Pascua Yaqui Tribe

Native Nation Building and the CARES Act

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

On June 10, 2020 the Native Nations Institute hosted an a online panel discussion with Chairman Bryan Newland of the Bay Mills Indian Community, Councilwoman Herminia Frias of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and hosted by Karen Diver the former Chair of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Director of Business Development for the Native American Advancement Initiatives for the Native Nations Institute. These distinguished tribal leaders brought their wealth of knowledge and first-hand experience in making Indigenous Governance address the needs of their Native communities in response to the crisis surrounding COVID-19. Across Indian Country the pandemic has brought a rise in new challenges and bringing old ones to more prominence when dealing with the Federal Government for appropriate resources. The CARES Act was passed to address some of these needs but does not deal with the root of the issue many Native Nations face in asserting the methods of self-governance. The panelists provide insights on ways they are working to help the citizens of their Native Nations be resilient under constraints of emergency response. 

Transcript available upon request. Please email: nni@email.arizona.edu

Herminia Frias: Working Toward Effective Native Leadership

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

For years at Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Herminia Frias has remained a consistent leader in tribal government. She became the first woman elected Chairwoman and youngest to serve the position. After a contentious term with the tribal council, she was removed from office but then immediately returned to tribal council by being successfully elected to tribal council where she continues to serve. Councilwoman Frias spoke at the Native Women in Governance speaker series from Native Nations Institute and the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program where she detailed the challenges she faced and her determination to not quit on being a Native leader. After that speech, Herminia Frias spoke to NNI in an interview that offered her reflections and perspectives on what it means to be a Native Nation building leader. She outlines the finer points of making indigenous governance work for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe that involves working with diverse views and approaches toward governance. Her experiences mark an invaluable perspective about Native leadership that touches on unique challenges and successes toward building more self-determination for her Native Nation.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Native Nations Institute. "Herminia Frias: Working Toward Native Leadership.” Leading Native Nations, Native Nations Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, February, 2019

Transcript available upon request. Please email: nni@email.arizona.edu

Herminia Frias: Native Women in Governance

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Herminia “Minnie” Frias, Councilwoman, Pascua Yaqui Tribal Council. Councilwoman Frias shares her journey of being a Native woman leader, drawing from her experience in serving on her Nation’s Tribal Council both as a Chairwoman, and as a Council Member. Frias was the youngest person and first woman to be elected as Tribal Chair of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. 

In addition to her tenure in Tribal government, she also ran the non-profit Native Images, Inc., serving as Executive Director; and has served as an International Advisory Council Member for Native Nations Institute, and a Bush Foundation Partnership Manager. Herminia carries a wealth of knowledge in the area of Native Nation Building but also adds valuable experience as a leading Native woman in her community, navigating the many facets of indigenous governance that are necessary to create effective leadership. 

This speech was recorded as part of the Native Women in Governance Speaker Series presented by the Native Nations Institute’s Indigenous Governance Program in collaboration with the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy program at the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Native Nations Institute. "Herminia Frias: Native Women in Governance" Native Women In Governance Speaker Series. Tucson, Arizona. January 23, 2019

 

Transcript available upon request. Please email: nni@email.arizona.edu

Robert Hershey and Andrew Martinez: The Legal Process of Constitutional Reform (Q&A)

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Robert Hershey and Andrew Martinez engage participants in a lively discussion about the intricacies of secretarial elections and whether and how Native nations with Indian Reorganization Act constitutions should remove the Secretary of Interior approval clause from those governing documents.

Resource Type
Citation

Hershey, Robert. "The Legal Process of Constitutional Reform (Q&A)." Tribal Constitutions seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 3, 2014. Q&A session.

Martinez, Andrew. "The Legal Process of Constitutional Reform (Q&A)." Tribal Constitutions seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 3, 2014. Q&A session.

Andrew Martinez:

"Now I'm going to go into my questions. This Pueblo of Laguna document was the only document that actually noted anything towards cost. Allocated funds from the federal government for the tribe to go through this process. Funds are in the process of reprogramming for the secretarial election in the amount of $20,000. My question to the audience is, is this the same across the board, has this value changed since 2012? How's the money best allocated? What worked for the tribes?"

Audience member:

"Our tribe just went through that process of removing the Secretary of Interior, but we failed and they never mentioned to us any cost associated with it at all. And we did receive a letter saying that we would be okay as an IRA tribe, but there was still the fear within the community that we would lose our status and that we wouldn't be able to get grants, etc., etc."

Andrew Martinez:

"Would you mind me asking how you addressed that fear when it came up?"

Audience member:

"We held meetings, but we didn't hold enough meetings because by the time it was announced that there was going to be a secretarial election...going back to it, I've been on the committee for two years, and going back we should have held more educational meetings. I see that now."

Andrew Martinez:

"Hindsight's 20/20."

Audience member:

"Yeah, but that's what we should have done is that we should have held more meetings and did more explanation of what was going on and the benefits of it and so on and so forth. But it was just too little of time and not enough education."

Andrew Martinez:

"Did you work to only remove the approval clause from the mandate section?"

Audience member:

"That was the only amendment that we worked on, yeah."

Andrew Martinez:

"Okay. Thank you. Thank you for that. Any other responses? One other topic that I wanted to hit on is the means of communication. A lot...actually Red Lake right now has a Facebook page for their constitutional reform. There are other tribes that have Facebook pages. White Earth utilized YouTube to get information out to citizens. It's still up, you can watch it, it's actually very helpful. It helped me understand better what the process was going through and understand also the history of the tribe. It was great.

Some tribes have Twitter accounts. I guess I'm the young'in in the group right now. Twitter, I guess, is active for me so I could check Twitter and understand what's going on there, too. I also heard that White Earth used web sessions, broadcasted their meetings, understanding that you felt like you had to have or should have held more educational sessions. If your tribal members...if you have a large group of your tribal members who live off reservation, use the Internet, if they have Internet access, use it. Broadcast your meetings. I believe Justin.tv is one where you can set up a webcam, broadcast it, anyone can log in and check it out.

And if you choose to go the Facebook route, you have open discussions on there. It's up to you, the tribe, how much information you're going to put out there. If you only want to post about meeting updates and stuff like that, that's fine. You may still get some feedback, backlash to what's happening. You might get straight out opinions and sometimes some of the interactions that I've seen on the Facebook pages is pretty harsh, but it's intense and I would note that a little criticism and a little conflict is good. It breeds innovation. However, once it gets to a certain point it just starts to kill the process and really those are the individuals who you need to communicate with the most to start to quell their fears.

This last document that I have is a flow chart that I found from the Ho-Chunk Nation. Really this is how they went to break it down on there when they went through this process. They also utilized YouTube. However, they only have one video up. So moving from that on to questions, does anyone have any questions?"

Robert Hershey:

"There's a gentleman in the back there."

Audience member:

"Mr. Martinez, have you come across anything concerning the IRS [Internal Revenue Service] within doing what you're doing because some of their rules apply to the tribes too? And a lot of the times when you're doing a financial format for your people, we have to follow the federal guidelines and some of it seems like they're trying to infiltrate the government."

Andrew Martinez:

"So any documentation that I found regarding the IRS is what you're asking about? I have not. I could look into that, but I haven't found anything official."

Audience member:

"And then the other thing, like Mr. Hershey was saying is that for that reason the tribes are kind of...the funding source. When you get the funding from the federal government, when you remove yourself from that, they say that you're not going to get anymore funding. And in the health organization, there's some tribes that are under that format and other tribes are under the other format and they call it, I think, self-determination or something like that. And tribes were asking the questions, "˜If you go on that sides, do you get no more funding and if you stay on this side you still get funding.' So that was a lot of the concern. So a lot of the tribes didn't want to switch over for that reason too because that's where the money comes from to support all the programs that are for the tribes anyway. So that's why I was thinking that if you put the IRS, the funding source, the financial part of it, it has to be under all those things too. And they don't mention it and I looked at that [25 CFR] many times and I tried to make heads or tails with it, but you can't find it there. So that's why he was saying that you could find it elsewhere, too, and that's a good idea."

Andrew Martinez:

"Thank you."

Robert Hershey:

"I'm going to add something to what you said as well. Funding is obviously a major issue. These elections are not cheap. They are costly. But this is also something that the government has to think about in putting away this kind of...putting nest eggs away in anticipation of accomplishing this in order to cover the cost too. There's something that I wanted to follow up on as well and it goes back to this issue of trust. Not just a loss of funding or loss of federal status, but there's some tribal members or citizens -- we haven't had that discussion yet, the distinction between membership and citizenship, that's for another conference -- that they don't trust necessarily their tribal governments. I just want to put that out. That's a thought that comes out. So some of the people want the Secretary of the Interior to have oversight on this and I know some of you deal with that situation as well.

The other point that I wanted to bring out; there are alternatives in terms of amending constitutions as well. For example, if your constitution is restrictive as to the membership, you can always go to Congress and get a special congressional statute. Pascua Yaqui has done that. While their membership was very restrictive in their constitution, they went and got a special... I won't use an appropriation, but a congressional act designated that opened their enrollment for a period of three years. So there are also ways of getting around the specific inability to amend your constitution by seeing if you could get certain things accomplished by special acts. Any other questions? Yes, yes."

