Ned Norris, Jr.

Ned Norris, Jr.: Strengthening Governance at Tohono O'odham

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris, Jr. discusses how his nation has systematically worked to strengthen its system of governance, from creating an independent, effective judiciary to developing an innovative, culturally appropriate approach to caring for the nation's elders.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Norris, Jr., Ned. "Strengthening Governance at Tohono O'odham." Leading Native Nations interview series. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, The University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. February 16, 2012. Interview.

Ian Record:

“Welcome to Leading Native Nations. I’m your host, Ian Record. On today’s program we are honored to have with us Ned Norris, Jr. Since 2007, Ned has served as chairman of his nation, the Tohono O’odham Nation, winning re-election to a second four-year term in 2011. He has worked for his nation for the past 35 years, serving in a variety of capacities, from Vice Chairman of his nation to Director of Tribal Governmental Operations to Chief Judge of the Tohono O’odham Judicial Branch. Chairman, welcome, good to have you with us today.”

Ned Norris:

“Thank you very much. It’s good to be here.”

Ian Record:

“I’ve shared a few highlights of your very impressive personal biography, but why don’t you start by telling us a little bit more about yourself?”

Ned Norris:

“Well, I’ve… born and raised here in Tucson, born at San Xavier when it was a hospital in 1955, and pretty much grew up here and spent all of my life here in Tucson, and got married to my wife Janice in 1973. And actually Friday, February 17th will be 39 years that she’s put up with me.”

Ian Record:

“Congratulations.”

Ned Norris:

“So I really appreciate that. We have children, we have grandchildren, and it’s great seeing them, and seeing how our kids have developed over the years and seeing how our grandchildren are coming along.”

Ian Record:

“Well, we’re here today to tap into your knowledge, your wisdom and experience regarding a wide range of critical Native nation building and governance topics and I’d like to start with tribal justice systems. You’ve taken on many different roles in your nation’s justice system including court advocate, child welfare specialist, and judge. And so I’m curious, generally speaking from your experience and your perspective, what role do tribal justice systems play in the exercise of tribal sovereignty?”

Ned Norris:

“As I was thinking about this, I was thinking about where we were as early as the late 1970s. For some people that’s not early, for some people that’s a long time, but when we think about where our tribal system, judicial system has developed since ’79 and forward, we have really come a long way in realizing that the court system itself plays a significant role in ensuring or demonstrating our ability to be a sovereign tribal entity. Obviously the tribal legislature’s going to make the laws and the executive side of the tribal government is going to implement those laws, but the court system really has a key, significant role in determining, in how those laws are going to be interpreted and how those laws are going to be applied. And for me that’s really a significant role in the tribal judicial system ensuring that whatever we’re doing internally with regards to applying the law as it is written by the legislature and implemented by the executive branch that it is ensuring that sovereignty is intact, that it’s ensuring that we have the capabilities of making the decisions that we need to make in order to govern our nation.”

Ian Record:

“A law professor here at the University of Arizona who you know very well, Robert Williams, who serves as a pro tem judge for your nation’s judicial branch describes this systematic effort your nation has engaged in over the past three decades or so to build an effective, efficient, tribal justice system from the ground up. Why has the nation engaged in that effort and why is that important?”

Ned Norris:

“I think that it has a lot to do with the fact that we’ve got tribal legislators over the years that have really began to take a holistic look at the tribal government as a whole and realizing that for the most part as late as the 1970s, early 1970s, our tribal judicial system was really what I would refer to as a BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs]-type system. Tribal codes were developed, but they were really taken off of boilerplates of BIA codes and so on and so forth. So I think that our leadership, our tribal council began to realize that these laws don’t always have the kind of impact that we would like them to have. And so in order for us to be able to govern ourselves and to determine our own destiny as it relates to [the] tribal court system, we’ve got to begin the process of changing the system and bringing it more up to speed, so to speak.”

Ian Record:

“And part of that I guess, regaining control of the justice function of the nation, things like making sure that you are charge of law and order, that you’re in charge of dispute resolution, that when you have a young person who has a substance abuse problem that they’re being taken care of, that issue is being taken care of internally versus them being shipped off the reservation, making the system more culturally appropriate, where the people in the community feel like this makes sense to us. Can you talk about that dynamic in the work that the nation has been doing in that regard to, I guess, make the justice system their own?”

Ned Norris:

“Well historically, I think it’s unfortunate that back then, and even to some extent even today, tribes do not have the level of resources available to address the more intricate needs of a substance abuser, an alcoholic, whatever the case may be, and so even today there are needs. There is a need to identify resources, whether it’s on or off the reservation to address that, but I think most importantly is the idea that we would be able to create the kinds of services that we’re using off reservation and bringing those services on the reservation where we’re playing a more direct role in that person’s treatment, in their rehabilitation and really looking at it like…from the perspective that this is family, this is part of our family. This individual isn’t just a member or a citizen of our nation, they are a citizen of our nation that we should take more of a responsibility to try and help within the confines of our own tribal nation, our people. And so I think when we think about it from that perspective, we begin to realize that maybe the services that we have are not as adequate or not as resourceful as we would like them to be. So we’ve got to be able to identify that and be able to identify where those voids are and bring those services into that program or create the program that…where those voids exist.”

Ian Record:

“It really boils down to the nation itself best knowing its own needs, its own challenges versus somebody from the outside that is simply just bringing in something from the outside that may not…”

Ned Norris:

“Not only that, Ian, I think that in addition to understanding that we have…we as the nation membership have a good understanding of what those needs are and what those resources are or aren’t, but also really realizing that if we’re going to bring or utilize outside resources to do this, those resources aren’t always going to be there. We’re going to be there, we’re going to continue to be there, our members are going to continue to be there and what makes more sense to us is to be able to take control and bring those services, develop those services where they lack and provide the services more directly by the nation’s leadership itself.”

Ian Record:

“One of the things that Professor Williams points to in this effort that the nation’s been engaged in around the justice system for the past 30 years is how the nation has invested in its own people, how it’s worked to build the capacity, internal capacity of its own people to provide justice to the community. Can you talk a little bit more about that? You’re a byproduct of that effort.”

Ned Norris:

“Well, I think that when we talk about investing in our own people, over the years in a more significant sense we’re…we’ve been able to establish our gaming operation. That operation has played a significant role in our ability to bring the kinds of services that aren’t there, that haven’t been there, or those kinds of services that we would for many years just dream about having and even to the extent that we’re developing our tribal members. I think, just to give you an example, pre-gaming we probably had less than 500, 600 employees that worked with the tribe and now we’ve got well over, I think it’s about 1,400 tribal employees and we’ve got a varied amount of programs that have been developed that are really beginning to address a lot of the needs that we’ve been having over the years. And not even that, the ability to develop our own tribal citizens in providing them an opportunity to train academically, whether it’s a vocational program, whether it’s a two-year or four-year college, whether it’s earning a bachelor’s degrees, master’s degree, doctorate degree, whatever the case may be. We’ve been able to provide that kind of an opportunity for our members to be able to acquire the kinds of skills that they lack academically and bring those skills back to the nation and apply those skills.”

Ian Record:

“Yeah, and I think what you’ve addressed is there’s a major obstacle for many tribes in that they’ll invest in their people, they’ll send them off to get a good education, but then it’s really critical that there’s a welcoming environment for those college graduates to say, ‘We’re sending you off to get a skill to come back and apply that skill here on behalf of the nation.’”

Ned Norris:

“Exactly, and part of our challenge as tribal leaders is making sure that we create the ability for those members to be able to come back. Too many times I’ve shared with different audiences over the years that we’re graduating more O’odham with bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees than in the history of the whole tribe, however, where we may lack in the ability to create the kinds of jobs that those individuals trained for. And so we need to prepare ourselves to be able to receive those tribal members back and provide them the kinds of job opportunities that they’ve spent four, six year, eight years in college acquiring, but also not only be able to do that, but to be able to pay a comparable salary for the kinds of positions that they’ve trained for.”

Ian Record:

“I’d like you, if you wouldn’t mind, to paint a picture. Before we went on air you were describing a little bit about what the nation’s justice system looked like when you came on board and started working within that system. Can you compare and contrast what the justice system and what the justice function looked like back in the early 1970s or mid 1970s, to what it looks like now?”

