Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

FEMA's Interagency Recovery Coordination Speakers Series: "Equity, The Foundation of Resilience"

Producer
FEMA
Year

Produced and hosted by FEMA, this 6-part Speaker Series is organized around the theme ‘Equity, Resilience in Recovery’.  The goal of the Speaker Series is to bring people together to exchange information, inspire one another, and generate discussion on equitable strategies that build strong foundation for recovery which brings us closer to resilience and security for all.

Equity is the superior resilience model as it refers to proportional representation of opportunities in housing, healthcare, employment, and all indicators of living a healthy life for all populations

As Region 6 embarks on addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on our communities, we must set the intention of our work beyond just recovery. Recovery gets us back to where we were before crisis.  Resilience makes us stronger and better prepared to rebound and recover from times of crisis.  Equity is the heartbeat of resilience. When we focus efforts on equity, true resilience abounds. Equity is about building the capacity of people and their communities to withstand, recover from, and thrive after crisis. Efforts to create a more equitable Region 6 must be accompanied by a systemic approach that is employed across our region to promote access to equitable opportunities and resources that reduce disparities, including housing insecurity, education, workforce development, health, and other economic and social disparities.

Each 90-minute Session will provide the place to have honest conversations on the critical issues exacerbated by COVID-19; discuss disparities and barriers to resilience; identify opportunities for collaboration; leverage of resources; and identify innovative solutions to equitable and resilient recovery across all social and community sectors.

Outcomes and Benefits

  • Create a gathering space for problem solving and working together in this time in which we find ourselves
  • Identify ways in which partners can use and leverage resources to solve problems we can’t solve on our own

SESSION 1:

Topic: Equity, the Foundation of Resilience

Date: July 30, 2020

Time: 1:00 – 2:30pm CDT

Host: Tonia Pence, FEMA Recovery Liaison State of Louisiana

Welcome: Jose Gil Montanez, FEMA Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer

Facilitator: Flozell Daniels, Executive Director Foundations for Louisiana

Region 6 Social Vulnerability: Laura Blackstone, FEMA Geospatial Date Analytics

 

Presenters

Lamar Gardere, Executive Director, The Data Center

Allison Plyer, Chief Demographer, The Data Center, Equity Index Analysis

Jade Brown-Russell, Principal JD Russell Consulting and Appointee to Resilient Louisiana Commission

Topic: Equity, The Superior Growth Model

Description: Equity is not just a moral obligation – it is the superior growth strategy. Better planning, a fair allocation of resources, smarter growth, a clear-eyed gathering and reading of data, and a commitment to equity are all factors will improve our efforts to realize a more resilient Region 6. This commitment will help all people and communities survive crisis and equip them with the tools to thrive in their wake.  The Presenter will discuss how a superior growth model is one that brings together two agendas that have traditionally been separate: job growth and equity.  This equity-driven growth model builds on our assets, leaves generations to come with a strong foundation for the future and brings us closer to the ideal of prosperity for all, urban, rural, underserved, and tribal communities.

Dr. Alessandra Jerolleman, Jacksonville State University

Topic: Recovery Through the Lens of Justice

Description: Dr. Jerolleman will be presenting an overview of her proposed principles for just disaster recovery.  These principles are presented more fully in her book, Disaster Recovery Through the Lens of Justice.  The book constitutes a call to action, asking policy makers, emergency managers, disaster professionals and other interested parties to take a closer look at the role that current policies around disasters play in creating and perpetuating injustice.  Disaster recovery policies and programs have routinely and repeatedly failed to prioritize human rights and failed to acknowledge the dynamic pressures and complex history of disaster risk creation in the United States.  

 

Karen R. Diver (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa): Director of Business Development for the Native American Advancement Initiatives, Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona

Topic: Region 6 is home to 70 Tribal Nations

Description: Tribes navigate unique relationships with federal, state and local governments. Responding to natural disasters and pandemics has highlighted the need for greater understanding of the needs and obligations to and with Tribes.

 

Cassandra Thomas: FEMA Region 1 Interagency Recovery Coordination

Topic: Equity in Region I Covid-19 Long-Term Recovery

Description: Showcasing some of the way in which FEMA Region I Long-Term Recovery is working with the states and tribes of New England to build equity into the economic, housing and healthcare system recovery.

 

Audiences: State leaders from New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana, FEMA Representatives, Interagency Coordination Partners, from the 10 FEMA Regions, state organizations, universities, professional associations, planning and development districts.

People
Resource Type
Citation

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "Interagency Recovery Coordination Speakers Series, Webinar 1: Equity, the Foundation of Resilience". Long Term Community Recovery (LCTR). July 30, 2020. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/t5aCj776Tp4 on April 11, 2023.

Native Nation Building and the CARES Act

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

On June 10, 2020 the Native Nations Institute hosted an a online panel discussion with Chairman Bryan Newland of the Bay Mills Indian Community, Councilwoman Herminia Frias of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and hosted by Karen Diver the former Chair of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Director of Business Development for the Native American Advancement Initiatives for the Native Nations Institute. These distinguished tribal leaders brought their wealth of knowledge and first-hand experience in making Indigenous Governance address the needs of their Native communities in response to the crisis surrounding COVID-19. Across Indian Country the pandemic has brought a rise in new challenges and bringing old ones to more prominence when dealing with the Federal Government for appropriate resources. The CARES Act was passed to address some of these needs but does not deal with the root of the issue many Native Nations face in asserting the methods of self-governance. The panelists provide insights on ways they are working to help the citizens of their Native Nations be resilient under constraints of emergency response. 

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

Webinar: Rebuilding Native Nations and Strategies for Governance and Development

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

The Indigenous Governance Program (IGP) at the University of Arizona has long been at the vanguard of delivering Indigenous Governance Education. To do our part at this critical time, IGP was pleased to offer our January in Tucson Courses in May event free of charge, live streamed via Zoom to participants seeking non-credit courses for professional development.

As partners of Indian country, we understand the difficult challenge facing all Native nations and Indigenous peoples across the world. We are also mindful that as the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, developing leadership capacity and governance skills is more critical to Indian country than ever before.

Since we announced this first-of-its kind resource, the online course opportunity reached capacity within five days, drawing registrants from the State of Vermont to Perth, Western Australia.  However, anyone interested in the event was eligible to participate in a free one hour webinar on MAY 27th at 12pm PST covering the principles of Native nation building and their relevance to Indigenous peoples in a time of global pandemic. Guests panelists included Karen Diver, Director of Business Development, Native Nations Institute; Miriam Jorgensen, Research Director, Native Nations Institute; Joan Timeche, Executive Director, Native Nations Institute; moderated by Torivio Fodder, Manager, Indigenous Governance Program, Native Nations Institute. 

Resource Type
Citation

Native Nations Institute. "Webinar: Rebuilding Native Nations and Strategies for Governance and Development" Indigenous Governance Program and Native Nations Institute, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. May 27, 2020

Native Nations Institute. "Webinar: Rebuilding Native Nations and Strategies for Governance and Development" Indigenous Governance Program and Native Nations Institute, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. May 27, 2020

 

Tory Fodder:

Everyone thanks for joining us, this afternoon wherever you're zooming in from. We're glad to have ya. Before we get started the first thing on our agenda, we'd like to acknowledge the land on which the University of Arizona sits. The University of Arizona is located on the traditional homelands of the Tohono O'odham Nation of Arizona and is the current modern-day homelands of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, so we just want to do a brief acknowledgement of the land. This afternoon we've got kind of a full, full program so we're going to try to get through it as quickly as possible but...

 

My name is Tory Fodder. I manage the Indigenous Governance Program at the Native Nations Institute. NNI, we've existed for um 30 years 30 odd years or so and our mission is to help strengthen indigenous governance you can see on the slide a bit about what we do, but this, this event is hosted by the Indigenous Governance Program, and we offer our January In Tucson courses, which is sort of a comprehensive curriculum devoted toward the Indigenous Governance

education. And out of that program that we offer both on a not for credit professional development basis but also as a master's degree program that we've recently launched at the University of Arizona and as a graduate certificate program.

 

So again, we're glad to welcome all of you. We hosted our first may in Tucson session a few... a few weeks ago I suppose... um, but um, we were… we were glad to do this as a service to Indian Country to... make some of our curriculum available particularly in this critical time. When we need

strong indigenous nations. And uh... I’ll be the moderator. I'm going to introduce our… our panelists. Karen Diver, former Chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe. She's our current Director of business development at the Native Nations Institute. Miriam Jorgensen is our Research

Director for the… for the Native Nations Institute, formerly of the Harvard Project on American

Indian Economic Development. And last but certainly not least, our Executive Director of the Native Nations Institute. Joan Timeche is here with us and they're going to go over kind of key principles of Native Nation Building, but also looking at a lot of other kind of contemporary topics that have beset tribes in our research. And then we'll... after, after our panelists give remarks, we'll move into a Q and A portion. So, if you could, any questions you have please add them…

 

(inaudible noise)

 

please add them to the chat and we'll... uh, we'll carry on from there. okay, I will turn it over... uh, to Joan.

 

Joan Timeche:

(Greeting in Hopi) Thank you for joining us here today. We wanted you to... as you begin to listen to the presentation and you're going to see Miriam, myself, and Karen going in and out to... out the… the rest of the hour and... um, what we wanted to do is have you think. Do a little bit of thinking as we share with you this information. At NNI, we think about indigenous governance and government... indigenous government all the time everything that we do is all on that. And... but right now we are... in unprecedented times. You know, with the COVID pandemic... COVID pandemic. It's really just elevated the importance of tribal governments and having good governance. So... um, so as you think about, as we proceed through this presentation think ways that good governance is evident within your own communities. So, you know, our work in this

content focuses entirely on Native nation building. So maybe folks can put in the chat box, you

know, some of the... you know what comes to mind when you hear the term nation building. So, if you can just drop in some of those comments, we would appreciate that.

 

Here's our definition of Native nation building. We believe that it refers to the processes by which a Native nation enhances its own foundational capacities, the governmental capacities for effective self-governance, and self-determined community and economic development. We know that you know some of us have written constitutions and some there's still a few of us that have unwritten constitutions as well where they're all oral rules that have been passed on. But you know, we wanted to share with you our research findings and so I’m going to turn it over to Miriam to tell us about the first finding.

 

Miriam Jorgensen:

Sorry about that I was muted. Hello everyone. It's great to have you here. It's exciting to see so many folks online joining us for this. It's just going to be kind of a quick introduction and overview. And hopefully, a chance to take some questions and have a bit of conversation

The first sort of principle of Native nation building and I know many of you are acquainted with the principles, but we wanted to… to provide them just in kind of quick succession with some examples that we see from Indian Country that hopefully will spur some ideas for… for you all in the work that you do in... out, in the... in... in communities and with the organizations and tribes that you... you work for.

 

So, the first principle of Native nation building is practical self-determination, and as you can see on the slide this is really the idea that the nation itself is calling the shots. It's the one that's making the major decisions on the Nation's land, for its citizenry, and around the issues that are important to it it's getting out there and exercising its jurisdiction it's kind of in the driver's seat evidence shows that native nations that have been willing to exercise self-determination, that are willing to really exert their sovereignty, are the ones that are really making significant gains toward moving toward the kinds of communities and nations that they desire. They're the ones that are achieving the goals that they've set for themselves. To give you one example of this... if you could go to the next slide. Thanks Joan ...of this exercise of practical self-determination.

 

This is an older example, and any of you who know Brian Cladoosby the former Chairman of the Board for the National Congress of American Indians... I will recognize this is an older photo of him... but I think it demonstrates that nations have been involved in the nation building process now for more than 30 almost 40 years. And so, here's an example that came from the early part of the 2000s, but it's still reaping benefits for the nation today. The Swinomish Indian tribal community...

uh, was... is in a wetlands area. It's... uh, in an area it shares the geography with Washington state, and it's in an area that is right above the ocean, and is... uh, is... uh, an area where water is

coming off the mountains and meeting the ocean, and it's a very delicate environmental situation. It shares the geography not just with Washington state but with the sub... sub state county of Skagit County, and Skagit County wanted to be the one that was permitting development in the area and then Swinomish Indian tribal community said "No" this is our reservation. We want to within the external boundaries of the reservation be the one to do any permitting for development.

