litigation

John Petoskey: Tribal Sovereign Immunity and the Michigan v. Bay Mills case: What the Future Likely Holds and How Native Nations Should Prepare

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

In this lecture for faculty and students of the University of Arizona's Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program, NNI Indigenous Leadership Fellow John Petoskey provides a comprehensive background of the Michigan v. Bay Mills case currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court and discusses what Native nations can do now to prepare for each of of the case's likeliest outcomes, which are certain to have potentially significant impacts on the scope and functionality of tribal sovereign immunity.

People
Resource Type
Citation

Petoskey, John. "Tribal Sovereign Immunity and the Michigan v. Bay Mills case: What the Future Likely Holds and How Native Nations Should Prepare." Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. October 2, 2013. Interview.

Ian Record:

"Hi, my name's Ian Record. I'm Manager of Educational Resources with the Native Nations Institute, and we are here and our honored guest is here in conjunction with a program we run called the Indigenous Leadership Fellows Program. It's a program we established about five years ago. It was designed to do a couple things. First and foremost, ensure that NNI was on the right track with a lot of its research and educational efforts that it does around tribal governance and leadership and nation building, and also give the folks that we invited to serve as fellow the opportunity to come and share their wisdom and experience, and also give them a chance to start sort of taking a step back and sort of taking everything that they've done and figure out what is it that they want to share more broadly with, certainly with Native communities and the general public. So I know some of you were here at our talk yesterday that our Fellow John Petoskey gave and for those of you, welcome back.

I should mention that all of the talks and interviews that our Fellow John Petoskey will be giving this week during his residency will be featured on the Indigenous Governance Database. Some of you received a card for that there, it has the URL on there and so within about three to four weeks we'll have all of these videos up. If you come out of this talk saying, ‘Wow, this is amazing stuff. I really wish other people were here,' you don't really need to fret because you can just send them a link in just a few weeks time. So without further ado, I'd like to introduce our Fellow John Petoskey. John is a citizen of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and for most of the past three decades has served as the nation's general counsel. And so he's been right there in the middle of a lot of monumental changes that the Band has experienced over the past three decades, regaining federal recognition as a federally recognized tribe, developing a new constitutional government, building up the rule of law to help that constitution system of government function well and achieve the nation's goals. So he's sort of been in the midst of all of that and what he's here to talk about today is a current Supreme Court case called Michigan vs. the Bay Mills Indian Community. A lot of you may know of this case, may already be studying this case in your classes or certainly reading about it. There's been a lot that's been written in the last few weeks and John's here to talk today about that case and its implications for the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity and what he sees are the likely outcomes, potential likely outcomes of that case, if it is in fact heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in opinions handed down early next year, and what tribes should be thinking about doing depending on what those outcomes are. So without further ado, John Petoskey."

John Petoskey:

"Thank you. I would like to start with a disclaimer first. I am here as an attorney that is employed by Fredericks, Peebles & Morgan, and that's an Indian law firm. We have about 50 attorneys. We're located in Michigan where I am, Colorado, California, North and South Dakota, Washington D.C. And so the statements that I'm saying have to be taken...I'm trying to make a presentation without being disparaging anybody involved in any of these cases. However, I want to be upfront with the fact that I represented Little Traverse Bay Bands [of Odawa Indians] as an attorney for Fredericks, Peebles & Morgan in the case that is currently before the Supreme Court, although Little Traverse Bay Band has not participated in the appeal because it accepted the Sixth Circuit decision for reasons that I'll explain in more detail.

So in my presentation I am not stating any position for Little Traverse Bay Band, nor am I stating any position for Grand Traverse Band, which is a tribe that I worked for through Fredericks, Peebles & Morgan as their general counsel. I worked for Grand Traverse Band from '86 to 2010 when I was dismissed and I was gone for about two-and-a-half years and then I was rehired as their general counsel about a year ago under Fredericks, Peebles & Morgan. So I represent that tribe as their general counsel through Fredericks, Peebles & Morgan and I want to be clear that there's nothing that I'm saying here that has the official sanction of Little Traverse Bay Band or Grand Traverse Bay Band.

In addition, I also represent other tribes in Michigan that have taken positions on this case, particularly the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi in a related case that I filed pleadings in. Anything I say here does not relate to Nottawaseppi's position that it has taken in that related case. And the discussion that I am presenting is more on an educational basis as a participant in the case that is currently in front of the Supreme Court in the early federal district court proceedings and in the court of appeals proceedings, which forms the basis for the cert petition that was granted for review. After I give you that history of the case and the...I will present what I think are the possible outcomes in the Supreme Court and those outcomes are wide and diverse, but they're indeterminate right now because not all of the briefs have been filed in the court case nor has the oral argument been heard, which will not happen until December 2nd of this year.

So I want to start with giving you the background of the case and the history of Michigan. Michigan has 12 tribes in its state. It has seven tribes that were parties to the 1993 compact. Of those seven tribes, Bay Mills was one of the tribes, Grand Traverse Band was another tribe, then it has two other tribes in what we call the 1836 treaty area that were federally recognized in 1997 by federal statute and those are the Little River Band [of Ottawa Indians] and the Little Traverse Bay Band. Michigan is shaped like a hand and so Little River is right here, Grand Traverse Band is at the end of a peninsula in Traverse City and Grand Traverse Bay. The Little Traverse Bay Band is in Petoskey, Michigan. It's sort of right here. And Bay Mills is in the Upper Peninsula on the Lake Superior shore of White Fish Bay. There's a fifth tribe involved in this case in the related issue and that is the Saulte St. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Bay Mills was recognized by treaty in 1855. They had a statute that provided them a reservation in the 1870s and they had an IRA [Indian Reorganization Act] constitution that was provided in 1934 under the Indian Reorganization Act. Saulte St. Marie was recognized administratively by the Secretary of the Interior's delegated authority to the Michigan Agency in the Minneapolis Area Office by administrative written decision in 1975. Grand Traverse Band was recognized under the Federal Recognition Process of 1980 as the first tribe to be federally recognized. LTB [Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians] and LRB [Little River Band of Ottawa Indians] as I mentioned were recognized under the 1997 statute. So those five tribes are all signatories to the 1855 Treaty and the 1836 Treaty.

Incident to the 1836 treaty the tribes ceded to the United States a large proportion of the State of Michigan. In the Indian Claims Commission in 1951 the Bay Mills Indian Community, as the only existing federal Indian tribe, filed a claim for unconscionable dealings against the United States when the United States authorized suits against the United States under the ICC. At that time the Northern Michigan Ottawa Association was established, which consisted of LRB, LTB and GTB, which was also a plaintiff's group since the statute the Indian Claims Commission provided that identifiable groups could file claims. I don't want to go into the detailed history of the legal history of Michigan, but essentially what happened was the...in 1871 the Secretary of Interior said that no tribes exist in Michigan and left us there to our own devices, which didn't work out too well. And so that's why there was all this later recognition and the federal statute. That Indian Claims Commission came to judgment in 1971 and then there was a statute passed in 1997 called the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act, which was the implementation of the payment of the ICC judgment that the five tribes had against the United States. So you can see how this goes back to really the origins of a lot of the tribes. Under that provision, each tribe was allowed to make payments of the judgment funds on 80 percent per capita and 20 percent for social services and each tribe elected to make their payments in identifiable ways that were diverse.

In the case of Bay Mills, they elected to take 20 percent of their ICC judgment funds, which was the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act, and to create a trust corpus from which the earnings of that trust corpus were to be used to acquire lands and the relevant language in Section 107 of the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act, which is Public Law 107.143. I don't have the statutory cite, but that's the public law number. The relevant language in that provision provided that money used to buy that land would then be held as Indian lands are held. And so there was a, in the early part of the case, there was numerous briefings on the issue as to what that meant. And Bay Mills argued that that language, as Indian lands are held, creates an automatic restricted fee status for any lands that they buy. And the reason that is important is actually another development that has taken place in Indian Country, and that relates to the Indian Land Claims, the Seneca Land Claims Settlement Act that took place in New York.

In New York, the Senecas have several large casinos. The Seneca Land Claims Settlement Act was used as the basis for arguing, that the Senecas argued that they were not subject to the after-acquired property prohibition of gaming, which is in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act Section XX that says, ‘Any property acquired or taken into trust after 1988 cannot be used for gaming unless there's these itemized exceptions.' In the Seneca context, that exception was settlement of the land claim. They argued that the Seneca Land Claims Settlement Act, which was an ICC judgment case, was a settlement of a land claims and therefore, they could do gaming, and they did set up a number of different gaming sites. Well, it happened in a federal district court decision in New York in 2008 or 2007 that the federal judge ruled that an ICC judgment is not a settlement of the land claim and therefore the proposition upon which Seneca had predicated the authority to engage in gaming was taken away since the court ruled that the ICC was not a settlement of the land claim.

At that point, the Secretary of the Interior and the National Indian Gaming Commission revised regulations that had already been published in which they implemented Section XX of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. I may bounce between Section XX and 2719. 2719 is the codification of Section XX. The regulations that they implemented were federal regulations that included the prohibition that restricted fee applied to the exceptions. In other words, not only was land taken into trust, but also restricted fee, that anybody that had restricted fee after 1988 could not game on that property. After that Seneca decision in 2007, the National Indian Gaming Commission, in conjunction with the Department of Interior, revised its opinion and said that restricted Indian lands were not subject to Section XX since it was not in the statement of the language of Section XX nor was it in the legislative history. And therefore the Seneca facilities, which were restricted Indian titles incident to their unique history in New York, were therefore lawful and that's the basis upon which they continue to game that it's restricted fee title and the net effect of that revision of the federal regulations was that the decision finding that the settlement of the land claims was not applicable was obviated because there was a different basis upon which the Senecas could game.

At that point, this is hypothetical, but I just assume it occurred to somebody in Michigan that we could use the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act to say, ‘As Indian lands are held as creating automatic restricted Indian title and therefore not subject to Section XX and therefore eligible for gaming without going through the Section XX process of taking the land into trust.' That was the thought process. That's the hypothetical thought process that Bay Mills probably had. And the way I say probably had is because they did submit to the National Indian Gaming Commission a proposed amendment to their ordinance in early 2010, in the Spring of 2010, in which they made geographic specific authorization under the restricted fee theory for gaming at Vanderbilt, the area in which they did open up the casino. Just a footnote, Vanderbilt is in the gaming area for Little Traverse Bay Band, it's basically in their backyard, it's on a major highway, freeway and so it was basically going to choke off Little Traverse Bay Bands' casino patronage.

The National Indian Gaming Commission advised Bay Mills not through a letter document, but through discovery where we determined that they would not authorize an amendment to their gaming ordinance that was geographic specific to Vanderbilt. And so Bay Mills withdrew that proposed amendment, submitted a new amendment, which tracked the language of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act 2703.4, which essentially is the same language that is used in the Indian Country definition in Title 18 or 1151, which the National Indian Gaming Commission accepted as appropriate because there's no way that they could not accept it because that's what the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act said, but that amendment did allow gaming on restricted Indian land.

So after the National Indian Gaming Commission approved that amendment on September 15th, Bay Mills on their reservation authorized gaming to take place at Vanderbilt. And surreptitiously, in the dead of night, set up a casino in Vanderbilt on a rest stop that they had bought earlier through an LLC company with proceeds from the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act, alleged proceeds from the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act, and they asserted that the act of buying that property automatically converted that building into restricted Indian title not subject to Section XX of the general prohibition on gaming on after-acquired land and that their gaming ordinance did authorize gaming under the 'Indian Lands' definition. So they opened their facility. Naturally that action caught Little Traverse Bay Band, Fredericks, Peebles & Morgan's client, off guard. It also caught the State of Michigan off guard that they were using this theory and procedure to open up a gaming facility.

Once Little Traverse Bay Band figured out the theory, there was a remedy to seek, and that remedy is in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and it's at 25 USC 2710.7.D.A.ii. And I just want to read the language for you on that because it's important to understand what the language says because this is going to, I'm going to make reference to it in the balance of my presentation and if you don't have it in front of you -- I was going to hand it out -- but I will just read it to you.

‘The United States District Court shall have jurisdiction over any cause of action initiated by a state or an Indian tribe to enjoin Class 3 gaming activity located on Indian lands and conducted in violation of any tribal/state compact entered into under Paragraph 3 that is in effect.'

That is the relevant statute that creates federal jurisdiction in the waiver of sovereign immunity under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act for Little Traverse Bay Band and the State of Michigan to file an injunction action arguing that the restricted fee authorized casino gaming at Vanderbilt is done in violation of the compact. That's the dispute that took place. There was negotiations between the state and the tribe to close the facility, which went nowhere. There were negotiations between Little Traverse Bay Band and the Secretary of the Interior on whether or not this was restricted fee lands, and the Secretary of Interior did issue an opinion on December 20th that it was not restricted fee, that you could not use the Michigan Land Claims Settlement Act to automatically buy land and then to automatically assert that that becomes restricted fee eligible for gaming.

Hillary Thompkins issues a 25-page opinion that, in summary, gave in detail an interpretation of the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act and an interpretation of the restricted fee issue and opined that the gaming at Vanderbilt was illegal. Then the National Indian Gaming Commission said, ‘Well, if it's not on Indian lands under our statute, we have no jurisdiction so we have no authority to enforce the closure. We have no authority to issue a closure order because it has to be on Indian lands for us to have jurisdiction to close the facility.' So the National Indian Gaming Commission then issued an opinion saying, ‘Based upon the 'Indian Lands' determination of the Department of Interior, we have no authority here because it's not on Indian lands so we can't issue a closure order.' And so what you had was the federal government basically saying, ‘We don't have authority to close the facility so we're not going to close it,' and then in discussions with the U.S. Attorney there was another touch of ambiguity that Vanderbilt created in that the tribe, Bay Mills, is in the Western District. That it just so happened that Vanderbilt, in terms of the district's for the federal district court in Michigan, is in the eastern district and so all of the, 10 of the 12 tribes in Michigan are in the western district.

So the western district of Michigan has several attorneys that are very knowledgeable about federal Indian law and they knew the opinion that Thompkins had issued that it was not restricted Indian lands, but the people who understood it in the western district were arguing, ‘Not our problem, it's in the eastern district,' and the eastern district is in Detroit and they didn't have anybody in Detroit in the U.S. Attorney's office who understood federal Indian law and the eastern district said...I don't know what they said because I didn't have any conversations with them, but they didn't do anything. Vanderbilt was in their district and they did not file any criminal action against the tribe for violation of the Johnson Act or for gaming outside of the compact. They just let the thing set. So in the absence of the United States' failure to do anything based upon the Indian Lands Determination and the National Indian Gaming Commission's assertion that they had no jurisdiction in the western district and the eastern district not doing anything, the State of Michigan and Little Traverse Bay Band decided to do something and that was to use the provision I just read to file an injunction action against Bay Mills arguing that the gaming facility was not on Indian lands and was a violation of the compact. That's the broad setting in the case.

Now getting into the particular counts in the complaint, it's where it gets interesting. In both counts 1, 2 and 3 of both the LTBB complaint and the State of Michigan complaint, we alleged, and when I say we, the state and Traverse, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians alleged that the Vanderbilt facility was not on Indian lands, that it was not restricted fee, which is important for the later decision in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. But we also alleged that the gaming was conducted in violation of the compact, that it was being conducted in violation of a couple different things. One, that the land was not gaming eligible. A second argument we made is that there's a provision within the 1993 compacts called Section 9, which says that for a tribe to open up an off-reservation gaming activity after 1993 it has to enter into a revenue sharing agreement with the other tribes in Michigan. That was not done so we alleged that as a cause of action. But we were relying on the proposition in that 2710.7.D.A.ii provided federal jurisdiction, created the cause of action and did a waiver of sovereign immunity against Bay Mills and that the waiver of sovereign immunity in the cause of action that we were alleging was that this gaming was in violation of the tribal-state gaming compact that Bay Mills had entered into and that Little Traverse Bay Band was a beneficiary of under Section 9 for the revenue sharing agreement. We also alleged federal jurisdiction under 1333 and for Little Traverse Bay Band we alleged federal jurisdiction under 1362. Those references are important for just a minor, but main, depending on how you characterize it, for a later development in the case.

So the hearing was held in March of 2011 after cross motions for summary judgment were entered and at the end of March the federal district judge ruled that he had jurisdiction under 2710.D.7.A.ii and that he was relying on a decision in the 10th Circuit called Mescalero, which was relying on a decision in that federal circuit called Santa Ana Pueblo vs. Kelly. And in that particular case, the New Mexico tribes had negotiated compacts with the governor, the state Supreme Court in New Mexico had ruled that the governor didn't have the authority to negotiate the compacts, and that they were therefore illegal. Some of you from New Mexico may remember this sequence back in 1997. And then the tribes sued alleging that the compacts were still in effect because there was a move to close down the casinos in New Mexico. One of the questions in that case was whether or not there was jurisdiction in the federal court to hear this cause of action and Santa Ana and Mescalero held that there was jurisdiction to determine the validity of the compact.

Paul Maloney, the federal district judge in the Michigan/LTBB vs. Bay Mills Case, relied on Mescalero for the proposition that there is jurisdiction under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to enjoin gaming that is not consistent with the compact, that is not in conformity with the compact and he entered an order to that effect. Bay Mills argued that Judge Maloney got it wrong, which he acknowledged in an amended opinion, that Section 1331, in the early part of the opinion, he also said that 1331 provided jurisdiction and that 1362 provided jurisdiction. Both do provide jurisdiction, but they do not provide a waiver of immunity of Bay Mills. And so he amended his opinion saying there was no waiver under 1331 or no waiver under 1362, but there was a waiver under 2710.D.7.A.ii on the language that I read and that there was a cause of action created and that Bay Mills had violated the compact.

Now Bay Mills makes much of the case, which has merit to it that the Mescalero opinion confused the standards in compact abrogation with compact waivers. The opinion in the 10th Circuit said to the effect that a tribe impliedly waives its immunity when it enters into gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. That's not the standard. The tribe doesn't impliedly waive, it's Congress [that] has to abrogate the immunity. Nevertheless, the opinion supporting Mescalero, the Santa Ana Pueblo opinion, does hold for the proposition that there is jurisdiction to determine if the compact is in effect and we were arguing a related concept to that that the compact in Michigan had been violated and that this gaming was taking place in violation of the compact. It eventually...the case went to..."

Raymond Austin:

"We have some people in here who are not law students. Can you explain to them what sovereign immunity is?"

John Petoskey:

"Sovereign immunity is that the government -- whether it's federal, state or tribal -- cannot be sued without its consent and that consent comes in two forms in reference to Indian tribes. It comes in the form of Congress doing what's called a congressional abrogation by statutorily saying that the immunity of the tribe is abrogated by an act of Congress. The other way sovereign immunity can be dealt with is by the tribe making an explicit clear statement that it is waiving its immunity for purposes of litigation and tribes do do that all the time. They pass resolutions saying, ‘We're waiving our sovereign immunity for x, y and z for the purpose of a, b and c.' But there's two ways and there are two sets of cases that interpret what is abrogation, when Congress acts and sets standards that you have to act clearly, it has to be explicit, it can't be implied. Congress clearly has to establish saying, ‘We are waiving the immunity of the tribe for purposes of the following area.'

Congress waived the immunity of tribes in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in the provision I read where it says, ‘Any cause any initiated by a 'state' (Michigan), ‘Indian tribe' (Little Traverse Bay Band), ‘to enjoin Class 3 gaming activity,' (the injunction was again Bay Mills gaming activity), ‘located on Indian lands,' (Bay Mills alleges they're Indian lands, the United States through Thompkin's opinion says it's not Indian lands and the State of Michigan and LTB says it's not Indian lands, that the restricted fee, automatic restricted fee doesn't create Indian lands under the Michigan Indian Claims Settlement Act). But I want to emphasize that issue has not been even litigated or determined by cross motions for summary judgment. That's still a pending motion. That's still in the case because this case went up on interlocutory appeal on the issue of the injunction. So continue to read that -- ‘located on Indian lands and conducted in violation of any tribal/state compact' (and so we're saying, ‘Well, this is in...LTB is saying it's in violation of state compact because it's not on Indian lands and it doesn't comply with Section 9 on the revenue sharing agreement.') ‘Entered into under Paragraph 3 that is in effect,' (and Paragraph 3 is the provisions that define how the state and the tribe enter into tribal/state gaming compacts and the question is, ‘Is the compact in effect?') That was the issue in Santa Clara is that, was the compact...that was the issue in Santa Ana: is the compact still in effect? And the court in Santa Ana determined that it had jurisdiction to determine whether or not the compact was in effect and we argued the corollary concept or related concept that the court has jurisdiction to determine whether the compact is being breached or violated. We argued it was being breached and violated by gaming in areas that were not Indian lands, 4C, and also gaming was taking place without the condition preceding of the revenue-sharing agreement.

Bay Mills, on the other hand, was arguing that if you look at the allegations and the complaints of the state and the tribe, they are alleging that the gaming is not taking place on Indian lands. So if it's not taking place on Indian lands and you read the complaint and you take the complaint at face value, then they're saying that the court doesn't have jurisdiction to hear the case because it's not on Indian lands. Essentially what the National Indian Gaming Commission said, if it's not on Indian lands, NIGC doesn't have jurisdiction to hear the case. Bay Mills was essentially making the same argument -- that you had to fulfill all of the condition precedence in 27.10.7.D.A.ii in order to have jurisdiction in the federal court for the case to proceed and to have a waiver of sovereign immunity. And if it wasn't on Indian lands, even though you have the irony of the situation that Bay Mills is arguing it's on Indian lands and LTBB [Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians] and the state is arguing that it's not on Indian lands, if you look at rules of pleading and you construe the pleading allegations of the tribe LTBB made and you take them at face value, they are saying that the gaming's not on Indian lands, therefore they're not fulfilling all of the condition precedence to have jurisdiction and the waiver of sovereign immunity for the case to proceed. That in a nutshell was the decision of the Court of Appeals, that there was no jurisdiction, there was no waiver, that the cause of action that was alleged by the LTBB and the state was defective because they said it was not on Indian lands.

Now in opposition to that, the state argues that counts 4, 5 and 6 allege that acts occurred, the authorization of the facility at the Bay Mills Reservation to open, those were on Indian lands and that that is part of gaming activity. In order for gaming activity to take place, you have to convene the council, convene the Gaming Commission, issue the license and that activity is taken place on Indian lands and that's part of gaming activity, that's just not card dealing that is gaming activity, it's also regulatory actions that the tribe has taken and that is where the gaming activity took place so it's still on Indian lands. The court didn't accept that for a couple different reasons. One was that the amendment to that complaint came in after the interlocutory appeal had been filed. Keep in mind they filed it in the spring of, the interlocutory appeal, in the Spring of 2011 and the state amended its complaint and made it an ex parte proceeding against the tribal council alleging the authorization taking place on Indian lands in August of 2011 at which time the interlocutory appeal was already in the Sixth Circuit and so the Sixth Circuit in part recognized that those were not part of the proceedings directly in front of them.

So the nutshell of the holding was a remand of the case to the district court to hear counts 4, 5 and 6 and to also deal with the underlying issue of whether or not the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act in fact creates restricted fee titles by operation of law the way I outlined it at the beginning of the presentation. The State of Michigan upon remand then petitioned the Supreme Court for cert to review the matter arguing two different things in its cert appeal. One, that the Sixth Circuit's reading of 27.10.7.D.A.ii to create the five-condition precedence was incorrect in the sense that, essentially that you could leave out Indian lands and you could focus on whether or not the gaming is in violation of the compact that is in effect. And there's a couple circuits that hold that you can address a compact for...there is a waiver if you're addressing whether or not the question is, is the compact in effect.

Now that cuts against a strong standard in abrogation of tribal sovereign immunity with explicit language, because that is holistic interpretation of the statute saying when you look at the remedial structure of the statute in total there has to be a way to get this issue in front of a federal district court so that the court can address the issue. And so the state is arguing in part that the matter should be addressed by the court, in that it met its burden to meet [27.10.7.D.A.ii] under the provisions of the compact being in effect and other case law in other circuits that have held that the question of whether the compact is in effect is sufficient for purposes of jurisdiction under 27.10. But then the state goes on further and says, ‘Regardless of that, if that is not true, if you find that the 6th Circuit is correct,' and it's a very strict interpretation on what abrogation is and you have to meet all the condition precedence of the five elements, ‘then the United States should review its sovereign immunity doctrine in case law and opine that the scope of sovereign immunity does not extend to certain categorical cases.' And it argues based upon CNL, a 2001 decision, Kiowa, a 1998 decision and Citizen Potawatomi, a 1991 decision, which were the last three principle decisions on sovereign immunity, that the court should adopt a standard that, ‘off-reservation commercial activity is not subject to the protection of sovereign immunity.' That's why the case has, to the degree it has, received significant review by Indian Country is the consequence of that decision, which are numerable, which are quite extensive.

So what we did this morning, Ryan Seelau and myself, the person at the end of the table here, we put together a chart. Once you have this background of things that potentially could happen in this case and what the likely repercussions for the tribe are and how tribes should consider responding at this point in time. Keep in mind that this, when I say this point in time, the Bay Mills responsive brief has still not been filed, it will not be filed until October 24. The brief for the state was only filed on August 30, actually September 4. They were four days late, but it was filed on September 4. There were 17 attorney generals filed briefs in support of the State of Michigan and the briefs in support argue that the Supreme Court should simply abolish sovereign immunity and they go to the extreme.

There's one brief in particular, the brief of Oklahoma, that has a footnote in it, footnote number four, that highlights all of the problems that are associated with sovereign immunity defense by tribes and basically this is the tax cases, the payday lending cases, and then there are three other cases in the country that have restrictive fee type cases also. There's the Hobie case in Oklahoma, the PCI case in Alabama and then Saulte St. Marie, getting back to Nottawaseppi, Saulte St. Marie has also asserted that they can create an off reservation casino in Lansing, which is the state capital of Michigan. They have an option on land and they are presently in the process of trying to put that land into trust, arguing that once it goes into trust under the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act that it then becomes gaming eligible and they would be allowed to do gaming. It's a related case.

And so the state's briefing chief is all this parade of horribles and they're arguing first that Judge Kethledge on the Sixth Circuit, who wrote the opinion, got the interpretation wrong on 27.10.7.D.A.ii that you had to fulfill all of the five requirements and that the pleadings did not fulfill the requirement of on Indian lands and therefore Kethledge dismissed the case. The state is arguing that Kethledge is wrong on that, that you can read 27.10 in an expansive manner on whether or not the compact is being complied with and if the compact is being breached, that is sufficient for purposes of the waiver of sovereign immunity in federal jurisdiction and that argument of the state is predicated upon a holistic reading of the statute.

Now that is contrary to the general proposition that most Indian advocates have that there should be explicitness in the abrogation language for taking the sovereign immunity away from the tribe. In fact, that was the rationale for Little Traverse Bay Band, who is our client in the case, not to appeal the 6th Circuit decision because if you read the decision, it sets up a very strong restatement in standard that in order for Congress to abrogate sovereign immunity, it has to be explicit and every element has to be met. And so the LTBB tribal council said, ‘That's not bad. Although we lost, that's not bad,' and so they didn't appeal and they are not in the Supreme Court and they're not taking a position because they in fact thought the Sixth Circuit decision, even though it went against them, was not a bad decision. There's a caveat to that. The state had indicated in the course of the proceedings that if Bay Mills did open up their facility once the injunction was vacated that the state would do a criminal action and would do a forcible closure. So the casino has never really opened back up even thought he injunction has been vacated. LTBB has not appealed because they thought Kethledge got it right. The State of Michigan has appealed because they thought Kethledge got it wrong, that you should read the statute as expansive and that it does provide for a waiver of immunity and the statement of a cause of action on the basis of the analysis of whether or not the compact has been breached.

Then the position of the Solicitor General -- who I have not mentioned at all in this proceeding -- but the Solicitor General was invited to file a brief and the position of the Solicitor General was is that Kethledge got it right, in terms of what is an abrogation of immunity, and therefore it should not be appealed. But it puts the state in an awkward position because it still has no remedy and when you read the state's brief, you can attack it for many different things, but it does present a good argument in terms of the state saying, ‘What are we to do because this casino opened up in our jurisdiction, we have to have some sort of remedy,' and they touch all of the buttons that the parade of horribles that have been identified in CNL, Kiowa, and Citizen Potawatomi over the last 20 years about the terrible things that happen when tribes assert sovereign immunity in the context of off-reservation commercial activity. And this is a principle example of a tribe doing that: opening a gaming facility where you have the illogical consequence that the state only has jurisdiction to enforce a breach of the compact when the gaming facility is opened on the reservation and it doesn't have jurisdiction when the casino is opened off the reservation hundreds of miles away from the tribe's reservation and it has no remedy and the United States is not doing anything to address the question. And so it has a very compelling, if you will, case to make that there has to be some sort of remedy. And if you're Justice Thomas certainly, Justice Scalia, Ginsberg, and to a certain extend even Breyer, you're going to be sympathetic to those arguments because they've already indicated in previous opinions that they are sympathetic to those arguments, and so you know that for the justices, based upon that past opinion, are sympathetic to the state's position. There are new justices on the bench, but it only takes five to create a bad case decision from the current case that is pending.

So what has been going on to resolve the issue? On a national basis, NCAI [National Congress of American Indians] and the Native American Rights Fund have met and tried to fashion a remedy similar to a remedy that was done in 2010 when there was a similar case in front of the Supreme Court and to resolve that case, the tribe waived its immunity and so the matter was vacated and it was remanded to the lower court to resolve the issue. Here Bay Mills has categorically stated they are not going to waive their immunity. So it's not going to be resolve on a waiver of immunity and in my view, even if they did waive their immunity, I don't think that the Supreme Court would allow the matter to be vacated and remanded because they would recognize that that was the same procedure that was used in 2010 so they would continue to maintain the case. It's all hypothetical, but in any event, Bay Mills is not waiving its immunity. Another thing that could be done that was suggested in the Solicitor General's brief is that Bay Mills could resubmit their ordinance on a geographic specific area for Vanderbilt to get an Indian lands opinion from the National Indian Gaming Commission, but they're not going to do that. Bay Mills is not going to resubmit its ordinance. It already did that once and had a negative determination so they're not going to do that. Kethledge also said that the United States could resolve the issue by filing criminal actions against the individual tribal council acting in violation of federal gaming laws, particularly the Johnson Act, but the western and eastern district of the United States Attorney's office is not going to do that. There's not even any discussion of that, particularly now since the briefs have been developed and there is an argument that Bay Mills has, that this is a good faith argument that this is restricted Indian lands and therefore by definition, if it is restricted Indian lands, under the Seneca decision it would be gaming eligible, therefore it would not be in violation of the Johnson Act, therefore it would not be in violation of the federal illegal gambling laws. So the eastern and western district of the United States Attorney's office is saying, ‘We're not going to do anything.' So the only alternative left is a decision by the Supreme Court on the outcome of the questions that are presently pending before it.

And so getting back to Ryan's table here: what are the potential outcomes? And we characterized these as sort of a hierarchy of horrors and it goes from the least worst outcome to the worst outcome. So the potential outcome with the least consequence to Indian tribes is that the case is remanded based on statutory interpretation of 1331 and 2710 that the off-reservation gaming site violated the compact. In other words, saying, ‘We are reading 2710 in an expansive manner. You don't have to fulfill all of the elements. It's a violation of the compact. That's sufficient. There's federal jurisdiction. There's a waiver of sovereign immunity and abrogation, negative on that.' It makes waivers by implication rather than by explicitness. The other thing that the remand does is that you get to the merits of the question of whether or not this is restricted fee, does restricted fee exist would be one answer that restricted fee does exist and then there are consequences that flow from that. The alternative is restricted fee does not exist. If it does not exist, then it's not gaming eligible then the thing is closed down and it's all a civil matter. That is you get to the merits of the actual problem. This means the violation of compact is sufficient to complete the requirements of 2710, that an abrogation of sovereign immunity is effective by alleging compact breach for cause of action, reverses the 6th Circuit decision on counts 1 through 3 and the 6th Circuit's five part test of 2710.D.7.A.ii. It was a five-part test that they basically construed that provision and laid out five standards that you have to meet in order to get federal jurisdiction, cause of action, and a waiver of sovereign immunity. So this is -- I know I didn't want to say any editorial comments --but it's beyond me why Bay Mills is moving the ball...this doesn't move the ball along anyplace, it doesn't move the case forward at all even with the least likely outcome. Nothing really goes forward so I don't know why they ended...never mind, I won't go there.

Case's likely repercussions for tribe -– case remanded to be determined on merits whether Public Law 105.143 Section 107.A creates restricted Indian fee, so that's the merits of the question. If it's remanded and you determine the merits of the questions, the repercussions are minimal with regard to sovereign immunity, but if restricted fee exists then the effects depend on how many restrictive Indian fee cases are ongoing in the U.S. This is an interesting question. You really have to know a lot of Indian law for this. The states with restricted fee titles are right now in the universe of Indian Country are relatively limited and those states are Oklahoma, New Mexico, Alaska and New York. If you were to look at Indian titles and you were trying to find out who has restricted fee, you would...the majority of them would appear in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Alaska and New York and that's because of the history of federal Indian law. In Oklahoma, it was the allotment processes and the Civil War and the mass movement of Indians into Oklahoma, that there are some areas in Oklahoma that do have restricted fee and you'd look at the particular statutory history of each individual tribe to determine whether or not there is restricted fee. New Mexico, it's the pueblos that have restricted fee because they were...had fee simple under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, through grants through the country of Spain. In Alaska, there's a...which is for all practical purposes there's no market, but it's an interesting case up there because it was the variable public policy of the federal government that created restricted fee up there at various times in trying to figure out how to deal with Alaskan Natives, so there's still a lot of restricted fee in Alaska. New York has restricted fee because of its history as one of the original 13 colonies and California has restricted fee because of its similar history of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the grants from Spain. Arizona may have it, but I'm not that familiar with Arizona. But the whole point is if restricted fee does exist, then it's not subject to Section XX, then that's a gold mine for people that are willing to find the tribes sitting on restricted fee and that's going on right now. That's what the Hobie case is. It's a Muscogee restricted fee allotment located 20 or 40 miles away from the central government in which a town, and you have to look at the Oklahoma Indian Act, but Hobie is that type of case of restricted fee. So is the Alabama case with the Poarch Band [of Creek Indians] finding restricted fee down on the Gulf Coast. And so a favorable decision would be potentially more markets for Indian gaming because restricted Indian fee is not subject to Section XX. The thing there is to wait and see what happens, determine whether tribes have restricted fee.

The next consequence is case is remanded to determine counts four through six, which are the state law counts that are still pending, and that is that the activities of gaming took place on the reservation through the authorization, through the tribe passing a motion to authorize opening a gaming facility at Vanderbilt. The fifth count is the state law count alleging discouragement of all profits, which would mean all the machines and all the income, which is a couple million dollars, and the sixth count is a nuisance count under state law. But those counts are brought against the individuals in the amended complaint that the state filed in August of 2011 in which the executive council members of Bay Mills and the individual gaming commissioners of Bay Mills were sued in their official capacity under individual...under the Ex Parte Young version. Basically, it's implementing Ex Parte Young. The Supreme Court is saying that federal jurisdiction exists and that there's a way around tribal sovereign immunity based on the principles of Ex Parte Young.

And then the likely repercussions to the tribe on that is Stephen's descent in the CPN case, expansion on Santa Clara Pueblo's reference to Ex Parte Young. Take you all the way back to 1978, when Santa Clara was decided there was that subtext that Justice Marshall had, that although the pueblo was immune from suit that the individual council members were not immune from suit and they could be sued under principles of Ex Parte Young, but the important point in that was limited by Marshall further saying that the Bill of Rights implied cause of actions do not exist, that there has to be an explicit statement of the cause of action for habeas corpus. That was the only cause of action that existed under that ruling. So taking you a little further back to 1968 when the Indian Civil Rights Act was passed between 1968 and 1978 when Santa Clara happened, there were literally hundreds, but there were a number of decisions in which tribal members sued under quasi-1983 claims against their tribal officials and had a developing case law in federal court that was similar to 1983. And all of that stopped in '78 when Santa Clara was decided and said that you can't imply a cause of action under the Bill of Rights similar to 1983 for tribal council official action or the individual action of tribal members, but I think that will come back into existence under this new doctrine, it's potential, that's a likely repercussion that will happen. Another likely repercussion is that CNL Enterprise clearly suggested that off-reservation commercial activities is on shaky ground which was the 2001 last sovereign immunity decision and said that off-reservation commercial activity is probably going to be subject to a common law finding that is not covered by the immunity of the tribe. That's the clear trend of Ginsberg's statement of the Kiowa decision in 1998 by Justice Kennedy, that they're going to expand commercial activity off-reservation as categorically not being protected by sovereign immunity, which it is now.

So what do you do to get ready for that outcome? How should tribes consider responding? Get ready for the lawsuit against them by their own citizens. In other words, you're going to be sued by your own citizens. In other words, all that case law from '68 to '78 on tribal 1983 actions will probably now come back into existence. Some people, dissidents in the tribe, will say, ‘Hey, that's all right with me.' Other people will say, ‘Well, it's part and parcel, that's going to be a big problem for the tribes.' But the councils should get ready for suits by their own citizens and non-citizens who will be suing under the Indian Civil Rights on a theory that the ICRA creates implied cause of actions like it did prior to Santa Clara and should prepare.

