Yavapai-Apache Nation

Yavapai-Apache Nation Constitution

Year

Location: Arizona

Population: 2300

Date of Constitution: 1936, as amended 1947

Native Nations
Topics
Citation

Yavapai-Apache Nation. 1936. "Constitution of the Yavapai-Apache Nation." Camp Verde, AZ . 

Yavapai-Apache Nation: Executive Functions Excerpt

Year

ARTICLE VII - THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT
Section 1. Executives. The Executive Department shall consist of the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer of the Tribal Council and such other persons as the Tribal Council or their designee may find necessary for the administration of tribal business. The Chairperson shall be in charge of the Executive Department in accordance with Section 2 of this Article.
Section 2. Duties. (a) The Chairperson shall make all decisions regarding personnel within the Executive Department, Provided, That decisions regarding departmental directors shall also need the concurrence of the Tribal Council. (b) The Executive Department shall oversee the administration of tribal business and shall exercise those authorities delegated to it by the Tribal Council unless otherwise provided in this constitution.

Native Nations
Topics
Citation

Yavapai-Apache Nation. 1936. "Constitution of the Yavapai-Apache Nation." Camp Verde, AZ . 

NNI Indigenous Leadership Fellow: Jamie Fullmer (Part 2)

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Jamie Fullmer, former chairman of the Yavapai-Apache Nation, shares what he wished he knew before he first took office, and offers some advice to up-and-coming leaders on how to prepare to tackle their leadership roles. He also discusses what he sees as some keys to Native nations developing diversified, self-sufficient economies that can be sustained over time.  

Ian Record:

"So, Jamie, you served two terms as chairman of your nation. I was wondering if you could share with us what you wish that you knew before you took office that first time."

Jamie Fullmer:

"That's a great question. There's a lot of things I wished I knew before I took office, but when it gets right down to it I think that politics is a unique and challenging role, because in essence you're a public servant to the community, but you also have responsibilities as a public figure. And so I think one of the initial challenges was not recognizing how much of both of those things took of my time and my life and so had I known that before I would have been able to prepare for it before getting into office. But it consumes you rather quickly and your time becomes very precious because you have few moments of time to yourself and you have few moments of time when you're not expected to be in the public setting. And so with that said, I think that's the first thing I wish I had known before taking office. I think the other thing is, having never been involved in politics, not really knowing the process of any of the formal processes of running government, and so it was kind of a 'learn and lead at the same time' process, and if I would have been able to know initially what kind of steps I could have taken I might have been able to do some homework and really have a good feel of how to move the legislative process forward, how to take advantage of team building opportunities early on, and then also I think learn more about how to better enhance the institutional framework of information sharing. Not only being able to have access to it, but having everybody else have access to it so that we were on the same page when we were dealing with political issues or community issues or economic development issues in that sense."

Ian Record:

"So you mentioned time management and we've heard this from other tribal leaders that that's one thing that you just...you can't anticipate in many respects coming into the job. I remember Peterson Zah, former chairman and president of the Navajo Nation, said once that that really puts the onus on you as the tribal leader to first prioritize your work and then in those places where you can, delegate your work to those people that are within the administration of government who've been hired to do those sorts of things."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sure. The delegation issue is sometimes challenging, because even in the delegation process you have to meet and learn and get to know the staff and they may not be staff that you've chosen. And some political systems have a system where a new leader comes in and they're able to choose their executive team. Our system wasn't like that. The executive team that's in place is what you work with and it's really a council decision to choose those folks. Of course the chairman has a say, but if there are people already in existing positions you'd like to hope...especially in my case, I believed that the chairman before me had good sense of who they wanted. And so if they felt it was good for the nation, I respected that I could keep that same frame of thought. That challenging part though is getting to know who has the skill sets in different areas. They might have a certain title, but they might have skill sets in other areas that are a good fit for delegation of duties. And I think the other process in that is that there's the time management issue, it's also important to have good support staff to help manage the front end, the telephones, the documentation that comes in in stacks daily, and kind of arranging a schedule that helps you to meet not only your daily priorities, but also to address any of the community issues that come up where members want to have some time with the chairman in the office, and then arranging that with the travel that's necessary to do business on behalf of the tribe. So you live in a suitcase part of the time and then when you're home, you're really relying on others to keep you on track and on task."

Ian Record:

"What advice would you give them? It's somebody that's never served in an elected office before -- what advice would you give them as somebody who's either considering running for office or say they do get elected and are getting set to take office, what advice would you provide?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"I think the best advice I would give in starting out is [to] remember the promises that you make you have a responsibility to keep. And so I believe that part of the political process is one of the challenges we face, because there's so many promises made in the pursuit of getting elected -- both in Indian Country and we've seen a lot of promises going on right now during the election season at large -- but when you get into office you are only a part of something that's much bigger than one individual and you can play an important part and you can play a very important role in the advancement of your nation, but the advice I would give them is, "˜Be aware and take the time to learn what the struggles are, take the time to learn what the system needs to help it move forward, and before you make any promises to the community, take the time to learn if those promises can be met.' And I think that's an ongoing challenge, so that I thin, that's an important part. It's also valuable and what I would tell the person is, be ready to commit your time. You're raising your hand and swearing an oath to your people, to your nation, and to God that you're going to follow through to the best of your abilities and it's a challenge to give the best of your abilities all the time. And so I think you need to figure out at the front end how you deal with your down time and how you deal with your low moments so that you can keep a good presence about you as a leader."

Ian Record:

"You mentioned the fact that keeping promises is really important once you take office, the promises that you make maybe on a campaign trail or as part of your platform to get elected, and you began to touch on this. Doesn't that make it your job to be very careful about what promises you make and really think strategically about the promises in terms of are they promises to maybe just a certain portion of the citizenry or are they promises to the entire nation, because as an elected official are you not representing the entire nation?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"That's a challenging question, because I think that obviously you serve your entire nation, but many tribes are organized where there are clans and there are familial priorities that take place, there might be village priorities, and so you may be really wanting to get in to address those issues. And depending on if it's a council position, that might be your role as a district councilor or as a village councilor, and so you do go in on those points that you're prioritizing. So with that said, I think the way that I reached out to the community was through goals. I had set goals based on what I had heard that the community wanted and that I felt like could be achieved in the period of time of the term in office or at least get some headway on historical processes that had gone on that hadn't been completed. And so there were some things that were challenges that I felt that I had the skills to help address and to put closure to that other leaders and other councils long before me had established and put into place and then there were other issues that had been initiated over time that I felt like needed to be at least started to being addressed. And so, rather than making promises because it's too difficult to make a promise, it was goals that I had set for myself and for our nation that if I were elected I would work on those goals."

Ian Record:

"And those two different terms send very different messages to your citizens, to your constituents don't they?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"I believe so because the goal is something you work toward, a promise is something that you try and keep."

Ian Record:

"Yeah. And you also mentioned this approach that you took when you took office which was continuing the priorities and the initiatives of previous administrations and that's not an approach that every tribal elected official takes. In fact, we've seen many that take the exact opposite approach. And I was wondering if you could talk about the difficulties you ran into with that or if it made your job easier, the fact that you were building on the momentum that had been generated before you came along."

Jamie Fullmer:

"I think there's a point that's important. Really for me it wasn't about having the credit for getting anything, it was having our nation have the credit. And so my role was as the chairman, in my opinion, was to go in and assess our government, assess our enterprises, assess our community, assess our programming and look for areas that I could help strengthen it. And it didn't matter whether I was to start it or if it had been started by somebody else. It was obviously a priority to the community if it was already in place. And so maybe those needed to be updated or changed or some of the structures needed to be adjusted, but the idea wasn't to do any of that with the intent of getting credit for it. It was doing that because it needed to be done and accepting on the challenges that the community had set upon me about getting...there were certain priorities that they wanted addressed and so I felt it important to address those that I could."

Ian Record:

"You've been working with a number of tribes across the country, particularly in the Southwest and Pacific regions, on diversifying their economies. In that capacity -- in working with other tribes and also based on your experience with your own nation -- I was wondering if you could paint a picture for us of what you believe a full-fledged Native nation economy looks like."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sure. One of the challenges, the initial challenge that I see is that people have a different viewpoint of what 'economy' means. There's a lot of different arenas that are placed around the idea of an economy, but from a governmental perspective and from a societal perspective, that economy is a tumbling effect whereby, when revenues come into the system, those revenues advance themselves throughout the system. And I'll give an example: money generated from gaming comes to run the government. There should be something...then the government pays its employees and then those employees use that money to buy goods and services or pay bills. And so from an economic point of view, your ambition is to keep the money that's generated in a nation in that nation as long as possible. And so from that point of view, the economies are built to create more opportunity and generate more cash flow and protect the money that has come into the nation and keep it there for awhile. With that said, economic development is the process by which tribes create those kinds of business enterprises that will generate that opportunity.

And a lot of times, what gets confused there is the idea of economy has taken on, at times, the viewpoint of small business development. And I am definitely for small business development, I think it's a central part of an economy, but there are also other ways that generate economy, like creating infrastructure creates a baseline to build small businesses on, building housing creates opportunities for people to stay in the community so that they can pay and live in the community, which creates another set of economic values. You also bring in your, you keep your talent pool localized when you have job and work opportunities for those folks; they don't have to move away to go get a decent job. And so there are a lot of things tied to economy but I think the...my idea as a strategist and what I do with my company is we really focus on where the tribe's at and its structure, because economies are really tied to strong structures and institutionalized systems. They're really planned out and thought because there's a lot of money at stake in any type of venture -- business venture, enterprise development venture, acquiring businesses -- and so government is usually a reactive type of system, most bureaucracies are reactive in nature because they're political and business is more proactive in nature because it's usually driven by goals and end-production processes. You want to reach a certain budget, you want to reach a certain level of profit, you want to reach a certain level of job creation. And so with that said, there's more planning that takes place at the front end.

So from a tribal perspective and looking at tribes as nations, as sovereigns with the ability to create whatever they'd like, economic development to me takes on a number of scenarios. One is developing a strong government of laws, which include economic development, commercial laws, corporate laws, zoning laws, taxing laws, any other kind of law that can benefit the nation as a government. With that said, then you also have to have the legal system that can enforce those laws. A solid legal system is another key component to a strong economy. Another piece to that as well as that is the ability to create opportunities for individual members within the tribe to build business and so creating programming that will raise the initiative to have small business and entrepreneurship in the community. Those are other opportunities. And the government itself being proactive in supporting and promoting business within the community really takes on another level of public relations and commitment to helping to share information about the tribe and the tribe's capabilities and abilities, because many times when tribes are trying to develop an economy they want income and finances from other places to come in to generate more income locally. And so if you're looking for investors or partners or joint venture opportunities, it's very important for a tribe to recognize that they're going to be scrutinized by outsiders if they choose to take that path."

Ian Record:

"So really what you're...within this discussion of laws and institutions and structures and infrastructure, you're really describing essentially an environment-based approach to economic development and not just a venture-based approach to economic development, where you as a tribal council are trying to figure out, "˜Well, what business are we going to get into?' But really what you're saying is that tribal leaders need to be focusing on, "˜Let's create this environment for economic opportunity, whatever that opportunity might encompass.'"

Jamie Fullmer:

"You are exactly right with that point of view, because the environment is where the government has the most control, creating the laws, creating the systems, creating the policies that guide the direction. With that proper environment, the tribe or its members or private investors who come in to do business in the tribe have an opportunity to actually be successful because the environment is an environment of success. And so with that thoughtful planning at that -- in the environmental process -- it allows your economic development arm or your planning arm or whatever a tribe calls it, some call them 'authorities' and some call them 'enterprises' or 'boards,' it allows that arm to really do a good and effective job, because first of all they have something that they can go and promote and secondly, it challenges them to stay strategic in their thinking. If you have a specific zone where commerce can happen, you know the limits and the boundaries of where to do the commerce. It's just one example."

Ian Record:

"I also wanted to follow up on another point from what you were just talking about and that is you were describing this tumbling effect that you should be building towards in terms of how you structure your economy and you mentioned this point where the tribal government, for instance, or the nation raises revenues through gaming or whatever other enterprises it may have. It may, for instance, collect taxes on sales by citizen-owned businesses, whatever the form of revenue might be, comes in the tribal government, it funds that government, it pays the salaries to those tribal employees and then you mentioned those employees go out and buy goods and services. And this is where the research shows, this is where that tumbling effect tends to stop in so many nations because there aren't places on reservation to spend money on goods and services. Isn't that really one of the biggest challenges that Native nations face is creating those on-reservation outlets for consumer spending?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"There is that challenge, but I think in that challenge there's also a broader challenge that we many times in Indian Country all over America don't view the value of us buying from each other, doing business with one another, purchasing goods and services from tribal members or Indian-owned businesses, because that's part of a larger economy, the Indian Country economy. And I believe that when Indian Country comes to terms with adding that type of value and seeing the value in really committing to ourselves and our own success that we will have the ability to create a very powerful economy, sub-economy in the United States. But breaking that down to the individual level and the individual tribe, if the money that is made from whatever enterprise the tribe has only comes in and it goes directly out, it only benefits the tribe in that one sense. If that money were to come in, for example...an example that's challenging, but that some tribes have done would be a valuable one is a bank where people, where the money's made and then they store their money in the tribal bank. Well, now the tribe has access to use that money to do other kinds of investment and lending and create another revenue stream. A mall that has groceries and services that the community and the employees of the tribe would use is another way because you create...the money stays in the community, people spend it there, and you create more jobs with the same original money that was brought in, but it has now doubled its value. And so the ambition of a tribe should always be to see how they can vertically integrate the economy so that it will...there's an opportunity for it to stay there and it can be broken down in a number of arenas. Tribes buy all kinds of different products and goods and services. It would seem reasonable that they are able to create business opportunities for themselves as a tribal government owning enterprises or for membership and buying and selling those goods and services from individual Indian tribal members or other tribal enterprises or their own tribal enterprise."

Ian Record:

"You're working with the American Indian Business Network, which is an initiative of the National Indian Gaming Association on this issue of Native nations and Native citizens 'buying Native,' and really on a more macro level where you're talking about an Indian country-wide proposition, where it's not just Native nations and people buying internally within their own nation but actually buying from other nations. So I was wondering if you would talk a little bit about the motivation behind that project and how it's taking shape so far."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sure. I'm real proud of National Indian Gaming Association's commitment to developing the American Indian Business Network firstly because they are very close to a very powerful economic tool for Indian Country -- which is gaming -- and they see the value in tribes diversifying their economies. With that said, the American Indian Business Network was created by NIGA as a separate entity owned and operated by NIGA to develop a network whereby tribes could partner and do business with one another, that they could promote and establish a way to sell their own products and services of their tribal-owned businesses that they have and then also to look at partnering with other Indian businesses and also really for the small business owner or the entrepreneur that tribes would consider purchasing goods and services from those Indian-owned businesses. And with that said, with all of those levels of involvement and investment, we're really ultimately helping Indian Country, all of Indian Country by doing that because all along that chain, that food chain, Indian households and Native American families are being fed. And so we're really being more self-serving and self-sufficient, but not only that, we're also able to help the non-Indian economy because many of our employees are non-Indians, many of the businesses that we have are in partnership with non-Indians, there's a lot of non-Indian investment in Indian Country, and so the idea is not to exclude people or to make it exclusive, but to make it inclusive where Indian tribes, their enterprises, their buying power and their selling power gives a value to sharing resources across the country in one form or another, which could lead to a number of different opportunities. But just the concept is a very powerful one where we're not just looking, we're not just saying, "˜I want to take care of my tribe.' We're saying, "˜We want to take care of all tribes,' not by saying we're going to have to spend all of our money on other tribes, but by saying that we're willing to commit to buying Indian goods and services when they're at the same quality and level of the non-Indian goods and services."

Ian Record:

"So it sounds like a rather immense, untapped economic opportunity that will have kind of transcendent benefits not just for Native nations, but for the larger economy."

Jamie Fullmer:

"I believe so, yes."

Ian Record:

"I would like to talk about another topic, broach another topic that's rather sensitive in a lot of Native communities, particularly among those who have experienced this newfound wealth and prosperity through gaming, and that's the issue of per capita distributions of tribal revenues. Yavapai-Apache Nation has a per capita distribution policy where it distributes a certain portion of its revenues to individual citizens, I believe on an annual basis, is that right?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"Yeah, that's correct."

Ian Record:

"On an annual basis. And I was wondering if you could talk about how Yavapai-Apache Nation went about developing the policy, what it took into account when developing that policy, and how the policy and how the process of distribution actually takes place."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sure. The per capita distribution and obviously the tribe's process of distribution was created for the membership -- and I won't get into any details to that because it's not my place or my authority -- but the distribution process was established because the community itself, as shareholders of the casino enterprise, felt as though there should be some distributions of that wealth. And the leaders over time had made commitments to doing that. When I got into office, it was very apparent that that was one of the things that was a priority to the people to get done. And so I made it one of my top and I think it was my first major initiative to move forward in office. The idea behind it was is that if we viewed the tribal membership as owners or shareholders of a corporation or a major enterprise -- which they are -- we viewed it much like a stock program in a private corporation whereby every year when business enterprises do well they might give their shareholders a revenue, a dividend, where they're sharing the dividend and that's how we really viewed it, that there's a percentage taken from the casino revenues and distributed to members each year at the end of the year based on the profit. And so with that said, I think the challenges; there were a number of challenges.

