Jaime Pinkham

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "Leaders Are Educators"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Native leaders and scholars stress that for Native nation leaders to be effective at advancing their nation's priorities, they need to do more than just make decisions -- they need to educate and consult the citizens they serve.

Native Nations
Citation

Kalt, Joseph P. "Rebuilding Healthy Nations." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. September 27, 2007. Presentation.

Kendall-Miller, Heather. Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. September 27, 2007. Presentation.

Mankiller, Wilma. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. September 29, 2008. Interview.

McGhee, Robert. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. October 10, 2012. Interview.

Miles, Rebecca. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 23, 2011. Interview.

Norris, Jr., Ned. "Perspectives on Leadership and Nation Building." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 26, 2008. Presentation.

Pinkham, Jaime. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 26, 2009. Interview.

Sherman, Gerald. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 26, 2009. Interview.

Heather Kendall-Miller:

"Leadership goes beyond just having an active role in making things happen. It also requires the ability to inspire others to take action."

Joseph P. Kalt:

"There's one more thing, and it's leadership. When we say that, we don't mean necessarily leadership as decision-maker, we mean leader as educator. Someone carries into any community the ideas, the ways of doing things, the new ways of doing things, the old ways of doing things. And it's leaders that do that. Not just elected and appointed officials, but all the dimensions of leadership. And the challenge that you face -- you all are leaders. You got out of bed this morning, or yesterday you flew here. You're not here because you're crawling under a rock and hiding. You're here [because] you're leaders, and the challenge is to carry these messages of effective nation building into communities. And the more you do that, what we find, the more successful the leadership of a community is in getting on the same page and talking about the fundamental nature of these needs for running things ourselves, founding them on our own institutions that are culturally legitimate. Then suddenly, the community starts to stand behind you and then you get stability and then you build a community and then the kids stay home instead of moving away and you've rebuilt a nation."

Wilma Mankiller:

"But I do believe that an essential part of leadership is -- besides all the things like making sure you're working on legislative issues and legal issues and health and education and jobs and all that sort of thing -- is to try to help people understand their own history and understand where we are within the context of that history and to believe in ourselves; to look at our past and see what we've done as a people and to remind people that if they want to see our future they just simply need to look at our past to believe in ourselves, to believe in our intellectual ability, to believe in our skills, to believe in our ability to think up solutions to our own problems. I think that is critical to our survival."

Gerald Sherman:

"I think nation-building leaders need to first just start talking nation building and getting people to think about it a lot and trying to win other people over to get other people to understand what it's all about because what I've seen is you'll get one leader in and they'll understand some of these things but one leader it's hard to make a system change. I've seen it in like the Bureau of Indian Affairs, they pull in some good people to head the Bureau of Indian Affairs thinking that they can make a change but there's a very strong system that exists there and they just can't change it."

Jaime Pinkham:

"When you look at the issues facing tribal communities, issues about per capita distribution, blood quantum, constitutional reform and others, those are very difficult issues that are communities are facing and quite honestly they could be wedge issues that would eventually fractionate communities and so doing education within the community must come first to talk about nation building, to overcome these challenges. I think when there was a time when tribes looked at the greatest threats were from the Colonials and from the Cavalry, then it was from the states but really my fear is that the greatest threats because of these wedge issues that are really pressing on our communities, the greatest threats may come from the inside. And so if we don't do a good job of developing the sense of nationhood within our communities through education and empowerment that the challenges are going to come from the inside not from the outside."

Rebecca Miles:

"Engagement, getting engaged with your people frequently. A lot of times you see tribal council that the first time that they're chewed out they just, it's just now we're in this hole and we're not coming out. And that happens and it's really at no fault of a tribal leader because you can only get chewed out so many times, but instead you do have to have the courage, you chose to run, face your people, get them involved to the extent of, no, they're not micromanaging you as the government, but you've got to inform them and know what it is you need to inform them about. There's just some things that are not...you're wasting everybody's time. That's just not something you inform people about. There's other things that you want to hear from them about. If you want to change enrollment, you better talk to your people. If you're going to make a big decision like our water settlement, go out and get your input from your people and if they have the wrong perception, then whose job is it to change that or work to change it? It's yours, and a lot of times tribal leaders do not think it's their job to do, to be that public person and it very much is your job. You've got to get out there and talk to people and you have to be able to tell them things that they don't want to hear."

Robert McGhee:

"I do believe that at first you are an educator. You are educating your other general council members, well your other council members, especially if it's an idea that you're proposing, or if it's an issue or a concern that you have, you're educating them. But you're also educating your tribal members. Like I said before, in order to make, have a strong government and to have a government that's going to last and to have focus and change, you're going to need the support of the members. And I think if you have any opportunity that you can educate, I think you should, especially on the issue. However, I think the flip side of that is being the student. And there's a lot of times that it's the general council that can educate you, it can be your elders, it can be the youth, that can educate you as a tribal leader to say, 'This is the issue impacting us.' If it's youth it's usually drugs, alcohol, or social media issues, or bullying. And if it's the elders, it's like, 'How can you provide a sustainable, in our last years, how can you make these [years] a little bit better for us?' But also, let's tell you about why this didn't work in the past. So I think they're both valuable tools. I mean you have to be an educator, you have to be a student, but I think there's always being just willing to listen."

Ned Norris, Jr.:

"'You can accomplish anything in life provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.' As leaders -- and that quote is attributed to Harry Truman -- as leaders I like to think of myself in that way. That what I have to do -- the people have entrusted in me their trust to lead them and to guide them for the term that I have been elected. As a leader, I should not ever take advantage of that trust that the people have placed in me. I should never take the position that, 'That was my idea, not yours.' I should not take the position that, 'It's my way or the highway.' As a leader, that should not -- that's not something that we should be doing as tribal leaders. The [Tohono O'odham Nation] vice chairman and I -- Isidro Lopez -- when we ran for these offices, we ran on a campaign that we say in O'odham, it says [O'odham language], and [O'odham language] translates to 'All of us together.' And what we wanted to be able to do was to bring the people together, to bring our people together, to give our people the opportunity to actively participate in the decision-making process. Too many times, we get tribal leadership that think they are going to impose those decisions on the people. We can't accomplish that, we can't accomplish what we need to accomplish if we are going to dictate to our people. That's not our purpose. Our purpose is to lead, our purpose is to work together, and our purpose is to bring our people to the table so that we can hear what they have to say."

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "The Benefits of Intergovernmental Relations"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Former Nez Perce Tribal Treasurer Jaime Pinkham discusses the concrete benefits of engaging in intergovernmental relations for Native nations.

People
Native Nations
Citation

Pinkham, Jaime. "Intergovernmental and Intertribal Relations: Walking the Sovereignty Walk." Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy. University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2012. Lecture.

"So the contributions for us, they're wide-ranging. These are some of the outcomes you can see. It enhances sovereignty and it potentially expands your jurisdiction. You know, for the Nez Perce, we, our treaty rights allow us to fish down the Columbia River close to the mouth of the Pacific Ocean. You know, we were able to provide law enforcement to govern treaty harvest in the Columbia River far outside our ancestral area but in our usual and [accustomed] areas. And that was recognized by the states of Oregon and Washington.

We amplify the impact of our actions. It's a domino effect. It's a symbiotic relationship in that what we do has policy implications, like I said earlier, and it helps sets the stage on how governments respond not just for their interests, but for a joint interest.

And it's a proactive way to address tribal concerns. We found that the more and more we explore these intergovernmental relationships, it helped us head off potential conflicts before they really built up a head of steam. We were able to address these things early on in many cases.

And it promotes actions on comprehensive community development -- is that we share in the makeup of our community. Again, like what Daniel Kemmis said about the politics of place, the symbiotic relationship -- that we do have in the interest of tribal governments, tribal leaders to provide for the welfare for their community can mirror the kinds of needs that other governments face in providing for the needs and welfare of their respective constituents." 

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "Intergovernmental Agreements Are Nation-Building Tools"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Former Nez Perce Tribal Treasurer Jaime Pinkham discusses how intergovernmental agreements are becoming widely recognized as a vital nation-building tool for Native nations, amplifying their sovereignty and expanding their jurisdiction.

People
Native Nations
Citation

Pinkham, Jaime. "Intergovernmental and Intertribal Relations: Walking the Sovereignty Walk." Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy. University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2012. Lecture.

"...But we have found that these intergovernmental agreements are actually nation-building tools. It is walking the sovereignty walk. Because every time we could reach an agreement with a local government, we found that we were expanding, we were influencing our policy agenda across a wider region. Not just about how it relates to Nez Perce lands on the reservation, but influence on the policy outcomes well beyond our reservation boundaries.

We were also finding that we were able to advance our economic infrastructure. Every time the counties or the cities could improve their water and sewer and road districts, there was a direct benefit for us. And could we have a part in helping to spur and nurture the development of their infrastructure, and them in turn helping to nurture our infrastructure to prosper as well?

Again, expanding delivering quality of services to the nation and its citizens. Nez Perce country, we're a very remote reservation, we don't have all of the...and being remote and scattered like that, it's really difficult to provide the quality law enforcement and emergency services that we need. So when we could come up with intergovernmental agreements that would meet our mutual interests, we were also expanding and able to provide quality services to other members of the Nez Perce nation.

And, of course, it responds to the federal devolution. Let's face it. I think we're going to see that, it's going to, it's a federal policy that I think will continue -- the decentralization of federal, the bureaucracy down to tribes, states and even lower governments.

We better utilize scarce resources, we resolve mutual concerns and also, most importantly to me, is it is an exercise of sovereign powers. When we do these intergovernmental agreements, it is we -- it is a sovereign decision for us as a tribe to pick and choose who we want to be our governmental partner. And we get to identify and set the stage, the framework for the nature of those relationships. So it is, it's not an erosion of sovereignty, but in fact it's an expression of sovereignty in working out these sorts of agreements." 

