Colville Confederated Tribes Councilwoman Frances Charette is under investigation in a stabbing incident on the Inchelium-Gifford ferry.
Tribal Police Chief Jay Goss confirmed Thursday that Charette, who represents the Inchelium District of the Colville Indian Reservation, is suspected of stabbing her off-and-on boyfriend Eugene Michel twice in his lower back June 2.
Michel, who is in his early 30s, apparently was not severely injured. Goss said police didn’t find out about the attack until Tuesday, when Michel sought treatment at the Indian Health Service clinic in Inchelium.
Goss said Michel was reluctant to discuss the issue, but told officers Charette stabbed him out of jealousy.
Michel told police Charette stabbed him when she caught him on a date with another woman.
Charette didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The stabbing occurred about 10:45 p.m. while the ferry was crossing Lake Roosevelt from Gifford to Inchelium with more than 20 vehicles aboard.
Both Michel and Charette are from the Inchelium area.
Goss said officers were still seeking witnesses, and details of the stabbing remained sketchy. He said Charette hasn’t been interviewed because she was representing the tribal government at the National Congress of American Indians in Spokane.
The incident poses a tricky jurisdictional question.
Do the tribal police and court have jurisdiction because the case involves tribal members on a tribally owned ferry?
Or do county officers and state courts have jurisdiction because the ferry is part of the state highway system? And, if so, was the ferry in Stevens or Ferry County?
For tribal law to prevail, it would still be necessary to determine whether the ferry was in tribal waters.
“But we’ll straighten it out,” Goss said.
He said he has advised the FBI and will present his report to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Spokane as well as to tribal Prosecutor Lin Sonnenberg in Nespelem.