The first one is that when we put it together, there's the challenge of going through the process with BIA, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs takes its time in approving these kind of things, and so that was a challenge. And then internally the debate was, "˜How do we treat the dollars with respect to the individuals? Do we just give it to the adult members, do we give it to all members, is there any parameters that we want to put around the money?' Because it's not a lot of money. The council members at the time said, "˜We'd like to get the program started and we'd like for it to be shared and provided to all members.' With that said, we had to create a minors' trust program and so in that trust, there's an accountability of the money that comes in each year and how it's preserved for the individuals until they turn 18, which is the age that we gave and those dollars are accounted for by a separate accounting system. And I think the protections that we put into place or the monies don't come in through the tribal government, they go directly from the casino to the per capita account and then the money is distributed from there. And so that is helpful, too, to protect the integrity of the separation because it was approved, it was agreed on in our revenue allocation plan with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and so we really stay steadfast to that. And at the time, when we rolled it out, I think the challenge was is the people I'm sure wished that it was more than what it was and then I think the next challenge is that as we moved along we learned more about it because we would say, we would just...when we started, we wanted to get it out. And then along the way over the years we would kind of adjust it as needed, but the first year, the first issue was, "˜What if you turn 18 in the middle of the year? Do you get the money at the end of the year or do you have to wait?' And so that was one challenge. And then the next...so we had to set some timeframes on. If you turn 18 by a certain time during the year you are eligible for the dollars at the end of the year. So that was one challenge.

And I think another challenge was in dealing with elderly issues, that it might affect their Social Security benefits, and so we did try and find ways to manage that as well. But because it's young -- I think it's only been in place around four years or so now, maybe five -- but it was, we knew that we would have to work out some kinks and I think when it will be an impactful decision making down the road will be for those very young people that were maybe not even born or born when we started it that they'll have 18 years worth of revenue saved for them and at that point they may want to start considering some...putting in some safeguards for the individual, some requirements for them to get their money and those kind of things. But I think all in all, there's a lot of different positions on whether per capita is good or whether it's not good. I think in our case, because we viewed it as a distribution based on a shareholding, we had a little different viewpoint on it. Our ambition wasn't to subsidize the individual's life, it was to share in the overall profit of the, in our case, the casino. And so my own self, I have my own mixed emotions about whether it's good or bad, because I'm more in line with that the funds could be better spent providing programming, but I also recognize that the whole idea of gaming was to create an opportunity for quality of life of members. And so as you know and as we all know, every little bit counts, especially these days with everything being so expensive. And so if we create job opportunities, we create education opportunities, we provide social programming, and we are able to give distributions to help enhance the quality of life, then it's a positive thing."

Ian Record:

"You touched on a couple of the issues that the Native Nations Institute -- which recently published a policy paper on per caps and what Native nations needs to be thinking about as they develop their policies -- you touched on a couple of these critical issues. One of which is, when you issue a per capita distribution -- for instance particularly one that may fluctuate based upon the performance of the businesses or the enterprises from which the revenue for those distributions is coming from -- you have to be careful about what that's going to do to the eligibility of certain of your citizens for programs that they rely very heavily upon like Social Security."

Jamie Fullmer:

"The other challenge to that is if you expect...if you receive this much the year before and you only receive this much the following year, nobody's really happy about that. So one of the challenges as well is just growth, population growth. If you have a set percentage that you give and even if you make more revenues, if you have more births or enrollments in the year, it's still going to decrease the total payout. And so sometimes people assume that we are making less money when in fact, we're making more money, but we're growing faster than the money's growing."

Ian Record:

"Yeah and that's...I believe Native Americans are the fastest-growing population in the United States. That's going to be a huge challenge for those nations that issue per capita distributions moving forward, is it not?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"I would think so, and I'm not real privy to any other distributions and values, but I would think that just that natural growth, something's got to give. If you've got a limited amount and you're growing here, well, something's got to give, whether it's programming or actual dollar distributions or both. It really depends on how well the tribe is planning for the future and that growth."

Ian Record:

"And it really gets back to this issue that we talked about earlier in our discussion about citizen education really, that you have to...because these issues like per capita distributions, these governing decisions that you have to make or at least lead in as elective leaders that you have to educate the citizens about what exactly all of this means. For instance, why is the per capita distribution amount down this year, or what does it mean when we're doing a performance based per cap or a profit based per cap based on a percentage of the revenue versus a flat amount every year?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"That is again another struggle area because not everybody understands money, especially in the context of being one piece of a percentage. And it's challenging for those that understand money and so it's even more challenging for those that don't, and I'm talking about the percentages and how the common person in their thinking, they think about themselves and, "˜Hey, my check's less than it was last year. We must be making less.' That's the common sense approach to things, but when you look at the bigger picture and you realize and recognize that, as you said, if it's performance based, if the performance isn't as good, it's going to go down. If the performance is as good and you've grown and your membership has outgrown the dollar amount, it's still going to go down and so there might be two reasons that it's going down, two very different reasons. One is maybe a not so good of a reason, the other one is a good reason. Having great performance and growing as a nation is what we hope to do. So again that leads into the whole idea of diversifying where tribes should be considering, how do they create other opportunities, not just for per capita, but if the tribe itself is growing and continuing to grow then all of the programming is going to be effected: the education programming, the health care programming, the social programming, how the governments are staffed, staffing issues, the space allocations, the building sizes. You can go on down the list all the way down to the size of the pipes for sewage and water and it's not a bad thing to grow, but it's an expensive thing to grow and I believe that's one of the challenges, getting back to the challenge of the finances, is the common citizen doesn't take that into account. And sometimes when you lay it out there and it is statistically done and drawn out, it's hard for people to really connect to how those statistics affect the future growth."

Ian Record:

"So it seems to be two things that jump out of what you're saying about trying to meet that challenge or fight that struggle is strategic thinking and planning first of all: anticipating what the demands are going to be on tribal governance and tribal administration moving forward with the rapidly growing population, the strains that's going to put on programs, services, infrastructure, etc. And then it's the issue of not just citizen education, but education in laymen's terms, that most every citizen can understand."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Financial education is a very important next step for Indian Country, well, the whole country, but when we focus on Indian Country, that's a great next step because tribes have gone from over the last several decades, many of them were very poor and there was a lot of poverty. There still is a lot of poverty. I don't want to take away from that, but for those tribes that have been able to climb out of poverty, now they have to learn how to protect their wealth. It's not just a matter of generating it, but how do we protect it once we've generated it because it is very easy to spend. They always say, the more money you make, the more money you spend. It's very easy to spend the money when it comes in because there are always needs and there are always wants that people believe are needs and so there's a never-ending demand for services and programming and opportunities for members. But at some level, the institution, the government, the Native nation government needs to look at how do we prepare for our future growth. So they have to do some trending, they have to investigate their current size, they have to investigate their future needs, whether it's land needs or water needs or space needs, they have to look at the need for civic buildings and growth in that area and then they need to look at what kind of enterprises do we need to do. A couple of things: bring in more revenue to the tribe itself and bring in more opportunity for the tribal members. And so that isn't just increasing per capita, it's increasing the quality of life per individual. And that's I believe most of our goals as leaders is our ambition is to create a quality of life for our people that is comparable to what's around us."

Ian Record:

"And ultimately, as a nation, it's really about promoting independence and self-sufficiency not just as the collective, but among individuals."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sure. I think there's a little bit of I guess it would be backlash at times when a tribe becomes wealthy, people get angry about that. And it's really challenging in America that's supposed to be a country that is proud that people can go from poverty to wealth and they promote it in every other major arena and every other major setting, but when Indian tribes become wealthy, there seems to be a backlash that we don't deserve to be as wealthy as the other individuals that have wealth. I think that's another challenge that we face is we're still viewed as...that we may still carry on some of this second-class citizen status when we're well beyond that in the 21st century."

Ian Record:

"I wanted to wrap up with...first of all, I want to get your response to a quote and this is a quote that we heard first from, we've heard it from several tribal leaders, but we heard it from one in particular, Chief Helen Ben from the Meadow Lake Tribal Council up in Saskatchewan, and this really gets it back to this issue of governing institutions and she said, "˜My job as a leader is to make myself dispensable.' And really what she was getting at is, "˜My job as a leader,' and she expounded upon this, "˜is to put our nation in a situation where we have that infrastructure,' that you've been talking about, 'that environment in place of rules and policies and codes where when I leave office not everything falls apart.' There's a sense of stability and continuity there. And I was wondering if you could address that issue with respect to your own nation and what's going on in that respect."

Jamie Fullmer:

"I think that my nation has been around for a long time, and there's been a lot of strong leaders and it's traditionally and culturally appropriate for us to have strong leaders. I think there's a balance between leadership and having a strong institution. Ultimately, I believe you need both because you can have a great institution, but if there isn't leadership steering it and keeping it moving and accepting the challenges that come up, then it can also stagnate. So I don't think that leadership is ever indispensable in my opinion. I think that leadership is a necessary part of everything that we do. With that said, a strong institution sure makes it a heck of a lot easier to be a strong leader and because you know what it is that you're wanting to accomplish and you know how to put to work the institution so that it can bring about the changes that the people want and need. And I think finally -- in my own nation as I said -- my ambition as the chairman was just to be a part of the growth, the ongoing growth, and I've never seen myself as anything more than that, never wanted to be more than that. That if I could say in my life that I contributed to my nation's growth in some way, then I feel like I have done my responsibility, and that holds true throughout my life. I feel like I can offer those same kinds of contributions to Indian Country as a whole and that's why I do what I do as the owner of Blue Stone Strategy Group. But back to the whole point of, I do believe that you have to have leadership, but I also believe that if you have a capable institution that you can plug folks into leadership roles, and as long as they have the necessary skills and ambition that there can be successes."

Ian Record:

"So in a nutshell what you're saying is that good governing institutions essentially empower the leaders to be effective."

Jamie Fullmer:

"I believe so. And there are those magnanimous figures out there that can, they don't need all of that around them to make it tick, but most of the people that sure does empower them to make wise and thoughtful decisions as opposed to reactive and crisis-oriented decisions."

Ian Record:

"Well, Jamie, we really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to be with us. I've certainly learned a lot and I think Native nations and leaders across Indian Country will learn a lot from your thoughts and perspectives on not only what your own nation has been doing, but what's going on in Indian Country. We'd like to thank Jamie Fullmer for joining us today on this episode of Leading Native Nations, a program, a radio program of the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy at the University of Arizona. To learn more about Leading Native Nations, please visit our website: nni.arizona.edu. Thank you for joining us." 

NNI Indigenous Leadership Fellow: Jamie Fullmer (Part 1)

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Jamie Fullmer, former chairman of the Yavapai-Apache Nation, discusses the importance of the development of capable governing institutions to Native nations' exercise of sovereignty, and provides an overview of the steps that he and his leadership colleagues took to develop those institutions during his tenure in office. He also stresses the need for Native nations to fully and specifically define -- and distinguish between -- the roles and responsibilities of elected officials and tribal administrators.

Ian Record:

"Welcome to another episode of Leading Native Nations, a radio program of the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy at the University of Arizona. I'm your host, Ian Record. On today's episode of Leading Native Nations, we're lucky enough to have with us former chairman of the Yavapai-Apache Nation, Jamie Fullmer, who since he concluded his second term in office is now serving as Chairman and CEO of the Blue Stone Strategy Group, a company that works with a variety of Native nations on diversifying their economies. Jamie, I'd just like to open with giving you the opportunity to introduce yourself."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Thank you, I appreciate that. My name again is Jamie Fullmer. I'm the Chairman and CEO of Blue Stone Strategy Group and we work with tribes doing economic development and growth strategies. As was mentioned, I'm also the former Chairman of Yavapai-Apache Nation located in Camp Verde, Arizona, and very proud to have served my nation and have completed my terms in office with the term limit in our constitution. And since then I've founded and am the chairman and CEO of Blue Stone Strategy Group."

Ian Record:

"So Jamie, I'd like to start off with just a very basic question, but a very critical question for Native nations across the United States, Canada and beyond and that is, what is governance for Native nations in the 21st century? What does it entail?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"That's a very good question. It's the question that we as tribal leaders ask, and in the modern sense I believe the ideal of governance has grown for tribal nations. The reality of governance as a tribal chairman or tribal president or governor is that you not only have to take the responsibility of being the head man of the community or head person of the community, you also have to take the responsibility of really running an intricate government with all of the nuances of any other municipality or state or federal government system. With that said, governance is really exhibiting the responsibilities of that nation, expressing the sovereignty of the nation and also finding ways to meet the challenges of the community itself."

Ian Record:

"The work of the Native Nations Institute and the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, its sister organization, has really revealed what tribes are facing these days, what Native nations are facing these days and really the governance challenge is a complicated one. As you say, it's a complex one that involves various entities that transcend reservation borders and among other things -- as the research has shown -- that it's not really about just reclaiming your rights, but what you do with those rights once you have them. It has less to do with what rights you claim than with what kind of nation or community you want to be, really enforcing that or creating that strategic vision of where you want to go as a nation. For instance, it has less to do with other governments than with your own, the sense that it's up to us to shape our future, it's not up to the federal government. We can't wait for them anymore. And then finally, it really has no endpoint. The rights that are lost or won are fought for or defended when challenged, that challenge never stops; the governance never stops. It is a constant task. So those are some of the key findings of the Native Nations Institute and the Harvard Project, and I was wondering if you could speak to that in your own experiences with that challenge at the Yavapai-Apache Nation."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sure. The transition from the private life of a citizen of the community to the public life is a challenge in and of itself. Then the ideal of governance is learning, 'What does that mean?'

The tribe itself has been around from time eternity as we believe, and our ambition as [leaders] is to play a role in that continuance and that existence continuing on long after we're gone. With that said, governance and the challenges that are faced is based on what are the current challenges within the community itself, focusing attention on finding ways to help the people grow, to help the government stay stable, to help create economic and social resources, to maintain our future, and also to provide opportunity for our young people to be educated.

And so governance and the idea of what we claim versus what we express are important challenges because sovereignty is an unwritten rule; it's there. You express it by what you do to grow, and within that, though, what you claim is based on the structures that you develop. So in the modern sense, as a nation moves forward, the process and the ideal of sovereignty is, 'We are here, we express ourselves, we accept the challenge and responsibility of governing and seeing our own path forward.' With that said, we also have to interact with not only our community and our own issues and our own priorities and cultural concerns, we also have to face that as a dependent sovereign and in the United States we have some rules to abide by that aren't our own.

We have the United States federal government laws that govern the relationship in Indian Country that we have to address and deal with in our own communities. We also, being, a lot of times, neighbors with other regional municipalities not in Indian municipalities have to learn more about how to interact with the non-Indian communities so that we can protect our sovereignty through positive relationships and interaction and communication and dialogue. So the expression of our right of sovereignty is really one where we not only have to support what's been done in the past, what leaders have fought for and what our people have sacrificed in order for us to be sovereign in the 21st century, but we also have to recognize it's our responsibility to educate those around us.

And so really one of the roles of governance or expression of our own sovereignty is sharing with others what that means because in the mainstream systems not everyone really understands ever in their lifetime what a tribal nation or a Native tribe [is], what the relationship is with the federal government, the uniqueness. A lot of times we're placed in the same subset of a minority group, where in reality there's a constitutional relationship that predates all of us here and that relationship is bound in treaties and it's re-bound in the formation of individual constitutions that each tribe may have developed or within those trust and treaty relationships there may be a traditional government that's been formed and people have carried on the torch and forwarded down the road. And with that said though, because of that we look at the modern challenge of, of course, protecting our unique way of life, finding ways to create a safe and prosperous future for our community members and then also looking at, 'How do we continue to move forward with economic growth and expansion so that we can create a revenue base to maintain ever growing governments?'

And one of the challenges going back to my own leadership time, one of the challenges and key challenges I faced was that once you start offering services and you start offering programming, the demand for those programs and services never go away. And so you have to find ways to meet the increasing demands while at the same time manage and create a sense of accountability in how you spend the money. And so I would think that that challenge is universal for tribes and in my own tenure as chairman I saw that we would...we were growing. Our young people were growing, the population of our young people was beginning to outpace the adults -- the 18 and older population -- and that's a very positive thing, because we know that we're a nation that's growing, but with that said, the challenges and the responsibilities in the programming were changing. In other words, we would be...there were more requests for supportive programs around education and daycare and prenatal care and just a lot of other young familial issues, whereas there were still the ongoing demands and need for the elder care and providing job opportunities and resources for the adult population. And so governance is providing services that meet the needs of the people while at the same time the challenge is recognizing that there is a limited amount of resources, financial resources.

