‘Chief Thunderbird’ charged $500 for illegals to enter his tribe

| 9/12/2007

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents busted a Wichita, KS, man for allegedly posing as a Native American Indian chief and making $300,000 by charging illegal aliens to enter his “tribe” to obtain U.S. citizenship.

Malcom L. “Chief Thunderbird IV” Webber, 69, is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Wichita Friday, Sept. 14, on one count of attempting to defraud the federal government, one count of harboring aliens who were illegally in the U.S. and one count of possessing false identification documents with intent to defraud the U.S.

The investigation was sparked after employees from Social Security offices, driver’s license bureaus and police agencies in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Michigan, and California reported foreign nationals using documents they purchased from Webber as proof of U.S. citizenship.

More than 300 such sets of documents were turned in to Wichita authorities alone by aliens purporting to be part of Thunderbird’s Kaweah Indian Nation.

Court documents allege that Webber recruited memberships across the U.S., seeking $50 to $500 per document set, and that Webber told Hispanic pastors and other Spanish speakers the membership conferred their citizenship, according to an ICE news release. U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren said authorities seized $300,000 from a bank account under the Kaweah Indian Nation name.

Webber’s insistence of Indian heritage isn’t new.

According to records from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, that agency denied Webber’s 1984 request for federal recognition of his Kaweah Indian Nation organization. The denial stated that Webber is non-Indian and his organization had “no characteristics of an Indian Tribe which has maintained tribal relations from historical times.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer