Public Law 93-638

Richard Luarkie: Leadership and Nation Building at Pueblo of Laguna

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Native Nations Institute
Year

In this informative interview with NNI's Ian Record, Governor Richard Luarkie of the Pueblo of Laguna discusses Laguna's approach to nation building, the roles their core values and time-tested process for cultivating effective leaders has played in that effort, and how and why Laguna has worked to systematically build a diversified, sustainable economy.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Luarkie, Richard. "Leadership and Nation Building at Pueblo of Laguna." Leading Native Nations interview series. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. October 1, 2012. Interview.

Ian Record:

"Welcome to Leading Native Nations. I'm your host, Ian Record. On today's program, we are honored to have with us Richard Luarkie. Since January of 2011, Richard has served as Governor of his nation, the Pueblo of Laguna. He previously served as First Lieutenant Governor of Laguna and as a village officer for several terms. He also is a former small business owner. Governor, welcome and good to have you with us today."

Richard Luarkie:

"Thank you."

Ian Record:

"I've shared a few highlights about your impressive personal biography, but why don't we start out by having you tell us a little bit more about yourself. What did I leave out?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Well, again, thank you very much for allowing me to be here and interview with you today. As far as my background, my education, I did go to the tribal school systems there in Laguna, Laguna Elementary School through the high school and then went onto college, got a football scholarship, went on to play at a D-three [Division III] school in Ohio, eventually transferred back to New Mexico, graduated with my bachelor's in Economics from the University of New Mexico and then worked for our tribe, the tribal entity Laguna Industries at the time, and then the Pueblo itself, then returned to graduate school at New Mexico State University where I got my master's degree from New Mexico State. And my professional career, I've enjoyed opportunities working with private sector firms like AT&T Global Systems, American Management Systems, mainly IT, Indian Health Service, and I've had the privilege as you mentioned of owning my own firm. So that's just a little bit more about myself."

Ian Record:

"So we're here today to tap into your knowledge, your wisdom, your experience regarding a wide range of critical Native nation building and governance topics and let's start with nation building. How do you define nation building and what does it entail for the Pueblo Laguna?"

Richard Luarkie:

"It's a wonderful opportunity, I think, for many tribes to reinvent themselves. For the Pueblo of Laguna, nation building is about the embracing or re-embracing of core values and responsibility to those values, promotion of courage and capacity and exercising of resilience in a new way. And what I mean by that is resilience not in a survivor mode, but resilience of, ‘Now that we're in control, what are we going to do?' However, as a step towards that, in order for this to be relevant and practical for most a major effort must be put forth to change the mindset of our people that we are nations, not minority groups. We are nations not only in name but in responsibility. I had one of our former governors from one of the pueblos, pueblo nations there in New Mexico, he shared an experience with me that in the ‘60s he had the opportunity to meet Malcolm X. And Malcolm X, once he found out that the individual was Native American, he told the governor, the former governor, ‘I want what you have. You have the ability to make your own taxes, create your own laws, you have your own land base, you can determine your own membership, citizenship.' And for us as tribes, we have to take that...we have to embrace that responsibility, and I believe that with the United States recognizing us as tribes on the same level as they do states as domestic sovereigns, it's a tremendous opportunity to build and rebuild our nations. So nation building is critical for us in the fact that for not only as Laguna but as Native nations across the country, we have to embrace that responsibility for nation building."

Ian Record:

"The Native Nations Institute has worked with the Pueblo of Laguna for a number of years now, providing assistance in some respects, but more often than not just observing some of the amazing things that the government of the Pueblo of Laguna has been able to do. Can you...imagine you were in an elevator with someone and they asked you to describe in just the few minutes you had together what the Pueblo of Laguna government looks like and how it works, what would you tell them? I guess what would you highlight in terms of what makes that governance system unique and what makes it distinct?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Well, for me, my belief is that it's a government that is truly based on the desires of the people. The position that I currently serve in is not my position. The people, if they so chose, could have a meeting tomorrow and decide that, ‘Thank you for your services but you're going to go this far, we'll have someone finish the rest of the year.' It is truly in the control of the people. And to me, that definitely brings the responsibility for balance, for acknowledgement of our role, and so I think in a very short phrase we have a government that is truly based on the people and the authority of the people to place in positions and lead."

Ian Record:

"We were...before we sat down for this interview we had a chance to sit down with a group of folks from the Native Nations Institute and we got to talking about a wide array of governance topics, and one of the things that you touched on in describing your job is the challenges of your job, not just the professional challenges but the personal challenges and the amount of time that you have to dedicate in order to do your job well and to serve your people effectively. Can you talk about some of the challenges of being a leader of a Native nation and perhaps some of the more unique challenges of being a leader of a Native nation?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Sure. In most cases people that end up in these types of positions have ended up in these positions because they've pursued it, they campaigned, they declared candidacy, those kind of things, and in our tribe that's not our process. As I mentioned previously, it is the authority of the people to decide who will be nominated and ultimately who will be selected. But the responsibility that comes with this...mainstream society you hear Democrats and Republicans battling about who's right, who's wrong. They're focused on ideologies and egos and not the people. For us as Native nations leaders, in particular to Laguna, in our tribe the teaching is that the Governor also carries a traditional title which is Father, '[Laguna language].' And in that role, it is a tremendous responsibility. If you can liken...not only has the good Lord given the men the incredible privilege of using his name as Father, but he has placed upon the shoulders of fathers an incredible, incredible responsibility and that's the responsibility of caring for children. And in our teachings, the Governor is also the Father of our people, of our community. This is a humbling balance because the children, '[Laguna language],' I love them unconditionally and I respect them unconditionally, whether they agree with me or not and that is an incredible challenge. That aside from even my own children. I love them like my own children and when somebody challenges you and questions you, it is an incredible reach for strength to be able to not attack back but to say, ‘Thank you for your advice' whether I agreed with them or not to say, ‘Thank you' and move on. So it is those things that I think are uniquely challenging about a Native nation, because we're taught that our role is not about credibility, about visibility, about, ‘I'm better than anyone else', it's about humbly serving and doing the best for the wellbeing of our people."

Ian Record:

"So for a leader of Laguna to lead in the way that the core values of the people dictate, it's incumbent upon you and your fellow leaders to...you said love all of your people unconditionally. And doesn't that in practice in terms of the day-to-day operations of governance mean that you need to treat everyone the same and treat everyone equitably and fairly and essentially govern consistently so you're not playing favorites, you're not privileging one group over another group or one family over another family?"

Richard Luarkie:

"That’s absolutely the case, and I think that's the reason why you end up with challenge because some folks think that I'm not being...I'm not favoring them, so therefore I may have the perception that I'm not treating them the way I'm treating everybody else but that's not the case. I really...I think that in serving in these kind of roles, fairness is objective, it's...or not objective, subjective and I believe that I have to be consistent. I have to be...I have to be focused on the quality of my care, if you will, of our people. And so it is difficult to demonstrate love, to demonstrate respect when mud is thrown at you, but I think at the end of the day that's why prayer is so important, a reliance on the Higher Power is so important so that renewal can be given."

Ian Record:

"And doesn't part of that caring for your people unconditionally and caring for all of your people and treating them fairly across the board, doesn't that sometimes mean you have to say no for the betterment...you have to say 'no' to that one person for the betterment of all?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Absolutely, and that's why I used the analogy of a father. With our children, there are times that maybe they want to go to the movies, they want to go hang out with their friends, and you've got to say 'no' and they're going to be upset with you. It's no different in this environment. Sometimes our people may want a new facility, but we're going to have to say 'no' because we don't have the revenue to support it. It's not that we don't want it, it's that we need to make sure that we don't do things to just appease and gain favoritism. We have to do our actions with responsibility because when you take money from one source that means something else is impacted and you have to be aware of what the impact is going to be."

Ian Record:

"So you mentioned earlier that the way that Pueblo of Laguna does things, particularly with respect to how it chooses its leaders that you don't campaign and that the sort of...the common understanding of the people of community is that people who are openly seeking the office of leadership, that's going to be frowned upon. Can you...and you mentioned in previous discussions that the common phrase translated to English is, ‘You don't chase it.' Can you talk a little bit more about that and how that came to be and perhaps its roots in traditional Laguna governance?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Sure. We're taught from very early stages, from the men folk that attend village meetings, that attend public...that we have responsibilities, obligations in our community to do our part to contribute. And it's during these times that the older men that have been in these positions remind that we should not chase these positions, we should not boast. A term they use is '[Laguna language].' It literally means, ‘Don't pound your chest, don't show off.' That it's literally up to the people to decide who should be in these positions. With communication, with sincerity, with prayer it is believed that our Creator will put the thought in our minds as to who might be the best person to lead at this time and so those individuals that are of consideration, their names are put forth by the people, not themselves. We do not have in our policy, in our ordinances at Laguna...individuals are not allowed to declare candidacy nor are they allowed to campaign. If they do either, they're disqualified. It is truly up to the people to decide. And so boasting is not something that is looked on kindly, and I believe that when those things are done, our community reminds, ‘Here's why you shouldn't do it,' whether it's in the village meeting, whether it's officials reminding, they remind that boasting is not an acceptable approach, that it is the people's authority to determine who will sit in those positions."

Ian Record:

"So you...as I mentioned at the outset in the introduction, you've been Governor for going on two years now, but before that you served in other leadership positions within the Pueblo, and I'm sure that those previous positions that you held leading up to becoming Governor helped prepare you. And I think that's part of the process that Laguna has long had in place to sort of have people move up through the leadership system and ultimately assume the highest position there is, but looking back now are there certain things that you wish you knew...that you know now that you wish you knew back then before your first day as Governor or the things that kind of came as a surprise to you and said, ‘Wow, I didn't really expect this' or ‘If I had to do it over I'd maybe prepare a little bit more in this area'?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Well, in our Pueblo, in order to get into positions, there is a traditional process as you're referring to. The traditional process is that an individual normally will start out as a town crier. That's the individual that goes around and makes announcements to the village members that there's a meeting tonight, there's ditch work tomorrow, there's whatever the case may be. And so that role is not only for the messaging, but also to get to know the community for that individual. The second step up is the mayordomo, the village officer. That role the individual is responsible for land assignments, family disputes, those kind of things and that role obviously takes care of those functions but also is intended to...for the individual to learn a little more intimately the people. Then the next role up is the council role and that council role, because now you have these first two steps, you have a broader perspective, so now you're able to see a bigger picture. So maybe the people may consider you to go to the council. Then we have what we call a 'staff officer,' which is analogous to the mayor of the village and it's that staff that is I guess analogous to the cabinet of a Governor. And so...and at that point then, once you serve in that role then you have the opportunity if the people so see it may ask you to serve as Governor, secretary, treasurer, the broader positions. So that's the training ground and...I'm sorry I lost my train of thought on that."

Ian Record:

"That's good. I was talking about what do you wish you knew before you took office."

Richard Luarkie:

"And so those are the training steps to getting into these positions. Based on that, it gives you a great understanding and a great grounding for community. But one of the things I wish I knew more of before I got into office was the history, governmental history, policy and the implications of the impositions of federal policy and what has framed Public Law 93-638, what has framed the Indian Civil Rights Act, what has framed all these other elements that have come into play. It would have been much more I think enlightening to come into this office on day one having a better handle on those things, because you deal not only with local issues, but you're dealing with state and federal issues. And much of the state and federal issues are defined by federal policy, so it would have been great to have a better handle on that element."

Ian Record:

"And don't...following up on that, a colleague of mine once said that, ‘To be a leader you need to be as much an educator and a student as a decision maker.' How do you see that statement, that it's not just when you achieve that position of responsibility as governor, as chairman, as councilor, whatever it might be? That it's not just about making decisions at that point. It's about continuing to learn and continuing to teach the people in the community and learn from them and also learn these other things that you've alluded to, like the federal policies and what they mean for your nation in particular."

Richard Luarkie:

"I couldn't agree with that statement more. I believe it's absolutely critical to educate not only your community but your council. Your council needs to understand what they're deciding on so that they're able to articulate back to the community the whys of the decision. But also in those decisions that require community input, it's absolutely critical that your council's able to articulate to the community what they're needing and why. And so as that feeds back up to the ultimate decision, the Governor or leadership position needs to be able to frame that information in a manner that the council can understand, they can understand it to be able to articulate it, that the community can be able to take that articulation and make sense of it and make a recommendation back to the council, ultimately to the body that will make the decision. So it's absolutely important to be able to educate. But it's also important to be able to sit and take the time to ask the questions and that as a leader, ‘I don't understand. Can you explain to me a little bit more before I put it to my council? Is there some additional information that can be provided?' So in a leadership role, that's where I think the humbleness and humility come in to be able to make sure that I'm able to understand and I'm able to learn what the issues are so constant learning and constant educating are...they go hand-in-hand in this role."

