Honoring Nations: What is Good Tribal Governance and Why is it Important?: Tribal Leaders' Perspectives
Anderson, Marge, Jamie Barrientoz, Peter Captain, Brian Cladoosby, Justin Gould, Kathryn Harrison, and Claudia Vigil-Muniz. "What is Good Tribal Governance and Why is it Important?: Tribal Leaders' Perspectives." 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.
Joseph P. Kalt:
"This next session is dedicated to hearing from tribal leaders and former leaders, former chairs who have had Honoring Nations award-winners. In listening to the discussion of Honoring Nations programs, of course, you understand that those programs are programs. They are run by managers, directors, and so forth, and yet when we talk to the managers and directors, what they keep stressing is the need for support from senior leadership within the community, and so we thought it would be very useful to start by hearing from those senior leaders about their roles in building excellent programs in tribal government.
We're going to allow these individuals to just take some questions and talk about what they see as the role of senior tribal leadership in building successful programs in tribal governance. And we'll talk about...Justin Gould as well. Justin, like all tribal leaders, I know Justin's been on the phone this morning having some problem back home. Let me introduce our panel. After we go through questions and answers from your talk show host, throughout the audience we will be circulating some little 3x5 cards and any questions you have that you'd like to pose to the panel, just filter them up toward the front here and we'll give those questions to the panel. And if that doesn't work, we'll do it live from the audience.
Let me begin on the far end with Jamie Barrientoz. Jamie is the vice-chair of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. Grand Traverse is actually a three-time honoree in the Honoring Nations program, only a two-year old program. They must be doing something right. The tribal court, the planning efforts, and the land use claim trust fund from Grand Traverse are outstanding examples of tribal governance. Kathryn Harrison is the retired chair of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Grand Ronde was a winner of an Honoring Nations award for their enhancing intergovernmental relations programs. Next, Brian Cladoosby is the chair of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. Swinomish was a winner of an Honoring Nations award for its efforts in cooperative land-use planning. Marge Anderson is a past chair of the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians and also Mille Lacs has been a three-time honoree for their conservation code for the 1837 ceded territory, for small business development, and for their outstanding language development programs. Next, Peter Captain is First Chief of the Louden Tribal Council, and the Louden Tribal Council's Yukaana Development Corporation was an honoree for its outstanding work in the development of environmental cleanup mechanisms that have dramatically changed the face of their part of Alaska. Next, Claudia Vigil-Muniz is the president of the Jicarilla Apache. Jicarilla was a winner of an Honoring Nations award for the wildlife and fisheries department, a world-renowned program in wildlife conservation. And lastly, Justin Gould from the tribal council of Nez Perce; Nez Perce was a winner of an Honoring Nations award for its work on the Idaho Gray Wolf Recovery Program where Nez Perce has been a leader not only in its own community, but in the region in the preservation and introduction of the gray wolf. With those introductions, it's now your turn to talk and I'd like to begin with what I suggested a moment ago.
The honorees, your programs, are directed by on-the-ground managers and directors who are in their offices today or some of them are here, but we keep hearing from them that they couldn't do it without senior leadership that saw what they were doing and supported it. And so I'd like to just put a general question to you and get your comments on the way you look at the do's and don'ts of building successful programs like the programs of your own communities that have been honorees, but you don't have to talk just about those programs. I'd like to just hear what you say -- as senior tribal leadership -- about the role of that leadership in building these programs. I'll actually take a volunteer for the first time. Who has any thoughts on that? Kathryn.
"It's really an honor to be here. As a past chair of a tribe that had faced termination for 29 years, I'm just astounded that I'm here, that we have taken our place in the family of Indian nations where there's a lot of hard work and, what I see as, a way for councils -- and I mean all tribal councils -- to work, to build their tribal government and their community and their nation is to be a team player.
What I saw on our council, each one had their place and each one had their duty. We had loggers, we had past loggers, past truck drivers, construction workers and they were left to get the young people, but they were already I guess mid-life I would say. They already had their life skills and to me that was a plus. There was no time to get out and say, "˜Well, I want to be somebody so I want to talk first.' Everybody had their role and knew they were valuable. So in our newsletters when I was chair, you would never see a report by me. I wasn't the one, and any chairman says they did it all there's something wrong. It's a team effort. And we heard over and over yesterday, "˜We're families.' As a tribe, one nation to another, we're a big family, so that team effort goes in there, too. You heard today, "˜Watch your back. I'm watching your back.' That brings to mind Sue Shaffer who, every time she goes on the [Capitol] Hill, you know she's going to protect every one of us and she is the chair of a past-terminated tribe.
I think maybe one thing we've learned is having lost our federal recognition for 29 years, we appreciated what it was that we had and it took everybody working together to gain back...for 11 years we were...to gain back that recognition in the eyes of our federal government. One of the things that inspired me each time we were discouraged, we had the good vision to hire former Congressman Elizabeth Furse. Of course, she had not been a congresswoman yet. But she guided us through our restoration effort and every time we went to our little one-room office we had to pass by our tribal tombstones of all those people that had gone on before us and had sacrificed and that always inspired us. If they could do it, if they could walk to where we were today and not even understand languages because there were so many different languages, then we could do it for what they had suffered for. And to me it's teamwork."
