70-year-old Malcolm L. Webber of Wichita was convicted in a jury trial in August on one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, two counts of harboring illegal aliens, two counts of possession of false identification documents, and one count of mail fraud.
Evidence presented at trial showed that thousands of people paid to become members of the Kaweah Indian Nation, a fictitious Indian tribe created by Webber. Buyers believed the memberships would make them U.S. citizens and keep them from being deported.
Webber was indicted in February 2007 after reports came in from Social Security offices, drivers license bureaus and law enforcement agencies in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Michigan, California, and other states that foreign nationals were showing up with documents purchased from Webber. The bearers were offering the documents as proof they were U.S. citizens. They were seeking Social Security cards, driver’s licenses and other forms of identification to which they claimed they were entitled. More than 300 sets of documents from the so-called Kaweah tribe were submitted to the Social Security office in Wichita by people claiming to be U.S. citizens.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs previously had determined that Webber was not a Native American Indian and his so-called Kaweah Indian Nation was not a Native American Indian tribe. The agency in 1984 denied a request by Webber for federal recognition of his Kaweah Indian Nation organization. The letter of denial stated that Webber was a “non-Indian” and that his organization had “no characteristics of an Indian Tribe which has maintained tribal relations from historical times.”
For more on the subject, see Kaweah Guilty of Fraud and "Chief Thundercloud IV" Arrested. Note that the news reports aren't certain whether Webber called himself Chief Thunderbird or Chief Thundercloud. Perhaps Webber wasn't certain himself. After all, one phony name is as good as another.