blood quantum

Hot Topics in Tribal Governance: Citizenship + Blood Quantum

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

As the Director of the Oneida Nation's Trust Enrollment Department, Doxtator used the skills he honed as a financial analyst to examine the current state of the nation's enrollment criteria and illustrate what that meant for the future of the nation. Since Oneida was still relying on Blood Quantum (BQ) to determine enrollment eligibility, the future of the nation's enrollment numbers looked grim. The unfortunate reality was that, if nothing was done to amend the nation's enrollment criteria, it would mean the extinction of the Oneida Nation in just a few generations.

In this presentation during the Native Nations Institute's 2022 Remaking Tribal Constitutions Seminar, Doxtator uses population pyramids and one very compelling animation to explain the issue with BQ as a determinant for enrollment -- a lesson that could any Native nations wrestling with questions about BQ and enrollment.

 

Resource Type
Citation

Doxtator, Keith. "Hot Topics in Tribal Governance: Citizenship + Blood Quantum." September 19, 2023. Presentation. Native Nations Institute.

Transcripts for all videos are available by request. Please email us: nni@arizona.edu.

The Blood Line: Racialized Boundary Making and Citizenship among Native Nations

Year

Blood informs a central racial ideology in the United States that has historically been used to racialize many different groups. American Indians (AIs) are the only population in the United States for whom the racial logic of blood remains codified as a means of conferring collective belonging. This article explores how AI blood quantum persists as both a race-making and nation-making instrument. I ask two research questions: How does blood quantum persist as a metric of tribal citizenship? Are tribal citizenship criteria connected to contemporary demographic, geographic, political, and economic forces? I first extend racial formation theory to describe blood quantum as a “racial project” in its use to both construct tribal identities in explicitly racial ways and determine access to political, social, and material resources. I also consider how the sovereign right of Native nations to confer tribal citizenship is evident in the observed variation among citizenship rules. Using data from more than 80 percent of AI Native nations in the contiguous United States, I employ a multinomial regression model to evaluate tribal citizenship variation. I have two central findings: (1) although tribal citizenship criteria are starting to depart from the racializing policies of the settler-colonial state, blood quantum thresholds remain particularly durable; and (2) variation in tribal citizenship criteria is meaningful by geographic region, tribal governance status, and Indian gaming. Against a backdrop of growing racial diversity in the United States, I discuss implications of the blood line on tribal citizenship boundaries and tribal sovereignty.

 
Resource Type
Citation

Rodriguez-Lonebear, Desi. “The Blood Line: Racialized Boundary Making and Citizenship among Native Nations.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, vol. 7, no. 4, Oct. 2021, pp. 527–542, doi:10.1177/2332649220981589.

Blood Quantum and Sovereignty

Producer
Native Governance Center
Year

"Blood Quantum and Sovereignty" is a beginner-level conversation focused on why blood quantum is controversial, as well as how it came to be used as an enrollment and citizenship criteria for Native nations. Produced and recorded by Native Governance Center on March 30, 2022.

Featuring: Wayne Ducheneaux II, Megan Hill, Dr. Elizabeth Rule, Dr. Jill Doerfler, Gabe Galanda

Resource Type
Citation

Native Governance Center. "Blood Quantum and Sovereignty." Mar 30, 2022. Video. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldvC2bWRXu4, accessed March 8, 2023)

 

What Makes Someone American Indian?

Producer
National Public Radio
Year

Who is Native American? It's a complicated question that has tripped up, among others, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. The Democratic presidential hopeful recently apologized for identifying American Indian as her race more than 30 years ago. It was around that time that the U.S. census saw a surge of people identifying as American Indian. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang explains why.

Resource Type
Citation

Lo Wang, Hansi. What Makes Someone American Indian? National Public Radio. February 17, 2019. Retreived from https://www.npr.org/2019/02/17/695536896/what-makes-s... February 21, 2019.

Wilson Justin: Leadership with Cultural Knowledge and Perseverance

Year

Wilson Justin is a cultural ambassador for Cheesh’na Tribal council and serves as a Vice Chair Board of Directors for Mt. Sanford Tribal Consortium.  He relays his expertise and perspective on the intricacies of Indigenous governance in Alaska through adapting cultural traditions, creating a constitution, navigating citizenship, and asserting rights of Indigenous people. 

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Native Nations Institute. "Wilson Justin: Leadership with cultural knowledge and perseverance."  Leading Native Nations, Native Nations Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, November 15, 2016

For a complete transcript, please email us: nni@email.arizona.edu

Leroy Shingoitewa: Self-Governance with Hopi Values

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Leroy Shingoitewa, member of the bear clan, and served as chairman of the Hopi tribe and since January 2016, has served as a councilman representing the village of Upper Moenkopi.  He recalls the intricacies of governing while maintiang Hopi values and traditions.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Shingoitewa, Leroy, "Leroy Shingoitewa: Self-Governance with Hopi Values," Leading Native Nations, Native Nations Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, March 01, 2016

Verónica Hirsch:

Welcome to Leading Native Nations. I’m your host, Verónica Hirsch. On today’s program, we are honored to have with us Councilman Leroy Shingoitewa, who is a Hopi tribal citizen and a member of the bear clan. Councilman Shingoitewa previously served as chairman of the Hopi tribe and since January 2016, has served as a councilman representing the village of Upper Moenkopi. Councilman Shingoitewa received his bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, earned his master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration from Penn State University and has over 30 years of experience as a teacher and principal within the Arizona public school system and Bureau of Indian Education schools. He served as the first Native American principal for the Flagstaff Unified School District, helped establish the Hopi tribe’s first tribal grant school and currently works with school boards, schools and their staff and tribal organizations to find, develop, and train effective leadership. Councilman Shingoitewa, welcome.

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Thank you, it’s an honor to be here.

Verónica Hirsch:

I’ve shared a little bit about who you are but would you please begin by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Well, I’m from the Hopi tribe, live in Moenkopi, was born and raised on the Hopi Reservation at Keams Canyon, Arizona. Grew up knowing and living in the traditional Hopi way with my father, my mother, and my grandparents, and all of my extended family. I’ve lived away from the reservation as well in the outside world so I’ve learned how to become balanced living in both cultures. I feel that whatever experiences that I’ve had hopefully will be of benefit who may hear today’s interview.

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you. I’d like to begin by asking some basic questions regarding this topic of Native nation building and my first question is, in your opinion, how do you define nation building?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

I guess there’s two forms to me of nation building. First of all, there’s your own tribal affiliation like me with the Hopi. I believe that in building of the Hopi tribe there needs to be strong partnerships with the 12 villages we have, partnerships among the tribal council of men that serve, and strengthening the way governance is operated on our reservation. That’s a quick synopsis of our local government. On the other side in the United States and probably in other areas like Canada and Mexico, in order for tribes to become strong, we need to start to learn how to work together. In other words, we can belong to our individual tribes, when it comes to national issues we need to band together to show strength in that area of concern or issues that will affect all of our tribes. To me, this is called nation building. If we do not come together as a nation, we become individualistic and we lose out on a fight that has died before our people.

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you. I’d like to ask a little more in depth question regarding part of your answer of what nation building entails for the Hopi tribe, and what does it entail?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

For the Hopi, it pushes us or makes us think more realistically going beyond what we call our traditional form of governance. We’ve adopted a way of governance in 1936 when the Indian Reorganization Act was passed. It made it so that as a tribe we were able to have a relationship with the United States government on a government to government relation. Our role is a find a way that we can effectively operate in that manner without pushing ourselves to a point that we, as the 12 villages are, would become individualistic in what we want to do. For us in the Hopi tribe, it is very difficult; we have 12 different villages, each individually with their own form of government in their villages with operation of their own village. With a tribal government, we must then consolidate all 12 villages, bring them together and become one of mind especially on the ordinances or laws or issues that face us. It will protect and save all the people involved. In a lot of ways, governing as a group takes a lot of effort. You may have an individual who serves for their village but also once he comes to college he must also change his mind set to serve all the Hopi people.

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you. I’d next like to ask, in your opinion, what do nation building leaders do? By that, I mean how do they conduct business both on a daily basis and with a long term perspective in mind?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

This is a challenge for both since I served as a chairman and now as a councilman that you have to have a vision of what you’re looking for. Once you have that vision, you find a strategy on how to achieve that vision with the help of all the other members of council. In turn with that you must also not forget the people you serve. You must be able to go out and search and talk to people away from the tribal government, asking of their opinion, asking if the vision you’re looking at is going in the right direction. On a daily basis, you must be willing to listen to people; You can’t go out and say, ‘Well, this is the way it’s going to be.’ Not only that, you’re going to have to love what you’re doing. If you don’t love serving people, then you shouldn’t be in the service of a councilman or chairman because it’s just a title, it doesn’t make you all everything. In order to be the most effective, you have to be willing to allow yourself that flexibility to listen and once you’ve listened, form a plan on how you’d like to go forth and get that plan completed. I think a lot of times you have to forget the title you have and become part of the group that you serve and that way when you talk to them you’re on equal levels. Many times, even today, a lot of people are still a chairman because serving that capacity but on the other side because I’m not in the position they approach me very differently and say, ‘Well, you’re one of us now.’ In many ways every day is a challenge. Every day when you wake up, the first thought in your mind is ‘Ok, what can I do today? Who will I go see and who will I talk to?’ Your daily basis – as a councilman, you serve on a daily basis and I’m talking 24/7. You can’t take your hat off on the weekend because you’ll always be approached by somebody. Anywhere you go, you will be approached and someone will have something complimentary or they may be concerned about issues. To me, serving in that capacity, if you do it with enthusiasm and with a zeal of accomplishing something, it’s a good way to go.

