Manley A. Begay, Jr.

Honoring Nations: Manley Begay: Reflections on the Day

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

Harvard Project on American Development Co-Director Manley A. Begay, Jr. synthesizes the learning that took place during the first day of the 2004 Honoring Nations symposium, focusing on the nation-building success stories chronicled during the day as testaments to and reflections of Indigenous self-determination.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Topics
Citation

Begay, Jr., Manley A. "Reflections on the Day." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. September 11, 2004. Presentation.

"Thank you for the introduction and for sharing today with me. As I think about today, it's been a very good day. A lot of good discussions, good thoughts being expressed, and old friendships renewed and new friendships made. And all in all it's been a very good day. And as Amy mentioned, I am Navajo. I come from Tuba City by way of Wheatfields. Wheatfields is north of Window Rock about 50 miles. And my clans are Maii deeshgiizhinii -- that's my clan, Coyote Pass Clan. And I'm born for Tachiinii, the Red-Running-Into-the-Water People. And my maternal grandfather is Lokaa Dine'e, the Reed People. And my paternal grandfather is Todichiinii, Bitter Water People. So that's who I am as a Navajo person. And up to the year 2000, I had the great pleasure and honor of working with Joe Kalt here at Harvard. And since then, I've been stationed at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where I serve as a senior lecturer for the American Indian Studies Program, and also serve as Director for the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy, and the Native Nations Institute is a sister organization to the Harvard Project. And since then I've been working with Stephen Cornell, who directs the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, the other partner in crime.

And Andrew Lee asked me to talk a little bit about, before I begin to talk, a little bit about this particular logo. This logo is something that I began working on when Joe was really young. Now he's getting old and gray. And so this is sort of an art project I started working on. And when I finally came up with the design, a good friend John Thornier got together with me and he has the talent of working computers and the Mac program and all that, and he basically perfected this design. And this particular logo is really about power and strength. It's really about vision. It's really about unity and a sense of direction. And you can see that the eagle is in the center. And you know what the eagle means to many of us as Native people; it's the source of strength, it's a source of vision, and it's really sort of the centerpiece of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. And you'll see a number of feathers that go around, which represents Native nations throughout Indian country. And around that you'll see a hoop, and that hoop signifies unity and togetherness. And there's a sinew that wraps around that particular hoop. And sinew is really, I believe represents sovereignty, it really represents this sense of strength. The old ones would say that we should be like deer hide, fine deer hide, and that particular deer hide could be used for bows and arrows and it's very, very strong, yet at the same time it's flexible and it's soft and it can be tender. And so it really has these elements of both -- sort of strength, protection, yet at the same time one of tenderness and softness and flexibility. So that particular sinew wraps around that hoop and really signifies togetherness, strength, sovereignty. And that makes up this particular emblem. And obviously the four eagle feathers represents the four directions, the four winds.

You know, sitting here today and going into a few of the sessions, I've been asked to sort of reflect on this, this day. And, you know, I can't help but also recognize that I have relatives here and family members here as well, many of whom I respect highly. And it's really quite an honor also to be in their presence and to know that they are from not only Navajo country, but also from Indian Country at-large. At the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona, I share a joint duty with Joan Timeche. I'm not sure where Joan is at. She's probably at Harvard Square. No, Joan's back there. Joan and I run the show to the best of our abilities. And Joan comes from the Hopi Nation. And it is not true that Hopis and Navajos don't get along. We get along. I just follow what she says.

You know, not too long ago, we were being controlled by the federal government -- and Anthony Pico talks a bit about this -- and we were being controlled by the federal government through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. State governments and other entities also controlled us to a large extent. We were dictated to about how to govern and how to run programs and how to live. In our travels -- Joe Kalt, Steve Cornell and I -- we ran across a tribal chairman at one point in time that said, 'You know, I remember when, as a tribal chairman, before we could even make a decision I had to lean over to the BIA superintendent right next to me, get his permission before the council could vote.' Clearly somebody else was in power, not our own leaders. And this was occurring only a few years ago. It's not like it occurred decades and decades and decades ago. It just occurred recently.

Then things began to change at the urging, sometimes strongly, by the National Congress of American Indians, by the American Indian Movement, by the National Indian Youth Council, and many other organizations as strong leaders throughout Indian Country. And this really occurred on the heels of the Civil Rights Movement, movements that also included the Brown Berets, the Black Panthers and others. This was a time of change in the United States socially, and music began to change, people began to question, you know, 'Who are the Beatles, you know, who are the Rolling Stones, who's Bob Dylan?' And these were folks that were in the limelight. You know, peace and love were stressed amidst the Vietnam War. It was a time of upheaval for some. It was a time of needed change for others. For Native peoples, it was a time for needed change, a change from poverty and control, and we wanted to move toward a better life and freedom. And this same tribal chairman told us a short time later, 'You know, I found a bit of strength, and with this strength I told the BIA superintendent sitting next to me, 'Well, I really don't want you to sit by me anymore, I want you to move to the end of the table.' And so he moved to the end of the table.'

And I was just a young man at that time and, you know, somewhat in awe of the American Indian Movement. And their message was really a message of sovereignty at all costs. You know, I traveled at that time to Pine Ridge, to Flagstaff, Arizona to the [Childs?] Ranch, which is outside of Ajo, Arizona and protested the injustices that were occurring, the mistreatment that Indian people were going through. And these events were all part of the events like the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] takeover in Washington, D.C., Wounded Knee II, the burning of the Custer Courthouse, and the taking over of the Richardson Trading Post in Gallup, New Mexico, and many other events like that. It began to change the tide of people's thinking. I even had the distinct pleasure and honor of going to Coachella Valley at one point in time and actually siding with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. What these events did was begin to change the mentality of many Native peoples from being subjugated to thinking more freely, to thinking about freedom. Remember, this is in the world's greatest nation. This is in the world's wealthiest nation. This is in the country that touts democracy and freedom as the pinnacle of civilization.

There really was a change from some outsiders deciding how we should live to the right to determine our own destinies. It was a change from the one-model-fits-all that was being perpetuated by the federal government to the right to think independently according to our own diverse cultural teachings, from an outsiders, making mistakes and not being accountable to less making our own mistakes and learning from them, from being told how we should govern to designing our own constitutions and governments. This same tribal chairman that had moved the BIA superintendent to the end of the table now was even more courageous. He said to us, he said, 'At times, you know, we're dealing with issues that we don't want the BIA to know about.' So he said, 'I finally told the BIA superintendent we don't really want you in here at this moment, so could you please leave?' And he left.

So you can see the change that occurred ever so slowly, but significant nevertheless. We are currently in the midst of a political resurgence. Finally, and over 500 years, we as Native peoples are in a position to determine our own futures with programs designed by us, not by an outside agency or person. It is in this context that we are seeing these Honoring Nation's programs. It is in this context we have wonderful uplifting stories from Lummi, Chickasaw, Menominee, Zuni, Chickaloon, Navajo, Tulalip, Gila River, Viejas. These stories are a long time coming. They are a testament to resilience of the human spirit, ushering in of justice against tremendous odds. They are a testament to the power of the human will. They are also a testament to the gifts of strength given to us by our elders, by the land, by the mountains, by the rivers, by fire, by rocks, by animals. Lastly, these programs are gifts to those yet unborn. These programs should be our gifts to those yet unborn. I look forward to the time with our young ones. Those yet unborn will say, 'I'm so glad my leaders developed those programs. My life is richer because of their wise decisions and sound management.'

I do, however, offer one word of caution. We should not become complacent with our successes. Vigilance is key, because our sovereignty is neither secure nor absolute, and poverty, poor housing, and other social ills are still with us. So the fight continues through assertion of sovereignty, with the building of culturally appropriate capable institutions of self-governance. And with good leadership may we all continue to remain strong and creative. May we continue to be vigilant in the things that we do. Thank you."

Honoring Nations: Manley Begay: So You Have a Great Program...Now What?!

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

"Forward-thinking" is often used to describe innovative programs. In remarks designed to frame the symposium session "So You Have a Great Program...Now What?!", Manley A. Begay, Jr. talks about strategic orientation, planning, and implementation as critical to sustaining the success of tribal programs, including how they stay financially healthy, how they deal with changing missions and needs, and how they maintain their effectiveness.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Begay, Jr., Manley A. "So You Have a Great Program...Now What?!" Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. September 11, 2004. Presentation.

Amy Besaw Medford:

"To start the session off we'll have Manley Begay come up again, the co-director of the Harvard Project and also the director of the Native Nations Institute. Manley is a great friend and I hope that you learn a lot from his words."

Manley Begay:

"This is the second-to-the-last session and the session is called "So You Have a Great Program, Now What?" [Laughter] And my wife would say, 'whatever.' [Laughter] I wanted to just once again say hello to each of you and also just acknowledge Amy Besaw and Andrew Lee and Carmen Lopez and the staff, Liz Hill outside and also Liza Bemis, and am I forgetting anybody? And the fine work that they're doing, so we should give them a round of applause. [Applause] They're wonderful people and in the past 16 years or so that I've been working with the Harvard Project, I've come across many wonderful people and each time we connected with these individuals we held onto them pretty tightly.

Originally back around 1987, Joe Kalt was actually wrestling with an economics question and Joe was puzzled by the fact that as he was studying the U.S. Forest Service land in central and eastern Arizona he was puzzled by the fact that right next door was the White Mountain Apache tribal forest area and as all good economists, you know, he's running numbers and trying to figure things out sort of numerically and so forth and what he was trying to figure out was why is it that all of a sudden in this work he ran across the fact that White Mountain Apache Tribe was managing their forest land better than the U.S. Forest Service was managing theirs. So he was faced with this question and he couldn't figure it out. And Joe began to think well, 'I guess economists really don't rule the world' [Laughter], or they like to think they do and he said, 'I've got to find something else about what's going on here.' He said, 'There's got to be somebody here at Harvard that knows something about Indians.'

So he starts looking through the phone book and asking people questions, 'Who here at Harvard knows about Indians, besides the anthropologists?' [Laughter] And lo and behold he runs across Steve Cornell. Steve was in the Sociology Department at that time and lo and behold Steve was working on a book and I think just finished a book called The Return of the Native. So the two of them have lunch and Joe poses his question and lo and behold, the Harvard Project was born. A short time later, a year or so later, I arrived here at Harvard to work on a doctorate at the Graduate School of Education and I answered a work study ad, it was on the bulletin board at the Harvard [University] Native American Program office and so I went to go see Joe Kalt at the Kennedy School. So I sat down with him and we talk for, gee, it seemed like two, three hours, so I figured I was hired, you know? [Laughter] And became one of the first research assistants for the Harvard Project. And there was another guy that was working there at that time with Joe and Steve, a gentleman named Karl Eschbach. Carl has a wide range of interests from baseball to English tea. Interesting fellow, Carl, wonderful guy, was there working with Joe and Steve. And then Carl and I shared an office and had many good conversations and fast got to know Carl as a wonderful human being. And a short time later, Steve actually was here for maybe another year or two and then went off to University of California-San Diego and then I was fast promoted to the executive director position, which is what Andrew holds at the current time, and began to work with the Harvard Project. So for the next 15 years or so, I was here. Finished my doctorate, received a position at the Graduate School of Education, and became one of the [Harvard Project] co-directors along with Joe and Steve.

And in the course of the 15 years or so that the Harvard Project has been around and working in Indian Country, many wonderful individuals came our way and I think many of them stayed with us. And they've formed their own careers and formed their own interests about the work of nation building in Indian Country. Among these individuals are Jonathan Taylor, Kenny Grant, Eric Henson, Miriam Jorgenson, Elise Adams, and Harry Nelson. Harry is currently at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and I was thinking about this today and those individuals I just mentioned were all students here at Harvard. Many of them were at the Kennedy School of Government. And we've not only become fast colleagues in this work, but have become good friends and individuals that you know you can trust and respect. So this is sort of the team that has formed the Harvard Project.