 

So, there was a fight that developed between the county and the tribe to resolve this, after some mediation and some good thinking, the tribe basically said why don't we both ensure that we're permitting but we're going to follow exactly the same rules. So why don't we sit down and agree what those permitting rules are and Skagit County you will enforce them, and we will enforce them. And if somebody wants to do development in this area whether or not they're on tribal land or on fee simple land that's under the county's jurisdiction within the boundaries of the reservation. They could come to the tribe for a permit if they wanted to... um, instead. So, the tribe was exercising its jurisdiction by saying we're not ceding our sovereignty we're going to be exercising our jurisdiction by being the permitting authority here, but by the way we have the same rules as the county because we've agreed what to do. And the tribe got really good at this. They got very good at being the permitting authority and in fact became quickly known as the entity that if you wanted to get worked on within this particular land area, you're going to get it done more quickly if you went to the permitting office of the tribe. In a more clear and clarified manner and that way the tribe also was the one making the rules.

 

So, after much many years now of this working the county and the tribe are still happy with the process, and it's really making sure that the tribe has its imprint of what it wants to see go on in terms of development within the exterior boundaries of its reservation. So that's one example. I'd like to go on to some other examples and Karen's going to give the next one.

 

Karen Diver:

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, this is actually pretty newsworthy... um, they were worried about the spread of COVID within its borders, so it actually enacted checkpoints on a federal highway. And a state... a co... co state highway wanting to make sure who was coming in was absolutely necessary so if it was vendors or delivery people that was fine but... um, you know not random visitors or people driving through. And immediately upon exercising their own self-rule over who comes into their homelands and in order to protect their citizens the governor of that state, Noem, challenged their authority to do that. And they rightfully cited to her their ability to self-rule under treaty where it was very explicit. The tribe is in great legal standing in this because this was litigated once... um, I believe it was in the 90s, or so. So, they… they actually you know aren't trying to reinterpret an 1850 treaty in modern day. This has already been an argument that they made so they knew what their authority was... um, to protect their own citizens and they've been very clear that they're doing this in the absence of South Dakota taking care of them as citizens of South Dakota. That they had to exert their own ability for self-rule, so this has been actually really interesting to watch. Partly because they're getting a lot of support. Really mainstream of saying, you know, they have a right to protect their citizens when the

gov... broader government is willing to do so.

 

Miriam Jorgensen:

So, you can... Thanks Karen... um, you can already get a sense of this next principle of indigenous nation building which is tribes that go out there and assert their sovereignty seek to exercise self-determination. Also... um, need to, to take that second step, which is to back it up with the creation of capable institutions of government. To really exercise that self-determination and say we're not just talking about doing it. We're getting it down into the brass tax, into the nitty gritty, and do this work. For a lot of Native nations some of this work gets caught up in the really critically important task of creating a government. Writing, re-writing constitution, or a new one revising it putting in place the government that it wants to have. So that's kind of the biggest picture of building capable institutions but it's also useful to think kind of beneath the surface a little bit... So, Joan could you go on to the next slide... and that's the next level down which is it's not just creating that that upper level how does government operate, but then saying what are all the laws, policies, regulations, and protocols that we need to put in place too because those specify the structure of agencies, departments, programs, the kind of hiring you want to put in place even the sorts of grants that you would go after. So that next level down is creating that administrative and legal structure necessary to fulfill the assertions of self-determination and here we've just shown you a couple of pictures of how some tribes have done this even by codifying those... those... um, ideas into law. Karen is going to share another example that really talks about how her nation the Fond du Lac Nation has been able to do this in a particular way.

 

Karen Diver:

So Fond du Lac when it was first allowed, so to speak, that the federal government allowed us to compact tribes... to compact we didn't have any health services. We had an IHS clinic that was closed down in order for the border town to get one of their own hospitals and so we had no healthcare. So, one of the first two hires they made under self-governance was a dentist and a nutritionist, and it was really to respond to... um, the need to get... get a handle on what was wellness, and you can tell a lot about a person's health from dentistry, and we also knew that

we were losing our elders too young, and we wanted to be able to have some information about how to do an elderly nutrition program and increase wellness through diet. So, we weren't focused on... we were focused on long-term health outcomes not just treating symptoms. This grew over time to add actual physicians and other... um, nurses, nurse practitioners. Totally building on increasing what was available underneath the… the roof. So much like any other tribe the money

for referral purchase and referred care it would run out, right. So, what we learned was the more we put under the roof we could bill for that and we could preserve our ability then to say purchase and refer care for specialty care. Through that we also learned that it was this rotating funding structure right and so then we needed to learn how to bill because as the reservation was growing, we offered our own health insurance plan and so we were building our own health insurance plan.

And then we learned that, that money came with less restrictions than the IHS money. Then we learned that you know some of our folks were eligible for Medicaid at the time, but they weren't going and signing up you know because they view anything having to do with counties as "the man" so how do we protect them and their right to privacy but still get them the services that they're... um, able to and entitled to. So, we work with the county to bring intake into our own clinic, so it was our own staff doing intakes for Medicaid. But that gave us a billing source for folks without insurance. And so, and then with that money we built out more spaces, added a pharmacy... um, care services, child protection services to fully implement ICWA... um, from that we learned that wellness... we started looking holistically at what is really wellness. Wellness is also about... um, you know, taking care of children and making sure they have safe places and culturally competent care. Wellness in a family is removing stressors around summer childcare so we started adding a summer camp.

 

So really looking at that broad spectrum of community wellness and saying that that's a health care issue, a public health issue... um, so it just was growing and growing and growing. And then we had a need to really look at our own regulatory systems. Many tribes are faced with the lack of foster care families that are within the tribe so that you can maintain that children's contact within the tribe... um, and the counties were having a tough time understanding our families. So... um, the tribe passed an ordinance that allowed our health care facility through a board. An advisory board made of tribal members to license our own foster care families. To do emergency placements with families and then do long... long term licensure, and then also we expanded that and started under our own authority licensing off reservation foster care families. So that we could get to the border towns and to Duluth which is about 20 miles away. But a different county than the southern part of the reservation so we could start to meet that need off reservation and not keep losing our children. Joan if you could advance, please. We continue to look at... um, you know... so not one tribal council member is a physician. We're not social workers... um, you know, we're not... we're not dentists... um, you know, we really had to kind of check our own authority as tribal council members and say, you know, if we're going to build a capable governing institution then we need to let the experts be experts. But our job is to make sure that they are serving the needs of this community. So how we inform them is really making sure that they are staying grounded in what the needs of the community are and voicing those from what we're hearing from our tribal members, and helping them prioritize their growth and new initiatives, but it's also to challenge them upon occasion about what does that holistic wellness look like. And one of those examples was our supportive housing facility. The human services division would say, well we don't do housing we have a housing department, and housing would say well we don't do services but yet we had a chronic and long-term homeless population because of our lack of capacity. And it wasn't always around lack of housing. Sometimes it was really around social issues, chemical dependency mental health... um, what we call dual diagnosis... um, and they need a spot... or leaving domestic violence, and they needed a place to get on their feet... um, and that was stable enough. And so, it was the tribal council then who work with that institution to say... um, there's a lot of stressors that come with homelessness you can't manage chronic health conditions, you can't make sure children are safe. That wrapping around supportive services and behavioral health in a stable housing environment these are the same clients in both of those divisions, and you really must work together to provide some of our neediest tribal members. And so that started happening and... and the... the clinic

got used to understanding housing issues and how that contributes to public health outcomes,

and public safety outcomes, and the housing department learned that a more stable tenant and dealing with all of those other issues made them much more likely to come into the housing program and be more successful at it. Rather than having to get... um, kind of kicked out in six months because they couldn't manage all of the other social issues. But we also delegated things like workforce development strategies and recruiting dentists, and… and doing... um, loan repayment programs so that we could attract the workforce to our rural community. Where it's really hard to get technical... um, help sometime, and letting them know that they were going to be as a part of a holistic health care system that was integrated. So that we have a combined medical record... um, that you're a part of looking at that overall long-term wellness where you're going to deal generationally.

 

And that appeals to a lot of folks... um, Financial stability... um, we do Medicare and Medicaid subsidies if people are in the state exchanges to access affordable care act. So that we keep that billing strategy for Medicare part B and D for our elder folks. We pay those premiums. Once again, it's cheaper to pay the premiums than carry unpaid co-pays and pay through that through our Indian Health Service and then also looking at partnerships within the tribe to help expand. Bringing our clinic into our community centers. To do WIC appointments and wellness checks and helping us run our youth programs so... you know, it's the capable governing institution is giving yourself a bit of permission to think entrepreneurially about service delivery and not just taking over substandard service that the Feds do. And thinking about how it needed to meet our own community's needs. So, thank you.

 

Miriam Jorgensen:

That was awesome, Karen. I think you can really hear in that story both the asserting sovereignty, asserting the exercise of self-determination, and then figuring out a way to really do that capably and well. But you also start to hear in it the third point which is the third principle of nation building that of cultural match. That it's not just about asserting self-determination and then backing it up with a capable governing institution. That institution to be effective also needs to be accepted by the community as one that's achieving its goals, is making sense to the nation, that fits within the expectations of the people about how this job gets done. And that's this notion of cultural match. Does this institution, and the way it's operating, and the goals that it's moving toward, make sense to the people. Is this how authority ought to be organized and exercised? And you really heard this on what Karen was talking about too. This is about putting in the... the community, the nation, the tribal view of how to get work done and you could hear that when she was talking for instance about the holistic health care and how they conceived of supportive housing. Joan's going to give us another example by taking us way up north and giving us an example of some... a community that she's worked with some and how they approach the... um, cultural match issues.

 

Joan Timeche:

Actually, we're going to...

 

Miriam Jorgensen:

oh sorry. So, I got, yes.

 

 Joan Timeche:

We're going to go up north next... on the next point.

 

 

Miriam Jorgensen:

Sorry, Joan.

 

Joan Timeche:

It's all right no problem... so um, this is... um, an example from the Tohono O'odham nation... and... um, as many nations across the United States have that you may have an economic development corporation, an authority in this case. And one of the things that... um, that happened in its development... um, as... as the board was determining what it...how do we want to approach development in across the nation. And Tohono O'odham has over 2 million acres of land. They have 11... sub-political districts, and those 11 districts wield actually quite a bit of power. In that they have to approve any type of development that might occur, and the economic development authority was set up like many other development corps where they were expected to change the economy to help contribute to job creation. And hopefully to be able to generate revenue back into the tribal coffers. Well, when the development of the Tohono O'odham economic development authority was set up. It... it... um, didn't have any rights... um, over the land because of how it... how they were structured within the Tohono O'odham Nation. So, one of the things that became critical at the onset was for the board and staff to recognize that whatever development occurs on this nation it has to be hand in hand with the local communities and with their political districts. These 11 who actually then have coun... their own council... they have to review, and they have approval authority over any development. And one of the other things that also came into play here was that... that no... none of the work that... or any of the development work that the authority was going to be involved in, whether it's a purchase of a business or whether it's from the ground up, whatever the case may be, that it could not harm the "Himdag" of the nation. And that's their culture. That was something that we all agreed upon as board members saying that... you know, we're just a entity that's set up, and a mechanism that's set up, to do the development. But again, it was very important that we got community buy-in and projects that were being developed. The other thing that also we made a decision about, which sometimes this was difficult for us... in terms of financial feasibility, was not to compete with... um... um... a nation's district because some of them own their own business... um, or either individuals. And that's at times has come back to bite us but... um... in... um, but it's actually worked for the betterment of the community. So again, it's recognizing that there are that there are values here in place and being respectful of it and making sure that... that you... um, are following that as well.

