cultural teachings

Sharon Day, Shawn Frank and Deborah Locke: Disenrollment (Q&A)

Producer
William Mitchell College of Law
Year

Panelists Sharon Day, Shawn Frank, and Deborah Locke field questions from the audience and a few participants offer their closing thoughts on the question of tribal citizenship and identity. 

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

Resource Type
Citation

Day, Sharon. "Disenrollment (Q&A)." Tribal Citizenship Conference, Indian Law Program, William Mitchell College of Law, in conjunction with the Bush Foundation. St. Paul, Minnesota. November 13, 2013. Presentation.

Frank, Shawn. "Disenrollment (Q&A)." Tribal Citizenship Conference, Indian Law Program, William Mitchell College of Law, in conjunction with the Bush Foundation. St. Paul, Minnesota. November 13, 2013. Presentation.

Locke, Deborah. "Disenrollment (Q&A)." Tribal Citizenship Conference, Indian Law Program, William Mitchell College of Law, in conjunction with the Bush Foundation. St. Paul, Minnesota. November 13, 2013. Presentation.

Matthew Fletcher:

"My wife, Wenona Singel, wrote a paper where I think I've learned more from this paper than anything else I've read and she...two points about the paper I think that are important. The first is...the paper's called "Indian Tribes and Human Rights Accountability" and it seems to me that there is a -- seems to her and I agree -- that there's a gap in human rights coverage and the gap applies to Indian tribes. International law obligates nations to guarantee minimal human rights and there are things in the United Nations Declaration [on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples], for example, that include these kind of principles, but they don't apply to sub-nations like Indian tribes and so tribes ostensibly have no outside accountability for some of the things they do. That's one of the reasons we have the lack of federal court jurisdiction over things like tribal membership issues is an issue. The other thing is the question of sovereignty and Indian tribes assert sovereignty over tribal membership decisions and if you think about sovereignty, the same kind of arguments that tribes are asserting now when they're defending themselves from challenges on questions of disenrollment are exactly the same things that the southern states made when they were challenged over slavery prior to the Civil War. And if you read the Dred Scott case, there's a long rambling dissertation in there about sovereignty, how internal governance matters should be left to the states alone and outsiders shouldn't have anything to say over that. So I just wondered if you wanted to... if that inspired any commentary from anybody."

Shawn Frank:

"I just think in terms of the sovereignty issue -- maybe I shouldn't answer this since it's framed versus an exercise tantamount to endorsing slavery -- but I think the tribes do have that authority and they can take actions pursuant to that authority. I think the question becomes of whether or not they should, but I certainly...one of the things I do believe is that tribes have to exercise their sovereignty in certain regards because what good is being a sovereign nation with independent authority in certain instances if you're not willing to exercise it? And I think that in issues of membership, that's an important exercise of a tribe's sovereign authority. And I think kind of getting back a little bit to kind of one of the themes of Sharon's [Day] presentation was I think Indian nations are in an interesting position because you have these traditional notions -- not notions, that makes it sound quaint -- these traditions of clans and kinship and where things were really fluid and loose, but as tribes became more like western governments and they adopted constitutions and laws, the tribes now are required to follow those constitutions and laws and sometimes they don't allow this sort of traditional healing, community togetherness concept because there are specific criteria in the specific things that tribes have adopted. So it's kind of a desire sometimes to get back to more kinship and inclusive thing, but the tribes by their own adoption of some constitutions and some other ordinances have really prevented that from being able to happen."

Sharon Day:

"But sovereignty also means that they could do that as well, they could move in the direction that I was referring to if they so choose. That's sovereignty, that's exercising sovereignty."

Audience member:

"After hearing everything that was presented today, I often wonder what the 570-some tribes throughout the United States that are going through enrollment issues, that if there could ever be a conference or a reunification of Indigenous tribes here, not just the continental United States, but the South American, Canadian come together and look at what has...so that there'd [be] a standardization hopefully maybe within the tribes, so that we'd send a message say to the federal government, to the Department of the Interior that we all have the same standards, that's what we're going to abide by. I think we're all going through the decolonization as Sharon was saying and we're still gun shy in what we do. Why? Because we're only one tribe amongst nations of many others and to set a precedence, not just for our tribe, but other tribes here have different things. For instance, they were talking about citizenship and that presentation. Well, if you don't reside on a reservation you don't get any of the benefits. And there again the question was, well, you get benefits, but you have pride in being a tribal member. And often we all say that what's good enough for one tribal member is good for all whether it be the benefiter or etc.

