Yurok Tribal Chairman Resigns After Story Breaks About His Role in the Death of His Infant Daughter


James Dunlap [Photo from the Yurok Tribe’s website]

Today, Yurok Tribal Chair James Dunlap resigned after news broke about his arrest for the stabbing death of his infant daughter in 1988. Dunlap who was elected only a few months ago had to undergo a background check, according to a press release from the Yurok Tribal Council. Yet, the Council said it only “recently became aware of the information related to Dunlap’s personal history.”

According to an article in the San Jose Mercury News, Dunlap was arrested for stabbing his infant daughter to death. The September 13, 1988 article begins,

A Humboldt County man is in custody in San Mateo after allegedly killing his 3-month-old daughter “to set her free for God.”

San Mateo police said they arrived at a house where the family was staying Friday just as James Dunlap, 30, of Hoopa was lifting the girl over his head and yelling out that he had sacrificed her to God.The girl, Brittaney, had been stabbed with a buck knife in her crib, police said.

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A copy of this was sent to the Redheaded Blackbelt by a concerned reader.

The article says that police suspected Dunlap of being under the influence of methamphetamine at the time. According to the North Coast News, he was “charged with 2nd degree murder in San Mateo County and according to the San Mateo Superior Court clerk, he was sentenced in April of 1993 to 15 years to life in prison.”

Dunlap, according to his 2012 statement while running for tribal office, has been living in the local area since 1998 even though he grew up in the Bay area. At that time he said he was Chairman of the Board of Directors for Drug & Alcohol Detox & Treatment Services and had been President of the All Indian Boarding Schools Association from 2001 until 2006. He also said he had run a successful contracting business for 13 years.



  • What gets me is how people like this who manage to escape the horrors of life in prison and should consider themselves lucky to be free actually think they can run for a high profile elected office. Tim Stoen, who was Jim Jones’s attorney for a while and who lost a 5 year old at Jonestown, loved to run for office and worked for Paul Gallegos a while. Stoen was always calling attention to himself, quickly filing the lawsuit against Pacific Lumber that almost got Gallegos recalled. He also ran for U.S. Senator briefly as a Republican. No humility. At best these people should become recluses and thank the higher powers they are free. Chairman Dunlap, also with a child’s blood on his hands, more directly than Stoen, feels it’s ok to kill a child and hold yourself up as a leader. It’s called denial. And it’s pervasive in our society. Even Kaitlin Jenner killed someone with her car pretty recently but has no problem parading herself as an example, with no remorse or trauma for the horror she was, in part, responsible for. The ultimate example is Trump, who took out an ad urging for the conviction of 5 young men in the Central Park Jogger rape case. They were convicted, lost the best years of their lives, only to be deemed innocent over a decade later. No humility.

    • I find it appalling that you are comparing Stoen’s life story to this man’s. Yes Stoen and his family were victims of a cult, I’ve heard their story and it was tragic, not the same as stabbing a child to death however equally tragic. Stoen also has never hid his past.

      • I am sorry but I think you have incomplete information! Tim Stoen was Jim Jone’s chief legal counsel during the San Francisco years and helped him gain many political connections that were paramount in shutting down any complaints or investigations about the Peoples Church. Tim Stoen portrays himself as a “victim” but he was actually a main force in elevating and protecting Jim Jones crazy and oppressive cult, for many years. Here is just one quick reference for your reading pleasure, a heavily researched account in the novel “Season of the Witch” by David Talbot. Please don’t fall for Tim Stoen’s revision of history. Please don’t be a sucker like Gallegos.

    • What an eloquent and informative (and insightful) post. Thank you

  • What ? this needs more explaining. He was given 15 years,but ran a boarding school ? Had a successful business for 13 years ? the numbers do not add up.

  • Why isn’t he prison sounds like he murdered a child wtf ?

  • Do they not do back ground checks?

  • Dunlap said he “set her free for God” – sounds like Stoen wasn’t the only one who was the “victim” of a cult.

  • It’s called: Hiding in plain sight. af

  • How on earth did he only get 15 years for brutally stabbing his own infant child to death??
    So the meth did it?
    He did it, the meth just brought his wicked self to the surface and showed us who he really is!

    • It does not appear that he spent any time in jail for this awful crime. If he can run around representing himself as public servant, maybe it’s time for him to start serving the 15 year to life sentence he deserved.

  • I think there are too many Chiefs and not enough Skins who matter in the opinion. The whole place needs to be redesigned with everyone thinking as one instead of me. Everyone who matters should have a voice and not only a few. While it is a fact that some who work there have similar backgrounds,that are either in the realm of money laundering, drugs, child abuse, fraud, embezzlement and theft of the Yurok people and abuse of their resources. Do you see them resign, no they just cause the pot to stir a little more. Toxic workplace for anybody to work in. Just another opressive tactic if you ask me. Now what is the real reason behind this, someone is not telling the truth or why did they do it to begin with. Not disclosing this information in the beginning you would not get past the front door of any place should I say anymore. We have council members who have a felony so what make it any different. A lie is ok this means and everyone condones it. That is a shame. Simply iqnoring the plain facts shows the lack of integrity, should I say anymore. I say Dunlap served his time, and moved on with his life, rehabilitated, etc. What makes him any different than the others who commit the above crimes is because it resulted in death and this is sad. This is something he lives with daily. Oppression and everyday lack of mobility was not the reason we became organized as a tribe. For those who matter will not care what I said as an elder. To me other don’t matter as Dr Seus says. As a tribal member in humane treatment is rampant and is done more to us than the others that are not represented in the above mentioned group. This is food for thought.

    • He didn’t serve his time, he pled insanity! You may be missing the point. You don’t run a campaign on “transparency and personal accountability” and then fail to disclose a very violent past. You don’t lie and say you are a “successful businessman” when you are not. He has been running from responsibility his whole life and ran away again when his deceit was exposed.

  • Two things strike me:

    5 years for murdering a child

    Native American Politics

    “Help Wanted: Yurok Tribe seeks unbiased, educated, experienced person to conduct simple background checks”

  • He was found innocent by reason of insanity Now isn’t that some kind of guy you’d want to be running your tribe . What a shock to the Hupa tribe bummer . Good for the runner up he know gets the vacant chair .better now than later .

  • What a parasite he should have received life without the possibility of parole! Thank God he was exposed!

  • Has anybody scene his anti meth commercial .

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