other tribal members are addressing are unfounded. What does attorney, Dan Watkins really know about our tribe and how much are we paying him? Josephine's statements regarding the tribal elders and social service programs are truthful. Contrary to Dan Watkins un-researched statements about our tribe, the tribe's social services and the needs of the elderly people are lacking the time, the attention, and financial support from the tribal leadership.

KU_Thunder's perspective is contrary to what is really happening on the reservation. While his views express the way Natives are suppose to be, yet sadly enough, family is not always able to take care of family due to financial constraints or substance abuse. Some tribal elders do not have the benefit of having family assistance when their family members are mired in substance abuse, hence, they can merely manage their own lives let alone assist with the daily living needs of their elderly family members. Angie Cadue, a tribal elder, suggests developments should be made to provide the tribal elders with housework assistance, shopping, and other daily living needs. Another tribal elder living on the Kickapoo reservation recently wrote in an email: "I realize good nutrition is necessary to maintain my health. If I depended on the senior citizen meals to meet a part of my nutritional needs, my health would be adversely affected." - Francis Wahwasuck, 86 year old elder Kickapoo, Veteran, recipient of a Purple Heart, husband, father, and grandfather.

KickapooTribalMember 12 years, 8 months ago

Part II: As you can see, the tribal elders do need more care and attention. They are certainly expressing their needs to the tribal council. Josephine truthfully states in the LJW news article that the Golden Eagle Casino money is not reaching all the tribal members especially the tribal elderly population. The tribal leaders in the Kickapoo tribe should be spending more to take care of the tribal elders' health care needs, nutritional needs, and making their lives more comfortable and easier to manage.

The two tribal council leaders must not blame anyone for their removal for they acted alone in making their choices that led to their resignation or to putting the remaining council members in a position to enact disciplinary action.

At this time, a few people are critical of Josephine who is going the extra mile and who is courageous enough to take a stand in addressing and exposing tribal corruption and problematic tribal issues. She has not committed an illegal act, nor has she behaved unethically in her efforts. Yet, Josephine has been criticized for her persistent efforts to expose misuse of tribal money and her efforts to shed light on ongoing problems that we hear year after year. The individuals who wish she would go away and take her "whistle blowing" ways with her, are perhaps the people who wish for the problematic issues to remain ignored, or, even worse, perhaps they wish for the problems to continue without solution.

Good tribal leadership, particularly whoever sits in the tribal chair posistion, should respectively listen when the tribal members are expressing discontent with tribal issues. Josephine's mind is open to everyone's ideas and views. She has proven to be a good listener when it comes to tribal members who wish to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with decisions and questionable activity. Josephine is representative of those people within the tribe who truly want to see positive changes come to their tribe. Josephine is in contact with many tribal members who do not wish to disclose their identities for fear of losing their jobs or fear of "backlash". Mind you, tribal members have experienced job loss because their views were considered "tribally politically incorrect" to the majority rulers on the tribal council. Backlash and job loss tactics are not characteristic of Josephine Cisneros. Her aim has always been to provide more jobs and prosperity to the members of the Kickapoo Nation in Kansas.

KickapooTribalMember 12 years, 8 months ago

Part III: Josephine is a member of the KTIK who grew up on the Kickapoo Reservation and attended school along side with many of the tribal members who still reside on the reservation. Josephine's father, Harlan Cisneros, enjoyed making a home for his family on the reservation. Just like all the other mishos of times past, Harlan will always be one of our fondly remembered Kickapoo ancestors. Does anyone remember the truck he used to drive? (Check out the Plum Creek video). Harlan encouraged his children to obtain a higher education. Most importantly, he taught his children to always know their Kickapoo roots and to be proud of who they are. Josephine remains rooted to the Kickapoo tribe and the reservation will always be her home. Although Josephine has a home in Kansas City, she spends as much time on the reservation as she can and she often stays at her aunt's home. She chooses to spend time on the reservation so that she can gain a better understanding of the issues that tribal members must deal with on a daily basis. At one time she moved away from the reservation to pursue a college degree. Josephine earned a bachelor's degree in accounting. As an added benefit, she also gained business management work experience and a wider perspective on life. Now she can apply her skills and experiences to properly work for and serve the KTIK if she is elected. Currently, she is back home, on the reservation, and she desires to help her tribe.