Audience member:

"One more question on that. Some of the tribes were established by executive order. And is there any other way you can get around that to be sanctioned by the Congress?"

Robert Hershey:

"I think the body of law is pretty well clear that whether you're established by treaty or by executive order, your rights and obligations and commitments are going to still be the same, they're going to be equal. I think that there's enough experiential evidence over the years and I have not seen any kind of distinction that would denigrate your rights because you're executive order. A lot of the tribes in the west...the reservations were created by executive order and they still retain their inherent sovereignty and you try to go ahead and take away their rights and it would not be accomplished that way. You've got to be on the same footing."

Audience member:

"And then the other one is, when they fund the services to the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] where we're at, it's getting less and less and less. So if they can't get you the other way, they'll take the money away from you. So you don't have the services available for what you have too."

Robert Hershey:

"We call that termination by non-appropriation."

Audience member:

"Right. That's where we're at right now."

Robert Hershey:

"And especially with the sequester too. I know that tribes have been hit really hard with sequestration of funds as well."

Audience member:

"Right. My president, that's what he was asking BIA and they tell them, "˜We want original funding because if you can send billions of dollars across the ocean to these other people that you don't know and you know us, how come you can't give it to us?'"

Robert Hershey:

"This also resonates the larger question as to whether or not you feel economically empowered to go ahead and resist. And that's a consequence of colonization over the years as to whether or not you think you have the power to say no based upon economics or the power to do things on your own by virtue of your economic conditions."

Audience member:

"Thank you."

Audience member:

"I had a question about the secretarial approval that's in those constitutions that exists now. Is there...let me back up. I'm a management product of the education system. So my whole focus has always been on structures. Well, with my tribe it seems like the structures that are in place aren't meeting the needs of the people. There's a lot of resignation with tribal members about our government, our leaders. There's a lot of fear about repercussions if you're too vocal in the community and our court systems are controlled by our tribal leaders. So I think there's a lot of people that want to see constitutional reform, but there's fear about what to do with that.

So my question is, some alternatives for grassroots people who can have a voice about those constitutional amendments but...and I was told because, I don't want to make it sound like it's just no other way, but if the people can come together and our leadership would see that this is what the people want, possibly that they would buy into it and they would jump onboard. Hopefully that's the way it'll go, but I just want to make sure that if it doesn't, that the people have a way to deal with the situation so that they can have more voice in what's going on with our tribe. And I guess that's my concern so...

This is the question I guess. Is it possible, these petitions...because there's been a lot of petitions that circulate about different things in the tribe and one of the things is a lot of times they'll petition for money. So we have all the people vote on petitions to come from a certain funding. Well, the way I look at that is, if we get the number of people to sign the petition then legally the council should honor that. That's my interpretation, but I don't know because they don't. So I don't understand enough about legally the tribal members other than voting but we're an IRA [Indian Reorganization Act] constitution and it doesn't reflect who we are as a people and we're kind of stuck with it.

So if the people would petition the Secretary of Interior on some constitutional changes, is that going to be honored or are we...is there a way that the grassroots people can have a voice in our constitution and have those reforms be...to have some outlet? I guess is what I'm looking at, because like I'm telling you, there's a lot of frustration, there's just resignation, "˜Why do anything?' The people, the way that our election process works is families aren't representative, clans aren't representative, it's just whomever gets on the council is there, sometimes you don't have a family member there to represent you. So that's why I'm just saying that there's a lot of frustration. Maybe you have some suggestions on people like me that want to see some reform."

Robert Hershey:

"I hear your frustration. I would venture to say that in your constitution there exists a provision for initiative. Is there a provision for initiative in your constitution? There might be a provision for referendum and the distinction between initiative and referendum is that a referendum is usually decided by the tribal council and it's submitted to the members, the citizens, for a vote. The citizen-initiated way to create a referendum is by what's called an initiative.

So I would suggest two things. Number one, use that procedure in your constitution or those of you that have an initiative procedure in your constitution. Two, go around and get the signatures of enough people to comply with those requirements for initiative, which would then force the tribal council to have a vote on whatever particular thing you want. You're still going to have to go through your own tribe in this regard. The amendment of a constitution that's already been approved by the Secretary of the Interior is going to require a secretarial election so you could perhaps...and again, it's questions of authority within your own community and those people that have...are clothed in those authorities and there's power situations and power dynamics.

So the other option is to try and create a consultative mechanism. We hear about tribal consultation and I mentioned something to you yesterday in terms of how tribes consult with the federal governments or the state governments and the federal agencies, I've tasked one of my students, Edward, this semester because the idea that the tribal legislative bodies are not listening to people -- grassroots people -- to create some sort of a consultation mechanism that may or may not already be in place from tribal peoples to their tribal councils and try to get something like that passed. If...regarding an initiative, the tribal council is bound to honor and hold an election on a tribal initiative if there are enough signatures passed and if they don't do that, that's something where you can take the tribe to court, it doesn't involve sovereign immunity issues, that you could go ahead and try to force the council to go ahead and comply with the terms of the initiative.

So, either you get an initiative to deal with a large issue of constitutional reformation or you create an initiative to create an ordinance, a law, a statute that talks about intra-tribal consultation. So there are mechanisms in that regard.

Audience member:

"I was just wondering, let's say you failed at it, but for reasons other than participation or lack of participation. Is there a time limit or a waiting period before you can try again with the feds?"

Andrew Martinez:

"Not that I've seen. I haven't seen assigned period. It just...it takes a lot of work to get it initiated once again, get everything going."

Robert Hershey:

"That's the old thing, you know the definition of...no, I'm not going to go there. But I would give it sufficient time to go ahead and analyze what happened and figure out as the woman over there said in terms of more outreach, more education because of the fears and mistrust. Mr. Chairman? That's you, yeah. A comment, whatever."

Thomas Beauty:

"Yeah, just a comment. Removing the secretarial approval, I was thinking why wouldn't they approve? If they went through the whole process and they didn't approve it, but they approved somebody else's, what do you think their thinking is in regards to that? Are they just doing it because they want to still keep control or are they doing it because...what reason do you think? I'm not quite sure what..."

Robert Hershey:

"I think that the tribe itself votes to remove the Secretary of the Interior approval language, then the Secretary of the Interior must go ahead and remove that language. I don't think they have discretion to go ahead and say to one tribe that, "˜Yeah, we'll remove it. We agree with you that you can go ahead and remove it from your constitution,' and then not remove it from another tribe's constitution."

Thomas Beauty:

[Inaudible]

Robert Hershey:

"I think the denial was that their members voted against it."

Thomas Beauty:

[Inaudible]

Robert Hershey:

"They worked it, presented, they had an actual secretarial election, but that their membership voted against it. I guess there was fear and mistrust."

Terry Janis:

"In other situations we saw on the earlier panel that I was in, the woman [Jennifer Porter], her tribe reorganized and restructured, the BIA refused to approve that because their constitution still required constitutional approval or BIA approval, secretarial approval in order to amend their constitution and so they did a second secretarial election to remove the requirement for secretarial approval and then they did it on their own. But in that removal of secretarial approval, the BIA approved that.

So if you think about what that says about the Bureau of Indian Affairs, whenever you give them authority to approve or disapprove your decisions, they have two considerations I think. One is they have a trust obligation to give their best thought to it. They're not just going to agree with you just because they agree with you, but their history of a trust responsibility is to overrule you if they think you're doing the wrong thing. So that's a real sort of issue. You're giving them authority to disagree with you. The second issue is there is a long history of paternalism with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, there just is. And as any kind of large bureaucracy, you've got people in there that are old, old, 1950s Termination-era guys with the white hair and kind of like that guy."

Robert Hershey:

"No, no, no. Wait a second, they have white hair, I have moonstruck hair. That's right."

Terry Janis:

"But for that agency to change, people are going to have to die out. You know how bureaucracies are, right? And remember who they are. They come from assimilation, termination, that's why they were set up. It's going to take them a long time to change. And so as long as you continue to give them, in your constitution, secretarial approval authority, those are the dynamics that you're going to have to deal with and it's a crap shoot every time."

Thomas Beauty:

"Well, thank you for that clarification. Not only dealing with these entities of the government, they're always looking at what's their liability, what's their liability and that to me tells me that they don't want to make a move. They'll take forever to do anything because they're still thinking about it. What can happen down the road if we do this? Because they blanket all the tribes together and if they do one thing for one tribe and then, "˜Oh, no, it's a big fire!' So they take forever and I just wanted to put that comment out there. I know we probably all know that, but just dealing with them in my little short term, that's what I understand from them."

Catalina Alvarez and Robert McGhee: What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office (Q&A)

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Tribal leaders Catalina Alvarez (Pascua Yaqui Tribe) and Robert McGhee (Poarch Band of Creek Indians) field questions from seminar participants on an array of topics ranging from codes of ethics to creating mechanisms for transparent governance.

