staggered terms

Northern Cheyenne Constitutional Reform

Year

The Northern Cheyenne Tribe is a sovereign nation. It is a federally-recognized Indian tribe with powers and authority to govern the activities of its members. The Tribe is governed by a Constitution and Bylaws first adopted on November 23, 1935. In the early 1990s, in order to meet the demands of the expanding population and economic growth of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, the Tribal Council determined that its constitution needed to be amended. A Constitution Revision Committee was established to facilitate this process. The Committee was assigned the task of coming up with proposed constitutional amendments, hold public hearings and present their findings and recommendations to the Tribal Council. Finally, on May 10, 1996, a set of constitutional amendments was voted and adopted by the membership of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. The amendments were divided into three parts: Governmental Reform, Separation of Powers, and Code of Ethics...

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Gourneau, Norma, and Ian Record. "Northern Cheyenne Constitutional Reform." Red Ink: A Native American Student Publication. Vol. 8, No. 2. American Indian Studies Program, The University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2000: 63-66. Article.

Honoring Nations: Loren Bird Rattler, Ray Montoya and Jay St. Goddard: Siyeh Corporation

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

Representatives from the Siyeh Corporation present an overview of the corporation's establishment and growth to the Honoring Nations Board of Governors in conjunction with the 2005 Honoring Nations Awards.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Bird Rattler, Loren, Ray Montoya, and Jay St. Goddard. "Siyeh Corporation." Honoring Nations Awards event. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Tulsa, Oklahoma. November 1, 2005. Presentation.

Loren Bird Rattler:

"Thank you, Amy. As she mentioned, my name is Loren Bird Rattler. I'm the Manager of the Blackfeet Heritage Center and Art Gallery, a business line of the parent company Siyeh Corporation. I would like to first thank the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development for allowing us a forum to certainly showcase our successes that we've had at Siyeh Corporation back in Blackfeet Country.

With that said, I'd like to begin with the question, 'Why was Siyeh Corporation created?' First, a legal enterprise was needed to develop and operate business opportunities for the Blackfeet Tribe. This enterprise needed to be a for-profit entity that would provide an alternative source of revenue for the Blackfeet Tribe as well as create a source of revenue...I'm sorry, a source of revenue for the Blackfeet Tribe as well as create additional jobs for the local economy. But more specifically, it was to create an enterprise whose day-to-day business decisions and practices were separate from tribal politics and decision making. This process happened in four phases: analysis and bench marketing, petitioning the Secretary of Interior, the approval of that petition, and finally ratification by the Blackfeet Tribe.

In 1997 the Blackfeet Planning Department began to script plans for a for-profit company that would be semi-autonomous from tribal political influence and decision-making. The Planning Department embraced a new paradigm of thinking that would change the dynamic of how the Blackfeet Tribe would and could create and sustain profitable businesses. The first task was an analysis on the approach to economic development on the Blackfeet Reservation. During this analysis, the Planning Department began to benchmark other tribes to find out what types of infrastructure they were using in tribal enterprises and businesses. From this analysis, a new comprehensive economic development strategy was put in place to create a for-profit corporation. Many of the principles were taken directly from the concepts of 'Reloading the Dice, Improving Economic Development on American Indian Reservations,' which was found in the publication American Indian Economic Development from the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development.

In early 1999 the Planning Department drafted the corporate charter for Siyeh Corporation under the framework of Section 17 of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. Upon completion of the draft, the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council passed resolution number 10899 and shortly thereafter petitioned the Secretary of Interior. Upon approval of the petition by the Deputy Commissioner of Indian Affairs on July 8th, 1999, the proposal was sent back to the Blackfeet Tribe for ratification. During this time, a new council had been elected and inaugurated and a referendum was passed changing the structure of terms for the council from two-year terms to staggered four-year terms. Of course this created a new problem for Siyeh. We had to re-lobby a new council, that some of them serving two years, some of them serving four years in 2000. After this lobbying effort was launched, we were able to convince the Chairman of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council and therefore get the rest of the council on board. After that happened, of course the charter was ratified on January 3rd, 2001. Because of the language of Section 17 of the Indian Reorganization Act, once ratified by the tribe, it requires an act of Congress to dissolve, further limiting potential influence or potential political influence.

From the drafting of the charter to present day, Siyeh Corporation has and will continue to have struggles. In the beginning, it was very difficult getting local businessmen to serve on the board of directors simply because of the mistrust toward tribal enterprises following a number of failed business ventures. The tribal government and to a greater extent the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council's role is continually being defined and redefined with every incoming council. In the very beginning of course, there was problems with a lack of funding to get the corporation off the ground. The struggle with public perception and the old political philosophy that the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council should have the final say on all matters coupled with Siyeh Corporation's approach to problem solving presents a public relations challenge that Siyeh Corporation continues to address and remedy today.

Siyeh Corporation has five successful business lines. In 1999, the Blackfeet Tribe acquired Starling Cable Company, which was in jeopardy of losing programming. The company has increased subscriptions and offers a public access channel for community programming. In April 2000, under the threat of closure from the National Indian Gaming Commission, Siyeh inherited the Glacier Peaks Casino in Browning. Glacier Peaks Casino now operates seven days a week with exceptional revenue. Kimmie Water was created in late 2000 to deliver five-gallon water jugs to the community due to the poor quality of water with the present water system that exists on the reservation. And in 2002, Discovery Lodge Casino was created to tap into the eastern reservation gaming market. And finally, in mid-2002 with the acquisition of the inventory from the Northern Plains Arts Cooperative, Siyeh Corporation created the Blackfeet Heritage Center and Art Gallery. The center provides an outlet for local artists, artisans, and crafts people to market their work as well as advocate through programming Blackfeet cultural and traditional preservation.