And a short time later, after Andrew graduated from the Kennedy School of Government and was working at the Ford Foundation, Andrew called and wanted to return back to Harvard and see about finding a place within the Harvard Project. So he brought along with him this idea of the Honoring Nations program, which I believe he and Michael Lipsky had talked about for quite some time. So Andrew came and joined the Harvard Project again and Andrew for the longest time single-handedly put the Honoring Nations program together and I think if there's anybody to be touted as the father of the Honoring Nations program, it is Andrew Lee. [Applause]

And it's wonderful to see that Carmen Lopez is doing a great job with the Harvard University Native American Program. And Carmen has a little known distinction probably among all of us -- except for me--  that she's a fantastic volleyball player. And she and my daughter played volleyball at Dartmouth College and I always admired Carmen when she played high school volleyball. That's when I first noticed her, and Carmen is doing a wonderful job here at Harvard and it's good to see her once again.

I wanted to just make a brief statement about 'So You Have a Great Program Now, Whatever.' [LAUGHTER] But what I want to talk about is sort of forward thinking. I want to talk about strategic orientation, long-term planning and thinking, about sort of setting the context for my brother Lenny Foster and also, who else is speaking? I forget who else is speaking. I know it's not Don Sampson. Rick George will come up after me. But I want to talk about, 'Okay, so now what? Where do we go with all of this? What do we do? How do we begin to think about the future?'

And I think strategic orientation really is a shift from reactive thinking to proactive thinking. It's not just responding to crisis but trying to gain some control over the future. Trying to gain some control over the future, try to figure out where are we headed, what are we all about. And it's about a shift from short-term thinking to long-term thinking. Twenty-five years, 50 years from now, what kind of society do you want? What kind of society do you want to create? It's a shift from opportunistic thinking to systemic thinking, focusing not on what can be funded, but how each option fits the society you're trying to build. It's a shift from a narrow, problem focus to a broader focus on the community. Fixing not just the problems, but societies. Very much like what is going on throughout the world.

I think Joe at his opening address talked about our trip to Poland, and while in Poland you can tell they're working on trying to fix the society after colonization had occurred, first with Germany and then with the Russians. And in some of my trips abroad to places like Australia and New Zealand and South Africa you know that these countries are facing some tremendous problems and issues, not unlike Indian Country. South Africa faces problems with law enforcement. Russia is facing problems with law enforcement. And you go to places like Australia, where Australia, New Zealand, and Canada are essentially commonwealth countries and still wrestling with some basic issues that we've somewhat resolved here in the U.S., like land, human rights, justice. Not that we don't continue to fight for those things, but the issues in many of these countries are some 50, maybe even 100 years back, from what we're dealing with here in the U.S. And in Indian Country today, we're faced with some key strategic questions. You know, what kind of society are we trying to build, what kind of society are you trying to build? What do you hope will be different 25, 50 years from now? What do you hope will be the same? What do you wish to protect? What are you willing to change? What assets do you have to work with and what makes sense to the community at large? And this is all in the context of a hard-nosed look at the reality requirements of your situation.

So essentially it's our job as leaders and you as leaders from your respective nations to begin to think about, how do you want your kids to live or their kids to live 100 years from now? What kind of clothes will they be wearing, what language will they be speaking, where will they be living, what kind of home will they have, how will they worship, where will they go to school, how much education will they have, what about cultural education? And these are all very tough and, I think, thought-provoking set of questions. And it's really about determining nationhood, determining what shall we look like 100 years from now. And then how will we be remembered as leaders? What sort of legacy are we going to leave? Those -- and I talked a bit about this the other day -- those that are yet unborn, what are they going to be saying about us? 'Oh, that guy, that person, did this and to this day we live in this fashion and this manner.' What kind of legacy are you going to leave? I think it's a question we must all wrestle with because life is short. Life is very short and we don't have much time to waste because there's a lot of work to be done.

And I think answering those questions requires a tremendous amount of leadership, and I'm just deeply honored to be in your presence because you're working hard, you're doing things that need to be done, and as leaders we have a tremendous amount of responsibility because leaders create or destroy a climate in which success can occur. They set a vision or not of where the nation is headed. They create or undermine institutions capable of effectively implementing a national vision. They create or abuse the rules of the game. They send signals that decisions will or will not be made by the rules and their fair interpretation. So in short, leaders make choices and their choices matter. And as all of us are leaders in one form or fashion. The choices we make matter and effective nation building depends on those good choices that we make. Thanks. [Applause]"

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "The Importance of Cultural Match"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Dr. Manley Begay provides an overview of cultural match, which the Native Nations Institute and the Harvard Project have identified as one of the five keys to successful Native nation building.

Native Nations
Citation

Begay, Jr., Manley A. "Introduction to Native Nation Building." Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2011. Lecture.

"Cultural match, really interesting piece of the research that took place. To be effective, governing institutions must have legitimacy with the people. In other words, the people have to think and believe in the government that this is the way that Ysleta Pueblo operates; this is the way we have always done it; this is the way Laguna operates their government; this is the way Navajos really do it -- this is the Navajo way; this is the Blackfoot way; this is the O'odham way. There is this perception, there is this belief that this is the way we do it, so that sort of sends the message that the government is legitimate in the eyes of the people. It is a reflection on who they are as a people.

They have to match Indigenous ideas about how authority should be organized and exercised in the contemporary sense. Look at the third and fourth bullet points: in the contemporary sense. You go to Flathead reservation where there are three tribes -- Pend d'Orielle, Salish, and Kootenai -- and if you are thinking about putting together an Indigenous idea about authority at Flathead, whose culture do you follow? One of three? All of the three? Two of the three? How do you do it? So it has to be in the contemporary sense because we've changed in a lot of different ways, and our kids have changed as well, and they are going to change even more so. So how do we think about it in a contemporary cultural setting? Places where traditional culture is still very strong -- like at Cochiti Pueblo, or like at Jemez, and a lot of the Pueblos, and a lot of the other tribes. Like at Iroquois with the Onondaga, where the traditional culture is still very strong, they've incorporated that type of thinking into the government itself. At Navajo, where I come from, we have the fundamental law of Navajo incorporated into our judicial structure. Not necessarily in the legislative branch, or the executive branch, but clearly in the judicial branch. It's present there, so decisions that are rendered by the Supreme Court judges at Navajo are based on fundamental laws, customary law, custom law, traditional law, natural law. So it's based on our creation stories, it's based on how we think about the world. But if you don't have that present, you sort of basically have to re-invent yourself and think about: how do we think about it in a contemporary cultural sense?

The same with economic strategies -- the last bullet point there. Some tribes go [with] tribal enterprise economic systems where the tribe owns all the businesses, some tribes go [with] private entrepreneurship where they support individual entrepreneurs, some tribes have done both and those have cultural ramifications as well. How we think about the world determines what kind of economic strategy we choose, because if it is going to be legitimate, it gets the support of the people rather than tearing it down. So culture matters." 

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "The Importance of Capable Governing Institutions"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Dr. Manley Begay discusses the critical role capable governing institutions play in Native nations' ability to effectively exercise their sovereignty, in particular institutions designed to ensure the neutral resolution of disputes and the careful management of the relationship between tribal politics and businesses.

Native Nations
Topics
Citation

Begay, Jr., Manley A. "Introduction to Native Nation Building." Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2011. Lecture.

"You've got to have capable governing institutions. We find that those Indigenous nations that are doing relatively well economically have strong, effective, and efficient governing systems. They back up sovereignty with good rules, regulations, policies, and they are enforceable. It creates stability. The longer terms we think are better, the shorter terms we think are not so good. Although, Steve talked to you about Cochiti Pueblo, Cochiti Pueblo's leaders -- you know how long their terms are? One year. They change every year. So, you're probably wondering, 'Well, where is the stability at?' Once you serve as a governor, or a lieutenant governor, a leader at Cochiti Pueblo, you actually become a member of the Council of Principales. And in the Council of Principales, you are there for life. If you are in that Council, your responsibility is to provide advice to the new governor, to the new chief, so that's where the stability lies. That's why I'm saying that we think longer terms are better, but stability is absolutely critical.

Careful management of the politics-business connection. Separating business from politics is really important for many Indian nations. It's absolutely critical. In smaller nations, it's harder to do because everyone is a relative of yours. You have to figure out, 'Okay, what kind of rules and regulations can we build in here to make sure there's transparency? So everybody knows what's going on.' When you lose that transparency, you run into problems because people will say, 'Did you see the new chief? He is driving a new pickup truck. Oh, I know where that money came from.' When you're a leader, you are living in a glass house. Everybody knows what you are doing. 'Did you see that council member? There was a car outside that house and a lady went in there. You know what I think is going on? I think...' And then the rumors run rampant and it turns into something totally different, and the person might have just come there for sugar, who knows? (Not the kind of sugar you guys are thinking about. [Laughter]) But see, the rumors become rampant.

Effective and non-politicized resolution of disputes. This is really tough for those of you who are from Canada, but there is some movement in Canada toward sentencing circles, there is a movement toward establishing traditional tribunals, there is some movement in that direction. For those of us from the U.S., there has to be this non-politicized judicial system where the council doesn't get involved in the operation of judicial decisions that are being made by judges, and there should be no room for that. There has to be this independent function established.

There has to be a good work force, a work force that will be able to make decisions in a timely fashion [that are] binding.

And a good bureaucracy that gets stuff done." 

Peterson Zah and Manley A. Begay, Jr.: Strategic Thinking and Planning: Navajo Nation Permanent Trust Fund (Q&A)

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Manley Begay and Peterson Zah field questions from the audience concerning the Navajo Nation Permanent Trust Fund and how they and others worked to mobilize and sustain the citizen support necessary to keep the fund intact and allow it to grow.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Zah, Peterson and Manley A. Begay, Jr. "Strategic Thinking and Planning: Navajo Nation Permanent Trust Fund (Q&A)." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 26, 2008.

Audience member:

"We are currently facing a recession here in the United States of America. I guess number one, how safe is our investment from a possible crash in the market? And number two is how will the recession affect the trust fund? Did you guys do any research on that?"

Peterson Zah:

"One of the things that the Navajo Nation has to weigh right now is, because of the economic condition nationwide, I believe they have to pass a legislation that would allow the money managers -- if it should completely go down, before that happens, when it's beginning to go down -- they should probably withdraw that money and reinvest some of those monies into other accounts where it can maintain the status quo or even make more money. They haven't really decided that yet.

There's been a lot of discussion with the budget and finance committee, the money managers, and other finance people within the administration to try to come up with something so that they don't have to take a big hit on what is happening at the national level. So it's something that I think the work group has to come back together and really take a hard look at that to insure that the money is safe and that it will not completely hit the bottom.

When you have monies like this in trust, it's like a roller coaster. It's a roller coaster. And I guess the smart ones withdraw some of those monies when it's at its height. And I think Navajo Nation has to learn how to play that game. And definitely the budget and finance committee is addressing those issues right now."

Audience member:

"With your experience in this process, what would you suggest to a smaller tribe that is interested in this but doesn't have that initial large amount of income, like in the court case, to get a fund like this started?"

Manley Begay:

"So the question is, for a smaller tribe that might have less of a windfall, what we would suggest to that particular tribe? My suggestion is -- in the same vein as what we've been taught by President Zah -- is to save. There really has to be some mechanism by which to save that amount of money, because we don't really know what the future holds. But one of the primary responsibilities of leaders is really to think strategically, to think way ahead of everybody else.