Resource Type
Citation

Alvarez, Catalina. "What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office (Q&A)." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. October 10, 2012. Q&A session.

McGhee, Robert. "What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office (Q&A)." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. October 10, 2012. Q&A session.

Audience member:

"Robert, coming from a similar small tribe and situations I can relate a lot to what you brought up as far as what you're dealing with. I just had a question as far as the transparency. I agree with that and I know that it's...I'm sure it's a work in progress. What has worked and what hasn't as far as are there limitations as far as how transparent each governmental entity is for tribal members and do you get a lot of backlash when they ask for a document or want to see something that they're just not entitled to?"

Robert McGhee:

"They're entitled to every document that we have, able to see [them] as long as it's not employee related, if it's not involving certain employees or certain individual members themselves. What we do is...and one of the things, we do an annual report. We put money aside every year, we publish a book and the book goes out to every tribal member, it's talking about our current financial status and we put a letter in there asking them to keep it amongst themselves and this is for you and your household. And then two days before it goes out, well, about a week before it goes out we actually have a large community meeting that goes over the annual report and explains it page by page. So we go through all the funding issues, we go through ‘this is where all the money went, this is what's left, this is what we're we agree...' We'll tell them, ‘We wanted to build a capital reserve account to protect future assets and this is how much we're putting in there.' So that's the best way we handle it and if we have any documents that we're concerned, because we do have council members who do like to talk and they're social people. We have one council member, all he does, and this is not to be disrespectful but he's always at the funerals and someone who's going into the hospital, which I respect. But we tell him and it's like, ‘You need to tell them that you're coming on behalf of all of us because we can't all go to...' But he loves to talk and I don't think he means it disrespectfully, I really don't, but he just loves...so now we take any information that is valuable at the council meeting, if we want to have a private discussion, I actually take it back up from all the...they'll agree to me, 'You can have...I don't want mine.' Because if they have it in their hand they're more apt to share it and give it away and we'll be the first ones to say, ‘I don't want mine, you take mine back,' ‘cause then we'll just collect all the information from the tribal council, we'll have it destroyed and it's easier that way on some regards because it can be sensitive topics that they really shouldn't be discussing so we do take up some of those things. But the transparency is, it's difficult but it's a double-edged sword."

Audience member:

"But more positive than negative as far as being open to the community and there's no...because leaving that expectation or leaving people to their own ideas or what's going on behind closed doors. You're kind of alleviating that to an extent?"

Robert McGhee:

"I think so. They have the opportunity...every council member, we have...every council meeting, we have two a month, what we've done now though is our first council meeting is actually business and the second council meeting we have every director rotate in every entity come in and give financial updates and updates of who's been hired, who's been...like how many employees we have and things like that so that helps a little bit. If we can alleviate where they don't have to ask us a question or they don't have to...then we'll try to do it."

Audience member:

"Thank you. And just a final question for the two of you, as far as going forward as far as governance, economic development, sitting, being chairs and different committees, how important is it for leaders to be educated and be able to provide that additional information that if you just...all you know is the rez, all you know is that immediate community, you haven't lived off, you haven't experienced any other let's say tribal entities or network, how important is that to be able to move forward for the futures to come?"

Catalina Alvarez:

"Yeah, I think that's a...you have to be...where nowadays, we're not this small reservation, we're not this small tribe. We're running with a lot of and dealing with a lot of millions of dollars and you need educated people that are going to be making those right decisions for the tribe. A lot of times we would have...you still have those mindsets of the older generation that feel that they don't need those kind of people or sometimes they're like in his case as well -- I'm going to pick on Marcelino [Flores] over there -- we have some people that are very educated and that know a whole lot and we have a tendency not to...I think we have to have a balance of where we get the educated people but also having the previous council, the old founders of the tribe also respect and embrace the knowledge that he does bring because I know that a lot of times like I've talked to Herminia [Frias], at least have the sense that if you don't know where you're at as a council to know and to ask that you need to find the right people for those positions because otherwise, like with us, I know I've told some of the council, we are still in the process of trying to get back the gaming board, because a lot of us feel we are not capable of running a gaming institution by any means and that's where it becomes difficult, that you have a council that still wants to be in charge of everything. And is it beneficial for us? Maybe it was and maybe it wasn't. We were burned also with the gaming board and finding the right people because sometimes you get burned by those same individuals on the gaming board. There's a balance that you have to find educated people, also people that are practical in knowing what needs to be done."

Robert McGhee:

"I think the key is if you're not...if they don't have the say...we educate as much as we can across all areas. It doesn't necessarily have to be college educated. It could be business education, tribal law, business literacy. We've actually had people just come in even to the council and teach debits and credits so they can have a better understanding if tribal gaming...because there was a distrust issue too amongst...you have a board over here and we have a top management staff and they're presenting this and it's overwhelming what they're presenting to you. And now though they have to go through it step by step by step and it's an easier process but I encourage if you can put any type of, in place, training and education at your council level, please do, I would recommend that you do it. But also do it for...what we've just started doing for all of our directors and program directors and executive directors is we have sent them through intensive leadership training and they have really...they said that was the best thing that the council has ever done. We felt that they were a part of the organization, that we were listening to them and now they're going to offer it, we're going to offer it to even all the employees because it wasn't fair we felt when I said, ‘we went through this,' and let... It's called 'Lead by Greatness.' We went through this training and it wasn't really fair for us to have the training and not the people who run our programs. And so we've actually...that just started this past year and they're enjoying it and now it's getting down to all the employees. And all the boards and committees like I pointed out before, they're all...all tribal members have the opportunity to serve on those but they have to submit an application and the application actually has to say, ‘Why do you want to serve on this board?' If it's the Cultural Authority, ‘Why do you want to serve here? Is it because you have something to give or do you just want to learn more? Why do you want to serve on PCI Gaming?' Because we realize, like she said, we don't have the expertise to run all of these economic development properties that we have. But you've got to make sure that your job descriptions and you've got to make sure that your...are strong job descriptions and things that get people in the right places to do that for you. We have mentoring programs for our tribal members so they can serve under leadership positions, to learn that way."

Audience member:

"This is in regards to how you deal with or listen to tribal members. There's kind of a two-part question that I heard and I don't know what your responses are, maybe your suggestions on how. The first thing here is congratulations and I think we all know it's a blessing in disguise to be an elected official. So how do you kind of keep a happy about hearing that, ‘Congratulations, you're on council.' And then the second part seems to be, ‘Well, I think you guys should be doing this or you need to do that and I voted you in.' And how do you listen to the community, how do you respond to those questions?"

Catalina Alvarez:

"I'm not sure, like, how do you...the first one that you said, that people just congratulate you and still smile after you know what you got yourself into? Yeah. You have to at least...you're always going to be in that position I think either way, no matter where you're at. We all put up a front even though we're not...maybe we're not happy inside but at least we...we'll just...we portray a different image by saying we're fine and we're good and everything, but I think when tribal members come and expect things of you and are asking you to do things differently, usually when I get asked a lot of things and mostly complaints of things are not doing or I was left out of the process, before I would normally, being a first-year council [member] I would automatically just get it and run with it and not really hear the other side of the story. Now, usually I would ask them, ‘Well, what would you do in these positions? Give me some feedback on what it is that you want accomplished and we'll see what we can do,' but I'm not going to...I always tell them, ‘I'm not going to promise you that it can be done because of course I'm only one voice of other 11.' So it's very important for the community to know that it might not happen and it's okay to tell a community member no. But you've got to watch out that you don't say 'no' too close to elections! [Laughter]"

Robert McGhee:

"One thing she did say was right on that it is okay to tell a community member 'no.' But what happened is that I think the way I handle it is...I wanted to serve. I've wanted to serve as a council member since I was a child. That was...I wanted to come back and do that. I think now though it's when...when someone looks at you, ‘Well, I want this,' I'm like, ‘Well, you tell...why, why do you want that? Does it benefit just you, is it benefiting the family or does it benefit all of us as a whole?' Because I'll let them know in a heartbeat that if that program costs $2 million to fix or a million dollars to fix, you're taking away $2 million or something from another program that we need to look at. So it's almost, you provide me the solution. If that's a problem then, okay, how do we fix it? I think if you throw it back on them that way, because sometimes they have a tendency to put you here and they remind you that, ‘Oh, you think you're up here?' Well, I throw it back down on them and it's like, ‘No, I'm here with you and I do not know how to fix that problem. So how do we fix that problem together? Or why don't you come to a meeting and present solutions.' And they actually...some of them like that because then it gives them...they're involved again and they can make those...be a part of the decision-making process or at least come up with some great ideas that we actually have considered and moved forward with. I'm with nine people but you have 3,000 other people out there, they have some great ideas and I think if you take the opportunity just to challenge them though to say, ‘Well, why do you want that and does it benefit everybody? Because our job as nine is to benefit everyone and it takes a majority first to support it. And have you talked to the other nine? And if the other nine believe in it then that's actually something we could probably do.'"