And so I think as a short-term goal probably within say even a year is try to get the message out to all the tribes in the United States, come together somewhere say centrally located, Oklahoma, Nebraska, whatever, come together and have a large summit. That would be a dream and if we go with the clan systems or a way of life, which our people followed many years ago that...whatever, it'd work out to be the best because...me and Willard went to Las Vegas for an enrollment issue and listened to that and we hear different perspectives on enrollment; you hear good stories, you hear sad stories, you hear pondering stories. You're like, 'Okay, I've got my head scratching, I'm thinking,' but you have to know your people also. Ms. [Deborah] Locke was talking about what happened to her and that could very easily fit a lot of tribes throughout the United States and nobody likes to open up Pandora's box to what legalities would come out of that. But the big thing is I'd love to see a summit because if we make these changes today, we're going to leave a legacy for our children and I still think that our children will still be looking at this issue down the line going into the 22nd century. [Anishinaabe language]."

Sarah Deer:

"Any other questions or comments for the panel? I guess we have a lot to think about. Well, let's thank our panel for speaking...for joining us today."

Audience member:

"Well, actually before we clap I guess, we're hoping to get a copy of your article because we'd like to..."

Sharon Day:

"I'll send it to Colette [Routel] and she can send it."

Audience member:

"...Because we'd like to include that into our newsletter and I think...I really enjoyed your presentation..."

Sharon Day:

"Thank you."

Audience member:

"...As a member of the lodge, it's good to have our grandmothers stand up and remind us of the different things that we have. And it's...one of the things I've always enjoyed about when I worked at White Earth is that even though it's a different place there's the common teachings that exist and it's good to know that, John Borrows talked about when you identify your clan you have that connection, so for us in the lodge is that understanding because one of the things that they teach us is the unconditional love, it's to be able to accept them as they are and respect all ways. I guess I do have a comment.

So one of the things I hope that...I hope for not just as a tribal attorney, but as a tribal member is that there is an effort to try to educate our tribal members to understand...someone presented about tribal civics and we talked about this in some of the council meetings, we've talked about this on the reservation about having an opportunity to teach ourselves what our government is like, because there's such a distrust that's come from this federal model and that people who are afraid of trusting authority automatically attack our tribal model and that undermines us because it's...but for the fact that we have these treaties that exist because there's no such thing as an individual sovereign, there's the idea of tribal sovereignty. People will attack our governments because they don't like to be told 'no,' but they don't know what to do to try to get to 'yes.'

I think sitting at this table...I try to remind our council...because I studied this when I was a kid growing up. My dad was someone who was very vocal and involved in this type of work and then when I went to college and I went to the Marine Corps, I went to law school, you keep the sense of identity of who you are and it attaches to your tribe, but more for me it was attaching to who my family was. I'm a junior so I carry myself in the way that knowing that my actions reflect on my dad, but they also reflect on my family and that's a teaching that we have in our lodge and that. So for me citizenship is kind of really difficult for me to understand because I'm always going to be a member of my family and [Anishinaabe language], means 'all my relations.'

And so when one of our family members walks on in our lodge, and I know this is taught in other lodges, someone else needs to stand up and do their work because that work needs to get done. And so that's what I envision and that's what I've seen growing up on the reservation, me and Willard. We've kind of been joking with him the whole day about trying to get him to speak, but I grew up with Willard and as we get older we take more of these responsibilities and among the people that I grew up with we say, 'It's our time. It's our time to do this work now. It's our time to look to our elders like Gordon and Rusty and the ones who've opened up this path for us. It's time for us to pick up that...' Well, they probably don't want to drop it right now, but they're ready for us to start doing this work and helping them carry it that much farther so that our children have an idea of where they come from. But we have to start...I think we need to do more to trust the governments that we have and trusting them by understanding what their role is, understanding where the root of the idea of sovereignty comes from, understanding what the role of the government is supposed to be so that just because you get a negative decision, and I don't mean that in reflection of anything that's been said today, but you understand the purpose of what it is. You have to protect the identity and the protection that we have as a collective group because for every negative instance we have there's a positive instance of a negative action from a government. And I say that as a lawyer.

But people...some tribes sell their memberships and they sell it to people who can pay whoever is on council to do that or they sell the right to go hunt and fish and those are things that are not intended as those treaties were done. My dad used to...my dad told me, 'One of the major things about the treaties was Article 5 of the '37 Treaty.' He said,  ''42 was the best one negotiated for the Ojibwe's, but Article 5 is the one that encompassed us the right to hunt, fish and gather as the way we understood that because hunting, fishing and gathering was the instrument and the means for us to get the deer, the wild rice, the fish and the plants and the medicines for us to have our ceremonies. And for us to have our ceremonies allowed us to go from birth to passing with all the ceremonies that go on in between there and that allowed us to keep our connection between our ancestors and we have something to give to our grandchildren. And that maintains our identity as Ojibwe and as Anishinaabe.' And so when I get an opportunity to teach in the schools I talk about that, but I try to put a face on that.

Gordon was the chairman for our tribe when we had the void litigation that opened up this idea of reaffirming our rights in the 7th Circuit and also in the Western District of Wisconsin. Rusty has been a 20-year veteran in the Army. And so we need to do more to recognize the contribution of our individual members and when they sit on council it's not just 'f*in' council did this' or 'f*in' council did that.' What it means is that we have people who have made a sacrifice of their personal selves to put themselves in a leadership position to take the responsibility of what happens and then respect them for their contribution instead of saying, 'Well, their family did this or their family did that.'