In the Navajo way we say, naat'aanii. The naat'aanii, those are leaders. That particular person is responsible to plan strategically for the long haul, to plan for those that are yet unborn. In the Iroquois Confederacy philosophy they're talking about seven generations. So sometimes, we sort of just think about the here and now -- the here and now is really, goes fast. I mean, look at Curt Massey and myself. We're already at that age where we can't play basketball like we used to even though we might think we can. So time flies very, very quickly. And so for leaders, the primary responsibility is to figure out what's our vision? What are our priorities and concerns? And then make a commitment to the long run.

And also to leave a legacy; my brother here has left a legacy for the Navajo Nation. He'll always be remembered as that leader that thought way ahead. And to this day, we are reaping the rewards of that. And the generations to come will also reap the rewards as well. So the primary responsibility is to answer the question, 'What legacy are you going to leave for your people? How are you going to be remembered a hundred years from now? What will people say about you? How will they remember you?' I think that that is a crucial, critical question for all leaders."

Audience member:

"I wanted to know how did you educate your community members and how did you educate your council members? I know you say you have 88 members, that's a large legislative branch. And how did you get the majority to set up this accounting? How is it educated within the communities, districts or what not?"

Manley Begay:

"So the question is how did you educate the people? At Navajo we're, as I was saying earlier, Pete Zah's like E.F. Hutton. However, people out there in Navajo country, they want to know what's going on. They're also thinking about the future as well and they're interested in the future of the Navajo Nation. And so it was really actually very easy to gather a group of people and begin a discussion. And there are some amazing, intelligent individuals out there. At the same time, also with a lot of humor. So they don't take things too seriously, but at the same time they're thinking very hard about the future of the Nation and less about themselves. This person that made the statement about the corn, this is a guy that was wearing a T-shirt and Levi's jeans and worn out shoes. And he said, "˜Don't worry about me.' He says, "˜I can take care of myself. I get by.' So he wasn't thinking about himself, he wasn't being selfish. He was thinking about everybody else -- his relatives, his grandkids, his children and all of his relatives. I think that that was, there was this spirit about these public hearings that was unbelievable."

Peterson Zah:

"Let me add a bit to that. If you look at the Navajo Nation and its demographics, we have something like 82,000 children that are of school age. We have something like 144 schools on the Navajo Nation; 50 high schools on the Navajo Nation. And in terms of educating those kids, I take the time each year to do what we call a Navajo tour. We just completed one two weeks ago, where I go across the reservation with ten or a dozen Navajo college students from ASU [Arizona State University] -- students that are getting their law degree, engineering, nurses and some of those students. This year we took a trip with ten of them during the spring break. This is when all the other college kids are on their spring break. We choose those students and we go across the Navajo Nation with them. And our job there, while we're doing that, is to recruit other Navajo students to come to ASU. While we are doing that, I make sure that I end up in two or three of these classes at these high schools where there are seniors and juniors. And we talk to them about tribal government and the establishment of the Permanent Fund -- how it is their money and that they should have a role in the say so as to how these monies are spent. So we do that. We still have on schedule, within the next two or three weeks, another ten high schools that we will be going to. So we take that trip each year. So that's one way.

The other way is that with the chapter leaders they usually have an agency council. We have some chapter officers right here. Agency council meetings, they usually have those six times a year where all the leaders from those different agencies come together. We go over on occasion to make those presentations just to keep the local leaders informed as to what's happening so that they have some idea as to the current events surrounding the Navajo Nation trust fund. And so we do that.

And then what I usually do personally is I get on the radio. They have KTNN radio station, Navajo Nation-wide. You can blab away in Navajo about some of these activities regarding their trust fund, just to keep the Navajo people, the general public informed as to what has happened. I love doing that. Now, let me give you the last one, which is hard.

I do that because I really believe in it. I don't get paid for what I do. It's just work that needs to be done. So because of that, people know it. People know it. I don't have any conflict. If you don't work for any of the institutions on the Navajo, you can say whatever you want to say -- whether a council delegate is there or not, or President [Joe] Shirley is there or not, I don't really care -- but it needs to be said, it needs to be done and because I don't work for anybody. You're free -- really, really free -- to express those views. To me, that gives you more integrity. That's where the power is. But once you start demanding some kind of income, compensation for what you do, then you've shot all of what you're trying to do to pieces. And that's why I do what I do.

Let me give you another good example. In gaming, in the state of Arizona we have a gaming compact all these Indian tribes signs with the state of Arizona. And they have on the Navajo Nation X amount of machines dedicated to the Navajo Nation, but Navajo Nation is not in gaming yet. But the law says that if the Navajo Nation wants, it can use its designated number of the machines and lease it out or rent it out or sell it to the other Indian tribes. And so all these tribes, this tribe, Gila River, Fort McDowell, and six or seven other tribes want Navajo's machines. But Navajo politicians weren't ready to make any movements. They were afraid because once they touch this whole idea of pooling those machines to give it to the other tribes for rental -- even though it's for money -- they were afraid to face the people about what they did because they know the Navajo people would say, "˜We were ready to open a casino and you sold all of our machines to somebody else.' Well, what I do in those cases is I put all the tribes together -- the leader that you heard today, four or five of those tribal people -- and say, "˜Okay, what do you guys really, really want? The Navajo has those excess machines.' And then I go back to Navajo and I tell the president, the speaker of the Navajo Nation, and council and I said, "˜This is what these tribes want.' So you put them all together and they negotiate and they come to some kind of an agreement. You don't get paid for what you do. You don't get paid for what you do, but it's something that needs to be done that other people, the politicians who are paid to do that, they don't want to do because it's a hot potato. So when you begin to do something like that, it gives you a lot of credibility, a lot of credibility. And I think more and more of our tribal leaders need to do that. You don't wait to see if anybody's going to compensate you for what you do, but there's just a lot of work that needs to be done.

I always tell the president at ASU, I says, "˜President, I know that ASU sometimes goes through a budget crunch. And I just want to let you know that if you feel like that I'm occupying a space here, you can just kindly tell me what you think. Because I'm going to end up doing what needs to be done anyway, which is to recruit more Navajo students. I always work for ASU. I don't have to do it from that office. I can do it from Phoenix or from Window Rock. I'll just keep on doing the same thing because that is the way it is meant to be. So I don't need to work here and I don't really need to work for anybody.' And I think when people begin to do more of that, we all end up winning -- this tribe, all the other tribes, the Navajo people, and the Navajo students. Your question was how do we educate people? Well, you educate them that way and people will listen. He was, Manley was saying that people listen. Well, people listen because they know that there's no conflict. They know that what you say really has a lot of credence and they know that what you're saying is the truth because nobody is paying you to say those things."

Mediator:

"Anymore questions? Well, in that case..."

Manley Begay:

"Just one second. Let me just conclude by saying that strategic vision is really so critical. It might sound like sort of pipe dreams, but it really has a concrete purpose and that purpose is really, it gives you a basis on which to make decisions. It gives you a basis on which to consider choices. If you don't have a set of priorities and concerns laid out...remember the story I told earlier about the Cherokee Nation and that their number-one priority is language retention, their number one concern is language retention. So you know what? They put all their money into that. So when somebody comes to your office and says, "˜Let's spend the money over here.' You can say to them, "˜No, we can't do that because you told us that this was our number-one priority, number-two priority, number-three priority. This is our number-one concern, number-two concern, number-three concern and that's where our money is going.' It takes the burden off of you. You have a way to go, you have a function, you have a road that's laid out. So strategic visioning, setting priorities of concern has a real concrete purpose. And that's what this session is about here. So with that, thank you. [Thank you, my older brother]. I'm really happy that I spent time with him. We call each other almost every other week, joking, laughing, but underneath that is some real main serious reasons to think about the future of Indian people. And I'm just so happy that we have leaders like Mr. Zah. I'm so happy that he came into this world. And as a result the world is a better place, for me and for everybody else. So with that I just wanted to also thank him. [Again, thank you, my older brother]." 

Native Nation Building TV: "Introduction to Nation Building"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Guests Manley Begay and Stephen Cornell present the key research findings of the Native Nations Institute and the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. They explain the five keys to successful community and economic development for Native nations (sovereignty or practical self-rule, effective institutions of self-governance, cultural match, strategic orientation, and leadership), and provide examples of Native nations that are rebuilding their nations. 

Mary Kim Titla: "Welcome to Native Nation Building. I'm your host Mary Kim Titla. Contemporary Native Nations face many daunting challenges including building effective governments, developing strong economies, solving difficult social problems and balancing cultural integrity and change. Native Nation Building explores these complex challenges and 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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Mary Kim Titla: "Today's program examines where, how and why nation building is currently taking place in Native communities throughout the United States and beyond, in particular the fundamental issues governing Native nations' efforts to restore their social sovereignty and economic vitality and shape their own futures. Here today to discuss these nation-building issues are Drs. Manley Begay and Stephen Cornell. Dr. Begay, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, is Director of the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona, where he also serves as Senior Lecturer in the American Indian Studies Programs. Dr. Cornell is the Director of the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and a Professor of Sociology and Public Administration and Policy at the University of Arizona. For the past two decades, they both have worked extensively with Native Nations in a major research effort that seeks to identify the keys to solving the challenges to nation building. Welcome, gentleman, nice to have you here today."

Dr. Stephen Cornell: "Thanks for having us."

Mary Kim Titla: "First of all, what is nation building in practical terms?"

Dr. Stephen Cornell: "Nation building is really about how Indigenous nations in the U.S. and elsewhere can put together the tools they need to build the futures that they want. And by the tools they need, we really mean the tools of governance. These are nations in our experience with very ambitious goals, they face daunting challenges, they carry the legacies of colonialism, they are trying to overcome deficits in economic affairs, in health, in all kinds of areas. If they're going to do that, they need the governing tools that are adequate to that task and Nation building is about identifying those tools, putting them in place, being sure that they match Indigenous ideas and culture and putting them to work."

Mary Kim Titla: "Can you talk about some of the tools? Explain that."

Dr. Stephen Cornell: "Yeah. A lot of Indian nations here in the United States have governments that they did not design. That's not true of all of them, but a lot of tribal governments were designed basically by the U.S. Department of the Interior back in the 1930s. They aren't very sophisticated structures of government. Some of them have no provision for adequate court systems or ways to resolve disputes within the nation. Some of them have got unwieldy legislatures. Some of them don't have the kinds of procedures that you need if you're going to move vigorously and effectively to make good decisions, implement them, get things done. So we're talking about rethinking some of the those tools of government. What kinds of tribal courts or other dispute resolution mechanisms will serve Indigenous needs and interests? What kinds of governing structures will people believe in and support within the nation's own community? Are those structures adequate to what the nation is trying to do? So when we talk about tools, we're talking about the practical mechanisms that nation's use to organize how they go about trying to get stuff done."

Mary Kim Titla: "Dr. Begay, would you like to add to that?"

Dr. Manley Begay: "Sure. It seems from the work that we've been doing that nation building or nation rebuilding, as Steve mentioned, really began to occur with most Indian nations around 1975 when the Indian Self-Determination Act was ushered in, and since then a lot of Indian nations have begun to wrestle with rethinking their political systems, rethinking their economies and it's not unlike other nations that have gone through colonization and all of a sudden found themselves in the midst of freedom, if you will, very much like what occurred in Eastern Europe after the Soviet Union fell apart. Poland is wrestling with issues of constitutional reform, you had the European Union there, and Indian nations are in the same boat and a lot of other colonized society are wrestling with Nation building and rebuilding."

Mary Kim Titla: "Let's talk about the research. What prompted the Harvard Project and the Native Nations Institute to embark on the research?"

