Recent articles about Kevin Gover, assistant secretary for Indian affairs, have implied that he acted out of personal animosity rather than professional judgment in removing the Saginaw-Chippewa Tribal Council from office [Federal Page, Aug. 16, Aug. 12]. Your reporter presented a few clauses from Gover's letter out of context, thus leaving the casual reader with the impression that Gover removed the officials in part because they cooperated in an earlier article in your paper.
A closer reading indicates that Gover made the statement about the Post article in a very different context. Knowing of the Saginaw-Chippewa Council's involvement in the story [" `Brother, We Aren't With You,' " news story, Aug. 5], he sought the advice of the Interior Department's ethics office to determine whether he could be accused of a conflict of interest. The ethics adviser informed him that being the target of a critical article contributed to by the tribal officers did not prevent him from taking action against the tribe (otherwise how could any government official act?), which he communicated to the tribe.
Your paper should have quoted enough of the letter for readers to make their own judgment. Careful use of quotations is especially important in light of your Aug. 16 revelation that the tribal officials retained a lobbyist to help plant negative stories about Gover.
As dean of the University of Denver College of Law and a scholar of Indian law, I know Gover and Richard Monette -- the tribal attorney for the Saginaw-Chippewa Council -- professionally. I disagree with Gover's decision on its merits, because it unduly interferes with tribal sovereignty when less intrusive methods are available. But I do not doubt his integrity, now sullied by your paper.
-- Nell Jessup Newton