Audience member:

"My question or thing is when I got in office I ran for chairwoman last term and I didn't make it but I had all these ideas and now that I'm here, how...because a lot of people aren't educated as...when they get on council. They finished high school but they did other things and there was no really like ethical issues that occur, understanding and following policy and procedure within the business frame and then the constitutional issues. How do we follow our constitution yet do our ordinances and all those? But my main thing, my main question is -- and you said you go to, you have training and stuff like that -- is the ethical issue is that when we know there's a relative, a friend, somebody that we have a conflict with we're not really up front to say, ‘I'm not going to be in this discussion, I'm going to step away.' How do you get those values across to your council members so that there is transparency, because the people out there know who's related to who and who's friends with who and all that stuff."

Robert McGhee:

"I know that sometimes what we have to do is you have to remind council members that there is actually a possible conflict and impropriety, there's a...what's the terms that actually gets...an appearance of an impropriety. So as long as we feel that there's an appearance, we will actually let the other council member know. We challenge, it's like, ‘I don't know if you should really be involved in this. You may not know this but this actually impacts so and so,' and we provide them the relation. We tell them the relationship. So maybe some of them do know it but they just needed someone to challenge them to say, ‘I think it's best that you step out, do we all agree that so and so needs to step out,' and they do. What happens is the majority of them will do, once you've just shown where the relationship is and usually you're doing it because of...and don't do it attack-tive. You do it, say, ‘I think...isn't so-and-so in that program or isn't...did so-and-so apply for that job, isn't that your sister-in-law...,' because you are related but there are so many things sometimes you do get confused on even what is a nepotism. Is sister-in-law, is my aunt, is my sister? We know some of them are but then you have, well, your grandparents but they take care of that child. So there could be the possibility of that. So I think if you point it out, we've done that in the past, we just did it or you have your legal department if they're in the room, too. Our legal department's always with us. We'll lean over and say, ‘I think there's a...' and we'll, ‘Hey, that's why that person gets paid the big bucks, you need to go tell that there's an appearance here and maybe it's best to not be...you can be here and maybe just not be a part of the decision.'"

Catalina Alvarez:

"For us, I think the first time that I got into council we actually passed an ethical ordinance and I believe with the new council you're given all the ordinances that have like a fiscal ordinance and the ethical ordinance so you can go back and read them. And it's a way also to challenge, for council to hold each other accountable. That's kind of worked a little bit. I laugh because Herminia used to be our chairwoman the first time that I got into council and of course there was a...it was used against her. She brought the issue into us as ethical ordinance and it's just...the council saw it as a way, ‘Okay, this is how we're going to use it against her now.' But it in essence the...why we decided to do an ethical ordinance was really just to hold each other accountable and making sure that the community knows that we are not going to be in those situations where nepotism does occur and that we're all on the same playing field."

Audience member:

"This question kind of piggy backs off of the last question, but as elected officials and members of council how are you able to effective work against factionalism in council? I think that in a lot of tribal communities relationships ties, family ties run really deep. And so in spite of council and elected officials assuming integrity in their positions, they're always subject to sway. And I think that you see that in a lot of council where many times members will kind of group together on certain decisions and push legislation, ordinance or policy a certain direction when maybe it's kind of not based on the content but more on maybe who they're talking to and who they're being influenced by. As leaders, how are you able to combat that or at least address it within your councils and your communities?"

Robert McGhee:

"I've pictured...I've painted this like perfect council up here and we are not...by no means perfect. We do have our issues but with 3,000 there's definitely a difference between 3,000 members and say a 10,000 member tribe where factions can change elections. There's no doubt. One of the things that we have done is...it's funny, when we know certain people are getting together on a vote, we'll be like, ‘Well, I really don't care.' We won't be a part of it because it depends on what the issue is. If it's something about, oh, we're going to...it's like if we want to spend money here for this program, well, if I don't have a say or a personal attachment to it or something like that, we'll be like...but they've worked up this whole, us five support it or...’Well, have at it and if it works that's great and if it fails, I'll be the first one to let you know that failed,' but I won't be...but we won't do it...we don't air it to the rest of them. I think that if it comes to stuff that is...we have a strong and hopefully a lot of you do have an ethics code and the ethics code was the hardest thing to get passed. That was the hardest. It went to a vote five different times over a year because...and we kept...when we would challenge our tribal council members at the table, ‘Why are you not supporting the ethics code? Are you unethical?' But what happened was even our general council members who are looking, who are at these meetings and seeing so and so quit, he's not or she's not supporting the ethics code, not supporting the ethics code. It all came about though, the reason that individual was not supporting because the appearance of the impropriety. He was so scared of that word because of like you said factions or your council member's brother on another side of the family would be like, ‘Well, hey, he was a part of that decision that...' And so there's an appearance there and he was terrified of that ‘cause he was involved in business himself. And so we were like...so we made it stronger where the appearance, we gave it a little bit more teeth into that document to help him support it. But I think when it just comes to the factions I would...we don't have strong factions, we know that board and committee...it's funny it's only on board and committee appointments because they want Johnny in that position and they'll go meet and we'll say, ‘Well, which ones did you guys...who do you think you're going to choose today.' ‘No, we didn't do that yet.' Call them out on it. We do. But we've got a pretty good close relationship because we've spent so much time together in retreats and workshops and I do not...we do not have a problem calling each other out and one of the things that we had learned from one of these retreats that we went to, they pretty much told us, ‘Call them out. If they are not being the leader that they're supposed to be or if they're not supporting something...say it. Why are you not supporting this initiative? I need an answer.' And we couldn't have them flip-flop anymore either, that was the other thing too. We'd be in a workshop and we'd go around and just do a roll call. It was like, ‘You support it, you support it, you...' and then we'd get to a meeting and, ‘I don't support that.' Made us look like...that only happened a few times. So then we had another leadership, together, Kumbaya saying, ‘I get angry when you do that.' It was almost like a social therapy session. ‘I get angry when you do this. That's not appropriate ‘cause you're giving me your word and all that I feel that you have is your word. That's what makes you a credible person to me is your word and your actions and your actions are going against your words.' So now they actually will tell us, ‘Okay, I'm just going to be honest. I'm not supporting that.' Or if they're about to flip, because they've done it, we'll have another workshop, ‘I want to change my vote.' ‘What? Why?' And then I said, ‘Well, you told us before that from now on you're going to stick to your vote or stick to your decision,' and I called him out. He's like, ‘Yes, but I did tell you that if I changed I would let you know beforehand.' I'm like, ‘You've got me, you're right.' And he changed. He went in that council meeting and his vote changed and I'm like, ‘Well, at least you let me know beforehand.' I was leaning over to another council member, it was like, ‘We lost that one.'"

Catalina Alvarez:

"I think we're still trying to figure that out. You're always going to have I think, at least since I've been in council we have not had like this kind of council that can just sit down and talk, but we always had those kind of factions and we know that they're, sometimes they're influenced. The last...we haven't, this council since it's barely starting, we haven't gotten to that point but the previous council, we knew something was up and the committee knew what was going on and council members would pull in of course all their family so you were kind of pressured to vote in that direction. One of the things that took years and it still has been an issue was like that in the [Adam] Walsh Act, I couldn't believe how difficult it was for council to say that we want to first have the same kind of stuff...that we were going to opt into it and then where we were going to put our note...to notify the community, in which methods. It became so...I'm not even sure, well, I'm assuming that a lot of...in council you would have a sexual pedophile as a family member, that's the only reason why I thought that they could...they thought that I thought that they would be so hesitant in securing our community, but not until we actually had a switch in council that that...we were able to figure out where we were going to post the sexual pedophiles and what kind of notice was going to be given out to the community. But I think a lot of times that [faction], it's always going to exist because we're a tribe of 16,000 or 17,000 and we're always going to have that [faction]. We have council members that are related to each other and you know that they're going to pass ordinances and policies that are going to benefit their families or friends and it's very difficult to find out, at least for us right now. We're still....we're in the stage of trying to figure out how we can...how to resolve that."

Audience member:

"Just a couple of questions here. I'm busy scribbling things down. In today's world of course we live...we all live in two worlds and that is we live in America but at the same time we live within our tribal nations. And quite often, we have a clash in cultures and cultural values and we need somewhat to reconcile some of the things that we do. And was mentioned earlier the idea of nepotism. In the white world of course, that's a no-no. You don't do that, that's unethical behavior. At the same time, as a tribal member, we're taught form a very early age that our responsibility is to our family. Our responsibility is to our relatives, our responsibility is to our community. That's where our citizenship is, that's where our allegiance and where we should be focused. And we also understand that when someone close to you, a relative or whatever, comes for your assistance, you are not supposed to refuse because they're the ones who are going to support you when the chips are down, when you have a tragedy, when you have a sorrow, when you have a great need, you depend upon your family, yet and this job as tribal council is going to be gone in four years, but you still have to face that family member. And that's a difficult thing because you want the betterment of your nation, but at the same time when you're close relatives or clan members, clan fathers, whatever it is comes to you and needs something, how do you reconcile that? I know that's a challenge, ‘cause we have to keep our cultural values alive but we still have to work and thrive in the modern day era. So that's one of the things I think that has to be reconciled.