Dr. Stephen Cornell: "This kind of got us wondering what is it that makes some nations more successful than others, and in fact the data that we first looked at had to do in part with timber and with forestry. A lot of Indian nations have timber resources. Some of them seemed to be doing a better job of managing those resources than others and we got interested in why. And being professors, we thought maybe we knew the answers already -- typical of professors -- and so we thought, well, it'll be educational attainment or it'll be the Nations that have big natural resources will be doing well or the ones that have access to capital will be doing well. But we decided we'd better go look and we got a grant from the Ford Foundation to do some research. We spent a lot of time in the field getting stories of what was working, how did this enterprise succeed, how did this one fail, what else have you tried to do, what seems to be working here, what are the problems you're encountering. And the interesting sort of payoff to the research was it turned out that the critical elements were really political ones, that if you had your political house together, if you had some stability in the government, if you were successful in keeping political considerations out of enterprise management decisions or out of tribal court decisions -- if you could do some of those political things, then these sort of economic assets like good education or good natural resources or being close to a major market -- those would start to pay off. If you couldn't get the government house in order, then those assets tended to be wasted. So the result to the research was really to focus our attention on these political issues and the effect they were having on how these Nations did, whether or not they were able to achieve their goals."

Dr. Manley Begay: "And what was really interesting about the research findings initially was that we knew of no known cases of economic development, successful economic development, occurring without assertions of political sovereignty. And secondly, we also found that capable governing institutional development was a major piece of nation building. And thirdly, those institutions had to be culturally appropriate. And since then we've also found that Indian nations that are planning for the long haul if you will, a hundred years down the road -- what kind of society are we going to build, what do we perceive the society to look like 50 years from now --and those that have done that seem to be faring well or faring better than others that have not. Lastly, leadership is really critical. So these five components and research findings formed the basis for the work that we've been doing all along."

Mary Kim Titla: "Can you give us a snapshot of current Native nation-building efforts among indigenous peoples throughout the U.S. and Canada?"

Dr. Stephen Cornell: "Yeah, in fact there are a number of Nations across the U.S. right now that are engaged in constitutional processes. The Osage Nation in Oklahoma has just launched a major constitutional reform effort. The Crow Tribe of Montana, the Northern Cheyennes are involved in that. The San Carlos Apaches are engaged in governance reform or rethinking how they govern themselves. This is happening a good deal across the U.S. It's also happening in Canada where we see First Nations that are engaged in constitutional processes. Some of them are also engaged, especially in British Columbia, in treaty processes that involved working out new relationships with British Columbia and with Canada and that process also involves rethinking governance. So we see a lot of constitutional stuff happening there. We see some developments in tribal courts. The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, which straddles the Ontario/New York boundary, are engaged right now in trying to rebuild their justice system. They of course face some interesting justice problems because of that boundary, because they're a nation that operates in two different jurisdictions and then they have their own jurisdiction. It's a complicated situation. They're trying to develop a court and justice system that's adequate to that set of challenges. We see a number of nations like the Ho-Chunk, the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, have started a corporation called Ho-Chunk Inc., which has been a very successful enterprise reducing unemployment there. They put a lot of thought into, how do you set up this enterprise so that it has a good chance of succeeding?"

Dr. Manley Begay: "And up in Canada there's the Membertou First Nation on the east side of Canada that's actually wrestled with figuring out how to develop a capable governing institution and they did that through what's called the ISO [International Organization for Standardization], sort of international standards set-up, and then also the Siksika Blackfoot Nation in Alberta have also really moved forward in thinking about nation building and is actually doing relatively well. Lac La Ronge as well. They're finding some success in promoting their wild rice not only in Canada and the United States but also overseas as well. So there are a number of stories of First Nations and bands up in Canada, tribes in the United States that have gone the extra effort to figure out how to build nations that work, and obviously one of the major success stories is the Mississippi Choctaw. And they did that without gaming. Initially they set up good governing institutions, they asserted sovereignty, really thought through how to develop a culturally appropriate political system and actually we refer to them as the Singapore of Indian Country. They did that without gaming. Only later on did they get into gaming and every day you'll see upwards of 7,000 black and white workers going on to Nation land to work. As a result, they've become the major political and economic powerhouse in the southeast and they've done that through nation building."

Mary Kim Titla: "And I've been there to Mississippi Choctaw and I've seen what they've done. It's really great with [Chief] Phillip Martin and other tribal leaders. I imagine that they must face many obstacles and of course those obstacles can get in the way of objectives. Can you talk about some of the obstacles that some of these Nations are facing?"

Dr. Stephen Cornell: "Boy, I think one of the obstacles that -- in fact I was just last week in Canada and talking with a First Nations leader and he said, 'You know, a lot of my people have been, we've learned over time to be dependent on Canada and to be dependent on federal agencies in Canada, and part of the work that we face as First Nations leaders,' he said, 'is trying to change that mind frame, trying to get into a mind frame that says, 'We can change this, we can take responsibility for what happens here.'' There's a -- Manley just mentioned the Siksika Nation of Blackfoot in Alberta. Chief Strater Crow Foot, whose the chief of that nation, he spoke at a session that Manley and I were both at not long ago and he said, 'We're trying to replace the victim attitude with a victor attitude.' He said, 'The victim attitude keeps you sitting still, the victor attitude gets you moving.' And he said, 'In my nation, that's one of our primary tasks as leaders is to change that attitude, a feeling that if we're really going to have an impact we've got to alter the way people look at the world around them, the way they think about what's possible.' So that's certainly one of the obstacles. Another obstacle, and Manley touched on this, is simply that sovereignty obstacle. It's getting the jurisdictional power to make decisions for yourself. That's something which Indian nations in the U.S., they've had a lot of jurisdictional power. It gets chipped away at by the U.S. Supreme Court, it's often under attack in the states and in Congress. Luckily, so far, much of it is surviving. In Canada, First Nations are struggling to achieve the level of sovereignty Indian Nations in the U.S. have, but that's an obstacle. If someone else is making the decisions for you, you're not likely to go much of anywhere. It's their decisions, the program represents their interests. Shifting real decision-making power into Indigenous hands is a critical piece of nation building. These nations have to be rebuilt by Indigenous people, not by decisions made in Washington or Ottawa or someplace like that. So I think the other big obstacle is that sovereignty piece. You've got to have the power to make things happen."

Mary Kim Titla: "We've talked about obstacles. Let's talk about assets. What are some of the greatest nation-building assets?"

Dr. Manley Begay: "Leadership is an asset. However, it's only an asset if you can couple that with developing good capable institutions, and if you set in place the rule of law and policies and codes and constitutions. That goes a long way. You can wait for a good leader to come around, and it takes 20 years to get a good leader, but you can't always be sure that the leader was going to be good. However, if you put in place policy, rules and regulations, you can always trust those rules, and enforcing those rules becomes part of nation building, and it seems to me that that's an asset that we see, the creativeness, the innovativeness of Indian people to really wrestle with figuring out how to do this, and to do it in a culturally appropriate fashion is an asset. And it's not something that's new."

Dr. Stephen Cornell: "The other thing we have to recognize as an asset is Indigenous cultures themselves, and sometimes people who think about how Indigenous culture is an asset think of it mainly in terms of stuff you can sell -- arts and crafts or something like that -- and that's an important way to think about it. We tend to think about it, though, in terms of what can we learn from Indigenous cultures about appropriate organization, so that the government that works at Navajo is not necessarily going to be the same as the government that works at Osage, because they are different nations with different heritages, different cultures, and part of the challenge of nation building is figuring out what set of institutions in fact resonate with what people here believe about how authority should be exercised, about how we should pursue goals. We've worked with some of the Pueblos in New Mexico where you have governing institutions that are very traditional. There are no elections, there are no legal codes, no written constitutions. The governing institutions are deeply rooted either in Pueblo tradition or in several hundred years of working under Pueblo influences, Spanish influences and other things. They've been borne out of Pueblo experience. You go up to the Flatheads in Montana, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, and you'll see a tribal government that looks very different. It looks, as our colleague Joe Kalt likes to say, 'It looks like it came out of my high school civics textbook.' Well, you've got three nations on that reservation and those nations have had to find a way to govern themselves that they all can support so it doesn't look very traditional. There are three traditions there, they might be in conflict with each other. So they've had to find a set of institutions that work for them. But that link to Indigenous cultures, that ability to tap into the fact that these nations long ago solved tough human problems and maybe the ways they solved some of those problems still work today. Let's tap into that. At Navajo, their court system, their justice system today combines western jurisprudence with longstanding Navajo ways of dealing with disharmony or conflict and that makes them an extraordinarily effective court system that no outsider could have invented. It had to be generated by Navajo people."

Mary Kim Titla: "Can we talk about more of the research and the five major keys to successful community and economic development among Nations?"

Dr. Stephen Cornell: "The first finding that came out of this research really was the sovereignty finding, the fact that Indigenous nations themselves have to be in the driver's seat if things are going to happen. So there's a kind of a power issue there. Where is the power? And from a research point of view, it just underlined something that Manley touched on earlier, that we haven't been able to find a case across Indian Country of sustained, self-determined economic development where someone other than the Indigenous nation was calling the shots. So that turns out to be a necessary piece of the puzzle. The second piece that came in on the research findings was that, yeah, but that's not enough in and of itself. You've got to back it up with the kinds of governing institutions that Manley has been talking about. They've got to be capable of dealing with contemporary challenges. They've got to be stable. They've got to control, keep politics in its place. They've got to assure people that if I have a claim, a dispute with the nation, it'll be dealt with fairly. Part of the challenge for Indigenous leaders today is, how do we hang onto our talented, energetic young people with ideas? If I've got a family to support, will I pursue supporting that family at home on the rez or will I move to L.A. or Minneapolis or something like that? For tribal leaders, how do we create an environment that says, 'You can do it right here, we'll make it possible, we'll keep you'? That means a governing situation in which it doesn't matter who my family is, who I voted for, I'll get a fair shake. So that second finding was about capable governing institutions. The third was this thing we've just been talking a bit about of the cultural match piece of making sure those institutions really have the support of the people, that people believe this is our government, not an import from somebody else -- this is ours. And then these last two pieces that Manley talked about, the strategic thinking that gets people to make decisions on what's on our agenda today in terms of what matters in the long run and what does that mean for how we decide this today. And then that piece of leadership."

Dr. Manley Begay: "Yeah, to give you an example, back to Mississippi Choctaw. Initially a big portion of the population of the Choctaws were moved to Indian Territory in Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears, so you essentially had this society that was uprooted back in the 1830s and only small groups stayed in Mississippi. But they held onto the land, they held on to who they were as Choctaws. And as time went on they went through the termination period, they went through...and here comes the Indian Self-Determination Act and they essentially wrestled jurisdiction and power and control from the feds as well as state government and began to pursue a long-term plan, and Chief Phillip Martin was sort of the main impetus for assertions of sovereignty back then. And once they wrestled a significant amount of decision-making power from the federal government and also from the State [of Mississippi], they began to think through, how do we develop a capable governing institution? And they did that basically by necessity because before they could attract manufacturing companies to the nation, they had to think about a commercial code, they had to think about appropriate policy rules and regulations, laws being put in place, a good court system, separating business from politics, and so forth so that the investor could feel safe in investing on nation land. And then the cultural match piece came in. Historically, Mississippi Choctaws really had the strong chief executive-type of political structure, but they also had a strong court system. They had a separation of powers and checks and balances set up, which allowed for them to plan well. So a lot of this was planned out years and years ago. A lot of the success Mississippi Choctaws are having now was planned 50 years ago, and so today you essentially have a zero percent unemployment rate, you have to import labor and so forth, so the strategic thinking piece came into play. And then you have good leadership, you essentially have really good leadership. So all of the ingredients to successful nation building seems to be present at Mississippi Choctaw. But we've seen it at Fort McDowell, we've seen it at Siksika, we've seen it at all of these places that we've mentioned that have built nations that seem to be working well."

Mary Kim Titla: "We do want to talk about more of those positive stories, those models if you want to call them that. I like Mississippi Choctaw, so I'm glad that you touched on that. Are there some other examples out there that you'd like to add?"

