Pueblo of Laguna

"Modern Tribal Governments, Constitutions, and Sovereignty" Session at NCAI's Annual Convention

Producer
National Congress on American Indians
Year

This session, convened by NCAI at its 2014 Annual Convention, chronicled the growing movement by tribal nations to reform and strengthen their constitutions in order to reflect and preserve their distinct cultures and ways of life, more effectively address their contemporary challenges, and achieve their long-term priorities. It shared the constitutional stories of four tribal nations who have either reformed their constitutions or currently are in the process of doing so.

The session includes 5 presentations from prominent Native nation leaders and scholars:

  1. Sherry Salway Black and Ian Record provide a brief overview of tribal constitutionalism and the current movement among tribal nations to engage in constitutional reform.
  2. John “Rocky” Barrett, longtime chairman of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, shares how the Citizen Potawatomi Nation long struggled with an imposed system of governance and how it turned to constitutional reform to reshape and stabilize that system so that it is capable of helping the nation achieve its strategic priorities.
  3. Erma Vizenor, former Chairwoman of the White Earth Nation, provides a detailed history of White Earth’s Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) system of governance, and why and how White Earth decided to create an entirely new constitution in order to make its system of governance more culturally appropriate and functionally effective.
  4. Richard Luarkie, former Governor of the Pueblo of Laguna, offers a detailed chronology of the Pueblo’s constitutional and governmental odyssey over the past few centuries, and how the Pueblo is in the process of reforming its constitution to fully exercise its sovereignty and make its system of governance more culturally appropriate.
  5. Justin Beaulieu, Coordinator of the Constitution Reform Initiative for the Red Lake Nation, describes the process that Red Lake designed to engage Red Lake citizens about the nation’s current constitution and what they would like to see in a new constitution.

 

 

Resource Type
Citation

“Modern Tribal Governments, Constitutions and Sovereignty”. (October 2014). Presentation. National Congress on American Indians's Partnership for Tribal Governance. Atlanta, GA. Retreived from https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBjQrzrj0Iyu5miLAFGEg9VS6BhS_JS58

Transcripts for all videos are available by request. Please email us: nni@arizona.edu.

Pueblo of Laguna: Elections Excerpt

Year

ARTICLE III - THE PUEBLO COUNCIL, STAFF OFFICERS AND SETTLEMENTS

Section 1. - The Pueblo Council. The governing power of the Pueblo shall be vested in the Pueblo of Laguna Council. The Pueblo Council, functioning as one (1) governmental entity, shall be composed of the following officials:

(a) One Governor.

(b) One First Lieutenant Governor. 

(c) One Second Lieutenant Governor. 

(d) One Head Fiscale. 

(e) One First Fiscale. 

(f) One Second Fiscale.

(g) One Treasurer.

(h) One Secretary.

(i) One Interpreter.

(j) Representatives elected in the customary manner, in accordance with this Constitution and the Election Ordinance required by Section 1 of Article VII, from each of the following villages of the Pueblo: Laguna, Paguate, Casa Blanca-Paraje, Seama, Encinal, and Mesita.

The Village of Laguna is, and shall continue to be, the Capital of the Pueblo of Laguna.

Andrew Martinez: Constitutional Reform: The Secretarial Election Process

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Native Nations Institute's Andrew Martinez (Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community) gives participants a concise and informative overview of how the secretarial election process works when Native nations amend their constitutions, and what happens (and doesn't) when Native nations remove the Secretary of Interior approval clause from their constitutions.

Resource Type
Topics
Citation

Martinez, Andrew. "Constitutional Reform: The Secretarial Election Process." Tribal Constitutions seminar, Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management & Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 3, 2014. Presentation.

Andrew Martinez:

"Good afternoon. My name is Andrew Martinez. I'm originally from San Diego, California. I grew up on the Mesa Grande Indian Reservation out there. And just for scale, it takes about two minutes to drive through on the highway. It's pretty small. I came to NNI last semester as an intern. I just kind of wandered into the office, spoke to Joan, she decided to take me on. I was given the task to look into the secretarial election process and the first thing she said is like, "'Go to the 25 CFR.' I'm a business major; I'm a minor in public policy and management. I'd never look at 25 CFR. I was very, very lost and the more I read it or the first time I looked at it I was very confused, but I had to continue to go over it and go over it and through numerous Google searches I started to discover a pathway through it and that's what I'm here to clarify for you today.

So getting started I'm going to cover the objectives that I was given last semester to basically understand, once I'm going through this process, cover some background on the secretarial election process, specifically to remove the secretarial approval clause from the IRA constitutions, the Indian Reorganization Act constitutions. After the background, I'll step into the legal process in Section 82 and 81 of the Code of Federal Regulations hitting on the actual code and then also discussing tribal action that happens during that time. And these are basically observations that I've made from the tribes that have gone through this process. And I'll end with some documents that I feel that will be helpful for those of you who are undergoing this process right now and drafting your constitutions, and then also show you some more legal documents that Dr. [Robert] Hershey was talking about and open the floor up to questions. And if you would, I'll be asking my own questions. This is the first time I'm giving this presentation to an audience who really has experience in this process. So if you're willing to help me out here, help me understand the process that much better, that would be great.

So starting out, I was tasked with understanding the timeline, basically the framework that exists with the secretarial election process right now. There was no established timeline prior to 1988. That came with an amendment. I found out the amendment happened, looked at the timeline. My next question was, what brought on that amendment? Looked further, I found one case, Coyote Valley Band. Three tribes sued the United States, basically because they wanted to reform their constitutions, submitted documentation to the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] agency, and got no action. One of the tribes waited a couple months; another tribe waited a couple years, no action at all. The ruling was in favor of the tribes and now we have the established framework that I'll be presenting today.

The second is to understand the interactions that happen within the secretarial election process, from the petitioning process, the tribal council interactions, the tribal membership and citizenship, even with the constitutional reform task force or committees that are initiated. And then once the official documents have been submitted to the local agency office, where do they go, how far up do they go? This is where I really started to get interested, and I have to say I got quite excited when I was able to find official BIA paperwork online.

So getting to the background. These points that are on the slide I pulled from presentations that were given during information sessions by tribes to their citizens. A secretarial election is not a tribal election, it's a federal election; therefore, you have to register separately. Second, it's authorized by the Secretary of Interior. That's what the language says. However, the paperwork only works up to the regional director unless there's an issue that needs to be clarified past that. And to clarify that, the Pueblo of Laguna who -- I think both of their representatives have left already, that's okay. Thank you for that. Thank you for posting that. That was very helpful for me, clarifying that it is the regional director that calls the election. And then why is it conducted? For the purpose of allowing tribes to reorganize under a federal statue, specifically the IRA [Indian Reorganization Act], to amend, ratify, revoke their constitutions, bylaws or tribal charters.

And I know that we have some representatives that are not from the U.S., so I put this in here to clarify the language. This is what the typical BIA constitution amendment section looks like and what a lot of us are hitting on today is removing the Secretary of Interior approval clause from that. As you can see, it's noted four times within this section. And this is the BIA template constitution. When you look at other IRA constitutions around the U.S., it looks very similar and when tribes are going through the secretarial election process now, this is the main concern, removing this so that they can put themselves into the driver's seat.

So getting into Section 82, the petitioning process. This is a lot of back-end work for the tribes. This is where the constitutional reform task force is formed. Sticking with the objectives that I was given, I'll only be hitting the points that discuss deadlines and interactions. Starting with 85, the official text of the Code of Federal Regulations notes that there will be a cutoff date once the petition has begun circulating, however it doesn't really specify that.

Filing a petition: Once all signatures have been collected, adequate amount of signatures have been collected, it's submitted to the local agency office by the tribal representative, they choose to make comments, return it back to the tribe, the tribe can accept or reject those comments and then it's returned back for the official filing date. Any challenges to the signatures on the petition must be brought within 15 days. This is the first...well, actually this isn't the first, but this is one of the many points where this process can be stopped, once these challenges are brought. Then, action on the petition. The area director or commissioner, regional director when reviewing has 45 days to review the documents and decide and also assess all the challenges that have been brought.

So tribal action during this point. The tribe will have identified whether it wants to reform its entire constitution during this process or simply hit one amendment or article. And I've seen successes and failures with the searches that I've done, the research, on both ends. Some tribes are successful, some tribes are not. Lac du Flambeau [Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians] just went through this process earlier this year, I think January or February, just to remove that approval clause, secretarial approval clause, failed. White Earth [Nation] reformed their entire constitution, passed. So there's no simple path to success during this process.

Again, Ian [Record] spoke about holding tribal education sessions, keeping tribal members informed, keeping them engaged and keeping them motivated. Make sure that they understand what's happening. Make sure that they understand their constitution how it is right now. Compile a membership list. I put that up there so that those who are actually going through this process specifically on the task force or constitutional reform committee, that they know the exact numbers that they have to hit, the adult members and the petitions, their signatures they need on petitions. And also consider, at this point you haven't submitted documents to the local agency office, consider at this point to who's going to serve on the secretarial election board once approval is given and I'll speak about that more later on. Circulate the petition -- 180 days to circulate the petition from the date of the first signature.

Now I pulled this date off of a document loaded to the BIA website. It's noted' DRAFT 2009.' Can anyone confirm this or deny this for me? Does anyone have any info? No? Okay. If anyone happens to come across any language that clarifies that, please send it to me. And then you will be submitting all documents to the local agency office.

At this point, setting tribally imposed deadlines, I think, is appropriate. Again keeping people motivated. Currently, Pascua Yaqui [Tribe] is going through this process. When I first gave this talk last semester to the managers at the Native Nations Institute, it was the week after they held their first education session. They continued to do this and one of the focus on amending one of the articles is removing the Secretarial approval clause from their amendment section. There are a lot of lawsuits that come out of this process. This is one of them and bringing the attention to the second point, the text of the proposed amendment was numbered rather than labeled alphabetically. Again, there's a lot of steps that can hang up tribes when trying to go through this process. If the petition or official documents once submitted are not deemed appropriate, the process needs to start all over again.

Now moving onto Section 81, Secretarial Election Process. This is once authorization has been given, official documents have been approved. Again, sticking with only the deadlines and interactions, picks up at 81.5 that 45-day period. At this now authorizing official is reviewing the documents. This picks up right after 82. If approved, the secretarial election board will be...will convene for the first time and set the dates for the election. This election needs to happen within the next 90 days and they will then set the dates for registration deadlines, absentee ballot voting if that's the case, and then also the posting of the official voter's list.

Once the secretarial election board is formed, they will convene, meet, set the deadlines at 30 days, no earlier than 30 days I should say, the election packets notices need to be mailed out to tribal citizens because at 20 days prior to the election the official voters list must be posted. That is so citizens can bring challenges forward to the official voting list to verify if the names on the...the names of the citizens who registered to vote are eligible to vote. If the tribe chooses to do absentee ballot voting, the absentee ballots need to be mailed out 10 days prior to the date of the election. And again, any challenges that are brought forth need to be brought forth three days after the election, date of the election.

And then the authorizing official, again regional director, will cover and assess challenges and rule on the sufficiency of the election. And really this was very confusing to me when I first looked into it, but then when I started finding the official documentation that was mailed out to tribal citizens it made it much more clear and for me referring back to certain sections, 82.5 and 81.11, you'll see these notices once you go through this process.

Tribal action during this period. Select representatives for the secretarial election board. Will you have the same representatives that are serving on your reform committee serving on the election board at that time? Do you have...consider the amount of districts that you have. Will you have a representative from each district serving at that point? Continue to hold education sessions, verify that registration's gong out on time, make sure that tribal members are registering and vote. I've seen a couple elections where they just didn't meet the numbers. They didn't meet that 30 percent criteria. So in that the election failed. Submit all absentee ballots on time. And then the election board, following the date of the election, will post the unofficial results and that's when the challenges can be brought forth by the tribal citizens.

So some of the found documents, and I got again real excited when I found these. This is a letter dated 2009 addressed to tribal leaders informing them of education sessions to note the changes that have happened to the IRA, specifically noting first that there's a timeframe established within that first bullet point up there. The second includes language clarifying that an IRA tribe may amend its constitution to remove secretarial approval of future amendments. There you go. There's your official language and the official document. And that led me then to the Native American Technical Corrections Act. I wanted to find out where that's at.

Section 103: Tribal Sovereignty. Each Indian tribe shall retain inherent sovereign power to adopt governing documents under procedures other than those specified in this section. You can remove the language, you're not going to lose your sovereignty, you're not going to lose federal recognition. Here's a document from Pueblo Laguna and if anyone has a chance and is going through this process and wants to see the official documents prior to submitting anything, check out their tribal website. It was actually very helpful for me because they have their documents still loaded from their 2012 secretarial election. This letter here, again, one of their articles that they were amending was removing the secretarial approval clause from their amendment section. This will not affect the status of their current standing as an IRA tribe. The Pueblo will continue to be an IRA tribe with a non-IRA constitution. Again, there it is for you."

Richard Luarkie: The Pueblo of Laguna: A Constitutional History

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

In this informative interview with NNI's Ian Record, Laguna Governor Richard Luarkie provides a detailed overview of what prompted the Pueblo of Laguna to first develop a written constitution in 1908, and what led it to amend the constitution on numerous occasions in the century since. He also discusses the reasons Laguna is currently engaging in another effort to reform its constitution.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Luarkie, Richard. "The Pueblo of Laguna: A Constitutional History." Leading Native Nations interview series. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 3, 2014. Interview.

Ian Record:

“Welcome to Leading Native Nations. I’m your host, Ian Record. On today’s program we are honored to have with us Richard Luarkie. Since January 2011, Richard has served as Governor of his nation, the Pueblo of Laguna. He previously served as First Lieutenant Governor of Laguna and as a village officer for several terms and he is also a former small business owner. Governor, welcome and good to have you with us.

Richard Luarkie:

“Thank you.

Ian Record:

“You and I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and talk in the past on a number of nation building topics. I wanted to sit down with you today and have a conversation about another topic that we haven’t really touched base on yet and that is Native nation constitutionalism and constitutional reform and specifically the Pueblo of Laguna’s current constitution, how it came to be, and how it is changing. And I figured it would be beneficial if we start at the very beginning. What did the Pueblo of Laguna’s 'traditional,' unwritten constitution, if you will, look like before colonization and what core governance principles and institutions did it rely upon?

Richard Luarkie:

“Well, thank you for allowing me to be here again. For the Pueblo of Laguna, like many other tribes, our governance was based on traditional models, traditional teachings. Our creation story tells us that at the time of creation when our Mother created all entities -- deities, the world, the earth, the sun, the moon, the spiritual beings as well as the humans -- there was always leadership and there was always governance. And that governance, though, was fueled and inspired by values of love, of respect, of compassion, of responsibility, of obligation -- not necessarily rights, but responsibility and obligation to do our part. And so leadership was responsible for the caretaking of that and so that’s how I saw our governance systems run prior to any formal government system that came into play like constitutions. So like many other tribes the inspiration of tradition, the inspiration of spirituality, the inspiration of a way of being, in our language we say '[Pueblo language],' our way of life, is really how we governed ourselves. So that’s how we were structured as a government.