Most tribes don't have tax bases and so their resources, like my own tribe, were gained from...the primary revenue stream came from gaming, from our casino. And so with that said, a growing community, growing needs, growing programming, pretty set amount of revenue streams coming from the gaming facility. The other challenge then of governance is how do we develop economic development systems and how do we manage and create an accountability of our existing enterprises? Those two things I think are a critical path -- dealing with the realistic social issues and the ever-changing population needs and at the same time managing the expenses and finding new ways to create revenue streams. With that said, there's also an important process in there and that's the political process.

The political process in Indian Country is sometimes very complex, and a lot of times the challenges in that process are based on cultural values, they're based on priorities that have been not necessarily asked for but given to us because of federal laws and circumstances and financial limitations in circumstances, and so the political wrangling within our internal systems becomes one where we deal with trying to meet the social needs, trying to also address the governance needs, but also creating a new body of law that represents the modern time. And so many councils and leaders in this...as we move very strongly into the 21st century are facing a multitude of program differences, the challenges of a social...creating a childhood program is different than an elder program. The challenges of creating an economic base is different than managing the existing enterprises. They're still all responsibilities that lie within the role of governance.

There's another, I think, challenge and that is many tribal leaders when they come into office, they're expected to make change and they're expected to make change fairly quickly. That's maybe what ticket they ran on or what their constituents supported them on were new ideas or changing some of the old ways of thinking or making the system more accountable, and yet they're just one of more than likely a group of five or ten or sixty council delegates that might need to make the decisions. And so there's an important process in there where leaders...young leaders or fresh leaders, new leaders coming in need to take on the responsibility of learning their role as a legislator and learning their role as a community planner, but also limiting their...the natural tendency to move into trying to micromanage because that doesn't benefit the system in the long run and in fact there may be negative repercussions from that. You might lose good people, you might question areas that are really not based in fact, but are more caught into a rumor and so it's really important for tribal leaders to investigate, but to also recognize and define their role as a councilor or as a tribal leader. That is another challenge I think in the world of governance: it's making the laws and institutionalizing the laws, but also following those laws. And so that's another challenge, is that there's usually a separation between...within the government and understanding that separation and how it works is a critical path as well."

Ian Record:

"There's a couple quotes from fellow tribal leaders of yours that always stick with me and one of them is, "˜The best defense of sovereignty is to exercise it effectively.' And the second is, "˜Sovereignty is the act thereof -- no more, no less.' And really at the crux of those two quotes is this issue of building capable governing institutions, and I was wondering if you could talk just a little bit more about that."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sure. Building capable governing institutions involves a lot of hard work. It really involves several different levels of hard work. The first one is examining the existing institution. And a lot of times when you're thrown into a leadership role, you've gone out and spent your time campaigning on issues and priorities and then when you get in, especially for new leaders, there's not really an understanding of what body of laws or what body of institutionalized policies and programming are in place, and so there's really a critical path of understanding that needs to happen for, I believe, to have sensible governance. With that said, you're asked to do that with a team of other political leaders. And I use the word 'team' because for effective governance to really take place, it involves the entire team. That's not to say that everybody and every leader agrees on every issue, it's to say that if you've chosen a republic style of government or a democratic style of government, that once there's a vote and there's a confirmation of the vote or it's voted down, that everybody respects that. And so I think governance from that level is a critical path: the actual focus on the system and the act of sovereignty, the expression of sovereignty.

One of the critical portions of that is defining sovereignty. We've always heard sovereignty...in our Indian communities we've heard 'sovereignty' -- that word -- a lot and we've heard it in a lot of different scenarios. But there's also a legal terminology of sovereignty and there's also an expression of that sovereignty. And sovereignty is indeed the act thereof, but it is also understanding that it's important for us to redefine it as time allows us. There are things that we as Indian tribes and nations couldn't do 20 years ago that we can do now because people were willing to exercise and express the sovereignty and push the boundaries. And really those leaders and those tribes that took on those challenges, those spearheads, allowed the rest of us to be able to stretch our own boundaries. And so in a sense, sovereignty of a tribal nation is really being able to govern ourselves, to define what we consider to be wrong or right, to create laws to govern that, to find ways to protect and support our people and our way of life, and also create laws to protect that.

And then I think the idea of defending sovereignty is ongoing, because even as we move forward there's always attacks to our way of life, there's always attacks on the fact that we have the sovereignty in another sovereign nation and it's challenging for many people to understand that. They don't see how or why Indian tribes have that unique relationship and it's not for us to see how or why, it's for us to express it. And so moving forward, the idea of defending sovereignty is if we create quality set of laws to govern ourselves that people understand both internally and externally, that's one way, because sovereignty is really a legal expression.

Another way that we express our sovereignty is by pressing our boundaries of what we consider to be our rights as Native tribes and as Indian people in our...both in our reservation communities and in our ancestral homelands. There might be principle-based battles that we fight in the name of sovereignty. It's not on our existing trust land, but we have an ancestral connectivity; many of those battles are fought in the sacred realm, and we have to fight legal battles to protect our religious artifacts and our sacred land spaces or air spaces. And so those are ways to express sovereignty as well.

Finally, in closing on the idea of sovereignty is...sovereignty I believe is best expressed when we ask not what we can do, but why can't we do it. The question we can ask is, "˜Why can't we do it?' We're not asking, "˜Well, can we do that?' We're asking, "˜Why can't we do that?' Have others prove us wrong and not have to prove ourselves wrong first."

Ian Record:

"You've been quoted in the past as referring to your nation, when you took office, as "˜having the form of a jellyfish.' Do you recall that conversation?

Jamie Fullmer:

"I do."

Ian Record:

"Essentially, that your nation was like a jellyfish and that it needed to gain a backbone. And I think this really crystallizes what you've been talking about with this issue of building capable governing institutions. I wonder if you could talk a little bit more about what you meant by that and how your nation came to gain a backbone during your time in office."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sure. The idea...it was a...the way I could relate it to myself is our nation has been around forever. It has...it's full of life, it's real, it's there, but it's also caught up at the time with the waves and the currents of whatever was coming at us. And so from that point of view is that we were a reactive-based government and the idea of that is that we are very strong still to this day at reacting and handling and managing crisis, but the movement that I likened it to was going from a water creature that had to react to the flow and the ebb to this jellyfish type of flowing -- kind of being tossed and turned at times -- to a land animal that had a backbone. And the idea for me of a backbone is that structure, creating a formal structure that would help to stabilize our government while at the same time still allows us to be very fluid and withstand the things that go on. So in a sense, my explanation of that backbone had to do with formal structure, moving from a very informal system, which I think is important, and so I definitely don't want to downgrade that part of who we are, but the idea of a formal structure as a government protects our sovereignty in a number of ways, both internally it helps us to be more accountable to ourselves and externally it helps other people to understand that we're very real, that we do have it on paper, and that we do have a process for accomplishing the things that we want to accomplish. And I think the final piece to that is that the idea of that structure also allows us to move into the next stage of development as a nation, which was really looking toward the future and planning. If you have a solid structure, you can make plans to help move that structure. If you are more based on personality-driven systems, then when those personalities aren't there the structure doesn't move the same way. So I think that's a pretty clear way to express what I meant with that concept."

Ian Record:

"You stole my thunder with this next question and I really wanted to focus in on this issue of strategic planning, that when you gain that backbone as a governing system, you move...it helps you in a tremendous way in moving from this kind of reactive mode of governance where you're kind of constantly fighting fires and in crisis management mode to a kind of proactive thing where you can...you've got this basis from which to operate. Is that the experience you had at Yavapai-Apache Nation?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sure, and I definitely will not take credit in having any of those thoughts first and foremost. That thinking and that type of leadership had always gone on in my nation. I think what had happened at the time that I came into office is that we had gone from a major transition of a long period of extreme poverty to a decade of having, generating an initial wealth to grow. And so we had kind of like popcorn. I always...the way I express it, you have the corn on the pan and when it gets hot enough it just pops. It's no longer that small kernel of corn, it's a big piece of popcorn and I think that's...when you have that, it's really hard to manage that type of growth. So you move from 30 employees to 250 employees in a relatively short period of time. So the idea of creating the structure and the goal setting was really to help manage the ongoing, day-to-day efforts of the programming while at the same time giving us the opportunity as leaders to really take time to vision what we would like to see the future of our community. With that said, before I had gotten in office, there was an initial planning process that had taken place where the community had been involved and there had been a lot of time and effort taken to develop that, but it had gone...it didn't take hold and the plan itself was tabled. And so when I initially got into office, because I had taken part in the planning and in my role prior to being the chairman, I felt like it was a good document and it was a good foundation for us to really begin to hone in on what should be our main priorities as we look towards a long-term future. And so we moved from a long-term, 30-year visioning process to an annual and multi-year planning process with action plans and objectives to reach and a process to get there. And that included the financial goals to meet with that, so that while we were moving forward that we were also dealing with and looking at what were the financial costs of executing these plans? And so I think that for nations that are moving towards growth or have been in gaming for a while, the next natural movement or actually the next important movement is taking on the responsibility to do diversification planning and then also growth strategizing for both the long term so that the community can kind of get out on paper and on the table their priorities, and the short term so that leadership can work together to find common ground and then also common purpose in moving forward."

Ian Record:

"And also isn't it about to a certain degree the...when you have that strategic plan in place, when you've gone that community...when you've had that community dialogue about where you want to head as a nation, as a people, as a community it gives you a lens through which to make decisions?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sure it does."

Ian Record:

"So it provides, in a sense, provides you that context because what we've seen with a lot of nations is they experience this tremendous growth particularly in revenues through gaming or some sort of other enterprise and then they're making decisions with what to do with that revenue essentially in a vacuum because they haven't done that visioning process. I was wondering if you could speak to that a little bit.

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sure. There's a fine balance there in the community perspective as well. The challenge of the community perspective is a lot of people in their own worlds and in their own thinking, they don't take the time to look at the big picture, and yet that is the leader's responsibility is to take that time. So the individual might think in their minds, "˜Why can't we build a substance abuse clinic here,' which is a great question and it's a great challenge. The answer to that is, "˜We probably can, but it will cost this, it will take this much time, we will need to have these structures in place, these laws to govern it, these management objectives in place,' and so there's a whole list and cadre of questions and planning that needs to happen for that to take effect. The idea of that as a vision is an important thing because that can be done over time, the planning, setting aside the land, the building of the building, creating the processes for that to happen; this is one example. That can happen through a visioning process with the community. Breaking that down with the community is also very important because the community should understand that everything that you're doing takes time and it takes money and it takes resources -- human resources and sometimes physical resources and maybe land space resources. So there's opportunity cost to doing whatever you do. But involving the community at that front-line thinking process gives them the opportunity to hear the responses to some of these challenges that they raise and it also I think along the process allows them to either vent historical frustrations or create current challenges or make current requests based on what they see their own needs are and then as a group what the needs kind of come out as. There's an important balance that needs to be stricken there or that needs to be weighed out in that process, and that is that you can also turn those ongoing meetings into just dialogue, running dialogue. And so you might have meeting after meeting where you have nothing but dialogue and interaction and yet there's nothing that goes beyond that. At some point, the leader, the leaders in their seat of authority need to say, "˜We've heard enough. We've taken it all into consideration. We need to start moving forward with actually making some of this happen,' because you can actually get so much on your plate that you can't accomplish any large amount of it. I found very quickly in my term in office that I...when I initially ran for office, I had 10 goals to reach for on behalf of the tribe and I shared those goals as I was out in the community. When I got into office, I quickly found that I could not accomplish all 10 of those goals and I refined that to five goals. And I worked on those five goals my entire time in office."

Ian Record:

"And as you've pointed out before, those were goals and not promises."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Those were goals. The idea of promises is that as I said, you have to work with an entire team. It's a very big challenge as a council member, especially because you're only one vote in a group of nine or 19 or, as I said before, it could be larger, but you are a decision maker with a body of...a group of other people. As an executive branch head, you have the challenge of not only do you have to work with that team of legislators to try and get passage of budgeting and support for initiatives, but you also have to manage the government to make certain that you have the resources to reach those goals once you've set them. And so that's the...the kind of the separate challenge of the executive branch versus the legislative branch is that you have to interact with not only your team at the leadership level, but you have to interact with your team at the management level as well, and you have to find some way to get those broad, large, encompassing goals down into a management system that handles the day-to-day movement towards reaching those goals."

Ian Record:

"I want to backtrack just briefly because we've been essentially talking about, how do you manage growth, how do you ensure that growth moves your nation forward according to its own design. And the reality is that for so many nations across Indian Country because of gaming, because of other economic opportunities that they've capitalized upon, the growth that they've experienced -- particularly in the area of economic development -- has been astronomical over the past 15 to 20 years. And the challenge that a lot of them face is, "˜How do we ensure that we capitalize upon these revenues, that we move these revenues through our system into our community in a way that does in fact promote self sufficiency, promote independence not only of our people as individuals, but our people as a collective instead of simply promoting dependency, continued dependency.' I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about that, about that sort of challenge."

Jamie Fullmer:

"That challenge is I think the most difficult one that leaders face, because as a political leader you find out what the community's wants and needs are and you try and promote yourself to being able to help solve some of those issues. That might be the ticket that you run on. And so when you get into office the people might say, "˜Well, we would like to have more cash distributions. We'd like to see more funding in certain areas,' and yet those areas might not be -- when you look at the system institutionally -- they might not strengthen the role of the government or the role of the family. I think the challenge that I faced is...I have a background in social work, I have a Master's in social work. And as a social worker, part of that field was community development and in the ideal of community development you want families to come together and work together to grow and to face challenges together. What happens, and what I've seen happen, is that a tribal government wanting to share the wealth, so to speak, that has been created from gaming and other resources creates programs that take the place of family. And the challenge in that is, yes, it's warranted and the people want it, but where's the role of the family in the process?

And so, in a sense, the government is taking on the role of the family member, and at times that's a positive thing and at times, I believe, that's a negative thing and that's a balance that every leader when they get into office has to strike is, what is positive? Yes, it is positive that people have more cash in their pocket to do things, to pay bills, to go on vacations, to spend more time with family, but that also can be seen as a negative because some people might view that as their way of life now. "˜I don't need to take on some of the challenges and responsibilities of self-sufficiency because I can rely on the welfare system of the tribe.' And so I think that's an ongoing challenge and every tribe is unique in its characteristics. Some tribes are more independent natured and want their people to be independent, and others are more communal in their thinking and they want the people to be really spend time in communal settings, and others are work-minded and they want to create jobs and create a working class citizenry, and other tribes are culturally based and they want to spend a lot of their time protecting and sanctifying and expressing their cultural values through ceremony and through song and dance and through commitments in that way.

And so the balance of a leader is, 'Where do we lie in that spectrum? Where do we spend our time and energy as a government and where do we spend the people's money in that? Do we spend it on making the programs bigger, do we spend it on making the programs better, do we spend it on both of those things, do we spend it on developing future economies by investing the money, do we invest the money into passive investments with just a return to protect the wealth and to grow the wealth, do we take that wealth and use it diversify our economies?' These are the real challenges of maintaining the integrity of the tribe's monies through the fiduciary responsibility of leadership. And there's no one right answer and even the answers that you think are right might end up wrong because, for example, the economy itself, the greater economy affects us and now we see slumping areas of...in business across the board, whether it's in the mainstream or in Indian Country. And so those are challenges that we have to face, too, is we don't completely have the control over it that we'd like to, and we as leaders, we listen and we learn and then we have to act. And we may look back in time and say, "˜I would have done that differently if I would have had more information, knowledge,' but that's what life's about is learning from that kind of thing."

Ian Record:

"A lot of your thoughts so far have really focused on this issue of elected leaders needing to understand the big picture, to be in a position where they can take a step back, understand the spectrum -- as you mentioned -- of everything that the tribe has going for it in terms of assets and not just financial assets, but human assets, cultural assets, natural resources, etc., and understand that big picture better than anyone else and then conveying what the options are to the people so that they can then in turn decide on a course of action that the leaders can then implement. And that's really hard when you're down in the trenches every day fighting fires or perhaps micromanaging a program."

Jamie Fullmer:

"It is really hard. The challenge of leadership is exactly that -- it's a lot of times when leaders come in they feel as though they need to know it better. They don't necessarily need to know it better, but they need to take the time to know it and they also need to trust the experts that they have on board to help guide them through some processes. That's another challenge is we need to utilize the resources and at times we need to look outside of ourselves and bring in third-party, unbiased opinions so that we can hear it as an unbiased point of view as opposed to a political point of view or a community point of view. Looking at best practices, internally it's a challenge because each of us think that what we're doing is the best way to do it, and yet if we heard it from somebody outside of us who's looking at us from the outside in, they might have a completely different idea of what we're doing and how it might make better sense to do it differently to make it more efficient and effective.