"I'm really honored to be asked to sit on this panel and I don't know where to start. It's a long story, but if you bear with me, we'll get a history on where we were and where we are today. We were a very poor tribe. In fact, we had probably about 50 employees to what we have now; we have a total of about 3,000 employees. Not all of our...there is enough tribal members to fill all those positions so we have both Indian and non-Indians working for us. Early on, we had one form of government that the tribal council did the hiring, the firing, hearing appeals on the same board. And we took a look at that and we didn't think that was...we knew that wasn't a good way of doing government, tribal business. And we created a system of government based on the United States system, separation of powers not, that was based on the Iroquois Nation separation of powers. And through trial and error and everything else we had growing pains and through that system we created the executive branch, judicial branch and legislative branch and the executive branch was the chief executive and I had eight commissioners. You have to delegate, they have authority so they can do their jobs and through Band law, the duties and responsibilities were through Band law and we followed those and only answered to me. That's how we got this going. We had a lot of issues.
One, I guess I'll be talking about sovereignty. We had some conflict with the State of Minnesota that required us to waive our sovereign immunity in order to get the services from the state, which were by the way, passed through from the feds. We refused to sign the contract so we went...our people went on without service for about two years and our tribal government went without pay for a long period of time. But we stood our ground. We would not waiver and finally the state legislature passed a law that says they would not require tribes to waive their sovereign immunity in order to get programs, food on dollars.
But there was a lot of, like I said, fights along the way. One of them was treaty rights, 1837 treaty rights that we tried to resolve through mediation and we took it to the state legislature and they turned us down. And we told them, "˜We're going to win this,' and thought they would settle peacefully but they refused to do that so we went to court, into the federal court to the court of appeals and to the Supreme Court of the United States, which was a 5-4 decision at that time. At least it was a win."
"I'll be the youngest of the women and let the elders go first. Good morning, everyone. My name is Claudia Vigil-Muniz. I'm the current President for the Jicarilla Apache Nation. I've only been in office for about a year and a half, so the program, the model program that has been referenced to was many years ago.
I believe that that program was successful because it was allowed to be developed. The managers and the people involved were allowed to create the program for what it has become. It's still in place today and mostly because we rely on that as a resource, a financial resource -- two of our primary resources are oil and gas and the game, not in terms of gaming but the real game -- the operation had to make some changes, but we have two biologists on staff who are non-tribal members who have contributed to the program and to the management of that particular game park that has allowed it to grow and develop and I think that's what's key in the does and don'ts. I really couldn't make any recommendations, but this is how it worked for us and this is how it continues to work for us.
We also currently have a ranch or a...we refer to it as Chama Lodge. We were successful in outbidding the State of New Mexico a couple years ago for the piece of property. At that time, the tribal council thought it was important that we get that piece of land back because that was original territory to the Jicarillas and it also plays a significant role in our traditional beliefs. We've taken that under a private...it's more of a chartership. We have a corporation that monitors that program and we let them operate on their own. And it's a package hunt and it's a private facility that's located on what we refer to as Chama land and it's an exclusive facility that brings in trophy hunters. And so we have that entity. And in one end, if we ever get this land successfully into trust, those two programs will most likely be combined and monitored by the same...in the same method that we have done in the past. And because of that role that we've taken, the government has basically stepped to the backside and allowed the managers to handle it. It's been working for us because they're the expertise, they know how to handle the animals and they know what to do with them. So in that particular issue, I think it's been very good for us."
"Good morning. My name is Brian Cladoosby. I'm Chairman of the Swinomish Tribe. We're about 70 miles north of Seattle. I'm finishing my 17th year on the council and I'm finishing my fifth year as Chairman. And as I think about this question, the do's and don'ts of building good programs, I think the do's are, you need good strong leadership in order for these programs to work. You need to be inclusive and you need to know your past, you need to know your tribe's history, you need to know your history with the state, with the county, you need to know the federal policies that have affected your tribes, you need to know what you want today and you need to know what you want for the future.
And some of the don'ts, I think, is, number one, don't think you can do it all by yourself. That's where I say, be inclusive, don't micromanage. We're a small tribe of about 750 members to 800 members and I've got around 200 employees underneath. An elder once told me to always surround yourself with people smarter than you and I have no problem doing that. He said, "˜When you do that, you can take credit for their accomplishments and point your finger at them when they screw up.' But I think one thing you can't do is micromanage the people underneath you. You've got to let them do their job. And maybe some of you staffers at other tribes know what I'm talking about when you have strong councils who like to think they have to run every single program. But I'm a firm believer in not micromanaging. So my "˜don't' is, don't micromanage. Of course, don't make stupid mistakes. Some of you may have known leaders in the Indian and non-Indian communities that have made stupid mistakes. And so, don't make stupid mistakes or you're not going to be able to build good programs.
