Robert McGhee

Catalina Alvarez and Robert McGhee: What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office (Q&A)

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Native Nations Institute
Year

Tribal leaders Catalina Alvarez (Pascua Yaqui Tribe) and Robert McGhee (Poarch Band of Creek Indians) field questions from seminar participants on an array of topics ranging from codes of ethics to creating mechanisms for transparent governance.

Resource Type
Citation

Alvarez, Catalina. "What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office (Q&A)." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. October 10, 2012. Q&A session.

McGhee, Robert. "What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office (Q&A)." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. October 10, 2012. Q&A session.

Audience member:

"Robert, coming from a similar small tribe and situations I can relate a lot to what you brought up as far as what you're dealing with. I just had a question as far as the transparency. I agree with that and I know that it's...I'm sure it's a work in progress. What has worked and what hasn't as far as are there limitations as far as how transparent each governmental entity is for tribal members and do you get a lot of backlash when they ask for a document or want to see something that they're just not entitled to?"

Robert McGhee:

"They're entitled to every document that we have, able to see [them] as long as it's not employee related, if it's not involving certain employees or certain individual members themselves. What we do is...and one of the things, we do an annual report. We put money aside every year, we publish a book and the book goes out to every tribal member, it's talking about our current financial status and we put a letter in there asking them to keep it amongst themselves and this is for you and your household. And then two days before it goes out, well, about a week before it goes out we actually have a large community meeting that goes over the annual report and explains it page by page. So we go through all the funding issues, we go through ‘this is where all the money went, this is what's left, this is what we're we agree...' We'll tell them, ‘We wanted to build a capital reserve account to protect future assets and this is how much we're putting in there.' So that's the best way we handle it and if we have any documents that we're concerned, because we do have council members who do like to talk and they're social people. We have one council member, all he does, and this is not to be disrespectful but he's always at the funerals and someone who's going into the hospital, which I respect. But we tell him and it's like, ‘You need to tell them that you're coming on behalf of all of us because we can't all go to...' But he loves to talk and I don't think he means it disrespectfully, I really don't, but he just loves...so now we take any information that is valuable at the council meeting, if we want to have a private discussion, I actually take it back up from all the...they'll agree to me, 'You can have...I don't want mine.' Because if they have it in their hand they're more apt to share it and give it away and we'll be the first ones to say, ‘I don't want mine, you take mine back,' ‘cause then we'll just collect all the information from the tribal council, we'll have it destroyed and it's easier that way on some regards because it can be sensitive topics that they really shouldn't be discussing so we do take up some of those things. But the transparency is, it's difficult but it's a double-edged sword."

Audience member:

"But more positive than negative as far as being open to the community and there's no...because leaving that expectation or leaving people to their own ideas or what's going on behind closed doors. You're kind of alleviating that to an extent?"

Robert McGhee:

"I think so. They have the opportunity...every council member, we have...every council meeting, we have two a month, what we've done now though is our first council meeting is actually business and the second council meeting we have every director rotate in every entity come in and give financial updates and updates of who's been hired, who's been...like how many employees we have and things like that so that helps a little bit. If we can alleviate where they don't have to ask us a question or they don't have to...then we'll try to do it."

Audience member:

"Thank you. And just a final question for the two of you, as far as going forward as far as governance, economic development, sitting, being chairs and different committees, how important is it for leaders to be educated and be able to provide that additional information that if you just...all you know is the rez, all you know is that immediate community, you haven't lived off, you haven't experienced any other let's say tribal entities or network, how important is that to be able to move forward for the futures to come?"

Catalina Alvarez:

"Yeah, I think that's a...you have to be...where nowadays, we're not this small reservation, we're not this small tribe. We're running with a lot of and dealing with a lot of millions of dollars and you need educated people that are going to be making those right decisions for the tribe. A lot of times we would have...you still have those mindsets of the older generation that feel that they don't need those kind of people or sometimes they're like in his case as well -- I'm going to pick on Marcelino [Flores] over there -- we have some people that are very educated and that know a whole lot and we have a tendency not to...I think we have to have a balance of where we get the educated people but also having the previous council, the old founders of the tribe also respect and embrace the knowledge that he does bring because I know that a lot of times like I've talked to Herminia [Frias], at least have the sense that if you don't know where you're at as a council to know and to ask that you need to find the right people for those positions because otherwise, like with us, I know I've told some of the council, we are still in the process of trying to get back the gaming board, because a lot of us feel we are not capable of running a gaming institution by any means and that's where it becomes difficult, that you have a council that still wants to be in charge of everything. And is it beneficial for us? Maybe it was and maybe it wasn't. We were burned also with the gaming board and finding the right people because sometimes you get burned by those same individuals on the gaming board. There's a balance that you have to find educated people, also people that are practical in knowing what needs to be done."