Ian Record:

“So in 1908 Laguna became one of the first Native nations to actually develop a written constitution and I’m curious, what prompted Laguna to take that step when it did and how did that written constitution compare to what you just laid out, basically the unwritten way of life that you relied upon for so long in terms of, during that time prior to colonization when that was the sole guide for how the Laguna people lived. How did, what prompted the Laguna to develop that constitution and how did it compare and contrast to that traditional way of life?

Richard Luarkie:

“Well, when the 1908 constitution came along, it was probably a result of a culmination of events, of issues. Laguna like any other tribe had its issues. During the 1800s, there was a lot of divisiveness going on, there was a lot of infiltration from different factions, there was the attempt to hold onto our traditional way of life, our traditional governance systems, but you had Protestant and Presbyterian and Catholic and still some influence from maybe even the Mexican influence and of course the federal government. So you had all this dynamic going on. But you also have now, the inclusion of Bureau [of Indian Affairs] schools, the Carlisle Indian School, the Albuquerque Indian School and all the other schools across the country that took our young kids away when they were small in the 1800s and now come the late 1800s, early 1900s these kids are home and they’re now adults and they’ve been groomed in a manner of how is it that we should govern ourselves. So they’ve learned a whole new system so they began to utilize those teachings. What was also maybe, I don’t think it’s unique to Laguna because I know other tribes and in particular other pueblos this has happened to, but we had three Anglo governors during the end of the 1800s that were married into the tribe. They were Presbyterian and that became a strong influence during that time period and that’s what helped to architect that first constitution.

Understandably though, our local community saw that as looking at it maybe constructively...also recognized that the federal government through the recognition by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 when he recognized the 19 Pueblos by granting us a cane recognizing our sovereign authority. They recognized that acknowledgment. And so as a way to maybe better communicate with the federal government, they saw this as a tool. So it was then adopted by our council and when you read through the 1908 constitution, there’s still remnants of the time before where you had a leader and that leader was, it literally says in the 1908 constitution, ‘The governor is the supreme ruler,’ because prior to that the religious orders are what they call our caciques at the time, they were the ones that appointed the leadership and the leadership then had full authority. But when the constitution came in that changed and so, to a certain degree, and so you began to see remnants still sticking there within the constitution, but I really believe that it was for the purpose of trying to find compromise, trying to find a way to hold on to our traditional way of being, but also prepare for how is the future moving and how do we communicate with those other forms of government in the future.

Ian Record:

“So in part it was to enable outsiders such as the federal government to make sense of who Laguna was and what they wanted to preserve perhaps?

Richard Luarkie:

“I believe it was a way to make sense of who Laguna was, but also I think very, I think intelligently a way for Laguna to protect what it had and using the government’s tools to do that.

Ian Record:

“So that was in 1908 and we’re sitting here in 2014. So you have now 106 years as a Pueblo with a written constitution and I’m curious, how has that 1908 constitution evolved over the past now century plus?

Richard Luarkie:

“It’s real interesting because you begin to see, we’ve had four constitutional amendments since 1908. So you begin to see a shift from authority of one person to the authority being given to the council. You also begin to see a watering down, if you will, of maybe the practice of core values to more formality in how governance is done. And so what I mean by that is the 1908 constitution was in place for almost 50 years.

The first amendment took place in 1949 and so in 1949 that amendment took place for two pieces. The first one was to adopt the IRA because we now became an Indian Reorganization Act tribe. We adopted that. Even though it was not required, the government, the leadership at the time of the Pueblo felt that this was a way to enhance our ability to continue to work with the government. So we became an IRA tribe. They adopted that. They also adopted the membership process. So as a part of the 1940 census they wrote that in. So we began to see membership. But at that time membership was based on residency, it wasn’t based on blood quantum or anything like that. It was based on residency and it also demonstrated core values because if you were helping, you were taking care of your family, you were being part of the community, even if you were not from there, you applied for membership, you were considered for that membership and in many times given membership. So we have individuals that were from another tribe married in at Laguna applied for membership during that timeframe and on paper are four fourths Laguna. So those are things that happened during that time period.

Then we saw a short nine years later we saw the constitution amendment take place again in 1958 and we saw that core value practice begin to shrink and the driver in the 1959 constitution was revenue because now we went from having almost no revenue to having millions and the reason that happened was because of the discovery of uranium on our reservation. So in a short nine years the constitution had a major change. So we implemented blood quantum at that time period. So we went from a value of being a part of the community to defining who’s going be a member based on blood driven by dollars.

And so the other piece that also came in that was very critical during that time period was our tribal court system. So our tribal court system was adopted in the 1958 constitution. So we went from again that membership of being half Indian to half Laguna, tribal courts and per capita. So now we have those three things now being implemented into the constitution. And we began to see that the governor from the 1908 to the 1949 to the 1958 constitution, we’re beginning to see a shift of authority being given to, from the 1908 to the 1949 to the staff officers, away from the governor and in the 1959 constitution, ’58 constitution we begin to see more authority be given to the council, so from the governor to the staff now to the council.

And so now jumping to 1984 we saw another amendment. And so in 1984, the amendment that took place that was most significant there was again related to blood quantum and we reduced the blood quantum requirement from one half to one fourth and the driver for that is we were seeing more, we were seeing a declination in people being enrolled because nobody was meeting that blood quantum anymore. So that was a driver. The other piece of it was that it was an effort to make parents or grandparents, guardians, whoever more responsible for getting their children enrolled. So what also went into that constitutional amendment was that from the time a child is born, the parent, guardian, grandparent, whoever, they have two years to enroll their child. If they miss that two years, they’re out of luck. They can’t become a member, even if they’re four fourths. So that happened in 1984.

So in 2012, we did another constitutional amendment and the constitutional amendment was for two specific things: to remove secretarial approval and to remove the two-year restriction. So the secretarial approval one was pretty straightforward and so that we began to move down that path of being responsible for our own way of governing. The removal of the two-year restriction was an effort to try to get back to that core value because we constantly remind and we tell our people, ‘Love one another, respect one another, be good to one another, be inclusive,’ but if you’re not one fourth, you can’t be a part of us. That’s not consistent with that teaching so we, and if you miss that two-year timeframe, you’re out of luck. And so we removed that so that we can begin the process in that, and so the two-year restriction was removed. And the reason we shared with people is that it makes sense, there’s nothing wrong with people being made responsible to get their children enrolled, but what about those children that didn’t have a chance, that got adopted out. They never had a chance because they didn’t have a parent, they didn’t have a grandparent, they didn’t have anybody and it’s not fair to them.

So what about those people that traditionally, there in our part of the country when a male marries a female, he goes with her family land if she’s not from our Pueblo, obviously he leaves our Pueblo and back in the ‘40s, ‘50s, prior to that, they actually relinquished their rights and went with that other tribe. So if they did the right thing, life happens, maybe the spouse passes on, then this person, because of that two-year restriction is now out of luck, but this now gives them the opportunity to come back to the Pueblo. So those were the drivers behind those amendments and so we’re now beginning dialogue as a directive by the tribal council to now go to that next step of looking at blood quantum and so we’re preparing for that discussion this year with our community, which will probably, if they want to change that, lead to another constitutional amendment.

Ian Record:

“I was going to ask about these 2012 amendments. You and I have had this conversation in the past, but I think it would be helpful to go into a little more detail, because I remember you saying that one of the reasons why you guys tackled that first was to remove the consideration of the feds, of an external actor, if you will, from the deliberations about how do we want to constitute ourselves moving forward? What do we want our constitution to look like where we can basically base it solely on what’s in our best interest and not so much what will the feds approve or not approve of? Can you talk a little bit more about the mindset behind saying, ‘Okay, we’re going to deal with that first. We’re going to get that out of the way and then we can sort of focus on these huge constitutional challenges we face like blood quantum?

Richard Luarkie:

“Right. For our Pueblo we’ve done a lot of, taken a lot of time to look back at history and the implications of policy, federal, all the way back to the Spanish period and the church, the Catholic Church, the Protestants, all those implications, what’s happened. We’ve had also the great fortune to hear individuals like Mr. Jim Anaya and individuals talk about those areas of Indigenous rights and the areas of non-recognition to recognition to now the responsibility of that recognition.

So for Laguna, it was really embracing the ideology of the responsibility for that recognition and in order for us to be responsible, we have to make our decisions in the manner that best fits us, not only on paper and in constitutions, but here and here. It has to make sense to us. And when you have an external body saying, ‘Well, that doesn’t conform with this code or this whatever,’ that’s inconsistent. And so it was a significant driver for us to be able to remove that so that we can then move forward and make these much larger decisions because even things as simple as ‘Indian.’ When you look at the 25 CFR [Code of Federal Regulations] they have ‘Indian’ defined this way. When you look at ICWA [Indian Child Welfare Act], it’s defined this way. When you look at housing, it’s defined this way. So we’re defined for convenience. We needed to take that out of the way and we need to define who we are. And so those were our drivers.

Ian Record:

“It’s interesting, Laguna’s not the only one that’s taken that approach. There’s a growing number of other nations that have basically come to that same realization that, ‘if we are serious about taking full ownership in our governance again and understanding the often insidious forces that were at play, external forces that led us to have the system we have now that is not perhaps true to who we are, we’ve got to get that other actor out of the equation, that Secretary of Interior out of the equation.’ But you still had to go through a secretarial election, right, to get that out and I’m curious. We’re spending part of the conference this afternoon talking about that very topic of secretarial elections and removing the Secretary of Interior approval clause and you guys just recently went through the secretarial election and that’s often a very scary proposition for tribes is to think, ‘Oh, not only do we have to reform our constitution internally, but then we’ve got to go through this bureaucratic sort of often drawn-out process at the federal end and I was wondering if you can perhaps paint a brief picture of what it was like for Laguna, what some of the challenges were in that secretarial election process, perhaps any advice you could give other nations for navigating that process effectively so they can actually get through that election process and then perhaps return to the more important matter at hand.

Richard Luarkie:

“Well, for Laguna, one of the things that was beneficial for us is the relationship we had with the Bureau in our area and them understanding the whys -- why we want to do this -- and the whole purpose behind it and educating them on that. Once we had that piece, and it wasn’t a challenge for us. We’re fortunate we’ve had a good relationship so that wasn’t a big challenge. What was interesting to me and where the challenge fell was with our elders and the older population because their pushback was, ‘Well, if we remove secretarial approval, then we’re relieving the federal government of their trust responsibility,’ and we’re saying, ‘No. No, that’s not right.’ And so what it caused us to do was go through this whole process of educating and reeducating our community and reeducating and so it took us, we started this, gosh, [in] 2005. So it didn’t happen just overnight, but it took some iteration and most important, the most important ingredient was the education. So we still have, to this day we still have some elders saying, ‘That was not right because you relieved the federal government of their trust responsibility.’ You have the other end of the spectrum, our younger people jumping for joy saying, ‘It’s about time. Why are we letting the government do this to us?’ So it’s a growing pain and I think we need to even after the process has taken place, we need to continually educate of what does this policy mean and what are the implications and what does it mean to be a sovereign tribe, a sovereign nation.

Ian Record:

“So I’m glad you touched on citizen education because I wanted to ask you some more questions about that. You mentioned that just around this issue of these two amendments that you passed in 2012, that there was a several-year education process that went into place and I would imagine that that as you said continues on with some of the conversations you want to continue to have around the constitution, whether it’s blood quantum or something else. What approaches have you taken to that task of citizen education, of citizen engagement? What’s worked, what hasn’t? I would assume you’ve learned quite a bit from the citizen interaction you’ve had around this topic over the last several years and that you plan to apply to continuing the conversation with them now.

Richard Luarkie:

“One of the things that has been helpful is consistency and what I mean by that is we’ve, in particular to our constitutional review and amendments, we’ve established a Constitution Review Committee. Since our last amendment we’ve disbanded it, but over those years, once the council decided and the community decided that we need to do a constitutional change, that committee’s been consistent so from administration to administration, whether I’ve been the governor or not, we’ve not changed that committee. So the consistency has been there.

The other pieces that we started the conversation with the community, asking them, ‘What do you think needs to change? Here are the things we’re suggesting and here’s why.’ And so having their input was critical. The other piece is educating the council because if the council doesn’t understand and they’re being asked and it contradicts what you’re telling people, it creates a whole fireworks of assumptions and, ‘Well, he said, she said,’ kind of things and so making sure the council understands what’s happening.

And so I think those are really important things and making sure that there was clarity. And obviously with a larger community it’s more difficult to manage that communication, but I think those pockets are real important. And in our community, we have six villages so in our council meetings...every Thursday we have village meetings so that’s communicated to the villages so the villages have the opportunity to ask questions and pose comments or what not to get back to the council for consideration. And so those are the communication streams that we used. And so the point I’m trying to make is that communication was probably the key element in this constitutional amendment.

Ian Record:

“So you mentioned earlier that revisiting the blood quantum as a prime criteria for determining who can be a part of us and who can’t is something that you’re revisiting. Are there other areas of the constitution or other things that people are talking about integrating into the constitution? I guess I’m trying to get a better handle on what sort of constitutional issues will Laguna be tackling in the near future?

Richard Luarkie:

“That’s probably going to be the biggest one right now. The other piece of it, our offices,  we have a tribal secretary and we have a tribal interpreter and we have a tribal treasurer that are elected officials, but in the constitution it says that they have no governing authority. They’re basically elected administrators. So the question in the community has been, ‘Do we need to elect those positions or just hire full-time with people that have the background to fulfill those particular roles?’ What it’s going to cause is really the requirement to go do a whole job description and those kinds of things because right now in the constitution their job description is as an example tribal secretary, keep the meeting minutes, that kind of stuff and that’s it. So those kind of minor things I think we’ll see addressed in the future, but I think right now the focus really is going to be on this larger element of blood quantum and how do we maintain our tribe, how do we maintain identity as well as protecting our sovereignty going forward. And it’s a, I think it’s going to be a much larger conversation than just blood quantum because when I think about sovereignty, in my mind sovereignty isn’t a definition, of course they’re out there in a dictionary or whatever, but to me sovereignty starts here. Sovereignty is a community thing and I think that is going to be part of what’s going to be woven into this whole conversation of moving forward on blood quantum because it’s going to touch a lot of other areas.

Ian Record:

"Governor, we really appreciate you taking some time to sit down and share your thoughts and experience and wisdom with us."