Dr. Stephen Cornell: "Well, one that we're particularly fond of is the Citizen Potawatomi story from Oklahoma. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation back in the 1970s -- this today is a very large nation, I think its population is well over 20,000 people -- but in the 1970s they had very little land that they controlled, less than 100 acres, they had hardly any money in the bank, life was tough, [the] situation was grim. Today the Citizen Potawatomi Nation owns the First National Bank of Shawnee, Oklahoma. Today they own the supermarket in Shawnee, where they sell beef grown in their own cattle herd and vegetables grown on their own farm. They've basically got a vertically-integrated food business going. They own some of the media outlets in town. And when you talk to "Rocky" Barrett, who is the current chairman of the Nation, he says, 'Well, you know, it's really an institutions story.' And I remember the first time I heard him tell the story of the Citizen  Potawatomi Nation at a conference in Oklahoma, and afterwards I talked to him and I said, 'You know, you really tell a nation-building story about governing institutions.' And his response was, 'Oh, yeah, if you're not thinking about constitutional reform, you're not in the economic development ballgame, because what you've got to do is get that political house together and then you'll be able to create the kind of economic success.' So we look at Citizen  Potawatomi, a remarkable turnaround from the mid 1970s to the start of the 21st century in that nation's fortunes. Some nations, there are these success stories out there, and some of them are about pieces of nations and we've been fortunate -- in doing this work on nation building -- you come across nations that are doing extraordinary things that you don't hear about. I think often what we hear about are the problems in Indian Country. But some of the...we've talked about the Navajo Nation court system, which is one of these striking successes. The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, another example of nations coming together and solving a difficult problem creatively and effectively. At Fond du Lac, they've got a foster care program that has solved a major problem they had with the placement of tribal kids in non-Native homes. They've come up with a way to deal with that problem. It's effective, it works. These kinds of stories are all over the place out there and in one way or another they are nation-building stories."

Mary Kim Titla: "And then trying to train the young Native leaders, I think the Gila River Indian Community has done an excellent job of that with their youth council and really they're a model for a lot of tribes around the country. Anything you'd like to add?"

Dr. Manley Begay: "The Cochiti Pueblo is another Indian nation that sort of has built these very successful economic ventures. At one point in time, Cochiti, a significant part of Cochiti, was actually under water when a dam was built, and very little seemed to be in the works for how to get out of the situation that they were in. And lo and behold they essentially began to assert a certain amount of jurisdiction and a certain amount of power and authority, and today you find a tremendous amount of success at Cochiti. They've developed one of the top 100 public golf courses in the United States. They have a retirement community where Harry and Martha from Ohio go to retire. And it's a very interesting turnaround. Here a very traditional society is doing relatively well in pursuing certain economic development projects and they've done it with, as we said earlier, first pursuing jurisdiction and decision-making power and authority, and it really resonates to non-Indian society. Often non-Indian society [has] a hard time grasping political sovereignty. The thought is, 'Well, we've got to take political sovereignty away from Indian Country and then we need to tell them what to do essentially.' However, it seems as though that it's in the best interest of non-Indian society to support political sovereignty, because in the long run when economic development takes place in Indian Country, it affects nearby communities, it affects the region and in turn it affects the nation as a whole. So it has this domino effect. So it really is important for non-Indian communities, also governments, to support political sovereignty."

Mary Kim Titla: "Well, I want to thank the both of you. We've talked about a lot of things today, about some of the positive stories that are out there, some of the obstacles that Native tribes are facing and I must say that they've dealt with adversity very well and they have a history of dealing with that. I see a bright future, so thank you for what you're doing. We'd like to thank Dr. Begay and Dr. Cornell 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 nni.arizona.edu/nativetv. Thank you for joining us and please tune in for the next edition of Native Nation Building."

Native Nation Building TV: "Moving Towards Nation Building"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Manley A. Begay, Jr. and Stephen Cornell contrast the two basic approaches to Indigenous governance -- the standard approach and the nation-building approach -- and discusses how a growing number of Native nations are moving towards nation building. It provides specific examples of how implementing the five keys to nation building bring wide-ranging benefits to Native communities.

Citation

Native Nations Institute. "Moving Towards Nation Building" (Episode 10). 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."

Mark St. Pierre: "Over the last decade or so, many Indigenous nations have been moving to an approach to economic development that has been described as nation building. Today's program examines this nation-building approach to development and contrasts it with the older approach that remains pretty common today, the so-called standard approach. With me today to discuss these two approaches are Drs. Manley Begay and Stephen Cornell. Dr. Begay, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, is the Director of the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy at the University of Arizona, where he also serves as senior lecturer in the American Indian Studies program. Dr. Cornell is the Director of the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and a Professor of Sociology and Public Administration and Policy at the University of Arizona. Welcome, gentlemen. It's nice to have you both here today. The Native Nations Institute in its extensive research has found that there are basically two approaches to Native Nation governance. Can you describe these?"

 

Manley Begay: "The standard approach has been in existence probably for the better part of the 20th century, and it's really an outgrowth of [a] long-held belief that dependency is the way to go by the federal government and also by many state governments as well. And the nation-building approach is a recent phenomenon sort of borne out of the political research and stuff of the '70s. Interestingly enough, I think the roots of the standard approach is really around colonization, forced dependency, and as a result political decision-making has been very slow. Others besides those that are most effected make development decisions, and it sort of views Indigenous culture as an obstacle to development, whereas on the nation-building approach which has been recently pushed and thought of by Indigenous peoples is really rooted around the exercise of sovereignty, claiming jurisdiction, building effective political systems and institutions of self governance, using culture as a way to design political systems and also to design economic systems as well. And so it's really two very different type of approaches, and also has produced two very different types of results."

 

Mark St. Pierre: "Steve, when you talk about the standard approach, what are some of the inevitable outcomes?"

 

Stephen Cornell: "Well, I think the standard approach -- as Manley has indicated -- the results have not been very positive for Indian nations. I think you have to sort of realize that the standard approach leaves...it makes an assumption, it assumes that Indigenous nations are not really capable of making major decisions for themselves, so the priorities in development are ones that are put together in Washington, D.C., put together by federal bureaucrats who are saying, 'Man, these tribes poor, we've got to do something about it, let's come up with a program to help them.' So they design a program and they fund it and they make decisions about how the program will be run and Indian Country experiences the results. But if you look at that model, it's one in which tribal priorities do not appear, bureaucratic priorities do, Washington's priorities do, federal priorities do."

 

Mark St. Pierre: "You could almost call that the well-intended approach."

 

Stephen Cornell: "It's a very well-intended approach, it's just not a very well-accomplished approach. So tribal priorities don't appear in there, tribes do not exercise real decision-making power. In many cases, what it creates is this expectation that well, 'It's up to the feds to do it for us so you get this kind of looking to the feds as the source of not just money, but ideas and suggestions and solutions, so tribes get excluded from the decision-making process, they get excluded from thinking through what kind of development they want. The result over the -- Manley said it sort of dominated the 20th century -- if you look at the 20th century in Indian Country, the performance in economic development is pretty poor."

 

Mark St. Pierre: "Steve, you talked about the standard model, sadly the traditional model of planning that's been used by the EDA [Economic development Adminitsration] planners that tribes hire. Give us an idea of what that process looks like."

 

Stephen Cornell: "Well, as we were saying, a lot of the ideas for what tribes should do tend to come out of Washington. I think very often what happens is an Indian nation, facing tough unemployment, difficult time getting people through the winter -- all the kinds of problems that we see in extremely poor rural communities -- those nations just, they've got to get something going. And so you call in the tribal planner and you tell the tribal planner to go get a grant, go find some money, go get something started. So the planner goes off and looks for whatever they can find out there, where are the federal dollars, has anybody else got anything I can apply for. You start whatever you can fund. You appoint your relatives or your political supporters to run the projects. The council micromanages the heck out of it, and everybody just prays that something will work. We think of it as this sort of six-step model for planning in the standard approach. I think we've seen a lot of that."

 

Manley Begay: "We were in southern British Columbia working with a group of First Nations and we had an executive education session and this is sort of the steps that Steve mentioned. We talked about those steps and then at the end of the presentation one elder in the back raises his hand and he says, 'I know what's wrong with that planning process'. He says, 'They should have prayed first!' Basically he was eluding to the fact that the nation-building approach is very different in terms of planning than the standard approach. There's actually forethought and there's long-term planning, rather than sort of the short, grant-type of mentality. And you're actually more proactive in thinking about how you're going to plan, rather than reacting to the agendas being set by Washington or those that you're getting the money from. And then you're setting the development agenda, not someone else. So the planning process is very different under the nation-building approach."

 

Mark St. Pierre: "Let me follow up with this. If tribal officials are feeling pressured out of desperation to solve immediate, crisis-type problems, they would have to be politically brave to go with the longer vision, to map out something that might take years to accomplish."

 

Stephen Cornell: "It's not that they shouldn't be chasing the federal dollars. From our point of view, there aren't enough federal dollars in Indian Country. There will never be enough money to compensate for what's been taken from Indigenous nations nor to take care of all the problems that are out there. You need those federal dollars and it's right to be pursuing them. The problem is with an approach to economic development that stops there, that simply is looking for where's the homerun project that's going to solve all our problems. 'Oh, man, let's go for this grant, maybe that'll solve our problems. Let's go for this one...' instead of saying, 'How do we build an environment here that can sustain long-term economic growth? How can we build an environment that will actually produce the jobs and the economic activity that fits our culture, fits what our people want and has -- as Manley says -- long-term staying power?' And if tribes manage to do both of those at once, let's find the dollars to deal with the crisis we've got today, but let's not neglect the task of building a nation that's capable of supporting its people for the long run without having to depend on Washington, D.C. That's what tribes need to be doing and it is tough. I think it's...Indian nations face terribly difficult tasks, but they've demonstrated over and over again that they can handle difficult tasks. It's going to take work, but it can happen."

 

Manley Begay: "And Indian nations know best what their needs are. An occasional politician that arrives on the reservation might think, 'Oh, you need a motel right there. That's a good intersection.' So he gets the money, a hotel is built there, and it doesn't work, because that's not exactly what the nation really needed and wanted at that time. It didn't fit into their scheme of things. So somebody else promotes that rather than Indian nations themselves."

 

Mark St. Pierre: "A lot of tribes suffer from brain drain. Do either of you want to talk about that problem and how that comes about?"

 

Stephen Cornell: "Yeah, I'd be glad to say something about that. I think brain drain in fact is one of the characteristics of the old way of doing economic development in Indian Country. One of the things this sort of grant mentality does, it turns tribal government into simply a grants-getting organization, and you begin to encourage an idea among tribal citizens that that's really what tribal government is about. It's a funnel. It's a funnel for jobs, money, services that come from the federal government and they land at tribal government, and tribal government distributes them out to communities and people. And so your idea of tribal government is, there's nothing particularly impressive or ambitious about it, it's just kind of a hand-out-the-goodies organization. And then you look at, let's say, young people on a reservation, the young citizens of the nation and when they imagine what they might do with their lives, are they going to think about, 'Boy, I'm going to get involved in the leadership of this nation'. But if that's all government is, what's exciting about that? When you shift to nation building, a couple of things happen. You move decision-making out of federal hands and you put it in Indigenous hands. Suddenly the burden of responsibility is on the nation itself to decide, 'What kind of future do we want? How are we going to create that future?' And it starts to get real because you feel you're in the driver's seat. You may actually be able to make that future come alive. Suddenly it's starting to get to be an interesting thing, this tribal government business, 'Hey, if we could do that...' So young people may be more likely to stick around. Plus, if you back up that decision-making power with capable government, so that if I'm a young person and I want to invest time and energy and ideas in the future of the nation, I actually have an opportunity to do that. It won't depend who I voted for in the last election or who my relatives are. We've got a more competent government than that. We've got a government that is focused on producing good things for the nation, not on just distributing goodies to friends or something like that. Then I'll begin to think it might make some sense to invest here. I might stick around because I could really build something for my family, my community, for the nation. That begins to slow down that brain drain that has young people headed off to Minneapolis or L.A. or Rapid City or Houston or someplace, and that's a critical thing for the future of Indian Country, is to retain the incredible array of talent and resourcefulness that is in tribal communities and get it working on behalf of these nations."