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "What is Nation Building?"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Native leaders define what nation building means to them, and what it entails for Native nations who are working to reclaim control over their own affairs and build vibrant futures of their own design.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Topics
Citation

Ettawageshik, Frank. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 6, 2010. Interview.

Frias, Herminia. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. May 14, 2007. Interview.

Marquez, Deron. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 26, 2009. Interview.

Pierre, Sophie. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. October 21, 2008. Interview.

Pinkham, Jaime. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 26, 2009. Interview.

Sampsel, Roy. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. August 31, 2010. Interview.

Shendo, Jr., Benny. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. May 14, 2007. Interview.

Vizenor, Erma. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 25, 2010. Interview.

Benny Shendo, Jr.:

"It's not necessarily about nation building, but its about re-building because if you look at our communities historically, we were very powerful nations and all that changed. I believe that we still have the, at least, the values and those things that are important to us as Indian people to re-build our nations. But it's going to take some time because this whole re-building is really going to -- I believe -- take us down this surge of who we are to re-establish that identity again."

Herminia Frias:

"In a practical way, nation building is: building strong governments, transparency in governments, fairness in governments, equity among tribal members, creating an economy for our membership and for the tribe in general for the future."

Jaime Pinkham:

"I think nation building is having the freedom to determine the destiny for your community, and to be able to put together the institutions, the forms of laws and conduct that is necessary to meet the services for your community. And it's the freedom to chose who your partners are going to be, freedom to chose what your court systems will look like, but it also takes -- I feel -- a great deal of wisdom to practice nation building at a very deliberative approach."

Deron Marquez:

"We always called it re-building because I think, one of the things -- from the community's standpoint -- is that the community, through time, just simply forgot. And so, in our opinion, it was a matter of getting the community to remember the vibrance that was once ours and took place in our communities. We were a nomadic group and we moved around a lot, but nonetheless we had a lot of -- by today's standards -- success. We had a lot of wealth, in the sense of culture, in the sense of the abilities to function as a society within our own sphere of societies. I think it's just a process by which you need to get your community to re-focus back to what is meaningful to them, again, and make them remember. And once you're able to accomplish that type of connection where they start to think and feel and believe in more of an authentic disposition, the process of re-building your nation becomes easier."

Frank Ettawageshik:

"It has a lot of different parts to it. Some people think it's the constitution. Some people think it’s economic development. And those are components of it clearly, and are very important and maybe some of the more visible parts, but nation building to me is building the capacity of the citizenry of your nation to deal with change and to deal with the issues that come before it."

Sophie Pierre:

"What it looks like [is] a room that is full of people from every generation, from every community, speaking about issues that are important, looking at a huge map of our traditional territory, and talking about which areas need to be protected, which areas we could actually use ourselves for development, and which areas we're simply going to have an advisory capacity, and those decisions being made not by educated individuals from somewhere else, but from all of these people that are in this room that are all related, and that have a stake at what is being decided here."

Roy Sampsel:

"Tribal governments, tribal communities, tribal nations had always had the capacity to manage themselves and had over a whole series of time frames. What we have now is the understanding that recapturing that capacity to be self-governance [sic], self-directed is extremely important. And what you end up with now in this sort of, if you will, rebirth of the building of these nations is what are some of the contemporary pieces that you're going to put in place so that that happens within the context of the world in which we find ourselves, but founded on the very essential premises that the culture and the history is a driving force? So, the rebuilding of nations is really sort of the incorporation of a broader set of circumstances, than may have existed when the nations were exercising their sovereignty, their ability to govern and manage themselves within their own environment, literally centuries ago."

Erma Vizenor:

"When we strengthen our own governments, institutionally, culturally and with the human resources, the human assets and capital we have then we will be nation building, we will have, we will be strong nations."

Jaime Pinkham: How Do You Hit the Ground Running?: Strategies for Handling the Load and Forging Ahead

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Former Nez Perce Tribal Treasurer Jaime Pinkham speaks about his experience as a leader of his nation and what it takes to "hit the ground running" when one assumes a leadership role.

People
Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Pinkham, Jaime. "How Do You Hit the Ground Running?: Handling the Load and Forging Ahead." Emerging Leaders Seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 26, 2008. Presentation.

"I'm not sure I'm the one who can really give this presentation when you've got such talent in this room like Peterson Zah. I noticed my friends from the north, colleagues on the Native Nations Institute board -- Mike Mitchell and Sophie Pierre --and they're some true leaders who have really carried a lot of weight for all of Indian Country. And I'm always excited to have a chance to come and work with NNI because of the quality of work that they do in providing, taking the lessons, taking your stories and converting them into positive lessons to take back and share with tribal communities to build stronger Native nations. And actually they asked me to talk about 'how you hit the ground running?' And for me that really depends on what kind of tribal leader you want to be. If you're someone that just wants fame and fortune, believe me, you're in the wrong business. And for those of you that may think this is a great job, post-retirement job, well I hope you have charm and good looks in your political survival kit, because it's not a position for retirement and I learned that. But what I found out is if you really want to make a difference in life that there's probably no better job that suits you than to be on tribal council.

Tribal politics to me it embraces a full challenge -- there's no recesses. When I was on tribal council, it's a full-time tribal council, and a recess for us was a chance to go out hunting with my father on a weekend. My constituencies were right there and you live amongst them each and every day. And I think that's what sets us apart from other forms of government, if you look at Congress or state legislatures who work out of Washington, D.C. or state capitols. Tribal politics to me was about where rubber really meets the road. Nowhere else I think you can find where tribal citizens, or any citizens of any government actually, have such direct access to their elected tribal leaders. They're members of your very same community. And so with that blessing of having that direct access and relationship with your constituents, that also to me brings one of the cornerstones of the challenges that we face as tribal leaders, because it becomes a test of your time, of your endurance, your patience, your enthusiasm -- and as I found out -- it's the test of the strength of your family.

When I got out of college I had a forestry degree from Oregon State [University]. And I was out laying out clear-cuts and building logging roads, but something triggered me inside, that it was time to move back home to Indian Country and work for the tribe. And fortunately when I moved home to manage the tribe's natural resource department, that was like political prep school to me because of the things that I learned while I was there. And the reason I ran for council really was because I was watching things rise and fall under the scrutiny of tribal politics. And I realized that if I really wanted to make a difference in a tribal community I could do it from the inside being on tribal council than from the outside. And so I ran and was elected to two terms on the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee. And in all those years I kept the position as the tribal treasurer. So I'm guilty, I did think that once I would run for tribal council after I retired but truly I knew that my time was to do it now. And it was the best job I ever had, but quite honestly it did come with a high price. I was having the time of my life running the Nez Perce Tribe's marathon and we were doing things like bringing wolves home to Idaho, regaining ancestral lands in Oregon -- and I was packing and repacking my suitcase and just racking up the frequent flyer miles -- and then we were building two casinos, we got gaming launched, and we were fighting for salmon, water rights and Native sovereignty and we were doing it all it seemed like. We were financing and investing and buying and selling and building and always expanding and indeed, we were gambling. At the same time we were testifying and negotiating, collaborating and mitigating, commiserating and celebrating and, when it was important to us, we were litigating.

But then I lost my balance and I had learned that if you want to play blind ambition on a political treadmill your membership dues come at a pretty high cost. And so my greatest losses I learned were not the political or professional ones. My greatest losses were personal ones. Those are the ones that sting the most. And unfortunately after a divorce I learned that tribal politics was too expensive of a hobby for me to carry on and so I decided it was time to take a break. But it was as I said earlier, it was the best job that I ever had as I said because that's where tribal communities, we understand that tribal politics is where the rubber does meet the road. You look at state and federal governments and they may take months and even years to pass some sort of an action -- then after that you have to worry about rule-making processes and different tiers of government to get those actions implemented -- but in tribal governments it can be altogether different. Tribal governments have the unique role of being more responsive to their constituents and to their citizens. But this is I think where we do meet the challenge is that we must remain leaders of an entire tribal, an entire Native nation, but at the same time we're conscious of those people who put us into those positions. And it can become very difficult and time consuming if we spend our time trying to be a leader one voter at a time.

Like I said, I had what I thought was the good fortune, my political prep school, to be a tribal departmental manager for about six years before I ran for tribal council. And what that allowed me to determine was just to observe the tribal government, the infrastructure and the capacity of the tribe. And I learned who were really the go-to people when you were in a pinch to get something done in a tribal bureaucracy. I also learned who those employees were that weren't afraid to lift any additional weight. And also I learned who were the people who could make the organization functional as well as dysfunctional. And those were all lessons that served me well, but one of the most important lessons I felt I learned as a tribal manager, before coming onto council is, I learned just what tribal councils do to make the staff mad.

There were many things that I saw when I was a tribal departmental manager that was really kind of frustrating at times. It seems like there were times that I'd always have to...I'd be instructed by a tribal council member to write a report or do an analysis or conduct some kind of an interview or set up a meeting for them or write their remarks for some kind of a public presentation. And then sometimes they didn't use it or they failed to show up for the meeting. And so at times I used to think, 'Well, maybe they're just asking me to do that just because they have the simple power to make me do that. But I remembered each and every one of those people who sent me on a wild goose chase. And so I promised myself that if I ever became an elected tribal leader, I'd never send the staff on wild goose chases because I know that they would remember who I was. And my background was in natural resources, but when I was elected to tribal council what I wanted to focus on was the tribal budget and that's why I became the treasurer, which meant it was budgets and audits, government operations, tribal enterprises.

When you're elected, your IQ level doesn't automatically just go up. So there's a lot of learning that I needed to do. And so I formed a personal core team, which for me as tribal treasurer meant the finance manager, the tribal executive director as well as the enterprise manager. And for me, it was important for us to develop this common understanding and a deep sense of trust. I knew that my operation, really my survival as a treasurer, really depended on their ability to get the job done. And I made certain that that feeling was mutual, that their survival was dependent on me as well. And over time we became trusted confidantes who I could just bounce ideas off of, or when you needed that private confidential discussion and someone to vent on, they were the people to go to. And it was pretty important for me I think to maintain a sense of sanity to have people like that that I knew I could trust.