So I think the challenge of leadership is we get that feeling that we need to know it better than everybody else. I don't believe that at this point in the game, and as I look back and reflect I think it was really relying on the people that we had in place to do their job and to make certain that I was communicating the desires and the priorities that leadership developed and then also that I was executing my role of governance and management of the tribal government and tribal enterprise oversight. And inclusion was really the best tool for success in some of the things that we were doing, inclusion of the tribal council members at the governance level, at the decision-making level, and then setting the boundary of, 'We've made the decision, we've agreed upon it, now it's my responsibility to execute it using our resources.' And if we don't have the resources, reaching out and bringing in resources that understand this and do know how to do it so that we can make certain that it gets done on behalf of the people.

So the people play a major role in that the people vote in who they think are going to help that process or change that process and that's where they have the ultimate control. Then, once the people are voted into leadership roles, they have a responsibility to take action and part of that responsibility is the challenge of defining the role that is both positive and respectful of the institution. And it is a lot funner to go in and micromanage a program than it is to develop a commercial code. It's more...you get more...it's more tangible results. You get to see people move and you get to see action happen, whereas creating a body of laws that's going to impact the entire future might take months and months and months of discussion and debate and it's all in legal terminology and it's long days and hours sitting reading and discussion and debating why that law is valuable."

Ian Record:

"And not only that, but the results of it may not be seen immediately."

Jamie Fullmer:

"The results may not be seen immediately because that body of law might not even get done until the next set of leaders come in and say, "˜Let's finish this off.' And so that's the challenge of leadership is long-thinking, creating and supporting growth, and enacting laws and governance structures that will protect the nation or tribe long down the road while at the same time facing the day-to-day challenges of the fire drills and the crises that come up and the community expectations and the social and cultural priorities, and doing that in a balanced approach that respects the people's view of you as a leader, but also respects the institutional rules that have been set up for you as a leader. That is the ongoing leadership challenge."

Ian Record:

"Yeah, and it's a difficult balance. We've heard this from a variety of tribal leaders from a variety of nations talk about the position you want to get yourself to, one of the major reasons that you go through this arduous -- as you've just described -- arduous process of building these capable governing institutions, building these laws, these codes, these policies is to get yourself to a point where you as a nation, you as a group of elected leaders are sending a different message to your people about what leadership does, what it cannot do, what you, for instance, as a councilor or as a chairman are able to do for them and what you're not able to do for them. So when you say 'No,' for instance, to a relative that comes to you with their hand out for a job or something like that, you can say, "˜I can't do this for you. We have a policy in place. It's not personal, but this law, this code, this resolution says that I can no longer act this way because it's against the best interests of the nation as a whole.'"

Jamie Fullmer:

"That's a challenge in itself because it's a lot easier said than done. It can be written on paper and you can say, "˜That's the best practice,' but when the family, the individual, the group is in your office, you have to make a decision then and there. And I think that's another challenge of leadership, because leaders themselves as politicians have been voted in to make some decisions that they maybe have made promises on. And so it's just like everything else: if you give your word on something, you want to be of your word. So that is the challenge and it's an ongoing challenge, it isn't going to go away, it doesn't just happen in Indian Country, it happens in every political seat in every...at every level of government in every country in the world. And so that, I think, is unique...the unique status of it in Indian Country is most of the larger municipalities and state and federal governments, you've got a lot of buffers to go through to get to the decision-maker. In Indian Country you only have...the only buffer is usually the door, and usually the door's open and they walk in. And so that I think is a critical path that -- once you institutionalize policy -- that you also are able to follow through with that policy in a respectful way. And sometimes you need to make a crisis-call decision that goes against the policy, but that should be the exception not the rule, and it shouldn't be based on just the ideal of nepotism or the familial relationship, it should be on the merits of the problem.

There might be a crisis where...I'll give an example where something that came into my office, I'm sure it came into a lot of them. An elderly couple, tribal member -- they have no money for gas. They need to travel to a ceremony. They come to the tribe for that and you think about it and you're like, initially you think, "˜Well, why aren't you going to your family'. Well, you know that their family has no resources either. And then you're saying, "˜Well, part of our responsibility as a government is to respect...we've been promoting cultural advancement and protection of culture.' Here's a perfect example of that. So the recommendation to them might be, is that something that you can give from the cultural program since that's a cultural, I can see that as a cultural thing. If you can get the support of that director, I don't have a problem approving it, that...kind of saying that you don't have a problem, because in our particular system you had to have a director's approval and then the chairman would sign off on it. So in that kind of scenario...and it can go across the board to a child, a mother without resources. They've just moved back home, they've been away, they have no place to stay, they'd stay at the parents, but the parents already have another of their siblings and families living there. You can go from one end of the spectrum and every scenario and the challenge, and I think the reason that you become a leader is to make that decision. But those are the exceptions, those are not the rule. The rule is, "˜Well, we've got a policy for that. Here, I can help you. Let me call the director and have them come in and meet with you and then they can take you down to the right office that you need to be at.'"

Ian Record:

"A lot of what you've shared about the tremendous growth at Yavapai-Apache Nation has really culminated in changes in the community for the better, essentially translating the resources that have been generated, the financial resources generated through gaming, your other initiatives, your economic initiatives, and translating that into real-life quality of life changes at the community level. And I was wondering if you could talk about how Yavapai-Apache Nation has approached using economic development as a tool to better the quality of life for your citizens."

Jamie Fullmer:

"I think economic development is one of the critical responsibilities or arenas within the ideal governance, that as tribes grow and as tribes have the opportunity and the responsibility to develop economies that economic development within the tribe itself is one of those processes that really needs to take a priority within the tribal mindset. The end results of that are obvious on a number of levels. The first one is that when a tribe takes time to build the economic avenues within the community that creates job opportunities. And so you have opportunities for the people to take...to get work, to create their own lifestyle based on their commitments to working. And that's an immediate opportunity, but then as well once a tribe is also able to start to create a strong management of its financial resources and begin to diversify and to invest those dollars, it creates opportunities for tribes to grow and protect wealth. Now that's not say that everything that you invest in is going to be successful, and in our nation we had successes and we had failures, but I think the one thing that our nation and many other nations have been able to do is learn from those mistakes and find ways to make better systems the next time we do it. I think the key there for leadership is being willing to have the courage to try again if you fail. In every tribe, in every particular avenue there's been a failure in something.

For our particular nation, we've been fortunate in that most of what we've done in the last decade has been...we've at least had the opportunity to create jobs locally, create revenue streams to diversify from gaming and then also begin to, 10 years into this and right now we're at 13 years into it, out of the beginning of gaming, begin to diversify and to build other opportunities and other businesses. With that said, the revenue streams can also help the tribe to stabilize the infrastructure. Once an infrastructure's put in -- I'm talking about your basic piping and utilities and water systems and waste systems -- now you have an opportunity to build upon that. Once you have infrastructure in any area, you have the opportunity to begin looking at can we create a commercial corridor here? Is there opportunity to build an outlet or retail mall? What can we add value to our own...to our gaming enterprise by building? What kinds of things can we create for the membership so that they can build their own businesses? And so there's a lot of positive results that come from economic development.

The challenge is obviously always the same as the rest of the governance responsibility; what do you do today and what do you try and establish for tomorrow and how do you strike the balance between the current demands and hopes of the community with regards to developing and what do you have to really plan well for because it involves a lot of moving parts? Economic development is very challenging because you have to reach out and do a lot of planning and the planning takes a long time and people grow impatient with that. And then when you begin to build larger types of businesses or even buildings, those take years to build and so that's just the initial stage. Once you actually do the development locally, you have to look at, 'What challenges are there within the framework of the laws and the lack of laws and what kind of policies and protections are in place for a business?' So I think those are some of the challenges of economic development.

I think the other arena of economic development is trying to create revenue streams coming into the reservation community. What kinds of things can we do to not only generate wealth, but keep the wealth locally? Examples would be grocery stores and shopping stores which the tribal members themselves can use and maybe they've earned money by their job for the tribe, the government or one of the tribal enterprises, and now they spend that money in the community, which creates more jobs. And so that compounding effect is something that I believe tribal leaders need to understand from an economic point of view, that's not to say that everybody needs to be an economist, but it's to say that what's going to add value to protect the wealth that we've established, to generate more opportunities, to diversify so that we're not relying so heavily on one revenue stream. And in many nations, my own nation included, gaming is the primary revenue stream. And everybody that I've talked to in the back of their mind has the idea that we believe that gaming can't last forever. What can we do to begin taking some of the pressure off of the gaming as the main and only revenue stream? A lot of tribes these days are looking at not just building locally, but buying and acquiring businesses off reservation to start to bring that revenue stream from a different place into the reservation community and on the tribal nation's lands. And so those are very important processes for tribes to learn more about and actually very, very carefully plan and develop execution or strategic plans to actually make those things happen."

Ian Record:

"You mentioned, you touched on the importance of tribal leaders in particular again taking a step back, looking at that big picture and seeing in building...systematically building an economy, one of the things we have to attend to is the need for us to create on-reservation outlets for spending, which as you mentioned not only creates jobs, but keeps those dollars circulating within the community so they don't automatically go off reservation to the nearest Walmart or something every time you have a payday. And one of the things that your nation did recently was I thought very interesting was the creation of discounts for tribal citizens, to encourage them to spend their dollars in on-reservation, nation-owned ventures, and I was wondering if you could explain a little bit about how you went about that process."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sure. A couple of things: because we're not an immensely wealthy tribe from gaming and gaming basically helps us to kind of run the government and take care of some of the social needs of the community and it doesn't take care of everything by any means, but one of our thoughts when I was in office was, "˜Is there a way that we can provide value to the tribal member and then also at the same time provide that same value to the tribal system?' And what we thought about was is that on our tribal membership cards we ended up putting on a magnetic strip on the back and so with that the member can use that and get a percentage reduction in fuel at the tribe's own convenience store or even the membership verification allows them to get a discount on the restaurants in our...that we own and even down to getting discount on the cement products and on some of the other enterprises that are owned by the tribe. With that said, the value is that for membership, that because you share in the value of ownership you should also be able to get some of that value back. And that's a challenging thing when you don't have enough resources to do everything for everyone, you can at least try and find ways to try and provide some sense of value to the membership."

Ian Record:

"Among the most successful nations -- Native nations across Indian Country that we've seen in terms of achieving not just their economic development goals, but their community development goals, their priorities as a nation -- among those nations you typically see or in many cases you see leaders who understand that they're not just decision makers, that their job when they come into office is not just to make decisions but then also educate their citizens about why they made the decisions they did, also engaging the citizens to make sure that they're making informed decisions that respects the community's position on a particular issue. I was wondering if you could talk about the importance of that and how perhaps you tried to implement that during your time in office."

Jamie Fullmer:

"It's definitely a principle that I believe in. I believe that the challenge for it is the amount of time that it takes to do it. As a leader -- as you pointed out -- you don't have just the responsibility of leading, but educating. And to educate the masses, it's a challenge at times, and at what level and how far in depth you go to do that is really another challenge. But while I was in office, one of the things that we instituted was a quarterly report where we would share the government's goals and objectives, the tribal leaders', the council members' goals and objectives, how we were doing with regards to creating a chart that showed our expenses of the government, talked a little bit about each of our enterprises and where we were at in the growth process with those. And the idea behind that was that at least we could share to the best of our knowledge what was going on and that information sharing would be helpful for the community so they felt they were informed. We would also hold community meetings and we'd go and present those reports. I'm proud of the new leadership that's in place now because they're still continuing on with even more assertive types of community presentations. I think they're doing it monthly, which is very good for the community and it helps them stay informed.

The challenge is always going to be that as you get enough initiatives going and moving forward that really there might be times when not a whole lot is going on because you're in a hurry up-and-wait mode and so you're not reporting anything different and then the people think that you're not doing anything. And that's some of the challenges, especially with community development and infrastructure development and when you're doing planning and law creation. A law isn't a law until it's on the books. It might take you eight to nine months, a year, a couple of years to create that law, but if it's not on the books, it isn't a law and so the people will say, "˜Well, we thought you were working on this law.' "˜We are.' "˜Well, it's taken you a year, why aren't you done?' Those are some of the challenges of what and how you share that information. But the process is still a very valuable process, because at some point you pass the torch and you hope that you've at least laid enough groundwork that if the leadership that takes over doesn't understand what's been done, at least your employees and your community understands where your community lies and maybe helps to create the expectations for the continued movement forward."

Ian Record:

"So following up on that, there's really...in building these capable governing institutions like Yavapai-Apache Nation's been doing for the past decade plus, perhaps even longer..."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Probably longer, yeah."

Ian Record:

"...There's a process of education that has to take place after those governing institutions are built, because essentially a lot of those laws, codes, rules are either filling voids in the current system of government or in the pre-existing system of government or they're overturning something that was pre-existing in that system of government and essentially, there's changing things on the books and then there's changing things in the political culture that's been long at play in the community. I was wondering if you could talk about that challenge."

Jamie Fullmer:

That again is another...you're really raising a lot of the important and difficult challenges. The institution itself has...for example, our nation has been in place since the IRA days, 1934-1936, in that period and was around before that. And so...but once the nation and the tribe had accepted and acknowledged the constitutional government and started to formulate law and create written law, there's a whole body of law that's maybe almost a century old. Some of that law is outdated; some of that law has never been utilized or worked itself into the framework, not because the tribe didn't want it to because they voted it in at some point, but because it got lost in the shuffle. I think that in this modern setting that it's important for tribes to maybe take a look at using technology as a tool to help gather information and store information. Moving from a paper system to saving information in data files that can be brought up so that during council meetings there can be a cross reference immediately to say, "˜Is there a law on the books that has to do with water rights that we've passed in the last decade and if there is, what is it?' and maybe be able to answer some questions that new lawmakers or lawmakers that have come into office recently don't have an understanding on. So I think the challenge of that institutional knowledge is that there's not a good firm grounding in communicating that institutional knowledge and sharing that institutional knowledge and transitioning that institutional knowledge forward as new leadership takes hold and takes steps to move into place. And so that challenge I think can be met by utilizing technology. Not all tribes are ready for that, but it is a tool that can be used to start storing, saving and creating collection systems that can categorize the laws so that it can be done more rapidly and in real time as opposed to, "˜We'll get back at that at our next meeting or next set of meetings or somewhere in the future.' So those issues can be addressed while they're hot, as opposed to waiting for them to go cold or transition into new leadership and it's been left out without being completed."

Ian Record:

"How important is transparency to the effective exercise of governance?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"I think transparency is a very important portion of it. And again, I always get to the idea of the piece of, how much do you share? And it's not a matter of withholding information, as much as when you give too much information it's overwhelms people. When you give the details of a process that's taken years to encompass, you've got years' worth of information to share. And so I think that in some respect, you have to look at, how much information do we share to make sense and how much information do we share to inform the community, while at the same time a lot of decisions are sensitive to the tribe itself and they don't want them open to everybody. So how do we share that in a way that is open and yet private from people that the tribe or the membership doesn't want to have included in the information chain? That's another challenge that tribes often face. And so what happens many times is bits of information gets shared in the spirit of transparency and that information can get twisted and it's just like when you go around the table and you tell one person a secret and it goes around the table and it comes back as an entirely different thing. That happens in every political system as well. And so it's important to have information, to be clear about it, to be concise about it, but also to make certain that you're protecting the tribe's interests."

Ian Record:

"And it's not just a question of how much you share or what you share, but also how you share it."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sure."

Ian Record:

"You mentioned community meetings and that sort of thing, what other ways does the Yavapai-Apache Nation ensure transparency in government in relation to the people?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"Well, I would think that...well, when I was in office and I'm certain that they're still working on and through this, not only the community meetings, but the chairman and vice chairman share in our tribal newspaper their issues and then in the council meetings themselves, they're all held and members can go and get that information, can request a copy of the transcripts of any of the general sessions. And I think that part of that is internalizing that mechanism. Another part of it is defining how often, how much, and what kind of information gets shared. I mean, there are a lot of, not speaking of my nation specifically, but there are a lot of opportunities now with technology to share basically everything...the tribe's history, I've seen a lot of tribes have really creative websites and a lot of information on those websites that really help people understand who they are. And I applaud those tribes because I think that's an important way to do it and it seems like these days that's something that people do. They go and Google© or search, look through search engines to try and find information so that they feel well prepared and are respecting...if they have a meeting with the tribe or want to reach to them. And a lot of tribes have members that are distant from the community but still want to stay involved at least in the information-sharing process."

Ian Record:

"So from what you're saying transparency and openness in government is not just important for a nation's citizens, but also those outsiders that the nation chooses to do business with or chooses to, for instance, enter into some sort of working relationship with?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sure it is, and that's where the struggle of tribes that are private and confidential happens with regards to...being confidential is not the same as living in a vacuum. There's still information that you have to share, especially when you have outside business relationships, especially when you're looking to partner or to find ways to find funding for projects, and so those kinds of things...as well as safeguarding your relationship in the region that you live in. That information might be shared in a way so people understand and know what you're doing so they themselves don't get concerned of, "˜What's going on over there, they're so secretive they must be doing something wrong.'"

Ian Record:

"And that sort of mentality prevails within the community too when you're not actively educating your citizens."