 

Miriam Jorgensen:

Thanks, Joan. I think that that's such a great example because it reminds us that this notion this third principle of nation building of cultural match. Isn't just about organization... you know, it says culture is a guide to organization, but it's also a guide to action. Exactly what you do. So, how you organize to do things and what you do. Culture should be taken into account... um, in order to have that legitimacy for what government is up to. I want to go onto the fourth point to the fourth principle in the nation-building model, and that's having a strategic orientation. You can certainly feel how these pieces are woven together. You're asserting self-determination as a nation, you're backing that up with institutions that are effective and culturally matched, and you're doing so with this strategic orientation that decisions are made with the long term in mind. And with the... the visions and goals of where the nation wants to be going and what its values are in mind. So successful Native nations tend to approach development and the decisions... um, about what it needs to kind of do next in order to move in the direction it wants to go. These are not just about quick fixes to say, poverty, or other... um, issues that are entrenched in the community. They're not trying to kind of just put a band-aid on things. They're about trying to figure out what it is that's not working and then build a society that works.

 

So again, as I mentioned these are knitted together. So, the example that Karen gave... um, when she was discussing building... um, effective institutions, which is principle two. You, as I noted, you could feel a lot of principle three of cultural match in that, but you could certainly feel principle four in it too. Of not just kind of going for the quick fix. Remember how when she was talking about how in developing their health care system, they ultimately thought about the fact that they needed to involve their housing system too because they were dealing with an issue of homelessness and the interrelated client pools. Well, that certainly wasn't a quick fix notion. That was thinking with the long view in mind and saying we're not just about trying to get somebody housed for six months. We're about trying to build a society that works, and therefore creating a situation... um, where we can house those people and keep them healthy for a long time. Because that's the kind of society we want. I'm going to turn... um, first to Joan and then again to Karen. So, I’ll have Joan... you take off to Karen. To hear a couple other examples of this long-term strategic orientation and working on behalf of the values and mission and vision of the community.

 

Joan Timeche:

So, the Native Nations Institute had an opportunity to work with an Alaska

Native community the Ketchikan Indian Community...

 

Miriam Jorgensen:

See, I told you we were going to go north I was just wrong about when.

 

Joan Timeche:

(laughing) Yep, so we're up in Alaska up in northern part of the U.S.

and so, one of the things that they had started to do... It's a very small community... um, they are also um... um, checker-boarded in that they've had to as part of their tribal facilities and their headquarters is in the right in the city of Ketchikan, but their residential areas are on the border outside of the city limits and so on. So, it's... you know, they have buildings all over. All across the... um, all across the city, and one of the things that they were wanting to do was begin to really think through how do we meet the needs of our citizens. As many as many of us experience in our tribal communities, we're inundated with all kinds of issues whether it's environmental, social, economic, political, whatever the case may be, and so they begin to tackle this process. So, they engaged... um, they've been... they've been doing this for a while, and so we had an opportunity to work with them a couple of years ago. And one of the things that they did is they developed their strategic plan. Actually, starting from the council based on some previous work that they had done with the community, and began to really try to get their staff to begin to think about, how are we going to achieve some of these goals? And initially they started out with... um, in... kind of in a silo approach where every department had their own goal. They were thinking... you know, a lot of it was based on meeting... um, the… the criteria of federal funding sources. And so, they were writing a lot of that information as their goals, and what ended up happening is after the council and the directors had met a couple of times, they realized that what they needed was an overarching goal. And for them they decided that they needed... what they were really wanting to work towards... was working towards a healthy citizen and having a healthy tribe. And so, if you go to their website, it has all of these four categories and you know what came up as important to them were living their culture, the building the healthy tribe and the citizen, which actually was overall, but it's listed as a category here. Making sure that they exercise their sovereignty so that they protect their rights, their lands, and that they have economic self-sufficiency.

 

So, the... the process worked. So, everybody... um, each of the departments were required to then figure out, how does my department as the health department or as education contribute to any one of these four pillars? These became... um, in a sense a mechanism for the council to hold them accountable. They set up together with department staff and the council. Set up... um... deliverables and measures that they both could live with. So, if our goal is to infuse culture in all aspects of operations, what does that mean in a year's time? How will the council come back and reassess that? And how will citizens know that... um, those are being achieved? And so, they created this fantastic program that set up these desired outcomes, and that were actually measurable for their citizens, and they continue to work at it. And every time I go back to their website, I see that they plugged away a little bit at some of these programs. So, it's just another example of one nation taking what might have been done orally, but now... is now doing it in a more western style. If you want to call it that, in that... you know, a lot of have of us have grants and we have to be able to provide services to our programs, and it's helping the council understand what the goals are. Holding their staff accountable... uh, the departments know what the... what the council expects from them, and then so do the citizens. So, it involved all of those facets within the community. So, I’m going to turn over the next example to Karen.

 

 

Karen Diver:

So, you might see... um, the... on the photo there. So that is wild rice... um, it's actually a grass feed that grows in the water. So... um, it was a part of our prophecy that we needed to move where the food grows on the water, and that ended up being our sacred "Manoomin" or wild rice. And... wild rice ends up being a real indicator of environmental health particularly in water, and it needs a very particular growing environment. And it's very much impacted by human stressors... um, you know, sewage... you know, non-compliant systems, upstream pollutants from mining activities, and we had seen within the borders of the reservation that... um, our wild rice was greatly, greatly diminished. And from our elders we knew that the range of where we were able to get it was being diminished. That waters that used to have it where they used to go, and gather were no longer. So, we started building up a water quality department and actually started promulgating... um, regulations... um within the borders around... you know, what was impacting, and that was sulfides, and that was a lot from non-compliant septic systems. So, we ended up having to really work with other jurisdictions and create innovative partnerships, but we also had to exert our sovereignty and our right to... um, set water quality standards within our borders. We… we received... um, treatment as a state status from the EPA. So, we could... um, have authority and participate in permitting decisions not only on the reservation, but in our seated territory which is all of northeastern Minnesota. So, we would know when new industry was coming in that would impact water quality... um, we had... um, science... um, because one of the things that happens when other jurisdictions don't like tribes exerting their jurisdiction, and their authority, and their self-governance, and saying that their culture matters, and... and... and cultural patrimony matters... um, is they use western science. So, we had western scientists on staff so we could say... um, you know, why... um, these things were impactful... um, that we knew that it was coming from non-compliant septics, and that we were going to enact an ordinance that everyone even non-natives had to comply, but we could help them do that. And we could look at large mining project... projects upstream and say to the army corps of engineers how this impacted a traditional food. Partnered with the Minnesota Department of Health that says that exercising treaty rights and cultural activities is a part of spiritual wellness, but also that as a staple in our diet that it was a healthy part of our diet and contributed to good dietary.

 

So, we had a mainstream... um, organization the Minnesota Department of Health saying that... um, you know, that this was an important food and important to preserve for Anishinaabe people, my people. So, all of it was guided by... um, our traditional values our traditional culture... um, hunting fishing gathering... um, but then we even took it a step further. And people would say, well, when you want to preserve the environment... you know, it impacts our jobs and our... our way of life, our mining way of life, or our economy. So, we work with vendors and actually put a value on what a healthy water ecosystem in northeastern Minnesota how that contributes to the economy. So, we use all of these things very broadly, and a part of it is… is we know that we will cease to be who we are without access to traditional ways. So, you're in this for the long haul, right. And so, then you have these minor skirmishes along the way, and you have setbacks, and you just persevere. And we know this because our language and culture and spirituality are all tied... um, to our caretaking for the land and the water. So, our natural resources department and our resource management is staffed... and... and guided by elders who teach young Native tribal people who have fancy western educations, and fancy titles, and their scientists that they marry those things with traditional knowledge. So that they can be good stewards over time because it is a really a generational... um, issue around land management. So strategic orientation is that your government whether you write things down and have ordinances that it reflects who you are as people. And that's that... that cultural match, but it also gives you the kind of that long generational view of taking care of for your children and your grandchildren.

 

Miriam Jorgensen:

So, I think in everything that you've just heard you could also feel the importance of the fifth principle of indigenous nation building, which is the important of public-spirited community serving servant leadership, which is really working toward building a nation... um, building an indigenous society that really works for that people. And helps it sustain itself over the long term. Here's a beautiful picture of Chief Oren Lyons who is an Onondaga man who exemplifies these characteristics of nation-building leadership. Over almost 90 years he's worked... um, on behalf of his nation and other indigenous nations, and he's been one of those people who helps recognize need for fundamental change. And can engage with his community to make it happen, and in fact has engaged with many commun... indigenous communities around the world in helping be an indigenous nation builder. You know, one of the things that we recognize is that indigenous nation-building leaders public-spirited leaders oftentimes are elected leaders, but they don't have to be elected leaders... Joan can you go on to the next slide... um, I wanted to kind of put an aside here that says there is a way to use your tribal codes, your tribal ordinances, and some of your protocols and expectations on behavior to help create public spirited leaders. To help kind of put... create lanes for people to operate in... um, and many nations are starting to do this through ethics codes. By on... on one hand maybe they're some... sometimes they have some punitive language like don't do this, but... um, we're starting to see a lot of tribal ethics codes go the other direction, which is really saying here's what... what good leaders in our society do. Here's what... how they... how they operate and how they behave... um, and so that's an opportunity to kind of put that sort of expectation out there... Joan we'll go down to the next slide... and that would affect in many cases elected leaders.

 

And here's another... um, picture of another Haudenosaunee leader Mike Mitchell who's an example of an elected leader who really set the standard... um, for his nation of how to behave in a nation-building fashion. And exemplifies a lot of those kinds of principles of serving the community. I wanted to tell a little bit of a story that Mike Mitchell tells about himself when he was a younger man, and first elected to be Grand Chief of his nation. He's an interesting guy because he was essentially told by the traditional leaders of the nation the two folks who tended to not seek elected leadership but exercised their authority through those more traditional channels. He was told by them. "Hey, you were raised in the longhouse, you're a traditional guy. We need you. Somebody like you over there in elected government so that we can make these systems work more harmoniously." So, he went there he... he got elected. He ran, he got elected, and he began a real campaign within the elected system to say, this is... we're going to make this ours. We're not going to be some mimicking Canada system, or mimicking the U.S. kind of system. We're going to make it ours and we're going to start to use our kinds of terms and language. Even down to the... the... the way we talk about ourselves has to be ours. So, we actually took and put a coffee cup in the middle of the table and when the council would gather to meet... um, he would say there are certain words we're not going to be using. We're not going to be talking about ourselves as a band, we're not going to be talking about the... you know, our authorities under the Indian Act. This is again a nation that shares its geography with Canada so a set of laws there that are different from the U.S. laws. He said we're not going to talk about our reserve. We're going to talk about our homeland.

 

So, we had these words that were off limits in order for them to assert their sovereignty and practice their self-determination, and he was leading them through his example. And every time somebody used one of those off-limits words, money would go into the coffee cup and people began to speak in a wholly different way. And really start to think in a different way and behave in a different way from that little piece of public-spirited nation-building leadership that he was demonstrating. Sure, enough pretty soon they had money to go buy coffee, but they were also able to behave in a way that was quite different. So that's elected leadership behaving in a public-spirited fashion. But I also want to give one final example and that's the picture at the bottom right of your screen. Here are some women who are involved in a really important project at the White Mountain Apache tribe, which is a suicide prevention program. We all know that suicide, particularly youth suicide, has been a really prevalent problem across lots of Native communities, indigenous communities worldwide in fact. And the White Mountain Apache Tribe didn't wait in a sense for, "Hey tribal council to do something about it." Social workers nurses... um, school... uh, schoolteachers, other people involved in education, and critically elders stepped in and took a public-spirited nation-building leadership role to address this issue. They got engaged with some outside researchers from Johns Hopkins University. They created programs that came from their traditional knowledge about how things would work. They tested some things, tried some other things, and have now over the course of about 15 years created one of the most successful suicide intervention and prevention programs there in Indian Country. And that came not from elected leadership but from people within the community. So again, nation building comes from lots of different places. um... I just wanted to go on and re-summarize about the kinds of things that we've found. That for Indigenous nations to be successful on all their measures culturally, socially, politically they have to be given the opportunity, and then seize that opportunity to make decisions for themselves. And that's the way they'll reach their visions. This is underscored by lots of research that's quantitative and qualitative, and by the demonstrated experience and testimony of many folks working in indigenous communities. So, I think a really critical question we want to leave you guys with is, does your governing system create an environment that can support development of the kind that you want and that you imagine really is needed for your people and for your nation? In other words, do you have the right tools. Here's just a summary of the nation building principles. And because we're down to our last 12 minutes, Karen, I’m going to just make an executive decision and skip that last little bit of your presentation because I think we'd really like to get to our questions... um, and maybe some of the things that we're going to talk about will come up in the Question and Answer period. But just to summarize we've talked about these five principles of nation building. These are the kinds of things that in our indigenous government program we... we drill down into through a lot of our courses and classes, but hopefully we've given you some examples of how they can apply and inspired you to think about that question... you'v... we've raised of what are some of the things you'd like to see done in terms of nation building in your communities? Tory has been minding the chat box where he's also asked people to raise questions that they have them. And so, I’m going to turn to Tory to ask some questions, and I’m going to primarily rely on Joan and Karen who are kind of subject matter experts... um, to respond to some of these questions that have been raised in the chat.

