Moderator JoAnn Chase facilitates a wide-ranging discussion by a panel of Native nation leaders and key decision-makers about internal barriers inhibiting good governance and opportunities and lessons for improving government performance in Native nations.
Belone, Cecilia, Dodie Chambers, Vernelda Grant, Julia "Bunny" Jaakola, Beth Janello, Aaron Miles and Gary Nelson. "The Politics of Change - Internal Barriers, Opportunities and Lessons for Improving Government Performance." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Sante Fe, New Mexico. February 8, 2002. Presentation.
"Good afternoon everybody. Thank you for that very generous introduction. And it's a pleasure to be here. It's always wonderful. This is one of the meetings over the course of the year that I so look forward to, is the Honoring Nations Advisory Board meeting. Many of you know that for several years I had the privilege of serving as the Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians and, as Andrew [Lee] said, have now gone on to do some work in the field of philanthropy and have always enjoyed my time with the National Congress of American Indians, but so much of the time we spent working -- and that we collectively as Indian people spend -- is really fighting off a huge hostile audience, whether it's the Congress, sometimes it's the state governments. And so many times, we're reacting to things that are coming our way and really engaging in battle if you will, and often it's like hitting your head against a brick wall time and time and time again. One of the ways I was able to sustain my involvement with NCAI and enthusiasm and be rejuvenated was to come often and participate in these meetings and be so encouraged by the really truly innovative and creative and amazing things that are happening on the ground within our tribal communities of the truly exemplary programs that are being developed and implemented and the good governance that does exist. So it's always good to be back in this arena.
I'm excited this afternoon, we have...I think you're going to have a very compelling discussion, excellent participants. I thought the way we'd get started this afternoon is just ask each of the participants to briefly introduce themselves, your tribal affiliation, and maybe a sentence or so about the program that you're with and then we'll start off with some dialogue on some difficult questions. Maybe Beth, if you would start."
"Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Beth Janello. I'm the Environmental Director for the Pueblo of Sandia here in New Mexico and we have water quality standards, which we won an Honoring Nations award for in 1999. I'd like to invite everyone to come to the pueblo tomorrow and view our Bosque Restoration, our Rio Grande Restoration Project...
As I was saying, I'd like to invite everyone tomorrow to come down to the Pueblo Sandia and view our river restoration project. We have been a very active participant in trying to protect the Rio Grande and we've had some, definitely some problems working with our federal trustees, certainly the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency]. We're trying to educate them and trying to get help from them and from the State of New Mexico to protect the river, but it's not always an easy task and I hope today that I can share with you some of the things that we have learned and answer any questions you may have about protecting your own waterways. With that, thank you very much for this opportunity. I appreciate being here and I look forward to you coming out tomorrow to the Pueblo of Sandia.
"Good afternoon. My name is Aaron Miles. I'm from the Nez Perce Tribe. I'm a tribal member and I work for my tribe as the Department of Natural Resources Manager. I've been on the job for a little over two years now and it's been very interesting, learning a lot and I think it's exciting to work for your own tribe in investing. So coming back home was a good thing for me. My background is in forestry. I graduated from the University of Idaho in the fall of 1995 and I worked for the other school, Washington State University, for a couple years as the tribal liaison in the provost's office. There's a lot of neat experiences I'm excited to share with you.
"Good afternoon. My name is Dodie Chambers with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians in Michigan. The project we had gotten an award for was for planning and development for our tribe. Our tribe had never had a planning and development department so I was part of the initial setup of the planning and development department. Probably like some of you our projects were exceedingly overrun as far as budgets and the proper people weren't doing the proper jobs. And the contractors that were available knew that they were going to get money from the tribe and from the government, therefore skated on a lot of the absolutely mandatory things. About that time is when our chairman decided that we needed a planning and development department so that's how we began our start up. And because it was a first time for us of ever having a real planning and development department it's what we had won our award for. Not only was I the first department manager for planning and development, I was first tribal chairperson of our tribe, I was the first self-governance director of our tribe, I was first housing director of our tribe; so there was a lot of firsts. And of course planning and development was another challenge I had to take. So that's how we got started and we continue to work well with the planning and development department. Now I'm on the council again. I was 20 years ago and back on it again. We can do nothing but move forward now. Thank you."
