custom and tradition

Wrapping Our Ways Around Them: Aboriginal Communities and the CFCSA Guidebook

Author
Year

This Guidebook is based on the belief that Aboriginal peoples need to know, and work with, the systems that impact children and families today such as the Child, Family and Community Service Act (CFCSA), Provincial Court (Child, Family and Community Service Act) Rules (Rules), Child, Family and Community Service Regulation (CFCSA Regulation), Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and delegated Aboriginal agencies.

Exercising exclusive jurisdiction over child welfare remains the goal for Aboriginal peoples: Restoring Aboriginal ways of doing things, especially in caring for children, is essential for the health and well-being of children and families. Successive generations of Aboriginal children continue to be taken into the child welfare system. Without intervention, experience has shown that the outcome for these children will be bleak and reverberate outward, influencing the future of entire families, communities and nations. This Guidebook suggests immediate steps that can be taken on the ground we are standing on–within the CFCSA and systems that impact Aboriginal children and families today–to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children while building toward a better future.

Resource Type
Citation

Walkem, Ardith. Wrapping Our Ways Around Them: Aboriginal Communities and the CFCSA Guidebook. ShchEma-mee.tkt Project. Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council. British Columbia, Canada. 2015. Guide. (http://cwrp.ca/sites/default/files/publications/en/wowat_bc_cfcsa_1.pdf, accessed May 29, 2015)

Wolves Have A Constitution: Continuities in Indigenous Self-Government

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This article is about constitutionalism as an Indigenous tradition. The political idea of constitutionalism is the idea that the process of governing is itself governed by a set of foundational laws or rules. There is ample evidence that Indigenous nations in North America–and in Australia and New Zealand as well–were in this sense constitutionalists. Customary law, cultural norms, and shared protocols provided well understood guidelines for key aspects of governance by shaping both personal and collective action, the behavior of leaders, decision-making, dispute resolution, and relationships with the human, material, and spirit worlds. Today, many of these nations have governing systems imposed by outsiders. As they move to change these systems, they also are reclaiming their own constitutional traditions.

Resource Type
Citation

Cornell, Stephen. "'Wolves Have A Constitution:' Continuities in Indigenous Self-Government." The International Indigenous Policy Journal. Volume 6,  Issue 1. January 2015. Paper. (https://turtletalk.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/continuities-in-indigenou..., accessed March 24, 2015)

Vernon Masayesva: Self-Governance and Protecting Water

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Former Tribal Chairman of the Hopi Nation and Executive Director of Black Mesa Trust, Vernon Masayesva relays his thoughts about advocating for self-governance and protection of water rights for Indigenous people. His pursuits in holding accountability of mining in Hopi territory has made Vernon into a leading respected voice on maintaining the sovereignty of water for tribes and intervention toward both entities and pixies that threaten environmental harm on Native lands. Vernon describes his efforts through the creation of Black Mesa Trust and their activities while continuing to be active in keeping the Hopi Nation focused on self-governance that matches the sacred values toward natural resources.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Native Nations Institute. "Vernon Masayesva: Self-Governance and Protecting Water." University of Arizona Water Ethics Symposium, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, October 20, 2018

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

Vernon Masayesva Keynote: Water Ethics Symposium

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Vernon Masayesva (Hopi) is the Executive Director of Black Mesa Trust and leading advocate for protecting water resources for the Hopi Nation. He's a Hopi Leader of the Coyote Clan and former Chairman of the Hopi Tribal Council from the village of Hotevilla who has worked for decades on bringing awarenes and action toward the damaging effects that nearby mines have had on the precious water systems for the Hopi people. In this video, Vernon gives a keyntoe speech at the 3rd annual University of Arizona Water Ethics Symposium on October 19, 2018 focused on Indigenous Water Ethics: Sacred Waters Connecting Culture, People, & Place.  The perspectives of culture, water rights, traditional knowledge, and leadership are revelaed in a Hopi context.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Native Nations Institute. "Vernon Masayesva Keynote Water Ethics Symposium." University of Arizona Water Ethics Symposium, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, October 19, 2018

Theresa Arevgaq John: Alaska indigenous governance through traditions and cultural values

Year

Theresa Arevgaq John is a well known Y’upik cultural advocate and Associate Professor in Indigenous Studies and the Department of Cross-Cultural Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and has intimate knowledge about cultural practices within Indigenous governance.  She advocates for balance between the various forms of governing structures, maintaining strong ties to Native languages, and linking traditional Native practices to community well-being and governance roles.

 

 

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Native Nations Institute. "Theresa Arevgaq John: Alaska indigenous governance through traditions and cultural values."  Leading Native Nations, Native Nations Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, November 15, 2016

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

Leroy Shingoitewa: Self-Governance with Hopi Values

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

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

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Thank you, it’s an honor to be here.

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

Yes.

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

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

Leroy Shingoitewa:

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

Verónica Hirsch:

Thank you, Councilman Shingoitewa.

Leroy Shingoitewa:

You’re welcome.

Verónica Hirsch:

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

It's Hard to See the Future with Tears in Your Eyes

Year

To commemorate its 20th anniversary, the American Indian Studies Programs (AISP) at the University of Arizona staged a speakers series entitled "Poetics and Politics." Launching the series was Wilma Mankiller (Cherokee), a nationally renowned Native leader, author, and community development specialist.

The following is a transcript of her talk, which delved into issues of Native leadership, identity and self-sufficiency.

Resource Type
Citation

Mankiller, Wilma. "It's Hard to See the Future with Tears in Your Eyes." Red Ink: A Native American Student Publication. Vol. 9, No. 2. American Indian Studies Program, The University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2001: 132-136. Article.

Joseph Flies-Away: Knowing, Living and Defending the Rule of Law

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Joseph Flies-Away (Hualapai), Associate Justice of the Hualapai Nation Court of Appeals, discusses the importance of Native nations building and living a sound, culturally sensible rule of law -- through constitutions, codes, common law and in other ways -- that everyone in those nations knows, understands, practices, respects and defends.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Flies-Away, Joseph. "Knowing, Living and Defending the Rule of Law." Tribal Constitutions seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 3, 2014. Presentation.

"Good morning. Say these words with me, right after I say them: Framer. Framework. Founder. Follower. Funnel. Facilitator. Friend. Family."

[Audience]

"Now remember those words. Now I'm going to say something to you and I'm going to ask you to do something. I'm going to say ‘the people' and then in your own mind or in your own verbal expression yell out at the top of your lungs, or as silent as you want, your 'people.' So when I say ‘people,' you say your thing and then I'm going to say, ‘Gather, ground, and grow,' and I'm going to do something with my hands and I want you to watch that. So you all know what to do? You're the accelerated class? The people. Joan [Timeche]. You can't interrupt. I don't know if this is on or not. He put it on me, that man, so I don't know. I can't deal with the technical stuff. I've got to go on. Remember the instruction. I say, ‘the people,' you say yours out as loud as you want in your own language and then, ‘Gather, ground and grow,' and I do something with my hand. The people. [Audience] Oh, gosh, you people are...come on. [Hualapai language]. The people. [Audience] Gather, ground and grow. And I'm going to continue with that kind of thinking as we do this.