Another is with our traditional ways as you've mentioned earlier, to call them out. I think from a traditional mindset we're taught not to do that ‘cause we choose avoidance over confrontation whenever we can. And when we have a conflict with somebody, that's when we give direct eye contact, that's when we have that confrontation with them and we go full force. But we don't like to do that but rather we avoid confrontation whenever we can. If that means going on the other side of the street or not returning a phone call or not showing up for a meeting, for many of us, that's the proper thing to do rather than call them out. That's more of a modern day, white man kind of a thinking, at least I think. Utilizing our elders is another traditional way where we as tribal leaders or whatever we are think we're all it and leave out that segment of decision making or reliance upon our tribal elders to utilize them.

And I think what I'm gathering as part of what's happening here is to rebuilding nations is really about going back, going back. It's not building the tribal nation, it's rebuilding and it's remembrance and keeping a lot of our cultural values alive, of the form of governance that was thrust upon us. And if we look at those things, I do have a question specifically for you guys or anyone can answer this and that is, what would happen if salaries were not paid to elected council members and only expenses were paid, what kind of people would we have in there? What would we gain, what would we lose, what would it look like if we went back to that traditional sense of governance where these were not paid positions? Looking forward to your responses."

Robert McGhee:

"Just want to touch on a couple things there that you stated before. Yes, I have an allegiance to my family but I was raised to have, mostly from my mother, my father was a military man and things, but my mom, there was something about honesty, there was something about humility. And what bothers me is say when I have a larger family, not the nucleus but the extended family come up and ask me to do something that is inappropriate. I don't have a problem asking them, ‘Why are you asking me to do this? This is not...' because right now when you sign, when you run for council it's no longer mom, dad and my brother and my nephews and my grandparents, it's my...it's the 3,000 other members. Now every council member in here may have a different idea of that. That's mine. I represent all of them, the ones that you don't want to represent, the ones that still will call you by not your real name, any other name, the ones that still have some varied problems that we need to address. So I always know that I can go back to my family once I'm done serving my terms if I choose not to get elected because my dad doesn't allow us to speak tribal politics in our house either whenever we have an event or anything like that because he used to serve there. So he's like, ‘No one's allowed to come up to each other and talk to me about this or that or why did you do that?' He posted it on...he actually has a sign, he writes and he puts it on the door, ‘No politics are going to be discussed today,' which is helpful because sometimes you do...all of us here, you do get tired of going to certain events because you know someone's going to come up and ask a question or question you about this so at least I know it's...in the house, dad's house, it's off limits even at my brother's house ‘cause he served too. So he's like, ‘We don't talk about that.' To get back to your calling out question, I think I put that, yes, when I said calling out but keep in mind that we do it respectfully. It's one of those things of when I know...I don't necessarily have to call you always out in front. If I know you're upset, what I'm going to do though is have a conversation with you somewhere to ask why because I don't think me personally that we can move forward until I know what your issues are.

The full-time council...I agree with you on the...our part-time members...about four years ago we only got paid a stipend of $50 a meeting, five years ago. However, though, I would say the difference between that was there was also a different leadership at that time, too, so the council wasn't involved...a lot of them were involved but they just didn't feel that they had the time because there were some things going on where, ‘We're going to have a meeting today at 10:00.' ‘Well, I can't make a meeting today at 10:00. I'm working.' And until you got this...until you can change where you know that the leadership or whoever, the chairman, is going to respect if it's either a part-time council or a full-time one to know that we'll work around various schedules. I meant they do it for us now. We ask them, because like I said, two of us are part-time so we only have workshops on one day a month, all day. I actually use vacation time to do that. But the rest, they're welcome to attend their committee meetings. The committee meetings that I serve on, I'm allowed to determine when those meetings are so I think it could work as a part-time, but I don't think you would have the problems that you do. But keep in mind when you're full-time too, I think there are added pressures where a lot of the general council members now are looking at qualifications of putting somebody in office because they're paying them this much money. So that's actually a good, I would say a good side to it. Now, individuals are having to run on their qualifications because they're making salaries that are...that the program director or so and so, I make this and I have to have a master's in this or I make... So what are you bringing to the table as a council member that you're worth that much money? And so I think that's a good thing to it. It's stepping up to get other individuals involved that have qualifications or whatever those qualifications are it just could be not necessarily educational, it just could be serving on various committees or boards or things like that. And we have a cell center, just so you know, and that's where all our seniors hang out, all our elders hang out and I'm there probably...I eat lunch with them once a week to twice...to hear what they have to say. And we play bingo with them in the area and that's the best time to do it is when they're all gathered and just, ‘Well, what do you guys want us to see or where did I screw up today,' and they'll let you know quickly where."

Catalina Alvarez:

"I think as...and you're right, as individuals we're taught from the beginning our roles, our female roles and male roles and where you stand and even how we should address our elders. I think one of the things with the previous councils and when I first came on to council is we have our cultural leave availability for employees to do their cultural participants and participate in their culture activities. And I think as I talk to elders as a council, when we would get into discussions and I had one of the councilmen go, ‘You're supposed to respect your elders all the time.' It's true, but as a council, you guys are all equal, we are all equal at least my response to them because you were all elected by the people and they expect you to have a voice like any other individual on council. That was my response to him. And I think that more and more the council understands that we all should have a voice in how we do things and even elders in our council, they're always constantly...and I point out to Mary Jane [Buenamea], ‘They'll keep us in line as well,' but I think they're open to know that we all can share our own ideas and still try to move forward on some of our activities. I know that the last council since I was the only female, they would not include me in some of the discussions on cultural and even like on stipends that we give for our festivities, which I would get upset because I'm like, ‘as a council, male, female, I'm here as a voice to the people that voted me in. So you can't hold that against me that I can't give my input on what's going on.' But I think as we move into a full-time council I think if they weren't...if we wouldn't receive a stipend, it would be very difficult to move as fast as we have I think. As a council it allowed us to pass a lot of and meet more frequently to get things done within the tribe."

Audience member:

"I had my question for Robert and I wanted to know...you talked about the three sides that have to be heard. Could you just tell us very quickly what those three sides of any issue?"

Robert McGhee:

"Your side, the other side and the opinion. There's always this side, this side, but then there's also just what's the opinion out there of this problem. There's a lot more of those than there are the opinions themselves.

Jill Doerfler and Carole Goldberg: Key Things a Constitution Should Address: Who Are We and How Do We Know? (Q&A)

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Presenters Jill Doerfler and Carole Goldberg field questions from seminar participants about the various criteria that Native Nations are using to define citizenship, and some of the implications that specific criteria present.

Resource Type
Citation

Doerfler, Jill and Carole Goldberg. "Key Things a Constitution Should Address: Who Are We and How Do We Know?" Tribal Constitutions seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 3, 2013. Q&A Session.

Mike Burgess:

Mike Burgess from Pawnee Nation College. My question is to both either yourself Jill [Doerfler] or Dr. [Carole] Goldberg. In your research and findings, had there been any discussion on consolidation of tribal blood quantum and make it all one tribe?"

Carole Goldberg:

"By consolidation, you mean looking at people who have blood quantum from a variety of different tribes?"

Mike Burgess:

"If a member is not enough of your blood quantum, but they have more than enough to be a quarter blood, half-blood, even full-blood Indian, which is happening to a lot of our children in Oklahoma, they're full-blood Indian, but can't get on any roll."

Carole Goldberg:

"Right."

Mike Burgess:

"So if you're consolidating that and you recognize them as a member of your tribe and make them full-bloods or half-bloods, just your tribe only. Have any tribes approached that?"

Carole Goldberg:

"Not only have tribes proposed that, but I have actually seen it in some of the constitutions in California tribes where it may well be, for example, there are so many Pomo tribes in northern California. And you may not have descendance from this particular Pomo tribe, but in times past there was all kinds of intermarriage and kinship relations. And so the view of some of these tribes is as long as you're hypothetically one-fourth is from some Pomo tribe, they'll make you a member of this particular tribe so long as you don't also try to become a member of some other tribe. It's definitely being done. I wouldn't say it's widespread, but it's definitely being done."

Mike Burgess:

"Thank you."

Robert Hershey (moderator):

"It is. It is in a number of constitutions and membership ordinances that if you are a member of another tribe you cannot be a member of this particular tribe that you're trying to be included in. So that is something you'd have to look at either through your constitution or your membership ordinance and to change if that's the result you wanted. Yes, sir."

Ray Louden:

"Hi. I'm Ray Louden with Red Lake. This is for White Earth. How is the new constitution with White Earth going to affect the constitution with the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, and then is the ultimate goal then for the White Earth Nation to be removed from...?"