Ned Norris:

“Wow. It’s a night-and-day comparison really, because just physically we didn’t have the kinds of facilities necessary to really do… provide the kinds of justice services that our people should be afforded and we…when we talk about facilities, we talk about staffing, we talk about laws in themselves or codes, back in the late ‘70s, the early ‘80s, there was a time there that our law and order code was a boilerplate from the BIA code and I think that it took some years and some education and some effort to begin the process of understanding that this boilerplate code is obsolete in our mind and we need to begin the process of developing our own tribal codes. And so we began that process in writing our own tribal code, our law and order code, our criminal code, our civil codes and other codes and that took a process, but once we’ve done that and the tribal council adopted those codes, we started to apply them in the tribal judicial system. And so I think that when we compare where we were in the late 1970s to where we are now, the only… the concern that I have is, being a former judge -- I spent 14 years as one of our tribal judges and from ’79 to ’93 --and I’ve seen the court system develop over those years and seen how obsolete the laws were back in the late 1970s to where we were able to develop those laws. But also realize that back then in the early 1990s, I began to think about realizing the time that the court system is no longer processing and dealing with human beings, but they’re dealing with numbers. You become a number at some point, a case number or whatever because early on we came into this with the perspective that we’ve got this tribal member that is maybe committing crime, but there are a lot of factors that are contributing to why that tribal member has committed that particular crime and that we, the court system, although it has the law before it and the law may provide a jail sentence and/or a fine, the idea wasn’t always to throw this person in jail because of the crime they did, but to try and dig a little deeper into what’s really going on within that individual’s situation. Is it the home situation? Is it…was the person an abused person over a time of their life, was that person a victim of incest that just was never dealt with? And so we came to this with the perspective that the court system enforces the laws, applies the law and issues sentences, but some of that sentence has to take into consideration how can we help, how can we help this individual, how can we help the family address those issues that are impacting or having an influence in them committing the crimes that they’re committing?”

Ian Record:

“You mentioned that for several years you were a judge and so you’ve seen firsthand how the court system works and you’ve been a part of that court system. There’s an issue…there’s a major infrastructure challenge for a lot of justice systems across Indian Country. Can you talk a bit about what Native nation governments can do to ensure that their justice systems have the support they need to administer justice effectively?”

Ned Norris:

“One is, there was a period of time where the tribal legislature was what I refer to as the supreme authority on the O’odham Nation, at that time the Papago Tribe of Arizona. And as that supreme authority, there was really not a separation of powers between a three-branch system. And so, over the course of those years, early on the tribal supreme authority, the legislative authority really infringed on or encroached on what should have been an independent judicial system. And so I think, in answer to your question, tribal governments, tribal leadership should realize that it is imperative to the success of a tribal governmental entity that an independent system of judicial…a system to dispense justice is not having the kinds of influence by the other two branches of government that would impede its ability to deliver that justice. And I think that once we begin to understand that and realize that and realize that that not only does that involve the legislature not meddling into the judicial process, but it also has to involve an understanding that because in many tribal governmental entities the tribal legislator controls the purse, controls the funding, that they not use that as a basis to not fund the needs of the tribal judiciary. And I think that because the council has the authority to disperse funding resources that the courts still have to go to the council and ask and present their budget and ask for funding for infrastructure, for whatever the case may be. That there still has to be a relationship there, but I think that the tribal legislature needs to understand too that they shouldn’t use their role as a tribal legislator to deny the kinds of resources that the court system needs.”

Ian Record:

“You mentioned this issue of political interference and this is something that comes up in virtually every interview I do with folks on this topic of tribal justice systems and they all…almost all of them mention this issue of funding and how that can be rather than direct interference in a particular court case, but this kind of more subtle, insidious process of denying funding or reducing funding or holding funding hostage to…in exchange for certain considerations -- that that sends real messages and others have talked about how this issue of political interference can be a very slippery slope. That if a chair or a legislator, once they do it once for one person, word’s going to get around that, ‘You just need to go to this council person and they’ll get involved with the court case on your behalf.’ And in many respects doesn’t that distract the executive…the chief executive of the nation, the legislators from focusing on what they really should be focusing on?”

Ned Norris:

“Yeah, if we’re taking so much of our time and energy dealing with a relative’s court case and not allowing the court to apply justice to that situation, then obviously it’s taking us away from our real role, which is to provide the kinds of leadership and direction that we need to provide to run our government. So yeah, political influence, I think early on was an issue. Now, I think it’s rare. I think that we’ve educated our leadership to the extent that they understand the concept of separation of powers, that they understand that they shouldn’t use their position to try and influence a decision that the court is going to make. We’re not 100 percent, but we’re far less than what we were in the late 1970s and I think that that whole process just took a series of education and in fact, in some cases, some case law that’s already been established where the legislative branch was trying to encroach on the powers of the executive branch, we’ve had those cases in our tribal court system and those decisions are the law at this point.”

Ian Record:

“This wasn’t originally in my list of questions, but since you brought it up, I’d like to talk about the role of justice systems and the judicial branch, particularly your nation, in essentially being a fair umpire when there are conflicts between the executive function -- whether it’s a separate branch or not -- but the executive function of the nation and the legislative function. How important is it to have somebody, whether it’s your courts or an elders body or somebody, some entity that can, when there is conflict between those two functions to say, ‘Okay, let’s take a look at this and let’s be the fair arbiter here.’?”

Ned Norris:

“I think that it’s critical. I think it’s critical to be able to understand at some point in that particular dispute process that we’ve got to sit back and we’ve got to realize that as the two branches that are in dispute, is this an issue that we really want the courts to have a major role in deciding or do we want to come to terms or come to some level of understanding, try and resolve the matter before it ends up in court? I think that we should look at those kinds of issues from that perspective because once you get the court involved, the court is going to make its decisions based on the law, and the law is not necessarily always going to be the way to resolve or the way that you may… either side may want this particular issue resolved, and I think for the most part too, the court itself should realize if there’s an opportunity to resolve the dispute outside of the court, laying down the gavel and saying, ‘I hereby order…,’ that giving the parties an opportunity to resolve this dispute, whether it’s an encroachment by either branch, executive to legislative or vice versa, that we always have the opportunity to try and come to terms on resolution even if it means calling, I don’t know, I don’t want…I guess we could call him an arbitrator or mediator or a council of elders, to come in and provide some level of traditional means of resolving the dispute. I think that that’s important, but it’s important for the parties to make that decision. I’m not always open to the idea that court systems will order you to call in a council of elders or a medicine person to come help resolve this issue. I really think that that’s got to be the tribe themselves to make that decision. Over the years, the court has issued those kinds of orders and I think that they’ve worked, but for the most part I think that it’s the parties themselves need to make that determination and that decision.”

Ian Record:

“I would like to jump forward basically because of what we’ve been discussing and talk about the fact that virtually every tribe that I've worked with there’s always going to be some level of friction between the nation’s executive function and the legislative function. It’s just the nature of politics; it’s the nature of governance. And you being in that role of chairman now for multiple terms, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about that despite your best efforts, there are times when you come to an impasse or there’s a conflict that emerges. Can you talk about how do you build constructive working relationships -- as a chair -- with the legislative branch, the legislative function of government to try to make that relationship as productive and as seamless as possible?”

Ned Norris:

“Well, I have to say that I’m proud of what my first four years of leadership has done to do exactly what you’re asking because I felt and I sensed and I heard from many council members that there was really a breakdown in the relationship between the branches. And we knew then, Vice Chairman Isidro Lopez and I, and now even Vice Chairwoman Wavalene Romero and I realize, that it’s got to be a continuous effort to build that relationship, still maintain and understand there are certain constitutional authorities and powers that each individual branch has, that we need to understand what those constitutional powers are and that we don’t encroach our authority and violate what those powers are, because once you start doing that then you begin the resistance between the two and it doesn’t make for a good working relationship. We knew coming into office four years ago, and even continuing in my second term, that we’re going to need to continue to develop that relationship and I’m comfortable that where we’re at some, almost six years, five years later that we’ve been able to have a level of understanding that decisions are going to need to be made, that decisions that even though I have authority to veto decisions of our legislature, it’s been...in four years I think I’ve exercised that power twice and -- actually three times and -- both of those times those issues have been resolved. One issue is still pending in court, but I think that in itself speaks for the fact that we have a very understanding working relationship between the executive branch and the legislature and it’s really a continuous level of communication, it’s a continuous level to understand where they’re coming from on that particular issue, where you think you’re coming from and how do you work together to resolve your differences and how and at what point do you want to compromise in order to be able to accomplish what it is you want to accomplish. I think for the most part all of us want what’s best for the people of our nation. How do we get there from here to there, we may have some differences. And it’s discussing, resolving those differences to hopefully come to a positive outcome for providing the leadership that our people need.”