And don't think you're an island. We as tribes cannot think that we're an island. I cannot say, "˜Okay, Swinomish, I don't need you Tulalip' or "˜Swinomish, I don't need you Yakama' or "˜Swinomish, I don't need you Lummi.' We can't think of ourselves, don't think as an island. And reach out. And that includes the non-Indian communities. We need to reach out to those non-Indian communities. We are continually educating them, so don't ever stop educating those non-Indian communities, because their leadership changes all the time but the people in the communities are always there. So we not only need to educate the leadership, but we need to educate the people in our communities. And so I'm going to keep my comments brief because there's others up here also, and ditto to the ladies that have spoke also before me. Good remarks."
"Hi. I'm Peter Captain of the Louden Tribe from Galena, Alaska. It's in the Yukon in Alaska. First, I want to squelch a couple myths. For one, we don't live in igloos, although that's been around for years.' And we also are inclusive. In starting out, we have 229 tribes in Alaska and we're just one of them, and just about every village in Alaska is a tribe. And each village has two forms of government. You have the state government and you have the tribal government, and of course the federal government. But one of the first things we did was to be inclusive is we held many town meetings and invited the various entities into our meetings. And we had a five-year plan for a village and our portion of the plan was to take care of the economic...I mean the environmental portion of the plan. The city took care of the sewer and water and what not and the fish and wildlife and other entities took care of their federal... One of the things you hear is be all-inclusive and doing that, we found that we could function better in our endeavors. I'm always one for passing on knowledge. We have one of the more aggressive tribes in Alaska in all aspects of education, environmental cleanup and what not. And we don't limit that to ourselves. We try to pass it around.
We have what we call a Yukon Consortium. It's a consortium of about six villages right in the vicinity and we include all those villages within our group to pass on our knowledge, not to hold it in. This -- as you'll hear other people repeat this -- is passed down generations upon generations and my hope is...I'm not doing things for myself. I've never been one to do things like that. I do it for my people, of course, but ultimately I do it for my children and grandchildren and seven generations down. They're the ones that's going to be benefit from it. That's where we come from. Thank you."
"Thank you, Joe. It's a pleasure to be here this morning up here with this panel. My comments are somewhat similar to those expressed so far. I'm realizing now I really don't want to be in Jamie's shoes because I think I'm probably going to cover everything else that hasn't been said. I'm just kidding. Like the person sitting here to my right, it's an honor and a privilege to become a tribal leader in Nez Perce country and inherit some of the hard work of previous leadership. I was not on the tribal council when the Nez Perce Tribe got involved with gray wolf recovery as has been expressed by Joe here. Just to kind of shed some light as to...before gray wolf management, the Nez Perce Tribe was involved very heavily with many natural resource issues, primarily the fish management issues. And I believe it was from the record established in the direction that the Nez Perce Tribe had taken that naturally prompted the tribe in becoming involved with other natural resource management issues.
There is a long history in Indian Country of tribes striving to better their communities, striving to better themselves, and the common theme that the Nez Perce see in Indian Country is the direct relationship to the natural resources. It's evidenced everywhere you go in Indian Country, there's a story, there's a lesson to be learned in every part of our respective places.
Getting back to the Nez Perce story, it began in the late "˜60s with the tribe becoming federally recognized and having a formal government with constitution and by-laws, I believe it was around 1964. And at that time the fish runs were still alive and well in our country. The completion of the four lower Snake [River] dams had not even transpired yet. The Grand Coulee and Hell's Canyon dams were on the chalkboard and getting ready to go up. The Nez Perce Tribe learned early on that if these two dams were to go in it would drastically affect the future of the salmon in the interior northwest. Sadly these dams went in and consequently wiped out I would say 90 percent of the spawning beds of the Columbia River Basin salmon runs. And in the next 10 to 15 years, four or five other hydro systems were located in between these far-reaching projects toward the ocean, buttoning up the interior northwest for barging, irrigation, recreation. It was not until the late "˜70s, early "˜80s, that significant losses were recognized on the banks of the respective tributaries that our people used for thousands of years. And it was at that time a faction of our people recognized the need to create a level of awareness to bring about positive change to the situation the salmon were facing in Nez Perce country.
It didn't happen overnight. I recall these long nights as a child with my tribal leaders as a boy every night, every season there was another issue to discuss and at that time I felt we were beginning to organize ourselves and our thoughts. And it's taken a generation or so to really impact the home front in terms of educating our own people to the significance of these losses and what it means to the value of our culture that's providing the support we needed as leaders now to continue on in this good work of the leadership that we've replaced in some cases. It was only recently when our tribe was asked if we wished to reintroduce a species to the Columbia Basin that had been extinct for 20 or 30 years -- example would be the Coho salmon, the fall Chinook, the summer steelhead, the sockeye, the eel, lamprey. It was opportunities to look at these species and become true leaders and really step away from the followers that inevitably got us to the gray wolf recovery table. But it's the example that I'm speaking of now that is the basis for the tribe's involvement with gray wolf recovery.