Verónica Hirsch:

Based upon your experience, what are the unique challenges of serving as an elected councilman? You mentioned a moment ago about how people might still approach you and bearing in mind your former capacity as Hopi tribe chairman but are there any differences between your former position of chairman of the Hopi tribe and your current capacity as councilman representing the village of Upper Moenkopi?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

There is a big difference. As a chairman, people look at you as being the leader of everybody. You are showing the face of the Hopi people, when you go out to meetings you are the representative of the Hopi people. When you go out to the counties or the cities or the state or even the national level you are the one they will ask questions of. What you end up doing is you have to project what Hopi is and to go out and become an individual that says, ‘Well, now I’m the chairman and I can say whatever I want’ and that’s not true because you learn to become very selective in what you say and you have to think about it before you speak your mind because in that capacity anything you say to some people says. ‘Ok, here is what the Hopi people stand on.’ Now as a councilman, I’m a little more of an individual, I speak for our village at Moenkopi so I’m probably a little more specific on what I say. I’m not fearful of saying something in a meeting because as a councilman I’m one of 22 people and I have an opinion. I can express my opinion and I also have a vote in a decision. As a chairman, you don’t have a vote. There’s a misconception that the chairman is the chairman so he is the government of all; but in our system of government, the tribal council is the decision making body. All of the councilmen have a vote and the chairman doesn’t. The only time the chairman votes is when there’s a tie in the council, he breaks the tie. In that respect, there is a huge difference in the capacity and responsibility of what the chairman does but his main role is to serve and show the true face of the people he serves, in other words the Hopi people.

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you. I’d like to ask you now a question reflecting back on your experience as Hopi tribal chairman and then also your current capacity. What do you wish you knew before you first began serving as an elected leader of the Hopi tribe?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

I wish I knew that it was hard to serve young people. If anything, that was something I came to a quick realization. Also, I felt that sometimes you have to be able to be aware of all the things that’s happening around you, all the issues that occur. You have to be ready to explain immediately when somebody asks you a question especially at the state and national level. I find that if you surround yourself with resources, with expertise, with people who are experts in those areas of concern; they will feed you information so when you go in you’re ready to answer the questions you’ve been asked. I find that those who are not ready for this begin to look like, ‘Wow that person doesn’t know anything’ or ‘He’s fumbling for words.’ The biggest thing that I learned quickly was that you have to study the things in front of you. You can’t just go and say, ‘Ok, we’re going to talk about this today,’ and if you don’t have the understanding of it you have to be careful that you don’t look like you don’t know anything in front of all the people you’re going to be there with. As a councilman, it’s still the same way. When we have issues with land, with water, housing, with a village it concerns…all these have the same bearing that you have to be willing to go out and understand and learn the issues that are in front of you. In the long run, the positives are that once you learn, you build on those reserves that you’ve found that you have the knowledge of. Example, all those things I learned as chairman now as a councilman, all those things that I learned are now coming out to help with the present issues; water, land. Example, a thing called the Snowbowl Ski Resort in Flagstaff. Learning about the issues of the local towns. These are the things that I found for me were very positive because now I’m probably a lot more knowledgeable now than I was when I first went in to serve my people. I’ll tell you the greatest joy was being able to serve my people, being able to and say, ‘I did this on behalf of my people.’ For me – see there’s a history with me – my father was a chairman in 1940 and ’41. In some respects, I grew up with the knowledge of what our Hopi people were hoping to learn and have. For me, maybe it’s a different type of commitment because I saw my father go through these; I saw my father when he was a first member of the tribal council, first secretary, first interpreter for the tribal council, law enforcement officer – all these things had a bearing on my commitment to come back and serve my people.

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you, thank you for sharing the legacy of your family’s involvement with service to the Hopi tribe. I’d like to now transition into discussing what Hopi traditional governance looks like and my first questions is, what does the Hopi – and I’ll call it “indigenous constitution” – or traditional form of governance look like?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Well, like I stated in Hopi we have 12 villages and traditionally the Hopi villages each had a leader that was trained and was appointed by the leaders of that village…chosen, trained, and nurtured to take over that role which became a lifelong position. It wasn’t just for one or two years; once you were put in that position, you stayed there until you moved on from this world. That was the traditional form of government. Because of that, when the constitution came in there was a discussion, probably among our people, that how do we make these two governments work together. What I hear from like my father and my grandparents and those other older leaders that I knew, that the traditional form of governance state in the village that whatever way they were going to govern, they chose to do so in their village. In that form, the kikmongwi was the leader in that village but around him he also had a council – if you want to call it – of religious leaders who sat with him, who provided him with information when there’s issues in that community that came up in that village, they would discuss it and come to a consensus. At that point, the leader then would make his decision but also that community as whole, as a village, involved the people themselves. That was the village form of government and that form of government is disappearing from the Hopi. At this stage there are probably two villages that try to possess that type of government and right now leadership is chose by the few who still try to practice the way of life. Again, that type of life is slowly disappearing because out of the 12 villages, 10 of the villages have their own board of governors – board of directors if you want to call it – maybe a governor or maybe a chairperson of that board who then makes decisions on behalf of that village as a whole. As you see, we’ve moved from what traditionally we lived by on a daily basis to now a more modernistic type of government, which we learned from the outside world.

Verónica Hirsch:

You mentioned that some of the format that you described of Hopi traditional governance –  that it has diminished in more contemporary times. My next question is to what extent does it operate today? You mentioned two villages in particular have made consorted efforts to operate in the very same way, do you see elements of traditional government apparent in the other 10 villages?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

In watching them, they internally – and they really try to separate them but sometimes they’ll combine them and some of their decision making – but in the long run there is still an attempt at the separation of church and state. In the villages, they will have their decisions in a village board meeting then it comes to a traditionalism type of activity that transitions to what we call a kiva. That’s where all the men gather, that’s where ceremonies take place, that’s where religious activities take place that are based on our Hopi way of living; our values, our traditions, our beliefs. Even within the villages there is a separation but when it comes to issues like water, like housing, like land, that takes place in the village board of directors meeting.

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you. You mentioned, Councilman Shingoitewa, briefly about how in traditional context leaders would be identified and trained. I’d like to ask you a little bit more about that point and ask, traditionally, how were Hopi governance roles and responsibilities allocated?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Well, depending on which village it was, there were certain clans that were identified in the leadership role. I think some tribes throughout the United States also have that type of structure. An example is in certain religions; the bear clan was considered the clan that was on the top. They were believed to be the leadership of the Hopi people and traditionally they are considered to be the father of all the Hopi people. An example, that’s what I believe in myself as a Bear Clan; my responsibility is to the people and therefore I believe in my mind that I am a father of the people so therefore my commitment goes to serving the people. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I become the kikmongwi or the chief of that village; its only upon the fact that if they find me worthy enough that I were to be designated with that role that I would play that role. There are other clans within the tribe that hold certain roles and responsibilities that they must fulfill in the religious portion of daily life or in their role of serving the people. Again, each of the clans play their role. To give you an example, my father’s Sun clan; his role was to protect the people. He believed he was there to protect our people from harm and he was – I guess the other word would be a soldier – his role was to just be out there, stand guard, and make sure nothing bad happened to the people and that if he didn’t do it right, he would’ve failed in his role. So we in our way or thinking and our values structure believe that our clanship plays a huge role in the way we conduct our life. But as time goes on and our younger generations have grown and are growing, sometimes we forget to train our young people what their roles are as clan individuals. Now, the dominance of tribal governments – that seems to be taking a little more stronger role than what the traditional governance once was.

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you. You mentioned how among villages there might be some differences in terms of how leaders might be identified or what specific roles might be ascribed, for instance, to particular clans, but I’d like to ask you perhaps a general question, and if you have examples to offer, we’d appreciate hearing from you. How were Hopi leaders traditionally identified and then held accountable?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Well, of the village that I came from – Mishongnovi, which is one of the traditional villages that are trying to exist the way they were – there was a clan that would look and find an individual who they found worthy. When I say worthy that means the way they conducted themselves, their personality, their way of looking at things, patience, a listener maybe…different values they would look at. Then the present person who was in that leadership roles would say, ‘This person looks like he’s an individual who I think could take over this position.’ Then they would let that individual know and say. ‘You’ve been chosen to step in when the present kikmongwi, or chief, passes on so therefore we’re going to train you.’ They were not just put in there; they went through a regular ceremony in order to be designated to be that person. Again, they were selected with very particular values involved with them and once they were selected, they knew they would be in that position for life. The tradition commitment was life; it wasn’t just for one year or two years. Now, in the society that we live in, which is a tribal government, we’re looking at someone who fills the role for four years and a consulate for two years so longevity is very different from what the traditional form of government is. There are still religious leaders who have gone up through the ranks, earned their authorities as they moved up, and those are now in those positions in the religious and traditional way of life.

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you. Councilman Shingoitewa, you mentioned some of these differences between the contemporary Hopi tribal governance structure and that of a more traditional context and I’d like to ask you two questions pertaining to that. How are governance roles and responsibilities defined in the Hopi tribe’s current govern acne system?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Well, of course you got three forms of government. You have the executive branch, which is your chairman, vice chairman, your secretary and your treasurer, they form the one layer which is the executive branch. You’ve got your legislative branch which is your tribal council and what’s interesting is also even with that legislative branch, in our tribe the chairman and vice chairman are a part of that as well. Those two are the main groups that do that. The other form of government are all the other entities that are under that, the finances, the personal, all those form under the day-to-day type activity. The most critical ones in the tribal government is your two levels, executive and legislative. If you look at it, that’s how the government is formed in the United States and earlier we talked about the constitution. When 1936 came about, the United States government gave us a generic constitution and said, ‘Tribes, this is a constitution that you will form and use.’ So, if you’re going to go to many other tribes a day you’re going to find that their constitutions are very similar; the only thing was that they put the different tribe’s name in there. When they came to the Hopi tribe, ‘The Hopi tribal government and constitution will be…’ Well, the same one could be for the Lumbee, the same one could be for the Jicarilla Apache, etcetera. When we came into existence as a government under the United States, we were given a generic constitution to use. In today’s present government, it comes down to those two layers of government that now form how we operate.

Verónica Hirsch:

You mentioned the two layers of a three-branch system, what is that third branch?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

I was just trying to think and it completely left my mind. I knew that was going to come up…where did it go?

Verónica Hirsch:

Does the Hopi tribe have a court system? A judicial branch?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Oh, that’s right, judicial system. You got it. We do have a judicial system. We have both the appeals court and the trial court. I think one of the greatest things that occurred was that when the United States government allowed us to change our law and order code. The Hopi tribe became the first tribe that changed its total system where the judicial branch now has BAR attorneys, they have to be barred in the state of Arizona. The judges, all of them, have to be certified barred attorneys and even those practicing in the court have to be attorneys. Part of it is because it allowed us to also – instead of waiting for the Bureau of Indian Affairs judicial system, the government system to come in and do felonies and misdemeanors – the Hopi tribe now gets to do it. We get to do longer sentences for felonies that are committed on the reservation. This has helped us. I think with the three branches of government that we have, the one that has to stay the most neutral is the judicial. They have to separate themselves completely away from the other two so they can be as fair as possible with the people that come through their system.