Ian Record:

"And isn't it one of your core teachings, the core values of Laguna traditionally for their leaders to make sure that they don't make ill-informed, hasty decisions, that you actually take that time and you make sure you fully understand the issue before you decide upon it? And I would imagine that's more crucial than ever given the complexity of the governance challenges that Laguna faces in the 21st century."

Richard Luarkie:

"In our environment, in our council environment, you often hear the reminder '[Laguna language].' This means, ‘Do it properly, take your time, be diligent.' It doesn't mean sit there for six or eight months. It means be analytical, be objective in your decision making. Turn the stones that you need to turn but be...do it properly. And so I believe that for us, decision making and being able to frame decisions in a manner that is diligent is critical for us. So those are all very important elements for us in our decision making."

Ian Record:

"Isn't it difficult though for some leaders...I think there's a feeling among some leaders and perhaps some people in the community that if you happen to become a chairman of a tribe or a councilor of a nation that you're automatically supposed to have all the answers and so you shouldn't be asking questions, you should already know this stuff. Obviously, that's not the way things operate at Laguna, and from what you're saying it sounds like that there's not embarrassment with asking questions to get a better handle on, 'What's the issue we're facing and what's the best decision to choose?'"

Richard Luarkie:

"Yes. I very much agree that for Laguna that's why it's so important that those reminders go out, ‘Don't pound your chest, don't chase these things' because when you're of that type of a personality, arrogance, 'I know it all,' it's difficult for you to ask for help. But when you're humble and you serve with humility, then it's easier to say [Laguna language], ‘Help me. Guide me here, I need a little bit more information.' We also have a system that at Laguna where former leadership...it's not a situation where I go and try to undo everything the former governor did or previous governors. But instead I take what they've done and I continue building on it and I draw on them to help me keep moving it forward. So whoever comes behind me, I'm going to do the same to help them. So there's that perpetuation, that continuance of support from former leadership in moving our efforts forward."

Ian Record:

"In fact that's a good segue into one of my other questions about leadership and that is, what is Laguna's approach to mentoring the future leaders or people that are coming up that traditional leadership process pipeline, if you will? For mentoring them to be as prepared as possible for when they become governor one day or become lieutenant governor one day. What does Laguna do to mentor them, and then when there's that transition period, when one group of leaders is getting ready to give way to another group of leaders, is there a process for transferring of knowledge there?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Well, on the mentoring piece, one of the things that I think is really critical is that process I explained earlier with the town crier, the mayordomo, that's real important, because it gives you an understanding of community but also at those times when there's ditch work, when there's village work, the men are sharing information and that's one of the best times for young people, the young men in particular to get this information. But on a more formal side, one of the things we've been doing in particular to our administration has been...we've been including our young people in meetings, we've taken them on trips with us, not just for the fun of going on a trip but actually sitting in and engaging on presentations. As an example, we had some junior high students that went with us to Washington, D.C. and they presented to Congressman Udall, to Congressman Lujan on some very pertinent issues like housing, recreational facilities for our youth, suicide. So we're engaging them so they see the relevance of our work as well as the relevance of their education to the work. So it's very critical that we begin to expose our young people to the issues now as opposed to waiting to the point of time they're in office or whatever the case may be. And I think it's equally important that we grow these young people not to just be tribal leaders, but to be good people that are knowledgeable about their community and are respectful not only to their community but to themselves. So those are really critical elements. And so that is I think important on the mentoring side. On the transitioning of leadership, it's equally important to be able to sit with outgoing leadership, incoming leadership and to be able to develop that bond and that relationship that says, ‘As we go out of the way and you guys come in, we fill in the back to make sure we can continually help you.' So it's not a, ‘I got all the information from you now and I'm going to go lay on the beach.' That's not the case. It's, ‘Now I'm going to be able to help you from behind and I'll support you.' So it's a transition of support, and so that is very critical in how we develop our leadership, how we transition initiatives, continuity is critical for us."

Ian Record:

"And I'm assuming it does wonders for the government's institutional memory and the ability to sort of not only get things going, but sustain them as you mentioned where you're not...you're able to build upon the work of your predecessors because you're able to access their knowledge and their expertise in an ongoing way."

Richard Luarkie:

"Right. Right. We don't have a system that's made up of Republicans or Democrats or Independents or whatever. We have a system that's Laguna and we're Laguna and this is what we're supposed to do for our people. And so it's a system of continuity, a system of consistency, so it definitely helps in the continuation of initiatives."

Ian Record:

"And do you think that Laguna would have been able to develop the robust, diversified economy it has without that governance system in place?"

Richard Luarkie:

"I don't believe it would have been able to do that, because you need...you need not only the consistency in leadership, but you need to have trust from the government to the businesses and the economy that's being created and you can't get that with inconsistent leadership."

Ian Record:

"So you've touched on some of the keys of being an effective leader, of being a nation building leader if you will, things like not being afraid to ask questions, to make sure you make educated decisions, be an educator of your people so that they're onboard with what's going on. What are some other things from your experience that nation building leaders do, that effective leaders of nations do?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Well, one of the things that I think is so critical is back to that element of not being afraid to ask for help, whether it's from the Native Nations Institute, whether it's from tribal member Joe Blow, ‘Can you help me clean this ditch' to whoever, I think humbleness and humility is a major element in nation building. Education of self and community is critical. As I mentioned earlier, we're nations, we're not minority groups. We are nations and we need to understand the responsibility to being a nation and in order to do that, we have to know...we have to be educated. And I mean education, not just formal education with a degree, but education in identity, education in community, education in spirituality, education in language. Our language identifies who we are, it's so very critical that we have language. So all those elements combined together are pieces that lend to nation building and are pieces that we should continually ask for guidance in, that we should continually seek to strengthen, those are areas that as a nation builder we should have as cornerstones. But at the heart of it is our core values, the ability to respect, to love, to have discipline, to have obedience in how we conduct ourselves. Those are things that as nation builders we should not be afraid to ask our people to do. But the most important element of that is for us as leaders to demonstrate that desired behavior. So asking for help is one of the biggest things that I think we need to be able to do, then of course implement. Implementation is key, and I see many tribes...and Laguna we've done it as well, where we've done research, we've done analysis but when you don't implement, it's all for naught. We have to implement but with implementation comes responsibility. So it loops back around to who can help us best implement."

Ian Record:

"And with implementation you need capacity, don't you?"

Richard Luarkie:

"That's right."

Ian Record:

"And that means that...what a lot of Native nations struggle with is getting beyond this sort of legacy of colonialism if you will that the leaders are expected to do it all and so a lot of leaders have this mindset of, ‘If anything's going to get done in this nation, I've got to be involved in it' versus ‘I'm going to make sure as a leader that we build up our institutional capacity through qualified people with the skills and expertise that we need to get the job done.' Is that something that you wrestle with? It sounds like you guys deal with that relatively well, but is that still a challenge?"

Richard Luarkie:

"It definitely is a challenge and even for Laguna we've...since 1962 we've had a formal scholarship program, so many of our tribal members, we have had our bachelor's degrees paid for by the Pueblo because way back when our elders saw the importance of education and established a scholarship fund. So as a result of that, scholarships have been available. I'm a recipient of that. My bachelor's degree was paid for by our tribe and many others. And so capacity building was very, very important from an early stage and still is. But I think one of the things we're realizing now is that capacity building is not only important on the formal side and the technical aspects but on the community side. We have to not...we can't lose focus of who we are. We have to know who we are and if that means relearning pieces of who we are, we need to do that. So in...with the community education and formal education coupled together, that makes for a strong nation in our own capacity. And I think it also goes back to even those fundamental blessings that our Creator has bestowed on many of us as Native people and that's the blessing of competency. We have some smart people. We have intelligent people, but we have to get confident in our own competence. We have to be confident in each other. We have to respect each others' competencies and where there's weakness, let's help them get strong. And so that is a major element in nation building, being able to respect the competencies of one another and to draw on it. There's many instances that as opposed to going down the road and finding a consultant we may have it right here or if we don't, maybe the next tribe over does, but we don't seem to draw on one another and that's where I think it's going to be a major element as we go forward into the future for tribes to recognize that competency that we've been able to develop."

Ian Record:

"I want to draw together a couple of themes that you just alluded to. One is this confidence in competency, the competency of your own people and not just folks within...that are working within tribal government but people out in the community. And another thing you brought up was that you can't be afraid to ask your people for help and one of the things that we see a lot of tribes struggle with is...and this is really a legacy of the sort of dependency mentality that colonialism seeded in so many Native communities, where the government is expected to do everything and that in many instances they'll essentially subsume the role of what the community is supposed to be doing on its own. And so...what we've heard a growing number of tribal leaders advocate for is, 'We need to get back to an understanding of tribal civics,' if you will, 'that is rooted in the reality that the government is not the nation, the government of the nation is not the nation itself, but the government supports the nation as the nation acts as the nation, as it acts as a community.' I've heard you discuss, for instance, the dynamic of ditch work in your community, where citizens of your community are expected to contribute to the life of the nation and they're expected to play a valued role. Can you talk about how important that is and how empowering that is for you in your job?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Absolutely. Everybody needs to understand their role. Even I, serving currently as governor, when ditch work is called, the village officers, the mayordomos are in charge of ditch work. So when I go to ditch work, I'm under their authority. They tell me when to get out of the ditch, when to take a break along with everybody else. Just because I'm the governor doesn't give me the authority to jump out of the ditch whenever I want. I'm under their terms until they release us for the day. And so I think the understanding of role and where the authorities lie is absolutely critical, and I think that's empowering because we recognize and we understand how important community teaching comes back into play because you may have...in our community you might see a person at the local gas station that's pumping your gas and cleaning your windshield but in our community that may be a very high religious leader. So understanding and respecting role is critical, because you don't know who you're working with at times and you have to respect those that are in authority. And I think that brings empowerment to the community because it reminds about respect for leadership, it reminds respect for mother and father, for grandma and grandpa. So I think that it's definitely a key element to nation building because that's the part that gets forgotten. It's not about money, it's not about policy, it's not about law, it's about getting along. That's critical."

Ian Record:

"I wanted to touch on now a quote that I've heard you share a number of times -- watching you present to other tribal leaders and perhaps future leaders of Native nations -- and that is you say that when you were chosen to lead your nation that you were not given great power but you were given great responsibility. And that's a fundamental concept that I think a lot of not just leaders of Native nations but leaders of all nations struggle with is really conceiving in a proper way what it is that they were chosen to do, exercising responsibility versus exercising power. Can you explain what you meant by that comment and why it's critical for leaders of Native nations to approach their leadership authority with that mindset?"

Richard Luarkie:

"To me, when this world turns, when a deer runs, when a salmon swims, when we wake up in the morning, when our heart beats, all those things are powered by the same source, our Creator. To me, that's where the power lies. I am a human being. When the people put me in office, they didn't give me any power, but they gave me tremendous, incredible responsibility to take care of them, tremendous, incredible responsibility to protect them. That's my job. The power resides with our Creator and it resides with the people. The minute I start believing I have power, I've lost, I've gotten weak because that comes from selfish, ulterior motives and that is from...when you begin to lead and make decisions with selfish, ulterior motives, you leave your people behind, you leave your children behind and that is not the role of a leader."

Ian Record:

"So it sounds like from everything you've shared with us that the...through the existence and the practicing of Laguna core values, that there's pretty strong deterrents in place to prevent just that kind of behavior that you've talked about, those selfish, ulterior motives from influencing the decision making of a leader at Laguna. But if and when those issues do arise, when someone's leading in an unethical way for instance, how does Laguna deal with that? What's the process that's in place for sort of restoring that person to a place where they're acting in a good way or if necessary punishing them or removing them from office if that's the approach that you take? Can you talk a little bit about how Laguna deals with that issue?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Sure. Laguna is like any other Pueblo or any other tribe in this nation, we're not perfect. We have our challenges and we have those individuals that challenge. And for Laguna, one of the ways though that we deal with that type of a situation is that it is the responsibility of the leadership to remind of proper behavior, of proper conduct. In our community we have village meetings on Thursday evenings and at these village meetings the community also has the opportunity to remind, ‘Here's what we expect of you, here's what we don't expect of you in your behavior.' If the problem is serious enough, we have the ability to call what we call 'general meetings,' where we invite the whole community and we present the issue and it's the people then that have the authority to say, ‘Joe Blow, you've come this far, thank you for your service. We're going to relieve you at this point.' Or they can say, ‘Sit there and listen to us for the next several hours and we're going to remind you of why we put you there and what we expect of you.' And at Laguna, I don't think our system is a system of immediate penalty, ‘Let's throw the guy out, let's throw the gal out.' But instead, ‘Let's nurture them, let's correct them, let's remind them in hopes that they won't do it again.' And they include the community in those situations, so it's just not the officers and a couple people sitting there, it's the community. So not to...not meant to embarrass the individual, but so that the individual knows the community knows and the community helps them back to that teaching of, ‘It takes a village to raise a kid,' no different in this environment. When an official maybe has gotten out of line, it takes the community to remind them and get them back in line."