Once we successfully returned and extirpated stock from Columbia Basin to its homelands again, the Nez Perce Tribe learned a valuable lesson and did its best to share what we could with anybody that would listen to take advantage of these opportunities when they present themselves. So four years later we got adult returns from the first generation we transplanted and the concept the tribe has is not concrete to concrete like in some cases like hatchery operation, but from gravel to gravel. And so for the last 10 years now you could say we've been double planting all of the streams. We will take the hatchery surplus and take them out into the streams and let them spawn with the natural or be reared with the natural and the wild stocks that are out there thus providing the double...doubling the size of the small runs to the estuaries. And it was through a series of political moves by the tribe that we became party to the Pacific Salmon Treaty as an Upper Columbia River Tributary Tribe, and it was again from the efforts made by the faction of the Nez Perce 20 or 25 years ago recognizing that the fishery was being destroyed and something needed to be done.
All of the issues that are in Indian Country just take a little bit of organization and leadership in my opinion and many great things can and will happen if strong leadership avails itself to those specific issues. So that's kind of the basis for Idaho Gray Wolf Recovery and for the Nez Perce was getting management capabilities and being recognized in a field of science to be equal or greater than the experts in those fields and continuing in that fashion as being the only choice of the Nez Perce Tribe. Extinction is not an alternative for the Nez Perce Tribe so we will look to find every way possible to continue on with the work that we've begun. It's my hope personally that the work that I'm able to do the short time I'm on the tribal council will be another positive lesson in terms of legacy for those who are yet to replace me. Thank you."
"I'm Jamie Barrientoz and I agree with all the comments that were made. I just want to just highlight a few. For our tribe, we haven't got to where we are today -- like the others were saying -- we didn't get to where we are just because of the select few that stand out in the tribe. It's a collaboration of all the people in the tribe.
One of our awards from Honoring Nations is planning and development, and through our planning and development initiative we include throughout that part of our protocol is to hold public hearings and to include all of our members. And you'll see in the documents here that we held a series of planning meetings with our members where 400 tribal members turned out and they all gave input and very valuable input. That helped us to incorporate our culture into what we were doing. We accomplished that and the things that we've done are so beautiful and will be there for the long run because many minds put much thought into it and the council was very gracious and didn't stand in the way and didn't get bogged. We held our egos back, because oftentimes egos get in the way of the tribe and people think, "˜Well, I don't...' I'm just speaking for my tribe. "˜If it's not my idea then it's not going to happen at all.' We need to learn to set that aside before we can even move forward. We need to accept that we need to compromise and we need to agree and disagree on many issues and accept that Jaime Barrientos doesn't have all the answers, and I don't.
And we surround ourselves with many smart people, but also we surround ourselves with many practical-thinking people with common sense, because so often we can get caught up listening to just the lawyers and we can get into trouble sometimes just doing that. And so we've learned from many experiences like that that just having...surrounding ourselves with everyday people, people that are living in the community, the laws and the things that we are doing how it's going to impact them. Those are the people that we get the most valuable input from because those people are the ones that are living the day-to-day life on the reservation in the communities.
And so that's kind of where we come from, that's where we stand and all of our council meetings are open to the public and the majority of the time, the time that I've been on the council, I've spent most of my time on the roads. But I like that and I like to communicate. I'm corrected all the time but that's how I learn. I'm 30 years old and I have learned a great deal from many of my elders. And my mother and my grandfather and grandmother always told me, "˜Never forget the elders because that's truly where it comes from.' That's something that we need to work hard at doing, because oftentimes we think about if we're going to invest in something we need to get value back and we always think about the dollar and the returns that we invest in. Sometimes we forget about the culture and that's one thing that we're very strong on at Grand Traverse Band is our culture and our history and we will continue to be that way. Thank you. That's how we do it."
Joseph P. Kalt:
"Let me put a question to you about the following. It deals with continuity within these programs and with the directions you try to set. All of you are elected officials, you're politicians, and politicians sometimes is used like a bad word but in fact, it's an act of tremendous courage to step forward and say, "˜I'm going to try to serve my people and I'm going to put myself out there, they might turn me out.' And all of you, Claudia is relatively new, Kathryn's retired, all of you have been through transitions at some point. We know that these programs to succeed need continuity in them. Any thoughts that you have about what you do in your community to put that continuity in there, recognizing there's going to be turnover in the elected officials, or things you wish you could do because some of you have probably been burned. It's a politician's life. It's a tough thing to do. Do's and don'ts or what you wish you could do around this issue of continuity -- how do you do it? How do you get continuity in programs when you retire, when you're newly elected? Claudia, any comments? You're recent, you said you're recently in office."
"One of the things I'd like to stress is that something I learned a long time ago. I was in the education field for a long time and I had the opportunity of hearing a gentleman speak who was a former governor of the one of the pueblos here in New Mexico. And he put things into real clear perspective and it affirmed my way of thought and how we as Native American people fit into this whole picture. He basically said that we walk, you've heard this story of how we walk two paths and we have to know where the fine line is.