 

Tory Fodder:

Great! Well, thanks to our...our panelists for sort of an engaging overview of the Native nation building principles... uh, there are a few questions in the chat box and a lot of comments which are most appreciated. We'll get to those... um, in just a second. Let's start with the questions. And we'll kind of... I’ll work in reverse order because I think the... the last question that was asked that was an actual direct question is... is interesting. Someone writes... um, a second question, can... what... what are the examples of differences regarding a deputized government versus being micromanaged by a tribal council?

 

Karen Diver:

This is Karen... um, so anybody who's worked for tribal government would say that you know the council gets involved in decision making they should let their staff do their jobs, and... and exercise their expertise... um, when we were looking at Fond du Lac's human services division, the Health Division. I was talking about bringing intake workers... um, to take Medicaid applications. There was more than one tribal member who said, "well, I shouldn't have to sign up through health care through the state... um, you know, this is a... a treaty right... you know, that I shouldn't have to try to find funding sources for the tribe." The politically expedient thing on the part of the tribal council in the day would have been to say you know this is causing conflict... you know, just serve them, just go ahead and serve them, don't make them... um, you know fill out this application. What was best for the tribe as a whole, however, which meant absorbing some of that conflict with tribal members. Was to say our health system will be better and be able to provide more robust services and be more financially stable when we promote that self-sufficiency... um, and personal responsibility... um, and say that this is good for the whole tribe. And as a citizen you have a duty... um, to help us be the best that we can be. So, the micromanaging... um, and... and the

self-governing, and the deputizing is to say,

you know, the health clinic requires this. This is

their policy... um, the tribal council has approved it

and we're not going to get involved in it. So, by

way of answering your question I offer you that example.

 

Joan Timeche:

I would like to also add a couple more. I think one of the ways that you might be able to overcome some of the politicism of it all is to... um, include those authorities in some of your codes. Like you know, Department of Natural Resources might be authorized to go out and do X, Y, and Z, you know... um, and so you... you write them in there. So, it doesn't matter who the person is and who's in counsel at the time. You're just giving authority to a department with the ex... you're setting out expectations. That did they... they do X... um, Y and Z for the benefit of the nation. Same thing can be done in corporate charters for some of your development authorities. If you lay out what their authorities are, and make clear the distinction between when the tribe can be engaged in some of the decisions, and when not to. It'll help set... um, clear roles will be identified there.

 

Tory Fodder:

Great! Thank you both. Following up on with another question... um, and this is sort of a... this is also very interesting... um, one individual comments. Nation is a Western term. So, it seems as though it's an element of sovereignty, but it also has some assimilative interaction with Euro-Western culture. I think this kind of gets it to a better bit of a deeper critique of the term nation building in general... um, what's in an eye's response to that... um, and how does it kind of fit within

the framework that was outlined today.

 

Miriam Jorgensen:

So, I’ll jump in and... um, just say a few things. I think that one of the challenges is to find a word... um, across many different indigenous languages and indigenous world views and... um, uh, continents even of what, what... what word would capture kind of this notion of peoplehood... um, and moving forward as a political collective... uh, so political scientists, you know, front use words like nation to capture that... um, but in indigenous nation building we really try to recognize that we're looking for a word that more or less fits, but then encourage as part of that self-determination process for... for nations for political collectives, for indigenous communities to figure out what it is that works for them. So of course, many nations already have a word like this um Navajo the word is Diné, right, which is the people..., uh and so... um, so nation building is kind of like strengthening Diné and through indigenous governance. We've seen a couple of communities, one of indigenous nations tribes in the United States... um, the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo, which doesn't talk really about nation building at all. It talks about Tigua work and an-tiguaizing their efforts to do all of this work. And they've tried to put it in language for terms that... uh, make sense to their community and to their people. The same thing we've seen in Australia. The "Radri" people talk a lot about... um, the... in... in their own language. The... the terms about what it means to... in a sense be a good Radri, and create community, and build nation, and create and govern a political collective that's theirs. They're still pretty early on that pathway, but one of their first steps has been to say how do we... how do we claim this as our words again? We use nation because it's... um, a way to… to talk more generally, but we encourage communities to figure out terms that work for them.

 

 

Joan Timeche:

And I think that it's a better word than calling us a tribe because to me tribe implies you know a

cultural... has a cultural sense to it, but a nation to me means also that we are citizens. We have responsibilities back to... you know, not just rights from an entity, but we have responsibilities back to the society and to the community in general.

 

Tory Fodder:

Great! I don't want to cut off conversation. Karen did you have anything to... anything to add or...

 

Karen Diver:

I'm good?

 

Tory Fodder:

It's... um, I’ll go to our last... uh, sort of comment. I think is... um, actually a question but... um, the actual definition of Native Nation Building... uh, early on one person noted that I guess for Navajo it's about creating livable healthy communities through k... relations and kin for your children, elders, and families... um, and I guess maybe, if there is a question, it's you know, about Native Nation Building as a definition, and the kind of the scope of the language that we use... uh, in in our definition. Whether it's sort of more flexible, or… or maybe even more broad?

 

Miriam Jorgensen:

Well, I'll kick start and then I’ll quickly pass off to Karen and Joan to close things out. But you know... um, the definition that we put up on the screen earlier comes from a book that I edited and called Rebuilding Native Nations which is a textbook that we use in a lot of the work that we do. And this whole notion of strengthening the foundations...  um, for governance is... uh, kind of where we come from... uh, in our perspective. Joan kicked off by saying we think about tribal governance all the time because we think that if we... and we think that research points to the fact that Native nations need strong governance and successful governments, effective governance, competent governance. I mean that comes from both tribal governments and the sort of cultural surround of that in order to get to those dreams. In order to get to those goals that they set for themselves. So, you can't kind of get to that outcome that people want to build, the kind of society they want to build, without putting those firm foundations in place. So, for us at Native Nations Institute, when we talk about Native Nation Building. What we mean by that is strengthening those foundations of tribal government of Native nation government, so that that political collective can achieve the goals that it sets for itself. And other people will define it in other ways, but that's what our focus is.

 

Joan Timeche:

And it's going to be different. You know, what that looks like is going to be different for every nation. You know, because of how we're organized and how we recognize authority to be exercised. So not every nation is going to look the same and to me it's a general definition that can apply to many nations but allowing each one to determine specifically what that means for them.

 

Karen Diver:

And for me, this is really about... um, day-to-day resiliency of indigenous peoples because we had natural organizing principles long before the first settler ever showed up. You know, we had organized groups. We were in... in clans. We were in bands. We were in tribes, and although we had different language for it at that time perhaps. We did know how to organize ourselves. We did know how to resolve conflict. We did know how to make decisions. We did know how to work intergovernmentally across tribes and across these clans. And the modern-day version of that may be structured different, but it's going to be informed by that past, right. And what fits well for the needs today, and... and that's really a part of our resiliency. Is our adaptability in the face of all of these years of colonization. The practice matters more than the words.

 

Joan Timeche:

So, we're up...

 

Tory Fodder:

Go ahead.

 

Joan Timeche:

Okay, so we're up to... um very close to our close here and I just wanted to point out that we hope that you found... um, the session useful... um, to you. We we're sorry that you were not able to participate in one of our May in Tucson courses. We are going to have another session that's coming up in January. We hope you'll consider registering for one of those courses, but in the meantime, we have a number of resources that are available to you. Much of these are also free. We have our Indigenous Governance Database. Once we get this cleaned up, we'll have this... um, put out... um, likely put on our database as well.

 

Miriam Jorgensen:

For this session is what you're saying.

 

Joan Timeche:

I'm sorry, yeah, this session we will put it out on our database... um, our Constitution's Resource Center for those of you that might be contemplating either moving from an oral... um, governmental forum to one that's written, or either to just updating and revising to reflect some of your needs. We have that in place. We have of course our Indigenous Governance Programs. You can go to the website. If you go to our website, click on any of these tiles. It'll lead you right to that. We also have an online courses. It's based off of the book that Miriam edited and mentioned previously about Rebuilding Native Nations. It's nine modules. They're self-paced, and they're for non-credit... um, we have services that we provide on a fee-for-service basis, and although COVID-19 is...

limiting us to online only. We do normally go out and work on the ground with Indian Country. There might be some interviews out there that you might be interested in... um, you know, on tribal leaders talking about some of the challenges that they face. Our sister organization, the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. This allows you to get to them and hear about all of these wonderful examples. Some of the ones that we shared. And then we have a number of resources for students, whether it's youth camps, youth workshops, such as an entrepreneurship session we're going to be offering in June, or either for graduate students who might be doing research on a nation-building topic. So, we greatly appreciate your time with us and here's our contact information. And Tory, I don't know if you have any last words to say...

 

Tory Fodder:

You know, just on behalf of the Indigenous Governance Program at the Native Nations Institute and our colleagues at the Indigenous People's Law and Policy Program all at the University of Arizona. I just want to say thanks for joining us. We've had folks from around the world call in across the

United States... uh, really glad you could join us and thanks so much for your time. We'll look forward to connecting with you, and yes, we will make the PowerPoint available take care all.

 

Joan Timeche:

Thank you.

 

 

Karen Diver: Native leadership and Indigenous governance

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Karen Diver is a former Chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and former Vice President of the Minnesota Chippewa tribe, while also served as an adviser to President Obama as his Special Assistant for Native American affairs. Her incredible career as  renowned Native leader for her tribe, in her community in the surrounding Minnesota area, and advocate for indigenous communities at the highest level of Federal government has offered her a truly unique perspective on what is required for strong indigenous governance. Karen’s strength as a Native leader led her to her recent position at the College of St. Scholastica Faculty Fellow for Inclusive Excellence where she brings her intimate knowledge on Native inclusivity to a broad community of high education. In this interview with Native Nations Institute, Karen Diver relays the many facets of putting leadership into action and making change for tribes at any level of indigenous governance.

People
Resource Type
Citation

Native Nations Institute. "Karen Diver: Native leadership and indigenous governance.” Leading Native Nations, Native Nations Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, January 29, 2019

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

Dr. Karen Diver: Indigenous autonomy is the way forward

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

Dr. Karen Diver spoke at ANZSOG's Reimagining Public Administration conference on February 20, as part of a plenary on International perspectives on Indigenous affairs. The Native American tribal leader and former adviser to President Obama, said that Indigenous communities had been inexorably changed by conflict, and needed to design systems to protect rights and land. She said that autonomy had been shown to be the best way to generate economic growth and address social issues. “Co-design, co-management only works when the other side follows through. Co-ordination needs to give way to autonomy, give us big buckets and freedom to solve problems our own way,” she said. “If the problem is juvenile delinquency, then we know the kids and their families, we know the schools. The solution that we might come up with acknowledges the broader picture.” “The solutions we design are the ones that work.”

People
Resource Type
Topics
Citation

Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG). Feb. 21, 2019. Dr. Karen Diver: Indigenous autonomy is the way forward [video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmYfuhK9JzA&t=2s

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

Fond du Lac's Pharmacy On-Line Billing Initiative

Year

In 1995, faced with rising pharmaceutical costs, limited Indian Health Service (IHS) funds, and an inability to bill and collect from third party insurers, the Human Services Division contracted with a private sector firm to design and implement a computerized pharmacy billing system. The first of its kind for Indian Country, Fond du Lac’s on-line system not only increases the Division’s revenue stream, but also updates prices automatically, interfaces with the Indian Health Service’s Resource Patient Management System for health record-keeping, and warns of drug interactions. This initiative and its spin-offs at Fond du Lac (in dentistry, for example) demonstrate the Tribe’s capacity to direct complicated technological innovations that significantly improve existing management information systems. The initiative is also noteworthy for the changes it augured in IHS policy and for the partnership it created between the Band, the IHS, and the private sector in searching for monetary support that went beyond the sources of tribal health care funds.