When I took the job as the tribal attorney, I stood in front of the council and said, 'I will let go of my responsibilities as my family and not carry the grudges going forward and I will serve my council to the best of my ability to carry that forward,' and I've tried my best to do that. You've got pressures that come all the time, but I think if we're going to really have a serious conversation about what citizenship is, whether it's the political discourse or membership, whether it's belonging to that group, you have to have an idea of what is your responsibility to contribute and not just expect something in return, not just to say, 'Well, I get to go hunting and fishing because that's my treaty right.' That treaty right came at the sacrifice of thousands of people who had to sneak in the woods at night because there was people who were trying to take that away from them. I read the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] reports, I've seen the game warden reports from like 1910 when they confiscated the fish and the deer from this old elderly couple from Lac du Flambeau and the father...the male died in custody and they made the mother walk home from the lake that she was at. You would never even think about doing that now. You would never, ever contemplate doing that, but that's a sacrifice that they did so that...we need to remember those stories and they did that because...they did that to survive, but I bet you their children knew how to hunt, fish and gather and they knew how to speak their language and they understood those seven principles that come from your teaching in the lodge and they understand what the seven fires are.

And I hope that if there's some day that we have that conversation so there is a thread that connects us so that we never forget the sacrifice of who we are and what's been done to give us that chance. And I hope that we are able to make that same sacrifice so that our grandchildren can look back and say, 'Well, there was this fat guy at a conference one time who said...kept jabbering on, everybody wanted to go home...' but at least we keep that connection alive. So that's what I would say. And I say [Anishinaabe language] for your teaching."

Sharon Day:

"[Anishinaabe language]."

Sarah Deer:

"Thank you." 

Honoring Nations: Jeanette Clark Cassa: San Carlos Apache Elders Cultural Advisory Council

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

Jeanette Cassa (1929-2004), Coordinator of the San Carlos Apache Elders Cultural Advisory Council (ECAC), discusses ECAC's work and the traditional Apache core values that its member elders work to instill in the younger generations of Apache people. She also stresses the importance of tribal leaders living by those values and listening to their people.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Cassa, Jeanette Clark. "San Carlos Apache Elders Cultural Advisory Council." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Sante Fe, New Mexico. February 8, 2002. Presentation.

Jeanette Clark Cassa:

"[Apache language] Good evening and we had a good day today and may it all be well today. My name is Jeanette Cassa and I'll try to do like the Navajos do. My name is Jeanette Cassa [Apache language]. The [Apache language] is very almost extinct now. There's just a few people [Apache anguage] probably extended out to the Navajo countries. But this is what I am.

I have an outline here and I'm going to try to make it short. I'm not quite used to speaking out in public. I'm used to being on top of the mountains looking for herbs, looking for plants, and naming the animals in Apache and birds out there for the education, the school. It says here that I'm going to talk about the past. Well, my...I was born in 1929 just when my father and my mother, we were beginning to realize that there is another world that they have to get in the trend of. And my great grandmother had been a prisoner of war, my paternal grandmother. She used to tell us stories about the prisons and it was very sad out there. They were roaming in the mountains but they came back, they were settled down in the valley and they...from there my father was born and then I came in.

Just when tribal council in 1934 -- I was about five years old when they developed the constitution. And the constitution took place then, so it was developed. And the tribal council was called the administrators at first and they advised people, they worked with the people real good and they never sat...they have some letters yet that they have written and it says there that not...it doesn't say 'I' and the chairman doesn't say, 'I.' He says, 'This council' and then he signs his name last while the councils, the district councils signed their names first. In those days they prayed and they got together and they prayed as they were developing the constitution. I believe that's why it still holds today. Only about one or two was amended in 1954.

But since I had gotten out of school I've been with the, helping out the council all the time and I felt that they were my relatives because I was an orphan. I had relatives in Mescalero, but there was quite a distance. So I grew up helping out the council. In those days the cultural principles of the...they gave advices on that according to the principles of life and whatever. Those things are gone today when you look at it, they're gone. They're gone and even in the English language, way back when Moses came there was a law put forth like the 10 Commandments. Do you ever stop to look at that? We had something like that. Don't do this or don't do that, but do this.

In the mornings when you got up you started out with your right foot, your right hand, whatever you were going to do. You were told to start with the right hand, your right foot so everything will go well with you for the day. They used to do that and then they say, 'Don't beg for things. Let it come to you or hunt for it, work for it yourself. Look for it.' Like when our people were in mountains those days they looked for food. They were constantly scratching around for food or looking, searching for food to eat so they were busy during the day. The men were out hunting, the women were at home or roasting agaves or looking for nuts and whatever they can eat. So they were constantly busy like the ants and that kept them slim in those days. And the food that they ate kept them healthy because they were natural foods.