Currently, there are four future projects that are being developed under Siyeh Corporation. A grocery store has surpassed its planning stage and now has a site as well as a distributor identified. The design for the store has been completed. An expansion to the Glacier Peaks Casino is underway. Construction began on a new 30,000-square-foot facility that will house 300-plus class two gaming machines, a 250-seat Bingo hall and a restaurant, lounge and gift shop. Plans have just got underway for a wireless internet business that will bring wireless internet service to rural residents of the Blackfeet Reservation. A feasibility study and business plan are now underway. Siyeh Corporation has completed an SBA 80 application that will aid in marketing Kimmie Water and integrated information technology services and solutions. It may also help with future federal contracting.

Siyeh Corporation has been instrumental in the development of the local economy. In 2004, Siyeh's five business lines paid out over one million dollars in payroll and disbursed $963,173 in dividends to corporate shareholders, the Blackfeet Tribe. Siyeh assets in the year 2000 were around $300,000 compared to nearly $800,000 today. These assets include real property, equipment, vehicles and inventory. Vicariously through its business lines, Siyeh Corporation aids in community development. By providing bottled water to community members, elders and diabetics, Kimmie Water provides a necessary resource that was lacking before. Starling Cable Television, through its community access channel number 37, provides local programming, including Blackfeet Tribal Business Council meetings, public forums, high school sports, and Blackfeet cultural and educational programming. Siyeh also helps with the cultural preservation by purchasing, marketing and exposing Blackfeet artists, artisans and crafts peoples' work. This practice in turn will allow the Blackfeet Heritage Center and Art Gallery to conduct educational workshops on traditional artistic practices. This venue, which includes Blackfeet culture and history teaches both non-Natives as well as our own youth about ourselves.

Siyeh Corporation was named after the Blackfeet warrior Siyeh or Mad Wolf. The spirit of Siyeh in the telling of tribal elders embodies independent thinking, shouldering responsibility for the work that has to be done, and taking bold action. Because of this inspiration, Siyeh Corporation will continue in its efforts to span strategically while protecting the environment, culture and tradition and will continue to be fearless, independent and true, as their motto states."

Alfreda Mitre:

"Congratulations. I had formulated three questions and during your presentation you answered all three of them, so I'll just take this time and say thank you for a wonderful presentation and I'll let the others if they have any questions to go ahead and do so."

Loren Bird Rattler:

"Thank you."

Elsie Meeks:

"So I would imagine that this was fairly controversial in incorporating a Section 17 corporation."

Loren Bird Rattler:

"Yes, it was."

Elsie Meeks:

"Well, that's an issue that I think a lot of tribes would struggle with. I guess if you could talk a little bit more about the reason that you decided to do that, because I know that that must have been a hard decision for you all to make but there must have been a good reason why you did it, and I'd just like you to expand on that a little bit because I think there's some good lessons here."

Loren Bird Rattler:

"Certainly and I'll defer that question to the economic development coordinator Ray Montoya."

Ray Montoya:

"Okay, I'll try to shed a little light on that question. One of the reasons we went with a federally chartered corporation was because in the past and up to that point in time most of the businesses were under the auspices of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council directly under tribal government and unfortunately under that structure the Blackfeet Tribe hasn't had one successful business as a tribal-owned business directly under the tribal government. And so we saw this as a way of changing that lack of success and then allowing a business to grow as it should without the lack of governmental interference."

Brian C. McK. Henderson:

"I would like to ask a follow-up question. You've basically created what in effect is a tribal holding company with a variety of different businesses underneath this one structure and if you could project out into the future and given the challenges that the tribe actually has in economic development and getting businesses going. Do you see the structure on the...under the Section 17 format helping you in the future or do you see it at some point something that you may want to actually change?"

Jay St. Goddard:

"Speaking on behalf of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council and the experience I've had as a previous board member on the Siyeh Corporation, it is a model and we expand on it and we want to keep it because it does help us for future businesses and that's one of the main reasons it was put into place. And from past experience and being a leader on the council and knowing what goes on in the political realm and views you get from your membership, I feel it's important it stays in place because it does help our economic future, because changeover in Indian Country as everyone knows happens so regularly and each time there's a change, although we're elected officials, some of them come in thinking they know every answer to economic development or there's that certain money savior out there that's going to come in and save the tribe but that doesn't happen. And with this charter being in place, I think it helps the corporation sustain its ability to prove to the community -- slowly in some ways but fast in other ways -- that this is what we needed in place for a long time, to help us be a successful tribe and business-minded people we have. We have a lot of management people under this corporation that are helping us move these projects along. But it will definitely be a future need and as a tribal leader I hope this would stay in place and it's not taken away, it stays out of the realm of politics. I'm one of the tribal leaders that fight for this corporation every day and help the other tribal leaders understand that this is needed, it's not to be tossed around every time it's brought up to vote it down again. I use that because it's...the charter under the government or wherever it's...however it was created was a great idea. It just makes it harder for a simple motion or resolution for a new council to come in and dissolve this company. That's what'll keep it successful."

Cynthia Manuel: What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Tohono O'odham Nation Legislative Council Member Cynthia Manuel discusses some of the challenges she has faced as an elected leader of her nation, and stresses the importance of leaders taking care of themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Topics
Citation

Manuel, Cynthia. "What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 20, 2012. Presentation.

"Good morning. My name is Cynthia Manuel and I'm from the Tohono O'odham Nation. I live in Santa Rosa, which is the Gu Achi District and that's who I represent on the Legislative Council. Our tribe has a three-branch government: the legislative, the executive and the judicial. The executive has the tribal chairman and the executive department. And we're legislative and we have 22 members. We have 11 districts within the nation and we have 22 members, two representatives from each district. And we serve four years when we get elected and then every two years we have an election. So every two years -- it's staggered. And that's really good for me because we learn from the ones that were there before. And I want to recognize two of our members that are here, is Edward Manuel who is Vice Chair of our Legislative Council and he's sitting over here. He represents the Pisinemo District. And we also have Pamela Anghill over here, who represents Gu Vo District. And as I said, I represent Gu Achi and this is my second term. I've been there six years now and it seems like forever. I'm okay with it. This is our full-time position so we're paid to be on council. We have a salary, an annual salary, and this is what we do daily. Within the legislative branch, we have our staff and our chairman who wasn't able to be here. That's why I'm here [because] he couldn't make it and so he asked me and I said, ‘Yeah, I will do that.' His name is Timothy Joaquin and he comes from the same district I come from. He's taught me a lot.