 

Manley Begay: "Could I just add to that. As Steve was mentioning, it creates a sense of hope. When somebody else is dictating to you how you're going to live, you lose the incentive to do things for yourself. So it becomes more appropriate to just have Washington, D.C. decide for you. Or to compare to Eastern Europe. For a long time, all decisions were made in Moscow, so you'd just go to Moscow. Up in Canada, you go to Ottawa for decisions to be made, and there's less of incentive to do good things and to hope for good things because somebody else is deciding for you. So as a human being, you want to be in a decision-making position about determining for yourself what the future is going to look like. If somebody else is doing it for you, you say, 'Well, forget it.' You have less of a vested interest."

 

Mark St. Pierre: "Some of this seems to be buried in or attached to the original IRA [Indian Reorganization Act] constitutions which were two-year elected terms. Is this relevant to the discussion? Is the fact that many tribes operate on a two-year cycle related to the fact that they can't plan long term?"

 

Stephen Cornell: "If you look at those IRA constitutions, the boilerplate constitutions -- which were not Indigenous creations --those were created in the U.S. Department of the Interior for Indian nations. It was the United States saying, 'We know how you should govern yourselves. Here's the model, take it and go.' If you look at those models, they're very simple models of governance, they tend to put a whole lot of power in the hands of a tribal council, of elected officials. They make no provision for judicial functions or dispute resolution, things that tribes had enormous experience for generations in doing. It's not part of that government. The terms of office are short as you say. You get these two-year terms in many of those governments, so you get real rapid turnover in leadership, and Manley was mentioning you combine that with the federal funding cycles, and basically something's changing every year in the array of people who are working on development. So it's tough to get continuity. Now having said that, that doesn't mean everybody needs four- or five-year terms. We've seen some nations with two-year terms or even shorter, some nations where the senior people in government turn over every year. If the rules by which you govern stay the same, then you can get the kind of stability and continuity that capable governance needs. The real problem is if every two years when that administration perhaps changes, if it's a whole new ballgame, pretty soon you get people sitting there saying, 'Man, I'm heading out of here, I can't deal with this. You never know what the rules are, you never know whether you can trust the people you're working with to still be there tomorrow.' So I think, yeah, the standard model is a model that tolerates very high instability in tribal government, encourages very high instability in tribal government. That's one of the reasons why it's a pretty lousy approach to development."

 

Manley Begay: "And if you don't have staggered terms, it gets even worse."

 

Mark St. Pierre: "That's where I wanted to follow up, Manley. If you could talk a little bit about tribal governments that are operating more within the nation-building approach. What do they look like, tell us what they look like?"

 

Manley Begay: "As Steve was mentioning here earlier, we find that those that are operating within the nation-building approach have stability and stability in the rule of law. We find that to be quite important, because rule of law allows for the understanding that when a new administration comes in, things aren't going to change, contracts don't have to be rewritten. Rather, it creates this stability and so investors begin to feel as though, 'That's the place where I want to invest.' The Indigenous elementary school teacher says, 'I want to go there and work there because I know my investment of time, energy, education is going to be safe and that's where I want to be, and I don't have to leave elsewhere to provide a stability for my family. Rather, this is the place where I want to be.' Outside investors begin to feel as though that their investment will be safe as well because the rules don't change, it's very stable, and you get less of a conflict-of-interest situation where the court system is very stable, it provides for good rules of order, good law that's been set in place, and I think that you find economic development occurring much quicker and in a much better fashion in the long run."

 

Stephen Cornell: "Can I jump in and add a little piece to that which Manley reminded me of? In the standard approach, one of the other characteristics of that approach is the tribal government does everything. Now if you do that, one of the things that happens is you get a lot of political involvement in business management, because you're basically asking councilors to wear a political legislator hat for certain decisions but then take that hat off and be a business manager for other decisions, and for most of us that's tough to carry those kinds of roles and keep them straight, particularly when you're under pressure from constituents. In the nation-building model, one of the striking aspects of that model is the pulling apart of political decisions and the management of enterprises. You begin to get tribal governors, councilors, focused on certain core issues. What are the laws that we need? Do we have the appropriate governance capabilities in place? Do we have a set of policies and rules that will -- going back to the brain drain question -- keep the talented people here? Those are the kinds of things you want elected leadership to deal with, but then when the tribally owned enterprise gets going, you hope that business managers will be able to make intelligent, smart business decisions free from the kinds of political interference that the old model almost guaranteed."

 

Manley Begay: "The root of that type of stability creation really is around claiming jurisdiction, claiming sovereignty. Rather than having somebody else make decisions for your people, your resources, and all the issues that you deal with, you're in the decision-making position. You decide how your resources are going to be allocated, you decide how your political system is going to be developed, and it essentially marries decisions to consequences, whereas in the past, decisions were being made by other folks and you didn't have this marriage actually occurring, and as a result if somebody really messed up from outside of the tribe, they moved to Ohio or Denver or elsewhere. But for Indigenous people there's a vested interest there. You have to make good decisions to get the consequences that you want, and so that's very critical and part of that is just gaining control of the decision seat it seems to me."

 

Mark St. Pierre: "It seems to me that one model tends to foster confidence, growth, hope -- that sort of thing -- but I'm sure even within the nation-building approach, conflicts arise. How are conflicts resolved in either model?"

 

Stephen Cornell: "I think in the standard model, conflicts are resolved by firing people or the feds step in and say, 'We're yanking the grant,' or something like that. And in the nation-building model, ideally, you have some kind of mechanism that is rooted in community, custom, law, tradition so that it has respect in the community, so the people believe in it -- some mechanism that's capable of resolving disputes in a way that the various members of the community think is fair. The question is, how do you deal with those disputes and can you deal with them in ways that don't rip the society apart, so that the disagreement between these two families doesn't suddenly become or eventually become an immobilizing piece of community life where nobody can agree about anything and people are constantly at each others' throats and anything that you get is my loss and that sort of thing? So that sort of dispute-resolution mechanism -- and in many cases, it's an independent tribal court, in some cases, it might be a set of elders who have the authority and the stature to help resolve disputes, it may be traditional kinds of peacemaking approaches. There are a lot of ways to do it, but you've got to have a mechanism like that because there are bound to be disputes."

 

Mark St. Pierre: "And because a nation-building approach, the way you describe it, apparently draws on local culture, tradition, history, it's not a one-size-fits-all sort of situation like sadly the IRA government attempted to be. Manley, when you look at the nation-building approach, how does that affect strategic planning or strategies that tribes can develop over time?"

 

Manley Begay: "The strategic orientation focus in the nation-building approach way of thinking about things really allows for long-term thinking. Rather than the three to five years or 'grant mentality,' you're thinking about, 'What are my kids going to be doing 50 years from now? What kind of clothes will they be wearing? How will they be worshipping? What kind of language will they be speaking?What kind of education will they have? What kind of homes will they be living in? What kind of jobs will they have?' These are questions that must be answered by the leadership, and so [in] the nation-building model, you begin to address those questions, whereas in the standard approach somebody else is making decisions for you. It's just very short-term thinking. So as a result of the nation-building approach, you're planning for the long haul."

 

Mark St. Pierre: "Let's take a few minutes then to look at in your experience -- and you both have a broad experience in this -- some successes and some failures based on these two approaches."

 

Stephen Cornell: "There are a lot of stories out there, because the nation-building approach is not something we came up with. It's something that Indian nations came up with, and I think since really for about 30 years now, since the mid 1970s, we've begun to see a growing number of Indian nations who are taking control of their own affairs, putting in place capable governments and beginning to think very strategically as Manley described and accomplish things. One of the nations that I like to talk about is the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma. In the mid 1970s, that Nation had -- today it's a very large nation, more than 20,000 citizens. In the 1970s, they had a tiny land base and almost no money in the bank. They had some ideas. How do we get people to come and invest here so we can create some jobs for our citizens? And the young tribal council member went out to talk to business people around Oklahoma and say to them, 'Hey, you should come and invest in our community. We're good people, we'll give you some tax breaks, come build with us.' And some of these business people, their response was, 'Well, okay, that all sounds real interesting, but let's say I get into a dispute with somebody on the reservation or with the tribe itself. Have you got a court system that I can depend on?' 'No, we don't have a court system.' 'Okay. And how do I know that the promises that you're making to me to help get me to work with you are going to be respected if when the administration changes. Can I count on the rule of law?' 'Well, we haven't really thought that part through.' Eventually this council member came back to the nation and said, 'We've got some political work to do. We've got some governance work to do before we're going to be successful at pulling these people here.' They did that work. It took a long time. They did it piece by piece. They built a capable set of governing institutions and they began to get the kind of investment they were after, not just from outsiders, from their own people. It's a nation that has taken enormous strides by kind of seizing control of its own destiny and then doing the hard work to put the institutions in place that could support what they wanted to do."

 

Mark St. Pierre: "Manley, what's one of your favorite stories? What would you like the viewers to hear?"

 

Manley Begay: "Some of my favorite stories really is around Indian nations actually grabbing hold of sovereignty and moving forward, sort of the first piece of the puzzle in the nation-building approach. There seems to be these defining moments where things just change from the standard approach to the nation-building approach. Some of the nations did it very smoothly and in a calculated fashion, as Steve just mentioned: Citizen Potawatomi. Some Indian nations, you had near violence. For instance, like at Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. When gaming was first being initiated, you found two opposing views of whether that nation should have gaming or not, which led to essentially the closure of a road into the casino and you basically had a standoff which forced negotiation to occur. And at that moment in time things began to change. The Indian nation began to think about themselves as truly a sovereign entity with all the rights and responsibilities of a nation, and there are a number of stories throughout Indian Country about this where Indian women would go into the Bureau of Indian Affairs office and literally threw the superintendent out. And at that moment things began to change. It's not unlike Lech Walesa in Poland saying to the Soviet Union, 'We're going to do things our way.' It's not unlike Nelson Mandela in South Africa saying, 'No more Apartheid, it's got to stop here.' And there are a number of these stories out in Indian Country like that."

 

Mark St. Pierre: "Let's look at First Nations in Canada. What are some examples of First Nations that have gone through a similar process? Steve?"

 

Stephen Cornell: "There's actually a lot happening in Canada right now with First Nations. I can think of a couple of the interesting ones to us. The Meadow Lake Tribal Council in Saskatchewan is a group of nine First Nations, some Dine, some Cree, who first got together to try to do economic development together. They realized that if they started doing development planning as a single group of nations they would get more leverage and be able to do better. Today, they're beginning to build political institutions at that same tribal council level. The Ktunaxa Tribal Council in British Columbia -- that's five First Nations and they're doing kinds...building the kinds of governing institutions that we're talking about at the tribal council level where these five First Nations are cooperating. Right now, they're involved in trying to design a government that will support their long-term strategic goals for preservation of the land, preservation of their culture, development of enough prosperity and productivity to support their community. So it's happening in a lot of different places, and if we had the time we could give you quite a list."

 

Mark St. Pierre: "Well, it's pretty apparent that Native nations that want a successful future have to invest tremendous time and effort into those issues, and I want to thank our two guests today, Dr. Manley Begay and Dr. Stephen Cornell, for appearing on this edition of Native Nation Building. This is 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 nni.arizona.edu. Thank you for joining us and please tune in for the next edition of Native Nation Building."

