Frieda Martselos has been re-elected chief of the Salt River First Nation in Fort Smith, N.W.T., despite spending nearly a year and a half battling a band council that tried to fire her.
Martselos defeated band administrator Dave Poitras 175 votes to 147 on Monday.
Three of Martselos's supporters are joining her: Brad Laviolette, Gloria Villebrun and Fred Beaulieau were elected to the open council spots in Monday's band election.
Martselos's re-election is the latest chapter in political infighting that has divided the Salt River First Nation.
The band council ousted Martselos from office only one week after she was first elected in April 2007. The council's resolution to fire her included 21 reasons, most of which pointed to what they called her "autocratic" governing style.
Martselos went to the Federal Court twice to defend her leadership. In January, the court quashed the council's resolution to fire her, ruling that she had not been given a chance to create a competent and stable administration. The council has appealed that decision.
"I think you have to move forward," Martselos said Monday night after the results were announced.
"[In] every election the democratic vote counts, right? I haven't been able to serve as chief yet, and I was elected last April."
But the infighting may continue: Poitras has accused Martselos of waging a re-election campaign based on dirty tactics.
"I'm going to really think about what I'm going to do next," Poitras said. "Maybe we'll appeal and we'll have to do it all over again, and hopefully next time without the smear."
He added that he believes a number of mail-in ballots were sent out late.
But Martelos said she doubts there will be an appeal, saying Monday's election gives her a clear mandate to lead.
"The procedure that's followed by the returning officer was pretty clear. I think everything was fair and just," she said.
"I think that we have a lot to look forward to. I think that we have a lot of economic opportunities to look forward to. Salt River has a great future and I'm going to be part of that."
Martselos said she plans to be at work at the band office on Tuesday.