Ian Record:

“I’d like to switch gears now and talk about tribal bureaucracies. In addition to serving as your nation’s Director of Tribal Governmental Operations -- as I mentioned at the beginning -- you also have served as its Assistant Director of Tribal Social Services and as a former Commissioner for its Tribal Employment Rights Office, its TERO office. What do you feel from your diverse array of experiences, what do you feel tribal bureaucracies need to be effective?”

Ned Norris:

“Well one, I think clearly the individual that has a level of authority in that bureaucracy needs to understand themselves what…where do their powers derive from and to what extent do I have any power at all? And I think the individual then taking that in the whole from let’s say the tribal legislature or… I’m constantly having to make the kinds of decisions, leadership decisions that I need to make, but I’m constantly asking myself in my own mind, ‘Do I have the authority to do this?’ And I think that that’s the kind of understanding in our own minds that we need to continue to ask ourselves, ‘Do we have the authority to do this? What does the constitution say on this particular issue? What have the courts said on this particular issue? What has tradition said on this particular issue?’ And being able to understand that in all those perspectives I think is really where we need to…it’s going to help in the bureaucracy that’s created, because to me 'bureaucracy' isn’t a positive word in my opinion.”

Ian Record:

“Tribal administration.”

Ned Norris:

“Tribal administration, there you go. The Bureau [of Indian Affairs]’s a bureaucracy, but in tribal administration, I think that if we’re going to be able to…the end result is how do we get to be able to provide the kinds of needs that our people deserve and are entitled to? And are we going to create the kinds of roadblocks…and if there are roadblocks, then how do we break down those barriers, how do we break down those roadblocks, how do we begin to sit at the table with each other? I’ll tell you, there was a point in time where -- and I think it’s with any government -- but there’s mistrust, there’s a certain level of mistrust between the tribal branches or the governmental branches and it’s needing to understand that regardless of what I do there’s still going to be some level of trust. I’ve got 22 tribal council members. I still have to accept the fact that I know there’s at least one, maybe more, of those 22 council members that don’t want to see me where I’m at today and accept that. I accept that, but that doesn’t mean that I not continue to do what I think I need to do in working with my supporters and my non-supporters. They’re still a council member, I still have to work with them, I still need a majority of council to get the kinds of approvals or decisions to do things that I need. We need each other. The council needs the executive branch and the executive branch needs the council.”

Ian Record:

“You mentioned at the beginning of your response about the importance of every individual that works within the nation and for the nation understanding what their role is and what their authority is. Isn’t that absolutely critical when you talk about say, for instance, the nation’s elected leadership versus say your department heads, your program managers and things like that? That there’s a common understanding of, ‘Okay, when it comes to the day-to-day management,’ for instance, ‘of this program, that’s not my job as an elected official. That’s the job of the department head and the staff below them.' Because that’s a major issue that we’ve encountered across Indian Country, where there’s this constant overlapping of role boundaries if you will.”

Ned Norris:

“Micromanaging.”

Ian Record:

“Yes, that’s another way of putting it.”

Ned Norris:

“Yeah, micromanagement. I think for the idea or the idea of overstepping one’s authority where it appears, or at least you’re experiencing micromanagement, I think that for some time there was even a certain level of micromanaging that was going on and attempted to be going on from tribal council members or council committees on executive branch programs and we even see a certain level of that even today, this many years later. But I think how we handled those situations really has an impact, because I think for some time, we’ve got to realize that I’m not going to disallow my department directors, my department heads or anybody in those departments to not take a meeting with the tribal council committee if the council committee wants them to be there. That wasn’t always the situation in previous administrations, but for me, the council needs to be as informed on those issues in their role as a tribal council member. I think that when we think about micromanaging, again I think that it’s really a level of communication as to how you’re going to deliver. I’m not going to sit there and say, ‘Council member, you’re micromanaging my programs and that’s…I have an issue with that.’ I think that how we explain to them that we’re going to provide you the kinds of information that you need, but as the Chief Executive Officer under the constitution I have a certain level of responsibility to make sure that these programs are doing what they’re intended to do and I will assume that [responsibility]…I will exercise that responsibility, but we’re going to keep you informed, we’re going to keep…and if it’s personnel issues, that’s a different story. That’s clearly…we’ve got to protect the employee and the employer, but I think that for the most part we…how you communicate -- I’m trying to explain this. I’m not sure I’m doing a good job of it -- but how you explain without offending is critical to the outcome. And I don’t want our council to think that I’m prohibiting our departments to communicate issues with the council, because once we start doing that then you start to create barriers there and I don’t want those barriers, but at the same time the council needs to understand that if it’s an administrative issue that is clearly within my authority as the Chief Executive Officer for my nation. I have directors, I have people that are…that I hold accountable to make sure that those issues are addressed.”

Ian Record:

“You mentioned a term that I think is really interesting, I’d like to get you to talk a bit more about it. You said, ‘It’s critical to explain without offending.’ And we’ve heard other tribal leaders and people that work within tribal government talk about the fact that the impulse to micromanage, the impulse to, for instance, interfere, for an elected official to interfere on behalf of a constituent, for instance -- it’s always going to be there. The question’s how do you explain to that person that wants to interfere, that wants to micromanage, that this is not the way we do things because we have processes in place, we have policies in place that prohibit me from doing that? That’s not to say, as you said, that we can’t have a communication, that you can’t understand what’s going on and why, or why a certain decision’s been made the way it’s been made, but we have processes in place. How critical is that to have that…I guess to have that basis upon which you can explain without offending? That there’s these processes in place that are critical to the nation functioning well?”

Ned Norris:

“Sure. I think that it’s extremely critical to be able to have a level of understanding, but a certain level of trust. I think follow-up is key. I think if you’re going to have a council member or a council committee that is raising issues that are clearly an administrative function of one of my departments, then I’m not going to leave them out of that issue because they have a reason, they have an importance, they have a constituent out there that brought the issue before them. They need to know, they need to understand and so I’m going to make…I’m going to give them the assurance that as the chief administrator, I’m going to make sure that my people are going to follow up on that issue, but I’m also going to make sure you know what we’ve done. Not necessarily what disciplinary actions might have been imposed, but how are we going to address that issue? And make sure that I get back to them and tell them, ‘Here’s where we’re at with this issue, here’s what we’ve done. I want the program director to come and explain to you where we’re at on this as well.’”

Ian Record:

“You mentioned this issue of personnel issues, which are inevitable. They always arise -- whether it’s a hiring and firing dispute, whatever it might be -- and you mentioned it’s a whole different ballgame, that that really is critical that that’s insulated from any sort of political influence whatsoever. And we’ve heard others talk about how important that is to achieving fairness within the tribal administration, achieving fairness within how the nation operates, how it delivers programs and services. Can you talk a little bit about how your nation has addressed this issue of personnel disputes?”

Ned Norris:

“Well, I have to say that I…we have a lot yet to develop. We have a system to grieve, there’s a policy, personnel policies are in place, there’s the policies outline as to how individuals grieve an employee-employer situation. And I’m not…I haven’t always been 100 percent satisfied with the system itself. And so we’re currently going through a rewrite or a restructuring of what that system should be and really all in the interest of facilitating the process in making sure the process is more friendly to both sides, the grievant and the grievee and so on and so forth, because I think that our process involves a panel of individuals that may not necessarily have the level of training or understanding of what their duty and responsibility is as a panel member hearing that grievance. And so we have a panel and an individual or individuals on that panel that may think their authority is much bigger than what is really outlined or that they may need to make decisions that aren’t necessarily related to the grievance itself and those kinds of decisions have come out and our current policy provides that as chair of the nation, the chair has the final decision over a grievance that hasn’t been resolved at any one of the lower levels. And it’s by that experience that I realize we’ve got to change the process; the process needs to be more equitable I think to not only the process, but to the grievant, the person grieving it themselves. So I think that you want to make sure, you’ve got to make sure…you’ve got to ensure to your employees that we have a system to grieve that is fair, that they have confidence in, that they have the comfort that they’re going to…they know that when they get to the process, that that process is going to move along as fast as possible, but that their issue is going to be resolved. And I think too many times we don’t get to that point, but I think it’s the process itself that needs to be looked at, but we need to develop a process that is fair.”

Ian Record:

“I’d like to talk now about a symbol of pride for your nation, and that’s the Archie Hendricks Sr. Skilled Nursing Facility and Tohono O’odham Hospice. What prompted the nation to develop this amazing, what’s turned out to be this amazing success story and what has it meant for the Tohono O’odham people and in particular, its elders?”