On tribal council when we ran -- as natural resource manager, I was watching that we were very heavily dependent on our natural resources to fund tribal governmental programs. And it was predominantly timber revenues and agriculture revenues plus some mining revenues. And we had this very limited natural resource funding base, but at the same time we watched the tribal programs growing and expanding and more needs being pressed against our community. And for sure we were destined to outgrow our capacity to rely on our natural resource base to fund the growing tribal programs. And that was one of the things that compelled me to run is we needed to diversify the tribal revenue base. And right after I was elected we opened up two casinos back to back on the reservation. And at the same time we found ourselves in negotiation over some damage claims to our fisheries caused by two utilities within the reservation. And part of the settlement of the damage claims brought in additional money; it was a financial settlement in part. And all of a sudden we had gaming revenues and two financial settlements and all this money started pouring into the tribe.

And one would think that would make your job easier, but as a treasurer it doesn't make your job easier. Actually it complicates your job even more, because with this new resource coming in and this new source of revenue and this feeling that we had the riches, comes with it is the pressures of what to do with that money and also who should get a piece of it and just how much. And so we were embroiled in a lot of debates over how the investments like Manley and Peterson Zah shared with you earlier and how to sock money away and where we needed to focus in on the future. And those were very difficult decisions to make, but at times we also found that even the best-laid plans can hit a bump in the road, an obstacle and when you have very...our tribal community at the time, there were segments of our community that were still living on the front lines of human despair and their needs were immediate. And how do you provide for their needs while trying to also set money aside for the long-term future? And I had this saying on my office when we had all this money coming in and it said, 'No one is more on trial than in moments of good fortune,' and that is so true.

As tribal leaders what I learned is that we have the power to make a difference and the decisions that we take and make at the tribal council table not only characterize what our communities are going to be like in the future but also it helps define the character of our neighbors. We can try to reinvigorate the world, we can try to help the world act on its own behalf, but we can also bring it harm with the best and the worst of intentions. I found that some people like to measure political decisions. The best political decisions are those that make you popular with over 50 percent of the registered voters, but regardless the best political decisions can be the tough-love decisions that really show you how the natural world works or how the economic world works. And those are the kind of decisions you make that are based on substance and not solely based on your image. And during debates I learned that some people like to come in and they like to bloat issues with guilt and melodrama. They like to personalize them and moralize them. And granted this can be pretty seductive, but our job as tribal leaders is to take those issues, to clarify them and to act fairly and firmly. And our communities continue to demand that we continue to gather the right information free of prejudice and have us weigh those diverse perspectives carefully. We also must be willing to answer to the critical public debate and the scrutiny that goes on within our community. I learned in reading a book by Colin Powell that one must learn never to put their ego on the table along with your position because in a vote if your position goes down, your ego goes with it.

The other thing I want to stress is as a former manager who turned into a tribal politician is be kind to the staff, make them feel appreciated and respected. And kindness, believe me, kindness accomplishes a lot more than brutal strength and anger and it makes the staff be more responsive and actually it's more encouraging for them to come back to the tribal council chambers time and again. And as I learned, well a couple of my colleagues learned this the hard way is that tribal staff have extended families and make for pretty damn big voting blocks. So a couple of my colleagues learned that when they were up for re-election and lost their bid. And so we need to promote that understanding and that appreciation of the people who support us, the tribal staff.

I also want to make particular note of our non-Indian staff. At Nez Perce, we don't have all the expertise to fill all the critical positions within our tribal government and so we are heavily dependent on outside expertise within our...attorneys, some of our biologists, some of our financial managers. And at times, I know it seems like they get singled out and I often thought of why would these people want to come and work for an Indian tribe because quite honestly, sometimes they're put under the spotlight that has this racial tilt to it where they get scrutinized because they are non-Indians. I came to understand working with some of them is why would they work for a low paying job out in a rural community. Well, I think in some cases where else can they go and apply their trade where they can work with a heart. The kind of things that they encounter day in and day out takes a lot of heart and patience to get those things accomplished. So I think they're inspired by the ability to work with Indian tribes.

And don't be shy about offering the emails or the thank you notes when somebody does a job well done. Actually when I was a manager I kept those notes and I remembered those people that sent them to me. And I was never shy to put in a little extra effort to lend them a hand if they ever called upon me. There was great mileage that I even got when I started sending out those kind of notes. And I also learned from a supervisor of mine years ago the value in, I could call it, the 'how's life?' walk. There were times on council when I just felt I needed to get up and decompress, unwind and just get out of my office and wander down the halls. And I'd walk down to the different program departments and walk in and just walk up to one of the staff people and say, 'How's life?' It's amazing what they'll share with you. They'll share about the latest project that's going on or they'll share with you something about their family. I think what they really enjoyed was the fact that somebody was willing to listen and somebody cared. It wasn't about becoming popular with them. It was not a popularity contest, but really it's the fact that they do want to be heard, they do want to know that their tribal leadership cares about them because really what popularity is, if you really want to be popular by both your allies and your adversaries, this is how you become popular: you be fair, you be honest, and you be consistent. That's what really wins popularity contests I feel on tribal council.

Believe me, those of you out there know this better than I do, that it's not easy and there's more that we need to do. Half the challenge is just winning at something. The other half of the challenge is protecting it once we win it. And still today I worry about the fate of our communities. I was at Portland State University -- I sit on the NNI Board and Portland State University has the Institute for Tribal Government, a similar board to what NNI does -- and I was asked to talk about the work that NNI is doing. And I was sharing with them -- and if you've ever read Charles Wilkinson's book, Blood Struggle, some of the people that Charles highlights in his book sits around the Portland State table -- and we were talking about some of the research work that NNI is doing about per capita distributions, about constitutional reform and blood quantum levels and enrollment policies and so forth. And as the discussion unfolded, we began to talk about how these are becoming wedge issues within our very own tribal communities. If you remember in our past, our struggles were against the colonials, the cavalry, the states and the provinces. But in the coming generations, the blood struggles that Charles Wilkinson once wrote about might be the ones we fight in our very own communities as these wedge issues become very divisive if we don't get control of them.

The other thing I learned is just how we go about measuring our success as tribal leaders. When I was a forester, my success was board feet and stumpage values and that was the language of the trade that I spoke. But when I look back on the things that we accomplished at Nez Perce, they meant more than that. Everything we accomplished didn't have a purpose you could find on a spreadsheet. Building casinos wasn't just about gaming revenues, it was also about a clear expression of tribal sovereignty and to engage our tribal members so they could have jobs to safeguard their families. When we brought wolves back to Idaho, that had nothing to do with wildlife biology. That was all about restoring a tribal voice to the land. And when we regained those lands in northeast Oregon, that wasn't just about wildlife mitigation. That was about rebuilding a Native homeland. And just recently we've gone back to hunting bison in Wyoming and in Montana. And doing that wasn't just about the exercise of a treaty right but it was about renewing, for our youth to renew an allegiance to the future. And for me today in the salmon restoration work I do, that has nothing to do with science. Well, it has some to do with science but really it's about a strong will to preserve a culture. So everything that we did, if you look back, everything we did on tribal council was about saving a homeland and building strong Native nations.

And among the challenges that will face you as tribal leaders, remember there's also the joy of life. My divorce taught me that I was probably doing more to help other people's families than I was spending trying to help my own. So I ask you that you take care of your families and take care of yourselves and taking care of yourselves means that we take care of ourselves physically and spiritually. The Nez Perce homeland covers a portion of Idaho. And Idaho is the most Republican state in the union. And life in Idaho is tough if you're an Indian, life is tough if you're salmon, but life is really tough for people like me who are salmon-eating Indian Democrats. But there is a lesson to that; there is a lesson to that. Because what I learned by trying to work with these very conservative state and federally elected leaders was that political relationships, the best political relationships were human relationships. So at any political scale, it was best never to burn a bridge over a single issue because someday, somewhere, you're going to find agreement and you're going to need one another.

I also learned as a tribal leader that people in the outside community also looked at me to be a leader of a larger community. They expected leadership qualities of me that extended beyond, outside the tribal community, especially when we got into debates and arguments over sovereignty. Also when we had some incidences of our youth and violence and dealing of drugs, those are community problems that we all share. So sometimes we need to look at ourselves as being leaders beyond just the tribal boundaries. We can't always go it alone.

And another lesson from Idaho, I found that it was important for us to try to build bridges and to mend those that had weakened because for our communities, our tribal communities to be strong, sometimes we need to look at our neighboring communities and insure that they are strong and they are surviving and thriving. It's what Daniel Kemmis called the 'politics of place.' And we all agree that, hopefully our neighbors agree that, tribes are able partners because we're in this game for the long haul.

Never let a fight become more important than the issue. In a debate, in a fight don't you like a person who's always smiling when you're fighting? I think that shows quite a bit of character on their part. And so in a debate it's always best to seek out the friend or foe with the characteristics of leadership who's willing maybe to debate you today, but tomorrow maybe to stand up with you and help you in collectively solving your problems. The other thing is some people I think they get, they like the D.C. delegations. And Sophie, I guess for you it would be going on the big provincial, or beyond the provincial to the national delegations, and we think that's a very glamorous trip and that's where we should be investing our time. But I also would ask you to make sure that you invest your time at the local level. The school board member, the county commissioner, the mayor is going to be tomorrow's state legislator, who's going to be tomorrow's congressman, who's going to be tomorrow's governor, and with good strong relationships at the local level, those relationships should last as these individuals move along in their political travels.