In one hand, we live in a society that has a different way of thought and we've had to adopt a western way of thought and that's the way of our lives now today. In order for us to survive, we have to be able to walk both of them because in the other hand we go home and we step into a different role and what...I guess it really didn't hit me until just by chance it was during the holidays and we went to his particular village and there was this gentleman that had spoken the day before at one of the universities and there he was. He was the leader of the group that was singing and from what we were told in that particular village, it's an honor to be selected as the head singer. That brought things into clear perspective about the role we play; for me it did. And also it's kind of fitting in terms of my own upbringing. My father was the one individual that I really idolized and who taught me. These little conversations that we would have during our visits, little did I realize what he was preparing me for. And some days I sit there and I think, "˜This is what he was talking about'. And sometimes I wonder, "˜How could it be that he knew that he didn't know.' Everything that he has prepared me for is for what I'm doing now.
The other thing is I'd like to clarify I'm not a politician. I do not agree with that. The reason why I say that is because, to be real honest, I didn't put my name into the race so to speak because I wanted to. It was because I was asked to and I had to discuss this with my mother, with several people and they basically told me, "˜You know what the honorable thing is. You know what it is that you have to do.' So I thought, "˜Okay, we'll do it.' Just to throw the numbers off. Little did I know I was going to win. But I think that it's important that, as Native people, that guides us in our decision-making and how we fit into this whole picture. Unfortunately, we do have to become the politicians as you refer to it. In my culture and what my father taught me was that that is not a good word and it has a lot of bad meaning to it. And you have to take it and use it to your best-decision making, because when I step into that role coming down here to Santa Fe, I do have to become the politician and I have to learn how to play the role of the beggar, so to speak, and that's sad that we as Native people have to do that. We have to come and beg for everything that we think our people could benefit from. Unfortunately, I don't know about the other states, but in this particular state, in my presentations to the state legislatures, it's always been to literally remind them that we play a role and that we too are citizens of the state and that we too deserve to be treated fairly and equally. And unfortunately, we have to come to that role. But I think that I deserve that same mutual respect from my colleagues as well as from other leaders and from other entities, government entities. And until we get that same status, I don't know if we'll be able to function as expected because of the term that the white man uses, which is assimilation. Unfortunately, that process is almost completed for all of us.
The villages here in New Mexico still maintain their beliefs and they're very strong about it and they are to be admired for what they maintain. Their history goes back a long, long ways. Mine -- in particular with the economic development that's taken place -- you can see where we're losing our children and a lot of it has to do with that almighty dollar. Having to remind your own people where you come from is what's most important and knowing who you are and where you come from so that they can make the right decisions, reminding them about the mutual respect that should exist so that we can progress on some of these issues because there again, we have to play the role of...the same role as the rest of the world in order for us to survive. If we don't, we don't educate our children and if we don't point these issues out, we're not going to do it. Our children are the key to this whole thing and we keep hearing about the seventh generation. Where are we at in the midst of that? And it's up to us to decide and to guide our children in that direction."
Joseph P. Kalt:
"Claudia, if I could follow up with one question. You've been president for a year and a half approximately. As you came into your position, on this question of the continuity of programs, what specific steps did you take to review the personnel, the programs, assess their strengths and weaknesses? What's it like, in other words, to be in this new transition and how did you go about managing that process? What specific steps did you try to take?"
"I came on and I've been assessing basically on my own and observing to see how things...because as any tribal entity, there are a lot of rumors that go flying left and right about how you're going to...their interpretation of how you're going to be leading. It's been difficult, because you have to play a role as a personnel director and as a leader, so to speak, because you're constantly...when you go home you deal with bad personnel issues, at least in my case I do. And so redefining that, a lot of the policies are in place, they've been created and they're there, but what I've been having to do is actually implement them. I refer many things back to the departments and to the directors, executive directors, and trying to maintain the continuity, so to speak, but there's a lot of resistance because the policies have never been really enforced. But it's important to me because, in order to move forward in the economic development portion, several things have to fall into place. The personnel matters cannot interfere with the role of the government.
Earlier we heard about the separation of powers. Well, in our particular situation, to a degree, it exists, but still it needs to be refined. And in this assessment process, we also have to update our own policies and our own procedures based on who we are. They've been developed for us and that's what we're doing right now, but the continuity portion of it has been assessed to the degree that they've been allowed to function. And then now we're going to back and we're going to say, "˜Wait a minute. These things are going to have to be refined,' and looking at it from the positive things of improvement rather than from the negative things and trying to encourage everybody's participation, because I don't believe in functioning only hearing one side of the story. For too long we've done that. And coming from a matriarchal society this has always been encouraged and allowed and for some reason we got caught up and we have a misinterpretation that has distracted us. But now I think we can get back to hopefully...my term is four years and I don't think I'll see that. If I'm elected again, if the people wish, then we'll continue it. But it's only striving for the achievement of what everybody would like to have and everybody's say so."
Joseph P. Kalt:
"Anybody else on this continuity question. Marge?"
"I think first of all you have to have checks and balances and accountability and hire a team who has expertise in those areas of education, services and so on. I think it's...in Indian Country, you've got elections out there and we had continuity when I left office. And it's unfortunate the recent elections I was in Phoenix so I don't know what's happening there now. But you need to have long- and short-term goals and a strategic plan to see where you're going."
