A Northwest Territories First Nation has suspended its chief, in a move that the chief says could turn into a lengthy and expensive legal battle.

In a statement issued Monday, the Deninu K'ue band council of Fort Resolution, N.W.T., announced it suspended chief Bill Norn, appointing Sub-Chief Louis Balsillie in his place. The statement says Norn was asked to explain some issues that are before the band's legal advisor, but Norn did not do so.

When contacted by CBC News, Norn said the council's concerns are not valid, adding that he did not have a chance to discuss the band's concerns because he was in Ottawa at the time.

Norn accused the sub-chief and his supporters of beingunhappy with his leadership since he refused to dismiss two employees that he said council wanted fired.

He said he is prepared to spend his own money to fight the band's suspension in court, adding that the council is wasting the community's money on an unnecessary court battle.

Balsillie did not respond to requests for an interview.

Should Norn fight the suspension, the Deninu K'ue could become the latest N.W.T. First Nation in recent yearsto take its political clashes to the courts.

The Salt River First Nation council in Fort Smith, N.W.T., is currently embroiled in a Federal Court dispute with Frieda Martselos, who it ousted as chief due to concerns council had about her leadership.Martselos has alleged that the current council has been spending land claim money without proper authorization.

Meanwhile, an internal dispute over election resultsin Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T., avoided the courts in Juneafter the band recounted the results. Russell Andre, who lost the contest for chief after a tiebreaker in the June 18 election, threatened legal action if the results were not recounted. The recount confirmed the initial results.

Earlier this month, the Dene Nation — of which the Deninu K'ue, an Akaitcho band, is a member — floated the idea of a special tribunal system to mediate internal disputes within northern First Nations.