And the outcome of good decisions do fade if we do make those hasty, comfortable political decisions for the present. I remember we used to get requests to fund a variety of things from a basketball tournament to registration fees. And at the time it was not the highest priority for the expenditures of tribal revenues, but there'd be pretty strong voting blocks coming in asking for these funds. And usually when they would be outside the guidelines of what we should fund, there was always somebody willing to make a motion to make an exception to the rule. That happens quite often I'm afraid. And I remember when he would make the motion to give somebody a $1,000 for example for a basketball tournament, they'd add on to the end of the motion and the treasurer to find the funds. Well, that's me. Where am I going to find the funds? After a while, I got so frustrated I started taking the funds out where I knew it was going to hurt the tribal council the most, take it out of the travel line item. And let's face it: we can't hide from our history. I became a grandfather a couple of years ago and I'm thinking about my granddaughter who someday she's going to have her grandchildren who will be students of my history and I wonder what they're going to learn. Are they going to learn about how we failed to act or how poorly we acted? Or are they going to learn about how we came together as tribal communities to be cohesive with honor and trust and respect to meet the challenges that we faced in our day?

I made three findings when I was on tribal council. One of the first was I found inner strength in prayer and I found myself praying more than ever before. And truly, it helped me cope with some of the issues that we were facing in those days. And second, believe it or not, I found that I gained more patience. I think some people would think you'd lose patience on tribal council, but I think I gained more. And truly, it was a characteristic that I really needed to work on because the easy decisions, they go off to somebody else. The tough decisions come to the tribal council table. And making a difference is rarely accomplished by those people who sit up in the cheap seats, who have never played the game, or who have an obscured view of the playing field. Yet as leaders we cannot...we need a high level of patience to deal with our critics because we cannot cast them aside. Our critics deserve the same kind of leadership that we give to the people who are unable to act on their own behalf or speak on their own behalf. So we need to be leaders of our critics as well. I've been involved in a lot of spirited debates and lengthy deliberations and at times honestly my vote was cast on the losing side, but I learned that you need to accept the loss with the same dignity you accept victory. Pouting over a loss was no different than taunting the defeated when you won. And third, I learned that power alone doesn't make a difference. Political power alone does not make a difference, because if compassion and courage are absent, then our decisions have high likelihood to become reckless and that power becomes useless and our actions become hollow. We can't let politics just be about gaining more power, because power sometimes is possessed by those who have least earned it and is seen as such a supreme value, but if you watch, sometimes power shifts back and forth. You'll have one group of political leadership, a new group come in, and you'll see that political pendulum swinging back and forth. What happens is we see our tribal communities caught in the middle of that. So let's remember that power is not what makes the difference.

And I guess to just kind of wrap things up here is I've learned that we can't do it all in our lifetime, but certainly we give it our best and with age and time I think I've come to learn when the best time of my life is going to be. It's yet to come, because if we truly make a difference and we truly make that lasting difference, the best time of our life is going to come long after we're gone. I think about my granddaughter when she grows up and maybe someday she'll run for tribal council. And I hope the examples that we set for her today are things that she can follow to protect that very sacred place, that sacred place that we call home. Thank you." 

Jaime Pinkham: Intergovernmental and Intertribal Relations: Walking the Sovereignty Walk

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Native Nations Institute
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Jaime Pinkham discusses why the building of productive intergovernmental and intertribal relationships is so important, and shows how they can advance the nation-building efforts of Native nations. He shares a number of in-depth case-study examples illustrating how Native nations have engaged in such relationships in order to overcome conflicts and achieve their goals. 

People
Native Nations
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Citation

Pinkham, Jaime. "Intergovernmental and Intertribal Relations: Walking the Sovereignty Walk." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 21, 2012. Presentation. 

"So I get the opportunity to talk about 'Intergovernmental Relations: Walking the Sovereignty Walk.' And believe me, a lot of my comments will come from my personal experiences at Nez Perce. And it's good to see Joanna Merrick, one of our tribal leaders from Nez Perce, who was able to join us for this conference here. Because if you think about the political landscape of a place like Idaho, it's probably a lot like what the people at Yankton Sioux experience in South Dakota -- a very conservative community, a very conservative government, which trickles down into how the local governments kind of operate and feel and look at Indian policy. So it really was out of necessity that we found ourselves working on these intergovernmental agreements.

I think those of you from the Pacific Northwest probably know of a guy by the name of Billy Frank, Jr. from the Nisqually Tribe. And one of the quotes that I always steal from Billy, one of my favorite quotes, is when he said, 'We need to be peacemakers when we can and warriors when we must.' Those of you who ran for tribal council, I bet you've heard the standard campaign is, 'I will fight for sovereignty, I will fight for treaty rights.' It doesn't always have to be a fight, does it? Well, I've never heard anybody who said, 'I am going to fight against sovereignty and treaty rights,' much less somebody who got elected on that platform. So we ask ourselves, in this nation-building tool kit -- all these things that we've been sharing with [you] -- how does intergovernmental relations become a part of the tool kit?

So let's look at what's been going on over the past three decades, since the 1980s. We've seen this thickening of relationships between tribes and with states. And some of this is driven by the fact that we see governors being elected and taking actions to formalize new relations with tribes within their states. Some of it will come as an executive order by the governor. Just in 2010, the Governor of South Dakota, newly elected Governor [Dennis] Daugaard, had created a secretarial position -- Secretary of Indian Affairs -- and he selected someone from the Cheyenne River Sioux, an attorney by the name of J.R. LaPlante, to head up this first department within the State of South Dakota. And what's interesting, before this the tribal relations in South Dakota was under the tourism department in the state. So it shows a major shift in thinking. And we also see state legislatures responding, too. For example, in Idaho, the State Legislature had passed legislation that created an Indian Affairs Commission. And on this commission you have a representative from the House, from the Senate, from the Governor's office as well as a representative from each of the five tribes in Idaho. The expectation is that maybe there's another avenue to resolving these conflicts and trying to head off issues before it gets into the legislature because believe me, you don't always want state legislatures working on Indian policy.

There are other areas, too, that we see. If you looked at the National Conference of State Legislatures -- it's a coalition of the 50 state legislatures in the U.S. -- and on their website, if you look under the Indian Country headings, 42 of the 50 states now have some kind of a formal relationship that they're developing with tribes, whether it's through the actions of the governor or the legislature. So we see this emergence. But the other thing we see too, which I find extremely fascinating, is the number of Native Americans running and getting elected to state legislatures. Now you see this in South Dakota, certainly up in Alaska, Montana, we're seeing it in Idaho and Washington. One of my favorite stories is Richard Marcellais, Chairman of Turtle Mountain Chippewa. Not only was he chairman of the tribe, but he was also the state senator from North Dakota from that particular district. And back in 2010, when the chairman was running for re-election, he gave me one of his campaign cards. And you look at it and here he is with this war bonnet on and this picture that says, 'Integrity, Honesty, Hard-working. Re-elect Richard Marcellais, Chairman, Turtle Mountain Chippewa.' Turn the card over. Here he is in his business suit, 'Honesty, Integrity, Hard-working. Re-elect Richard Marcellais, State Senator.' I thought it was fascinating. How many citizens have this ability to exercise leadership in multiple layers of government? And tribes have that opportunity, and we see many tribal people exercising it.

Well, we also see the growth in intergovernmental relationships between tribes and states. For example, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act requires that we negotiate compacts with states, which in turn are intergovernmental relations. And many times we see these compacts also leading to other relationships and agreements with local governments over gaming and its impact on land use and public safety and revenue sharing and other areas as well. So we see this emergence going on. And the growth in intertribal partnerships have long been occurring. I was talking with Jefferson earlier, another Columbia River Treaty tribe at Warm Springs. We've had this ancient relationship where we're connected by river and our relationship to salmon, which that grew into a connection by blood. And so that strategic alliances with tribes that have lasted over maybe the axis of a common resource, a common language or maybe we had common enemies. So we always had these nation-to-nation relationships between tribes and that's nothing new for us.

The growing interest by governments in strengthening agreements, avoiding the pitfalls, and simplifying processes. Gosh, believe me, they just don't print enough money to solve all our problems these days. So what are some other avenues that we can have to provide the services that our tribal citizens need, whether it's through health care or law enforcement, jurisdictional issues? And I'll share some examples of where this is coming true. And the drivers for this growth are many.

We see this devolution of power. The federal government -- the granddaddy of governments, so to speak -- wanted to transfer more responsibilities and authorities down to other governments whether it's tribes, the states. And many times they transfer those responsibilities, but they don't transfer the resources to implement them. But we see this devolution going on. In some respects the Indian Self Determination Act, which provided the tribes with the opportunity to manage those BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] responsibilities, we see cases where tribes and even the states are asking for a greater say or the ability to manage natural resources like federal lands or the bison range in Montana when it comes to the Flathead Tribe [Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes], or Nez Perce who wanted to take on wolf recovery from the federal government for the entire state of Idaho. So you see these responsibilities being shifted from the national level on down to the tribal level and state level. And you even see states going through this too, transferring certain authorities down to counties and cities. Also the increased assertion of sovereignty by Native nations; the more that we get out there and exercise our sovereignty wisely, we see this expansion, especially where you have life-sustaining resources like water and fish and wildlife that don't know political boundaries. And so our sovereignty will be extending outside of our reservation boundaries to provide for law enforcement, management and care of natural resources. So we see ourselves expanding outside of our boundaries.

In some cases, it's the challenges themselves that drive the need for these intergovernmental relationships. In Nez Perce, we're a checkerboard reservation. You've got three counties, multiple cities. You've got these jurisdictional intersections and as cars are passing by, whose authority takes precedence? What parcel of land are you standing on at a particular time? And are you Indian, non-Indian, or are you a member of another tribe? And so you have all these complexities of this jurisdictional web of issues that you try to sort out. We also see it in social services, welfare reform, where Congress had kind of created this inequity granting more authorities to the states than they did to the tribes. So in some cases, we're forced to work with states on social service programs. And of course the limited capacities; and it's not just limited capacities of money, it's also what kind of talent and resources, whether it's technical resources or intellectual resources or information that we need to solve our problems. But as well as work with our neighbors as they face the same kind of concerns and challenges and opportunities that we do. And always there's the potential value added by cooperation. Thinking about Billy Frank's comment about are you going to be a peacemaker or a warrior, you need the wisdom and the strength to do the due diligence to decide which is going to work in your community. Sometimes it is the litigation -- you have no choice but to litigate your concerns.