Richard Luarkie:

"Yes. sir. You're welcome."

Shannon Douma: Cultivating Good Leadership: The Santa Fe Indian School's Summer Policy Academy

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Shannon Douma (Pueblo of Laguna) provides a detailed overview of how the Santa Fe Indian School's Summer Policy Academy works to develop Pueblo youth to ably take the leadership reins of their nations through a rigorous curriculum designed to build up their sense of cultural identity and personal self-confidence and self-esteem.

People
Resource Type
Citation

Douma, Shannon. "Cultivating Good Leadership: The Santa Fe Indian School's Summer Policy Academy." Tribal Constitutions seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 3, 2014. Presentation.

"Good morning everyone. My name is Shannon Douma. I'm from the Pueblo of Laguna -- I'm also Hopi/Tiwa -- and for the past couple years I've been serving as the Director of the Summer Policy Academy, which is a program out of the Santa Fe Indian School. I also serve as the... I share a couple hats at the Native American Community Academy. It's an urban charter school in Albuquerque, New Mexico; it's our eighth year as a school and we serve primarily urban Native students in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I serve as the Enrollment Director, Out of School Time Learning Director.

Today I wanted to share with you though a program that has been in existence for...since 1997 called the Summer Policy Academy. So there are some key questions that I wanted to touch upon in my slide in reference to some of the things that are...you'll want to consider in your constitutions, consider when working with young people. This is a program, it's for Pueblo students and I wanted to draw your attention to how we start our program. We select about 25 Pueblo students from across New Mexico and one of the big...one of our key components of our program is really focused on identity development, understanding self as an individual. We have students that come in from many different parts of our communities, some students that live in urban settings, some students that are born and raised on the reservation. It's important that we identify the students that our Pueblo communities represent, but I wanted to draw your attention to this.

When we work with our students, we start off with an understanding of self, their core values, how they relate to the world. So in terms of who am I as an individual, my inherent qualities, the skills that I have and all of us possess these qualities whether it's our personality, the skills that we posses, our ability to live those core values, the ability to get along with people. In terms of if you think about this as you as a whole person, all of us are individuals that come from families, whether we're a sister, a brother, uncle, auntie, there are very important roles that we have in our communities and how we interact with each other, but also our young people. And so in terms of as individuals, how we live out these responsibilities as brothers and sisters or aunties and uncles is a really important thing that we share with our students because we want to know their role in preserving families within their own communities.

Then, if you think about our self in relation to our communities, how we...what are our roles and responsibilities in our communities? Think about...my community, we have very specific roles and responsibilities that we have as community members and how we live together in our village. In terms of myself, I've been raised as the oldest daughter; I have a lot of responsibilities when it comes to things that happen in our communities around our feast days, around our ceremonies. Being the oldest daughter, I was taught at a very young age to learn how to cook, to clean, to take care of my family. So those are things that have been instilled in me that I now possess and now am passing onto my children.

So in terms of our self in relation to the global world, we want our students to understand that when they leave our communities, they go outside of our communities, they're interacting with people who know little about them, little about who we are as Native people and sometimes there are stereotypes, sometimes there's misperceptions about who we are and it's important that our students know how they relate to the world outside their communities, how does the world see them and how do they maneuver in and out of that world as they go to college, as they seek work in the workforce outside of our communities and then as they come back home.

So all of us possess an understanding of ourselves in many different ways based on our experiences, our backgrounds, our relationships with our families, how we grow as individuals into adulthood. And so this is where...when we talk with our students, this is where we start; it's from an understanding of their core and who they are and how they relate to every aspect of their lives. When we start our work with our students, we start from our core values. Our core value...it's not...all of us have these core values that we possess, that we learned from our families, from our communities –- love -- being able to show the love and compassion to each other and it's something that we want to model to our students when they come and they work with us throughout the time that they're with us how we want to relate to one another. If you think about respect, sometimes respect in a sense is we have an understanding of it, but how do we practice it? Do our students understand what respect is and how they live that through their daily lives? Of course there's a lot of core values that I think resonate with all of us and we possess all those core values and this is a foundation, this is how we advocate for a better future, a desirable future for our students.

And then if you think about...the other side is our...the gifts of our Creator: the ability to learn, our education, the ability to think forwardly, the ability to be innovative and creative and then...so all of these things on the other side are basically things that are inherently given to us by the Creator, whether it's the land, our culture and resources, our families and how we take care of them. And then also governance: how we live our lives and how we govern ourselves, what are those specific responsibilities that we have within our own villages is really important as to how we raise our children, how we develop their most desirable future for our communities.

So when we work with our students, this is the foundation that we start from. We start from our core values. It's a really important place and I think all of us can see that this is what drives how we want to create a better community for our communities. And so this is what we start off with our students. When I move forward, I'm talking about our Summer Policy Academy. So the Summer Policy Academy is a project out of the Leadership Institute of the Santa Fe Indian School and we have 12 programs under that program. And I want to acknowledge my colleagues that have been working on this, the leadership Institute for the past probably 15 years plus.

The program started in 1997 and it was a forum to bring Pueblo people together to talk about important issues like education, like family, like law, health, these important issues that are impacting our communities. This is a picture of our students that have participated in our program. Our Summer Policy Academy is for incoming juniors and seniors representing the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico. Our mission is to grow leaders, youth as critical thinkers, conscious critical thinkers. Just sitting here this past couple of days, a lot of these issues that we talk about, whether it's law, governance, education, health, they're very challenging issues, issues that impact our communities. And so throughout this process that our students are going through, through a two-week process we're engaging them in critical thinking, asking those critical questions of each other, but also our leaders, our faculty that serve in our program. We want students to understand public policy.

And this program began and also our Leadership Institute began because we saw the need to have more people represented in our state government, to be people who are making laws, people who are advocating on behalf of our communities. At that time, there was less people that were representing our communities, our Pueblo communities, so we wanted to advocate and start early to get students to start thinking about these tough issues that sometimes we don't know about until we're in tribal leadership positions and we're in places of leadership in our communities where we start learning about governance, start learning about family issues, about all of the public policies that have been developed over time that have impacted our communities and specifically our Pueblo communities.

Also our program focuses a lot on community and service. We want students to give back, we want students to contribute back to our community, we want students to come back home to our Pueblo communities and serve in key roles in our communities, whether it's program planners, program developers, village roles, tribal leadership. And then of course leadership is an important skill for anyone to have, the ability to problem solve, the ability to speak in public, the ability to problem solve and make decisions so those are all key areas that we focus on with our program.

Our curriculum is designed so that students consider Indigenous issues from a world perspective. I'm going to start from the local tribal perspective. There's issues in our community that our students are studying, in our villages, things that come to the table when it comes to, for instance, health. What's the status of health in our communities? What's the status of health among our Pueblo communities in regards to Native youth? And then looking at our state and tribal governmental relations, we take our students to the New Mexico "Roundhouse," the legislature. They participate in a mock legislative session with our co-director, Mr. Regis Pecos.

And we also study national issues. What is our relationship with the federal government? And so that's important for our students to understand the relationship and how when we advocate and we go to Washington, D.C. We're going to learn about our programs that we have an understanding of what those national issues are and how they impact our communities.

And then globally, what are those Indigenous issues that are happening in places like New Zealand, in Africa, in Australia. We have a key area that we focus on with our students when it comes to understanding that there's communities across the world that are experiencing the same issues that we are as Native people here in the United States.

So our program is a four-week program. It's two weeks on campus at the Santa Fe Indian School. Our students stay in the dormitory there. And our topics focus around those 10 areas that I mentioned in the couple of slides, the gifts of the Creator. And those topics came about through the community institutes that have been happening since 1997, Pueblo people saying health is an important issue, education is an important issue. So those topics are areas that we focus on with our program.

Another part of our program focuses on health and wellness. We want students to know that being healthy and well is important. So part of that is...one part of it is starting every morning with positive affirmations, taking care of their body physically, understanding emotional health, social and emotional health and wellness.

And one part that we do is a talking circle that happens in the evening time where students are pretty much talking about issues that are important to them. What's, maybe, their own personal issues that they want to bring to the table?

Another part is project planning. We want our students to know the essential ingredients to put together a plan and a project when they go home so that they have something to go off when they're implementing their projects.

Team building is important. We have our students for two weeks so we want them to know one another; we want them to reinforce the core values of family, of brothers and sisters. And so that's a key component of our program is being able to be together when it comes to living together and growing together throughout the two weeks that they're with us.

A creative writing component: our students are developing creative writing, free verse poetry, and so we have individuals that come in and share with our students how to do that. And then art is a piece that we just added to our program. We spend a couple days with Pueblo artists. This past year we spent...the past two years, we've spent the week with Robert Tenorio who's a Pueblo potter from Kewa Pueblo. And so he's really instrumental in reinforcing and encouraging students to be involved in...to grow their interest in art and to also display their art and be advocates for people in the community that are wanting to be artists.

Following our program, we have a two-week timeframe where students go back home to their communities, they initiate a service project, and then after the two weeks they come back and they present it at a graduation banquet that they share their project with their peers, their family, the community, tribal leaders.

How do we choose our leaders? Basically, it's a reflection of our community in our communities and our Pueblo communities, any of us can be called upon to serve in key roles in our communities, and so we want our students to reflect our communities. So we don't choose students who are doing well academically only. We want our students who have that leadership potential and so how we recruit students is by recommendation.

I, for the last, since I started the program have served as a recruiter, and so I seek recommendations from our faculty, from community leaders, people that know the students in the schools that can recommend those students, and then understanding that we have different leadership styles and that we...

All of us possess different styles and so we have our students go through an exercise to understand what their leadership styles are. We've graduated seven to eight classes over the...since 2007. We have 150 youth leadership fellows. We have students that are now entering adulthood and moving toward college and career development. I'm going to go through these slides because my time is almost up.

One of the things I wanted to emphasize is the support from our community institutes. Our adult and Pueblo leaders serve as leaders and mentors to our students and Governor [Richard] Luarkie and my brother, Casey Douma, they serve as our faculty. So Governor Luarkie has shared with our students a presentation on governance and what that means and how it's displayed in our community, how it works in our communities, our Pueblo communities and then also with Casey talking about law and what that means. So it's really, really important that we look to our own people because we're the ones that have the expertise, we're the ones that possess those skills and talent and education. So we rely a lot on our community members to contribute back to the community and to our young people.

We're also encouraging adult and youth partnerships, adult and youth relationships, whether it's a parent and child, teacher and student, advisor and a student. We want to encourage that students can seek out an adult for support. And so throughout our entire time that our students are with us, they have the ability to make contact with an individual that they can rely on and trust. I'm going to finish up with a couple of slides.

We're beginning to have the conversation about role of women in leadership and in April 2012 we had a Pueblo Convocation that brought together about 400 people from all the 19 Pueblo communities to focus on the 10 topic areas that I had mentioned. And from this we started understanding the opportunity to bring in women because for the most part women are not involved with the political aspects of our communities. And so we started having the conversation from the public convocation, which led into a Pueblo Women's Convocation, Pueblo Institute for Women, which came from the Brave Girls Project at the Santa Fe Indian School. And so it's a program that we are focusing on in terms of how do we engage women in dialogue and discourse about key issues with our governance in our communities. So this is a three-year process.

We have our SPA One program we spend at the Santa Fe Indian School. We have SPA Two program where we travel to and study at Princeton University. Our students are matched up with a team leader where they research key issues that are pending legislation in Congress. And so our students are studying these issues at Princeton and then eventually travel to Washington, D.C. where they present these issues. We also have an SPA Three program that's an internship program where the students are actually serving in key roles, whether it's in legislator's office, program offices, libraries. We have students at my school that are serving as interns.

I think it's important to understand that when our students commit to our program, we invest the time in them. We invest the time from the time that we meet them with their families to the time they go through our program. And so time is really important when it comes to young people because their times is valuable and they need that investment.

The communication is building our network. How do we build our network of young people? And we've seen through the experiences of SPA that our network has been growing because our students having a deep interest in these issues, but also having the opportunity to network across the Pueblos with each other. We have a conscious investment in our curriculum. We tweak it; we tailor it to see what's worked.

We've tried many programs, many different I guess opportunities when it comes to partnerships. And so we kind of welcome new opportunities, but we also notice when we need to tailor our program to meet the needs of our new audience of students. I guess an opportunity to be open to partnerships.

We have a lot of partnerships through like UNM [University of New Mexico] law school, UNM medical school where we take our students and expose them to law, to health, just for an example. So we want them to pursue career interests in these areas and come back home and support our people.

We have a key component around youth involvement and contribution. So we have students that are developing service projects over the two week time that they're in their communities. But also we have students that serve as representatives at the United Nations Permanent Forum. So we have students that are participating in the youth caucus there, but also internships, that they...of their interests.

And then lastly -- this is the last slide I want to share with you -- is what we have learned and it's something I wanted to pass on to you because we talk a lot about involving young people, we talk a lot about investing in young people early. There were comments about, 'We need to do this in schools,' and so what we've learned is that we need to value youth voice. And we say that young people are important, that young people are our future, that young people are going to be in positions that we are in, that we have to value their voice, we have to engage them in conversation. And then finding money, channeling money to youth initiatives that are going to benefit young people so that we're putting our money where our mouth is really. We're talking about our future; we have to invest in our young people.

Encouraging collaboration among our community tribal programs to support youth. There's a lot of programs in our communities. How do they collaborate to leverage resources to bring ideas together to support youth? And then also identifying real youth advocates in our communities who are invested in youth and support them. There's a lot of things happen in our tribal communities that we may not know about because there's a lot of grassroots organizing that happens with young people. They see an issue, they want to be involved. How do we get them involved and how do we support them?

So the last thing is we always leave our students with this question. What will be your contribution? What is it that you're going to give back to your community? And so throughout the whole entire process when our students are going through this, we notice that young people are eager to be involved. They want to be involved and so our job is to connect them with the resources. And so I just wanted to leave this question with you all so that you can think about what will be your contribution to your communities, whether it's your individual contribution, your family contribution or your community contribution to what happens in your community. I think that's all the time I have, but if you have any questions I'm here." 

Shannon Douma and Richard Luarkie: How Do We Choose Our Leaders and Maintain Quality Leadership? (Q&A)

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Shannon Douma and Richard Luarkie (Pueblo of Laguna) field questions from seminar participants about how the Pueblo and also the Santa Fe Indian School's Summer Policy Academy groom Pueblo youth to take over the reins of leadership of their nations.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Douma, Shannon. "How Do We Choose Our Leaders and Maintain Quality Leadership? (Q&A)." Tribal Constitutions seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 3, 2014. Q&A session.

Luarkie, Richard. "How Do We Choose Our Leaders and Maintain Quality Leadership? (Q&A)." Tribal Constitutions seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 3, 2014. Q&A session.

