practical sovereignty

Patricia Riggs: The Role of Citizen Engagement in Nation Building: The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Story

Producer
National Congress of American Indians
Year

Patricia Riggs, Director of Economic Development for Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (YDSP), discusses how YDSP has spent the past decade developing and fine-tuning its comprehensive approach to engaging its citizens in order to identify and then achieve its nation-building priorities.

This video resource is featured on the Indigenous Governance Database with the permission of the National Congress of American IndiansThe "Rebuilding the Tigua Nation" film shown in this video resource is featured on the Indigenous Governance Database with the permission of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Riggs, Patricia. "The Role of Citizen Engagement in Nation Building: The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Story." 70th Annual Convention & Marketplace, National Congress of American Indians. Tulsa, Oklahoma. October 15, 2013. Presentation.

Ian Record:

"So I'll turn the floor over to Patricia Riggs. Again, she's the economic development director with the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and as she told me today, she's sort of their de facto chief of citizen engagement for their pueblo. Anytime they face a challenge in this arena, they tend to turn to her because she's done so much wonderful work in this area. Did you want to start with the video or with your presentation?"

Patricia Riggs:

"It's a little long. If you want to start it and then kind of go through middle and then restart it again."

Ian Record:

"So again, this is a video that Pat was involved with putting together. It's called 'Rebuilding the Tigua Nation.' Tigua is another name that refers to her nation and this again I think...think of this not just in terms of what it shares with you, but think of this as a viable tool of citizen education and engagement. We're seeing more and more nations do things like this. These videos that instruct not just their own citizens, but outsiders about who the nation is and what they're doing and why."

[VIDEO]

Patricia Riggs:

"Good afternoon, everyone. Hello. As Ian stated, my name is Pat Riggs and I'm the Director of Economic Development at Ysleta del Sur [Pueblo]. We started community engagement back in 2006. Of course at the Pueblo, there's always been some form of community engagement, but we had a very significant event that took place. If you paid attention closely to the film, we talked about the casino being closed down. In 1987, we were federally restored and there was one little clause in our restoration act that said, "˜The tribe shall not have gaming that is illegal in Texas.' So when the State of Texas started bingo and lottery, we decided that there was gaming in Texas so we opened our casino and they sued us and the courts held that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act didn't apply to the tribe, that the language in our restoration act superseded that. So we operated gaming from around 1992 to 2002. It was open for about 10 years and it first started as a bingo hall and then later on to Class 2 gaming. So when the casino actually did end up closed, we had invested quite a bit in infrastructure and the tribe had done a lot of good things with our funding or our revenues that we got for the tribe, but we were basically at a...we were in shock. There was this economic turmoil that was taking place that we didn't realize was actually going to take place. We thought that there was no way that we would lose the case, but we ended up losing the case.

So citizen engagement started out of the need to really find out what the community needed. What we started doing is really looking at different groups and seeing what their needs are and really trying to identify with the tribe and what they needed. This is just a picture of what we call "˜listening to our ancestors,' because everything that we do really does come from our history and who we are as a people and where we've been so just the fact that in spite of everything that's happened to us, it seems like...sometimes they call us the 'Bad Luck Tribe' because if something can go wrong, it happens to us. We got left out of the Treaty of Guadalupe in 1861 so we weren't recognized with the other pueblos. We ended up on the Confederate side of the line. Just things throughout history ended up happening.

Really a lot what was happening, too, was our own mindset and the way we thought as a community, so when the casino was closed we kind of stood at a standstill, we didn't know what to do, we were in shock. And I had been working at another location. I'd been working in the City of El Paso and the tribe asked me to come back and I was like, "˜Economic Development, hmm.' So I really didn't know anything about economic development, but I said, "˜I'll give it a try.' But when I came back, one of the things that I started doing is really listening and trying to figure out what was happening in the community. And so I heard in the video that Ian played before from Native Nations Institute, someone said that some of the challenges or the biggest challenges for the tribe come from within. So I'm really about training and trying to figure out what the community wants and so they started asking me to train different departments. And so I started paying attention to what the community was actually saying and to what some of our employees were saying and these are actual...their quotes, their statements that were actually said and they're things like, "˜Tiguas don't want to learn.' Everything was always blamed on tribal council and we all know that there's problems with councils sometimes, but sometimes I think we exaggerate those things because we don't want to move forward or we don't...we try to rationalize what we are or what we're not doing in our departments. So it was always about, "˜We can't do that because tribal council won't allow it,' "˜It doesn't matter.' Some of our non-tribal employees were saying that we couldn't do particular, they wouldn't do particular things because the tribal members would go tell council what they were doing and it was just, it was ridiculous, really. When you really sat down and listened to it and you put all the statements together, it was ridiculous.

So basically...so what we determined that we needed to do is really engage our community in education and try to really figure out who the community was because we know who we are as a people, we know our culture, we knew traditions, but we don't really know the community in terms of what needs do they...are out there, what are the poverty levels, what are the education levels, who's employed, who's not employed, what kind of skills do they have? And as far as doing a needs assessment we needed that, but we also needed to take an inventory of what we have or had in order to move forward. So we started doing different things to try and get the community engaged. And so this is what it looks like if you do the 'flyer method' and it just doesn't work. You send all these beautiful flyers out there and just get ready for everybody to come and they don't show up. So it was like, "˜Well, what am I doing wrong here?' And we were actually, at one point we even brought Native Nations Institute and we had a very small crowd there. So we thought about what we could actually do to get the community more involved.

So what we found is actually working with groups and even within the reservation there are special interest groups. We all have little things that...or subjects that we're interested in and what we found is to look for those core champions in your communities. And there's people who are really just very traditional and that's what they want to discuss and that's what they want to do in terms of who they are so we asked them, "˜Okay, how do you think that we can infuse tradition into the things that we're doing?' We also started working with youth. The thing about youth is if you work with youth and you train them and you honor them and you show their parents what they're doing, then the parents come, too. So we started figuring out how to get parents engaged as well. And then we did different things with leadership, with elders. One of the things that we did learn is that we really need to figure out how to work with each group and how to...and so through the little groups we got the whole.

The big thing here is you can't expect people to just come to you. As I showed the meetings with the flyers, it just didn't work. We had to find different ways to actually go out into community and to seek input. So we went to the elders. And I mentioned earlier that our casino had closed, but it's actually operating now as a sweepstakes center. So it's kind of we have... they look like terminals, but they're actually all hooked up into one network. So there are signs all over the place that say you're donating to the tribe and you're donating to our health, to our education. So we just got creative on ways to do things. It's not quite as revenue generating as it was before, but there's still funding coming in. One of the times I went to the elders and I wanted to do a survey with them and so they said, "˜Oh, no, we don't have time for your survey.' And I'm like, "˜But I have 'Free Play'.' And they, "˜Oh, Free Play, okay. Sit down.' So we started talking to them and then they found out some of the things that we're doing and they were engaged in that, actually came to where they actually wanted to participate in some of the events that we were having. And so they started making the food and sometimes we could pay them and sometimes we couldn't, but they were okay with that and they started assisting us in our events.

So then we also, one of the things that we did is in order to engage the community...there is no greater engagement than actually serving the community, so we started an AmeriCorp program and the AmeriCorp program, they work with the elders, they work in the cultural center, they work in emergency management, in environmental. So they're kind of our ambassadors for community engagement in different areas. The other thing is we do a lot of data collection and we do a lot of surveys, but when we do it we work with focus groups or we work with all the other little core groups and we educate them about why we're trying to collect the information. So we educate them first and then they are kind of our core champions or leaders so they go out into their groups and they tell either the other elders or youth or whoever it is that we're working with why it is important. So we educate them on how to educate the community on getting that information and we've been very successful in gathering information for our tribe in order to determine what it is that we're going to focus on, whether it's health or whether it's economic development. I'll show you a little bit more in a minute about the successes with data collection and also the projects that we're working on.

I know that one of the first times that Joe Kalt went to Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, I had been working in writing grants not just for the tribe, but also for the City of El Paso and I wanted a model, I wanted a matrix and I was like, "˜Well, do you have a matrix?' and it's like, "˜No.' So I realized, I think I really like to visualize what it is that we're trying to accomplish, but I kind of think very methodical. So I have to figure out what exactly it is that we're going to tackle, but I also realize that those kind of models and theories, they're for other communities, they're not really for us. We can't take somebody's methodology and use it at our tribe. So I started to look back and thinking like what is it exactly that we're doing, and this is what I came up with.

Well, one of the things is we have a purpose. No matter what it is that we're trying to tackle, whether it's constitutional reform or building entrepreneurs, there's a purpose there. So you find that purpose and there's also...but with that purpose, there's always passion and I'm so passionate about what I do. That's all I do. I have to have people drag me away from it sometimes, but there's other people in your communities with that passion. So look for the passionate people and then harvest the information. You really do have to harvest information and gather that input from your community, because that's who you're working for and that's who really is driving you to do what it is that you do.

The other thing is...so you visualize and then you assess and you plan. And I know it's kind of theory-like, but when it comes to your community, what is it that you're visualizing? Like for us, one of the things that we're working on is a land use plan and land acquisition. So when we're visualizing, I'm not doing this theory of visualizing, we're actually looking at the community and thinking about the things that we lost and the things that we need for ceremony and where...the places that it's going to come from, from the land and how are we going to be able to redevelop our lands and preserve our lands as they once were and then also rebuild our community as a village because we're used to living as a village and that was taken away from us. So when we're visualizing, that's...we're visualizing how we want to live. It's about how the entire...what the entire community sees. So then of course we can work, work, work, work, but at the end of the day we really do have to have something to show for it. So you do have to measure those impacts and the outcomes of what it is that you're doing because...and then you take it back to the community and show your successes and so you report the results.

And then here's basically the same thing with a little bigger snapshot, but in the end it really is about community, whether you're trying to figure out what the community wants, you start at the community; whether you're trying to figure out the data, you're getting it from community, you're trying to draw a picture of what your community really is, and then in the end you report those results back to the community and then you also try to determine what is driving the community and those are things such as the ceremonies and traditions and culture and just living together as a Tigua society for us. So we look at the core values and we reaffirm them by asking different people in the community and also about what is the best way to apply the things in a manner that...that will work in a manner that is fair to the entire tribe and to every sector of the tribal population.