One example I'd like to use that I know Joanna is familiar with, a very difficult decision at Nez Perce and it involved the adjudication of water rights in the Snake River Basin. In the tribe, we didn't want into the fight, but we had to get into the fight when the state had filed water claims against the federal government. Well, we weren't going to stand by and let the feds represent our interests. Even during the negotiation, hell, it was hard to tell what side the feds were on. Were they with us or against us? And so we knew that the only chance for us to make sure that we came out protecting our interest was to engage in the litigation. But the tribe took two tracks. They were parallel tracks that were simultaneous. One involved the litigation and one involved a mediated negotiated solution. On the litigation side, the primary basis for our claims was around in-stream flows. We're salmon people; we love our sushi. And so being [that] the Clearwater and the Salmon and the Snake rivers coming through our country, the salmon are important to our society. And so we wanted to insure the in-stream flows for the adults to return and for the young smolts to go back out to the ocean. But it was also the in-stream flows for our consumptive uses, for domestic-industrial uses. Also the litigation was over the use of springs. We used to herd our cattle all around that region. And in our treaty, we retained the right to access private property to water our cattle and horses. So that's where litigation was taking us.

Same thing, though, on a negotiation was about the in-stream flows. But when we got to negotiation we found out there were other things that we could put onto the table. We were allotted and all the surplus land that was not either reserved for tribal allotments or for the tribe in common and not homesteaded was given to the Bureau of Land Management. We had federal BLM lands within an Indian reservation and dammit, we wanted those lands back. So we put those on a negotiating table. The next thing we said, 'There are two federal fish hatcheries on this reservation. Why are the feds running them and why aren't we running them?' We said, 'We want those fish hatcheries,' under negotiations. Well, the feds said, 'Well, we'll give you this one. This other one has this huge research facility, it's state of the art and we don't want to give it up.' So we negotiated and we said, 'Okay, let us co-manage it with you.' So we started talking about even more than that. And we started talking about funding --funding for watershed restoration, funding for the infrastructure to have clean water and clean sewer, to build a community infrastructure. So we had a funding package on there. Then it came up to a vote and I tell you there was not a wrong answer. Do you vote for litigation? Do you vote for negotiation? They were both right answers. And I think there's something liberating about you can pick either one and either one is going to work. But after a hard decision -- I was no longer on council so that rested with Joanna and others -- they voted with the negotiations. And it was actually one of the largest-funded water rights settlements in this country. So it shows that sometimes litigation and cooperation -- tough choices -- but cooperation does allow you to put more opportunities on the table.

When I was on council and we'd be talking about these intergovernmental agreements, we had concerns about going forward with them. And one is we have this long history of conflicts with these governments. So why would we want to sit down and be their partner all of a sudden? And wasn't it just the feds who have this government-to-government relationship with us? Why do we want to recognize these more junior governments like cities and counties? And we also thought, 'Yeah, they're the minor leagues. We're a tribal government. We're in the big leagues. We don't want to deal with these little junior varsity governments.' And also the feeling that we are tribal sovereigns. We always think there are three true sovereigns, and that's the tribes, the federal government, and the states. And why would we want to deal with these other governments? By dealing with these non-sovereign sort of governments, doesn't that erode our sovereignty? So there was a concern about that. And the other one is heck, sometimes we're so darn good we just beat them in court anyway any time there's a conflict. But we figure, we admit that these intergovernmental relationships -- we're talking about how government is a tool for the nation -- well, this is one of the tools in the toolkit here, is these nation-building tools of how tribal governments can interact with other governments because we can influence policy outcomes on a broader scale. When you interact with state on policy issue, your authority, your voices get expanded and may impact how things go on outside your community. And it enhances economic opportunities. And I'll share an example of how this worked at Nez Perce, where because of the existence of the tribe and our work with the local city, we were able to expand the economic infrastructure to support both the city and the tribe. And also the delivery of quality services to our tribal members, especially on reservations where you're very rural and we had limited resources to provide for our tribal members, but also the counties and the cities have the same limitations. So are there opportunities that we can cobble everything together to create a single functioning program? And again, I'll share more examples of that.

This federal devolution thing -- it's not going to go away. I think it will continue to expand and we need to be prepared for it. Utilization of scarce resources, the mutual concerns -- as I covered before -- but also I think what's important here is when we talk about the concerns -- that I showed on an earlier page -- really these intergovernmental relationships are an exercise of sovereignty. We say to ourselves, when we get into these agreements, that we have the sovereign ability to negotiate the terms of an agreement, to pick and choose who we want to partner with, to characterize what is the nature of that relationships. So really these intergovernmental agreements are just an expression of our sovereignty. And so the contributions are many -- and again so that I stay on time and we play a little bit of catch up here, let me cover these in the examples that I'm going to show here in a bit.

So let me share just some common areas for these intergovernmental agreements. One of my favorites is a Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. They sit on the far east side of the state right along the boundary of the State of Minnesota. So you've got the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, a small reservation and it overlaps the boundaries of the city, the City of Flandreau. And so again you have this jurisdictional intersection. Whose laws take precedent? Who's involved in a particular action or crime? Is it civil, is it criminal, on and on and on? Well, they were struggling with this about this overlapping mixed jurisdiction and they finally decided back in 2000 and said, 'What if we just create a single police department?' And so in 2000 they created a joint police department. And actually, it's led by the tribe, so you have uniformed police officers that provide law enforcement, tribal law enforcement, that also provide law enforcement over the city. And how they managed that, the cooperation of that is they have a joint public safety commission that provides oversight, helps with the creating of laws, and it respects the rights of the tribe as well as the interests of the city in this agreement.

Others are justice systems, and we've been talking a lot about [Chairman John] 'Rocky' Barrett at Citizen Band Potawatomi. We have a lot of Rocky stories, too. And Rocky was saying, there was a city that came to him and said, 'We don't have the resources for law enforcement on our reservation. Can we contract with the tribal police to provide public safety on the reservation?' And Rocky said, 'Yeah, fine, we can do that.' But he said then they came back later and they said, 'You know what, we like how you resolve your disputes in your court system. Can we use your court system to adjudicate our conflicts?' And Rocky said, 'That was unheard of.' A non-Indian government saying, 'we like how your courts operate, can we use your courts to resolve conflict?' And it just shows the sophistication of the infrastructure that Citizen Band Potawatomi was developing. When I was talking to Rocky a couple years ago, he said that agreement is no longer in place. He said after a city council election, the new city council voted to disband that relationship. So we say, 'Well, the city didn't have the staying power to stay in it.' But there's another example that's been emerging.

Leech Lake Band of Chippewa in Northern Minnesota -- another checkerboard reservation -- and you've got the issues that the tribe and the non-Indian community share is the same that many societies share; and it's the substance abuse, and the crime that is associated with substance abuse. And so you've got the state, the tribe and the counties with these overlapping jurisdictions. And they decided to get together to create a joint wellness court; it was the tribe and two local counties -- Cass County and Itasca County -- that formed this wellness court. And while it focuses on the crimes itself, it also focuses on how do you drive down the repeat offenders. And so it has this intensive monitoring program that if you're convicted then you have to frequently appear before the court and they monitor you on your progress. 'Are you keeping up with your treatments? Are you doing your community service?' And on and on and on. But what's interesting is that it doesn't matter which court you go to. The joint powers agreement says, 'Well, you go to the court...' If I'm a tribal member, I can go to Cass County court and through teleconferencing I'm kind of beamed into the tribal court. And so what's interesting is that you've got these three courts with the same laws respecting their authorities, but it doesn't matter whether you're Indian or non, you can go and get the same kind of treatment and oversight in whichever courtroom you go into. And the counties actually, the counties and the courthouses, fly the Leech Lake Tribal flag in their courtroom. How many county courthouses fly tribal flags? One of the attorneys, one of the judges actually said, he said, 'There was a time when I thought tribal courts were inferior to our courts.' And he said, 'Through this joint powers agreement I recognize it is not so.' He says, 'I now fully understand the strength of tribal sovereignty.' And he says, 'That Leech Lake flag that flies in my courtroom reminds me of that every day.' There are even cases where the tribal judge, Korey Wahwassuck, takes the bench right next to one of these county judges, too. I think it's just a phenomenal agreement.

Land use examples. Swinomish, I think, is a great example; you've got another checkerboard reservation. And so you've got the county and the cities that overlap with Swinomish and each had their own land use laws. And so when maybe a county would permit something and put conditions on this permit process, you would have impacts across the boundaries on the tribal resources, impact to the water and the land. And so they decided to get together and create a comprehensive land use plan, which now they do. And that land use plan, while maybe it started with the county land use plan, it began to grow into other plans and other arrangements. Actually, as I understand, Swinomish was the first tribe in the nation to have a joint agreement on land use planning with other governments within a reservation.

Natural resource examples; there's an abundance of those. Chippewa Flowage Agreement; Lac Courte Oreilles in Wisconsin has a relationship with the state and the U.S. Forest Service -- the feds -- on the operation of a reservoir that inundated one of their villages. And so this cooperative relationship between three parties helps to address the management concerns in managing the water levels within that storage facility.

Social services: you see the Houlton Band [of Maliseet Indians] that has this child protective team that works with the state to try to assert more authority of protecting Maliseet children in their placement and their care and establishing foster homes. The other one I want to share is Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians; we've been talking about [former chairman] Frank Ettawageshik. They have within their constitution a clause that specifically talks about intergovernmental relationships. They said, 'We recognize we have inherent powers and that as citizens and nations we have these inherent rights.' And in the constitution it says they recognize that there are other peoples and governments and nations within the world that also have these inherent rights. And it says, 'We will recognize their sovereignty as long as they recognize and respect ours.' It's a quid pro quo on a government-to-government relationship and I think very unique to see that actually embedded in a tribal constitution in that way.