Jamie Fullmer:

"That's a human issue, that isn't...I don't think that's focused on one race or another. That is the human element. We always look to the idea that if people aren't sharing it there must be something wrong with it."

Ian Record:

"One of the most important governing institutions or perhaps policies that came about at Yavapai-Apache Nation recently and that is the development of a code of ethics. Maybe give us an overview of what exactly is included in your code of ethics, the process by which the nation adopted that code and how it's played out so far. For instance, how is it enforced? What's the reception of the community been to it? How has it come into play perhaps?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"The code of ethics was really developed because it's written in our constitution that the tribal council can create a code of ethics for the policing and how the tribal council conducts itself in leading the nation. And so back again in office, this has been a couple of years ago now, we worked on building a code of ethics that included a lot of things such as conflict-of-interest issues, the discussion of how a tribal council member conducts themselves when representing the nation, the idea of information sharing, raising issues of concern when they're brought to their attention if it's about or with regards to another council member. So really it was a means to try and protect the integrity of our nation's leadership and at the same time give us a way to be fair with one another and then also show the community that there was that fairness and equity and that we were doing tribal business in a legitimate fashion. And so the code of conduct was established as a means for the tribal council to identify areas that were concerning, that had been brought up by constituents from this date all the way back to whenever it was being brought up, that were considered concern areas that tribal council shouldn't be engaged in or should be concerned about or that other tribal council members should be made aware of if that was to happen.

And so by doing that, I think that again -- since I'm not there in the last six months -- I'm not quite certain how it's working for them now, but in that first year of putting it in place, we were able to deal with a lot of issues that had come up in the past where there weren't answers and we were able to deal with them in an upfront fashion using our code of ethics to determine, "˜Is there a violation of the code of ethics?' We would let our attorney general review it if it was a legal discrepancy or if it was a conflict-of-interest issue, we would let there be a review by the attorneys and separate it from us so that there was a third-party, unbiased point of view on it, and then we would follow through with that, the recommendations on that depending on the level of severity if there was one could lead up to removal from office, but it could be a suspension, it could be just a discussion and being made aware and clarifying. The code of ethics, I think in the long run, will really help maintain the integrity of the tribe. How it was viewed by the people, I think the people, the reason that we put it together I think was a response...in response to the people's request to have some way of assuring fair government."

Ian Record:

"And I assume part of that code of ethics covered the interference by elected officials in, for instance, program management."

Jamie Fullmer:

"That's correct. It prevented micromanagement. Council members weren't allowed within the code of ethics to go and address a director. They had to do it through the executive branch using the chain of command that has been approved by the council. The organizational chart in our system is approved by the council. So they had to actually utilize that organization chart and the chain of command in order to address the issue. It doesn't mean the issues don't get addressed, it means that there's a respect for laws that leaders have put into place and structures that leaders have voted in as acceptable structure to follow through with. There are...definitely one of the goals was to prevent ongoing micromanagement if there was any. The ethics code really helped to minimize that."

Ian Record:

"We see a lot from the top down the impact of micromanagement in terms of...for instance if an elected official micromanages nation-owned enterprises, particularly for instance if it's forestry or something like that, transforming the business from one built on profitability to one run as essentially an employment service."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sure."

Ian Record:

"We've seen that in a lot of places. I was wondering if you could talk about the impact of micromanagement by elected officials from the management end, from the program end, and what messages does that send to those people who are trying to manage the nation, who are trying to carry out those programs and those services when an elected official walks in and starts trying to run the show."

Jamie Fullmer:

"I believe that from that point of view that one of the protectors is not only the code of ethics, but the structure. Part of micromanagement comes when there's a lack of structure for people to really understand, what is your role and so they have...everybody has their own belief about what a certain director role should be doing and if there's no clear job description or policy of how that program or department runs, then it leads to, in a way, the micromanagement coming up because people are saying, "˜Well, I don't believe that's part of your authority or your responsibility,' and so that oftentimes leads to it. So one side of it is the management side, that there needs to be that structure to help everybody be on the same page. On the flip side of it, back when I was a director, the concern issues weren't so much...they didn't so much have to do with people coming in and making their complaints and making their requests as much as when a decision was made, if that decision was reversed or if a decision was made and that decision was trumped. That is very hard to run a solid program if your decisions aren't supported at the leadership level. So from a management position, if you don't have the structure in place from the management side, you're going to assume that you have certain authorities over your department and program based on your experience in running departments and programs or lack of experience in running departments and programs. So of course you develop a boundary that you think that works. What happens is you might overstep that boundary unknowingly or someone else sees that boundary as either being bigger or smaller. And so I think the challenge for management, when there is micromanagement from leadership is, should I even make the decision or why should I make the decision? If I make the decision, they'll just reverse it."

Ian Record:

"So they tend to sit back and cool their heels and not come up with innovative answers or solutions?"

Jamie Fullmer:

"I would think that's one of the challenges. I can't say that I did that. I would always move forward with the idea that I have a responsibility to run the programs as I see fit based on my ethics as a social worker, but with regards to that, if I made a decision where I told someone 'no' and they went around me and went up into leadership and that was reversed, there's not much I was going to say because that's the leader's prerogative. The challenge was is that if you're running a system and you're getting that from eight or nine different leaders that are saying, "˜Why did you do that?' "˜Well, because the other leader did that.' And so you get caught up as a manager in a political struggle or can get caught up in a political struggle and I don't believe that many managers at any level want to get caught up in that or they would have run to be political leaders themselves. When they're a manager, they just want to manage their program, do the best job they can and try and help serve the community at whatever capacity they can in their professional role."

Ian Record:

"Ultimately they want to do the job they were hired to do."

Jamie Fullmer:

"They want to do...most people that I've ever met in a professional role, they want to do the very best job they can. But without rules to do that job, there are people that make up their own rules and there are people that don't do anything. It just depends on the personality of the individual."

Ian Record:

"While we're on the topic of programs and services, the all-encompassing bureaucracy of the nation, you've stated to me before that one of the major challenges that you faced when you first came into office was kind of this unmanageable bureaucracy. And we see this across Indian Country, where a tribe's bureaucracy over the course of several decades is essentially, just this collection, this kind of assortment of programs; there's kind of this horizontal structure. We call it the 'silo effect,' where you have all these individual silos; a lot of these silos may actually duplicate services that the other one's doing. I was wondering if you could talk about what that looked like when you came into office and what you guys did about it."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Well, when I came into office we had a lot of program directors and a lot of programs. I know it was over 40, I think it was up there. The problem with that was exactly what you pointed out. There were silos. It was ineffectiveness and inefficiencies in some of those areas. And these are critical path areas: health care, human services, police and public safety, trying to find ways to provide better housing and community programming for the tribe. With that said, when I first got in office, I worked with our tribal council to try and refine the organizational chart and the tribal council was in agreement that it was too...spread out too wide and we looked at, 'Well, how do we make it more like a pyramid, like a true organizational structure?' And so we limited those program directors and brought our programming into five major programs and within the five major programs, we put all the other programs under those departments. And so now we had accountability, we had a chain of command and we had also a program where there could actually be built into it a set of policies and procedures and guidelines for how people do business. So we created the administration, the public safety, housing, economic development, and finance and everything fell under those five processes. And we did that to match our own system. They could have been...we could have called them different titles and different processes and we put some in other areas because there were better fits individual-wise not necessarily programming-wise. So we tried to make certain that we made those fits without completely disrupting the existing course of business. But it did take a little while to get used to and there was a challenge initially because people that were directors now became managers and they weren't necessarily happy about that. But in the best interest of the tribe and how business was done within the government, the bureaucracy of the government, it made things more sensible. We could call on one person and they could deal with their issue within their department as opposed to maybe there are four or five. Before, you'd have four or five people coming in to represent a case or an issue that was brought to the council. Now you had one person and it was their job to bring in who they saw fit to deal with the issue, but the council and the executive branch and the administration were only dealing with the director."

Ian Record:

"So it sounds like overall it helped to eliminate waste and make the operation of government more efficient."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Well, definitely that was our goal. Our goal was efficiency and accountability within the government. And I believe we did that. We were able to come under budget all the years in office."

Ian Record:

"And isn't it at some level about reclaiming your government because a lot of those silos...that silo effect is so often created by federal grants coming in from the outside and the sorts of requirements that they have and the structures that they mandate and that sort of thing."

Jamie Fullmer:

"And a lot of people don't recognize it, but in a way creating programming and utilizing everything under grants, you're really giving the authority to the granting party because most of those grants say, 'You have to do this, that and the other,' and when you sign the documents you've acknowledged that you're doing that. So yes, the answer to that is yes, you do get the authority back and one of the principles that we established there is that we don't create programs based on a grant. If a grant fits our programming, we'll go after it, but we're not going to create programs based on a grant. There's another key piece to this and I want to bring it up because it has to do with efficiency and that is that in our government we had a three-branch government. And so we had a court system that still, even though they were separate, they still had administrative responsibility to be efficient. And so we would still challenge them not on any of their court cases or anything like that because that was totally in the hands of the judges and the appeals court, but the way the system would run. They got a budget just like the rest of the government and they would have to tell us why they needed the funds that they needed and how they were working towards accountability and efficiency."

Ian Record:

"So you touched on it without actually saying the term, but in terms of this bureaucratic reorganization, this streamlining, this creation of accountability within that structure, this issue of kind of a wholesale shift away from the 'project mentality,' as it's sometimes referred to, to program management where a nation's programs, its bureaucracy is predicated on finding the next grant and if we have to create another program, let's do it and that's how that silo effect is created. So you were...it sounds to me like you were trying to get away from that, consciously."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Consciously, it was one of our goals is to reduce the amount of reliance on grant funding that didn't make sense or didn't meet our needs. And so we restructured our grant program to only reach out to grants that would fit in some requirements that we established. The other part to that I think as well is that when I left office we were working on...we had moved through stages of development within that and we were actually working on accountability-based budgeting, so the goals of the department would match the budget and so that there would be an accountability of you would know whether or not a department was doing well by their reporting and how it matched their initial goals that they wanted to achieve before the end of the year. I'm not certain if they're still moving in that direction, but that was the direction we were taking in 2007." 

Jamie Fullmer: Taking a Strategic Approach at Yavapai-Apache Nation

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Jamie Fullmer, former chairman of the Yavapai-Apache Nation, discusses how his nation developed a strategic approach to tackling its nation-building challenges during his time in office. He stresses the importance of Native nations and leaders conducting comprehensive of the state of their communities and people in order to engage in informed, effective decision making that yields positive, lasting results.

People
Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Fullmer, Jamie. "Taking a Strategic Approach at Yavapai-Apache Nation." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. April 12, 2007. Presentation.

"My name is Jamie Fullmer. I'm Chairman of Yavapai-Apache Nation. I'm President of Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona and this is my second term in office.

As the Chairman of Yavapai-Apache Nation, I understand what all of you as tribal leaders are going through. We go through some strange and unique times because we come in with dreams and goals and commitment to doing great things and then we get hit by the reality of what goes on in our communities.

I had been graced with the idea and the fortunateness of working with my tribe as the Health and Human Services Director and I got to see what was really going on. I know about the drug problems in our communities. I know about the young people having babies in our communities. I know about the hard fact that some of our people don't have education. I know about the reality of the difficulty of finding jobs. And I think one of those things that...all of these things really connected to me and it helped me as coming into the chairmanship that I needed to do some things that were very important, but I also needed to be realistic. And I think that's the one thing that I'm very grateful for today is that my experience in social work and working with people helped me to be realistic.

It doesn't mean that we can't have dreams and hopes. It means, though, that as tribal leaders and as people working for our tribal governments that you take an honest look at what's going on in the community. I heard one time a tribal leader that said something that hit me home because I didn't agree with it, but out of respect I listened. He said, ‘I like to think that we don't have any problems in our communities,' when I was the Director of Health and Human Services and I knew full well what the problems were in our community. But I think that the important part of what we're learning in these sessions and what we're learning through NNI is that we have to be reality-based and we also have to be based in understanding or learning to understand what is it that we have.

And I guess the challenge for us all is to take a look and do a survey. In my community, I do an annual survey on a couple of different areas. And before I get to that though, Manley [Begay] had represented the idea that when I got into office I knew that I needed some help. I knew that I needed some ideas. I knew that I needed expertise. I knew what we had internally and I knew we needed more, because sometimes the outside words of wisdom are listened to a little more clearly than the inside words. And I think we all face that in our own lives and in our leadership roles. So I reached out to the group down here, NNI, Native Nations Institute and I was pleasantly surprised and I'm very appreciative.

And we did...originally we had worked out a 30-year comprehensive plan. And when I got into leadership I thought that 30 years is a long time. In this pace of reality, 30 months is a long time. Things change so fast and so I asked that they come back and we did another work session where we narrowed our 30-year vision down into a three to five-year increment because I felt like that's manageable, that's something that all of us can feel. I can say, ‘We can accomplish this in 30 days, in 90 days, in one year and we can put actions behind the words.'

When I got into the office I got into a very...somebody was talking about a corner office. I have a corner office. But when I walked into that office there was a bookshelf and it was full of books and every one of those books was a master plan. And these were plans from 1975, 1985, 1992, 1994 and believe it or not I read through them all. But I understood why the leaders couldn't accomplish what was in those plans. Because they weren't realistic and they weren't...I heard the word earlier...they weren't culturally matching to our community.

So when I challenge people to do a survey of your community, I'm not only asking how many people do you have? I know in Yavapai Apache Nation we have 2,020 tribal members. We just enrolled a handful more and we're growing and we're proud of that. I know that half of them live in the community and half of them live off the community. I know that of that half that live off the community, a majority of them live in Phoenix. I know those things about our community based on our demographics. I know that we have a young people, that 1,000 of our people are 18 and under. I know that we have only 60 of our very important and critical resources, which is our elders over 60 years old. I know these things and because I know these things, we plan around that. How do we utilize our human resources? And I'm not talking about human resource...some of you are probably human resource for employees, but as a leader we need to look at what are our human resources in our community.

I'm very proud to say our people today, we have 240 tribal members in a college or higher education. I'm very proud of that. But then the next step of that is how do we get them to come back into our community? It was talked about earlier, brain drain. What is it that we can provide for our community that will give them a commitment level to want to come back? In my case in coming back it was more of a spiritual thing and I know that not everybody is driven by the spirit in their young lives but they become more driven by the spirit as they grow older. But how do we get people to connect to the important part of our culture, which is spirit. I think those are the challenges that every one of you as well as myself face in our leadership roles and in our management roles.

Because one of the things we heard earlier was colonialism. I've heard that a lot over...I guess I'm still young. Some people say I'm not a spring chicken anymore. This colonial ideal: how do we as traditional people living in traditional ways move forward with this colonial system? We adopt constitutions; that's not our way. We adopt European laws; that's not our way. And then we have to put inside of that the parts of our culture that maybe sometimes don't fit. So at times in our modern-day systems, we have pieces that don't naturally fit. What is it that leaders need to do to be able to mend that or create that weaving or that tapestry that will connect those pieces? Those are the questions that every one of you are asking or you wouldn't be here for the last two days. Those are the questions that we need answers to that we can pass along to our people.

Because I'm proud of my people, but my people challenge me. They challenge me all the time. And as a tribal leader, you may be thinking about a big decision, ‘We need to create policies for commerce and economy, we need to create laws that will govern the future of our people,' and still you'll have an elder come in and say, ‘My transmission's broken and you need to fix it.' And I'm going to tell you what, if you don't treat those two on equal grounds, you're not going to be in the seat very long as a leader because they are just as important to our people. Or when a young person dies in the community and yet you're considering and you're thinking, ‘I'm developing an economy for the future. I'm developing things for the future.' All of you as leaders know that in your heart you're crying about the young person who's died in the community and yet you have to be the one to stand strong so that your people can rely on your strength. I think those are the critical pieces that we face in the modern world as tribal leaders.

I'm fortunate to live in a time as we move into the 21st century, well into it now, as we move into it, we are in a time where we have the most...from the 20th century to now we have the most political freedom that we've ever had. Believe that or not. We're still oppressed, but we have the most freedom that we've ever had. And how do you exercise that? How do you exercise sovereignty in this world? Some people would argue, ‘Well, when you waive limited sovereign immunity you're giving up something.' But you know what, if you don't, if you don't acknowledge that you have something, how can you give it up? You have to acknowledge that you have something. That's what sovereignty is, in my humble opinion. There are challenges to that and I respect those challenges. Every community is different and every one of you have different priorities in your community. I respect that.

I think that one of the biggest pieces that I see now as we move into things is that as we're all here trying to figure out how to govern our societies, how to create economy, how to do important things for the people, and yet at the same time still be close to the heart, still be close to the earth, still be honest about the social problems, because we can have giant dreams but if people don't buy into the dreams, it doesn't go anywhere. I think that that's probably the biggest challenge for leaders, for those of you working for tribes. The leaders care deeply about their people. They wouldn't sacrifice their personal lives to lead if they didn't care deeply about their people. But yet your job as management is to understand their vision, learn from them, and use your skills to help move the system forward. These are the challenges that all of us face and I know that and I respect you for facing that.

