community leadership

Herminia Frias: Working Toward Effective Native Leadership

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

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

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

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

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

Dr. Miriam Jorgensen: First Nations governance

Producer
The Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG)
Year

Dr. Miriam Jorgensen, Research Director for the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona, spoke at ANZSOG's Reimagining Public Administration conference on February 20. Dr. Jorgensen said that First Nations governance structures were important for the strength of communities. “Not just narrow ones to deliver an education program, but ones which establish a public government for an Indigenous nation, in a form which has legitimacy in the community. She said that studies showed suicide levels in US communities depend on resilience factors – a lot of which are connected to sovereignty. Her work in Indigenous governance and economic development—in the US, Canada, and Australia—has addressed issues as wide-ranging as child welfare, policing and justice systems, natural-resource management, cultural stewardship, land ownership, tribal enterprises, housing, and financial education.

Resource Type
Topics
Citation

Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG). Feb. 21, 2019. Dr. Miriam Jorgensen: First Nations governance [video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaT9CkARA78

Transcripts are available upon request. Please contact the Native Nations Institute for a transcript of this video: nni@email.arizona.edu

Greg Cajete: Indigenous governance and sustainability

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Greg Cajete, Tewa of the Santa Clara Pueblo and a renowned scholar and author on indigenous education serves as the Director of Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico. His works have merged native history, cultural practices, and knowledge into the cross section of education fields such as Science, Ecology, and the Arts.  Dr. Cajete has built a wealth of curriculum for indigenous educators and advocates for bringing sustainability into focus when creating indigenous governance. His thoughts on the matter of indigenous education and governance as well as the importance to address climate change are explored in relation to Native Nation building. 

People
Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Native Nations Institute. "Greg Cajete: Indigenous governance and sustainability." Leading Native Nations, Native Nations Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, February 22, 2018

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

Honoring Nations: Julia "Bunny" Jaakola: Turning Sovereignty into a Practical Reality: The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

Julia "Bunny" Jaakola shares how the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa turned sovereignty into a practical reality through leadership, community engagement, and collaboration with outside entities.

Resource Type
Citation

Jaakola, Julia "Bunny." "Turning Sovereignty into a Practical Reality: The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Sante Fe, New Mexico. February 7, 2002. Presentation.

Andrew Lee:

"The first person I would like to introduce -- comes from the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa -- is Bunny Jaakola. If you don't know, the Fond du Lac Band has won a number of awards, both in 1999 and in 2000, in 1999 for their off-reservation Indian foster care program that Bunny is involved with, and also in 2000 for their pharmacy online billing initiative. I don't know whether you're going to be discussing both in particular, but she certainly has a great deal of knowledge about 'How to Turn Sovereignty into a Practical Reality.' Welcome, Bunny."

Julia "Bunny" Jaakola:

"Thank you very much. It's a real privilege to be here. I thought that I was going to come and see some mild, nice weather coming from Minnesota, because we have a shortage of snow there. We're not having normal winter weather at all. But it's real nice being here in the sun. I'm Bunny Jaakola. I'm from the Fond du Lac Band of Minnesota Chippewa in northern Minnesota, and I work as the coordinator of social services for the tribe. I've been there almost 15 years now. I've been in the tribe a lot longer than that.

Fond du Lac has an enrollment of about 3,500 people and has grown to be the largest employer within the county of about 30,000 people. We have two casinos, one of which is in downtown Duluth. This came about as a partnership between the Band and the city council and continues to be a profitable endeavor.

Our chairman, Robert Peacock, sends his regards and regrets that he couldn't be here. I can also tell you that the chairman is very proud of the accomplishments of the staff at Fond du Lac. It's through his leadership and the support of other council members that we have been able to do what we do. A good idea for growth and development receives the attention necessary to proceed. The leaders recognized the merits of community input to determine needs, and that allows the workers to turn those needs into goals. These goals eventually become the actual steps in the overall development of services for our Indian people. Trust in the people who are hired to carry out such plans has been the impetus that retains long-term employees and nurtures the commitment to continue such projects.