So what should the council do? It should prepare declaratory injunctive and monetary damage statutes that limit the scope of the remedy. It should pass statutes that say, ‘We author...we waive our immunity for declaratory and injunction actions that violate 1983-like rights of our tribal citizens, but we limit that to prospective relief and no monetary damages.' If you get there before they do it, I think you will survive, but if you don't do it, what will happen is you'll have that decision and then people will jump in court and you won't have the...then you can't enact the statute after the case has already been filed. So you should be proactive and enact these protective statutes that do waive sovereign immunity, but limit the amount of damages. The other thing you should do is write insurance proceeds to cover the new level of risk. Amend existing ordinance to waive immunity for violations of ICRA, but limit the remedies to declaratory and prospective injunctive relief.

On the next scale of hierarchy of horrors that could happen in the decision is that the judges will say that Ex Parte Young-like relief applies to commercial plus off reservation or they could say Ex Parte Young relief applies to commercial plus on-reservation or off-reservation, or they could say, number C, that Ex Parte Young applies to commercial and governmental plus on reservation and off reservation. That would be the worst category going just completely down the line all the way. In this scenario, it is likely the Supreme Court would eliminate sovereign immunity for all on/off-reservation commercial activities and retain sovereign immunity for on reservation governmental activities. I think that's a very likely outcome. I think the Supreme Court will say, ‘We're going to eliminate it for off-reservation commercial activities, but we're going to retain it for on reservation commercial and governmental activities.' That's a likely outcome.

In the next category of things that could happen is number four, whether sovereign immunity is a federal common law doctrine, this gets into who controls federal Indian law, this is in deference to Frank Pommershein's law review articles about whether plenary power is located in Congress or plenary power is located in the court and the point here is that the Supreme Court may assert that it has plenary power to amend its common law and that it doesn't have to wait for Congress to abrogate a statute and they're saying, ‘If Congress is not going to do it, we're going to do it.' The Supreme Court could essentially say, ‘Under common law, we control federal common law, sovereign immunity is a creature of federal common law, therefore we can eliminate it if we want to eliminate it.' And that's in direct opposition to the current rule, is that only Congress can eliminate it under its plenary authority and so that creates plenary authority in the tribal or in the Supreme Court to eliminate this and not through Congress. That would be extreme, but it's possible that that could happen. If the Supreme Court does that, they could eliminate all or any part of the doctrine based on commercial or governmental distinction, off-reservation, on-reservation distinction. In this scenario, it is likely the Supreme Court would eliminate sovereign immunity for all on- or off-reservation commercial activities and retain sovereign immunity for on reservation governmental activities. This is a little more extreme from the Ex Parte Young doctrine because Ex Parte Young assumes that sovereign immunity still applies, but you get around it through the fiction of suing the individuals and the Supreme Court says, ‘Wait a minute, Ex Parte Young doctrinally is for federal law is to be imposed against state officials who are protected by the 11th Amendment. Why are we using the constitutional analysis that doctrinally does not fit to the circumstances of a tribe, which doesn't have the 11th Amendment, which is not part of the constitutional convention? So there's really no reason to go through Ex Parte Young, let's just go to home base and eliminate sovereign immunity and not create the Ex Parte Young exception, which is a fiction to begin with, and it's more of a fiction on a fiction if you're applying a doctrine to a tribe that's not part of the constitutional convention and not protected by the 11th Amendment. Why even go down that street because it's just fiction on fiction?'

So what is the likely repercussions for the tribe? Eliminate sovereign immunity in all contexts including and then the repercussions for the tribe is that general federal statutes, which are numerous, there's probably about 15 general federal statutes that govern the employment relationship. There's for example the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act, the Age Discrimination Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act -- all of these are general federal statutes that currently do not apply to Indian tribes because they're general federal statutes and they don't specifically identify tribes. I know there is case law out there in which some cases opine that they do apply by implication, but there's other cases that strongly hold these general federal statutes do not apply, but if you eliminate sovereign immunity, that's going to be an impact on these general federal statutes because there's nothing stopping the application then. If there's a general elimination of sovereign immunity, then there's nothing stopping the application of these general federal statutes. And then the elimination of general sovereign immunity again would create the Bill of Rights cause of action, so the 1983 actions for tribal government activities. And then the elimination of sovereign immunity will create leverage relationships. It will change the power dynamic between tribes and the state. The tribes' leverage will dramatically decrease, the state's leverage will dramatically increase and this will impact gaming compact negotiations, negotiations or cases related to tax, tobacco, gasoline, sales, use and income, payday lending, gaming, and other cross-governmental relationships that tribes have with states where sovereign immunity is one of the elements in the leverage matrix between the negotiating parties. If it's eliminated, the leverage matrix is gone, and the balance of power tips in favor of the state dramatically.

So what do you do to get ready? Well, you draft statutes mainly. You draft tribal statutes and those tribal statutes would get to that state before the Supreme Court says that new world of Indian law exists and those tribal statutes would waive immunity for contracts towards and like I said earlier limit the scope of the remedy. Those statutes already exist. Some tribes, the tribe I work for, Grand Traverse Band, has already done that. It has...not because of these cases, but because of other relations, we have a general contract waiver statute, we have a waiver of immunity for tort cases, but we limit the scope of the remedy to expectancy damages on contracts, we eliminate consequential damages, under tort we provide for compensation and for pain and suffering at 1.5 of the actual physical damages that the individual suffered on the tort. So there is a remedy there and what is more important, that remedy is subject to a determination by an actuarial entity, an insurance agent, to measure the scope of the risk so we can buy insurance to cover the scope of that risk. And in our experience, doing that actually lowered our insurance premiums because the scope of the risk was known rather than in a situation where you say, ‘We're going to depend on immunity,' and the insurance was high because the level of the risk was unknown. But I would urge tribes to write statutes that essentially waive immunity and then implement their own tribal remedies for that subject area.

The other area that will be subject to attack is trust funds that various tribes have and the thing that tribes would need to do is basically hire a great trust attorney. You're never going to get at Caroline Kennedy's trust account if you're a creditor of Caroline Kennedy because she has a great trust account with great trust protections. So you need to rewrite trust language to protect the trust accounts of the tribe, which can be done.

Okay, the last -- complete elimination of sovereign immunity of all activities based on federal common law and the courts warrant a judicial power and eliminates common law, create a doctrine sovereign immunity for all on- and off-reservation, all commercial, all governmental activities. Those, in a thumbnail, I hope, is the case. Do you have any questions?"

Audience member:

"What are the chances that you'll have a split on any of these issues, that you won't actually come down with an opinion?"

John Petoskey:

"I think it's minimal. It's very minimal. Four people have already opined where they're at and it's Roberts has not written in support of Indian tribes of the 10 decisions, and so if you just count heads and count votes that's five."

Robert Hershey:

"Hi. Welcome. I'm sorry I came in late. I was in another meeting. If you go back to the opinion in Kiowa, you'll see that the court's displeasure of that on the doctrine of sovereign immunity. It was a 6-3 decision, but even though the people voted to sustain the doctrine, they expressed great doubts about it."

John Petoskey:

"Oh, yes, Kennedy did."

Robert Hershey:

"Yeah, Kennedy did. So I think it would be...I think something is going to happen here for sure. The ICRA [Indian Civil Rights Act] action, the ICRA says that no government in the exercise of its power shall do something. So it doesn't apply to actions against individuals in court, and that's how I can see why maybe they want to go ahead and have some sort of cause of action against individuals, but then you have some problems. You have the legislative immunity of the legislature and the tribal councils doing that. And you also have another interesting twist too is that a number of tribes have put the ICRA into their constitutions. So it's not just a federal statute, but it's a tribal constitutional right. So I think this is a significant case like you said."

John Petoskey:

"Yeah, I agree with you. There is still legislative immunity that you would argue, but most 1983 actions are against executive action implementing some legislation. And all I'm saying is that there's going to be a tribal law 1983 jurisprudence developed if the sovereign immunity is done away with."

Robert Hershey:

"I think so. So you're advocating like a tribal tort claims act."

John Petoskey:

"Right, a tribal tort claims act because if it's going to happen by judicial common law, the only way you can control that is by tribal statutory law which limits the scope of the remedy. Otherwise you have somebody filing a case seeking a multimillion dollar judgment for an executive action. In the absence of a statute that limits it, there's a stronger argument that it should go to judgment and you can't retroactively legislate once the cat's out of the bag."

Robert Hershey:

"Right. One more little point then. So if sovereign immunity is a judicially created common law doctrine, then what does this do to the immunity of the United States? Do you think the United States is covered because it has a federal tortclaims act?"

John Petoskey:

"Oh, yes. The United States is covered because of the federal tort claims act. There are interesting doctrinal issues in sovereign immunity that relate to, and I tell the story and I hope you wouldn't mind me saying this, but I'll tell the story in the relationship of Ed DuMont. Ed DuMont was an Assistant Solicitor General. He works for WilmerHale, which is part of the Supreme Court bar. One of the sad things that has developed over Indian law in the last 20 years is that there was a cadre of about 15 Indian lawyers that were Indians that actually had argued in the Supreme Court over the last 40 years, and they had actually made presentations to the Supreme Court on a wide variety of cases.

Now the Supreme Court Bar is controlled by professional litigants who are very good and they typically come out of the Solicitor General's office and then go into Supreme Court practice as their specialized area of practice. Ed DuMont is one of those individuals. He's a nice guy. He's a great guy in fact, very personable, very bright. He did the Seminole case on behalf of the United States as the Solicitor General arguing that Congress had the authority to abrogate the immunity of the State of Florida and that was held not to be valid, that the 11th Amendment was stronger than basically the Indian Commerce Clause and that Congress didn't have the authority to override the 11th Amendment and the remedy of suing the state in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was found to be unconstitutional. Ed DuMont also argued the Kiowa case and that was -- Seminole was 1996, Kiowa was 1998 -- and he argued on behalf of the United States for sovereign immunity in the Kiowa case. Now Ed DuMont is arguing on behalf of Saulte St. Marie in a case that Michigan has filed against Saulte St. Marie, which is the parallel case to the Bay Mills case of whether or not restricted fee lands can be created by the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act.

So just in that one person, you have a person that has taken all of the various positions in sovereign immunity litigation and jurisprudence and going forward in different capacities. I'm not saying that as a criticism. I'm just saying that as a compliment because it gets very complex. It gets very complex to argue sovereign immunity cases when you're arguing Supreme Court cases for states, when you're arguing it for the tribes, and when you're arguing it for the state. And from the import of your question, you're trying to connect, ‘if they do this to the tribes what implication is that going to have for the states?' And I'm certain there are implications, but you would need somebody like Ed DuMont, who has been on both sides of that question to answer something like that."

Ian Record:

"I had one follow-up question in terms of this category of how tribes should consider responding. You talked a lot about creating laws and statutes and so forth to sort of get ahead of the game on this and sort of do a lot of the legal infrastructure development work that Grand Traverse has already done. But if any one of these say higher-scale horrors takes place, wouldn't it also behoove tribes to seriously consider a dramatic investment, increasing their investment in their justice systems because you can imagine for instance if a lot of these ICRA cases..."

John Petoskey:

"Oh, yes."

Ian Record:

"...would be heard in tribal court, it's sort of one thing to, as you well know, it's sort of one thing to write the law and ratify it, and quite another actually to live it and enforce it. And that's...you can see a ripple effect in the entire justice system, wouldn't you?"

John Petoskey:

"I agree. It's an unintended consequence. I don't know if it was intended or unintended, but one consequence would be these 1983 tribal court causes of actions that may be resurrected that were in existence from '68 to '78 that went out of existence with Santa Clara. And if Santa Clara is overruled, then obviously tribal citizens and non-citizens would argue that the overruling of Santa Clara brings back these implied cause of actions in the Indian Civil Rights Act, which are essentially Bill of Rights-causes of actions against executive actions by the tribal executive department."

Audience member:

"So does that mean you predict the extinction of qualified immunity in all of those other forms of immunity, this could be like a floodgates argument where you..."

John Petoskey:

"Yes, it is a floodgates argument, but as the person in the back said, there's still a lot of other types of immunity. There's legislative immunity, but the jurisprudence that developed from '68 to '78 was stopping executive action by tribal council officers or departments where people alleged that the action was in violation of their civil rights. It's a basic 1983 action."

Robert Hershey:

"Or a Bivens."

John Petoskey:

"Yeah, a Bivens, yeah, more like Bivens, unknown agents, yeah."

Ian Record:

"Any other questions for John?"

Raymond Austin:

"One question is where would these actions be filed? Would they be filed in federal courts or would they be filed in the tribal courts? For example, if the Supreme Court waives tribal sovereign immunity in this case, then 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act...if it goes back to implied cause of action as you say, then where will these actions go? Would it go to federal court or would it go to the tribal courts?"

John Petoskey:

"I would say National Farmers controls, the exhaustion of tribal remedies first and if you have remedies that are there, you've got a stronger argument too. Exhaustion of tribal remedies is federal common law and that's I would argue and have argued that exhaustion of tribal remedies is something that cannot be waived by the courts or the parties and that the parties are mandated to exhaust the tribal remedies prior to going to tribal court."

Robert Hershey:

"And then you would have a Bivens-type action in federal court as opposed to an RCRA action, but you still have habeas ..."

John Petoskey:

"Right. So initially I would say tribal court under National Farmers, of exhaustion of tribal court remedies. Remedies are available there. The tribe enacted an ordinance where it had a tribal torte claims act or a tribal civil torte claims act similar to 1983 empowering remedies for breach of civil rights of tribal members but my advice is that the remedies are limited to prospective relief or injunctive relief and not limited to... and monetary damages are excluded. And most courts, whether they're state, tribal or federal recognize that standard because it protects the public treasury of the government, while providing a remedy to the litigant."

Ian Record:

"Well, thank you everybody for coming. And as I mentioned, this will be online sooner rather than later, we hope. We also are working, Ryan and myself and John in consultation with some others that are closely following this case to try to essentially turn what John has shared with you today into some sort of written output that we can share with the public. And we're not sure exactly where and when, but given the urgency of this case, we hope to get something out to the public pretty soon. So we'll keep everybody posted on that. So thank you, John."

John Petoskey:

"Thank you." 

NNI Indigenous Leadership Fellow: John Petoskey (Part 1)

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

In the first of two interviews conducted in conjunction with his tenure as NNI Indigenous Leadership Fellow, John Petoskey, citizen and long-time General Counsel of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (GTB), discusses how GTB has worked and continues to work to build and maintain a strong, independent system of justice that is viewed as legitimate by GTB citizens. He also discusses GTB's integration of peacemaking and peacemaker courts into its justice systems as a culturally appropriate way of resolving disputes and bringing healing to the community. 

People
Resource Type
Citation

Petoskey, John. "NNI Indigenous Leadership Fellow: John Petoskey (Part 1)." Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. October 1, 2013. Interview.

Ian Record:

"Welcome to Leading Native Nations. I'm your host, Ian Record. On today's program, we are honored to have with us John Petoskey. John is a citizen of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and has spent much of the past 30 years serving as his nation's general counsel. As general counsel, he participates in all federal, state and tribal litigation and administrative hearings where his nation is a plaintiff or defendant. In addition, John wrote the majority of Grand Traverse Band's statutes, published as the Grand Traverse Band Code. He also currently serves as partner with Fredericks, Peebles and Morgan LLP and is spending this week at the University of Arizona serving as Indigenous Leadership Fellow with the University's Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy. John, welcome, and good to have you with us today."

John Petoskey:

"Thank you."

Ian Record:

"I've shared a few highlights of your very impressive personal biography, but why don't you start by telling us a little bit about yourself. What did I leave out?"

John Petoskey:

"Well, I have been with the Grand Traverse Band for, as you said, a long time. Prior to that I did work for Legal Services...Indian Legal Services in Michigan and importantly, I worked on one of the leading cases on off-reservation treaty fishing and on-reservation treaty fishing that was called U.S. v. Michigan, which followed the same genesis of the United States v. Washington. And when I originally got out of law school in 1979, I was lucky to participate in the trial portion of that case as a first-year law student that had not yet gone to a federal district court opinion. So that was very gratifying and enlightening to me to see how the United States' trust responsibility is implemented for tribes. At the same time, I'm a product of my history in Michigan. My father is from Little Traverse Bay Band[s of Odawa Indians]; my mother is from Grand Traverse Bay Band. And through circumstances of history, the Ottawa tribes of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan were not federally recognized under the 1855 treaty, which was a misinterpretation where the Secretary of Interior took federal recognition away in 1871. As a consequence of that act, the state of Indian tribes in Michigan, the Ottawa tribes were desolate, and U.S. v. Michigan was the first spark of hope, if you will, by reversing that decline that the tribes had been in for so long.

After U.S. v. Michigan, I went to work at Indian Pueblo Legal Services in Northern New Mexico and I worked for, in one capacity or the other, for most of the pueblos as a legal services attorney representing poor Indians in the tribal justice systems of the Pueblos and in state and federal court. Those were largely jurisdictional cases at that time in the early "˜80s. There was a lot of assertion of state authority and state court jurisdiction for on-reservation activities. So I litigated a lot of cross motions for summary judgment of no subject matter jurisdiction and I also got to participate in some unique Pueblo-initiated procedures to resolve justice questions that the Pueblos had on their reservations, which were unique because the Pueblos have a unique system of justice that is still largely indigenously driven, if you will, from their historical experience.

After Indian Pueblo Legal Services, I went to Alaska Legal Services, which does have a totally different legal history under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. I was in a place called Nome, Alaska and I went out to villages in an area that was probably 500 miles in diameter surrounding Nome and provided legal services to remote isolated villages. And there you could see the coalescence of all federal Indian policy in a community of 150 people where you would have a traditional government and Indian Reorganization Act government and a local government and an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act corporation board. So you'd have four layers of government for people, for a total population of 150 people. It was designed for failure, which that's a separate question, but those are items that are left out.

After Alaska Legal Services I went to work for National Indian Youth Council, where I worked on voting rights cases in the southwest turning at-large voting structures into single member districts, largely in New Mexico, in Cibola County and McKinley County. Then I also worked on First Amendment cases in which tribes were alleging that they had a right under the First Amendment to access to federal public domain law that was under the control of the federal government, but for historical reasons the tribes had ceremonial relationships with the land and their ceremonial relationships with the land were being impaired by the Federal Public Land Policies that prohibited their access in some cases or in other cases prohibited their access on an exclusive basis for some of their ceremonies that they needed to conduct."

Ian Record:

"We here at NNI know quite a bit about the Grand Traverse Band. A number of our staff have worked with the Band over the years. You and some of my colleagues for instance go way back to the late "˜80s, early "˜90s and the Band has also received three awards from our partner organization the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development and its Honoring Nations Award Program, but share with our audience a bit more about your nation, just who is the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians?"

John Petoskey:

"The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians are Indians that lived in and around the Grand Traverse Bay of Northern Michigan. Michigan is shaped like a hand. If you're from Michigan, people always say to each other, "˜Where are you from?' and they'll hold up a hand and they'll say, "˜Well, I'm from Lansing, I'm from Detroit or I'm from Gaylord.' In this case, using the hand as the analogy, Grand Traverse Band is located on the little finger. That's where the peninsula is. The historical area was a reservation that was created in 1855. Just immediately north to us is the Little Traverse Bay Band, which is located in Petoskey, Michigan. South to us is the Little River Band, which is located in and around Manistee, which is right there.

The Grand Traverse Band achieved federal recognition under the Administrative Procedures Process in 1980. It was the first tribe to go through the federal acknowledgement process under the then-developing federal regulations that go all the way back to the Policy Review Commission back to the "˜70s. When it achieved federal recognition, it had to engage in building all of the governance institutions that were necessary to establish a tribal government. Incident to that, I had met Steve Cornell when I had worked at National Indian Youth Council because he was a personal friend of Gerald Wilkinson and Vine Deloria and Dr. Cornell or Steve Cornell used to come and visit with Gerald Wilkinson and I met him initially in that time period that I was working at National Indian Youth Council.

And then after I started working as general counsel for the tribe in the "˜80s, we were engaged in the process of building these governmental institutions as a new federally recognized tribe and we had to look around for models of how to establish our tribal organization, how to establish our tribal constitution and go forward from there. And so we'd have constitutional committees drafting the constitution and we also were engaged in a fight at that time with James Watt, who was the Assistant Secretary of the Interior. And the position under the Reagan administration was that federal acknowledgement was limited to a discrete number of people on the original petition that was submitted, and our argument was that federal acknowledgement covered everybody that was eligible as a descendent from Grand Traverse Band from the last annuity treaty payment that took place in 1910. And obviously, our category that we said were eligible was much larger than the category that the feds wanted to recognize.

As a consequence, we were engaged in litigation with the federal government over the terms of our recognition, which impaired the development of some of our governance institutions, particularly our constitution, which the Interior did not ratify until after that litigation was resolved in 1986 and then the constitution was ratified in 1988, I believe. But at that time, once the constitution was ratified, we really had to come up with the procedures, if you will, for our justice institutions, for our legislative process and for our executive process. And doing research of what models to follow, I came across the Harvard Project on Economic Development and at that time, this was before the internet was widely available, we had to send away for these series of memorandums that students had written on a number of different aspects of Indian economic development and Indian governance issues. And so I basically sent away for all the memorandums and went through the memorandums and cut and paste what I thought was the best in those memorandums for GTB's situation and then went through the process of having the executive-legislature enact those provisions for Grand Traverse Band. Incident to that, I then reinitiated my friendship with Steve Cornell and Steve came up to Grand Traverse Band on two different occasions to visit and to present information and points of views on how he developed tribal institutions. Also, Vine Deloria came up a couple times because I had met and known him at National Indian Youth Council and gave brief talks to our tribal council on the historical relationship of tribal governance and the Department of the Interior and the United States. And Vine had at that time and always did have a very focused analysis of how tribal governments had been overpowered by the federal government. And so in all senses of the word, he was an advocate for strong tribal governance and he promoted that when he was speaking with our tribal council and providing advice on which way to go. So that's, in a quick thumbnail I think that's what the relationship was."

Ian Record:

"Following up on this issue of constitutional development, you said that you were one of the people charged with going out and learning what other tribes had been doing to develop governments that made sense for them and that you sort of worked to integrate the best of what you had learned from others. Was there at some point in the process a customization of some of those governing institutions to the particular circumstances, cultural values of Grand Traverse in trying to make it their own?"

John Petoskey:

"Well, yes. The process of writing a constitution is not...doesn't rise to the level of the Federalist Papers, where you have advocates writing arguments for and against different propositions that are in the constitution. In the Indian community, what that comes down to, if you will, the "Federalist Paper" analogy is a group of people sitting around working their way through the constitution occasion after occasion after occasion after occasion and bringing out their own personal experience from the community as to what will work and what will not work, and so that's what the Grand Traverse Band community did."

Ian Record:

"And how has the...in your estimation how has the constitution worked in the 25 years it's been in place? Do you feel like it's beginning to gain...it has gained widespread cultural and community acceptance?"

John Petoskey:

"Yes. The one unique aspect of our constitution that is different from other constitutions is most entities elect a tripartite system of governance where they have executive, legislature and judiciary. At the time, when we were developing our constitution, the concept of consensus through council discussion was the primary value that people brought to the table of communication of trading off what would work and what would not work. The concept of separating the executive and legislature was not high on anybody's list, and so the GTB constitution has a combined executive-legislative function, so the council meets as a group and acts by motion, ordinance or resolution and it's the majority vote of the seven on the council. There are itemized activities that the executive power has -- and the vice chair and the treasurer and secretary -- but that is still in the context of the council acting as the executive-legislative combined branch of government. So we don't have, if you will, effectively, three coordinate branches of government. We have two branches of government, the executive-legislature as one and the judiciary as the other."

Ian Record:

"Let's talk about the judiciary. I plan to cover a number of topics with you today, but first and foremost is the issue of the judiciary or justice systems comprehensively and I'd like to start big picture, and based on your vast experience in this area, what role do you feel justice systems play in a tribe's ability to exercise its sovereignty effectively, to achieve its priorities, to create a healthier more culturally vibrant community?"

John Petoskey:

"Oh, that's kind of an open-ended question. I would like to just go directly to Grand Traverse Band. In our constitution we have the judiciary as an independent branch of government with independent authority and it's recognized in the constitution to have that. The judiciary serves the function as a check on the executive and legislative actions and it also provides a forum for dispute resolution between the community and community members over behavior that is not acceptable or behavior that comes to the court to resolve disputes between two individuals.

For example, I'm thinking of family law matters, dissolution of marriages or abuse and neglect on children or cases like that, so you need a third party to resolve disputes where the question of who is right and who is wrong is an open question subject to the advocacy of the parties. I don't see the judiciary in a larger, big-picture sense that you outlined. I see it in a little-picture sense of resolving disputes and if an individual, a tribal member, has a dispute with the tribal council over the enactment of legislation or the administration of that legislation by the delegated entities that the council has set up, then that tribal council member under our system, if our constitution has the right to go into tribal court because our constitution waives the immunity of the executive and the legislature and to assert that the application of that rule to that particular person is wrong for whatever reason.

And the Section 10 of our constitution incorporates almost word for word the Indian Civil Rights Act, which is almost...with notable exception leaves out certain elements from the Bill of Rights. The Indian Civil Rights Act is modeled on the Bill of Rights and those are the, if you will, the constitutional values that the federal system has, that the state system has, and by force of this overpowering values of constitutional law from our coordinate sovereign governments, the federal government and the state government, most tribal members are familiar with the U.S. federal constitutional rights and state constitutional rights; therefore, if they have a complaint with the United...with the tribe, they frame their complaint in that context and what is not unique about our constitution, but other constitutions, also have this, is that the constitution recognizes that there's an automatic waiver for that type of cause of action by a tribal member to sue the executive and legislature alleging a violation of Chapter 10 of our constitution, which effectively is the Indian Civil Rights Act. And our constitutional members have done that a number of times.

And then we also have disputes between...we have had disputes between the executive and the judicial...the executive and legislative branch and the judicial branch and the constitution does provide a methodology for the resolution of those disputes. We have had judicial removals and it's a process of the executive-legislature filing a claim in the judiciary unit, a panel of judicial appointees are appointed to determine whether or not a judge should be removed for cause, that are established in the constitution. So when you say big picture, it's too big for me to grasp because everything that I...for myself at least, I'm not a big-picture person and look at concrete problems and how to solve concrete problems, and those concrete problems I guess do have big picture implications, but it's solving the concrete problems that I focus on at least."

Ian Record:

"Well, and that's one of the reasons we thought of you as a good pick to be one of our fellows is that in our vast experience working with tribes on the ground in tribal communities is the fact that nation building is not a top-down proposition. It really starts at the grassroots and it works from the bottom up with the problems that every day...that come up every day that tribal members face. For instance, seeking redress against the government when they feel that they've been wronged. You mentioned that Grand Traverse Band's justice system is strong and independent and NNI and Harvard Project have done a lot of research in this area and it's been pretty conclusive in terms of finding that having a strong and independent justice system is really vital to a nation's efforts to achieve its goals. And I'm curious to get your take on that finding based upon your own experience and obviously the strength and independence of the justice system was not an accident. This was a purposeful process that the tribe has engaged in over a very long period of time to build that strength, to build that independence, and I guess my question to you would be how do you see that research finding in the context of what Grand Traverse has done?"

John Petoskey:

"In the context of...well, I would support it first of all. Having a strong and independent justice system is very important. And I think Grand Traverse Band has been lucky in some of the initial judges that it had that were tribal members that served for a long time on the judicial system and the fact that they were tribal citizens gave greater legitimacy for their decisions and for the conflicts that were resolved by judicial action. When we have had problems with the Grand Traverse Band is when we have...our constitution was written in the early "˜80s and actually implemented in 1988 and the provision that we have for judicial appointments does have a proviso of appointing attorneys who are non-members, and so on occasion we have had to appoint non-member attorneys to act as tribal judges. And the argument there is, "˜Well, an attorney has training in procedural due process, dispute resolution, the framing of legal arguments for the resolution of complex disputes and is familiar with the substantive law that comes forward that regulates human relationships and governmental relationships and so therefore the attorney, even though not a member, would bring value in that position as a tribal judge,' and that argument I accept.

Nevertheless, the proviso in my experience has been that when a non-Indian, non-citizen of the tribe is appointed, there are problems that inevitably arise because the legitimacy of that judicial officer is questioned by the community. I would propose a thought experiment that people would see this analogy or this problem in another manner. For example, I don't think any tribal constitution provides a provision in which you can elect to their tribal council non-members so long as they're attorneys or that they're engineers or something else, and that's just unheard of. And so the executive and legislative branch that are made up of members has greater legitimacy for implementing a decision even if the decision is wrong because it's coming from that citizen group in that community. Conversely, when a judge who is not a member is trying to implement a decision, even if that decision is right, it has less legitimacy.

So the cautionary tale that I would have on building strong judicial departments is that you keep in mind, and I know this is somewhat of a touchy subject, but you keep in mind that those should be citizen members that are filling those positions and it lends greater legitimacy to the resolution of the problems, and maybe this is a problem just uniquely to some tribes that have that provision in their constitution for the appointment of non-Indians, but if you look at the Indian law world, all of the Indian law professors -- you could tick them off on your hand that are the big stars -- also serve on tribal courts. And so they're not bringing their membership as a member of a tribe, they're coming to serve on those courts as people that are profoundly sympathetic to Indians and profoundly conversant with the principles of federal Indian law and the principles of substantive law, but nevertheless, they are bringing the same baggage of their cultural tradition to an Indian forum for resolving disputes involving principally Indians. There's variations on that too because some of those...some people argue that tribal courts are courts of general jurisdiction so they can resolve disputes involving Indians and non-Indians and I accept that, but what I'm saying is that a citizen/member of the tribe lends greater legitimacy to the resolution of the dispute."

Ian Record:

"To me what you're really talking about are what I see as two challenges. One is there needs to be a thoughtful, strategic discussion about. 'What should the qualifications of judges be?' So for instance, obviously should they have passed the bar in the state in which the tribe resides? That's often a criteria. I think what the Navajo example and a growing number of other tribal examples teach us is that tribes really placing an emphasis on their judges having understanding of that tribe's common cultural law and being in a position to apply that. And from what you're saying that non-Indian outsiders are just not equipped with that because they haven't grown up in that environment."

John Petoskey:

"Yes. In fact there should be, and I think Navajo does this and I confess my ignorance in this, but there should be a Navajo bar exam and tribes should implement their own bar exams for the practice within their own courts. Certainly all tribes now implement admission to their bar for their court but really all that is...and I'm not saying this in a negative or pejorative sense, but all that is is motioning yourself in for admission, paying the admission fee and being admitted to the bar of that particular tribe. But, if a tribe were to develop a bar exam and it's not...doesn't necessarily have to be on the substantive elements of what constitutes a tort crime, but it would have to be on something, in the case of Grand Traverse Band, it would have to be on the substantive elements of what is the fundamental value of Algonquians or Ottawas on how you lead a good life and what is the balance in life and the aim of life that you're supposed to be doing. And there is a set of concepts interrelated that are from the tradition of Ottawas and Ojibwes that define what is a good life and what is a bad life. And being sensitive to that in the position of judging disputes in which people are arguing over and sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly over those received values, is important to resolving issues that come before the court."

Ian Record:

"I want to turn back to Grand Traverse Band and the strength and independence that you and others have worked so hard to instill within that justice system that you currently operate. What do you feel -- based on the Grand Traverse experience -- that tribal justice systems need to have in place in order to be strong and independent?"

John Petoskey:

"I know the appropriate answer would probably be an institutional structure that non-Indians are familiar with, but the realistic answer, if you...is you need people that are really bright and focused and from that tradition and that are committed to that tradition. They are people that are...that grew up in the tradition, that bring the intelligence of the tradition to the position and that are committed to that tradition, that is an answer that is sort of off-center, but you need an Indian jurisprudence of values that reflect the community that you're from and the way that those values evolve are from growing up in that community, and that's an ongoing constant process. There's no one set of values that control the evolution of the community. In my own life for example and my wife's life, our parents had a totally different experience from what it was to be Indian in the...they were both born in 1915 and grew up in a period from 1915, died in the "˜80s, their life experience was fundamentally different and their grandparents or their parent's life experience was fundamentally different and they were born in the 1870s and you stretch back. This may be a little far afield, but if you stretch back to my grandparents, who were in the 1870s, and you stretch to my children now who were born in the 1990s, you have 120 years of change that is constantly taking place, but all of them have the same common denominator of coming from the same group of people and going through that change together."

Ian Record:

"So basically what you're saying is that the folks that lead that justice system, if you will, need to be culturally grounded, right?"

John Petoskey:

"Yes."

Ian Record:

"They need to have roots in the community that are not sort of put down overnight, but come from long, sustained involvement in the community, whether it's residence or participation in cultural ceremonies, etc. But just to sort of throw out a scenario to you, so presume for a second that you have all that on the judicial side of the equation and then there's somebody, in your case the executive-legislative side of governance equation that doesn't...is not acting from those values, if you will, and places perhaps unhealthy pressure on the judiciary to act in a certain way, to sort of test that strength and independence of the judicial system. What sort of mechanisms are in place to -- at Grand Traverse -- to ensure the insulation of the judiciary from that sort of unhealthy interference and ensure that it can in fact enact the cultural values, it can actually judge cases based on their merits and mete out justice in a fair and a consistent fashion?"

John Petoskey:

"Well, this is not something that is in place in terms of institutions, but on the executive-legislature side, there are seven councilors and the councilors don't always agree with each other, but they're all from the community and they all have...they all bring their common experience from the community to their positions on the council and they disagree amongst themselves and they recognize that some of those disagreements have to be resolved by the judiciary. And if Councilor A has a position against Councilor B and Councilor A is going to try to influence the judiciary to impermissibly or in some manner that is not straightforward in the procedural process, then Councilor B is going to object to that and Councilor B is going to then use Councilor B's authority within the context of the executive-legislative branch to bring that objection forward. And so it is a self-policing method of checks and balances, of different policy positions on the combined executive-legislative council. And so in that sense, even though the value is consensus of trying to get to a consensus and once the council does arrive at a consensus, it generally goes forward from that position. Arriving at that consensus involves very heated arguments between the individual councilors as to what is the appropriate course of action and if that heated argument or those differences manifest themselves in a dispute in the judiciary then Councilor A's attempt to determine the outcome in the judiciary is going to violate the rights of Councilor B and Councilor B is not going to acquiesce to that and is going to take action against A in the context of the executive-legislative process. That's realistically the way that works. I don't know if you formalize that process in some other method."

Ian Record:

"I guess what about for instance if it's not...if it doesn't involve a difference of opinion with two council members, but say, for instance, I'm a citizen and I feel that for whatever reason that the case before the court needs to be decided in my favor and I call up one of these councilors and say, "˜You need to do what I ask and I voted for you,' kind of thing and this may not be something you're familiar with because it doesn't sound like this is a common occurrence at Grand Traverse. Unfortunately this is a common occurrence in a lot of other tribes that we've worked with. I guess is it sort of values and sort of community norms that prevents a lot of that from taking place or is there something formal within the constitutional framework that Grand Traverse has developed that prevents that sort of thing?"

John Petoskey:

"Within the constitutional framework the judiciary is independent. That's a categorical statement. The hypothetical that you posited has occurred and I am familiar with cases in which tribal members have called up councilors and say, "˜I don't agree with this court's decision because it's wrong,' and the councilors have come back to the council and said, "˜Judge is wrong in this basis, what should we do?' and other councilors say, "˜Well, it's a independent judiciary,' and you get back into the methodology that I was talking about earlier where A and B are arguing over the proper policy. We're lucky in one sense that one of our councilors is a former chief judge on our court and chief judge on other courts in Michigan. So that particular councilor is...has been in the shoes of a judiciary and has been involved in inter-branch fights between the judiciary and the executive-legislature. But we have not had extreme cases at Grand Traverse Band. I can...I don't want to...there have been cases in Michigan in which one where the executive branch and the judicial branch got into such an extreme dispute that the judicial branch ordered the arrest and incarceration of the executive branch, and typically it's the other way around. All of the hypotheticals that you've been positing involve the executive pressuring the judiciary, but in this particular case it was the judiciary that ordered the arrest of the executive over an election dispute where the holdover council was not vacating office and the executive branch was actually arrested and then the petition for habeas corpus was filed in federal district court to release the executive branch, that the judicial order was invalid. So it goes both ways I'm saying."

Ian Record:

"It sounds like at Grand Traverse there's a controlling dynamic within the executive-legislative function where if there is an individual council member who's being pressured by a constituent to interfere in the judicial function that the other council members remind that individual on the council of their role, what their role is and what their role is not. Speaking more broadly, what do you feel is the role of elected leadership in supporting the strength and independence and supporting the growth of justice systems, because for instance at Grand Traverse, your justice system has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 20 years and won an award from Honoring Nations for the incredible work it's been doing and not just building a strong and independent court system, but also making sure that that system is culturally appropriate and reflecting and enacting the values of the people. What do you feel the role of leaders are in supporting the justice function?"

John Petoskey:

"At Grand Traverse Band or in general?"