Verónica Hirsch:

You’ve mentioned the importance of the various branches of the Hopi tribe’s government structure and I’d like to ask, within that structure, what roles and responsibilities did the 12 villages possess?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

The roles that all 12 villages have is first of all they come in representing their villages. When they come in, their role is to serve that village that elected them. Notice how I used the world elected. Two of the villages at this stage or one other village has not elected their officials, they’re still appointed by their leader. The rest of us, we are all elected by the people of that village so our roles and responsibilities are to the people, not to governor of the village, not to village consul…we serve the people. When issues come up that will affect our village we are usually very adamant about protecting what is rightfully ours. We can come in there individually as a village but when it comes to a total issue of the total governance body of the tribal issues as a whole, we then have to know how to play the role and take our hats off. Not only are we just a village issue, but now we take on the total tribe issue. We have to play the role of what’s going to be best be good for our people. I think that maybe this is part of the issues that I see in tribal council. Some of our councilmembers don’t know how to play roles; they don’t know how to switch hats. As a political body, which I’m going to mention now, even in today’s United States government, people switch hats all the time to fit the situation you are in. That is our role as tribal council members. We have to learn to switch our hats. When we come off the reservation we have to know how to dress, we have to know how to speak, we have to know how to act around people. We have to conduct ourselves in a way that’s best going to reflect who we serve. Those are things that you have to learn to do if you’re an elected official otherwise, as tribes, we get labeled with different things that aren’t the truth about our tribes. As an individual for myself, when I come here, for example with you, I am doing the best I can to reflect what a Hopi person is. My role is to let people outside of our reservation know that a true Hopi is one that thinks the best for the Hopi, believes that what we’re doing in the best to serve our younger generation as well as our older generation and also to play the role that says we want the best for our people and we’re going to do everything we can to get that.

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you. Councilman Shingoitewa, you mentioned previously the 1936 date of the Hopi tribe’s written constitutional government and I’d like to ask you maybe a few more questions on that topic. You mentioned how the tribe’s constitution at that time was a type of boiler-plate document but could you provide us a little bit more information on the origin of the Hopi tribe’s written constitutional government?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Well, the origin came out when the Indian Reorganization Act was passed. Up until that point, the Indian nations really had no way of dealing with the United States government and at that point I’m sure many of our tribal leaders were very frustrated with the fact that they were being ignored because we were the first people in this country and yet we had no say so. At that point, the United States government said, ‘You know what? Maybe we need to start treating Indian nations in a manner that will be protective for not only us but also our Indian nations.’ If you recall, the history was basically the lands of Indian country disappeared with the western movement of civilization and we were put into places that probably no other individual would want to live but they felt if they put use there we wouldn’t survive and therefore we would disappear. We didn’t disappear but voices continue to be raised like we are a nation; we want to have relationships with the United States government. At that time, the ruling body to be said, ‘let’s put something together,’ because they were watching us as wards of the government, they were providing us some things but never one where we could go one-on-one with them on a government-to-government basis. In 1936, they passed that act; it gave the right for every Indian tribe throughout this country to establish a government and so we did. Because of that act, in that act it says that we now have the right to be recognized as a sovereign government. We have the right now to negotiate with the United States government on issues that would affect our people. Somebody in their wisdom, our leaders of old, never gave up and because of their fortitude and strength and bravery it happened. Because of that, today we still have that right. We still have the sovereignty of how our future for our people will look like. We still have the right to demand of the United States government, under the treaties they served with us, that they have the right and responsibility to take care of the health, education and welfare of our people. Sometimes, I look at what took place and I hear people complaining about the fact that tribes don’t give anything back to the United States and how wrong the people of this country are because we provided soldiers, we provided people who gave up their talents, the history of this country, came down and our Indian people opened up their arms and welcomed people into this country. In reality, Indian tribes were the builders of this nation, it wasn’t the pilgrims that came here. Maybe if we’d thought about it, maybe if the tribes at that time had known what would happen we might’ve said, ‘Turn your boats arounds and go back home.’ It didn’t happen that way so in a lot of ways this is where my pride comes from. I believe that our people were destined to do what they’re doing today. I believe that is a time that our leaders of our tribe need to step up and live by the constitution that they have so our children can move forward and be a part of this country because we are the true leaders of this country and we do have a place in this society.

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you. I wanted to ask a question again regarding the constitution. When the Hopi tribe chose to adopt this constitution in 1936, you had mentioned that much of that language was very similar to another native nation entirely.

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Yes.

Verónica Hirsch:

Were there any features that were unique in the constitution? For instance, was there any language that specified that the 12 villages would still maintain a measure of their autonomy or was that not mentioned at all?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

It was. Each of the 12 villages were given the right to choose how they wanted to be govern; it’s in the constitution which gives them to the right to exist the way they have. It gives them the right to also be responsible over certain things in their village by constitution. They also have the right to decide who can be a member of their village. It gives them the right to provide permission to do certain things. For example, if there’s an issue with children that village has the right to assign those children to someone else to take care of them. There are specific things in that constitution that are given back to the villages. They have the right to choose whether they want the traditional way of governance or the way it is now today with board of directors or governors or whatever; those are stated in the constitution. It also identifies them as individual villages. Instead of saying the 12 villages it says every one of them, Shitchumovi, Walpi, Moenkopi, Kykotsmovi so forth and so on. All the 12 villages are named and it gives the tribe to right to develop another community if they so choose and which they did. By using the constitution, they are able to make changes within their framework that meets the requirements of the constitution.

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you. I’d like to ask you, in your opinion, what governance challenges exists within the current structure of the Hopi tribe?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

I think the challenges we have is how do we use this constitution to do a better job and what is needed for our people. There are some limitations; that constitution says you can’t do certain things. In reality, a constitution is like any document or instrument, there’s ways of working with that constitution to make the correct changes. I know that the constitution hasn’t changed much since we started; if anything, our enrolled membership of the tribe has changed in the blood quantum. At one point – an example of what changes were needed – traditionally only the women’s side were identified as being Hopi, the children of the women. But as time went, the men folk who were full-blood Hopi, but were maybe married to another tribe member and their children still had at least half of blood quantum, were not allowed to be enrolled in the Hopi tribe. Then the blood diminished because only the women’s side existed and if the women continued to marry a non-tribal member the blood quantum got less and less. In the wisdom of some of the leaders at the time, we said, ‘We can’t let the blood disappear; let us now redo our enrollment for the Hopi tribe.’ So at that time, they then passed a law that says, ‘We are now going to accept up to a fourth of Hopi Indian blood.’ With that, that is how tribal membership is now recognized. This is a critical area because it’s not just with the Hopi tribe, I think every tribe is running into this now because of inner marriage between us and other nationalities.

Verónica Hirsch:

Councilman Shingoitewa, you mentioned this blood quantum threshold of being one-fourth; now, is that regarded on both mother’s and father’s sides?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Yes, yes it is. Yes, it is. Fortunately for me, right now, all my children are full-bloods but after them some of them have married other tribes so they have the choice to enroll in a Hopi tribe or maybe another tribe; but, I leave that decision to them. For myself and for my children, I chose to be married to a Hopi so therefore all my children are full-blooded Hopi. I tell you this because right now in the Hopi tribe, 60 percent of our members are not full-blooded tribal members. It is slowly diminishing. In some ways, that concerns me because how far down the road will that enrollment of full-blooded people exist? I predict that it’s moving quickly to the other side but then we have no one to blame but ourselves; we chose to do that. Those of us who see this as a concern, we are trying to tell our children, ‘you need to look at Hopi girls or Hopi men.’ But again, it’s a running topic within our families but as our children grow they have to make some decisions, they choose with who they want to be a companion with.

Verónica Hirsch:

Councilman Shingoitewa, I’d like to return to a couple more questions on the current Hopi tribal governance structure and I’d like to ask, what aspects of the current structure effectively work?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

I think in most cases, most of the constitution works. It comes down to how you use the constitution on a daily basis. Interpretation is always the major concern among us in the tribal council. Sometimes, we forget we have a constitution so when decisions are made we have to look and discuss whether or not our decision met the requirements of the constitution. But like with any government, if you’re going to have a structure, you must follow that structure. Otherwise, just like the with the outside world, we have courts that help us interpret the law and if we don’t follow the law correctly, that law can be overturned or that decision can be overturned. Interpretation, understanding what’s in that constitution, educating councilmembers, educating the chairman and the vice chairman that yes, we are the ruling body or the decision-making body, but we are also held to the laws and rules of the constitution and you have to know what you’re looking at in order to make the right decision. I guess we’ve learned you have to be cautious about how you make that decision because if you want it to be a good one you don’t want it to be overturned. Again, this is learning an outside form of government that we had not had but are now using predominantly in our lives with tribal governance.

Verónica Hirsch:

You mentioned how this outside form of government has very much impacted the structure of the current Hopi tribe’s tribal council system; but I’d like to ask, to what extent has the Hopi tribe intergraded aspects of traditional governance into this system? Or has it not? I believe you mentioned earlier there’s this desire – I don’t know if it’s recent or it’s been a long time – to have a separation of the church and state.

Leroy Shingoitewa:

I think if anything we bring back into our governance at the tribal level is the values that we have. We remind ourselves that here is the values and morals that we live by. As far as the traditional form of government, it’s tied very closely to our beliefs and our ways of life, our religious portion. That has no place in the tribal government. This is what we’re told by our elders, ‘That form of government in only in the village, only by those chosen to remind us to practice that way,’ but when it comes the tribal council, as I remember being told, that’s the white man’s form of government that we chose to follow; therefore, we will not take those things that we believe that are personal into the tribal government. But when it comes to values, we still have to remember our values. We still have to remember who we are. A quick example that we have to be reminded of is if you have an older person talking to you, you don’t go and argue with that older person. You’re supposed to respect that elder for the wisdom he has. That’s a real conflict for our younger people who are now getting more educated, they want to challenge some things that we may have to say, ‘Well, they have to play with that value.’ That’s why I say, I guess this is what you call roleplay; you look at what the situation is. If it’s called that you must state your own opinion, then you have to do it in a way that is respectful to the person you’re talking to…these are the values. An example, right now I am the oldest in the tribal council so every once and a while I use it to my advantage when somebody is getting carried away. I’ll say, ‘Wait a minute, you’re younger than I am; listen to what I say before you answer.’ I guess maybe I’m playing politics at the same time; I’m intergrading the outside world with our own values structure. This is where that portion comes back into the tribal council so there is a trying to separate the beliefs from the government portion of our tribal government.