Through Josephine's emails, organized protests, and community forums, many Kickapoos tribal members are kept aprised of the issues that the KTIK is facing. In the past year, she has managed to keep the tribal issues at the fore-front for all tribal members to view and to formulate their own opinions respectively. Obviously, she is not afraid to speak out on behalf of the tribal members who desire a tribe that can function better. More notably, she is a strong woman who is still standing despite much criticism for being a whistle-blower of corruption. If she is being criticized for taking a stand so that positive and improved changes can come to the KTIK, then for every word of criticism she deserves a vote of support because she has proven she has what it takes to stand and represent us as a strong tribal leader.

Regardless of whom the new tribal council is on October 3, 2005, the issues will lie tabled and waiting for them on Tuesday morning. Will the new council work in unity to solve the problematic issues or will they operate in disaccord and ignore the issues? All tribal issues must fall on the shoulders of our tribal leaders who are accountable for recognizing and solving the problematic issues that our tribe faces. Otherwise, why sit on the council as a tribal leader?

NDN_time 12 years, 7 months ago

Thank you for the indepth response. Angie Cadue is right. Our elders do need more attention and support. However, I do not agree that the Wyandotte Co. Casino venture should be dropped. Isn't there room for Compromise? Are you saying there are not enough funds to do both; attend to our seniors and secure the Wyandotte Co. Casino? Is it possible that the Casino venture is being used as the Scape Goat in this years election?

What evidence is there to accuse the current counsel of fraud other than a disagreement as to how the money should be spent. You know as well as I do being a Tribal Member that "fraud" and "conspiracy" theories abound during election time. As a voting member I would like evidence and proof rather than politics and theory to make my decision. I want nothing but goodness for the Tribe. I honestly believe the current counsel and even Josephine wants this also. There has to be a compromise and there needs to be unity even when we disagree.

P.S. Why isn't there a message forum on our tribal website? I've emailed the "webmaster" suggesting a forum months ago. I think a forum would be wonderful for hashing out ideas, concerns, and discussing issues such as the Casino, Plum Creek Reservoir, and spending issues. What do you think?

KickapooTribalMember 12 years, 7 months ago

To NDN_time. I received your email message that you wish to continue this debate. My response touched base on the internal issues concerning our tribe. I have released an email to tribal members which provides more in-depth information that may lead you to finding answers to your questions. You are likely to receive it in your email. If not, ask someone to forward it to you.

As far as the casino being the scapegoat in this year's election, the casino matters are always the primary issue throughout the years since the casino's inception. During election time we are either reminded of the pertinent tribal issues or we are finally receiving information that should have been disclosed to the tribal members earlier in the year. Josephine manages to keep the issues on the frontline for tribal members awareness, especially in this past year.

I agree with you that there should be financial support available for both the Wyandotte Co. casino venture and the tribal elders who live on and off the reservation. We are currently hearing tribal elders expressing their unmet needs and airing their complaints to the tribal leadership. Our tribal elders have a voice too. Some tribal elders are not in a position to voice their needs. For example, today, there is a Kickapoo elder who lives in the Kansas City area. He does not have a phone and he has no transportation. He does not have enough money for his $5.00 co-pay that he needs to purchase high blood pressure medication that he has been needing for the past three days. He rarely has anyone checking in on him. Will our tribal leaders reach out to help tribal elders like him? I have passed this information on to someone who may be able to reach him today. I hope he gets some help today.

Thus far, the tribe is reported to have invested approximately $6.5 million into the Wyandotte Casino venture. We have yet to see that venture become a reality. In my opinion, if the tribe can put that much spending into a phantom casino venture, there should be enough monies to fuel programs and assistance for all the tribal elders.

Plum Creek Reservoir is a fantastic idea for the reservation and the surrounding communities. The Kickapoo tribe and its residents need an adequate source of water. The low water supply has placed the reservation in a state of emergency. It is probably the longest and most ignored (by government officals) state-of-emergency that I am witnessing in my lifetime. I encourage you to view the Plum Creek video. Call someone at the tribal office.

I agree with you that the tribal website needs to be updated and available to tribal members for a forum. Otherwise, tribal members end up communicating with each other on newspaper websites like the Lawrence Journal-World.

kickpoprnce 10 years, 3 months ago

WWinkler and KCwarpony know what their talking about, and as for josephine, maybe she needs to go back to school, or just go to school period. if she has a problem she should just ask the chairman for a job,(woops did i say that. (", (wink)) also i would say that given the circumstances, the chairman and council are doing a good job for funding schools with the money they make from casinos. students need clothes for school along with food, water and a good, stable environment to learn and grow in. to do this to the council and the people of the reservation is just heartless.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.