Resource Type
Citation

"Pharmacy On-Line Billing Initiative". Honoring Nations: 2000 Honoree. The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2001. Report.

Permissions

This Honoring Nations report is featured on the Indigenous Governance Database with the permission of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development.

Fond du Lac Off-Reservation Indian Foster Care

Year

By creatively reacting to state laws regarding foster home licensing, the Band established a foster care agency that dramatically reduced the number of Indian children in non-Indian foster care while simultaneously increasing the number of Indian children in Indian foster care. The agency has successfully channeled nearly $2 million for foster care reimbursement to Indian families in northeastern Minnesota. While the Fond du Lac Government had been able to license homes within the boundaries of the reservation, this was the first time an all-Indian board sponsored by a tribal government had been able to recruit and license homes outside of reservation boundaries.

Resource Type
Citation

"Fond du Lac Off-Reservation Indian Foster Care." Honoring Nations: 1999 Honoree. The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2000. Report. 

Permissions

This Honoring Nations report is featured on the Indigenous Governance Database with the permission of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development.

Deborah Locke: Disenrollment: My Personal Story

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Tribal Citizenship Conference
Year

Deborah Locke, adopted by a Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa couple when she was a small child, shares her heartbreaking story of how she and her adopted siblings were disenrolled by the Band decades later because they were not the biological descendants of Fond du Lac Band members and also because they did not meet the minimum blood quantum requirement as established by the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe constitution.

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

People
Resource Type
Citation

Locke, Deborah. "Disenrollment: My Personal Story." Tribal Citizenship Conference, Indian Law Program, William Mitchell College of Law, in conjunction with the Bush Foundation. St. Paul, Minnesota. November 13, 2013. Presentation.

Sarah Deer:

"Our final panel today is looking at the question of disenrollment. So we have a number...we have three speakers who are going to each discuss one angle or one facet of the controversial issue of disenrollment. So we have legal, personal, and traditional perspectives on this question. We have three speakers.

I'm going to start with Deborah Locke from Turtle Mountain. She is a former editorial board member for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and a former reporter for the Milwaukee Journal. She also edited and wrote for the newspaper of the Fond du Lac Reservation, worked for almost three years on a legacy amendment funded project on the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War at the Minnesota Historical Society and she is currently a freelance writer for the Mille Lacs Band.

Shawn Frank from the Jacobson Law Group is a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, joined Jacobson Law Group in 2002, has substantial experience representing Indian tribes, tribal organizations and entities that do business with tribes. He became a shareholder in 2003. Mr. Frank does speak regularly at lawyer's seminars on the subjects of tribal sovereignty, doing business in Indian Country, the Freedom of Information Act and the administrative appeals through the Department of Interior.

And finally Sharon Day, Executive Director of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force from Bois Forte Band [of Chippewa]. Ms. Day is one of the founders of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, formerly known as the Minnesota American Indian AIDS Task Force. It began as a volunteer organization with all of the work performed by the board of directors. They hired their first staff, Ms. Day, in 1988 and she has served in this capacity since that time. Ms. Day has received numerous awards including the Resourceful Woman Award, BIHA's Woman of Color Award, the National Native American AIDS Prevention Resource Center's Red Ribbon Award, and most recently the Alston Bannerman Sabbatical Award. She also is an editor of an anthology and a lead walker who carries the water from the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Superior with the Mother Earth Water Walk. I'm looking forward to all their presentations, so please join me in welcoming our panel."

[Applause]

Deborah Locke:

"Hi, I'm Deborah. It's nice to be here today. I hope you can hear me. I received this letter dated January 6th from the Fond du Lac [Band of Lake Superior Chippewa] Reservation Business Committee:

Ms. Locke,

It's come to the attention of the Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee that you are not the biological daughter of Frederick and Anna Marie Locke and that you were in fact adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Locke. Under Article 2, Section 1c of the Minnesota [Chippewa] Tribe Constitution, only the biological children of members of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe are eligible for membership in the tribe and if born after July 3rd, 1961, must also possess one-fourth degree MCT blood quantum.

There's a lot of lawyers in this room. I think most of you know that by heart.

The Reservation Business Committee has accordingly directed that disenrollment proceedings be initiated against you in accordance with MCT Ordinance #9. You have 30 days from the date of this letter to request a hearing before the Fond du Lac Tribal Court to provide evidence and argument as to why you should not be disenrolled.

Think about that.

In addition, per capita payments from the Band are being immediately suspended pending the final outcome of this matter.

Sincerely,
Linda J. Nelson
Enrollment Officer

I was standing outside the Rosedale Target when I read that letter one cold day and I cannot even explain to you how weird I felt. I felt damn weird. The day before I was identifying with Pocahontas, today I'm a white girl. The day before I was a Band member. I had family at Fond du Lac. Today I'm cut free. I'm a white girl. I tell you, that felt a little bit weird and it also felt embarrassing. More than anything else it felt embarrassing. I thought, ‘What did I do to bring this on? I was born and I was adopted. That's all that I ever did. What...they've got Band members that shoot each other, that use drugs, that steal, that...the list goes on and on and they're getting rid of me?' I tell you, I was totally perplexed. I called my mother from my cell phone in the parking lot and told her what I'd received. She was absolutely incensed. She was very, very upset and bewildered and she started calling relatives after we hung up. So let me tell you a little bit more about my mother and my dad.

They adopted four American Indian kids in the 1950s and they had always...they wanted children. They went to Catholic Charities in Duluth. A social worker asked them if it was okay if the children were Indian. My mother is a Band member at Fond du Lac and she said, ‘Are you serious? We don't care what color they are.' Dad said the same thing and so four children came fairly quickly after that. I was the first and when I was a little girl my parents had a book that they read to all of us starting with me that was called The Chosen Baby and it was about two kids named Peter and Mary. And Peter and Mary were adopted, and what I took from that book starting when I was three years old is that being adopted is really special. Being adopted means that you are a gift to someone and being adopted means that you were chosen for a very special reason. And so I lived with that magic for a long time and most of my life believing that adoption is a good thing.

So that's my family background a little bit, and I'll tell you that the Fond du Lac Band was also interested in that family background starting with this letter dated July 22, 2009. The Band had sent a letter to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe asking for assistance in getting my adoption records from the state. So a letter went to the Minnesota Department of Human Services and I'm going to read a little bit about this. ‘The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe branch of Tribal Operations is inquiring of the circumstances of the adoption of...' and then it lists the four Locke children and it's signed by Brian Brunelle, Director of Administration for the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. And that was followed by an affidavit dated December 23, 2009 from a Jamie Lee with the Department of Human Services at the state and she's responsible for maintaining the adoption records and in this document, in this affidavit she ensured everybody that I was indeed adopted. Here's the date I was adopted, when it was finalized, here's the case number and my name was changed from whatever to Deborah Locke on this date.

Also within these papers that the tribe had was a resolution from the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe dated 1978 wherein I and my brothers and sisters were enrolled with the Band. We were enrolled with the Band because my uncle, Peter DeFoe, Sr., had gone to my mother one day and said, ‘You should have the children enrolled. They're all Indian. They're my nieces and my nephews. I recognize them as such and they should be enrolled.' And mom said, ‘All right.' So she went through with it and apparently that went without a hitch. All I know is that one day in my 20s I was told that I was enrolled. Well, I thought that was pretty cool, but I didn't really fully understand it quite honestly.

You might wonder, where did this all start at Fond du Lac? And from what I can tell it began maybe at least five years earlier, maybe longer, with a family that had adopted two non-Indian children. The woman, Roberta Smith Poloski was a Band member. Her husband was not. He's not American Indian. And they adopted these two girls and had them enrolled in 1982 and there were Band members who very much resented that. The little girls grew up with their Indian relatives, identified with American Indian culture, and were pretty much accepted as far as I knew. We were good friends with them; they lived just down the street.

So the Poloski girls were later identified as non-Indians with Band benefits and there were complaints about that that were registered with the RBC [Reservation Business Committee] starting again minimally five years before this and it might have even been 10 years. I can...I'll read this to you, this is the RBC open meeting minutes from the Brookston Community Center dated November 19, 2009.

Geraldine Savage asked, ‘What is going on with the disenrollment issue?'

Chairman Karen Diver said, ‘There has been a hearing and we're just waiting to hear on the judge's decision.'

Ms. Savage asked, ‘Why is the RBC waiting for the judge to decide?'

Mr. Ferdinand Martineau said, ‘We are following the ordinance that was done in 1988.'

Ms. Savage said, ‘It should be the RBC making the decision.'

Mr. Martineau said, ‘This is the way the ordinance is set up.'

Ms. Joyce LaPorte asked if this is going to cause a backlash.

Mr. Ferdinand Martineau said, ‘It may.'

Mr. Martineau said, ‘The individuals were enrolled under a different council.'

Ms. Geraldine Savage asked, ‘How long will it take for a decision?'

Mr. Martineau said, ‘The enrollment issue should have been easy to decide.'

Mr. Martineau said, ‘Conflict would come if the tribal court said to leave them enrolled.'

Ms. Savage said, ‘This would be a conflict then.'

Mr. Martino said, ‘But we have brothers and sisters and some of them are enrolled and some of them are not enrolled.'

Ms. Nancy Sepala asked if we are going to lose Band members because of the blood quantums.

That last question was never addressed. They went on to talk about elderly housing. I think that last question is really a key one, and that was a question that a lot more people than Ms. Nancy Sepala was wondering at that time. What would be the ultimate outcome of these disenrollments that we're starting?

So anyway, the Poloski girls had their day in court and the tribal judge ruled against them. They decided to come down to St. Paul and present their arguments to the Court of Appeals, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Court of Appeals, and that court gave them a decision dated March 30, 2010 that said, ‘We affirm the Fond du Lac Tribal Court decision and their justification was that all children of at least one-quarter degree Minnesota Chippewa Indian blood born after July 3, 1961 to a member...' and then there's that language. So apparently the girls didn't fill that criteria. And then there's reference to the fact that ‘the constitution is unambiguous and that the children must possess a direct biological link to members of the tribe and that at least one-quarter of the applicant's biological lineage must trace to Minnesota Chippewa Indians. Applying this clear requirement to the facts at issue in the appeal is a straightforward task, but it's a task that we do with sadness.'

So Renee and Robin were disenrolled and they complained to the RBC that there were other people who were still enrolled who were also adopted including those Locke kids who were just down the street. And so the RBC took that charge pretty seriously and started its investigation, and I've just read to you some of the documentation that they were working with. What happened to me? Well, after that very fateful day when I received the letter, I was working as their editor and I went to work and made a couple of calls and discovered that not everybody agreed that that disenrollment action was a good idea and that made me feel pretty good. In fact, there were a few people who were rather upset at the Fond du Lac Band when the news of this got out. I don't think it was a groundswell. I don't think that...nothing like that happened, but there were a few key people who mean something to me who didn't like what happened and they had some good advice, including names of attorneys throughout the state who I should contact to get some advice from and so I did. I made phone calls and discovered that I should request a petition date. I'm sorry I'm not a lawyer, I can't get into too many of the legalities, but I do know that it wasn't long after that before we did set...we sent documentation and asked for a hearing. And then I had to wait quite awhile before that hearing date actually came up.

But in the meantime, again I was in this odd rather limbo-like state. I knew some details of my adoption. I knew that my biological mother was from Turtle Mountain. I had seen documentation from the county, St. Louis County, which said that my...the name of my father had never been released. There was no reason for us to presume he was not Fund du Lac. The only description and information I ever learned about my father was that he was tall and he liked to hunt and fish. Well, now that covers about 98 percent of the men at Fond du Lac, although not all of them are that tall, but there could be a tall one out there somewhere. So they all like to hunt and fish and he was athletic, so that was all very interesting, but it didn't tell me a whole lot. It didn't tell me whether or not he was in fact a Band member.