Julia "Bunny" Jaakola:
"Good afternoon. I'm Bunny Jaakola and I represent the Fond du Lac Band of Minnesota Chippewa. That is my home band. I have been working almost 15 years as the coordinator for the Social Service Department there within the Human Services Division. Prior to that, I worked 15 years in juvenile justice. In our area, so many of the children, the youth that came through that court diversion program are now the parents of the kids and the families that we work with on the reservation. So I think everything that's been said about continuity really holds true. I think my familiarity with my own people and then working outside in a county/state kind of program and coming back to the reservation, everybody knows who I am and I've had people working with me now for several years. And for the first time in our history and probably some have not even heard of this year, we have people calling our Social Service Department and saying, 'I want to talk to a social worker.' When I started in social work, it was difficult for me to say that I'm a social worker because of our history with social work. So I think that anything's possible when we've got families who are in dire need making the call and asking for help. That's progress. And I'll talk more later."
"[Apache Language] My name is Vernelda Grant. I'm San Carlos Apache and I work for my tribe as the Tribal Archaeologist and Director of the Historical Preservation Archaeology Department. I work closely with the Elders Cultural Advisory Council, who I'm with here at this symposium. I primarily work with the national, state and tribal legislation on cultural resource management and work with the Elders Council on language and community education projects on cultural resources."
"[Navajo Language] Hello. My name is Gary Nelson. I'm the Town Manager for the Kayenta Township. About a year ago, I came up to talk with [then-Navajo] President Kelsey Begaye about my interest in helping the Navajo Nation in the area of commercial industrial development and also one of the larger farms that the Navajo Nation has, it's actually probably the only real large farm we have and it's one of the largest farms in the nation, and that's the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry. Surprisingly, both what I asked for seemed to have fallen into my hands.
Kayenta Township is one...something that I really desire to assume, to contribute in that area but also in other areas. The township was awarded and recognized also probably a year, two years ago, and since that time also we've made great progress. We're doing new developments. We're currently going to build a 40,000-square-foot office building. Also 100,000-plus square foot of new shopping center. We assessed the township for need for new office space as well as the market area to see just what kind of population existed within the 50-mile radius up to 75-miles radius. We found that there was like 40,000 to 50,000 people that resided within that kind of distance from the township. With some of those numbers and knowing where some of the people shopped, we determined a need that we could easily support another shopping center or additional services that currently aren't there.
So the challenge is there and we're also pressing to really begin to make some legislative changes. Navajo tribal law as well as federal law, laws that currently are in place that prohibit our goals, we want to remove those stumbling blocks or barriers so that our people really move forward in the area of economic development and to build their economic strength and become a politically powerful people. I guess our vision and our understanding is that as long as our people are poor they're not going to have the sovereign strength or the economic strength or be in subjection to other powers, dominant governments, other races, whatever you want, but really economics has a lot to do with our sovereign rights and the power that's going to come behind it. Thank you."
"[Navajo language]. For my people, [Navajo language]. I am Cecilia Belone, the Division Director for the Division of Social Services within the Navajo Nation. We have a project, the Navajo Child Special Advocacy Project program that was recognized in the year 2000 for serving children who are victims of sexual abuse and working with their families, providing family-centered services and also applying cultural and traditional functions to providing these services. We're collaborating with really resources that are necessary in order to help heal children and families.
My mother had always said and my elder had always said that I was a current leader. I didn't really think that they meant being before people but eventually I was going to come before people and I had to watch what I say and I had to pick my words carefully. I never knew that...really knew what they were talking about until I started to work with child sexual abuse. And it's something that many of us deny that it exists, but on the Navajo Nation I feel like it's something that we have acknowledged that it does exist. And it's not so much talking about the existence of it, but the language by which you talk about it within the Navajo Nation and that was a challenge. And as somebody had said earlier that when you become recognized and receive an honor that just gives you a greater challenge and we've taken that challenge. And this program is only a part of a larger system, the social service system that involves a lot of other social and behavioral issues. And I have taken on that challenge and my boss, the president of the Navajo Nation has made it a priority. And having to have the Navajo Nation Council acknowledge that has just been a tremendous challenge and it's something that I'm very honored to be a part of. We will talk further about some of the issues that we have encountered in getting to meeting that challenge.
I would like to say thank you to the Harvard Honoring Nations program for acknowledging that there are many, many good things happening out there among our people and I would like to honor all the programs that are up here that have been recognized and all those who have gone before. They have set the standards for us and for us, with the Navajo Nation, we're pretty encouraged for our people. Thank you."
