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Crowe resigns Tribal Council seat

Bo Crowe. Bo Crowe.

Wolfetown Rep. Bo Crowe has announced his resignation from the Tribal Council seat he’s held since 2013. The announcement follows a Jan. 6 incident that resulted in Crowe facing three criminal charges, two of which are felonies.

At the beginning of Budget Council Tuesday, Jan. 31, Chairman Richard French read a letter from Crowe explaining his decision. 

“Working for and serving our enrolled members is something that I have put my whole heart into and at this time, with everything going on, I do not feel like my whole heart and mind is here and I cannot be the Council Representative that they know and deserve,” Crowe wrote. “I will be stepping away to work on healing my family and taking care of myself.”

The announcement marks a reversal from Crowe’s initial public comments on the matter, which he gave during the previous Budget Council meeting Tuesday, Jan. 10. At that time, he said he would not be resigning his seat. 

“As an elected official and a servant of the Wolfetown and Big Y community, I must place my faith in our tribal process,” Crowe said Jan. 10. “This includes having faith as a sovereign nation in the wisdom and mercy of the Cherokee Tribal Court. I stand accountable for my actions, and I do so without regret.”

Court documents accuse Crowe of assault against Knoxville resident Jason Matthew Burleson, stating that Crowe struck Burleson about the body, placed his arm around his neck and squeezed, rendering him unconscious. The incident occurred the evening of Jan. 6 at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino — in the parking area, Crowe said in his public comments. 

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Crowe was arrested Jan. 7 and spent the weekend in jail until his arraignment hearing Monday, Jan. 9. He is charged with assault inflicting serious bodily injury, assault by strangulation and aggravated reckless endangerment. Together, the charges carry a maximum combined prison sentence of seven years, with fines and temporary banishment also on the table. 

Despite the allegations against Crowe, many in the Cherokee community have voiced support for him, believing that he acted to protect his teenage daughter and niece. The niece, Livia Crowe, addressed Council Jan. 10. While that part of the session was not broadcast, Crowe’s adult daughter Dre Crowe later shared a written version of Livia Crowe’s comments on Facebook. 

According to Livia Crowe, Bo Crowe is a “hero” who came to her rescue immediately, while authorities didn’t respond until hours later. Without Bo Crowe’s actions, Livia Crowe said, she fears she and her cousin might have become another statistic in the epidemic of violence against Native women.  

“On the night of January sixth my cousin and I were followed, harassed, insulted and threatened,” she said. “We were called ugly names, swerved off the road, and had drinks thrown on our moving vehicle. We instantly called our parents during the event, and my uncle Bo came to our rescue as fast as he could.”

While many in the community stand by Bo Crowe, that support is not universal. A resolution included on the agenda for the Feb. 2 Tribal Council session sought to initiate impeachment proceedings against him as a result of the charges. The resolution was submitted by Chelsea Taylor and Mary Ferguson. 

Following his arrest, Crowe was released from jail on a $5,000 unsecured bond. His next court date is scheduled for April 5. 

In October, Crowe announced his intention to run for principal chief of the tribe. The charges could place that aspiration in jeopardy because tribal law prevents anybody who has been convicted of a felony from holding office, unless they successfully petition the court to reinstate that right after completion of the sentence. Crowe did not return a text message asking the status of his plans to continue the campaign in light of his recent resignation. 

Crowe’s resignation leaves Andrew W. Oocumma as Wolfetown’s sole representative. Oocumma took office in January following a special election to fill the seat held by Bill Taylor, who resigned in October following criminal charges in connection to a domestic violence incident, and has since pleaded guilty. The tribe’s Charter and Governing Document states that the township should elect a new representative when a vacancy occurs midterm. All 12 Tribal Council seats are up for election in the Sept. 7 General Election. 

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