Ian Record:

"I want to switch gears now to the issue of strategic orientation which is one of the, what the NNI and Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development Research has found is one of the five keys to effective nation building, this issue of having a long-term strategic vision of where you want to head as a nation and then governing towards that vision and not just governing from day to day. I had a chance in advance of this interview to sit down and go through the Pueblo of Laguna's website and I noticed that among other things that the Laguna tribal council is charged with advancing five strategic priorities aimed at enhancing the quality of life of the Laguna people and those included health, education, financial stability, infrastructure and workforce excellence. And I'm curious to learn from you, how did the tribal council arrive at those priorities and what role did the Laguna people play in determining those priorities?"

Richard Luarkie:

"In 2006, that was a transition year for us, the end of an administration. In 2007, we had a new administration come in and when that transition meeting happened, there was probably five, six pages of priorities and single spaced, 10-point font, and there was no way that we could accomplish or even make a dent in all those priorities. So what the Pueblo council did at the time is took a step back and said, ‘Okay, of these what are those common areas and how is it that we begin to group these elements so that it's more manageable?' And it's at that time that our tribal council had the first real interaction with the Native Nations Institute. The Native Nations Institute actually worked with us to frame, at a two-day retreat in Santa Ana Pueblo at the Tamaya, to frame what those priorities might look like and why we needed to prioritize. And so as a result of that we came up with our initial set of priorities which are the ones that you've just read off. And so that became our long-term target, and during that process to finalization we also had community meetings, one being a large meeting that was held at the Route 66 Casino, where we invited our tribal members and a large number of our people came and weighed in on these priorities, and as a result at the conclusion of the meeting, validated that these are the priorities and that they also indicated that these will be the priorities until there is a significant dent if you will made in the priority to where we can move it off and we can give emphasis to something else. It's been a great strategic process because...on a couple fronts because when we got to meet with our Congressional delegation, they don't see something brand new every time. We bring them the same thing but with an update. It's helped us in particular to infrastructure. Because we've put a big emphasis on infrastructure, we have a $70 million project under way right now, so as a result of that infrastructure has come off and now housing has been put on. So housing was a close tie with infrastructure in the initial go-around, but the logic came that, ‘Well, in order for us to have more homes, we need infrastructure. So if we put homes there first and we don't have the infrastructure to support it, it's a waste.' So now that we have these projects going in all six villages, it's huge for us. This is the first time our whole water and sewer system has not only been revamped, but it's been replaced, brand new piping and we're also running to two of our outlying villages that have never had natural gas. You would think in this day and age, 'Wow!' But...and as a tribe as progressive as Laguna, those two villages are just now getting natural gas. So infrastructure has had a significant impact. It's not that we're going to give it less attention, we're still going to give it attention, but this strategy of keeping focused on some core areas of development has definitely helped us."

Ian Record:

"And doesn't it make your job on one level easier, or more clear I should say, when you know you've got these strategic priorities in place, that these are points of emphasis above all others and that the community has signed off on this and they're clear on these as the most important things that we need to be doing, that when you deal with those day-to-day decisions and those fires, that it's a lens through which to say, ‘Is this going to get us closer to these five goals?'"

Richard Luarkie:

"Right. Absolutely and it not only helps us make significant impact and get community buy-in, but when new leadership comes in, new council members, new administrations, if they've been participating in the community, they know what the priorities are, so it lowers the learning curve for leadership coming in."

Ian Record:

"I want to switch gears and talk a little bit about economic development, which of course is related to strategic orientation but as you know, Laguna is well known throughout Indian Country for its methodical development of a diversified economy, and I'm wondering if you can give us a little bit of background on how...what compelled Laguna to pursue the building of a diversified economy?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Laguna's economy's interesting...for me, it's one of the areas that has intrigued me and as I look back on it, from the 1950s we had one of our first large tastes of economic development, although prior to that we tasted economic development with the coming of the railroad in 1885 when our tribal leaders negotiated right of ways in exchange for jobs for our tribal members. So that was our entrance into the wage-earning era in 1885, so we entered that very early. In the 1950s, we entered into mining with the Anaconda Uranium Mine. We had the largest open-pit mine in the world, and that generated significant revenue royalties to the Pueblo. And the challenge for the tribe is that over those years they didn't diversify their economy. We were for almost 30 years at near full employment and then in 1981, the uranium prices fell out so we went from nearly full employment to almost 72 percent unemployment. And the only thing we had at the Pueblo was a Chevron gas station and a local store, so there was no way that could absorb the employment requirements. So there was a period of time that was very difficult for our community and as a result of that, the tribal leadership at the time -- not out of strategy but out of reaction and trying to get people back to work -- created a bunch of community make work projects, building walls, and fixing windows and those kind of things. But in that process, they also began the effort to build Laguna Industries, Laguna Construction Company, federal 8A companies that eventually grew to multi-million dollar firms. But it was out of reaction so that our people could get back to work. And so as a result of that, that laid the foundation for Laguna to get into the position that we will not allow this to happen again. So the diversification happened in a manner that said, ‘We need to look at different industries but we also need to be able to allow those businesses to grow.' So as a result of that, our Pueblo government took the position that we will not be engaged in the day-to-day operation, but instead we will structure a Section 17 corporation. So as a result of structuring a Section 17 corporation that allowed for the establishment of boards, board of directors, who served as the interface with the entity. The board works for the shareholder which is the government and they're the ones that oversee the entities for us so the government does not get involved in the day to day activity and interfere with the decision making of the business. So that allowed for expedited, more strategic growth of our companies. And right now we're at a point in time where diversifying of our economy is so very critical, where now we've put an emphasis on entrepreneurship, because it shouldn't be just the tribe creating businesses, we need to allow our community members to build businesses. Many tribal members say, ‘Governor, why is it that our tribal budget keeps increasing?' And my answer is, ‘Well, that's because when our economy's not strong there's more reliance on the government. When our economy is strong, the reliance comes down and our costs go down.' So we're working to build this piece, and so right now the Pueblo is focused on developing our entrepreneur base, looking at ways we can partner with other entities to help diversify our economy and find new revenue streams, but also be able to stabilize that in a manner that doesn't get us back to those early-1980 days."

Ian Record:

"Isn't the Laguna...the lesson that you learned, isn't that instructive for other nations who...many of whom are putting all of their eggs in one basket with gaming and the very real prospect that at some point down the road gaming may no longer be an option for them?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Absolutely, and for Laguna that is something that we're so very aware of right now because...and sensitive to because of that 1980s experience, but we realize from the gaming reports for New Mexico, the gaming compacts, they've pretty much stabilized, so you don't see any significant growth in any of the gaming venues there in New Mexico, so that tells us there's been some stabilization and the market's pretty much saturated. But we also have to be able to figure out, 'How do we use gaming as a tool to develop and diversify our economies and not make it just one basket?' And so that's where it's so important that tribes and tribal gaming establishments need to focus on, 'How do you build the shareholder equity?' But it's just as important from the shareholder, the tribal government to recognize when the revenue share comes that we don't just blow it, that we figure out how do we grow it, how do we...we have to focus on our balance sheet, not on our income statement. We have to be balance-sheet focused and building that asset base."

Ian Record:

"You alluded to the creation of a Section 17 corporation and the sort of policies that Laguna has put in place to keep the politics and the government side out of the day-to-day operations of the businesses. Can you talk about some other ways that Laguna government...some other things that Laguna government has done to create that positive commercial environment at Laguna?"

Richard Luarkie:

"One of the things that Laguna has been working on quite diligently has been the...we hope nobody ever ends up in it but the dispute resolution arena, tribal courts so that we're able to work with companies that come from the outside, but also there's companies internally that have disputes, that they can come to a competent court and be able to address those issues. So to know that there's going to be fairness and objectivity in dealing with their cases. But I think also beginning to look at how is it that we support local entrepreneurs at a real basic level. When there's tribal events going on, we have what...we've implemented a policy that says, ‘We will go to our tribal member-owned businesses first.' You must go to a tribal-owned business first for catering or those kind of things. So it's that kind of policy that we're developing to help promote entrepreneurship. We're looking at ways of investing in our own companies like our Laguna Development Corporation. We're looking at ways of investing in housing. How is it that we can get a return on investment by investing in our own housing department to construct homes? And because right now many homes at Laguna...people that qualify for homes, it's all based on low income. But when you have an economy that's growing and getting stronger, you may not qualify because your income is above the threshold and so that leaves many of our people out. The other piece that we see is many tribal members are now buying trailer homes because they don't qualify for low income and they're keeping their trailer homes, so that tells you they're paying their bills, their credit's good so that's a good thing. And so it's really important that we're able to start reinvesting in our own entities and our own organizations to help build our economy, because if we don't have homes there, people leave. When people leave, so do their paychecks, which means there's not that money coming back into our local economy. So it's important that we build homes there."

Ian Record:

"So switching gears, I'd like to discuss tribal administration, tribal bureaucracies and I'm curious from your well-informed perspective, what do tribal bureaucracies need to be effective? What makes Laguna's governmental bureaucracy work well?"

Richard Luarkie:

"I think for Laguna it's...we have a system that's based on...sorry I lost my thought."

Ian Record:

"So what makes Laguna's governmental bureaucracy work well?"

Richard Luarkie:

"For Laguna, I believe what makes our system work well, our bureaucracy work well is the ability to authorize those that are in decision-making roles like directors and supervisors to make certain levels of decisions. That way everything is not coming to the governor's office, everything's not coming to the chief of operations. And so when you can begin to build quality staff, great systems, the system will take care of itself and you don't have to sign off on every little document. So having that type of environment in place is very critical and I think definitely helps with the bureaucracy. On the tribal side, same thing with the...on the tribal government side, same scenario where the tribal council has delegated to the governor's office and to our staff officer level certain signing authority so we don't have to take everything in to tribal council. As an example, we just had a request for filming. There's a movie that's going to be filmed at Laguna starring Jennifer Aniston and they wanted to come and film for two days. And it was two hours per day, so as opposed to taking that into council, that's something that the Governor's office can just sign off on. So it allows the council to focus on the big issues and not have to worry about, ‘Do we authorize somebody to come film for two hours' and we end up debating that for two hours. So it becomes critical when you can begin to delegate certain responsibilities out. So that helps in our bureaucracy."

Ian Record:

"And doesn't that free you up then as Governor to focus on the bigger-picture stuff like those five priorities we mentioned earlier and really focus like a laser on those and not be sort of distracted by those smaller sorts of decisions that ultimately need to be carried out by those that you've hired to carry out those kinds of decisions?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Absolutely. Absolutely, because on those larger priorities, many times funding is required, large amounts of funding, so it allows me to spend my time with those funding agencies, with those congressional people, with the folks that can help us identify and capture funding as opposed to sitting in the office and signing off on a stack of access permits or whatever the case may be. It allows us to get out and do what we need to do as tribal leadership."

Ian Record:

"We talked earlier about this issue of fairness. How does a Native nation, how does Laguna achieve fairness in the delivery of programs and services to its citizens which as you know is the centerpiece of any tribal bureaucracy?"

Richard Luarkie:

"As I mentioned earlier, fairness is subjective. To me, what I think is so absolutely critical is the consistency and the quality of delivery of those services. I believe that for us, we have to be able to make sure that our people have a process they understand, they follow that process and the services are delivered within the context of that process. If we can do that consistently, then I think we've not only impacted the bureaucracy, but we've affected in a positive way the quality of service. One of the things that we're working to overcome is the reliance on tribal government, in getting our people to do some of the work themselves. We've had instances where tribal employees have called the tribal department, public works as an example, to have public works do basic changing a light bulb for them. And for us it's really critical that we educate our people on, ‘Here are the things that you can do yourself, here is what we can do to help you as a tribe. We need to meet one another halfway.' And so I think education, consistency in process, education of that process are key elements to being able to provide fairness, if you will, to our community members."