"Thank you to all of our participants. As you can tell, we have a great diversity in experience and I think we can have some really provocative dialogue for this afternoon. I want to concentrate and ask maybe you want to respond on part of the title of this panel, 'The Politics of Change.' And change is...it's difficult implementing change, creating change and then implementing change comes with lots and lots of challenges. The old saying that everybody wants to get to heaven but nobody wants to die I think has some meaning as we try to think about pushing boundaries and changing ways and meeting challenges.
As we talk about the politics of change and in what you have experienced in developing these programs and implementing these programs, certainly as we talk about some of the components in creating successful programs and examples of good governance, you might talk about some of those components that have contributed to the positive creation, but in so doing I'd encourage us to really speak candidly about some of those barriers. As I reminded myself of the programs I was struck by some of the tremendous challenges, sometimes our own tribal communities, our own tribal governments, challenges of tribal politics, dealing with hostility and misconceptions and even overt racism in outside communities, dealing with federal regulatory or state regulatory schemes that are in place that for years and years and years have been oppressive in trying to break those down and create partnerships. It's a tremendous amount of challenges that we certainly do have.
And so maybe I ought to ask Dodie, since Dodie you have served as a tribal councilperson in a variety of capacities with your tribe and now this program. If you might start us off in dialogue and ask folks to weigh in and talk again about some of those specific barriers, how those barriers you've broken down in getting through the first phase, which is creating successful programs."
"Well, I think for our tribe specifically, our tribe is fairly recognized only for 20 years now, 21 or 22, but we were Indians in the community and in the area and were dwindling. Like there may have been only about 10 families left in the 1960s. So the outlying area people, the founding people, the state people, the townships didn't want to recognize us as a government and even to this day they don't think we have the kind of government that...the government they have. So that was one of the big barriers was once we became recognized, once we start getting federal dollars into our tribe, once we were available to offer even our two-percent monies to the area, townships and county people, they still...we still had a little problem with them wanting to recognize and acknowledge that we are a government and we can run...we can have our own sovereignty and provide our people with our programs the way we want to. They still don't want to acknowledge that; we're still not quite as good as they are. That continues to be a smaller problem. It was huge 10 years ago even, but today it's a smaller problem but it still exists and we are still not 100-percent people when we go into town. So that continues to be a barrier. It has been, but we've knocked down some of those walls and unfortunately those walls came down because of the two-percent money from our gaming industry. That was one huge barrier that we overcame and continue to overcome and still work on today."
"Some of the barriers that I see the internal things like me as a manager interfacing with the policy people, the elected leaders, getting on the same page as them is quite difficult. I think when you look at the different values, when you look at the diversity on the council, you have those who have just come out of this post era of the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] running the show and so their institutionalized thinking is, 'This is the way it's always been done and it will continue to be that way.' And then I think some of the younger generations that I interact with it's more of 'How do we relearn the value system that was in place before pre-European contact? How do we gain a better understanding of protecting the resources that contribute to our culture and way of life in that context?' And so that's one of difficulty because right now the tribes aren't really...when you look at our tribes were forced into this era back to really become American citizens, to become this equal, but now I think tribal members now in this new age are really trying to...how are we going to be different? We want to remain unique among the American citizenship and our right to remain unique. And sometimes the things that we do are quite un-American, our way of thinking, our way...the way we do things and it's unintentional. How do we as Indian tribal people begin to implement something like that? But we still have to get on the same page it seems like internally before we can address those problems."
"I'd like to mention a barrier that I see in terms of trying to implement a scientific program and that is a real difference in values. Trying to establish water quality standards that protect traditional uses perhaps of the river. It's really hard to explain that to the EPA or to the New Mexico Environment Department. So having very different values for the protection of a resource can become a barrier if you don't have education or if you have ears that don't want to hear it, or economic value is the only value rather than habitat protection or water protection or ceremonial or traditional protection. So that's something I've found to be a real barrier in terms of implementation is a difference in core values."
"Beth, could you just take that a step further perhaps and talk about how you dealt with that. Clearly the difference is there. Was it dialogue, was it inviting folks to come be with you? Is it something that you're still continuing to deal with?"