As we...as I talk a little bit I'm going to go over just a few areas and then I know it's time for dessert so you'll be ready for some carrot cake or...Torry, did you cook dessert, too? We move forward and we have to look at the reality of it is that everything we do in this modern world that strengthens our government or strengthens our society is in some strange way connected to our financial resources. And this is a hard thing for us. We saw earlier the very powerful speaker, Professor [Robert] Williams. We heard about him and how the trade was governed differently, how the thoughts were governed differently. But I know very well in our community, and I pray about it -- I'm a prayerful man, I live in that world -- and the answer always comes back that if you have strong ties to culture, if you have strong ties to spirit, and you can learn to respect and understand finances, you will be successful and last a long time as people. Those things are critical. Even though I'm not a man that's tied to finances in my own thinking, I understand that you have to respect it in order to strengthen it. Just like with everything. You have to respect yourself to strengthen yourself. You have to respect your people to strengthen your community. Those things go together.

And so as I look at this, I think there's some important things and you're taking part in one of them and that is council training and learning how to teach one another to be a team. The one thing about council is that we are in...as leaders we're in oppositional seats at times because we have to fight one another to get where we're at. That's part of the politics. But when that's over and the battle's over and that's won and you've organized your group, it's in the best interest of the people to learn how to work as a team. That doesn't mean you shouldn't have your opinions, that doesn't mean you shouldn't debate, because I also believe that strong and powerful debate makes for strong and powerful decisions. So you should debate, you should argue, you should do all those things on behalf of your people but at some point you have to say, ‘This is where we need to stop the debate and move forward with action.' And so I think that's a critical link.

The other thing as a tribal leader and as the head of my executive branch -- many governments are defined differently -- but one of the things that I look at is the organizational structure. The organizational structure has to do a couple of things: it has to help you as leaders and managers govern your programming and it also has to help the people that work for our nation, that work for our community, understand and learn to respect our system and if the system is, what's the word they used to use in that political or flip-flop or wishy-washy, 'some way' is the word we use. If it's 'some way,' if it's not consistent, then you don't get good quality movement from your people, from your staff. And so I think one of the critical things that I've noticed in my government is make the policies, and this was brought up earlier, make the policies and stick to them.

I've taken a lot of criticism for that. ‘You're doing things the white way.' And I'm like, ‘Business isn't a white concept.' Business is a worldwide concept. Discipline is a very important concept to my people traditionally, very strict discipline. We live very disciplined lives, so if they say that's not an Apache concept, they're completely off the track 'cause we did live very disciplined lives. So if we can keep that as a cultural thing and say, ‘This isn't a white concept or a non-Indian concept, this is a concept that we embrace.' That's how the organizational structure should work.

The other thing I'd like to point out is that there needs to be...when you create your chain of command, it needs to be an honest chain of command, because again people will try to go around the structure and the structure is what creates the strength. If you're like a jellyfish...relatives from right off the coast here. If you're like a jellyfish, you go like this. You kind of float around, you don't have the backbone. For us that live on the ground, we need a backbone to move forward.

The other thing is, I think this is critical and I know it's been brought up a little bit, but you have to have your financial house in order. You have...you don't necessarily have to be an accountant or finance wizard or anything like that, but you better have people in those positions that you trust. You also better get...we focus on ours, we created an internal audit so that if our leaders have question or our people have question we can go audit ourselves and take a look at it and give a response to them. That way it's dealt with and if they don't believe that then they can wait until our annual audit comes up by the outside auditors. But I guess what I'm saying is that for this to work, in my opinion, this is only my opinion, but you have to have the financial house in order and you always have to keep your eye on the money. Not to say that you have to be so scrutinable that you forget everything else but know your financial position, know what needs to be in place. These are things that are challenges for us, because not a lot of us are financial wizards. I trust the people that work for me and if I don't, then I can't rely on them to do the things that the tribe wants us to do.

Finally, I think as we get ...am I okay on time? Is everybody okay, you want me to shut up and get down? Sit down, shut up and get out. Finding a balance in the priorities as leaders and as managers and I think...I'm going to talk a little bit for you tribal leaders because again, this is only coming from me and what I've seen, but I've been fortunate in my I guess middle-aged life now to see a little bit in Indian Country and I think that we're pretty consistent in that we've all faced the same struggles. No matter where I go I'm like, ‘Wow, that sounds just like home.' I'm like, ‘That is so strange that coast to coast we're so similar and yet we have so much difference,' and I respect the difference, but I also think that we have to appreciate the similarity in our worlds. We've seen the historical perspective. We've all faced oppression for hundreds of years. So right now when we have political freedom, when we have a way to express our sovereignty, we need to look at a couple of things as leaders. We need to look at and set priorities to our legal...we heard earlier, what codes do you have in place? What guides do you have in place? What policies and procedures do you have in place to govern, which in my mind is leadership, governing? Those are critical things to work on.

Right now in our community, we're definitely not where we need to be, but we're very aware of what we have gaps in and so we're working on it. It takes a long time to put in a judicial code because it impacts all of your kids, or excuse me, a juvenile code. It impacts all your kids. It takes a long time to put in a commercial code, because you're not only considering yourself, you've got to look, what's it going to look like 50 years down the road. These are big decisions and so leaders who take your time, I appreciate that, but at some point you have to get through the discussion and make it a law and live with it. I think that's the big part about the legal piece that comes into play because I know we can debate, we're good debaters. In the Yavapai-Apache Nation, we like to debate. But you can debate so long and then at some point you have to just draw the line and say, ‘This is where we need to stop and if the future leaders want to change it, they have that right but at least they have a baseline, at least they have ground to walk on.'

The other is the social issues. I always look at that. I'm very proud of our people who are getting educated. I'm very proud that we have been able to get resources through our gaming to begin to expand our economy, but there's still social problems. This crystal meth in our communities -- and I don't know how many of you are afflicted by this plague -- but it's terrible and I don't know the answer. We've made our laws stronger, we've increased our police force, we've increased our treatment services, we've done educational, and the only thing you can do is keep doing more so that you never give up on your people. And I guess that's the big thing about social programming is that you have to keep doing more and never give up on your people.

Cultural: this is one unique area for our tribe because we have the Yavapais and we have Dil zhę̨̨́é and we have Apaches in our community and each of them over time we've grown together and we call ourselves one nation 'cause we live together, but we have distinct differences in our historical culture. So how do we embrace that, what I'll call 'ancient history' with our more recent history in that we've been a nation together for 100 years? How do you make that bridge in a helpful way or a healing way and some of you may have those issues with traditional and non-traditional, people who live in the old way and practice our traditional value system and people who have adopted the Christian viewpoint or whatever other viewpoint out there. How can we embrace that and still be one people? It can be done, but it takes a mature...it takes mature leaders to teach people to be mature about how we can be separate but equal.

Economic, very proudly...we were one of the poorest tribes in America before we got our gaming. Gaming has changed us in that we have been able to begin to create economy, but you also have to look at your economy as what are you doing? We talked about that this morning. What are you serving, what purpose is it serving? So there needs to be some evaluation in that is our economy just to create money or should it create jobs or can we do both. Is it on reservation, off reservation, in Arizona, out of Arizona, in America, out of America? The world is our playground now so we may as well use that.

Sovereignty is an important thing. We're very proud at Yavapai Apache Nation because we appreciate partnering with other tribes and expressing our sovereignty through tribe-to-tribe relations. We've helped four other tribes build casinos and we have a partnership with an Alaskan Inupiat company for constructing buildings. And we've also...right now we're in a partnership...

And believe me, I'm not saying this as a bragging thing. I just think it's an important thing to express that I don't just say this before you and walk out of here...'I really pulled the wool over their faces,' but it's not that way. We do...we say it and we do it and we do it and we say it. We're proud of what we do...what we do, what we say we're going to do. That's cultural. I'm sure every one of you are that same way in your cultures, but some of these things are important because we've got to bridge a gap that was created between us as Indian people. This whole federal government got in the way and said, ‘You guys can't do anything on your own. We've got to be your big brother.' We seen earlier the river, the wampum belt with the river. That's how it has to be. It's not...we don't need a big brother. We need partners, we need relatives, we need friends, we need things that are going to go a long way together. We don't need a big brother anymore. We're all grown up. We never did need a big brother.

So I think those are important things, but we also have to respect that there's that mindset there. We have to be honest and I think that's the important thing is be realistic and that's a difficult one because I would like to...I'd be like that one that said, ‘I'd like to think that the federal government, the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] and IHS [Indian Health Service] and all those are out to help us.' I'd like to think that but my eyes that don't deceive me, they tell me the truth. So if that's the case and I hear them saying, ‘Oh, we're giving all the help that is humanly possible,' but my eyes see that we still struggle because there isn't that help. What can we do? How do we embrace it? And I think that's where we're at in the modern sense is we're in that place of questioning. We're in the place where we have to be careful about the challenges. Because as was brought up earlier, the swipe of a pen in 1875 we had a...Yavapai-Apache Nation in Camp Verde was 800 miles, was the original reservation, and with the swipe of a pen Ulysses S. Grant completely wiped it off the face of the earth. So it can be done with the swipe of a pen today and so we have to be careful about that but we have to be strong in our assertions.

We also have to be science-minded in a sense. We have to...brought up earlier, demographics. Understand your needs, understand your community, understand your natural resources and your cultural resources and how to protect the integrity of your society. I think that's a critical piece to it. What are the faux pas and the 'no nos' and the 'yes yes' and everything else? Feasibility and market studies; get your experts to analyze things. To me, I think it's worth paying the $30,000 to prevent a $5 million loss even though we can debate all day long to say, ‘Why do we need that feasibility study and why do we need to study this, we already know it's going to work.' But if it doesn't work, would your people be more angry at the $30,000 expense for the study or the $5 million loss because of a bad investment. I'll take the heat for $30,000. I'm not going to take the heat for $5 million. So that's important too as leaders and as managers: realize that you have a fiduciary responsibility of your people's financial dealings. I think that's an important part of this. Put yourself in the same boots because you're walking for your people when you're out there. You're walking and talking for your people.

Also I think...I brought this up just a touch, but I'll get into it a little bit about the political landscape. Right now in Indian Country, we're in a difficult political landscape around us. We've had some negative vibrations come to us. And so how do we as people need to be...how can we be public and create relations with our local communities around us so that it isn't so bad of a taste? You go to the east over there and they're all crazy right now. This, that and the other, we need to change all the laws against gaming and it's kind of mind boggling in a sense but then you have to go home and say, ‘How do we keep ourselves stable at home? How do we protect home?'

And then not only your external landscape, but your internal landscape. Are you in an oppositional system or do you guys fight a lot and is that your customs? That's fine, but can you get agreement on some things so that at least something comes out of it? All of us that have term limits have a limited time to get things done. And I think that's the important thing too as leaders of things. What kind of compromises can you make and what ones do you need to stand by? And I think that's an important thing, at least for me. There are things that I'm willing to compromise to make the bigger picture work. There are things that I won't because it's in my heart not to and I think as people we need to take personal integrity inventories to decide...I guess it's an internal code of ethics. What drives you and how...what drives your other fellow leaders and how can you work together?

And I think one of the discussions that was brought up, Joan [Timeche] you brought this up, and it's about the community readiness. One of the things that we really have to understand is what is our community ready for. My Indian name is [Apache language], which is 'Jumping Lizard,' because my people say I'm always jumping around. And I think that's the biggest thing that you have to look at is what is the community ready for? Because some things get exciting and then some things get scary and then some things feel overwhelming. I think that's one of the important facets to this and that's. What these sessions help with is taking little bites out. We're all going to hopefully eat this carrot cake when it comes but can we...some of us, like me, we'll put it all in and eat it and some of us got to take it one bite at a time. And I think that's an important thing that...I know that I've been...one of my challenges is being able to see and instead of asking, ‘Why aren't you ready?' asking, ‘What can I do to help you be ready?' And it's a simple question of change, but it's a hard one for someone who says, ‘Everybody should know why we should be able to build more, bigger, better, faster-moving machine.' But not everybody feels that way. Some people like to go slow. Some people like to think through things and I respect that.

Just in closing, I really appreciate the concepts that have been brought out because this is really what we need. We need to have leaders coming together because again today I hear all of these important questions coming out of you obviously important people and they're the same questions that I'm asking at home and I'm like, ‘Gosh, this is a good day and age because we're growing, we're doing important things,' but now we've got to have a change of thinking. We can't think about what is the world around us going to give us. We have to think about what in the world can we give ourselves and can we give that to others as well. And it's our time. I really believe that it's our time, that we can do good things with one another like's being done today by learning together. We can do good things with one another by teaching together. We can do good things with one another by creating fantastic, amazing businesses together and we can do a very important thing which is, as was brought up earlier, about teaching Americans, teaching the Indians how to be Americans. We can teach the rest of the world how we are and they can learn to respect us as we learn to respect ourselves. And so I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you all today. It's an honor and it's a privilege and thank you, [Apache language]."

Jamie Fullmer, Rebecca Miles and Darrin Old Coyote: Our Leadership Experiences, Challenges, and Advice

Producer
Archibald Bush Foundation and the Native Nations Institute
Year

Jamie Fullmer (former Chairman of the Yavapai-Apache Nation), Rebecca Miles (Executive Director and former Chairwoman of the Nez Perce Tribe) and Darrin Old Coyote (Chairman of the Crow Tribe) share what they wished they knew before they took office, the greatest leadership challenges they have faced, and their advice for newly elected and aspiring tribal leaders.

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

Resource Type
Citation

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

June Noronha:

"So we have a very, very, very prestigious group here. Two of them former Chairs, one a current Chair. So what we're going to do is when we invited them to come we asked them to respond to three questions and these are the questions. We said, ‘We want you to tell everybody what you wish you had known before you took office.' So they will all answer that question. Then we're going to ask them to say, ‘What was the most interesting or the toughest situation you found yourself in as tribal Chair.' And the third question is, ‘What advice do you have for new tribal council members.' So what I'm going to do is I'm going to take each question and have them respond to it as opposed to have you talk through all of it. Is that all right with everybody? So the first thing I'm going to ask is, ‘What do you wish you had known before you took office?' So I'm going to have Chairman Old Coyote first speak."

Darrin Old Coyote:

"Thank you, June. First off, thanks to the Bush Foundation and the Native Nations Institute for inviting me. The first question if I had known that it was going to be this tough I don't think I'd be chairman. No, just kidding.

One thing, the amount of work that goes into the hours you put in as the tribal chairman. You're on the clock 24 hours and that's one area because a lot of my...I used to like to sing, I used to like to run racehorses and now I can't even do both so my kids are doing that. But that's one of the toughest. One thing I've...when I took office, one of the areas that if I had known that are basically the life we had before now belongs to the Crow people. That's one area that's been king of hard for me but at the same time it's been rewarding because a lot of people have enjoyed some of the things we've done so far.

I was first elected in 2004, I was 31 at the time. The late Chairman Van was the one that asked me to join his team. I was teaching high school and they took me out of teaching high school and brought me over as the cultural director in 2000. And 2000 to 2004 I was the cultural director; one of the advisors to the chairman from 2002 to 2004 and then from there they more or less groomed me to be part of the government. And prior to all of this I was...in 1997 just two hours from here, Moorhead, Minnesota, I was going to school there and the best view of my home was from far way. I saw all the problems. When I was back home, I didn't know that our language was being lost, our culture was being lost. I didn't know that there was a problem with drugs and alcohol, there was...I didn't see all that until basically...it was day in, day out I saw the same things and I thought it was normal until I moved away from there and from Moorhead, Minnesota, I viewed back home and I saw the best view of home was from far away and I seen all the problems. I was lonesome, I couldn't speak Crow, I couldn't practice the traditions, the culture so from that it kind of made me...from then I understood what I was to do, to come back and preserve and perpetuate the Apsalooke way of life, the Crow way of life to start changing things in our community.

And one thing I took on just about four of us, we wanted to change the constitution because we saw all the infighting, the things that happen and for a long time. I've worked with Nation Building and one of the areas that we wanted to do was bring in Nation Building to teach the Crow people and a lot of them didn't want to, they didn't want to change things but we brought in...about four of us started in 2000 to try to change the constitution and we had to go to the elders and have them buy into the idea. They also saw the problems that this constitution created with the infighting and the turmoil and so from there we...they did...the majority ruled to change the constitution. So in 2001 we changed our constitution where there was more stability, more continuity and now we have a three branch government, whereas before the chairman was...he controlled the tribal courts, he controlled...and it was... Our old constitution, they had councils every three months and anybody 18 and over could be part of this council. They would literally walk through the line and the chairman would be standing there. If you were a director of some program or if you were a tribal employee, if you went against the agenda that the chairman set up, then you were basically thrown out of there and they'd go through the line right in front of the tribal chairman and that system was in place. And the first month when the decision was made they'd gather numbers for the next council and they would do away with whatever was proposed three months ago. And every three months things were changing and there was no progress, there was no continuity, there was no stability and so from then we changed the constitution. And if we were still in the old constitution I wouldn't be sitting here as chairman because today we have a system that gives us more continuity, more stability and even the people that are...things that were passed in 2001, they're still going and business has continued and we're starting to...it's a new constitution but there's...we're changing things and we're moving forward so that's...I'd like to share that before we go any further."