Next May, we'll have our elections and my term will be up but he'll keep going, my colleague. And then two years after that his term will be up. So we have staggered terms and we each represent our own, we get elected by own people within our district. I ran in 2005. Before that I worked at the health department for 15 years. I did everything. I started what is our HOP program now, the Healthy O'odham Prevention program, which is a diabetes program. Me and my brother Isidro, he just got out of the service then, and he took the exercise portion of it and I took the diet portion of it. We started the program; now it's growing. We have a site almost in every district to work on our diabetes rates. Our diabetes rates are really high in the nation. So we started that and [I'm] glad it's still going. When we started it was just us two, the staff and now we have probably a staff of about 50 people.

Then I went to work at our nursing home. It was mentioned on the screen that we do have our skilled nursing facility. We have...long ago, we always talked about as far as I can remember that our elders want to come home and recuperate on the reservation. So when they started the nursing facility we do our own traditional foods, we do our own activities, whether it be our traditional dancing or just the modern exercise. And a lot of the staff that are there, I believe 95 percent, are tribal members and then they serve the elders there. So they speak the language and can communicate. They like to sit outside and outside the backyard is the desert, so they really like it there. We have, I believe, it's 63 beds and right now we're starting to build housing for those that can be on their own and they just need a little help. The groundbreaking was last Sunday to start that [because] we would like to take a lot more elders in that are in the hospitals here in Tucson and in Phoenix, because a lot of times they don't, some of the care facilities here, they don't understand our O'odham when they speak [because] some don't speak no English. So it's really good that we do have it. But they also take others that are younger that need help in whatever they're going through.

I worked there as the activities manager and then I decided to run for council in '05 and I won my seat. I won my opponent by 65 percent. It was really good and before then I looked at the constitution and what a legislative department and what our jobs will be and I liked what it said and that's what I recommend. If you have a constitution or whatever your job description is [because] that's our job description, what it says on there, that's what we do. But I first talked to my family. I have a family of eight brothers and sisters, my mom and my dad and my aunts. I always say that I was raised by a village or by a community, because that's how it was within my own community, my aunts and my uncles, my grandparents. So I talked with them and I think that's the most important [thing] because you have to have the family support in that, whether it be your sister, your brother, your uncles. You have to have that support. My own family, my husband, my son -- I have one child, my son. He's 18. Well, he just turned 19 and I have a grandson who is two years old. I talked to them and what I think this job will mean, a lot of time away from home. And because when I worked with the health department, I also went to a lot of the diabetes workshops all over and I remember I used to call home and my son would say, ‘Mom, just come through the phone, come home.' So I had to tell him this is how it's going to be, but by then he was older so he was okay with it. So I had to talk to them and my mom and my brothers and my sister and tell them what I was going to do and they supported me. So I did that and I won my seat then.

Then when I started there it was kind of scary [because] you're just getting into like this whole world of, like it's a different, you're going to be representing the nation here. And when I first got on...we have in our legislative department we have 11 committees that we each serve on three of those committees except the chairman and the vice chair. So when I first got in, they put me on the Rules Committee, which oversees like the constitution and things that happen within; and the Domestic Affairs Committee, which is the law enforcement and the border issues; and the Health and Human Services Committee, which is health and human services. Those are some of the biggest committees and then they asked me, then they elected me to be chair on two of them and vice chair and I was like, ‘I don't know if I can do that. I just now got here. I don't even know what I'm supposed to do.' Then my brother, he was on council before and he was saying, ‘Don't say that, act like you know what you're doing.' I said, ‘Okay.' But I was real fortunate. I have an older brother who served in council for four years and he was the vice chair of council and then he became, right after he left his term there, he became the chairman of our district. Then I have another brother who is three years younger than me who also served after my oldest brother's four years; he served his four years but he had moved to another district so he was serving for that district. Then when he ended, a year later he became my vice chair of our nation. So I had those, they taught me a lot. I said, ‘Okay, I'll accept the chair's position and the vice chair.'

And it was really a lot, because at that time with domestic affairs we were going through the SORNA [Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act], it was a whole different change with the Adam Walsh [Act]. And we were going with the sex offender notification registry, the SORNA. And also the cards, I can't remember. I was trying to think of the cards, the tribal cards that we need to use like to cross over because, as our vice chair mentioned, we have membership on the Mexican side of the border and we have from what I understand last two years ago we had 11 communities that still have our membership in Mexico. And our land actually extended all the way to Mexico City and then this way to the ocean. And so we still have membership on that side. And so at the time that's what we were working on because we also have a big celebration on October 4th in Magdalena, Mexico and so we needed to make sure that our members were able to cross over and back. And so we were working on that at that time and so I knew that it was going to be a big challenge to be on the committee.

And then on the other committee that I served on at the time, the same time, was the Health and Human Services Committee and at that time we were working on the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and even that was a big issue. So I was really overwhelmed by so much but I just did my best. Also asking for like direct funding, that's what we pushed for instead of our funding going to the state and then down to the tribal level and then it ends up with us and it's nothing, hardly anything. And so we were working on direct funding.