So this is a little bit of our timeline and as far as our economy is concerned...so really what was happening to us, we had basically lost all our lands. We were living in a small part of El Paso in a little, basically it was a neighborhood. It really wasn't a reservation and we had, there were small adobe houses, most of them were one room. It was during the termination policy, so we really didn't have any hope of having a better life. We were just happy to be able to still be there and still be living as a community and still, even though we weren't federally recognized, we still held tribal elections, we still had our ceremonies every year, we still had people in charge of dong the things that...the doings that needed to be done for us to continue to survive as a Pueblo the best that we could. So of course the civil rights movement took place later and that's when people started to gain more confidence and to start asserting their rights.

So what happened in the 1960s is we were basically losing our few homes that we had left to tax foreclosure because it was the City of El Paso now and throughout there's a couple pictures that you'll see the entire, what our Pueblo used to look like, and because we weren't on federal trust land. And one of the important reasons that we start that film where we're crossing the highway and the tribal police are directing traffic for us is because that one spot is where our Pueblo used to be and we had stacked adobe homes. And the City of El Paso -- because we weren't federally recognized or had trust status -- they decided to have condemnation proceedings against our Pueblo because they needed that one spot that's a highway and they needed it to extend the highway. So they had condemnation proceedings and they condemned the Pueblo basically. So that is the center of our tribe and that's why we decided to start the film there.

So land acquisition and development and regaining and putting land into trust is very important for us so basically there was a lawyer by the name of Tom Diamond that helped us to get federally restored or federally recognized in 1969, but we were basically terminated on the same day because the State of Texas had a Texas Indian Commission, so they turned over the trust responsibility to the Texas Indian Commission. Well, there were some good things that happened out of that. We did get some new housing out of it and there was a few more jobs and some economic development took place. So in the "˜60s, basically our unemployment rate was 75 percent. By the "˜70s it went to about 50 percent and we went from a fifth-grade education to about a 10th-grade education. So then in '87 we were federally restored and the casino was thriving and our unemployment rate basically went down to three percent. We went from 68 acres of land that were transferred over during the time of restoration to 75,000 acres of land that we invested in with our casino revenues and then we also built a lot more housing. I think you saw in the film where the housing was. And then we...but then the casino closed because we were sued. So basically, we were really at odds, we didn't know what we were going to do.

So we started off by doing projections on our funding and what we had in reserves and we determined was that if we continued to operate in the same manner we would run out of money in seven years. So we had to decide what it is that we were going to do, so that's when we started this nation-building process and we started investing money in a development corporation, which is now doing federal contracting and we're located in probably at least five places throughout the country: Washington D.C., Virginia, California, Colorado Springs. And that also took forming a board and separation of business and politics and having a committee that turned into...later to the board. And so this education process, we're educating different people in the community.

One of the things we did is we educated the board on how to operate as a board, which started as an economic development committee and then they ended up the board. So now this... we reassigned the economic development committee and now they're being trained as how to operate as a nonprofit board so then we're going to replace them and they're going to become probably another board. So we just keep getting small groups and keep educating so that they can build the capacity to do other things. But in order to do this we really, really needed to know what our state was as far as a community is concerned. So we were able to really determine what our... who we were, where our people were located at, what the rates of unemployment were and poverty levels, household levels, individual household levels.

The other thing that happened to us in our restoration act is that the language in there said that the tribe shall consist of membership that is on the base roll and people descending from that base roll up to one-eighth blood quantum. They said that in 1987. So we quickly realized that in a few years we'd no longer exist as a tribe because we would lose that blood quantum. So the tribe decided that they were going...we went to Congress and it took us 10 years of introducing different bills, but we ended up just recently having the blood quantum bill passed. So in order to do this, we really needed to figure out who we were as a people because we needed to take that information to Congress. So this is what our community looks like now and we also studied the people that live outside the service area, our tribal members that live outside the service area as well, and what we're finding is really they left before economic opportunity because they're a little bit better off in terms of education and household income.

I talked a little bit about cooperative education and so what we're also doing in order to engage our citizens and get this information -- because we collect that information every single year from tribal members and we've been successful as far as getting the information -- but we also make sure that we give it back to them and that when we compile any sort of information that we give them the reports back, like whether it's health and if there's a diabetes report or whatever it is. But the other thing is we all come to these conferences because we work as professionals, but your average tribal citizen doesn't have that opportunity to learn the things like we're learning today, what's happening in the federal courts and what's happening as far as policy is concerned and even what happened with the Indian Child Welfare Act, and so we take that education to them. We make sure that there's money in the budget to educate our tribal members and we do everything from Indian law to nation building to...we have other people even come and do community engagement to let them know how important it is. We have financial literacy training, but we also do like board training. And so if there's a subject that we think is important for us to learn and what's on the agenda here and at other conferences, we make sure that we find a way to take it back to the community and to be able to train them so that they know. And even when we work with our departments who of course...there has to be some professional training there, a lot of times some of our tribal members don't have the capacity to be in those higher positions of directors, so we tell our directors, "˜We're going to put this training out for you, but you need to pick a tribal member and it doesn't matter if it's a secretary or a maintenance person or whatever it is, you need to bring them to this training also and you need to figure out how you're going to get that information back to your department as well.'

As far as community engagement and what it's done for us as far as impacts are concerned, these are some of the projects that we've worked on that have really made an impact in our community. One of the things is we did this huge comprehensive strategy and that's where we determined that we were going to do things like the Tigua, Inc. Development Corporation, we were going to do workforce development, land use plan, land acquisition plan. All those things were outlined in this strategy and there was focus groups and surveys that were on our website. And if you actually look at our website all the reports are on there as far as the information that the community provided to us and what we compiled and gave back to the community. So this comprehensive strategy, a lot of strategies and plans just end up on the bookshelf, but as you can see it didn't. We like to say that you need to plan your work and you need to work your plan.

The other thing is Tigua, Inc., the tribe provided the seed money for that and now they have really just taken off over the last couple years and getting significant contracts and they're doing a lot of building maintenance all over the country. They just recently got awarded the Wyler Building in California, which is the second largest government facility in the country to do maintenance. This is the Tigua Business Center that we just recently moved into about a year and a half ago and it also incubates Tigua, Inc., but it also serves as headquarters for our department, Economic Development, and we're also just now building another extension to it, which is going to be to incubate tribal member businesses, and we also have, because we really truly believe in educating the tribe and we're not quite there yet as far as having a college. We're building the Tigua Technology Center there, which is also going to help to provide the software that some of our tribal members need to get their business done like the costing and pricing for construction companies and for auto mechanics and CAD and those things that are really expensive that they can't afford as far as software is concerned.

And then also our tax code, this was one of the things that also came out of the comprehensive economic development strategy. For some reason, the tribe had decided that it was going to adopt the State of Texas tax code, which made no sense whatsoever. It was 200 pages long and we couldn't enforce it. And so what we did is we took a look at what would best serve our needs and we went from 200 pages to 20 pages and in less than a year we went from $58,000 a year to $1.2 million in tax collections. The allocation also is divided up for different programming. But I'm able to support our department because we get 30 percent of tax allocation and that's how I am able to turn that into some of the programming that we're doing.

Here's the feedback and it's really a snapshot of the feedback that we got back from the community and the things that they were concerned with in land use. So they were, the community of course was concerned with things like cultural preservation and being able to maintain our traditional practices, having land for residential use, commercial needs and agriculture, as well as transportation. So we determined what the best use of lands would be and through community engagement we also took an inventory of our lands and created a database that had all the criteria of our lands, as well as GIS mapping, whatever, if there were environmental assessments. And so we have a really defined database of all our lands and then we created a master plan and an acquisition plan. The acquisition plan isn't quite finished yet, but this timeline that we looked at started with the need to preserve our lands and we have these milestones where we want to have our master plan and do energy development and make sure that everybody has housing and those things. But then at the end it ends with cultural preservation, too, because it demonstrates 100 years from now that we're still here and our land is preserved.

And then also on one side we have all the modern and things we need to survive today, but we also have all the things that are important to us historically and culturally. When we started writing a master plan through community engagement, we had these and we had these maps of the land...of our land in big sheets and we had the community write what certain places of what they wanted the land to look like.

And also they put places like by the river, like for example, that is still important to us today but that...we have ceremonies at the river that we can't just go to the river anymore. We border Mexico, so everybody knows about the big fence at the river. So we actually have to go ask the Border Patrol to let us go to the river to do our ceremonies. So part of our master planning is to take over the acequias or the irrigation system or the canal system that we actually created 300 years ago. So we created this cultural life cycle that we would incorporate into our land use and master plan and it talks about where we are at birth and how we're being nurtured and the lessons we're learning and how we learn about our culture and then how as elders our roles change and that then we become teachers and we pass on this tradition and culture. So in our land use plan we...that bar that intersects across there talks about the different places that we're going to create to make sure those things happen. So we have things like a nation-building hub and also an elder center and places for teens to meet as well.

So these are...see those are pictures of maps that we used where the community actually drew what they wanted the community to look like, and these are statements that the community provided back. And then we also had different criteria as far as what the community wanted to see and graphed and charted what the community best wanted for our lands. So these are also places that we don't own yet, but they're what we used to own. And so in our land acquisition process, we want to buy these locations back and this is what we could do with them as far as economic development is concerned. And it seems like way out there, but in reality it really isn't. When you think about we just had 68 acres in 1987 and we have 75,000 acres now, it's attainable. And then so this is what our acquisition process is going to look like and how we mapped it. Everything that is in yellow is what we own and what's in the darker colors is our long-term acquisition. We know that we can't buy everything, but we do...those are the gaps that we want to fill in. I talked a little bit about our enrollment ordinance. Well, we're working on an enrollment ordinance, a new citizen engagement [process] because of the blood quantum bill that just passed last year. So I had thought that that was going to go to somebody else, but I just was told last week that that citizen engagement process would actually come to our department so that's something that we're working on now. This was just a little conversation that the team had last week and these are questions that we're really thinking about what we need to ask the community. It'll be much more comprehensive, but just basic things like what does citizenship mean to you and how did you learn how to be a good citizen from your parents and your community, and so that's the way we usually start with just the basic questions and then we move into real comprehensive model.