"Yes, we deal with it every day and the most effective way that we've found to deal with it is through working through...perhaps maybe working through the laws. For example, we set our water quality standards under the Clean Water Act. We got treatment as a state, we followed the process, the legal process and so then it becomes very difficult for people to argue with that. One thing we've also done in the last couple of years that's been very effective is we collect data, we monitor the river on a weekly basis so we know what's in there. It's very hard to argue with fact. We know and actually we're discovering that not only are our water quality standards in some cases being violated, but so are the state water quality standards. So the potential uses for the river are not meeting state uses, not just tribal uses. So our data has become very effective. So sometimes it means, unfortunately, working in the system instead of trying to...for years I think we talked about, 'You don't understand you're not meeting the water quality standards,' but not until we had the data to back it up did people start listening. And we had the regional administrator from EPA come in and talk to the tribal council last month. So the Pueblo of Sandia has had water quality standards since 1993. We applied for them in 1991. So it's not really very new, but our EPA officials only came out in December. So it's an ongoing issue and I think a very effective means of dealing with the barrier is to have data and back up documentation."
"I'll speak to you more in the area of business and economic development. Kayenta Township, the community of Kayenta, town commission, having gone through all the normal process for organizing itself into a township structure and doing all the necessary planning, master planning in preparation to really do economic development and then entertaining new businesses and to go through the process of this local review and local approval, having exercised this local governance, what we experience is that we still have a barrier in the way and it has to do with the existing law. There comes a point that the law, the structure, the current law is really prohibitive and it must change and that's really what we're experiencing. Listening to the business associations or the community, what they want, their desire, they want the economic freedom just like any community outside the Navajo Nation, the ability to gain equity, value in their businesses, the ability to sell that business or to utilize that lease hold interest to leverage capital. All those things are prohibited under existing law and it's really come to a point we have to say, 'No more. If our people are going to prosper, this law is not allowing it.' And so that's where we're at.
And we are currently involved with the Navajo Nation Council, some of the attorneys and economic development committees and divisions entertaining a new regulation, new ordinances that would govern Navajo Nation law from this time forward. The Navajo Nation also has been successful in getting congressional support and in entertaining the idea of forming their own business leasing approval without intervention anymore. But the challenge is that the Navajo Nation must develop these regulations, BIA still has to approve of it to see if it's going to be fine. But in the end, the Navajo Nation can't just duplicate the same law; it's not going to work.
So really what's happening is that we have gone out to the grassroots people, the local communities. We've asked for input. Kayenta Township, having had numerous years now as a township and a government structure, having probably more business development in recent years than any of the communities on the reservation, it provides some excellent direction and some of those are in the booklet that you received today. The bottom line is that BIA and the Navajo Nation must let go of authority, delegate that to the local people, let us determine our own destiny, how we want to do business or what we want to do with the lands that are available for development, whether we want to leverage the value of that land to get capital investment or those things. Those are the barriers.
The barrier also is that the current lease, they're okay. Many of the provisions can remain the same but let us do rent negotiations like any other off-reservation communities, cities, towns. And that's based on land valuations and improvements, the value of those things and determining a rate of return on those things as rent, but not a structure that the government has that is discoursing to outside business. We have a gross minimum annual rent that would be in place for the term of the lease whether it's 25 years or if there's a certain lease that's 99 years and that rent is there, or if the business is doing well then the other rent that would become effective would be a percentage of gross receipts. So if a business is doing two million dollars a year or even higher and they have a gross receipts percentage set at five, six, seven percent, usually that business will be paying $100,000 or more a year, whereas the value of the land is...the rental payment if it was based on land valuation could be one fourth that amount or even less.
So the more you penalize businesses we find that they're not going to come out to the Indian communities to do business. So our whole mission and focus now is to really create that environment that is favorable for business activity and that would allow our people and anyone who wants to do business to get into business easily and without much trouble. That's really where we're headed with what we want to changed, specifically."
"Bunny and Cecelia, you both deal with among the most precious of our resources and the reason why so many of us do the work we do, our children. And I'm sure that in implementing the amazing and effective programs you both have dealt with which are different programs there have been a number of barriers both within the tribe among our own people and certainly outside. I'm wondering if you might both make any comments specifically on some of those challenges with respect to the specific programs you've both dealt with."