So I was on those committees and it opened my eyes to a lot of things. I think I really learned fast. I remember when we were working on the Indian Health Care Improvement Act because when I got on health I was also selected by our tribe to sit on the National Indian Health Board. And then at the National Indian Health Board I was elected to serve as the secretary. So it was really an eye-opening [experience]. I remember when we were working on the Indian Health Care Improvement Act we were at the NIHB, National Indian Health Board office, and they called it the war room. And we were, as they were talking on the floor and trying to pass the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, we were sitting in this room and I think we sat in there for two days and as whatever was going to be passed. And if somebody spoke that we knew that we could reach the representatives, when they spoke and then we would call them and try to change their mind so they could vote for it or not change or add amendments that they were doing at the time. I remember they said, ‘Arizona, Arizona, Kyl and McCain, call them, call them and tell them why they should vote for that amendment.' And I was just like, ‘Wow, me?' ‘Yeah, call.' And so I did and then they, then Kyl wanted to meet -- I don't think he knew we were in D.C. -- and he wanted to meet face to face with me and ask me questions why he should vote for these amendments. And so at the time there was a youth group meeting at the Indian Museum, Native American Museum. And so one of the people there, anyway, she works part with NIHB. They were saying, we should go down there and get the youth and get to Kyl's office before he goes back on the floor. And so we walked. And at that time taxi cabs were on strike so we were walking. I had comfortable shoes, she had to take off her shoes, and we went and got the youth and within that time when we got there we had to educate them why, what we were going to talk to Senator Kyl about. And so we walked over there and we did what we needed to do and went back. And I was so happy that those youth were there and it really changed his mind I guess, Senator Kyl and how he was going to vote. So that was really an experience and I then I thought at the time, this is probably about three months into my, when I first got on council and I thought, ‘Wow, I think I'm going to like this after everything that just happened.' And I always tell my family, [because] they used to ask me, ‘How do you know all this?' -- my son. And I said, ‘Oh, I just wing it, I just wing it, I just get up there.' But I told him, ‘I pray about it, I pray every time, I'm always in prayer and whatever happens that's what is supposed to happen and I don't go back and say, 'Oh, I should have done this because you're going to be stuck back there.'' I always tell him that.

And even with our elders, whoever, I always feel that whoever voted you in, whether they voted for you or not but they're from your community, your district, that you listen to their needs. I know when I first got on council, one of my aunts came and she said, ‘I listened,' [because] we have a radio station too, KOHN 91.9 FM, the Voice of the Tohono O'odham Nation, that's the radio station. And she said, ‘I listen to you guys on the radio, but I don't even know what you guys are talking about.' And she didn't speak any English and so she said, ‘It would be really good if you guys talk in O'odham, our language.' And I said, ‘Okay.' So when we had session again the next time I spoke in O'odham [because] I am fluent and I spoke my language. And so now a lot of the elders will say, will ask me questions, ‘What was that about or what were you guys talking about?' And my aunt told me, she said, ‘Now I know what you guys are talking about and I'm really happy that you speak in O'odham when you sit there because then we can understand what you guys are talking about.' And so I try to listen in that way so they can understand them and get at their level, whoever it is, whether it's the youth or whomever, get at their level and speak their language. I know, there was a job announcement out for a youth advisor and so I put my name in it and I got an interview from our youth council and I got selected to be a youth advisor for our youth council. So I'm trying to teach them a lot on that, too, because they're upcoming leaders. We have two of our youth that are ambassadors at the national level and they go to meet with national leaders and so I'm trying to help them out.

But it's been, it's really been good. I learned from a lot of people. I think it was an eye-opening [experience] when I got on. But even though I knew, kind of knew before what it was all about. I had two of my grandparents who sat on council and kind of taught me back then, too. And I was like 18 when I was our tribal queen and I traveled and had to travel with a lot of the legislators; they were my chaperones. And then I thought, ‘Oh, some day I want to do this,' and so that was one of my goals. So I'm here. But one thing that I wanted to mention is be you, be yourself and also rest and relax [because] I know when you're a tribal leader everybody wants you here, there, even if it's at a dinner or a function, they always say to us, ‘Well, you weren't there. We had this and that and we didn't even see no tribal leaders there.' So you're just pulled every which way at the national level and in your own community. Even just at Head Start graduation they want you there, they want to see tribal leadership there, just everywhere, at elder's gathering, youth gathering. But it's okay to say ‘no' or ‘not yet' or ‘not today,' because sometimes it's really a lot to be everywhere. And I know that firsthand because you need to relax and rest.

On May 28 -- I remember this day -- I was the vice chair for the Budget and Finance Committee. We see over 136 budgets yearly that we go through. And so the chair, she wasn't going to be there so she asked me if I would do the meeting and I said, ‘Okay.' And I always try to do my homework ahead of time. I go through all that stuff so I know what questions to ask if I don't understand it. I start adding it to make sure everything comes out okay. So she said she wasn't going to be there and I said, ‘Okay, I can do it.' So I was really anxious. I got up early, I got up at...so for like the last two days before I was reading my stuff and so I got up early that morning at four. I told my husband, 'I'm going to be there early, set everything out and be ready for our meeting.' I got up at four. So I jumped out of bed when the alarm rang [because] I didn't want to be late. I jumped out and our meetings are not until nine but I wanted to be early. So I jumped out of bed, my side of the bed, the window's right there. So I stood up and I had my fingers there and I held on and then all of a sudden this side just gave in and I fell. And so my husband got out of bed and he got me and he set me on the bed and I laid down for awhile. And then I told him, ‘I'm going to get in the shower.' So I sat up and I fell again when I stood up and I was like... and he said, ‘Are you okay?' And I said, ‘I think so. I think I'm just nervous or anxious or something.' And so he said, ‘I'm going to call the ambulance.' And I said, ‘Wait, wait, wait, I'm going to go in the shower first.' So I went in the shower and I came back out and I was okay. And I sat on the bed and he said, ‘I already called the ambulance.' And I said, ‘Okay.' And so the ambulance came and they asked me, ‘Can you walk...' [because] we have steps. They said, ‘Can you walk out? Then, we'll put you on the stretcher.' And I said, ‘Okay.'