Jill Doerfler:

"The White Earth Nation has tried for many, many years to engage the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe in constitutional reform at the level of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and those efforts have not been fruitful. As I said, we've had efforts at White Earth for 30 years and we've tried to engage the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe throughout that time. Minnesota Chippewa Tribe has always -- well, I don't...not always -- they've had for a long, long time had a standing committee on constitutional reform. No actual action has come out of that committee for many years, and so ultimately White Earth citizens felt that we need to move on our own. It's unclear what will happen with regard to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, whether White Earth will still participate or how the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe will react to us having our own constitution."

Robert Hershey:

"Thank you. You're Red Lake, yes? Yeah. We have time for two more questions right now, the speakers at the microphones then we'll break for lunch. I want to make an announcement about lunch in just a minute. Yes."

Stephanie Cobenais:

"My name's Stephanie Cobenais from Red Lake. What are you deciding on how...what's going to be a descendant on your referendum stuff? What is it?"

Jill Doerfler:

"We haven't identified a base roll yet, which needs to happen. We sort of worked under the presumption that we'd use our current roll, but that isn't 100 percent clear. So a descendant would be somebody descended from a roll that will need to be identified."

Robert Hershey:

"Thank you. Yes, sir."

Audience member:

"How many tribal members do you have enrolled in your tribe?"

Jill Doerfler:

"Excuse me?"

Audience member:

"How many tribal members do you have on your rolls?"

Jill Doerfler:

"We have about 20,000 citizens right now."

Audience member:

"Wow, that's quite a bit. Yeah, we have 900 enrolled tribal members in our tribe but due to our blood quantum it doesn't allow...a lot of our tribal member...a lot of family members to be enrolled. I have a granddaughter that's six tribes. She has six tribal...she's six tribes anyway right now and she couldn't get enrolled with my tribe so she went to one of the other tribes that she represents and then she got enrolled there. But it was kind of a sad deal. But I liked your presentation and I like the way that you guys dealt with the lineal part and I think we got a lot of good ideas out of that and it made me think a lot, too, about our lineal part because here in Arizona...I know tribes here in Arizona it's a lot different here. I have family members from a lot of different tribes here from Arizona that...even some of these guys like, I'm Tonto Apache, I'm related to these guys over here. I'm related to a lot of people in the San Carlos Apache Tribe. And we have other tribes too like Yavapai, other Yavapais up north. My father is a northern Yavapai and his clan still exists. It's still up there. And then I'm also half, I'm a southern Yavapai too. So there's a lot of this stuff going on here in Arizona, it's like a big melting pot. I see a lot of that, but I saw a lot of good ideas in your presentation that really stood out to me and I think we're going to probably take some of that home to our tribe and just try to present it to our people and see what they think about it. I just want to thank you for your presentation."

Jill Doerfler:

"Well, [Anishinaabe language] thank you to you. That's wonderful to hear. I didn't have time...I'll just make one brief comment. I am not a demographer, I'm more the historian/literature-type person, but the tribe did hire a demographer to do a population study and even though...sometimes it sounds like 20,000 is a lot of people, but we are going to soon be reaching a stage where we just have an aging population at White Earth. Our death rate is going to be outpacing our birth rate and we're going to be moving towards declining numbers and so that's also motivating factor. Even though it seems like we're big, we're still really feeling a lot of impacts of blood quantum."

Robert Hershey:

"Thank you. Carole."

Carole Goldberg:

"There's just one brief observation that I wanted to make. For a very good reason we don't have members of the outside press here but if they were, I think they might be very interested in the fact that the word gaming actually has not appeared in any of these presentations about enrollment because there is such a misconception out there that is driving all of this discussion and it's really not, as I think we've seen..."

Robert Hershey:

"Can you share some of the experiences in your community of what you're dealing with regarding identity, membership, citizenship? Why do we have this distinction between "˜membership' and "˜citizenship'? What does "˜membership' mean to you? What does "˜citizenship' mean to you? These are some of the questions you're going to be dealing with when you...I could call on my students. Can I call on a member of the Pascua Yaqui Nation's council to...sorry, Robert, because you brought it up at lunchtime. There's an issue within your constitution that is kind of contrary to the membership rules that you've set out. Is this something that you feel like that you're going to have to attend to? Is the Pascua Yaqui Council going to have to attend to dealing with some of the divergent issues or the irreconcilable positions within a constitution?"

Robert Valencia:

"There's two things that affect our tribe and our current constitution. One is our tribe was very instrumental in the Law and Order Act, getting that together, but our constitution still is what it is and we...that gives us a one-year limitation on the sentencing and I think it was $5,000 on fines and such, and the other is the Membership Act. Our tribe has been...was recognized in 1978, recognized again in 1994, and with this membership bill it's something that in order to do what we want to because it's in the constitution, it was in the Act, we would have to change that. So those are the two pressing issues that we have, among others."

Robert Hershey:

"Thank you very much. But the reason I asked you to speak to this was because there was a contradiction in the constitution as to what the nation wanted to do with regard to its membership. It went to Congress. Now some of you may have, not the IRA [Indian Reorganization Act] tribes here, but you may have also some other federal act that has designated you into the federal recognition and the acknowledgement process, too. So those types of things are unique where you can get congressional acts to go ahead instead of going through the whole formal process amending the constitution and the Pascua Yaqui Nation has been successful in that regard."

Robert Valencia:

"That's right. Initially the Act establishing the tribe did say that we had to have a constitution and initially it was supposed to be in 1980. We didn't have one until about 1988 and we haven't changed it or modified it since that time."

Robert Hershey:

"Thank you very much. Kevin, we've been looking for you."

Kevin Dupuis:

"I have a question for White Earth and as being a former tribal executive committee member I can understand what you're saying and as a reservation business committee member now, the question I have, if the constitution is done with White Earth, is there a point where the tribal executive committee of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe has to approve or disapprove that constitution? And the concern I have is this -- that if an individual reservation in the consolidation of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe writes their own constitution, do they become separated from the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe because the question I would have to that, if they have their own constitution they could not represent the membership of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe [as] their tribal executive committee member. Because our constitution that exists now, whether it be right, wrong, indifferent, it's the only document we have, and the concern with is if it can't be followed now, how is this going to go with the constitution coming from White Earth?"

Jill Doerfler:

"Right. We're definitely in new legal territory when it comes to the White Earth constitution and the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe constitution and these are questions that we'll have to be exploring, especially this summer in consultation both with MCT staff attorneys as well as TEC members, White Earth attorneys and White Earth tribal council and exploring how can the MCT accommodate in some way. Can White Earth have its own constitution and can other MCT nations have their own constitution and still participate in the MCT in some way. Is that possible? These are sort of questions that we need to be working on answers to."

Kevin Dupuis:

"I understand it and I agree with you, just simple principle of federalism. It was discussed years ago in 2004 and I think all the way to 2006 that the tribe already has its own constitution, can we delegate that authority to the individual reservations to write their own constitution and be under the umbrella of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe? My concern is this, if you follow a constitution that you write under White Earth and White Earth adopts that, even through the principal referendum I need to ask myself as a tribal member, because I'm not enrolled in Fond du Lac. We're all enrolled in the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. Our enrollment papers go to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, not the individual reservations."

Jill Doerfler:

"Correct."

Kevin Dupuis:

"So an action like this, I'm asking at that point, you finish your constitution, it goes through a referendum vote with your people on White Earth. Is there a separation from White Earth from the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, because I can't see White Earth representing members of the tribe anymore if they have their own constitution."

Jill Doerfler:

"It will depend on what actions MCT wants to take. If MCT does nothing, that may be your question. If MCT does nothing, does White Earth essentially then separate? I would say the answer to that is most likely yes, but I'm not an attorney and I'm not here to give legal comment on that. These are issues that we're working on exploring."

Kevin Dupuis:

"Okay. Thank you."

Robert Hershey:

"If I may add something too. It implicates some other issues as well. One of the issues is, what is the Minnesota Chippewa constitution, the nations that are involved in it, is it a Secretarial approval constitution, to do amendments?"

Jill Doerfler:

"Yeah."

Robert Hershey:

"So even though there's a referendum, it doesn't automatically result in a new constitution if the new constitution and the...then you have to call for a Secretarial election, and so then there's a whole process that has to be put to the voters. Then that's also going to go ahead and implicate. Whether or not this becomes an example to the other nations or not as to whether they want to go ahead and adopt a new form of constitution, it could be very exemplary in that regard. And there are situations where in constitutions...the Tohono O'odham Nation for one, Hopi Tribe for another, that they have separate and distinct powers that like the districts here on the O'odham Reservation have their own sense. The Hopi constitution allows for the villages to establish their own constitutions as well. So this could be a number of ways to go ahead and satisfy some of the concerns that you were raising there and at the same time allow for that kind of semi-independence or quasi-independence and it could be a united affiliation of nations with separate and distinct constitutions. It could be an example to go ahead and formulate one type of a constitution if that's the way the people go. But it still is going to require after a referendum, it still is going to require a petition to the Secretary of the Interior to go ahead and have a Secretarial election."