Ian Record:

"Just in general I think."

John Petoskey:

"Well, my response would be if you look at other systems -- the federal system, the state system -- there have always been disputes over the scope of judicial power in the...in federal court, in federal jurisdiction, what is the appropriate scope of federal jurisdictional power and what is the scope of its ability to resolve disputes. Justice Breyer makes a big point of this if you look at the election dispute between Bush v. Gore, it was a decision that was by the Supreme Court that was widely recognized as invalid in terms of its substantive analysis of the law, but nevertheless the whole country said, once the decision came out, "˜Well, game over,' because there's a strong judicial system and once the decision was rendered, good, bad or indifferent, that's it. Everybody folded their respective tents and went home and George Bush became president when he probably should not have been president on the substantive law basis, but a wrong decision on the merits is still a final decision and the parties respect that. And so you would hope that tribal court systems would evolve to that level of behavior where people would see that finality even for a bad decision. Of course Bush probably didn't think it was a bad decision, but they would evolve to that level of behavior that even for a bad decision, it's the final decision and you go forward. Nobody brought out the Army or guns or anything to enforce Bush v. Gore. The only thing that was done was Scalia saying, "˜Well, this case shouldn't be cited for any other precedent, just for the unique circumstances in George Bush as president.'

And the other cases, Justice Stephens and the other Justices, Stephens in particular, forcefully argued that it was a sad day for the judiciary, but they were arguing on the merits of what the decision was. Nobody was saying, "˜Well, are people going to abide by this? Are they going to follow this decision?' and ultimately that didn't even come up. The values were so engrained that everybody just followed that decision, but that was a hard-fought value because you go back to Brown v. Board of Education. When that came out, you had George Wallace standing at the entrance of a public university screaming, "˜Segregation now! Segregation forever!' saying, "˜I will not move and allow black people into this university,' and tremendous fights, killings, murders, just tremendous pain and suffering for the implementation of the Civil Rights decisions. So when you look at Indian Country, Indian Country is not something that is any different because we're all humans trying to resolve complex disputes and we're using different methodologies to resolve those disputes."

Ian Record:

"And I think it would be important for folks to keep in mind that while a lot of these justice systems are working...tribal justice systems are working to integrate, enact longstanding cultural values, the systems themselves are relatively new in many cases in that these were justice systems that were established in the "˜50s, "˜60s, "˜70s, "˜80s many of them, and it takes a long time in many of those communities for those systems to gain the legitimacy that you're talking about. Your colleague Frank Pommersheim, I had opportunity to interview him and he made the exact same point that the true test of a strong independent judiciary is, 'Do people respect the decision even though they disagree with it, particularly elected leadership?'"

John Petoskey:

"Yes."

Ian Record:

"That's the true test. They may not like the decision, they may not like the outcome but they're not going to blow the place up over the fact that they disagree with it."

John Petoskey:

"Right. That is a good test. And that...and nobody arrives at that without some pain and suffering, and that's why I brought out Brown v. Board of Education. Here you had the Supreme Court saying, "˜Segregation in education is constitutionally impermissible,' and you certainly had southern states saying, "˜It is not and we're not going to allow the decision to be implemented. Impeach Earl Warren.'"

Ian Record:

"So one of the things that in terms of how Native nations and governments and the other branches or functions of government can support tribal judiciaries...one of the things you and I were talking about yesterday was this issue of funding and what we've often heard tribal judges lament about is the fact that, "˜In our tribe the elected leadership treat us like we're just another department when really we serve a fundamental function of any society, which is to resolve disputes, which is to in many instances serve as a check on the abuse of power, the abuse of authority by the other functions of government. How important is it for leaders of nations...of tribal nations to have that mindset that the judicial system is more than just another department of government and fund it accordingly and really place an emphasis on putting the judicial system sort of at the top when it comes to allocating budgetary resources for instance?"

John Petoskey:

"Well, obviously my point is that judicial systems should be funded and the de-funding of judicial systems for political purposes should be categorically impermissible, because today's decision may be something that you support but tomorrow's decision may be something that you oppose and so the funding of judicial decisions based upon past precedent of the courts or decisions that they made shouldn't be in the equation of how you fund the judicial system. The conversation that we had was that I haven't seen any information on the relationship of how you...what the ratio is of the federal government's funding of its judicial system over its total budget, and I'm sure it could be easy to figure out, but I just haven't seen that in print someplace. At Grand Traverse Band, we have a revenue allocation ordinance and we did set up a system of funding the judicial system by a percentage of our income, our net income that we receive from various enterprises, largely gaming. At the time that we passed the RAO [revenue allocation ordinance] it was, I forget the exact number, but it was something like four percent or seven percent is going to go to the judicial system. And just through circumstances of gaming, like a lot of tribes over the last 20 years, the net income of gaming has risen dramatically like a jet taking off into the stratosphere. Those are numbers out there that everybody is family with. So we had this RAO number of four to seven percent that the judicial system received as a direct level of funding that was not to be...it was enacted by the statute and so once our enterprises took off, the amount of money that the judicial system was receiving was extraordinary. It got very high very quickly and because our enterprises were successful."

Ian Record:

"But I would imagine that as your enterprise got successful you're engaged in more commercial dealings, there's more disputes, there's the case load of the court system grows."

John Petoskey:

"Yes, yes, there is that argument, but my point is I haven't seen any good research on how you arrive at the appropriate level of funding for a judicial system. You do have the method of GPRA, of performance-based funding for projected future funding on outcomes with present resources and that's how you do programmatic funding for activities and then you have federal funding where federal priorities come into smaller communities and those are competitive grants that we look at and then you have what are called the self-governance BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs], AFA, annual funding agreements through self-governance taking over certain sections of what is known as the 'green book,' which is the budget book of the Department of Interior for funding and they have a number of formulas that are in that book based on the appropriate level of funding for different activities that the BIA is engaged in in administering an Indian reservation and just in a thumbnail in self governance is a tribe has shown that it can administer those programs just as well as the BIA through no audit exceptions, therefore they get control of that line item in the green book to administer the program or to reallocate to any other function. My point that I was getting to is that I don't see the formula for tribal court funding. Clearly funding should not be a political animal in terms of past decisions or future decisions, but there should be some formula methodology to determine what the appropriate level of funding is."

Ian Record:

"So Grand Traverse, by all accounts, has operated this strong and independent court system for quite a while that it consistently and fairly dispenses justice. What sort of messages do you feel that that sends to outsiders that interact with Grand Traverse in terms of how it does business, how it governs? Do you feel that there's been a positive ripple effect of the way that Grand Traverse dispenses justice that supersedes the reservation boundaries?"

John Petoskey:

"Well, yes. These sound like leading softball questions, but yes. Some of the things that we do at Grand Traverse is what other tribes do and some tribes do it much better than we do. I haven't looked at their site recently, but I know Ho Chunk had a very good site on their judicial opinions and we try to model our site on our judicial opinions. We set up all of our opinions into VersusLaw and into WesLaw and so they're categorized into the WesKey number system. They're available... we try to make them available... before the internet came online we did create a... all of our opinions available in the local law libraries when everybody was using hard copies to do research. We made arrangements with the county law libraries that they would have copies of our code, that they would have copies of all of our opinions that were issued. And then several years ago, it hasn't been updated, but Matthew Fletcher, who a lot of people know in the Indian law world, is a member of Grand Traverse Band and used to work at Grand Traverse Band as an attorney, assistant general counsel for about four years, and after he left he wrote a restatement of Grand Traverse Band's common law based upon all of the opinions published up until that point. And so we direct people to that on a regular basis to tell them, "˜This is the restatement of the common law as of X date. It hasn't been updated, but these are the opinions on a chronological basis that you can find that are available.' Our statutes are published online. We do have a qualified, when I say qualified, it's not as detailed as the Administrative Procedures Act, but we do have a process of legislative enactment in which we publish proposed bills for comment by our tribal members and before enactment and comments come in and the tribal council reacts to those comments either accepting or rejecting, and making appropriate decisions based on the comments and some bills as a result of that comment process have taken a long time to get through to enactment because some of the issues are extremely contentious internally with the tribe over the appropriate standard that the bill is implementing on the standard of behavior.

So I think the common denominator of what I just said is transparency throughout the whole process. Transparency throughout the judicial process in terms of the court publishing its opinions, making them widely available to individuals, the transparency of legislative acts being widely apparent to individuals. Grand Traverse Band is now going for its executive-legislative function to publish their proceedings online so that people who are tribal members...and this is an open question on whether non-members would be able to access it, but clearly tribal members would be able to, citizen members would be able to access council meetings to review what took place in the meeting and the process and procedures that were utilized in the meetings. There's discussions right now of doing the same thing for court proceedings that... of tribal court TV, if you will, to make transparency as the same value. So I think the value of transparency is something that is accepted by the majority of the participants in the political process and that has enormous benefits in a cultural norm of checks and balances, if you will, because everybody knows that everything is subject to review and all arguments are...can be developed after the fact, too, because you can look at something or you can be involved in this conversation that we're having right now, it's being recorded and later on I may be sitting at home thinking, "˜God, I should have said that or I should have said this,' and other people will have that same reaction."

Ian Record:

"Doesn't it all boil down to, when it comes down to transparency and the different ways that Grand Traverse is seeking to achieve that, is people who interface with the government, whether it's citizens of the Band or outsiders who may be dealing with the tribe commercially or may live within the community on allotment land or whatever it might be, that they understand not only the decisions that have been made, they're aware of the decisions that are being contemplated, but most importantly they're...they understand the rationale underlying the decision-making process. What is the common law that's driving this or what are the values that's driving this? Is that really at the crux of the whole thing?"

John Petoskey:

"The crux of the whole thing is not to have an indeterminate process; it's to have a determinate process that participants can enter the process at various points and figure out what happened, why it happened, what the future decision is going to be, what the arguments for and against it can be and an indeterminate process, what I see is a situation where the participants and the people who have to suffer the consequences of the decision don't know why something happened or what's going to happen in the future because there's no agreed upon procedure statutorily or there's no agreed upon cultural norm of transparency. And so it makes for an indeterminate future and an indeterminate past because the rationale for some of the decisions in the past were arbitrary, and these are words that are used in administrative law, but are arbitrary and capricious and they're not subject to analysis because they're indeterminate. And so I think the value that Grand Traverse Band is trying to achieve is a process of determinate decision making in its executive-legislative and judicial process, where participants in the process and the people who are subject to the process either as citizens or non-citizens can understand what occurred, why it occurred, and what will occur in the future."

Ian Record:

"So I wanted to wrap up with a few questions that get into a little bit more detail about Grand Traverse Band's approach to jurisprudence. We've been touching again and again on this issue of cultural values, common law, common tribal law and I'm curious, several years ago the Grand Traverse Band formally integrated the peacemaking approach to dispute resolution into its justice system. Can you talk about how that came about, what was the impetus, what does it look like, how does it work?"

John Petoskey:

"Well, the value of the peacemaking court...first of all, I want to acknowledge that Navajo Nation started with peacemaking court and I'm not familiar with the full scope of that, but I know that they had a peacemaking court long before other tribes did and brought in their values and cultural tradition to the resolutions of disputes that were involved on family relations. And at that time, our chief judge, his name is Mike Petoskey, he's not my brother, we're often confused because we're close in age and look alike. He is my first cousin. He was our tribal judge and had been our tribal chief judge for about 15 years and he was familiar with a lot of Navajo judges because he went to law school at the University of New Mexico and he had a common experience with some of these judges based upon their military experience in Vietnam and similar life experience even though these people were from the interior of Navajo, Lukachukai. So it was Ray Austin that he was a good friend with. I think Ray has published a book on the Navajo judicial systems. And Mike and Ray had been friends for many years, well, going to law school and had a common denominator even though they were widely geographically dispersed and culturally dispersed, one being Ottawa and one being Navajo. And so Mike was dealing with the types of problems that come up in Indian communities that are families-in-crisis problems and part of the way of resolving those problems in the non-Indian society under child abuse and neglect and families in need of supervision under the state model, if you look at their codes, are very destructive to the individual family unit because the resolution is, "˜This is not going to work so we're going to terminate the parental rights. We want to take the child away. We're going to sanction the parent and the family is dispersed.' I'm not saying that across the board, but that is one model that the family law in non-Indian society uses to resolve families in crisis and that may work if you have a larger group that you're...of people that you're dealing with and larger resources. But the tribe didn't have the larger resources and the group that it's dealing with is a common core of people that are related to each other across time and terminating and dispersing the family is not something that is...that the tribe wants to do, because a lot of the historical experience of the tribal members is suffering the state system of termination and dispersal of the family and then slowly finding your way back to the community. And so an alternative is to try to fix the destructive family patterns that exist within the family in question or whatever family it is. I don't have any family in question, I'm just saying this is how or what the situations that came up and the way to do that is to bring in other members of the extended family into a whole process of saying, "˜Well, what is the problem and why are you behaving in this manner that creates destructive consequences for your children or destructive consequences for your husband or wife or for your mother or father or for your aunts and uncles?' The behavior of one individual has a ripple effect like the stone in the pond that goes out into the whole community. And so the concept of peacemaking is to recognize that and to bring all of the people in the pond, if you will, that feel that ripple effect into the process to resolve that stone and to engage in dialogue, and there is a value within the Ottawa and Ojibwe tradition that all of our inter-family relationships are really community-based relationships and extend out to everybody and that a resolution of those community-based relationships of necessity involves all of these people that it extends out to because your actions today do not just impact your nuclear family, your husband, wife, mother, daughter. They also impact your aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and so bringing that whole group together or the principles within that group to work on the solution for that behavior is better than viewing it as a nuclear unit of a family, husband, wife, children and that's it and that as the scope of what the community was that had to be fixed. And the peacemaking court was to say, if you look at the larger community which everybody is impacted by this behavior and you try to bring the larger community into that process with the individual that is misbehaving, if you will, and saying, "˜This is what your behavior is causing to the whole community and we are here to help you to resolve that behavior,' and to bring the person back into the community by explaining what the impacts of their behavior has on the whole community. That's the fundamental concept. There's a long Indian word that I can't pronounce that my wife [Eva Petoskey] can, and so you might bring that up with her, and she has a better grasp of the language than I do."

Ian Record:

"So how in your estimation has it worked out so far, the use of peacemaking for Grand Traverse?"

John Petoskey:

"It's worked out well because it...there are a lot of people in Indian Country that are in pain and suffering for a variety of...this is sort of a leftist orientation, but of historical trauma, of what your parents and grandparents went through and so that has an impact on your present life and when I was talking about just looking at my own life, I'm 61 years old and I can look back to see my grandparents who I knew were born in the 1870s and there's been tremendous change from where my children are right now who were born in the 1990s and are in graduate school in college and going through different changes of their own, but we're all connected to this one place and we're all from this one place and we all grew up there. But the change is constant and for Grand Traverse Band since 1980 in the scale of things change has been positive for the community. The community has reasserted its traditions and reasserted its control over its community and when it lost its control over its community it lost control over its traditions because we weren't directing our lives, we were being directed by other people and so directing our lives even if it's in an impaired and fractured community is a process of healing that community and so that peacemaking court in the method that I just described is a process of resolving a lot of disputes that are very, very difficult and very difficult to resolve and that take a lot of time. It's not ever going to be perfect and it's not ever going to be over, it's always going to change."

Ian Record:

"As a final question, what I'm struck by in hearing you and others talk about the peacemaking approach is that often the western adversarial system, which is focused on punitive measures tends to focus on the symptom, which is the misbehavior whereas, peacemaking really seeks to get at the root cause of what's driving this behavior and sort of...and attacking that root cause to prevent that from happening again rather than punishing someone for what has already happened. Is that basically how it works?"

John Petoskey:

"I would say yes, but again I would say my wife has a better handle on that, but it's bringing in the community and the impacts on the community and saying to the individual, "˜You should have empathy and compassion for the acts that you're doing and the impacts on people that you have relationships with, long-term relationships with.' Sometimes they're loving relationships, sometimes they're not loving relationships, they're stressful relationships, but the point is everybody has a consequence for their behavior and those consequences are felt by the whole community and it's trying to say to the individual, "˜Your behavior affects the whole community and the whole community is here to try to tell you that to change your behavior so those consequences don't impact us,' because they do."

Ian Record:

"Well, John, we really appreciate you agreeing to serve as a fellow with the Native Nations Institute and agreeing to sit down with us today and sharing your thoughts, experience and wisdom with us. And this is part one of a two-part interview. We'll be interviewing you again this week in more detail about some of the work you've done in terms of developing Grand Traverse's legal infrastructure and I'd like to thank you for your time today. And that's all the time we have on today's program of Leading Native Nations. To learn more about Leading Native Nations, please visit the Native Nations Institute's website at nni.arizona.edu. Thank you for joining us. Copyright 2013 Arizona Board of Regents."

Frank Ettawageshik: Exercising Sovereignty: The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

Producer
Indigenous Peoples' Law and Policy Program
Year

Frank Ettawageshik, former chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBBO), discusses how LTBBO has systematically built its legal infrastructure in order to fully and capably exercise the nation's sovereignty and achieve its nation-building goals. He discusses some of the specific laws and codes LTBBO developed and why, and he also stresses the importance of Native nations building relationships with other governments on their own terms and in furtherance of their strategic priorities.

Resource Type
Citation

Ettawageshik, Frank. "Exercising Sovereignty: The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians." Indigenous Peoples' Law and Policy Program, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 15, 2010. Presentation.

Frank Ettawageshik:

"It's really nice to be down here enjoying your nice weather and to be down here and to be working with the Native Nations Institute. I've had a lot of years, a lot of times over the years that we've been in touch with each other at different conferences and other places, but never really had a chance to be here and to work on, sort of as Ian said, reflecting and thinking about Native nation building, as we were way too busy doing it and we were working so hard on a lot of different things that it sort of boggles the mind in a way when you think about the full scope of what that means when you say 'nation building.' The first thing that a lot of tribes think about when they think of nation building is they think of economic development and they think of how does that reflect because they think you need...of course you need money for the projects and things that you do and there are some people who focus on the economic development part to a great extent. And to me, economic development is not nation building. Nation building includes a component that's economic development and you need to think of it in that way. And that's really the way that we thought about it.

As the tribal chairman, I was the one whose picture was in the paper and who got quoted all the time and things of this sort, but there was a large group of dedicated people who were of a common mind or at least common direction -- maybe not always agreeing with each other -- who worked towards trying to develop an effective tribal government and to find ways to strengthen our community. And while we were doing that, one of the important things that we think about in that process is that we had to have...we had to keep ourselves rooted in our culture. We needed to have our ceremonies. When we had a community meeting, we always made sure that we had the community eagle staff there in the carrier and we had a drum, we carried a ceremony, a pipe ceremony at the beginning of the meetings and we did things like this that would help use the best of our heritage to help strengthen what we were doing in a way that it helped bring people together of one mind and it helped add a solemn nature, a serious nature and to help use the gifts that we'd been given in our culture, traditional culture, that would help keep us focused. And we did that, that was a big part of what we would do, and of course as years went by in the development of our constitution, we made sure that we supported freedom of religion, which was that we clearly have within our tribal community we have several different methods of expressing our traditional culture with different lodges, a Bedouin lodge, a Wabeno lodge, the independent people of different sorts that are involved in the tradition, but we also have Catholics and Protestant sects of various sorts and the Native American Church, we have some Muslims, we have some atheists and as you look through this, when the government's there, the government represents all of the people. And so we have to find ways that we can honor and respect everyone at the same time, as making sure that we keep the central identity of our nation through our culture and history, keep that as part of what we were looking at.

So what I wanted to talk to you a little about today was how we went about doing that, some of the things that we think are important and ways that...things that helped me as a leader to think through these things and to keep an idea of what's important. And I'll tell you what often happened in my office. Someone would come in and they'd be running and they'd be saying, ‘Oh, my god, BLANK is happening. What are we going to do about it and how can we take care of this?' And it's just the biggest crisis in the world. Well, the way I would deal with that is I'd say, ‘Take a deep breath,' and I'd say, ‘Well, is anybody going to even care about this next week?' ‘Well, maybe next week.' 'All right, now how about if they're going to care about it in six months?' And we'd try to put it in perspective. If it's an earth-shaking thing that really is going to be big, yeah, but most of those day to day emergencies are distractions. They can get taken care of in a fairly comfortable way.

Being in the legal office, the legal office was often the center of much of this activity. As the tribal chairman at our tribe, my office was in the west wing of our tribal administration building and right next to me was the...the office just in the hallway next to me is the general counsel and the vice chair and executive assistant and other staff. But I regularly worked with the attorneys, the tribal attorneys, and I would regularly consult and talk with them, but I never forgot what one of the elders taught me and that is, ‘We don't work for the attorneys, the attorneys work for us.' And in the legal education that people get, they're going to learn a certain perspective and yet, being a member of the bar and being a member of...an officer of the court and these things, you're going to have, say of a state bar, you'll have a certain perspective on the law and there are certain things that you can ethically advise, but being a tribal leader there may be times when that line of thinking doesn't fit with the exercise of our tribal sovereignty. So I've had occasion where our tribal attorney...we were at a meeting, we were talking, the tribal attorney said, ‘Say this,' and I looked at it and thought about it for a minute and I stood up and I said exactly the opposite and then I sat down and I said, ‘Now make that work.' That's the thing that is important for tribes is to help keep that perspective, understand where the center of their reality is and for us.

There's a story that I tell about a tribe that's not in the too-distant past, had opened a casino and it was a small casino and they didn't have a vault. They had a safe that was in the back room and their one tribal police officer was there and this happened to be in a non-280 state, which is another important factor to think about. But the safe got broken into and the casino manager came in the back room and the tribal chairman was there and their one police officer who was the chief of police, he was there, and they were all looking around they were saying, ‘Ah, what are we going to do?' And the police officer said, ‘Gee, somebody better call the cops.' Where is your center of reality? Where do you think this? And in a tribe, that center is within the tribe's nationhood. That's where it needs to be. And it's in the exercise of the tribe's sovereignty. And often our own staff, sometimes their head isn't there, sometimes our own council members have a hard time with that. They'll say, ‘Gee, will they let us do that?' That's a question that I've heard often when talking about something that the Bureau wants to do or something that somebody else wants us...

And what I have focused on throughout my career and as I've come to understand -- bringing all together teachings from various elders and from other people that I've spoken with over the years and other tribal chairman that I learned from over nearly 20 years in office -- the way I've come to understand it is that you're either sovereign or you aren't. You're not three-quarters sovereign or a little bit sovereign. Somebody can't make you a little bit more sovereign or somebody can't make you a little less sovereign; you either are or you aren't. And as a nation, as a tribal nation, expressing that sovereignty and exercising that sovereignty is really what your task is and functionally every sovereign is negotiating the exercise of their sovereignty with the other sovereigns around them. The United States just signed an arms treaty with Russia. It's an exercise on the limits of their sovereignty with each other, just signed. It's got to go before legislative bodies for approval, but that's an exercise of sovereignty. About three years ago, the Sioux St. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, the Bay Mills Indian Community, both on the United States side of the St. Mary's River at Sioux St. Marie, Michigan and Sioux St. Marie, Ontario, and the Batchewana First Nation and the Garden River First Nation that are on the Canadian side of that river, the four of them signed a treaty. Now, the United States does not recognize our authority to sign treaties and yet these tribes have signed a treaty called the St. Mary's River Treaty and they formed the Anishinabek Joint Commission to work on cleaning up the river that they live on that has gotten so polluted that at times they have an advisory against touching the water -- not just not drinking it and not just not swimming in it, but touching it. There were people who were getting sick just having a picnic in their yard next to the river and this was the Native people who used to swim, used to drink the water, felt that it was important to work with each other. They signed a treaty with each other to do this. It's an exercise of sovereignty; it's an exercise of how they're going to be working together on things. So I think that this whole concept of dealing with sovereignty is something that people have a hard time getting their heads around often.

So I ask this question: we get interns that would come to the tribe, we have a couple legal interns every year who would come to the tribe to work, and when they came I'd bring them in my office. They'd be introduced to the chairman and I'd say, ‘I've got a question for you and I want you to think about it and come back and answer me next week.' I'd say, ‘When the Supreme Court of the United States issues a ruling that limits tribal sovereignty, I want you to explain to me how that limits our sovereignty.' Of course the answer is, ‘It doesn't limit our sovereignty in any way at all.' We're either sovereign or we aren't sovereign and the Supreme Court cannot take our sovereignty away like that, but the Supreme Court can make it so that the federal government and all of the political subdivisions of it all the way down to the counties and the townships around us that they have a harder time recognizing our sovereignty and they can make it really difficult for us to exercise our sovereignty. And that is the trick, that's the key thing that we have to think about as tribes is how do we and what do we do that protects the exercise of our sovereignty and that in doing so, how does that actually build our nation?

So we thought about a lot of this and one of the things that we did is we worked on lawmaking as a big central focus. One of the first laws we passed was a legislative procedures statute. We passed that because we wanted to lay out the process under which we would develop laws and it required that we...this required a posting period so that we'd have to post them so we couldn't just move into a meeting, put something on the agenda and pass it and 20 minutes later the whole law of the land, of the nation had changed. We needed some transparency, we needed the population of our tribal nation to have access to the process and to have input and so we wanted to slow things down a little bit. So we passed a legislative procedures statute. We passed a resolutions and regulations procedures statute. We did a number of different things that would help lay out how we would function within the confines of a constitution. We had...in doing this, we also realized that it wasn't just enough for us to be exercising our sovereignty in these ways internally, but we also needed to have ways that we dealt externally with those people around us. We had to deal with counties and townships, had to deal with the local sheriffs, we had to deal with the State of Michigan, we dealt with the...our international policy dealt with all of the tribes around us as well as these other governments and we had to find ways to...in which to sort of regulate or set these things up, how we would work. From the early days, we had a constitution that had been recognized. And I guess I should digress a minute here and let you know that our tribe had not been on the list of federally recognized tribes. We spent about 120 years in a legal battle with the United States over trying to figure out our existence. We felt we existed, they weren't so sure about it, and we spent a lot of time dealing with this. And in 1994, after several legislative attempts and other type court cases and other things, Public Law 103-324 was signed by the President and that reaffirmed our tribe's federal relationship. It didn't grant recognition, which would have implied that we never had it, it didn't restore it, which would have implied that maybe we had it and they took it away, but it's a reaffirmation act. It reaffirmed that we'd always had it, which was our position and that's the way the Congress passed that law.

Two tribes, Little Traverse and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians just about a couple... about three hours south of us down along the Lake Michigan shoreline, we were both on the same bill. And when that bill passed we had an interim constitution in place. It was not really the regular IRA boilerplate constitution, but it was a constitution that had all of the authority in a single body and that the tribal council, the tribal chairman was a member of the council. The tribal chairman voted on everything that came before the council, as well as chaired the meetings, and between meetings, the tribal chairman was the chief executive officer of the tribe and implemented all the actions of the council. As long as you had a good tribal chairman, there wasn't an issue with that, but if you were to not have that or have somebody who wanted to abuse the authority, that's a lot of authority in one place. And there were no real checks and balances. The chairman controlled the gavel during discussions and could either lengthen or shorten discussion on things, could help set the agenda and so it worked pretty well, but the possibility of problems was great.

And when the bill passed, we had the interim constitution and it called for the creation of a new constitution or for us to have a vote on a constitution. We started a committee. It took us nearly 10 years in the development of a constitution when we adopted [it] and I had printed in this little booklet form. The constitution for the tribe was adopted on February 1st, 2005. And this constitution is a separation of powers constitution: it divides the executive, legislative and judicial into separate branches and talks about how they're going to interact with each other. But right up front in the document is something that makes it, I think, is the thing that really makes it more us as our nation. And that is, it directs the government through opening directives, it says that we are to promote our Indian language and our Indian culture at every...every law we pass is supposed to do that. All the ways that we set up programs and everything, we're supposed to be looking at this, at governance through that lens and that says right in the constitution. The other thing it says is that we recognize that our right of self-governance is inherent in a sovereign people and we also recognize that there are other sovereigns and we pledge to recognize them as they recognize us. It's the essence of a state department or a secretary of state or something that is a way of acknowledging the other sovereigns around us in what we do. And the constitution goes on to spell out a lot of other things, how things work, but it's been a really solid document to help us through, help us in our growth. And my personal belief is that it's a good constitution and that it really moves the concept of nationhood ahead in a very positive way.

There's a website at [www.]ltbbodawa-nsn.gov. It's our tribal website and on there we have a thing called the Odawa Register and in that we have, each branch of government has a section and we have all of our tribal code on there. We have our constitution, we have our regulations, we have pending regulations and pending statutes. All of this stuff is posted for us and our tribal citizens and the rest of the world for that matter to look at and to give input on. And the local newspaper has discovered this site and is now readily making use of it in writing articles about the tribe, which some of the tribal citizens are a little upset about thinking, ‘This is our business, why are they writing about it?' but actually, I welcome it because I think that it...what happens to the tribe is so important to what happens to the community around us that reads this paper that it's important for them to be aware of the proceedings of our meetings; the laws that we're considering, what laws we pass and things of that sort. So that's a little about the constitution and sort of how we brought that into being and the fact that we did things within the constitution; we also lay out a territory.

And our territory, just like us, was not on the list of federally acknowledged territories. In other words, if you go...if you look up reservations, you'll find that we do have a reservation, but it's only about 500 of the acres that we own. We own around...between 700 and 800 acres of a 216,000-acre reservation. This is the tip of the lower peninsula of Michigan here, this little map and this is just on the Lake Michigan side. There's a red line right here that outlines our reservation and this is the blow-up of that. If you notice, this is just like a state map. We got a regular map printed to help show our territory and to talk about the things that were important. And we pass these out to the local police and other people, even though it's not on the list of federally recognized reservations, we have asserted that in our constitution and we assert that in our laws and we believe that eventually this will come to pass, that it will be on the list of federally recognized reservations. It came from the Treaty of 1855, this particular boundary. So we printed something that actually shows where our territory is.

Some of the laws that we've passed are important. We have a criminal code, we have an Indian child welfare code, we have a lot of the things that are the everyday sort of meat of what it takes to be the government in Indian Country, the things that we work on, but we also have a lot of other laws that we've done. One of them is we passed corporation codes for the creation of corporations under tribal law and we have our own department of commerce and within that we have the ability under our corporation codes to create tribally chartered corporations that are owned by the tribe, individual tribal members can create corporations under our law, and we can create non-profit corporations under our law and we've done all three so far. And we have a tribal corporation called Waganakising Odawa Development and I'm the president of that board. And that's a tribally owned corporation that was created under our law. We also have a couple of tribal member corporations, one of which is a dessert business, another one is an IT business. These are individual members who have gotten...have functioning businesses under the tribal law. We also have a non-profit corporation under our law that is the Northern Shores Loan Fund. It's a CDFI, community development financial institution, through a program with the Department of Treasury and it's a revolving loan fund to help people be involved in business. And these are things that we've created. It has a 501(c)3 tax exempt status from the IRS and is set up for working to help people with business plans and do things to help them get into businesses. That's one of the laws that we passed. Of course, when you're doing all of that, you need something else -- this is like a jigsaw puzzle. The next thing we needed was we needed the comprehensive commercial codes and what we needed the most was article IX, Secured Transactions. And with that, we've adopted that. We have plans in the future for others, but we needed to have that as we were getting more and more into business and we've adopted that, but then we also did some other things.

We did...it's my belief that we're the first tribe in the country to have a notary public law. Now you don't need notary publics very often, most people go through their lives and need one...maybe once or twice, tribal government maybe needs it a little more often, a few times a month, where you have something...but people think that it's not something that's really...that is every day for people. But if every time you notarize a tribal document you go and do it under the authority of the state that you're within, through a state-licensed notary, somehow that detracts from the assertion of nationhood and the exercise of sovereignty. And so when you have a right to govern yourself, you also have a responsibility to govern yourself and responsibilities are not always easily met. Sometimes they're difficult. And it took several years to develop this notary public law and it got passed. I had a six-month time period within which to implement the law. So we called up an insurance company and said, ‘We're going to need to get insurance,' the surety bonds for notaries. And they said, ‘No problem, we do that all the time.' And I said, ‘Well, it's the tribe calling.' And they said, ‘Oh, no problem. We can do that.' So we didn't worry about that. Then we started trying to get someone to print our stamps and the embossers for us for doing notary. Well, we went to several companies and once they found out it was the tribe doing it, they couldn't do it. And we went...I spent about two or three months looking for companies. And finally we found one who we talked into doing it and they said, ‘Now how many tribes are there?' We said, ‘There's over 500.' He said, ‘You know, maybe we could do this.' And this was one of the smaller companies that does this and I think they're thinking there's a lot of business out there. And so we got that agreed.

So then we went to get the insurance for the people who'd applied, the surety bonds, and even the large Indian companies couldn't do it because all the product that they had was for state-authorized surety bonds for state-authorized notaries. And we spent months trying to figure this out. And finally we...one of our tribal members is married to a woman who's an insurance agent who specializes in hard-to-insure things and she...took her about 17 hours to come up with somebody who thought they could do it. Ironically, it's a company called First American, it's in Boston and it's not Indian, but they have an Indian in headdress as their logo, but this company had...some of the executives had just been to a seminar somewhere and at that seminar they had talked about tribal sovereignty and they got real interested in that. And then a phone call came and gave them an opportunity to work on it. They were real excited about it. And so we worked out over about another two months, worked out all the forms and all the things that were necessary to create this product. And we now have tribal notaries. We have 10 notaries, I believe, at the tribe. And while we were doing this, we didn't just sneak this in under the radar, we had meetings at the governor's office and with the governor and her deputy legal advisor who is the liaison to Indian Country, we told them what we were doing and said, ‘This is what we're doing, it's what we're working on and we're going to have this in place in a few months.' So we didn't just sort of try to blindside anybody with it and we now have this law. How often is it used? I don't know how often it's used, but I can tell you that this kind of work is not the big, sexy exercising tribal sovereignty kind of things where you're going to the Supreme Court and winning a big case or you're off doing the fishing rights or hunting rights or some big thing with this. This is one of those little grunt-level things that happens that just...it's a part of the everyday exercise of sovereignty that's important in nationhood.

Some of the other things that we have, I have some copies of regulations. These regulations have the force of law under our law and these regulations were promulgated by our natural resource commission and they are hunting and fishing regulations in response to a consent decree that we have in a lawsuit U.S. vs. Michigan hunting and fishing rights case that has been an ongoing case for years. The Great Lakes portion had been settled and there's a limited time consent decree. The first one was 15 years, the next one is 20, in how we exercise our rights. In court, we won the fact that the right existed on the Great Lakes. Then there's a...court has continuing jurisdiction through consent decrees on how we're going to exercise those rights. On the inland portion, that hadn't gone to trial and it started to heat up just a little just a few years ago and we decided that...we were on our way to court, we were doing depositions and everything, but we decided for one last round of negotiations to see if we could settle it. Lo and behold, we actually settled it. In the discussions for this major case, it was one of the major rights cases across the country, we anted up in the discussions by agreeing to not put gill nets in inland lakes and streams and we agreed to not commercialize our inland harvest. We weren't going to shoot deer for sale on the market. The state anted up with a stipulation. They agreed to stipulate that our right existed forever and be a permanent consent decree. So we put that stuff on the table and then we started to talk and we talked for a long time. There was 30, 40 of us in a room at a time and the tribes and plus the...we have a very unique animal in this case that's called litigating amicae. They haven't joined the case, but they have this special status and it's the Michigan United Conservation Clubs and Upper Peninsula White Tails and the various sport groups around the state that had an interest in this, and they had this special status in this case. Well, they had representatives in the room as well and we, at any one time during the long negotiation we had, there were times when one or another party was the one that left the room all red faced and in a huff over something and eventually we just kept talking and we gradually worked it through to where in the end, there were certain things that we had given up. Both the state and the tribe had given things up, but we also each won way more than we would have won if this had gone to court. And the problem with court is you have absolutely no idea how it's going to come out. You make your best case, you do your best shot and you don't know for sure what the judge is going to say or what a jury's going to say, and plus you don't know how it's going to go on appeal because almost every one of these cases that goes to court ends up running up to the Supreme Court and frankly, tribes have not actually had a real good experience in the Supreme Court lately.

So those are some of the things that we worked on. We worked on these regulations, we did all this, we passed laws and we worked on the implementation and enforcement of those laws. Another law we passed was a law against patenting, patents. Let's just say this right, I got my tongue tied here. But against patenting genetic material. Now, why would we do that? Because we heard all these...the various stories that have occurred around with Indigenous people and their genes, personally their own genes as well as the genes from our traditional foods. The wild rice case up in Minnesota was one that just really raised our concern because there had been strains domesticated and were being grown in paddies and those genes were drifting off into the wild and when people were selling wild rice somebody was, they started to want a cut of that sale from the wild rice because it had those genes in it from the patented versions. We felt that this was a danger to our traditional foods and so what we did is we passed this law. Now our jurisdiction is fairly small. In many ways in the grand scheme of things it's more of a show of intent and an exercise of sovereignty than it actually has effect because very few people are going to be patenting genetic material, but it also prohibits our government from cooperating in any venture where there will be a patent issued from our territory and our jurisdiction. So those are...that's another way that we went about working on things with our laws.