So I went out and they got me on the stretcher and went to Casa Grande Regional, which is about 45 miles. I got there and then we were in there and the doctor was talking to my husband. And then he came in and he said, ‘They're going to send you to Phoenix Heart Hospital.' And I was like, ‘Why?' And he said, ‘I don't know, they'll tell you and he's going to be in here to tell you.' And I said, ‘Okay.' And so I was laying there and then he came and he said, ‘We're going to send you to the Heart Hospital, they're going to need to do more tests.' And I said, ‘Okay.' And I said, ‘Was there something wrong with me ‘cause I don't feel any way right now?' And they said, ‘Well, they'll talk to you over there.' So I said, ‘Okay.' So when I got to the Heart Hospital, one of the doctors came in and he said, ‘Oh...' and I said, ‘What happened?' And he said, ‘Oh, did you know you had a stroke?' And I said, ‘No.' And he said, ‘It's all this...what do you do?' So he sat down and I went over my schedule, ‘I go in at five to work ‘cause I get like a stack this high of paper every day. I think we use like so many reams.' And so I said, ‘And I go through all my stuff, I get like over hundreds of emails. I sit down, I go through all them, delete and save what I need to. And then at  nine o'clock is our meeting and depends on how long it lasts and I stay there till like six, seven, eight, nine just to go through all that and fix everything and be ready for the next time ‘cause I'm not one to just not know the issue.' And so he said, ‘Well, that's what it is. You're too stressed out. You're really stressed out.' So he said, ‘I want you to slow down.' He said, ‘You have a clot in the back of your ear and...but we can't do anything right now. It's too hard to get into there so what we're going to do is try to flush it out, give you all these fluids and try to flush it out for it to move or go out.' And I said, ‘Okay.' And so I stayed there for like I think a month and they said it wouldn't move, it wouldn't do nothing, so they were going to let me go home but I had to promise them that I won't go into work at five, that I would wait till my meeting time, which is nine. And he said, ‘You can do stuff at your house. You can print it and bring it home so you can rest when you need to.' So I said, ‘Okay.'

And so since then, it's been, it's been kind of slow for me but I've learned to adjust. We have, I'm glad in our office we have, each of us have individual offices. I can close the door and now I lay down at noon and I rest. If I go in at five I take an hour break before my meeting at nine and I lay down. I have my blankets there, I have my cot there and I rest. And in the evening I rest before I go home because I have my grandson too and I play with him when I get home. So I think that it's really important that you rest. I know it's hard to do because you have so many, a tough schedule daily but I think you really need to rest because it's hard being in a position like that [because] having a stroke just slows you down. I'm still weak on my left side but I manage to do...I texted my husband this morning and I put, ‘I sure miss you,' [because] he helps me out in the morning. But it's okay. I get by. But it's just rest, rest and if you feel like you...only you know your body and what your body can take, nobody else knows your body, so when your body's telling you to rest, you rest. I try to use like the handicap door button because I can't...I don't like want to really push, push, push. And people look at me. And when I go shopping I use one of those carts [because] I know my body, only I know my body and how I feel. If I want to do that that day, then I will do that and it's okay because nobody else knows your story but you. That's okay to do that. Thank you."

Native Nation Building TV: "A Capable Bureaucracy: The Key to Good Government"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Guests Urban Giff and Joan Timeche explain that good governance requires effective, transparent and accountable bureaucracies. The segment demonstrates how clearly defined organizational structures and roles and responsibilities help make things work and get things done, and how their absence actively hinders Native nation governance and development efforts.

Citation

Native Nations Institute. "A Capable Bureaucracy: The Key to Good Government" (Episode 6). Native Nation Building television/radio series. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy and the UA Channel, The University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2006. Television program. 

Mark St. Pierre: "Hello, friends. I'm your host, Mark St. Pierre and welcome to Native Nation Building. Contemporary Native Nations face many challenges including building effective governments, developing strong economies that fit their culture and circumstances, solving difficult social problems and balancing cultural integrity in change. Native Nation Building explores these often complex challenges in the ways Native Nations are working to overcome them as they seek to make community and economic development a reality. Don't miss Native Nation Building next."

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[music]

Mark St. Pierre: "On today's program we examine a critical aspect of Native Nation governance -- bureaucracies. We'll look at how clear bureaucratic organization roles and responsibilities contribute to effective governance and how ineffective bureaucracies can stop Native Nations dead in their tracks. Here today to explore the importance of bureaucracies are Urban Giff and Joan Timeche. Urban Giff, a citizen of the Gila River Indian Community has served as Community Manager at Gila River since 1986. As one of his Nation's chief administrators, he's been directly involved with managing incredible growth his community has experienced over the past decade. Joan Timeche, a citizen of the Hopi tribe is Assistant Director of the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy at the University of Arizona. She also spent eight years serving as Director of the Hopi Tribe's Education Department. Joan, Urban, thank you for being with us today. Let's jump right in. What is bureaucracy's fundamental task, Urban?"

Urban Giff: "Well, I once equated that to and compared it to the older customs of tribes, my tribe included as well as other tribes, in which the villages of the tribe were safeguarded by sentries and warriors that were away from the villages and they sounded the alarm in case there was danger and they were effective in safeguarding the tribe, the people, their assets. I equated that and compared it to the modern-day tribes. We still need warriors and sentries, but in the field of accounting, in the field of law, in the field of human resources administration, in the field of management, all the functions that a government has to operate under, and that we need qualified warriors in those areas and that's what will benefit the tribes. As the ancient warriors did and benefited their tribes, we still need warriors today."

Joan Timeche: "And I think the only thing that I would add to that is it's basically just trying to get the job done, whatever the council, the government, the people decide or their long-term vision, it's the everyday task of just accomplishing that."

Mark St. Pierre: "This is for either one of you. Why is an effective, efficient bureaucracy so critical to Native Nation building?"