Our leaders have acknowledged and continue to promote the value of working closely with the county and state neighbors to address some very hard issues, while not giving up our sovereignty. Collaboration is the key for Fond du Lac and the Minnesota conservation departments to establish hunting and fishing practices that are fair to everyone and yet retain the tribal rights of Indian people. The Fond du Lac education division strives to work closely with the public school systems and yet develop an American Indian educational system that will retain cultural values, traditions, and provide a better understanding for children of our very valuable history. Fond du Lac is also successfully carving out a tribal law enforcement program that will be able to work in conjunction with county, city, and state police. Efforts are currently at work to develop community response programs to provide options for the county court judges that will give a first or early Indian offender an opportunity for rehabilitation rather than jail time. The tentative plan requires no additional staff, nor additional funding.

More specifically to the human service division, a partnership was formed in 1994 with St. Louis County to provide Families First services to the Indian people who reside in Duluth -- and Duluth is about 25 miles away from our reservation. We have a contract with Arrowhead Juvenile Center since 1998 to provide an Indian employee to work with the Indian youth who are incarcerated there, trying to reduce the recidivism rate of the kids who are incarcerated. We have a contract with Carlton County that has been renewed each year since 1996 to maintain an on-reservation foster care program. We are just completing three years of contracts with the Duluth Family Collaborative to employee two social workers who provide wrap-around services to the Duluth Indian families.

The support I receive from Fond du Lac leadership has made it possible for me to actively participate in seven long years of the development, negotiation, and finally, the eventual signing of a tribal-state child welfare agreement with the State of Minnesota. The signing of this agreement has finally begun to change the ways counties are handling Indian child welfare cases in the state. The agreement provides four major opportunities for a better working relationship between the state and the 11 tribes in the state. They are, number one, ICWA training for all new child protection workers in the state. Two, it opens the door for additional contracts with the tribes, with counties, with the state. Three, it provides additional legislative input for tribal child welfare. Four, it instituted an eight-member ICWA compliance review team to monitor ICWA cases throughout the state.

One of the successful projects specific to Fond du Lac is the Fond du Lac Licensing and Placement Agency, which earned an Honoring Nations award in 1999. The success for the foster care program is that we were able to resolve both the jurisdictional questions and increase the number of Indian families interested in providing substitute care for those Indian children when necessary. It's a plain fact that Indian people work better with Indian providers. Because the jurisdiction laws of the state prohibit tribes from licensing off the reservation, we found a way to extend the sovereignty with full cooperation from the state. A corporation was formed and consists of Indian employees and other interested Indian people, including one tribal council member. A contract was developed and signed between this corporation and the reservation business committee. All personnel and accounting services are provided for the corporation by the tribe through this contract. In essence, you would call the corporation a step organization of the Fond du Lac Band. This program is also unusual because the corporation is licensed by the State of Minnesota. You can see how the program is actually an extension of sovereignty outside reservation boundaries. Through this contract, Fond du Lac employees have been able to impact the placements of Indian children in foster care all over northern Minnesota and further empower our existing structure.

Prior to the establishment of this arrangement, counties had few and some had no Indian foster homes. Counties had great difficulty recruiting Indian people for a variety of reasons, historical mistrust being the most obvious. This could be used as a convenient reason for not placing Indian children with Indian families as the Indian Child Welfare Act requires. It was also a lucrative income for existing foster parents, given the number of children that were being removed in the past. Since our start-up about 10 years ago, we have placed nearly 500 children in these Indian homes and provided about $3.5 million to Indian foster care providers. The future is bright for Fond du Lac's social services with our current ability to be reimbursed for the targeted case management that we've been doing since 1980, actually. Through successful negotiation by individuals committed to Indian people and a positive partnership with state employees, the road has been paved for tribes in Minnesota to finance their own social service departments in this manner. This is something that's just getting started, being reimbursed for target case management.