One of the more interesting laws that we passed -- this came from one of our council members Fred Harrington who...this was very good and it's called the Application of Foreign Law. Now if you've looked at Indian law and you've looked at various issues and you look at how there's a chart that's published by the Department of Justice that has which law and which person and which jurisdiction and all of these things and it's a great big chart on whose, which law applies to whom and what part of Indian Country and who's got...I mean it's really complicated. And there are clearly times when within our own jurisdiction, for us, there are people who aren't under our jurisdiction and yet we have to deal with them. And we've actually been working on a cross-deputization agreement with the local county, but we wanted our officers to be working under our law not just working with the county law or county authority. And so we passed this law that said, 'Anybody who's physically within our jurisdiction who isn't subject to our law has to follow state and federal law, and therefore our officers can enforce that law following our own law. It's a subtle point, but I think it's really important and that is an example of the kind of things that our government has put forth. We're a...I think about the kind of issues as we work toward things and we're taught to consider the consequences of our actions through a time period long enough to encompass seven generations. Now that's something that...I first started talking with people from the office of the governor and they were talking about things and they talked about a long-term plan that was seven years. And I said, ‘Well, you know, we've got something to tell you. Our long-term plan is generational, multi-generational and we're to think about that and to have that long view.' Well, the other part of that is that each one of us is someone's seventh generation. What did they do that got us, for instance, us in this room? What did they do that got us here? What things...where did they move, what did they study, what kind of things...where's our propensity for understanding things, for higher education, what are the things that got us to this room and what are we doing that seven generations from now will be echoing down through the generations for people at that point? So we're sort of in the middle of this continuum.

We talk in Indian Country a lot about balance. And we have balance in the medicine wheel and the four directions and we try to make sure that we maintain ourselves in balance, balance and harmony. And we try to make sure that a substantial amount of what we do restores harmony, restores that balance. Well, we're also in balance between the past and the future and we need to keep a balance there. If we just look...I was out at Sabino Canyon here last...just last weekend and I got to looking at the mountains and it was just...oh, they were incredible and I tripped on a stone in the path. You've got to be looking ahead of you, but at the same time you've got to be looking up. If you just look ahead of you, you miss everything, all you see is a path. And so we have to be careful how we do these things in terms of how we balance our vision. If we just look to the past and all of our answers and our salvation's in our past, we miss what's happening right in front of us as the world's unfolding and if we just look at what's unfolding without any comprehension of where we've been, we also miss the richness of our own sense of place within that past and future, within the four directions, within our, the growth in our communities and all of those things. So it's very important to have this vision and what I look at is in a vision is that what...the vision for tribes is to be a healthy community with healthy individuals and have healthy institutions and to be at peace and to be at harmony and that's the goal, that's the center, that's where we try to go to and that all of these documents, all of these things I've talked about, the regulations, the constitution, the maps and all these things, these are all tools to help us achieve that, but by themselves they don't achieve it. We have to balance ourselves between these different things that have a tendency to pull us and distract us in different ways.

I've had sort of a general talk here about things and I had one other document I didn't hold up and that's a U.S. Constitution. As a tribal chairman, I virtually always carried one of these because too few people who are in Congress and in other places in government, they've never read it looking at it through, ‘What does this mean to an Indian? What does it mean to the Indian nations?' The Commerce Clause, Article VIII, things that are really fairly, that are fundamental to the U.S. federal Indian law and how it relates to tribes and that relationship. Very few people actually understand that, even ones who you would think would need to. So I carried one of these, I carried our tribal constitution, I carried maps with me, all of these are things that help outwardly show people what it is. When I handed somebody one of these, what did it say to them? It says we're a constitutional government, and that means a lot in terms of people understanding things. So I'll be glad to take questions and discussion here and I'll do my best at what I can answer."

Audience member:

"Do you have any provisions under your corporate codes that allow you to take trust, to take land into trust under a corporate status for the tribe?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"No, not specifically. We talk about taking land into trust through the constitution and that...we don't take it into trust, but we put land in trust. But we have never...we don't have something that allows the tribe to hold things in trust and that's something that we don't have in there. There's been a lot of talk about land and land reform in Indian Country. The fact...one of our big problems in growth is the lack of inter-generational transfer of wealth, which most often is done through property in non-Indian society and that's something that is a big problem in Indian Country. We're missing that step because we don't have a private sector economy for the most part in Indian Country, but there's a lot of talk about how we might look at that and change that. I talked a lot with a number of individuals over the years and the Indian Land Tenure Foundation has done some work in this regard. I know there's a lot of people thinking about it. Maybe that's something that the folks in this room might work on some day and help us resolve."

Audience Member:

"If you're a federally recognized reservation, are you subject to the Major Crimes Act?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Well, our 216,000 acres is not acknowledged as a reservation, but our trust land, which is the smaller ones, are acknowledged as that. So we are subject to the Major Crimes Act when it comes to that, when it comes to the casino, the tribal administration building, tribal housing, the various parcels. We're buying our reservation back one little piece at a time as we work on things, but we are subject to Major Crimes and so...but we have something unique also in our district in that the U.S. Attorney has developed a misdemeanor docket for non-Indian offenders on trust land and this is throughout the whole western district of Michigan, which includes a lot of tribes and our casinos and so we...someone commits a crime that wouldn't have risen to the level of federal prosecution, but it's clearly a crime, urinating in the parking lot for instance at the casino, which is something that people bring up, but all kinds of different things that fall into this. We now have a way to write them a ticket that they can pay a fine through this, as opposed to having to go and appear in federal court for these, if they choose. If they want to fight it, they've got to drive three-and-a-half hours to the closest federal court and go to court. So we have...this is sort of a...not every area has this and our U.S. attorney who is one of the ones that was fired, by the way, of that group that was fired, Margaret Chiara, she really worked hard to put this together. Other questions?"

Audience member:

"You talked about when you tried to develop the notary public and you talked to the governor and they seemed to be pretty receptive to that, but can you talk about some of the strategies you and your government went into when you came up against factions or individuals in state or local government that seemed to be opposed to y'all expanding sovereignty or exercising that sovereignty?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"We've done some real interesting intergovernmental relations over the years in Michigan, one of which is under the previous governor. This current governor is nearing the end; she's in her last year of two four-year terms. And actually -- Jennifer Granholm's the governor -- she's on that short list of people that is being looked at as a potential Supreme Court Justice, but she's...yeah, which reminds me. I've got a letter here from the Native American Bar Association that was written to the President, this is a copy of it, informing him about the lack of Native people in the federal court system as court clerks in the Supreme Court or as Supreme Court justices and it's very well written and hopefully it will be well received, but I thought it would be good since I was coming here today to pass that out. But some of the things we did is we passed a tribal-state accord with the governor. All the tribes in the state signed this along with the governor and it acknowledged the sovereignty of the tribes pledged to work together and pledged to create a tribal-state forum, which was a monthly staff level phone call at which things could be worked out so that any issue...It's basically a safety valve in case there are any issues.

So anyway, that's the first thing that we did. And then, through those monthly calls, we were able to head off a lot of issues like the ones you're talking about. Probably one of the big issues was that we had game wardens in the state who really didn't like the fact that Indians had ‘special' rights. And so any time they could, they would push the envelope. Well, we'd reached an agreement with the governor's office and through the director for the [Michigan] Department of Natural Resources that, while we were working on the U.S. v. Michigan case, it was a government-to-government issue and they weren't going to pop individuals who were hunting with proper licenses from the tribes. So I got a call. A 14-year-old hunting deer for the first time with his dad got his first deer and the game warden took the deer, took his rifle and they were all upset. Well, I had a phone number. I called it and it was the phone number of the liaison to Indian Country that was through the Department of Natural Resources. He was on his deer blind in his mom's back 40 up in the Upper Peninsula and I called him. I said, ‘Jim, this is what just happened. We've got a problem.' Jim said, ‘Okay, just a sec.' And he got off the phone and he made a couple phone calls and he called me back and said, ‘Don't worry, it's all taken care of.' The guy got his deer back; he got his rifle back. It took a couple days, but they had gutted the deer and they kept it refrigerated, they'd done all the things that they needed to, but we were able to deal with things like that and we built these safety valves in.

There's a liaison to Indian Country in every single department in the state. The list is published, these phone numbers are available to people on the state website. If you go to Michigan.gov and you go to the governments, there's a bunch of different things there, but go to governments and on the state government page there's a link to tribal governments. And as the page opens up, there's a link to all the tribal websites and all of the agreements that we have done with the state are on there, which includes the Tribal-State Accord, a water accord on how we're going to mete [out] unshared water resources, an economic development accord and addendum to the initial economic development accord that was done the next year. Each of these are the results of a summit meeting with the governor that happens annually where we all get together. And as usual in summit meetings, we don't actually do the work at the summit meeting. It's done all year and the summit meeting is, we're all together, the chairman and the governor sign the document and there's photographers and we share pens and all this stuff. It's a photo op and it ices the cake, but the cake's already baked, is basically what we're talking about here. But all of these agreements are there including the most recent one, which is an accord on climate change issues that we signed nearly a year ago now. And this one, they create meetings like with the...the water accord created a meeting that happens twice a year with the tribal...at the staff level between the tribe and the state on how to deal with shared water issues. And we are meeting at the end of this month with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, as furtherance of the economic development accord that we passed. We've had the director come to speak to the United Tribes of Michigan meetings. We have a variety of things where we're working together and we've just tried to establish how do we do this. And what happens when we have people that don't agree, we try to make a political climate in which it is more difficult to disagree than it is to sit back because they're there still...but they're not the ones that are leading the discussion. And we also do our very best to convert them to the fact that...I say to, and unfortunately, I don't know if anybody here's from Ohio, but I pick on Ohio quite a bit. I say, ‘Poor, Ohio. Every time they have to do anything environmentally and stuff, they've got to go to the EPA all by themselves.' Michigan has 12 federally recognized tribes, so 13 of us go to EPA together to work on the issues. And the tribes have access to resources that the state doesn't and vice versa. Together we can really get a lot of stuff done.

And so actually, this idea has not only taken root within the people that we deal with in our communities, but they actually come to us now. We had a local governmental entity come to us and inquire about us putting a piece of land in trust because they wanted to do something with the land that they couldn't do under their law, but they thought maybe we could. We couldn't do it either, but nevertheless it was such an amazing turn about that I was blown over by that. But those are some interesting things in the working relationship with other governments around us. Other questions?"

Raymond Austin:

"Could you talk a little bit about you as a customary law, customs, traditions and tribal government operations not necessarily in court decision making, but the overall structure of the government itself? That's one. And two, can you say something about attorneys working with Indian tribes? What are their responsibilities, duties and all that to not only the tribal council, but the chairman, the president or whoever and what their roles would be? Sometimes you have general counsels that are overbearing, they come up with policies or they draft laws on their own and then they give it to the tribal council. The tribal council merely rubber-stamps those things, that type of thing. How should attorneys work with tribes in your view?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Well, let me answer that last, second question first in that I reiterate what I said initially, is that the attorneys work for us, we don't work for them. And that's a difficult thing for some people to think through, but the other one is that we have to when we're passing laws and you're thinking about sovereignty, the attorneys may be the drafters, but they're not the ones...they make the draft or they find the words to make happen what their bosses, the legislators have said. ‘We want it to say this.' They might not be able to find the right words to say it, but then the attorney's job is to help draft it so it says that. And as you said, there are...we worry about activist judges. Well, there are activist attorneys as well who really work hard at trying to get certain points of view across and at times there are a number of things that you get a tribal council of lay people who sort of get awed by the attorney and say, ‘Well, the attorney said this. It must be true.' Well, attorneys are trained to argue either for or against a particular point and they may or may not believe that point, but the job is to do the best you can with what you've got to win the case whether you agree with it or not. I used to be a debater in high school and we debated on the affirmative for the first half of the year and then we'd switch and we'd be the negative and we'd switch that in the middle of the year because we'd heard all the good arguments from the other side and now we could argue that side pretty well. I learned that.

That's the problem we have a lot of places is we don't, people aren't...what they really don't understand, and this is the thing I think that happens a lot for the tribes is that the elected officials and perhaps the citizenry don't have a really good understanding of how their government works. And one of the projects I've been working on here is developing a good strong outline for civics education for tribes, sort of a subheading of ‘How to Get the Most out of Your Elected Officials,' some way to help people understand what the roles are so that they know better what their powers are and how they can be expected to act. And I think that in the absence of people knowing that, it leaves room for attorneys to actually take those actions as you described and I've seen it happen some places. I've had...I don't, as you might hear or suspect, I really have not had that problem because I wouldn't tolerate it. I knew what we needed, I knew what I would want and I would argue quite strongly for it without letting someone just write something that we rubber stamped. I was sort of dealing with the second question first, but I've forgotten the first one."

Raymond Austin:

"Culture in governance?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Oh okay, yes. To me, one of the ways that I deal with culture and how it relates to governance is I've worn a ribbon shirt almost every day of my adult life. I've worn a ribbon shirt when I was the only one and out of a thousand people in the room that was wearing a ribbon shirt. When I mow my lawn, I wear an old ribbon shirt because I've got to wear them out. And the thing is that I've always tried to make sure that I let people know that I was Native and that I was proud of it and that this was an important part of the things that we did. When we meet with the governor, the State of Michigan does not allow prayers before their meetings, but every single meeting that they have with Indian people starts with a prayer. They concede to us to do an opening prayer and we do that because we feel that that's an important part of us all being in the room, we need to come together as a mind. We feed people. This is part of our culture. You get a bunch of us together, we always eat. Well, we make sure that if the state or the other agencies, these people love to come visit us and have the meeting because we feed them. When we go to there, they're so embarrassed that they'll personally go out and buy some donuts and coffee just so they'll have something because the state will not spring for any of those, any refreshments or anything at their meetings. And so we make sure that they understand these elements of our culture and understand these elements of protocol.

I think it's important to sort of let people understand that we try not to make rash decisions, we try not to jump into things real quickly, and it's impolite actually to do so. It sort of implies that we're not actually giving careful consideration to the thoughts of the other side. So sometimes it takes a longer time in dealing with us and we've done some trying to understand that culture, understand how we bring that into our governance. I mentioned that we start our meetings, our community meetings with the drum, with songs, with the eagle staff being brought in, with our tribal flags, with the pipe ceremony and that this is something that we do in those big community meetings. But we also, when I was the chairman, I carried my personal bundle with me into the room even though I didn't open it in the council meeting [on] a regular basis, but I had it with me because to me it was sort of something that helped root me where we were.

We have an opening at the meetings for a smudge. We try to do everything that we can in our, within our community to...let's look at this way: in the architecture of our tribal administration building, we incorporated our culture. And in doing so, what it is, you walk in...even though the driveway comes in from the south and at most big buildings you'd turn the building so that it would face the driveway, we faced the building east because that for us is the direction we need to face with the building. And, there's a big octagon center that's got a big vaulted ceiling in it. And in the center of that is a circular area that has a fire pit in the center that's right on the earth. The architect said, ‘Oh, we'll just build some concrete, we'll fill it with sand.' We said, ‘No, we won't. We're going to have undisturbed earth right there where we can build a fire and that's going to be the center of this building.' And there are no offices in this big center building. It's open. We have a kitchen, we have a receptionist and we have a little meeting room and bathrooms and other facilities and things, but this is a commons area in which we meet, it's the center of the people, it's ceremonial and then off the north facet we have a two-story office building in which there are our tribal police, our environmental services laboratory and offices, the computer lab and the education department, the archives and records and the accounting department and the tribal administrator. All these are in this north wing. In the south wing is the tribal, first of all, the tribal council and tribal court chambers, we share it. And then all the court offices and the probation officer and all that are in that south wing. The west wing of the building built on the west facet of this octagon is on the south side of the building are all the executive offices for our government. The north side are all the legislative offices. And this building, as you walk in it, it's an education in the way our government functions and it's an education in our traditions in that around that fire pit we have tile in the floor that are the four colors for the four directions.

We've had meetings in there where we had a gathering of the eagle staffs from throughout the Great Lakes Basin and there were 17 staffs and 21 pipe bundles that were all in there in that circle as part of the ceremony. We've had the Attorney General of the United States come in and we had a meeting where we hosted him in Indian Country in Michigan. We've had the Governor's Interstate Indian Conference with all the different state governors and their staff of places where they have tribes in their states, they have this organization that they meet, they came and met. We've had the Kiwanis and the Rotary that come and meet from the community in this place, but this building itself lets them understand elements of our culture. Every time they see it, we get a chance to explain it and every time a staff member walks from one wing to the other, they come to the heart of the community on their way through. Other thoughts?"

Stephen Cornell:

"I was just wondering how these assertions of nationhood and of sovereignty have been received at the sort of level of local publics. You're in an area of the country where there at times have been a great deal of tension between local constituencies and you've mentioned the state, but I was wondering what have these, how have these been received by local people, including the people, you're in an area of mixed population. I'm just wondering what impact this has had in your relations?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Well, we're in an area where there -- within my lifetime -- there were signs ‘No Indians' in some of the bars and there were places that we really couldn't go. Nobody would have thought that they were being discriminatory, but we certainly have lived within this knowing that there were things that they couldn't do. Early in my tenure, an Indian student came to the school in Petoskey drunk and they pulled all the Indian kids out of class and breathalyzed all of them. So a couple of people and I went into the school to the superintendent and said, ‘Listen, either you and us are going to get to know each other really well as we go to the Supreme Court and we sue you and seize all of your assets or you're never going to do this again,' and they've never done it again. They straightened out and they realized they shouldn't. So we managed to go through that, but we have had those certain kinds of tension.

One of the initial parts of tension in this is I got...early on in our, after the reaffirmation bill was signed in 1994, I'd say about '95, maybe '96 or so, I got a letter from a local prosecutor who said, ‘Dear Frank, this is to inform you that your police officers are impersonating police officers. It's illegal for them to be on the road with lights and with emblems on their car. It's illegal for them to...' Most importantly, he said, ‘It was illegal for them to have the chip in the radio that allowed them to pick up police frequencies.' And so he said, ‘You have 10 days to deliver those to me.' So I wrote him back a letter, ‘Dear Bob, you know where those cars are and you're welcome to come get those chips anytime you want, just be prepared for a visit from the U.S. Attorney as soon as you're done.' And so he called the U.S. Attorney and within several months actually, he had signed off on a limited deputization with our officers, but before long we actually had a full cross-deputization [agreement] where the sheriff and the deputies from two different counties had came before me in our tribal courtroom and took an oath to uphold the tribal constitution and all of our laws, and our officers were sworn in as deputies with the county so that we had seamless law enforcement. So that's one way that things have happened.

We gave people the map and we've showed them the constitution and a lot of them didn't realize that we were a constitutional government. And there are tensions, but we've also done some tremendous things. One of the things that we did that...we are either the only tribe or one of just two or three that got the ‘The Great Read,' ‘The Big Read.' There's a program through the Humanities Councils and the Arts, I forget. It's through the...it was some agency through the National Endowment for the Arts on 'The Big Read' and we got a grant for it. Some of the other recipients were like Maryland Public Radio got one of the grants and things like that. Well, our tribe got one and we worked with the Great Lakes, the Little Traverse Symphony, we worked with the library in town, the college and various other people and we put together this thing where we all read To Kill A Mockingbird. And we had programs throughout every place and the tribe was the lead agency on this working with the others in terms of comparing what our situation was with the situation in To Kill A Mockingbird and the story from that. And these are the kind of things that we've done with the other agencies in town to help people understand where we're at; it helps to get rid of a lot of the tension. And those are things that we've done both in big and small ways that have tried to deal with that tension. It still exists and we have individuals who would be a great detriment to us if they were the one in charge, but nevertheless this thing works quite well. I think my time has arisen; actually the timekeeper has risen from his seat. And so with that I want to thank you all for the opportunity to speak with you today."

NNI Indigenous Leadership Fellow: Frank Ettawageshik (Part 2)

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Frank Ettawageshik, former chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBBO), discusses the critical role that intergovernmental relationship building plays in the practical exercise of sovereignty and the rebuilding of Native nations. He shares several compelling examples of how LTBBO built such relationships in order to achieve their strategic priorities.

Resource Type
Citation

Ettawageshik, Frank. "NNI Indigenous Leadership Fellow (Part 2)." Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 13, 2010. Interview.

Ian Record:

"So we're back with Frank Ettawageshik. This is a continuation of the interview from April 6th. Today is April 13th and we're going to pick up where we left off, which was talking about constitutions. And I want to essentially go back to the very beginning on this topic and ask you for your definition of what a constitution is."

Frank Ettawageshik:

"The constitution is the method by which the people inform their government how they want the government to serve them and the government is a tool of the people to achieve what they need to achieve in terms of relations to other governments, in terms of relation to how things are going to work internally. The people themselves maintain the complete power. And then they can either give or take back certain powers to the government through the constitution. The constitution also establishes the mechanism for how the tribal government, the tribal nation will deal with other nations. It sets up the parameters for how you are going to do that, "˜which branch of government has which authority?' and all of those types of things. To me the constitution is a tool of the people for how they are going to manage their government."

Ian Record:

"What key ingredients do you feel constitutions need to have in order to be effective?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Well, constitutions...to me, there's a legislative function, there's a judicial function, and an executive function, and these need to be acknowledged and then the interplay between them is what the constitution does. Some tribal nations have constitutions where all of those powers are wrapped up into one body. Others have clear separations of powers, but even ones that have separation of powers the balance of those changes from one to another. So really those are important functions, I think another thing needs to be clearly you have to have an amendment clause on how you are going to amend it. You need to have some basic statements. I believe that it is extremely important to have like a bill of rights built into it. I think that's very important because those things need to be part of what our people come to expect in terms of how they are going to relate with their government. And when the people are telling the government how it's going to function they need to reserve for themselves certain rights, certain ways to protect themselves. I look at a constitution in a way as the people trying to protect themselves from their own government and I think that not only does it say how it's going to function, but it also limits how it's going to function, and guides it so that it will...constitutions that are poorly conceived or poorly written or ones that the community, the tribal nation has grown beyond, they can hamper how things will function. They can be difficult. For instance, constitutions do not require, nor does federal law require that they be adopted by secretarial election. Nor do they require that amendments be done by secretarial election, yet many constitutions throughout Indian Country require secretarial election by their own words, and so I think an important function there would be to not have that in your constitution. To me, you are either sovereign or you aren't, you are not part sovereign. And as a nation, tribal nations, sovereign tribal nations are constantly negotiating the exercise of that sovereignty with the other sovereigns around them. We may be with another tribe, another tribal nation close by, having some disputes about whose territories is whose or what...in economic development, there's room for competition and some issues. There could even be citizen issues regarding membership or citizenship. And we need to...the documents need to sort of deal with those things that are coming up."

Ian Record:

"I wanted to follow up on something you said. You talked about a number of Native nations growing beyond their constitutions. We hear that sort of refrain, particularly in the discussions of tribes who have Indian Reorganization Act systems of government that were adopted in the 1930s. They had a very different conception of the scope of self-governance, if you will. Is that something you've seen in your line of work, working with tribes both as chairman and now as executive director of the United Tribes of Michigan?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Every tribe has its own constitution or its own, either written or not written, in terms of how the government's going to function. Most of the tribes I've worked with have written constitutions and they're all different and they have...there are clearly times when you move beyond something. The United States has amended its constitution a number of times, and not always successfully. Witness Prohibition for instance, and the fact that there's one amendment that brings it in and another one that takes it out. So the fact that a government might need to amend its constitution is not unusual. Some amendments may be more far ranging than others. Some amendments are a sentence here, or two. Other amendments might be more drastic than that, but I would think that, think of it rather that the constitution is an organic document that is evolving as the nation evolves."

Ian Record:

"I wanted to pick up on a specific aspect of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians' constitution, which was adopted in 2005, and it gets at this issue that you mentioned in the outset when defining constitutions, which is international or diplomatic relations. And explicit in your constitution is an acknowledgment of other sovereign nations and their inherent powers presuming that those sovereign nations, in turn, recognize and respect the sovereignty of your nation. Can you summarize what that clause says and give an overview of perhaps why your tribe felt it necessary to include that?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Well, when you, like I said, when you acknowledge that sovereignty in yourself and in others then you have to exercise or negotiate that sovereignty with your neighbors. So what I think is here is that you're constantly working with those other sovereigns, but you need to figure out how to decide who you are dealing with and who you aren't. And so the most basic way of that is that if somebody else acknowledges you, well you can acknowledge them, but you have to have some sort of a process for that. What this clause in our constitution does is it establishes a basis for some office, or staff person, or somebody that would be akin to a state department for instance, where there's an international relations office that deals with negotiations with other sovereigns and those types of things. Those negotiations, those other sovereigns might well be the United States and the laws that they are passing could have an effect on the way we exercise our sovereignty, but the fact that, for the most part, what we have done in Indian country is that we have federally recognized tribes deal with federally recognized tribes and I think what that does is that sort of...we're letting the United States decide who we're going to have diplomatic relations with, and I don't think that is a good idea. But we have the right to make that decision ourselves, but then along with that right comes the responsibility to do it in a way that you are doing it reasonably. So then what do we do? Do we have a whole acknowledgement process, each one of us? How do we go about doing that if we're not going to sort of let someone else vet the potential list of people with whom we'll have relations. I think the whole federal acknowledgement process doesn't grant sovereignty to those tribes that make it through, instead it acknowledges that they have it and that's what it's all about. So what that means is that the non-recognized tribes also are sovereign, and the state recognized tribes are sovereign, and the federally recognized tribes are sovereign. Tribal governments have inherent sovereignty and no one gives it to them. They have it because it comes through being in this creation. Well, you still have the responsibility to do it, to do it wisely because not everyone who claims to be a tribe is a tribe and that's the difficult thing. There are examples of people who have formed...recently, there have been some prosecutions here across the United States of people who have had various money, get-rich schemes, that involve pretending to be a tribe and issuing cards and charging people for it. Those are things we have to look out for, but then that's the responsibility of a sovereign nation is to not just look inward, but look outward because threats come from outside as well as potential good things come from outside and we have to be able to recognize them and deal with them."

Ian Record:

"You mentioned or we've been discussing the constitutional mandate within your tribe's constitution to essentially engage in international relations. It places a high value on that process. Since the 1980s, there's been an incredible growth in intergovernmental relations between Native nations and various other governments and I'm curious to learn from you, what do you think is driving this growth?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"A recognition that we need to look outside ourselves and work together. I mean if you look at what has happened across the world in this time, the European Union is formed and variety of very nationalistic individualistic nations realized the value of working together. While they still have their independence and unique in their own countries, at the same time, they have a centralized currency and other things that make for a good sense. Tribes have the same kind of thing. We know that there is strength in numbers and as a matter of fact back there in the revolutionary time here in the United States, many of our leaders spoke to the Continental Congress and to the early [U.S.] Congress about the strength of working together. As a matter of fact, there is a famous speech about 13 fires being stronger than one that was given and these are the kinds of things that come from us and our understanding and we often formed alliances of some sorts with us coming together, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy for instance is one, the Three Fires Confederacy is another, and there are others all across the country where different tribes have worked together. So what kind of things have we done?

One of the examples of working together is the formation of the National Congress of American Indians back in the '40s. It was formed to combat the national trend towards not recognizing the tribes, tribal governments or saying, "˜alright the tribal governments have progressed far enough, now we can terminate our relationship with them.' And so the whole Termination era came through and NCAI, that was one of the big pushes for NCAI. One of the things that we found as we were doing some studying and I still have more to do on this, but not only was there the non-profit corporation created that is the National Congress of American Indians, but at the same time there was also a treaty written and was signed by a number of the nations that acknowledged each others' sovereignty. I mean, it's a very...it showed and demonstrated in writing, the understanding of the tribal nations that they were and still are independent sovereigns and no matter what other people may think about it. And so, I think that that was one example, NCAI.

Other examples of working together I'm going to put up, more recently, we in the Great Lakes signed an agreement called the Tribal and First Nation Great Lakes Water Accord. This was done because the states and provinces were working on the issues of bulk ground water and diversion of water from the Great Lakes and how are they going to work together to deal with those issues as they came up and there had been a succession of agreements, finally one where they would agree and create binding agreements and then it was in the creation of these binding agreements that they started work and we got wind of the things. They talked to us a little, but they always talked to us as stakeholders and we felt that that wasn't correct. They needed to talk to us as sovereign governments within the region because we had court-adjudicated rights within that region. We were the only government with government-to-government relationship through treaties and that was important that we be apart of it, so when we weren't part of it and they did treat us as stakeholders we went out and called a meeting of all of the tribes and first nations in the Great Lakes Basin. There is about 185, some are together and some are not, and so when I say about there is a couple different ways of looking at it, but it's over 180 tribes and First Nations in the Great Lakes. We ended up having representatives -- either individually or either through consortia -- we ended up with representatives of 120 tribes and First Nations at a meeting with just a few weeks notice, which we negotiated and signed this water accord. Within one day, we were at the table, invited to the table to negotiate with the states and the provinces and what they planned on signing at about a month, it took actually almost a year before it was ready to go and we managed to strengthen those documents in a way that they will help protect the environment and the waters because we plugged holes that were there that were wide open because tribes and First Nations weren't there. We also took offending language out; they managed to negotiate language to come out of these documents that didn't acknowledge tribal property rights or tribal treaty rights. So in the end there's an interstate compact that's agreed [to] by all of the governors signed it with the tribes had to agree. And then the governors all had to get the state legislature in each of eight states to pass the identical wording which was no easy trick and they got that done and it went to the U.S. Congress where there was a lobby to push this through. If the interstate compact is approved by Congress it becomes law of the land and it's a provision within the U.S. Constitution that allows it.

So this interstate compact, there was a strong lobby trying to fight it because they thought it didn't go far enough. One of the key things it didn't do is it didn't bottle water in containers, 5 gallons and less is considered a consumptive use as opposed to a diversion. A lot of people felt that it should have been a diversion if that water was bottled and shipped outside of the Great Lakes aquifers. And so nevertheless it ended up passing at the U.S. Congress and it became law, then it was an international agreement that was signed between the eight states and the two Canadian provinces, Ontario and Quebec. With parallel language, but the two provinces weren't able to sign onto the interstate compact so they created this other document that has that in it. It at least deals with issues when there is a permit for a withdrawal of a lot of water from the ground that will be vetted through a process. The tribes and First Nations agreed that we would have a parallel process to the states, rather that all be a part of one process. So we are still working on how that is going to be set up, but nevertheless we've all agreed to it. Since that was signed there have been another 30 nations sign on, tribal nations and we now have about 150-160 that have signed out of the 185. So that is an example of an international agreement working between the tribes and working across what the United States calls an international border between it and Canada. And there are others, League of Indigenous Nations is another way we're working with, not only First Nations and tribes, but also with the Maori and the Aborigines, potentially with the Indigenous folks throughout Mexico and Latin America and other places. So we're looking at what kind of things are there that we all have in common. And Indigenous intellectual property rights, our medicines and stories for instance...issues of climate change and there's substantial things that we all have in common, trade relations with each other, the ability to trade not just in goods perhaps, but to trade in ideas and thoughts. Those are things that are important."

Ian Record:

"You've been discussing international relations primarily between tribal peoples, between tribal nations. Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians has also been very active in the arena of intergovernmental relations between your band and other local governments, state governments and that sort of thing. I'm wondering if you could discuss in what areas is your nation currently engaged in that arena? I know, for instance, you have cross-deputization agreements with two counties. Maybe talk a little bit more about what your tribe is doing in that area."

Frank Ettawageshik:

"And we've come a long way from the point...quite a long time ago as the chair, I received a letter from a local prosecutor who indicated that our police were impersonating police officers and they couldn't be on the roads with their lights and they couldn't have car with emblems and most importantly they couldn't have radios with those little chips in them that allowed them to pick up police frequencies and that I had 10 days to deliver them to them. So we wrote them a letter back and said "˜You know where those cars are, you are welcome to takes those anytime you want, but as soon as you do be prepared for a visit from the U.S. Attorney.' So we called the U.S. Attorney and had a nice chat and that same person ended up signing off on a limited deputization agreement within about a year and a half after that and then we have full deputization that has been signed since then with two different counties. We worked on trying to have seamless public safety within the community. We didn't want to be a haven for people who were breaking the law on one side of a line and then crossing the other and then thumbing their nose at the police or things like that. So we worked hard to make sure that when there's a search and rescue for instance that is going on, our officers are trained and a part of the team and can help. And the public safety of the community is enhanced because they have this additional training. In addition to that, we have crowd control issues. Our officers have worked on part of the security detail for the governor when the government does the Mackinac Bridge Walk every year. And every year it's a five-mile span. Every year on Labor Day we walk the bridge. It's a huge crowd and frankly, they pull in different local people and our officers as well. We also work closely with the county and state police. One of the stories from this inter-cooperative agreement kind of thing that we've been able to do: we had the U.S. attorney general come to visit at Little Traverse. And we had all kinds of security things and there's all kind of things you have to do. We, of course, had to have a bomb dog to sweep the whole building and they have this and that and all kind of things. And as he was leaving after this meeting, and he was meeting with all the tribes in Michigan, and after he was leaving, he pulled out from our grounds and drove by Little Bear Cave and saw that there was a state trooper, country sheriff, a city policeman, and tribal police all standing together chatting right there. And we got a call from the FBI in the car with him. He got a question, 'How did we do that?' But that was part of what we tried to do, we tried to build that relationship. We also, if they come on our territory unannounced, we're not against making sure that they know that they're not supposed to do it. So if we had an investigation going on and they forgot to call us or something, we'd let them know. But likewise, if we did something that they didn't like, they'd let us know, so we developed, what we did is we built in safety valves in our relationships so that they were there if there was an issue, we had a way to deal with it right away. And so it's been a cooperative venture when the sheriff of both counties and his deputies show up and they stood before me as the tribal chairman and took an oath to uphold the tribal constitution and all of our laws, that was a pretty big step."

Ian Record:

"This case is interesting because it calls to mind this perspective or mindset you used to see more in Indian Country than you do now, but the idea that, well if you enter an agreement or develop a formal relationship with a local municipality just off the reservation, or a county or a township or something like that, you're somehow relinquishing your sovereignty because those are minor-league governments and we're sovereign nations. That -- from what I can gather -- that perspective is being replaced gradually by the perspective that when a tribe chooses to engage those other governments, in whatever way they see fit, that it's actually an exercise of sovereignty. How do you see what your tribe's been doing in that area?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Well, that's exactly the way I'd put it, it is an exercise of sovereignty. An example of an exercise of sovereignty working locally is if you have someone slip and fall at your casino and they hurt themselves and they sue you, of course you've got the insurance company, but if the insurance company turns around and claims sovereign immunity every time somebody sues what are you paying the insurance for? So an exercise of sovereignty, one that helps us protect us and our customers would be [what we did] is to waive our sovereign immunity up to the limits of our insurance policy so that someone could sue and be taken care of if they needed to be, therefore getting what we were paying for when we bought our insurance. Well, that's an example of an exercise of sovereignty that works well. And governments waive sovereignty on a regular basis for things. I mean they waive their immunity but never waive sovereignty, let me correct myself there. And that exercising your sovereignty through a waiver of immunity is a responsible thing for a government to do towards its own citizens and towards the citizens of other nations with which we deal: our customers at the casino, our guests at the gas station, the customers coming by, and we have a hotel and we have conferences there, we have lots of people coming through. We have to deal with the issues of...I mean, one of the issues we ran into was within Indian Country it was illegal for anyone to carry a firearm unless there was some law that was passed that allowed it. So in the absence of it, it's illegal to have it. Well we had guests; we had the outdoor writers coming as an association. They were coming to our hotel and one of the things they were going to do was a rabbit hunt and they had all brought their guns and it was going to be illegal for them to have them in their room, to have them in their car in the parking lot, and so we had to pass a law that allowed how this set up, how this was going to happen. It was one of those responsibilities of being a sovereign that it became important to work on."

Ian Record:

"And so what you're saying is it's not just international relations, it's not just a sovereign challenge involving other governments, but involving individuals who are citizens of those governments, individuals like these sports writers and the casino patrons and so forth."

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Well, ultimately it actually is dealing with the other sovereign, it's just that the other sovereign has citizens. And so as you interact with those citizens, you're interacting with that other sovereign government and you have to figure out how that's going to be done. So those are just some examples of things that we had to do that I felt are important. And ultimately, these things were things that our tribal council passed as laws and our tribal courts have worked to enforce and for the police and the courts to go through this. And so this is our tribal government at work in the process of making laws, being responsible, and exercising sovereignty."

Ian Record:

"I wanted to follow up a little bit more on intergovernmental relations. And obviously the water accord that your nation participated in is one example of many that your tribe's been engaged in developing over the course of the last several decades. And I'm curious to get your thoughts about taking collectively all those relationships that you developed, all those formal agreements you forged, how do those collectively work to advance your nation's rebuilding efforts."

