Group says they're protecting heritage

Members of the group attempting to oust the current president of the Stewart Indian Museum said their effort is necessary to protect Indian cultural heritage.

They accused museum President Sheila Abbe of several illegal activities and that they have the authority, through filing for Nevada incorporation as a nonprofit corporation, to fire her and her husband, effectively disbanding the current board of directors.

Earlier this month, Esther Thompson, Jason May and Rocky Boice Sr. filed for incorporation under the corporate name Carson City Urban Indian Consortium, Inc. That is the same corporate name under which the museum has been operated since 1998 by Abbe, her husband Jeffrey Abbe and Winona James.

The challengers claim that because the current corporation has not been following legally prescribed meeting regulations, its legal status is "defunct."

However, the state of Nevada cannot issue a duplicate corporation with a name already in use. Once a name is used it remains in force unless the new party buys the old corporation "shell."

The group accused the Abbes of illegally taking over the museum in the first place.

May claimed the Abbes have been using the museum as a residence, cooking food inside thus potentially damaging Indian artifacts. May also said that crafts sold in the museum's gift store are reportedly mislabeled as "Indian" crafts in violation of federal law.

The group accuses the Abbes of keeping several guns and ammunition on the property near prison inmates who work at the museum as part of a work program.

On Dec. 20, the current museum administration was told to leave the museum by the newly formed board. Capitol Police were ordered by State Buildings and Grounds Director Mike Mizel to stand by to keep the peace.

Since the new tenants moved in they have been examining financial records but were unable to find financial inconsistencies.

The Abbes have taken legal action against the new board members, asking Judge Bill Maddox to reject the group's position.

They also say that loss of revenue during the Christmas season has hit the museum hard and that personal and corporate losses should be recouped in the event that their foes' actions are found to be illegal.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for today at 1:30 p.m.


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