The award that was given to Fond du Lac in the year 2000 was the Pharmacy Online Billing Initiative. I don't know that much about the computer world but I will try to be brief to give a better description of what that project was. The resource patient management system, or the RPMS, is the existing Indian Health Service tool for the collection of data for all tribal accounts. This system has no capacity for billing. In time of rising costs and third-party payers, Fond du Lac recognized the need to change the system. The people at the human services department, or division, applied for and [were] awarded an IHS tribal management grant to attack just this problem. With the grant, Fond du Lac was able to purchase a computerized system for billing and record-keeping. A vendor was found for the development of the software that was actually implemented. Within a year we had an online pharmacy billing system that was compatible with the Indian Health Service and served the financial needs of Fond du Lac very well. The reality is that very soon after a check was received for $625,000 dollars that represented allowable billing for pharmaceuticals at Fond du Lac. This is a successful project that can be and is being replicated by other tribes. Some of the more tangible benefits that come from that particular project is an expanded pharmacy program, an optometry clinic for the Indian people in our area, a summer day camp for at least 120 kids all summer from early June until the end of August.

A few of the words I used to describe Fond du Lac are the following: We have people who have a vision; it's radar. They have that radar out there and they listen for ideas and they push to get them into place. Collaboration, negotiation and the nurturing of relationships, respect and trust, acknowledgement of existing limitations; knowing what we're not going to give away, knowing what the other party is not going to give away and working from there. Investment in membership equals long-term, committed workers. Building and nurturing a rapport with key people not only locally, but statewide and nationally. Development of resources for funding in partnerships, engaging participants in the actual planning, and thinking outside the box."

Native Nation Building TV: "Leadership and Strategic Thinking"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Guests Peterson Zah and Angela Russell tie together the themes discussed in the previous segments into a conversation about how Native nations and their leaders move themselves and their peoples towards nation building. They address the question all Native nations have: How do we get where we want to go?

Citation

Native Nations Institute. "Leadership and Strategic Thinking" (Episode 9). Native Nation Building television/radio series. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy and the UA Channel, The University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2006. Television program.

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

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[music]

Mary Kim Titla: "The challenges facing contemporary Native leaders are daunting. Typically, they are expected to do everything from defending and expanding the sovereign powers of their nations to tackling day-to-day social issues to finding ways to improve the future of their fellow citizens. Leadership can be tough. You get blamed when things go badly and sometimes fail to get credit when things go well. Today's segment examines what Native leaders are doing and can do to rebuild their Nations and forge a vision for their long-term futures. With me today to discuss leadership and strategic decision making are Peterson Zah and Angela Russell. Peterson Zah, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, has twice served as his tribe's chief executive, first as chairman from 1983 to 1987 and then as president from 1990 to 1994. For the past ten years, he has worked at Arizona State University, where he serves as advisor to the President on American Indian Affairs. Angela Russell, a citizen of the Crow Nation of Montana, currently serves as Chief Judge of the Crow Tribal Court. She previously served as a member of the Crow Legislature as well as the Montana State Legislature. Welcome to both of you."

Angela Russell: "Thank you."

Peterson Zah: "Thank you."

Angela Russell: "Good to be here."

Mary Kim Titla: "Leadership. Peterson, you know best about that I think, and I'm sure Angela can give us her advice as well, but why don't we start out by talking about just leadership in general and how it is so critical to our Native nations as they move forward."

Peterson Zah: "I think it is perhaps the most important issue today, mainly because of all of the questions that are being raised about Native leadership. The issues that we face as Indian nations, there are questions thrown at the Indian people regarding the sovereign powers of [an] Indian tribe, the social problems that we have on our reservation, things that we never ever thought will come to the reservation is now on the reservation, mainly alcoholism, drugs, the behavior of young people at the high school. Those are very, very crucial issues in the area of education. You also have questions on land, and recently it's the administration of justice on Indian land, in Indian Country."