Okay, I'm going to talk to you from this paradigm and it's this, and I always speak to everything from this. And I developed this starting when I was a planner for the tribe and a council member for the tribe and then when I became a judge. This used to be a flat planning tool, but it became spherical when I became a judge after this minor said to me, ‘Joey,' because they always call me 'Joey' instead of 'judge.' I let the kids do that, but not the adults. ‘What do you think about when you decide to send me to jail?' or something like that and I really thought about it because I wanted to tell that juvenile what I thought about when I decided things because I had...that was the first time someone really asked me the question. So this has come...let me get it up here...and I now speak with it all the time because it's very relevant to what we do as community nation builders, how we all gather, ground and grow. And some of it's very academic so I can speak to a bunch of professors in this way and then I can speak to any population. I can speak to Chinese. I can speak to Russian. I was in Australia in November. I spoke to a bunch of judicial people there from the same point of view. I'm going to share this with you. Now that's this sphere.

As people gather, ground and grow -- throughout all human beings -- there's always conflict. There's always going to be, as you see on the bottom, conflict, but at the same time there's always going to be cooperation. And between conflict and cooperation we're going to go through life; all our life, we're going to have goods, we're going to have bads. We're also going to have issues of personal, or citizen against the group, tribe or community and we have to balance between myself and my people, myself and my family, myself and the tribe, myself and the nation. But we're somewhere along those lines in balance. We're going to also have to think about what one person thinks is right or wrong, as opposed to what the group thinks is right or wrong. Me, my family. Me, the tribal council. Me, my co-workers.

Now this last one, this sphere is made up of these axes and so there's that one, that one, that one, but the bulk of it is made up of this last one, which is on one end common law, constitutions and codes, that which is written and on the other end custom, common practice and culture, that what we do. And all cultures are in there somewhere. White people, you're like way over here on the writing for a long time, Anglos, English, they wrote. We didn't write all the things. We had picture glyphs and we had symbols and things, but we're more down here. We didn't have to write everything. We talked about it, we were oral, we told stories.

So as we get into the more modern context, they're asking us to be more in this somewhere up here rather than down here. But there's nowhere in the sphere that's wrong or bad. It's where the group of people have decided to be because you're going to take your custom and culture as far forward with you as the best you can. But like at Hualapai, chiefs used to have more than one wife. Can I do that now? Unfortunately, no, I guess not. So you don't bring everything forward with you. You bring the best of your people, the best of your culture, the best of what you know as human beings from out this generational growing as people. But somewhere along the line you're going to be between here and balance here all over.

The person in the middle or the institution in the middle is what I call the warrior of law. Every human being should be a warrior of the law. They shouldn't be just a judge or shouldn't be just a leader, shouldn't just be someone who was put in that position. Everyone of us, our children, all should be a warrior of law, meaning that we're going to try to balance all of these things throughout our lifetime. With myself as a human being, because this works as individuals, but myself with the groups that I'm a part of because there's always going to be the me, but always a group. There's always going to be all of these other things.

So, as far as dispute resolution, the four words that I look at that by constitution or by custom and peacemaking, they're basically doing some of these things. They're confronting whatever issue might be at hand or whatever problem or whatever hurt or whatever pain that's there. They start communicating about it, meaning they're going to discuss or they're going to go through procedure. What procedure are you going to use to get through it? So I call that communication.

They're going to need to make compromises, because no one can have everything they want, although we want to have everything we want, we just cannot. When we go to court, somebody's going to lose in there. I made a lot of decisions. I was telling some of these people this morning, half my tribe hates me because I put them all in jail at least once and I've took children away from people, I divorce people and I gave alimony to one side or I gave the tool chest to someone and they got pissed about it, whatever it's going to be. As a judge, you're hated or disliked by half the people. You can't win. It's sad for me, but I try to do my job. But people have to make compromises, but you confront, you communicate, you compromise in order to reach concord, which is peace.

So every warrior of the law, everyone of us should be wanting to get to peace inside of us as an individual, but with the groups and people, families and all of the others that we are a part of. That should be our goal in life as humans. Now institutionally, you have governments writing things down in constitutions saying how this communication might work procedurally: trial level, appeals, how it's to be filed. I have a case right now where the justices, the three of us on the panel, are bickering over whether to give a person a pre-trial conference on an issue, these little things that we have to deal with, but it's all a part of how we're going to communicate about it on the appellate level. But we have a code, we have new rules that we made not too long ago in the court of appeals. It's supported by our constitution and we try to do the best we can. But there are a lot of issues that I'd rather would not have all this procedure, all this stuff in the court system.

When I was judging, and I judged in many places, and I've been around many places to help with, as professor said, wellness courts. I even came to do TA [technical assistance] for this tribe actually. Pascua Yaqui used to have one of the only family wellness courts at one point and it was a good one. I don't know where it is now, it's not there, but they had a good family wellness court. I think they have adult, but that kind of process is something that you look at a little bit differently and we're making rules...they make rules about it and everything, but I've been all over the place and I've learned a lot everywhere I got from the people that I deal with. They're all over the board. Some like to be more like haikus or White people when they want to be the system; they want to look just like the state court. Others don't want that.

When I sit as a judge, I wear a ribbon shirt that my mom made and I don't like to wear that black dress. I might as well put on that white wig if I wear that black dress, but I'm not going to do that. I don't want my hair white yet. It's getting there, but I'm not going to go there yet. So I wear a ribbon shirt because it's something that is of us, not of Anglo. But there are a lot of tribes who want to be like that. Well, okay, who am I to say, ‘Well, that's not good.' But all of you as nations or people...leaders of your people, warriors of law, all of your people have to come to some conclusion about how that's going to look, up here. History, clarity, vision are the past, the present and the possible, the vision. You have to have a sense of what that's going to be.

What is your court system, your dispute resolution system going to be? And there's quite a bit out there as you just heard. There's other places that have started peacemaking. There's other places who are just developing court systems. A lot of people have...I read grants for the federal government, we award money to people who are just developing court systems and they want to do more like wellness court, they want to deal with the issues of that because wellness court is about addictions of all the people and yesterday I said, ‘Well, we can't build all these nations with half our population being sick, we just can't do it. Then we rely on all the outsiders and it's not our nation, it's theirs. We have to get our people well.' So wellness courts are important. We have to keep working on them and a lot of tribes, they ask for money to do that and that's one of the things I help them do. So we have dispute resolution, we have writings, we have customs here, we have the individual issues where people file against each other or the community or the tribe files against the person or however it goes.