Verónica Hirsch:

Councilman Shingoitewa, you’ve mentioned previously efforts to address change in realities within the Hopi tribe, so my next series of questions has to do with any changes that the Hopi tribe has engaged in regarding constitutional reform since the adoption of the Hopi Constitution Bylaws on December 19, 1936; have there been any efforts?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

There have been some efforts. Like I said, the biggest change is the enrollment. That went through, that was taken care of. The next biggest challenge was approximately seven years ago when there was a move to totally revamp the constitution. It took us approximately four years, meeting with people constantly, taking the constitution, listening to the people. Once we listened to them, we would make the changes in the proposed constitution. We did approximately 24 revisions of the constitution when we finally went to the tribal council and asked them to hold a referendum with our people. Before we could do that, we had to have the approval from the federal government to hold this referendum to change the constitution. It went to vote and got defeated. Right now, there is a movement that people, once that got defeated, they realized that there were some things we need to change in the constitution. I think with the latest movement they’re looking at specific areas rather than an overall revision of the constitution. This is left up to the people and there is a committee that’s been put together that it working on revising the constitution. Personally, I think the constitution needs to be revised to meet today’s needs and demands; otherwise, we’re behind the times and if we don’t make improvements we will get further and further behind as time comes.

Verónica Hirsch:

Are there specific areas that you think need to be addressed to meet some of the contemporary demands?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

I think so. I think this comes down to the villages; what is their authority and rights that they have? I think the area of elected people to the tribal council…I think we’ve talked – some people said they want some educated people on the tribal council. In some respects, that’s probably true. Out of the 22 that sits on council, there’s only four of us who are what you would call college-educated people; meaning, the council members have never really worked off the reservation, they’ve always lived on the reservation. They want some council members who are more exposed to what occurs outside of the reservation. They want to see a portion that says, ‘If the tribal council or the chairman or vice chairman are not performing their duties as they had promised to do, then there should be a recall.’ This is a portion that has been looked at. There’s also the portion where it says that we need to have the ability to do taxes on our reservation and who we can tax. So, there are portions in that tribal constitution that do need to be taken a look at, do need to be revised and also would benefit the new changes in modern society.

Verónica Hirsch:

Councilman Shingoitewa, regarding previous constitution reform efforts, what did you learn from those experiences? What were your takeaways?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

What I learned was that you really need to work hard at explaining what the reforms were, not only in English but also in Hopi. You need to be mindful of the people you’re talking to and when it comes down to producing the product that you let people know that they were all involved in this process. One of the things that came out was that people said, ‘Well, it’s just this group that put this reform together,’ and yet it was all the people who gave suggestions, gave opinions where they felt the main concerns were. To me, what I learned was that from the start to the finish you have the people involved constantly. Those that have worked on this, if it’s a reform that’s going to happen again, bring them back in so they can tell you what they felt that they ran into. This is what I learned. I learned that being patient, learning to really listen, really learning to understand what the concerns were. This is something that I learned and it’s been valuable to me because that helped me in my role as a councilman and has now helped me when I served as a chairman. Those were values that I held very dearly, even to this day.

Verónica Hirsch:

Are there now processes in place to amend the constitution if other people, maybe people who were involved in previous efforts or others, perhaps even young people might want to become involved in any future constitutional reform efforts; what processes are in place for that to happen?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Well, I think that the council has been talking about. We have heard young people’s concern that they are not allowed to be involved with tribal government and part of it is…let me give you an example of one of those areas that has come up and that has concerned me as well. One is that you have to be fluent in the Hopi language. Among our young people, there are very few people that would be classified as fluent speakers because they don’t know the language that well. They can speak it, they can understand it but fluency – interpretation and fluency – prevents them a younger person from running for the chairman of the Hopi tribe or the vice chairman of the Hopi tribe or a councilman because that is a stipulation that is placed in the constitution. I think the young people are saying, ‘We want to be part of you but you have to allow us to be part of you.’ Right now, I think that’s a hindrance, to bring the young people in to help us with the operation of the government. We have people who work within the departments, we have people in the outside world who work like here at the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, ASU, who are ready to help out but we have not allowed them to open the door so they can come in. I think constitutional reform is needed in several areas and I think we can do it. I believe this is where the people who are now clamoring to be a part of it, we allow it happen.

Verónica Hirsch:

If the Hopi tribe does choose to reengage in constitution reform and wants to revisit and perhaps revise its written constitution, what challenges exist? Are there challenges based on current government structure? Do you think there are challenges in terms of, let’s say, community attitudes or concerns regarding what reform might mean or how it might impact the Hopi tribe?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

I think the biggest requirement is commitment. Those that choose to want to do this, they have to be committed. If you want to be on that committee, you have to understand that you will have meetings on a constant basis, maybe covering anywhere from two to four years to take a look at what we need to change. Then, you also have to be willing to take the time to travel to those places. When we talk about 12 villages, you’re looking at a span of 100 miles within which those villages exist. An example, if I live in Moenkopi and I want to help present over in First Mesa, I must be able to go 75 miles just to go visit and meet and stay there for maybe three hours and then drive home after a long meeting. If somebody lives in Flagstaff and wanted to come up to Hopi to help, the commute from Flagstaff to even the tribal headquarters is 90 miles one way. Commitment to get this thing accomplished, time, is what’s needed. Many of the people that were involved in the initial constitutional reform – which I was involved in; I spent easily three days a week meeting at various communities in Flagstaff, Phoenix, down here in Tucson – the commitment of time is really critical. Also, the tribal council must be able to provide some type of funds to cover the paperwork, the taking of minutes, recordings, legal counsel…all these things are needed. Those are critical areas of, ‘How do we get it done? Who is willing to do it and when are we going to do it?’ I think that the question now, when are we going to do it? Somebody needs to be willing to do it, somebody has got to be willing to take the time. I know the people who did the initial constitutional reform with me was a group of about eight to ten people who constantly worked on this and they were representatives of all the villages plus other community people that wanted to make this happen.

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you. I’d like to now ask…my next series of questions is pertaining to how the Hopi tribe currently lives within its own governance structure. My first question is, how does the Hopi tribe ensures that its written constitution, as it is right now, is followed and upheld?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Well, I think this is where many of us who have worked with this constitution, work very hard to remind people on a constant basis, ‘Here is what the constitution says.’ Within the government, it is the responsibility of the secretary’s office, the chairman, and vice chairman to be aware of what’s in that constitution because that constitution also defines the roles of those offices. Those other councilmen have some rules in there but they’re very generic, representing villages. It talks about the conducting of meetings, how many times the meetings should be held, when we make decisions, who makes the motions, what rules are we following when we hold meetings, how long do we hold meetings… you know, those are decisions that are tied into that constitution. For those of us that go into the council and those executive offices, we have to make ourselves knowledgeable about that constitution. We have to pick up the constitution, we have to look at it. This is how the tribal government lives within that constitution because our responsibility isn’t only the ordinances we pass, the laws that we pass, the judicial portion of our tribal government, the departments that we allow and give authority to act on behalf of our government…these are those things that we have to work with. That’s why the constitution is law. If we don’t follow the constitution and we break that law, the question is, who is responsible? Ultimately, the tribal council is responsible. We are the law making body and we can’t pass that on to anyone else. Therefore, why is it critical we operate within those bounds? If we don’t, the rest of the people can do whatever we want because they’re watching us. If we can break the law, why not them? That constitution must be followed and worked with as a tribal government and we must know what we’re working with.

Verónica Hirsch:

If there are any infractions of the constitution, are there processes in place – you mentioned that it is ultimately the responsibility of the tribal council to ensure that the constitution is understood and followed – but, what might happen if there was an instance of infraction? Are there mechanisms in place to address that?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Very limited. One of the things that many governments will fall into – and I’m not just talking about tribal government, even the United States government – when the fault of the legislative body makes a mistake, they use the protection of sovereign immunity. ‘Oh, we’re protected, you can’t file suit against us.’ The question is, can we file suit against each of those individuals separately and are they held liable for breaking that law? Those are legal questions that are now affecting all constitutions. Can we always declare sovereign immunity? Because when we do this, we also limit ourselves in economic development. In order for tribes to, in example, do gaming. I speak of this only as someone who has watched them and has looked at some of the rules in gaming that a tribe will wave some of their sovereign immunity so they can be held liable for any mistakes they make. If we go into deals with other entities, our tribal governments now must weigh how much of our sovereignty can we give up in order to progress forward in making example business economic decisions. Lands outside of our reservations; can we purchase the land and use it for other means? These are the things that are in the constitution. That’s the reason I say, you need to know your constitution. That’s why I say we can only go so long continuing to carry, ‘I’m a sovereign immunity, you can’t file this against me,’ because it does limit us and it hinders us sometimes in some of our dealings with outside entities.

Verónica Hirsch:

Councilman Shingoitewa, how are written Hopi tribal laws currently made and enforced?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Well with how the ordnances are made and laws are made, we run through legal consult anything we want to change into a law. What they will do is they will look at it to make sure the language is done correctly. They will then bring that action item to the council and with it is a resolution that is acted upon. It is brought before us, we discuss it; we ask for assistance from legal consults or any other group that is representing to this. An example might be having to deal with a water ordinance, the water department will be there. They will tell us why they are doing this and once we’ve had a discussion, we will take a vote on whether we approve or disapprove. If it is approved, we will have the chairman sign the resolution saying that we, as a body, approved this law. Once he signs it, it becomes law. The only way it will change is if we decide to resend the resolution somewhere down the line, then it becomes a non-ordinance or a non-law at that point. So, there is a process on how we approve our laws that we make for our tribe.

Verónica Hirsch:

What body bears the responsibility to make sure those laws are enforced?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Once we’ve approved them, then depending on which ordnance is passed whether it deals with the land or whether it deals with law and order, whether it deals with the water portion of it, those departments are the ones who are asked to enforce those ordinances and laws. Now, I need to make very clear that these ordinances are only for the total tribe…but what about the villages? Within the villages they may pass their own resolution or law that abides only to their law, to their village. For the tribal council, when we pass a law it’s for all the tribal land that we own therefore enforcement becomes reservation-wide, Hopi land-wide. Therefore, the villages have to then fall within jurisdiction of that law. But again, like I say, within the villages they have the right to create their own laws but the laws that they write will not supersede what we have passed at the higher level. That is kind of the limits that the villages will have.