Jill Doerfler:

"I should maybe clarify that our referendum, the plan is to proceed with that referendum via a Secretarial election."

Robert Hershey:

"Yes, please."

Pamela Mott:

"My name is Pamela Mott and I'm from the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. At lunchtime we sat with Navajo and the other Yavapai tribe and to our question who we are and how do we know, it all came down to a Creation story, "˜cause we all know people sitting here where we come from, how we were taught. The time I grew up, I grew up with a bunch of elders so everybody that I came with, we know who we are and where we're from, but when federal government came and gave us those IRA constitutions that we have today, we have to start changing and identifying ourselves. And I think one of the things at our table that we kind of agree with and I brought up was that when you brought up maximizing your numbers and talking about political, it had a concern to me as a Native American woman "˜cause we're raised like family and we take care of one another. I was wondering, it's so hard for me to understand why other tribes would make one tribal member less important than another one when you said you put restrictions on somebody living off the rez versus someone living on, because a lot of times we don't have the wherewithal to have jobs for educated tribal members and they have to go somewhere else to work or they have to go out of state to work. I have to use my family as an example. I have a nephew that's a doctor in mechanical engineering. There's no job for him on my little reservation, so he has to go. What makes him less of an important tribal member than somebody back home that doesn't have an education but is there working? And I think when you guys teach, as professors when you teach this to people or other Native students that are in your classes, every tribe is different, we're all different, so some of those things I think need to be brought out because I'm a leader for my tribe and when I have to go to [Washington] D.C. and fight for Native American rights or fight for...big one is gaming and you said gaming didn't come up. It is coming up because that's what we're fighting against now but a lot of the things stem...why would you want to make one person less than another when the way we were brought up we had to take care of everybody within the community? And there were adoptions. I know Navajo had talked about some adoptions they had and it depended on your history. If you took slaves in...we weren't mean people. We took care of those people, unlike when they brought the slaves. I understood back east the slaves were more happy to live with the Indians than they were with the non-Indians because they were treated better, they were incorporated as families and that's how we're brought up. So that was one of the things I think our table agreed with, it was kind of hard for me to understand why if there were tribes out there, why would you make somebody different than another based on whether you live within the reservation, whether you don't live in the reservation, because we get a lot of feedback from the people that don't live within my community because they're educated and they tell us, "˜This is what we're doing out here. How can you incorporate with the businesses on the reservation to help us be successful?' And those are some of the things I think that was brought up at our table and I wanted to share that. So I think when you guys are teaching you need to know that. A lot of it comes from our heart and family. We're not like the regular outside non-Indians because a lot of them, they just move. It's easy for them to get up and move one state to another and not have contact with their family members. It's not like that for us. We're always contacting somebody. My sister...I may not...she lives on the same reservation and she lives a hop, skip and a jump from me, but I call her every day or I go see her every other day or something and my children live...I have a son in Oklahoma and he calls me every single day just to let me know how he's doing, how we're talking. So a lot of times you guys don't incorporate that in your teaching, and I think...coming from us now maybe you guys need to start doing that or understanding the tribes."

Carole Goldberg:

"Thank you very much. Actually, I live in Los Angeles. My husband's tribe is in North Dakota, so I'm actually very familiar with the situation of living far away from one's home community. There are places where issues arise involving resource extraction. So there are places where there is a lot of potential money to be made by things like strip mining or various other forms of resource extraction. It has in some places created some tensions, not that people don't care about folks who live far away, not that people don't want to take care of them or stay in touch with them, but just plain old worries that the temptation to do things in the territory might be too great if you don't live there and so that's the source of the tensions that I was referring to over what do you do about folks who live in a place and want to make sure that it's not ruined by various forms of environmental strains and people who live far away and may not experience that. And that...but the variation is tremendous and there are places where that is not an issue and where there are not concerns about treating folks differently. What I was trying to do was give you some sense of the tremendous variety of issues that exist out there and only you can know whether those matter to your own community."

Robert Hershey:

"I'm going to add one thing here, too, just before and this was brought up at our lunch table with my students and they're very passionate about this as well. And if I may just digress just briefly into a little history lesson. Back in Jamestown Colonies with...we hear about Pocahontas, but we don't hear much about her father, which is Powhatan, who was the leader of a number of tidewater tribes in that region. During the treaty ceremonies that would go back and forth whether or not the attempted colonists would be allowed to stay there, there was a ceremony where the English wanted to put a crown on his head and they wanted him just to bend down a little bit so they could put the crown on his head. So the English were taking that as that he was declaring fealty to the crown of England. Now he wasn't thinking that. He was thinking that he was extending his empire. And what I heard from the woman that just spoke, and I thank you for those comments very, very much, is that those educated, those people that are off the reservation, they're contributing and they're bringing things back to your community. So it's very, very interesting how you can extend your empire out there and it doesn't just have to be that people living within a particular area, that's determinative, but it's about those relationships and those contributions that can be far and wide. So that was just something, so I appreciate those comments of what you said. Thank you. Sorry for the history lesson, it's just law professors."

Steve Cornell:

"Steve Cornell from the University of Arizona. For Carole Goldberg, Carole I was just wondering if you had any experience with tribes that are dealing with citizens who live outside U.S. borders with nations that were split by the border. Obviously it's a huge issue right here in southern Arizona with the Tohono O'odham people. There are Yaqui people south in Mexico, but it's also an issue for Mohawks, for some of the Blackfeet Confederacy and others, and have you seen any constitutions that directly try to address the citizenship of people who through no fault of their own are living on the other side of the U.S. border?"

Carole Goldberg:

"I actually have, because one of the communities that I've worked with is the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians in northeastern Maine and a number of the people from the Houlton community, the Maliseet people are actually living in Canada and it is interesting to note that over time the international border has had the impact on communities or it can have the impact of creating a sense of division that would not have existed had that international border not been introduced. And this is a topic that required a lot of internal dialogue within this community. Are they really a part of us? Even though the kinship relations were pretty obvious, the language, the cultural tradition were common but there was this bit of unease about whether...first of all whether there was something that would be viewed wrong by outsiders of including these "˜foreigners,' I use that in quotes, as part of our tribe and there was also again this sense that there had been some separation over the years. And there was at the end of the day I think more receptivity to saying, "˜These are part of our families, these are part of our culture and community and we shouldn't arbitrarily say that they're outside because they're in another country'. But it was a very hard discussion."

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "Building Capacity to Get the Job Done"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Herminia Frias, former chairwoman of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, discusses why it is important for leaders to work to build the capacity of their Native nations to effectively engage in nation building.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Frias, Herminia. "Rebuilding Native Nations: What Do Leaders Do?" Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. October 10, 2012. Presentation.

"Do you have the capacity? One of the things you need to consider is building that capacity to get things done if you don't have it. A lot of us deal with having non-citizens at the leadership position. The head of the casino is not a tribal citizen, the CEO of the nation or the executive director sometimes is not a citizen. It's hard to get these people, our own people into those positions, and sometimes when we do get them into those positions, what do we do? We chew them up and we spit them out. How do we get past that? How do we get past that and start taking advantage of those people to come back and work for us and create those opportunities for them in all areas, in all areas? I like to think of it even like at the mechanics, at plumbers. Not everybody needs to have a master's or a Ph.D. or some kind of professional degree, but we all have to have skills. So what kind of skills do we need to be able to build a Nation that's productive and the citizenry is productive? So assessing, ‘Do we have those skills, experiences that we need, do we encourage and support our young people?' Do we say, ‘Go to college,' and offer these tribal scholarships and then welcome them back, provide internship opportunities. Do we do that? If not, how do we do that? These are things to think about. This is a lot, so if you're not doing that, we're not saying that that's wrong, we're just saying it's something to consider because it's that long term vision, it's not going to happen overnight. Do you take that lessons learned approach? We know that it didn't work if we did it this way, so let's change it. Just ‘cause it didn't work the first time doesn't mean it's not going to work, it just means that...’cause the problem's still there so we still have to solve the problem. It's about problem solving so just because we didn't solve it with a bulldozer doesn't mean we can't solve it doing it a different way. The professional development -- do we have that, even for the people that we have? Do we continue to train them, social workers, behavioral health therapists, doctors, our staff? Do we provide them the training for them to be better at their jobs, to keep up with the times?...

How are you investing right back into your citizens for the nation? And we see that a lot -- big graduation ceremonies, but then that's it. Where is that ongoing communication? And even for some of these students that have to leave home and go to school somewhere else, where is that connection? And a lot of times they leave and they don't even know like what's going on in the community, how am I going to go back and help, what opportunities are there for us. A couple of months ago we went out and we met with the nation and they were talking about doing a job fair just to show their college students what they had to offer so that...cause they had all these different majors and they kind of didn't know like, ‘Well, if I go back and work for my Nation, what am I really going to do,' but those types of opportunities to say, ‘There's so much that you can do and we need you. We need you to come back.' But how do you create that environment for them, right? How do you create that environment so that you can build that capacity and then bring them back and start working with you?"