Casey Douma:

"If you think about it in the context of that analogy of farming, you have to clear the land and plow the field and get it ready for irrigation. Get intentional rather than just take some seeds and throwing out there and hoping something grows, and from that crop becomes the people you select for leadership. We're very intentional in providing the environment for our children so that when they grow with the proper care and attention, that as they grow and the care is given to them, that when it comes time to select the leaders, that we have individuals like Governor [Richard] Luarkie who have been instilled with those types of values, and that when it comes time for harvest, the individuals possess the values and attributes of leadership that we hope for. And we know that that doesn't just happen on its own, it's very intentional in the communities.

So emphasizing the work with youth is so critical because we have to keep thinking of the next generation of leaders: who will be our caretakers, who will sustain us into the future? So in the efforts to think about leadership and leadership development, when it comes time to elections, when it comes time to get leadership in place, you think about who are our choices of people, what types of attributes do they have? And if they lack in those attributes, how do we instill that so that in the future we're not going to just let up, take the best of the worst and just take the whoevers? So as a part of growing leadership to...because so much of the stuff that we talked about for the past two days it comes back to how do we make this happen, how do we get things moving or how do we have a constructive conversation regarding constitutions, about governance, about laws and about our judicial systems? It takes a mindset of critical thinkers, of people who are eager to contribute to their communities. And that doesn't happen naturally. We have to be intentional in our approach.

So I'd like to just add that...commend both Shannon [Douma] and Governor Luarkie of our people for providing that respect. That as youth develop, it is so important because we were blessed by the...we were blessed with...we have leadership like Governor Luarkie, others who are products of the community, that are able to effectively govern and lead."

Miriam Jorgensen:

"Are there other comments or questions? Thank you very much, Casey."

Terry Janis:

"As far as your leadership strategies that you're engaging in in the youth program, speak a little bit more about how you're thinking about the critical nature of service and core values in particular. I ask you for a couple reasons. One is I'm constantly impressed by the Pueblos in the role of service in so many parts of governance and community and everything else. And I was wondering if you could speak more about that kind of balance between service and core values in your curriculum, your pedagogy, and how you think about them."

Shannon Douma:

"I just wanted to touch upon that. I think with the Summer Policy Academy we recognize that we have to establish a strong foundation for our people, for our young people, to instill and reinforce the core values of our people. Our students come in with an understanding...our students come in from a variety of places. They come in with a lot of knowledge about their communities. They've been involved in their communities, they've been raised to know what those values are. And then we have students that have lived outside of the communities that are Pueblo communities... they're Pueblo students, they've lived in places like Colorado Springs or in Albuquerque that maybe don't have as much exposure to their communities, and so we understand that our students come in with a variety of experiences.

So going back to talking about being intentional, we have to be intentional about how we work with our students because they're not learning it in the schools. We know that. They're not learning our history, our knowledge, and our experiences in the school settings. So how do we instill these values with our students to understand service, to understand reciprocity? We want our students to come back home and help our communities and that's something that I think...with all of us...I think for myself, being able to go away and experience college outside of my community and to know that there was always an opportunity to come home and serve my community and in what capacity, but to understand that we serve our communities in many different capacities. Some of us are in direct positions, some of us are working from afar, but to understand that it looks different for all of us and to recognize that.

And I think one of the things that I wanted to mention is that the core values advocate to achieve a higher standard for ourselves and families and our leaders. I think once the expectations are established we begin to reinforce those in our communities, with our families, with our leaders and we start holding each other accountable and so that's what we notice in our students is they start an understanding of how we're supposed to function, how we're supposed to live in terms of through this experience of understanding the history, the culture of our people. There's a real intention that students have in like, 'What can I do to give back? I've learned how my people have gone through this policy with boarding schools.' We've also learned about self-determination. 'How can I now give back to my community?' and it happens in many different ways. It happens through individual service, in groups, it happens within the schools that they go to school at. We have students that, in our school, we have some students from Laguna Pueblo that came to our program this past year and there was three students, they said, 'I didn't learn about this. I'm not learning about this in my school at all. How can I bring back the language and culture to our communities?' And so through that is a process of how we provide them with the tools, but also how we support them along the way.

So I think one of the things that we learn is that our students have the need to give back and they support one another and they help one another and I think they're eager to stay involved. And how we keep them involved is devoting our time to them, real intention of how we support them throughout the process. We don't just say, 'Come to our conference, hang out for a little bit and then go home.' We want them to understand that we're all a network now, we're a community now. So how do we support one another to serve our community because we're all representing those communities of the Pueblo people. Was that helpful?"

Miriam Jorgensen:

"We have one more question and then it's going to be our last question because I want to make sure we have a chance for a brief break and then we also have time for a very exciting pre-lunch panel as well. So sir, you've got the mic for the last question."

Esequiel (Zeke) Garcia:

"I've got a question for both panelists. The Institute, does it incorporate anything like an internship where the youth is paired up with a council member and actually gets hands on experience? And then the question for the Governor, for incoming tribal council members is there any type of...in y'all's setting in your Pueblo...any type of like orientation or how they...any type of orientation to make them aware of what their role is and how they should go about practicing their position as a leader?"

Shannon Douma:

"I think in terms of like an internship with the governor's office or in...I think that's possible. We haven't had a student that was interested in that particular internship. So that's an idea that I think it's something that we can explore. Our internships span across many different areas and we rely a lot on our faculty. Like for instance, the UNM [University of New Mexico] Law School, we have Professor Christine Zuni Cruz who has interns work with her, understanding how it all works with the law school programs, services provided. And so basically students have a certain interest area that they'll pursue and they'll ask us if they can have an internship there, but we haven't had anybody right now that has had an interest in being in the governor's office. I'm sure that would be a great experience for our students, but...so I think that's an idea that we'll explore when it comes to our internships for the coming years. But thank you."

Richard Luarkie:

"Thank you for the question, sir. As far as incoming council members, those officials, we don't...we have a process as I explained earlier where you're kind of groomed from the town crier to the mayordomo to the council. So that's kind of the longer version of our orientation preparing them for those offices. When an individual is then eventually put into office on January 1st when we have our installation ceremony, it's the opportunity for the people to encourage and remind the officials of what their role is. So it's the people that provide that first level of orientation. 'Here's what your responsibility is. Here's your reminders. Here's what the priorities are that we set forward, continue with this.'

When we get into the council environment, when we convene as a council at the beginning of the year, we normally have...we go through what we call our council policy, just our conduct, how we conduct ourselves, our responsibilities. As an example, council members...in council members with the exception of the staff officials, the cane-bearing officers, the only time our council members have authority is when a council meeting is convened. When the council meeting ends, they're regular Joe Blow. They can't go out in the community and say, 'Council said this or I have the authority.' They don't have that authority unless we delegate them. So those kind of things are done to orientate.

Now as far as an internship in the governor's office or the treasurer or the secretary's office, I don't see that those are impossible because we have the Government Affairs Office that's a part of the governor's office. But again, back to our teachings, we're taught, 'Don't chase these positions,' [Pueblo language]. They remind, 'Don't put your hand where you're not ready yet.' So they're very reminding that you don't chase them. When the people think they're ready, then they'll start putting you into these positions and that's kind of your flag that they're probably -- as Casey mentioned -- they're intentional about beginning you down that process. So that's probably a reason from the traditional side we've not necessarily had internships in those offices, but that doesn't mean that the other functions we can't create it now. Even I think in this modern day and age, I don't think that that's something that's unattainable. As a matter of fact, I think it'll be a really cool project that we can develop something like that to help our students, help our students with."

Richard Luarkie: How Do We Choose Our Leaders and Maintain Quality Leadership?: The Pueblo of Laguna

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Pueblo of Laguna Governor Richard Luarkie provides a brief overview of how Laguna citizens gradually and systematically ascend up the leadership ranks within the Pueblo through their adherence to and practice of Pueblo core values.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Luarkie, Richard. "How Do We Choose Our Leaders and Maintain Quality Leadership?: The Pueblo of Laguna." Tribal Constitutions seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 3, 2014. Presentation.

"Good morning everyone. Good to see all of you here. Thank you to the University of Arizona for inviting me down to have some time with you today and Shannon [Douma] did a great presentation this morning on focusing on the development of youth. I'm going to talk a little bit more on the...what she's building for on the tribal leadership side and those elements.

And many of you are currently serving in different roles or have served in roles or you support even those that served in roles, but I guess the perspective I want to take with you is pretty basic. We're taught in all our different communities about who we are and where we come from and all those critical pieces of education. In Laguna, we're taught about our creation story and how we came to be as Native people.

And [Pueblo language], our mother, the Creator, created everything. As Shannon mentioned, we all have roles. So she created first the moon, the sun, the stars, the earth, [Pueblo language], the sage singers. And she gave them [what their] roles and responsibilities would be and what their responsibility was to be; talked to them day in and day out. The sun as we all know comes up every morning from the east, goes across the [Pueblo language], protects us, gives us light, gives us guidance, [Pueblo language]. The moon, the sun, they come out or the moon, the stars then it's their turn. They take turns watching over us. So we're never in the dark because there's always some light on us. That's their role.

Then the spiritual beings were created and their role, as we all know, we start most every day, in your own particular teachings, but we're taught you carry your pouch, you carry your corn meal. We start every day with prayer, ask for that guidance, extend your appreciation for the day, for the life that you've been given. [Pueblo language], it's only borrowed. It's [Pueblo language], the breath we breathe, the heart we have; it's only borrowed. We thank for that every day that we have an opportunity again for a new day. We thank the spirits for that. We ask for her strength for guidance to live a good life.

Then the last creation was us, [Pueblo language], the people. But we were bestowed responsibility as well. [Pueblo language] she bestowed us [Pueblo language], love one another. [Pueblo language], respect one another, [Pueblo language], be careful with one another's heart, don't hurt each other, take care of yourself. [Pueblo language], as we grow, have the ability to learn. [Pueblo language], to be obedient. [Pueblo language], to be disciplined in your thought process. Those are the responsibilities we were given.

So I start in that manner because when you look at leadership, when you look at governance, it's not about your degree, it's not about how good you can write policy or how good you interpret the law. It's how do you take care of the people right? When I talk to young kids, I tell them your most important education is what she talked about; what does grandma teach you, what grandma teaches you, what mom and dad teach you, what the community teaches you. That's your most important education. And I'm not saying a degree is not important because it is, but it's a tool. You can have masters and have a law degree, a PhD, a medical degree, but if you're a jerk it doesn't matter. You need to be a good person. You need to be a good person.

And so those are really important things I think that we need to keep in mind when we think about the earth because when you come into leadership, in Laguna as an example, we're taught, and Shannon and Casey [Douma] can verify results with me. When we're preparing for leadership, we start our leadership in the community. You're responsible for, 'Go help your grandpa, go help your grandma, go cut weeds, go help with everything.' That's where it starts. Not to punish you, not to penalize you, but to teach you responsibility, and paying the price up front first before you go play. Nothing wrong with that.

When we looked at our offices that we had in the Pueblo, we have positions that...what we call the town crier, that's kind of your entry-level position. It's the guy that goes around and he lets the community know that there's going to be a village meeting, there's going to be ditch work, there's going to be grave digging or whatever, keeps the buildings clean and that kind of stuff. Then we have the next officer, which is our mayordomos or ditch bosses, those that are responsible for the land, the irrigation, the land issues, those kind of things. Then you have the council member. The council member obviously serves in our tribal council. Then you have a staff officer. We have six villages and so each village has a staff officer and that staff officer is kind of like the mayor of the village so he's the head of that village. And then we have the governor, secretary, treasurer, interpreter, those positions, the at-large positions.

So in our way, you should normally start as the town crier because you get to know who's in the community, you get to know your community. Then once you finish that maybe you can go to the middle, then you start being a little bit more involved with the direct family issues and your community issues, land issues. Then you can go to a council member once you've completed here, then you can be a council member because now let's assume you've learned your community just a little bit more, you've understood the foundation. Then you can go to the staff position, kind of the head of the village. And then if the people think of you otherwise, then maybe they might consider you for the governor position or the other positions. And that's an important process because it teaches you...it teaches you patience, it teaches you how to learn about your community, but also about yourself.

The other piece of our process is that we don't have a process or a system that allows for declaration of candidacy nor can you campaign. As a matter of fact, if you do those you're disqualified. It's up to the people to decide who is ready for these positions. Then they put your name in for consideration, the people will do the nominating as to who's going to go on the ballot. But even at that point, that teaching, again that starts to what Shannon was talking about, that starts in the home. That teaching also teaches you about [Pueblo language], permission.

When I got nominated for the governor position, I could have just said, 'Alright, I got nominated.' That's not what you're supposed to do. I have to go home now and tell my wife and get her permission and say, 'They nominated us,' not just me. Do I have your permission to accept because it's not just me?' And if she said no, then that's as far as we get. We go to the village and say, 'Thank you for your consideration.' But in this case she allowed it. So you need permission. That's what we're taught in our community, the males, what we get from the female, so we can't just do as we please or we shouldn't anyway. Unfortunately there's a lot of inconsistency with that, but that's our teaching. The clans and all those things we get from our mother. But what that teaches you as well is that humility and serving and being there to carry out the responsibility of the office and the policies and the rules and everything.

So as I stand here as governor with you, it's interesting because at the beginning of the term when the people that's holding office, they give you the canes. We've got canes that represent the symbol of our authority. We have a cane that goes back to the 1600s when the Spanish recognized the Pueblo's right to self-govern. We have a Mexican cane from the 1800s. We have from Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln gave us pueblos in the 1800s, 1863, 1864. So the governor carries the Abraham Lincoln cane. The First Lieutenant carries the Spanish and the Second Lieutenant carries the Mexican. So we still have those and every term or administration, we hand those over to the next official. And when they hand those over, they give us the offices then of course we have to speak to the people and let them know our elections and so on and so forth.

There was one year when we went through that process and one of our officials, they gave us the canes and he got up to make his comments and he said, 'You know, I'm willing to serve and willing to take care of our responsibilities, now you've given me the power to make decisions, I have the power to do this, I have the power to do that.' And he finished his comments. So it got to my turn. I got up to speak, made my comments, but I also touched on what he said about power and I believe this to this day. As the governor, I have no power. All I have is responsibility and authority, that's it. And it's defined for me in the constitution, the policies and the bylaws that we have ordinances. I have no power. The minute I believe I have power, I've lost touch because it then becomes about me and there are people that are very adamant about [Pueblo language], it's not about you. [Pueblo language], literally means 'don't puff your chest, don't show off, don't brag. It's not about you. The people are behind you.' The power resides [Pueblo language] our people [Pueblo language] with our Creator. That's the only place that has power. I have none.