Mary Kim Titla: "Angela, tell me what you can advise after all these years that you've served on the legislature on the tribal level and state level."

Angela Russell: "Well, among our people, when we say leader we say '[Crow term],' which means a good person or a good man, and I think leadership is extremely important to all of our nation,s and it's important not only for the leader to have a vision for his people but as citizens of a particular nation, we need to be very supportive to our leader, but we also need to be participatory in a sense that we need to give some direction, we need to give support, we need to give encouragement. I think too many times it's easy to be very critical and to not look ahead toward the vision. You have to have goals, you have to have reachable goals, whether they're short-term or long-term. So leadership is very important, but it's a very, very difficult thing, because in the past our leaders were usually men who had many deeds, many accomplishments and that's how they became a leader. They were supported by the community, and today it's a whole different role, different dynamics, a different society we live in -- lots of challenges ahead for leaders."

Mary Kim Titla: "You said something that was really interesting to me and that has to do with criticism. As a journalist, I always like to encourage people to give me constructive criticism and you really have to have thick skin."

Angela Russell: "You do, you do. You have to be able to take a lot of abuse. But there are lots of rewards, too. I think it's a real challenge to be in government, to be in leadership, because we are like third-world countries. There's lots of needs there. We do have resources. We may not have gaming where I live, but we do have a lot of natural resources, and that puts responsibility on leadership to take a look at what can the leaders do that would be best for their constituency. Abuse is there, criticism is there, but I truly believe that with good communication, you can dispel some of the criticism that goes on. You've got to have a good media outlet so that people always know what you're doing. We get very suspicious as human beings when we don't know the full story. We want to know what's going on."

Mary Kim Titla: "Peterson, we talked some years ago about your role as President -- Chairman and President -- of the Navajo Nation, and it really is an overwhelming job."

Peterson Zah: "It really is overwhelming. I see some of our leaders today -- particularly with Navajo leadership -- those people are overwhelmed and they have so much on their plate. They have so many things to do decide and every one of them are crucial. Everything that they have on their mind is important that people bring to them. But one thing that the leaders have to learn how to do is prioritize their work, because you have all of these problems coming at you. You have to sit back and say, 'This issue has a priority over all the others,' because in the representation of your constituency you have to learn how to do that. Number two, I always say that you also have to learn how to delegate responsibilities. You have a certain amount of responsibility as the leader for Indian people, Indian communities. You also have on the other side the council, you also have the tribal courts, and they are there to take on certain issues. You have to learn how to play your role and where those limitations are and be able to have enough trust in your people to say that they'll do a good job of handling those situations and you don't need to be everywhere. And that's where learning how to prioritize your work really comes into existence."

Mary Kim Titla: "We are going through elections constantly, and a lot of times people may come across as being a good leader. But after you elect them, you realize, well, 'Maybe they weren't the leader that I thought they would be.' We make mistakes sometimes in choosing our leaders. How can tribes, tribal people protect themselves from poor leadership?"

Angela Russell: "I think it's real important for tribes to have primary elections for one thing. It's only been recently that we've had primary elections. So people just entered a race and if they won, they won. But now I think we have a little more choice and we like to have our candidates be out there and talking about policy, about their platform. I would really like to see us have our leaders address the state of our nations and that would be research: What is the status of our tribes? What is that poverty level? What is the main economic income that's coming in? What are those potentials out there? I think if we had a State of the Indian Nations, or if it was the Crow Tribal Nation, I think any candidate should address that and say, 'This is what I want to see for our people.' You've got to have that vision. You've got to be projecting what is best for your people. You've got to move away from self interest and you've got to be looking at the interest of the whole."

Mary Kim Titla: "I'm sure you've dealt with that, Pete, with especially all the different delegates and members of the tribal council that you have to deal with."