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Well, the prior administration to me, actually it was a four-year time period when I was not in office and during that time period, our tribe was one of the tribes that worked with the governor of the state in a tribal-state accord in which the State of Michigan acknowledged sovereignty of the tribes, pledged to work together and establish certain things that they would do. We...I came back in office, we were preparing to have, I think one of the first meetings where we'd all get together following that. And as we were preparing for that meeting, I just don't like to go to meetings where the outcome of the meeting is, "˜Well, we'll have another meeting.' I'd really like to actually have a product from the meeting. And I spoke about that and wanted to do that, other people agreed, and as a collective we developed a water accord with the State of Michigan. So this was how the tribes and the state would deal with the collective, our collective interest in the waters of the state. And the accord itself was one that's right about...it's on the heels of our tribal and First Nations water accord and it's all this, this time period is all sort of involved in the same effort. But with this one, instead of the tribes pledging to work together, we pledged to work together with the state and establish twice-yearly meetings, staff-level meetings, not elected-level, but staff-level meetings where we would deal with the issues of what came up relative to water. And of course water is part of the environment, so certain environmental things started coming in. Subsequent to that, we came up with another agreement that we put together creating an accord on economic development. And then we came up with an addendum to that, creating, establishing an agreement to do and economic development fellows program that would say, half state, half tribal –- state folks and tribal folks –- that would work say, over a couple-year period to get a cohort of participants on the same page relative to the issues of economic development in Indian Country. Well this has been a little slower to take, but it's been one that's been brewing and we have a meeting coming up in just a couple weeks from the day we're doing this interview that, where we're going to be furthering some of those issues with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Well, those are some of the things that we did and then, we also have signed a climate action, climate accord, dealing with climate change issues, also establishing twice-yearly meetings. I served on the Michigan Climate Action Council. I was appointed by the governor to be part of that council that helped create the plan for the reduction of the emission of greenhouse gasses and all the different issues surround climate change. And we turned in a report to the governor, and part of that report recommended that the tribe, that the state negotiate and sign with the tribes a climate accord. And the reason for that is because tribes are not political subdivisions of the state and it made, it would've been really difficult to incorporate us into the state's plan, but part of the state's plan was to sign an accord with us to work out common issues. And also part of the state's plan was to work with tribal organizations to further the issues. So for instance, they send a rep to the National Congress of American Indians' meetings relative to climate change, and to NTEC, the National Tribal Environmental Council, other meetings to make sure that they're, the state is sort of on sync with those things. So that's part of how we do with that accord. So when you look at each one of these accords, you put all this together, the tribal-state accord and the water, the economic development, the climate accord, you put all that together in terms of how we've related to the state, we've...I guess I should mention a couple of other things.

We also signed a tax agreement with the state. The state realized that we probably could go to court, which other tribes had done and that it was going to cost both of us millions of dollars and the outcome was uncertain. The uncertainty was there enough for the state that they felt that it was worthwhile trying to find a way to negotiate. So we ended up with a tribal-state tax agreement that is negotiated as a whole, then signed individually with the tribes and there's slight variations in each of them, but they're all pretty much set up...the system and then that also establishes an annual meeting where we get together to talk about the issues related to the taxes in the state. And sometimes our meetings, we've actually had a couple meetings that were over in 20 minutes. We had the meeting, we all got there, and we said, "˜Boy, it's really nice not to have anything to talk about.' So we chat with each other a little bit, reacquaint ourselves and eat a donut or two and we're done. Other times, we are actually in very long discussions and I've been in both of those kind [of meetings]. But the tax agreement was basically how the state is not going to collect taxes that it can't collect and what the mechanism is going to be for that. Well, these are other things that helped establish things. So we did this without having to go to court over the issue. And we believe that we got things that we wouldn't have gotten had we gone to court, but we also perhaps didn't get some things we might have gotten. So the question is, the state, both of us benefitted and we think that it furthered our interest by doing this."

Ian Record:

"I mean, I guess overall, overall from what you're saying, is that by consistently, continuously engaging in these sorts of efforts, you send a very clear message to the outside world -- whether it's the feds, the states, local neighboring communities to the reservation -- that, "˜We're big league governments. We're sovereign nations for real.' And then there's the message that you send to your own citizens. Isn't there a strong message that these sort of actions can send to your own people?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Yeah. Well they, I think that and one of the other agreements that we did was we settled U.S. v. Michigan fishing rights case and as we worked on that the original case had been filed years ago and then it was bifurcated. The inland portion was sort of put on idle and the Great Lakes portion proceeded through court and we won the right in court and there have been a 15-year and then a 20-year consent decree that have been negotiated on how we are going to exercise that right on the Great Lakes and so we continue to work with the five tribes in the state that are involved in that. Well, the inland portion eventually got to the point where it eventually where it was heating up and looked like it was getting ready to go to trial and we actually hired our witnesses and expert witnesses and we had done depositions and we were moving towards court, but we at the same time worked and a couple opportunities came up and we moved ahead in some negotiations and we thought we try to negotiate. We successfully negotiated a settlement in the inland portion of the U.S. v. Michigan fishing, hunting and gathering rights case. Unprecedented. I believe it's an exceptional agreement in that the tribes gave up things that we surely would have won had gone to court, but those are things that we already were not likely to want to exercise ourselves and one of them was commercialization of inland harvest and also putting gillnets in inland streams and rivers. Both of those were things that we didn't think were too wise, but we could have won those rights and probably would have if gone to court.

However, the state stipulated without going to trial that our treaty right existed perpetually. It's a permanent consent decree and so this was a big deal to us. The second thing was is that they ended up agreeing that we could exercise that right on property that the tribe owned whether they had just purchased it or whether it had been purchased years before and or whether it was a part of the reservation, whatever. They also agreed to do this on private lands with permission and this is way more than we would have won had we gone to court. So we think that we got a lot of things that are very important to us and gave up things, while they are important, they also were worth it in the deal and this is without spending millions of dollars and continuing to spend. It would have been appealed; it would have been a 10-year case by the time it went on. This was a success.

Well, what did that do in the end? At the end when we got this agreement, together we had the state DNR [Departemtn of Natural Resources] touting the agreement and holding classes and seminars around the state to let their citizens know about this agreement and to say why it was such a great idea and we had tribes doing the same thing, but on top of that we also had the various sportsmen associations and the lake owners' associations that had been advising the state on the case and had been working with the state and they called it, the term was "˜litigating amicae,' which I understand is a term that the judge may have made up, I don't know at the time, but they were parties to the case and to that extent -- not parties, but they were amicae. Well, we had these groups, the Michigan United Conservation Club, the lake owners' association, and they were all promoting this so that instead of...result of this and in other states have had to call out the National Guard when they were dealing with this issue when they have really potential dangerous things going on and in Michigan when we got this settlement, everybody realized that it was going to protect the resources and it worked with minor exceptions here and there. I mean there were some tribal members that were upset and there were others. I mean we had some folks just as soon die on the sword, they would just as soon fight and lose rather than negotiate. There was more honor in that. And to me, I look at it, I wasn't worried about my honor or I was worried about that, what I was worried about is the long term. What are our great-great grandchildren going to be doing? And now in Michigan, they're going to be exercising treaty rights."

Ian Record:

"That's a great story and we're seeing more and more of those kind of stories across Indian Country because, I guess, this realization that negotiation, if done right and if done for the right reasons, can bring you much greater outcomes in both in the present and in the future than litigation. Because litigation, even if you win the case, there's this issue of enforcement can be very costly and then there's this issue of litigation begets more litigation. And then, on the flipside though, I mean you have negotiation where it sounds to me like this served as a springboard from improving relations between traditional adversaries, improving relations or perhaps dampening hostilities that had long been there. And, I mean, do you foresee this consent decree as perhaps serving as a springboard for other forms of cooperation in other areas."

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Well, it's important that we sort of keep it alive. One of the things there is from this is there's an annual meeting, executive council, where all of the parties come together to deal with issues. And we have issues; we have issues. We'll have members who push things a little bit. We'll have state game wardens push things the wrong way a little bit and then we'll have to, we have to work through all those things. We'll have disputes about what actually was meant by a sentence and there will be differing views on that and those are things that have to be worked out. But in the process of doing that, we have regular relations; we worked hard and we developed a level of respect for each other and trust that we could achieve, that we were working together on an issue. It wasn't just working against each other. There are times, believe me, out of these...these were tough negotiations, these were not easy. I mean every one of us at the table, every one of the tribes, the state, I mean everybody at the table at some point or another was the one who walked away, and then came back, but everybody got upset. You don't have forty-some people negotiating every three or four or five weeks or two or three days at a time...that takes a long time. So some of those days were long days. We had some 10-12 hour days we were doing this. And so it was tough, but in the end we got something good, and these kind of agreements, building these relationships help because our tribal citizens...I'm a member of Farm Bureau for instance and I look at...we have other people that are members of Trout Unlimited and all the other groups. We have people, lake front owners that are part of lake owners' associations. So our citizens are actually a part of all these other groups with whom we were dealing and we need to strengthen those things. We need to let people know. So now when we do a fish assessments, it's just as common to have the tribes and the state out working doing the assessment fishing on a lake all together because the state's in a budget crunch and so are we, we have our equipment, when we all work together we have enough to do a big job, but just by ourselves none of us really could do that big job all by ourselves. So when we're doing the shock boat and the fish assessing and trying to explain to people that we're not killing the fish, the mortality rate is less than one percent with a shock boat that we have, those are good things and it's good to be working together on this stuff. In the end, what we're doing is we're all working toward similar goals. We aren't always going to agree, but then that's part of governance. In fact, if everybody agreed, that's a little dangerous. You need to have that, a little bit of tension in there to make sure you're doing things right."

Ian Record:

"So you mentioned the hard work that's involved with establishing, cultivating and maintaining these relationships. I'm curious, based upon your extensive experience in this area, what advice would you give to Native nations and leaders for how to build effective, sustainable governmental relationships?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Patience. One of the, probably the biggest thing I learned and one of the things that guided me is that eventually, eventually comes and that you need to work towards things. You need to be willing to work a little piece at a time. You need to have a sort of longer-term vision about where things are. I was out walking the other day on a path, and I was, I was looking up at the mountains and to my detriment, I tripped on something right in front of me. But if you look in front of you all the time, you never see the mountains, you never see the other things around you because you're paying so much attention right in front of you. You have to -- without endangering yourself -- have to be looking up as well as in front of you. I think that that's a part of the whole thing about this patience. You have to have a longer-term vision and the government itself needs to work through and think about those longer-term visions."

Ian Record:

"And doesn't that involve educating citizens because leaders? As you've often said, leaders are transitory, they come and go, and some of these efforts are multi-year, if not multi-decade to get the outcome that you've been seeking at the beginning and doesn't that require, I guess, a certain level of understanding and approval by your own people that this is a priority of the nation?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Yes. I mean, it's really important for people to understand what...like I said in the beginning when we looked at the constitution and I said the constitution is the method by which the people inform their government how they want it to work. The people need to always be aware of and remember that that is what that is and that they...so they need to understand where those things are when you have a constitution that has a focus on international relations. They need to...when you have your budget hearings, there need to be...someone needs to stand up and speak up and support that budget line item that's going to involve some international travel, some travel that needs to be done. When you have...you have to have...people need to be aware of how things work to know how to allocate resources and how to support that or detriment. One of the issues that I see across Indian Country that I think is...it's a big issue and that is that leaders who do a lot of this international work with other tribes or that are working in a basis across the country often are away from home a fair amount and that needs to be supported. But too often people think that those of us who are traveling are wasting tribal resources, that we are out having a good time, that we're enjoying things at the tribe's expense and that there is no need to be doing this anyway. And so when people are traveling often there is quite a pressure or a candidate becomes vulnerable because of being gone and traveling. So you have to balance that domestic program within your nation with the international program and you have to find out how to balance that, but with the people themselves, there needs to be an acceptance. I was recently -- after I had left the chairmanship -- I attended a conference and elected leaders were taking it on the chin pretty high at the conference over the days because most of them...there were very few elected leaders at this conference. It was almost all other folks: individual activists and former elected leaders, but lots of people were very involved in working on environmental issues, but...and so I, towards the end of the conference I got up and set my regular program aside and I said, 'Listen. You've been...you're sort of upset because elected leaders aren't here.' I said, "˜When's the last time you ever thanked your leader for attending a national meeting like this. When the last time you went to a budget hearing and demanded they put more money in there in the line item for travel so that the leaders could afford to go? When's the last time you wrote a letter or stood up and supported this outside external activity at a community meeting or in conversations in your family or things? You need constantly, if you want leaders to do those things, you can't complain because they don't. You need to actually support them when you do, that way it becomes a priority and if that's really the priority for our nations to make sure that we have this balance between domestic programs and international programs.' We have to have a populace that actually understands and supports why that is necessary, and it becomes necessary. Going to Washington, D.C. is critical for leaders because the U.S. Congress passes laws that effect...while they can't, their laws don't limit our tribal sovereignty, they certainly can limit how we exercise our sovereignty. They limit how Health and Human Services can deal with us. They can limit how the justice system deals with us. And so because of that, it's important for us to pay attention to those laws and it's important for us to know what's going on and to have the relationships necessary there that when we speak, we're not going just to build a relationship. We're going and we already are known so that we can carry through on the issues that support us. And there are plenty of people that are going there on a regular basis who are detractors of tribal sovereignty and don't support tribal sovereignty and who want to do everything they can to do away with it or limit it or whatever. And so we have to constantly be on target and work on these things and that's a very important part of that international because we're dealing with tribal nations to the United States, that's an international arrangement. We have to be very careful on how it works. So it's essential to do that kind of stuff. We also have to do that with our state government because a lot of the funding that tribes get comes from federal government, but it's funneled through the states, even though we'd like them to all have set-asides and deal directly with...so that the tribes deal directly with the feds on those things. There's a number of programs that go through the state and the manner in which the state chooses to set up its programs, how they choose to write their programs or write their proposals and their agreements with the feds can limit how they deal with tribes. So you're constantly having to pay attention to that. And you have people who, once again, would be supporters and other people who wouldn't, but for the most part you also have people that just don't know. And so it's constantly our responsibility to make sure that they do. And whatever mechanism, whether it's the tribal leader going or whether there's an ambassador, I think that we could... I think there's a time coming as we're evolving our tribal governments that we're going to actually have people that ambassadorial function may well be through an ambassador at large. Some of the tribes already have these. And I believe that this relationship with the other governments with whom we deal, we need to have staff people that can deal with that. I use an example, the recent arms treaty signed, where the presidents of Russia and the United States were together to sign the treaty. You know that the two of them did not sit down and hammer that treaty out. They had staff that were working for years on this to work together how to deal with it and may have met a couple times to iron out a point or two, but for the most part, their major thing was to have the photo op of them signing it and shaking hands to sign the treaty and that was the top of the executive functions there. And then of course it's got to be ratified, yet. Well, these are...our governments function in the same way. We have those same kind of interplay of things and...but we need to make sure that we have built in the ability to deal with other governments and that it's a very important role for our tribal nations."

Ian Record:

"I wanted to switch gears, one last question before we wrap up this interview, to tribal justice systems and specifically ask you a question about the Odawa Youth Health to Wellness Court, which your tribe established several years ago, which by all accounts has proven quite successful. I'm curious to learn more about why did the tribe establish this program? How is it structured? And how has it benefitted your community?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Well, we clearly have a problem that other communities have, other tribal nations have. As to why we have it, I guess that's another whole other story, but the fact that we actually have this problem with drugs and we have problem with the youth and there are individuals who just don't seem to be able to respond to parental controls and/or other societal controls and end up being in the court system; and the court system is basically a win/lose kind of system. We've tried to develop other systems that are options and this is an option and can be chosen by someone who is before the court, by the youth and this particular thing is based around that wrap around concept where we have staff from a lot of different departments. I think there's 10 different departments, but they are all working with one youth and their parents and all focused on one case. There's responsibilities on all their parts by bringing a multi-disciplinary approach to this wrap around concept we're able to see success with individuals we had not been able to see success with other programs. This has gotten so successful that we have actually had offenders that are before the local county court who they've offered the option of coming to our program and actually people who they didn't have to assign to the program at all, the local judges have sent people to our program and has been because they recognize the success of it. So this is another way of building an intergovernmental relationship, building community relations with various institutions with whom you have to deal in the community."

Ian Record:

"And this, from what I understand, this health to wellness court is not so much focused on punishment, but on restoring health and harmony not only to the individual defender, but also to their family, to their community at large. Is that true?"

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Yes. And I think that that part of the approach, restoring balance is important. And I think that's true in a lot of our programs, that's one of the things we try to focus on. And we have, when you follow our traditional teachings, that whole thing of being in balance is your goal, it's the center, it's what you try to achieve, where you're not at any one extreme. No matter how that extreme may seem, as you move towards that, you're pulling away from being in balance and so something else gets out of balance. So the whole goal is to try to maintain that calm center in order to achieve that. In our traditional ways, that's one of the teachings. And so when we apply those teachings to, trying to apply them to court systems, trying to apply them to our various other social programs, frankly I'm working on how we apply the teachings of the medicine wheel to our budgets. How do we take a budget and determine whether that budget is in balance? And I think that the way we spend our money, the way we allocate our resources, can be just as out of balance as any other thing and it can be symptomatic of we might be having problems in our tribal community that are inexplicable to us. And it could be because the way we're choosing to allocate our resources is out of balance. And so, to me, this is something I'm working on and particularly now that I'm no longer the tribal chair, but I have time to reflect on these things. I want to work on that issue and try to see how that can be, that idea can be furthered."

Ian Record:

"Well Frank, I really appreciate your time today. I've learned quite a bit and I'm sure our listeners and viewers have as well."

Frank Ettawageshik:

"Thank you."

Ian Record:

"Well, that's it for today's program of Leading Native Nations. To learn more about Leading Native Nations, please visit the Native Nations Institute's website: nni.arizona.edu. Thank you for joining us."

Honoring Nations: Using Partnerships to Achieve Governing Goals

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

Heather Kendall-Miller moderates this panel of Native leaders for a discussion on building and maintaining intergovernmental relationships.

Resource Type
Citation

Anderson, Neily, Theresa Clark, Lori Gutierrez, Heather Kendall-Miller, Mark Lewis, Justin Martin, Mark Sherman, Miranda Warburton, Don Wedll, Cheryl Weixel and Nicholas Zaferatos, "Using Partnerships to Achieve Governing Goals," Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Sante Fe, New Mexico. February 7, 2002. Presentation.

Heather Kendall-Miller:

"It's my pleasure first of all to be an advisory board member. Coming from Alaska, oftentimes, we have our focus on our specific issues. And it's been so wonderful and so educational for me to be on the advisory board and to learn about all the wonderful things that are happening throughout Indian Country. The first advisory board meeting that I participated in I just walked away totally stunned and wowed because there is incredible stuff happening in Indian Country, as you've been learning these past several days and you've been sharing. So I'm really excited to be here and participate in this because as usual it's been eye-opening in many, many respects. Maybe what we'll do, while Andrew is passing out the name tags, is to offer our panelists an opportunity to introduce themselves and also to talk a little bit about the award-winning program of which they are here representing. And once we each have a chance to introduce ourselves then I'll begin to pose some questions. So why don't we begin over here with you, Justin."

Justin Martin:

"All right. Sorry I was late. Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Justin Martin and I'm with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde where I'm the Intergovernmental Affairs Director, as well as a tribal member. I have a background in public policy and public administration, as well as working as a legislative assistant within the Oregon State legislature. Our program, Enhancing Government-to-Government Relationships deals exactly with that. We have, basically, a five-pronged strategy or approach to that that includes communication, education, cooperation, contributions, political as well as community contributions, and presence. All topics that we all have been sharing over the past couple days and I look forward, again, to sharing some more of that with you and this panel. So thank you very much."

Don Wedll:

"My name is Don Wedll. I'm with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. I've served as the Commissioner of Natural Resources for 18 years and also Commissioner of Education. I'm talking about today partnerships in regards to natural resource activities."

Theresa Clark:

"My name is Theresa Clark. I'm from Galena, Alaska, the Louden Tribe, which is a federally recognized tribe for Galena. Every village in Alaska is a tribe. I run Yukaana Development Corporation, which is a tribally owned business of the Louden Tribe and we've used partnerships extensively in developing our business."

Mark Sherman:

"[Native language] My name is Mark Sherman and I'm the Director of Planning and Development for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa [and] Chippewa Indians. I was really glad that I was chosen to participate in this particular panel discussion because I really believe in partnerships in achieving governing goals. In our department we knew what our mandate was and what our governing goal was. When we got started, we didn't know who our partners were. But the important thing that I wanted to say about our process and how it relates to partnering is that number one, when you have partners you have to start using the word ‘we' instead of ‘I' or singular uses of pronouns. And so it's been a great privilege of mine to develop these partnerships and accomplish our goals. I took inventory last week about some of the things we've accomplished over the last several years and who our partners were. I spent a lot of time analyzing it, categorizing it and listing it in different ways. Finally I came to the realization that there were too many to list, too many to talk about. And so what I wanted to stress today, as we get going further along here and get a chance to talk about our process a little bit, you'll come to understand that what's important is that we developed effective partnerships, not only externally with contractors and consultants and government officials and various other entities, but more importantly we developed an internal partnership with our own membership, with our own government. And these things really set the course and made my job much more fun. Thank you."

Nicholas Zaferatos:

"Hi. I'm Nick Zaferatos and I have the pleasure of working for 20 years with the Swinomish tribal community in Washington State and with Chairman Brian Cladoosby, who asked me to speak today because he had to catch a flight back home because general elections are being held tomorrow. The Swinomish have been involved for about 20 years, almost 20 years now in Principle #4 that was outlined today, which states that a strategic orientation matters. It was concerned with addressing chronic problems on the reservation dealing with the loss of control over the reservation territory that hadn't occurred since allotment days and brought about a lot of interest from outside governments that were making decisions about how the reservation ought to develop and a realization that none of that was benefiting directly the tribal government. So employing, developing a strategy, it looked like it had several ways of approaching that including and primarily regionalism, one of opening up dialogue and relations with a broader region, county, local government, state and us reasserting tribal interests in matters relating to land use control and development. The centerpiece for the project was a land use planning program that was begun in mid 1980s, but it also included all aspects of reservation development, water supply, sewer control, public works and the web of cooperation between the Swinomish Tribe that's been employed through this cooperative program really affects just about every jurisdiction that has an interest in operations in Skagit county. So it's a regionalism approach, it's one that's been tested for about 15 years now and it's still operating."

Miranda Warburton:

"Good afternoon, I'm Miranda Warburton. I work for the Navajo Nation Archaeology Department. I'm the Director of the Flagstaff, Arizona Branch Office of the Navajo Nation Archaeology Department. And I started that little office up in Flagstaff some 15 years ago and I would like to say that first of all it's been a tremendous honor and privilege to work for the Navajo Nation for the past 15 years. And the goal of doing this was to really set up a program to train Navajo students who were interested in cultural preservation, to give them the opportunity to do practical work on the reservation, and to learn more through interviews with Navajo elders, with knowledgeable people, to really be out in the field while they were working on their academic degrees. So our partnership was really between the Navajo Nation and Northern Arizona University. And I would say that the greatest example I can give you of the success of our program is that after 15 years, I'm quitting in October and a woman who is with our program, a Navajo woman, Davina Begay-Two Bears will be taking over. And as I speak, the reason that she's not here is that she's supposed to be turning in her Master's thesis this afternoon. So Davina is a great example of our program and I'm thrilled that I'll be turning it over to her and I'd also like to acknowledge someone else who's here, Reynelda Grant, who is the San Carlos Apache Archaeologist, tribal archaeologist. And Reynelda was part of our program too and that just like is a great feeling to be able to sit here and see Reynelda doing such a great job and speaking so well and setting such a great example. So again another example of what this partnership has done."

Lori Gutierrez:

"Good afternoon. My name is Lori Gutierrez. I'm from Pojoaque Pueblo and I'm the Assistant Director for Pojoaque Pueblo Construction Service Corporation. Our project that was awarded by the Harvard Project was the unique collaboration and partnership between Pojoaque Pueblo Construction Service Corporation, which is a for-profit tribal corporation and the Poeh Center Cultural Center Museum, which is a nonprofit arm of the Pueblo of Pojoaque. And the unique collaboration being that the corporation was first established to not only build the Poeh Center at cost but to, reduce the construction cost, but would do work both on and off the reservation as generating revenues to go back to build the Poeh Center as well as to sustain it through its long term goals. Thank you."

Cheryl Weixel:

"Good afternoon. My name is Cheryl Weixel. I'm the Wellness Center Director for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and it's an honor to be here and it's also an honor to work with the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. 10 years ago the Coeur d'Alene area, or the Plummer and Worley area, didn't even have healthcare, hardly any. And even with the non-Indians and the Indians in the area, we had to go 40 miles to get healthcare. So the Coeur d'Alene Tribe partnered up with the city of Plummer and built a medical center and from there they decided to start changing lifestyles and the only way they could do that was to help people with exercise in Spokane, which is 40 miles away. So they saved money from third-party billing, grants, just partnering up with the city of Plummer again, got a HUD grant and built a $5 million debt-free wellness center and hopefully...we've been there four years now and we're changing lifestyles one person at a time and it's a great opportunity to be there and it's just very rewarding."

Neily Anderson:

"Good afternoon. My name is Neily Anderson and I'm here as the chairperson for the White Earth Suicide Intervention Team. I know...when I...I was so honored that we had gotten honors and I went around and was telling my friends and family that we received high honors from Harvard from the Governing Honor of Nations and they're like, ‘But you're a suicide prevention team, what does that have anything to do with Harvard?' And so it was kind of like we had to go through in depth and explain that the team was started by grassroots community members in 1990 and it was developed because there was a very high rash of suicide completions and attempts that year. So what they did was they formed...they did some forums and let the people talk and the tribal council really kind of hung themselves up and sat and listened to what the people had to say. Not just about the suicide attempts or completions, about everything else that was going on as well. And what they did recognize was that something needed to be done and so they signed a resolution stating that we needed a team and developed the team. And the team, like I said, is grassroots and it is community members. So it's not social workers coming in, saying, ‘Well, I'm a social worker and I'm here to help you'. It's, ‘I'm a community member and I care'. And that makes all the difference in a crisis situation and for Native American people. We just recently got a...received a grant and are working on getting some more funding because the team...the WESIT team, the suicide intervention team is a nonprofit organization. There's nobody paid to be on the team. There is 26 on-call volunteers that go every two weeks; there's a different set of three people on call. They go out all hours of the night and volunteer their time. And again, when you're talking about people in crisis or Native American people, knowing that these people are here because they care, not because it's their job to be there, not because they're being paid to be there and they have to be there to maybe please their grant makers or whatever. They're there because they want to be there and that makes the big difference. So as a grassroots organization the people volunteer their time, whether it's night or day, whether it's during work or out of work, and with the tribal R2C behind us 100 percent, we're allowed to leave work. If we get a call and we're on call, we're allowed to leave work and go wherever we have to go to respond to that call. The partnership that we have is mostly with the counties, the police department, the hospitals, facilities subject to our home facilities, things like that. We have partnered up with them basically. They have finally recognized us as a value to them, something...someone that they can use to actually lessen their job. We get a call through the dispatch system just like the police department does; we carry radios and get our call. And when we respond to a call, we basically get the information from the police officer; they make sure the scene is safe when we get there and they kind of turn it over to us. We're not allowed to sign 72 hour holds if that is needed, but the police officers are. And so our doctors as... but they're more willing now to go ahead and sign a 72 hour hold or what has been happening most recently is, they have the information, they know that this person needs a 72 hour hold, but they're calling us to see what our opinion is and same with the hospitals. We get more calls from the hospital where a family member has brought an attempter into the hospital; it's not done through the police department or the ambulance service. The family member brings them into the hospital and the hospital's calling us, they're calling our dispatch. We have a tribal dispatch, they'll call our dispatch and we'll be dispatched out. So it's a real grassroots...it's people who care and that's what I've seen a lot while I've been here is these may be our jobs that we do but they're just an added benefit. We do what we do because we care and that's what I've seen here. You people...the people that I've been surrounded by for the last two days are here because they care, they want to help their people expand, grow and accomplish things that they may not accomplish on their own and that's the job that they have. It's not that they're politicians, it's not that they're a tribal council member, they're there because they care and that's how I see you people here and the people that we have on call on our team."

Mark Lewis:

"Good afternoon. My name is Mark Lewis. I'm from the Hopi Tribe and I'm from the Third Mesa area, Hotevilla Village on the Third Mesa area. I am pleased to see a couple Hopis. [Native language] I'm an eagle clan so I wanted to say that since there's a couple Hopis in the audience. My mind's really spinning now because I had an introduction that I was going to do but I'm kind of worried about how it may come out after listening to Neily. I'm really concerned so if you bear with me I'm kind of going to tinker with it and I'm not meaning to offend anybody, but this is really how I was thinking I was going to introduce this. I was going to just make a remark that I'm in a rather unique situation here today because I've been asked to be on this panel as the...representing the Hopi High School. And as I was introduced they have Mark Lewis, the Hopi Guidance Center, and that is my job; I'm the Director of Behavioral Health and Social Services. And so given that I was going to make kind of a quick joke that I was relieved that I was introduced as representing the Hopi Guidance Center because I would feel much more comfortable speaking about the Hopi Guidance Center, but I'm not here to speak about that. I'm here to speak about Hopi Junior/Senior High School. The problem with that is I've only been...I've been elected to school board and I'm only on my third week and the reason I'm up here is because some of our more senior veteran board members were just unable to make it to Santa Fe today. And so what I'm a little nervous with my new friend here is I was just going to kind of make a remark that I am a professional social worker, I have my undergraduate and master's both in social work. I'm very proud of that and I was going to also say that I was thinking of the lady from Minnesota who I know very well, some of the negative perceptions of social workers throughout history. I was going to say I'm very proud to be a social worker and so should you and we should never not feel proud about being a social worker. But also I'm nervous too because I've just been elected to school board and that's very political in Hopi and I've been accused of being a politician. So I'm both now a politician and a social worker, but I'm also a community member and I do really care. So anyhow, the good thing going, my strategy was to...I was really relieved. I was excited coming here; this is my very first school board trip. I was really excited to come and meet new people, new professionals in other disciplines such as yourselves and then...but I got a call this morning around 8:00 from Mr. Glenn Gilman who you'll be hearing from shortly. He's our junior high principal, a very good, wonderful junior high principal. And he says, ‘Hey, just want to let you know that you're on a panel this afternoon and you're going to talk about 2+2+2'. And I says, ‘Well, that's because our board member called in late and was not able to make it', so that just kind of added to the excitement and nervousness I had about meeting a new flock of people. But as soon as I came in I saw Dr. Stephen Cornell and my colleague and friend Cecelia Belone of the Navajo Nation, my colleague, counterpart, and friend from the Navajo Nation, who I work a lot with in social services area. I also work with Dr. Stephen Cornell in the areas around TANF reauthorization, nation building etc. So I'll focus on you so I'm not as nervous talking about 2+2+2 at Hopi Junior/Senior High School. So I'm glad that you sat right there. I feel much more comfortable. I'll just pretend I'm talking about social services issues and maybe I won't sweat so much on my folder. 2+2+2 essentially it is partnership, it is partnership between three academic institutions, Hopi High, community college, Northland Pioneer College and Northern Arizona University and it was a partnership from the get go and I can talk more about that as we move on but it was genuinely a partnership from the get go in an effort to achieve one governing goal, one of the many governing goals that I know that we are working on. I'm learning more about the board and that was to try and do what we can to improve and prepare young students for academia beyond high school by giving them a boost while they're still in high school. And I can talk more about that but I don't need to get in too much detail because Mr. Glenn Gilman will be telling you more about that true partnership between community college, university and Hopi High. So again, thank you very much for allowing or asking me to be up here and allowing me to be up here."

Heather Kendall-Miller:

"Thank you, panelists for those introductions. Partnerships; each of you have given us examples of the partnerships that your tribal governments have formed in the process of implementing your vision. What interests me is, in some cases, some of you have been forced to develop effective partnerships and relationships with state and county governments, even federal government, and as Lance so articulately told us, we all as tribal people have experienced the hostility that is oftentimes focused on tribal governments by state and county governments. Given that history of hostility, how do you begin to build an effective relationship with an agency or another government? Justin, you want to begin again?"

Justin Martin:

"Sure. Well, I think that there are several layers to partnerships and as we heard from the panel, there are many wonderful partnerships on many different levels. When starting to work with what can sometimes be seen as hostile governments or governments that one, do not have an understanding of Native peoples or even tribal governments, I think it's very important and very critical to first of all understand their government, understand where the government that you're looking to work with is coming from. Whereas, we want folks to understand and respect tribal government and to learn how we elect our officials, how we operate our communities and governments, we should also make an effort to one, understand where they are coming from. And then I think it steps back even further and it looks to the personal level. Let's start to build some personal relationships while we are educating them to how our tribal government and how our people operate and conduct themselves. And that can be handled in many, many ways, but I think once you do that, once you get to know people, once you put your face with your name that's on your business card or the name that is seen in the newspaper or even your tribal newspapers, people start to understand where you're coming from. So it's basically a very basic relationship, find out who the people are, what makes them tick, even if it's outside of what you're both working towards. If you can find some common ground or a common goal, you can start to nurture that relationship. One other important point, I was talking to some folks earlier in the day, I think is, don't expect to make those top level relationships the ones that really get the job done at the end of the day. And I want to say this without offending tribal leadership and I've been very blessed to work with Kathryn Harrison and our tribal council who gets this. Those top level relationships need to happen out of mutual respect for a tribal government or a state government or a federal government, but at the same time, the ones doing the ground work, the ones trying to understand the tribal issues, and the ones that are going to be dealing with you on a day-to-day basis are the staff. And I think it's critical to involve staff at all levels. And from my own personal experience in working at the state legislature, I can't tell you how many times my state representative, who was new at the time, outside of his expertise area would call me as a staffer into his office and say, ‘Justin, what are we going to do?' Those are the people with the vote. So if you get to that staff member, create that relationship at those lower levels, then you begin to work up into the upper levels. Again, those are the solid foundation relationships. And who knows? I think in a lot of time within the tribal system and within state government and federal government, a lot of time that staff moves on to be that elected official or that leader. So to begin to lay that ground work in educating people to your government and also learning and being able to understand their government and where they're coming from is certainly an excellent tool that I feel needs to be utilized in every day relationships."

Don Wedll:

"Maybe to follow on that a little bit, one of the things that we saw that was very effective in negotiations and partnerships is that if you eat with someone, have lunch with them, it makes it much harder to fight with them a little bit later. You actually get to see them in a little different light than if you're in trying to negotiate and ultimately where you want to, after you've settled negotiations and you start building that partnership, a meal, that type of thing, is a very effective way to bring about a good partnership, get to know people on a very personal level and be able to discuss things and have trust in people that what they're committing to and the partnership that you're developing will grow and create a good forum for the types of things that you are working on. So that's my suggestions."

Theresa Clark:

"Yukaana itself does not have inter-government relationships. Our owner, Louden Tribal Council does. We separated government, politics and business so our partnerships, Yukaana's partnerships are business partnerships, whereas the government, inter-governmental relationships are left to the tribe or the politics are left to the tribe. I can go further on that, but I'd much rather let Louden tribal council do that because that's politics.

Mark Sherman:

"In our planning department we have forged a number of partnerships with county and township governments, worked a little bit with some state officials. We'd like to do a little bit more in that respect. Our relationship with our state government needs some improving. We've reached out to them on a number of times for a number of different reasons and for some reason, we have a situation where they prefer to minimize or should I say minimize that acceptance or recognition of the fact that we do exist. I think as the future goes forward that this will improve. It's got to come to a place where both sides have some common goals to work on. It's not always an adversarial situation and if it is an adversarial situation, you can usually accomplish more by searching for things that are...that you have in common rather than focusing on those points that are controversial. I found from my own experience in dealing with non-tribal government officials it's always better to listen than to talk. And if you hear something you don't like, you're better off rather than to argue the point, rather just to repeat the point, let them hear how ridiculous it sounds. It's not all give and take. Sometimes tribal governments have to draw a line in the sand and say, ‘This is our position'. And we've had to do that a few times too. Once they understand your position, whether they agree or disagree, they come away from the experience with a lot more respect for your organization having a clear understanding of why you made your position and why there's no room for compromise. And so you have to use every arrow in your quiver, you can't just go with one standard approach."

Nick Zaferatos:

"I think for Swinomish cooperation was a result that began by using confrontative tactics. That is, with the tribe being in business, as usual that was carried out for a really long time by county or other governments in making decisions on the reservation and where the tribe asserted its interest. And when that occurred there was a reaction and the reaction was the status quo was being disrupted and there were kind of two paths to consider. One was a path of conflict, litigation, problems, costs. And the other was a better understanding of what's the root of the change in course, talking, education, lots of education and a need for some kind of mutual benefit because cooperation does require a commitment of resources of time and money and people to engage in that. And when there's a perception that there is something to gain, I think that's almost always necessary in order to get the commitment both on the tribe's part as well as the government. The tribe entered into about a dozen separate agreements over the course of about 15 or 16 years with almost all of them the same kind of situation was presented where the tribe saw to disrupt business as usual and assert some kind of an interest and a receptiveness on the part of the other governments to at least begin discussing ways of cooperation, mutual gain. With all of them, it was formalized politically in terms of entering into some kind of an agreement, which then allowed the business of government to take place, which is almost always on a staff level on a day-to-day basis. And that's when the culture of cooperation really starts to take place. When you start dealing with lots of little itty bitty issues on a regular basis and you solve problems, it leads towards developing a more positive culture or at least more faith in working together to resolve problems. Sometimes political meetings are necessary, sometimes even litigation is necessary, and Swinomish has been more recently involved with some litigation, which the tribe views as okay because after you've exhausted the time of talking and trying to work things together through things at the staff level or even at the policy level, some things just really can't be agreed to and that's after all what the courts are all about. But even despite litigation from time to time, most issues with respect to land use development affecting the reservation do take place on a day-to-day basis, mostly in an administrative bubble, sometimes at a policy level. But there is an overall perception that there's a mutual gain in the long term by investing and keeping the doors of communication open, and in the process of doing that there's an awful lot of learning when the tribe understands the culture of the county or local governments and those governments understand a lot more about what the interests of the tribes are. And what we found is that the visions between those two governments were really not that far off and in fact, we were able to be brought together into like a unified land use policy. So there really wasn't a difference in terms of the vision."