Now, this part here, I'm going to talk about some of the...see the people, policy, place, and pecuniary possibilities. That's another way of saying the people gather, ground and grow. Policy meaning how do these people as a political unit, polity, get together, organizational structure. Remember the people were like this, we're related by clan, by family, by band, whatever. But when we get to government, it's like this, hierarchical. How is the structure of our government going to be? So the people gather in whatever form or fashion, ground, and then the place and land issues like we have to have a building for our court system, we have to have a place to meet, we have to have a courtroom, we have to have all these things. And when I was a judge, I got electrocuted in my court and some of my council members here don't even know this, but I was electrocuted in our court because it was a condemned building, but that's where I had to hold courts for two years. But we have to have a place to do it.

The pecuniary possibilities is we have to have the money and the funds. We have to be able to have the resources, the tools to do good court, to make good decisions. If you have an appellate court system and you're only paying your judges $100 a day when they're making five times that an hour as lawyers somewhere, you won't get all the people you need. I've been in different places where they pay from $100 a day to $500 a day and I've done all the different places, but it's a matter of pecuniary possibility meaning financial. So going back to this, it's another way...do you have the people to do your court systems, do you have the human resources, your own people? It's best to have your own people as judges I would think.

But now through the TLOA, Tribal Law and Order Act, how many of you are actually looking at doing TLOA changes with your 3C or sentencing? Nobody in here? Because it's going to ask you -- and then the VAWA [Violence Against Women Act], the VAWA group -- it's going to cause you to have to have certain requirements made of your judges, of your public defenders, of your prosecutors, but we don't have a lot of us, don't have the human capital. There's only been three people at Hualapai that have gone to law school and two of them, they're younger than me, have already gone on and I don't know what the first one's doing, but the other one, he works in California and he's going to be a sports agent and I'm the one that works for tribal people, but some of us don't...some tribes don't have anybody who's gone to law school. But I'm not saying you have to go to law school to be a judge, although these acts tend to make you think you have to do that. But you have to have the human resources and we don't always have that.

A lot of people have wise people, older people. Well, not all old people are wise, but there are some...these peacemaking courts, which they put to use, those are the ones they're putting in there because they have some sense of wisdom and people respect them. Unfortunately...my mom says, ‘I didn't say anything and I'm an elder.' But I look at her, to me she's my mom and the elders are way older than her. So some people, we don't see the elders in the same light. But most tribes have good, strong, wise people who can be peacemakers, but are those...

Like what kind of cases are you going to bring to those systems? We have the law. We have a criminal code, tells you everything you can't do that's a crime, all the offenses, battery, assault, sexual defenses, everything. We have civil codes that tell you what you can't do. But we also have custom things that we shouldn't be doing, but these ones go to the court system that we have that is under the constitution and the code, but what about when people are just mad at each other? That is where I wish we would have more of the peacemakers where we could bring people in...we have a gym; we could fill the whole room with whatever. Bring these two people in and say, ‘What happened?' and if we have to give them boxing gloves. Well, let's make it a safe little place and let them have at it because we fight with pipes and all kinds of things, bats, when they get thrown in jail, why can't we let them do it in front of us? Just have them...we could do peacemaking at home if we just had the ability to figure it out.

And we can do it in our own way because at Hualapai, in our ethnographies and what I've read and then what I asked about from my great grandma was, they used to say...people would come in and if they needed to bring in another chief from another band...because Hualapai really, 13-14 bands of Pai people, [Hualapai language] is people of the tall pine. It's my great-grandfather's people. There's other bands. They're all different people. A long time ago they would bring in a head man or a chief from something else and sit down, hear what's going on and let that person decide, things like that. But they would all talk [Hualapai language] or how they'd say that. They'd all talk about it and some decision would be made and that would be it. [Hualapai language], it would be over with. That's it. We can still do that at home, but do we have the ability, do we have the people, the human resources to do that and do you?

Those are the things you need to think about and we have a lot of resources, but sometimes we don't know, we don't...and again it goes back to our own ability to see it in those people we don't like. And I know, you guys are all going to say, ‘Oh, I'm not like that.' All of you probably don't like someone at home and you...it just tears at you when you see them excel maybe or whatever. You know how you see them going down the road and you go...I know. We all do that. You're going to all these cars waving and waving, there's one, don't wave at all. All of us, you know. We have to come and accept that that's the confrontation, the acknowledgment of that. We have to know that that's what we do. I know I did it or I do it. I'm afraid of people at home. They're mean to me and I was telling our councilmen, I have no thick skin. I'm a baby. One little word, look, I'm just in tears practically. But we do that to each other. We have to somehow get past that.

But a lot of that comes from the historical trauma or the way that we were raised. Our parents and the grandparents were in boarding schools and they weren't given all the love and all the parenting, and so we're kind of just mixed up through a lot of hurt and pain that we're not over. We carry it. And I always make the mistake of saying like Bob Marley, but I'm not talking about Bob Marley. What Marley am I talking about? No. Jacob Marley. Christmas Carol. You know how he's coming, ‘Eh, harr.' We carry our pain and our misery and our hatred and anger for whatever our great grandpa said about so and so. We do that. We need to let that go. We don't have to forget everything. We've got to let those chains go because we're holding onto such pain and just horrible feelings about things that has just been handed down.

My grandma used to tell me about how the...she heard and all of Hualapais know about this -- we're celebrating this in the next month or this month -- when they made us march all the way to a place called La Paz, which interestingly means ‘the peace' in Spanish, but they took all the Hualapais over there and a lot of people died on the way and they took off and escaped and came back home. People died on the way back. But I come from and these guys come from the people who survived that. But when the old people told you that story, they would remember and they would cry and they would just...and we haven't let all that go and we all have our stories, we all have that memory that we carry. And we may not acknowledge it or even know or can see it, but we do, we just hold on because our grandmas were special to us, our grandpas and we listened to them and they unfortunately sometimes gave us this feeling.

My grandma said, ‘Don't trust white people.' I didn't trust a white person until I went to college and five years ago I went to a reunion and I told them this. I never said it to them before. I said, ‘My grandma said not to trust any of you people, but you're all right.' And they laughed like that. But I had to tell them that because I was like, ‘Oh, god.' Three white people I had to live with in a three-room thing and, ‘what do I do with this?' because I hadn't lived with white people. The white people in here probably think that's backward, but it's just...I'm telling you as it is. So we have this in our people and I'm going to go these ones.

ELDR, E is for earth, L is for lightening, D is for dream and R is for rain. Dream's the most important, that just means law and I'm going to get to that, but E is the physical. We have a lot of issues: alcoholism, diabetes, hypertension, all of our physical problems that we have. L: lightening. Our thoughts. We hold off on our... We have terrible thinking. We remember, we hold onto these thinkings. The R: the rain. The emotions. We have a lot of the emotions still. But D, the most important one is the dream, which is law, whether it be what we've done as custom or what we've written down and all of that is good, but we have to have our law.

