Former Cheyenne & Arapaho Gov. Flyingman subject of criminal complaint

OKLAHOMA CITY – Darrell Flyingman, former governor of the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, is the subject of a criminal complaint consisting of two counts. The controversial tribal member, ousted from power in a 2010 campaign, is charged with making verbal threats to a man seeking to serve civil papers from the C&A Tribal Court. 

The criminal complaint (CRM-2013-67) detailed that Flyingman, “an adult Indian male, did unlawfully engage in an unlawful act by purposely pulling out an assault style rifle on the victim, James Reynolds, while Mr. Reynolds was attempting to serve the defendant, civil papers from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Court. The defendant, Darrell Flyingman, made verbal threats to the victim, attempting to cause the victim imminent bodily harm with the apparent ability to do so while holding a weapon on his person.”

According to Cheyenne & Arapaho Attorney General Charles Morris, who filed the document in tribal court, “The incident took place at the defendant’s residence in Colony, Oklahoma, Washita County, Oklahoma, which is known to be Cheyenne and Arapaho trust land, therefore the Cheyenne and Arapaho courts have jurisdiction.”

First count in the document filed against Flyingman was for “assault in the first degree,” under Section 201 of Cheynne & Arapaho law. The provision in question declares such assault to consist of an “Attempt to cause or cause serious bodily injury to another; or … to use a deadly weapon with the intent to cause serious bodily injury, or with the intent to put in fear of imminent serious bodily injury with the apparent ability to do so.”

A second count, filed under authority of Section 508, focused on what the attorney general described as an “aggravated weapons offense.” Among other provisions, that provision in the laws of the two tribes declares it illegal to “to threaten to use or exhibit a dangerous weapon in a dangerous or threatening manner, or use a dangerous weapons in a fight or quarrel.” 

The government of the C&A Tribes of Oklahoma is embroiled in a bitter dispute between the government of Gov. Janice Prairie-Boswell, elected in 2010, and the faction of her controversial predecessor, Flyingman.

Her election seemed at the time a hopeful sign that governance of the Tribes had entered a new, reform-oriented era. But the meddling of local BIA employees derailed many of her efforts. In conjunction (if not outright coordination) with Boswell’s internal tribal-political foes, this has ultimately threatened the entire regional economy.

As for the Interior Department in Washington — ostensibly the managing unit over BIA — the agency ruled Boswell was legitimately elected as the governor in January 2010, and has recognized her government, pending appeals, as a valid recipient of federal funds.

Boswell’s victory three years ago ousted scandal-tainted incumbent Flyingman. Yet she has never been able to exercise full power over the government of the two tribes.

Despite the controversy, Gov. Boswell has proven effective, including in negotiations with the state of Oklahoma. She and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin have signed compacts and agreements improving ties in several areas, including establishment of clearer rules touching gaming issues. 

Crippling factionalism within America’s tribal governments is not unusual. It does not necessarily follow conservative or liberal, Republican or Democratic, or similar lines. In the C&A Tribes and many others, political splits follow generational lines, familial relationships and, increasingly, commercial ties.

BIA bureaucrats also battle among themselves. In the case of the C & As, the Interior Department “home office” accepted Boswell’s election, but regional solicitors for the BIA (based in Tulsa) jammed things up for Boswell from the start. 

In this fall’s elections for the Cheyenne & Arapaho, the Flyingman faction is trying to defeat Boswell, a reformer who has improved tribal services and relations with the state government of Oklahoma. 

As for recent events touching Flyingman, each count in the legal filing includes potential penalties up to a $5,000 fine and one year of imprisonment in the Tribal jail.

The tribe is seeking jail time for the alleged offenses.

Listed in the filing is the victim is Reynolds. Second eyewitness to the incident, according to the court document, was John O’Keefe.

NOTE: This report is revised and updated from
a staff report first posted on September 24. You may contact McGuigan at