"Continuity with programs. I'm going to be speaking on programs that we've set up with others outside of our communities in the non-Indian communities and I think of the in-stream flow that we have established. As many of you know, water's a big issue out there in Indian Country and our tribe was the first one in the state in the last 20 years to establish in stream flows and there's already attacks by politicians to try to undermine that. So it's, once again, educating, educating, educating.
We have been able to set up a program with the Department of Ecology, EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] to allow us to do NPDES permitting, that's the National Pollution Discharge something-something committee. That's why I hire those smart people, they know about those names. I think it's like poop and stuff...that's laymen's terms. But our tribe is able to issue those permits and programs like that need to continue. Our land-use planning, the award that we won through the Harvard Honoring Nations, a program like that needs to have continuity. Our police on our reservation, they carry...they're also sheriff's deputies in the county. Programs like that need to continue and our utilities. We recognized back in the "˜80s and "˜90s that when you control the utilities you control growth on your reservation. So we came to agreement with the other purveyors in the county and they recognize us as the only ones on our reservation that will be allowed to issue a permit.
Now these are programs that have been established...I can go on and on and on. We have a list of probably another dozen programs that we've established, but how do you continue continuity with those programs and make sure that they last and continue? For one, you have to have a foundation. You need to create a foundation; you have to have some kind of mechanism in place that people will recognize in perpetuity. Now there's no guarantee that that will take place because like I said, our in-stream flow...one of the county commissioners in our county who is running this year and his platform is going to be the anti-Indian crusader out there fighting the tribe on all issues and he's already got some lawyers from Seattle, downtown attorneys reviewing that to see if there's any cracks, any way that he can get his little finger in there. So I think educating, educating, educating.
We continue to have new politicians and we are politicians and...I finally...someone had told me what politics means. It's a Greek word. It's 'poli' meaning 'many,' and 'tics,' 'blood sucking insects.' I refer to those as the D.C. politicians. But I think just educating, to have continuity to those programs you need to continually educate these new officials that come into office. That's the only way you're going to have continuity. We've had two new county commissioners this year. I spent two hours with them just educating them on things that the tribe has done with them over the years, so I think that's the key, just educating these...and I'm just referring to outside programs, not internal programs."
Joseph P. Kalt:
"Thank you. Kathryn, yes."
"Thank you. I think one of the things that has worked for us was reaching out to the communities but not only that, being role models as tribal council. It's not a 9-to-5 job. Once you're elected, no matter what you do, where you go, awake or asleep, you must be a role model for your people. That includes and inspires continuity among the next lot to come along.
The other thing is when we campaigned for our recognition, we told everyone, "˜We won't have any surprises.' That included our people, the people in Washington, D.C. and the local people, the county commissioners, the schools. So our meetings were open and that is why we established our intergovernmental program that was our winning program with the Honors for Harvard. I like to have Justin and Nicole, Justin Martin and Nicole stand and be recognized for the good work that they do in reaching out to our legislative people not only in the State of Oregon, but in Washington, D.C. They keep their finger on the pulse of what's going on in Indian Country, they advise us of bills we need to monitor, they tell us when to come to the state capitol, the attempts [unintelligible] on Indian services, which includes every representative from every tribe in Oregon that's recognized and [unintelligible] representative from [unintelligible] and also a state senator and a state representative.
I think the other thing is you include all our people. We've held a lot of meetings that we included the county commissioners and everyone around us to show what we were going to do and ask them, "˜What do you think of this? Where do you see us in five years, in 10 years?' That included them. You have to show your people what works and once it's in place it's going to take a lot of convincing from the other side that wants to try to change anything and that puts continuity in place. And the last thing I want to say is I think we all agree how important spirituality is. That's what's carrying all of us, no matter what trouble we face, no matter what obstacles we face and that's what's going to pass on from our ancestors. That's how they overcame the struggles, that's how they pass on things to us and that's something we must never forget.
One thing I learned to say to our council is, "˜If you want to be treated like a tribal government then you have to act like one.' And by the way, I had black hair when I started. Thank you."
"I remembered what the other myth was coming from Alaska, not all tribes are oil rich. Unfortunately, ours is one of those that's not oil rich. So we have to be innovative in the things we do to keep these programs running. Our state dollars and federal dollars are being depleted. So we need to come up with innovative ways to keep all our programs running. You hear people say, "˜Well, you've got to surround yourself with smart people,' and that's good. You also have to integrate within your school systems the teaching of the young children on the different pollutants and the different aspects of the worldly comings, otherwise they're not going to know what's coming down the path and when it does hit they're going to be caught off guard. So a good solid education, if you can incorporate those within your school system, great. Short of cloning that's one way of continuity."
Joseph P. Kalt:
"Something I think that Claudia said must have sparked...you mentioned about looking at these programs and maybe some of the systems you have in place may not be working as well. A number of people are asking questions that deal roughly with the same thing. People would like to hear you talk about the way you handle issues of hiring, having to fire and promoting the career development of your employees. What role do you as senior leadership play in that regard? Any comments on that? A number of people have actually sent me questions like that. I know people wonder about those relationships. Anybody? Marge."
