Random Update: Convictions in Sham-Indian Case

Arby'sHistorical range of the Wampanoag Nation

Readers sometimes write in to ask “whatever happened with [insert story here]?” and I sometimes have the same question myself when reminded of an older post, either through the “random posts” feature here or some other random event. That’s why you got the “Spa Bandit Update,” for example—that is, not because somebody wondered “whatever happened with Marshall G. Wolbers” but because I was fixing some broken links and I wondered about it.

Anyway, that’s also why you’re getting this update on one of the idiots featured in 2008’s “Judge Finds Alleged Indian Tribe to Be ‘Complete Sham.'”

I personally enjoyed that tale quite a bit, as it involved a group of men who claimed to be members of the “Wampanoag Nation, Tribe of Grayhead, Wolf Band,” but in fact were just four idiots who came up with the idea of pretending to be Native Americans one day while they were hanging out at Arby’s. At the time of the post, a federal judge had just ruled against them in a civil RICO case involving bogus judgments they filed against various state officials. (This is a common tactic of members of the “sovereign citizen” movement, although most of those people don’t claim to be sovereign Native Americans.) Still unresolved, though, was whether they would face criminal charges either for their fraudulent tribal pretenses or for some other crime I was willing to believe they had probably committed.

So upon looking into this further, I was unsurprised to find out they did face charges, or at least one did, according to the Deseret News:

A Uintah County man who had his “tribe” declared a fraud by a federal judge has been charged with helping a fugitive from Iowa elude capture and with possessing child pornography.

Oh dear. Ordinarily tribal elders will put a stop to that kind of thing, but in this case he was the tribal elder: the chief, no less.

Dale N. Stevens in fact had already been charged with burglary and attempted lewdness in a separate case, in which he was accused of repeatedly entering a trailer home for the purpose of looming over a 12-year-old girl (thankfully, it was only attempted lewdness). He testified at his trial in October 2008 that he only went into the trailer because the girl was alone and he was worried about her safety. Problem: he had admitted at the preliminary hearing that, as the report put it, he had “secured the right to marry the girl in a barter with her mother for half a cooler of energy bars.”

This, he explained, was simply the way of the Wampanoag.

“That’s the way Indians do things … if they’re living under their old ways,” he said of the arrangement with the 12-year-old girl’s mother, who also testified about the trade. “I became her guardian, put it that way, I became her guardian.”

Sure, let’s put it that way. Let us not judge the ancient traditions of a once-proud people who lost everything after the white man seized their ancestral hunting grounds, taking all the roast beef and curly fries for themselves and leaving the tribe to starve. Yes, trading half a cooler of energy bars for the right to become the “guardian” of an underage girl may seem strange to us, but it’s just the way fake Indians do things, at least if they’re living under their old ways. Shouldn’t we respect that?


Stevens also continued to insist that he was a Native American and could not be prosecuted because the alleged crimes happened on “tribal land.” Again, to my knowledge the tribal land was limited to that particular Arby’s in Provo, Utah, but maybe the Wampanoag have traditionally considered it to extend to any area where the chief has attempted lewdness. I’m not an expert on Wampanoag Nation traditions. (I should make clear as I did in 2008 that these idiots should in no way be confused with the Wampanoag Tribe, which is an entirely respectable and federally recognized tribe in Massachusetts.) In any event, neither the jury nor the judge accepted his ridiculous defenses.

More surprisingly, Stevens was sentenced to only four months in jail, with six years of probation. (I guess you could call this an appeal, but he lost.) But as the report also noted, Stevens was facing other charges too, including obstruction of justice and harboring a criminal (apparently a member of the Iowa branch of the tribe). He was convicted of those charges in 2010, although the report is unclear as to the sentence he got. He did get some kind of probation again, despite the state’s argument that Stevens “has been difficult to track while on probation as he has several residences, some of which are deep in the mountains.” Again the sad story of a people (or person) driven far from its traditional home.

Stevens then also appears in a 2013 appellate decision affirming the 2010 conviction and sentence. That decision was unsurprising because he didn’t challenge the conviction or sentence. Rather, the court said, “he attempts to challenge the trial court’s later ruling that the hard drive in his computer, which was seized as evidence, must be cleaned or replaced prior to its return.” So he apparently wanted to get back the contents of the hard drive. That is potentially creepy, but it doesn’t matter because he had not appealed that particular order, so he lost yet again.

The most recent mention of Stevens I can find is a decision from last year (2015 WL 1809655, if you care) dismissing a case in which he argued that giving him a traffic ticket violated his civil rights. That decision reveals that (1) he has been out of jail at least since April 2014, and (2) his judgment and legal arguments are not getting any better.