Ian Record:

"So consistency -- it sounds from your perspective -- is based in rules, it's based in processes that are clear, they're consistent, they don't change, right?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Right."

Ian Record:

"So I'm assuming like you don't...you don't find yourself spending a large part of your day dealing with personnel grievances, right? There's a process for that."

Richard Luarkie:

"There's a process, yep."

Ian Record:

"So can you perhaps take a minute or so and describe how that works at Laguna cause I know this is something that a lot of other elected officials in Indian Country spend their time on is deciding personnel disputes that perhaps is not the best use of their time."

Richard Luarkie:

"Right. For Laguna we have a process where if an individual personnel has a personnel issue, an individual disagrees with the decision, they can appeal to their director of that department. If the director upholds that decision, the individual can then appeal to the chief of operations. If the chief of operations upholds that decision, the final step is that person can appeal to the governor's office and the governor and the first and second lieutenant are the appellate team, if you will. And so they have three steps before it even gets to the governor's office and so if it gets to the governor's office...and those are few and far between. In my...in these two years, I've seen maybe three grievances and when it comes to us, it's understood that our decision's final. It doesn't go anywhere from there. But we also have the opportunity to sit with the individual or individuals, hear their case out, but at the end of the day when we make our decision, it's final. And so that's our process at Laguna and for us, we really emphasize for those employees within the context of a process we put in place called 'Workforce Excellence' to really be able to work within the context of our core values with their supervisor, with their directors in addressing the issue. And so in turn the supervisors, directors are directed in the same way. ‘Work with your employees in the context of our core values and within policy of course and try to address the issue there before you elevate it to the next level'. And so we've been pretty successful with that approach and we've not had to deal with many grievances up to the Governor's office."

Ian Record:

"So one of the...as we mentioned earlier one of the strategic priorities of Laguna is health and I'm curious, what are your administration's goals, what is the Laguna government's goals for creating a healthy Laguna community and what steps is it taking to make those goals a reality?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Well, for Laguna one of the things...and we're not unique to other tribes. One of the major challenges we have is diabetes and obesity. It's just rampant and so for us being able to do community activities that promote healthy activity, that promote healthy eating has been a major emphasis for us. From a policy side looking at how is it that we can begin to partner with other groups that will allow for us to offer better, higher quality health services. Those have been some of the major initiatives that we've tried to move forward. We've partnered with our local or our sister Pueblo, Acoma Pueblo in...through an MOU [memorandum of understanding] to address our health care issues. So trying to draw those partners in at a larger level has been important for us. And so those are some of the steps that we've taken to address the health care issues in Laguna. The other piece of that is again back to the economics and looking at how is it that we're able to create more jobs, we're able to create a diversified economy so that our people don't have to travel long distances for work, that they can be there at home and hopefully that contributes to their health as well, not only their own physical health but the community health."

Ian Record:

"So what do you see for the future of Laguna? What do you hope that all of your hard work will lead to down the road? What will your nation look like 25, 50 years from now?"

Richard Luarkie:

"That's a neat question. A lot of times I've seen people say that's hard to answer but to me, in 25 years I envision a community of hearing our language, I envision a community of collaboration, I envision a community of family and in my mind, it's not pie in the sky but those are things that are very practical that we're already doing, we just need to do it better and we will do it better. And I think if leadership can reinforce core values as the reason why, we will be experiencing those things. I see a community with more children, I see a community where our elders are once again engaged, but I also see our children being mentored by our elders. We're at a point in time where we see this thought process of when the governor or staff officers, officials call a meeting of the community, younger people say, ‘Well, how come I have to go? Why do I have to be there?' And then you have individuals like former Governor Daly who's 94 years old saying, ‘Governor, tell me what I need to do and I'll do it.' I see this piece becoming strong again and us recognizing what our responsibility to our contribution is. I see that in 25 years."

Ian Record:

"Well, Governor Luarkie, we really appreciate you sharing your thoughts, wisdom and experience with us. It's been certainly an enlightening experience for me and hopefully it will be for our viewers and listeners as well. Thank you."

Richard Luarkie:

"Thank you."

Ian Record:

"That's all the time we have on today's episode of Leading Native Nations. To learn more about Leading Native Nations please visit NNI's new website, the Indigenous Governance Database, which can be found at IGovDatabase.com. Thank you for joining us."

Honoring Nations: Jon Cooley: Building Capable Institutions of Self-Governance: White Mountain Apache Wildlife and Recreation Program

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

Jon Cooley, former director of the White Mountain Apache Tribe's Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation division, discusses how their program went about building capable institutions of self-governance in order to manage the Tribe's natural resources -- specifically wildlife -- in a sustainable manner.

People
Resource Type
Citation

Cooley, Jon. "Building Capable Institutions of Self-Governance: White Mountain Apache Wildlife and Recreation Program." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Sante Fe, New Mexico. February 7, 2002. Presentation.

Andrew Lee:

"Let's now turn our attention to the next theme, which is 'How to Build Capable Institutions of Self-Governance.' Here with us today is John Cooley, who's the director of Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation for the White Mountain Apache Tribe, which won High Honors in 2000, last year, for their Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation program. [I] had a chance to visit the reservation; it's simply fantastic, whether you know it or not. I guess it was last year you got $38,000 for a single elk tag. It's a wonderful blend of conservation and profit-making activities. Welcome, Jon."

Jon Cooley:

"Thanks, Andrew. Thanks also for the invitation and the hospitality. It's been great. It is an honor for me as well to be here.

As Andrew said, my talk is on 'Building Capable Institutions of Self-Governance' and being the kind of analytical-type person that I am, I'll break that into two big pieces. Keep in mind now that I'm here today, in 2002, not because of what's really happened in the last few years or so. Our program today is a reflection of a lot of progress and a lot of hard work that has really gone on for decades at White Mountain. Basically, just to give you some really quick background on the program, our Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation division is a blend of two different things happening at the same time. On the regulatory side, of course, we're responsible for the sustainable management of tribal resources, wildlife resources and the conservation of those resources through our law enforcement branch. But on the other hand, we also serve as one of the most profitable, actually, of the tribal enterprises in terms of building a recreation and tourism economy for the tribe, which is really an important part of its entire business approach on the reservation there. So in terms of the building capable institutions part, as far as the White Mountain example is concerned, I think that really started with just building a tribal regulatory framework of, consisting of tribal codes, laws and regulations that regulate not only tribal member activities, as it relates to wildlife, but also non-tribal members coming on to the reservation, which clearly is an important first step. And then the other piece of that of course is building an organization and through the years we've gone through a lot of different changes. Today I'm happy to say that we have our professional branch of biologists consists...all but two people consist of tribal members, college-educated degree tribal members who act as our biologists both in terms of fisheries management and wildlife management. We started early on though, of course, bringing in skilled people from the outside using 638 [Public Law 93-638] contracts and whatever was available to us, working with the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] or the Fish and Wildlife Service to help build the capacity to manage our resources. But the vision all along was for us to do it and to do it the way we felt was appropriate.

Now in terms of... self-governance, to me, implies empowerment and independence. And in the case of White Mountain, I think it also meant just the idea of controlling its own destiny as it related to, again, both running businesses and managing its resources. And when you control your own destiny, I think that goes further in implying that you're incorporating tribal values into the way that you do that. So we try to remain and always have, I think, remained cooperative and we try to collaborate as much as possible with key players like the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Fish and Wildlife Service. But there's times when you run into a conflict between what may be national priorities or policies and what the tribe feels is important. So I think that's...when you get into those situations where you have conflicting goals and ideas of what the future should be is when you have to assert and in our case we've asserted this notion of self-governance.

And just, again in terms of background, two critical points I think in our development as an agency, the first was with the State of Arizona, this was back in I believe the '70s, early '80s when the state had jurisdiction over non-member hunting activities on the reservation where they were required to purchase state permits in addition to our tribal permit. So there was kind of a double-permitting system going on there. Plus the tribe -- because they were subject to the state regulations -- wasn't able to develop its recreation and tourism businesses the way it felt it should be able to. So we filed suit and through a series of different cases ultimately prevailed. That, in and of itself, allowed the tribe then to develop its trophy elk-hunting program that Andrew referred to earlier. I think the first hunt the tribe had they probably brought in like 20 clients at $700 apiece, which at that time was pretty outrageous. We since have built it into a million-dollar operation and in the process we're employing tribal members and returning revenues back to the tribe, so again it's a good thing for the tribe economically and it's reflective of their desire to advance their business in the way they feel is appropriate, while also providing for the sustainable management of its resources.

Another example is with Fish and Wildlife Service, recently. The conflict was endangered species and the way endangered species issue should be handled on tribal lands. And with the Endangered Species Act and the way it was being applied at the time, it was creating a lot of havoc as was some of your experience as well. And again, it got to a point where we felt that okay, we have this conflict in vision and goals here. And there's this approach sometimes from Washington that a one-size-fits-all [approach] can work, and it just didn't in our case and we challenged it. And the result of that was a cooperative agreement with Fish and Wildlife where they basically recognized our institutional capacity to manage. Now, of course, we had to build upon that because with that self-governance, of course, comes a lot of responsibility. Recent examples of that collaboration with Fish and Wildlife, is the Apache Tribe Recovery Program. It's one of...I think it's the only fish right now being considered for de-listing. We played an active role in that. We've also just recently completed the development of a Mexican Gray Wolf plan. It's a tribal plan though. It's not a Fish and Wildlife Service plan handed to the tribe. We developed it.

So again, this notion of self-governance, there's times when you -- in our case at least -- we've just had to assert this idea of wanting to do it ourselves and the reason is because we felt it was necessary to control our destiny and to make sure that the tribe's values were being reflected. I mentioned this idea of with self-governance comes a lot of responsibility. And I think in doing that it's not this idea of necessarily you're out there on your own, because it is important to still network and we do that as much as we can to utilize other agencies that are involved, whether it's Fish and Wildlife Service or the BIA or what have you. So the point is that we still try to foster those relationships as much as possible, because funding is usually a limiting factor, at least in our case, and it's important to maintain those ties. But in doing so you have to be loyal to your community and to their interests and to those values that should be guiding our vision and our focus as an agency. So we try, when we work with these outside agencies, I think it's important to maintain that community connection and being loyal to your vision basically, your mission. Throughout, whether it's on the business side for us or on the resource management side, sustainability of both is really critical and I think it's important when talking about sustainable, how do you do that, what does that mean?Well, I think setting goals and setting benchmarks for yourself and your staff and in our case as an agency that's really important. This gets back to the responsibility point as well and accountability and having as much of a focus on results is I think important because, again, if we can't show a return -- and I'm not just talking about a financial return -- if we can't show a return, in terms of sustainably managing the resources for the tribe, that's a return as well, then we're really not being effective I feel.

So stepping back, in closing, going outside of just our agency and I guess what's needed is to grow and be successful. There's also the tribal, macro-tribal organization that's involved as well and I think it's always a struggle for us, as I'm sure it is for every tribe, but consistency -- we were talking earlier. I think consistency is really important and I'm talking about just having the support, the community support and the political support, to allow agencies to thrive and to innovate is really important. And in the case of White Mountain, I think that's been there to allow us to move forward. Because obviously, without some kind of degree of reliability, it's difficult for I think any program to really build a foundation, number one, and to move beyond that foundation. And in terms of sustaining self-governance through time, economic viability is important and just in general vision and leadership is critical, a strong judicial system I think is really important. There needs to be that sense of fairness and just in general creating an environment as much as possible to allow organizations to be innovative and creative in how they do what they do because ultimately that's what drives people to do good things at the end of the day. So with that I'll close and take any questions you might have."

Audience member:

"This is a two-part question. I would imagine your agency has many staples. You've got tribal leaders, you've got clients who are citizens of your nation, clients who are not citizens of the nation, you've got probably citizens of the nation who aren't your clients but have some viewpoints of what it is that you do. The first part of the question is how do you as an agency take all of that information in, figure out what the harvest is going to be or what the yield is going to be, and where the hunting is going to take place and not take place? The second part of the question picks up on your closing remarks on what is it that the tribe or the council has done or that you've done that allows this innovation to take place?"