These are just a couple, I guess, pointers to just make sure that you try to identify what your tribe needs and also...and then as far as when you're working within your community just know that everything that you're doing is either going to impact your tribe either positively or negatively. And what the work [is] that you're doing, how is that going to actually help your tribe or not help your tribe because sometimes we're afraid to move forward and to change, but in order to change you really need to know what it is that your community wants and to respect what their thoughts are and what they want for the future. Thank you."

Honoring Nations: Miriam Jorgensen: Lessons to Take Home

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

NNI Research Director Miriam Jorgensen concludes the 2004 Honoring Nations symposium with her impressions about the lessons learned from the convening, from the great diversity among Native nations to the great strides they are taking when they devise their own solutions to the challenges they face.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Jorgensen, Miriam. "Lessons to Take Home." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. September 10, 2004. Presentation.

"I just want to say thank you to the previous speaker because he really...it's Rick George? I'm sorry, I was busily writing down all your notes and the name was like the thing up ahead. You just did a fantastic job of making a lot of the same kinds of summary points that I'd like to make. Even though you were thinking ahead to the future about how to continue on the success of programs, I just hope that everyone was really taking to heart a lot of the things that he was talking about, because they really scored deeply in my mind as things that were very important. So in a sense, I kind of feel like I'm kind of adding to your list or underscoring some of the same things that you were saying. I was asked to draw together some lessons that we've heard at this symposium and also to offer some more reflections, just to try to put a tie up on things.

And I think we all have probably some different ideas about what we've learned, the thing that we're walking away with that touched us the most, but I just wanted to start off with this observation. Boy, tribes are solving really tough problems, aren't they? These are not sort of little easy things that your programs are addressing, not little administrative fixes, not little 'let's take this small program and do this little change and things are going to be done.' You're addressing problems that are as big as the rights of Native people incarcerated in local, state and federal prison; preserving the rights of American Indians and Native nations to have the say over how remains are appropriately treated and reburied; the right to control land and water and other natural resources in ways that make sense. The programs that address really tough problems like children's safety, family violence, and problems that are very overarching, but hit at the core of what Native sovereignty means, like control over whether or not you get to run your own law enforcement department, because what more fundamental right is there in tribal government than to be the one that controls, who wields coercive force within your society? Should that be the federal government? No. And tribes are...and we've honored a program, the Gila River Police Department that took that on, that task. So these are tough problems.

And that leads me to one of the big lessons that I think comes out of what we've learned today: that in addressing these tough problems, there's clearly a lot that we can learn from each other. There are ways to figure out the way through the administrative maze of working with state departments or with the federal government or even going up to the international level when that's necessary. Things we can learn from each other about those administrative fixes or about particular strategies that apply sometimes across programs of different sorts, or when we have programs that are very similar to each other, there are definitely things to learn from each other. But there's also a sort of a parentheses at the end of that, and that's the notion that if you look around this room there's also tremendous diversity. And I think that's kind of the notion of saying, 'Yeah, we can learn a lot from each other, but sometimes what we learn from each other is how different we still are.'

I think there's this thing...and I do a lot of teaching about Native America to non-Natives and of course others have said this before, that one of the things that's the first reaction is, ‘Oh, my gosh! You mean there are still a lot of Native people in the United States?' And after that they say, ‘And of course they're all the same, right?' And you look around this room and say, ‘No, we're not.' We come from very different cultural traditions. We come from very different practices, very different histories. Some tribes have the Trail of Tears, others had no removal; some had no major battles, some had lots, some have a very modern history of struggle and fight. There's just a lot of differences out there, and I think in learning from each other about our programs, it's also acknowledging that difference and saying, ‘You do it that way and that's helping me understand how our way is different and we need to be different as well.' So I think there's lessons in difference as well, as much as there is to learn from similarities and things we can do the same.

One of the other big points that I walk away with -- and all of you who have been close to the Harvard Project for years or just learning about the Harvard Project may think that this is just one of the things that we trumpet all the time, but in hearing conferences and symposia like this, I think that we're getting it right: that you can't ever abandon this notion that tribal sovereignty, the sovereignty of Native nations and the issues of self-determination and self-governance just stand above all in a lot of these programs. And you can just hear it in the strains of how important that is in the way the programs are implemented and the actions that the leaders are taking to make those programs work.

But I think another...and a reflection and something I've heard in listening to the breakouts and listening to the speakers is that the notion that that battle for sovereignty just never ends. And I think it was somebody yesterday who talked about being wary of complacency, that you may feel like you've gotten to a point where things are successful or that battle is won, but I'm reflecting on something that the gentleman Edward [Wemytewa], whose last name I'm not going to pronounce correctly, who's the Zuni Eagle Sanctuary representative said to us, ‘You know, we have to fight that battle all the time because the personnel change and sometimes memories are short. Even our own memories change and we have to keep at the forefront what our battle is for -- it's for our rights and our sovereignty,' and that's just something that keeps going as a lesson throughout as well.

Sort of a sub-piece of that, and this again is to tie into what Rick George said, is that one of the very important pieces, and kind of picking up on what, you know, the reactions I heard to Myron's [Brown] talk yesterday and some of the things that Greg Mendoza said this morning, is that one of the ways to keep fighting that battle is to really train the youth, be they on-reservation youth, off-reservation youth, folks who are really engaged or folks who are not yet engaged, is to teach them about tribal government, about the rights of American Indian people, and to have them be ready to hold that banner forward as well.

The next point -- and this is just a quick one because it's already been covered well by Mr. George -- this is the one where I was thinking, ‘Hey, this is exactly what I was going to say,' is the notion of leadership. Julie Wilson talked about this this morning a little bit, how she said there's leadership in every place. She said that was what struck her, somebody coming from the outside, looking at Indian Country, not thinking about it very much before, is how the leadership of the Honoring Nations programs emerged from lots of different places. When we think about the safety program that the Mississippi Choctaw have put together, one of the things there is that this emerged from just activists, community activists. It's the same with a program we honored several years ago, the White Earth suicide intervention program. These are not people who are already engaged in tribal government, but activists that bubbled up from within the community. Other times it's a tribal bureaucrat who says things can operate differently or somebody like Greg who was out of government, just a youth who said, ‘We need to change the system.' So leadership is everywhere and honoring that, reacting to it, providing a means for them to move forward is just an important piece too.

The last thing I want to say, and if anything this is the thing that I felt this symposium did really well and that Amy [Besaw Medford] really needs to be honored for and those who really worked with her on that, is that one of our goals in all of this is to create an environment where we can learn from each other and I think that happened. I think that this has been a place where, and I'm going to use a really sort of Harvard Business School kind of word I guess, the 'network' word, but I think we've done more than network. I think what we've done is expanded our circle of friends. Manley Begay earlier in the day was saying to me, I said, 'how do you like those sessions, Manley?' And maybe I'm telling tales out of school, but he said, ‘I've just been having trouble getting to the sessions, Miriam, because I've just been talking to so many really interesting people about great programs and learning a lot about them and expanding our teaching skills and thinking about stuff that we ought to be looking into and making more friends and renewing old friendships.' And I said, ‘Manley, I know what you mean.' And I walked away from that and I kept looking around going people are really engaging with each other. If they didn't know each other before, they're introducing themselves to each other, they're renewing old friendships and they're even getting together with their group that they came with and said, ‘Oh, I just talked to so and so and I learned about this.' That is great. That's what we wanted to do. And that, I think, is more than networking because networking to me kind of implies I'm going to get out my pack of business cards and I'm going to hand it out to people because I'm going to say to them, ‘What are you going to do for me? Are you going to get me a job? Are you going to get me a connection?' But this is networking among friends. It's expanding that circle of friends so that when we walk out of here we know lots of people who do very interesting things that can help us and the tribal communities that you work with certainly, but there are also support systems and colleagues and people to share joys with -- people who care about us personally, about our professional careers, and about the Native nations that you serve. And I think to that extent this symposium has been very successful and helpful and something that I'll definitely remember.

So those are the lessons and reflections that I offer and I just want to send you off with that spirit of positiveness and hope that you've gotten that joy out of this symposium like I have."

Honoring Nations: Manley Begay: Reflections on the Day

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

Harvard Project on American Development Co-Director Manley A. Begay, Jr. synthesizes the learning that took place during the first day of the 2004 Honoring Nations symposium, focusing on the nation-building success stories chronicled during the day as testaments to and reflections of Indigenous self-determination.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Topics
Citation

Begay, Jr., Manley A. "Reflections on the Day." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. September 11, 2004. Presentation.

"Thank you for the introduction and for sharing today with me. As I think about today, it's been a very good day. A lot of good discussions, good thoughts being expressed, and old friendships renewed and new friendships made. And all in all it's been a very good day. And as Amy mentioned, I am Navajo. I come from Tuba City by way of Wheatfields. Wheatfields is north of Window Rock about 50 miles. And my clans are Maii deeshgiizhinii -- that's my clan, Coyote Pass Clan. And I'm born for Tachiinii, the Red-Running-Into-the-Water People. And my maternal grandfather is Lokaa Dine'e, the Reed People. And my paternal grandfather is Todichiinii, Bitter Water People. So that's who I am as a Navajo person. And up to the year 2000, I had the great pleasure and honor of working with Joe Kalt here at Harvard. And since then, I've been stationed at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where I serve as a senior lecturer for the American Indian Studies Program, and also serve as Director for the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy, and the Native Nations Institute is a sister organization to the Harvard Project. And since then I've been working with Stephen Cornell, who directs the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, the other partner in crime.