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you. To what extent do unwritten Hopi traditional laws and morals impact current Hopi tribal council decisions? You mentioned an example of, let’s say a particular village would create a resolution that would apply to itself alone but that in no instance would that particular supersede a decision that might be worded differently or have different intent on the Hopi tribal council level. Perhaps using that as an example, how then do unwritten Hopi traditional laws and moral impact, or do they impact, current Hopi tribal council decisions?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

I think the only way it impacts current tribal laws and ordinances is that it’s something we grew up with so internally we know ourselves what it means but when it comes the decisions of an ordinance or law, we may discuss it but it doesn’t become part of a written law. We will discuss the value of it, we will discuss the reason why maybe our elders, our people before us, put it there for us to think about. Once the ordinance or the law is made, in order to put it into the English language is the most difficult part. If we make what we call an implied law into the ordinance, then we will explain it that way. But using traditional what our beliefs are and putting it into that, that’s a difficult portion for us to do. In the long run, what we will do is we’ll talk about an implied understanding of that law ordinance. For example, I’ll talk about water. Water is previous to the Hopi people. Where we come from, we’re very limited in water. When we talk about wasting water, you won’t see a grass lawn on the Hopi reservation because we don’t believe in wasting water. When we pass a law on water we will make sure that it states that this water is for the use of plants, of animals, and our families. We will make a reference that this is to not be used for things that are not part of our way of life which is grass. It’s not written in there but we already understand what we’re talking about. In that respect, that is probably how we understand the laws we make because the law is a Hopi law, it’s not intended to be with anyone else. On the judicial side, when we make laws that govern the reservation we also will then take those laws to be applied to also outsiders as well. Again, it’s a check and balance system we work with. Yes, it some ways we do think of those things we were taught by our elders, our parents, and we will use those in our thinking patterns before we finalize any law or ordinance.

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you. Councilman Shingoitewa, my last question is, how does the Hopi tribe relate to other peoples and governments including perhaps other tribal nations?

Leroy Shingoitewa:

I always believed that one of the things that’s truly a word that implies or is used with everybody is the word respect. In order for us to work with other governments, tribal or non-governments, in order to be effective you must respect one another in order to understand what we’re trying to accomplish. When I go into someone else’s world; example, when I walk into Tohono O’odham; one of the first things we’ll do is introduce ourselves to each other and maybe the next thing out would be, ‘what clan do you belong to?’ If they say, ‘Well, I’m an eagle clan.’ My father’s clanship was Sun and of course related to that was Eagle. The first thing I say is, ‘Oh, you’re my father.’ That breaks that barrier of saying, ‘Oh you’re a visitor. Now you’re family.’ That’s where the respect begins to happen. When you go into another person’s house, you don’t go in there to criticize the makeup of that house or what’s in that house. You go in there to accept what they’re offering you by opening their door to you. For example, when I deal with other tribal governments, I walk in with the fact that I’m meeting another person who is a good friend of mine, whether I know them or not, he’s a friend automatically. Same way with the federal government when I meet with senators and the house people, congressmen. I walk in with the understanding that we’re getting ready to break bread, we’re getting ready to talk with one another. What I must do is respect the person who holds that office because he has a title. That’s why I say that’s the difference between being a chairman and a councilman is when you walk into anybody’s office, if you’re the chairman the first thing they say to you is, ‘Welcome Chairman, it’s good to meet you.’ That’s the respect we give to one another. I think when you work with other people, respect, understanding and willing to commit to sit and talk and discuss what is of concern with all of us. All and all the total package is that how can we be partners in solving an issue that effects all Indian nations? If I’m working in Indian country, I go in with the understanding of what we will do to support one another. I believe that one of the biggest obstacles that we have right now among Indian country is too many times we forget that we’re all one people. We might have different titles as tribes but we’re all one people. If we will do that together we will become a strong nation. I think that’s one of the questions you asked me, how do you build a nation? How you build a nation is with people who will sit and talk with one another, that will take care of each other and with the vision and knowledge that we are speaking for the future generations. I’m not speaking for myself anymore because my life on this earth is very short. I’m very fortunate to have lived as long as I have. Verónica, you know you think about it, I’ve been very blessed with all the people I’ve met. In the long run, if any legacy that I leave for my people is that, ‘He did the best he could to make it better for our people.’ That’s the way I look at life today. Life is but a fleeting moment, and then we move on to the next world.

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you, Councilman Shingoitewa.

Leroy Shingoitewa:

You’re welcome.

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Verna Bailey: Making Self-Governance Work for Standing Rock

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Former councilwoman Verna Bailey of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe representing the Long Soldier District reveals the ins and outs of working with changes in a tribal council government.  Her experiences offer insight into the history of self-governance for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

People
Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Bailey, Verna. "Verna Bailey: Making Self-Governance Work for Standing Rock Interview," Leading Native Nations interview series, Native Nations Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ,  December 09, 2015.

Danielle Hiraldo:

Welcome to Leading Native Nations. I’m your host, Danielle Hiraldo. On today’s program, we are honored to have with us former councilwoman Verna Bailey. Ms. Bailey served on the Standing Rock Sioux tribal council representing the Long Soldier District. Ms. Bailey currently serves as a community member for the Standing Rock Constitution Reform Committee. Ms. Bailey, welcome.

Verna Bailey:

Thank you.

Danielle Hiraldo:

Good to have you with us today. I’ve shared a little bit about who you are, but why don’t you start out by telling us a little bit more about yourself. What did I leave out?

Verna Bailey:

Ok, prior to becoming a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribal council, I was part of the tribe’s work force. I started working in 1960, retired in 2005 as a councilmember. I’ve had breaks in between, you know, but always went back to the tribe; that’s where my heart was. I consider myself a retired tribal employee more than anything else.

Danielle Hiraldo:

Thank you. What does or what did the Standing Rock Sioux indigenous constitution or traditional form of governance look like?

Verna Bailey:

Prior to 1914, as I understood it and as I was told, our people were governed by unwritten laws, customs, practices. We had a way of life that everyone believed in so that it worked for us. Decisions were made in a general council setting, participation was encouraged by all those there so that people can speak about what they thought was best for our people. That general council setting has been replaced through an adoption of a constitution in 1914. Like I said, people were encouraged to talk and this contributed to better decision-making for our people.

Danielle Hiraldo:

Who were a part of the general council setting? Were there specific members that were only allowed to be in that or is it open to the entire community?

Verna Bailey:

It was open to the community, as I understood it, but there were also people who were designated to serve in certain areas of responsibility who were there and who contributed to discussion, deliberating, and decision making. These were our Akicita who were given the task of keeping order in our camps. There were councilors, similar to tribal councilmembers today, who sat, discussed matters and made decisions for people.

Danielle Hiraldo:

And how were those roles and responsibilities, like you said with the Akicita how were they separated or allocated?

Verna Bailey:

Usually by the leaders and what they saw that you could do and best use your skills for the good of everyone. There was never any reluctance to do what was asked of you. I believe that if you are asked to do something and you felt that you could do it, there was never a no; you just did it.

Danielle Hiraldo:

How were the leaders chosen then? Was that still a part of that same system?

Verna Bailey:

Leaders recognized that they had to earn the recognition to become a good leader. They were seen by the people to be intelligent. They were seen to be brave, good hunters, good providers to the elderly, the widows, the orphans and people who needed help in camp. They possessed all of these qualities and the women and the men too believed that they could be good leaders. They held themselves accountable to the people. It’s not like today where we speak in terms of holding them accountable, they held themselves accountable because the people trusted and believed in them to do what was expected of them so that people could live.

Danielle Hiraldo:

How did they hold themselves accountable? By what means?

Verna Bailey:

Well, they knew they were chosen to be leaders based on the qualities that I just stated and they knew that the people believed they could be a good leader so they made themselves transparent. They did these things and they were not asked to or reminded; they weren’t constantly reminded that as leaders they had to do these things, they just did it because they knew it was expected of them. Now-a-days, we remind our leaders that, ‘this is your job, this is what you have to do’. It wasn’t like that in those days, the men held themselves accountable.

Danielle Hiraldo:

How much of the structure remains today?

Verna Bailey:

You mean from the traditional form of government or after the 1914 constitution?

Danielle Hiraldo:

The traditional form.

Verna Bailey:

Well, there’s been a lot of change. Maybe what remains of that traditional government is what they expect of leaders. They put into the constitution what they expect their leaders to be, you know, the qualification requirements are there. Back then, it was unwritten – they’re similar. They’re not evaluated to the point as to whether you’re a good hunter or not, but they know you have the will, the drive and ability to get things done. That recognition, I think, is still carried forward. So much more skills are required these days that we didn’t have any of that back then. Computers, who would’ve ever think we would have computers? But that’s what leaders use today to do their work, you know.

Danielle Hiraldo:

How do you define nation building and what does it entail for Standing Rock?

Verna Bailey:

Nation building… the Standing Rock Sioux tribe already has the foundation to build upon for a better nation. I believe that we need to build on that. We need to do better for our children, families; for our survival. Our young people need to learn what tribal government is. They’re going to be in charge some day. What was it the men had in mind when they formed a structure for the people? They need to know that they have to stay healthy. They need to seek higher learning and they need to work hard to create jobs and things to do that will lead to a better life for our people. So, I believe we have a foundation in place, we just need to put our determination to work.

Danielle Hiraldo:

As a former councilperson, what were some of the challenges you faced?

Verna Bailey:

As a woman, I tried to speak to the best of my knowledge what programs were needed, what laws needed to be changed and to make improvements in a whole lot of different areas. I served on the judicial committee, the health education involvement committees. It was hard. Sometimes the men resisted what recommendations women brought forth on the tribal council. A long time ago, the roles and responsibilities were divided among men and women, boys and girls. You know, expectations were different for men and women. I’m not saying all of that was brought forward into the present setting but still, it was hard for the men, I think, to accept the good of what a woman was saying to make things better in the way of laws, programs and that kind of thing. I know that there are men out there who will disagree with what I just said.

Danielle Hiraldo:

Yeah, but it’s from your own perspective. It’s your own experiences and some of the challenges that you had to face.