Julia "Bunny" Jaakola:
"First, I want to be sure to thank the planners of this symposium, because one of the biggest barriers that I've run into within the tribe, within the county, within the state is the credibility. People just refuse to give one another credibility and I feel it more so on the state level and the county level here in Minnesota, but it's hurtful within the tribe. And we were awarded two honors awards from the Honoring Nations and one of them was a foster care program off reservation, very different, very unheard of, and the other was an online pharmacy billing program, very successful. But when you come up with the ideas, and I was not the one that came up with those ideas, but when people do bring ideas forward they need to be heard and encouraged. And the way that I've found to combat that is with education -- educating the community, educating the other co-workers, educating the county people and on the state level, wherever. It's a constant education process. And in fact I've said in kidding ways that before I went to social work school I should have gone to teaching school so I could help people to understand what we're trying to do. One thing that I didn't hear mentioned from the leadership perspective this morning was I found that to be a two-way street. I want to be able to rely upon my leadership for support and understanding and encouragement, but if they don't know what I'm doing or if they don't know what people are doing out there, they're liable to react to some things in a different way than if they were fully informed of what it is we're doing out there in the community, out there with the county, with the state, whatever it is. And I think that's very important, especially in a community where you are...this is home. Half the people are relatives and the other ones are in-laws so you need to be sure to protect your back. The way that I try to help the youth, the younger people that I'm mentoring is to look for that proactive stance wherever you can. Bring the information there. If you hear of a hot idea that's going to be different, be sure you let them know where you're going with that, because fear drives a lot of things and sometimes it's simply that fear of the unknown that brings about that resistance or that 'no' at first glance. Thank you."
"I have to agree that many times it's because people don't know and our social service issues are not physical. They manifest themselves physically maybe, but somebody talked about addressing deep-rooted issues, so you're talking about multi-generational issues that you're trying to address. But we seem to...our social service approach seems to be the band-aid addressing the symptoms and we all know that the symptoms are because of a lot of previous issues. And those issues are non-tangible, you can't see them. It's not like creating jobs. It's one of the most popular programs within the Navajo Division of Social Services, child care centers. You're doing great if you're putting up a bunch of child care centers. You're doing great if you're providing a lot of cash assistance. We're doing our own TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] program now from the three states and that's more popular than some of the non-tangible programs like the child sexual abuse program that we have. So for us, it's more internal because we're larger enough and we're sovereign enough to exert that authority. Most of what we deal with with the state now is just like working together on Indian child welfare issues, Indian Child Welfare Act issues. All the other services are provided through the tribe. So most of it is internal. Having to coalesce around these non-tangible issues requires a lot of education, a lot of outreach, a lot of communication, and you have to start right from the get-go. Are you going to work with these politicians, your tribal leaders or are you going to butt heads with them? I chose to work with them and actually get some things done, because if you start just right adversarial from the beginning that doesn't help you any. So you have to be aware of the dynamics within that leadership not just your immediate committee members, but the total council and everything...all of the other boards and whatever else there is. And you have to be able to collaborate within your own system, because it does not work and you cannot do it alone. And our social workers burn out, most of them are already burnt out, in two years, four years, and if they are there by 15 years, wow! Who's going to last 15 years in such a job, being out there among the people? And it's got to be a very dedicated person who does that. And most of all your people have to be committed because you can't go out and do...protect a child and deal with the family issues on a daily basis if you're not committed. Otherwise, you just become a part of the process. And it's very important for our people and our leaders to know that and educating them and working with them on those issues. We have the council actually acknowledge that the issue does exist and they actually committed some dollars to it in order to supplement the Bureau of Indian Health Service funds that we were getting. So this is not something that is created in a year, created in five years. It's something that started 20 years ago, that the foundations were being laid and you were really educating on basic issues. And it's coming to fruition and it has and we want to expand on that to include the entire...all of the social services issues, not just child sexual abuse."
"I sort of listed...since my job and the work I do with the Elders Council pertains to working with the past living cultures, the archaeology and prehistoric cultures and also the present living culture, living community, we have a wide working communication with just many different kinds of people from political leaders to community members to tribal programs to the Bureau of Indian Affairs agencies to federal agencies off the reservation, museums and whatnot. But I sort of -- just based on a working communication with those people -- I sort of listed barriers and I just kind of listed it now because this is like what I see overall just within our community. I'm just going to list them out. There's a lack of...there's cultural barriers, there's language barriers, there's a lack of self-identity, self-awareness, which kind of leads to lack of respect and there's barriers with the lack of technical expertise within tribal programs and a lack of communications with regards to economic development, commitment, the lack of the practice of good sovereignty and the lack of dedication. I sort of see this door opening interrelated in some sort of way and how we try to make those things positive, because we deal with it daily, is we sort of use our cultural, our Apache cultural beliefs and background, and we use that to basically focus on, I guess, objectives that we work with within our program. I'm just throwing that out."