Law is what connects us and binds us together, whether it's in the stories and tales and cultures and customs and common practices that we know, that the Pueblos know more, Hopi knows more, Diné know more of these things because it's in ceremony. But we also have the ability to write things down for ourselves, for people to know in our own place, but also for outsiders to know who we are, where we come from, where we want to go as human beings so that is this side, but everywhere here is good.

There's so much more with this. I didn't even look at this. I had all these little notes, but I didn't even tell you these things because I guess that was all right, I went through stuff, but there's too much to say all the time and too little time with this. And there's too little time for all of you in a way because you're going to be 10 years from now, boom, what happened? So we've got to wake up, [Hualapai language], and do what you've got to do and go home as survivors and know that you descend from strong and powerful people and that you can do this stuff with whatever knowledge you learn from each other and other people and just do the best you can, like I said yesterday, because we have to get past that. We are going to be the people who show the entire earth how to be good human beings. Hopi prophecy, other prophecies -- that's going to be the Indigenous people. Which one of us are going to do the best job of that? So I challenge all of you to go and think about that.

Lastly, warrior of law, all of us as human beings, as leaders, leadership, law, land and les affaire we'll leave that for now. But all of us should say, ‘I stand in reason, I walk with will, I stumble over morality, but I will catch myself and go on with my journey with law. So the best of luck to all of you. [Hualapai language], thank you."

Rebuilding the Tigua Nation

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

The Tigua Indians of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in Ysleta, Texas produced this 16-minute film in 2013 to demonstrate how a Native American tribe can work hard with business skills and tribal customs to shape a prosperous future through education for all levels of the Tigua Nation.

Native Nations
Citation

Riggs, Patricia. "Rebuilding The Tigua Nation." Honoring Nations, Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. Capstone Productions Inc. El Paso, Texas. February 27, 2013. Film.

Rebuilding the Tigua Nation

June 13, 2011

[Sirens/gunshots]

Narrator:

“We are the People of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. We came from the open lands of what became Central New Mexico and now we live in West Texas and our lands are surrounded by El Paso, Texas.”

Saint Anthony
Feast Day

[Gunshots]

Ysleta Mission

Narrator:

“In 1680 the Spaniards forced our ancestors to move here. They built this mission church in 1682.”

Javier Loera:

“In this display we have photographs and images of our mission, of our church, which we helped build. The oldest image, it’s actually a drawing, that we have of our mission is this one in the year 1881. It was a very simple structure without the added bell tower which was added a couple years later.”

Narrator:

“For more than 300 years our people have performed corn dances on June 13th at the Feast of St. Anthony.”

[Singing/bell ringing]

Carlos Hisa:

“It’s the way of life, it’s who we are, we’ve been doing this for hundreds of years and we just continue to do it. It’s who we are as a people.”

[Singing/bell ringing]

Narrator:

“The Tigua People honor our ancestors who kept the ceremonies and traditions, also the traditions of the elaborate feast preparations, which takes weeks to prepare for. Our people come together to share in the responsibilities to prepare for the feast, which is served after the rituals and blessings at the mission. These activities show that our tribe keeps the customs and practices that we have always valued. We now live in a modern world and must balance traditions with the present day needs. The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo has proven strong willed and has persevered over the changes of time.

Tiguas have been faithful to our traditions, sometimes hiding our ceremonies to avoid punishments from non-Indians. Our people have proven to be resilient time and again in our extraordinary struggle for cultural preservation.

Our struggle continued into the 1960s when a lawyer named Tom Diamond helped us get federal and state recognition as a Native American tribe.

As a declaration of tribal sovereignty and economic development efforts, the Pueblo decided to enter into casino gaming in 1993 and our financial future brightened. The State of Texas fought our right to have gaming in Texas and through a federal lawsuit managed to shut the Pueblo’s Speaking Rock Casino in 2002. The casino was profitable while in operation and provided for better healthcare, housing and education of tribal members. The Pueblo still runs Speaking Rock, but now it operates as an entertainment center.”

Trini Gonzalez:

“Speaking Rock has kept us afloat during this economic struggle, both money wise and also creating jobs for our tribal members. The success would have to be free concerts. We’ve used the concerts to draw people in to actually show people that Speaking Rock isn’t closed. A lot of people were saying, ‘Oh, it’s closed. It’s not a casino no more.’ Which it isn’t, it’s an entertainment center and we do provide quality entertainment for free to customers who come in here.”

Joseph P. Kalt:

“Well, when we look across Indian Country we see a consistent pattern of the tribes who get their act together and really worked successfully to improve the economic and social and political and even cultural conditions in their communities and Isleta del Sur Pueblo stands out as one of these examples. They show first what all these successful tribes have is a sovereignty attitude. Their idea is, ‘We’re going to do things ourselves. We are a sovereign nation and we can govern ourselves. We’re going to take those reins and we are going to put ourselves in control of absolutely everything we can.’

Secondly, and you see this at Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, they recognize that you can talk the talk of sovereignty and nation building, but you’ve got to walk the walk and what that means is you’ve got to be able to govern yourselves and govern yourselves well. And Ysleta del Sur Pueblo is an Honoring Nations award winner because it has invested very systematically in building its governmental capacity, its laws, its ordinances, its regulations, its accounting systems, its personnel policies, its judicial system in a systematic way to say, ‘We’re going to put ourselves in position so we’re not dependent on any other governments.’”

Narrator:

“Ysleta del Sur Pueblo has been building the capacity for economic growth. It has established structure and policy such as a highly capable economic development department, a small business development program and tribal ordinances dealing with corporation establishment and tax laws. The Pueblo was restored as a federally recognized tribe in 1987. Our goals are to preserve our culture, sustain our community and raise the standards of living for tribal members. We have built capacity over the years and recently established our long term economic development and nation building goals. Our entire Pueblo had input on the process.”

Patricia Riggs:

“We started this process to change and transform our community and through economic development, through education and through services and infrastructure so it was a whole comprehensive strategy that took place at Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.”

Joseph P. Kalt:

“Ysleta del Sur, what you see is another thing we see across Indian Country more and more and that’s an attention to culture, making what we call cultural match. The way they govern themselves here at Ysleta del Sur Pueblo is under a traditional structure with no written constitution. There is no contradiction for the Tiguas between having their traditional cacique system, no written constitution and running a very good day-to-day government because it’s founded in that traditional system. And having that cultural foundation underneath your government is absolutely critical. If it isn’t there, you’re not legitimate in the eyes of your own people and Ysleta del Sur stands out for recognizing that in everything they do they’re doing it based on and flowing from their traditions, their culture, their traditional governance systems. And then lastly, Ysleta del Sur also shows a fourth thing that stands out with tribes that are successful—leadership. Leaders not only as decision makers, but leaders as educators and the leadership at Ysleta del Sur has systematically invested in everything from the broad community to the youth with education on what it means to be a self governing Tigua nation. And so Ysleta del Sur Pueblo stands out for that sovereignty attitude, for strong capable tribal government founded on the tribe’s culture with a leadership that understands it needs to educate the people as to what this sovereignty game is all about.”