Verna Bailey:

It was hard to convince the 16 other members of the tribal council that something was good. Laws needed to be changed. Rules and procedures of the tribal council needed to be worked on and there were things that needed to be added. Like I said earlier, people held themselves accountable but now-a-days people hold the leaders accountable. We even have a code of ethics in our constitution and that kind of thing. The do’s and don’ts’s kind of vary in difference between members of the tribal council.

Danielle Hiraldo:

So, you brought up that there’s, at the time, a 16-member tribal council. Can you talk about how the government is composed now?

Verna Bailey:

There are 17. I said 16 but I was the 17th. I did not include myself; there are 17. Initially, back in 1973 there was a federal lawsuit brought by Philomene One Feather and others. Their claim was that it wasn’t equal protection under the Indian Civil Rights Act that we had two council members from each district. Some of the districts were more heavily populated than others and so they brought that claim into federal court. The judge agreed that the tribe had to live up to the One Man, One Vote principle so that required a change in our constitution. You know, it required taking a look at the numbers, the geographical areas of our districts and try to create a balance among the resident voters. That was put into place and it was further revised in 1984 and through that process, we kept pretty much in mind that equal representation. We have 17 councilmen and 8 of those represent districts and 9 others including chairman, vice chairman and secretary who are all elected at large. That’s the present system that we have. Compared to 1914, there was a quorum required of 11 councilmembers who were elected but in general council so it jumped. We still require a quorum of 11 under our present structure but just think, back then that was the same number to do business.

Danielle Hiraldo:

Since you brought up the 1914 constitution, can you tell us about what events led to the leaders adopting a written constitution at that time?

Verna Bailey:

My questions to people about how that came about, they thought it was time to put in writing some of the requirements on how they would conduct business and set up a system in which it required a certain number of people to be there to make decisions and that’s how the 11 came about. I think it may have been due to the unrest on the reservation about that time. People were moving and I think what they tried to do was put a structure in place so that people can be involved in the decision making but work with a smaller number of people. Now, I’m not sure why they thought that should be that way but that’s how the 1914 constitution was structured. It was interesting to see in the 1914 constitution that members of the tribal council were elected in the general council. That meant everyone. They elected the tribal council and created a quorum and allowed them to do business. They were even fined for not attending meetings but that was interesting to see.

Danielle Hiraldo:

How were the districts identified? Were they identified in the 1914 constitution or did that come later in amendments?

Verna Bailey:

It came about, I believe, through the 1959 constitutional recommendations. There were seven districts identified. There was the agency, which is Ft. Yates, the Cannonball area, the Porcupine and in South Dakota there was the Kenel district, Wakpala district, Little Eagle, Bullhead. Later, there was the sub district of Little Eagle, which was McLaughlin. Now some of the names have changed but they are identified within the constitution.

Danielle Hiraldo:

I kind of jumped around a little bit, but going back to the 1914 constitution…I think you’d mentioned a couple of times that there were certain things in the constitution that leaders wanted to make sure were mentioned in there. Do you mind maybe explaining some of those?

Verna Bailey:

Like I said, I think they wanted to structure a form of government and it could be, like I said, due to the unrest that was on the reservation at that time. But I think that people were moving. I understand that some people had gone into Canada, some had join other tribes to the south of us. They wanted to form a structure of government so that decisions could be made. They established the number of people who would make up a quorum to conduct business. It was interesting to see that as time went on. The IRA was approved in 1934. The Standing Rock voted in October of 1934 to accept IRA then later voted not to incorporate or put in place a constitution pursuant to IRA.  There is a provision in our constitution that clearly states that, “This is a constitution not pursuant to IRA.” When I asked why that provision was put there, some of the men said, “We must never forget that our constitution is not an IRA constitution.” Even in the 1959 efforts to amend the constitution, there were mimeographed notices sent out to the districts saying that this was happening. They notified the people that the 1914 constitution was changing to one that was being drafted in 1959. Again, I believe I have that here. Even then, the people say they put these copies out that say this is not an IRA constitution, this is outside the IRA. It seemed like there was an importance for people to know that this was not associated at all with the provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act.

Danielle Hiraldo:

But initially, they did vote to have it, right?

Verna Bailey:

They voted. I asked some of the men, in their opinion, why they changed their minds about IRA. What they said to me was that we were being told what we wanted to hear about the benefits, all the good things that could come about by accepting IRA and putting in place a constitution, you know pursuant to IRA. Later, we began to become distrustful of the process. It appeared we were being told what we wanted to hear and the federal government was being told what they wanted to hear. It was not a good situation; we did not understand it and we weren’t sure if that was the right thing to do so we advised ourselves and our relatives and people to not vote for that. So they voted that effort down. So it’s not a constitution pursuant to IRA.

Danielle Hiraldo:

Had there been other amendments to the constitution?

Verna Bailey:

Yes, there has been a number of amendments from 1914 to 1915 up to the present. Right now, we’re in the process of looking at amending our constitution. There was a petition circulated amongst our tribal members, which was drafted by Chase Iron Eyes. There were four amendments to the constitution that he was seeking. The matter reached the tribal council and the tribal council enacted a resolution. In that resolution, they authorized a committee, a constitution review committee, including membership from the districts and other representatives plus the group you met on Standing Rock last week, to take a look at those four amendments and report back to the tribal council. We’ve gone to the districts and the people…I personally read two recommendations; one in the Long Solider district and one in the Running Antelope district, where they requested that training be held before they can even begin to make recommendations on what needed changing in the constitution. They felt that not enough people in the districts understood or even knew what was in the constitution. Tell us about it, tell us what these things mean. What’s in it that needs to be changed that you are doing this? If there isn’t anything that’s not broke, leave it alone, you know that kind of thing. I know that some of the other members have been treated very rudely by some of the members of our tribe who don’t agree with what’s going on right now.

Danielle Hiraldo:

From your perspective, what prompted Standing Rock to go down the constitution reform road? I know, speaking of last week when we were there, there were several amendments that were presented at some point in time, like 26 or 27 amendments, that only six or seven – I might be getting some of the numbers wrong?

Verna Bailey:

Oh there were a number of recommendations; I’m trying to say 33.

Danielle Hiraldo:

Oh wow, really?

Verna Bailey:

Not all of them, just a few of them, were approved to actually be put on the ballot. That was a comprehensive review. Back in 1981, the tribal council created a constitution revision commission and they outlined the work that had to be done by this group and trainings were involved, you know. Meetings in the districts were involved. The commission had to meet with different organizations, mainly the district councils to get their input on what they thought should be changed. There was a lot of work, a lot of contact. There was legal reviews on some of the questions that were being asked. It took a lot of time, a lot of effort and it cost money but the tribe wrote into their self determination grants. Two of them I can think of where they covered the cost to do this work. Initially, it was through the BIA budget team process that the tribe requested funds to take a look at an effort earlier than that and I believe the tribe received about $50,000 to start that one but things got more expensive as time went on. It took more time than they anticipated to gather all of the recommendations, to analyze them, to have the legal review that I mentioned before ever drafting a report to the judicial committee and tribal council.

Danielle Hiraldo:

Do you know what prompted that type of process to come about?

Verna Bailey:

Speaking about the 1981, from what I remember, people thought it was long overdue. They thought the constitution really needed to be looked at to see if it needed changes. Now, remember the term, ‘it’s long overdue that you do this,’ so yeah. I believe it was at the request of tribal membership.

Danielle Hiraldo:

So, what are some of the challenges that CRST citizens faced with previous constitutional amendments? Other than the time and that it was obviously expensive?

Verna Bailey:

Pretty much of what I said, there was a number of challenges. Again, training and getting the people to believe that what they actually proposed was going to be considered. People didn’t think that what they said would go any further than that meeting but they were documented. All recommendations were reordered and analyzed further down the road. It was hard to gain the trust and confidence of the people, that this is how we’re going to do it; we’re going to do it with you, you’re going to tell us. That’s pretty much what’s happening today. We’re asking the people to tell us.

Danielle Hiraldo:

That was actually going to be my next question; what are some of the challenges that you feel you might face redoing the current constitution, outside of the four resolutions that were presented by Chase?

Verna Bailey:

Well, our scope of work is clearly defined in the resolution. We don’t have any authority to go outside of what’s there but I do imagine that there will be other recommendations brought up in district meetings as we move forward. We are going to have to consider those and report them to committee. But, it’s outside of our authority to make a recommendation that this should be a change to the constitution. Already, the tribal council has taken a position that three of those amendments don’t require a constitutional change, that our present constitution and the ordinances that we have in place can take of that. If there is no ordinance in place, one can be drafted to take of that particular one. There’s only one then that would change the eligibility requirement in the constitution that says you cannot have been convicted of a felony. We’re getting a lot of comments on that issue. I’ve personally been told that that provision needs to remain in the constitution. Speaking of educational and eligibility requirements – not educational – eligibility requirements in the constitution way back when, one of the men, I believe it was James McLane who said, ‘We want the qualifications of our leaders to be in the constitution.’ We want these things to be in the law, the law of the people so that as time goes on we know these are the kid of leaders we are going to have. This constitution will probably stay in place for a long time; it shouldn’t be so easy to change. You’ll see that and we’ll see how people react to that and what kind of recommendations will be given to us.

Danielle Hiraldo:

What are some of the efforts you’re going to use to engage to talk about at least these four proposed amendments?

Verna Bailey:

Well, in our initial meetings, we haven’t had very many, we’ve talked about the scope of work; we’ve talked about the communications that we need to have for the district meetings. There are other things we need to plan for which we have ideas now on since the training that was provided by Jones and yourself at Standing Rock. Taking from that, I’m hoping we can come up with a plan that will work that’s involving the people, you know, working hand-in-hand with them not against each other. We need to come together on this and try to do what’s right.

Danielle Hiraldo:

So what are some of Standing Rock’s core values?