So in that regard, going back to the creation story, the start of it, the little tidbit, Twitter of our creation story. If you don't have that piece, it's very easy to get caught up in all this other stuff. It's very important you start your day in prayer, however it is you pray. Keep your faith. Don't be jumping from this way to this way to that way. Keep your faith, whatever it is. And I think as we go forward in the development of leadership those are things that where at the point of time you need to be aligned with one another.

As parents now, a lot of times...I remember growing up in the Pueblo there and when my...grandpa and grandma raised me. If grandmother had something on the table, if I didn't like it, guess what, I didn't eat. But now sometimes I see parents going and trying to figure out, 'What do I feed my kid who doesn't like what I serve?' We need to get away from that, we need to be able to get our kids to be responsible, to be faithful. You want them all to grow up and be appreciative of what's provided. Whatever little bit, maybe not lobster, but if it's fried potatoes a couple nights in a row, to me that's a feast. Those are feelings that you need to be reminded because when you come into leadership role, those are the things that will help guide and help you make sound decisions, the simplicity.

And as I close here, whether you're a leader for this tribe or that tribe or whatever tribe, whether you're working in a particular program or whatever, know that the people have value; everybody has value. We're in a situation in our communities that I'm seeing now as we go across the country and go to different meetings and what not where we see, well, maybe a person committed murder, maybe a person did this, did that, and we're saying, 'Get rid of that person.' It's a difficult conversation that we're having to have now because in Native communities, we don't have the right to pull a weed and just throw it. As a leader, I don't have the choice to pick and choose whoever. I have to accept and love all of you regardless of what you've done. Granted, there's laws, there's passion, there's safety, responsibility -- all these things we need to balance. But going back to the creation story, our Creator didn't say, 'Leaders, you only need them and them. You only love them and them.' That's not our teaching, but we're embracing that. Then we're willing to fight with our own. Everybody has value.

So I want to encourage you that we find that way...we find a way to recognize that value in one another. The elders, I know a lot of times...like I said, my grandparents raised me. My grandmother was born in 1903. When I came around she was already in her 60s, when I was born. She died in the '90s, she was 88. But, you know, grandparents are so very, very special and those of you that are grandparents know that you're loved, know that you're loved. You are teachers, you are caretakers, you are guides, you are protection and you are angels. You never know if you're going to...these are all elements I intentionally bounced because in our Native communities we don't have a written document that states, 'Here's how you need to live.' All these things contribute. Back to my point: everyone has value. Grandparents, I love you because my grandparents raised me. I have a special tie to them as grandparents.

So with that, I hope that I've been able to contribute here. Just on the comical side, a couple years ago, my daughter, she was about eight years old and she said, 'Dad, help me with this science problem.' 'Sure.' And it was on sugars and all those kinds of things and when I started college I so I was like a biology major and chemistry minor so I learned about carbons and sugars and all that kind of stuff. So I took off and was [sharing] my knowledge and my wisdom. So I went into talking about the structure of sugars and all that kind of stuff and she was sitting there really listening intensely. So after I finished she goes, 'Wow, Dad.' And I thought she was going to say, 'Wow, you're the smartest guy in the world.' And she goes, 'Wow, Dad, you have a lot of useless information.' Thank you very much."

Richard Luarkie: Leadership and Nation Building at Pueblo of Laguna

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

In this informative interview with NNI's Ian Record, Governor Richard Luarkie of the Pueblo of Laguna discusses Laguna's approach to nation building, the roles their core values and time-tested process for cultivating effective leaders has played in that effort, and how and why Laguna has worked to systematically build a diversified, sustainable economy.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Luarkie, Richard. "Leadership and Nation Building at Pueblo of Laguna." Leading Native Nations interview series. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. October 1, 2012. Interview.

Ian Record:

"Welcome to Leading Native Nations. I'm your host, Ian Record. On today's program, we are honored to have with us Richard Luarkie. Since January of 2011, Richard has served as Governor of his nation, the Pueblo of Laguna. He previously served as First Lieutenant Governor of Laguna and as a village officer for several terms. He also is a former small business owner. Governor, welcome and good to have you with us today."

Richard Luarkie:

"Thank you."

Ian Record:

"I've shared a few highlights about your impressive personal biography, but why don't we start out by having you tell us a little bit more about yourself. What did I leave out?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Well, again, thank you very much for allowing me to be here and interview with you today. As far as my background, my education, I did go to the tribal school systems there in Laguna, Laguna Elementary School through the high school and then went onto college, got a football scholarship, went on to play at a D-three [Division III] school in Ohio, eventually transferred back to New Mexico, graduated with my bachelor's in Economics from the University of New Mexico and then worked for our tribe, the tribal entity Laguna Industries at the time, and then the Pueblo itself, then returned to graduate school at New Mexico State University where I got my master's degree from New Mexico State. And my professional career, I've enjoyed opportunities working with private sector firms like AT&T Global Systems, American Management Systems, mainly IT, Indian Health Service, and I've had the privilege as you mentioned of owning my own firm. So that's just a little bit more about myself."

Ian Record:

"So we're here today to tap into your knowledge, your wisdom, your experience regarding a wide range of critical Native nation building and governance topics and let's start with nation building. How do you define nation building and what does it entail for the Pueblo Laguna?"

Richard Luarkie:

"It's a wonderful opportunity, I think, for many tribes to reinvent themselves. For the Pueblo of Laguna, nation building is about the embracing or re-embracing of core values and responsibility to those values, promotion of courage and capacity and exercising of resilience in a new way. And what I mean by that is resilience not in a survivor mode, but resilience of, ‘Now that we're in control, what are we going to do?' However, as a step towards that, in order for this to be relevant and practical for most a major effort must be put forth to change the mindset of our people that we are nations, not minority groups. We are nations not only in name but in responsibility. I had one of our former governors from one of the pueblos, pueblo nations there in New Mexico, he shared an experience with me that in the ‘60s he had the opportunity to meet Malcolm X. And Malcolm X, once he found out that the individual was Native American, he told the governor, the former governor, ‘I want what you have. You have the ability to make your own taxes, create your own laws, you have your own land base, you can determine your own membership, citizenship.' And for us as tribes, we have to take that...we have to embrace that responsibility, and I believe that with the United States recognizing us as tribes on the same level as they do states as domestic sovereigns, it's a tremendous opportunity to build and rebuild our nations. So nation building is critical for us in the fact that for not only as Laguna but as Native nations across the country, we have to embrace that responsibility for nation building."

Ian Record:

"The Native Nations Institute has worked with the Pueblo of Laguna for a number of years now, providing assistance in some respects, but more often than not just observing some of the amazing things that the government of the Pueblo of Laguna has been able to do. Can you...imagine you were in an elevator with someone and they asked you to describe in just the few minutes you had together what the Pueblo of Laguna government looks like and how it works, what would you tell them? I guess what would you highlight in terms of what makes that governance system unique and what makes it distinct?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Well, for me, my belief is that it's a government that is truly based on the desires of the people. The position that I currently serve in is not my position. The people, if they so chose, could have a meeting tomorrow and decide that, ‘Thank you for your services but you're going to go this far, we'll have someone finish the rest of the year.' It is truly in the control of the people. And to me, that definitely brings the responsibility for balance, for acknowledgement of our role, and so I think in a very short phrase we have a government that is truly based on the people and the authority of the people to place in positions and lead."

Ian Record:

"We were...before we sat down for this interview we had a chance to sit down with a group of folks from the Native Nations Institute and we got to talking about a wide array of governance topics, and one of the things that you touched on in describing your job is the challenges of your job, not just the professional challenges but the personal challenges and the amount of time that you have to dedicate in order to do your job well and to serve your people effectively. Can you talk about some of the challenges of being a leader of a Native nation and perhaps some of the more unique challenges of being a leader of a Native nation?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Sure. In most cases people that end up in these types of positions have ended up in these positions because they've pursued it, they campaigned, they declared candidacy, those kind of things, and in our tribe that's not our process. As I mentioned previously, it is the authority of the people to decide who will be nominated and ultimately who will be selected. But the responsibility that comes with this...mainstream society you hear Democrats and Republicans battling about who's right, who's wrong. They're focused on ideologies and egos and not the people. For us as Native nations leaders, in particular to Laguna, in our tribe the teaching is that the Governor also carries a traditional title which is Father, '[Laguna language].' And in that role, it is a tremendous responsibility. If you can liken...not only has the good Lord given the men the incredible privilege of using his name as Father, but he has placed upon the shoulders of fathers an incredible, incredible responsibility and that's the responsibility of caring for children. And in our teachings, the Governor is also the Father of our people, of our community. This is a humbling balance because the children, '[Laguna language],' I love them unconditionally and I respect them unconditionally, whether they agree with me or not and that is an incredible challenge. That aside from even my own children. I love them like my own children and when somebody challenges you and questions you, it is an incredible reach for strength to be able to not attack back but to say, ‘Thank you for your advice' whether I agreed with them or not to say, ‘Thank you' and move on. So it is those things that I think are uniquely challenging about a Native nation, because we're taught that our role is not about credibility, about visibility, about, ‘I'm better than anyone else', it's about humbly serving and doing the best for the wellbeing of our people."

Ian Record:

"So for a leader of Laguna to lead in the way that the core values of the people dictate, it's incumbent upon you and your fellow leaders to...you said love all of your people unconditionally. And doesn't that in practice in terms of the day-to-day operations of governance mean that you need to treat everyone the same and treat everyone equitably and fairly and essentially govern consistently so you're not playing favorites, you're not privileging one group over another group or one family over another family?"

Richard Luarkie:

"That’s absolutely the case, and I think that's the reason why you end up with challenge because some folks think that I'm not being...I'm not favoring them, so therefore I may have the perception that I'm not treating them the way I'm treating everybody else but that's not the case. I really...I think that in serving in these kind of roles, fairness is objective, it's...or not objective, subjective and I believe that I have to be consistent. I have to be...I have to be focused on the quality of my care, if you will, of our people. And so it is difficult to demonstrate love, to demonstrate respect when mud is thrown at you, but I think at the end of the day that's why prayer is so important, a reliance on the Higher Power is so important so that renewal can be given."

Ian Record:

"And doesn't part of that caring for your people unconditionally and caring for all of your people and treating them fairly across the board, doesn't that sometimes mean you have to say no for the betterment...you have to say 'no' to that one person for the betterment of all?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Absolutely, and that's why I used the analogy of a father. With our children, there are times that maybe they want to go to the movies, they want to go hang out with their friends, and you've got to say 'no' and they're going to be upset with you. It's no different in this environment. Sometimes our people may want a new facility, but we're going to have to say 'no' because we don't have the revenue to support it. It's not that we don't want it, it's that we need to make sure that we don't do things to just appease and gain favoritism. We have to do our actions with responsibility because when you take money from one source that means something else is impacted and you have to be aware of what the impact is going to be."

Ian Record:

"So you mentioned earlier that the way that Pueblo of Laguna does things, particularly with respect to how it chooses its leaders that you don't campaign and that the sort of...the common understanding of the people of community is that people who are openly seeking the office of leadership, that's going to be frowned upon. Can you...and you mentioned in previous discussions that the common phrase translated to English is, ‘You don't chase it.' Can you talk a little bit more about that and how that came to be and perhaps its roots in traditional Laguna governance?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Sure. We're taught from very early stages, from the men folk that attend village meetings, that attend public...that we have responsibilities, obligations in our community to do our part to contribute. And it's during these times that the older men that have been in these positions remind that we should not chase these positions, we should not boast. A term they use is '[Laguna language].' It literally means, ‘Don't pound your chest, don't show off.' That it's literally up to the people to decide who should be in these positions. With communication, with sincerity, with prayer it is believed that our Creator will put the thought in our minds as to who might be the best person to lead at this time and so those individuals that are of consideration, their names are put forth by the people, not themselves. We do not have in our policy, in our ordinances at Laguna...individuals are not allowed to declare candidacy nor are they allowed to campaign. If they do either, they're disqualified. It is truly up to the people to decide. And so boasting is not something that is looked on kindly, and I believe that when those things are done, our community reminds, ‘Here's why you shouldn't do it,' whether it's in the village meeting, whether it's officials reminding, they remind that boasting is not an acceptable approach, that it is the people's authority to determine who will sit in those positions."

Ian Record:

"So you...as I mentioned at the outset in the introduction, you've been Governor for going on two years now, but before that you served in other leadership positions within the Pueblo, and I'm sure that those previous positions that you held leading up to becoming Governor helped prepare you. And I think that's part of the process that Laguna has long had in place to sort of have people move up through the leadership system and ultimately assume the highest position there is, but looking back now are there certain things that you wish you knew...that you know now that you wish you knew back then before your first day as Governor or the things that kind of came as a surprise to you and said, ‘Wow, I didn't really expect this' or ‘If I had to do it over I'd maybe prepare a little bit more in this area'?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Well, in our Pueblo, in order to get into positions, there is a traditional process as you're referring to. The traditional process is that an individual normally will start out as a town crier. That's the individual that goes around and makes announcements to the village members that there's a meeting tonight, there's ditch work tomorrow, there's whatever the case may be. And so that role is not only for the messaging, but also to get to know the community for that individual. The second step up is the mayordomo, the village officer. That role the individual is responsible for land assignments, family disputes, those kind of things and that role obviously takes care of those functions but also is intended to...for the individual to learn a little more intimately the people. Then the next role up is the council role and that council role, because now you have these first two steps, you have a broader perspective, so now you're able to see a bigger picture. So maybe the people may consider you to go to the council. Then we have what we call a 'staff officer,' which is analogous to the mayor of the village and it's that staff that is I guess analogous to the cabinet of a Governor. And so...and at that point then, once you serve in that role then you have the opportunity if the people so see it may ask you to serve as Governor, secretary, treasurer, the broader positions. So that's the training ground and...I'm sorry I lost my train of thought on that."

Ian Record:

"That's good. I was talking about what do you wish you knew before you took office."

Richard Luarkie:

"And so those are the training steps to getting into these positions. Based on that, it gives you a great understanding and a great grounding for community. But one of the things I wish I knew more of before I got into office was the history, governmental history, policy and the implications of the impositions of federal policy and what has framed Public Law 93-638, what has framed the Indian Civil Rights Act, what has framed all these other elements that have come into play. It would have been much more I think enlightening to come into this office on day one having a better handle on those things, because you deal not only with local issues, but you're dealing with state and federal issues. And much of the state and federal issues are defined by federal policy, so it would have been great to have a better handle on that element."

Ian Record:

"And don't...following up on that, a colleague of mine once said that, ‘To be a leader you need to be as much an educator and a student as a decision maker.' How do you see that statement, that it's not just when you achieve that position of responsibility as governor, as chairman, as councilor, whatever it might be? That it's not just about making decisions at that point. It's about continuing to learn and continuing to teach the people in the community and learn from them and also learn these other things that you've alluded to, like the federal policies and what they mean for your nation in particular."