Peterson Zah and Manley A. Begay, Jr.: Strategic Thinking and Planning: Navajo Nation Permanent Trust Fund

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Former Navajo Chairman and President Peterson Zah and NNI Faculty Chair Manley A. Begay, Jr. discuss the role of strategic vision and planning in the establishment and cultivation of the Navajo Navajo Permanent Trust Fund, and stress the need for Native nations to forge a long-term vision for their communities and peoples.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Zah, Peterson and Manley A. Begay, Jr. "Strategic Thinking and Planning: Navajo Nation Permanent Trust Fund." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 26, 2008. Presentation.

Peterson Zah:

"[Navajo Introduction]. In the Indian way and Navajo way you always identify yourself, who you are, where you come from, who you're related to because, after all, that's what we're all about. And so that's normally the way you start your conversation. Because you're not the only one I'm talking to here in this room. We have other entities that are also here and they always want to know who you are. I wanted to say just two or three words before we get going with what I'm supposed to be doing here.

Number one, I now work at Arizona State University [ASU]; I've been there for the last 14 years. And after the Navajo people kicked me out of office I went down to the University and I started working with young people because, at the time, they only had something like 600 Native American students on campus. And the President says, "˜That's as far as we get. We come to that number then we always come down. Our graduation rate is horrible,' he says. "˜So we need to improve that. Let that be your concern.' He also said, "˜I can't tell you how to do your job because I don't know what to tell you. You evidently know.' And so essentially that's the way we got started. From 600 Native American students to today, we have 1,500 Native American students. Our goal is to reach, within the next five years, 2,000 Native American students. So we're doing very well in recruitment. Our retention rate is improving. Our graduation rate is improving also. And so I wanted to just give you that little commercial. If I didn't say anything about ASU, the President it's going to get back to him and he's going to be angry. So I wanted to just say this.

Number two: I really, really enjoyed the conference here during the last two days. I'm learning a lot and listening to all of the young ones -- all of you, participating in these discussions -- and all of the dedication, and a good sense of where we should be headed all comes out. And as an old man, as a grandpa, that really makes me happy. And we need more of these kinds of training to equip the upcoming leaders with all of the tools that they need so that they can do better among their people in their communities nationwide. So I just wanted to say this.

In terms of the subject today, the establishment of the [Navajo Nation Permanent] Trust Fund, I always tell people that the needs of the Navajo people back then in the mid-1980s were the same as they are now. Some people say, "˜Well, you were able to do all of that because the needs back then weren't as great.' Well, to be honest, they were the same, basically the same. As the tribal chair sitting there at that desk every minute people coming in, they want service, they want to talk to you, they want advice, they want a sense of direction, they want this and they want that. And so your time is occupied a hundred percent throughout the day, almost 24 hours a day -- how they want those services to be rendered to them. And so basically that was the backdrop of the Navajo Nation back in the mid-1980s.

Navajo, as you know, is the largest of all of the Indian tribes, whether it's a pure membership or land base: 88-member council, over 300,000 Navajo people, 110 chapters. And at those chapters you have chapter president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, grazing committee members. So you can multiply 110 times five, and that's how many people you have to work with as an elected official of the Navajo Nation government. So to put your program into place, you have to work with those officers at the community level as well as the 88-member council. So it's not an easy task. You may have a great idea but if you don't do your homework to begin with, you're in trouble right from the word "˜go.' And so with establishment of the trust fund, we had to basically deal with that kind of infrastructure on the Navajo to get to where we wanted to go. I do not know in this room how many of our tribal government, tribal leaders, have tried to create trust fund for the Indian people. I was extremely lucky to be working with a tribal council that had a lot of vision. They were visionary leaders, the 88-member council. I would say probably one half of them had no greater than 10th-grade, 11th-, 12th-grade education. We didn't have a single college graduate but they were visionary in a lot of the things that they did. So we were very, very lucky to have that number in the Navajo Nation Council.

Prior to my becoming a tribal chair I worked at the legal services program called DNA [Diné be'iina Náhiilna be Agha'diit'ahii or "˜attorneys who work for the economic revitalization of The People'] People's Legal Service. I spent 11 years there as the executive director, as a non-lawyer executive director. There were always a lot of people who wanted me to go to law school and I used to tell them, "˜Listen, I'm better off than a lawyer. So I'm going to continue running the program. Because when you become a lawyer, you get tunnel vision and sometimes you can't see things out here. And therefore you have to really, really concentrate on the overall problems of the Navajo people.' And as such I was always working with lawyers to make sure that the cases that we handled at DNA, many of which went to United States Supreme Court, was handled right because I knew that when you get into that court you don't really know what's going to happen. Sure, the lawyers will tell you that they're going to win, this is their argument and this is what we want to do. But we always had a mock trial that we insist our lawyers go through that mock trial -- not only once or twice or three times -- 10 times to have those kinds of sessions before they went into the United States Supreme Court.

So I was intimately involved in Kerr-McGee vs. the Navajo Nation, a taxation case that was accepted by the Navajo Nation to go on to the United States Supreme Court. Within that four-year period, we were able to win in the United States Supreme Court where the tribes were given the authority to tax companies that work on the reservation, that extract minerals on the reservations and that do business on the Navajo Nation. I remember the controversy when we passed that taxing legislation by the Navajo Council, all of the people who do business, companies who do business on the reservation, they all banded together and they said, "˜We're going to sue you because we don't think you have the authority as Navajo Nation to impose taxes on us because we have this contract with you. And we look at that contract as a bible and in there it says we are not to be taxed.' But those were the old leases that were approved by the Navajo Nation Council and the contracting parties. And so when we decided that we're going to start taxing people, they used that against us, the very same thing that the other Navajo Council did in the past.

And so what happened was that we went into court and basically did all of our homework and we [ended] up winning that case. And I remember getting a call from the clerk of the United States Supreme Court saying, "˜I'm just letting you know a decision was made today. It was nine to zero. You guys won the case. That means Indian tribes can now begin taxing companies that operate on the Indian nation.' That was a precedent-setting case. And what that did, what that did was I told the companies, when they decided to sue us in court, I says, "˜As a tribal chairman you get sued every week so it doesn't really matter. And so can I get a concession out of you that while this case is going on can you pay the amount of money that you're supposed to pay in escrow, in escrow account? If you win, you take all the money back. If I win, I take all the money.' And so basically that's how the $217 million was accumulated. So when we won the United States Supreme Court, I went down to the bank and got a check for $217 million. I was the most popular person in Window Rock.

But the question about what to do with that amount of money was really, really something that people, leaders, have to deal with because it was the election year. The 88-member council, they said, "˜We understand you picked up the $217 million. Let's call the council into session and I've got a project. I want to be reelected.' Council delegate from Chinle says, "˜I want to have a laundry, laundromat at Chinle chapter and we'll call it Chinle Wash. We want to have that going because using that I can get re-elected and we'll get further in our progress that we're trying to accomplish.' And so that was something that was really a lot of pressure, activities that happened on the Navajo Nation. The problem was, what do you do with that money? A lot of services are needed. Anything you can think of you can throw the $217 million at those problems because it's election year. And so everyone wanted a role in terms of how they all thought we should spend the money.

My mother is a traditional Navajo lady. She never went to school. She doesn't know a word of English. She has lots of sheep all her life. And every once in awhile she always wants us to come home, spend a night, two or three days with her. So when the pressure got so hot, boiling over in Window Rock, I jumped in my pickup truck and I went home. And I got to the house late in the evening, slept and early in the morning my mother was butchering the sheep. And she says, "˜I'm cooking for the kids.' And then when I got up she started talking. And I told her and she says, "˜Son, I hear all these things on the radio about what's happening in Window Rock. What is happening? What is happening with that money? What did you do with the $217 million that you got from the bank?' And I says, "˜I just put it in the safe and I'm trying to decide what I should do with it.' And so then she started talking about her herd and she says, "˜Is there a way, is there a way that you can treat money the same way as you treat a herd, the sheep?' And she says, "˜Remember, say back several years ago, when our herd came down and we only had 15 sheep and we were all worried? Then I told you kids, let's not eat the sheep anymore for the next two years. If we do it that way, the 15 will multiply to 30 if we leave it alone. The following year we'll have 60. The following year we'll have 120 and we'll be back to where we were. Can you treat money that way?' And this is a traditional Navajo lady talking with me. I could have probably hired a consultant at $400-500 an hour to tell me the same thing, but the mother cares. She's a permanent fixture on the Navajo Nation. She's a tribal member. So I thought to myself, 'Well, she's given me an advice and what she's really, really talking about it is putting money into trust so that it can multiply the same way as her herd multiplied.' And so I got all recharged. At the end of that two-day period, I went back into Window Rock and I went to the council and I says, "˜Ah ha! I've got the answer. Let's put these monies into trusts, let's not spend it. Let's not spend it foolishly. Yes, we all want to get reelected -- I do too -- but let's be prudent. Let's use our judgment in the right way for the Navajo people.' So it was advice that I got from my mother that was highly valuable to the Navajo Nation.

So we sat down with the council and we developed a plan in terms of how that $217 million should be distributed and used to the trust fund. And we established what we call Chapter Government Nation-Building Fund. We put something like $60 or $70 million into that account. That means at the end of the year, whatever interest that it earns those monies were divided among the chapter houses and that's the way their chapter houses operated throughout the year. We created a $20 million Navajo scholarship fund. We had something like maybe $20 million in there already, but we put another $20 million on top of that for something nearly $40 million and we said the interest that this earns at the end of each year will keep the Navajo kids going to college, a college and a university of their choice. So we took care of the chapters. We took care of the young people but not everybody is fit to go to college. Some want to go to vocational education. So we said why don't we take care of them? And we put something like $7 or $8 million into that account. The interest that it earns then can send those Navajo kids to those vocational institutions.

Then we had some problems. There was tremendous need for the handicap people. It was right at this time that old man Ronald Reagan came into power and he cut off all those social programs. Remember back then? Maybe some of you were in diapers still but Ronald Reagan came in and they said, "˜No more of these social programs.' So he cut them. Well, that left the senior citizens out in the cold. We then said, "˜Why don't we have a handicap trust fund?' So we put $7 or $8 million in there for all the elderly people that may need hearing aid -- like the one Manley is wearing -- and hearing aid and all of these other things that they need, the senior citizen. And they're the ones that use that trust fund to help them with some of their problems that they were having. And then there were senior citizens' trust fund. All the senior citizen organizations on the reservation and we put some money into the trust fund for them. And we said that the interest that it earns, "˜You can use that for your activities,' all the seniors.

Then we gave Navajo Academy -- the only Navajo high school, a prep school -- we gave them some trust funds so that they can establish a truly Navajo Nation school. And that was built in Farmington, New Mexico, and today it's still there. They're the only high school on the Navajo Nation that sends every graduate to colleges and university. And I like to go over there and recruit students. So they're the ones that have that Navajo prep academy.

The other one that is not listed, these things happened in 1984-85. In 1990, early 1990, we established three more trust funds. One of them is what we call Land Acquisition Fund. All of you are wondering, "˜Say, how come the Navajo Nation has such a big land base, big huge reservation?' Well, we buy land back. We buy land back. So we created what we call Land Acquisition Fund. There are some ranchers, non-Indian people adjacent to the Navajo Nation that always put their land up for sale. We said, 'When those people make their land available, we should get to the bank, make out a check, buy the land.' Now our reservation is growing. It's getting bigger and bigger and so we established that Land Acquisition Fund. Today it has $50 million, $50 million in that account. So anybody who puts out their land for sale, we use that money to buy land. The reason why we did it is Navajo Nation keeps on growing; the people, the membership is getting larger and larger. We want the land to grow with those numbers. And so every year we purchase more and more land, and we're not going to stop until we get back the whole Southwest. And so that's why we established that fund.

