Wayne Keplin formally removed from Turtle Mountain chairmanship

The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa’s tribal council has voted to formally remove Wayne Keplin as tribal chairman, the tribe announced Monday.

The Tribe posted on Facebook that the council voted 7 to 0 to remove Keplin, with one absence.

In a press release, the Tribe accused Keplin of “self-dealing,” saying that Keplin “engaged in six different actions that constituted ‘misconduct’ under the laws of the Tribe,” which includes accusing Keplin of attempting to redirect fees normally paid to the Tribe to his construction company.

The removal process stems from a series of incidents between Keplin and the Tribe, where the Tribe claims that Keplin resigned, and then tried to walk back on his resignation after the Tribe had accepted it.

Earlier this month, officers arrested Keplin after a fellow Tribal member accused him of simple assault. Authorities later transferred Keplin temporarily from the Tribal jail in Belcourt to the Heart of America Correctional Center in Rugby before a judge granted him bond.

Keplin has maintained his innocence throughout, saying he never misused tribal funds and did not assault anyone. His family disputes both his arrest and his incarceration in Rugby, arguing the authorities should have allowed him to stay in Belcourt.

According to the Tribe, councilmember Robert Marcellais is serving as acting chairman.

Keplin will appear again in court on the assault charge next month.