Richard Luarkie:

"I couldn't agree with that statement more. I believe it's absolutely critical to educate not only your community but your council. Your council needs to understand what they're deciding on so that they're able to articulate back to the community the whys of the decision. But also in those decisions that require community input, it's absolutely critical that your council's able to articulate to the community what they're needing and why. And so as that feeds back up to the ultimate decision, the Governor or leadership position needs to be able to frame that information in a manner that the council can understand, they can understand it to be able to articulate it, that the community can be able to take that articulation and make sense of it and make a recommendation back to the council, ultimately to the body that will make the decision. So it's absolutely important to be able to educate. But it's also important to be able to sit and take the time to ask the questions and that as a leader, ‘I don't understand. Can you explain to me a little bit more before I put it to my council? Is there some additional information that can be provided?' So in a leadership role, that's where I think the humbleness and humility come in to be able to make sure that I'm able to understand and I'm able to learn what the issues are so constant learning and constant educating are...they go hand-in-hand in this role."

Ian Record:

"And isn't it one of your core teachings, the core values of Laguna traditionally for their leaders to make sure that they don't make ill-informed, hasty decisions, that you actually take that time and you make sure you fully understand the issue before you decide upon it? And I would imagine that's more crucial than ever given the complexity of the governance challenges that Laguna faces in the 21st century."

Richard Luarkie:

"In our environment, in our council environment, you often hear the reminder '[Laguna language].' This means, ‘Do it properly, take your time, be diligent.' It doesn't mean sit there for six or eight months. It means be analytical, be objective in your decision making. Turn the stones that you need to turn but be...do it properly. And so I believe that for us, decision making and being able to frame decisions in a manner that is diligent is critical for us. So those are all very important elements for us in our decision making."

Ian Record:

"Isn't it difficult though for some leaders...I think there's a feeling among some leaders and perhaps some people in the community that if you happen to become a chairman of a tribe or a councilor of a nation that you're automatically supposed to have all the answers and so you shouldn't be asking questions, you should already know this stuff. Obviously, that's not the way things operate at Laguna, and from what you're saying it sounds like that there's not embarrassment with asking questions to get a better handle on, 'What's the issue we're facing and what's the best decision to choose?'"

Richard Luarkie:

"Yes. I very much agree that for Laguna that's why it's so important that those reminders go out, ‘Don't pound your chest, don't chase these things' because when you're of that type of a personality, arrogance, 'I know it all,' it's difficult for you to ask for help. But when you're humble and you serve with humility, then it's easier to say [Laguna language], ‘Help me. Guide me here, I need a little bit more information.' We also have a system that at Laguna where former leadership...it's not a situation where I go and try to undo everything the former governor did or previous governors. But instead I take what they've done and I continue building on it and I draw on them to help me keep moving it forward. So whoever comes behind me, I'm going to do the same to help them. So there's that perpetuation, that continuance of support from former leadership in moving our efforts forward."

Ian Record:

"In fact that's a good segue into one of my other questions about leadership and that is, what is Laguna's approach to mentoring the future leaders or people that are coming up that traditional leadership process pipeline, if you will? For mentoring them to be as prepared as possible for when they become governor one day or become lieutenant governor one day. What does Laguna do to mentor them, and then when there's that transition period, when one group of leaders is getting ready to give way to another group of leaders, is there a process for transferring of knowledge there?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Well, on the mentoring piece, one of the things that I think is really critical is that process I explained earlier with the town crier, the mayordomo, that's real important, because it gives you an understanding of community but also at those times when there's ditch work, when there's village work, the men are sharing information and that's one of the best times for young people, the young men in particular to get this information. But on a more formal side, one of the things we've been doing in particular to our administration has been...we've been including our young people in meetings, we've taken them on trips with us, not just for the fun of going on a trip but actually sitting in and engaging on presentations. As an example, we had some junior high students that went with us to Washington, D.C. and they presented to Congressman Udall, to Congressman Lujan on some very pertinent issues like housing, recreational facilities for our youth, suicide. So we're engaging them so they see the relevance of our work as well as the relevance of their education to the work. So it's very critical that we begin to expose our young people to the issues now as opposed to waiting to the point of time they're in office or whatever the case may be. And I think it's equally important that we grow these young people not to just be tribal leaders, but to be good people that are knowledgeable about their community and are respectful not only to their community but to themselves. So those are really critical elements. And so that is I think important on the mentoring side. On the transitioning of leadership, it's equally important to be able to sit with outgoing leadership, incoming leadership and to be able to develop that bond and that relationship that says, ‘As we go out of the way and you guys come in, we fill in the back to make sure we can continually help you.' So it's not a, ‘I got all the information from you now and I'm going to go lay on the beach.' That's not the case. It's, ‘Now I'm going to be able to help you from behind and I'll support you.' So it's a transition of support, and so that is very critical in how we develop our leadership, how we transition initiatives, continuity is critical for us."

Ian Record:

"And I'm assuming it does wonders for the government's institutional memory and the ability to sort of not only get things going, but sustain them as you mentioned where you're not...you're able to build upon the work of your predecessors because you're able to access their knowledge and their expertise in an ongoing way."

Richard Luarkie:

"Right. Right. We don't have a system that's made up of Republicans or Democrats or Independents or whatever. We have a system that's Laguna and we're Laguna and this is what we're supposed to do for our people. And so it's a system of continuity, a system of consistency, so it definitely helps in the continuation of initiatives."

Ian Record:

"And do you think that Laguna would have been able to develop the robust, diversified economy it has without that governance system in place?"

Richard Luarkie:

"I don't believe it would have been able to do that, because you need...you need not only the consistency in leadership, but you need to have trust from the government to the businesses and the economy that's being created and you can't get that with inconsistent leadership."

Ian Record:

"So you've touched on some of the keys of being an effective leader, of being a nation building leader if you will, things like not being afraid to ask questions, to make sure you make educated decisions, be an educator of your people so that they're onboard with what's going on. What are some other things from your experience that nation building leaders do, that effective leaders of nations do?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Well, one of the things that I think is so critical is back to that element of not being afraid to ask for help, whether it's from the Native Nations Institute, whether it's from tribal member Joe Blow, ‘Can you help me clean this ditch' to whoever, I think humbleness and humility is a major element in nation building. Education of self and community is critical. As I mentioned earlier, we're nations, we're not minority groups. We are nations and we need to understand the responsibility to being a nation and in order to do that, we have to know...we have to be educated. And I mean education, not just formal education with a degree, but education in identity, education in community, education in spirituality, education in language. Our language identifies who we are, it's so very critical that we have language. So all those elements combined together are pieces that lend to nation building and are pieces that we should continually ask for guidance in, that we should continually seek to strengthen, those are areas that as a nation builder we should have as cornerstones. But at the heart of it is our core values, the ability to respect, to love, to have discipline, to have obedience in how we conduct ourselves. Those are things that as nation builders we should not be afraid to ask our people to do. But the most important element of that is for us as leaders to demonstrate that desired behavior. So asking for help is one of the biggest things that I think we need to be able to do, then of course implement. Implementation is key, and I see many tribes...and Laguna we've done it as well, where we've done research, we've done analysis but when you don't implement, it's all for naught. We have to implement but with implementation comes responsibility. So it loops back around to who can help us best implement."

Ian Record:

"And with implementation you need capacity, don't you?"

Richard Luarkie:

"That's right."

Ian Record:

"And that means that...what a lot of Native nations struggle with is getting beyond this sort of legacy of colonialism if you will that the leaders are expected to do it all and so a lot of leaders have this mindset of, ‘If anything's going to get done in this nation, I've got to be involved in it' versus ‘I'm going to make sure as a leader that we build up our institutional capacity through qualified people with the skills and expertise that we need to get the job done.' Is that something that you wrestle with? It sounds like you guys deal with that relatively well, but is that still a challenge?"

Richard Luarkie:

"It definitely is a challenge and even for Laguna we've...since 1962 we've had a formal scholarship program, so many of our tribal members, we have had our bachelor's degrees paid for by the Pueblo because way back when our elders saw the importance of education and established a scholarship fund. So as a result of that, scholarships have been available. I'm a recipient of that. My bachelor's degree was paid for by our tribe and many others. And so capacity building was very, very important from an early stage and still is. But I think one of the things we're realizing now is that capacity building is not only important on the formal side and the technical aspects but on the community side. We have to not...we can't lose focus of who we are. We have to know who we are and if that means relearning pieces of who we are, we need to do that. So in...with the community education and formal education coupled together, that makes for a strong nation in our own capacity. And I think it also goes back to even those fundamental blessings that our Creator has bestowed on many of us as Native people and that's the blessing of competency. We have some smart people. We have intelligent people, but we have to get confident in our own competence. We have to be confident in each other. We have to respect each others' competencies and where there's weakness, let's help them get strong. And so that is a major element in nation building, being able to respect the competencies of one another and to draw on it. There's many instances that as opposed to going down the road and finding a consultant we may have it right here or if we don't, maybe the next tribe over does, but we don't seem to draw on one another and that's where I think it's going to be a major element as we go forward into the future for tribes to recognize that competency that we've been able to develop."

Ian Record:

"I want to draw together a couple of themes that you just alluded to. One is this confidence in competency, the competency of your own people and not just folks within...that are working within tribal government but people out in the community. And another thing you brought up was that you can't be afraid to ask your people for help and one of the things that we see a lot of tribes struggle with is...and this is really a legacy of the sort of dependency mentality that colonialism seeded in so many Native communities, where the government is expected to do everything and that in many instances they'll essentially subsume the role of what the community is supposed to be doing on its own. And so...what we've heard a growing number of tribal leaders advocate for is, 'We need to get back to an understanding of tribal civics,' if you will, 'that is rooted in the reality that the government is not the nation, the government of the nation is not the nation itself, but the government supports the nation as the nation acts as the nation, as it acts as a community.' I've heard you discuss, for instance, the dynamic of ditch work in your community, where citizens of your community are expected to contribute to the life of the nation and they're expected to play a valued role. Can you talk about how important that is and how empowering that is for you in your job?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Absolutely. Everybody needs to understand their role. Even I, serving currently as governor, when ditch work is called, the village officers, the mayordomos are in charge of ditch work. So when I go to ditch work, I'm under their authority. They tell me when to get out of the ditch, when to take a break along with everybody else. Just because I'm the governor doesn't give me the authority to jump out of the ditch whenever I want. I'm under their terms until they release us for the day. And so I think the understanding of role and where the authorities lie is absolutely critical, and I think that's empowering because we recognize and we understand how important community teaching comes back into play because you may have...in our community you might see a person at the local gas station that's pumping your gas and cleaning your windshield but in our community that may be a very high religious leader. So understanding and respecting role is critical, because you don't know who you're working with at times and you have to respect those that are in authority. And I think that brings empowerment to the community because it reminds about respect for leadership, it reminds respect for mother and father, for grandma and grandpa. So I think that it's definitely a key element to nation building because that's the part that gets forgotten. It's not about money, it's not about policy, it's not about law, it's about getting along. That's critical."

Ian Record:

"I wanted to touch on now a quote that I've heard you share a number of times -- watching you present to other tribal leaders and perhaps future leaders of Native nations -- and that is you say that when you were chosen to lead your nation that you were not given great power but you were given great responsibility. And that's a fundamental concept that I think a lot of not just leaders of Native nations but leaders of all nations struggle with is really conceiving in a proper way what it is that they were chosen to do, exercising responsibility versus exercising power. Can you explain what you meant by that comment and why it's critical for leaders of Native nations to approach their leadership authority with that mindset?"

Richard Luarkie:

"To me, when this world turns, when a deer runs, when a salmon swims, when we wake up in the morning, when our heart beats, all those things are powered by the same source, our Creator. To me, that's where the power lies. I am a human being. When the people put me in office, they didn't give me any power, but they gave me tremendous, incredible responsibility to take care of them, tremendous, incredible responsibility to protect them. That's my job. The power resides with our Creator and it resides with the people. The minute I start believing I have power, I've lost, I've gotten weak because that comes from selfish, ulterior motives and that is from...when you begin to lead and make decisions with selfish, ulterior motives, you leave your people behind, you leave your children behind and that is not the role of a leader."

Ian Record:

"So it sounds like from everything you've shared with us that the...through the existence and the practicing of Laguna core values, that there's pretty strong deterrents in place to prevent just that kind of behavior that you've talked about, those selfish, ulterior motives from influencing the decision making of a leader at Laguna. But if and when those issues do arise, when someone's leading in an unethical way for instance, how does Laguna deal with that? What's the process that's in place for sort of restoring that person to a place where they're acting in a good way or if necessary punishing them or removing them from office if that's the approach that you take? Can you talk a little bit about how Laguna deals with that issue?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Sure. Laguna is like any other Pueblo or any other tribe in this nation, we're not perfect. We have our challenges and we have those individuals that challenge. And for Laguna, one of the ways though that we deal with that type of a situation is that it is the responsibility of the leadership to remind of proper behavior, of proper conduct. In our community we have village meetings on Thursday evenings and at these village meetings the community also has the opportunity to remind, ‘Here's what we expect of you, here's what we don't expect of you in your behavior.' If the problem is serious enough, we have the ability to call what we call 'general meetings,' where we invite the whole community and we present the issue and it's the people then that have the authority to say, ‘Joe Blow, you've come this far, thank you for your service. We're going to relieve you at this point.' Or they can say, ‘Sit there and listen to us for the next several hours and we're going to remind you of why we put you there and what we expect of you.' And at Laguna, I don't think our system is a system of immediate penalty, ‘Let's throw the guy out, let's throw the gal out.' But instead, ‘Let's nurture them, let's correct them, let's remind them in hopes that they won't do it again.' And they include the community in those situations, so it's just not the officers and a couple people sitting there, it's the community. So not to...not meant to embarrass the individual, but so that the individual knows the community knows and the community helps them back to that teaching of, ‘It takes a village to raise a kid,' no different in this environment. When an official maybe has gotten out of line, it takes the community to remind them and get them back in line."

Ian Record:

"I want to switch gears now to the issue of strategic orientation which is one of the, what the NNI and Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development Research has found is one of the five keys to effective nation building, this issue of having a long-term strategic vision of where you want to head as a nation and then governing towards that vision and not just governing from day to day. I had a chance in advance of this interview to sit down and go through the Pueblo of Laguna's website and I noticed that among other things that the Laguna tribal council is charged with advancing five strategic priorities aimed at enhancing the quality of life of the Laguna people and those included health, education, financial stability, infrastructure and workforce excellence. And I'm curious to learn from you, how did the tribal council arrive at those priorities and what role did the Laguna people play in determining those priorities?"