So that's how their life was in those days and as we became...when the constitution came in, in those days we became a ward of the government. And then I went back to the reservation and as soon as I got home the council put me on the election committee so I had been with that until 1990. In 1954, I have seen two chairmen that were running who shake hands when one of them won. There [were] no harsh words; no criticizing one another, but they shook hands and that was good in 1954. After that it got out of hand. So that's where we are at today.

And the modern things that we learned that take place; I'm not as good as what Andrew [Lee]...but I do try to help anywhere, everywhere you help out. Your parents, your great grandmother told you, 'If you help out, it will come back to you in a thousand folds' is that they taught us. If you are a leader, don't hoard everything, give until you are the last one, take the last one or whatever you gave you got the smaller one and gave the bigger one away. It is not like this anymore.

There are a lot of words and teachings that have gone out of our lives everywhere, not just San Carlos. I believe it's with every tribe and even the modern world, the cities, everywhere. I had some experience in the earlier days, in 1950s the council decided that they needed to send people off the reservation to get work out there, to get a job, find a job and you were supposed to be out there and be educated. In other words, they told us, 'Be civilized' or assimilate with the public out there. So they sent us out. I have been there. I have been to San Jose, California and I've been to Dallas, Texas, but one day I decided that I needed to come home. I didn't have very many relatives at home, but I don't know why I came home, but someone told me that maybe you were meant to go home and help out. So all this time I've been doing it.

In 1990, when the NAGPRA [Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act] came in, my partner Seth [Pilsk] came out to me when I had retired from teaching at Globe High School, the Apache language, and I had retired and came home and I was sitting there. One morning he came up to me and said, 'Will you go to work with me?' I said, 'I retired'. He said, 'It's just for 18 months.' And it has gone...it has gone beyond that. It's almost 10 years, 10 years is coming up. But I went to work with him. We have worked on a lot trying to...we even worked with the [Northern Arizona University] with a science or something there was supposed to be taught in the school and we're still on that. And we're working on place names, putting every Apache name on a place where it...where the Apaches had been. So our map is just covered with black dots all over and on the side there because we couldn't put the whole name in there we just put it on the side.

That's where I am and the tribe today, the council today like here, they're here. I don't see any of my council member or maybe they're a little jealous of me, I don't know. But they do work with us. 1993 we presented a resolution. One reason we realized that we need a resolution to bring the elders council is that there are things, there are sacred things, there are traditions that are sacred, and we need permission from the elders in the community, the medicine men. So in order to work well with them we presented the resolution and they approved it. So we've been working under that. And that's what we've been doing all this time.

We do work with other companies like ADOT [Arizona Department of Transportation]. We receive letters, even from the arch science and the archaeologists that come in, but now we have Vernelda [Grant] on board as an archaeologist. So we send all those to her. And that's the reason why some other people haven't heard from us. But we've been called out everywhere and today I would say that I need to take speech lessons. I'm not as well...I'd rather be out there on the mountain and we do take people out. We have our elders' meeting and you've got to be patient with them. You have a meeting with them as a group like this, but you go over it again and visit them individually.

There's one thing we don't know anymore too and that is enduring things -- the cold, the heat, and other things -- we cannot sit still long enough. I notice that in the children as I try to bring these back, the other day. Our children are not working much anymore, too. So one forester has developed a thing where he can train the younger boys for the firefighters. So he asked me to come out there and talk to them and I did and I try to think about what I should say, but their attention span is short. So I try to make it short. I told them little stories. Like one day the firefighters got on the bus. A long time ago in the '50s the truck used to go up and down and they would honk the horn and then the men hears that whether they're drinking or not they go stand out there; some of them were drunk. But they got on the truck and they'd jump on the truck because they were able-bodied men. They were men that knew how to work. So they got on the bus. When the truck brought them to the bus they got on there, they threw the bottle away. It was time to put that bottle away and go. They got on the bus and got to wherever they were going and when they got there they fixed their bedding and they went to sleep right away, as soon as they got there. And the next morning they got up early and started work. They left the bottle behind and the job was a job and they went and did it. That's what I told the boys. It's time to put something away and get to work. There are a lot of other stories like that that I told to the boys.

But it's true about everything else. You people have... I listen to you talk and you have brought everything out, everything and maybe somebody wrote it down and everything that is needed as being a leader or working with the people. You brought everything out and mentioned it but there's one thing, when you become a leader, you kind of get tempted with things. And there's a little pool, maybe money or maybe something or maybe travel like this, you get tempted by that, and you spend more time out there and the work is back there. Nobody mentioned that one. But remember, you have to think twice before you can make a move. What's going to happen to me if I do this? There was one thing that I told the boys about that was; there was an elderly man that talked to us when I was working for the CAP office. He said, 'At 25...' He was telling us a story and he said, 'When you're away, somebody calls you and say your wife is out there or your husband is out there doing this. And you think is she really or is she home? And it gets in your way in your work and pretty soon it becomes a monster and you rush home and most likely you'll find your wife at home safe, doing all the work.' That was one...that's what this old man told me and that has been with me all this time. I thought about that. 'You'll get infatuated with someone at one time or other, but if you follow it, you're going to make a fool of yourself. You're going to lose everything and you'll just be out there all alone.' That's what he said. And so I remembered it and that's been with me all these years. I lost my husband to cancer two years ago, but that kept me straight. Things like that, the elderlies tell you.