Let me share a couple of case studies from home, one about this bitter fight that we had when I was on tribal council with this alliance, and another one is this project that we did with the City of Lewiston on expanding our infrastructure. Nez Perce is a checkerboard reservation. If you look at a highway map, it would be within the State of Idaho and it covers about three quarters of a million acres, but through our treaty we have actually a large land base that extends across three states and covers roughly 13 million acres of land. We were homesteaded. Similar case of what happened at Yankton Sioux; we were allotted and then homesteaded and that has created a bunch of conflict. Well, this alliance had formed because, as we were out there exercising our sovereign powers -- whether it be through tribal employment rights offices, we were aggressively purchasing land -- and thank god the tribe is still aggressive in buying land today. We're buying land on and off the reservations and county governments were upset because of the fear that it was going to erode the tax base and we were going to become larger land barons. We had implemented a utility tax on the reservation saying any private utility running through the reservation whether it's a railroad or a cell tower or utility line had to pay a utility tax. Law enforcement. Even the state lottery became the issue because we told the State of Idaho, 'If we had to negotiate a compact with you to have gaming on our reservation, then doesn't it serve that you have to get a compact with us to have those lottery machines on the reservation?' So we forced the state...well, we had to litigate it first and we won in litigation and it required the state to negotiate a compact with us on the state lottery; but it was a source of conflict, these ongoing questions of sovereign immunity.

Those of you who can remember back; there was a senator from the State of Washington, Slade Gorton, who was really tough on tribes with sovereignty. Well, Slade was in his heyday back then. And so 23 governments -- cities, counties, highway districts, school districts, even the same school districts our kids were going to -- had created this alliance to challenge the jurisdiction of the Nez Perce Tribe. And the premise of that conflict was the same thing that happened at Yankton Sioux. As a matter of fact, the tribal attorney that was fighting or the attorney that was fighting Yankton from South Dakota was also helping to fight tribes at Mille Lacs, the Omaha and Winnebagos in Nebraska, and he moved out west to help fight the Nez Perce on our jurisdictional issue. So this guy was really making a name for himself, kind of inciting this racial conflict over sovereignty.

And so the alliance took the position that since we were homesteaded that our reservation was diminished. Quite basically saying is that our outer boundary was erased and our only jurisdiction was over the lands that we held, that we owned. And we said, 'No, the political boundary is intact,' and there was an issue of diminishment. And they were actually using the Yankton Sioux case to cite that. And so we had these series of conflicts and charges and countercharges that were going on. And things got so bad the prosecuting attorney from Lewis County was speeding through the reservation, coming down the grade and down at the bottom was one of our tribal police officers. And he was speeding on by and so our tribal officer pulled behind him and pulled him over. And when the tribal police officer got up there, this county prosecutor said, 'I don't recognize your authority,' and he drove off. And our cop, our tribal cop, played it really smart. He didn't get into this wild chase, he just pulled in behind him with his lights flashing and followed him off the reservation boundary to where this guy turned him into, he turned himself into the state patrol. We tried to get the guy disbarred, but the best that we got out of it was tremendous media coverage about how reckless this is becoming. We had the city administrator for one of the communities on the reservation write a letter, an internal memo, which happened to leak and it talked about bloodshed was inevitable. Phil Batt -- grand gentleman, the governor from Idaho -- flies up and tries to convene a meeting between us and with these 23 entities around the table and, as hard as he tried, we were not going to come to a resolution and the tensions continued to grow.

But then something wonderful happened. And I hear Joe Kalt's going to be here later on this afternoon, and Joe Kalt is one of my heroes. And Joe had a friend from Idaho, a guy by the name of Keith Allred, who worked at the Harvard Institute and he said, 'This is what is going on in Idaho.' And so folks at the Harvard JFK [John F. Kennedy] School of Government offered to come up and help mediate a solution. How can we get off of this litigation merry-go-round and ease these confrontations, which were growing and building day after day? And so through Joe and Keith, they provided this neutral facilitation and created the starting point that we would accept each other's existence and honor and recognize them. And we needed to learn about one another. The more you fear, the less that you're willing to collaborate on. And we discovered that we cared about many things. And what we ended up doing was framing this MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] where we promised to work together. We knew that the jurisdictional issues would always be there but we said, 'There's areas of interest that we have in common. We need to focus on that. We'll commit ourselves to respect our governments and we'll agree to try to minimize these conflicts.' And so we went forward and we created an MOU that had this language in it. It says, 'nothing in this MOU shall limit or waive the regulatory authority or jurisdiction of the governments.' The alliance signed off on that. The very thing that they feared they were willing to recognize the tribe's jurisdiction and our sovereignty. So there's still tension between them, but boy, that was a major milestone to get that agreement in place and try to bring some peace back to our existence.

Quickly here, let me wrap up with another project: the City of Lewiston, Idaho. The reservation boundary is over here in green. The City of Lewiston, the largest community next to the reservation, well, our casino is right there where that little red arrow is. We bought a sliver of land and we thought that was the ideal place. And it first started out with a little metal shed where we sold cigarettes and expanded to a little convenience store. And we said, 'It's time to put a gaming facility there,' but we didn't own a lot of land. And by putting up a gaming facility, we knew that we're going to need the infrastructure of water and sewer but that was going to eat up valuable land that we'd rather develop. So our executive director, being quite savvy, he pulled out the comprehensive plan for the City of Lewiston and he looked at their urban growth boundary. And you know what, the city was kind of encroaching and growing towards the reservation boundary. And we recognized that eventually the city is going to have to expand their infrastructure and services, so why don't we get together and hit them up with a proposal? So that's what we did. So we committed to work together. And this is when the alliance issues was going on and so we played this quite well in the media, I thought, too. We told the city, 'How about we go out and get an EDA [U.S. Economic Development Administration] grant? And what we're going to do is we'll build the sewer line connecting to your sewer and water facility where it ends right now and let us extend it on to the reservation boundary and connect it to where we want to do our casino expansion at.' And we said, 'We'll build it to your specifications.' And they said, 'Yeah. Eventually we're going to want to build that and you're going to pay for it? Well, that's great. Let's do it.' And so we did. We got the EDA grant, extended the water and sewer out to our casino. And then, you know what? The tribe -- we're not water and sewer managers -- but you know what? The city's pretty darn good at it. So we told the city, 'Let us transfer the ownership of the facility to you at the reservation boundary. That way you can take over all...you've got the infrastructure in place already to manage those kinds of things.' So we did that, and so right now we pay the city a fee to maintain this. We didn't have to use up valuable tribal land to do that, and right now I'm happy to say the tribe just did groundbreaking again for further expansion. So here's a chance where we saw this intergovernmental opportunity with another tribe that helped us expand our economic infrastructure. But believe me, the good will that that created, the fact that we're fighting these 23 alliances and we said, 'See what happens when you want to play fair and you want to respect us as a sovereign?' Our sovereign ability allowed us to do that and the City of Lewiston was one of the beneficiaries of that.

Well, I've got to wrap this up, but some of the observations are that this isn't easy work. There's a long history of conflict that we need to overcome. We had to exercise kind of that sovereign attitude; do the due diligence. Where are those opportunities where we can have these intergovernmental relationships through cooperation and negotiation? And then where are those times that we've got to be -- like Billy [Frank] says -- it's time to be the warrior and draw the line? Both are hard choices, both are difficult paths to take, but the difference is in the outcome. And I've got to wrap up now and give a couple of minutes for questions and answers, but thank you for your attention."

Native Nation Building TV: "Intergovernmental and Intertribal Relations"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Guests Jaime Pinkham and Sarah Hicks focus on Native nations’ efforts to enhance their relationships with other governments as a way to advance their nation-building objectives. It details how some Native nations are forging mutually beneficial intergovernmental agreements, and chronicles the many advantages to forging similar intertribal arrangements.

Citation

Native Nations Institute. "Intergovernmental and Intertribal Relations" (Episode 8). Native Nation Building television/radio series. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy and the UA Channel, The University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2006. Television program. 

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

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[music]

Mark St. Pierre: "Today's show explores the importance of intertribal and intergovernmental relationships and the innovative approaches that many Native Nations are taking as they forge ahead with Nation building goals. With us today to examine these relationships are Jaime Pinkham and Sarah Hicks. Sarah Hicks, a citizen of the Native village of Ouzinkie in Alaska, is a doctoral candidate at Washington University. She also directs the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center where she works on a joint project with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Jaime Pinkham, a citizen of the Nez Perce Tribe, is Watershed Program Manager with the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission and Intertribal Fisheries Organization. Welcome to both of you and thanks for being with us." 

Jaime Pinkham: "Thank you."

Sarah Hicks: "Thanks."

Mark St. Pierre: "Jaime, when we talk about intergovernmental and intertribal relationships among Native Nations, what are we really talking about?"

Jaime Pinkham: "Well, Mark, I feel we're talking about creating a platform that respects the individual autonomy of the tribes or the governmental agencies that sit at the table and it's a relationship that's built upon trust and mutual respect and provides our ability to provide collective talent and wisdom and resources to overcome conflicts or to move forward on areas of mutual concern."

Mark St. Pierre: "Would you like to respond to that?"

Sarah Hicks: "Yeah, I think we're really talking about deliberate relationships between sovereign governments who are coming to the table as equals. We're looking at relationships that are across various issue areas, we're looking at relationships that are between different levels of government, different kinds of governments and even different branches of government."

Mark St. Pierre: "Sarah, what role do these relationships play in building a Native nation?"

Sarah Hicks: "Well, these kinds of relationships really provide a way for tribal governments to extend their influence beyond their boundaries. It's really a way for tribal governments to leverage their influence, to bring their voice to the table with other governments to influence the policy making that's going on outside of their boundaries."

Mark St. Pierre: "Just as a follow up, is there a concern that tribes who work with, say, state or county agencies are surrendering some sovereignty, or how does that work out?"

Sarah Hicks: "Historically, because of the government-to-government relationship between the federal government and tribal governments, that there's been a great deal of attention to this very critical important relationship. But on the other hand, as we've seen devolution, or the federal government passing resources and authority to lower levels of government, to state government, to county government, in some cases to tribal government, that I think tribes are becoming less concerned about what they're giving up, and I think they see many more opportunities to cooperate on issues of mutual concern. So they're really looking to their neighboring governments as potential partners to accomplish some of these really important jobs that local governments perform."