And Andrew Lee asked me to talk a little bit about, before I begin to talk, a little bit about this particular logo. This logo is something that I began working on when Joe was really young. Now he's getting old and gray. And so this is sort of an art project I started working on. And when I finally came up with the design, a good friend John Thornier got together with me and he has the talent of working computers and the Mac program and all that, and he basically perfected this design. And this particular logo is really about power and strength. It's really about vision. It's really about unity and a sense of direction. And you can see that the eagle is in the center. And you know what the eagle means to many of us as Native people; it's the source of strength, it's a source of vision, and it's really sort of the centerpiece of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. And you'll see a number of feathers that go around, which represents Native nations throughout Indian country. And around that you'll see a hoop, and that hoop signifies unity and togetherness. And there's a sinew that wraps around that particular hoop. And sinew is really, I believe represents sovereignty, it really represents this sense of strength. The old ones would say that we should be like deer hide, fine deer hide, and that particular deer hide could be used for bows and arrows and it's very, very strong, yet at the same time it's flexible and it's soft and it can be tender. And so it really has these elements of both -- sort of strength, protection, yet at the same time one of tenderness and softness and flexibility. So that particular sinew wraps around that hoop and really signifies togetherness, strength, sovereignty. And that makes up this particular emblem. And obviously the four eagle feathers represents the four directions, the four winds.

You know, sitting here today and going into a few of the sessions, I've been asked to sort of reflect on this, this day. And, you know, I can't help but also recognize that I have relatives here and family members here as well, many of whom I respect highly. And it's really quite an honor also to be in their presence and to know that they are from not only Navajo country, but also from Indian Country at-large. At the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona, I share a joint duty with Joan Timeche. I'm not sure where Joan is at. She's probably at Harvard Square. No, Joan's back there. Joan and I run the show to the best of our abilities. And Joan comes from the Hopi Nation. And it is not true that Hopis and Navajos don't get along. We get along. I just follow what she says.

You know, not too long ago, we were being controlled by the federal government -- and Anthony Pico talks a bit about this -- and we were being controlled by the federal government through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. State governments and other entities also controlled us to a large extent. We were dictated to about how to govern and how to run programs and how to live. In our travels -- Joe Kalt, Steve Cornell and I -- we ran across a tribal chairman at one point in time that said, 'You know, I remember when, as a tribal chairman, before we could even make a decision I had to lean over to the BIA superintendent right next to me, get his permission before the council could vote.' Clearly somebody else was in power, not our own leaders. And this was occurring only a few years ago. It's not like it occurred decades and decades and decades ago. It just occurred recently.

Then things began to change at the urging, sometimes strongly, by the National Congress of American Indians, by the American Indian Movement, by the National Indian Youth Council, and many other organizations as strong leaders throughout Indian Country. And this really occurred on the heels of the Civil Rights Movement, movements that also included the Brown Berets, the Black Panthers and others. This was a time of change in the United States socially, and music began to change, people began to question, you know, 'Who are the Beatles, you know, who are the Rolling Stones, who's Bob Dylan?' And these were folks that were in the limelight. You know, peace and love were stressed amidst the Vietnam War. It was a time of upheaval for some. It was a time of needed change for others. For Native peoples, it was a time for needed change, a change from poverty and control, and we wanted to move toward a better life and freedom. And this same tribal chairman told us a short time later, 'You know, I found a bit of strength, and with this strength I told the BIA superintendent sitting next to me, 'Well, I really don't want you to sit by me anymore, I want you to move to the end of the table.' And so he moved to the end of the table.'

And I was just a young man at that time and, you know, somewhat in awe of the American Indian Movement. And their message was really a message of sovereignty at all costs. You know, I traveled at that time to Pine Ridge, to Flagstaff, Arizona to the [Childs?] Ranch, which is outside of Ajo, Arizona and protested the injustices that were occurring, the mistreatment that Indian people were going through. And these events were all part of the events like the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] takeover in Washington, D.C., Wounded Knee II, the burning of the Custer Courthouse, and the taking over of the Richardson Trading Post in Gallup, New Mexico, and many other events like that. It began to change the tide of people's thinking. I even had the distinct pleasure and honor of going to Coachella Valley at one point in time and actually siding with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. What these events did was begin to change the mentality of many Native peoples from being subjugated to thinking more freely, to thinking about freedom. Remember, this is in the world's greatest nation. This is in the world's wealthiest nation. This is in the country that touts democracy and freedom as the pinnacle of civilization.

There really was a change from some outsiders deciding how we should live to the right to determine our own destinies. It was a change from the one-model-fits-all that was being perpetuated by the federal government to the right to think independently according to our own diverse cultural teachings, from an outsiders, making mistakes and not being accountable to less making our own mistakes and learning from them, from being told how we should govern to designing our own constitutions and governments. This same tribal chairman that had moved the BIA superintendent to the end of the table now was even more courageous. He said to us, he said, 'At times, you know, we're dealing with issues that we don't want the BIA to know about.' So he said, 'I finally told the BIA superintendent we don't really want you in here at this moment, so could you please leave?' And he left.

So you can see the change that occurred ever so slowly, but significant nevertheless. We are currently in the midst of a political resurgence. Finally, and over 500 years, we as Native peoples are in a position to determine our own futures with programs designed by us, not by an outside agency or person. It is in this context that we are seeing these Honoring Nation's programs. It is in this context we have wonderful uplifting stories from Lummi, Chickasaw, Menominee, Zuni, Chickaloon, Navajo, Tulalip, Gila River, Viejas. These stories are a long time coming. They are a testament to resilience of the human spirit, ushering in of justice against tremendous odds. They are a testament to the power of the human will. They are also a testament to the gifts of strength given to us by our elders, by the land, by the mountains, by the rivers, by fire, by rocks, by animals. Lastly, these programs are gifts to those yet unborn. These programs should be our gifts to those yet unborn. I look forward to the time with our young ones. Those yet unborn will say, 'I'm so glad my leaders developed those programs. My life is richer because of their wise decisions and sound management.'

I do, however, offer one word of caution. We should not become complacent with our successes. Vigilance is key, because our sovereignty is neither secure nor absolute, and poverty, poor housing, and other social ills are still with us. So the fight continues through assertion of sovereignty, with the building of culturally appropriate capable institutions of self-governance. And with good leadership may we all continue to remain strong and creative. May we continue to be vigilant in the things that we do. Thank you."

The Rebuilding Native Nations: Strategies for Governance and Development course series

Producer
Charissa Delmar
Year

This short video provides a comprehensive overview of NNI's "Rebuilding Native Nations: Strategies for Governance and Development distance-learning course series.

The curriculum examines the critical governance and development challenges facing Native nations and surveys the breadth and diversity of Native nation-building efforts across Indian Country. Sharing lessons learned through 25 years of community-based research by NNI and its sister organization the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, it explores what is working, what isn’t, and why as Native nations move aggressively to reclaim control over their own affairs and create vibrant futures of their own design. Featuring eight different course options, Rebuilding Native Nations provides a dynamic individual or group learning experience, weaving together video lectures by course instructors, the perspectives of more than 100 Native leaders and scholars, curricular materials from NNI’s “Native Nation Building” and “Emerging Leaders” executive education seminars, in-depth case studies, illustrative graphics, the Rebuilding Native Nations course textbook (Univ. of Arizona Press, 2007), and original readings drawn from the NNI-Harvard Project research.

Citation

Delmar, Charissa (producer). "The Rebuilding Native Nations: Strategies for Governance and Development course series." Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2013. Video.

Benny Shendo, Jr.:

It's not necessarily about nation building, but it's about rebuilding, because if you look at our communities historically, we were very powerful nations.

Robert A. Williams, Jr.:

Federal Indian law is not the reason that Indians are still here. The reason that Indians are still here is because tribal people and tribal leaders clung to their traditions and found ways to perpetuate them -- below ground.

Sophie Pierre:

We have a choice. We have a choice. We can continue, continue to go down that self-pitying kind of road, blaming everybody else for our problems, or we can take control of it. We chose to take control of it.

Anthony Pico:

Sovereignty is the right to govern ourselves, control our resources, follow our respective traditions and customs, and create our own visions for our own communities and our children's future.

Erma Vizenor:

And so we have to have structures and institutions that empower us so that we are never taken advantage of again.

Narrator #1:

"A revolution is underway among the Indigenous nations of North America. It is a quiet revolution, largely unnoticed in society at large. But it is profoundly important. From the High Plains states and Prairie Provinces to the southwestern deserts, from Mississippi and Oklahoma to the northwest coast of the continent, Native peoples are reclaiming their right to govern themselves and shape their futures in their own ways. Challenging more than a century of colonial controls, they are addressing severe social problems, building sustainable economies, and reinvigorating their cultures, languages, and ways of life. In effect, they are rebuilding their nations according to their own diverse and often innovative designs.

The Rebuilding Native Nations: Strategies for Governance and Development a distance-learning course series explores this growing movement. Sharing lessons learned from more than 25 years of community-based research by the Native Nations Institute and its partner organization the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, it examines what is working, what isn't, and why as Native nations work to regain control over their own affairs and create vibrant futures of their own design.

Rebuilding Native Nations provides participants a dynamic learning experience, weaving together video lectures by course instructors, the firsthand perspectives of more than 100 Native leaders and scholars, case studies of nation-building success stories, informative graphics, the Rebuilding Native Nations course textbook, and original readings drawn from Native Nations Institute and Harvard Project research.

Featuring eight different course options, the curriculum offers Native nation leaders, key decision-makers, administrators, employees, citizens, tribal colleges and universities, and others a variety of options to learn about the keys to successful nation building and how to -- once again -- develop healthy nations that work."

Narrator #2:

"The Native Nation Building Introductory Course."

Patricia Ninham-Hoeft:

Nation building to me is about building a place -- a place where my children and their children will live and play and work and raise their families forever and ever as Oneidas. And this place is important, I think, because we allow a collective group of people to become Oneida because they live in this place, and it becomes a way of life.

Narrator #2:

"The Administration Short Course."

Wilma Mankiller:

"When I think about developing communities in a real sense, not in an abstract sense, but taking a community and developing the economy, or developing water systems or community buildings or health care or whatever, what I think is that you have to have a strong enabling center to do that. The people who do community development and develop the economy can't go out and do good work unless they have a strong enabling center. And so, again, it's important to have a good accounting system, a good administrative system, and a strong tribal government in order to do that work."

Narrator #2:

"The Constitutions Short Course."