Rebecca Miles:

Well, it's certainly an honor to be here with all of you and congratulations if you are a newly elected leader. Jamie and I are recovering tribal leaders so we're here to relive it all. So it certainly is an honor to speak before all of you.

A couple of things that I think I wish I would have known prior to deciding to run is I wasn't prepared for the fighting, the infighting of our people. I was raised on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation my entire life. My parents...I don't know if they ever even voted in the tribal election. We never attended general council. My parents were not politically active. We led a very strict life growing up and my parents were alcohol, drug and alcohol free. And [I] grew up of course in very bad poverty but to me it was a very great life. And so I wasn't raised to talk to people that way.

And so the very first meeting that I had we had a person come in and just chew us all out. That's the...it's almost like you're walking through like a doorway and no matter where you know your heart is you become them now. You become the beast so to speak and you're part of the problem. Tribal council leaders are always scratching their own backs and they're doing favors for their family and friends. And every decision you ever make will be scrutinized by somebody; every single decision. And so I was young, I wasn't prepared for that. I was a young mom at the time and I was not necessarily prepared for that. A seminar like this is fantastic because...I wish we had something like that when I was first starting as a leader.

The other thing that I recognize that I wish I had known as well being a woman and being a young woman for a tribe that predominantly has male leadership, there are always a few women on council, but prepared for the way that women treated women and it was absolutely terrible. So I made it a really personal passion of my own. I serve on a national organization called Vision 20/20 that works to...will work to have equality for women by the year 2020. I was nominated by the governor, the former Governor Kulongoski of Oregon, the State of Oregon, and that organization really works not just for equality in pay for women but it really works on women who become leaders and how other women treat women. We study a lot, one of my idols, is Hillary Clinton and what has happened to her in her leadership. She's criticized for the way she looks, for whatever she's wearing or for her hair and that's very irrelevant to...but it's an entirely different standard to what male tribal leaders go through on tribal council. I was not prepared for that, I can tell you that.

And as a young woman I certainly...you certainly all of a sudden feel alone, you got elected by a lot of people, everybody's excited and I remember my family threw a big party for me and just right out of the gate, we all have family whether they drink or they're on drugs, every one of us have them. And I remember the very first...the Saturday night I was elected my family threw this big party. Well, of course I have some drunk cousins and uncles that came over and they wanted to congratulate and it was just a very good time. And it was at my mother's home. My mother doesn't drink and she's never allowed alcohol in her home and she made this really...it was a Mother's Day cake because Mother's Day was the next day. Well, it ended up being a celebration for me. Well, it turned out that I had this keg, not cake and it just...you're just not prepared for that. And so knowing that kind of going in give you the armor...you kind of have the armor that it's going to come and you don't know where it's going to come, but to not let that shake you from what's inside and why you chose to run and why you chose to be a leader for your tribe. Because very, very important decisions are yet to be made and there are very difficult things that are going to come your way and so you have to be strong. You can't let those things sway you because you have to be prepared for the real important things, the real battles. And I wish I had known that prior to."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Thank you. As Rebecca had pointed out, as a recovering...I think I'm in complete recovery now from tribal leadership. As the former chairman of Yavapai Apache Nation... by the way, [Apache Language] to you leaders here.

At home, when I first became chairman, it was definitely not on my list of what am I going to do. I went back home to work for the tribe and contribute to the community as the Health and Human Services Director. I have a master's degree in social work but I also have a bachelor's degree in business. And the idea behind that was that we needed some help in building an infrastructure for our social services. We had just built a brand new building, a health center building, and it was empty and so I had come home. I told the chairman at the time, I said, ‘I can get that running if you would like me to.' It wasn't a boastful thing, it's just I had a background. I did administration and had just come from running a major mental health intensive outpatient treatment center in Salt Lake City, Utah, where I'd gotten my master's degree. And so I went home to contribute back to my community. My family all lives there, my mom and my brothers and my aunts and uncles and so it was, for me it was wanting to be around family but also just to contribute back to the community. And honestly it was also because the tribe had paid for my education to get my master's degree and I felt like it was a give back.

And so that was my whole purpose for going home but lo and behold, fast forward from that position a few years into it, my grandfather who was the former chairman and he's passed away since but he was a great leader in our community. He had said, ‘I think we're going to get you in as chairman.' I said, ‘Well, it's a great honor and I don't know if I'm ready.' He said, ‘I think we're going to get you in as chairman.' ‘It's a great honor but I don't know if I'm ready.' He said, ‘I don't think you heard me. I think we're going to get you in as chairman.' So the elders had already met about it and had decided that I was going to be chairman. So lo and behold I was elected as chairman. What I did not know then, and like Rebecca, seeing the community, I saw a lot of the challenges in the community but wasn't real involved in the politics. Unless they called me into council, I didn't go up there. If you get called into council chambers, something good or something bad is going to happen and so you try to avoid that whole, as an employee try to avoid that process altogether. At least that was the way we did it at home.

So what I wish I would have known before I took office was, a lot has been mentioned already by the leaders at this table, but what I wish I would have known is not to personalize the politics of the day because it is just business. And it's so hard because it's the business of our life, it's the business of our sovereignty, it's the business of our future, it's the business of respecting the ancestors and the predecessors. But it is at the end of the day just business and if you carry it home, it will eat you up. And I say that with the idea that you as tribal leaders, either new or reinvigorated new into office that we always says 24/7, 24/7. I used to always hear the leaders at home say that, ‘I'm here for my people 24/7.' Within that 24/7 one of those people has to be you and so that balancing act of taking time for yourself to find a balance in your own life and lifestyle and respecting and protecting your family is an important part of that process.

With that said, the great Windell Chino, Apache leader, a legend in our world said, ‘You can tell a true Indian leader because they have bullets in the front and arrows in the back,' and I took that to heart because as Rebecca said, you go in and you don't really...you know you're going to get it from the outside world but you don't expect it that you're going to get it from the inside world and you definitely don't expect you're going to get it from your blood tied inside world but sometimes that's the worst battles. I remember one of my aunties had done a recall on me for...at least once, one of the recall tries, one of the recall attempts. And then later on after I'd gotten out of office a couple years ago she goes, ‘Well it made you stronger, didn't it?' I said, ‘Yeah, but I didn't need you to even make the effort in the first place.'

So I guess to that point is that another point that I wanted to make is that I think that it's so important to respect as leaders...I had my own vision and mission and direction from prayer and from commitment and felt like that was the right way and I was young at the time when I was elected. I was 30. And one of the things that I wish I would have known beforehand is to respect and listen and learn what other peoples' ideas of sovereignty was because I had my own image of what sovereignty was and what I was willing to stand for on behalf of the people, what I was willing to fight for. And I didn't at that time, as I look back historically, I didn't necessarily take the time to listen to what was the elder's perspective of sovereignty, what was the younger generation's perspective of sovereignty, what were my colleagues at the tables perspective of sovereignty because I knew what my image was in standing as a sovereign nation. And yet you have to thread those altogether as a leader.

So I think hindsight, seven years ago, six years ago, hindsight that I wish I would have known at the beginning was not to personalize it because I did personalize a lot of it and you know what happens when you personalize things, you're ready to fight. And sometimes those are fights you can't win. It was brought up earlier by the leader over there, she brought up the idea of how and when to be a diplomat. Learning that diplomacy comes from not personalizing it.

And then the other thing as a closing piece to that, which I wish I would have known was the other thing is the loudest voice is usually the smallest group. And so you had people that come and say, ‘My people want this and my people want that.' If I would have known at the beginning, cause everybody gets kind of riled up and stirred up and ‘We've got to do something right now. We have to act on this.' And it wasn't until my second term in office and I'd say, ‘Well, bring those people in. Let me hear from them. I'm their representative. Well, then why did they elect this body?' So the loudest voice is usually the smallest group. That's why they say the silent majority. Now when those people that I never saw before were coming into the office and were stirred up, then I knew something was wrong because that was the silent majority, the people that like Rebecca's family that didn't get involved in politics, that didn't have their faction or their personal or family interest to sway. And so when I saw those folks coming through the door I'd say, this wasn't until second term, ‘These are the majority. These are the...once they get stirred up, we have to deal with this right away. That means something is really wrong.' So just some...that's the closing piece I had is the loudest voice, at least in my community, was usually the smallest group and yet our council would be jumping and moving to try and create some kind of change because of what they heard."

June Noronha:

"So I think we'll... Thank you. So let's go to the second question. The second question is, ‘What was the most...maybe I'll say the toughest situation or the most interesting situation you found yourself in or you find yourself in as tribal chair?'"

Darrin Old Coyote:

"For myself the toughest situation I found myself in was a lot of times family...basically a lot of the toughest situations I had involved my immediate family or my extended, like my mom's family or my dad's family. I'll just give you an example. There was a federal program where one of my cousin's had the qualifications and he was kind of running...he was the assistant to the director and he'd been there years and then we did, because it was a federal program we did a drug test and my cousin he ran out the door when drug tests came around and he came and said, ‘You need to get rid of that policy, the drug policy.' And so that's one of the toughest situations is your own family will try to have you waive everything just so that they can benefit and you're in there for the whole tribe, not just your family or one individual. So that's one of the toughest situations. You have to be open minded, look at the whole picture and he was suspended for not doing the drug testing and then his sister and his family, they started saying, ‘We're going to get rid of you. Next election we're going to remove you,' and this is my own aunt doing that and my own cousins doing this. But in the long run people saw that I wanted accountability and I wanted things done right and so they, after awhile it kind of died down from there. But that's the toughest situation I've been in is our own immediate family.

And then another situation would be the most interesting. I don't know if you're all familiar with the Pentecostals. We have a lot of Pentecostals in our tribe and there was one, Speaker of the House, a few years back I was presenting the budget to the legislative branch because they're the ones that approve yes or no voting on budget so I brought in the budget. And I was standing, the Speaker of the House was behind me because the podium was...and he was saying, ‘The executive branch did this, did that.' He was starting to point fingers and he was going off and there was a whole bunch of people, a lot of the council, the whole membership, a lot of them were there and he was just pointing fingers, going off on how their belief, the Pentecostal belief they say, ‘If you don't do this, if you don't do that you're going to go to hell.' And he kept doing that to me and he was pointing down on me and he said, ‘If you don't do this, if you don't do that,' and finally at the end he said, ‘If you don't like me, you're not going to go to heaven.' That's what he said. But this guy was my clan father. In the Crow way we have our clan system, he was my clan father and whenever your clan father says something that...to...you can buy...whatever they said, you could buy that right. So I turned around and I gave him five bucks and I said, ‘I'm going to buy what you just said.' I said, ‘If you don't like me, you're not going to go to heaven.' So I turned this around on him after him putting me down and saying, ‘If you don't like me, you're not going to go to heaven.' I turned it around. Using our culture I turned it around and I said, ‘If you don't like me, you're not going to go to heaven,' and I pass the budget. So that's one thing.

There's different cultures, the culture, the religions, belief ways, there's different groups. Some want you to do...jump through hoops. They say, you don't like us because you don't go to this church or that church or you don't...maybe Native American church or Sundance. Different religions they tend to try to pinpoint that you're not a part of them and so they try to push you aside but if you're open minded, let them all be equal. That's the only way you're going to survive the next election basically. But that's what I used, using my culture I turned it around on him because he was using his religion to kind of put me down so I turned it around on him and I said, ‘If you don't like me, you're not going to go to heaven.' So that whole getting on his soapbox and putting down people, I wiped that all away and then passed the budget because everybody started laughing after awhile and then I told them the important parts of the budget. But that was one area that was interesting and I thought...I was in a tough situation basically, you have to think, ‘How am I going to turn this thing around?' And that's one situation that really helped me then because it took about a whole 15 minutes to get to his point and he just kept blasting and putting down the executive branch. We hear it all the time now but now every time I walk in he's nice to me because he's scared he might not go to heaven."

Rebecca Miles:

"Well, just moving on from those comments, when I got on council in '04, I didn't have any ambition or any idea of becoming any of the ranked leaders let alone the chair. It just had never crossed my mind and when I was elected in '04, one week later they had released terms to the Snake River Basin adjudication in principle meaning we were just getting ready to consider settling our water claims in the Snake Basin. That had started when I think I was about an eighth grader or ninth grader and I think we formally filed when I was a sophomore in high school. And I happened to...that's one of the things I wish I would have known before that that would be the biggest decision the tribe would face in its treaty time and it was a very tough time.

When I say toughest situation, when I got on council, you looked to even senior leaders...there's nine of us on the council, I was the only woman. You looked to see what's been going on and we had a couple members that served 20 years so they knew...they had to have known all about this. The people did not know about the settlement because it was ordered to be in executive session, any discussions because to protect all sovereigns. And the sovereigns were us, the State of Idaho and the United States.

So the very first meeting I remember thinking a week later, ‘I'll never vote for this. This will never happen as long as I'm a leader.' And as I began to...the thing that we did is we put all our non-Indian attorneys out in front of our people. And when you mentioned people coming out of the woodwork that are not your loud minority and you have your silent majority there screaming at you, that was a difficult time. My mother was even in the audience and she was so angry. And you could see this train wreck about to happen because one, we were talking about something very near and dear to us, our treaty rights, and we're having our non-Indian attorneys tell us how we're going to settle these claims and that didn't fly well. That's really when my education really came into really sitting down and figuring out a good orator, somebody who can explain something to somebody really well and so that meant I had to learn everything I could about this settlement.

So the next nine months the three sovereigns had to decide and all eyes were on...it was a very big deal and Crow was a few years after us but it was a very big deal. And we went on 18 hearings all over our reservation. And the thing that really surprised me is I was the freshman member, no experience whatsoever, and none of the leaders who had made decisions, there were several resolutions that got to this point, even led one meeting, not a single one, not ever got up and said, ‘This is why we did this, this is why we...this is where we're at.' Not a single one. And so I had to start from ground zero. We created a PowerPoint. I gave the presentations, never allowed our attorneys to have to be there. They're just staff, they're not going to vote on this. And they have been directed to do these things all these years so it certainly couldn't be passed off to them. And so after the nine months we took the settlement, very difficult, because it could have gone either way. Had we not taken the settlement we would have lost all our water claims. We would have been up against Idaho Supreme Court and then eventually a very volatile Supreme Court, United States Supreme Court. That was my very first year on council and I was ready to resign and I told my family, I said, ‘I've never quit at anything,' and I was ready to resign.

Well, two weeks later after I gave them that speech, we had our elections and our tribal chair did not get reelected and it just happened in literally like the snap of a finger. An all male council except for me elected me the first woman chair and I just think about it now because Jamie Pinkham's uncle Scotty was on council then and he sat back smiling when the vote was over. He said, ‘You just got elected by an all male council. People are focusing on the fact you're the first woman but...' And he said, ‘It wasn't because you're a woman. It had nothing to do... It was because of the work on such a critical, critical decision.' And that still hangs onto me and people say, ‘Well, you sold our water rights out,' and they don't even think of all the leaders over 20 years that built up to the decision. And I'm fine with that because I know that we protected our water claims. That was by far the toughest thing.

Nothing...I remember...a lot of leaders, brand new leaders come to me, come to my office and they'll be upset or they'll want advice and I always think, nothing can be tougher than when you're making a decision that will affect all your people. So anything outside of that, you can handle. And so it makes me to be a very good confidante for a lot of leaders that are just in your position, just brand new. And so that will never...I don't think and I hope...the kind of decisions tribes make for your people, you hope you don't have to make those decisions ever again and I hope our tribe will never have to face those. We're not like the United States where we can make always good decisions. It seems like we're always trying to protect resources that are diminishing and we're in competition with. The mention of the Missouri River, I thought that was very interesting. That's our fight too is constantly keep our seat at the table and we have a right here. They're not fun decisions to make but they have to be made so I just think that's by far, hands down the toughest thing. There'll never be a tougher thing ever."

Jamie Fullmer:

"I don't know if I can even talk that tough. That's tough. I'm just trying to think, I didn't have it that bad I guess. No, actually, the leaders have brought up some things that I think are important to this and that is, as I try and piece my thoughts together because I had some simple thing and I'm like, ‘Wow, I have to get a little bit more focused here.' But I think that the toughest or the biggest, I guess interesting and tough, because it did involve our community and the bigger community was we were trying to put lands into trust and it was during a time when no lands were being entrusted.