What happened from there is this. I was urged to find an attorney, I couldn't. I called everywhere I could think of to get someone to take the case. Finally, Tim Aldridge did and he was an attorney at Bemidji all the time, had done some work for a couple of bands and Tim agreed to take on the case. The reason these lawyers said 'no' was because there was no precedent. They didn't know what they were getting into and they weren't quite sure how to win it. I'm sure the list goes on and on and on. But my mother went into her savings to pay for the retainer, which absolutely broke my heart, but I didn't have many choices at the time and I think this is true of a lot of people who are included with me. What I heard is from 20 to 40 people at Fond du Lac got that letter and I was the first one to go through with a trial or a court hearing, which says that I was the only one who paid the money that it required. That's an advantage tribal courts have. They know that the people who they represent often don't have the money to pay for an attorney. I think that's one of the worst tragedies of this story.

Anyway, I went ahead, I had this great lawyer and when we got the hearing date, he and a couple of other...quite a few people were sort of involved with this and giving me various kinds of advice. They put together a summons and complaint and I filed it and things were quiet for awhile and then we had our...and I hired the attorney and we had our initial hearing. That went okay. I'm not even quite sure...that was just to see what information...discovery, that was discovery. And then we set the date or the hearing date in the tribal court offices or the tribal courtroom, whatever that's called. And I argued that or my attorney argued with me a number of things and here's what I can tell you from the complaint.

He cited the Indian Civil Rights Act and he said that that states that, ‘No Indian tribe in exercising powers of self-government shall deny to any person within this jurisdiction the equal protection of its laws or deprive any person of liberty or property without due process of law.' Again you're wondering, property, yeah, that little $400 a month payment that I was getting was very useful. That was cut off with absolutely no notice whatsoever. That's just the beginning of what was cut off. I was informed of a -- this goes on -- now this is my voice. ‘I was informed of a pre-hearing conference set for May 18, 2010, but have not received the documents that will be used against me. I request...' and here's B, ‘I request the honorable court to scrutinize the purpose of the disenrollment attempt as to procedural and substantive due process. The January 6th letter sets forth vague information that an adoption is used as the basis for the disenrollment. I may be entitled to enrollment apart from the adoption allegation moreover admitting tribes have the right to determine membership.' Those were the two strongest arguments I think from this document. It also says, ‘My specific allegations alleging lack of due process justifying injunctive relief are as follows...' I was told and I remember this phone call, I was told in a telephone call by a court employee that I would only be allowed to look at the evidence against me at the time of the hearing without prior notice of what may be used against me and B, the pre-trial hearing was set prematurely without a scheduling hearing, a discovery period and without adequate time to be allowed for me to prepare a meaningful case based on the merits. Defendants failed to give a fair warning of the nature of the case. This goes on for maybe another couple of pages. It's signed and dated May 17, 2010.

So, we waited again and it wasn't until I'm thinking, yeah, by late December I was really wondering when are we going to be getting some sort of a decision from the judge and an order arrived or was sent to my attorney on January 22, 2011 and it said this, it said, ‘The issue was whether the petitioner met the tribe's membership requirements when the decision to enroll was first made.' In other words, did that initial RBC and did the officials with MCT just make a simple mistake back in 1978 when they permitted this to go through. And the judge's order also said this, ‘Petitioner's request for hearing did not set out the reason she believed she should not be disenrolled, but stated that she understood the fact that she was adopted was the reason for her disenrollment. She requested documents leading to the decision to proceed with the disenrollment.' The order also said that I provided a document from my biological mother that showed I had enough Indian blood to be enrolled and it also said the Band argued that an enrolled adoptee must be born to a member of the MCT. The judge also referred to the letter from the St. Louis County Adoptive Services that stated my biological parents were each American Indian and although the judge did say the document named my father, it didn't. His name...that name has never surfaced. The order says that, ‘Though I am perhaps of Chippewa descent...' That's the word she used -- 'perhaps.' ‘Perhaps she's of Chippewa descent, it's not enough information to conclude that I met the requirement of MCT membership.' And consequently the disenrollment was approved.

So I received that information, my attorney and I talked a little bit about it. I talked with these other attorneys who had been involved and they all said that, ‘You cannot give up at this point. You have to appeal this. You've got to go to St. Paul to Bandana Square and talk to these judges,' and that means of course I need to hire another attorney because by this time Tim Aldridge had left his practice in Bemidji. I thought, ‘What's this going to take? I have to go to my mother again and borrow from her savings for what may be another losing case and I have to try and find an attorney, most of whom don't even want to come anywhere near me. And what else do I have to...I have to get up in the morning for how many months ahead, each morning, and deal with this thing.' I cannot even begin to describe how this weighs on a person. I can't even tell you how it just turns you upside down, not only me, my siblings, my mom who was elderly to begin with, my extended family and friends. And I didn't realize how much it had affected them until I had heard a rumor through my brother that we were suddenly all to be reinstated. And I told one of my friends whose husband is a Band member and she started crying and so I realized that this is something that is really touching a lot of people in a lot of different ways.

What I heard from one of the attorneys is this, he said, ‘Membership is a right. If you are born to an MCT parent...' and no one proved that Deb was not born to an MCT parent... ‘Fond du Lac and MCT shifted the burden of proof to me after more than 30 years following an open enrollment process.' Those were the words I heard from one of the attorneys. In the meantime, personally what was going on, my youngest brother David has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. He is living in Tucson right now. He has been for quite a few years. The $400...he cannot work. He can't. He has a...he's got a disability that will not permit him to function very well. He's about 12 or 13 years old emotionally and in every other way. So he's in Tucson and he gets the same letter that I did. He goes to my mother and he's crying on the phone. He's already torn up his ID and all of his papers and anything that ever had anything to do with Fond du Lac. He's very distressed about this thing and my mom of course is very distressed about it and what are we going to do about David now -- because that piece...that puny little $400 a month was basically all he had and some food stamps. So my mom and I started paying his bills that year and he's...my heart goes out to him because he lives in like this world of confusion. There's so much he doesn't understand and it is not his fault that he doesn't understand it. Anyway, in December of 2010, David got a letter that he would receive a check for $4,800, which is a year of casino dividend payments. The letter said he was getting a lump sum because he filled the annual dividend form incorrectly in January. He never got one. What he got in January was the same letter that I got. I reminded my brother that I got the same letter he did in January a year earlier about disenrollment proceedings.

So where does this leave us and where does it leave me? It leaves me with a lot of confusion about what I call 'cultural competency,' because in the course of that year and a half of trauma, one of the first things I was told was that in Ojibwe history and culture adoptees have the same status as biological children, that it had been that way for hundreds of years and that you truly were a chosen baby. I was also told that the tradition of adoption...that adoption meant that children were called to the Band for a very special role and that included the Poloski girls, excuse me, but it did. The Poloski girls as well as me and my three siblings all fell under that blanket. For some special reason, the Creator placed us with this Band. We were babies, we didn't have much say about it, but that's what happened and what I learned from these attorneys, who actually were culturally competent and kindhearted and everything else you would look for in an attorney, and I'd never met people like this in my life, but wow they were good. Anyway, a sidebar.

What I had hoped for through this proceeding and somewhere buried in the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe constitution was something that said that traditions matter and that the fate of children matters and that when you get to be in your 50s and 60s, people don't pull the rug out from under you the way they pulled the rug out from under me and my family. My mother had a good solution early on. She said, ‘If the Band wanted to change something, they could have grandfathered all of you in and said, 'From this point forward this is the way it's going to be.'' And I think that would have been a good solution, but of course they didn't think of that. It was just too easy to say, ‘Well, maybe Renee or Robin are making a point.' I don't even...I can't even speculate where they were coming from on that. I don't... was it a cost savings? I don't think it was that great a cost savings, 20 to 40 people. I still see myself as a 'chosen child' and I really wish the Fond du Lac Band was Ojibwe enough to understand what that means. Thank you."

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

Producer
William Mitchell College of Law
Year

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

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

Resource Type
Citation

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

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

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

Matthew Fletcher:

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

Shawn Frank:

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

Sharon Day:

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

Audience member:

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

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

Sarah Deer:

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

Audience member:

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

Sharon Day:

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

Audience member:

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

Sharon Day:

"Thank you."

Audience member:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharon Day:

"[Anishinaabe language]."

Sarah Deer:

"Thank you." 

Karen Diver: Nation Building Through the Cultivation of Capable People and Governing Institutions

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In this informative interview with NNI's Ian Record, Chairwoman Karen Diver of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa discusses the critical importance of Native nations' systematic development of its governing institutions and human resource ability to their ability to exercise sovereignty effectively and achieve their nation-building goals.

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Diver, Karen. "Nation Building Through the Cultivation of Capable People and Governing Institutions." "Leading Native Nations" interview series. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, The University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. September 17, 2009. Interview.

Ian Record:

“So I’m here with Chairwoman Karen Diver, who is the chairwoman of Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. And previous to that, she served as Director of Special Projects for Fond du Lac, so she has a wide range of experience, which is precisely why we’re having her sit down with us today.

The first question I’d like to ask you is a question that I ask everyone I sit down with and that is, how would you define Native nation building and what does it entail for your nation?”

Karen Diver:

“It’s almost straight out of the textbook: aggressive assertions of sovereignty backed up by capable institutions. You come into tribal government and it’s at different phases in its growth. And given that most tribes have really not been self-governing for that long, often times, we’re plugging the gap or reformulating. But if the basis of your decision is always putting self-governance first and self-determination, generally you can always plug in the gaps of your institutional capabilities along the way. But it’s the legitimacy of the actions and then backing it up with the way to actually implement them.”

Ian Record:

“You mentioned 'legitimacy in the actions,' and the Native Nations Institute and Harvard Project research holds that for Native nation governments to be viewed as legitimate by the people that they serve, they must be both culturally appropriate and effective, which is a double-edged challenge for a lot of nations, particularly those that have not governed, essentially been in control of their own governance for a very long time, and had that determined by outsiders. So how do you view that assertion that for governments to be legitimate, they have to be not only effective, but also culturally appropriate?”

Karen Diver:

“I think for tribes, we’re not as removed from government; government is very personal. Tribal members can walk in at any time, we employ our tribal members, we’re related to one another, so it’s not impersonal in a way that I think traditional government is. And when you’re decision making, the actual impact on real people in their real lives really has to be primary. And for that to work, you have to take into account the circumstances in which they live. It could be as simple, for us, making sure that our policies and procedures account for the ability to participate in cultural activities like wild rice leave, for example, is actually in our personnel policies. It’s a week-long endeavor; people need to do it when the crop is ready. Or it can be as broad based as, what do your family leave policies look like? Recognizing we have extended, large extended families, the grieving process is a community process. So just giving a bank of leave time might not be something appropriate. You might want to have some flexible use of leave to take into account that our families are large, complicated, and primarily their employment serves to take care of them and their families. So you have to have that balance. So cultural traditions matter, and to balance those with the needs of both governmental and the economic entities that we serve; that’s the only way we’re going to have a successful workforce.”

Ian Record:

“So I want to next run a quote by you that we reference often and it’s a quote by a Native leader who once said, ‘The best defense of sovereignty is to exercise it effectively.’ Can you speak to that statement?”

Karen Diver:

“To me, that really means once again building up those capable institutions. Everybody likes to know, ‘What are the rules that we’re playing by?’ Especially if you’re dealing with outside entities that you do work with, whether it’s governmental or through your economic development efforts, but also that you’re defining what those rules are and whether you’re dealing with a local unit of government, the feds, bankers, auditors, they don’t get to define the playing field. You’re defining the rules, you’re communicating them, and you’re saying that, ‘Your work with us is going to be defined by us.’ A lot of that is understanding the tenets of Indian law and explaining it to people and making distinctions between, ‘Who are we as a race?’ versus our political status and those are often confused by many people. So as long as you keep your political status separate than our cultural traditions and who we are historically and currently as a people. To me, that’s real basic and that’s really one of the main elements of sovereignty."

Ian Record:

“You, as I mentioned at the outset, you have served your nation both as a senior administrator and as currently, as chairwoman. I was curious to learn, what, based on your experience, do tribal bureaucracies need to be effective?”