Peterson Zah: "Well, I think the key is participation. The Indian people who are listening to this program for example, the students, the young people, they should never say to themselves, 'Let the tribal council do it, let the tribal chair, the tribal governor do it.' They have to learn that this is their government, these are their leaders that they elected. They have to learn how to work with them and they also have to participate in the tribal government process. In the process of participating, then you can judge how your leaders are doing. So I believe that's very, very important, because our leaders need to be held accountable for many of the things that they do, and I guess that's why I am in education. I always believe that education can solve many, many things and some people will say and argue with me and say that education can't solve everything. But, by god, education can solve a lot of our problems. It may not solve everything, nothing ever does. But if you have an educated community, people who are aware, people that have had the experience handling the affairs of our tribal nations, then I think we're in better hand as a group, rather than just sitting back and watching the tribal government do something that isn't pleasant to the local people."

Mary Kim Titla: "You touched on what was going to be my next question, and that is the role of non-elected leaders in the community. There are many of them. Can you give some examples of how people can become more active in their tribal government? I know attending meetings would be one thing, but can you give some examples of that?"

Angela Russell: "It's important for legislators, and I was one, you need to get out in the community, you need to let people know what is on the agenda for the next session, and you really need to solicit their participation. I had a woman just a few months ago who said she was really concerned about horses that were just all over the road, dogs that were abandoned and not fed, and why were these individuals having livestock and not tending to them. And I said, 'Well, you know what you can do is talk to your legislator and by the petition route, if you get a signature of 10 percent in your district, you can promote [a] resolution and that may become law.' So I think we need to really encourage people to participate instead of griping. You can say, 'Well, you can do something about that.' Another example is truancy: A lot of kids missing school, suspension of kids from school and somewhere, somehow somebody brought together a truancy bill, and now our students have to be in school 'til they're age 18 and we are going to enforce it. In fact we're getting ready through the court to enforce that shortly. So we need to have people participate. Instead of having a gripe, let's put it into action and do something."

Peterson Zah: "I also happen to believe that those things that really make our tribal government function very well is the people who participate in a lot of those programs, because you can go out into any Indian reservation, you won't have any problem finding the problems. They're there, many, many problems. I think the role of the local people, the non-elected people, is to define some of those problems and then say to themselves, 'How can I make a difference as an individual? How can we, the two or the three of us, make a difference? Let's see if we can do something about this particular problem,' instead of not doing anything, and to do that you have to motivate the young people. In the generations of Indian people that we have on Indian land, Indian Country nowadays, students are completely different than those students that I knew when I was just a young man, and motivation has to take place among those young people for them to begin having them become active in a lot of the social problems that we have on the Navajo reservation, for example."

Mary Kim Titla: "And I'd like to see more of that, young people really taking charge in their communities. I tried to do that as a young person and I'm hearing more from young people about efforts they're doing. In fact one young lady I met recently is going to spearhead a suicide-prevention walk, and I thought that was excellent because as we know, that's a big problem in Indian Country right now. What changes do you see in our leaders today? I know you've touched on this a little bit, but from say 10, 20 years ago, how different are they?'

Angela Russell: "Well, I think that the challenges, the demands of leadership today are just monumental. We're bombarded by so many requirements, so many changes that our societies need and I guess even going back further, I really like this term of enlightened democracy, where people have information, they're educated, they can make a decision looking at all the facts. But I think Indian people have a long way to go yet because we have so much poverty on many of our reservations and it really is a luxury to be participating in government, because a lot of our people are just kind of living from day to day, making sure that they're going to get through the day with whatever needs they may have. And it's not unusual for those of us who live on the reservation and are blessed to have employment, we have a lot of people knocking on our doors, people looking for work, people just looking for money and hopefully if we ever have a secure economic base for our people, then I think that we can start having more participation. Right now, I think it's limited, but I'd like to see that expand, and I think the economic situation is really important to take a look at for all tribes, not only our tribe but other tribes, too."

