None of female contenders confirmed Dirribkal
Court of Appeals issued its ruling last month confirming Trial Court’s decision that Robat Demei is Ngiribklal, a duly appointed chief of Ngeribkal clan and that all the women contesting the title of Dirribkal on both sides of the argument are not legally appointed Dirribkal, according to custom.
Furthermore, Ngiribkal Robat Demei, although duly appointed chief, cannot lease the lands belonging to Ngeribkal in Tiull, Ngerbeched to non-clan members without consent of all strong members of Ngeribkal clan.
The court decision on Ngeribkal Clan case is the latest among the string of cases raised by members of the clan after it received the title to a prime property in Ngerbeched, Koror. Ngeribkal clan of Ngerbeched finally won its land back from the government after filing a claim for it in 1950. But since that time, Trust Territory government to Koror State government, have divided the land and leased lots to many families, including families that were not related to the clan. When the clan finally won the land, about 39 families or households have leases on the property, some of which have had leases for nearly 50 years.
Upon winning the case, an issue arose within the clan, where two factions were contending for the titles, Ngiribkal (male chief) and Dirribkal (female counterpart). For the male chief, Robat Demei and Bonicasio Eberdong were vying the title. For the female counterpart, Ngedikes Gibbons who was with Robat Hosei faction was contending with Mary Hiroko Sugiyama for title of Dirrikbal.
In the Appellate’s ruling which only confirmed the Trial Court’s decision which said that Robat Demei was “properly appointed to hold the title in 2004 because the women who appointed him included the contemporaneous holder of the female title, his mother, Dirramekar.” It further said that Eberdong came 11 years later after Demei has been appointed and no evidence was given of title having been removed from Demei.
On the Dirribkal title, Appellate court supported Trial court’s decision saying “that the ourrot of all lineages of a clan must reach a consensus” in order for the appointment to be valid, neither Ngedikes Gibbons and Mary Hiroko Sugiyama were appointed by ourrot of all lineage. In the case of Sugiyama, two of the women who participated in her appointment were not proven to be ourrot.
The court also confirmed that Sugiyama’s earlier appointment to represent the clan in its return of public land claim against KSPLA does not mean that she has the authority to administer returned clan lands, and that is well determined that “clan or lineage land is administered by the strongest male member, normally the title bearer.”
Despite final decision confirming Robat Demei as the Ngiribkal of the Ngeribkal Clan and as a title bearer, the administrator of clan lands, he can not lease clan lands to non-clan members without approval of senior members of the clan.
The future of the 39 leaseholders on the Ngeribkal lands in Tiull, Ngerbeched remain unclear while the clan members remain in conflict.