Jon Cooley:

"As far as the first question is concerned, the process that we go through, we do have separate and distinct regulations. I'll talk about hunting; for non-tribal members and for tribal members, deference is absolutely given to tribal members because if they're not happy, we're not running a business. That's the bottom line. When we do the regulations for tribal members, we do public meetings. They're not necessarily always well attended, but the point is that we do make an effort to try to get public input. That's a fine line though, because that public input is absolutely necessary, I think, to fine-tune regulations and that make you feel like we're being responsible and responsive. But at the same time, I'm always worried about management by public referendum if you will. In other words, there's skilled technicians that need to have as much influence and input I think on those, especially the critical game management issues. So that is a fine line that we walk, but whenever we take those regulations to the council who ultimately approves them before they're adopted, they'll always ask and want to know that there's been some level of public input. So I think that's important. Now as far as non-members are concerned, like I said, once we've done tribal...we have an idea of what our overall management objectives are, then we'll deal with the business side after we have a pretty good idea of how we're dealing with the tribal members. And we try to balance the two as much as possible because, again, we are running a business. That's how we fund our resource management is by these urban revenues that are generated. [I] hope that answered your question. You're going to have to remind me of the second."

Audience Member:

"It was talking about allowing your institution to thrive and innovate. What is it that's, at White Mountain Apache, whether it's on the council side or your side, that's allowed this to happen, to thrive and innovate as an institution? What has the tribe done well?"

Jon Cooley:

"Well, I think first of all there's a built in incentive. The economic incentive is the better we can do managing the resource, the more funds we can generate to do our management, and to hire good people and to hold them, and hopefully motivate them in whatever fashion we can. Now we don't pay big bonuses like Enron does, but we still...the point is that I take the opportunity, I can't speak for my predecessors, but to show them that, 'Hey, you guys can build your management programs if we can do well managing the resources that have the quality there that will attract this demand.' But the bottom line is we have to...our mission statement, the way it's written, it talks about the two major functions of our division. One is manage the resource in a sustainable fashion. Then, after we've done number one, but only after we've done number one, then we can talk about commercial success of the enterprise. So I think that's one thing. But the other thing is just be bold and...I'm bashful when, whether it's economic or political influences start to try to erode away at the morale or what have you is just hold tight and beat the drum and just remind people of what we're trying to do. This gets back into goals and vision and what we're trying to do and how successful we've been up to now and let's try to maintain the course as much as possible. I don't know about other places, but there is temptation sometimes for politics to kind of...to get into the organization. We try to fight that as much as possible, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Any other questions? Thank you."

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.

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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."

Stephen Cornell: Getting Practical: Constitutional Issues Facing Native Nations

Producer
Archibald Bush Foundation and the Native Nations Institute
Year

Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy Director Stephen Cornell provides a brief overview of what a constitution fundamentally is, and some of the emerging trends in innovation that Native nations are exhibiting when it comes to constitutional development and reform.

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

Resource Type
Citation

Cornell, Stephen. "Getting Practical: Constitutional Issues Facing Native Nations," Remaking Indigenous Governance Systems seminar. Archibald Bush Foundation and the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Prior Lake, Minnesota. May 2, 2011. Presentation.

"So I'm just going to start with a couple of quotes that Joe [Kalt] had come up with that I think are worth bearing in mind as you consider governmental reform. This is Albert Hale, former president of the Navajo Nation, making an argument that all the things David [Wilkins] just talked about: tribal innovations in governance -- these are acts of sovereignty. I'll give you a moment just to look at that.

Now one of the issues that has come up -- and I mentioned this earlier when I was introducing Regis Pecos. We talk about constitutions and I think very often people immediately think of a written document. But if you think about a constitution with a small 'c', just what does it mean? It basically means what are the set of rules by which this Nation has decided to govern itself? That's a constitution, whether you've written it down or not, whatever form it takes. When a Nation says, ‘This is how we govern ourselves,' that's a constitution.

And some of you may be interested at some point, there's a First Nation in British Columbia called the Gitanyow people. The Gitanyow are a Gitxsan people in the mountains in central British Columbia. They're very traditional people and they have an interesting form of government. They've got a government on reserve on their reservation that was formed under the Indian Act passed by Canada. But then they have a very substantial traditional area where they retain land use, hunting and fishing rights. And within that area the hereditary chiefs govern and they govern according to the kinds of ancient rules and principles that Regis Pecos talked about this morning. But they found that Canada could not understand how these hereditary chiefs made decisions because in fact, it's a very complex system they have. It's a system of clan control over land use. And within their tradition area the clans, which they call houses, the houses of the Gitanyow people make decisions. If you want to hunt in that particular part of a mountain range, you have to go consult with that house and ask their permission to hunt in the piece of territory for which they carry responsibility. If you want to fish at this place in the river, you have to go to that house and ask their permission. ‘Can I fish in the area for which you're responsible?' And if the house says yes, then you can fish there. And sometimes there are disputes between houses over, ‘Wait a minute, whose territory is this? Who did you get permission from?' Well, the Gitanyow have a traditional mechanism for how they resolve those kinds of disputes. When those disputes come up, this group of houses get together and they deliberate and they decide what the answer is. All of this was simply passed on in the typical way, oral tradition and knowledge, but Canada couldn't figure it out. So the hereditary chiefs said, ‘We're going to have to write a constitution. We're going to have to explain to the Canadian government how we do stuff.' And they wrote a constitution, I've got a draft of it here. The Gitanyow Constitution, Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs Working Draft Number 12 -- it took a little while to get it right -- 2003. And what's interesting about this is now it's written, but it was a constitution before it was written down. It was the rules they used to survive as a people. And that's what we're talking about here, is the decisions you make about how you're going to govern. What are the principles and the processes you use to make the decisions you need to make to survive as people and create that future that you imagine? Nothing really changed in those rules when the Gitanyow wrote it down, but now they've got a written constitution where before they didn't.

Another couple of quick quotes; this is Rocky Barrett, Chairman of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation: ‘Without good rules, tribal government is just a bad family reunion.' This is one of Darrin's [Old Coyote] countrymen, Richard Real Bird, former Chair at the Crow Tribe. When they were first working on trying to do constitution, that process didn't really work out. Darrin told you about the process that succeeded but when Richard Real Bird was starting that process, he said, ‘This is our strategic plan, a constitution -- how we're going to govern ourselves as a people. It's our strategy for how we deal with the future.' Joe Flies-Away, tribal judge at Hualapai, ‘A Nation's laws are the deepest expression of its culture.' It doesn't matter if they're written down. This is an expression of who we are. So that's what we're talking about when we talk about constitutions. (I'm going to skip a lot of what is in here, we'll be happy to email you these slides at your request if you...we'll just I guess decide we'll email them to all the email addresses we get on that sign in sheet.) But I wanted to touch on a couple of other issues.

This is one point that Joe wanted to make. ‘A lot of Nations today operate under constitutions built on ‘Western' paradigms.' But when we think of constitutions, I've had somebody say to me a constitution is a Western idea. Well, Dave mentioned the Iroquois. Here's a fascinating piece of the Iroquois, in a sense, Constitution of the Confederacy. It's pretty explicit about how we do things. I'll let you read it. I think ‘contumacious' means resistant. If you look at what that says, that's a set of rules about how we choose leaders and how we get rid of leaders who show that they cannot serve the people effectively. And it also tells who gets to do this. Who replaces the leader? The women shall choose the next lord and they'll inform the senior leadership about who they've chosen and then that person will be elected. It's a set of rules, ancient rules about how they choose to govern themselves. (I'm going to skip through some of this. We really covered a lot of this.)

Constitutions and the governments they create are tools; they have multiple purposes. (Again, we'll send some of this to you. I don't want to cut into the time of our presenters later.) Some of the key tasks that most constitutions -- that we see nations working on now -- some of the things they're trying to address: identity and citizenship, powers, rights, responsibilities, structures, etc. (I'm going to cut into a couple of these.) This is just one version of ‘who we are.' The Coquille Tribe of Oregon, the preamble to its constitution. It's making a certain claim about who we are as a people, why we're putting this constitution together. It's a statement.

Citizenship: the one thing I want to touch on here, this is a tough issue that a lot of nations are dealing with. One of the things we're seeing at that top bullet says, ‘From Membership to Citizenship.' Several times I heard Oren Lyons, traditional faith keeper of the Onondaga people, speak and he never used the word members. He always said the citizens of the Onondaga Nation. And one time I was chatting with Oren afterwards and I said, ‘I notice you always say citizens.' He says to me, ‘Are you a member of the State of Arizona, are you a member of the United States?' He says, ‘At Onondaga we're not a club. We're a nation; we have citizens.' It's an interesting take on just the language that we use.

‘Powers, Rights and Responsibilities: What Matters to You?' This is St. Regis Mohawk; they straddle the U.S./Canadian border, the Akwesasne people. These are some of the things, in their governing system, that they say their own citizens have a right to and that their government therefore has to deliver. And it also says, ‘The Constitution of our Nation will be secondary to the Great Law of Peace,' the constitution of the Confederacy.

There's a lot of talk about branches, separations. I want to spend a little bit of time on separations of powers and a couple of other things. What are the roles of the different pieces of government? And I wanted to acknowledge that sometimes people have raised questions about separations of powers. Sounds like a Western idea to me. I'm indebted to Don Wharton actually from NARF [Native American Rights Fund] who at a meeting last summer said, ‘What we're really talking about is allocations of responsibility,' because that's exactly what nations do. They say, ‘These people will be responsible for this. These people will be responsible for that set of issues. When it comes time to resolve disputes, that's taken care of by these people.' They're allocating responsibility for the various things the nation has to do in order to survive. And I think this quote I just showed you, that's really what they were doing. There are particular roles and responsibilities that have to be fulfilled. And part of what you learn to be a functional citizen of our nation is what those roles and responsibilities are. Now some of these things take Western form.

This is Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation -- sorry it's a little dark -- but Flathead is three nations with very different traditions, forced together under the Treaty of 1855 to live on a single reservation. And how are they going to govern? And what they come up with, they basically said, ‘How do you want to govern?' And the Kootenai said, ‘We want to govern in a Kootenai way.' And the Salish said, ‘It's got to be Salish.' And Pend d'Orielle said, ‘We want a Pend d'Orielle government.' And they said, ‘Boy, this'll never work. What's everyone's second choice?' Good old U.S. governing institutions. And so what they ended up with was district representation, a parliamentary system where the council chooses the chair. Why did they decide that? Because they said, ‘Look, we've got three different nations here with very different traditions and one is larger than the other two. So if we have a directly elected chief executive, it's always going to be a Salish person. And over time the Kootenai and the Pend d'Orielle are going to say, ‘Eh, we don't like this system.' 'So instead of having a directly elected chair, let's elect a council and then have the council choose the Chair' -- a smart solution for a difficult problem. A very strong, independent court system, because they knew there were going to be disputes and they needed those disputes to be free of politics. So they created a strong court system. They systematically -- this was the first nation basically to assume almost every program you could 638; they took it over. They basically said, ‘We want responsibility for everything that happens on our reserve,' systematically took it over and then made careful choices about how to keep the strategic decisions about where we're going as a nation in the hands of elected leadership but then put implementation of those decisions, that day-to-day management, in the hands of professionals. So that's kind of using Western models that they said, ‘Well, these may not be our traditions, but they work given the situations we're in,' which is kind of what Dave was just talking about.

But then there's -- and I'm building really on what Regis [Pecos] had to say -- the non-Western form and you can use Cochiti as an example but there are others: Jemez, Tesuque. Regis mentioned this, I'm just really giving you a quick summary. The governor has secular responsibilities, the war captain spiritual responsibilities. To the outside world, the governor is who you meet. When we first arrived at Cochiti Pueblo and said, ‘Who can we talk to?' they sent us to the governor's office. You think you're talking to the top guy. Turns out the world doesn't work that way. The governor's job is simply to keep people -- like these nerdy academics coming around asking questions -- keep them at bay and protect that core of what really matters to the people, from the State of New Mexico, the United States, the school system, the county, etc. And then as Regis pointed out of himself, if you ever have served in one of those positions, you're a member of the legislature for life. Think about what that means. It means there's a council at Cochiti and at other pueblos like this where you have an enormous body of experience that a sitting leader can draw on sitting in that council. Every person on that council has carried the ultimate responsibility of ‘I am responsible for the future of the Nation.' What a terrific asset for a sitting leader to draw on all that accumulated experience.