Peterson Zah: "I think this is probably where we have such a big difference between leaders of 20 years ago and today. If you go back 20 years ago, even in this state here [Arizona], we have Dr. Annie Wauneka for example on the Navajo. We have Ronnie Lupe with the White Mountain Apache Indian nation. Agnes Sevilla with the Colorado Tribe. And if you look at those folks, what did they have? What did they not have, and what did they not do for example? They really didn't have the education that we now have with our tribal leaders, but they have one thing that is so important in my own estimation which is a commitment and education and the dedication that they had to their people and they were honest. They didn't have much money to work with. They didn't ask for let's say compensation for their travel. They did things where the Great Spirit told them to do things. When the Great Spirit moved them, that's when they move and they were good leaders, women leaders in this state, and they were solely dedicated to, for example, eradicating tuberculosis on the Navajo by Dr. Wauneka. And she did all of those while there were no roads on the Navajo Nation and she rode horses, she rode wagons and she used radio, she used the Navajo language to do all of those things that needed to be done. She did not have the kind of education that many of our tribal leaders today have. And so I would say probably today's leaders are less traditional than let's say they were 20 years ago, but 20 years ago those leaders, 40 years ago, you could never outdo them in traditional way of doing things. You could never outdo them in dedication and commitment. I think that's what's missing."

Angela Russell: "I think tradition is extremely important, and for many of our tribes, it's real important to speak our language and to communicate with people through our language. We have a clan system and it's important to include clan members or to give them information. I think tradition is really the backbone of our society so we need to foster that and continue it. But I think if you can deal with tradition as well as trying to develop modern ways of dealing with things, I think that's the best route to go."

Mary Kim Titla: "What about our future leaders, our young people? What advice would you have for our young people who want to become tribal council delegates or tribal chairmen or presidents?"

Angela Russell: "I think that we don't use our young people to the extent that we need to use them. I think the tribe really needs to set up internships, they need to set up fellowships, give people practical experience, have them get their feet wet, so to speak. A lot of young people come home, they may go to college with the intention of coming back and doing something and they may graduate, they may come back, and there's nothing there for them. I remember a young man who just got his degree in civil engineering and he came back and he was really excited about working for the tribe, but the tribe did not hire him. And we have other instances like that. We have to make room in our government to encourage young people to participate and to take some leadership roles."

Peterson Zah: "If you look at the three of us, we came from a family where the tradition was very strong so we were taught by our parents and our grandparents about traditional belief. Now, if you look at the young people that we have today in college, their parents are less traditional, and many of the students that we now have coming from single parents and they don't have as much tradition as what the three of us had. And I think that presents a problem because the young kids today represent a totally different set of values that they have. The values aren't the same and I think that's going to cause some problems for the Indian nation. So we have to go not only to the young people but to the parents that are raising them, and then their children. And so to some degree we're losing the tradition that helped us survive among all of the Indian nations for this long. And the young people should never ever forget that we survived as long as we had because of our traditions, because of our language, because of our culture. Those may not have dollar signs, but they were more powerful than all of the dollars that the tribe gets now, and the young people should never ever forget that."

Mary Kim Titla: "One of the things that I was interested in learning more about from you Pete is this Navajo Nation Permanent Fund. Tell me about that and what made it become a reality?"