Narrator:

“In order to become effective in the modern world, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo is striving to become a self determined and self sufficient Pueblo while preserving our cultural foundation. With our economic development plans now in motion, we have taken the first steps in forging a prosperous and strong Tigua nation and we have established Tigua, Inc. that operates tribal businesses.”

John Baily:

“We are the business arm for the Pueblo itself. We manage and operate all the business functions that contribute to the success of the Pueblo. We’re able to focus on a long term strategy and build that for five, 10 years out and really start implementing plans as we go down. So our goal is to develop the long term stream of profit and revenue that is repeatable regardless of the environment we’re in. We’re for real. We’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.”

Patient:

“Is it going to hurt?”

Dentist:

“No, you’ll be fine.”

Narrator:

“We have increased our administrative abilities and have created a grants management and program development branch of the Economic Development Department resulting in programs that provide health and other services.”

Al Joseph:

“And we’ve managed to build 63 new housing units last year after a big infrastructure project the year before so we’ve got a lot of projects going on to the total of about $20 million worth right now. The quality of life for the average Pueblo resident I think has been greatly enhanced by the combination of construction of new housing, very affordable housing and the rehabilitation of 160 houses on the reservation has definitely improved the quality of life for the residents that have been living in those houses, some of them for as long as 35 years. They now have modern, up-to-date housing that everything works and it’s a much nicer place to live.”

Narrator:

“One part of the economic development of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo is the attention our tribe gives to educating tribal members on various subjects in order to improve individual quality of life and skills for all age groups.”

Christopher Gomez:

“Things are different now because we’ve gotten on the nation building path now where we’re doing a lot of long term visioning, we’re thinking beyond what’s coming ahead the next month, the next year and we’re thinking 20, 30, 40, even 100 years down the line. What do we want Tigua culture to be in a hundred years? Where do we want to see our community? That visioning has really put things into a different perspective.”

[Singing]

Narrator:

“With our Tigua youth, we stress tribal traditions and working together.”

Christopher Gomez: [to students]

“Here we have language, social dances, Pueblo arts, Tigua history, nation building, tutoring, traditional culture, Native American games, environmental issues…”

Christopher Gomez:

“We’re thinking about the next generations now. Just like we were left a legacy from the generations that came before us who established the Pueblo, we want to make sure that we’re continuing that legacy and that our people are able to in a changing world adapt and utilize new skills to be able to carry forward the Tigua legacy and really define what that Tigua legacy is.”

Narrator:

“Our younger children learn about computers and nature from tribal program experts. We have established new programs such as pre-K and modern care facilities where children are taught general education and tribal traditions through tribal arts and crafts. At the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo education for our people goes hand in hand with our economic development because as we increase our understanding of Native American heritage and strengthen the businesses of our tribe, we multiply the return to our people many times. It is a great time to be a Tigua as we graduate more members from college and create higher paying jobs. Outcomes include increased revenues and more programs and better tribal member services.”

Joseph P. Kalt:

“One of the things that Ysleta del Sur has done in its nation building efforts is it’s bootstrapped itself into this little engine that could, is it’s invested in communication and you can…any of us can go to their website and in their economic development section you’ll find a systematic laying out of the many steps that they’ve taken from community education, youth programs, the development of their strategic plans, the development of their laws and ordinances, the development of their new institutions, even their financial development. So Ysleta del Sur is doing a service to all tribes by providing this information in an easily accessible way and I encourage anyone who’s interested in how Ysleta del Sur has bootstrapped itself in this way, it’s on their website and it’s just a tremendous resource for anyone engaging in this challenge of building native nations.”

Trini Gonzalez:

“Recently we just got accepted by our brothers up north into the AIPC, the All Indian Pueblo Council and a lot of the Pueblos up there model themselves after us. They see that we’ve been a…I guess a big hitter here in our economy and the way we go after grants and the way our money is utilized, the housing that we do, the entertainment center the way it’s operated, our smoke shop. Everything that we do, it’s being looked at and dissected and I think that’s a huge feather in our cap to say that they’re looking at us to try to correct some things on their reservations.

The powwow enlightens a lot of people on the culture, the dance, the regalia, everything that has to do with a powwow let’s people know there is a tribe here in Texas and it’s Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.”

Narrator:

“In May 2012 our Economic Development Department opened the Tigua Business Center on tribal land in a renovated building.”

[Cheering]

Frank Paiz:

“The Tigua Business Center demonstrates the will and spirit of the Tigua people to grow and prosper. The tribal journey began at the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, which resulted in our migration to an establishment of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo 1682. Since, we have been determined to preserve and continue Tigua way of life and flourish as a community."

Narrator:

“As our Tigua nation becomes stronger, we will continue our traditions and our success in this modern world.”

Carlos Hisa:

“We are Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. We are a community strong with tradition and culture. We have survived in the area for over 300 years and with economic development behind us, I can very easily say that we will continue to be here for hundreds of years.”

[Singing]

Rebuilding the Tigua Nation

2012 Tribal Council
Cacique Frank Holguin
Governor Frank Paiz
Lt. Governor Carlos Hisa
War Captain Javier Loera
Aguacil Bernando Gonzales

Councilmen
Chris Gomez
David Gomez
Francisco Gomez
Trini Gonzalez

Saint Anthony Dancers
Feast Preparation
Trini Gonzales Tribal Councilmen
Adult Tribal Social Dancers
Joe Kalt Harvard University
Youth Nation Building
Youth Financial Literacy Class

Pat Riggs, Economic Development Director
John Baily, CEO of Tigua Inc.

Tigua Inc. Board
Ana Perez, chair
Chris Gomez
Rudy Cruz
George Candelaria
Al Joseph

Housing Director Al Joseph
Empowerment Director Christopher Gomez
Cultural Center Dance Group
Tuy Pathu Daycare children
Pre-School Dance Group
Pow Wow Dancers

Producer
Patricia Riggs

Director
Jackson Polk

Camera
Aaron Barnes
Fernie Apodaca
Jackson Polk

TV Facilities
Capstone Productions Inc.

Funding provided by Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development Honoring Nations

Rebuilding the Tigua Nation © 2013 Yselta del Sur Pueblo

Patricia Riggs: The Role of Citizen Engagement in Nation Building: The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Story

Producer
National Congress of American Indians
Year

Patricia Riggs, Director of Economic Development for Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (YDSP), discusses how YDSP has spent the past decade developing and fine-tuning its comprehensive approach to engaging its citizens in order to identify and then achieve its nation-building priorities.