Ned Norris:

“Archie Hendricks Nursing Care facility was a dream for many years. I was in tribal social services when, not long after the tribe contracted [Public Law 93-] 638, those social services from the Bureau. And it was really unfortunate that too many times when our elders needed nursing care that those elders were, as a figure of speech, shipped to some nursing facility in Casa Grande, in Phoenix, in other areas of the state and literally taken away from their home, taken away from their family. And too many times, the only time that those elders came back was in a box, when they’d deceased at that facility. And too many times having our elders placed in off-reservation facilities limited or to some…and in some cases prohibited family members to participate in their care in that off-reservation facility. And it just made sense that we begin the process of creating a facility on the nation where our elders can stay home at a location that we think is kind of central to where members, family members can commute, have more easily the ability to commute to that facility and visit. Too many times…a lot of our folks don’t have vehicles. A lot of our folks pay somebody else who has a vehicle to take them to the post office, take them to Basha’s or take them to somewhere, in a lot of cases drive them to Phoenix to visit their elder in the nursing home. And even though that still is the situation today with many of our members, the drive is a lot shorter than it is just to go to the Archie Hendricks facility. But also not only to be able to bring our elders home and have that service here on the nation, but also to…it’s an opportunity to instill tradition and instill who we are as O’odham into the care of our elders and in doing that, also having the opportunity to train tribal members in that particular service. We have a number of tribal members that have gone on to earn academic programs that are now applying those skills in the nursing home. So it had a win-win situation all the way around, not only bringing our elders, but a job opportunity; an opportunity to create a program that wasn’t there.”

Ian Record:

“Obviously that success story has addressed a particular need and as you’ve shared, a very dire need. But I guess on a larger overall level, doesn’t it send a very powerful message to your nation’s citizens that if we have a challenge, if we have a need, we can do this ourselves?”

Ned Norris:

“Oh, I think that’s true. I think that that’s maybe one of the bigger messages that we’re demonstrating because even today we think about…in fact, I had some, a family member come into my office that were concerned about their child or their nephew that was in an off-reservation youth home placement and that individual turned 18 years of age and was released from the facility. Well, the concern was there was really no services that was provided to him while in that facility and so in their own words they says, ‘Why can’t we build the kinds of facilities that we did for our elders for our youth? Why can’t we bring our youth home into a facility that can provide the kinds of services that they need?’ And why can’t we? We should. We should move in that direction. There was a time when the nation operated a couple of youth homes, a girl’s home and a boy’s home. I’m not sure right now what the history is as to why that doesn’t happen anymore, but I think the bureaucracy is what I remember, was the bureaucracy got hold of the situation. It was probably a licensing issue that the Bureau required that we weren’t able to comply with and so on and so forth, but I’m not suggesting we want to run off, run facilities without being accredited in some way or certified or licensed in some way, but I think that we need to understand that if we’re going to move in that direction…and I totally agree that we need to begin developing those kinds of services on the nation, but we also have to realize do we have the capability to do that? Do we have…? We can build a house, we can build the home, we can build the facility, but do we have the resources to run the kinds of programs that it’s going to require, do we have the trained personnel, do we have the…all the requirements that you need in order to run a sound helpful service to these youth -- can we do that? I think we need to do an assessment ourselves and if we feel we’re ready to make that move, then by all means let’s start putting the…making those facilities available.”

Ian Record:

“It’s interesting you mentioned that your citizens are now thinking, ‘Why can’t we?’ and that’s a very important shift in mindset, is it not? To where…from where in many Native communities 20-30 years ago, it was always, ‘Let the Bureau take care of it. We don’t need to deal with it.’ To now, ‘Why can’t we do it ourselves?’ That speaks to this larger shift that we’re talking about, the message that it sends to the people, does it not?”

Ned Norris:

“Well, it’s…I think about former leadership and I think about leaders that have had an impact in my life and I always share this story about…you remember the TV commercial, ‘Be like Mike,’ Jordan’s Shoes, ‘Be like Mike, play the game like Mike’ and all this and that? And I have my own ‘Be like Mike’ people out there myself. I think about the late Josiah Moore, an educator, a leader, a tribal chairman, former tribal chairman of our nation. I think about a Mescalero Apache leader by the name of Wendell Chino and think about other leaders that have gone on, but have demonstrated their leadership over the years. And I think to myself that those are the kinds of leaders that have vision, those are the kinds of leaders that have fought for sovereignty, that have fought for rights of tribal governments and those are the kinds of values as a leader that I think we need to bring to our leadership. Is, how do we protect the sovereignty of our sovereign nations? And it’s really unfortunate because somebody asked me, ‘Well, what is tribal sovereignty?’ And I says, ‘Well, I don’t agree with this, but too many times, tribal sovereignty is what the United States Supreme Court decides it’s going to be in a case or the federal government,’ and we can’t accept that. We shouldn’t accept that. We don’t want to accept that. We may not be a true sovereign, but we have certain sovereign authorities that we need to protect and we need to continuously exercise and whatever rights we have as a people, we need to exercise those rights, we need to understand what those rights are, we need to protect those rights just as well as protecting our tribal sovereignty.”

Ian Record:

“Isn’t part of that process… and you’ve mentioned this term a lot, assessing, assessing, assessing, assessing. Isn’t part of that process assessing where your nation could be exercising sovereignty or where it needs to exercise sovereignty, but currently isn’t and saying, ‘Let’s push the envelope here?’”

Ned Norris:

“Sure. I think that is. I think that…I like to do assessments, I like to do that mainly because you think you might understand what the situation is and you think you might have the right answer as to how you’re going to attack that situation or address that situation, but too many times we go into a situation not realizing what the impacts of your addressing that issue is going to be and so for me, I like to, ‘Okay, I agree with you, let’s address that issue, but let’s make sure we understand what it is we’re dealing with and whether or not we have the ability to address that issue,’ because to me to do something with half of an understanding really creates, to some extent, false hope because people are going to see that you’re moving in that direction. And if you’re not able to fulfill that movement, you’re going to stop and people may have liked to have seen what you were moving on, but don’t understand, ‘Why did you stop? We had hope in that. We thought you were going to address that issue.’ ‘Well, you know what, we didn’t do our homework and we couldn’t move it any further. That’s why.’ I think that we need to be, if we’re going to make a decision as a tribal leader, we need to fully understand the ramifications of what that decision is and to the best of our ability make informed decisions about the decisions we need to make and then move forward.”

Ian Record:

“I’d like to wrap up with…I’d like to wrap up on a final topic of constitutional reform. And as you well know, there’s been a groundswell of constitutional reform activity taking place across Indian Country over the past 30 years, in particular in the wake of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975. And back in the mid-1980s, your nation, the Tohono O’odham Nation, completely overhauled its constitution and system of government. And I’m curious to learn from you, what did the nation change and why and what did it create and why?”

Ned Norris:

“Well, I had the experience of being involved in my tribal government under the old 1937 constitution and then the new 1986 constitution, and although I wasn’t as involved in the development of the 1986 constitution, I understand some of the history and that it took, and as I understand it, that whole process took some 10 years to accomplish, to be able to…there were several drafts of our 1986 constitution. The constitution committee had understandings and misunderstandings and decisions that they couldn’t come to terms on amongst themselves. So it was just a long, drawn-out process, but I think a 10-year process that was well worth it. And I say that mainly because I saw the government under the old constitution and I see it now under the ’86 and realize that even under the ’86 I don’t think that we fulfilled the possibilities under the current 1986 constitution. Going back to what I said earlier about that supreme authority under the old constitution, in many ways the council was the legislature, the executive and the judicial. And for me, you had that supreme authority under the constitution in 22 members of their tribal council. And so there were…because of that I think there were times as tribal judges or as…well, yeah, as tribal judges where we may have sat back and thought to ourselves, ‘Oh, I’ve got council person’s son or daughter in front of me in this courtroom, I better be careful on what I decide here.’ That consciousness or sub-consciousness about the fact that you’ve got a council member’s relative in front of you that you’re either going to throw in jail or you’re not going to throw in jail: ‘If I throw them in jail, then the council member’s going to come after me.’ I think there were those kinds of influences that the old 1937 constitution brought about and in different ways. That was just an example, but in different ways. And so when we…when the development of the 1986 constitution really brought on the whole concept of a government that is separated by three branches and three branches that are equal in power and authority and three branches that are clearly defined as to what that power and authority is in the constitution itself. I support that and I continue to support that. We’re going through a process now because over the last…since ’86 there have been some things that different districts and different and even I think need to be changed in the constitution. Literally, just take a look at our 1986, our current constitution and you’ve got more pages that cover the powers and authorities of the legislature than you do four or five pages under the executive branch. And so even on paper, is that truly a system that affords the level of powers and authorities that should be granted to each branch respectively. And so I think that constitution reform is good. I think that though there are still things in the constitution today that we don’t understand, that may not have been fully implemented or implemented at all, but I think that…and even educating our members on the constitution, I think, hasn’t been as adequate as it should have been. Because you look at the constitution, the constitution, the powers and authorities of the constitution is derived by the people. The people themselves need to understand the enormous power and authority they have under the constitution and they, under that power and authority, need to hold us leaders accountable for ensuring that we’re protecting not only the provisions of the constitution but protecting them as well.”

