Many districts around Iowa started their school year this week. But half the kids were missing on opening day at one school. Desks were empty on the first day of classes at the Meskwaki Settlement school in Tama Thursday. Tom Jochum is spokesman for a dissident group vying for tribal leadership, headed by Homer Bear. At least more than half stayed out of school, as he says an estimated 50 to 80 students showed up compared with last year’s enrollment of 160 and an expected student body close to 180 this year. Supporters of the Homer Bear faction had gone to the school before the term opened, complaining that the administrator signed a contract with Alex Walker, the winner of the last recognized tribal election. Parents are concerned about the direction the school’s going and are reluctant to send their kids till they find out what’s going to go on. A tribal election that’s sanctioned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs will be held October 21st and Jochum says Bear’s supporters are prepared to accept results of the vote. They don’t know what Alex Walker will do, as the group charges that almost a year ago Walker was presented with recall petitions but refused to schedule a recall election. Jochum says the Homer Bear followers are satisfied for now with talks they held Monday with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
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