This video resource is featured on the Indigenous Governance Database with the permission of the National Congress of American IndiansThe "Rebuilding the Tigua Nation" film shown in this video resource is featured on the Indigenous Governance Database with the permission of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Riggs, Patricia. "The Role of Citizen Engagement in Nation Building: The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Story." 70th Annual Convention & Marketplace, National Congress of American Indians. Tulsa, Oklahoma. October 15, 2013. Presentation.

Ian Record:

"So I'll turn the floor over to Patricia Riggs. Again, she's the economic development director with the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and as she told me today, she's sort of their de facto chief of citizen engagement for their pueblo. Anytime they face a challenge in this arena, they tend to turn to her because she's done so much wonderful work in this area. Did you want to start with the video or with your presentation?"

Patricia Riggs:

"It's a little long. If you want to start it and then kind of go through middle and then restart it again."

Ian Record:

"So again, this is a video that Pat was involved with putting together. It's called 'Rebuilding the Tigua Nation.' Tigua is another name that refers to her nation and this again I think...think of this not just in terms of what it shares with you, but think of this as a viable tool of citizen education and engagement. We're seeing more and more nations do things like this. These videos that instruct not just their own citizens, but outsiders about who the nation is and what they're doing and why."

[VIDEO]

Patricia Riggs:

"Good afternoon, everyone. Hello. As Ian stated, my name is Pat Riggs and I'm the Director of Economic Development at Ysleta del Sur [Pueblo]. We started community engagement back in 2006. Of course at the Pueblo, there's always been some form of community engagement, but we had a very significant event that took place. If you paid attention closely to the film, we talked about the casino being closed down. In 1987, we were federally restored and there was one little clause in our restoration act that said, "˜The tribe shall not have gaming that is illegal in Texas.' So when the State of Texas started bingo and lottery, we decided that there was gaming in Texas so we opened our casino and they sued us and the courts held that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act didn't apply to the tribe, that the language in our restoration act superseded that. So we operated gaming from around 1992 to 2002. It was open for about 10 years and it first started as a bingo hall and then later on to Class 2 gaming. So when the casino actually did end up closed, we had invested quite a bit in infrastructure and the tribe had done a lot of good things with our funding or our revenues that we got for the tribe, but we were basically at a...we were in shock. There was this economic turmoil that was taking place that we didn't realize was actually going to take place. We thought that there was no way that we would lose the case, but we ended up losing the case.

So citizen engagement started out of the need to really find out what the community needed. What we started doing is really looking at different groups and seeing what their needs are and really trying to identify with the tribe and what they needed. This is just a picture of what we call "˜listening to our ancestors,' because everything that we do really does come from our history and who we are as a people and where we've been so just the fact that in spite of everything that's happened to us, it seems like...sometimes they call us the 'Bad Luck Tribe' because if something can go wrong, it happens to us. We got left out of the Treaty of Guadalupe in 1861 so we weren't recognized with the other pueblos. We ended up on the Confederate side of the line. Just things throughout history ended up happening.

Really a lot what was happening, too, was our own mindset and the way we thought as a community, so when the casino was closed we kind of stood at a standstill, we didn't know what to do, we were in shock. And I had been working at another location. I'd been working in the City of El Paso and the tribe asked me to come back and I was like, "˜Economic Development, hmm.' So I really didn't know anything about economic development, but I said, "˜I'll give it a try.' But when I came back, one of the things that I started doing is really listening and trying to figure out what was happening in the community. And so I heard in the video that Ian played before from Native Nations Institute, someone said that some of the challenges or the biggest challenges for the tribe come from within. So I'm really about training and trying to figure out what the community wants and so they started asking me to train different departments. And so I started paying attention to what the community was actually saying and to what some of our employees were saying and these are actual...their quotes, their statements that were actually said and they're things like, "˜Tiguas don't want to learn.' Everything was always blamed on tribal council and we all know that there's problems with councils sometimes, but sometimes I think we exaggerate those things because we don't want to move forward or we don't...we try to rationalize what we are or what we're not doing in our departments. So it was always about, "˜We can't do that because tribal council won't allow it,' "˜It doesn't matter.' Some of our non-tribal employees were saying that we couldn't do particular, they wouldn't do particular things because the tribal members would go tell council what they were doing and it was just, it was ridiculous, really. When you really sat down and listened to it and you put all the statements together, it was ridiculous.

So basically...so what we determined that we needed to do is really engage our community in education and try to really figure out who the community was because we know who we are as a people, we know our culture, we knew traditions, but we don't really know the community in terms of what needs do they...are out there, what are the poverty levels, what are the education levels, who's employed, who's not employed, what kind of skills do they have? And as far as doing a needs assessment we needed that, but we also needed to take an inventory of what we have or had in order to move forward. So we started doing different things to try and get the community engaged. And so this is what it looks like if you do the 'flyer method' and it just doesn't work. You send all these beautiful flyers out there and just get ready for everybody to come and they don't show up. So it was like, "˜Well, what am I doing wrong here?' And we were actually, at one point we even brought Native Nations Institute and we had a very small crowd there. So we thought about what we could actually do to get the community more involved.

So what we found is actually working with groups and even within the reservation there are special interest groups. We all have little things that...or subjects that we're interested in and what we found is to look for those core champions in your communities. And there's people who are really just very traditional and that's what they want to discuss and that's what they want to do in terms of who they are so we asked them, "˜Okay, how do you think that we can infuse tradition into the things that we're doing?' We also started working with youth. The thing about youth is if you work with youth and you train them and you honor them and you show their parents what they're doing, then the parents come, too. So we started figuring out how to get parents engaged as well. And then we did different things with leadership, with elders. One of the things that we did learn is that we really need to figure out how to work with each group and how to...and so through the little groups we got the whole.

The big thing here is you can't expect people to just come to you. As I showed the meetings with the flyers, it just didn't work. We had to find different ways to actually go out into community and to seek input. So we went to the elders. And I mentioned earlier that our casino had closed, but it's actually operating now as a sweepstakes center. So it's kind of we have... they look like terminals, but they're actually all hooked up into one network. So there are signs all over the place that say you're donating to the tribe and you're donating to our health, to our education. So we just got creative on ways to do things. It's not quite as revenue generating as it was before, but there's still funding coming in. One of the times I went to the elders and I wanted to do a survey with them and so they said, "˜Oh, no, we don't have time for your survey.' And I'm like, "˜But I have 'Free Play'.' And they, "˜Oh, Free Play, okay. Sit down.' So we started talking to them and then they found out some of the things that we're doing and they were engaged in that, actually came to where they actually wanted to participate in some of the events that we were having. And so they started making the food and sometimes we could pay them and sometimes we couldn't, but they were okay with that and they started assisting us in our events.