Gwen Phillips:

"And as you were speaking, I was getting this picture in my mind of a shield, that a constitution should be like a shield, and I'm the battle warrior -- we're back to the 'Star Trek' theme. Did you see that? I brought it back to the 'Star Trek' theme. But that shield, to me, shouldn't be a big shiny shield that's really pristine and looks like it's never been taken out of the case. To me, it should be all dented and it should show your battle scars, 'cause to me your constitution should live through all of those, to be able to take the sideways hits, to be able to stand up to the arrows and sometimes the bulldozers and whatever else, and live through all those things."

Narrator #2:

"The Economic Development Short Course."

Lance Morgan:

"When we started our company, we created two missions. We have two primary goals, and one is to create economic self-sufficiency and the other one is to create job opportunities. And I think that, before we started, we had a long history of kind of having businesses there, and we kept them open even if they weren't necessarily profitable because of the jobs issue. And I always kind of thought that was kind of a bit of a cop-out for poor management or poor decision-making or poor governmental structure. I think that if you don't have the profits, you're not really going to have the jobs for a long-term, sustainable period of time. And so, I think you really need to focus on developing a successful business. If you do that, the jobs will follow."

Narrator #2:

"The Intergovernmental Relations Short Course."

Jaime Pinkham:

"It is an exercise of sovereign powers. When we do these intergovernmental agreements, it is we -- it is a sovereign decision for us as a tribe to pick and choose who we want to be our governmental partner. And we get to identify and set the stage, the framework for the nature of those relationships. So it is...it's not an erosion of sovereignty, but in fact it's an expression of sovereignty in working out these sorts of agreements."

Narrator #2:

"The Justice Systems Short Course."

Theresa M. Pouley:

"Your tribal court system is part of your government every bit as much as any other department. And the fact that we have separation of powers, doesn't mean we have separation of problems. You and I all have the same problems. It doesn't mean that we have separation of solutions. Because I am a judge, I know a variety of things about promising practices. Because you're tribal council people, you know a variety of things. If we put our heads together, we can get it done."

Narrator #2:

"The Leadership Short Course."

Ned Norris, Jr.:

"People ask me today, How do you like what you're doing? And I tell them, I love it. I love this job. It's everything that a job needs to be. It's challenging, it's exciting, it's frustrating, it's disappointing.' All of those things that our jobs need to be in order for us to grow, in order for us to challenge ourselves, in order for us to be challenged. We have to have all of those experiences, all of those ingredients in order for us to be successful as tribal leaders."

Narrator #2:

"The Rebuilding Native Nations Full Course."

Ivan Makil:

"The things that we do today are not new. The challenges that we face today may be different than they were 100, 200 or 1,000 years ago, but the way in which we start to resolve these issues, the process is very similar as to what our ancestors had to do to resolve the issues and challenges that they faced as well. And so if we look back and we start to reacquaint ourselves and again understand the challenges of our ancestors, and the processes that they went through, that they developed to respond to these challenges, to make decisions, we'll find that there are some answers for us that will help us to make really good long-term decisions."

Narrator #1:

"To learn more about the Rebuilding Native Nations: Strategies for Governance and Development course series, please visit: rebuildingnativenations.com."

The Rebuilding Native Nations course series was developed by the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy at The University of Arizona. The course series development team:

Course Series Director
IAN RECORD, MANAGER, EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES, NNI

Lead Developers
IAN RECORD, MANAGER, EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES, NNI
RYAN SEELAU, SENIOR RESEARCHER, EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES, NNI

Graphic Designer
ARIEL MACK, GRAPHIC DESIGNER, NNI

Course Contributors
JULIAN BILLY
CHERYL ELLENWOOD
CHARISSA DELMAR
BEN DICKEN
DEIDRA GOLDTOOTH
DANIELLE HIRALDO
VICTORIA HOBBS
EMILY MCGOVERN
RAYMOND NAITO
SHERYL POLING
TARISSA SPOONHUNTER
JENNINE STEBING
CARRIE STUSSE

REBUILDING NATIVE NATIONS COURSE SERIES DEO

Writer & Director
IAN RECORD

Producer
CHARISSA DELMAR

Narrators
IAN RECORD
CHARISSA DELMAR

Music
KEITH SECOLA

Artwork
Shaman by PABLO ANTONIO MILAN

Images courtesy of
ARIEL MACK
GWENDOLEN CATES
HARVARD PROJECT ON AMERICAN INDIAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
HUU-AY-AHT FIRST NATIONS
KATE SPILDE
KERI PICKETT
JOHN RAE/NYC (RAEPHOTO.COM) and HONORING NATIONS
MOHAWK COUNCIL OF AKWESASNE
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN
PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
RED LAKE BAND OF CHIPPEWA
WINNEBAGO NEWS

Funding for the Rebuilding Native Nations course series provided by
BUSH FOUNDATION
MORRIS K. UDALL AND STEWART L. UDALL FOUNDATION
SALT RIVER PIMA-MARICOPA INDIAN COMMUNITY
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

This video is a production of The Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy at The University of Arizona. Copyright (c) 2013 Arizona Board of Regents. All rights reserved.

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "The Role of Bureaucracies in Nation Building"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Native leaders discuss the critical role that bureaucracies play in Native nations' efforts to achieve their nation-building and community development priorities.

Native Nations
Citation

Giff, Urban. "A Capable Bureaucracy: The Key to Good Government" (Episode 6). 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.

LaPlante, Jr., Leroy. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. August 12, 2010. Interview.

Mankiller, Wilma. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. September 29, 2008. Interview.

Pico, Anthony. "Building Great Programs in a Political Setting." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. September 10, 2004. Presentation.

Urban Giff:

"Well, I once equated that to and compared it to the older customs of tribes, my tribe included as well as other tribes, in which the villages of the tribe were safeguarded by sentries and warriors that were away from the villages and they sounded the alarm in case there was danger and they were effective in safeguarding the tribe, the people, their assets. I equated that and compared it to the modern-day tribes. We still need warriors and sentries, but in the field of accounting, in the field of law, in the field of human resources administration, in the field of management, all the functions that a government has to operate under, and that we need qualified warriors in those areas and that's what will benefit the tribes. As the ancient warriors did and benefited their tribes, we still need warriors today."

Wilma Mankiller:

"When I think about developing communities in a real sense, not in an abstract sense, but taking a community and developing the economy, or developing water systems or community buildings or health care or whatever, what I think is that you have to have a strong enabling center to do that. The people who do community development and develop the economy can't go out and do good work unless they have a strong enabling center. And so, again, it's important to have a good accounting system, a good administrative system, and a strong tribal government in order to do that work."

Leroy LaPlante, Jr.:

"You gotta have that infrastructure in place because it's one thing to take a vision and philosophies in terms of how we want to be, but you gotta have the practical policies and infrastructure that get us from point A to point B."

Anthony Pico:

"As Indian nations increasingly take over management of social and economic programs and natural resources on our reservations, as we undertake ambitious development programs or government tasks become more financially and administratively complex, our government infrastructure becomes more essential to overall success. By infrastructure I mean those bodies and directives that help keep the fire lit while the hunters are on the trail. It's the glue that keeps things going when the leadership changes or there's a political crisis. It means attracting and keeping loyal employees and developing and retaining skilled personnel. It requires establishing effective civil service systems that protect employees from politics. It means putting into place solid personnel grievance systems and that decisions are implemented and recorded effectively and reliably. It ensures that businesses and future government officials do not have to reinvent the wheel or lose momentum, but rather are able to build on the success and avoid the failures."

Jamie Fullmer, Rebecca Miles and Darrin Old Coyote: Our Leadership Experiences, Challenges, and Advice (Q&A)

Producer
Archibald Bush Foundation and the Native Nations Institute
Year

Jamie Fullmer (former Chairman of the Yavapai-Apache Nation), Rebecca Miles (Executive Director and former Chairwoman of the Nez Perce Tribe) and Darrin Old Coyote (Chairman of the Crow Tribe) field questions from seminar participants about how they have negotiated the fundamental challenges of being leaders of Native nations.

This video resource is featured on the Indigenous Governance Database with the permission of the Bush Foundation.

Resource Type
Citation

Fullmer, Jamie, Rebecca Miles and Darrin Old Coyote. "Our Leadership Experiences, Challenges, and Advice (Q&A)." Nation-Building Strategies: A Seminar for Newly Elected Tribal Leaders. Bush Foundation and the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Mystic Lake, Minnesota. January 31, 2013. Q&A session. 

June Noronha:

"So we're going to open it up now to any questions and answers of anybody so have a question, if you have for a certain person or the panel please."

Audience member:

"Good morning everyone. I've been on a past council. I'm also retired from the U.S. government, U.S. attorney's office. And I've been called 'apple,' you name it: apple, all these names because I was the only Native American in the U.S. Attorney's office. It was kind of different. But one of the greatest challenges that the Oglala Sioux Tribe will be facing is [Public Law 93-] 638, our hospital, our IHS [Indian Health Service] medical because we all have...people are dying in our emergency rooms. We have a clinic that defer the 10th or 12th one, they cut you off, you come back another time, shortage of doctors. Okay, enough on that soapbox. So we're getting all kinds of phone calls. We're initiating it. We're getting all kinds of phone calls mainly from the workers, the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] or the IHS workers because they have to move out of their houses if this comes through. They have to move out of their housing. They're afraid of losing their jobs. One of them told me, he said, ‘Do we want to pursue this?' And as being probably one of the elders on council, this has been going on for years. Let's try it. Maybe we could get Sanford, Alvera, there's other programs out there that could come in and service our people, service our people. So that's one of the challenges you probably hear about the Oglala Sioux Tribe and I just like listening to you. There's not very many dull knives there. So when you're saying you have relatives on you...I'm from Oglala district where I'm by myself so I don't have that relative because they tell me, ‘Well, you go back to Allen, that's where you're from,' clear across on the other reservation. So I'm really lucky, I don't have that relative thing or I don't have any directors. There's not very many of us and so it's a challenge for me even getting the votes because I don't have big enough relatives to get in. I'm just lucky I got in two terms with no relatives behind me. So that's one. It's a challenge out there. We have nine districts and I don't know how the other districts, I only know mine and the council. [Native word]. Thank you."