"Thank you, and I actually want to take this a step further as well. We've heard some of the ideals and principles that have gone into planning and creating programs including communication, collaboration, dedication, commitment, pure tenacity. As you read through these programs, this didn't just start yesterday or the day before. It started 20 years ago and people have stuck with it. Education is a two-way street. Not only is it important to educate people that we are working with in order to create and develop programs, but it's also important ourselves to be educated about who it is we're trying to deal with and communicate with, and then both qualitative and quantitative. You mentioned Beth, facts speak volumes as part of breaking down these barriers and overcoming the programs. So we've created the programs, some of you have implemented the programs or are continuing to implement the process and probably facing certain challenges of implementation. And so I'd like to ask you also to comment on now that we've created these very innovative and wonderful programs, some of them rather new, how are they sustained? What measures need to be taken? How do we define and measure success? What can we do to ensure that this work continues perhaps as some of you go off to do other things and continue to be effective and valuable services to our people and to promote an advancing tribal sovereignty? I'll just open it up to the panel whoever would like to respond to that."
Julia "Bunny" Jaakola:
"I had mentioned mentorship a little earlier, and I think that's one sure way of continuity is being sure that the younger people, the newcomers are involved and because they will become committed as they feel the excitement of growth and development. There are formal ways to develop the mentorship, but there are easier informal ways of doing this and it's like taking someone under your wing so to speak. I like the comments this morning about the youth council. Those kids are going to be the leaders of tomorrow and the more they know about what's going on in their community the better participant they are going to be."
"Excuse me, I had to swallow that candy first. I think another way of ensuring that our programs will continue, like this morning, the Grand Traverse Band Junior Tribal Council is much involved and as we mentor them and allow them to shadow us in our programs, that will help...that's one way of sustaining our programs. Also within our tribe we have internal program directors training and within that training all the employees, all employees take this training where they learn everything about any program including budgets, report forms to the federal government, to the Bureau [of Indian Affairs], to Indian Health [Service]. This program directors training could help ensure that when I leave my program the next person who has learned the exact programs and rules and regs and requirements. Then when I leave then the next person, whoever it is, can step right in and that would be another way of sustaining our programs is to have the next person who has learned the exact rules and all the budgets and all of that per program and per agency and per federal government agency too. That's a way of sustaining some of the programs that we have.
I think also that tribes should insist on education for the young people. Too many people these days want to step into tribal government, just step right into it, with no prior training or knowledge or internal workings of the tribe, of the tribal standards and we need to insist that our kids at least get a minimum high school education, minimum, and encourage going on to college and then coming home to work and not starting at the top the minute they come home. Because that's what a lot of the kids today are demanding that when they get out of college and they come home they want to start at the top, and then if they start at the top then they step on toes and find out they don't know about tribal life. So although we encourage our kids to go on to school we have to kind of take them in at the entry level at least and let them learn for a minimum of a couple years at least, two years at least, tribal government and tribal ways. So yes, we need to pursue their education goals, but once they come home then we need to mentor them also for a year or two.
And I think also a fourth way of sustaining our good intentions and our good works, from this day forward, I would hope that the councils pass ordinances, makes it a law that the next generation of tribal council members have enough sense to go back...look backwards in the books and see if there isn't a law already or if there isn't a way to do things already. Because again, today too many of the kids automatically want to step up and assume something new without realizing they might be breaking an old law of some kind. So I think that would be a fourth way of sustaining programs is to ensure that ordinances are passed and that that book of ordinances is passed on to the next council so that anything that's in place is followed or anything that needs to be changed we would know where it needs to be changed, what paragraph, what section, whatever.
"Aaron, maybe as you address this question too and I know time is getting short on us here, but let me add a little twist to this to actually create a tie to some of the dialogue that took place this morning in terms of continuity of tribal governments themselves as well and how do the programs that we work with and how are they affected...?