Verna Bailey:

Core values? Shared beliefs…let me put it this way. I was raised by a grandmother so I was among older people much of my young life and there was always advice, teachings to the younger people. Ill put them out like they put them out to us. Usually it started with spirituality; you cannot live without faith. From that there were other things that were taught. Ceremonies and witch prayers were offered. Valuable information on ceremonies came about through that. Then there was wisdom, you know, they would constantly tell you to go to school, get an education. This is a tool we need for survival. Later, I turned that around and used to tell my coworkers, ‘You have to know the reds better than the feds.’ You’ve got to learn those things, you know, because they will challenge you on non-compliance issues and so you need to know what they are. Approvals of certain programs and projects may be delayed because of some issue that the tribe can resolve knowing what they can do. So, that was always out there for us and patience; things don’t happen overnight. Take time to think about it, to plan and to work together so that it can happen. But remember, those things just don’t happen quickly or as quick as you want them to. So there was that. One of the other things that I appreciated was the advice; to listen to the elders and to the children, that there was always something to learn from them whether it be a school issue, you know, elderly. Maybe there are some things they can still contribute. They’ve got their minds and they know how we lived a long time ago and how things can still work today. Those are the kind of things we need to hear from them. They’re out there. Communicate. Like I mentioned earlier, they say talk to those who don’t say anything in public but be respectful. Generosity; don’t be stingy. Share what you have, share your knowledge, share your experience so they can learn from that and do better in their work too. Truthfulness; don’t lie. The truth always comes out, they tell you and you’ll find that it does. Honesty; be honest with yourself first and others. Don’t lead people to believe that something is going to happen or change or come about when you know that it’s not. Be honest and be visible, don’t hide. Put yourself out there so people can see what you’re doing and let tell you if you need to make changes in how you’re doing things to do better. Don’t look at it as criticism; look at it as something that they intend as something helpful to you. Sometimes that’s hard to do. Obey the laws. They’re not put out there just for certain people, they’re put out there for all of us so you have to obey the laws and our rules within our own government in our traditions. Obey them. Bravery; don’t be afraid to do what is necessary for the good of the people. You know, I think back to a time when I was a young girl. Two of my cousins and I went out to visit our paternal grandfather. He was not home at that time when we got there, our grandmother told us he was bringing a turtle up from the creek. So, we ran down to where he was and he did have this turtle. When he saw us he took out a knife and said he was going to butcher the turtle right where he was so we stayed to watch that. He removed the heart of the turtle and he said to us, ‘It is our belief that to take the heart of the turtle and to eat it,’ he said, ‘will make you brave. You will not be afraid to do something that you know you have to do which is good. Not talking about bad things, talking about good things, but you will not be afraid.’ So, he offered us the turtle’s heart, ‘Do this,’ you know, ‘you won’t be afraid.’ Well we were reluctant to do that but I was the first one to swallow it and my cousin Charles swallowed it, my cousin Alvida took it. When we were done I raced back to town and I found grandmother and I told her that my grandfather had made us eat the heart of turtle. ‘He said that this was going to make us brave, is this true?’ She looked at me and said, ‘Yes it is. That is a belief. You said you ate the turtle’s heart?” and I said yes. Well, she notified other relatives, you know. So when I would act up or my cousins acted up, they would say, ‘Oh, well that’s because they ate the heart of a turtle.’ Maybe along with taking the oath of office, we should offer the turtle’s heart to our leaders.

Danielle Hiraldo:

Well, that’s one way to incorporate core values. Are there any others? I’d like to see how many would do it.

Verna Bailey:

Yeah, I guess so. That was quite an experience, I tell you.

Verna Bailey:

You wont know of them unless you’re taught what they are and so I think that we need to keep telling our grandchildren and our own children what they are and strive to achieve them and to set examples. Too often we preach to our kids and tell them this is what you must do, but we never show them what we mean and practice ourselves. I think that its time that we revitalize all of that and for those of us who don’t do it to begin, it’s not too late. The core values will always be there so I encourage us to keep them and to teach them.

Danielle Hiraldo:

So Miss. Verna can you tell me how the district organizations came about? Currently, there’s a provision in living in constitution for district organizations, right?

Verna Bailey:

I don’t remember what year the provision was put into the constitution, I’d have to look back, but there is a provision in our current constitution that allows districts to create their district councils. They’re authorized to make recommendations to the tribal council, advise the secretary of interior of matters affecting them. The tribal council, pursuant to that section in the constitution, enacted a law, title twenty as we refer to it, was created by ordinance and it describes how you establish a district council. It provides for the officers, the planning commission members what their eligibility requirements are, what authority the district councils have – pretty much rules and procedures of the tribal council. It’s more formal, more structured today than it was a while back, you know, and districts are good about identifying the needs that people face in the communities and it’s good that they’re there. The tribal council needs that kind of advice to come from the local level and they allocate their own resources through gaming, taxes and that kind of thing to pay for their projects, their programs and administration. Most of them have district buildings that they operate out of, so it’s good.

Danielle Hiraldo:

What kind of authorities did the tribal council delegate to them? What can the district councils do?

Verna Bailey:

District councils can make recommendations to the tribal council on programs, projects…they can hire consultants to help them in this work but only with the approval of the tribal council. A lot of the stuff that the district councils are empowered to do still require approval from the tribal council. They are also empowered to create their own ordinances, you know establish their own curfews and those kinds of civic matters. They have exercised those powers, most of the districts. Right now, I think that district councils are awakening to what we’re trying to do here so I’m sure they’re going to have us come to their meetings and explain the procedures and the processes that we’ll use to go forward with the work given to us by the tribal council.

Danielle Hiraldo:

So do they meet every month too? Is it a monthly, town-hall type meeting?

Verna Bailey:

Yes, they have a schedule of district council meetings and we utilize that schedule to plan and go out to the districts.

Danielle Hiraldo:

For the constitutional work?

Verna Bailey:

Yes, for the constitutional work and we’ll continue to do that. It’s good to be out there amongst the local people.

Danielle Hiraldo:

So how are laws made and then enforced at Standing Rock?

Verna Bailey:

Laws are made when the tribal council recognizes that there’s a need to create one. At times, we may have a law already in place that needs to be amended. That responsibility is given to the judicial committee. The judicial committee, under the rules and procedures of the tribal council, have the responsibility of recommending laws and amendments there too. They would be responsible, they would oversee the drafting of the law and they would talk to people who are expected to enforce to see if there is anything that needs to be changed. Not only that, but the constitution requires the posting of a proposed ordinance for public comment for no less than 12 days. Once those comments are received, usually by the legal department, they’re taken back to the judicial committee for review and if they feel that a comment needs to be considers, they’ll do that and make further change to the draft before it’s presented to the tribal council. If there is substantial change to the draft that was sent out, it has to be reposted again for another period of time before it’s taken back to council. They’re enforced by the people who are authorized to enforce it within the ordinance. The tribe enforces, say like Title 20, they enforce their enrollment ordinance, which is a part of our code of justice; it has all of our laws within one code, our tax laws and those kinds of things our tribal council enforces. Our criminal section of the code is enforced by the BIA law enforcement and it’s done by approval of a resolution of the tribal constitution, authorizing them to enforce the laws of the tribe. Ordinances are structured and they identify who will enforce the laws. Tribal council doesn’t enforce everything that it passes; there are other committees that are created. The Chairman is authorized to put advisory boards and committees and that kind of thing in place, which he has through this current constitutional review work that’s being done. Ordinances require the establishment of others but they’re not authorized to do any more than what it says in the law. They are trained and they have to live according to or up to the ordinances.

Danielle Hiraldo:

You mentioned an ordinance on membership; can you tell us how you determine who’s a member or citizen of Standing Rock?

Verna Bailey:

I read that to the time when the membership requirement of the constitution was being discussed, there were recommendations to bring the blood quantum up to half; others said lower it. The requirement was one-quarter, you had to be one-quarter Standing Rock Sioux. Other recommendations came in saying that the tribal council should recognize all Sioux Indian blood and they mentioned Oceti Sakowin…so people asked, ‘Who are the seven bands of the Sioux?’ I think we need to further amend that section in our constitution to say who are the seven bands because there seems to be some confusion as to which seven that provision is meant to be. That is established by ordinance and it is in our code of justice. Right now, our enrollment office is located in the BIA offices so it works out fairly well for now but I think work will probably be done on that section in our constitution as time moves on.

Danielle Hiraldo:

Was membership or blood quantum citizenship criteria a part of the original 1914 constitution? Was there any type of criteria there?

Verna Bailey:

No, no there was not.

Danielle Hiraldo:

Just government?

Verna Bailey:

Yes. That didn’t appear…the enrollment ordinance in fact did not come about until around 1960. Prior to that, when I asked the older people how did you enroll tribal members, and they said all that was required prior to the tribe enacting its own enrollment ordinance was for a certificate of live birth to be transmitted from the Indian Health Service to the BIA reality and you were automatically added to the rolls. There was no membership criteria, you were just put on. You’ll see on the roles way back then that some people possessed a lot less than one-quarter degree of Indian blood were still put on the roll. But that membership roll was accepted as the official membership roll when the enrollment ordinance was enacted so those people were not dis-enrolled.

Danielle Hiraldo:

Traditionally, how did you determine who was Lakota or Dakota? How did you know who was a part of your community? Was it clans, family, kinship?

Verna Bailey:

There was…how shall I explain that? There was kinship. The women, I believe probably more than the men, kept track of who you were. That was another thing they always advised you was to never forget who you are. You had to know who your mom and dad were and what band of Sioux they came from. There was a lot of documentation in mind on who you were and they did not forget where you came from. In fact, it was in the early 1960’s, again I was in a room with these leaders who were men, talking about the different bands of Sioux. One of them – and they were teasing each other at the time this was said to me – they said, ‘Verna, you come from the band of people who used to hang around the fort; now, it’s 1960 and you’re still hanging around the fort.’ I told them, ‘Yeah and I’ll live here till I die. I’ll hang around the fort till I die.’ See, they recognized bands and where they were; they each had their places and the people in those bands.

Danielle Hiraldo:

So was that how the districts were identified in the constitution?

Verna Bailey:

No, not really. I’m not sure – I don’t know about how the districts were identified but later, the tribal council enacted the resolutions describing the boundaries of each resolution. That did not happen until much later. In Kenel, a district in South Dakota extends part way into North Dakota.

Danielle Hiraldo:

That actually makes me think of another question because you guys are in a really interesting situation where you deal with South Dakota and North Dakota because of your boundary and your territory, right? Can you talk about how Standing Rock relates to these other governments?

Verna Bailey:

Well, sometimes you will hear in conversations that that’s the North Dakota side; in fact, their constitution addressed it at one time saying that a certain number of councilmen had to be elected from the North Dakota portion of the reservation and others from the South Dakota portion. You still hear some discussion about the North and South Dakota portions of the reservation but I think that has lessened and when there were, like I said, the determination of boundaries of the districts that was done without regard to the state line. Like I said, Kenel extends into North Dakota so that was done without regard to where the state line was, which is good. We shouldn’t use that as a division. I believe that the people did not designate their own homelands, that was done by the government when it established the reservations and that’s where we had to live. If it were up to the people, there would be no boundaries but that’s how it happened. There were acts of congress, there were treaties that set apart land that we know as reservations today. I don’t believe it was the people themselves who agreed to that.