Rule of law: friend, family and foe should be treated equally. We found in our research the number-one predictor of economic and social success: politically independent dispute resolution mechanism. What you've got there -- I know it's a little dark -- but up on top is the Navajo Nation court processing 9,000 cases a year; some in a typical adversarial Western court system, some through traditional Navajo peacemaking that draws on ancient traditions of how we maintain the harmony of the community. Over here the San Carlos [Apache] Elders' Council doing the same thing, Flandreau police, and just as an example the Citizen Potawatomi Nation very successful economically. A powerful independent court system assures everyone, whether you're a citizen or not, you'll be treated fairly, not according to who you voted for, who your relatives are. This court system's a major reason for its success. How do we know the court's independent? Tribal Chairman Rocky Barrett: ‘I've had cases in that court twice and I lost both times.' When your tribal chairman loses in your tribal court, it's a pretty independent court system. I won't spend time on this. This is just a piece from their 2007 Constitution that describes the court system. San Carlos Apaches -- we went over this, but what I just want to come back to is this really is about separations of powers. It says, or as Don suggested, allocations of responsibility. Who chooses future leadership? The female heads of the clans. How do we get rid of a chief? Here's how. Now someone eventually wrote this down, but long before this was written down in the translation that you see here, it existed as a set of rules, it was a constitution. This is really... somebody asked Darrin [Old Coyote] about separations of powers. Well, this is from the 2001 [Crow] constitution. Every one of these branches is directed to respect separations of powers, allocation of responsibility. And finally I just wanted to, I've already given you one of these but run through a few of the things that just strike us as interesting innovations. Your nations are...I loved what Dave had to say of this history of governmental innovation that is this unspoken invisible history of Indian Country that Dave is trying to excavate and make visible to us again. Indian Country is full of innovation about how to deal with new challenges.

So some of the ones that we're seeing: Laguna. Six villages, each has representation on the council, and they describe councilors as elected officials. But when you go and actually find out how these councilors are chosen, there are no elections -- not in the way we understand them. Villages gather and in their wisdom and by processes not identified in a written constitution, they choose who they want to serve. We talked to one young man in his early 30s who'd been chosen to serve on Laguna Pueblo council. He said, ‘Well, the older people in the village came to me and they said, ‘You're the one. You're running for the council.'' 'But,' he said, ‘no one ran against me ‘cause they didn't tell anybody else. So there was an ‘election' and there I am on the council.' And he says, ‘When they showed up and told me this, you get this sinking feeling because you suddenly say, ‘Wait a minute. I'm being told I have to carry this responsibility. They don't give you power. They place this responsibility on you. Now I've got to go carry that responsibility.'' He said, ‘It's a sobering moment. You don't win an election. You get this burden placed on you to act on behalf of the people.'

Gitanyow I already covered. This is the British Columbia Council of Hereditary Chiefs. This is kind of how their government works. There's some overlap there but...the Indian Act is the Canadian equivalent, in a sense, of our Indian Reorganization Act. It specifies how First Nations in Canada should govern themselves. And the big constitutional movement among First Nations in Canada now is to get out of the Indian Act and replace it with their own ideas about how they should govern. And Gitanyow is one of those that has been doing this in part through the hereditary chiefs. And so this is what that system looks like. The elected chief and council run the social programs but when it comes to the things that really matter to the people -- the land, their way of life -- the hereditary chiefs are the authority and they recognize each other -- that division, that distribution of roles, that allocation of responsibilities is clear in the community.

And then Joe found this, the Pueblo Zuni Oath of Office. For 1970, it's a pretty remarkable piece of work. I'll let you read it. Interesting authority there: I don't know if any of your constitutions include this particular way of responding to disrespect, but it's intriguing. And then we thought this was an interesting innovation. This is a relatively small First Nation in British Columbi,a but it went through a long, careful process of constitution making that involved the entire community and when they finished and adopted the constitution, they had every adult citizen of the nation sign it. It was like this statement to Canada. ‘You want to know how we govern, here it is and all of us are part of it. It's our constitution.'

And finally, just a final word -- and this comes really out of some of the discussion this morning. We get talking about codes and various things and pretty soon when you think about creating a governing system, it just becomes a mountain to climb. Think of the constitution as laying the foundation. It's not about the details. ‘It establishes the principles and the processes by which the rest of your governing system can be built.' It's that first step that you then say, ‘Okay. Based on that, based on that articulation of our principles, our core values, of how we make decisions, now we can begin to put in place the other pieces of governance that we need -- those codes, those processes that we need -- in order to do the things we need to get done.'"

Honoring Nations: Carolyn Finster: Pine Hill Health Center

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

Pine Hill Health Center Clinic Administrator Carolyn Finster shares the story of how the Navajo people of Ramah capitalized on Public Law 93-638 to take over the education of their children and then their health care through the Pine Hill Health Center, which among other things has introduced mammography screenings into the community in culturally appropriate ways. 

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Finster, Carolyn. "Pine Hill Health Center." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. September 18, 2009. Presentation.

"Good morning. First of all, let me thank you for inviting us to participate in this wonderful symposium; we are really learning a lot here. And we hope to share our story with you that you may take it home and want to talk to your health people too, to maybe start something similar. I will introduce myself. I am Carolyn Finster and I am the Clinic Administrator for the Pine Hill Health Center with the Ramah Navajo community. I'm also the Acting Division Director for Health and Human Services. And with me today is my colleague, Ms. Glennetta J. Kineo, who is our Women's Health Case Manager, and the point person for the story today.

The Ramah Navajo community consists of about 4,000 people, Navajo people, living on non-contiguous land some 75 miles south of the Navajo Nation in western New Mexico. It has a history of independence and self-determination. Back in the 1970s, the Ramah people lost access to the public schools in a neighboring town when the public school was closed for building violations. Since the school was not scheduled to reopen, the Ramah community felt that they certainly did not want to send their children off to boarding school; they'd already had that experience. A group of citizens sat around a kitchen table one evening, the kerosene lamp was burning late that night as they talked among themselves. What options did they have for education?

They decided to take matters in their own hands and run their own school. Further discussions amongst educators with the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] and the public schools brought no resolution. They formed a committee and decided to go to Congress for a special appropriation. The story continues as one of self-determination. One of the founding board members, it is said -- after a very long day of trudging from one office to the next office, to the senator, to a representative -- finally sat down in the senator's office, closed the door behind her, she sat in front of the door. The senator was at his desk. The committee of citizens were beside her. She spread her Navajo blanket in front of her and said, ‘We are not leaving until we have the money for our school.' Under Public Law 93-638, they were entitled to a school. That took the senator by surprise and before long Bertha Lorenzo had in her blanket a written promise for a congressional appropriation. Over $100,000 was given at that time for seed money for the school.

In 1976, the Ramah Navajo School Board was formed and established. The BIA finally came around and a contract was signed for the operation of a school, kindergarten through [grade] 12. After the school was designed, built and occupied -- of course the first year they lived in tents, the schools were in big army tents because the building hadn't been built yet, but the school was started -- the community realized that the children in the community needed to have their own health care nearby as well, because they were certainly being poorly serviced by the one-day-a-week clinic, 30 miles away from the school -- by the Indian Health Service at that time. Because the Ramah Navajo School Board had been given the responsibility of education, health and community services from the Navajo Nation Council through the Ramah Navajo chapter, the board soon contracted with Indian Health Service for most of the ambulatory medical services as well as the medical emergency services.

In 1978, the Pine Hill Health Center was established as the first health center to be contracted under 638 provisions controlled by Indian people. Humble beginnings were a 5,000-square-foot clinic. Today, over 35 years later, we have 15,000-plus square feet with 65 employees. We have 24-hour ambulance service. We have a family practice outpatient clinic -- Monday through Friday, 8 to 5 -- with full pharmacy, dental clinic, optometry, laboratory, audiology, psychiatry as well as our department of field health, which handles public health nursing and our community health representative program. In addition, the health center has grants and contracts that provide a wellness center, center for health promotion with special cardiovascular disease prevention programs, and behavioral health services. The staff has grown to 60 full-time employees, including four physician medical providers, two dentists, two pharmacists, two nurses, five CHRs [Community Health Representatives], and many ancillary employees. We graduated our very first bachelor's degree nurse about four years ago from the University of New Mexico [UNM] and she is the supervisor for our field health department. We are looking forward to our first pharmacist in maybe five years. We're sending a young lady who works at the clinic and goes to school part-time as she prepares to be a pharmacist. And this summer in the summer student program, one of the young ladies who had worked last summer in the clinic came to me and she said, ‘I would like another job this summer, could I have one?' And I said, ‘What are you doing?' And she says, ‘Oh, I'm taking pre-dental.' And so we're going to have a dentist in the community as well in a few years. So of course she got a job. The behavioral health department provides certified, licensed family counselors and substance abuse counselors.

The community is located in western New Mexico in a rather isolated area with one paved road 25 miles long. And you can see beautiful sunsets from it. The Navajo people live mostly in scattered housing with some 50 percent still having no running water or electricity. Other roads are mainly dirt and gravel. In addition to the isolation of families, we unfortunately have about 65 percent level of poverty, the largest employers being the Ramah Navajo School Board for the school, the health center and ancillary programs, and the Ramah Navajo chapter. Other forms of employment opportunities are over 65 miles away to the town of Grants or Gallup.

Our community story regarding the Women's Health Initiative -- which we call the Mammo Day Project -- started over ten years ago, as the staff of the health center participated in some discussions with staff of the Albuquerque Indian Health Board and the faculty of the University of New Mexico School of Public Health. We have a longstanding relationship with the Albuquerque Indian Health Board, as one of the founding tribal groups that make up the board of non-Pueblo tribes in the Albuquerque service area. Our staff members had attended some public health classes sponsored by UNM and were eager to learn more about how to work on health issues. After several preliminary meetings with clinic and community staff members, there was a desire to learn even more about how to address public health issues in our own community. Soon the board of trustees became interested parties and together we took part in a CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] community readiness pilot survey. These meetings precipitated much discussion back and forth, and with the UNM researchers, and until the researchers finally understood that the CDC surveys presented to our tribal members simply did not fit tribes. We sent back a lot of information and a lot of concerns to CDC saying that tribal readiness is much different than urban readiness in terms of knowledge, skills, community resources, cultural sensitivity.

After many months of discussion, there was a request by the board and the committee that was talking that we conduct a community health profile. And in fact, when other groups in the community found out we were going to do a community health profile, they said, ‘Can we jump on the bandwagon too? We're getting little surveys for Head Start here, surveys for roads here, surveys for housing here.' So the community health profile became a community profile, as the team felt that health cannot be separated from education, housing, schools, roads, law enforcement, emergency services, language, traditions and cultural beliefs, nor that the local government agencies representing the community; a holistic approach was really needed. The community had had too many individual agency surveys in the past and wanted to put them altogether. After the questions were agreed upon by the committee -- and they met twice a month for about five months -- the survey then had to be translated into Navajo. The surveyors got together, the group got together a small people, who became our translators, and then we ran it past some university survey people so that we would get it in the right set up and we could get some really pertinent information as a result of this. Some 284 homes were randomly chosen for the survey giving us a large community base. To make a long story short, health care was identified as an important area of concern and there was a particular growing concern about cancer.

As clinic staff became more knowledgeable in health issues and understood how to develop programs based on community needs, there was a decision that's women's health and in particular, concern about breast and cervical cancer should be addressed. Several prominent women in the community wanted to work on the issue with the health staff due to their own family stories. Community capacity within the tribal community had been launched. We worked with the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board and followed a model they'd been using with various tribes. A four-part model that follows the medicine wheel or, in our case, the Navajo basket -- number one, building relationships; number two, building skills; number three, building interdependence; number four, building commitment. A Women's Health Task Force was put together of interested clinic staff, including several men, the Albuquerque Indian Health staff, and UNM School for Public Health. We also became partners in a Coleman Foundation grant, in conjunction with the Albuquerque Indian Health Board, and it was soon decided to work on our dismally low mammography rates.

As you know, Native American rates for women's screening are considered pretty poor -- about 47 percent in the Native American population back in 2003. But when Pine Hill stopped to actually do a statistical survey of our own rates, we had only 5.5 percent [of Native women] going to have mammography screening services. Part of the reason for that, at that time, was, first of all, to get a mammogram, you have to travel 45 to 65 miles away. Second of all, the state health department and an x-ray group out of Albuquerque had quit the mammography van that had been coming around quarterly. And most important, were some of the cultural stigmatisms of having certain exams, the fear of exams, and lack of knowledge. In order to listen to the community more carefully, we instituted a series of focus groups to talk about cancer. Two focus groups for women and one focus group for men. We thought that maybe the men would have some ideas about how to get their wives, their girlfriends, their grandmothers, their daughters to go for much needed health services if they could also talk in their own private setting about how to handle these things. So we talked about cancer and particularly, mammography. And it turned out lack of health knowledge, inaccurate knowledge about cancer, the problem of women feeling isolated, the feeling of no support for women and health problems, and the most difficult part of the discussion, was to get around the taboo of using a word about disease that might bring it upon you. Because so many of the women over 40 speak only Navajo, about 50 percent, there was a difficulty in even discussing the word cancer -- a word that was never developed in the Navajo language. Even today, Navajo have to translate the word as ‘the sore that does not heal.'