Mark St. Pierre: "Jaime, you seem like you want to jump in there."

Jaime Pinkham: "I don't see it as an erosion of sovereignty when we reach to other governments, and I think we're seeing more and more -- because of the capacity that tribes are building -- is we see these other governments reaching out to us. We've built the institutional capacity on resource programs, education and health care, and the other thing is that the tribes have unique access to federal resources, for example highway trust funds, which we can help rebuild or maintain infrastructures, especially in rural communities, that county governments and local municipalities depend upon, too. So I see them reaching out to us as well."

Mark St. Pierre: "You've both seen a shift in how Native nations view these relationships and their potential benefits. Historically, what began that shift in emphasis?"

Sarah Hicks: "Well, I think much of it was devolution as I was just mentioning earlier. Really in the late 1980s, we started to see more and more federal programs, environmental programs, some human service programs, community development programs that are being moved to more local levels of government, and over time the pace of devolution has increased. So throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, we've seen more and more resources really being directed at more local levels of government, and this just increases the incentive for tribal governments and state and county governments to look for these issues of mutual concern, to really bring to bear their limited resources on both sides to address issues that all governments care about."

Jaime Pinkham: "I also see the follow up on that is some courtroom fatigue where too often we're trying to resolve our differences in the court room and when you go to court you have one winner, one loser but when you come together in exploring these relationships you try to harmonize your efforts, and while litigation and negotiations are both difficult paths to take, the difference is the outcome and the outcome is the mutual benefits. The other thing is I've really witnessed over the past 10 to 15 years this elevation of both state and federal governments in formalizing tribal policies. It's an expression of tribal relationships, so we see the cabinet levels in the state legislatures and representatives of the governor's office now reaching out and creating new relationships with Indian tribes."

Mark St. Pierre: "In regions where tribes are really a small minority of the local or general population, have these relationships in fact increased the power of tribes in regional and local politics?"

Sarah Hicks: "I would argue yes. I think that this is a vehicle for tribes to come together on the one hand in intertribal organizations. We've seen an increased growth in regional intertribal organizations, and I would say an increased strength in those organizations as well over the past couple of years. So on the one hand, tribes being able to come together to voice their collective concerns, to share their resources that they have has definitely made a difference, but I also think that on the state and county level, neighboring governments are starting to see tribes as bigger political players. Tribes are getting on the map. They're starting to realize that there are a lot of common interests with tribal governments."

Jaime Pinkham: "And I agree. I think we're seeing many cases where local governments would like to ride upon the coattails of tribal governments because of the capacity that they have at dealing with the variety of levels of issues from very local to national in nature."

Mark St. Pierre: "Just on a personal level, on a human-to-human level, do you see these relationships strengthening communication and relationships between literal neighbors of the reservations?"

Jaime Pinkham: "I think we do, because as the tribes get more active in local politics, especially you start seeing members of the tribal communities becoming on school boards and county governments and city governments, and that helps really soothe and create and foster some positive relationships. What concerns me is we see the growth of these anti-Indian, anti-sovereignty organizations, but if we could work better and have these positive examples, we can try to teach these places where this fear exists of tribal sovereignty that really there's nothing to fear but really there's an opportunity, a partnership that can really help all communities prosper and grow."

Mark St. Pierre: "That kind of leads to a logical question I guess then. How have tribes or Native Nations avoided litigation, avoided conflict in dealing with other governments?"

Sarah Hicks: "Well, I think tribes and neighboring governments have really looked to local agreements as a way to avoid litigation. As Jaime was mentioning earlier, litigation is frequently extremely time-consuming, extremely expensive, and often results in an outcome that nobody's happy with, so to the extent that tribes and states or tribes and counties or tribes and other tribes can come to the table together to negotiate agreements that work better for everybody down on the ground, that's a win-win situation. We've seen a number of examples. If you look to motor fuel taxation and tobacco taxation, there have been some great agreements in Nevada, in Nebraska, in Oklahoma, in Arizona. There have been agreements around natural resource issues, around protection of cultural issues, around human service delivery. So I think we're seeing a proliferation of these kinds of relationships across a whole range of different topic areas."

Mark St. Pierre: "Is it in the best interest of federal, state and municipal governments to cross these traditional divides and work together with Native nations?"

Jaime Pinkham: "I believe it is. If you look out west, where that sense of individuality is treasured, but as long as we remain isolated, anonymous and faceless, we will never be able to come over some of those very difficult issues out west and a lot of those issues will deal in terms of the environment, the return of wolves or the recovery of salmon, where we see divisiveness in our communities. So the best way really is to start as local as you can. It's the politics of place in crafting those relationships very locally and using that to build up the ladder to state, federal governments. Who better to resolve local issues than those of us who live there? And to take those outcomes to where we really need action passed, and whether it's at Congress or at the state legislative level."

Sarah Hicks: "I guess I just wanted to make a related point, which is that I think not only are we seeing these relationships grow in all different kinds of topic areas and really in all different places across the country, but I think we're also seeing relationships that are being built across different branches of government. So increasingly, we're seeing relationships not only with the executive branch but with the legislative branch or in some cases they're relationships with the judiciary, with training of judges around some particularly important issues to tribal communities. So I think the trend is just growing and I think increasingly we're seeing that we have so many common issues where all neighboring governments are concerned about finite resources, about protecting our environment, about serving our citizens, making sure they have the essential governmental services they need. So I think increasingly we're just seeing more opportunities for governments to come together to solve these issues at the local level."

Mark St. Pierre: "Has this caused a shift in how these governments view Native Nations they work with? In other words, the State of Washington for instance, has it created a shift positive or negative in how they view the tribes in Washington?"

Jaime Pinkham: "Well, I can't speak for Washington, but in Idaho when I was on Tribal Council with Nez Perce, we did sense a shift, but unfortunately the shift was going two directions. One is where we were working collectively with a local county government and a city government to provide services to the reservation, but by us being there having access to economic development funds we were able to improve the infrastructure of the City of Lewiston. On the other hand, we saw these other governments riding on this wave of concern about what sovereignty will do to a community, and so we were faced with an alliance of 22 entities from school districts to city governments to county governments who feared tribal sovereignty and what it could do, the concerns about regulation and courts and they feared this word called 'sovereignty.' Sovereignty is something that really is an expression of the health of a community. So we worked hard to try to overcome the misconception that some of these communities had and the way to do it is to try to show the positive relationships we had with other neighboring communities."

Mark St. Pierre: "In South Dakota, I think there's a tremendous fear that in negotiating with the state, for instance, about anything, you're in a sense violating your treaty, because your treaty is between the tribe and the federal government. Do you want to respond to that concern 'cause it's a powerful concern."

Sarah Hicks: "Well, and I think part of this comes from a sense or a fear that many of these protections can be eroded, that the resources, the federal trust responsibility to American Indian tribal governments can be eroded. And so out of the fear to sort of protect what we have, there's been in some cases a real resistance to developing these kinds of relationships. But I think that nationally, we've started to move in a bit of a different direction. We've started to hear in national forums, tribal leaders articulating, 'We need to make sure that the federal trust responsibility is protected. We need assurances from the federal government that increasingly tribal self determination and tribal self-governance efforts, that increasingly, intergovernmental relationships aren't in anyway affecting the federal trust responsibility.' So I think on the one hand, tribes are concerned about that and I think they are looking to ensure that those protections are in place, but on the other hand, because of again the many, many common concerns and because of the increasing resources and opportunities for collaboration at the local level, I think we're seeing tribes move in that direction."

Jaime Pinkham: "And no doubt, I sense there still is some concern in Indian Country, because you have the federal government and then tribal government, state governments and the lower governments, and there's the concern that if we work with governments below us from the states down to city governments, that it's an erosion of our treaty rights and an erosion of our sovereignty. But the thing to keep in mind is we have the sovereign choice to work with those governments only if we choose."

Sarah Hicks: "Right. And I think we are. I think Jaime's right. We're talking about deliberate relationships between sovereign governments. It's governments coming together at the same table as equals to determine the type of relationship they want to have and what that relationship will encompass. So with tribes at the driver seat, I think this is really just underscoring that this really is about tribes as governments, tribes behaving as governments."

Mark St. Pierre: "I certainly think that sends a powerful idea to those tribes that are very nervous about these kinds of things, to hear that there are tribal groups working on positive relationships with local governments. Let's turn to a totally different thing here and look at intertribal relationships. Why are a growing number of Native Nations developing relationships and ties with other tribes in their region or nationally?"

Jaime Pinkham: "I think it's built on longstanding alliances and relationships that we've always had. In the Columbia River it was the salmon that always brought us together. The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, we're focused around the salmon, so we've always had the traditional alliances. The other thing, too, is recognizing the diversity of the landscape of Indian Country with our forms of government, our languages and our economies, it's important that we begin to share our talent and also to share knowledge and wisdom. When you look at parts of the U.S. where maybe we don't have the economic strength or we don't have the political strength and we're going to rely upon our neighboring tribes, and so I think these alliances are pretty fundamental to helping to elevate the tribal voice in places like Washington, D.C."

Sarah Hicks: "Part of it's strength in numbers, the sheer fact that tribes can come together, that we do have consensus on a great many issues and that we have a stronger voice if we work together. I also think that Jaime's right, a lot of this is really just formalizing relationships that have always been there."

Mark St. Pierre: "The tribes that work together, is it important that they kind of have their own internal tribal ducks in a row, that they have an effective government?"

Jaime Pinkham: "Yeah. Again, getting back to all politics is local, yeah, you have to be well-grounded and have strong, stable political leadership and use that as the basis and build up from there."