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "The Unique Challenges Facing Native Nation Leaders"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Herminia Frias, former Chairwoman of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, shares some of the distinct challenges faced by Native nation leaders due to the legacies of colonialism and federal policies.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Frias, Herminia. "Rebuilding Native Nations: What Do Leaders Do?Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. October 10, 2012. Presentation.

"You know, and then on top of that you have the legacies of colonialism, the way the structure has been set up, ineffective and imposed government styles. Dr. Cornell talked about this earlier, about the constitutions and about different ways of governing. Does that match the way that you traditionally made decisions, made laws, governed, the traditional way of doing things? It's really that simple. We could talk about governance, we could say the word 'constitution,' we could come up with a big old vocabulary, but it really is, how do we do things, how do we get things done? It's that simple. I heard...a couple of weeks ago we were at a training and they said, 'It's simple, but it's not easy.' It's a simple concept, but it's not easy. It's like growing up, especially those teenage years, and if any of you have teenagers, man. I don't have any kids, but I have a teenaged niece and my sister's going through that. She calls me and she's like, 'Oh, my god.' It's simple, just raise your child, they'll grow up, they'll be healthy, teach them the values -- but it's not easy. The challenges of making a profit and governing at the same time. How many other governments have that challenge? Most governments, they'll just tax. We're going to use that tax and we're going to pay for our fire department, we're going to pave the roads, we're going to build schools, we'll just tax and tax. But tribal governments are now starting to tax on certain things, cigarette tax, hotel tax, retail tax, that are going to go back to you in services, but most of the money that you're generating is either through possibly federal grants or money that you're generating through your own development, casinos, other types of businesses, retail, land leases, whatever it is. But at the same time you're trying to balance that -- how do you make a profit and run a government? It's not easy. So all of these things that you're bringing up, you're not alone. These are tough challenges that you as tribal leaders, in whatever capacity you hold, are legitimate challenges. These are the things that we're trying to get through." 

Catalina Alvarez: What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Vice Chairwoman of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Catalina Alvarez shares what she wishes that she knew before she first took office, and focuses on the importance of elected leaders understanding -- and confining themselves to performing -- their appropriate roles and responsibilities.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Alvarez, Catalina. "What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. October 10, 2012. Presentation.

Catalina Alvarez:

"Thank you again for inviting me to speak on ‘what I would have known.' I think a lot of us as tribal leaders, especially for myself, we don't get into politics unless we know that either we wanted to see change...or we wanted to get revenge on someone, the director, or we really wanted to just for the prestige of being on council. My reason at the time was probably all three. And as a past employee of the tribe I think that one of our health directors, our council at that time never visited Guadalupe -- I live in Tempe area -- and never visited the community, we never saw a councilman really. I didn't even know who was actually on council at that time, so our grant was going to come to an end so when I asked them, ‘Why aren't these services being provided off the reservation? Why aren't we getting the same benefits?' and one thing they had told me was, ‘Well, if you want to see change, well, get on council.' So I'm like, ‘Okay, so I'll go to get on council.' But if I would have known the responsibility it is and the time consuming...I think I would have thought differently.

But it has been...I think the most difficult thing as a council is the time away from home and your families, the time that you spend at work is just tremendous, because as you come in...the council that I came into, we were fortunate I guess and unfortunate at the same time that we had the council that actually were there trying, at the time that the incorporation started and were still working. And I say it's fortunate because at least we got their experience as the tribal leaders that actually got us incorporated as a tribe, but also their mindset sometimes is set in the old ways. And when you have new faces, new council, younger council, we want to do things differently, we see others like the government as well and they don't, we tend to, I think the old council has the old mind frame that things should be done differently or they should stay the same. And so that's why I say that it was a good and bad.

But I think the difficult part of it was also to be able to get the council to agree on a vision for the tribe because you had so many different personalities, many different reasons and why they were on council. And it was, like I said for myself, when you get into council you don't realize the work behind the scene. And just like I said, as a council member, you'll be blamed either way if you do things right or wrong because sometimes it's even difficult to understand for our constituents and our employees that things have to be kept confidential. And what should and not -- that's always a fine line like our community expects to know certain things and should you give that information up or not. So that was one of the aspects of that.

Also to me, what overwhelmed me was -- going back to the previous presentation -- is that as a council you are the one that actually makes the laws, the ordinances but also set the foundation for the future. And that's a big responsibility, especially if you don't know what laws already exist. So you spend a lot of time as a new council being overwhelmed and trying to catch up. And like this council, with the new council members, I know that there's 11 council members in the tribe. We really didn't wait for them, we just kept on going, which I think we realize now...because I remember Rosita [Alvarez] was asking me, ‘So what are we supposed to do with these packets?' I mean simple as a study session, the day-to-day things that go on in the tribe, the previous council that was re-elected, I think we just kept on going, we didn't even both asking them how to get you up to speed on what was going on. I think as you're getting up to speed also having them understand where we were left off on some of the ordinances, the laws and also the foundation that you not only do for the government but for your enterprises and what best fits for those enterprises. Currently our tribe is also responsible like, we had a gaming board a couple years ago but the council at that time dissolved the gaming board. So council is not only the government part of it but it's also over the enterprises, the Chevron, and the gaming.

So we still have that discussion, ‘What is more beneficial as a council person?' I mean, of course I think the big, the one thing that I think as a council person that you should have in the back of your mind is that to acknowledge at least that you need help in finding the best quality person that you can for those positions. And I think that's one of the most surprising thing to me was that we have...or at least I say it that...it made me more cynical on things I think being on council because you have people that come in and still think that the council is like a social service, social service workers, and you've got to kind of separate yourself from that aspect and also just be...I think we, as a council you are more cynical because you're on the other side now. And is it really a need when everything else is going on?

The other thing is also...I lost my train of thought. But just on those aspects and just knowing that as the directors that you have, I think the council that we sit on, it's all 11, we all are re-elected, we don't have staggered terms. So it's very difficult sometimes to get started again I think even if it's half of the council that comes in as new. A lot of times as council you tend to forget that, at least in, this is my third term in council, is knowing if your finance director or your gaming person, your directors are actually telling you the truth on the numbers and that has been the biggest challenge for me as on council because we have. Since the council is over the gaming, I think they're too comfortable with the council, our gaming executives. So I think that's very, that's one of the things that I think that should, if I would have came back and done things differently is I would have made myself more aware of all the laws and things that were going on with the tribal council and the government at that time, even on the enterprise part of it.

But I think as a tribal leader, you don't think about, I mean as a newly elected [leader] you don't think about those things, you just think about what you will want to do as a council member, how you will want to improve things and how things should be done. But a lot of times we don't even think that those things as a council, the way you're going to get things done is by doing ordinances and strengthening your policies and not necessarily going and micromanaging the departments, which is a fine line because it's very difficult, especially if you have a council that is working and is there every day. And so I think it warps kind of the...your responsibilities. Because we still, like I said, have council that have that mind frame that when something happens, the community will run to that council or if they expect you to be at all the events or for you to solve all their problems and it's not, that's not what as a legislator you're there for. And I think that's one of the key qualities is that you need to know how to [not] micromanage, you need to have good leadership and especially know how to delegate and also to be able to speak out as an individual because of your integrity. Like, how strong are you on your commitments? How strong are you willing to go against the whole council if you feel the decision is not right? The previous council that I was with, I was the only female at that time, so it was very difficult for me because they had this ‘good ‘ole boys' network going on for years. You have to be strong enough to be assertive, to be able to get your point across and to get the things that need to be done the way you feel like, the way you think that you would be...the way the community would think.

And I know that as...when I came into council, I said, ‘Well, I'm not a politician, I'm not a politician.' But you've got to act like a politician if you...you've got to start lobbying your council to be able to move things because otherwise you cannot move on anything as a solo person. So that's one of the...I think one of the key elements that I've learned throughout the years is that if you don't know how to lobby, if you don't know how to be assertive and actually not get involved with the community aspect like keeping your distance from being biased. Because of course in our tribe everybody seems to be related. No matter what decision you make, it'll impact the family that you...or the families or the community that you live in.

And having strength even though that your constituents are telling you to vote a way that they would want to see; I think the biggest challenge is...because they don't see, and as a council I think that you have to do your own research and get the most information you can to make the best decision for the tribe and not just for that one individual. And not to make laws or pass ordinance for just one individual and not...because we have a tendency to work as a tribe or as a council at one time just to put out fires; that's all we did. This situation comes up, we're all over there and we'll try to fix this and we don't see overall.

And I think as a council, as a newly elected [leader], not only do you have to deal with your own constituents but how you relate to the state and how you lobby the state on some of the monies that you receive and even the laws that are being proposed even in the federal government and knowing how to actually go and lobby and meet with your representatives. And I think that was the biggest awakening for myself because I didn't realize how much of a detail and how much of a responsibility it is as being a councilperson.

If I would have done things differently, I don't think I would have ran for council, at least not until I knew a little bit more on what the responsibilities are. I think everybody that runs for council eventually runs because they genuinely want to see the community change or want to better the future of the tribe. Thank you."