Robert McGhee:

"I think the key is if you're not...if they don't have the say...we educate as much as we can across all areas. It doesn't necessarily have to be college educated. It could be business education, tribal law, business literacy. We've actually had people just come in even to the council and teach debits and credits so they can have a better understanding if tribal gaming...because there was a distrust issue too amongst...you have a board over here and we have a top management staff and they're presenting this and it's overwhelming what they're presenting to you. And now though they have to go through it step by step by step and it's an easier process but I encourage if you can put any type of, in place, training and education at your council level, please do, I would recommend that you do it. But also do it for...what we've just started doing for all of our directors and program directors and executive directors is we have sent them through intensive leadership training and they have really...they said that was the best thing that the council has ever done. We felt that they were a part of the organization, that we were listening to them and now they're going to offer it, we're going to offer it to even all the employees because it wasn't fair we felt when I said, ‘we went through this,' and let... It's called 'Lead by Greatness.' We went through this training and it wasn't really fair for us to have the training and not the people who run our programs. And so we've actually...that just started this past year and they're enjoying it and now it's getting down to all the employees. And all the boards and committees like I pointed out before, they're all...all tribal members have the opportunity to serve on those but they have to submit an application and the application actually has to say, ‘Why do you want to serve on this board?' If it's the Cultural Authority, ‘Why do you want to serve here? Is it because you have something to give or do you just want to learn more? Why do you want to serve on PCI Gaming?' Because we realize, like she said, we don't have the expertise to run all of these economic development properties that we have. But you've got to make sure that your job descriptions and you've got to make sure that your...are strong job descriptions and things that get people in the right places to do that for you. We have mentoring programs for our tribal members so they can serve under leadership positions, to learn that way."

Audience member:

"This is in regards to how you deal with or listen to tribal members. There's kind of a two-part question that I heard and I don't know what your responses are, maybe your suggestions on how. The first thing here is congratulations and I think we all know it's a blessing in disguise to be an elected official. So how do you kind of keep a happy about hearing that, ‘Congratulations, you're on council.' And then the second part seems to be, ‘Well, I think you guys should be doing this or you need to do that and I voted you in.' And how do you listen to the community, how do you respond to those questions?"

Catalina Alvarez:

"I'm not sure, like, how do you...the first one that you said, that people just congratulate you and still smile after you know what you got yourself into? Yeah. You have to at least...you're always going to be in that position I think either way, no matter where you're at. We all put up a front even though we're not...maybe we're not happy inside but at least we...we'll just...we portray a different image by saying we're fine and we're good and everything, but I think when tribal members come and expect things of you and are asking you to do things differently, usually when I get asked a lot of things and mostly complaints of things are not doing or I was left out of the process, before I would normally, being a first-year council [member] I would automatically just get it and run with it and not really hear the other side of the story. Now, usually I would ask them, ‘Well, what would you do in these positions? Give me some feedback on what it is that you want accomplished and we'll see what we can do,' but I'm not going to...I always tell them, ‘I'm not going to promise you that it can be done because of course I'm only one voice of other 11.' So it's very important for the community to know that it might not happen and it's okay to tell a community member no. But you've got to watch out that you don't say 'no' too close to elections! [Laughter]"

Robert McGhee:

"One thing she did say was right on that it is okay to tell a community member 'no.' But what happened is that I think the way I handle it is...I wanted to serve. I've wanted to serve as a council member since I was a child. That was...I wanted to come back and do that. I think now though it's when...when someone looks at you, ‘Well, I want this,' I'm like, ‘Well, you tell...why, why do you want that? Does it benefit just you, is it benefiting the family or does it benefit all of us as a whole?' Because I'll let them know in a heartbeat that if that program costs $2 million to fix or a million dollars to fix, you're taking away $2 million or something from another program that we need to look at. So it's almost, you provide me the solution. If that's a problem then, okay, how do we fix it? I think if you throw it back on them that way, because sometimes they have a tendency to put you here and they remind you that, ‘Oh, you think you're up here?' Well, I throw it back down on them and it's like, ‘No, I'm here with you and I do not know how to fix that problem. So how do we fix that problem together? Or why don't you come to a meeting and present solutions.' And they actually...some of them like that because then it gives them...they're involved again and they can make those...be a part of the decision-making process or at least come up with some great ideas that we actually have considered and moved forward with. I'm with nine people but you have 3,000 other people out there, they have some great ideas and I think if you take the opportunity just to challenge them though to say, ‘Well, why do you want that and does it benefit everybody? Because our job as nine is to benefit everyone and it takes a majority first to support it. And have you talked to the other nine? And if the other nine believe in it then that's actually something we could probably do.'"