Peterson Zah: "I was very, very lucky when I became the tribal chair back in 1983. We had an 88-member council. Most of them were traditional people and a totally different perspective about leadership and about Navajo life and Navajo goals and aspirations. The difference is that back then those were visionary leaders and during that period in the history of the Navajo tribe we won several very, very important court decisions. One of them was Kerr McGee versus the Navajo Nation, a United States Supreme Court case where the Navajo Nation wanted to tax all of the companies that were extracting minerals off Navajo land, businesses that operate on Navajo Nation. We decided what we should do is tax them, and that's been in the works with the tribe for many, many years and so finally the tribe says, 'We're going to tax all of you, as you're being taxed elsewhere, you're doing business throughout the United States.' And so we did and they took us to court. While we were in litigation during the court process, they were paying us escrow funds, the amount of taxes that they're supposed to pay the tribe. So by the time we won in 1984, it had accumulated a huge amount of money in the escrow account, so all of a sudden as a young chairman of the Navajo Nation, $214 or $216 million was dropped on my lap and my job was, what to do with the money? As you know and Angela well know, when you have a tribal council such as what we have among Indian people, they want to spend, spend, spend. And any time you raise the issue of wanting to save you were an oddball. So in my case, I decided that I'm going to go against the grain of what the Navajo Nation Council wants, which is we're going to invest all of these monies, and the one that people always hear about is the Permanent Fund. That is where you establish a permanent account and we put something like $26 million into a permanent Navajo fund and we want that to grow. Back then, from 1984 to 2004, for [a] 20-year period we all agreed that we wouldn't touch that amount of money, and then the Navajo Nation was to contribute 12 percent of its total revenues into that account each year. So you had the $26 million that was earning interest and the Navajo Nation council was also depositing 12 percent of the total revenue each year into the account and that thing grew and grew and grew. And to this day, 2006, we're almost at a billion dollars. And when we reach a billion within the next several years, that money is to be used by the Navajo people after they have a referendum vote, so it's not only up to the council to decide how that money should be used. It's going to be up to all the Navajo voters. We had hearings three summers ago and the Navajo people decided that what we should do is don't use it all. Use only the interest off that one billion. We can handle that but keep the one billion in the bank so that you'll always have money in the bank for a rainy day for example, and only use the interest. And we can use that interest just to keep the tribal government, tribal services going and not ever spend the one billion. So that was the kind of visionary leaders the Navajo council was back then, and I was just very, very lucky as a young person to be in that seat working with them when that thing happened."

Mary Kim Titla: "Sure. And Angela, you have a new constitution."

Angela Russell: "We do."

Mary Kim Titla: "Can you talk about what prompted the tribe to develop this and where did the leadership for that come from?"

Angela Russell: "Well, I think there were only a couple of tribes that had a town council form of government. We were one of them. Our constitution was actually modeled after a Moose Lodge charter, and that was in 1948, so that was the constitution we had. And with mineral development possibilities, with changes in our society, we really needed to be more business-minded, and looking at that old constitution, it wasn't going to work. We had a group of individuals that were part of a committee called the 107th Committee but they -- in discussing where the tribe needed to go -- recognized that we needed changes in our constitution and there were a number of things that they really wanted. They wanted separation of powers, they wanted longer terms for tribal officials, looking at maybe limited waivers of sovereignty. There were a number of things that they looked at and when they looked at the old constitution, it just was not going to work. It was either in conflict or it was so inconsistent that it would raise lots of problems. So back in 2001, actually even earlier than that, many of us who participated in those old councils worked hard to try to look at a new constitution or constitutional reform. I remember I had a resolution before the council -- I think it was 1973 -- just asking for a study to look at different constitutions and bring it back to the council and that was defeated. So it's taken a long time to get where we are, but in 2001 we did approve a new constitution, and that gives you the three branches of government, six districts on our reservation and we have three representatives from each of those districts. And then we have the executive branch and then we have the judicial. If we really are going to move forward into business, it's really important that we have the three branches of government, because a lot of businesses don't want to come on Indian land if they don't feel they have a right to certain things or if they believe their rights aren't being protected. At least the courts provide a forum hopefully to be fair to individuals working on the reservation. So it's new and it's pretty exciting. There are problems that we need to work out, but I think it's moving along."

Mary Kim Titla: "We could talk all day about leadership and issues that our leaders are dealing with in their own communities, but we've run out of time. So I just want to thank you for your insight and your advice. I've learned a lot today."

Angela Russell: "Thank you. It's good to be here."