Richard Luarkie:

"In 2006, that was a transition year for us, the end of an administration. In 2007, we had a new administration come in and when that transition meeting happened, there was probably five, six pages of priorities and single spaced, 10-point font, and there was no way that we could accomplish or even make a dent in all those priorities. So what the Pueblo council did at the time is took a step back and said, ‘Okay, of these what are those common areas and how is it that we begin to group these elements so that it's more manageable?' And it's at that time that our tribal council had the first real interaction with the Native Nations Institute. The Native Nations Institute actually worked with us to frame, at a two-day retreat in Santa Ana Pueblo at the Tamaya, to frame what those priorities might look like and why we needed to prioritize. And so as a result of that we came up with our initial set of priorities which are the ones that you've just read off. And so that became our long-term target, and during that process to finalization we also had community meetings, one being a large meeting that was held at the Route 66 Casino, where we invited our tribal members and a large number of our people came and weighed in on these priorities, and as a result at the conclusion of the meeting, validated that these are the priorities and that they also indicated that these will be the priorities until there is a significant dent if you will made in the priority to where we can move it off and we can give emphasis to something else. It's been a great strategic process because...on a couple fronts because when we got to meet with our Congressional delegation, they don't see something brand new every time. We bring them the same thing but with an update. It's helped us in particular to infrastructure. Because we've put a big emphasis on infrastructure, we have a $70 million project under way right now, so as a result of that infrastructure has come off and now housing has been put on. So housing was a close tie with infrastructure in the initial go-around, but the logic came that, ‘Well, in order for us to have more homes, we need infrastructure. So if we put homes there first and we don't have the infrastructure to support it, it's a waste.' So now that we have these projects going in all six villages, it's huge for us. This is the first time our whole water and sewer system has not only been revamped, but it's been replaced, brand new piping and we're also running to two of our outlying villages that have never had natural gas. You would think in this day and age, 'Wow!' But...and as a tribe as progressive as Laguna, those two villages are just now getting natural gas. So infrastructure has had a significant impact. It's not that we're going to give it less attention, we're still going to give it attention, but this strategy of keeping focused on some core areas of development has definitely helped us."

Ian Record:

"And doesn't it make your job on one level easier, or more clear I should say, when you know you've got these strategic priorities in place, that these are points of emphasis above all others and that the community has signed off on this and they're clear on these as the most important things that we need to be doing, that when you deal with those day-to-day decisions and those fires, that it's a lens through which to say, ‘Is this going to get us closer to these five goals?'"

Richard Luarkie:

"Right. Absolutely and it not only helps us make significant impact and get community buy-in, but when new leadership comes in, new council members, new administrations, if they've been participating in the community, they know what the priorities are, so it lowers the learning curve for leadership coming in."

Ian Record:

"I want to switch gears and talk a little bit about economic development, which of course is related to strategic orientation but as you know, Laguna is well known throughout Indian Country for its methodical development of a diversified economy, and I'm wondering if you can give us a little bit of background on how...what compelled Laguna to pursue the building of a diversified economy?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Laguna's economy's interesting...for me, it's one of the areas that has intrigued me and as I look back on it, from the 1950s we had one of our first large tastes of economic development, although prior to that we tasted economic development with the coming of the railroad in 1885 when our tribal leaders negotiated right of ways in exchange for jobs for our tribal members. So that was our entrance into the wage-earning era in 1885, so we entered that very early. In the 1950s, we entered into mining with the Anaconda Uranium Mine. We had the largest open-pit mine in the world, and that generated significant revenue royalties to the Pueblo. And the challenge for the tribe is that over those years they didn't diversify their economy. We were for almost 30 years at near full employment and then in 1981, the uranium prices fell out so we went from nearly full employment to almost 72 percent unemployment. And the only thing we had at the Pueblo was a Chevron gas station and a local store, so there was no way that could absorb the employment requirements. So there was a period of time that was very difficult for our community and as a result of that, the tribal leadership at the time -- not out of strategy but out of reaction and trying to get people back to work -- created a bunch of community make work projects, building walls, and fixing windows and those kind of things. But in that process, they also began the effort to build Laguna Industries, Laguna Construction Company, federal 8A companies that eventually grew to multi-million dollar firms. But it was out of reaction so that our people could get back to work. And so as a result of that, that laid the foundation for Laguna to get into the position that we will not allow this to happen again. So the diversification happened in a manner that said, ‘We need to look at different industries but we also need to be able to allow those businesses to grow.' So as a result of that, our Pueblo government took the position that we will not be engaged in the day-to-day operation, but instead we will structure a Section 17 corporation. So as a result of structuring a Section 17 corporation that allowed for the establishment of boards, board of directors, who served as the interface with the entity. The board works for the shareholder which is the government and they're the ones that oversee the entities for us so the government does not get involved in the day to day activity and interfere with the decision making of the business. So that allowed for expedited, more strategic growth of our companies. And right now we're at a point in time where diversifying of our economy is so very critical, where now we've put an emphasis on entrepreneurship, because it shouldn't be just the tribe creating businesses, we need to allow our community members to build businesses. Many tribal members say, ‘Governor, why is it that our tribal budget keeps increasing?' And my answer is, ‘Well, that's because when our economy's not strong there's more reliance on the government. When our economy is strong, the reliance comes down and our costs go down.' So we're working to build this piece, and so right now the Pueblo is focused on developing our entrepreneur base, looking at ways we can partner with other entities to help diversify our economy and find new revenue streams, but also be able to stabilize that in a manner that doesn't get us back to those early-1980 days."

Ian Record:

"Isn't the Laguna...the lesson that you learned, isn't that instructive for other nations who...many of whom are putting all of their eggs in one basket with gaming and the very real prospect that at some point down the road gaming may no longer be an option for them?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Absolutely, and for Laguna that is something that we're so very aware of right now because...and sensitive to because of that 1980s experience, but we realize from the gaming reports for New Mexico, the gaming compacts, they've pretty much stabilized, so you don't see any significant growth in any of the gaming venues there in New Mexico, so that tells us there's been some stabilization and the market's pretty much saturated. But we also have to be able to figure out, 'How do we use gaming as a tool to develop and diversify our economies and not make it just one basket?' And so that's where it's so important that tribes and tribal gaming establishments need to focus on, 'How do you build the shareholder equity?' But it's just as important from the shareholder, the tribal government to recognize when the revenue share comes that we don't just blow it, that we figure out how do we grow it, how do we...we have to focus on our balance sheet, not on our income statement. We have to be balance-sheet focused and building that asset base."

Ian Record:

"You alluded to the creation of a Section 17 corporation and the sort of policies that Laguna has put in place to keep the politics and the government side out of the day-to-day operations of the businesses. Can you talk about some other ways that Laguna government...some other things that Laguna government has done to create that positive commercial environment at Laguna?"

Richard Luarkie:

"One of the things that Laguna has been working on quite diligently has been the...we hope nobody ever ends up in it but the dispute resolution arena, tribal courts so that we're able to work with companies that come from the outside, but also there's companies internally that have disputes, that they can come to a competent court and be able to address those issues. So to know that there's going to be fairness and objectivity in dealing with their cases. But I think also beginning to look at how is it that we support local entrepreneurs at a real basic level. When there's tribal events going on, we have what...we've implemented a policy that says, ‘We will go to our tribal member-owned businesses first.' You must go to a tribal-owned business first for catering or those kind of things. So it's that kind of policy that we're developing to help promote entrepreneurship. We're looking at ways of investing in our own companies like our Laguna Development Corporation. We're looking at ways of investing in housing. How is it that we can get a return on investment by investing in our own housing department to construct homes? And because right now many homes at Laguna...people that qualify for homes, it's all based on low income. But when you have an economy that's growing and getting stronger, you may not qualify because your income is above the threshold and so that leaves many of our people out. The other piece that we see is many tribal members are now buying trailer homes because they don't qualify for low income and they're keeping their trailer homes, so that tells you they're paying their bills, their credit's good so that's a good thing. And so it's really important that we're able to start reinvesting in our own entities and our own organizations to help build our economy, because if we don't have homes there, people leave. When people leave, so do their paychecks, which means there's not that money coming back into our local economy. So it's important that we build homes there."

Ian Record:

"So switching gears, I'd like to discuss tribal administration, tribal bureaucracies and I'm curious from your well-informed perspective, what do tribal bureaucracies need to be effective? What makes Laguna's governmental bureaucracy work well?"

Richard Luarkie:

"I think for Laguna it's...we have a system that's based on...sorry I lost my thought."

Ian Record:

"So what makes Laguna's governmental bureaucracy work well?"

Richard Luarkie:

"For Laguna, I believe what makes our system work well, our bureaucracy work well is the ability to authorize those that are in decision-making roles like directors and supervisors to make certain levels of decisions. That way everything is not coming to the governor's office, everything's not coming to the chief of operations. And so when you can begin to build quality staff, great systems, the system will take care of itself and you don't have to sign off on every little document. So having that type of environment in place is very critical and I think definitely helps with the bureaucracy. On the tribal side, same thing with the...on the tribal government side, same scenario where the tribal council has delegated to the governor's office and to our staff officer level certain signing authority so we don't have to take everything in to tribal council. As an example, we just had a request for filming. There's a movie that's going to be filmed at Laguna starring Jennifer Aniston and they wanted to come and film for two days. And it was two hours per day, so as opposed to taking that into council, that's something that the Governor's office can just sign off on. So it allows the council to focus on the big issues and not have to worry about, ‘Do we authorize somebody to come film for two hours' and we end up debating that for two hours. So it becomes critical when you can begin to delegate certain responsibilities out. So that helps in our bureaucracy."

Ian Record:

"And doesn't that free you up then as Governor to focus on the bigger-picture stuff like those five priorities we mentioned earlier and really focus like a laser on those and not be sort of distracted by those smaller sorts of decisions that ultimately need to be carried out by those that you've hired to carry out those kinds of decisions?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Absolutely. Absolutely, because on those larger priorities, many times funding is required, large amounts of funding, so it allows me to spend my time with those funding agencies, with those congressional people, with the folks that can help us identify and capture funding as opposed to sitting in the office and signing off on a stack of access permits or whatever the case may be. It allows us to get out and do what we need to do as tribal leadership."

Ian Record:

"We talked earlier about this issue of fairness. How does a Native nation, how does Laguna achieve fairness in the delivery of programs and services to its citizens which as you know is the centerpiece of any tribal bureaucracy?"

Richard Luarkie:

"As I mentioned earlier, fairness is subjective. To me, what I think is so absolutely critical is the consistency and the quality of delivery of those services. I believe that for us, we have to be able to make sure that our people have a process they understand, they follow that process and the services are delivered within the context of that process. If we can do that consistently, then I think we've not only impacted the bureaucracy, but we've affected in a positive way the quality of service. One of the things that we're working to overcome is the reliance on tribal government, in getting our people to do some of the work themselves. We've had instances where tribal employees have called the tribal department, public works as an example, to have public works do basic changing a light bulb for them. And for us it's really critical that we educate our people on, ‘Here are the things that you can do yourself, here is what we can do to help you as a tribe. We need to meet one another halfway.' And so I think education, consistency in process, education of that process are key elements to being able to provide fairness, if you will, to our community members."

Ian Record:

"So consistency -- it sounds from your perspective -- is based in rules, it's based in processes that are clear, they're consistent, they don't change, right?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Right."

Ian Record:

"So I'm assuming like you don't...you don't find yourself spending a large part of your day dealing with personnel grievances, right? There's a process for that."

Richard Luarkie:

"There's a process, yep."

Ian Record:

"So can you perhaps take a minute or so and describe how that works at Laguna cause I know this is something that a lot of other elected officials in Indian Country spend their time on is deciding personnel disputes that perhaps is not the best use of their time."

Richard Luarkie:

"Right. For Laguna we have a process where if an individual personnel has a personnel issue, an individual disagrees with the decision, they can appeal to their director of that department. If the director upholds that decision, the individual can then appeal to the chief of operations. If the chief of operations upholds that decision, the final step is that person can appeal to the governor's office and the governor and the first and second lieutenant are the appellate team, if you will. And so they have three steps before it even gets to the governor's office and so if it gets to the governor's office...and those are few and far between. In my...in these two years, I've seen maybe three grievances and when it comes to us, it's understood that our decision's final. It doesn't go anywhere from there. But we also have the opportunity to sit with the individual or individuals, hear their case out, but at the end of the day when we make our decision, it's final. And so that's our process at Laguna and for us, we really emphasize for those employees within the context of a process we put in place called 'Workforce Excellence' to really be able to work within the context of our core values with their supervisor, with their directors in addressing the issue. And so in turn the supervisors, directors are directed in the same way. ‘Work with your employees in the context of our core values and within policy of course and try to address the issue there before you elevate it to the next level'. And so we've been pretty successful with that approach and we've not had to deal with many grievances up to the Governor's office."

Ian Record:

"So one of the...as we mentioned earlier one of the strategic priorities of Laguna is health and I'm curious, what are your administration's goals, what is the Laguna government's goals for creating a healthy Laguna community and what steps is it taking to make those goals a reality?"

Richard Luarkie:

"Well, for Laguna one of the things...and we're not unique to other tribes. One of the major challenges we have is diabetes and obesity. It's just rampant and so for us being able to do community activities that promote healthy activity, that promote healthy eating has been a major emphasis for us. From a policy side looking at how is it that we can begin to partner with other groups that will allow for us to offer better, higher quality health services. Those have been some of the major initiatives that we've tried to move forward. We've partnered with our local or our sister Pueblo, Acoma Pueblo in...through an MOU [memorandum of understanding] to address our health care issues. So trying to draw those partners in at a larger level has been important for us. And so those are some of the steps that we've taken to address the health care issues in Laguna. The other piece of that is again back to the economics and looking at how is it that we're able to create more jobs, we're able to create a diversified economy so that our people don't have to travel long distances for work, that they can be there at home and hopefully that contributes to their health as well, not only their own physical health but the community health."

Ian Record:

"So what do you see for the future of Laguna? What do you hope that all of your hard work will lead to down the road? What will your nation look like 25, 50 years from now?"

Richard Luarkie:

"That's a neat question. A lot of times I've seen people say that's hard to answer but to me, in 25 years I envision a community of hearing our language, I envision a community of collaboration, I envision a community of family and in my mind, it's not pie in the sky but those are things that are very practical that we're already doing, we just need to do it better and we will do it better. And I think if leadership can reinforce core values as the reason why, we will be experiencing those things. I see a community with more children, I see a community where our elders are once again engaged, but I also see our children being mentored by our elders. We're at a point in time where we see this thought process of when the governor or staff officers, officials call a meeting of the community, younger people say, ‘Well, how come I have to go? Why do I have to be there?' And then you have individuals like former Governor Daly who's 94 years old saying, ‘Governor, tell me what I need to do and I'll do it.' I see this piece becoming strong again and us recognizing what our responsibility to our contribution is. I see that in 25 years."