"In our system of tribal government, separation of powers, that's delegated to the [unintelligible] policy board, which consists of all the commissioners and they handle all the personnel issues. I didn't have to worry. So that's how we handle those issues. What was the other one?"
Joseph P. Kalt:
"Both the enterprises and the programs, are they handled in the same way?"
"The enterprises, we have a general manager and we have a corporate commission. We did have anyway, and that's where the personnel issues were dealt with."
Joseph P. Kalt:
"Continuity, though I heard you say could be an issue here. Anybody else? Jaime."
"For us, many times, the tribal council went, particularly with just the Grand Traverse Band members, we have public forums where...at our council meetings we have an open forum where any member can say anything that they want of their choice and oftentimes those kind of issues are brought out there and then we give the direction to those members on what they need to do to get their issue resolved. We do have an administrative appeals board. That's not perfect. We're always continually having to refine that, because we're a small tribe and often family members get involved on the board and then they get involved in employee disputes and we have to sometimes separate that and sometimes if you're new to the community or whatever you don't know who's related to who and what kind of click is going on. But we have those and we do have dispute [resolution] mechanisms, but mainly for the Grand Traverse Band members they come to the council and the council points them in the direction that they go. There are some times where the situation is so gross that the council has to intervene and make a decision based upon the tribal manager or the CEO not taking charge because oftentimes the tribal manager or the CEO is unsure if he gets involved. Which segment of the tribe is going to be coming down on him? So it's a real touchy situation, it's continually being refined, but it seems to be working for us. For the most part it seems to be working for us. There are some cases that are so difficult that they have to go to the court system and that's how they resolve it."
Joseph P. Kalt:
"I need to add if they go to the [unintelligible] policy board they're going to work with their supervisor. If they're not satisfied with that then you go to the [unintelligible]. If you're not satisfied there then you go to tribal court."
Joseph P. Kalt:
"Personnel issues are the toughest to deal with in Indian Country. I hate dealing with personnel issues. That's why I tell my directors, "˜If you can solve it, solve it.' But we have this thing in our policy called nepotism, but I think it needs to be defined differently in Indian Country. But it is tough to deal with personnel issues in a tribe, especially a small tribe. At Swinomish, where the vast majority of our people are located within a very small area so everybody knows everybody and everybody knows everybody's business and the casino, we have 300 employees down there and we started just gung ho with a lot of tribal members filling those jobs and slowly. And I'm speaking to the choir here for those that have casinos, slowly by slowly those numbers start to dwindle for various reasons and you get calls as the chairman. "˜My daughter just got fired.' And I said, "˜Well, what happened?' "˜Well, she...it's not fair. She's a tribal member, she should have that job.' So I call the casino. "˜Well, the last 21 days she had 21 either lates or no-shows or no-calls or tardies or something.' And so it's real hard to deal with because you're so...you know them, you grew up with a lot of them. There's just such a personal connection there and it's...but...you know what I'm talking about. Personnel issues are the toughest to deal with, but unfortunately as the chairman you're put into a position where maybe a tribal member needs to be let go because they've been accused of sexual assault or sexual harassment or something like that and that's when the director comes to you and says, "˜I can't deal with this, can you deal with this?' I think personnel issues are the toughest in Indian Country to deal with."
"Yeah, ditto. I mentioned earlier that I've been trying to refer back to the policies and procedures that are in place and so I kick them back. We have what we refer to as the five meg-department structure where we have five executive directors, one in...[unintelligible] director and education, public safety, health and welfare, education and public works. I guess, in the past, no one's been using these executive directors and they didn't know where they fit into this whole picture.
So when a decision comes to my desk, and as you well know, everyone has a tendency to go directly to the council or to the leader, and it's like, "˜No, I'm sorry. I'm not going to...I won't deal with that.' I'll kick it back, I'll call the executive and then I tell them, "˜This is your problem, you need to handle it, come up with a solution. If we can't resolve it, we have a human resource program, let them set up a grievance hearing committee.' Council is the last resort, and I keep reminding them that if they come to the council, they've exhausted all the remedies. And so people are finally beginning to adapt and adjust to that method.
The other...for the enterprises what we...we have boards in place for a lot of the enterprises that we have because they're under federal statute corporation. So they have a five-panel board that makes all the...that will make the decisions for them so that it leaves us out of the picture and that's how I've been handling it. Like was mentioned, with the nepotism issue, trying to keep things in perspective and try to correct the behavior that was mentioned about people being tardy, coming in late and what I keep reminding them of is that what I was taught was that anything you do in this organization it's yours, the resources are yours, what it pays for is yours. So you have a say so in every decision that we make here, but you have to remember that if you're going to go crash that vehicle that was on loan to you from the motor pool, that comes out of your pocket. It may not be a direct impact, but the fact is that you have ownership in that vehicle because in the title it is Jicarilla Apache Nation. And by doing that they're like, "˜Oh, yeah.' And so trying to re-establish the ownership part of it because the ownership, somewhere we've lost it along the way because it also flies to such things as being involved with the public school system. You hear this all over Indian Country, "˜Well, the school district isn't doing this for us, they're not doing that for us.' Well, what are we doing about it? What are we saying about it? Those are our children that go to those schools, so it just doesn't make any sense constantly going back and reminding, "˜You do have a say so on any of these things.' So I think it goes back to the gentleman here from Swinomish where you play a role in all of this and I think that's important for our people to understand that."