Joan Timeche: "In the early 1930s or so, many of us were forced to adopt modern forms of government. We traditionally had very effective forms of governments and bureaucracies in place prior to Europeans, but because if we were to receive and be recognized by the federal government we had to have a new modern form of government in place. And during those times, the federal government made a lot of decisions for us, the Bureau of Indian Affairs made those decisions for us. They basically set these councils in place and they, in many cases, often served as rubber stamps and the government made all the major decisions. But as time has evolved and over the years and particularly since the '70s and '80s, tribes have begun to take a major role in determining where it is that they want their societies to be moving towards and they've become the key decision-makers. And because they're the decision-makers, it's important for them to be the one to set that strategic, long-term vision of where it is that they want the tribe to be moving towards, and having in place this effective bureaucracy that gets the job done and helps them move towards accomplishing their goals." 

Mark St. Pierre: "Urban, would you want to comment on that?"

Urban Giff: "Just to the effect of that enables the tribe to really better understand its opportunities that [are] available and can be made available to the tribe -- not just the entire tribe as a whole, but to individuals of the tribe, the families of the tribe. That's the essence of the value of having bureaucracy in place that have the knowledge to bring these opportunities and not necessarily to do it for them, but to provide the opportunity that will enable the tribal members to move on."

Mark St. Pierre: "Well, we all know that some Native Nations, some First Nations, have ineffective, inefficient bureaucracies and that those tribes find it difficult to move forward. What are some of the key ways to set up an effective, efficient bureaucracy?"

Urban Giff: "I would say that probably the important thing that comes to mind right off is to have a better understanding among all the players, all the decision-makers as to who has the resources to do what, and that's where the bureaucracy comes in. The bureaucracy are there, the bureaucrats are there because they have qualifications in their respective areas. The politicians are there because they have rapport with the voters and they have the vision for the tribe. And if you put those two together, the politicians with their vision of what is to be done, what they're striving to get done, and the bureaucracy and the bureaucrats of how it's to be done, that can't help but win for the tribe. So no one segment can do it alone. They have to work together as best as they can."

Joan Timeche: "Well, I think one thing that I would add to that, it has to do with clear a clear separation of roles and responsibilities. I was very young when I started to work for my own tribe, and to have that role delineated of what the legislature is responsible for, to what program administration is responsible for -- 'cause we're the ones that get the job done -- was very important for me because I needed to know to what extent powers, what powers I had and what I didn't have. And of course it was a very political environment, so you had to get accustomed to understanding what the rules were internally, and I think that those are two key important points, having stable rules, consistent rules so that irregardless of who the administration is at that time, the elected leadership, that there's going to be some -- when turnover occurs -- there's going to still be the same rules in place that we might be able to understand how to still accomplish our jobs."

Mark St. Pierre: "In helping your...in looking at young people as they come up through the bureaucracy, are there things that you've done at your tribe or at Hopi to help these young administrators, these young bureaucrats achieve the skills that they need?"

Urban Giff: "What I would refer to is in the job descriptions, the written job description that delineate what that position calls for in terms of responsibilities and authorities that may be assumed by the person that's hired to handle that position, but it also identifies the qualification requirements for that position and it's really gauged against that person's educational level, experience level and what not, and the selection process would then pick the best-qualified candidate who has applied. And so it's not based on who they are related to, but really on their qualifications and what not. And it really does a lot to the ego and to the wellbeing of the individual to realize that they were chosen because of their qualifications and requirements and that they were expected and required to carry out those duties and responsibilities, however difficult they may appear. But that's where...I think it's a key thing to help the young people realize the opportunity that they could have."

Mark St. Pierre: "There's always the chance that a tribal employee, a program director for instance, might do something that would get them in trouble politically. How do you create a buffer between the bureaucracy, the people that actually run the tribal programs and the elected officials?"

Joan Timeche: "Well, I think that comes in the form of good rules and this clear delineation. I can give you one example from when I worked with my own tribe and it has to do with our scholarship program. Our education department was a K [kindergarten] through post-secondary ed programs and we...coming in as a young program administrator who'd recently completed my degree, I knew the weaknesses of our grants and scholarship program and how little they were able to support a person such as myself get their education. So because I had young staff, we decided that we would revamp the scholarship program but we had a process within which to do it. We had to go to our 12 communities within the...on the Hopi Reservation. We got their input, we prepared the rules which would govern the program, making different types of options available, setting out the rules, but we had to go back to them and get approval. And then our tribe has a standing committee, an oversight committee that then has to review and approve of it before it goes on to the council for adoption. Well, one time what happened to me and in regards to that was I got a call from the tribal chair and he asked me to report to his office. And when you get those calls, you're there pronto. They don't tell you why you're there, they just say please come to the chairman's office immediately. So you go scurrying. I went scurrying across to the other building and went in and found out that he had been approached by a family -- I'm sorry, a community member who had a son that was going to college and apparently the son had received the notice from our office that he was not going to get funded for his grant, he was not going to get a grant to go to school and she was really irate and she demanded that -- she had been a long time supporter of him, reminded him that she had a large family within the community, a large constituency which could impact his future as a politician and said, 'My son deserves this grant and I want you to get it.' And he basically told me to reinstate it, receive the grant right then. And I told him, I said, 'I can't do that. I have these rules that were recently adopted, we set them out. Let me go back and find out what the situation is about the student.' Well, I went back, came back later on that day and found out that within the rules, we have some basic criteria. You have to have a C average, you have to complete the required number of credit hours. He was a full-time student, so it was 12 credit hours per semester. He'd received funding from us before, but he didn't fulfill those criteria so we put him on probation, allowing him to receive another semester of funding to be able to meet it at the end of the two semesters. It still didn't work, so we told him, 'Go back to summer school, bring your grades up, meet our criteria again and we'll re-fund you.' But he did not comply with our rules so we had to say, 'Sorry, you're not eligible until you bring up your grade point average and complete your credit hours.' And I tried to explain this to the chairman and he said, 'Go out and do it or I'll fire you.' And I says, 'I'm sorry, I can't fund this student.' I says, 'I have too many students out there who are probably in the same boat and if I fund this student, it's just going to open the flood gate for everyone else and our rules will have no meaning at all to that. All they have to do is go to the tribal chair, complain a little bit, cry a little bit and get their funding reinstated and then out the door goes our rules.' Why have rules if you're not going to follow them?"