Ian Record:

“It’s interesting you bring this up. We’ve heard so many other leaders of other nations whose nations have engaged in reform, either successfully or unsuccessfully, and particularly among those who’ve engaged in reform successfully, in that they’ve implemented certain changes, they’ve had the citizen referendum and it’s passed and all that sort of thing, they’ve all discussed this sort of critical moment where you overhaul your constitution, it becomes law and everyone kind of sits back and goes, ‘Whew, that’s done.’ But it’s really not done because you’ve eluded to this challenge of not just changing what’s on paper, but changing the political culture, changing citizen’s expectations of their government, educating the people about, ‘This constitution has a very direct impact on your daily life and here’s how.’ Is that something that… a dynamic that you’ve seen in your nation in terms of the challenge that it continues to face?”

Ned Norris:

“I think that everything that you’ve just mentioned as a leader whether you’re chair, vice chair, council, whatever the case may be, we need to understand that. We need to understand that simply amending, changing, instituting a brand-new constitution on paper doesn’t solve the problem, doesn’t resolve whatever issues. Yes, it may be a better constitution in your opinion or a group of people’s opinion, but how we apply that, how we interpret that, how we educate the authorities to the people that the constitution is going to impact is a whole new process. And it’s a responsibility that we should take on as leaders to make sure that our people are… have at least an understanding of the constitution, but and I think to some extent have a working knowledge of what that constitution has to offer.”

Ian Record:

“You’ve mentioned vision and the importance of leaders having vision and you mentioned Wendell Chino and Josiah Moore. What’s your vision? What’s your personal vision for the future of your nation? And how are you working to make that vision a reality?”

Ned Norris:

“Vision, you’ve got to have visions in all aspects of leadership. What is the vision for the health area? What is your vision for the continuation of your economic development? What is your vision for the services that are delivered or that lack or that you dream about? What is your vision? And I think that one, the vision really has to take into consideration, where do you want to see your people, where are your people at now, where do you want to see your people five years from now, where do you want to see them 10 years from now? And we want to continue to educate, we want to continue to develop, we want to continue to be able to address the kinds of issues that are impacting, whether it’s a positive or negative impact on our people. We want to be able to identify a continuous identification of needs that our people have and how do we begin the process of addressing those issues, those needs, those whatever the case may be. I think that vision involves all of that and it’s not simply saying, ‘Well, my vision is that we’re going to rid the Tohono O’odham Nation of unemployment.’ That is a vision, but how do you get there? What do you…you have to…in order to have vision, you’ve got to be able to understand that there are things that are going on now that are going to impact your ability to apply that vision; and unless you understand what those issues are here, your vision isn’t going to mean anything. And so the vision might be big and it might have a bigger perspective, you want to address the health needs of…our vision is to eliminate diabetes amongst the O’odham. Great! I think all of us that have those kinds of problems on our nation want that as a vision, but how do you get there? What do you have to do now in order to address those issues? I want our kids to be positive, productive citizens of not only themselves and their families and their extended family and their communities and their nation, but I also want…I realize that there are things that are impacting our kids now that are going to have an impact on whether or not they’re going to be a productive individual. Too many times we take, we accept things, we accept things as the norm. Too many times, we accept alcoholism as the norm. Too many times, we accept drug trafficking or human cargo trafficking as the norm. That is not who we are. That is not the norm, and we need to impress on our people that those things are having negative impacts on us as a people as a whole and those things are going to have those negative impacts and are impacting our future, are impacting our ability to be the people who we are. And so the vision is being able to realize and understand those issues and make the kinds of changes in order to have a productive nation.”

Ian Record:

“Well, Chairman Norris, I really appreciate your thoughts and wisdom and sharing that with us. Unfortunately we’re out of time. There’s a lot more I’d like to talk about and I think we’ve just scratched the surface here, but I really appreciate you spending the time with us today.”

Ned Norris:

“I really appreciate the opportunity. Thank you.”

Ian Record:

“Well, that’s all the time we have on today’s program of Leading Native Nations. To learn more about Leading Native Nations, please visit the Native Nations Institute’s website at www.nni.arizona.edu. Thank you for joining us. Copyright 2012 Arizona Board of Regents.”

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "Learning to Make Informed Decisions"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Native leaders share what the role of a leader entails from studying the history of the tribe to listening to and learning from elders of the community; all the tools necessary to making informed decisions.

Native Nations
Citation

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

Luarkie, Richard. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. October 1, 2012. Interview.

Miles, Rebecca. "What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 23, 2011. Presentation.

Mitchell, Michael K. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2008. Interview.

Norris, Jr., Ned. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. 2012. Interview.

Peacock, Robert. "What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office," Native Nation Rebuilders program, Bush Foundation.  Cloquet, Minnesota. July 14, 2011. Presentation.

Pouley, Theresa M. "Reclaiming and Reforming Justice at Tulalip." Emerging Leaders Seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 26, 2008. Presentation.

Michael Mitchell:

"Don't be ashamed to say you've got stuff to learn to be a politician. And I might take the first six months and learn my leadership craft well. I need to consult with more established leaders. I need to talk to the staff. I need to go seek feedback from community people, from elders. You spread yourself out there and tell them you're not here to make decisions right away because if you don't know what kind of decisions you have to make and you're making decisions, it's likely to be wrong. It's likely to be selfish and it'll come back on you. So give yourself a little bit of time to know what people, why things are in place and what people are feeling, what's on their mind. And for a good leader, he'll always go around, the first six months of his term, and listen. And it's not a crime to stand up and say, ‘I've got a little bit to learn here and I see some chiefs here that have been here for a while. I know some people here who used to serve on council. I'm going to make sure I learn my craft well.' You get a lot of respect in the community if you can say that."

Rebecca Miles:

"What I can't tell you enough is do your research. What you're going to hear, and you've probably already heard, tribal leaders, let's say the person that you beat to get in office, is going to be at the public meeting and say, ‘You don't know what you're doing and yada, yada...' And I did. I pulled out every resolution and did a timetable of when we got in this settlement. The first question for the first five months was, ‘How did we get here?' Well, I needed to know that and I needed to be telling my people, how did we get here? I looked at every decision that was made and I found every resolution that appointed members of our council to negotiate this settlement. They were appointed as the negotiator. And so I was able to put faces and accountability to the tribe, that it's not just the person who just walks in, this is a bigger deal. And so research is important as well to avoid continuously making mistakes and not being accountable."

Paulette Jordan:

"That's the thing. You're jumping on the treadmill, going 90 miles an hour. You're having to do research left and right. You really have no time to sleep because you have to read everything and making sure you're prepared for tomorrow's meeting or council session and that you can ask the right questions so that you make the right decision. But the tough thing is you have to get your rest, pay attention, make sure that you do ask the right questions from the right people and making sure you connect with your fellow leaders. Because for me, and that's what made it easy for me because my fellow leaders are people that I've known all my life and respected and felt like I had a mentor relationship with them. So I guess that's why I'm fortunate, but if I didn't have that I wouldn't be able to be as successful in terms of understanding and trying to make positive or a good decision for our people."

Theresa Pouley:

"Your tribal court system is part of your government every bit as much as any other department. And the fact that we have separation of powers doesn't mean we have a separation of problems. You and I all have the same problems. It doesn't mean that we have separation of solutions. Because I'm a judge, I know a variety of things about promising practices. Because you're tribal council people, you know a variety of things. If we put our heads together, we can get it done."