Rebecca Miles:

"Real quickly, the Nez Perce Tribe 638'd our Indian Health Clinic less than a decade ago. And I think the best thing that you could do, if you haven't done it already, is either if you have the budget to hire a firm to do some feasibility and strategic planning and do that in conjunction not just with your council but your people and your staff. Because I don't know if we did that but we have had since '04, '03-'04, 15 different directors for our health clinic and I believe that is because of a failure to plan. It's a great thing. You can...your sovereignty, you can do it and you can make your own decisions. Well, all we did...and we got a brand new building as well. It's a beautiful facility. It can even serve as like a small hospital in some ways. But all we did was build that brand new building and move our old IHS mentality and its systems into this beautiful building. We didn't change how we...I just got a denial letter before I came out here of Priority 1 and it cited the CFR. I'm just like, ‘That's not exerting your sovereignty. That's not telling me that the Nez Perce Tribe is adopting its own ways to take care of its people.' And so it's been a very frustrating thing to be...and I don't know what it is, because our tribe is a natural resource tribe but whenever you brought up health issues they were fought vigorously at the table to be defeated, any attempt to go in a certain direction and we kind of think we know what the problem is and we have a good staff member now and all of us other executives at the tribe are working hard to keep her there because all of them are ran out either by the tribal council or by the health board. And so by doing it together and recognizing...doing your SWAT analysis recognizing your strengths, weaknesses, everything, your threats, prior to making that decision is the best thing you can do or I promise you you'll end up like us where we're still swimming in the deep end and we've probably drowned a few times. It's just been very bad. The cost of that is we've had people die. We've lost people. We've not had the proper health care and that's a very serious thing. You can want to save fish and save your language and all that but if you don't have people there to live that life you're protecting, then that...that's your number one resource. And so I...that's a very good question and I would just...I would take that back and follow those steps because there's nothing wrong with going to try to fact find and your feasibility will tell you you're a good candidate to do it or you're not. How much money is the federal government going to give you to do it? Is there going to be administrative costs? And so I think it's a very good position to be in. I personally think the good outweighs the bad if you can make sure your policies, your foundation is set before you do it."

June Noronha:

"Thank you. Any other comments or questions?"

Herminia Frias:

"What we've been hearing from the tribal leaders was a lot of...sometimes the information that we give them can be a little overwhelming and even depressing. So what kept you inspired? When you were a tribal leader, what kept you inspired, what kept you motivated, what kept you driven every single day to serve your nation?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"The great meals that we would have at every meeting! I'd like to think...I was able to serve as President of Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona when Chairwoman Frias was chair of her own tribe. But the thing that kept me going -- and I think this is so important -- honestly was the idea that you could be a part of something bigger than yourself, at least for me. I used to always tell people, ‘if this was just me, I wouldn't push it. It wouldn't even matter to me. Some of the things that would matter to our tribe didn't necessarily push any of my hot buttons, but because it was bigger than me I felt like that I was playing a part in something more important than just my own life. I think that's what kept me going when I was in leadership."

Rebecca Miles:

"Probably most women's answer is, hands down, their children. Their children keep you going and keep you grounded. It didn't matter...my kids were very young when I...and I was just freshly divorced when I ran for council and so that was very hard. It was...I remember getting my first box of checks with my own name on it. But my kids, absolutely, from a negative day to going home and seeing their faces and knowing that...it's a very direct effect. Your own children are part of the tribe so that becomes very personal. So a bad decision affects you at home, too. A bad decision affects your own children, will affect their future; frivolous spending of the tribe, ‘well, what will they have?' that kind of thing. And so I think that's what kept me going."

Darrin Old Coyote:

"What keeps me going is basically the...there's so much poverty, so much depression that whatever...the change that you can bring to the people, put a smile on their face and keeping...making them happy because they like to celebrate but making them celebrate for good things. That's one of the things that keeps me going. We do a lot of praise singing like celebrations, different ceremonies where we say thank you and a lot of those is what keeps me going, enjoying life with the people. When there's something good that happens, the laughter, the celebrations, the singing and the dancing and the praise singing, that's what inspires me to keep going because there was a time where there was constant...it seemed like there was one death after another and that...coming out of that and then celebrating kind of inspired me to do things better and bringing them out of poverty. And then we just signed a big deal with a company to develop our natural resources and that was a big thing for our people. So it's looking at the people and seeing the smile on their faces, that's what inspires me to continue."

Jackie Sears:

"Yeah, my name is Jackie Sears and I'm newly elected to council from Pine Ridge, the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The question I have is as being chairs, what do you see about the tribal council...because currently we have 19 council members and we have some new ones on there, we have some old ones and we have some returning. And what we see is a lot of our older council getting hold of the younger or the ones getting back in, they go on the shirttail of someone else and they're not following the laws they make. What's your advice to the new council and have you ever experienced any of that?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"No, we never had any of that at home. We had...we dealt with it through policy. We developed a code of ethics and because we did have...I was just kidding by the way. Because we did have a lot of that where the council is self-policing, the courts have nothing to say or do with the council. So it was one thing to point fingers at one another, it's another thing when you write your name to something and you swear by it and say that you're going...that this really happened. We used to always say, ‘People don't talk about it, write it down on a piece of paper and let the whole council hear what you have to say. Put your name to it. Put your name down there.' And so we actually developed a list of I think 15 or 20 items that were punishable within the council and then it's voted on. And there's levels of intensity from suspension to removal through that code of ethics at home."

June Noronha:

"Can you share the code of ethics?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"I'd have to look and see if I have a copy of it but yeah, I think as it worked I think it has helped our council to be more focused on dealing with the bigger issues. You're always going to have kind of the follow the leader kind of thing when you have leaders. But I do believe that it's helped our council to look more at the bigger picture than micromanaging an individual or program or something. They're looking at, ‘We need to set laws in place.' And I remember one of the council members said, ‘Well, we don't need to follow the laws, we make the laws.' And it resonated with me. I'm like, ‘No, we make the laws cause we need to follow it, too.'"

Rebecca Miles:

"Some tribal leaders still think that even [with that] in place, we're above the law. But it puts accountability in place. We have a similar thing, administrative procedures, which I could email to you and it's just that kind of cross...everybody including the chair. It even cites out the positions, the officers, chair, vice chair, what their roles are and if they fail to do their job, that kind of thing. So it brings some kind of accountability amongst everybody. We unfortunately just went through that process where a member had to be removed and this is what happens is when that is in place and your people will probably appreciate it. Otherwise, they're going to keep asking for an ethics board and you don't want that. You should be able to police yourselves and you should want to do that and keep the integrity high and your ethical behavior. But if you don't act, I promise you your people are watching. They know...if you adopt something and a lot of times people will say, ‘I'm going to protect my buddy and he didn't do wrong. He may have got a DUI and did whatever but he's...I'm going to stick with him.' Your people are watching that and they think...if they think you're unaccountable, it's affecting, and fortunately that's kind of what was going on with our council now is the people were very angry because it had gone on for about nine or 10 months and nothing was done. And so they finally took action but it's almost like it was too late, after so much build up. And you don't want that because that whole event then caused dysfunction from the very top down to your people when you have bigger things to worry about. I can send you a copy of ours just to build from."

Darrin Old Coyote:

"Creating policy would be one of the...an ethics committee or a lot of times right now the executive branch, we have a lot of policies that we've created for different departments and then also for...as far as the executive branch, ours is spelled out in our constitution. So that's what we follow and we changed our constitution in 2001. So if it's not working I'd say it's time to change your constitution."

Audience member:

"I just wanted to say miigwetch. I'm a newly elected tribal leader. I'm one of five on the...I'm the only woman to serve on the council right now. I just want to say miigwetch 'cause it helps me better my perspective and I just really appreciate that. Thank you."

Audience member:

"Darrin, are you related to Barney Old Coyote?"

Darrin Old Coyote:

"Yeah, he passed away in August."

Audience member:

"He lived in our community with his family."

Darrin Old Coyote:

"Yeah, he's my grandfather. Yeah."

Audience member:

"Oh, very honorable and respectable person. I have a question for Jamie. In your code of ethics -- or maybe this applies to all -- I know that we have a code of ethics. I've ready been subjected to it and survived and survived one recall also and facing another one. In your code of ethics is it, you mentioned administrative and Jamie, is your code of ethics administered by a separate office with a separate code with different people from the council?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"No, actually ours is actually administered through the council and our attorney general. So the council will put up it's...there's a list of specifics. For example, as was mentioned, if you're arrested for a DUI, that's a suspension under the code of ethics. So what would have to happen though is there would have to be facts, there would have to be an arrest, conviction that stated you were convicted and then a council member would bring that to the attention of the other council members. The council would hear that, the attorney general would give any legal advice on behalf of the tribal government and then there would be a decision made with that council person present. So it's really truly self-policing. The council member may be asked to leave for executive...if there's some debate that has to go on so that they're not in the middle of an argument but then the actual discussion about why the removal is happening will tie specifically to the points in the code and the actual level of...there's degrees of...as I said, there's either administrative leave, leave without pay because our council are paid, leave without pay, suspension for a period or actually removal from office. Ours isn't handled through a separate administrative process. It's in the council, but we have an attorney general that presides over or is part of all of our council meetings."

Audience member:

"I'd be interested in looking at your code of ethics. Thank you."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Yeah, I have that written down to get a copy of."