"Some of the things that I have seen with our gray wolf recovery effort is that we're in a totally different arena now that we not only serve the tribal membership, the general council now, but we also serve the general public. I mean the State of Idaho citizens now are stakeholders in wolf recovery and wolf management. So now a lot of my duties are to work with the state's entities and that's a whole new ballpark for the Nez Perce Tribe. And it was just recently in 1980, when I was growing up as a child, we fought the state, the Army National Guard at Rapid River in the central part of Idaho with the Fisherman's Committee, the state was trying to regulate us. And so when I come back to the tribe I go a whole 180-degree turn from not liking the state to having to work with them and so that was a different thing for me because my family had been adamant about not liking the state. And so finding common ground is where we're at right now. When you take a look at the Pacific Northwest, we're all in the same battle each...every...what is called the 'lord of yesterday,' the ranching, mining, farming, all that. We're all trying to protect our own heritages and we as Indian people are in the same boat. So we've got to find that commonality of how do we build our strengths from one another, rather than finding ways to oppose each other? That's kind of where the tribe...I think where tribes need to be, how do we protect each other rather than fighting and that common ground, hopefully, will make the tribes more visible because that's what we need right now. I was listening to Billy Frank, Jr. recently. He was saying, 'We've got to embarrass the hell out of the federal government for their past...the wrongdoings that they did to us.' Because right now we're...I was listening this morning, we are in a state of emergency of trying to protect our sovereignty and that's going to take educating non-Indian folks about who we are. It's very important. But I think also with that the tribe has to figure out ways to build leadership internally. What I see happening is that like for the Nez Perce Tribe, only the chairman can speak on behalf of the Nez Perce Tribe. Well, that leaves only one person being able to speak about the Nez Perce Tribe and there's a number of capable individuals on council or even managers that could speak on behalf of the tribe and start building that leadership so you have more individuals rather than just one. Attitudes in the workplace, there's different things that have changed the work environment from 20 years ago, 10 years ago and so tribes maintaining or keeping up with those...technology, the flow of information is so readily available, it's so different than yesteryears so we've got to keep up with those times, too. And I think tribes have been actually ahead of the game in many respects, especially with resource management. We've...like the Nez Perce Tribe, it's been the Nez Perce way of thinking that's been bringing back the species that belong in our Nez Perce country. It's not the science, it's the science that is meshed with the way the Nez Perce think, not just science alone. So that's the way I think most Indian tribes are operating and we've got to continue on like that."
"Comments by other panelists? Gary."
"In order to preserve what we've worked hard for or even at the tribe certain values and things, first there has to be a strong identity and a national pride that comes probably before you can really say you have vision, commitment and all those things. I sat next to a Japanese man one time coming back from Chicago and I began to ask him questions. I started off by saying, 'You know, the Japanese people as a group are highly intelligent, capable, competitive, almost maybe you're equal, on par with the white race. What do you...what is your philosophy? What do you teach your youth?' His answer was fairly short and simple and he said, 'We teach them they're better than anybody. We teach them national pride, to believe in themselves.' It's the same thing what my grandmother taught me as a youth. '[Navajo language],' she says. 'Having confidence in yourself is a quality trait to have.' And so with our youth, all the things happening among them, the violence and the drugs and stuff, and then also I hear the elderly saying our youth don't know our cultural stories anymore but then it has to go further beyond that. Even the elders, or as a people, what does our culture mean or what does it...what's the interpretation of those things? Because you can't gain the identity without understanding what it means, and so that's something I've struggled with all my life. And I've seen my grandmother pray a certain way and how we're supposed to pray as the Diné and how she would say certain things to the thunderstorms but she had certain things she would say and I always wanted to know those things and I sought and searched myself and I finally came to realize what it is. So when you really realize where you fit in the human race and that you're not inferior, that you have a great heritage, it's a whole new world. The confidence that it gives you, that's what our youth need today. And to preserve that, I think the Kayenta Township, we have to build that into the system, the educational system. We have the strong desire at the community level for the Kayenta Township to continue. There was great effort to do away with it, to squash it, to limit it. There were strong forces out there that wanted to see it end but there was enough community vision, community support that stepped up and fought to keep it. Today with the new development, we're looking forward to tripling our tax revenues and the best way to sell is to show results. I'm a strong advocate for that. If people see the end product, how the new revenues or what it's paid for or new developments and new revenues and the kind of new services that the township might be able to help fund. So with that, the organizational structure, the right structures have to be there, a stable government. I think those are some of the components, I'm sure there's more but I think preserve something and to build that pride it will go. So if you do create this environment for business and if we do all the other things that help it, we know our people are going to get into business, they're going to...we'll see them doing business just like any off-reservation community."