Another one was...another one was that...he said...he said something else; stories like that. The women, my elders are full of them...will tell you a lot of things. He goes and visit the community. He involves with the community. He visits the people. So that's who we are, the elders. Today we're going to try to, no matter how hard it is, we're going to try to work, bring in the students, the young boys that are dropouts; we're going to try to work with them. We're going to try to work with the councilmen. We already do advise them, but when somebody wants, a leader wants something real bad, he will persuade someone or persuade the group to go along with him. And how do you go about that? You have to sit down and think it out and try it, getting it out there. So that's what we're trying to do. And I don't know how long it's going to last, how long NAGPRA's going to last. We do a lot of things. My secretary is Seth Pilsk. We'll think about it, we'll say about it, but he's going to write it down. We'll tell him and we'll read it over and say, 'This is not right.' Sometimes he gets angry and writes his own words, but we tell him, 'Don't do that.' So he's our secretary and he helps us, he's willing to help us. And he'll laugh and erase it out. So that's why he's with us and he's a botanist and I work with him. We have so many jobs. We've done a lot of ethnohistory with the Carlota Mines, Payson. Pretty soon we're going to Aravaipa and Winkelman. That's what we're doing and we'll be busy out there again.

We do need your help also in solving this problem about our leaders. How do we get them to work? How do we get them to listen? Will you listen to me, will you remember what it said or will you just ignore it? I said to Andrew, I said, 'The chairs are empty, go ahead and put me on.' But that's what we live by, the wisdom of the elders. There are a lot of good things what to do and what not to do. They used to say, 'Don't envy someone because it's no good.' There are a lot of things and probably your tribe is like that also. That's what we're trying to...trying to bring in and make it and work with the modern things, the modern teachings. That's what we're trying to do. I'm sorry that I'm just...like I said, I'm not used to making speech, but I can really holler and yell out there in the forest. Thank you."

Jill Doerfler: "No Easy Answer": Citizenship Requirements

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Anishinaabe scholar Jill Doerfler discusses the process that the White Earth Nation followed to arrive at their new constitution, and details the evolving debate at White Earth about which citizenship criteria it would incorporate into this new governing document.

People
Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Doerfler, Jill. "'No Easy Answer': Citizenship Requirements." Tribal Constitutions seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 3, 2013. Presentation.

"It's wonderful to be here. As I mentioned, had the privilege of being here last year, thrilled to be back this year. For the sake of time we're just going to sort of roll right into it. My presentation today is "'No Easy Answer': Citizenship Requirements," because it's a difficult topic for us. Basically I'm going to talk about a sort of case study of the White Earth Nation and focus on citizenship and how, over a number of years, we talked about citizenship and came to a decision on what we wanted. I identified four basic keys that helped us that you may find useful as well. We had an inclusive and open process, we talked a lot about the history of tribal citizenship, both how citizenship or identity was regulated prior to the Indian Reorganization Act, post-Indian Reorganization Act, and then when we came to a blood quantum in 1963. We worked really hard to integrate and practice our Anishinaabe culture and values within the governance structure and within citizenship. And then finally, perhaps most importantly, patience and perseverance. As I said, it's not going to be an easy task and as Carole [Goldberg] said, there are many, many different options and things to be weighed and considered and yet it's worth it in the end. So I'll elaborate on all of these.

I'll say briefly that White Earth is currently part of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT), which is an umbrella structure that has six nations. You'll see White Earth located furthest west there. White Earth has been very interested in creating our own constitution. We've had several different efforts for constitutional reform that have gone on for about 30 years. So it has definitely been a long process. What I'm going to focus on is our efforts from 2007 forward. In her 2007 State of the Nation address, Chairwoman Dr. Erma Vizenor noted that among the issues she wanted to address in the upcoming year was constitutional reform. Vizenor noted that a clear separation of powers of tribal government should be considered as well as requirements for citizenship stating, 'As tribal membership continues to decline under the present one-fourth blood quantum requirement, we must decide eligibility for enrollment.' She went on to note that 'White Earth members must decide these issues by referendum vote.' So she put it up right away, establishing from the outset that it has to be up to the citizens to make this decision. Tribal government isn't going to be the one to make it.