Karen Diver:

“Well, that’s real key. We all know when it goes wrong. It’s the deviation from what is normal and it’s viewed as political graft or having a brother in power so to speak and that’s where…for the average citizen they feel that tribal government isn’t really serving them; it’s inequities in service delivery or access. And sometimes that happens at the service delivery level or the program level or institutional level with hiring and things like that. I think for tribal government, monitoring those activities, putting those systems in place, building accountability and transparency of the rules ends up being key to having equitable service delivery and equitable systems. And for our band members, the expectation that it doesn’t matter who you elect, the level of service you receive and your opportunities are the same.”

Ian Record:

“So it essentially supports stability and expectations among the people when they don’t…they see consistency. They see fairness and they can see consistency across administration so it’s not just, ‘Oh it was this way for this term,’ and then the new term comes in, new administration comes in and things change.”

Karen Diver:

“Well, you’re proving capability in government, too, because the reason you would elect people changes then it becomes about their effectiveness and their skills and ability to do the job rather than your personal connections and how you might gain from that. So it changes peoples’ I think reason for how and why they may vote for tribal leadership.”

Ian Record:

“And being a chair of a nation, you must experience this firsthand, this challenge of the dependency mentality. Where the expectations, at least on part of the citizenry, is rooted in, ‘What can the government do for me?’ or, ‘I’m going to go to the government and get the goodies,’ rather than really viewing that government as serving the nation, as advancing the nation’s long-term priorities. Is that something you struggle with and how do you do you work to overcome that?”

Karen Diver:

“Yes, I’ve struggled with it, but I’ve struggled with it in terms of, once again, how do we build those systems in place so that they serve the needs of our citizenry, but also changing the expectations of our citizenry? And the current tribal council has been a part of kind of changing the mentality of, ‘What our citizens should expect from their tribal government?’ And I usually say to folks, ‘Don’t ask me for a handout. Ask me for a job, or if you’re not ready for that yet, why don’t you tell me what you need to get there?’ And the framing of it is fairly simple. What I tell people is, ‘I care about you enough that I’m not going to put a band-aid on your issue because it’s going to come back. Unless I know what’s going on, we need to create or refer you to something that creates a long-term fix because I don’t want you to have to come back.’ And I really feel that promoting dependency within our own community is a part of the reason why we haven’t been able to move as forward as we could be yet because I’ve turned into a social worker now instead of an administrator, instead of someone who assures that there’s good systems. And I also think it’s not fair to our people to say to them, ‘The way that you get services is by telling me a lot of your personal problems that are going on.’ I need to know them to the extent that I need to identify any gaps in our system, but I also shouldn’t put my own people -- if I care about them -- in the position of having to beg, and there is a difference. I’m not doing it to satisfy my ego because I can feel really good about what I’ve done for you. I care about you enough to say, ‘Let’s look at a long-term fix instead of a short-term band-aid.’”

Ian Record:

“Right. So it’s essentially, ‘Let’s look at the root cause of your problem or your challenge,’ versus just simply addressing the symptom, which will be sure to reoccur at some point.”

Karen Diver:

“Right. And it helps me identify where we might have gaps in service, whether it’s combined case management, stabilizing your housing, where you really need some service delivery, whether it’s health issues, we should make sure that each of our systems are coordinated enough that there is a holistic response to the issues people face in their day-to-day lives.”

Ian Record:

“You mention this issue of building a holistic response, or the capacity to do that, to whatever issue is at hand or that you’re facing. And this really gets to this issue of developing a systems-based approach to service delivery, which we hear about more and more, and we see a lot of that sort of activity in Indian Country with nations saying, ‘The status quo is not working. We’ve got our programs and services going a million different directions, they often duplicate one another. We’ve got to take a systems-based approach that gets at these root causes that you discuss.’ Is that something that you’re working to do, take care of?”

Karen Diver:

“Oh, actively. And both as a staff member and then once I got elected. I’ll give you an example. One of our projects that we’ll be breaking ground here within a month is supportive housing. Supportive housing is what transitional housing used to be. It’s for folks who have had a hard time getting on their feet and for every step forward it might have been two back, chronic homeless, multiple episodes of homelessness. Well, homelessness isn’t the lack of a house, it’s a circumstance, a set of circumstances going on that are preventing people from being stable. In order to do supportive housing, you not only have to build the housing, but you also have to develop service delivery that looks at what are the needs of the family and they may be multiple. You’re also committing to staying by them whether or not they take that step forward or step back, and that’s why they call it permanent supportive housing, because unlike transitional housing the two years are up whether you’re ready to be independent or not. And what it really does is say, in terms of case management, what does the whole family need and it’s self-determined by the family. So much like for tribal government, it’s saying for families, too, to say, ‘What are my needs right now?’ and their needs might be simple in the beginning. It might be having adequate health care and getting their diabetes under control so they’re not facing chronic health issues. It might mean helping the family say at some point that they’re chemical dependent, coming to the realization that it is fueled by underlying mental illness, but there’s a safe place to be able to say that and get at the root causes of why people anesthetize themselves with drugs and alcohol. And what you’re trying to do is reduce the episodes of homelessness and instability in the family so that children can stay in longer, the same school longer, they can maintain their level of health care and what you see over time is school social workers are talking to mental health case managers. We know that health outcomes are affected by the lack of housing; we know that school performance is affected by that. Working together stabilizes the need for service delivery by multiple systems, but they all have to be at the table and integrated together. It’s a model that’s been shown to work outside Indian Country, not yet being implemented to a big extent within Indian Country. The model’s perfect for us because we know our families best. We need to be talking to each other and the family will be the one that hopefully will move forward because of it. So it’s an example, but we’ve built silos in Indian Country, much like we’ve bemoaned in larger systems that are out there, but we’re better contained within ourselves to actually break those down.”

Ian Record:

“So you mentioned you know your families best. And hearing you describe this approach of supportive housing, that requires an intimate understanding, intimate awareness of what’s going on in your community, what their needs are, what their challenges are, what their priorities are, what they need from the tribe in order to be made whole, or put them on the road to self-sufficiency, whatever it might be, that’s not an approach that an outsider can develop and implement. Is it something that has to be done at the local level by the people who it’s designed to serve?”

Karen Diver:

“Absolutely, because at any given point in that service delivery or that plan that the family develops, you’re going to have to have culturally competent service delivery. You’re going to have to understand that for a family to break their cycle of chemical dependency that it might be isolating to them for some of their other family members, and that’s a hard thing to do. So you’re recreating family systems and showing them a healthy way in a way that doesn’t deny their ability to still remain a part of a larger community. It’s understanding that children are served best when they’re with their families and an easy fix isn’t putting them in out-of-home placement, but intensive services for their extended families. It’s building even the actual facilities in a way that understands that we tend to congregate together and you never know when you might have a niece coming to live with you, and it shouldn’t upset your household composition because that’s what your housing rules say. So it requires us to be flexible. And I think that’s one of the beauties of self-governance is when you determine your own rules, you can be flexible enough to meet multiple demands, but in a way that’s also accountable so that everybody has the same access to that flexibility.”

Ian Record:

“As I mentioned, you were once a senior administrator of your tribe and now you’re the chairwoman. And I was curious to learn, having served in both of those capacities, can you speak to the importance of delineating clear, distinct roles, responsibilities, authorities for each of those key decision makers, implementers? And what happens when those roles aren’t clearly defined?”

Karen Diver:

“It’s an over-used phrase, but I think many people have heard it. If you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t matter which road you take. I think that for both tribal government and tribal administrators, it’s all about the plan. Where do we plan to get in two years, five years? I’m a big fan of strategic planning. I’m a big fan of understanding who is responsible for the items in the strategic plan. Who’s monitoring the outcomes and making sure that we’re holding staff accountable? Has there been community input to the plan so that we’re actually serving them and going in a direction that they care about? And we are just starting to undertake now a whole community-wide strategic planning process that will inform tribal government and it’s a difficult transition. Last year I thought, ‘I’m just going to get the staff kind of primed and say give me a few goals and objectives for the year,’ and I almost started a mass revolt. I had the flurry of emails saying, ‘What did you mean by that?’ ‘Well, I want to know what you plan to do next year. This is not a trick question, what do you plan to do,’ because at the end of next year I’m going to say, ‘Did you accomplish what you had planned?’ And you’re actually going to maybe make presentations to tribal council about that. Also understanding your role, there’s a plan and each department should understand who their stakeholders are. Human Resources, for example, they think of the applicants and employees as their stakeholders, but they don’t necessarily think of their other divisions that they do the work for as their stakeholders and at the timeliness of their work and the quality of their work can have a big affect on operations. So right now, our tribal council has three of our members were in administrative positions before so we were on the other side of the tribal council table. It’s made a huge difference in terms of our understanding of the importance of their work, not frittering it away, making meeting time productive time and they’re happy. They’re happy because being accountable to us is different. It’s in terms of decision making, not necessarily these huge processes that takes up a lot of their time but doesn’t necessarily accomplish anything. So very important on both ends to understand, ‘What is our role?’ We’re an approving role, they’re doing the work and they’re bringing us their recommendations.”

Ian Record:

“So it’s essentially -- and this gets to what my next question’s about -- what are the respective roles of elected officials and those administrators and bureaucratic employees because you’re seeing it less and less, which I think is a good thing, what you see in some Native communities is still the mentality among the leadership where they have to do it all, and a reticence perhaps to delegate authority. And I’m curious to learn from you how you envision the roles and the separation of those roles and where does one’s work stop and the other’s begin, perhaps?”

Karen Diver:

“I think we’re fairly typical of every tribal government and it comes up during campaign time and when we have our open meetings with our citizenry, they say, ‘The reservation business committee, they micromanage.’ And what I tell people is, ‘You expect us not to micromanage, you want us to take big picture, our appropriate role is in policy making, procedure development, setting vision and long-term direction of the reservation.’ I said, ‘But you want that until the issue involves you, then you expect us to micromanage and fix your problem, and if I go back and tell you you have the ability to provide a grievance or you can talk to the program manager and resolve conflict that way,’ you say, ‘you’re not taking care of my issue.’ So it goes back to that, how do you balance the personal aspect of tribal government, because we are all interrelated, we’re a community, a tight-knit community with the ability to put good governance systems in place and good business systems in place and there’s no perfect science to that, because first of all you’re never going to develop a policy where you’re going to expect to hit every possible outcome or gap. That’s why your policies are a work in progress and need regular review and updating. Also people come up with some really personal circumstances that you may want to accommodate. So I think that there’s a balance there.

The delegation of authority ends up being a lot about control and hiring capable staff and letting them do their job is really key in getting all of the work done because tribal government has a breadth unlike any other form of government. We are corporate, we are government, we are like non-profit service delivery agencies, environmental, education, health. We have to rely on content-area experts. However, I also think being a context expert, they don’t always recognize the big picture they operate in because they’re looking at it from their silo of expertise. So I think tribal government role -- if you look at it in terms of dialogue and challenging each other -- we can help them see the big picture, they can help us understand the peculiarities of their particular area of expertise. That’s where you come up with the win-win. It’s when it’s directive or when you impose upon them, but if you set up the right processes, we often say government-to-government consultation, well we need to have consultation within our organization as well so that we can come up with the best possible scenarios up front and tweak them along the way and see where we may have missed something.”

Ian Record:

“So you mentioned in part of your previous response about the expectations of citizens, particularly come campaign time. For instance, where internally between elected officials and administrators, bureaucratic employees, you may have a clear understanding of who should be doing what, but then there’s the citizen’s expectations that are always causing friction against that. How important is public education about the separations of authorities, about the checks and balances, about the delegations, about who does what? That it’s incumbent upon Native nation governments not just to have a clear internal understanding, but also to make sure the community understands so that it allows you to keep your momentum going?”

Karen Diver:

“It’s a difficult process, I’ll be very honest about that. And one of the ways I characterize it in some of the one-on-one conversations I have with tribal members is if all of my wishes could come true for our own people, one of them would be that it really didn’t matter who you elect, because it didn’t have relevance in your day-to-day life. That as an individual and as a leader in your family, you were able to get and/or acquire those things you need to meet the needs of your own family, whether that’s through employment educational opportunities, social services, that you knew what was out there and you could access it and you were using those resources to build your own self-sufficiency to the point where once it came to the ballot, it was much like traditional forms of government. Who has the skills to do the job? Do they have the background? Do they have a plan? And it changes your expectations. So I think that’s something that comes over time. But also, when people understand that in their best interest, they can self determine their own needs and you’re creating the systems for that to happen, I think it’s going to change the dynamic of what individuals expect out of tribal government.”