Mark St. Pierre: "So did you get fired?"

Joan Timeche: "No. Luckily I didn't, but I was forever on his black list for his term and he actually ended up getting re-elected for a second term, so it was very difficult years for me."

Mark St. Pierre: "Urban, at Gila River how do you create that, in a sense, protection for your bureaucrats that are doing their job?"

Urban Giff: "Well, one example comes to mind. This happened years ago, and we had a project that an old building had to be demolished and so we looked for somebody to do it and we had two community members that were interested and were willing and were able to do it and one of them was selected and the other one was not. The other one who was not went to our tribal lieutenant governor -- or vice chairman as other tribes call it -- and expressed concern about it as why that other person was selected. The other person, we happened to have gone to high school together, and I was the one that had to do that so I got called into the lieutenant governor's office with that complaint and I said, 'Well, yeah, I can understand that, but his quoted price was higher than the other one.' He said, 'Are you sure?' I said, 'Yes. I had them submit written quotes on what they were going to charge.' And he said, 'Do you have them?' I said, 'Yes, I do.' I went back to my office and brought it back. I think that was a big relief to the lieutenant governor because it was based on comparative prices on it and there was a considerable difference in the cost. And so he had the ability to be able to go back to him and tell him why, and the individual that went to the lieutenant governor knew that he had submitted a written price and he should have known that it probably was the outcome, but he complained and I think that reassured the lieutenant governor that these bureaucrats probably are worthwhile."

Mark St. Pierre: "You've been in the same position with your tribe since 1986 and we know that tribal governments turn over, that the politicians and the elected officials turn over sometimes in some tribes once a year and other tribes every two years and other tribes four years. Is there a role in administration providing continuity for tribes?"

Urban Giff: "At Gila River, what we have is we have staggered terms for the council. So of the 17 members, we have one-third up for re-election or their terms end every year, so at no time is the total tribal council going to change over. But that's kind of a little bit different situation with the other, the governor of the tribe and lieutenant governor because they're elected every three years. What that does though is that provides the opportunity for the staff, the bureaucrats to provide that continuity because all the staff are hired employees of the tribe and aren't subject to political appointments and they're hired and as long as they do their job and don't get fired because of cause -- that's the only way they can be fired. They can't be fired for personality difficulties or whatever else, so that's what provides us, our tribe, the stability that's there and I think that has worked for us. And also I think, well, Pimas just generally get along okay."

Mark St. Pierre: "Native Nation bureaucracies have grown in both scope and function over the past three decades as their Nations have moved to expand their development objectives. What are the implications of this fairly rapid growth?"

Urban Giff: "I think one of the things that comes to mind when you talk about rapid growth and development of the tribe is that it really has to be determined ahead of time before you start on that process of development as to how far the development is going to take. If it is not done, any new program or department that's established is going to identify other needs that before were not possible or were not visible because there was nobody there doing that work, and it's going to create and it's going to cause other things to grow. So there really needs to be a time where the decision-makers -- and I call the politicians the decision-makers -- that have the vision as to where they want the tribe to go, how far they want the tribe to go as far as the tribal government. But also as a part of that, there needs to be a place and a way in which the abilities [of] individual members and families need to be acknowledged and encouraged and fostered so that the individual members can start doing some of the things that is not being done because they didn't have the opportunity or whatever the case might be, or maybe they didn't have the knowledge of how to do it -- that is provided to them. So give them a hand up not a hand out. So that's something that I think the politicians really could be beneficial to their tribes by so doing and identifying the vision."

Joan Timeche: "I'd just like to add to that, too, because we work with a number of tribes across the nation and what we often see is as a result of this quick growth you see organizational charts that are flat, all of the departments end up reporting to one entity and it's usually, if they don't have a chief administrative officer like they do in Gila River's case, it ends up being the chief executive officer of the tribe and the growth is haphazard, everyone ends up having their own turf, they don't share, there's often a lack of communication, they don't connect. They may be serving the same client populations, the targets. Their services may be the same and oftentimes they don't communicate with each other. We were working recently with a tribe here in the southwest on strategic planning and we called like service programs to come together -- in this particular case it was their tribal enterprises -- to talk about what they would like to see happen within the nation. And as we were going through the meeting, there was an observation by one of the program directors there of the enterprise that that was the first time that they had met, ever assembled together all their ten tribal enterprises in one meeting place, and they were learning that they had common goals and they had common marketing strategies and yet had never talked to each other before. And that's one of the results of the fast growth, and if you don't plan it effectively and set up these clear roles, that's one of the things that can happen.

Mark St. Pierre: "In looking at bureaucracies, the type of bureaucracies that a tribe has -- whether it's effective or ineffective -- sends messages to the tribal members. Can you comment on that for a minute about how tribal people see their government in relationship to the bureaucracy?"

Urban Giff: "The tendency -- and I guess maybe it's human nature -- that occurs, the bureaucracy will start to looking at the procedures and the process and lose sight of the people that it's intended to serve, and you find that happen very quickly that if they're concerned about crossing this 'T' or filling in this block and what not, and it really just puts the community member to feel second place to that form or to that process or to that step-by step-procedure, and that's where the bureaucracies kind of hurt themselves by not relating to the people. And yet the people are the primary purpose of why bureaucracies exist. And so without constantly being reminded about that and being alert to those things, that can cause difficulties, and the community members can take it so much and then they start complaining and start...and cause a bigger problem. So that's part of what I would suggest that really needs to be considered."