For me personally, I was elated. I had been studying tribal citizenship for several years and was in 2007 preparing to defend my dissertation, which examined citizenship regulations and cultural values among the White Earth Anishinaabe. So after the State of the Nation address, I contacted Vizenor's office and asked how I could be of assistance. We agreed that I would write a series of newspaper articles for our tribal newspaper called the Anishinaabe Today based upon my dissertation research. In the articles I delineated the ways in which Anishinaabe got White Earth conceptualized identity during the early 1900s, then I shared the history of blood quantum and then discussed the changes in tribal citizenship that had occurred within the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. What we hoped is that the articles would both provide information, as well as encourage White Earth citizens to get involved in what was the newest effort for constitutional reform. Some people were a bit wary of having been involved for several years at this point, but we wanted to sort of revitalize them.

So basically citizens were invited to serve as constitutional delegates. There was an application process. Everyone that applied was accepted. We had the first of what would be four constitutional conventions beginning on October 19th and 20th, 2007. The convention was an open public process. Anyone who was interested could come. It wasn't delegates only, but anyone who wanted to come could. At the first convention, Chairwoman Vizenor discussed the need for reform and gave a brief history of the different attempts for change. The delegates were provided draft copies of different constitutions both a draft that had been generated in the late 1990s at White Earth, another draft, and then the current Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Constitution that we were under -- that we still are under -- at that time. There was both an air of excitement and nervousness that day when the process began. We got right into it with the topic of citizenship on the agenda. I was instructed to give a presentation to start things rolling -- I did. I gave a brief presentation about the history of tribal citizenship, explained how blood quantum came to be, the requirement for citizenship in 1963. Part of my goal was to integrate Anishinaabe values and cultural practices so I asked delegates to keep in mind the concept of mino-binaadiziwin. Mino-binaadiziwin translates as 'live well, have good health; lead a good life.' It's a concept that's not about just physical survival, but about a world view in which individuals and groups work actively together to create what we think of as a rewarding, ethical and nourishing life. So it's kind of a whole worldview outlook. In conclusion I asked that we work to restore mino-binaadiziwin in our families, our communities, and our nation at all the different levels and I noted that by working together we could create a strong nation that would both echo our traditions and create a positive future.

After my presentation, delegates were divided into small groups to discuss citizenship. The use of small groups was really effective. It allowed everyone time to share their ideas and concerns. The small groups then, after a period, reported back to the whole group. Several of the groups agreed that blood quantum was not an effective or appropriate way to regulate tribal citizenship, but at that time they found it difficult to decide what the best requirement would be. Many people noted that they had at least some children or grandchildren who could not enroll because of the blood quantum requirement. One group stated that they were confident that a strong effort to maintain our culture and language would ensure that using lineal descent would not water us down, which is something we may be familiar with, the idea that it might be a problem if we used lineal descent. There were some delegates who voiced their desire to continue to use blood quantum. So at that time we agreed that the issue of tribal citizenship would require further discussion. Delegates were encouraged to discuss the issue with their families and their communities and to go home and continue to think about these things. We weren't going to rush to come to any decision that day or anything. The convention went on, we talked about other wide range of issues, separation of powers especially. Ultimately the convention ended with optimism and a real push for positive change for the future. So we'll continue rolling.

A second convention was held January 4th and 5th, 2008. Constitutional delegates had expressed a desire for the White Earth constitution to reflect Anishinaabe values; not surprisingly, that's the main reason a lot of people were there. So we began that first evening with a presentation by White Earth citizen Natalie MacArthur and she talked about the ways in which values could be applied to and implemented within constitutions. She stressed that a constitution must reflect a society's values. So delegates were asked to write down four of their own personal core values and then a correlating belief statement: how do you put that into practice? They discussed these personal values in small groups and then reported back the common values they had identified together. Many of the values, not surprisingly, related to respect, love, truth, honesty, family and compassion. One delegate noted that 'everything we do, all the hard work, love, respect, etc., should be pointed towards future generations. Core values should be used to take care of future generations.' The core values and sentiments discussed closely parallel the Anishinaabe seven grandfather teachings, which emphasize the importance of courage, truth, respect, love, honesty, wisdom and humility as the guiding principles of Anishinaabe life, to live the good life.

Then I was up again to give a presentation. I talked about the history of blood quantum, the concept -- where it came from, the European origins -- and then how it came to be used for tribal citizenship. I explained that while blood quantum was at one time considered science in the 19th century maybe into the 20th century a little bit, today we know that it doesn't exist as a real thing. It's used kind of metaphorically, but it's not real. Blood quantum was not a requirement for tribal citizenship as I said until 1963. And I wanted delegates to have clear and concise information about how the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe came to use this one-fourth Minnesota Chippewa Tribe blood as the sole requirement for tribal citizenship. I summarized resolutions passed by the MCT in the 1930s and '40s that required lineal descent for tribal citizenship and explained that these resolutions were rejected by the Secretary of the Interior, not surprisingly. The Secretary of the Interior was not interested in those and therefore were not made part of the constitution and the Secretary sent many letters back saying blood quantum would be great, residency would be great, you guys need to keep thinking about this. I also used a variety of examples to show that elected leaders of the MCT fought really hard against blood quantum because they knew that someday their descendants would not qualify to become tribal citizens. The records on this are just absolutely spectacular -- people getting up giving long speeches about the importance of family. So I was able to quote extensively from those. I hoped that this information would empower delegates to redefine citizenship in a way that both enacted Anishinaabe values and emphasized relationships, which was something that many people had talked about wanting. I ended the presentation by acknowledging that tribal citizenship was a difficult and controversial issue, but I also emphasized that it was an opportunity to put our values into action. I suggested the delegates consider how the core values that we had discussed earlier that evening might translate into citizenship requirements. How could we put those values into action in the constitution itself? So we had that discussion.