Miranda Warburton:

"In our program we're really talking about a partnership between the Navajo Nation and Northern Arizona University and so there are some differences, it's not city or state governments. But I wanted to say a couple of things in that regard and first of all, to my colleague from Hopi, that if there's anything worse than a social worker politician, it's an Anglo anthropologist working for a tribe. So I kind of felt like I had this real uphill battle, but I think that there are a lot of people within the Navajo Nation who would like to see people like me replaced and I wanted to see people like me replaced as well. So in order to do that, in order to have an effective program, I felt that there really had to be a tremendous amount of cooperation between the Navajo Nation and Northern Arizona University. And I would just sort of reiterate some of the things that other people have already said. One, the long haul; people have to know you're there for the long haul. It's taken 15 years I think for me to feel like this program is really a success. I have three students who are getting master's degrees this year who I think all are going to go on to great things, but people have to know both within the tribe and at Northern Arizona University that you are there for the long haul and that there is a real commitment, that you really do care, and that if things get rough you're ‘not just going to sort of run away and abandon the whole thing; that you really are there and you really care about it and you really mean it. And I think what you just said about something to gain. I mean, NAU doesn't really care about our program, and this is like being the most sort of practical reality based statement but it brings in Native American students. So if I can convince them that it's worth having this program to recruit Native American students for their head count, they'll realize they have something to gain. The Navajo Nation definitely has something to gain because Navajo students are getting degrees, undergraduate and graduate degrees and anthropology or other social sciences and in many cases are returning to the tribe or to work for them or if they're not coming back to work for the tribe, they're going off into other places and setting a really good example. So the whole idea of something to gain and I think a personal commitment to being there for the long haul makes all the difference in effective partnerships."

Lori Gutierrez:

"We at Pojoaque Pueblo Construction, we have agreements with large business for outside business opportunities and I remember when we first started negotiations, there was extensive negotiations when dealing with sovereign immunity. Large business did not know structures especially dealing with small entities like Pojoaque Pueblo, with tribal enrollment of 320. It was really difficult to explain to them how you go about it. It turned out that they ended up hiring an Indian attorney so that they could get a better grasp about a tribal nation. But I think in order for a partnership to flourish or even to have longevity and continuity, it's important that during this time that there's mutual benefit because without that mutual benefit it doesn't exist. But I think it's important that during these negotiations that you keep in mind what that mutual benefit is and use that as your focus because I know that during these extensive negotiations we would get off on that and it was always a constant reminder to keep going back to what it is that we were doing this partnership for."

Chery Weixel:

"I think what was an important aspect to the medical center, Benewah Medical Center, and also the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Wellness Center came afterwards, was the fact that both there was a need out there and then there's a common vision. Everybody needed healthcare in the area so they brought the partners in, they utilized each other's strengths and built from there and then they took the weaknesses and built them up. And in that they had a vision and that is a better healthcare for the whole area and also a chance to change the future generations and provide fitness and exercise for the young kids so that they'll want to be healthy and they'll hopefully one day rid diabetes and heart disease from that area or at least control it. So I think if I go back, I think this strikes on the weaknesses and a common vision and a common goal is really what we needed. And today I can say that just from people telling me stories from the past that when they decided to build the medical center, they had the Indians and the non-Indians saying, ‘No way will I go in that building with an Indian', or ‘No way will I be in there with a White person'. And I can honestly say today that side-by-side there's Indians and non-Indians working together, playing together, sitting side-by-side in the waiting room together and actually talking and communicating for the first time, which I think is a tremendous accomplishment, especially in that area."

Neily Anderson:

"First off I've got to get some things straight here. Being the chairperson on the team isn't my job. I'm also a social worker. But the team...when the team started, we started out with a goal. We weren't quite sure how to get to that goal. We knew what we wanted to do, we knew we had to do something and we knew that we had to do it now and that was kind of what we looked at. And so going in we...the only thing that we had that could link us to any attempts that maybe the police department had or any calls that the police department had about attempts or completions or whatever the case may be was our tribal dispatch. That was our only link at the time when we started. And we're going on 12 years now and we used to meet in the back of a restaurant, a local little restaurant and talk about what we were going to do and how we were going to do it. And it was there that we realized that we needed to partner up with some people. We need to start going out and doing some in services and letting some people know what we were going to do. So we started going out to the hospitals and letting them know that, ‘this is where we're at, this is where we want to be in a year, can you help us get there? These are the people that we have on board. These are the caring people that we feel the community members will react to.' So it was the hospitals that we went to first and it was...it took years, it took years. And we're going on 12 years now and I would say in the last four years we've finally got...we still don't have 100 percent backing from other specific agencies, but in the last four years we've got...our policy is to, if Menominee County Police Department has a call, they call the tribal dispatch. Well, they know where I work so they were kind of skipping around things and calling me right at work. And the reason we had that policy was so that when we went out on a call it was the same for them. I have a radio, they have a radio. Our radios are our lifeline and if something was to happen to me, my dispatcher knows where I was, what I was doing. So next it took the police department. We were showing up at calls, the police department was looking at us like, ‘What are you doing here? You're interfering with the law.' We got a lot of that and so it took a lot of in services with the police department to say, ‘We can help you. We can work side-by-side. I'm not here to do your job. I'm here to help you make the situation better for a family', because with a police officer coming in and saying, ‘Okay, we're taking these people, we're putting them on a 72 hour hold', they never really took a look at how that affected the people that were left behind. So the next thing that we did was we went to other agencies, tribal and non-tribal, our tribal mental health programs and the non-tribal mental health programs, because we figured, ‘okay, we've got this person that's attempted suicide.' Now if they were to call and try and get an appointment, a lot of times the mental health field, to get an appointment it's really backed up. So what we would do then is, ‘Okay, I can get you an appointment tomorrow. I can make sure that you have transportation to get there. Is this what you want?' And so it got...now it's to the point where all I have to do is to make a phone call or another team member...all we have to do is to make a phone call and we can get that client some services immediately instead of having to wait two or three weeks down the road. The schools, we also work with because when, with the adolescence and the rate of suicide that we had at the time... In 1990 when we started, we were 50 percent lower, 10 percent, excuse me; we were 10 percent higher than the national suicide rate nationally but we were also 8.5 percent higher than the Native American rate normally was. So on our reservation we had a big problem. So in the schools when we had adolescents attempting or being placed on 72 hour hold, the parents not wanting to give up information when the school calls and says, ‘Where's your kid? Your kid isn't in school. Your child isn't in school. They're truant, they're tardy. What's the situation?' Then the parents really having a problem telling the school system that, ‘My child is on a 72 hour hold,' without the school system or without the family members feeling that the school system is looking down on them. ‘Oh, you must be bad parents if this is what's happening to your children.' So those were some other partners. The main partner that we have that we rely on is the tribal council backing us 100 percent in whatever direction we go, whether it be...like with the grant, we just applied for a grant. We just, before I left, we just got word that we had received the grant. We have received the grant, now we have to go forward with that. So it's the tribal council that has backed us and said, ‘run with it'. They have opened their arms and realized the fact that this is something that they cannot fix as a tribal council member. This is something that the community has to help themselves to do and with a little bit of organization. So with those things, those partners we would not be able to be a team, we would not be able to work as a team and that's why we come up with the name Suicide Intervention Team because it takes more than one person to fix the things that are going wrong with our people. It's a team effort whether it be...when I say the Suicide Intervention Team, I mean not just the people that are on call that go out there in the middle of the night, not the people that have to leave their jobs or get up from the table during dinner because they've got a call from dispatch, I also mean the police department, the mental health services, the hospitals, the tribal council, the schools. They're our team and we all have to work together as a team or else we will not exist. That's plain a simple. It took us a lot of years to establish that team but it was something that we realized right away that needed to be done. That was one of the things that we worked on right away and with our patients and I think what really kicked it off was we were there. When there was a call, we were there, somebody showed up. Whoever was on call took the call and that's what I feel really made the difference. It wasn't, ‘Well, I'm eating dinner right now', or ‘I'm sleeping and I've only been sleeping for a half hour and I don't want to get out of bed to go on this call', ‘I don't want to get up from dinner and skip dinner because I have a call. We got a call, we went out. It didn't matter what we were doing, who we were with. We took that responsibility when it was our turn to be on call, that was the responsibility that we took and not because that's our job. It was because we care about the people, about our people and what they are doing with their lives."

Mark Lewis:

"As for the Hopi High 2+2+2 program, you're going to learn that it is a partnership between a community college and Northern Arizona University. It involves interactive television; it involves a new satellite campus being built on the Hopi High school grounds and facilities. And what that really means is that...that meant that the Hopi High took the initiative to work with the state systems and other systems in order to be able to develop this program for the future needs of our kids and for the current development of those kids so that they can achieve success academic-wise in the math and sciences after they leave high school. And what I've observed and what I've noticed and in talking with my colleagues that I've worked with, I think that approaching a hostile government if you want to call it that, there's a lot of leadership that's involved with that, approaching that kind of a situation. I think in the case of Hopi High I think you had some real important dynamics that happened there. One of them, the board was made up of very experienced leaders within the Hopi Tribe in a variety of areas and it was also headed by former chairman of the Hopi Tribe, Ivan Sidney. So I think already Hopi High was in an advantageous position because there was already influences and relationships that had been established by that board. And so that leadership didn't think twice about worrying about government. They had already experienced working with these people, had already relationships established with these people and all they really did is capitalize on that, but that takes leadership and initiative. And so I think that that's one of the ways that Hopi High was successful in developing this 2+2+2 program, and as well from the former governing board, I think a lot of credit goes to them for being very proactive and for being very interested in taking the initiative to do things to improve upon Hopi High. One of the main things they did there is to get away from the Bureau and move into a grant school. And after that it was by rather than just, as somebody mentioned earlier today, by just kind of continuing to operate things as usual as the way the Bureau and as the way IHS has taught us, they weren't going to...they weren't satisfied with that. So they were very proactive and they went and developed an administration. Glenn Gilman is a wonderful example of somebody who had many years teaching and worked on his own principal-ship and those things were allowed to be developed because of the leadership of that board and being proactive and outreaching and going to get good administrators rather than just doing things as usual, doing an advertisement and selecting from whoever shows up at the door. So I think those are the kinds of things that are under...the underpinnings of the ability of the high school to be able to successfully develop partnerships with the state system. In my own experience, as an administrator, we are involved in a number of intergovernmental agreements with the State of Arizona, with entities that are regulated by the State of Arizona and without a doubt we have to work with the federal government as contractors of the federal government. And so my view about that is that...and part of it's probably just being a young administrator. You're allowed to be kind of stupid and risky and my view is to kind of approach these situations as not even thinking that I'm dealing with a hostile government or a resistant other entity, but rather expending more energy and time thinking about how can I best establish the rapport with these people because we need to get something accomplished. So that's been one of my experiences as far as developing partnerships is expending more energy on finding creative ways and skillfully and thinking strategically like the gentleman from Winnebago about how I'm going to make this thing happen, what can I do to make the relationship develop but also too having a little...enough savvy to say, ‘Well, what do I do if they're not resistant', and that's just a matter of holding people accountable. And so those are some of the ways that I think that you develop good partnerships with people is you're going in knowing that your mission is to produce a result, not to be expending so much energy on worrying about how hostile they are or how much they may not want to work with you or whatever. And the lady...the presentation at lunch brings up a very good point because I think that if we continue to see governments as hostile or if we continue to see states as ‘us vs. them,' if we continue to see and feel and believe that we're not respected, then that's how we're going to approach these situations. And oftentimes what happens is we just simply do not approach that situation, but if we're more proactive, if we feel and believe ourselves as equal partners, if we truly believe in and embrace sovereignty, I think that's how you're going to be successful in developing the kinds of partnerships that we're talking about here today."

Heather Kendall-Miller:

"Thanks. Well, listening to you I'm struck by the similarity of things that each of you have shared with us. It's obvious that in the work that goes into building relationships and building partnerships. There's obviously some core characteristics. I hear building personal relationships and the importance of those personal relationships. Communication, open communication both ways; communicating to others about tribes, tribal governments and then being open and listening to being educated about the needs and concerns of other agencies, state governments, counties or whatever. There was also lots of emphasis on common goals and finding ways of building upon what are going to be mutual benefits. That seemed to be fairly critical in establishing relationships and partnerships. Joint problem-solving; that was interesting that once those relationships are made that it takes an evolution of actually sharing in partnering in solving problems; education, respect, common goals, personal relationships. We've only got about five to 10 minutes left and so I'm going to ask you to keep your final comments fairly short but I'm intrigued about now that you have built these relationships, now that you've worked at establishing these partnerships, how do you maintain them? Do they become institutionalized? Do they become static or are they fluid? Do the relationships change as the tribal council changes? How does the continuity of these relationships continue? Again, I'm sorry to suggest that maybe you keep your comments within two to three minutes each and then we can quickly wrap this up, thanks. Go ahead, Justin."

Justin Martin:

"I think you kind of hit the key concept right on the head when you said institutionalize. And I think everybody here has worked very hard to institutionalize their program, especially once you find that vision or that clearly defined objective and you're able to go out and in a grassroots type of method start to educate staff, general public, your own membership as to what good governance is all about, then you start to institutionalize that. So then it becomes Grand Ronde, not Justin Marin. And then five years from now, what if Justin Martin or what if Neily Anderson isn't in that role? Well, the program has been built over time by grassroots through education, through communication, through cooperation and it becomes an entity in and of itself and I think the key is institutionalizing these programs so they do co-exist with that long term vision the tribal council can provide.

Don Wedll:

"In Mille Lacs's particular case with...ultimately our agreement with the state Department of Natural Resources was institutionalized through a number of things, court rulings and ultimately the setting up of schedules of annual meetings usually in January and July to re-discuss where things are at, set limits, and then there's actually some physical things that are happening as to what are safe harvesting of particular resources, those types of things then drive the partnership because neither side can arbitrarily make a decision on their own, they have to do it jointly. And so those are some examples in our particular case and how that partnership gets institutionalized and because of the physical harvesting of resources, there needs to be joint decisions about the amount of those resources that can be harvested and that I think binds that partnership and will bind it for as long as people are harvesting those resources."

Theresa Clark:

"Our partnerships are a little different because they're business partnerships and our business partnerships are through like joint venture relationships or teaming relationships and other businesses that have gotten us to where we are today. So I think ours are probably more short term. We partner on projects, completed the projects, and then the joint ventures are terminated or dissolved because the contracts have been completed. But we do maintain relationships with them, personal contacts or whatever for future projects. We may not be capable of doing a project or may not have the financial resources or whatever and we may be able to partner again in the future so we do...I do keep in contact with all our business partners that we have terminated joint ventures with."

Mark Sherman:

"Maintaining our relationships? The simple answer is we have to sort out our relationships and keep them differently. We do a lot of our work through contracting sources when it comes time to actually implementing the plan and one thing that has worked very well for us in our department is that when a contractor knows that we're releasing a plan for bid, they know that they'll be treated the same way they were the last time and the process is consistent in its fairness and that it's de-politicized and that all players in the process have equal opportunity at the table and that's essential in dealing with outside business entities because they will only play the political game one time and then you get a reputation in the neighborhood so to speak and so it's a good idea to maintain a sense of consistency and fairness. And then we try to reinforce our relationships, the ones that really matter as we go along you have certain partners that become more essential to your process and maintaining a frequent relationship and just not taking day-to-day matters for granted or assuming that everything is going to be smooth. Don't be afraid to just pick up the phone and call them even on problems that require simple answers because when you're calling them and they're calling you, that reinforces the relationship and makes them feel like there's a good reason to maintain an ongoing relationship in the future."

Nicholas Zaferatos:

"The agreement-making and relationship-building activities are part of this first generation experience for changing a hostile environment into a cooperative environment. I think that our honorable speaker from Hopi really expressed it very well by saying that the next generation should just simply come to expect that we operate in a cooperative environment and that's an ideal state that all of this work that we're mining right now will take us to, that this is the preferred status quo, this is the way people behave and nations behave and governments behave."

Miranda Warburton:

‘I agree. I guess in our case what I would like to say is that it was a long struggle to become "institutionalized," to develop some kind of institutional standing so that now we actually have a place, a space, physical space, at Northern Arizona University and we actually have funding from the Navajo Nation for our students. But once that's in place, as I see myself stepping down on October 31st and Davina [Begay-] Two Bears taking over, there's a certain amount of training for her that she needs to do but way beyond that, I just hope that whatever my vision was is done and that her vision, whatever she chooses to have happen, to make it become a truly Navajo program that that really happens and that that just really evolves in a wonderful way and I have every confidence that it will. So while the structure and framework is there in an institutional sense, whatever she chooses to have happen and whatever the next person who takes over after her chooses to have happen and how that evolves and I hope that none of us can envision what that's going to be. I hope that it just exceeds all of our expectations."

Lori Gutierrez:

"Maintaining our relationships, our established partnerships; we have concrete contracts in place. However, times change, our business changes, our needs change and I think it requires a constant evaluation of the partnership, evolving the partnership, making modifications, if necessary, to adapt to new needs and concerns."

Cheryl Weixel:

"Well, it's like any relationship with the special businesses that we keep the lines of communication open. I think that's very important for us and then also, not assuming something that we don't know from the other person. Ask those questions, get the facts and then make decisions based on that."

Neily Anderson:

"Well, with us and the team, to talk about suicide on our reservation was something that was thrown in our face, it was something that was chronic there, something we couldn't get away from. On other reservations, I've talked to several different reservations who want to start up a team on their reservation, and on other reservations this is something that is hush-hush, this is something that you don't talk about. Well, on our reservation, with the attempts and everybody being open about the attempts, about the completions, about the ideations, everybody who sits on the tribal council or sits on the team is or is in some way affected by somebody either completing suicide or attempting suicide. So everybody has been affected by it in one way or another. Even if the WESIT team or if WESIT was gone, I don't think that the people would settle with that. I think if I was gone, if the people who are on the team as on call members were gone, I think that the community would pick it up and run with it. We do have a resolution in place stating that this is the team and this is...we're going to keep this running one way or another, but even if we didn't have that, I don't think the people on our reservation would self-manage."

Heather Kendall-Miller:

"Mark, the last word?"

Mark Lewis:

"That's a tough one. I just started these relationships. I haven't had enough experience yet to maintain them. No. As a social worker and as a social work administrator but I actually began my career as a mental health provider for Hopi. And so one thing that I've learned, and also as a member of the Hopi Tribe, one thing I've learned is that collaboration, which is needed, a prerequisite for partnerships, it's a very profound word, it's a very strong word, it's embedded in our Hopi values that we teach. But as a mental health provider I've learned something that it's...the word is profound but to actually apply it and practice it is very difficult. It's not an easy thing; it doesn't just come natural for everybody to collaborate successfully. And what I mean as a mental health provider, I think that there's a mindset that goes with that. I think there's a condition that goes with collaboration, an ability to approach things to produce an outcome, ability to approach things healthy, healthy-minded and the skills necessary to collaborate successfully is a result of development, a fully or better, best developed kind of individual and people can be trained of course to be successful at collaboration. So I guess to maintain partnerships to me is to have...is to hopefully ensure you have good leadership that will continue to produce people that have that great unique skill of being successful collaborators and to ensure that those people are in those positions that make those decisions to maintain those partnerships. So that's the one thing I would say and as this conference notes here, leadership of course isn't something that is new, certainly not to Harvard, but I'm pleased that it's beginning to come in and infiltrate, if you will, Indian Country. Because I think that in this new world we have a lot of knowledgeable and intelligent people, but leadership skills, that's something that is...can require a lot of training and, at least for my tribe and I would bet for your tribe, is that we need to develop the leadership qualities in our tribal leaders because they're knowledgeable and intelligent, but to be an effective leader requires high level skills in practice. And so that's what needs to continue to happen and continue to develop in Indian Country. And I hopefully won't say anything more but as a tribal administrator, as a chairperson on several committees and now...I do this when I take my staff or a group or a team of Hopis to different meetings or symposiums but certainly without a doubt as a governing board member now it's very important that I support those people that do that work. And I do this with tribal administrators but I just wanted to be able to recognize the Hopi staff that really do 2+2+2 that have come along here; Glenn Gilman, you're going to see him in a moment, a wonderful speaker so he tells me, and Mr. Stan Bindell, one of the wonderful faculty you've seen around with a camera way in the back, he's...it's great to have a local reporter as well. He's a faculty member but also does a lot of work for the local newspapers and it's very important for Hopi for him to be able to come back and share this event with Hopi, the Hopi public and Stan's responsible for that. I'm very pleased also because what this is about is now you have these people like us jabbering but the people who actually do the work, that doesn't get enough attention. And Mr. David Logan who just walked in here, he's actually one of the teachers in the 2+2+2 program, if you can just kind of raise your hand. And we should be paying attention to these people so I just wanted to show my support as a governing board member. Thank you."

Heather Kendall-Miller:

"All right, thank you very much. Unfortunately, we do not have time for questions. We are out of time and we nee dto move on with the next speaker. So I want to thank all of our panelists very, very much for sharing with us your experiences and your insights. Thank you."

Honoring Nations: Charlie O'Hara: Developing Productive Government-to-Government Relations: Swinomish Cooperative Land Use Program

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

Charlie O'Hara discusses the Swinomish Cooperative Land Use Program and the importance of developing productive mutually beneficial government-to-government relations.

Resource Type
Citation

O'Hara, Charlie. "Developing Productive Government-to-Government Relations: Swinomish Cooperative Land Use Program." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Sante Fe, New Mexico. February 7, 2002. Presentation.

Andrew Lee:

"Our final presentation from an Honoring Nations winner today is Charlie O'Hara, who's going to be talking about developing productive government-to-government relationships. Charlie's from the Swinomish Tribe in Washington State, which is about 80 miles north of Seattle. And they deal with a problem that many of your nations face as well, which is how to deal with checker-boarded reservations and how that impacts land use planning. In 2000, the Swinomish Tribe won an Honoring Nations award for their cooperative land use program. It's really a model that I know lots of folks around the country have looked to for inspiration in developing good sovereign-to-sovereign relationships on reservations that are highly checker boarded. Charlie, good to see you here. Ready to hear and learn from you today."

Charlie O'Hara:

"You notice Andrew tilts the mic the whole time to accommodate his six -oot height. Thank you very much. I generally don't need a mic that much.

Let me first start off by saying that I'm a recent employee at the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. And the work that was done to actually gain this award was done by my predecessor, and much of the credit goes to the tribal senate. Fortunately, I have my tribal chairman here, who can correct me when I make some errors in this presentation, but he and his predecessors deserve much of the credit because this was really a process that took place over a long period of time. It was roughly 15 years, I believe, in terms of the tribe's recognition of the issue and that is the land-use regulation in a checkerboarded reservation and how to best deal with that. The tribe took the position that they had land use jurisdiction over all lands on the reservation. Of course the county's position was, ‘No, you only have land use regulation over the trust portions of the reservation.' So there was a disagreement obviously.

There were options. They could have gone to litigation. The tribe and the county instead chose to try to work out through cooperative agreements a mechanism for dealing with this disagreement. Initially there was a period of mutual education where, through extensive meetings, there was actually a building bridges process that took place of some rather intense workshops to mutually educate both the county and the tribal members regarding each other's concerns, each other's issues in how they might seek some way of accommodating those kinds of concerns. Eventually, out of that process there was an agreement reached as to some basic understandings of the different approaches and how they might be bridged. Ultimately, it ended up with a cooperative agreement that talks about sharing responsibilities for dealing with land use regulation on the fee lands within the reservation. The tribe still exercises complete jurisdiction over trust properties, but it shares responsibilities with the county on the fee lands.

So for example, let me give you an example of how that works. If an individual is going to get a clearing and grading permit, for example, he has a choice of either going to the county or to the tribe. We have mutual processes...similar processes and that individual can go to either place. If he comes to the tribe, I have five days to forward that permit application to the county. They then have 15 days to respond and tell me if there's a problem with it. Likewise, if he were to go to the county, I would have that same opportunity. My response...I might have an issue, for example, because of concern over cultural resources in that particular area or other specifically tribal kinds of concerns. But basically, we use the same UPC, we use the same codes in other words, and we share expertise in a variety of areas. That's kind of the guts of the thing. I'd like to kind of talk a little bit if you don't mind about some of the more abstract aspects of government-to-government relations and effective government-to-government relations.

There's basically three types of relationships you can have with the outsiders, the non-Indians, and that seems to be isolation, litigation or adversarial kind of relationship, or some kind of cooperative relationship. All of them have their applications. In other words, some of them have our appropriate but different kinds of situations. Let me give you an example. For example, on certain cultural practices, isolation may be the best approach where a tribe has no interest in sharing a particular, whether it be ceremonies or practices, with non-Indian community. Isolation, in that case, would probably be the best kind of approach. And quite honestly I think that's probably the approach, is that fair to say at Swinomish with the smoke house? No interest in what the county's doing or anything else. It doesn't impact them. Litigation is often, too often probably, a situation where it ends up being the only avenue in order to protect essential tribal rights and so litigation becomes the only method of resolving an issue. The problem with litigation is often that it's very costly both in terms of financial resources as well as staff resources, it's lengthy, and you never know what the outcome is. It's a crapshoot in other words. And one of the other parts of the problem with that kind of an adversarial relationship is it tends to color other issues and you may be litigating only on one issue but all of a sudden you find that negative atmosphere spreads out over other issues that you're trying to deal with and so it gets less than productive in that sense. Cooperative relations, on the other hand, can be productive, but there needs to be in those cases perceived balance of power relations. Too often, you see groups pulled into cooperative or collaborative situations where the power isn't equal and, I would argue, that those are difficult situations for tribes to be in. One situation for example that I particularly don't care for is those kinds of cooperative or collaborative efforts where tribes are viewed as another stakeholder. Often, the situations involve trust responsibilities, treaty rights, other things where tribes are not just another stakeholder. And in those cases it really requires a defined government-to-government relationship and tribes shouldn't be treated as just another stakeholder. So I guess my point is that each of these approaches have their application.

The Swinomish Tribe has a culture of respect for all people and a willingness to try to find a cooperative way of working through issues. It's probably the most respectful group of people I've ever had the privilege to work with and I really enjoy that opportunity. The cooperative relationships can be the most productive however, when that perceived power relationship is balanced. And that can often require a lengthy mutual education process and that's often necessary. And that's the process that the tribe went through with Skagit County so that they could both understand their issues. Often we feel that our issue is the right issue and whoever we're talking with, their issue doesn't have value. Typically for cooperative relationships to work, there needs to be some kind of mutual respect development. Like I said, cooperative relationships can be most productive, because like the adversarial relationship it can spread and it tends to resolve other issues.

I want to allude here for a minute to Jon Cooley's remarks about the cooperative agreement with [U.S.] Fish and Wildlife. In a prior life, I worked with White Mountain Apache Tribe as well, and so I had the opportunity to work on that issue. And just because it's a nice thing to talk about, that statement of, what actually turned out to be a statement of relationship developed out of a meeting between the chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe and the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; one-on-one in a neutral location with a ground rule that no lawyers were allowed. Interestingly enough, that meeting was brokered by Joe Kalt. Joe Kalt recognized the conflict that the tribe was in with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and I happened to be seeing him and he asked me, ‘Do you think Chairman [Ronnie] Lupe would meet with Molly Beattie?' And fortunately Chairman Lupe agreed and it was a most productive meeting. The interesting part of that though was that we had been thoroughly engaged in a conflict situation; we had been spending all of our resources fighting with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. When the statement of relationship concluded, all of a sudden the whole thing changed and we were working hand-in-hand in the field, doing things on the ground to improve the situation for endangered species. So it was an interesting experience. But like that experience, it rested on an agreement to disagree. The Chairman emphatically stated that the Endangered Species Act does not apply on Indian lands. Molly Beattie said, ‘I have to...my job is to implement the Endangered Species Act. We don't agree.' They said, ‘Fine, we don't agree, but let's set that aside and see how we can move forward.' Likewise, in the case with the Swinomish Tribe and Skagit County there was an agreement: ‘We don't agree on who has jurisdiction over fee land, but let's set that disagreement aside so we can move forward productively.' Those kinds of mutual respect and agreements to disagree are necessary for cooperative relationships because you're not going to agree on everything.

I guess I'm going to try to close. But currently we're involved right now in both the litigation and the cooperative relationship mode and it's going to be interesting to see how that works out. But the one interesting fact, although it's rather contentious litigation and it has to do with treaty rights and endangered species and natural resource management and the tribe protecting those rights, nonetheless the cooperative agreement regarding land use regulation has stood up and it is still a touchstone that we go back to to demonstrate that on some things we can cooperate and we can proceed in a cooperative manner.

So I guess in conclusion, I guess effective government-to-government relationships require mutual respect, they require some level of technical expertise whether it be on fish and game issues or whether it be in the case of land use planning. In the case of the statement of relationship, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized that the White Mountain Apache Tribe had really good wildlife biology program and management program. In the case of the Swinomish Tribe, they recognized that they had good land use planning and good policies in effect. Those are kind of important, that technical underpinning of those agreements. Third, there has to be a consistency of policy. In other words, when you reach an agreement, then that agreement has to be maintained. It can't be re-read, redefined for every issue. Fourth, there needs to be open communications. That's one thing that we really need to work on is continuing communication with Skagit County. Often, if you don't have an issue, you don't communicate. And then when you have a negative issue the communications can really go sour quickly. Finally, for any of these things to work there has to be political will. If you don't have the will of the senate or in our case the tribal senate or in most cases tribal councils, these things won't stand up. And really, when we talk about what does it take for exemplary governance, it takes a lot of political will on the part of the elected leadership of tribes. Thank you."

Joseph P. Kalt:

"Charlie, as you know, the purpose of the Honoring Nations program is to provide a mechanism by which tribes can learn from each other. And as you know, the Swinomish example is now being used explicitly. I was at Nez Perce just 10 days ago and trying to provide examples to other situations in other tribes to learn from your successes. I have two questions about this; basically it's one question. Is it working? Specifically, two parts to this: one of the things that's been done so much at Swinomish is something that we see nations around the world doing when they don't share a government. That is they both think they're sovereign, they both assert their sovereignty. You all have used these techniques of ‘You have .3 members, I have .3 members and we'll pick a neutral' and that's actually very common in governments around the world is the sign of the exercise of sovereignty. I'd like to know whether that specific mechanism, how it works and then secondly I'd like to know more generally, are these cooperative agreements working? Let me tell you why. When I talk to you or I talk to Ned, one version is, ‘Wow, man it's nothing but trouble. We're negotiating all the time.' And I don't know whether to interpret that as they aren't working or is it like me complaining, ‘My university doesn't work, this thing called Harvard...it doesn't work at all because I'm fighting with my dean.' Well, of course it works at one level. So in other words, does it work? And when I hear you say it doesn't work, does that mean it's not working [unintelligible]?

Charlie O'Hara:

"Let me answer the first one first, which is, ‘Does that mechanism set-up of the advisory group work?' We haven't had an issue of enough significance to call it into being. Quite honestly, that's a shortcoming and I'll take blame for that because we really should be working that group in the event that we do have a big issue. We're likely to have one fairly soon."

Brian Cladoosby:

"Let me add just a little bit. I'm Brian Cladoosby. I'm the chairman at Swinomish. Now, this board is set up: if I as a fee-land owner give a permit, bring it to the county, the county sends it to Swinomish and Swinomish says, ‘No, that goes all against everything that we want to do at Swinomish,' then it goes to the deal board. The deal board hasn't had to hear any of these...Swinomish hasn't denied, county hasn't denied. So basically the board...everything that we do is so unified as far as land use that this board hasn't had to have been used in the couple years since it's been set up. So, in a sense, they're there in case we appeal within the county issues or the county appeals to things that we issue. So the board is there, but we haven't had to use it."

Charlie O'Hara:

"And in answer to the second part of that question is, I guess it depends on what day you ask me because sometimes you're optimistic and sometimes you're not. Right now, for example, the tribe...it's what's called the buffer case, meaning that the tribes have been pushing farmers in Skagit County to create bigger buffers on streams to protect salmon habitat. That, of course, cuts into the farmland so you've got farmers up in arms and they tend to be the political power brokers in Skagit County. And so it's very contentious. The tribes have gone to court; the tribes have won consistently in court. The county has tried to get the tribes to back off that position and used a number of mechanisms, intimidation in holding up fee-to-trust applications and a number of other arm-twisting mechanisms. But, surprisingly, it has not affected the land-use agreement and we've had a couple of issues arise, particularly one most recently involving cultural resources or the potential of cultural resources being on a piece of property that was being developed. And the landowner, being a particularly contentious person that claimed he had a cultural survey done, and there was nothing there. So the tribe said, ‘Fine. Show it to us.' He refused. The county then said, ‘Look, if you don't show us this survey, we're not going to go forward.' And so he reluctantly turned it over to the county. He wouldn't turn it over to the tribe. The county then turned it over to us and everything worked out okay. But the point was that it was tested and it worked. And so I guess I'm feeling optimistic today so yeah."

Audience member:

"Let's turn the question around another way. One supposes that good relations between potentially conflicting groups need to be constantly renewed. So are you actively thinking about ways to show as you're doing just today that it's working and celebrating the cooperation that exists against the day when you may have a conflict and you'll need to draw upon the reserve of good will that you're hoping to build up."

Charlie O'Hara:

"Probably not enough to be quite honest with you. But, for example, we've shared like breakfasts with the Skagit County permitting people and brought our cultural resources planner there to explain cultural resource issues and how they can be better sensitive to when they may run into cultural issue resource issues when they're doing projects. We've participated jointly in some conferences but it's never enough. It's something that has to be continually worked."

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "The Benefits of Intergovernmental Relations"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Former Nez Perce Tribal Treasurer Jaime Pinkham discusses the concrete benefits of engaging in intergovernmental relations for Native nations.

People
Native Nations
Citation

Pinkham, Jaime. "Intergovernmental and Intertribal Relations: Walking the Sovereignty Walk." Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy. University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2012. Lecture.

"So the contributions for us, they're wide-ranging. These are some of the outcomes you can see. It enhances sovereignty and it potentially expands your jurisdiction. You know, for the Nez Perce, we, our treaty rights allow us to fish down the Columbia River close to the mouth of the Pacific Ocean. You know, we were able to provide law enforcement to govern treaty harvest in the Columbia River far outside our ancestral area but in our usual and [accustomed] areas. And that was recognized by the states of Oregon and Washington.

We amplify the impact of our actions. It's a domino effect. It's a symbiotic relationship in that what we do has policy implications, like I said earlier, and it helps sets the stage on how governments respond not just for their interests, but for a joint interest.

And it's a proactive way to address tribal concerns. We found that the more and more we explore these intergovernmental relationships, it helped us head off potential conflicts before they really built up a head of steam. We were able to address these things early on in many cases.

And it promotes actions on comprehensive community development -- is that we share in the makeup of our community. Again, like what Daniel Kemmis said about the politics of place, the symbiotic relationship -- that we do have in the interest of tribal governments, tribal leaders to provide for the welfare for their community can mirror the kinds of needs that other governments face in providing for the needs and welfare of their respective constituents." 

Jaime Pinkham: Intergovernmental and Intertribal Relations: Walking the Sovereignty Walk

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Jaime Pinkham discusses why the building of productive intergovernmental and intertribal relationships is so important, and shows how they can advance the nation-building efforts of Native nations. He shares a number of in-depth case-study examples illustrating how Native nations have engaged in such relationships in order to overcome conflicts and achieve their goals. 

People
Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Pinkham, Jaime. "Intergovernmental and Intertribal Relations: Walking the Sovereignty Walk." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 21, 2012. Presentation. 

"So I get the opportunity to talk about 'Intergovernmental Relations: Walking the Sovereignty Walk.' And believe me, a lot of my comments will come from my personal experiences at Nez Perce. And it's good to see Joanna Merrick, one of our tribal leaders from Nez Perce, who was able to join us for this conference here. Because if you think about the political landscape of a place like Idaho, it's probably a lot like what the people at Yankton Sioux experience in South Dakota -- a very conservative community, a very conservative government, which trickles down into how the local governments kind of operate and feel and look at Indian policy. So it really was out of necessity that we found ourselves working on these intergovernmental agreements.