Joan Timeche: "And that perception isn't just internal. It can go to the external markets and the people that you deal with as well. Let me just relate to you one story that I experienced. In our Head Start program, we ran five Head Start centers across our reservation and our reservation is very expansive. One time I had my program director for Head Start come to me and tell me, 'Joan, Joan, you've got to help me.' She said, 'Shamrock just called' -- and Shamrock delivers all of our milk and dairy products -- 'and they called me and they said they are not going to deliver any of the milk and we're down to our stock in all of our Head Start centers here. They're not going to deliver. I have to have a check in hand to be able to pay them. Otherwise they're not even going to send the truck out at all. I have to guarantee that they will get it.' And she said, 'I've been calling our finance office, I've called treasurer's office trying to find out where the check is, and it's buried in some stack of papers somewhere, and I can't get the check.' Well, what ended up happening is Shamrock wasn't going to come because they weren't going to get paid. I couldn't guarantee that they would get a check in hand at the time that they delivered, and we tried to call our local stores. We had two little markets on the reservation and in a very remote area, that's not a lot of milk when you're trying to serve hundreds of children. So what ended up happening is after that we had to go internally within the administrative departments and find out what the reason was, and Shamrock was going to go and tell everybody within the Flagstaff community, the Northern Arizona community, 'Do not do business with the Hopi tribe because you will not get paid for 60, 90, 120 days.' And we couldn't afford to have our vendors talking that way about us 'cause we were such a remote community. We had a reliance on those external vendors. So it's that perception of ineffective bureaucracies that also gets sent out there as well."

Mark St. Pierre: "Urban, would you want to comment on that?"

Urban Giff: "I guess just part of it -- we've had the same experience at Gila River from time to time, and a part of that I think is it's the bureaucracies sometimes get bogged down in procedures and processes and not the end result. The end result is the primary thing that should be the focus of everything and how you get to that end result of pay your bills on time and what not. So sometimes that creates problems on it I think."

Mark St. Pierre: "How in your experience does the culture of the people themselves reflect how a bureaucracy should operate?"

Joan Timeche: "In many communities, if the people don't believe in the system, whether it's the government or the rules set in place and how decisions are made, they're not going to have any respect for it at all and that's what it boils down to. They'll just totally disregard it. In many of the communities that I'm familiar with, particularly here within Arizona, a lot of the decisions are made at the local levels and if your bureaucracy, your tribal bureaucracy, doesn't account for decision-making at the local level that then transforms into what happens at the central government level, you're in a real bad situation if it doesn't account for that. My community is like that. Decisions are made at the village level and there are several large communities within Arizona -- Navajo is the same way with all of their chapter administration. So people have to believe in the system for it to be effective and for it to work."

Mark St. Pierre: "Well, that kind of leads to another question. What happens to tribal bureaucracies when you have outsiders dictating aspects of tribal administration and measuring outcomes, for instance a lot of grant programs that are designed in Washington by people who've never been to Gila River or have never been to Hopi?"

Joan Timeche: "Well, what happens there then, again, is the decisions are made external to the tribe and the end-recipient of the services doesn't get what they need or maybe they might get it, but maybe it'll be in a very different form than they had thought that it was going to be in or at a much later date and time. So I think it's very important that the tribe assume responsibilities. And a lot of times we, because there are federal strings that are attached to these federal dollars, we often don't think that we can change the regulations which we have to operate within, but that's an opportunity for a tribal government  there to exercise its sovereignty. It can set its own rules, it can create its own ordinances to be able to administer, and then it can then tell that funding source that, 'Here's our code, here's the way we believe it to be done, and we want you to take a look at it.' And you'll see that in many cases it often meets or exceeds what the federal government is doing. You see that a lot with environmental protection codes that tribes adopt. Many times they're much more stringent than what the federal government might have imposed upon the tribe."

Mark St. Pierre: "Urban, would you want to..."

Urban Giff: "Yes, I'd like to add and that is that like from the federal level, Congress passes a law, a bill, and it has certain statements in there and the intent of that law is very crucial. Then the appropriate agency then develops regulations on it and then that's applied to the Indian tribe. The tribes have become accustomed to going by, 'That's what they said, they want it done...' but yet have found that it not always meets the needs of that tribe, and now it's realized that if it's stated one way in the regulation, that can be changed and you don't have to go all the way to Congress to change it, because that can be changed at the department level and it's maybe just a matter of...and it doesn't change the intent of the original legislation. And so that's the area that really is important and the more recent trend is before the regulations are completed, there should be some consultation with the tribes to make sure that it captures what the tribes are in need of and how they can best fulfill the need. The difficult thing, of course, is that there are so many tribes and each one may have different approaches to the same regulations under the same statute. But that's a challenge that's worth pursuing, because otherwise it becomes a disservice to the tribe that may not have their needs met because the regulations have a certain process or certain statement of how it's to be done."

Mark St. Pierre: "When tribal bureaucracies grow and they reflect federal programs, grant programs, needs that are perceived and then one need begins to identify another, how does the tribal bureaucracy prevent becoming a dependency agency for tribal members? In other words, how do we know when a bureaucracy has assumed some of the responsibilities of an individual family or an individual tribal member and in fact increased dependency?"

Urban Giff: "That's part of the elected, the politicians, the politicians and their vision of how they want their tribe to prosper and whatnot. And what I... personally I'll use that term to describe, there's a lot of rhetoric and a lot of discussion by all of us about tribes, especially politicians, about self-sufficiency and about self-determination and that type, but yet there's very little actual applying that at the local level to provide each individual member or a family their abilities to be self-sufficient and to self-determine. And so that's kind of a difficult thing to do probably for the elected officials, because they're relying on their constituents for the elections is to put forward the ideas that they need to do for themselves and not expect the tribe, the tribal government to do everything for them. But I think that's the only way that the self-sufficiency and self-determination can really be realized."

Mark St. Pierre: "We want to thank Joan Timeche and Urban Giff for appearing on today's edition of Native Nation Building, a program of the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy at the University of Arizona. To learn more about Native Nation Building and the issues discussed here today, please visit the Native Nations Institute website at www.nni.arizona.edu/nativetv. Thank you for joining us and please tune in for the next edition of Native Nation Building."