We have a housing shortage at home, which most tribes do and we had lands that we had purchased over the years that the two chairmen before me had tried to get it entrusted and could not or did not or it didn't go through. And so I decided again, if I would have known before hand how tough it was going to be to move through, I thought, ‘Well, it's clear as day that it passes all the scrutiny.' I had our lawyers come in and give me good advice, ‘You passed all the tests; adjacent, ancestral homelands, next to existing tribal trust lands.' And I thought, ‘Well, this is a no brainer. I just need to help push it through.' And that was in my first term in office. When I first came into office I took that on. I said, ‘I'll take this on as one of my top priorities.' And it wasn't until, just to fast forward, it took me all of my first term and all of my second term, so it took a total of six years to get those lands into trust, 2,000 acres on behalf of my people. And the challenges that...you recognize that we...at that point when I started, I thought, ‘Well, this is going to be an easy movement.' But that was complete ignorance going into there just thinking of the statesmanship that I would use and moving through the landscape but not recognizing our place as a sovereign and the neighbors around us and their impact on our decision making, whether it would go through or not. Because when I first went out to Washington, D.C., the senator there, John Kyl and John McCain and the House of Representatives, Rick Ramsey. At the time they said, ‘Well, what do your neighbors say about it?' And I'm like, ‘I didn't even think about the neighbors. I don't care what the neighbors said.' In my mind I was thinking that we're sovereign. And they said, ‘Well, that's the first thing that has to be dealt with is if your neighbors are in opposition to this lands into trust, do you think we as public officials that represent your neighbors can actually support this getting into trust?'

So I had to go back and clean slate my whole thinking of, ‘Oh, my gosh, we are part of a bigger neighborhood and we have to present ourselves, we have to share who we are.' We're private people. The Yavapai Apache Nation, just our culture is very private. We hold some things sacred that we don't share as I'm sure you all do as well and yet we had to open that door up to settle the concerns of the neighbors. Because of our private nature there's always that distrust of the history of our landscape there from both sides. It was...now it took on a whole new light and a whole new element of over the years. Year one, I'm going to reach out to all of the neighbors and my council getting mad at me, ‘You can't go out and talk to these neighbors. We've always been...they've always been our enemies, they've always been against us.' And I said, ‘Well, you know, these are people that are opposing our lands getting into trust.' After going through the records, it was the people in the towns around us and the towns themselves that were opposed to us getting our lands into trust and so the challenge with that is there was like seven, there's seven little towns around us. And so going and reaching out to all of these seven little towns, they're like, ‘Why are you here? You guys have never been interested in presenting to us.' The balance of respecting and protecting sovereignty and being a good neighbor and I know all of you deal with this because it's impossible not to in our Indian world today. But in order to move the ball forward, the diplomacy that was needed there was a whole new lesson for me and that was tough because I was more hard driven. I'm more like the bull in the china cabinet or whatever at that time. I was more, ‘We'll aggress our way forward.' And aggression was not the way to move forward. So taking guidance from the elders and respecting what they didn't want shared, taking guidance from our experts that we had hired to help us with the process and saying what needed to be shared, and then meeting with our leaders to find out what they'd be willing to support me standing for on behalf of our people because they had to report to their own constituents about what we were doing. As you know, as councilors, you represent a certain constituent group, either your family or clan or a district or a combination of those things.

So the toughest situation wasn't necessarily going up to Washington, D.C. to deal with the federal government because I knew the relationship there, it's clear as day, government-to-government. It's this way, in my mind. I wasn't going there asking permission. I was going there telling them what we as a sovereign wanted and needed and felt like that the United States was obligated to do. But at the local level, at the municipal level that's a whole different relationship. They don't...they had no idea about sovereignty and what it meant at that government to government relationship. They really just saw us as this kind of vacuumized neighborhood within the region that nobody had any interaction with. And so I think the toughest piece of that was opening the door enough to share and shed light on who we were as a society and as a people and trying to normalize the situation. I would go into these towns and say, ‘Look, we want the same things as you. We want our kids to be educated. We want our elders to be safe. We want to have healthcare for our people when it's needed. We want to be able to have homes to live in. So everything that you want as a people, we want. But there are some things that are different because we have a different relationship to the landscape here.' And then the doubters inside, ‘You can't get this done.' Maybe historic or political leaders that had tried before and hadn't done it and you're thinking that they would be aligned in wanting to get it done but seeing that maybe they didn't necessarily want to see it get done, by me anyway.

And I do want to say that it was a team effort. It was definitely getting our council to support that process which gave me the, I guess the courage to go and deal with those issues because it wasn't just me dealing with it, it was me on behalf of my people and my community doing it. If it was just me, I probably would have pulled the plug on dealing with it. But standing for the people takes on a whole new level of security and courage."

June Noronha:

"Before we go into the question and answer session, what we're going to do is we asked each of the chairs at the table to tell you what would be their advice to you. So what advice do they have for the new tribal council members? So we're going to do that and then we're going to open it up for questions and answers."

Darrin Old Coyote:

"My advice to new tribal council members is, there's always people coming and like there's a problem and they want you to solve their problem and one thing I've kind of used, I used an analogy and this could be suicide prevention, drug prevention, diabetes prevention, all the areas. They give you so much funding, federal funding, whether it be 638 or federal funding, you've got to think outside the box. One thing is, I'll just use an analogy here. Say they were going to give you some money for suicide or say there's a cliff there and kids were jumping off that cliff and you had funding available and the federal government wanted you to do basically an ambulance at the bottom to haul off people that are jumping off that cliff. Why can't we use that money to build a fence so that people don't jump off, that's prevention. And that's one area that I know a lot of people will say, ‘Let's build a dialysis center.' Why don't we build a wellness center? You've got to think prevention and everything you do, think prevention.

Another is build bridges whether it be local communities, the county or state and national. Build bridges, don't burn bridges and it helps you. Diplomacy goes a long way when you work with whatever happened historically that's been in the past, put it in the past, put it in history books. Build bridges, don't burn bridges. When you burn bridges, it doesn't go anywhere. You don't achieve anything. So I'd recommend that you build bridges with the county or the state.

And then another one is, I always used the vision of one of our last traditional Crow chiefs, Plenty Coups. He had a vision of forests and there was a storm that came and wiped out all the trees in this forest but there was only one tree still standing and there it was the home of the chickadee and the chickadee would learn what all these other birds were doing and he would learn from them, he would learn from all these birds and the things they did and what they did right and what they did wrong and he would use that. And at the end when that whole storm wiped out all these trees that...the home of the chickadee was still standing in his vision and so from that day forward he said, ‘Whatever we do, don't go against that storm.' And that storm is, whether it be the White people or the federal government and today that tree, the home of the chickadee, he says that's the home of the Crow because he learned from other tribes what they didn't do or did do and then he used that to survive. Basically it's about survival. But diplomacy is key and then unity, unifying your tribe.

One quote I always use is, ‘There's no other Crow tribe. You can't jump on a plane and go find another Crow tribe, we're it. We've got to do this right. If we don't do it, no one else is going to do it for us.' And we take on that challenge. It's up to us. We're elected, in here, it's up to us in here. We're the ones elected, we can't go and find anybody else to do it for us. It's up to us. Once you use that in every meeting, all the tribal leaders are...they look around. It's us. Well, you're elected to do a job and if you use that saying, ‘Our people are depending on us.' There's no other Crow tribe and there's no other whatever tribe you're from. If we don't do it, no one else can do it for us. And that's when you bring them in, part of the team and unifying them and going after whatever the task is. But unifying your council, that's one way to do it, and it's helped me for the last few years as vice secretary now as chairman. It's helped me kind of making them feel that they're part of the process in resolving the problems and I will say, ‘You can't jump on a plane and go find another Crow tribe.' There's no other tribe like us, there's no language...this language I'm speaking, there's no other language like it,' and I'm speaking Crow to all of them. ‘No other culture like this and let's tackle this.' Because a lot of times tribal leaders are looking for somebody to help them whether it be an attorney or whether it be another tribal leader, have him do it. But it's up to us. You're elected and it's up to you to make a difference and unifying your council would be key."

Rebecca Miles:

"Following that I have I think about three things just quickly as advice to all of you. One of the things I learned is to rely on your staff whether they're your attorneys or your experts in the field. Brian Gunn gave an excellent PowerPoint of what the United States leaders do and about their staff. They've been working in that field a long time and all of a sudden you recognize...it really becomes a team. I used to call...there used to be two Daves in my office; Dave Johnson who's still there, our Fisheries Manager, and Dave Cummings. And I lead a lot of fisheries issues, natural resource issues and we'd go to the White House administration two or three times a year and I'd say, ‘Okay, Dream Team, it's time to go.' I felt very honored to be with these guys who the respect was given to me but it was work that they had spent 20 years doing on behalf of your people. And so I called them my Dream Team because they really were...they really earned us a lot of respect. Your staff are really looking for that guidance and they really are, they're looking to serve you. And if they're not, if they're looking there to make you look bad then perhaps your policies need to be improved.

The second thing is relationships whether they're...and starting just with your other people on the council. A lot of times election will happen and you think a person's elected that may have been your archenemy or they have made your life hell while you were on council and a lot of times they can be your very best friend. It's issue by issue. You don't always agree on things but don't lock yourself in a box to have the reputation of not working with anybody. You really lose...you can really lose sight. And so one of the things...in high school even I always hated cliques. We just had our 20 year reunion and I was friends with everybody in our class and it felt really good seeing everybody again and there were the same clicks, locked in as grown women or men not talking. It was a small community and I just was really blessed to be able to not just follow one... One person wrote in my yearbook, ‘She was friends with everybody, the nerds, everybody, the sport...the guys, everybody.' And so that's how I carried my relationship in life. There were people that may have not liked me and they got on council and it just became, we're all here for one reason, for our people. And so it behooves you to work together and everything is relationships, whether you're amongst yourselves. If you're fighting, then your people are hurting, I promise you that. It's just like parents. If your parents aren't doing well, the kids are hurting and it's exactly the same way on tribal council. But relationships are everything, even in Congress. The staffers, even though they may seem like they just got out of high school, you really got to...they really are sophisticated in a lot of ways and that leads to my third piece of advice I have.

You know 40, 50, 60 years ago when our constitution was being formed and our government was being established as a formal government, tribal leaders really had to know a lot about very little and that was treaty rights, history, knowing that they have to educate people in Congress or in the administration about our place and to protect our sovereignty. And then today's tribal leader is really the exact opposite. Because Congress or the administration has more then quadrupled in 30, 40 years so has...and as tribes have developed. You now have to know a little about a lot of topics as opposed to what your leaders did 50 years ago and so it's a very different shift in the work you kind of do and that's where it goes back to staff; being a good study, being a good study of capturing the main points on a lot of issues. Brian Gunn hit the top issues across Indian Country but you as individual tribes now have your own top issues aside from what is facing Indian Country. And the reason why I say that and being concise is so correct because your leadership in Congress have already heard...they already know your treaty rights in a lot of ways. They have their staff do the research and everything. They want specifics, they want details. They don't want you to just go in and demand treaty rights. They want a specific ask and so that helps when as a tribal leader you study the issues. You don't have to be a professor. A lot of times your people think you have to go in being very smart and actually the best tribal leader is one who is going to sit and listen and not know a lot about things, somebody who's going to be open minded.

I just think those are things that are very valuable and make you actually a well rounded leader because you learn so much, there's just so much you learn, good and bad, on tribal council and you're in that place to make that decision. I really appreciated the PowerPoint because I wish I had that ahead of time because a lot of times people think you do need to be that expert in the field and maybe you were elected because you either teach the language or you know something, some trait. But when you come on council, I don't know about your council, but ours is we all vote equally on the same issue and so it just is very...a lot of times you're not the one leading the issue. Your counterpart is leading that issue. Not everybody can be in the healthcare field. And when you recognize that what your job is on council, some people get on council because just to be honest they want to maybe fire staff or they want to have retribution. They have an agenda. Not having an agenda is actually the best thing because there is so much work for you to do and if you actually just went into one policy arena which I found myself accidentally leading natural resources, which is another story in itself. The men automatically pushed me towards health, being on the health board and that's all great but my life prepared me and I didn't realize it for natural resources and to lead natural resources. If you just take salmon recovery, there is more than enough work for one tribal leader to do. And so if you're spending your time focusing on negative things or things that are not the council's role, then you're not doing your job because the amount of work Indian Country has to do in any one policy arena is just...the levels of bureaucracy and red tape you've got to get through is just tremendous and that's your job. So there's a lot of work to be done so focus on those things. Thank you."

Jamie Fullmer:

"A couple of points. The first one is the one does not outweigh the all in the tribal system. The one individual...hiring the one individual that is incapable to do the job does not outweigh all of the individuals that that individual can impact in their particular role. You hire a director that is incapable to do their job, then they affect everybody who's in that system. Education is a perfect example. So when you say, ‘Well, we're hiring that person cause they're a tribal member or they're a relative or whatever,' just keep in mind, the one does not outweigh the all. And the other thing is they've always talked about, and I don't know who they are, maybe it was we.

We talked about nepotism and the discussion around nepotism but in a tribal system we're all related. And if you develop policy and you follow that policy and you hire based on talent and skills, it doesn't matter if they're your cousin, brother, sister, nephew, uncle, niece. It doesn't matter. But that was a hard challenge, especially the smaller the community. Everybody's related at some level, clan relative or blood relative or whatever and so that was a battle that we faced a lot was this whole nepotism battle. And so the way we overcame that was by developing policy for hiring that was based on skills. It didn't matter if they were somebody's brother, sister, relative, whatever. If the criteria was there and they were...met the criteria threshold, then they were eligible to be hired. But that really helped elevate the bar rather than lowering the bar to meet the standard of the people. Elevate the bar and have people work up to it but you need to provide the programming to help them do that.

Just a final point about this advisement; create a plan and follow through. There's always that honeymoon period. You have a great meeting, you have a great session, you're real enthused and you get back in the office, you still have the stacks there, you still have the phone calls coming in, you still have the demands of daily life, you still have to follow those. Define the issues as was brought up and respect and recognize the cultural priorities and the chairman brought up a cultural story of a vision that tied very much into the here and now. We have a lot of answers in our own stories, in our own histories and songs and part of our heritage ways that will teach us how to run our governments as well. It doesn't always have to be the western philosophy, although most of the tribal governments in the modern world are built around a democratic system, a republic system actually.

And then budget where the priorities are established. If you say, ‘Culture is our number one priority,' and yet it has the smallest budget in your government, you've got to put your money where your mouth is. That's so important. You can't just build all these priorities and then run business as usual. The budget has to match those priorities. You say, ‘Education is a priority,' and it's only two percent of the budget, it doesn't really connect.

Learning from past mistakes and successes. Let your...as was said, you come in with an open slate and saying, ‘I'm not aligned with one or the other but what have we done in the past that's worked. What have we done in the past that could be done differently to change it?' I remember, real quickly, my grandfather, he'd come in, he says, ‘Oh, we tried that in '72 or we tried that in '84,' and I'm thinking, I was thinking I'm coming up with these great, bright ideas and cutting edge and he's like, ‘Oh, yeah, we were too small back then or we didn't have enough money then, this'll probably work now.' So learning from those historical figures in your community.

Finding out what you all as council members want. Each of you might have, this was brought up, an agenda, what is that? Is there some things that you can align on? You should fight... We used to always say that the strongest debate makes the greatest answers. But there are some things that you should be aligned on. If healthcare is an alignment issue, then put all the argument aside and say, ‘What do we need to do to actually move forward with it,' and then defining how much money is actually available. It's one thing to have your wish list, it's another thing to have down there how much do we actually have to get this done.

And then finally, listen to your people. Listen whether it's your constituents or it's other...your fellow council members. Listen to your people. They'll tell you what they want. They maybe not necessarily will tell you what they need but they'll always tell you what they want and at some point you'll be able to drill down into what they need. We want to have our kids be happy and healthy. Well, in order to do that we need to have food in the house, lights on, education, safe homes with no abuse and neglect. So those are the tidbits of advice of a has-been leader."

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

Producer
Archibald Bush Foundation and the Native Nations Institute
Year

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

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

Resource Type
Citation

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

June Noronha:

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

Audience member:

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

Rebecca Miles:

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

June Noronha:

"Thank you. Any other comments or questions?"

Herminia Frias:

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

Jamie Fullmer:

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

Rebecca Miles:

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

Darrin Old Coyote:

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

Jackie Sears:

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

Jamie Fullmer:

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

June Noronha:

"Can you share the code of ethics?"

Jamie Fullmer:

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

Rebecca Miles:

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

Darrin Old Coyote:

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

Audience member:

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

Audience member:

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

Darrin Old Coyote:

"Yeah, he passed away in August."

Audience member:

"He lived in our community with his family."

Darrin Old Coyote:

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

Audience member:

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

Jamie Fullmer:

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

Audience member:

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

Jamie Fullmer:

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

Alvin Bettelyoun:

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

Rebecca Miles:

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

Alvin Bettelyoun:

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

Darrin Old Coyote:

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

Audience member:

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

June Noronha:

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

Audience member:

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

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

Darrin Old Coyote:

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

Rebecca Miles:

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

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

Jamie Fullmer:

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

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

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

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

Citation

Native Nations Institute. "Tribal Service Delivery: Meeting Citizens' Needs" (Episode 7). Native Nation Building television/radio series. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy and the UA Channel, The University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2006. Television program. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Eddie Brown: "Thank you."

Karen Diver: "Thank you."

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