Following the focus group analysis, the Women's Health Task Force came up with a plan. Number one, provide culturally relevant information on breast and cervical cancer. That lead to a small professional video made using our script, our community members and our locale to tell the story of the importance for women to have a women's health exam. More local pamphlets were necessary also, with local logos -- and we have brought our logo today, a few of these pamphlets will be up on the table later today, this shows our logo. The other idea was to improve relationships with local hospitals. The Zuni Indian Health Service Hospital at that time did not have a mammogram machine and they were sending somebody to be trained. And they soon got a mammogram about that time, mammography machine. The other hospital we developed relationships with was the RMCH, [Rehoboth McKinley Christian] Hospital, in Gallup, a private hospital. The other part of the plan was to improve relationships with the state breast and cervical cancer project because they would provide reimbursement for certain women who did not have insurances of Medicare and Medicaid.

Also, the special project came about -- we wanted a special project to help reduce this disparity. And that special project became the Mammo Day Project. It had to have a group of...we felt that women should go to their mammograms as a group, as a feeling of support. We felt that there should be a local member of the community to be the translator. We felt that transportation was obviously an important feature of getting people to their medical appointments, and so we would provide transportation. We felt that we should not just take people for a screening exam without education. So how are you going to have education in a hospital setting? We decided to take the women for a lunch, a light lunch. One group of women in the morning would go; another group of women would come in the afternoon. They'd meet at the lunch spot, have lunch, have an hour of health education, showing a video, talking amongst themselves about their experience in the morning and also cancer awareness. And then, on the way home, the women could chat with themselves in the van and they experienced a social engagement, so there was camaraderie between women. And that was the birth of our Ramah Navajo Mammography Day Project.

We have to identify women. We have to do recruiting, which has been somewhat hard over the last three years, but is beginning to get easier as the word gets out that these women are having fun -- it doesn't hurt, they're having a little meal, they even get a little incentive for going. The women's health case manager arranges for group appointments. We had lots of work in getting relationships set up with these two hospitals so they would take groups -- a block of appointments at a time -- rather than one by one. There's a lot of paperwork to get together. The reimbursements and the insurances you have to, as you all know, you have to follow the rules of paperwork. And the health education was a vital part of this program.

What has been different between say a couple of years ago and now? Four years ago, we had women going for mammograms only maybe each quarter; that's when our mammography project started. We are now taking women once a month to these appointments, so we have increased our rates three times over in the last two years. We had a part-time women's health case manager a few years ago, now she's available full-time in the clinic, and she's even asking for help. So, with recurring appointments, there are more people that need to get there, there is more paperwork, more explaining, more follow up to do with the women. And we are encouraging continuing outreach. Our CHRs have been extremely important in helping to explain and get women to go to their first appointment -- sometimes it takes two or three visits to a person's home. Many people do not have telephones, you can't just call them up and say, ‘You have an appointment next week.' So the CHRs go out, explain the process, talk to the women, and encourage them. We have a story of one woman who last year, had her very first mammogram. This year she called Glennetta up and she said, ‘I'd like to make my appointment for my annual mammogram and I'd like you to make an appointment for my daughter, too. We're going to go together.' So these are the good stories.

Commitment of staff and community: this program has grown from a pilot project to an expectation of our health clinic. The women of the community are becoming more and more knowledgeable about their health. They want to know more. We're moving now into understanding cervical cancer. And in turn, this is now moving beyond women -- it's moving to men's health. Just as we incorporated the men in our focus groups for women, we're going to be starting some focus groups for [women] this coming season where they will talk about some of the hindrances of why men do not go to the doctor to get their annual exams. So what's good for women is also good for men.

Awareness and knowledge brings power and power brings self-confidence in one's self. This brings an understanding that we can be in charge of improving our health. And the more we know, the choices we make will be better. Even though this is just one small women's program, it's planted a seed in the community and the community members are now working together to improve the health of the whole community. It was very satisfying to hear just three months ago, at a summer board of trustees meeting, that the board spoke up and said, ‘We want the word ‘health' to be in the logo for our annual fair and rodeo that's coming up in August.' And so there was a little contest and the board settled on the logo that became ‘Rope the Future and Ride Together to a Healthy Community.'"

Native Nation Building TV: "Tribal Service Delivery: Meeting Citizens' Needs"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Guests Eddie Brown and Karen Diver discuss tribal program and service delivery across Indian Country. They examine the unproductive ways services and programs have been administered in many Native communities in the past, and the innovative mechanisms and approaches some Native nations are developing to maximize limited financial and human resources and improve the delivery of programs and services to their citizens.

Citation

Native Nations Institute. "Tribal Service Delivery: Meeting Citizens' Needs" (Episode 7). 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. 

Mary Kim Titla: "Welcome to Native Nation Building. I'm your host Mary Kim Titla. Contemporary Native nations face many daunting challenges including building effective governments, developing strong economies, solving difficult social problems and balancing cultural integrity and change. Native Nation Building explores these complex challenges and the ways Native nations are working to overcome them as they seek to make community and economic development a reality. Don't miss Native Nation Building next."

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Mary Kim Titla: "Like so many aspects of Native life and policy, service delivery in Indian country is in a state of transformation. The era of self-determination, now moving into its fourth decade, has seen an increasing number of Native Natons taking control of programs and services once administered by federal agencies. Today's show looks at the changing state of service delivery in Native communities and the complex challenges Native Nations encounter as they work to ensure that the needs of their citizens are met. Here today to discuss the issue of service delivery in Indian Country are Karen Diver and Dr. Eddie Brown. Karen Diver, an enrolled citizen of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, is Director of Special Projects at Fond du Lac. She also was a founding member of the American Indian Community Housing Organization. Dr. Eddie Brown is an enrolled citizen of the Pasqua Yaqui Tribe and is affiliated with the Tohono O'odham Nation. He is the Director of American Indian Studies at Arizona State University. He previously served as Executive Director of the Tohono O'odham Nation's Department of Human Services and also worked in the U.S. Department of the Interior administering federal programs to Native communities. Thanks for being with us today. A primary role of Native Nations' governments is to deliver social services to their citizens. How has this role changed?"

Eddie Brown: "Mary Kim, over the last 30 years, I think you've seen a tremendous growth of tribal governments providing their services. Under the Indian Self-Determination Act, it allowed for the first time tribes to contract out the operation and administration of programs, and since that time you've seen everything from law enforcement to education, social services -- all of the basic kinds of services that the Bureau of Indian Affairs provides an opportunity then for tribes to take over and administer those. That has also occurred within the Indian Health Service as well. So you've seen programs like the CHR program, psychological services, alcohol and substance abuse, all of these now being offered by tribes where before they were all being administered and operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service."

Mary Kim Titla: "Karen, would you like to add to that? What have you seen?"

Karen Diver: "I've seen governments really focusing on the breadth of services that they have to provide as governments. First, of course, really looking at how do we meet the human day-to-day needs and provide a safety net for our members and over time really blossoming and growing into looking at a full range of government services, everything from resource management to zoning and land use, community development, workforce development efforts in really a broader spectrum of providing a continuum of care and good governmental services at all levels, much like county and local governments did before for their citizens."

Mary Kim Titla: "Now, really traditionally these services have been designed and administered by the federal government, many of them of course still are. How has this affected the quality and quantity of services in reservation communities?"

Dr. Eddie Brown: "I think from the data that we have thus far, it has shown that not only are tribes able to administer but they're able to develop programs that are more in tune with the individual tribal needs so that the tribe has developed its management information systems and its administration systems, but it also has put in place programs that directly respond to that community's needs and has tied in then the cultural element as well of how to provide services in the most appropriate cultural way."

Mary Kim Titla: "As we know, all of the tribes and Native communities are very unique. So one blanket program just doesn't work for everybody, and I think everyone's discovered that over the years. Karen, why don't you talk about what's happening in your community."

Karen Diver: "We are located about 20 miles from the closest urban area, which distinguishes us a little bit from other Anishnaabe tribes in Minnesota who are very, very rural. We have an urban population as well as a rural population, so our challenge is how do we meet a broad geographic area, but with needs that are much different? For example, housing issues are much more scarce, a scarcity of resources on reservation, we have access to more ancillary services and complimentary services in the surrounding metropolitan community, so to speak. So we've really seen our tribe looking at inter-agency agreements with local government entities, non-profit organizations to help complement what we do, and then on reservation, really looking at what is the infrastructure we need in service delivery and continuum of care that we need to develop to meet our citizens that are reservation residents."

Mary Kim Titla: "And you touched on something that really leads into my next question, and that is some of the challenges that Native communities experience trying to make these federal programs fit their community needs. Can you expand on that a little bit more, Eddie?"

Eddie Brown: "Yes, I think it's very difficult when you're trying to work with a policy -- that one policy fits all tribes -- knowing the diversity, and so tribes have had to struggle and be very creative of how they've been able to take the funding and assure that that funding is meeting the basic community needs, but at the same time are fulfilling the federal obligation and responsibility that is set out in the rules and regulations. So again, a real challenge, but one in which the tribes have proven themselves to be up to."

Mary Kim Titla: "Can you give an example of that?"

Eddie Brown: "Well, one of [them] has to do with social services, looking at not only federal but state social services as well. How do you coordinate those programs and make them work together? Under the TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] situation, where tribes for the first time in history were responsible for or capable of administering their own TANF services, where before they were administered by the state. The tribes have taken those and developed those in a way that really met the need of the federal government but also tied in and allowed them the kind of flexibility that they needed to provide the service. So here is a situation where a federal program was given to the tribe but also with the flexibility to allow the tribe to develop and have perhaps even a little more flexibility than the states do in determining the eligibility as well as service delivery."

Mary Kim Titla: "Okay. Karen, how are you handling that? It sounds like you've done some really unique things in your community to really make these federal programs work."

Karen Diver: "Part of what's been successful at Fond du Lac is -- just as Eddie was saying -- really using our own people and other Native people who have been educated in those fields to deliver those services in a culturally competent manner. Social capital on Native communities is obviously a challenge and trying to get our kids graduated from high school through college so that we have access to those resources within our own community. Integrating outsiders into that in a way that is healthy for both sides makes non-Indian service deliverers feel a part of our community and welcome, building their cultural competency and welcoming them, and at the same time really providing opportunities for mentoring and growth opportunities for our own Band members. That being said, what we see happening in service delivery for us has been well regarded in surrounding governmental units. We have Treatment as a State designation for air and water quality -- the first tribe in the nation to get that designation -- and that required not only working with local law enforcement agencies, but the Department of Natural Resources, the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], for them to recognize that we had capacity within our tribe to have a regulatory function. We had to have everything from laboratory services and monitoring to permitting processes and the ability to comment in a really technical way on air- and water-quality issues. So building our infrastructure in that way not only through the systems of government, but also through the social capital, has taken my tribe 25 years and it's something that we're still striving for today to improve our own delivery and our own capability, but then also using resources wisely both in terms of employment and education."

Mary Kim Titla: "So you've touched on some of the challenges. What are some disadvantages or costs for tribal communities, Native communities when they rely heavily on these federally funded programs?"

Eddie Brown: "Well, I think as we mentioned before, when you've got federal regulations that you've got to respond to and they're saying, 'You can have these dollars, but here's what you've got to do and here's the limitations on how you use those dollars,' have always limited the tribes in their creativity and the ability to put the dollars where they need to be. I think that has been the major limitation so that when the Indian Self-Determination Act was passed and allowed tribes to take over that, even though that there were still some strong regulations, tribes had more flexibility than they have ever had before. Now over the last 30 years now the Indian Self Determination Act has been amended that allow tribes even greater flexibility. You have then your Indian Self-Governance that allows for block grants, types of funding to tribes that allows them even greater flexibility to match the kind of need with the kind of service. So again, very exciting and it's been a very exciting time, but as mentioned by Karen, it has taken a long time because we've had to start almost from ground zero and establish those systems in place in which states and counties have had at least a hundred years to do."

Mary Kim Titla: "The infrastructure and really building that infrastructure. Can you talk about more what's happening in your community? It sounds really interesting."