So then we also, one of the things that we did is in order to engage the community...there is no greater engagement than actually serving the community, so we started an AmeriCorp program and the AmeriCorp program, they work with the elders, they work in the cultural center, they work in emergency management, in environmental. So they're kind of our ambassadors for community engagement in different areas. The other thing is we do a lot of data collection and we do a lot of surveys, but when we do it we work with focus groups or we work with all the other little core groups and we educate them about why we're trying to collect the information. So we educate them first and then they are kind of our core champions or leaders so they go out into their groups and they tell either the other elders or youth or whoever it is that we're working with why it is important. So we educate them on how to educate the community on getting that information and we've been very successful in gathering information for our tribe in order to determine what it is that we're going to focus on, whether it's health or whether it's economic development. I'll show you a little bit more in a minute about the successes with data collection and also the projects that we're working on.

I know that one of the first times that Joe Kalt went to Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, I had been working in writing grants not just for the tribe, but also for the City of El Paso and I wanted a model, I wanted a matrix and I was like, "˜Well, do you have a matrix?' and it's like, "˜No.' So I realized, I think I really like to visualize what it is that we're trying to accomplish, but I kind of think very methodical. So I have to figure out what exactly it is that we're going to tackle, but I also realize that those kind of models and theories, they're for other communities, they're not really for us. We can't take somebody's methodology and use it at our tribe. So I started to look back and thinking like what is it exactly that we're doing, and this is what I came up with.

Well, one of the things is we have a purpose. No matter what it is that we're trying to tackle, whether it's constitutional reform or building entrepreneurs, there's a purpose there. So you find that purpose and there's also...but with that purpose, there's always passion and I'm so passionate about what I do. That's all I do. I have to have people drag me away from it sometimes, but there's other people in your communities with that passion. So look for the passionate people and then harvest the information. You really do have to harvest information and gather that input from your community, because that's who you're working for and that's who really is driving you to do what it is that you do.

The other thing is...so you visualize and then you assess and you plan. And I know it's kind of theory-like, but when it comes to your community, what is it that you're visualizing? Like for us, one of the things that we're working on is a land use plan and land acquisition. So when we're visualizing, I'm not doing this theory of visualizing, we're actually looking at the community and thinking about the things that we lost and the things that we need for ceremony and where...the places that it's going to come from, from the land and how are we going to be able to redevelop our lands and preserve our lands as they once were and then also rebuild our community as a village because we're used to living as a village and that was taken away from us. So when we're visualizing, that's...we're visualizing how we want to live. It's about how the entire...what the entire community sees. So then of course we can work, work, work, work, but at the end of the day we really do have to have something to show for it. So you do have to measure those impacts and the outcomes of what it is that you're doing because...and then you take it back to the community and show your successes and so you report the results.

And then here's basically the same thing with a little bigger snapshot, but in the end it really is about community, whether you're trying to figure out what the community wants, you start at the community; whether you're trying to figure out the data, you're getting it from community, you're trying to draw a picture of what your community really is, and then in the end you report those results back to the community and then you also try to determine what is driving the community and those are things such as the ceremonies and traditions and culture and just living together as a Tigua society for us. So we look at the core values and we reaffirm them by asking different people in the community and also about what is the best way to apply the things in a manner that...that will work in a manner that is fair to the entire tribe and to every sector of the tribal population.

So this is a little bit of our timeline and as far as our economy is concerned...so really what was happening to us, we had basically lost all our lands. We were living in a small part of El Paso in a little, basically it was a neighborhood. It really wasn't a reservation and we had, there were small adobe houses, most of them were one room. It was during the termination policy, so we really didn't have any hope of having a better life. We were just happy to be able to still be there and still be living as a community and still, even though we weren't federally recognized, we still held tribal elections, we still had our ceremonies every year, we still had people in charge of dong the things that...the doings that needed to be done for us to continue to survive as a Pueblo the best that we could. So of course the civil rights movement took place later and that's when people started to gain more confidence and to start asserting their rights.

So what happened in the 1960s is we were basically losing our few homes that we had left to tax foreclosure because it was the City of El Paso now and throughout there's a couple pictures that you'll see the entire, what our Pueblo used to look like, and because we weren't on federal trust land. And one of the important reasons that we start that film where we're crossing the highway and the tribal police are directing traffic for us is because that one spot is where our Pueblo used to be and we had stacked adobe homes. And the City of El Paso -- because we weren't federally recognized or had trust status -- they decided to have condemnation proceedings against our Pueblo because they needed that one spot that's a highway and they needed it to extend the highway. So they had condemnation proceedings and they condemned the Pueblo basically. So that is the center of our tribe and that's why we decided to start the film there.

So land acquisition and development and regaining and putting land into trust is very important for us so basically there was a lawyer by the name of Tom Diamond that helped us to get federally restored or federally recognized in 1969, but we were basically terminated on the same day because the State of Texas had a Texas Indian Commission, so they turned over the trust responsibility to the Texas Indian Commission. Well, there were some good things that happened out of that. We did get some new housing out of it and there was a few more jobs and some economic development took place. So in the "˜60s, basically our unemployment rate was 75 percent. By the "˜70s it went to about 50 percent and we went from a fifth-grade education to about a 10th-grade education. So then in '87 we were federally restored and the casino was thriving and our unemployment rate basically went down to three percent. We went from 68 acres of land that were transferred over during the time of restoration to 75,000 acres of land that we invested in with our casino revenues and then we also built a lot more housing. I think you saw in the film where the housing was. And then we...but then the casino closed because we were sued. So basically, we were really at odds, we didn't know what we were going to do.

So we started off by doing projections on our funding and what we had in reserves and we determined was that if we continued to operate in the same manner we would run out of money in seven years. So we had to decide what it is that we were going to do, so that's when we started this nation-building process and we started investing money in a development corporation, which is now doing federal contracting and we're located in probably at least five places throughout the country: Washington D.C., Virginia, California, Colorado Springs. And that also took forming a board and separation of business and politics and having a committee that turned into...later to the board. And so this education process, we're educating different people in the community.

One of the things we did is we educated the board on how to operate as a board, which started as an economic development committee and then they ended up the board. So now this... we reassigned the economic development committee and now they're being trained as how to operate as a nonprofit board so then we're going to replace them and they're going to become probably another board. So we just keep getting small groups and keep educating so that they can build the capacity to do other things. But in order to do this we really, really needed to know what our state was as far as a community is concerned. So we were able to really determine what our... who we were, where our people were located at, what the rates of unemployment were and poverty levels, household levels, individual household levels.

The other thing that happened to us in our restoration act is that the language in there said that the tribe shall consist of membership that is on the base roll and people descending from that base roll up to one-eighth blood quantum. They said that in 1987. So we quickly realized that in a few years we'd no longer exist as a tribe because we would lose that blood quantum. So the tribe decided that they were going...we went to Congress and it took us 10 years of introducing different bills, but we ended up just recently having the blood quantum bill passed. So in order to do this, we really needed to figure out who we were as a people because we needed to take that information to Congress. So this is what our community looks like now and we also studied the people that live outside the service area, our tribal members that live outside the service area as well, and what we're finding is really they left before economic opportunity because they're a little bit better off in terms of education and household income.