And then the next morning we had... turning it again to the topic of tribal citizenship. We weren't coming to any conclusions just yet. Delegates were asked to examine a list of options and you see them here on the slide. I'm not going to read all of them, but basically the 1990s effort for reform constitution had created a list of citizenship options because they couldn't decide at that time exactly either. And so delegates were asked to look at that list and you see them here. Lineal descent is one option and then the other options are each based on a variety of blood calculations, some of which get kind of complicated. At that time the Chairwoman Vizenor instructed delegates to narrow down the list to one or two options. However, before that happened, one group said, 'Actually we have another option to add to this list. We're not going to narrow it down just yet.' So their idea was that, 'All those who are currently enrolled be made full bloods.' This eventually became known to us as the 'Four-Fourths Band-Aid,' which I think does sum it up. So delegates discussed this at length and then reported back to the group. Basically they reported back saying that they really felt strongly that it was a difficult issue. Some people said, 'Yes, we favor the Four-Fourths Band-Aid because basically what it would mean is that everyone who is currently enrolled is going to be able to have his or her grandchildren enrolled.' So it'll go a certain step so far. So some delegates were ready for change to some extent, but they were uncomfortable making maybe a permanent decision regarding change. They were unwilling or maybe unable to completely let go of blood quantum. They kind of wanted to manipulate and still find a way to maybe use that. As the discussion continued, the issue of family surfaced on many time and again with the delegates' comments. One delegate noted that he favored the use of lineal descent because it includes all family members and was a way of taking care of our families, so enacting some of our values. It was also noted that lineal descendants would go on forever and that if blood quantum were to continue, White Earth -- our sovereignty could potentially be in jeopardy; the Nation might not always exist. However, some delegates were apprehensive that more citizens would put an increased strain on already limited resources. Another delegate stated pretty succinctly, 'No one is happy with blood quantum,' but that person just was unsure about how White Earth should regulate citizenship, how we could move forward. So ultimately the wide diversity of comments and opinions reflect both a desire for change as well as trepidation about what change might really mean. Even though the delegates could easily identify core values, some were having a difficult time conceptualizing how to practice those values in citizenship requirements. Again, delegates were unable to come to a clear conclusion about what the best requirement would be and so, once again, we agreed that the topic would be revisited at a later date. Again, go home, keep thinking about it; keep talking about it.

We came back several months later for what would be the third convention, October 24th and 25th, 2008, focusing here again on citizenship. During my presentation, I noted that delegates had discussed values at the last convention and suggested that a good way to think about core values is to think about the things that we were taught as children or the things that we teach our children or emphasize to our children or grandchildren today. And I turned to stories for this. Stories are one of the primary ways that we teach our children their place in the family, community, nation, and even within the world. Stories also delineate proper and improper behavior. Anishinaabe scholar John Borrows argues that stories contain core Anishinaabe legal principles and traditions that continue to be important as Anishinaabe nations create legal codes and judicial systems today. So I wanted to tie constitutional reform to cultural revitalization in a very concrete way and I thought story, for us as Anishinaabe people, would be a good way to do that. I talked about our story of [Anishinaabe language]. I thought this would be a good story because it offers some interesting possibilities for interpretation with regard to core values and the constitution. So I summarized the story for the delegates and then I gave an allegorical interpretation that related to citizenship based on that story. I invited delegates to consider how to create citizenship requirements based on the positive values expressed the previous convention and in the story about [Anishinaabe language]. I ended my presentation by advocating the themes and story, which were sovereignty, resiliency, persistence, respect and [Anishinaabe language]. I thought these would be useful to consider as we moved forward with constitutional reform.