Alvin Bettelyoun:

Hello. My name's Alvin Bettelyoun. I'm a Rosebud Sioux tribal council representative from Swift Bear Community. Everything hits home here. Everything you guys are saying, I see it and I live it on a daily basis. How do you know when you're making the right decision about something? Right now I've got that funny feeling in my stomach, where it's after like a major vote like concerning the Black Hills or nursing home or even my community. How do you know when you do the right thing? You're going to get friction both ways and at the end of the day when I'm home sitting there I start... as a cop, I used to like...as soon as I'm done with my shift I'd go in there, I wash my face, I say, ‘I'll leave everything here.' But sometimes I can't. I take it home and I hear myself swearing in my mind. Somehow it comes out and the kids I know pick up on it. I've got four kids. I think...I got into a situation when I got in as Swift Bear councilman that two councilmen prior to me getting in really messed things up in our community. There's fighting, money stealing, different chairmen. Our nursing home is right in our community, that's been neglected by the council for years. I didn't know that until I actually went in. I don't want to get specific on anything but I'm just telling you what I...that's just a fraction of what I'm getting into. Last night I got a call from appellate judge, our tribal president. I can see the things that are coming. I'm down here, I can see us skipping all these down to here to bring me back up to here. These I deal with on a daily basis, not just the issues that are with council where you get chewed out by some of the councilmen that have been in there for three, four terms say, ‘You're a little kid,' more or less. ‘Behave, listen to me.' Like you said, the loudest voice has the smallest group and right now with our new council I see a change. It's the first time in years and I've been down there and I talked in front of council a lot. I've been a police officer for years, worked for the court for 14 years. I see a change there now and it's the first time I really felt good about something. So that's what's giving me my strength are the members here that actually came up with me. Some don't care, I can see. I want to make a change but how can you really do that, how can one person, one councilman? I know you guys all went through the same...how can you make that change. What do you do? I feel like there's a small majority right here, the silent ones. I get up, I talk, I put my foot in my mouth a lot of times. I did it maybe earlier when I introduced myself yesterday. I sit back and say, ‘Correct yourself.' What do you do? How do you handle all these issues? Sometimes I think, ‘Why am I in here?' Then again, I see the [Lakota language] and the [Lakota language]. They supported me to get in. They wanted me and they felt I could do it, make the change because...maybe 'cause I wore a badge every day and went around, talked to everyone in every community and I seen what goes on in every community from the first of the month to the end of the month. The drunkenness, three out of the four houses people are drinking, kids are out there with no pampers, they're running wild. Even in my community, the deputy caught 30 kids over the hill partying out there. It was like 2:00, 3:00 in the morning and in my mind I said, ‘I've got to change that, I've got to change this, I've got to do this for the elderly.' I check on the elderly's propane. Even though they've got sons to do that, I go do that. It just...there is so much, it's so overwhelming, but honestly I've got no one to talk to. I think I do, I don't have no friends, probably because I was a cop and someday I might have to arrest you or serve papers on you, the same with the court. How can I make a change? What can I do? Can you help? Give me some...I know, I'm getting ideas, but how do you do it?"

Rebecca Miles:

"It's just really fascinating to listen to you because you're just so passionate and you want to do...everybody wants to do the right thing. And a lot of times we think the last council did so terrible or councils before and measure all the decisions that were made. Is your tribe still alive and well? Yes. A lot of times those decisions aren't really big decisions that's going to affect your sovereignty but they may have hurt a lot of people and so that's what we're feeling a lot. I'm looking at Jaime Pinkham back there because unfortunately he was never our tribal chairman. And I had the honor of serving as the tribe's general council chair at a very young age and I got to see leaders. Jamie was one of those people that I looked up to as one of our great leaders. Had our ability to elect tribal chairmen differently, he probably would still be at home being our chair right now. But when you say change, you're not going to see it but somebody else will definitely feel it, if your heart's in the right place. And I say...bring up Jaime because had policies and procedures like our human resource manual...Jaime, our investment policy, that was all done when Jaime was serving as our treasurer at the tribe. I think, 'Where would we be?' The council would still be hiring and firing and that's the one thing is you...like for example, the water settlement I mentioned. I'm still to many people enemy number one that sold out, even though nine of us had to vote, not one individual has power. But I know that that was a good decision. I know in my heart I did all the work I needed to do, but you're not going to...you're not going to see it necessarily, the change, but somebody else will feel what you have done. And that's how I feel about the tribe and what just leaders like Jaime made, the decisions they made and what they were thinking about. And he's the perfect fit for this...doing this kind of work for all of us because you are building a nation. We're definitely in a better place based on decisions then. And so your heart is in the right place by far. I can hear it in you, I can sense and people who elected you know that. Decisions you're going to make are going to be scrutinized, they're going to say you had an agenda why you did this or you did it for a certain reason but somebody down the road is going to come back and say, ‘I remember you. I remembered what you did. Thank you for that.' It's not going to happen soon. It's a thankless job but it will happen. Change happens over time, it doesn't happen overnight and a lot of times we just want it to and sometimes we...I'm guilty of that. The other thing of recognizing a good self-awareness is you're not going to make perfect decisions, you're going to screw up and you're not going to have all the information, you're going to jump to a conclusion and that's when you realize just addressing that loud minority and not the silent majority can backfire on you. That was a bad decision, why did you do that? I just wanted to share that with you."

Alvin Bettelyoun:

"Thank you. There's a lot of times, especially when I first started, I went up to the nursing home, I talked to the workers and they said that no councilman has been in here. The same with my community, no councilman has ever did a report and told us about what's going on down there. I've been making a point to do that and keep it up throughout my term however long I'm in there. But another thing, I might have put my foot in my mouth again, was when I got up and I told the council, ‘Shame on you for doing it and letting this get this far.' I don't want them to say that about me, the next new council people. I'm going to do my best to straighten out what I can see and that's all I can say."

Darrin Old Coyote:

"Just to comment on that. A lot of times you don't know when you're making change and what feels right in here for you and then later on in life when we're no longer here if people came to your kids and said, ‘Your dad did a good job,' that's when...you're never going to know today. But when one person in particular, our late chairman, when he passed away, people not only in our community and our tribe but other tribes and other communities even non-Indians, they talk about what a difference he made as a leader. They even thank his kids for doing that and he doesn't know, even today, that he made a difference and you're never going to know but in here, if it feels right in here, keep doing it because if it feels right in here you're making that change."

Audience member:

"I just kind of wanted to comment on a lot of things. When it comes to our constitutions and our governmental structure, I know at Rosebud we just...it's been five years I guess we had a referendum and we amended our constitution and we're still struggling with those amendments. But I guess I keep saying over and over to the people, our community and our council, is that that constitution and the ordinances, the rules, the regulations, the policies and procedures are all nameless and faceless. It doesn't...they don't have anybody's names in there, they don't have anybody's relatives in there and when you take the oath of office to uphold that constitution, that's what you're promising. You're not promising that you're going to give your relative a directorship. Now that's politics. But once the election's over, politics should be over and we get down to the business of governing, and that means everybody. That legal structure, that framework is supposed to work in the best interest of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, which is the people. And if you start politicking and you start firing people to uphold a campaign promise, you should be in front of the ethics committee. And that's how I look at it and that's how I look at my role. I've asked one of my colleagues, I guess it gets down to two, it always comes back to people. It always comes back to people. And so what are you about personally? What's your personal philosophy? Do you have one? Mine is one word, is consistent, consistency. I try to be that way. Now nobody's perfect. I haven't been perfect. I've made a lot of mistakes but I try to be consistent. Periodically, I have to kind of step back and take a look and say, ‘Where have I been, where am I going, do those two...are they coming together?' I've asked one of my colleagues, ‘If you ever see me straying me from that, you let me know right away,' because sometimes we get so involved that we kind of lose sight. There's a difference here, there's politics, there's politicians and there's leaders. Again, that's something you need to ask yourself. Do you want to be a politician or do you want to be a leader? There's a difference. Politicians continue to create chaos. They circumvent the rules, they allows the rules to be circumvented for votes. At Rosebud, we have probably about 800 tribal employees. They see themselves as a huge voting block and they let you know. They come from big families, they let you know. We've got situations going on right now today but that doesn't influence me because my campaign was to try to change and strengthen tribal government through education. That's what I said and that's what I'm going to try to do. I didn't promise anybody anything. I give my report to my community and we've got a waÅ¡í­Äu lady that works for one of the local newspapers so my report gets into the paper. And I talk about some of these deficiencies, so right now I'm a troublemaker because I say these things about the weaknesses and the failures of tribal government and I'm part of those failures and everything 'cause I'm in it. Again, that's the politics. But you have to understand, I think if you've been a leader you haven't been in this situation. For me being a councilman now and being subjected to a lot of...it's not new because I've been in leadership roles. I haven't been in politics so much but I've been in leadership roles and I've had these attacks so it's not new. And so it shouldn't be surprising to me and it's not because I've been there. Even all through growing up there's been...I've always been an exceptional athlete and that's created a lot of jealousy and so forth sometimes. That talent has subjected me to these things so I've had to deal with it. When you're young, right away you want to retaliate. Fortunately...and my mom was the feisty one and that's probably where I got it. Fortunately my dad, he said, ‘These are challenges. These are things that you're being tested. You can either become this or you can become that. It's up to you. You're going to have to make this decision.' And so that competitiveness -- and I love competition -- that competitiveness drives me, but I try to do it in a respectful way and in a humble way but at the same time I'm out there to try to represent, take my talent and represent all my people, too. That's what I've tried to do. I go looking for the waÅ¡í­Äu because that's where the competition was and is. I go looking for them, I try to find them because I want them to know that we are not who they think we are. So that's kind of a little bit, but I think we have to do a little introspection and find out who we are and I think that's really important."

June Noronha:

"I know there were a number of people who had their hands up. I want to make sure that everybody gets a chance to speak who wants to because some people have spoken already. Is there anybody else?"