Robert Peacock:

"You have to be ready to take and make decisions but not always with 100 percent of the information. And I think good leaders do that, they have people around them that know a little bit about everything and you take all of that information and you make decisions based on the best information that you can get. And I've had people that I don't personally get along with that are intelligent, smart and knowledgeable and I use their information. I don't have to go and have lunch with them or anything else but I do have to listen to them and I do have to take their knowledge into the overall concept of decision making. And then sometimes you'll only get 70, 80 percent of a concept of what's going on, you have to take that risk. You have to be able to pull the trigger because if you wait for 100 percent it's never going to happen, you're never going to pull the trigger, you're never going to be able to take advantage of it and move. And if you see that you probably made a bad decision, deal with it. That's only that decision, it's not the rest of the world, it's not everything else. You don't get anyplace if you don't make mistakes but you have to get past those mistakes and make some more decisions and you learn from those so that the next time the situation comes by you can set it up differently or make a different decision. So pick yourself back up, all the time, because if you don't, then you're done."

Ned Norris, Jr.:

"I like to do assessments. I like to do that mainly because you think you might understand what the situation is and you think you might have the right answer as to how you're going to attack that situation or address that situation. But too many times we go into the situation not realizing what the impacts of your addressing that issue is going to be. So for me, I like to, ‘okay, I agree with you. Let's address that issue, but let's make sure we understand what it is we're dealing with and whether or not we have the ability to address that issue,' because to me, to do something with half of an understanding, really creates, to some extent, false hope. Because people are going to see that you're moving in that direction. And if you're not able to fulfill that movement, you're going to stop. And people may have liked to have seen what you were moving on but don't understand, ‘why did you stop? We had hope in that. We thought you were going to address that issue.' ‘Well, you know what, we do our homework and we couldn't move it any further. That's why.' I think that we need to be, if we're going to make a decision as a tribal leader, we need to fully understand the ramifications of what that decision is. And to the best of our ability, make informed decisions about decision we need to make, and then move forward."

Richard Luarkie:

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

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

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

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

Native Nations
Citation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heather Kendall-Miller:

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

Joseph P. Kalt:

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

Wilma Mankiller:

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

Gerald Sherman:

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

Jaime Pinkham:

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

Rebecca Miles:

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

Robert McGhee:

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

Ned Norris, Jr.:

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

Ned Norris, Jr.: What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris discusses some things he wished he knew before he took office as chairman of his nation, and shares some strategies that have worked for him as he works with his fellow leaders and the O'odham people to strengthen their nation.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Topics
Citation

Norris, Jr., Ned. "What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office." Emerging Leaders Seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 23, 2011. Presentation. 

"Wow, Chairwoman Miles. I cannot disagree with anything that she shared with us today. That is so...everything that she said has been so true about leadership. And I'm sitting here and I'm listening to you and I'm listening to her comments and she's kind of going into a little bit more of her experience in those situations and I'm like, "˜Wow, I thought I was the only one that had that kind of an experience.' And I admire you. You may not want to do it again, but you need to do it again. You need to do it again. Your people need you in that way.

Well, I wanted to start out with a quote. I usually try to do that, starting out with a quote and ending with a quote. And the quote that I want to start out with, people ask me over time -- like Rebecca [Miles] said -- I serve my people, started in 1977. My first job with my nation was the assistant director for our children's home and I've served in some capacity since then and continue to serve today. And people over years have said, "˜How do you do what you're doing? How do you get to where you're at? How do you become the success that we see you at or being?' And I don't know the answer to that, but there's a quote here that I wanted to share with you. It says, "˜There are no secrets in success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.' Preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. And that was Colin Powell who is attributed to that quote. And when I think about the question, when it's asked, "˜How do you become the success that you are?' I knew in 1977 when I took my first job with my nation that I wanted to do the job that I'm doing today. I knew in 1977 when I came out to my people and I saw the situations that we were faced with that I wanted to do the job that I'm doing today. And so consciously and subconsciously, you kind of prepare yourself over the years. And there are things that happen in your life, there are definitely things that have happened in my life that probably wouldn't, shouldn't have given me the opportunity to serve in this capacity that I'm serving as chair of my people. And we think about some of those things and we think about what are we doing, how do we prepare ourselves to lead, how do we prepare ourselves to lead a nation, and what does that even mean?

Somebody asked me when I was preparing to go to my first day in my capacity as chairman of the nation, of the [Tohono] O'odham Nation, and they said, "˜So what does a chair do its first day?' And it kind of -- as Chairwoman Miles had indicated -- you kind of come into this thing not really knowing exactly what it is -- in my term -- I got myself into. So what does a chair do on his first day? I don't know what a chair does on his first day. I've never been in that situation before. So I go into my office and I sit there, I sit in the office and I'm looking around, my wife's with me, one of my grandsons is with me. And I kind of look around and I think to myself, "˜Oh, my goodness, what did I just do? What did I get myself into?' And the reality of this whole leadership thing, this whole Chair of the Tohono O'odham Nation, chair of a people that's 28,000 members strong, chair of a land base that's 2.8 million square acres in size, and I thought to myself, "˜Wow, what is this? What am I going to do?'

And so I think everything that Chairwoman Miles has said, you've got to begin to think about, 'Okay, what is the condition of the O'odham Nation as I'm coming into office?' And she talked about campaigning for change. One of the things that Vice Chairman Isidro Lopez and I did when we campaigned, and to date this creative time of year is campaign season for us, because my term as chair will end unless I'm re-elected in May, in a couple of months now. But when we were campaigning for this office, we were campaigning not for change. We were campaigning not to say, "˜We promise you this, or we're going to do this when we get into office, or we're going to address these kinds of issues when we get into office,' because I knew in doing that, I knew in running for this office that I don't know what it is going to take in order to make those kind of changes. People are going to remember the commitments that you make. People are going to remember, "˜Well, you know, you said when you were running you're going to get rid of so-and-so. Four years later, they're still here, why haven't you done that?' No, we can't do that. You can't campaign on the platform of change in that way.

And as other comments were made, you're establishing your leadership. So what does that mean? So you establish leadership and as a leader you're a problem solver. What kinds of problems...and there's a lot of things that you inherit in the office from previous administrations. There are things that you realize need to be addressed or there are things that the previous administration has done that you want to try and continue. And regardless of who started addressing that particular issue, you shouldn't be so concerned that people are going to say, "˜Well, the only reason he's doing it is because Chairperson So-and-So started that.' If you believe in your heart that that's the best way that you want to move forward on that particular issue, why reinvent the wheel? Why go back and say, "˜Well, you know what, I didn't agree with that administration so we're going to do it this way,' and it all ends up accomplishing the same task, the same thing. It makes no sense.

So one of the single aspects, the [most] difficult single aspects of my job was thinking that after some 30 years of service before being elected as chairman, that I knew everything. Because in getting into the office, I realized, after 30 years, Ned Norris, you don't know everything about the government, the tribal government. You don't know it all. Yet, in the back of my mind thought, "˜I've got 30 years of service, man, I'm going to come in here and I'm going to do a bunch of stuff,' not realizing that that bunch of stuff that I want to do isn't going to happen overnight. So that was difficult for me thinking in my mind, in the back of my mind that I was going to be able to make the kinds of decisions and make the kinds of changes that we needed to make because my 30 years was going to help me do that, and it didn't. And so I guess that was probably one of the surprising, unexpected aspects of my job as well, with what I do as well, is coming to terms with the fact that you don't know it all. And your 30 years of experience -- granted, yes, will help in many ways -- your leadership, your direction, but you don't know it all.

I think there are a lot of topics...one of the questions was, 'Were there topics, for example financial literacy, federal laws that you had to play catch up?' As I was introduced, I spent some 14 years as a tribal judge, as a non-attorney tribal judge and in my different academic experiences and different work experiences I've come to understand federal law, tribal law, state law and so on and so forth and how it works or how it doesn't work. And then in my experience a little over ten years working with our gaming enterprise, I really began to understand this whole concept of making money -- foreign concept to us as Native people because we've never had any money. We really never had any money to make and so I think that those experiences really helped me better understand the nation's finances.

And let me share this story with you because it was kind of a lifesaver for us, the Tohono O'odham people. But I don't know how many of you take time to read your audits. Sometimes... we get audited every year, many of our nations do; you have to anyway. And how many of you take some time to read your audits? I guess that's one of the first things Vice Chairman Lopez and I did when we got into office. My gaming experience said, "˜Okay, what have our audits told us the last five years?' So I said, "˜I want to see what those audits look like so let me have those audits for the last five years.' And I started looking through these audits and I started to see that there was always this ending balance of $5 million, $10 million, $15 million that appear to just be sitting there as a result of an audit. And so I asked our tribal treasurer, I said, "˜What is this dollar figure here, what does it mean? Go back and reconcile those years of those audits and come back and tell me what those dollar figures are.' And the treasurer did that. The nation, the Tohono O'odham Nation, when we came into office, we were spending more money than what we had. We were in a deficit where, and for historically the Nation has always been in a deficit spending more money than what the general revenue fund had. But what the treasurer came back and found out was, you know what, that's unobligated money from the previous fiscal years. That's unobligated money from the previous fiscal years. And what he ended up finding was $60 million of unobligated money from previous fiscal years. And I thought, 'My goodness! Jackpot. Jackpot. We can redo the budget, we can put ourselves in the black and we might have a little bit of money to start addressing some of the issues, some of the things that we wanted to address during our administration.'