"I'd just like to remind the panelists we're running a little tight on time, so if you have some comments about what it takes to sustain and courage to make those comments and then we'll wrap up and move on in the agenda. Vernelda."
"Just real quick. With the line of speakers this morning, I thought it was pretty interesting because I don't think I'm a conference Indian but I do go to conferences and I hear a lot of people speak and I try to sit back and keep my mind open to a lot of things that they have to say. But this morning I thought it was pretty interesting because it seems like each individual that was up there spoke on elements, well, like specifically Mr. [Robert] Yazzie and Mr. [Oren] Lyons, and I apologize but I didn't get the name of the doctor that spoke during lunch, but they all pointed to elements that make and sustain a leader and what a leader is and what a leader goes through. And you don't hear that much and it kind of points back to that self-awareness, the leader, the person who knows themselves and where they're going to go, where they've been and what they can do and who they can influence. So I think something like that that was pulled out, that's what I saw. I don't know if I'm just way out there, but I thought that was really interesting because we need that, we need that leadership and strength, I think, in our communities. We're lacking it with our tribal leaders, we're lacking it with our youth, we're lacking it with, I hate to even say this but in some communities with the elders, too. It's just everybody and I think that's...that leader, whatever field they may go into, governance, the cultural arena, dealing with money, different types of management, they can be successful no matter what they go into and like I said, they're all interrelated, not one works without the other and a person who's more whole, a person who's more...who can let their guard down and know who they are can go anywhere and like I said, can lead anybody anywhere. So I think that's what I wanted to stress about what I got out of this morning's line of speakers."
"One of the concerns I had as well when I heard this morning's speakers was leadership. My concern is that in today's society, we have to teach our kids -- or there's this perception that we have to teach our kids -- how to be aggressive and get out there and do things, take initiative and direct people to do things in more of a military-type leadership. I was always brought up to always respect my elders and those characteristics to always be last in line or always offer your help, the humility, the things that servant leadership is really about in Indian Country sometimes don't mesh with the leadership in today's corporate world or whatever. So am I actually, when I teach my young kids, I have four kids, am I giving them a disadvantage if I don't teach them those ways? And so those are some of the daunting questions Indian people will be facing right now and in the future so who's leadership are we talking about and that's kind of where I'm coming from."
"That may be a very appropriate way to conclude our dialogue this afternoon. We are actually right at our time limit but this morning we had a chance to ask some questions and I encourage people in the audience, there's such great value and richness in the exchange that occurs to keep up the dialogue and ask the questions of the folks as we have a little bit more time together. But before we close this afternoon's session, does anybody have a particularly pressing question that they just need to ask before we let this panel go and move on along in the agenda?
We could be here all afternoon talking about some of these issues. These are great questions and again I appreciate the candor and the spirit of the dialogue among the panel. This will probably go...this is a question that raises some issues that need to continue to be talked about, not just a simple answer to a question but the kind of questions that we need to continue to raise and debate in our communities. And specifically, how do your programs address issues related to gender including sexism? I think it's a very provocative and important question and as I say, we need to continue to ask, and what is the distribution of leadership positions between men and women. So those issues of gender equity, certainly dealing with issues of sexism and probably added to that at some point important questions about racism both within our communities and the racism we face as well as various other -isms that are challenges to our communities. But in closing, does anybody want to talk about the gender issues with respect to their programs and within the leadership of their programs, whether it's excellent..."
"We need more women in our leadership in Nez Perce."
"Anybody else have a response to that question? Bunny."
"At Fond du Lac, unfortunately women are scarce in the leadership roles. The one position that's very important is the executive director in the structure that we have and that happens to be a female. However, it's my opinion that because the council members are all male, they see it easier to have a female in that position. So it's not...I don't really respect that and I'm wondering if you coordinators other than in nursing, the others are mostly male and the division directors are mostly male."
"Thank you for the question. Certainly those are important as I say questions that we need to raise. I again appreciate the candor of the panel discussion. I think if we don't raise the difficult questions sometimes and address them and talk frankly among ourselves, then they don't get addressed and the kinds of progress that we can make both within our programs and collectively is thwarted as a result of that. I also thank you, I've learned such a great amount in listening to each of you. We talked about some of the elements in terms of creating programs. We've talked about some of the elements in terms of sustaining programs and certainly one of those elements is the personalities involved and so each of you should be commended for your hard work and your personal commitment and dedication to really making a tremendous contribution not only within the tribe and your neighboring areas but collectively to the community as a whole."