Ian Record:

“And isn’t that where strategic planning is very important because the community understands, ‘There’s a larger goal at work here. It’s not just about the now, it’s not just about what I need personally or what my family needs at this moment, but it’s about where we’re trying to head as a community.'“

Karen Diver:

“I think the economic crisis has really changed that a bit. I think in Indian Country -- especially for tribes who have been building a private sector economy within their borders and really using that as a surrogate tax base -- you’ve been able to plug in some of the gaps and funding in order to create programs or supplement them and access other sources of funding. And I think that the downturn really let people know that it’s not a given that tribal government’s going to continue to grow, it’s not a given that the things that are here now will remain. And we’re a per capita [distribution] tribe, so that’s one of the things we’ve been able to do purely as a poverty reduction; nobody’s getting rich off it. But people understood that maybe that isn’t a given and that we have to be smart about our resources, and maybe the best use of tribal government time is looking at economic and governmental stability and not necessarily the day-to-day issues that arise in tribal council’s life. They’re taking a little bit more ownership and more what we’re doing is more information and referral, ‘Did you know that this is available to you and this is available to you?’ rather than direct service, one-on-one."

Ian Record:

“So I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about economic development. And a lot of what the NNI-Harvard Project research looks at is the two polar opposites when it comes to economies that we see in Indian Country. One, you have essentially the dependent economy, which is largely born of constitutions and governments that were imposed or systems of governments that were imposed by the outside. And then you have productive economies, which we’re obviously seeing more and more of as tribes take control of their own affairs, as they begin to launch and build diversified economies. I was wondering, from your perspective, how do Native nations move from a dependent economy, heavily reliant on outsiders, the federal government, to a productive economy where they themselves are in the driver’s seat of economic development? And in that process of moving from one to the other, what are some of the most important building blocks?”

Karen Diver:

“First and foremost, social capital. You need to develop your own citizenry to be a part of that. Talk to a lot of young people and say, ‘What are you going to school for? Liberal arts? Great. We need people to do services to our own band members, but gee, do you also know we need accountants? We need internal auditors; we need dentists and healthcare delivery people, teachers.’ So I think building that social capital so that the cultural competency comes from our own people serving our own community is real key. We can’t always use neighbors and people who aren’t familiar with our own community because then you miss that cultural competency piece. A lot of good people in Indian Country who are Native, but we really need to grow our own and provide the role models. The other part of it is purely regulatory. Do you have the systems in place where economic development can thrive? One of the gaps in our own system right now is we don’t have uniform commercial codes. So that’s kind of on the block. Developing systems of conflict resolution that are transparent and you know who’s rules you’re operating under. Once again, the tenets of Indian law, if you’re working with outside parties, do they really know what dealing with a sovereign is and the context with which this business relationship will be taken out? Regulatory control is also things as simple as what’s your background check policy? Are you going to be able to meet outside commitments that you’re making, for example, under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act? Do you understand their rules? If you’re in a banking relationship, what are their rules, their operating on and how do you mesh that with your own? So I think that a lot of homework goes into building a community where economic development can thrive. And part of it is do you understand your role in it and the role of your people and all of your different departments? For example, if you’re going to work with an outside agency that’s looking at some resources within the reservation, like mining, do you have your regulatory capacity there to look at environmental issues, for example? So, identifying those initiatives and seeing what you have within tribal government that needs to be involved, having them all on the table up front, and identifying your gaps, and either developing it or bringing in consultants who have it so you can have informed decision making.”

Ian Record:

“You mentioned this issue of, or the importance of investing in social capital, particularly among your young people. Not only finding out what their interests are, but saying, ‘Hey, we have needs in this area.’ That’s, but that, isn’t that the first step because then you have to make sure that the opportunities that are available are stable, that they’re consistent? That you’re not going to have the political turnover, ripple effect where the administration comes in and they clean house, which our research has shown causes this horrible problem of brain drain where people say, ‘I’m not going to invest my time and resources in the future of the nation because I can’t be certain I’m going to get a return on that investment.’ So I was wondering if you could speak to that issue of making sure that those opportunities are stable and that the environment in which you’re asking them to participate is reliable.”

Karen Diver:

“Once again, I think if you start to change and really have a conversation with your community about what do they feel is the appropriate role in tribal government in their day-to-day life, that then starts changing the stability of the workforce. And you’re right, we’ve invested heavily in education, both by creating our own institutions and through scholarship funds and telling people, ‘There’s a big world out there. Go learn things and bring it back home.’ Only for them to not be able to have the ability to worry about their sacrifices of their own stability in their family, and that’s sad. It’s sad and it’s unfortunate because you’re right, it creates brain drain. With the capable institutions, and with some emotional maturity and changing your expectations of what tribal leaders should be both personally and professionally, I think you get towards the bigger picture of, ‘If I’m here to serve my people, that means also dealing with my political detractors, as well as my political supporters,’ and they still end up being tribal members and deserve service whether they like you or not, whether they care about you or not, or whether they believe in you or not, you do your best by them. And I think it’s developing some political maturity to say, ‘Yes, I may not be meeting your expectations, but over time, can we find your place here within this community as well?’ So I think it’s a little shortsighted. We think we want to be surrounded by loyalty, but that’s a moving target. On any given day, you’re going to make a decision that may affect people in a way that they may not want, but it’s whether or not your transparency of government helps them understand why you’re doing it, that it’s not personal, that you were going to make this decision because it’s good for the whole and yeah, it might not work for everybody. So I think a part of it is just your skill at the politics of communicating why decisions are made and whether the transparency was there in the decision making so people understand why and then don’t take it personal.”

Ian Record:

“And doesn’t that really get to this issue of rules? The NNI/Harvard Project research clearly shows that rules are more important than resources in terms of building vibrant economies. Can you speak to that issue?”

Karen Diver:

“Yeah sure, it’s interesting because when I talk to folks and I’m in the unfortunate position of having to tell them I can’t do something for them, one of the things I usually preface it with or end with it is, ‘I know you want this, but one of the rules we follow here for this tribal government is if we can’t do it for everyone, we can’t do it for one. And so if…do you think if I ask the tribal membership if we should do this for you, what do you think their answer would be? Would they be supportive of this decision?’ And generally, when you put it in that context, people will understand that you are making rules for all, not the few. On the other hand, sometimes you come up with one where you say, ‘Geez, we should do something about that and would we be willing to do it for everyone? Maybe, maybe not because the circumstances matter, but it’s justifiable and you knew if you put the whole circumstances out there, our community would say, ‘Yeah we don’t maybe don’t want to make that a practice,’ but in this instance, for their set of circumstances, it’s the right thing to do because we do care about our community. But it’s justifiable in a way so you almost have the litmus test of community voting. And you’re saying, 'How would people think about this?' And if you constantly keep that in mind, and the fact that it doesn’t matter who’s in your office, assume you’re telling everybody because everybody will know. Your actions are public and if someone asks, ‘What’s going on with tribal government?’ you have to be willing to tell them. That transparency is what keeps government honest. So day by day, you take it as it comes and take each circumstances, but if you use that litmus test of, ‘If I put it to a referendum vote, or no matter who walked through the door, would you behave the same?’ generally, you’re going to get pretty close to what you need to a capable government whose rules are not only transparent, but consistency ends up being the biggest key.”

Ian Record:

“And when you have those consistent rules in place that are consistently enforced, isn’t that liberating for you as an elected official, because you then are in a position where you can say no to someone and have it not be personal? And say, ‘Here’s my reason. We have, for instance, a hiring and firing dispute, which I’m sure you encounter in an economic development entity of the tribe or within tribal government. You say, ‘Hey, we have a personnel grievance process for that. I’d be overstepping my bounds as an elected official to take on this issue, to even consider your complaint.’”

Karen Diver:

“Very much so. It is liberating in a way and it’s something that the current tribal council, in terms of building our own capacity to govern and also for our own stability in making sure we’re all behaving in the same way even when we’re not in a meeting, when we’re having different interactions, is to actually have those conversations with each other, have a set of board norms, take some planning time and say, ‘here’s something that you don’t necessarily need a policy for, but it’s something we’re confronted with. How do we behave? Let’s be consistent, all get on the same page.’ Your answer then can be, ‘Gee, I hear you and I understand but the council made a decision that this is the way that we’re going to handle it,’ and speaking with one voice. A lot of this goes to whether or not you’re building a capable board that’s cohesive and all operating off of the same page, so speaking with one voice. You have those arguments. It’s kind of like mommy and daddy, you argue, but you don’t let the kids hear you kind of thing. We have that time where we work things out amongst ourselves but once we come to talking about them in a public way, whatever answer prevailed, we all stick with and support and so a lot of it goes to good governance from an internal perspective as well. And you’re right, it is liberating. It gives individual members a way to say, ‘We all stick together.’ You can’t go from one to the other and try to get a different answer because we’re all going to talk about it and then give you our decision as a whole rather than an individual.”

Ian Record:

“One final question I wanted to ask you, and it was interesting, we were interviewing another tribal leader earlier this morning, and he likened being an elected leader of a Native nation to drinking from a fire hose, which I’m sure you can identify with. I was wondering if you could talk about, how can leaders manage the often overwhelming pressures they face, in order to lead effectively? How can they manage that load, forge ahead, implement that strategic vision, guide that strategic vision, so that the nation can achieve the future it wants?”

Karen Diver:

“I think it’s management principles, and I think as we develop our own folks and they decide to serve through elected leadership, they’re going to bring different management capabilities to the table. And I usually tell new managers or people who are also feeling that -- because it happens all through the organization, not just at the top -- is prioritize, delegate and advocate. You prioritize. I liken it to going to the casino’s buffet. You only get one plate at a time, but you have all those choices so you pick that first plate carefully. When things are going well, you might even start with dessert, but when they’re not going well you might start with your meat instead of your salad. So you prioritize and pick that first plate very carefully. You put out the fires, but you pay attention to what precedent are you setting. Don’t just make it go away for going away’s sake 'cause you’re setting precedent, but you put out the fires first and you kind of look at your organization methodically. Right now we’re lucky; we have no fires. So what we’re looking at is that middle layer of management that is actually broader than the emergencies, but has more long-term impact. Does our organizational structure fit the service delivery we need to do, are there gaps, are there efficiencies to be found so you prioritize and you clip your way through it. Delegating is you don’t have to do it all on your own. You have a hierarchy in place. Make sure the hierarchy is working for you. Use content-area experts; hire them if you need to. I think one of the biggest failings of tribal government is to not admitting what you don’t know and asking and listening to those who do. I couldn’t have done a lot of the work in the last year without listening to my environmental staff, my education staff, my health staff. In many ways I take my orders from them. What are your priorities? What do you need me to talk about? Who do you need me to call? And let them do their jobs. Advocate ends up being important, because a lot of I think doing with tribal government work is educating people around and within you of the role of tribal government. What are our boundaries? How do we get partners in to do our work? We’ve been so busy building our self-governance, we forget we have allies out there, different funding sources, the legislatures, building relationships with townships and counties, which I think is actually going backwards lately because of cuts in local government aid and the economy and they see tribes not as partners anymore, but how do we get into their pocketbooks. So maintaining those relationships and advocacy sometimes happens in a crisis, sometimes in a proactive way, but really saying, ‘Hello, we’re still here, we have an impact, we have a role to play. It might not be the one you define, but there are areas of win-win, let’s talk about those,’ and telling that story. And if you can slowly clip through it that way, it becomes a little bit more manageable. What I usually tell people is tribal government, we’ve only really been self-governing in any meaningful way, probably for thirty years. We’ll continue to get better at it and we’ll make mistakes along the way, but it’s what works and so we have to prove that. So prioritizing and making sure you’re hitting those things and trying to prevent them from becoming those fires ends up being really important.”

Ian Record:

“Well Karen, I appreciate your time today and thanks for sharing your wisdom and your experience with us.”

Karen Diver:

“Thank you, my pleasure.”