We got elected in May of 2007, four-year term's coming up May of 2011. The recession hit. One year into our administration, our revenues, our projected revenues of 'X' millions of dollars from gaming was up here, just about a year after our first year of our administration was now plummeting down to here. And so what we've been able to do is survive these last three years on that surplus of revenue. And so I share this with you because I think having an understanding of big financial situations, financial structure, I think it's critically important to a tribal leader to understand. And even if you don't understand it, you've got resources I would hope within your tribal government that will help you better understand those. I've worked for my tribe for years and we had to make sure we understood where every single penny was. I'd get an invoice across my desk for $2,000 or $3,000 and I'm saying, "˜Where the heck are we spending $2,000 – $3,000 on?' In the gaming business, I'd get invoices across my desk and I was going to pay a single bill $20,000 - $25,000 and I'm like, 'My goodness, what are we spending this money on?' But that's not uncommon in that particular industry. And I'm not suggesting that we not make sure that we hold ourselves accountable. We have to hold ourselves accountable, but we need to understand big finance. We need to understand that, that's critical.

In addition to Chairwoman's comments, is there anything you wish you had done differently? When you get into office and when I got into office, I had every intention of making my presence available to our O'odham public -- to those villages, to those districts, to those communities. I wanted to be able to go out to them and just sit in the back of the room in their community meeting or their district meeting and listen to what and do that on a regular basis. And after...and over the years I'd comment, 'Once you get into office you get sucked into this hole and you can't get out.' Well, I got sucked into that hole and you don't realize it because you've got an enormous amount of issues that you're having to deal with. You've got an enormous amount of decisions that you need to make. You've got an enormous amount of direction that you need to establish that you just get so overwhelmed that that simple idea of going out to the communities and meeting with the folks and keeping that contact and sitting in the back of the room listening to what they have to say, it sort of went away, unintentionally. So I think in that respect what I would do differently is you've got to make time to be able to do that. You have got to make the time to sit back and go to the people that you've been elected to serve regardless of whether or not those people are in your support or not.

One of the things that, last things that I want to share with you, based on your experience, what skills, values and knowledge do leaders need to possess in order to lead effectively? One of the things that I got, I got a gift from one of our banks not long ago and the gift is a Harvard Business Review's 10 Must Reads in this book here, On Leadership. It says, "˜If you read nothing else on leadership, read these definitive articles from Harvard Business Review.' And I thought to myself, what does Harvard Business Review know about tribal government? What do they know about the Tohono O'odham Nation? But I took a look at the stuff in this, the ten articles, and I was really impressed with how much, at least the authors, in some of those articles knew about leadership. And one in particular was an author by the name of Daniel Coleman. He's author of Emotional Intelligence, 1995 and the co-author of Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, Harvard Business School 2002. And what I liked about that particular article is because, is that what Coleman distinguishes in great leaders from merely good ones. He talks about that and he talks about emotional intelligence and he talks about five skills that enables leaders to maximize their own and their followers' performance. Maximize their own and their followers' performance.

Let me talk about those skills [because] he talks about self-awareness as one of those five skills of emotional intelligence. In self-awareness you've got to know one's strengths, you've got to know one's weaknesses, you've go to know what drives that individual and you've got to have self-awareness on what impacts that has on others. That's one of those emotional intelligences that he talks about. Another one is self-regulation -- controlling or redirecting disruptive impulses and moods. Motivation is another one. Relishing achievements for its own sake. Relishing achievements for its own sake, not for your sake but for the sake of the achievement itself. Too many times we get leaders that come into office and say, "˜Well, I did this, I did that.' Everything's, "˜Me, me, me.' In my humble opinion, that's not a leader, because in my opinion my role is to help and provide direction and to take on those challenges that we face as tribal leaders and tribal communities, to try and take on the challenges of addressing those issues and coming to some resolution in some way.

Our campaign four years ago ran on the theme 'working together.' In O'odham [O'odham Language], "˜all of us together.' And that's what we wanted to do, that's what we wanted to bring to the table, the idea that we were going to re-establish those bridges that were no longer there between the other governmental entities within our nation, within the O'odham Nation. Our legislative, our executive, a lot of times didn't see eye to eye. We wanted to re-establish those relationships and I think we've done a pretty accurate job at that, four years later. But one of the other emotional intelligence skills is empathy, understanding other people's emotional makeup. Empathy: understanding other people's emotional makeup. And the fifth one that he talks about, Coleman talks about is social skills. Building rapport with others to move them in desired direction. Building rapport with others to move them in desired direction. Think about those. When I read that article, I thought, "˜My goodness, this guy wrote my article before I could.' But something to think about.

And I'm going to ahead and leave you because I think I've used up all my time. But I want to leave this thought with you, this quote. And it says, "˜The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he or she wants to get done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them when they do it.' Think about that. We're not micro managers, we're leaders. We're directors. We bring in people around us that are going to serve the agenda that we want to accomplish, that are going to be able to address those challenges, those issues that we face as tribal leaders. Let them do their job, but hold them accountable. Let them do what you ask them to do. If I'm going to be meddling in what I'm asking them to do or if I directed them to do, why do I need them? So thank you. Thank you for listening. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share these thoughts with you. Have a good one." 

Ned Norris, Jr.: Perspectives on Leadership and Nation Building

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris, Jr. speaks to aspiring and current Native nation leaders about the keys to being an effective leader and shares his personal experiences in preparing to become the leader of his nation.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

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

"Thank you. How is everybody? Good. Alright! Thank you, Manley Begay, for that introduction. I just wanted to take this opportunity to welcome you, welcoming you to the Tohono O'odham Nation and welcome to our home. This is one of our business facilities that we just opened in the beginning of January [2008] and we're pretty proud of it. We're proud of what we have been able to accomplish thus far, and realize that there are more things ahead of us that we know and that we may not know that we'd like to accomplish for our people. This gives us the opportunity to establish some economic base for us to do some of those things that we just dream about.

Just a little bit of a background, the Tohono O'odham Nation, when you think about our ancestral lands, you will know that the ancestral lands of the O'odham include those lands which are where the city of Tucson sits today all the way east to where the Rincon Mountains are at, all the way north to the city of Phoenix and Scottsdale is at, all the way west to where the Colorado River is, and all the way south some 130 miles south of what is not the international border of Mexico. Those are ancestral lands of our people, of the O'odham. Today, we ended up with 2.8 million square acres and always tell an audience, 'We're 2.8 million square acres small.' And usually when you have a non-Indian audience, they kind of look at you like, "˜What are you talking about? 2.8 million square acres is a pretty big piece of land.' But when you think about the ancestral lands of our people, 2.8 million is nothing. So I wanted to give you that background. Also, we have about 28,000 enrolled tribal members, so there are about 28,000 of us running around here in the United States and in some other countries. In fact, we have about 1,500 enrolled tribal members that live in Mexico and not necessarily because they want to live in Mexico, it is because when the international border was established, they cut them off from the rest of the people, from the rest of the land here. We continue to have about nine communities that still exist within Mexico, and my trip to Nogales, Sonora this afternoon is meeting with a couple of members of the O'odham in Mexico, because the lawyer that they are working with can't get on this side of the United States, so we're going to go meet with him down there and talk a little bit about land issues that are important to us that still exist in Mexico.

And actually I wanted to get a feel of the audience. I was asking Manley Begay, "˜Who is the audience here?' And he said to me that "˜there are newly elected tribal leaders here, there are aspiring tribal leaders here.' I was speaking to one of the young persons here and they said there are some people from a college up in Phoenix area that are here to learn about leadership, and learn about what you might want to be thinking about as you are emerging into a tribal leader. And then I was also told that there are some emerging old tribal leaders, and I'm like emerging old tribal leaders, and I'm wondering what he's talking about. And I'm assuming that they are those newly tribal elected leaders that, for some odd reason, you decided to get back into the thick of the politics and get elected again, so you're back. It's a return of the old leadership. He pointed out a couple of you to me, take for example, "˜So and so over there or so and so over there, they are old returning tribal leaders.' And I won't point you out because you know who you are.