When we reconvened the next morning, we had a wonderful presentation by Dr. David Wilkins. We saw a little clip of him earlier today. He gave a great presentation on tribal governments and kinship and how kinship can be used to create responsibilities within nations, how it functioned historically and could be used today as well. Then I gave a presentation entitled "Evaluating the Options for Tribal Citizenship," so we moved back to our list and we said, 'We've got to kind of work through these.' What I did was tell the delegates what we need to do is take a closer look at each of these requirements on our list and we're going to ask this set of questions and go through item by item and think about how can we evaluate this and how can we come to a decision. So you can see the questions here that we went through. So we were going through this process. Most delegates were listening intently, weighing the options and yet you could start to feel some tensions rising in the room. Some people were unhappy, some people began talking really loudly to each other and being really disruptive. At that point one delegate was frustrated and she stood up and she said, 'Can I make a motion?' And Chairman Vizenor said, 'Yes, you can.' And so the motion was made that no options for tribal citizenship that require blood quantum be discussed any further. The motion passed. There was only one option on our list that doesn't include any type of blood quantum, which was the lineal descendancy option. Consequently the issue of citizenship was decided. It was kind of surprisingly quick in a certain way even though we had been talking about it for a long time. It was the culmination of numerous discussions on citizenship that had occurred at the previous conventions as well as conversations that delegates had had with their family outside of the conventions. At that time, I simply ended my presentation early; we were done discussing the issue.

After that convention, Chairwoman Vizenor designated a constitutional proposal team to draft a constitution based on the three conventions that we had had. She asked constitutional delegate Gerald Vizenor, who was a very well known scholar and author from White Earth, to be the principle writer for the document. I was also a member of the team and as agreed upon by the delegates, during the process, lineal descent is the sole requirement for citizenship within the constitution. So we know then that the constitution of the White Earth Nation was created through a grassroots process of open discussion and compromise. Delegate Gerald Vizenor did an incredible job of writing the document. He did a nice job of astutely balancing a wide range of viewpoints and his attention to detail was crucial for the mechanics of the constitution. The constitution is a unique reflection of the White Earth Nation. Most importantly it reflects and enacts Anishinaabe values and incorporates enduring cultural traditions while envisioning a certain future. The constitutional proposal team was satisfied with the document. We presented it to constitutional delegates in April 2009. The delegates did make some changes to the document at that time, not to citizenship. They voted in favor of ratification and so the document was complete at that time. Chairwoman Vizenor was happy with the process and reminded delegates that we would...that the delegates were done with their work, but that the document would still go out for referendum vote.

Ultimately, the ratified constitution of the White Earth Nation echoes Anishinaabe traditions and envisions a perpetual future of promise. Today, what we're doing, we're in the process of preparing for a citizen engagement and education effort, which will culminate in a referendum vote on the constitution, which will hopefully be in September or October at the very latest. So we're working on that. Ultimately, in conclusion, as I said, I think four keys that basically worked for us is: really digging into our history -- thinking about how Anishinaabe people thought about identity and citizenship in historical times; looking at our cultural values: how they could be implemented; having these open respectful discussions; and focusing on the future -- what would be best for future generations as delegates often emphasized? Miigwetch."

Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times: The Seven Teachings

Year

"We are invited once again to revisit the time-honored teachings, and to embrace the old ways in order to renew our connection to the Sacred Teachings. We need this old knowledge in our lives to live in these modern times of technology."

So began a PowerPoint presentation by Chi-Ma'iingan/Great Wolf (Larry Stillday)–aided by his wife Violet–at the 8th Annual Drug and Gang Summit held at Seven Clans Casino and Event Center on February 11 to 13, 2014...

Resource Type
Citation

Meuers, Michael. "Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times: The Seven Teachings." Indian Country Today Media Network. March 19, 2014. Article. (https://ictnews.org/archive/ancient-wisdom-for-modern-times-the-seven-teachings, accessed March 2, 2023)

Richard Luarkie: Choosing to be Bitter or Better: A Perspective from a Pueblo Upbringing

Producer
TEDxABQ
Year

Pueblo of Laguna Governor Richard Luarkie shares his rich Pueblo upbringing, a deep tradition of contribution to community, and inspiration to live a great life. Richard has a passion to contribute to global economic and community advancement using his Pueblo cultural values and teachings.

Native Nations
Citation

Luarkie, Richard. "Choosing to be Bitter or Better: A Perspective from a Pueblo Upbringing." TEDxABQ Whispers & Roars. TEDxABQ. Albuquerque, NM. September 6, 2014. Presentation. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2UcwBQSfF8&list=PLsRNoUx8w3rO8s-H4FO9cf..., accessed October 19, 2023)

Gregory Cajete: Rebuilding Sustainable Indigenous Communities: Applying Native Science

Author
Producer
Portland Community College
Year

Dr. Gregory Cajete spoke as part of the "Alternative Forms of Knowledge Construction in Mathematics and Science" lecture series in Portland, Oregon which is co-sponsored by Portland State University and Portland Community College. The series features guest speakers who examine forms of mathematical and scientific practice in a variety of cultural settings.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Cajete, Gregory. "Rebuilding Sustainable Indigenous Communities: Applying Native Science." Alternative Forms of Knowledge Construction in Mathematics and Science Lecture Series. Portland Community College. Cascade Campus. Portland, Oregon. May 19, 2011. Presentation. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wg5h7Fd0Bio, accessed May 30, 2023)