I think those of you from the Pacific Northwest probably know of a guy by the name of Billy Frank, Jr. from the Nisqually Tribe. And one of the quotes that I always steal from Billy, one of my favorite quotes, is when he said, 'We need to be peacemakers when we can and warriors when we must.' Those of you who ran for tribal council, I bet you've heard the standard campaign is, 'I will fight for sovereignty, I will fight for treaty rights.' It doesn't always have to be a fight, does it? Well, I've never heard anybody who said, 'I am going to fight against sovereignty and treaty rights,' much less somebody who got elected on that platform. So we ask ourselves, in this nation-building tool kit -- all these things that we've been sharing with [you] -- how does intergovernmental relations become a part of the tool kit?

So let's look at what's been going on over the past three decades, since the 1980s. We've seen this thickening of relationships between tribes and with states. And some of this is driven by the fact that we see governors being elected and taking actions to formalize new relations with tribes within their states. Some of it will come as an executive order by the governor. Just in 2010, the Governor of South Dakota, newly elected Governor [Dennis] Daugaard, had created a secretarial position -- Secretary of Indian Affairs -- and he selected someone from the Cheyenne River Sioux, an attorney by the name of J.R. LaPlante, to head up this first department within the State of South Dakota. And what's interesting, before this the tribal relations in South Dakota was under the tourism department in the state. So it shows a major shift in thinking. And we also see state legislatures responding, too. For example, in Idaho, the State Legislature had passed legislation that created an Indian Affairs Commission. And on this commission you have a representative from the House, from the Senate, from the Governor's office as well as a representative from each of the five tribes in Idaho. The expectation is that maybe there's another avenue to resolving these conflicts and trying to head off issues before it gets into the legislature because believe me, you don't always want state legislatures working on Indian policy.

There are other areas, too, that we see. If you looked at the National Conference of State Legislatures -- it's a coalition of the 50 state legislatures in the U.S. -- and on their website, if you look under the Indian Country headings, 42 of the 50 states now have some kind of a formal relationship that they're developing with tribes, whether it's through the actions of the governor or the legislature. So we see this emergence. But the other thing we see too, which I find extremely fascinating, is the number of Native Americans running and getting elected to state legislatures. Now you see this in South Dakota, certainly up in Alaska, Montana, we're seeing it in Idaho and Washington. One of my favorite stories is Richard Marcellais, Chairman of Turtle Mountain Chippewa. Not only was he chairman of the tribe, but he was also the state senator from North Dakota from that particular district. And back in 2010, when the chairman was running for re-election, he gave me one of his campaign cards. And you look at it and here he is with this war bonnet on and this picture that says, 'Integrity, Honesty, Hard-working. Re-elect Richard Marcellais, Chairman, Turtle Mountain Chippewa.' Turn the card over. Here he is in his business suit, 'Honesty, Integrity, Hard-working. Re-elect Richard Marcellais, State Senator.' I thought it was fascinating. How many citizens have this ability to exercise leadership in multiple layers of government? And tribes have that opportunity, and we see many tribal people exercising it.

Well, we also see the growth in intergovernmental relationships between tribes and states. For example, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act requires that we negotiate compacts with states, which in turn are intergovernmental relations. And many times we see these compacts also leading to other relationships and agreements with local governments over gaming and its impact on land use and public safety and revenue sharing and other areas as well. So we see this emergence going on. And the growth in intertribal partnerships have long been occurring. I was talking with Jefferson earlier, another Columbia River Treaty tribe at Warm Springs. We've had this ancient relationship where we're connected by river and our relationship to salmon, which that grew into a connection by blood. And so that strategic alliances with tribes that have lasted over maybe the axis of a common resource, a common language or maybe we had common enemies. So we always had these nation-to-nation relationships between tribes and that's nothing new for us.

The growing interest by governments in strengthening agreements, avoiding the pitfalls, and simplifying processes. Gosh, believe me, they just don't print enough money to solve all our problems these days. So what are some other avenues that we can have to provide the services that our tribal citizens need, whether it's through health care or law enforcement, jurisdictional issues? And I'll share some examples of where this is coming true. And the drivers for this growth are many.

We see this devolution of power. The federal government -- the granddaddy of governments, so to speak -- wanted to transfer more responsibilities and authorities down to other governments whether it's tribes, the states. And many times they transfer those responsibilities, but they don't transfer the resources to implement them. But we see this devolution going on. In some respects the Indian Self Determination Act, which provided the tribes with the opportunity to manage those BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] responsibilities, we see cases where tribes and even the states are asking for a greater say or the ability to manage natural resources like federal lands or the bison range in Montana when it comes to the Flathead Tribe [Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes], or Nez Perce who wanted to take on wolf recovery from the federal government for the entire state of Idaho. So you see these responsibilities being shifted from the national level on down to the tribal level and state level. And you even see states going through this too, transferring certain authorities down to counties and cities. Also the increased assertion of sovereignty by Native nations; the more that we get out there and exercise our sovereignty wisely, we see this expansion, especially where you have life-sustaining resources like water and fish and wildlife that don't know political boundaries. And so our sovereignty will be extending outside of our reservation boundaries to provide for law enforcement, management and care of natural resources. So we see ourselves expanding outside of our boundaries.

In some cases, it's the challenges themselves that drive the need for these intergovernmental relationships. In Nez Perce, we're a checkerboard reservation. You've got three counties, multiple cities. You've got these jurisdictional intersections and as cars are passing by, whose authority takes precedence? What parcel of land are you standing on at a particular time? And are you Indian, non-Indian, or are you a member of another tribe? And so you have all these complexities of this jurisdictional web of issues that you try to sort out. We also see it in social services, welfare reform, where Congress had kind of created this inequity granting more authorities to the states than they did to the tribes. So in some cases, we're forced to work with states on social service programs. And of course the limited capacities; and it's not just limited capacities of money, it's also what kind of talent and resources, whether it's technical resources or intellectual resources or information that we need to solve our problems. But as well as work with our neighbors as they face the same kind of concerns and challenges and opportunities that we do. And always there's the potential value added by cooperation. Thinking about Billy Frank's comment about are you going to be a peacemaker or a warrior, you need the wisdom and the strength to do the due diligence to decide which is going to work in your community. Sometimes it is the litigation -- you have no choice but to litigate your concerns.

One example I'd like to use that I know Joanna is familiar with, a very difficult decision at Nez Perce and it involved the adjudication of water rights in the Snake River Basin. In the tribe, we didn't want into the fight, but we had to get into the fight when the state had filed water claims against the federal government. Well, we weren't going to stand by and let the feds represent our interests. Even during the negotiation, hell, it was hard to tell what side the feds were on. Were they with us or against us? And so we knew that the only chance for us to make sure that we came out protecting our interest was to engage in the litigation. But the tribe took two tracks. They were parallel tracks that were simultaneous. One involved the litigation and one involved a mediated negotiated solution. On the litigation side, the primary basis for our claims was around in-stream flows. We're salmon people; we love our sushi. And so being [that] the Clearwater and the Salmon and the Snake rivers coming through our country, the salmon are important to our society. And so we wanted to insure the in-stream flows for the adults to return and for the young smolts to go back out to the ocean. But it was also the in-stream flows for our consumptive uses, for domestic-industrial uses. Also the litigation was over the use of springs. We used to herd our cattle all around that region. And in our treaty, we retained the right to access private property to water our cattle and horses. So that's where litigation was taking us.

Same thing, though, on a negotiation was about the in-stream flows. But when we got to negotiation we found out there were other things that we could put onto the table. We were allotted and all the surplus land that was not either reserved for tribal allotments or for the tribe in common and not homesteaded was given to the Bureau of Land Management. We had federal BLM lands within an Indian reservation and dammit, we wanted those lands back. So we put those on a negotiating table. The next thing we said, 'There are two federal fish hatcheries on this reservation. Why are the feds running them and why aren't we running them?' We said, 'We want those fish hatcheries,' under negotiations. Well, the feds said, 'Well, we'll give you this one. This other one has this huge research facility, it's state of the art and we don't want to give it up.' So we negotiated and we said, 'Okay, let us co-manage it with you.' So we started talking about even more than that. And we started talking about funding --funding for watershed restoration, funding for the infrastructure to have clean water and clean sewer, to build a community infrastructure. So we had a funding package on there. Then it came up to a vote and I tell you there was not a wrong answer. Do you vote for litigation? Do you vote for negotiation? They were both right answers. And I think there's something liberating about you can pick either one and either one is going to work. But after a hard decision -- I was no longer on council so that rested with Joanna and others -- they voted with the negotiations. And it was actually one of the largest-funded water rights settlements in this country. So it shows that sometimes litigation and cooperation -- tough choices -- but cooperation does allow you to put more opportunities on the table.

When I was on council and we'd be talking about these intergovernmental agreements, we had concerns about going forward with them. And one is we have this long history of conflicts with these governments. So why would we want to sit down and be their partner all of a sudden? And wasn't it just the feds who have this government-to-government relationship with us? Why do we want to recognize these more junior governments like cities and counties? And we also thought, 'Yeah, they're the minor leagues. We're a tribal government. We're in the big leagues. We don't want to deal with these little junior varsity governments.' And also the feeling that we are tribal sovereigns. We always think there are three true sovereigns, and that's the tribes, the federal government, and the states. And why would we want to deal with these other governments? By dealing with these non-sovereign sort of governments, doesn't that erode our sovereignty? So there was a concern about that. And the other one is heck, sometimes we're so darn good we just beat them in court anyway any time there's a conflict. But we figure, we admit that these intergovernmental relationships -- we're talking about how government is a tool for the nation -- well, this is one of the tools in the toolkit here, is these nation-building tools of how tribal governments can interact with other governments because we can influence policy outcomes on a broader scale. When you interact with state on policy issue, your authority, your voices get expanded and may impact how things go on outside your community. And it enhances economic opportunities. And I'll share an example of how this worked at Nez Perce, where because of the existence of the tribe and our work with the local city, we were able to expand the economic infrastructure to support both the city and the tribe. And also the delivery of quality services to our tribal members, especially on reservations where you're very rural and we had limited resources to provide for our tribal members, but also the counties and the cities have the same limitations. So are there opportunities that we can cobble everything together to create a single functioning program? And again, I'll share more examples of that.

This federal devolution thing -- it's not going to go away. I think it will continue to expand and we need to be prepared for it. Utilization of scarce resources, the mutual concerns -- as I covered before -- but also I think what's important here is when we talk about the concerns -- that I showed on an earlier page -- really these intergovernmental relationships are an exercise of sovereignty. We say to ourselves, when we get into these agreements, that we have the sovereign ability to negotiate the terms of an agreement, to pick and choose who we want to partner with, to characterize what is the nature of that relationships. So really these intergovernmental agreements are just an expression of our sovereignty. And so the contributions are many -- and again so that I stay on time and we play a little bit of catch up here, let me cover these in the examples that I'm going to show here in a bit.

So let me share just some common areas for these intergovernmental agreements. One of my favorites is a Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. They sit on the far east side of the state right along the boundary of the State of Minnesota. So you've got the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, a small reservation and it overlaps the boundaries of the city, the City of Flandreau. And so again you have this jurisdictional intersection. Whose laws take precedent? Who's involved in a particular action or crime? Is it civil, is it criminal, on and on and on? Well, they were struggling with this about this overlapping mixed jurisdiction and they finally decided back in 2000 and said, 'What if we just create a single police department?' And so in 2000 they created a joint police department. And actually, it's led by the tribe, so you have uniformed police officers that provide law enforcement, tribal law enforcement, that also provide law enforcement over the city. And how they managed that, the cooperation of that is they have a joint public safety commission that provides oversight, helps with the creating of laws, and it respects the rights of the tribe as well as the interests of the city in this agreement.

Others are justice systems, and we've been talking a lot about [Chairman John] 'Rocky' Barrett at Citizen Band Potawatomi. We have a lot of Rocky stories, too. And Rocky was saying, there was a city that came to him and said, 'We don't have the resources for law enforcement on our reservation. Can we contract with the tribal police to provide public safety on the reservation?' And Rocky said, 'Yeah, fine, we can do that.' But he said then they came back later and they said, 'You know what, we like how you resolve your disputes in your court system. Can we use your court system to adjudicate our conflicts?' And Rocky said, 'That was unheard of.' A non-Indian government saying, 'we like how your courts operate, can we use your courts to resolve conflict?' And it just shows the sophistication of the infrastructure that Citizen Band Potawatomi was developing. When I was talking to Rocky a couple years ago, he said that agreement is no longer in place. He said after a city council election, the new city council voted to disband that relationship. So we say, 'Well, the city didn't have the staying power to stay in it.' But there's another example that's been emerging.

Leech Lake Band of Chippewa in Northern Minnesota -- another checkerboard reservation -- and you've got the issues that the tribe and the non-Indian community share is the same that many societies share; and it's the substance abuse, and the crime that is associated with substance abuse. And so you've got the state, the tribe and the counties with these overlapping jurisdictions. And they decided to get together to create a joint wellness court; it was the tribe and two local counties -- Cass County and Itasca County -- that formed this wellness court. And while it focuses on the crimes itself, it also focuses on how do you drive down the repeat offenders. And so it has this intensive monitoring program that if you're convicted then you have to frequently appear before the court and they monitor you on your progress. 'Are you keeping up with your treatments? Are you doing your community service?' And on and on and on. But what's interesting is that it doesn't matter which court you go to. The joint powers agreement says, 'Well, you go to the court...' If I'm a tribal member, I can go to Cass County court and through teleconferencing I'm kind of beamed into the tribal court. And so what's interesting is that you've got these three courts with the same laws respecting their authorities, but it doesn't matter whether you're Indian or non, you can go and get the same kind of treatment and oversight in whichever courtroom you go into. And the counties actually, the counties and the courthouses, fly the Leech Lake Tribal flag in their courtroom. How many county courthouses fly tribal flags? One of the attorneys, one of the judges actually said, he said, 'There was a time when I thought tribal courts were inferior to our courts.' And he said, 'Through this joint powers agreement I recognize it is not so.' He says, 'I now fully understand the strength of tribal sovereignty.' And he says, 'That Leech Lake flag that flies in my courtroom reminds me of that every day.' There are even cases where the tribal judge, Korey Wahwassuck, takes the bench right next to one of these county judges, too. I think it's just a phenomenal agreement.

Land use examples. Swinomish, I think, is a great example; you've got another checkerboard reservation. And so you've got the county and the cities that overlap with Swinomish and each had their own land use laws. And so when maybe a county would permit something and put conditions on this permit process, you would have impacts across the boundaries on the tribal resources, impact to the water and the land. And so they decided to get together and create a comprehensive land use plan, which now they do. And that land use plan, while maybe it started with the county land use plan, it began to grow into other plans and other arrangements. Actually, as I understand, Swinomish was the first tribe in the nation to have a joint agreement on land use planning with other governments within a reservation.

Natural resource examples; there's an abundance of those. Chippewa Flowage Agreement; Lac Courte Oreilles in Wisconsin has a relationship with the state and the U.S. Forest Service -- the feds -- on the operation of a reservoir that inundated one of their villages. And so this cooperative relationship between three parties helps to address the management concerns in managing the water levels within that storage facility.

Social services: you see the Houlton Band [of Maliseet Indians] that has this child protective team that works with the state to try to assert more authority of protecting Maliseet children in their placement and their care and establishing foster homes. The other one I want to share is Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians; we've been talking about [former chairman] Frank Ettawageshik. They have within their constitution a clause that specifically talks about intergovernmental relationships. They said, 'We recognize we have inherent powers and that as citizens and nations we have these inherent rights.' And in the constitution it says they recognize that there are other peoples and governments and nations within the world that also have these inherent rights. And it says, 'We will recognize their sovereignty as long as they recognize and respect ours.' It's a quid pro quo on a government-to-government relationship and I think very unique to see that actually embedded in a tribal constitution in that way.

Let me share a couple of case studies from home, one about this bitter fight that we had when I was on tribal council with this alliance, and another one is this project that we did with the City of Lewiston on expanding our infrastructure. Nez Perce is a checkerboard reservation. If you look at a highway map, it would be within the State of Idaho and it covers about three quarters of a million acres, but through our treaty we have actually a large land base that extends across three states and covers roughly 13 million acres of land. We were homesteaded. Similar case of what happened at Yankton Sioux; we were allotted and then homesteaded and that has created a bunch of conflict. Well, this alliance had formed because, as we were out there exercising our sovereign powers -- whether it be through tribal employment rights offices, we were aggressively purchasing land -- and thank god the tribe is still aggressive in buying land today. We're buying land on and off the reservations and county governments were upset because of the fear that it was going to erode the tax base and we were going to become larger land barons. We had implemented a utility tax on the reservation saying any private utility running through the reservation whether it's a railroad or a cell tower or utility line had to pay a utility tax. Law enforcement. Even the state lottery became the issue because we told the State of Idaho, 'If we had to negotiate a compact with you to have gaming on our reservation, then doesn't it serve that you have to get a compact with us to have those lottery machines on the reservation?' So we forced the state...well, we had to litigate it first and we won in litigation and it required the state to negotiate a compact with us on the state lottery; but it was a source of conflict, these ongoing questions of sovereign immunity.

Those of you who can remember back; there was a senator from the State of Washington, Slade Gorton, who was really tough on tribes with sovereignty. Well, Slade was in his heyday back then. And so 23 governments -- cities, counties, highway districts, school districts, even the same school districts our kids were going to -- had created this alliance to challenge the jurisdiction of the Nez Perce Tribe. And the premise of that conflict was the same thing that happened at Yankton Sioux. As a matter of fact, the tribal attorney that was fighting or the attorney that was fighting Yankton from South Dakota was also helping to fight tribes at Mille Lacs, the Omaha and Winnebagos in Nebraska, and he moved out west to help fight the Nez Perce on our jurisdictional issue. So this guy was really making a name for himself, kind of inciting this racial conflict over sovereignty.

And so the alliance took the position that since we were homesteaded that our reservation was diminished. Quite basically saying is that our outer boundary was erased and our only jurisdiction was over the lands that we held, that we owned. And we said, 'No, the political boundary is intact,' and there was an issue of diminishment. And they were actually using the Yankton Sioux case to cite that. And so we had these series of conflicts and charges and countercharges that were going on. And things got so bad the prosecuting attorney from Lewis County was speeding through the reservation, coming down the grade and down at the bottom was one of our tribal police officers. And he was speeding on by and so our tribal officer pulled behind him and pulled him over. And when the tribal police officer got up there, this county prosecutor said, 'I don't recognize your authority,' and he drove off. And our cop, our tribal cop, played it really smart. He didn't get into this wild chase, he just pulled in behind him with his lights flashing and followed him off the reservation boundary to where this guy turned him into, he turned himself into the state patrol. We tried to get the guy disbarred, but the best that we got out of it was tremendous media coverage about how reckless this is becoming. We had the city administrator for one of the communities on the reservation write a letter, an internal memo, which happened to leak and it talked about bloodshed was inevitable. Phil Batt -- grand gentleman, the governor from Idaho -- flies up and tries to convene a meeting between us and with these 23 entities around the table and, as hard as he tried, we were not going to come to a resolution and the tensions continued to grow.

But then something wonderful happened. And I hear Joe Kalt's going to be here later on this afternoon, and Joe Kalt is one of my heroes. And Joe had a friend from Idaho, a guy by the name of Keith Allred, who worked at the Harvard Institute and he said, 'This is what is going on in Idaho.' And so folks at the Harvard JFK [John F. Kennedy] School of Government offered to come up and help mediate a solution. How can we get off of this litigation merry-go-round and ease these confrontations, which were growing and building day after day? And so through Joe and Keith, they provided this neutral facilitation and created the starting point that we would accept each other's existence and honor and recognize them. And we needed to learn about one another. The more you fear, the less that you're willing to collaborate on. And we discovered that we cared about many things. And what we ended up doing was framing this MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] where we promised to work together. We knew that the jurisdictional issues would always be there but we said, 'There's areas of interest that we have in common. We need to focus on that. We'll commit ourselves to respect our governments and we'll agree to try to minimize these conflicts.' And so we went forward and we created an MOU that had this language in it. It says, 'nothing in this MOU shall limit or waive the regulatory authority or jurisdiction of the governments.' The alliance signed off on that. The very thing that they feared they were willing to recognize the tribe's jurisdiction and our sovereignty. So there's still tension between them, but boy, that was a major milestone to get that agreement in place and try to bring some peace back to our existence.

Quickly here, let me wrap up with another project: the City of Lewiston, Idaho. The reservation boundary is over here in green. The City of Lewiston, the largest community next to the reservation, well, our casino is right there where that little red arrow is. We bought a sliver of land and we thought that was the ideal place. And it first started out with a little metal shed where we sold cigarettes and expanded to a little convenience store. And we said, 'It's time to put a gaming facility there,' but we didn't own a lot of land. And by putting up a gaming facility, we knew that we're going to need the infrastructure of water and sewer but that was going to eat up valuable land that we'd rather develop. So our executive director, being quite savvy, he pulled out the comprehensive plan for the City of Lewiston and he looked at their urban growth boundary. And you know what, the city was kind of encroaching and growing towards the reservation boundary. And we recognized that eventually the city is going to have to expand their infrastructure and services, so why don't we get together and hit them up with a proposal? So that's what we did. So we committed to work together. And this is when the alliance issues was going on and so we played this quite well in the media, I thought, too. We told the city, 'How about we go out and get an EDA [U.S. Economic Development Administration] grant? And what we're going to do is we'll build the sewer line connecting to your sewer and water facility where it ends right now and let us extend it on to the reservation boundary and connect it to where we want to do our casino expansion at.' And we said, 'We'll build it to your specifications.' And they said, 'Yeah. Eventually we're going to want to build that and you're going to pay for it? Well, that's great. Let's do it.' And so we did. We got the EDA grant, extended the water and sewer out to our casino. And then, you know what? The tribe -- we're not water and sewer managers -- but you know what? The city's pretty darn good at it. So we told the city, 'Let us transfer the ownership of the facility to you at the reservation boundary. That way you can take over all...you've got the infrastructure in place already to manage those kinds of things.' So we did that, and so right now we pay the city a fee to maintain this. We didn't have to use up valuable tribal land to do that, and right now I'm happy to say the tribe just did groundbreaking again for further expansion. So here's a chance where we saw this intergovernmental opportunity with another tribe that helped us expand our economic infrastructure. But believe me, the good will that that created, the fact that we're fighting these 23 alliances and we said, 'See what happens when you want to play fair and you want to respect us as a sovereign?' Our sovereign ability allowed us to do that and the City of Lewiston was one of the beneficiaries of that.

Well, I've got to wrap this up, but some of the observations are that this isn't easy work. There's a long history of conflict that we need to overcome. We had to exercise kind of that sovereign attitude; do the due diligence. Where are those opportunities where we can have these intergovernmental relationships through cooperation and negotiation? And then where are those times that we've got to be -- like Billy [Frank] says -- it's time to be the warrior and draw the line? Both are hard choices, both are difficult paths to take, but the difference is in the outcome. And I've got to wrap up now and give a couple of minutes for questions and answers, but thank you for your attention."

Native Nation Building TV: "Intergovernmental and Intertribal Relations"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Guests Jaime Pinkham and Sarah Hicks focus on Native nations’ efforts to enhance their relationships with other governments as a way to advance their nation-building objectives. It details how some Native nations are forging mutually beneficial intergovernmental agreements, and chronicles the many advantages to forging similar intertribal arrangements.

Citation

Native Nations Institute. "Intergovernmental and Intertribal Relations" (Episode 8). Native Nation Building television/radio series. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy and the UA Channel, The University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2006. Television program. 

Mark St. Pierre: "Hello, friends. I'm your host, Mark St. Pierre and welcome to Native Nation Building. Contemporary Native Nations face many challenges including building effective governments, developing strong economies that fit their culture and circumstances, solving difficult social problems and balancing cultural integrity in change. Native Nation Building explores these often complex challenges in the ways Native Nations are working to overcome them as they seek to make community and economic development a reality. Don't miss Native Nation Building next."

0
0
1
4569
26045
The University of Arizona
217
61
30553
14.0

0
0
1
4569
26045
The University of Arizona
217
61
30553
14.0

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
JA
X-NONE

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:"";
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:"";
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

[music]

Mark St. Pierre: "Today's show explores the importance of intertribal and intergovernmental relationships and the innovative approaches that many Native Nations are taking as they forge ahead with Nation building goals. With us today to examine these relationships are Jaime Pinkham and Sarah Hicks. Sarah Hicks, a citizen of the Native village of Ouzinkie in Alaska, is a doctoral candidate at Washington University. She also directs the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center where she works on a joint project with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Jaime Pinkham, a citizen of the Nez Perce Tribe, is Watershed Program Manager with the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission and Intertribal Fisheries Organization. Welcome to both of you and thanks for being with us." 

Jaime Pinkham: "Thank you."

Sarah Hicks: "Thanks."

Mark St. Pierre: "Jaime, when we talk about intergovernmental and intertribal relationships among Native Nations, what are we really talking about?"

Jaime Pinkham: "Well, Mark, I feel we're talking about creating a platform that respects the individual autonomy of the tribes or the governmental agencies that sit at the table and it's a relationship that's built upon trust and mutual respect and provides our ability to provide collective talent and wisdom and resources to overcome conflicts or to move forward on areas of mutual concern."

Mark St. Pierre: "Would you like to respond to that?"

Sarah Hicks: "Yeah, I think we're really talking about deliberate relationships between sovereign governments who are coming to the table as equals. We're looking at relationships that are across various issue areas, we're looking at relationships that are between different levels of government, different kinds of governments and even different branches of government."

Mark St. Pierre: "Sarah, what role do these relationships play in building a Native nation?"

Sarah Hicks: "Well, these kinds of relationships really provide a way for tribal governments to extend their influence beyond their boundaries. It's really a way for tribal governments to leverage their influence, to bring their voice to the table with other governments to influence the policy making that's going on outside of their boundaries."

Mark St. Pierre: "Just as a follow up, is there a concern that tribes who work with, say, state or county agencies are surrendering some sovereignty, or how does that work out?"

Sarah Hicks: "Historically, because of the government-to-government relationship between the federal government and tribal governments, that there's been a great deal of attention to this very critical important relationship. But on the other hand, as we've seen devolution, or the federal government passing resources and authority to lower levels of government, to state government, to county government, in some cases to tribal government, that I think tribes are becoming less concerned about what they're giving up, and I think they see many more opportunities to cooperate on issues of mutual concern. So they're really looking to their neighboring governments as potential partners to accomplish some of these really important jobs that local governments perform."

Mark St. Pierre: "Jaime, you seem like you want to jump in there."

Jaime Pinkham: "I don't see it as an erosion of sovereignty when we reach to other governments, and I think we're seeing more and more -- because of the capacity that tribes are building -- is we see these other governments reaching out to us. We've built the institutional capacity on resource programs, education and health care, and the other thing is that the tribes have unique access to federal resources, for example highway trust funds, which we can help rebuild or maintain infrastructures, especially in rural communities, that county governments and local municipalities depend upon, too. So I see them reaching out to us as well."

Mark St. Pierre: "You've both seen a shift in how Native nations view these relationships and their potential benefits. Historically, what began that shift in emphasis?"

Sarah Hicks: "Well, I think much of it was devolution as I was just mentioning earlier. Really in the late 1980s, we started to see more and more federal programs, environmental programs, some human service programs, community development programs that are being moved to more local levels of government, and over time the pace of devolution has increased. So throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, we've seen more and more resources really being directed at more local levels of government, and this just increases the incentive for tribal governments and state and county governments to look for these issues of mutual concern, to really bring to bear their limited resources on both sides to address issues that all governments care about."

Jaime Pinkham: "I also see the follow up on that is some courtroom fatigue where too often we're trying to resolve our differences in the court room and when you go to court you have one winner, one loser but when you come together in exploring these relationships you try to harmonize your efforts, and while litigation and negotiations are both difficult paths to take, the difference is the outcome and the outcome is the mutual benefits. The other thing is I've really witnessed over the past 10 to 15 years this elevation of both state and federal governments in formalizing tribal policies. It's an expression of tribal relationships, so we see the cabinet levels in the state legislatures and representatives of the governor's office now reaching out and creating new relationships with Indian tribes."

Mark St. Pierre: "In regions where tribes are really a small minority of the local or general population, have these relationships in fact increased the power of tribes in regional and local politics?"

Sarah Hicks: "I would argue yes. I think that this is a vehicle for tribes to come together on the one hand in intertribal organizations. We've seen an increased growth in regional intertribal organizations, and I would say an increased strength in those organizations as well over the past couple of years. So on the one hand, tribes being able to come together to voice their collective concerns, to share their resources that they have has definitely made a difference, but I also think that on the state and county level, neighboring governments are starting to see tribes as bigger political players. Tribes are getting on the map. They're starting to realize that there are a lot of common interests with tribal governments."

Jaime Pinkham: "And I agree. I think we're seeing many cases where local governments would like to ride upon the coattails of tribal governments because of the capacity that they have at dealing with the variety of levels of issues from very local to national in nature."

Mark St. Pierre: "Just on a personal level, on a human-to-human level, do you see these relationships strengthening communication and relationships between literal neighbors of the reservations?"

Jaime Pinkham: "I think we do, because as the tribes get more active in local politics, especially you start seeing members of the tribal communities becoming on school boards and county governments and city governments, and that helps really soothe and create and foster some positive relationships. What concerns me is we see the growth of these anti-Indian, anti-sovereignty organizations, but if we could work better and have these positive examples, we can try to teach these places where this fear exists of tribal sovereignty that really there's nothing to fear but really there's an opportunity, a partnership that can really help all communities prosper and grow."

Mark St. Pierre: "That kind of leads to a logical question I guess then. How have tribes or Native Nations avoided litigation, avoided conflict in dealing with other governments?"

Sarah Hicks: "Well, I think tribes and neighboring governments have really looked to local agreements as a way to avoid litigation. As Jaime was mentioning earlier, litigation is frequently extremely time-consuming, extremely expensive, and often results in an outcome that nobody's happy with, so to the extent that tribes and states or tribes and counties or tribes and other tribes can come to the table together to negotiate agreements that work better for everybody down on the ground, that's a win-win situation. We've seen a number of examples. If you look to motor fuel taxation and tobacco taxation, there have been some great agreements in Nevada, in Nebraska, in Oklahoma, in Arizona. There have been agreements around natural resource issues, around protection of cultural issues, around human service delivery. So I think we're seeing a proliferation of these kinds of relationships across a whole range of different topic areas."

Mark St. Pierre: "Is it in the best interest of federal, state and municipal governments to cross these traditional divides and work together with Native nations?"

Jaime Pinkham: "I believe it is. If you look out west, where that sense of individuality is treasured, but as long as we remain isolated, anonymous and faceless, we will never be able to come over some of those very difficult issues out west and a lot of those issues will deal in terms of the environment, the return of wolves or the recovery of salmon, where we see divisiveness in our communities. So the best way really is to start as local as you can. It's the politics of place in crafting those relationships very locally and using that to build up the ladder to state, federal governments. Who better to resolve local issues than those of us who live there? And to take those outcomes to where we really need action passed, and whether it's at Congress or at the state legislative level."

Sarah Hicks: "I guess I just wanted to make a related point, which is that I think not only are we seeing these relationships grow in all different kinds of topic areas and really in all different places across the country, but I think we're also seeing relationships that are being built across different branches of government. So increasingly, we're seeing relationships not only with the executive branch but with the legislative branch or in some cases they're relationships with the judiciary, with training of judges around some particularly important issues to tribal communities. So I think the trend is just growing and I think increasingly we're seeing that we have so many common issues where all neighboring governments are concerned about finite resources, about protecting our environment, about serving our citizens, making sure they have the essential governmental services they need. So I think increasingly we're just seeing more opportunities for governments to come together to solve these issues at the local level."

Mark St. Pierre: "Has this caused a shift in how these governments view Native Nations they work with? In other words, the State of Washington for instance, has it created a shift positive or negative in how they view the tribes in Washington?"

Jaime Pinkham: "Well, I can't speak for Washington, but in Idaho when I was on Tribal Council with Nez Perce, we did sense a shift, but unfortunately the shift was going two directions. One is where we were working collectively with a local county government and a city government to provide services to the reservation, but by us being there having access to economic development funds we were able to improve the infrastructure of the City of Lewiston. On the other hand, we saw these other governments riding on this wave of concern about what sovereignty will do to a community, and so we were faced with an alliance of 22 entities from school districts to city governments to county governments who feared tribal sovereignty and what it could do, the concerns about regulation and courts and they feared this word called 'sovereignty.' Sovereignty is something that really is an expression of the health of a community. So we worked hard to try to overcome the misconception that some of these communities had and the way to do it is to try to show the positive relationships we had with other neighboring communities."

Mark St. Pierre: "In South Dakota, I think there's a tremendous fear that in negotiating with the state, for instance, about anything, you're in a sense violating your treaty, because your treaty is between the tribe and the federal government. Do you want to respond to that concern 'cause it's a powerful concern."

Sarah Hicks: "Well, and I think part of this comes from a sense or a fear that many of these protections can be eroded, that the resources, the federal trust responsibility to American Indian tribal governments can be eroded. And so out of the fear to sort of protect what we have, there's been in some cases a real resistance to developing these kinds of relationships. But I think that nationally, we've started to move in a bit of a different direction. We've started to hear in national forums, tribal leaders articulating, 'We need to make sure that the federal trust responsibility is protected. We need assurances from the federal government that increasingly tribal self determination and tribal self-governance efforts, that increasingly, intergovernmental relationships aren't in anyway affecting the federal trust responsibility.' So I think on the one hand, tribes are concerned about that and I think they are looking to ensure that those protections are in place, but on the other hand, because of again the many, many common concerns and because of the increasing resources and opportunities for collaboration at the local level, I think we're seeing tribes move in that direction."

Jaime Pinkham: "And no doubt, I sense there still is some concern in Indian Country, because you have the federal government and then tribal government, state governments and the lower governments, and there's the concern that if we work with governments below us from the states down to city governments, that it's an erosion of our treaty rights and an erosion of our sovereignty. But the thing to keep in mind is we have the sovereign choice to work with those governments only if we choose."

Sarah Hicks: "Right. And I think we are. I think Jaime's right. We're talking about deliberate relationships between sovereign governments. It's governments coming together at the same table as equals to determine the type of relationship they want to have and what that relationship will encompass. So with tribes at the driver seat, I think this is really just underscoring that this really is about tribes as governments, tribes behaving as governments."

Mark St. Pierre: "I certainly think that sends a powerful idea to those tribes that are very nervous about these kinds of things, to hear that there are tribal groups working on positive relationships with local governments. Let's turn to a totally different thing here and look at intertribal relationships. Why are a growing number of Native Nations developing relationships and ties with other tribes in their region or nationally?"

Jaime Pinkham: "I think it's built on longstanding alliances and relationships that we've always had. In the Columbia River it was the salmon that always brought us together. The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, we're focused around the salmon, so we've always had the traditional alliances. The other thing, too, is recognizing the diversity of the landscape of Indian Country with our forms of government, our languages and our economies, it's important that we begin to share our talent and also to share knowledge and wisdom. When you look at parts of the U.S. where maybe we don't have the economic strength or we don't have the political strength and we're going to rely upon our neighboring tribes, and so I think these alliances are pretty fundamental to helping to elevate the tribal voice in places like Washington, D.C."

Sarah Hicks: "Part of it's strength in numbers, the sheer fact that tribes can come together, that we do have consensus on a great many issues and that we have a stronger voice if we work together. I also think that Jaime's right, a lot of this is really just formalizing relationships that have always been there."

Mark St. Pierre: "The tribes that work together, is it important that they kind of have their own internal tribal ducks in a row, that they have an effective government?"

Jaime Pinkham: "Yeah. Again, getting back to all politics is local, yeah, you have to be well-grounded and have strong, stable political leadership and use that as the basis and build up from there."

Sarah Hicks: "There's no doubt that it's important to have a message straight from the top that says, 'These relationships are important, that we're going to do what we can to work collaboratively on issues that we can.' This isn't to say that neighboring governments can always find common ground and can always agree on solutions to joint problems, but it is to say that it's important to have a message from the leadership that articulates very clearly the intention of cooperative relationships. On the other hand, I also think it's really important that the technical folks, that the staff, that the program directors are also on board for this. In some sense, you need the message from the top, the general policy that says, 'We're going to work together.' But on the other hand, it's the technical staff, it's those folks that are actually doing the work who really have to take to heart what it means to work collaboratively, to look for those opportunities to invite the other governments to the table."

Mark St. Pierre: "This question's for Jaime. In your capacity with the Nez Perce Tribe, you've been involved in a number of intergovernmental relationships. How did that process start? Tell us how that began and what it led to."

Jaime Pinkham: "Well, let me use an example, it's a recent example. We were involved in one of the largest water adjudications in the nation, the Snake River Basin, the Snake River Basin Adjudication, and actually we had two tracks going. We had the litigation track in court, but through the McCarran Amendment we're stuck in state court. And that's not the most comfortable place for a tribe to have their issues resolved. The other option we took was to try to find a negotiated settlement and both processes were going on track. And so the Tribe decided that we needed to keep both options open and we aggressively pursued a negotiated settlement working with the State of Idaho as well as representatives of the federal government. And believe me, it took us almost eight years to get this thing through and it took a lot of hard work. And like I said earlier, both paths are difficult but the only difference is the outcome. So we were able to resolve our differences and we had to be prepared to give a little and to gain a little bit. But in the end we avoided court, we avoided a court that may have ruled against our sovereignty, a court that could have ruled against some of our treaty-reserved rights. We preserved that. Those are the core values of our community and through negotiation we were able to preserve them."