I was sharing with Manley that I knew I wanted to do this job 30 years ago. I knew I wanted to be the Chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation 30 years ago. When I started my first job in 1977 as the assistant director for the Tohono O'odham Nation Children's Home, I knew someday I wanted to hold this job. And over the course of the last 30 years, I have done different things -- consciously and sub-consciously -- preparing myself for this day, preparing myself for this job. And people ask me today, "˜How do you like what you're doing?' And I tell them, "˜I love it. I love this job. It's everything that a job needs to be. It's challenging, it's exciting, it's frustrating, it's disappointing.' All of those things that our jobs need to be in order for us to grow, in order for us to challenge ourselves, in order for us to be challenged. We have to have all of those experiences, all of those ingredients in order for us to be successful as tribal leaders. And I know that over the course of the last 30 years, there are things that I have done in my life that probably put question on whether or not I should or shouldn't be elected as a tribal leader. And I think every single person in this room has done something questionable in their lives that may have put question on whether or not we should elect you or not elect you, but you know, we learn from those situations as well. We learn from those mistakes. We learn from that part of the journey in our lives in order to prepare us for what we are doing today as tribal leaders. And that's the way I like to look at it. That is the way I like to look at the past 30 years. And I've been married for 35 years. My wife -- and actually I tell this story -- that my wife has put up with me for 35 years. We just had our 35th anniversary in February, and I'll share with you now that in the 35 years that we have been together, there have been things that I've done that would have probably required her or wanted her or forced her to leave me, but she didn't. She didn't leave me, she didn't give up on me. For some reason, she believed in me and my ability and my capability, and I love her more today for not giving up on me because she stood by me. And I always say that, "˜Behind a good man, there is always an even greater woman,' the woman that is there to help us, to pick us up when we fall. To help us gain the strength or regain the strength we may have lost at different times in our life, and so I appreciate that of her.

You know, over the course of my years involved in politics -- and we see sometimes on the TV commercials, the commercial about Michael Jordan and there was a commercial that said, "˜Be like Mike.' It caught a lot of the attention of our young people: "˜Be like Mike Jordan, buy these $250 tennis shoes and you can be like Mike Jordan. Be like Mike.' Well, you know, there's people in my life that I would like to be like, that I had sat back years ago watching leaders, watching aspiring leaders, watching people over the course of time that I have said, "˜You know what, I'd like to be like that person. I'd like to be like that leader. I'd like to be able to think like that leader. I'd like to be able to have the good heart that I see that leader have and be like them.' Just like the commercial is saying, "˜Be like Mike.' There are several Mike people out there that I would like to have been like. You know it really is an honor for me to be standing in front of you sharing these thoughts with you, because one of those people that were "˜Be like Mike' for me in my life' was Dr. Peterson Zah. I am standing up here thinking, "˜What am I going to be able to say to Dr. Zah that is going to make any sense or that he hasn't already said or has already experienced himself?' So it is an honor for me to stand in front of you, sir, and be able to share some thoughts with you, because I'm thinking, "˜Man, I can't share, I can't teach you anything.' But it's out of that respect that I hold for him as a leader, as a continued leader, and what he's been able to do not only for his own people, but for all nations, all tribal people nationwide.

One of the things that I have shared with different audiences is some of these quotes. I keep these, I keep some quotes in this thing that we use now called this Blackberry, and I keep these in here because at times over the course of, you know, when you are feeling down or when you are feeling like maybe you're questioning what you are doing or questioning the worth of what you are doing, I go back to these and I start reading these. One of the things that I've always thought about -- and I try to live my own leadership ability after -- is this quote, and it says, "˜You can accomplish anything in life provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.' 'You can accomplish anything in life provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.' As leaders -- and that quote is attributed to Harry Truman -- as leaders I like to think of myself in that way. That what I have to do -- the people have entrusted in me their trust to lead them and to guide them for the term that I have been elected. As a leader, I should not ever take advantage of that trust that the people have placed in me. I should never take the position that, "˜That was my idea, not yours.' I should not take the position that, "˜It's my way or the highway.' As a leader, that should not -- that's not something that we should be doing as tribal leaders. The [Tohono O'odham Nation] vice chairman and I -- Isidro Lopez -- when we ran for these offices, we ran on a campaign that we say in O'odham, it says [O'odham language], and [O'odham language] translates to "˜All of us together.' And what we wanted to be able to do was to bring the people together, to bring our people together, to give our people the opportunity to actively participate in the decision-making process. Too many times, we get tribal leadership that think they are going to impose those decisions on the people. We can't accomplish that, we can't accomplish what we need to accomplish if we are going to dictate to our people. That's not our purpose. Our purpose is to lead, our purpose is to work together, and our purpose is to bring our people to the table so that we can hear what they have to say. And there have been times in the last nine months that the Vice Chairman and I have served in office that people have said, "˜So much for [O'odham language], because I thought we were going to work together.' And that is because they were on the short end of a decision. You know, and we have said that this theme is going to be the heartbeat of our tenure in office. We intend to make sure of that. Now, people need to understand that we're not always going to agree on what the outcome of a decision is. We can't expect to always agree. There are going to be things that we disagree with each other on, but we are always going to make the effort to try and involve you in the decision-making process. So that is what I wanted to share with you on that.

The other quote that I look at, that I've always tried to model my leadership after, it says here, "˜The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he or she wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.' You know we're elected leaders, we are elected to lead, we are elected to direct. I always make comments to my staff, I say, "˜We only are as good as you are.' You know, we end up getting the credit for a lot of the work that a lot of other people that aren't elected leaders do, and I try every time to let my staff do what they need to do in order to get done what I gave them the direction to do. If I keep meddling in what they are doing and micromanaging what they're doing, why do I have them? If I'm going to take that responsibility, why do I have them there to do that job? So that's what I like to look at and think about at times.

One last one that I want to share with you is -- wow, what happened to it? But I remember it, because I remember it off of a fortune cookie, and I put that thing in my wallet many, many years ago, probably about 20 years ago at least. I know that for a fact. I opened this fortune cookie and I read it and it says that, "˜One of the greatest things in life is doing what people say you can't do. One of the greatest things in life is doing what people say you cannot do.' I usually use that in an audience of young people, of teenagers, high-school age, and I tell them, 'I'm not telling you to be defiant. I'm not suggesting you violate school rules or the rules of the household. What I am telling you is that when people stand there and tell you that, "˜You are not going to [amount] to anything. All you are is a troublemaker, and you are not going to be worth anything in your life,' that you challenge them on that.' And I stand here before you and tell you that I was one of those students. I was told that by a teacher in high school at one time. You know I probably gave him reason to think I was going to be worthless. I probably gave my family reason to think I was worthless. I know I gave my wife reason to think I was worthless, but you know I took that and I try to live that as a challenge to me in my life as a leader.

So those are things that I wanted to share with you. I really am honored that I was given the opportunity to stand in front of you and to share these thoughts with you and that you were actually listening. I was wondering, "˜This is going to be difficult. I'm going to be hearing papers clashing and cups making noise.' I've talked to audiences before lunchtime before, and I might as well just not stand here and say nothing because nobody is listening, but that's not true today. I see you listen, I feel listening, I see what you are doing here. And in closing, I wish all of you the best of success in your leadership. I wish all of you the best of success for your people, for your tribes. You know we have many, many challenges ahead of us. And I say that it's been nine months that we've been in office, but it feels like nine years. I think in nine months my hair had grayed more than it has if I wasn't sitting in this office, but you know that is the sacrifice that we make. That is the sacrifice that we make. And I wish all of you well. I congratulate you for the positions that you were elected to lead in, and I want to say to those young emerging leaders, "˜Stay on course, stay focused, and know that you have support out there.'

I want to share this last thought with you. One of the most honorable times that I was honored in my life in being able to sit down at a lunch table with the late Wendell Chino. Years ago, Wendell Chino, a great Mescalero Apache leader for many many years. He was one of those "˜Mike' people for me, it was like I wanted to be like Wendell Chino. I wanted to have his drive, his same good heart, and his same good thoughts. One time we were sitting at a luncheon and it was just, it ended up me and him being the last ones at the table and I was like, "˜Wow, man I'm sitting here with Wendell Chino, man, this is great!' I started picking his brain about leadership and at the end, he said, "˜You know what the sign of a true Indian leader is?' I'm asking does anybody in this room know what the sign of a true Indian leader is? And he said, "˜It's those people that can take the bullets from the front and the arrows in the back.' So be prepared for those bullets and those arrows. Thank you very much."