SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Scheduled elections for the Skull Valley Band of Goshutes were canceled after the group's disputed leader declared there wasn't a quorum of voting members.
Leon Bear adjourned the meeting Saturday a half-hour after its scheduled 10 a.m. start. His opponents said there weren't quite enough people at the meeting when Bear ended it, but estimated that there would've been if he had waited.
Margene Bullcreek, who had planned to challenge Bear for the leadership post, said attendance numbered about 35 out of an estimated 84 to 86 adult tribal members eligible to vote. Half of them are required for a quorum.
Tribe members came from Colorado, Idaho and Nevada for the vote, said Miranda Wash, who also opposes Bear's leadership.
"He should have given more time for the people to come in, because a lot were coming in," she said.
Bear and his supporters left quickly after he called off the meeting, Bullcreek said. Attempts by the Salt Lake Tribune to reach Bear by telephone at his home were unsuccessful.
Bullcreek said federal Bureau of Indian Affairs representatives had attended previous meetings, but no one from the agency was at this one.
She called Bear an illegitimate leader whose term was up a year ago and had no authority to hold or adjourn the meeting.
"We don't have a chairman, we don't have a vice chairman, we don't have a secretary. We haven't had a secretary for the past six months or so," she said. "I told him he shouldn't even be running the meeting because his term was up. ... He said he could still be in there until he was elected out."
Bear has been involved in power struggles since he signed a lease in 1997 with Private Fuel Storage, a nuclear power utility consortium, to allow the company to store up to 44,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel on the reservation 45 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.
The state opposes the multibillion dollar proposal, and has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the dispute with the sovereign Goshute nation.
The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering the license application, with a decision expected as early as January.
A year ago, the U.S. attorney for Utah indicted Bear on three counts of embezzling $160,952 from tribal programs and three counts of tax fraud. He has denied any wrongdoing.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)