Sarah Hicks: "There's no doubt that it's important to have a message straight from the top that says, 'These relationships are important, that we're going to do what we can to work collaboratively on issues that we can.' This isn't to say that neighboring governments can always find common ground and can always agree on solutions to joint problems, but it is to say that it's important to have a message from the leadership that articulates very clearly the intention of cooperative relationships. On the other hand, I also think it's really important that the technical folks, that the staff, that the program directors are also on board for this. In some sense, you need the message from the top, the general policy that says, 'We're going to work together.' But on the other hand, it's the technical staff, it's those folks that are actually doing the work who really have to take to heart what it means to work collaboratively, to look for those opportunities to invite the other governments to the table."

Mark St. Pierre: "This question's for Jaime. In your capacity with the Nez Perce Tribe, you've been involved in a number of intergovernmental relationships. How did that process start? Tell us how that began and what it led to."

Jaime Pinkham: "Well, let me use an example, it's a recent example. We were involved in one of the largest water adjudications in the nation, the Snake River Basin, the Snake River Basin Adjudication, and actually we had two tracks going. We had the litigation track in court, but through the McCarran Amendment we're stuck in state court. And that's not the most comfortable place for a tribe to have their issues resolved. The other option we took was to try to find a negotiated settlement and both processes were going on track. And so the Tribe decided that we needed to keep both options open and we aggressively pursued a negotiated settlement working with the State of Idaho as well as representatives of the federal government. And believe me, it took us almost eight years to get this thing through and it took a lot of hard work. And like I said earlier, both paths are difficult but the only difference is the outcome. So we were able to resolve our differences and we had to be prepared to give a little and to gain a little bit. But in the end we avoided court, we avoided a court that may have ruled against our sovereignty, a court that could have ruled against some of our treaty-reserved rights. We preserved that. Those are the core values of our community and through negotiation we were able to preserve them."

Mark St. Pierre: "For those of us that aren't familiar with the actual issue, give us a framework for what brought the conflict to be."

Jaime Pinkham: "Actually, it started when the state went after securing their reserved water rights out of the Snake River Basin and they filed claims with the federal government. Well, the tribe couldn't stand back. We had to submit our claims and our claims were based on really two fundamental principles. One is in-stream flow to protect fisheries and the second one was the consumptive uses on reservation, whether it be for residential or industrial uses. And so we went through a long process to establish our tribal water rights claims."

Mark St. Pierre: "You now work for the Columbia River Intertribal fish Commission and I understand that's an award-winning intertribal organization. How has that commission empowered its member tribes, the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama?"

Jaime Pinkham: "Actually, I see it the other way -- that they've empowered us as a real function of tribal government. We provide technical expertise, legal expertise and assistance in intergovernmental affairs, but really when you look, the real strength of our organization rests in the tribes and the capacity they've built on the fisheries front in the four tribes in the Pacific Northwest that have treaty rights on the Columbia River. So really they empower us and we act and respond to whatever directions that they want us to go to. It's a wonderful organization and I would say that we're on the cutting edge of salmon recovery in very contentious times, the fate of the salmon and subsequent fate of the four lower Snake River dams. It is a difficult issue to be dealing with, but fortunately we have four strong tribal governments that have empowered us to act on their behalf."

Mark St. Pierre: "I guess one of the things that I'm looking at, the salmon recovery, is something that has broad economic implications for the region doesn't it?"

Jaime Pinkham: "Oh, it does. The irony is that when the settlers first came out west they had the timber, the agriculture, and the salmon economies, so salmon helped get a foothold. But today you hear them speak only passionately about protecting the timber economy or the agriculture economy and we need to once again elevate the significance that the salmon economy played, not just for Indian people but for the region. And a strong salmon economy also means a strong, healthy environment."

Mark St. Pierre: "Sarah, in your work with the National Congress of American Indians, you've been exposed to many mechanisms available to develop these types of partnerships. Can you talk about how that came about and what some of those methods are?"

Sarah Hicks: "Sure. First, I think just the National Congress of American Indians is an interesting model. Our organization was founded in 1944, actually in response to attempts by the federal government to terminate American Indian tribes. So the very impetus for our organization was that tribes needed to gather together collectively to advocate against the federal policy toward termination. So the whole purpose of our organization was to bring tribes together and to represent their interests to the federal government. So that's just one model of intertribal organizations. But then I think what you're speaking more directly to is a project that the National Congress of American Indians has had with the National Conference of State Legislatures, a national organization that serves the legislators of every state in the United States so actually they serve a little over 7,000 state legislators. And in this work that NCAI has done with NCSL, we've been funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for about six years now to start to provide some targeted technical assistance to states and tribes who are interested in finding new ways to work together. So some of the models that we've looked at and shared broadly include the establishment of Indian Affairs commissions, so these are usually executive-branch offices within the state government that try to coordinate the affairs of the executive branch in relationship to tribes. Then, of course, there are a number of legislative committees. I believe there are 14 states that have 17 different legislative committees that deal specifically with tribal issues. Some deal broadly with state tribal relationships where as others deal with particular issues around the relationships so perhaps repatriation, perhaps gaming, things like that. But there certainly are quite a number of models out there where states and tribes are finding new ways to work together developing new mechanisms and developing new agreements that will sort of chart the circumstances under which these relationships should continue."

Mark St. Pierre: "What I understand, it seems to me from what you're saying that the general climate is improving for the positive. Would that be your..."

Sarah Hicks: "I think so. If you look at some of the work that NCAI has done over the past year, we've been working up in Alaska with the previous administration there to sign a government-to-government agreement with the tribes in Alaska. That was the Millennium Agreement. We've seen similar types of agreements in a variety of other states. We've seen an increased number of Native legislators. I think that's a big sign that Native people think it's worth investing in the state system. We've seen increased number of bills that address tribal issues in state legislatures. So I think across the board we're seeing various indicators that tribes are moving in this direction. And again, not that this is a panacea. We don't think this is the be-all-and-end-all, that this is the solution for everything. Certainly tribal governments and neighboring governments will have very different views on some things in large part because of tribal cultures and tribal values may differ substantially from other governments. But on the other hand, it makes a lot of sense to look at issues that we can agree on and I think we are definitely moving in that direction."

Mark St. Pierre: "Let's turn now to some success stories. I know both of you have tremendous involvement in a wide range of these kinds of relationship building and conflict resolution. Give us some ideas of some of the successes in the country that are based on this new energy."

Jaime Pinkham: "Some of the things that we've worked on back home in Nez Perce country and looking at issues that were once conflict that had now come into a cooperative relationship, and one was when we were looking at protecting our traditional foods and medicines and the federal government had a plan to spray herbicides and it was to take out noxious weeds. And then we protested that so in turn the federal government and the state worked with us to develop a new method of controlling noxious weeds that would safeguard our traditional foods and medicines. So we started a bio-control center, so I think that was one where we took conflict and turned it into something that was positive and actually is providing resources, non-pesticide options to control noxious weeds in the Pacific Northwest."

Mark St. Pierre: "Sarah?"

Sarah Hicks: "I guess there are a couple that I can think of. One is that in 1998, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation signed an agreement with the Narragansett Tribe that would actually allow for tribal members to be hired by the state department of transportation to monitor some of the progress that was being made on developing highways, to be there when human remains or cultural artifacts were found so that there would be tribal members on site to try to make sure that those things were protected and they were addressed in a way that was appropriate to the tribe. So there are some examples like that. There are examples around federal subsidies to tribes to deal with foster care and adoption. Right now the federal funding flow is only to states, but we've seen some progress such that there are 71 tribal state agreements in 13 different states that allow these federal funds that are so urgently needed to deal with child welfare issues in tribal communities, to allow these funds to flow through the state to the tribes and in many cases there are other administrative funds and there are training funds that go with these so we are seeing I think...Jaime's pointing out some examples, and I'm talking about a couple others, and we're seeing that really this isn't relegated to just one domain, that we're actually seeing these kinds of efforts in a variety of different topic areas."

Mark St. Pierre: "I know in the fishing industry in the northwest that there have been arguments about water flow in terms of the revitalization of salmon in those rivers and they've required very complicated agreements. Can you tell us a bit about some of those?"

Jaime Pinkham: "Well, yeah, some of them are complex agreements where we have to work with a variety of people. If you look at the river system, it's a river of life. Not just human life, but an economic life, and a wonderful example is where the Confederate Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have reached beyond...we can talk about [intergovernmental] relationships and intertribal relationships, but also there's the importance of creating private sector relationships, and the Umatilla Tribe has a wonderful example of that where they were concerned that the irrigators were pulling water out of the life-giving river as they were trying to return salmon to the Umatilla River. So they worked with the local irrigators to do a water exchange to keep water within the river system. So they took what were traditional adversaries and now they've become allies in salmon recovery. So we see those kinds of agreements at play. And I'm hoping we'll see more and more of those. The salmon issue is not going to be resolved overnight and you've got so many players in the game from utilities to irrigation to recreation interests and the long-seated tribal interest that is there, and we need to continue to reach out and build more of these relationships. And you see the tribes who are taking the lead on running fish hatcheries and working with federal government on land restoration to kind of restore the habitat that is important to these species, so the relationships are really building out in the northwest."

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

Rebuilding Native Nations: Strategies for Governance and Development - An Online Course Series

Producer
Liz Hill and Justin Severson
Year

Martha Fast Horse of the Martha Fast Horse Show in Minneapolis interviews Ian Record of the Native Nations Institute (NNI) and Jaime Pinkham (Nez Perce) of the Bush Foundation about NNI's recent launch of its groundbreaking online course series, "Rebuilding Native Nations: Strategies for Governance and Development." Their conversation touches on the governance challenges facing Native nations, the solutions they are developing to overcome those challenges, and the findings from the ongoing research by NNI and the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development about the keys to successful nation building.

Resource Type
Citation

Hill, Liz and Justin Severson. "Rebuilding Native Nations: Strategies for Governance and Development - An Online Course Series." The Martha Fast Horse Show. Minneapolis, Minnesota. May 26, 2013. Radio interview. (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/marthafasthorse/2013/05/27/jaime-pinkham-bu..., accessed May 28, 2013)