Ian Record:

"Well, Governor Luarkie, we really appreciate you sharing your thoughts, wisdom and experience with us. It's been certainly an enlightening experience for me and hopefully it will be for our viewers and listeners as well. Thank you."

Richard Luarkie:

"Thank you."

Ian Record:

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

Stephen Cornell: Getting Practical: Constitutional Issues Facing Native Nations

Producer
Archibald Bush Foundation and the Native Nations Institute
Year

Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy Director Stephen Cornell provides a brief overview of what a constitution fundamentally is, and some of the emerging trends in innovation that Native nations are exhibiting when it comes to constitutional development and reform.

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

Resource Type
Citation

Cornell, Stephen. "Getting Practical: Constitutional Issues Facing Native Nations," Remaking Indigenous Governance Systems seminar. Archibald Bush Foundation and the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Prior Lake, Minnesota. May 2, 2011. Presentation.

"So I'm just going to start with a couple of quotes that Joe [Kalt] had come up with that I think are worth bearing in mind as you consider governmental reform. This is Albert Hale, former president of the Navajo Nation, making an argument that all the things David [Wilkins] just talked about: tribal innovations in governance -- these are acts of sovereignty. I'll give you a moment just to look at that.

Now one of the issues that has come up -- and I mentioned this earlier when I was introducing Regis Pecos. We talk about constitutions and I think very often people immediately think of a written document. But if you think about a constitution with a small 'c', just what does it mean? It basically means what are the set of rules by which this Nation has decided to govern itself? That's a constitution, whether you've written it down or not, whatever form it takes. When a Nation says, ‘This is how we govern ourselves,' that's a constitution.

And some of you may be interested at some point, there's a First Nation in British Columbia called the Gitanyow people. The Gitanyow are a Gitxsan people in the mountains in central British Columbia. They're very traditional people and they have an interesting form of government. They've got a government on reserve on their reservation that was formed under the Indian Act passed by Canada. But then they have a very substantial traditional area where they retain land use, hunting and fishing rights. And within that area the hereditary chiefs govern and they govern according to the kinds of ancient rules and principles that Regis Pecos talked about this morning. But they found that Canada could not understand how these hereditary chiefs made decisions because in fact, it's a very complex system they have. It's a system of clan control over land use. And within their tradition area the clans, which they call houses, the houses of the Gitanyow people make decisions. If you want to hunt in that particular part of a mountain range, you have to go consult with that house and ask their permission to hunt in the piece of territory for which they carry responsibility. If you want to fish at this place in the river, you have to go to that house and ask their permission. ‘Can I fish in the area for which you're responsible?' And if the house says yes, then you can fish there. And sometimes there are disputes between houses over, ‘Wait a minute, whose territory is this? Who did you get permission from?' Well, the Gitanyow have a traditional mechanism for how they resolve those kinds of disputes. When those disputes come up, this group of houses get together and they deliberate and they decide what the answer is. All of this was simply passed on in the typical way, oral tradition and knowledge, but Canada couldn't figure it out. So the hereditary chiefs said, ‘We're going to have to write a constitution. We're going to have to explain to the Canadian government how we do stuff.' And they wrote a constitution, I've got a draft of it here. The Gitanyow Constitution, Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs Working Draft Number 12 -- it took a little while to get it right -- 2003. And what's interesting about this is now it's written, but it was a constitution before it was written down. It was the rules they used to survive as a people. And that's what we're talking about here, is the decisions you make about how you're going to govern. What are the principles and the processes you use to make the decisions you need to make to survive as people and create that future that you imagine? Nothing really changed in those rules when the Gitanyow wrote it down, but now they've got a written constitution where before they didn't.

Another couple of quick quotes; this is Rocky Barrett, Chairman of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation: ‘Without good rules, tribal government is just a bad family reunion.' This is one of Darrin's [Old Coyote] countrymen, Richard Real Bird, former Chair at the Crow Tribe. When they were first working on trying to do constitution, that process didn't really work out. Darrin told you about the process that succeeded but when Richard Real Bird was starting that process, he said, ‘This is our strategic plan, a constitution -- how we're going to govern ourselves as a people. It's our strategy for how we deal with the future.' Joe Flies-Away, tribal judge at Hualapai, ‘A Nation's laws are the deepest expression of its culture.' It doesn't matter if they're written down. This is an expression of who we are. So that's what we're talking about when we talk about constitutions. (I'm going to skip a lot of what is in here, we'll be happy to email you these slides at your request if you...we'll just I guess decide we'll email them to all the email addresses we get on that sign in sheet.) But I wanted to touch on a couple of other issues.

This is one point that Joe wanted to make. ‘A lot of Nations today operate under constitutions built on ‘Western' paradigms.' But when we think of constitutions, I've had somebody say to me a constitution is a Western idea. Well, Dave mentioned the Iroquois. Here's a fascinating piece of the Iroquois, in a sense, Constitution of the Confederacy. It's pretty explicit about how we do things. I'll let you read it. I think ‘contumacious' means resistant. If you look at what that says, that's a set of rules about how we choose leaders and how we get rid of leaders who show that they cannot serve the people effectively. And it also tells who gets to do this. Who replaces the leader? The women shall choose the next lord and they'll inform the senior leadership about who they've chosen and then that person will be elected. It's a set of rules, ancient rules about how they choose to govern themselves. (I'm going to skip through some of this. We really covered a lot of this.)

Constitutions and the governments they create are tools; they have multiple purposes. (Again, we'll send some of this to you. I don't want to cut into the time of our presenters later.) Some of the key tasks that most constitutions -- that we see nations working on now -- some of the things they're trying to address: identity and citizenship, powers, rights, responsibilities, structures, etc. (I'm going to cut into a couple of these.) This is just one version of ‘who we are.' The Coquille Tribe of Oregon, the preamble to its constitution. It's making a certain claim about who we are as a people, why we're putting this constitution together. It's a statement.

Citizenship: the one thing I want to touch on here, this is a tough issue that a lot of nations are dealing with. One of the things we're seeing at that top bullet says, ‘From Membership to Citizenship.' Several times I heard Oren Lyons, traditional faith keeper of the Onondaga people, speak and he never used the word members. He always said the citizens of the Onondaga Nation. And one time I was chatting with Oren afterwards and I said, ‘I notice you always say citizens.' He says to me, ‘Are you a member of the State of Arizona, are you a member of the United States?' He says, ‘At Onondaga we're not a club. We're a nation; we have citizens.' It's an interesting take on just the language that we use.

‘Powers, Rights and Responsibilities: What Matters to You?' This is St. Regis Mohawk; they straddle the U.S./Canadian border, the Akwesasne people. These are some of the things, in their governing system, that they say their own citizens have a right to and that their government therefore has to deliver. And it also says, ‘The Constitution of our Nation will be secondary to the Great Law of Peace,' the constitution of the Confederacy.

There's a lot of talk about branches, separations. I want to spend a little bit of time on separations of powers and a couple of other things. What are the roles of the different pieces of government? And I wanted to acknowledge that sometimes people have raised questions about separations of powers. Sounds like a Western idea to me. I'm indebted to Don Wharton actually from NARF [Native American Rights Fund] who at a meeting last summer said, ‘What we're really talking about is allocations of responsibility,' because that's exactly what nations do. They say, ‘These people will be responsible for this. These people will be responsible for that set of issues. When it comes time to resolve disputes, that's taken care of by these people.' They're allocating responsibility for the various things the nation has to do in order to survive. And I think this quote I just showed you, that's really what they were doing. There are particular roles and responsibilities that have to be fulfilled. And part of what you learn to be a functional citizen of our nation is what those roles and responsibilities are. Now some of these things take Western form.

This is Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation -- sorry it's a little dark -- but Flathead is three nations with very different traditions, forced together under the Treaty of 1855 to live on a single reservation. And how are they going to govern? And what they come up with, they basically said, ‘How do you want to govern?' And the Kootenai said, ‘We want to govern in a Kootenai way.' And the Salish said, ‘It's got to be Salish.' And Pend d'Orielle said, ‘We want a Pend d'Orielle government.' And they said, ‘Boy, this'll never work. What's everyone's second choice?' Good old U.S. governing institutions. And so what they ended up with was district representation, a parliamentary system where the council chooses the chair. Why did they decide that? Because they said, ‘Look, we've got three different nations here with very different traditions and one is larger than the other two. So if we have a directly elected chief executive, it's always going to be a Salish person. And over time the Kootenai and the Pend d'Orielle are going to say, ‘Eh, we don't like this system.' 'So instead of having a directly elected chair, let's elect a council and then have the council choose the Chair' -- a smart solution for a difficult problem. A very strong, independent court system, because they knew there were going to be disputes and they needed those disputes to be free of politics. So they created a strong court system. They systematically -- this was the first nation basically to assume almost every program you could 638; they took it over. They basically said, ‘We want responsibility for everything that happens on our reserve,' systematically took it over and then made careful choices about how to keep the strategic decisions about where we're going as a nation in the hands of elected leadership but then put implementation of those decisions, that day-to-day management, in the hands of professionals. So that's kind of using Western models that they said, ‘Well, these may not be our traditions, but they work given the situations we're in,' which is kind of what Dave was just talking about.

But then there's -- and I'm building really on what Regis [Pecos] had to say -- the non-Western form and you can use Cochiti as an example but there are others: Jemez, Tesuque. Regis mentioned this, I'm just really giving you a quick summary. The governor has secular responsibilities, the war captain spiritual responsibilities. To the outside world, the governor is who you meet. When we first arrived at Cochiti Pueblo and said, ‘Who can we talk to?' they sent us to the governor's office. You think you're talking to the top guy. Turns out the world doesn't work that way. The governor's job is simply to keep people -- like these nerdy academics coming around asking questions -- keep them at bay and protect that core of what really matters to the people, from the State of New Mexico, the United States, the school system, the county, etc. And then as Regis pointed out of himself, if you ever have served in one of those positions, you're a member of the legislature for life. Think about what that means. It means there's a council at Cochiti and at other pueblos like this where you have an enormous body of experience that a sitting leader can draw on sitting in that council. Every person on that council has carried the ultimate responsibility of ‘I am responsible for the future of the Nation.' What a terrific asset for a sitting leader to draw on all that accumulated experience.

Rule of law: friend, family and foe should be treated equally. We found in our research the number-one predictor of economic and social success: politically independent dispute resolution mechanism. What you've got there -- I know it's a little dark -- but up on top is the Navajo Nation court processing 9,000 cases a year; some in a typical adversarial Western court system, some through traditional Navajo peacemaking that draws on ancient traditions of how we maintain the harmony of the community. Over here the San Carlos [Apache] Elders' Council doing the same thing, Flandreau police, and just as an example the Citizen Potawatomi Nation very successful economically. A powerful independent court system assures everyone, whether you're a citizen or not, you'll be treated fairly, not according to who you voted for, who your relatives are. This court system's a major reason for its success. How do we know the court's independent? Tribal Chairman Rocky Barrett: ‘I've had cases in that court twice and I lost both times.' When your tribal chairman loses in your tribal court, it's a pretty independent court system. I won't spend time on this. This is just a piece from their 2007 Constitution that describes the court system. San Carlos Apaches -- we went over this, but what I just want to come back to is this really is about separations of powers. It says, or as Don suggested, allocations of responsibility. Who chooses future leadership? The female heads of the clans. How do we get rid of a chief? Here's how. Now someone eventually wrote this down, but long before this was written down in the translation that you see here, it existed as a set of rules, it was a constitution. This is really... somebody asked Darrin [Old Coyote] about separations of powers. Well, this is from the 2001 [Crow] constitution. Every one of these branches is directed to respect separations of powers, allocation of responsibility. And finally I just wanted to, I've already given you one of these but run through a few of the things that just strike us as interesting innovations. Your nations are...I loved what Dave had to say of this history of governmental innovation that is this unspoken invisible history of Indian Country that Dave is trying to excavate and make visible to us again. Indian Country is full of innovation about how to deal with new challenges.

So some of the ones that we're seeing: Laguna. Six villages, each has representation on the council, and they describe councilors as elected officials. But when you go and actually find out how these councilors are chosen, there are no elections -- not in the way we understand them. Villages gather and in their wisdom and by processes not identified in a written constitution, they choose who they want to serve. We talked to one young man in his early 30s who'd been chosen to serve on Laguna Pueblo council. He said, ‘Well, the older people in the village came to me and they said, ‘You're the one. You're running for the council.'' 'But,' he said, ‘no one ran against me ‘cause they didn't tell anybody else. So there was an ‘election' and there I am on the council.' And he says, ‘When they showed up and told me this, you get this sinking feeling because you suddenly say, ‘Wait a minute. I'm being told I have to carry this responsibility. They don't give you power. They place this responsibility on you. Now I've got to go carry that responsibility.'' He said, ‘It's a sobering moment. You don't win an election. You get this burden placed on you to act on behalf of the people.'

Gitanyow I already covered. This is the British Columbia Council of Hereditary Chiefs. This is kind of how their government works. There's some overlap there but...the Indian Act is the Canadian equivalent, in a sense, of our Indian Reorganization Act. It specifies how First Nations in Canada should govern themselves. And the big constitutional movement among First Nations in Canada now is to get out of the Indian Act and replace it with their own ideas about how they should govern. And Gitanyow is one of those that has been doing this in part through the hereditary chiefs. And so this is what that system looks like. The elected chief and council run the social programs but when it comes to the things that really matter to the people -- the land, their way of life -- the hereditary chiefs are the authority and they recognize each other -- that division, that distribution of roles, that allocation of responsibilities is clear in the community.

And then Joe found this, the Pueblo Zuni Oath of Office. For 1970, it's a pretty remarkable piece of work. I'll let you read it. Interesting authority there: I don't know if any of your constitutions include this particular way of responding to disrespect, but it's intriguing. And then we thought this was an interesting innovation. This is a relatively small First Nation in British Columbi,a but it went through a long, careful process of constitution making that involved the entire community and when they finished and adopted the constitution, they had every adult citizen of the nation sign it. It was like this statement to Canada. ‘You want to know how we govern, here it is and all of us are part of it. It's our constitution.'

And finally, just a final word -- and this comes really out of some of the discussion this morning. We get talking about codes and various things and pretty soon when you think about creating a governing system, it just becomes a mountain to climb. Think of the constitution as laying the foundation. It's not about the details. ‘It establishes the principles and the processes by which the rest of your governing system can be built.' It's that first step that you then say, ‘Okay. Based on that, based on that articulation of our principles, our core values, of how we make decisions, now we can begin to put in place the other pieces of governance that we need -- those codes, those processes that we need -- in order to do the things we need to get done.'"