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

Tanana Chiefs celebrates its first 100 years

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Year

It was just seven blocks away from the Chief David Salmon Tribal Hall that 100 years ago the Tanana Chiefs held their historic meeting with Judge James Wickersham, Alaska’s Congressional delegate, and set the stage for the formation of the Tanana Chiefs Conference.

The chiefs united on issues like land rights, health care and cultural protection as non-Natives moved into the region...

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Buxton, Matt. "Tanana Chiefs celebrates its first 100 years." Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. July 6, 2015. Article. (http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_news/tanana-chiefs-celebrates-its-fi..., accessed September 16, 2015)

How Athabascan leaders crafted the Tanana Chiefs Conference

Year

It was a concern for their people and for future generations that united Interior tribal leaders 100 years ago this week to hold the first official meeting between Interior Alaska Natives and the U.S. government.

The 14 Athabascan men, 10 of whom were chiefs, made the trek from their villages to Fairbanks, where on July 5th and 6th, 1915, they met with a government officials led by Judge James Wickersham, the Alaska territorial delegate to the U.S. Congress. The meeting was held in the George C. Thomas Memorial Library on the waterfront of the Chena River, which today is just a few blocks away from the Tanana Chiefs Conference building...

Native Nations
Resource Type
Topics
Citation

Buxton, Matt. "How Athabascan leaders crafted the Tanana Chiefs Conference." Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. July 11, 2015. Article. (http://www.newsminer.com/features/sundays/community_features/how-athabas..., accessed September 16, 2015)

Empowering Parents Brings Community Change in Wind River

Year

If you are a parent who has ever thought, “What can I do?” or “I am just a parent,” Clarisse Harris, Northern Paiute, has a program that might interest you. On the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, the Parent Leadership Training Institute is arming parents with the tools to bring changes within the schools and communities...

Resource Type
Citation

Rose, Christina. "Empowering Parents Brings Community Change in Wind River." Indian Country Today. January 27, 2014. Article. (https://ictnews.org/archive/empowering-parents-brings-community-change-in-wind-river, accessed April 11, 2023)

A Better Education for Native Students: The Morongo Method

Year

The Morongo School offers a promising way for Indian nations and communities to educate their children so they have a firm foundation in their own culture, and acquire skills to gain entry and complete college...

Resource Type
Citation

Champagne, Duane. "A Better Education for Native Students: The Morongo Method." Indian Country Today Media Network. September 03, 2013. Article. (https://ictnews.org/archive/a-better-education-for-native-students-the-morongo-method, accessed February 23, 2023)

Traditional Governance: A Case Study of the Osoyoos Indian Band and Application of Okanagan Leadership Principles

Year

There are traditional Okanagan governance and leadership principles and guidelines that have been informed through language terms and traditional stories. These have been interpreted and taught to us by our elders of the Okanagan Nation. Five principles of traditional Okanagan leadership will be discussed; will of the people, leadership training, protection of the land, leading by example and continuously validated authority. These are the principles that will be applied to the leadership of today. The focus of such analysis will be on the application of these traditional principles to current governance systems, including accountability, transparency, consultation, communication and decision making. The Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) will be the case study used to contextualize this analysis. There are several Western leadership principles that have been accepted and adopted by our leadership, at OIB and other bands and Nations. These are the Western principles that need to be Indigenized so they will benefit our communities. However, I will not stop there, as it is easy to criticize without proposing any real changes. So, following each criticism I will add my own propositions or beginning proposals to change that is needed to re-vitalize our systems of governance in order to rightly incorporate traditional values.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Baptiste, Ethan. "Traditional Governance: A Case Study of the Osoyoos Indian Band and Application of Okanagan Leadership Principles." Sharing Indigenous Wisdom International Conference. Green Bay, Wisconsin. June 2007. Paper. (https://fngovernance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Traditional_Governance_Osoyoos.pdf, accessed February 15, 2024)