I talked a little bit about cooperative education and so what we're also doing in order to engage our citizens and get this information -- because we collect that information every single year from tribal members and we've been successful as far as getting the information -- but we also make sure that we give it back to them and that when we compile any sort of information that we give them the reports back, like whether it's health and if there's a diabetes report or whatever it is. But the other thing is we all come to these conferences because we work as professionals, but your average tribal citizen doesn't have that opportunity to learn the things like we're learning today, what's happening in the federal courts and what's happening as far as policy is concerned and even what happened with the Indian Child Welfare Act, and so we take that education to them. We make sure that there's money in the budget to educate our tribal members and we do everything from Indian law to nation building to...we have other people even come and do community engagement to let them know how important it is. We have financial literacy training, but we also do like board training. And so if there's a subject that we think is important for us to learn and what's on the agenda here and at other conferences, we make sure that we find a way to take it back to the community and to be able to train them so that they know. And even when we work with our departments who of course...there has to be some professional training there, a lot of times some of our tribal members don't have the capacity to be in those higher positions of directors, so we tell our directors, "˜We're going to put this training out for you, but you need to pick a tribal member and it doesn't matter if it's a secretary or a maintenance person or whatever it is, you need to bring them to this training also and you need to figure out how you're going to get that information back to your department as well.'

As far as community engagement and what it's done for us as far as impacts are concerned, these are some of the projects that we've worked on that have really made an impact in our community. One of the things is we did this huge comprehensive strategy and that's where we determined that we were going to do things like the Tigua, Inc. Development Corporation, we were going to do workforce development, land use plan, land acquisition plan. All those things were outlined in this strategy and there was focus groups and surveys that were on our website. And if you actually look at our website all the reports are on there as far as the information that the community provided to us and what we compiled and gave back to the community. So this comprehensive strategy, a lot of strategies and plans just end up on the bookshelf, but as you can see it didn't. We like to say that you need to plan your work and you need to work your plan.

The other thing is Tigua, Inc., the tribe provided the seed money for that and now they have really just taken off over the last couple years and getting significant contracts and they're doing a lot of building maintenance all over the country. They just recently got awarded the Wyler Building in California, which is the second largest government facility in the country to do maintenance. This is the Tigua Business Center that we just recently moved into about a year and a half ago and it also incubates Tigua, Inc., but it also serves as headquarters for our department, Economic Development, and we're also just now building another extension to it, which is going to be to incubate tribal member businesses, and we also have, because we really truly believe in educating the tribe and we're not quite there yet as far as having a college. We're building the Tigua Technology Center there, which is also going to help to provide the software that some of our tribal members need to get their business done like the costing and pricing for construction companies and for auto mechanics and CAD and those things that are really expensive that they can't afford as far as software is concerned.

And then also our tax code, this was one of the things that also came out of the comprehensive economic development strategy. For some reason, the tribe had decided that it was going to adopt the State of Texas tax code, which made no sense whatsoever. It was 200 pages long and we couldn't enforce it. And so what we did is we took a look at what would best serve our needs and we went from 200 pages to 20 pages and in less than a year we went from $58,000 a year to $1.2 million in tax collections. The allocation also is divided up for different programming. But I'm able to support our department because we get 30 percent of tax allocation and that's how I am able to turn that into some of the programming that we're doing.

Here's the feedback and it's really a snapshot of the feedback that we got back from the community and the things that they were concerned with in land use. So they were, the community of course was concerned with things like cultural preservation and being able to maintain our traditional practices, having land for residential use, commercial needs and agriculture, as well as transportation. So we determined what the best use of lands would be and through community engagement we also took an inventory of our lands and created a database that had all the criteria of our lands, as well as GIS mapping, whatever, if there were environmental assessments. And so we have a really defined database of all our lands and then we created a master plan and an acquisition plan. The acquisition plan isn't quite finished yet, but this timeline that we looked at started with the need to preserve our lands and we have these milestones where we want to have our master plan and do energy development and make sure that everybody has housing and those things. But then at the end it ends with cultural preservation, too, because it demonstrates 100 years from now that we're still here and our land is preserved.

And then also on one side we have all the modern and things we need to survive today, but we also have all the things that are important to us historically and culturally. When we started writing a master plan through community engagement, we had these and we had these maps of the land...of our land in big sheets and we had the community write what certain places of what they wanted the land to look like.

And also they put places like by the river, like for example, that is still important to us today but that...we have ceremonies at the river that we can't just go to the river anymore. We border Mexico, so everybody knows about the big fence at the river. So we actually have to go ask the Border Patrol to let us go to the river to do our ceremonies. So part of our master planning is to take over the acequias or the irrigation system or the canal system that we actually created 300 years ago. So we created this cultural life cycle that we would incorporate into our land use and master plan and it talks about where we are at birth and how we're being nurtured and the lessons we're learning and how we learn about our culture and then how as elders our roles change and that then we become teachers and we pass on this tradition and culture. So in our land use plan we...that bar that intersects across there talks about the different places that we're going to create to make sure those things happen. So we have things like a nation-building hub and also an elder center and places for teens to meet as well.

So these are...see those are pictures of maps that we used where the community actually drew what they wanted the community to look like, and these are statements that the community provided back. And then we also had different criteria as far as what the community wanted to see and graphed and charted what the community best wanted for our lands. So these are also places that we don't own yet, but they're what we used to own. And so in our land acquisition process, we want to buy these locations back and this is what we could do with them as far as economic development is concerned. And it seems like way out there, but in reality it really isn't. When you think about we just had 68 acres in 1987 and we have 75,000 acres now, it's attainable. And then so this is what our acquisition process is going to look like and how we mapped it. Everything that is in yellow is what we own and what's in the darker colors is our long-term acquisition. We know that we can't buy everything, but we do...those are the gaps that we want to fill in. I talked a little bit about our enrollment ordinance. Well, we're working on an enrollment ordinance, a new citizen engagement [process] because of the blood quantum bill that just passed last year. So I had thought that that was going to go to somebody else, but I just was told last week that that citizen engagement process would actually come to our department so that's something that we're working on now. This was just a little conversation that the team had last week and these are questions that we're really thinking about what we need to ask the community. It'll be much more comprehensive, but just basic things like what does citizenship mean to you and how did you learn how to be a good citizen from your parents and your community, and so that's the way we usually start with just the basic questions and then we move into real comprehensive model.

These are just a couple, I guess, pointers to just make sure that you try to identify what your tribe needs and also...and then as far as when you're working within your community just know that everything that you're doing is either going to impact your tribe either positively or negatively. And what the work [is] that you're doing, how is that going to actually help your tribe or not help your tribe because sometimes we're afraid to move forward and to change, but in order to change you really need to know what it is that your community wants and to respect what their thoughts are and what they want for the future. Thank you."