Mark St. Pierre: "For those of us that aren't familiar with the actual issue, give us a framework for what brought the conflict to be."

Jaime Pinkham: "Actually, it started when the state went after securing their reserved water rights out of the Snake River Basin and they filed claims with the federal government. Well, the tribe couldn't stand back. We had to submit our claims and our claims were based on really two fundamental principles. One is in-stream flow to protect fisheries and the second one was the consumptive uses on reservation, whether it be for residential or industrial uses. And so we went through a long process to establish our tribal water rights claims."

Mark St. Pierre: "You now work for the Columbia River Intertribal fish Commission and I understand that's an award-winning intertribal organization. How has that commission empowered its member tribes, the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama?"

Jaime Pinkham: "Actually, I see it the other way -- that they've empowered us as a real function of tribal government. We provide technical expertise, legal expertise and assistance in intergovernmental affairs, but really when you look, the real strength of our organization rests in the tribes and the capacity they've built on the fisheries front in the four tribes in the Pacific Northwest that have treaty rights on the Columbia River. So really they empower us and we act and respond to whatever directions that they want us to go to. It's a wonderful organization and I would say that we're on the cutting edge of salmon recovery in very contentious times, the fate of the salmon and subsequent fate of the four lower Snake River dams. It is a difficult issue to be dealing with, but fortunately we have four strong tribal governments that have empowered us to act on their behalf."

Mark St. Pierre: "I guess one of the things that I'm looking at, the salmon recovery, is something that has broad economic implications for the region doesn't it?"

Jaime Pinkham: "Oh, it does. The irony is that when the settlers first came out west they had the timber, the agriculture, and the salmon economies, so salmon helped get a foothold. But today you hear them speak only passionately about protecting the timber economy or the agriculture economy and we need to once again elevate the significance that the salmon economy played, not just for Indian people but for the region. And a strong salmon economy also means a strong, healthy environment."

Mark St. Pierre: "Sarah, in your work with the National Congress of American Indians, you've been exposed to many mechanisms available to develop these types of partnerships. Can you talk about how that came about and what some of those methods are?"

Sarah Hicks: "Sure. First, I think just the National Congress of American Indians is an interesting model. Our organization was founded in 1944, actually in response to attempts by the federal government to terminate American Indian tribes. So the very impetus for our organization was that tribes needed to gather together collectively to advocate against the federal policy toward termination. So the whole purpose of our organization was to bring tribes together and to represent their interests to the federal government. So that's just one model of intertribal organizations. But then I think what you're speaking more directly to is a project that the National Congress of American Indians has had with the National Conference of State Legislatures, a national organization that serves the legislators of every state in the United States so actually they serve a little over 7,000 state legislators. And in this work that NCAI has done with NCSL, we've been funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for about six years now to start to provide some targeted technical assistance to states and tribes who are interested in finding new ways to work together. So some of the models that we've looked at and shared broadly include the establishment of Indian Affairs commissions, so these are usually executive-branch offices within the state government that try to coordinate the affairs of the executive branch in relationship to tribes. Then, of course, there are a number of legislative committees. I believe there are 14 states that have 17 different legislative committees that deal specifically with tribal issues. Some deal broadly with state tribal relationships where as others deal with particular issues around the relationships so perhaps repatriation, perhaps gaming, things like that. But there certainly are quite a number of models out there where states and tribes are finding new ways to work together developing new mechanisms and developing new agreements that will sort of chart the circumstances under which these relationships should continue."

Mark St. Pierre: "What I understand, it seems to me from what you're saying that the general climate is improving for the positive. Would that be your..."

Sarah Hicks: "I think so. If you look at some of the work that NCAI has done over the past year, we've been working up in Alaska with the previous administration there to sign a government-to-government agreement with the tribes in Alaska. That was the Millennium Agreement. We've seen similar types of agreements in a variety of other states. We've seen an increased number of Native legislators. I think that's a big sign that Native people think it's worth investing in the state system. We've seen increased number of bills that address tribal issues in state legislatures. So I think across the board we're seeing various indicators that tribes are moving in this direction. And again, not that this is a panacea. We don't think this is the be-all-and-end-all, that this is the solution for everything. Certainly tribal governments and neighboring governments will have very different views on some things in large part because of tribal cultures and tribal values may differ substantially from other governments. But on the other hand, it makes a lot of sense to look at issues that we can agree on and I think we are definitely moving in that direction."

Mark St. Pierre: "Let's turn now to some success stories. I know both of you have tremendous involvement in a wide range of these kinds of relationship building and conflict resolution. Give us some ideas of some of the successes in the country that are based on this new energy."

Jaime Pinkham: "Some of the things that we've worked on back home in Nez Perce country and looking at issues that were once conflict that had now come into a cooperative relationship, and one was when we were looking at protecting our traditional foods and medicines and the federal government had a plan to spray herbicides and it was to take out noxious weeds. And then we protested that so in turn the federal government and the state worked with us to develop a new method of controlling noxious weeds that would safeguard our traditional foods and medicines. So we started a bio-control center, so I think that was one where we took conflict and turned it into something that was positive and actually is providing resources, non-pesticide options to control noxious weeds in the Pacific Northwest."

Mark St. Pierre: "Sarah?"

Sarah Hicks: "I guess there are a couple that I can think of. One is that in 1998, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation signed an agreement with the Narragansett Tribe that would actually allow for tribal members to be hired by the state department of transportation to monitor some of the progress that was being made on developing highways, to be there when human remains or cultural artifacts were found so that there would be tribal members on site to try to make sure that those things were protected and they were addressed in a way that was appropriate to the tribe. So there are some examples like that. There are examples around federal subsidies to tribes to deal with foster care and adoption. Right now the federal funding flow is only to states, but we've seen some progress such that there are 71 tribal state agreements in 13 different states that allow these federal funds that are so urgently needed to deal with child welfare issues in tribal communities, to allow these funds to flow through the state to the tribes and in many cases there are other administrative funds and there are training funds that go with these so we are seeing I think...Jaime's pointing out some examples, and I'm talking about a couple others, and we're seeing that really this isn't relegated to just one domain, that we're actually seeing these kinds of efforts in a variety of different topic areas."

Mark St. Pierre: "I know in the fishing industry in the northwest that there have been arguments about water flow in terms of the revitalization of salmon in those rivers and they've required very complicated agreements. Can you tell us a bit about some of those?"

Jaime Pinkham: "Well, yeah, some of them are complex agreements where we have to work with a variety of people. If you look at the river system, it's a river of life. Not just human life, but an economic life, and a wonderful example is where the Confederate Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have reached beyond...we can talk about [intergovernmental] relationships and intertribal relationships, but also there's the importance of creating private sector relationships, and the Umatilla Tribe has a wonderful example of that where they were concerned that the irrigators were pulling water out of the life-giving river as they were trying to return salmon to the Umatilla River. So they worked with the local irrigators to do a water exchange to keep water within the river system. So they took what were traditional adversaries and now they've become allies in salmon recovery. So we see those kinds of agreements at play. And I'm hoping we'll see more and more of those. The salmon issue is not going to be resolved overnight and you've got so many players in the game from utilities to irrigation to recreation interests and the long-seated tribal interest that is there, and we need to continue to reach out and build more of these relationships. And you see the tribes who are taking the lead on running fish hatcheries and working with federal government on land restoration to kind of restore the habitat that is important to these species, so the relationships are really building out in the northwest."

Mark St. Pierre: "We want to give a heartfelt thanks to Sarah Hicks and Jaime Pinkham for appearing on today's edition of Native Nation Building, a program of the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy at the University of Arizona. To learn more about Native Nation building and the issues discussed here today, please visit the Native Nations Institute's website at www.nni.arizona.edu/nativetv. Thank you for joining us and please tune in for the next edition of Native Nation Building."

Milton Bluehouse, Jr.: Introduction to Managing Environmental Conflict

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution Program Manager Milton Bluehouse, Jr. discusses the challenges to environmental conflict resolution specifically and dispute resolution generally, and offers some proven strategies for Native nations and other governments to overcome conflicts and forge mutually beneficial solutions.

Resource Type
Citation

Bluehouse, Jr., Milton. "An Introduction to Environmental Conflict Resolution." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 21, 2012. Presentation.

"My name is J.R. Bluehouse. I'm from a small town called Ganado, Arizona. I'm the only one in my family that doesn't wear cowboy boots. That being said, my family's pretty traditional. We haul water every weekend for the cattle. [I] went to a Catholic boarding school, served a little bit of time in the Marine Corps, which was pretty easy after Catholic school, and then -- let's see here -- went to law school. [I] worked for the Navajo Washington office, the Navajo President's office, the Navajo Council as political affairs and legislative advisor for awhile. And after law school I kind of figured out there's a better way to do this rather than litigation. And when I went through mediation training it was like three weeks. After the end of three weeks I thought to myself, 'Man, this is what I've been looking for and I spent a whole lot of money and three years of my life in law school trying to find this.' Kind of crazy.

What I want you to do right now is flip over that paper real quick and look at the picture. Okay, flip it back over now. What did you guys see? [A head.] What kind of head? [A duck.] A duck? Who saw a rabbit? You guys saw rabbits? Who saw ducks? Conflict is like that. You see ducks or you see rabbits, right? Flip it back over again and see if you guys can see the rabbit or the duck. Oh, yeah, right. Well, that's sort of the thing about conflict. We have all these different perspectives about conflict. It might be about environmental standards. It might be about a mining situation near your land or it might be rules or regulations that are promulgated that you need comment on. And I guarantee you almost every time your community, federal agencies, professionals, lawyers, scientists are all going to have different perspectives on that conflict. I call that the paradigm shift -- you have this idea of what you think you see, but then you go through this transformation of seeing it differently or thinking about it differently.

That being said, I also want to tag on this other interesting thing. I learned this from a buy named Brian Vallo up in Pueblo of Acoma, a really wonderful friend. He told me one day, he's like, "˜The environment is not quantifiable in terms of parts per billion or standards that determine what is clean or what is safe. It's about the environment as a cultural or religious resource.' And so when you look at the environment in those terms, you kind of have that bird/duck or the duck/rabbit kind of paradigm shift too, because then you see the water not necessarily clean because the EPA [Environmenta; Protection Agency] standards say they're clean or the tribal standards say that they're clean. It's clean because we use those things for baptisms, for healing ceremonies, for ingestion with other herbs and things like that, and chants that empower or make the ceremony effective. So when we look at the environment in those terms, we're going to have a whole different type of view on things.

What I want to talk about today is the introduction to managing environmental conflict. What is environmental conflict? It's basically...or conflict resolution...basically, conflict resolution or alternative dispute resolution with an environmental focus. So what we look at it as is really all of these different views on an environmental issue or environmental matter. But what we try to do here is look at it in a way where we have workable solutions, where we try to find alternatives to the challenge we face, and that means we've got to communicate, we've got to look at things differently, we've got to take a different perspective on how we handle conflict. We'll get into a little bit more about conflict. The other question then is why do we use environmental conflict resolution? Litigation is pretty expensive; lawyers that are here know that. When you're going through discovery, when you're going through attorney's fees, when you've got phone calls and you've got meetings and you've got airplane rides, those costs can get astronomical really fast. But then the other thing though is that you probably have an ongoing relationship. Unfortunately, we have a ball-and-chain relationship sometimes with the federal government. It's not going to go away anytime soon. Unless of course the apes overtake the world and we find ourselves looking at a crushed Statue of Liberty -- Planet of the Apes, by the way -- meaning that the world's got to drastically change if that relationship is going to change, but it's not going to happen. At least I hope not. The thing is that a federal relationship will be a part of our lives, our children's lives, our grandparent's lives, our great-great grandchildren's lives; it's going to be there. So the emphasis there is really what I'm getting at is presuming your relationship, finding ways to improve the relationship, finding ways to have this relationship become workable on issues that are of mutual interest.

One good example is, and I won't name the case, but there's a sacred site and unfortunately the sacred site is contaminated with chromium-6. Chromium-6 causes a lot of bad things in your body like cancer, other sicknesses. Both the tribe and multiple federal agencies have an interest in cleaning that up and it's not going to go away. It's going to be there for decades, hundreds of years perhaps. And so one thing that we try to focus on is the preservation of relationship, the improvement of relationships so that one, the tribes protect those sacred things that are there, and two, federal agencies understand how to protect those sacred things that are there but also clean up the contamination. And this is going to go on for years and years and years. If you have a bad relationship, most likely federal agencies that are the contractors and they start destroying sacred sites because you're not communicating efficiently or effectively with federal agencies -- so maintaining a relationship is a really big important part of it.

You guys are all in tribal government. You know how projects can take forever? Well, when you have conflict, put like forever to the tenth power. It'll go on and on and on. It'll strain your relationships both within your staff, within your office, with your family perhaps. Somebody said earlier that panic attacks are a big part of, sometimes, your jobs. I have panic attacks all the time sometimes. So there's also this and [the] judge was saying something about healing. There's also this element of healing to what we do and conflict is totally apathetical to a lot of those things.

Goals of ECR [environmental conflict resolution]; here's what we're kind of looking at. We're trying to minimize conflict. We want to minimize poorly informed decisions. We want to try to avoid appeals and litigation. We try to try to avoid damage to relationships and even lost opportunities. In this particular case we were in recently, if we maintained the conflict and if we kept going forward with the conflict, then we would have lost opportunity and the mutual interest in a tribal liaison being hired for this project. The tribal liaison would coordinate communication across federal agencies, across the multiple tribal -- there's about six or seven tribes involved here -- and each of them have an environmental department of about maybe 14 to 15 staff. So a lot of communication, technical issues and complexity involved, and a tribal liaison would be I think really helpful in organizing how the tribes and federal agencies communicate both within themselves but also with each other. And so that was one thing that we discovered was an opportunity. If we stayed in conflict, we probably wouldn't have had that. The other thing is we try to maximize comprehensive solutions, shared solutions. There's a lot of mutual interests out there. In this particular case, the mutual interest was -- among other things -- protection of sacred sites, cultural significant items and not getting anybody sick. Nobody wants to get anybody sick unless you're like Satan or something. The other thing is that you want to make sure that it's cost effective, you're not spending a lot of money and you want to look for opportunities for improvement. You want to create solutions where possible.

How is ECR used? This is a really great spectrum here. Basically there's three areas: upstream, middle stream and downstream. Upstream, you really want to start doing the planning; you want to do any consultation. That's where I like to be, upstream. Have those relationships with the federal government been upstream? Probably not, huh? How many of you guys have been surprised with the sudden phone call to say, "˜Hey, there's a meeting in three days,' from a federal agent? Sometimes that happens and it's frustrating. But if you have enough upstream time and if you're up there far enough, you can start planning, making phone calls, developing your relationships, figuring out what and who needs to be at the table. Sometimes we're downstream; we're in the implementation phase. Policies and plans and regulations are being developed and you get this interesting email or letter saying, "˜Look, check out the code of federal regulations, there's an opportunity for you to comment on.' That's kind of an example of that. Downstream is where you've got litigation. Perhaps everybody is kind of...did you see that Macklin fight this weekend on St. Patty's Day with Martinez? It was a great boxing...I'm a big boxing fan. These guys beat each other up and they were going at it forever. And finally one of them, you could tell ran out of steam, it was about a minute and 20 seconds into the 11th round and this guy got pounded. I look at being downstream and sometimes we get into these situations where it's the 11th round, we're almost to the 12th round, everybody's tired of the conflict and it's time to start looking at new ways in developing these relationships. So that's when we're downstream, we're talking about mediation perhaps, pretty extensive stuff. Somebody remind me when we get done that I need to revisit the duck/rabbit paradigm in relation to this information and how we view conflict resolution in our communities from a traditional perspective. So somebody remind me about that and I'll come back to it.

When is ECR best? Well, when no single party has the answer. You look at tribal conflict -- sometimes we don't have the technical expertise in place, we don't got the hydrologists, we don't got the attorney, we don't got maybe even mediators or facilitators, but the other side has all of these things and all of these resources to help you understand the issue a little better. So perhaps mediation is the bringing together of the resources and people you need to figure out how to address environmental conflict or environmental issues in your community. The other thing is that you want to create a balance of power among stakeholders. Traditionally where have we been? I look at news every other night, like on CNN, and you get these really cool statistics out there about who's going to vote or whose health is impacted or whose not being employed. We usually see percentages for the Hispanic population, the percentages for the African-American population, the percentages for the Asian population, but I never ever see percentages for Native Americans in any of these graphs they put up there. And sometimes when we look at this power balance, I think about that sometimes in relation to federal agencies and the consultation process or the meeting process. Oftentimes we don't have the information we need and that information we need creates this power imbalance because we don't know what those impacts might be without the hydrologists, the lawyers, the specialists and things like that. What we try to do in mediation, facilitation or moderation is identify what those resources are out there and try to identify who can help us so that we can begin to balance out these power imbalances. But then there's this other thing called historical trauma. Judge probably knows about this. How the historical trauma of conflict from the mid-19th century all the way up 'til the mid-20th century has impacted our communities. Sometimes we don't want to talk during meetings. Sometimes we want to be quiet during meetings, especially when we see suits. I get freaked out when I see suits. The first thing I think about is FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation], not that I robbed any banks or anything. But those are some things we've got to think about in how to use ECR.

We talked about saving the relationship. Yeah, it's good to also look at dueling experts. How many of you guys have seen dueling experts? Pretty fun to watch. I've seen hydrologists from different parties basically duke it out over how many acre feet of water is being used. Well, if there's a common ground we can find or some sort of mutual interest we can find to basically say, 'Yeah, well, there is an impact on the groundwater source,' then we have some mutual interest here, we can begin working on something here. Everybody kind of wants to get along, work together. That's when it works. When is it less likely to work? Timing's not right, the parties are not ready to sit down, issues aren't really defined yet, we don't know what we're dealing with yet. Sacred site is really highly polarizing out there. We've got the San Francisco Peaks up there, 23 tribes view the mountain as very sacred. Then you've got the federal agency; I think it's the USGS [U.S. Geological Survey] on one side. No, the USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] and the Park Service on one side and you've got this corporation out there and everyone's really polarized. They're not going to come together on these issues because you don't, from tribal perspectives, negotiate the sacred. So sometimes you're not ready for ECR. But that being said, don't discount it or don't put it off to the side. It might work.

Back to the duck/rabbit paradigm. How do you guys feel about conflict? How does it make you feel? I'll tell you how it makes me feel. It makes me feel like Bernie Madoff on crack. It's not good. You don't feel like a good person. You feel like you're trying to protect your interests, not going to jail or whatever. You feel the physical sense of being tense in the stomach perhaps. Do you guys feel that? All right. Okay. And it's interesting because I think conflict really kind of...there's been studies on how it impacts the brain and I'm not a doctor or whatever. I flunked high school math. But basically how I understand it is that when we're in conflict, the cerebral, the rational part of our brain, the blood in that area actually begins to focus more into the primary cortex of the brain -- the reptilian brain is what people call it -- sort of the very first parts of our evolution as a species. And it regulates physical things like breathing, blood pressure, how much chemicals is pumping into your blood, whether you need to run or fight, things like that. That's what conflict does to us. And so when we're thinking about really technical issues or legal issues or issues of policy and we're in conflict and that requires the front part of our brain, it's going to be a challenge. That's just an example of what happens in conflict. But there's ways we can manage it well, there's ways that we can begin to deconstruct that initial response to conflict by becoming aware and conscious about our responses personally but also the things we need to protect and you begin to de-escalate it in a sense using enough communication techniques. We'll get to a little bit of that later. Managed poorly, going to law, going to get a lawsuit, you're probably going to spend a lot of time. We covered a lot of this earlier. It's going to destroy relationships.

Sources of conflict: I want to talk a little bit about some of the places where I've seen conflict and you've probably seen it too. Political realities, trends happen. And this is a non-partisan observation. What happened when the Republicans changed office and the Democrats picked up the White House? Or what happens when a Democratic president changes office and we have a presidential, Republican president in office? Those political trends will sometimes affect how domestic policy is developed, how budget realities are impacted. So that can create conflict from, for example, an administration that might be very forthcoming and might actually be advocating for increased budgets to one where fiscal conservativism is driving the day and where there's a sense of increased scrutiny on the development of different types of policies. You can see that kind of fluctuation go up and down, left and right from every four years if you have those changes. Not only nationally, but within your tribes as well you can see that happen.

Cultural values and differences -- sometimes we have conflict on those things. I think we pretty much know what that means when we work with non-tribal people but also with other tribal people, too. I spent two-and-a-half years in New Mexico as a tribal liaison and I had a really steep learning curve working with my Pueblo brothers and sisters on what is important, how to engage into a governmental process, what the cultural and governmental protocols are, but eventually you get the hang of it and you begin to operate a little bit more smoothly than you started at first. There's also operational preferences or organizational cultures. Who's heard of Indian time? That's sort of the cultural observation sometimes of how one group of people view time and another group of people view time. So those are things that can create conflict sometimes. Organizational constraints, decision-making processes. Sometimes we have federal agencies come in and say, 'I need a decision by 30 days from now.' Probably not going to happen. If they spent some time working with tribal governments, they'd realize that there's a lot of deliberation that might occur, there's council meetings that might need to be had, there's sub-committee meetings that might need to vet that process. So 30 days is probably not going to be feasible, so that creates stress. Resources: we talked a little bit about the imbalance in resources, the need for resources, technical expertise.

Relationship problems, baggage from the past. Man, that Long Walk always comes up when you talk about elderly Navajo people and I really feel bad for the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] land specialist that comes out to the chapter house in Navajo and talk about land reformation or land regulation changes because these older guys will go right back to 1934 and talk about Commissioner [John] Collier and the livestock reduction problem. So that's baggage from the past and this guy gets beat up every time. I admire him. He's pretty brave to come out every time. I'd bring popcorn next time or something.

Personalities. You have really tough personalities out there. Who's been in a meeting with a Type A personality? Very directive. They call that like the boarding schoolmarm. I went to boarding school so I know. They tell you to do things; they tell you you've got to do it by that time. In that video we watched with the Canadian leader and his problems with the Premiere. The Premiere would say, "˜No, you've got to return the boat.' And then this guy, this tribal leader, has this paradigm shift and says, "˜No, we're not. We're going to create our own force.' So those things can happen. Communication problems. We'll talk a little bit more about communication in a bit. But there's unique things culturally in communication as tribal people. If I don't know you, man, I'm not going to look you in the eye. I'm going to be looking someplace else. Sometimes just the way we communicate with one another is a lot different than we do with non-tribal people and vice versa. So you can get miscommunication in those situations.

Data challenges. Too much. Who's heard of this term: consultation fatigue. You guys heard that yet? Who's been bombarded, who's fatigued from consultation. Your hands. Anybody? Okay, we're half an hour; we're good. Too little. We've been there right? We went from having too little information to drinking from the fire hose of information. So it's like bombardment and it's still kind of working itself out in several agencies. Differing interpretations on information might be a big part of it. So you put all of these things together and you see that in our intergovernmental relations or intertribal relations or even our community relations, there's just conflict that can occur at any one place and time. When you look at it from the environmental perspective, it can get pretty, pretty complex. How do you guys respond to conflicts? We talked a little bit about that, the physical aspect of how we respond to it. Well, there's a little bit more, too. Sometimes we want to be collaborative in our responses to conflict. We want to try to work together; we want to try to find those mutual interests. Other times we want to be compromising and say, "˜Well, maybe I'll meet you there, but first I need to have guarantees for this.' You know what I'm saying? Very positional in its approach. There's another one, competing or directing. 'I'm in control. I'm the boss here. Welcome to the Republic of J.R. There's nothing you can do here that won't happen without my approval.'

Avoiding. This is the best one because that's me. If there's conflict, I'm like out the back door and let my relatives fight. Then there's accommodating. Sometimes you are not avoiding it, but you're in the process but you're going to get steamrolled. You know what I'm saying? You're just not comfortable with conflict and you agree to everything and sometimes what you agree to might be to the detriment of your community or your relations or your resources, even your governmental structure. It may be even sovereignty. And in those situations, I'm thinking about this really great experience where I observed...I used to work for the Navajo Nation Public Safety Committee as a legislative advisor, and the tribe and local county sheriff's department were entering into a power-sharing agreement, cross deputization and things like that. It was like, wow, a non-tribal county sheriff can come on to tribal land and basically do a search without a court-ordered warrant, they can do all of these different things and based on what they find they can introduce that evidence or whatever it is into a county court? Those are certain things that happened and during that negotiation process you can sometimes see these dynamics of people avoiding or perhaps accommodating too much. So there's things that we have to pay attention to in how we respond to conflict.

Collaborative approach. You want to be open-minded, be other-person centered. You want to think about responsibility with respect to mindfulness in a lot of these meetings and you want to seek to understand before being understood. So we're really kind of taking a paradigm shift to how we're dealing with conflict and how we're understanding the issues that conflict. It's sort of becoming a Jedi Knight or something, I don't know what it is, Obi Wan Kenobi. But you have to like step back and become conscious or aware of all of these dynamics that are occurring in conflict or in meetings and try to figure out what is the best solution here? What are the opportunities I can pursue here? What are technical needs that I have but that I don't have but I need? These are things in terms of looking at it from the collaborative approach.

Problem solving and negotiating. Creating a climate of openness looking at interest-based methods. So when we're talking about interest-based methods, we're looking at the interests of all parties involved. So for example on that clean-up and the sacred site scenario I provided earlier, there was a lot of, I guess, positions that were being taken. One of the positions was, "˜Well, you didn't show up to one of my tribal meetings and I'm really offended about that.' It doesn't bode well on your sincerity to work with our tribes. The position was pretty much stated that, "˜I don't want to work with you, you're not sincere.' On the other side there was a position saying, "˜Well, I'm kind of freaked out to come to your tribal community because I don't know if I'm going to get grilled or not and I just don't even want to make the effort.' But once we figured out, "˜Well, why are we at the table here and what are we working towards and what's your interest in this process?' One of them said, "˜Well, I want to make sure that those sacred sites are protected.' Another one says, "˜Well, I work closely with the hospital and I want to make sure that that chemical or those contaminants don't reach the river or get into the drinking water. I want to keep kids out of there so we need a fence around it.' And then another side says, "˜Well, that's our interest, too. We want to make sure people are protected. We want to make sure the water is cleaned up.' You begin to find these common, mutual interests in situations. So that's kind of going through the interest-based methods, getting past those positions and into the understanding and interest. Understanding your interests is really important. Options and alternatives, take time to step back from a meeting a consultation -- whatever it is -- and kind of map out what you think are the issues here. Meet with your staff, talk with them and figure out what's going on in the situation, really kind of get a good map as to what you need, what the interests are, what's being impacted. I've seen tribal leaders go into meetings just flying blind and it's kind of scary, because on the one hand you want to be very respectful as a technical adviser or legislative adviser, but at the other end of it you're also wanting to say, "˜Well, I think that there's opportunities here, too.' So there's a lot of preparation that goes into this becoming more open minded or taking the collaborative approach.

Gradually build consensus on what you have in common. I've got a great example of that one. So I worked for the New Mexico Environment Department and I thought to myself, 'Man, intertribal governmental liaison, Department of Justice liaison, boy, made it. I'm going to be working on some really great exotic environmental conflicts and there's going to be toxic stuff everywhere and the tribes are not going to...I'm going to go in there and save the day as a tribal intergovernmental relations specialist.' So I picked up the paper one day and it was from the...newspaper. It said, "˜New Mexico Environment Department bans Pueblo bread.' And I thought, 'What?' And the article went down and down and down and it basically kind of painted the picture that the New Mexico Environment Department was anti-Indian and the bread was sort of the touchstone for that anti-Indianness. So I picked up the phone and started calling around and stuff and I found out that we had these environmental health inspectors who were part of the Environmental Health Division within the Environment Department that were out there just issuing notices of violations left and right because these breads weren't prepared in approved sources. Approved sources are community kitchens that had the stamp of approval from either the state or the USDA and these were being baked in homes. And I was like, "˜Gosh, man, how do we figure this out?' Well, we had to make a bunch of calls and do a bunch of meetings and pull together IHS [Indian Health Service] and tribal people and tribal leadership. And we could literally see that one, we need to find consensus on this issue, we need to find collaborative approaches to this issue because it's just not good.

On one hand you take a really strong positional position and say, "˜No, nope, no, no, no Pueblo bread, no mutton stew, no tamales, no nothing.' Then you're cutting off income for families that need to buy shoes for kids, backpacks for school, gas money to take grandma to the hospital, things like that. But then on the other end of it, too, is that there's a real concern out there with salmonella poisoning and things like that. So we got together, we were like, 'What can we live with, what can we not live with?' And people were like, 'No jarred stuff, no pickled stuff, no jam stuff,' because apparently there's like the scale of danger. Can you imagine that, the scale of danger in food? Wow. I was like, cool. So on the one end really dangerous stuff and then on the other end not dangerous stuff like based goods, cookies, breads. Everybody's like, "˜Well, why are we cracking down on them if they're not dangerous?' And people were like, "˜Yeah, you've got a point there. So what can we develop here, what do you need?' And they said, "˜Well, food-grade plastic bags, no Walmart bags.' You know, when I go to Walmart, I'm buying like ant killer and all these different chemicals that I'm carrying back home and stuff. I get home and put the bag underneath the kitchen sink and then somebody would say, "˜Hey, do you want to take some tamales home? All right, man, let me get my bag.' You put them in there, guess what you're eating, probably something that leaked out of chemicals or something. So we were like, 'Okay, we need food-grade bags, clear plastic bags. What else do you need?' And they were like, "˜Well, we need to have accountability measures,' the New Mexico Environment Department said. So we said, "˜What does that mean?' "˜We just want to know if somebody gets sick that they know how to call into the tribal office.' And we're like, "˜Okay. It's probably going to be the tribal health, CHRs, community health representatives. It's probably going to be those guys they'll call.' And, "˜We need somebody at IHS, too, from Environmental Health to figure out what was the source of contamination and maybe even provide food preparation classes and stuff.' It's just... it was these things.

And then on the other end they were like, "˜Well, I don't know if we want to do that.' And that's when I said, "˜It could be a marketing opportunity. You put your name on your bread and bam you know what, you're known for that bread "˜cause it's really great or you're known for the bread "˜cause it maybe sucked,' I don't know. It works both ways. And then we thought about it and we thought about it a little bit more and we're like, "˜We need to get tourism department in here and get their crack team of marketing and business development managers in here to figure out if they can provide training to these people who are making this wonderful, delicious bread and really great food.' So we were able to do these things. If we take the positional approach and conflict is driving our conversations, we wouldn't have had those things. We'd have been way far apart, but it's a process. That took me about eight months. It wasn't a derailed train with a bunch of bad stuff in it contaminating everything. It was the breakfast burrito; it was the Pueblo bread. It was fun. I had a great time, learned a lot.

Essential communication skills, active listening. I do this all the time. Especially when my dad is talking, "˜I already got the answer figured out, man. Yeah, I know that one.' Do you guys do that sometimes? Lawyers are good at that, man, I'm telling you. I was going to say something about like how I advised a federal official to say they're sorry for missing the meeting and the general counsel next to him about had a heart attack. He was like, "˜No, no, we're not going to do that, that's admission of liability of something.' I'm like, "˜No, it just means you're sorry for missing a meeting.' There are certain things about active listening, understanding what the conflict is and communicating in ways that acknowledge some things that might not have been pleasant in the past. And if you're listening effectively, then you can begin to see sincerity, you can identify issues, and you can identify who you need at the table.

Productive responses. 'Are you crazy?' Is that a productive response? Probably not. You want to figure out things instead of like saying, "˜Are you crazy?' You could probably say, you know, "˜I think that's really interesting, but I don't understand exactly what it is that you're saying. Can you say it again so I get it or that I understand it a little bit better?' There are things you can do in communications that drive the conflict down. Non-verbal communication. Yeah, that's a big one. Tapping on the table means probably speed up or hurry up or you're boring me to death. So there's things you've got to pay attention to. And as you're in these meetings you can take these cues on people, check in with them and say, "˜Hey, I noticed that perhaps you have a question on this issue. Do you have anything to say?' Somebody will say, "˜Yeah, I've been thinking about this, whatever.' Or you could say, "˜Is it cold in here? Do you need to turn the heat up or anything like that or whatever?' Just check in with them. That facilitates the conversation process, the gaining information process.

Effective questions. Okay, there's basically one rule here that I apply. No staccato questions or machine gun questions. Who's been in the military here? Anybody? Yeah. Who's shot a machine gun? Yeah, how's it sound? Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. Well, if you can imagine questions like that. 'So who's supposed to be on this project? Where were they at? Do they have contact information? Nobody called me. Who was supposed to call me?' You could talk about technical questions. 'So how many parts per billion in the water right now? Uh huh. So who's the agency that should be taking care of this? I see.' You can really kind of shoot them down with questions and as a listener you're really trying to figure out, 'Well, where do I start in answering these questions?' What I'll usually do is take notes and I'll say, 'You know, several of your questions were regarding his particular thing. If it's okay, I'd like to start there and then we'll go on to the other questions.' So in case you encounter those kind of things, there's things you can do to kind of figure what kind of questions or type information you need to provide. But try to avoid those. Do one question at a time as the conversation develops in these meetings, which might be conflict driven or not, it depends. It could be one of the consultation efforts that several federal agencies are developing now.

The ECR process. Whether or not you're going to use conflict resolution in either environmental issues or employment issues or intergovernmental relation issues or whatever, you've got to make an assessment. You need to figure out, is this right, are the parties ready to sit down, do we understand the causes of conflict? Really we're taking that step to understand what's going on here, making the assessment to figure out do we need a third-party mediator, do we have the proper authorities here. I've seen a waste transfer station attendant, tribal waste transfer station attendant in meetings with the Secretary of the Environment talking about off-reservation dumping and on-reservation enforcement and they didn't have the authority to talk about these things. They had the authority to take all the information down as possible and go back. You need the assessment to figure out what's going on.

Pitfalls of doing the analysis: if you don't do it, you're wasting your time. You might bring all the people together; they don't want to work together. You might be wasting a lot of time and money. You might have the omission of a key participant. In that last example, the tribal leader. Why don't we do these things often, these assessments? Sometimes you've just got to get in there and do them. The issue is so important it's driving you; it's got to be done. Think about that. The other thing is third-party facilitators, do we need them? When there's a history of distrust they might be helpful. When you have multiple parties that have multiple interests, they might be helpful to help clarify the situation. There might be concerns about confidentiality that might be involved that otherwise might be not available in lawsuits or in litigation or in rule promulgation or comments. So you can take the time out and caucus on these things to figure out, "˜Well, do we tell confidential information or not or do we keep it to ourselves?' And do you have the capacity for facilitation or mediation? Choose an appropriate neutral. Who does the work? Do they need to be in the location area, do they have to have specific information about that conflict? Choose candidates to interview. Figure them out. It's sort of like matchmaking, dating. You've got to figure out is it a good match. Managing the process. This is a really great thing; it's in your book. This is my wheel of project management, wheel of conflict management. You plan, you propose, you implement and you review. In the planning phase, there's a lot of things you've got to do. Figure out what the issues are, introduce people, figure out what the ground rules are, decide if you need a facilitator. The purpose. You want to figure out what are we meeting for, do we need to break this into tasks. The implementation phase we have three things. To implement the action, review the performance and complete the work. That could take years sometimes in some of these projects we get involved in. The other thing is you want to publish the results as the tribe directs sometimes. Sometimes you don't want all this information out there. The other thing is you want to celebrate your accomplishments. At the end of today, hopefully you guys all stand up and give yourselves a round of applause because you guys are really doing some amazing stuff here over the last two days. I'd have probably fell asleep a long time ago. Move on. Disband, restructure, review. We've talked about that. Common missteps.

Last thing. Lack of travel cost -- these things are challenges to conflict resolution -- lack of staff expertise, lack of party capacity. So all of these things, those little numbers right behind them, that's from a survey we took both of tribal and non-tribal participants in conflict resolution. So the biggest one was cost for travel, the next one was perception of time and resource, intensive nature of conflict resolution, lack of staff expertise. So you can get all the way down to the bottom where lack of access to qualified mediators. I have this program where I'm trying to recruit mediators and Native American mediators are like very rare. We have about 35 across the nation out of 567 recognized tribes, out of a population of, how many Native Americans are there now, 3.8 million, 4 million. Thirty-five, and so we're always on the lookout for mediators. And then who was supposed to remind me about something? Remember that.

So all of this information is taken from a Western perspective on conflict resolution. Don't forget that in your communities you probably have cultural-, religious-based ways of resolving conflict. Don't forget those ways. If you don't have the program, maybe it's something to look at to develop, because something magical happens when you look at figuring out conflict resolution from the traditional and cultural perspective. You're healing your communities from a process that hasn't been really beneficial where you have defendants and prosecution, where you have win or lose situations. But then you begin to delve into the creation story, you begin to delve into what conflict is from the cultural perspective, you're also strengthening your understanding of your community and your culture. It's just a really interesting kind of a resolution or a revolution or a paradigm shift that occurs with this work when you look at it from the traditional indigenous cultural perspective."