The other fund that we created during that period was a trust fund to take care of a lot of these economic development that's taking place on the Navajo Nation. They have their own trust fund that they can tap into to do economic development projects. And so basically those are the trust funds that the Navajo Nation now has. Now why did we do that? My thought back then was, you can use the $217 million, put them all into trusts. If you have enough trust accounts that you establish, I want to see the day the Navajo Nation government would run on trust fund; we don't have to beg anybody for money. Is that called self-sufficiency all of you young people? Self-sufficiency, that's what we're striving for. Twenty years has gone by. Many of these trust funds are being utilized and they have matured. So much of your trust fund is being utilized to keep the tribal government going.

Now I work for Arizona State University as I told you. We have a rather new president that came out of back east. His goal is to put Arizona State University in a position so that all of these monies that people donate, he puts it into trusts. He calls it endowed funds. And he says, "˜I'd like to put the university in the position where we don't have to go to the state legislature and beg for money each year, we don't have to go see the governor. We want to run this university like NYU, Harvard, Yale, all of those universities. They all run on their own. They're all running on trust funds.' So basically the Navajo concept was to essentially to do the same thing.

The biggest one that we wanted to talk about is the Permanent Fund. It was established because of the natural resources being depleted. I told the Navajo people, I said, "˜We have coal, but you know coal is a non-renewable resource. Once the coal is gone, where are we going to get our money? Once the coal is all extracted from Navajo Land, where are we going to get our income? So while we can, we should put these monies into trust.' So a permanent fund was established by the Navajo Nation. One thing that we had to keep on explaining over and over to the Navajo people is, 'What is the difference between the principal and fund income?' Probably the most simplest thing that you can put across to people, but there was a lot of misunderstanding between principal and the fund income. And we keep on saying, 'We want to make it so that we don't spend the principale when we are at a point of using, beginning to use these trust funds.'

The way it works now is, when the permanent fund was authorized, we put something like $26 million as a basis, as a foundation of the Permanent Fund; we put that in the bank. On top of that we said, '12 percent of all projected revenue shall be invested from the Navajo Nation.' So each year, the Navajo Council comes to decide the budgeting process. The first thing they do is they take, on top of everything they get, 12 percent of that, they put it on top of the Permanent Fund. So the Permanent Fund enjoys two things. One is the interest that it earns goes back into the Permanent Fund. The Navajo Nation uses 12 percent of their general fund total, they put that on top of that. So it enjoys a lot of deposits of money and the generation of revenues that way.

We agreed among the council, I told the council, I said, "˜I want to get an agreement from you that we're not going to ever touch this money for the next 20 years. For the next 20 years, you shall not come to my office and ask that you withdraw these monies. We're going to put it into trust for 20 years and we're going to see what happens, how much money it can generate. After the 25-year period, we will then have a five-year plan where 95 percent of the money could, may be expended according to rules established by the council.' And so that is still in the plan. However, there is no program in place right now for the use of those permanent fund[s]. And so basically that is something that the Navajo Nation agreed to and that they are still, we are still holding them to those agreements. All of the expenses that is associated with the administration and the management of the Permanent Fund comes out of that amount of money that it earns. And so that's what happened to the Navajo Nation and the establishment of its permanent fund.

Today, March 27th -- is it today? -- we have some like $1.4 billion in that permanent fund. This is money that is not earmarked for anything. It's free money. So money in the bank, 1.4 [million dollars]. One of the biggest push by the council every time they come into session is they want to get at it. They want to spend the money. So usually Manley Begay and I are there in Window Rock saying, "˜No, no, no, no. You guys agreed not to do this. Let's keep it growing, let's keep it going.' So thus far, we have been successful and so that is the way this permanent fund and all the other trust funds was established.

Now in 2002, a work group was established called Permanent Fund Work Group. The Navajo Nation Council wanted to get seven people from the Navajo Nation that can decide what to do with that permanent fund. And they made me the chair and then we selected people like Manley Begay and others. And we've been meeting on and off since then and talking about what the future holds for the Navajo Nation trust fund. Manley says, "˜You go first, talk about how these were established, but no joke.' He says, "˜As long as you agree that you aren't going to tell any joke to this group, then you should do this.' So before I crack a joke, I'd like to give him the floor."

Manley Begay:

"The reason why my brother walks around real slow is [because] he has $500 million in both pockets. A good friend of mine, I ran into him again, Curt Massey from White Mountain Apache. I used to play basketball with him years ago. I noticed he was walking real slow, too. I told him, I said, "˜You're walking really slow.' I said, "˜Are you still playing basketball?' He says, "˜No, I don't have any more knees.' I used to play ball with him years ago. We used to be neighbors over there in the East Fork area of the White Mountain Apache reservation. So it was really good to see my brother and good friend Curt Massey. Now he's on the council at White Mountain Apache. And one thing about my brother Pete Zah is that he used to play basketball also, years ago at the Phoenix Indian School, and he was actually on a championship team. So quite an athlete back when.

As Pete was saying, we were selected to this permanent fund work group. And lo and behold, we're sitting on millions of dollars, and it was our responsibility to decide what to do with that money. So I asked Peter, I said, "˜What should we do with the money?' And he said, "˜We should buy Tahiti, the Island of Tahiti, and move over there, get a flock of sheep and herd sheep by the ocean.' But can you imagine the responsibility that's given to you about what to do with that amount of money? In 2002, the money was hovering around $800 million and seven of us, these individuals, we were the ones to decide how the money was going to be spent. As my brother was saying, when they first won the legal case, everybody became his best buddy. They'd come out of he woodwork. The same thing happened again, this time to me, again. People I hadn't seen for years they said, 'Brother, uncle, grandpa, have I got a deal for you.' So can you imagine the amount of responsibility we were given?

And so what do you do? How do you handle this? Because everything's important, right? Grandpa and grandma are important, the handicapped are important, roads are important, health is important, education is important, veterans are important, the youth are important, and there are 300,000 Navajos. Shall we go per cap, 300,000 Navajos? Not much money to go around. And so that was what we were facing. So what did we do? We did a lot of research. First we wanted to figure out what's been happening all these years since the money was put into a trust fund and we wanted to find out exactly how much money there was.

So my brother and I and the five other individuals, we had the fund managers come to see us and we had meetings with them about where the money was at, how the money was invested, where did it go, how much is left and this was shortly, if you'll remember, after 9/11. And the stock markets were really fluctuating around that time. It probably would have been up to $1 billion, but 9/11 sort of made it dip, up and down. And we consulted with the community. One thing about my brother here is that he's very close to the people, the people that are out there in the community. And he said, "˜I want to ask them what they think because that's the heart and soul of who you are.' And he says, "˜We have to go there, we have to go there and ask.'

Then we found out, lo and behold, we found out that in the year 2000 this legislation was passed. The Navajo Nation during an election year earmarked 50 percent of the money to go to this local governance trust fund. And so that remained that only 45 percent of the fund income would be available to us to determine an expenditure plan for and then the 5 percent would be reinvested back into the principal. So essentially this is what happened. So we were actually only dealing with $6.8 million and the vastness of the needs of Navajo is unbelievable and here we were only dealing with about around $7 million. And here we were thinking, we're going to buy Tahiti. But there was a reality check. All of a sudden things began to change very, very quickly. So what to do, what to do?

And so we began to figure out how to do this, what do we do, how do we think through this particular...? So we began to research more and more about how much money there actually was and we wanted to know if there were other extenuating circumstances. This bullet point three. Were there other things that were going on with the money that we hadn't known about earlier? We requested reports from just about everybody at Navajo; we met with the money managers again, we talked to attorneys, we went to the natural resource department. We wanted to know how much time is left for the coal deposit at Navajo? How much more oil do we have left? Because all of that plays into how you plan for an expenditure plan. We held public hearings and then we began to devise a final permanent fund work group report to the Navajo Nation Council. Here is an assumption chart that if coal reserves at our coal mine were depleted, if our oil fields were depleted, what's going to happen to the Permanent Fund trust. And so this middle road is sort of the best route that was imaginable.

So 2008, we're talking about the money hovering around maybe $700-800 million. But as my brother was saying, it's actually at $1.4 billion; so the stocks doing a really, really good job. And here's sort of the market value chart of the Permanent Fund. So you can imagine that in 2010 it would be nearing $1 billion, but it's actually exceeded expectations. Here's another chart that we were working with. In terms of the local governance trust fund -- let's say -- if the money went there, what's the best-case scenario? So we were thinking through what to do with this money and we held public hearings. We wanted to hear from the people. We wanted to hear what the people had to say. And my brother here is like -- remember the old commercial of E.F. Hutton? When Peterson Zah speaks, everybody listens. It's absolutely true. He has that stature that when he goes out to the community, when he talks to the people, people really listen to him. They want to know exactly what he's thinking. To this day, even though he's not in office, he's still a leader. He's still a leader to be respected, to be listened to, to be thought through. So at these community hearings, this is what we put together. And here are the public hearing questions. So we started to gain data and information. And this was actually my brother's idea. He said, "˜We've got to go over there, talk to the people, find out what's going on. Let's pose to them these questions and let's find out some answers about what they're thinking.' And these were their comments.

There was a big push for reinvesting the money, instead of spending it. They said, they told us...these were grandmas and grandpas, people that we would consider sort of everyday people. Very intelligent, smart people. And they said to us, 'Reinvest the money.' But they didn't come out and say, 'Reinvest.' They said this, "˜It's like seeing your corn grow. You should pick the corn only when it is ripe. If you pick it when it's too young, you won't get enough to eat.' So what they were saying was, reinvest the money, put it back. They also said, in reference to the local governance trust fund, they said, "˜There's this huge cow with lots of milk, but only a few calves are allowed to feed, then others are all standing around hungry. The money is like milk, it all goes to just those few.' So they were saying to us, 'Wait a minute. Let's wait a minute.' And then those of us that are living off Navajo Nation land, they were saying, "˜Count us in; don't count us out. Don't call us outsiders. We know our homeland and the homeland knows us. Our umbilical cords are buried in our homeland. We are still your relatives. We are only here because of jobs, education, training and for medical reasons.' Often these services are not available on the Navajo Nation. In the Navajo way, when a baby is, the umbilical cord falls off, there's a whole ceremony that it entails. So where it's buried is where your heart and your soul is at. So no matter where you go, wherever your umbilical cord is at, that's where your heart and soul will be.

And so what did we do, we put together this permanent fund work group report and this is what we said. Number one, we challenged the Navajo Nation Council and we said, and we also challenged the Navajo people, and we said, "˜Develop a vision with a strategic plan for the Navajo Nation as a whole that can provide guidance to those -- including the Navajo Nation Council -- who must make momentous decisions regarding finance and other matters affecting the long-term future of the people.' We said, "˜Reinvest all of the Permanent Fund until 2012, an additional period of five years, or until the corpus of the fund reaches $1 billion, whichever comes first.' As my brother said, it's at $1.4 billion and everybody wants to get at it. And we said, "˜Repeal the legislation requiring the Permanent Fund income go to the local governance trust fund.' And we said, "˜the Navajo Nation should really resist further legislative diversion of the money. It makes the fund quite vulnerable.' And we said, "˜set up an endowment commission.' The endowment commission's responsibility would be to figure out according to policy, rules and regulations, how the money would be dispensed.

Today, what's the future of the Permanent Fund? We're not sure. It's sort of a question mark, although we're all following Mr. Zah's lead. He says, "˜We sometimes as Indian people have a hard time saving. We get a paycheck and then we're driving to town, we spend all the money. We're happy going over there, coming back we're all quiet. No more money.' And he says, "˜We've got to save. We've got to save that money.' So we're following his lead to this very day."