Karen Diver: "Actually, not just in my community. Some of the challenges I see for some of the northern tribes that are very rural is that they're really funding themselves and focusing areas of growth on those programs and service delivery options that are fundable, and so you see growth in those areas without some long-term stability, because it is chasing those dollars a little bit. One of the things that is trying to be highly promoted in some of these communities is, what is the strategic vision for this tribe? Where do they want to be in five, 10, 20 years? And letting that guide their funding option because they're funding a whole vision rather than just a program. And that's a challenge for my tribe as well as many others of saying, 'We're a baby government, what do we want to be when we're a grown-up government?' And how do we not rely on indirect cost allocations from grants to fund basic infrastructure, but how do we be real targeted and real thoughtful in where we want to go and sell that overall vision rather than just a program idea."

Mary Kim Titla: "You talked about vision and it appears to be that there's this movement really among Native communities to gain control of how they administer these programs and what do you think has fueled that movement?"

Eddie Brown: "Well, clearly the Indian Self-Determination Act, the idea that tribes are sovereign nations and that they do have the right to establish and run and determine their own destiny, and part of that destiny is to develop your own vision, as Karen mentioned. So you see that many of us, many of the tribes are moving from an idea of, 'Well, let's see what the government has to offer,' to the idea of, 'Let's determine what our vision should be.' The Yavapai Apache Nation, for instance, here in Arizona is clearly an example of a tribal community that has developed a 25-year vision, that has put together a strategic plan and that has a clear vision of where they want to go because of the strong leadership there within the council and I think are really reflective of many tribes today that have said, 'We are no longer just going to look at our problems, we're going to look at what we want to be. Then from that, we will determine how we need to get there.'"

Mary Kim Titla: "Karen, do you see significant innovations in service delivery out there? What are tribes doing that's different?"

Karen Diver: "I know for the Fond du Lac tribe, we've seen great success with our foster care-licensing system and a lot of our child welfare programs, where the tribe has become the primary driver of Indian child welfare cases and developed the infrastructure where local county social service agencies and child protection units really defer to our tribes to handle child welfare cases involving Native children. And with our foster care-licensing system as an additional part of that, we can assure a steady stream of families, Native families, culturally competent families, so that we're accomplishing both goals of maintaining identity and culture as well as child protection and the safety of the children. And that was one of our biggest innovations in our human services is really getting surrounding governmental units to say, 'They know better than we do on this issue and by working with them we'll provide a better service to their band members,' and it's been well-regarded in Indian Country and often duplicated."

Mary Kim Titla: "Any other examples that you can think of, Eddie?"

Eddie Brown: "Well, I think on the broader scale, tribes have been forced to re-look at the way they're structured and organized. Before, with all the different federal funding, you had many different small programs all running and operating independently. So you see tribes across the nation now re-examining the way they're structured, reorganizing it to fit the needs of their community. So it starts way up at the top of the administration, even re-evaluating their constitutions as to how they're organized and structured governmentally. So you see that works all the way down to the direct service delivery of services for children and working with families. So you see the impact has been from the very top to the very bottom within tribal communities."

Mary Kim Titla: "And what about this cultural aspect and tribes really going back to their very beginnings and integrating some of that into these delivery services?"

Karen Diver: "We see that very much so in northern Minnesota, language preservation being real key, total integration into birth-to-five-[year-old] services through Head Start and continuing through K-12 education and ending up with our tribal and community college, where we have a teacher cohort agreement with the University of Minnesota to graduate fluent Native speakers who also have teaching credentials. So that lifelong learning aspect in access to language to culture services for not only the children and the students but for their families really is a model that wouldn't have been found through federal government delivery [of] services, and it makes for families a much more comfortable environment for those families who are getting over boarding-school experiences. They now own their educational delivery system and it feels safe for them and their children and strengthens that bond of community."

Mary Kim Titla: "We're going to stick with what Fond du Lac is doing in terms of really overseeing virtually all of these services offered in your community. What led to this and how is it working?"

Karen Diver: "We were one of the first tribes to follow Public Law 638, where we can control our own programs -- started in the late 70s and early 80s. I believe that the cultural competency in programming drove it, that federal programs weren't always successful in meeting our needs. I believe job creation was also a part of it, that we wanted to be able to have services provided by our own Band members and not by outsiders. It's been enormously successful. Since then our capacity to deliver programs by developing effective systems of government, administration has allowed us to take on more opportunities, so I think that once tribes are able to move into that arena they quickly gain the experience, the social capital, the staff they need to take those programs to the next level and really round them out to meet a variety of needs."

Mary Kim Titla: "Now, Eddie, you've spent a long time wrestling with social service delivery issues at both the tribal and federal levels. In your experience, what are the major challenges tribes face in this area?"

Eddie Brown: "Well, one is just figuring out how to work with the federal government and state government, and so I think that's one that has moved forward a great deal as tribes have become more experienced in handling working with the federal government and most recently now beginning to develop inter-governmental agreements with the state that recognizes the sovereign jurisdictional issues of both parties. That has been tremendous. Perhaps now when you look at [it], it's building a good solid foundation of making sure that you have your regulations in place. When we talk about foster care programs or child welfare programs, they have a lot of rules and regulations and standards to ensure the protection of the child as well as the parents. Those kind of things, having good regulations in place, hiring competent staff, providing training for those staff, pulling together management information systems that allow them to track and to evaluate the kind of program or the impact of the programs that they're having. I think all of this, it's a tremendous challenge for an administrator today at a tribal level, because there are so many things that need to be done with limited dollars and a growing expectation of tribal members toward the tribal council to begin to act in a full essence of what a government is and that is a government's role is to care for the wellbeing of its citizens."

Mary Kim Titla: "And with leadership changes, I'm sure that that's also a challenge. Every three or four years your leadership changes and sometimes that has an impact on maybe where you proceed."

Karen Diver: "Very much so, and it's often said that politics is personal and no more so than in Indian Country, because those are your families, your clans, your nieces and nephews, and when they have needs that they view as critical and they're standing in front of you, it's sometimes very difficult for tribal leaders to think big picture and to say, 'Is my decision for the good of the all and do I sacrifice the good of the one, or vice versa?' And I think that's a constant struggle for tribal councils, it's a constant struggle for our government in terms of social capital, to make sure that our tribal leaders are really focused on what is good governmental function, and how do we make sure we have the service delivery systems to meet those basic needs and the individual needs in a competent way? Turnover in tribal government has affected a lot of the northern tribes recently, and I think that with programs like the Udall Center and Honoring Nations through Harvard, that it really shows best practices in governance and really holds up models for tribal governments to learn from."

Mary Kim Titla: "Why don't we get back to Public Law 638? I'm not familiar with that. Could you explain that a little bit more and how Native Nations have used this to assume control?"

Eddie Brown: "The impact, of course, is if someone comes to you and offers you an opportunity to not only bring a tremendous amount of federal funding to your community but also allowing you the flexibility to run and make your own decisions. I think tribes over the past 30 years are saying, 'We can do it better and we can show you how to do it better,' and [in] many situations have been very, very successful at that, to the point that now other departments within the federal government are understanding that they need to also loosen the regulation to understand that the tribes can run and operate programs. So it's really provided, I think, a celebration. At this recent NCAI [National Congress of American Indians] conference, basically it was the celebration of 30 years of Indian Self-Determination, because that piece of legislation has probably had more impact in the strengthening of tribal government in the last 100 years than any other previous legislation."

Karen Diver: "I think it's also providing ongoing challenges. Definitely celebration. What I see on a regular basis is tribes can set their big vision through their 638 contracting, but then through program delivery through the federal government, for example through Head Start for example, comes with its own set of regulations that is often in conflict with the direction set from 638 plans that are submitted to the federal government. So trying to merge big picture with service delivery that comes with a separate set of guidelines aside from its governmental functions I think can be a day-to-day challenge for tribes, but it is one that they are being creative about solving."

Mary Kim Titla: "And that was going to be my next question about limitations and how 638 in many ways being a trial-and-error process. Is that true?"

Eddie Brown: "Well, I don't know if it was so much as a trial and error as the idea of, 'Let's see if the tribes can handle it and if they can handle it, then we can see about making some more amendments to loosening and so forth.' So it has been very important therefore when tribes took over programs that they made sure that they could operate them and not retrocede or return them back to the federal government, because if in fact tribes failed, it would in fact maybe prove to what many people thought is tribes are not capable of operating as governments and running their own services. If anything has been proven in the last 30 years, it's that tribes are very much capable, they can do a better job as we've indicated. So while it is a challenge -- and today I look at perhaps administrators working within tribes have the greatest challenge than administrators in other forms of government. Having been involved in state government and federal government and comparing the challenge at a tribal level, I consider the challenge there at the tribal level much greater than what's experienced at states and federal governments because they are breaking new ground. They are having to develop from the ground up, they're having to look at the cultural as well as the more technical management information, etc., which makes it all the more exciting when we see tribes succeed particularly at the level that they're succeeding."

Mary Kim Titla: "What about need versus jobs and going after federal programs based on a need for jobs and not based on whether there's really a need for the service in the community?"

Karen Diver: "I would actually put it a little different way. We see a need for a service and we'll look for funding to fill it, and then it's who to fill those positions with, and we have Band-member preference in hiring, as do many tribes and really looking at what are the qualifications we need and how do we balance the need of our members to have jobs, because we do have high unemployment with the needs of the clients that need to receive the service, and which one should be more important. And I think it's a constant struggle for tribes to say, 'What are the minimum standards for this position and what are we willing to say to our Band members to get them?' And it's a constant educational process of saying, 'We value you, we need your input here at the tribe. There's other ways for you to be involved. We have training available, so that you can reach that level.' And workforce development systems on tribes of looking at coaching, mentoring, additional education so that over time our Band members are qualified to fill those positions is, I think, one of the highest priorities in Indian Country right now."

Mary Kim Titla: "Eddie, are you seeing anything different?"

Eddie Brown: "No, I completely agree. Making sure you have good training. If the goal is to hire tribal employees or tribal members to be employees, the idea is that they've got to do more than just meet minimum qualifications, which is [a] requirement under the Indian preference law, so that we want people that not only meet the minimum qualifications but we want to make sure that we provide training so that the employees can grow as the program grows as well."

Mary Kim Titla: "Now what about the various programs that exist and how important is it for each department head or for these programs really, the people that work in them, to communicate with each other?"

Karen Diver: "Very much so. We had a recent example on our reservation where we're trying to develop supportive housing and rather than just give people a house, it doesn't necessarily take care of all of their other needs that resulted in their initial homelessness -- whether it be chemical dependency, mental health issues, lack of jobs and training where they weren't marketable for suitable living wage employment. So we can't look at a band-aid approach of, 'You're homeless, we're going to give you a house.' We really have to look at a continuum of care to meet the multiple needs of people who really looked at several generations, multiple generations of oppression, and for those gaming nations, gaming jobs don't necessarily fix all of the hurt that came with it and the social ills that resulted in the form of chemical dependency and mental health issues. So developing continuums of care to really allow our Band members and tribal nation members to be self-sufficient means working across those borders of program lines."

Eddie Brown: "Clearly. And you've seen tribes like the Tohono O'odham Nation, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community that have re-looked at how services are being offered and then restructured, realizing that many of the same people were working with the same families and in some ways providing some duplication of services, where if they just restructured their organizations and maybe integrated the services more, that the services provided will not only be more effective but can be done at a much lower cost as well, so that you've seen tribes lower the cost as well as improve the effectiveness of their service."

Mary Kim Titla: "Thank you both so much for being with us. You've both provided some great input and hopefully some food for thought for Nations that are out there and can improve what they're doing now. Thank you so much for being with us today."

Dr. Eddie Brown: "Thank you."

Karen Diver: "Thank you."

Mary Kim Titla: "Native Nation Building is a program of the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy at the University of Arizona. To learn more about Native Nation Building and the issues discussed on today's program, please visit the Native Nations Institute's website at www.nni.arizona.edu/nativetv. Thank you for joining us and please tune in to the next edition of Native Nation Building."

PBS "We Shall Remain": Spotlight on Sovereignty

Producer
American Experience (in association with NAPT)
Year

The federal government today recognizes 562 Indian tribes as sovereign nations within the United States. Tribal members are citizens of the United States and subject to federal laws, but as sovereign nations, tribes have retained some rights to govern their own people. The limits of these rights are constantly being re-evaluated by federal courts. The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe describes changing federal policies toward self-governance in the past 20 years...

Native Nations
Citation

American Experience (in association with NAPT). "Spotlight on Sovereignty." PBS "We Shall Remain" documentary series. January 8, 2009. Television, Radio and Film. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/weshallremain/native_now/sovereignty, accessed August 16, 2012)