Danielle Hiraldo:

I’m going to turn back into the constitution reform part. From your perspective, what are some of things that will come up when you start talking to these communities? Outside of the four amendments, what are some of the issues you think that you might hear? Concerns about your current constitution.

Verna Bailey:

I think that some of the issues that will be raised but we’re not authorized to deal with would be membership requirements. There’s a question as to whether we should keep the eligibility requirements for tribal council membership in the constitution versus in an ordinance. Powers of the tribal council, they want to add to powers of the district council. What about the judiciary, they say? Is that a separation of powers? I think that’ll be discussed and there could be many other issues that could come up. We could report those but we’re not authorized to deal with them, the resolution restricts us just to four areas.

Danielle Hiraldo:

So do you see having to come back to the council for extended period of time? Within the resolution, you have a short time frame, right?

Verna Bailey:

We have only until September to finish our work.

Danielle Hiraldo:

Do you think that you’re going to have to request to have this extension?

Verna Bailey:

We haven’t talked about it. We’ve discussed what could come up, not in a formal setting of our meetings but we’ve mentioned to each other, ‘This one brought this issue up so I’m sure it’s going to come up.’ Those kinds of things are coming about but like I said, we don’t have rules to follow yet. We have to set a plan out and we’ll do that but all we can do is report to the committee on the things that we hear and it’s up to them. I don’t expect that we’ll be asking for an extension of time for ourselves and to continue us on the committee. I may be wrong, maybe the others have different feelings on that. We’ll see.

Danielle Hiraldo:

I’ll ask one more question if that’s alright with you. This is referenced to the plan; What do you see as your first steps for your plan of engaging the community? I know you said you wanted to go to the districts.

Verna Bailey:

Ok, again, I think we need to get back to the resolution. We can’t do any more than what was authorized so I believe that we will talk about what needs an amendment to the constitution. We have heard from a number of people that only one does and if that is the consensus and it comes to the motion of the committee that I’m part of then that’s how that will be. We also need to take a look at what it would require to change or delete the felony issue from the constitution. That would take some work, I believe in talking to people, getting out into the districts and drafting the language. Who’s going to help us do that? We have in-house attorneys I’m sure who will assist us with that effort. There may be only four amendments but I see a lot of work that we have to do to complete what is mandated at the resolution.

Danielle Hiraldo:

And you plan on starting with the districts and from there doing the training as you said, the constitution training. Do you plan on going article-by-article within the constitution training or what kind of ideas were you thinking?

Verna Bailey:

The Long Soldier district, the woman who made the recommendation said we want training on the whole constitution. That is to refresh the memories of those who have read it in the past and those who haven’t. It’ll be interesting work and I welcome that. I don’t mind another review; if it’s going to work, let’s do it.

Danielle Hiraldo:

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

Comanche Nation: Citizenship Excerpt

Year

ARTICLE III - MEMBERSHIP
Section 1. The membership of the Comanche Nation shall consist of the following:
(a) All persons, who received an allotment of land as members of the Comanche Nation under the Act of June 6, 1900 (31 Stat. 672), and subsequent Acts, shall be included as full blood members of the tribe.
(b) All living direct descendants of allottees eligible for membership under the provisions of Section 1(a) of this Article born on or before the date of adoption of this constitution.
(c) All descendants of allottees eligible for membership under the provision of Section 1.(a) of this Article, having one eighth (1/8) or more degree of Comanche Indian Blood.

Native Nations
Topics
Citation

Comanche Nation. 1966. "Constitution of the Comanche Nation." Lawton, OK.

John 'Rocky' Barrett: Blood Quantum's Impact on the Citizen Potawatomi Nation

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

In this short excerpt from his 2009 interview with NNI, Citizen Potawatomi Nation Chairman John "Rocky" Barrett discusses the devastating impacts that blood quantum exacted on the Citizen Potawatomi people before the nation did away with blood quantum as its main criteria for citizenship through constitutional amendments in the mid-1980s.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

John "Rocky" Barrett, Chairman, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, "Constitutional Reform and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation's Path to Self-Determination," Interview, "Leading Native Nations" interview series, Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, March 28, 2009.

"It was a period of time where the...my realization that there was...the Bureau [of Indian Affairs] was asking us to give them advice on the agency budget. And then when we would, they would ignore us as far as the advice. And there were...almost at every stop there was some deliberate statement of policy that the United States government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs' job was to represent the interests of individual Indians, and not tribes or tribal governments. And that had certainly been manifested almost entirely in the 1948 Indian Claims Commission settlements. And it had forced us into a situation of closing our rolls in 1962 except for some arbitrary blood-degree cutoff. The concept of blood degree was foreign to our culture, and we did away with blood-degree determinations in constitutional amendments in the mid-1980s. But that period of time between '62 and '80 disenfranchised an awful lot of people and led to a -- on the whole -- a great deal of the separation that the people felt from the tribe and its culture. It became all about splitting up this poof money that was coming from the government, these little payments, and less about the fact that here we are, a people with its own language and art and history and culture and territory and government that had been there for thousands of years, and suddenly we placed these arbitrary stops in our system over a $450 check. In retrospect, it seems insane, and it was. Truthfully, it was."

John "Rocky" Barrett: The Origins of Blood Quantum Among the Citizen Potawatomi

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Native Nations Institute
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In this excerpt from his presentation at NNI's "Emerging leaders" seminar in 2012, Citizen Potawatomi Nation Chairman John "Rocky" Barrett provides an overview of how the U.S. government -- specifically the Bureau of Indian Affairs -- imposed blood quantum on the Citizen Potawatomi people, and how the nation has worked to reclaim and exercise its right to determine citizenship according to its own criteria.

Native Nations
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Citation

Barrett, John "Rocky." "A Sovereignty 'Audit': A History of Citizen Potawatomi Nation Governance." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. October 11, 2012. Presentation.

"Citizenship. We knew we could amend our constitution because they told us that the only way we were going to get this payment from the 1948 Indian Claims Commission -- the 80 percent of the settlement that had been tied up since 1948 -- in 1969 is we had to have a tribal roll and the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] told us that the only way you could be on the tribal roll was to prove that you were one-eighth or more Citizen Potawatomi. Now the blood degrees of the Citizen Potawatomi were derivatives of one guy from the government in a log cabin in Sugar Creek, Kansas in 1861 who was told to do a census of the Potawatomi, the Prairie Potawatomi and the Citizen Potawatomi. And he told everyone that they had to appear. And as they came in the door, he assigned a blood degree based on what color their skin was in his opinion, and full brothers and sisters got different blood degrees, children got more blood degree than their parents 'cause they'd been outside that summer and those were the blood degrees of the Citizen Potawatomi.

There was a full-time, five-person staff at the central office of the BIA in Washington, D.C. who did nothing more than Citizen Potawatomi blood-degree appeals, about 3,000 of the blood-degree appeals when I first took office. When I became chairman, it had grown to 4,000 or 5,000 and I was in the room when a guy named Joe Delaware said, ‘I have a solution to the Potawatomi blood degree problem. We'll resolve all this. The first mention in any document, church, federal government, anywhere, anyhow that mentions this Indian with a non-Potawatomi language name, he's a half.' Well, they were dunking Potawatomis and giving them Christian names in 1702, full-blooded ones. If you were dealing with the white man, you used your white name and if you were dealing with the Indians you used your Indian name, like everybody else was doing. And so it was an absurd solution. I told him, I said, ‘That's nuts. That's just crazy. You're going to get another 5,000 blood-degree appeals over this.' He said, ‘Well, that's the way it's going to be.' Well, that was the impetus for our coming back and establishing, ‘What are the conditions of citizenship?' And we stopped calling our folks 'members' like a club. They're 'citizens.' And it finally dawned on us that being a Citizen Potawatomi Indian is not racial. It's legal and political.

If they...according to the United States government, if a federally recognized Indian tribe issues you a certificate of citizenship based on rules they make, you are an American Indian, you are a member of that tribe. And you're not part one, not a leg or an ear or your nose but not the rest. You're not part Citizen Potawatomi, you're all Citizen Potawatomi. The business of blood degree was invented so that at some point that the government established, tribes would breed themselves out of existence and the government wouldn't be obligated to honor their treaties anymore. That's the whole idea! That's the whole idea of blood degree and we're playing into it all over this country now over divvying up the gaming money. But I'm not going to get into that. But the business of blood degree, the 10 largest tribes in the United States, nine of them enrolled by descendency and that includes us. We changed it from blood degree to descendency, which was the only reasonable way to do it because we had no way to tell because of this guy in the log cabin in Sugar Creek was what we had.

And then we had permutations of that over the next eight generations that became even more absurd and Potawatomis had a propensity...we're only 40 families and all 31,000 of us had a tendency to marry each other. So when one Potawatomi would marry another Potawatomi -- I'm not saying brothers and sisters or first cousins -- but when they'd marry another Potawatomi then you got into who was what and it was...and this business of the certified degree of Indian blood was ruled to be unlawful, to discriminate against American Indians in the provision of federal services based on CDIB. It's supposed to be based on tribal membership, not the BIA issuing you a certified degree of Indian blood card. A full-blooded Indian who is a member of eight different tribes, whose family comes from eight different tribes, not any white blood, would not be eligible to be enrolled in many tribes. They had absolutely no European blood, would not be eligible simply because he was enrolled in multiple tribes."

The other thing about citizenship is ‘where do we vote?' The only way you could vote in an election at Citizen Potawatomi was to show up at that stupid meeting, violent meeting, and the guys that were in office would say, ‘Okay, everybody that's for me stand up.' Well, nobody could count that was on the other side so everybody would kind of creep up a little bit so you could count. Well, they counted you 'cause you creeped up a little bit so you voted against yourself. So the incumbent would say, ‘Okay, everybody that's for this guy stand up. I won.' Well, that's not how to elect people. That's not right. Two-thirds of our population lives outside of Oklahoma, one-third of it lives in Oklahoma. Those people are as entitled to vote as anybody in the tribe, so the extension of the right to vote and how we vote and for whom we vote and what the qualifications of those people and the residency requirements of those, that was an issue of citizenship that we needed to determine."