Joseph P. Kalt:
"You touched on something there and I have a question related to this. I'll introduce it by way of a story. One of the tribes we work with at the Harvard Project, one of the tribal chairs says to me one time, "˜All this stuff is great, Honoring Nations, nation building. My daughter's the president of the student body of her high school and doesn't know what I do for a living.' I've got a question. What ways do you have in place and what are you doing to involve the youth in your community in tribal government? They are the future leaders. What steps are you taking, what concerns do you have in that area? Justin."
"Being relatively young, it's not hard to remember the days of youth. Ten years ago, I got involved with the United National Indian Tribal Youth Program. In 1991, I was the National Youth Coordinator for the 1992 Alliance, an Indian advocacy group on Capitol Hill. I was a person who made the second to the motion at the policy table right after I swore my oath to be an elected official of the tribe. The motion maker made a motion to create another subcommittee within the structure of the Nez Perce Tribe. That new subcommittee is called Youth Affairs Subcommittee and it's a culmination of various efforts of the different youth provider programs within our tribe. We have social services who has concerns with our tribal youth dedicate employees to that cause. We have education liaisons who are dedicated to the needs of the youth in terms of their education. We have various examples to draw from that are essentially the same path and direction and vision but with no true administrative support to enhance one another's abilities to provide that positive future for our youth.
So under discussion a lot of that came out and before I called for the question I just reminded them that by taking this serious stance toward youth initiatives and youth services that will make it better tomorrow for us when we become the elder and they become the leader and if we could keep this direction going. I looked at my elders and said, "˜I will take care of you tomorrow and through this youth affairs committee we can set that value strong within Nez Perce territory that these children coming up have an obligation as well to take care of us tomorrow.' And that was the basic theme behind the rationale to it, looking at the national statistics in Indian Country among other things prompted us to do that.
Currently, I work with...as a natural resources chairman for the Nez Perce Tribe. I work with the other subcommittee chairs on developing holistic initiatives that will represent unity among all the generations alive on my...in my country in setting up literal examples of week to week, month to month, seasonal activities that we can all enjoin and share together in the spirit of health prevention, education, cultural identity, pride, all the good things that our forefathers had set aside time to provide to us. So it's just a simple continuation in a formal contemporary sense of something that we've all had a little taste of in our lives."
Joseph P. Kalt:
"Just let me put a question to you real quick. Specifically with respect to tribal government, is this Youth Affairs Committee attempting to expose the children and the kids and the high school kids and so forth to the work of the tribal government or are you working more broadly on youth issues?"
"Both. We actually have three youth that serve at the tribal policy level on this committee representing the different communities on the reservation; the eastern side, the western side and the northern side. So it's new but it's...and it's having a lot of growing pains, I would guess, but it's working. We now have an agenda that recognizes every youth provider to come in and be accountable and for the first time it has a direct impact to tribal policy formulation development versus being some kind of a quarterly report in a little bulletin fashion format that is like page 156 of a 600-page quarterly report. So that's kind of where we'd been treating them administratively, our youth, and this is a way to really let them tell us as tribal leaders what those concerns are. So it works."
Joseph P. Kalt:
"Good, good. Anybody else involving youth? Jaime."
"We have a junior tribal council that we established. It's a seven-member board of youth that are elected by the youth and they have a budget and they have a chair, vice chair, treasurer, secretary and they do their own fundraisers. And we have a thing called a Youth in Government Day where these youth -- not necessarily just the Junior Tribal Council -- but any youth that is selected through a process can job-shadow a council member or a high executive official on a day. And sometimes these youth are taken out on the road with us and exposed to these kind of meetings. We need to do more of that, but we are trying and we make attempts and they have a board just like a mini-council and they make decisions that impact the kids and how they try to influence us into making things easier for them because they understand what it's like with the environment that they're in in school and in the neighborhood and stuff. So we have that vehicle for them to be able to hear us. And there's an administrative...school administers board where the deans and the superintendents of the schools all get together quarterly and that's hosted by the Junior Tribal Council. They can talk to the school superintendents directly and say, "˜These are our issues as Indian kids. These are what we're facing and this is how we think you can help.' And the council is there and we're all there listening to their concerns and I must say that these kids are very smart. Sometimes we might take that for granted thinking they're young and they've still got a lot to learn but, man, I went to the last Junior Tribal Council and superintendents meeting and I was blown away by how much they really could articulate their point of view and move these superintendents into making policies that are positive for them and it was great."
Joseph P. Kalt:
"We're going to have to bring this to a close, but I'm always struck by the tremendous combination of leaders such as yourselves, show both the vision and tremendous ability to manage and to make things happen and to lead in good, strong directions. We've joked a little bit about the word politician but if you all are the examples, then the word is on its way in Indian Country to being a term of honor and respect as it should be. So thank you to all of you. Thank you."