Audience member:

"I'll try to limit it as much as I can but I had a question for the former chair and past chair. I believe there's a former chair back here also, right, Minnie? Before we started this conference I spoke about being on a council, it was my second term. The first term was quite different than my second term. My first term I made five trips to D.C. on issues involving our tribe. My second term I've been out to D.C. zero. I don't know anybody out in Washington, D.C. I don't what the heck's going on out there. I want to thank Brian over here for updating because we don't get that information. So you see two vastly different administrations and it's important as elected officials or politicians or leaders that you get involved and getting involved you'll be able to better understand and make those appropriate decisions that are going to affect the people that you're so-called 'leading.' I guess looking at the...one of the things the guy said he was talking about change. I think we're all here for a reason. I think we're all here because we want to make a change, that's why we chose to make the trek out to beautiful Minnesota to attend a meeting. But when we go home, I hope that we take that and try to share this experience with the people who are unfortunate not to be here, because this is where we should be, at places like this. I guess the question I want to just pose to you, how do you or did you control or limit those people who applied pressure for hasty decisions? And the reason why I say that is, Standing Rock, I'm from Standing Rock. I'm a proud member again to be on the council, it's an honor. But I guess I'm more honored to have a linkage, as they would say to a gentleman who was killed back in 1890 by his own people. And that linkage through my grandmother's side has brought leadership to me in a different perspective. I'm not just there to collect our whopping $40,000 that we get, to be able to travel on the people's dime or whatever, but I hold it near and dear to me because there was a saying that was said and some of you may recognize this saying that was said over 100 years ago. ‘Let us put our minds together and see what we can build for our children.' It really struck me hard that our people had an opportunity through a thing called Salazar [settlement]. Salazar had an opportunity to be able to bring our people a brighter future, maybe even a hopeful future than what we have today but because of the loudest voice -- as Jamie had spoken about  -- it causes our council to react. We're reactive people, we're not proactive people.

So I can almost guarantee in all the new elected officials here that if somebody comes in there and they start yelling at you, you're going to start shaking and you're going to vote in a hasty manner and I can guarantee you when you go home, think about it like this gentleman. I can go home every night, I can crawl into my bed and I can go to bed without knowing that my family didn't get anything, I certainly didn't get anything and the best decision that I could pull forward based on what was presented to me was made by my own judgment. But I guess going back to how things happen it goes down. So you as a chairperson, you have an opportunity through parliamentary procedure to be able to limit those type of actions from happening and I can tell you in the six and a half years, the last portion of my four-year term, this is my third year, my second term, three quarters of that we sat fighting each other on the council because we all have the answers, 17 of us know everything that goes on and we're going to make that everlasting impression on the people 100 years from now as one of our [Lakota term] did 100 years ago to say, ‘What can we do, how can we put our minds together to see what we can do for our people in the future.' So that's my question. How are you guys able to control your council from coming in and playing politics, disregarding policy? Because I think we spoke about that quite a bit that our biggest...my biggest thing is we break our own laws and we're not able to police ourselves because that's already been proven on our council that if the opportunity to police yourself we should just step down. That's policing yourself in an ethical manner, but we don't do that. Instead we find every obstacle."

Darrin Old Coyote:

"For myself to answer that question is reminding everybody there the reasons why we're there, for the people. They're the ones that put you there and every time we get together with the legislative branch to pass a bill or a resolution, that's what I remind them. When they try to [do] politics and try to change the course we're going, that's what I remind them. We're all here, we're placed here by people that wanted us to do good. If they wanted you to do bad they wouldn't put you there. It's basically...they view you as a person that's going to do right and that's why they put that trust in you and voted you. And by doing so, in turn you have to do right and remind all those people why we're there. A lot of them, all their bad thoughts are kind of playing politics, they put that aside and they, ‘What are we going to do for the betterment of our tribe?' So it's always better to remind them at the beginning why we're all there and if they feel that more or less the guilty conscience that's when it comes in and then you get them to go the way what's right. Other than that, that's what I've done and it's helped me through getting a lot of issues passed."

Rebecca Miles:

"So you're probably talking about the situation where they come directly maybe in your office and ask you to get involved in something or not just to the entire council where you can often... It's easier that way where you can police each other, but if it's one on one, somebody comes in and says, ‘My boss is really giving me a hard time' or ‘I want you to do this' or they're reporting something to you. There's always tribal members that are reporting embezzlement or they know something really bad is going on. There is a system in place. One thing I would ask -- especially because a lot of the constituents you hear from are your employees -- always make sure they're on their own personal time and not on the people's time, not on the tribe's time meaning the tribe is paying them...they're compensating them to do a job on behalf of your government and if they're going to take the time to handle their individual thing, then they need to be on their own time, not on the people's time. I promise you, when you start doing that you're going to get fewer and fewer visitors. It's not going to happen overnight, but I've pretty much eliminated people coming in asking me to do things unethically because I wouldn't do them and there's a tactful way you need to do that because your people don't want...you don't want a reputation of not listening to your people. And in our constitution, it says they can come to you for any issue. And even though there's policies in place they want to come vent about work, usually. It's usually about work or something. And so having...being able to be...their ability to vent is often a good place. But the other thing is build a reputation, is fact finding, and sometimes your own family or your friends are asking you to do something or get involved and they're not telling you all the facts and that's usually the case. And when you find out the rest, it's almost sometimes embarrassing in some situations when you find out the facts of a situation.
‘Well, you actually did this and you want me to give you a lifeline out of it. I can't do it. It's unethical of you to ask me to do that.' But it takes time because every new administration then they want to come back in and ask you to do unethical things but you can build a reputation for yourself and I would...Jaime [Pinkham] is familiar with that because I think he had that reputation, too. We knew the members that were going to get bogged down by these requests because they got involved in those issues, they didn't see the bigger picture and this is my true belief is you're a nation. You are a sovereign nation and we pound the table saying that all the time.

You are running your nation and are you going to expect President [Barack] Obama to come down and deal with some staffer out in the Park Service out in Wyoming, their little issue? No, he's leading the United States. And so you're diminishing your own sovereignty and your own tribe by getting involved in those little details and it's a message that is a constant. It's not made overnight, your actions show that."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Just to get down in the detail. The best way that...listening to the large picture, the big picture as was presented by these other leaders, I think there's some detail things that can help, just practical things. One is, what goes on the agenda for a council session? Defining, creating a policy around how your agenda is developed is so important to the flow of what information is going out each time. And then also at home we gatekeep that at the administrative level, come through the administration, administration would decide, council's secretary would decide what went on the agenda but we would have the approval -- we meaning the chairman, vice chairman -- to review it before it went to council. We would say, ‘That needs to be...that's an administrative issue, that's an administrative issue, that is a policy issue and should go to the council.' The other thing as a council member -- since most of you in there are council members -- is if you need more information to make a good decision, that's your right as a leader to say, ‘I can't make a decision today. I request this be tabled until we get more information.' You have that authority under Robert's Rules...whatever rules of orders that you have to say, ‘I need more information in order to make a good valid decision,' fact finding. And so the other piece to this I think as well is having some kind of gatekeeper in how that information flows in and through. In ours, it was the administration. There was a process. It came through administration. If the issue wasn't dealt with by our administrator, then it went to the chairman. If it wasn't dealt with at the chairman level, then it went to the council. So there was a level of effort to actually let the government deal with the problem before the legal, the legislators or the policymakers or the true power of the tribe dealt with the problem. But the government, that's where you have all these departments and that's why you pay all these department heads. That's why...I heard 800 employees...when you have that many employees somebody has to be responsible if it's a social issue to deal with it. And so to that point of listening to your people, I used to always listen to the people and call that director up and say, ‘Come up here. This is an issue that has to do with natural resources. Let's connect the dots right here in my office,' and then let them go and deal with it. But at least being that intermediary as the [Apache term] to actually control that directive."

Police Protection in CT Increases: Tribes Can Now Arrest Non-Natives

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On Friday, August 1, 27 members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Police received the power to arrest non-Natives on tribal land. “Up until now they could only hold and detain non-tribal members until the state police could come and make the arrest,” William Satti, director of public affairs for the Mashantucket Pequot Nation, said at a swearing-in ceremony heralding the event...

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Citation

Rose, Christina. "Police Protection in CT Increases: Tribes Can Now Arrest Non-Natives." USET. August 5, 2014. Article. (https://www.usetinc.org/news/police-protection-in-ct-increases-tribes-can-...), accessed August 21, 2014)

Tulalips wield new power against domestic violence

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The Tulalip Tribes are now one of just three Native American tribes in the country to take advantage of a federal program designed to better combat domestic violence on tribal lands. In an agreement signed with the U.S. Attorney’s Office Friday during a regular meeting of the Tribes’ board of directors, tribal prosecuting attorney Sharon Jones Hayden was appointed Special Assistant U.S. Attorney with expanded authority over domestic violence cases...

Native Nations
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Winters, Chris. "Tulalips wield new power against domestic violence." HeraldNet. The Herald of Everett, Washington. July 14, 2014. Article. (http://www.heraldnet.com/news/tulalips-wield-new-power-against-domestic…, accessed July 16, 2014)

Good Data Leads to Good Sovereignty

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The lack of good data about U.S. American Indian and Alaska Native populations hinders tribes’ development activities, but it also highlights a space for sovereign action. In coming years, tribes will no doubt continue to advocate for better national data and at the same time increasingly implement their own “data agendas” by gathering high quality, culturally relevant information about their communities. With more meaningful data, tribal policymakers can make informed decisions about which policies and programs are right for the task at hand. Strategic data planning empowers tribes to tell their communities’ stories through their own data, and not that of others. 

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Schultz, Jennifer Lee and Stephanie Carroll Rainie. "Good Data Leads to Good Sovereignty." Indian Country Today Media Network. June 3, 2014. Opinion. (https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/opinions/good-data-leads-to..., accessed June 3, 2014)

Arizona tribe set to prosecute first non-Indian under a new law

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Tribal police chief Michael Valenzuela drove through darkened desert streets, turned into a Circle K convenience store and pointed to the spot beyond the reservation line where his officers used to take the non-Indian men who battered Indian women.

“We would literally drive them to the end of the reservation and tell them to beat it,” Valenzuela said. “And hope they didn’t come back that night. They almost always did.”

About three weeks ago, at 2:45 a.m., the tribal police were called to the reservation home of an Indian woman who was allegedly being assaulted in front of her two children. They said her 36-year-old non- Indian husband, Eloy Figueroa Lopez, had pushed her down on the couch and was violently choking her with both hands.

This time, the Yaqui police were armed with a new law that allows Indian tribes, which have their own justice system, to prosecute non-Indians. Instead of driving Lopez to the Circle K and telling him to leave the reservation, they arrested him...

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Horwitz, Sari. "Arizona tribe set to prosecute first non-Indian under a new law." The Washington Post. April 18, 2014. Article. (https://www.dailyitem.com/news/arizona-tribe-set-to-prosecute-first-non-indian-under-a-new-law... accessed March 3, 2023)