Audience member:

"My question or thing is when I got in office I ran for chairwoman last term and I didn't make it but I had all these ideas and now that I'm here, how...because a lot of people aren't educated as...when they get on council. They finished high school but they did other things and there was no really like ethical issues that occur, understanding and following policy and procedure within the business frame and then the constitutional issues. How do we follow our constitution yet do our ordinances and all those? But my main thing, my main question is -- and you said you go to, you have training and stuff like that -- is the ethical issue is that when we know there's a relative, a friend, somebody that we have a conflict with we're not really up front to say, ‘I'm not going to be in this discussion, I'm going to step away.' How do you get those values across to your council members so that there is transparency, because the people out there know who's related to who and who's friends with who and all that stuff."

Robert McGhee:

"I know that sometimes what we have to do is you have to remind council members that there is actually a possible conflict and impropriety, there's a...what's the terms that actually gets...an appearance of an impropriety. So as long as we feel that there's an appearance, we will actually let the other council member know. We challenge, it's like, ‘I don't know if you should really be involved in this. You may not know this but this actually impacts so and so,' and we provide them the relation. We tell them the relationship. So maybe some of them do know it but they just needed someone to challenge them to say, ‘I think it's best that you step out, do we all agree that so and so needs to step out,' and they do. What happens is the majority of them will do, once you've just shown where the relationship is and usually you're doing it because of...and don't do it attack-tive. You do it, say, ‘I think...isn't so-and-so in that program or isn't...did so-and-so apply for that job, isn't that your sister-in-law...,' because you are related but there are so many things sometimes you do get confused on even what is a nepotism. Is sister-in-law, is my aunt, is my sister? We know some of them are but then you have, well, your grandparents but they take care of that child. So there could be the possibility of that. So I think if you point it out, we've done that in the past, we just did it or you have your legal department if they're in the room, too. Our legal department's always with us. We'll lean over and say, ‘I think there's a...' and we'll, ‘Hey, that's why that person gets paid the big bucks, you need to go tell that there's an appearance here and maybe it's best to not be...you can be here and maybe just not be a part of the decision.'"

Catalina Alvarez:

"For us, I think the first time that I got into council we actually passed an ethical ordinance and I believe with the new council you're given all the ordinances that have like a fiscal ordinance and the ethical ordinance so you can go back and read them. And it's a way also to challenge, for council to hold each other accountable. That's kind of worked a little bit. I laugh because Herminia used to be our chairwoman the first time that I got into council and of course there was a...it was used against her. She brought the issue into us as ethical ordinance and it's just...the council saw it as a way, ‘Okay, this is how we're going to use it against her now.' But it in essence the...why we decided to do an ethical ordinance was really just to hold each other accountable and making sure that the community knows that we are not going to be in those situations where nepotism does occur and that we're all on the same playing field."

Audience member:

"This question kind of piggy backs off of the last question, but as elected officials and members of council how are you able to effective work against factionalism in council? I think that in a lot of tribal communities relationships ties, family ties run really deep. And so in spite of council and elected officials assuming integrity in their positions, they're always subject to sway. And I think that you see that in a lot of council where many times members will kind of group together on certain decisions and push legislation, ordinance or policy a certain direction when maybe it's kind of not based on the content but more on maybe who they're talking to and who they're being influenced by. As leaders, how are you able to combat that or at least address it within your councils and your communities?"

Robert McGhee:

"I've pictured...I've painted this like perfect council up here and we are not...by no means perfect. We do have our issues but with 3,000 there's definitely a difference between 3,000 members and say a 10,000 member tribe where factions can change elections. There's no doubt. One of the things that we have done is...it's funny, when we know certain people are getting together on a vote, we'll be like, ‘Well, I really don't care.' We won't be a part of it because it depends on what the issue is. If it's something about, oh, we're going to...it's like if we want to spend money here for this program, well, if I don't have a say or a personal attachment to it or something like that, we'll be like...but they've worked up this whole, us five support it or...’Well, have at it and if it works that's great and if it fails, I'll be the first one to let you know that failed,' but I won't be...but we won't do it...we don't air it to the rest of them. I think that if it comes to stuff that is...we have a strong and hopefully a lot of you do have an ethics code and the ethics code was the hardest thing to get passed. That was the hardest. It went to a vote five different times over a year because...and we kept...when we would challenge our tribal council members at the table, ‘Why are you not supporting the ethics code? Are you unethical?' But what happened was even our general council members who are looking, who are at these meetings and seeing so and so quit, he's not or she's not supporting the ethics code, not supporting the ethics code. It all came about though, the reason that individual was not supporting because the appearance of the impropriety. He was so scared of that word because of like you said factions or your council member's brother on another side of the family would be like, ‘Well, hey, he was a part of that decision that...' And so there's an appearance there and he was terrified of that ‘cause he was involved in business himself. And so we were like...so we made it stronger where the appearance, we gave it a little bit more teeth into that document to help him support it. But I think when it just comes to the factions I would...we don't have strong factions, we know that board and committee...it's funny it's only on board and committee appointments because they want Johnny in that position and they'll go meet and we'll say, ‘Well, which ones did you guys...who do you think you're going to choose today.' ‘No, we didn't do that yet.' Call them out on it. We do. But we've got a pretty good close relationship because we've spent so much time together in retreats and workshops and I do not...we do not have a problem calling each other out and one of the things that we had learned from one of these retreats that we went to, they pretty much told us, ‘Call them out. If they are not being the leader that they're supposed to be or if they're not supporting something...say it. Why are you not supporting this initiative? I need an answer.' And we couldn't have them flip-flop anymore either, that was the other thing too. We'd be in a workshop and we'd go around and just do a roll call. It was like, ‘You support it, you support it, you...' and then we'd get to a meeting and, ‘I don't support that.' Made us look like...that only happened a few times. So then we had another leadership, together, Kumbaya saying, ‘I get angry when you do that.' It was almost like a social therapy session. ‘I get angry when you do this. That's not appropriate ‘cause you're giving me your word and all that I feel that you have is your word. That's what makes you a credible person to me is your word and your actions and your actions are going against your words.' So now they actually will tell us, ‘Okay, I'm just going to be honest. I'm not supporting that.' Or if they're about to flip, because they've done it, we'll have another workshop, ‘I want to change my vote.' ‘What? Why?' And then I said, ‘Well, you told us before that from now on you're going to stick to your vote or stick to your decision,' and I called him out. He's like, ‘Yes, but I did tell you that if I changed I would let you know beforehand.' I'm like, ‘You've got me, you're right.' And he changed. He went in that council meeting and his vote changed and I'm like, ‘Well, at least you let me know beforehand.' I was leaning over to another council member, it was like, ‘We lost that one.'"

Catalina Alvarez:

"I think we're still trying to figure that out. You're always going to have I think, at least since I've been in council we have not had like this kind of council that can just sit down and talk, but we always had those kind of factions and we know that they're, sometimes they're influenced. The last...we haven't, this council since it's barely starting, we haven't gotten to that point but the previous council, we knew something was up and the committee knew what was going on and council members would pull in of course all their family so you were kind of pressured to vote in that direction. One of the things that took years and it still has been an issue was like that in the [Adam] Walsh Act, I couldn't believe how difficult it was for council to say that we want to first have the same kind of stuff...that we were going to opt into it and then where we were going to put our note...to notify the community, in which methods. It became so...I'm not even sure, well, I'm assuming that a lot of...in council you would have a sexual pedophile as a family member, that's the only reason why I thought that they could...they thought that I thought that they would be so hesitant in securing our community, but not until we actually had a switch in council that that...we were able to figure out where we were going to post the sexual pedophiles and what kind of notice was going to be given out to the community. But I think a lot of times that [faction], it's always going to exist because we're a tribe of 16,000 or 17,000 and we're always going to have that [faction]. We have council members that are related to each other and you know that they're going to pass ordinances and policies that are going to benefit their families or friends and it's very difficult to find out, at least for us right now. We're still....we're in the stage of trying to figure out how we can...how to resolve that."

Audience member:

"Just a couple of questions here. I'm busy scribbling things down. In today's world of course we live...we all live in two worlds and that is we live in America but at the same time we live within our tribal nations. And quite often, we have a clash in cultures and cultural values and we need somewhat to reconcile some of the things that we do. And was mentioned earlier the idea of nepotism. In the white world of course, that's a no-no. You don't do that, that's unethical behavior. At the same time, as a tribal member, we're taught form a very early age that our responsibility is to our family. Our responsibility is to our relatives, our responsibility is to our community. That's where our citizenship is, that's where our allegiance and where we should be focused. And we also understand that when someone close to you, a relative or whatever, comes for your assistance, you are not supposed to refuse because they're the ones who are going to support you when the chips are down, when you have a tragedy, when you have a sorrow, when you have a great need, you depend upon your family, yet and this job as tribal council is going to be gone in four years, but you still have to face that family member. And that's a difficult thing because you want the betterment of your nation, but at the same time when you're close relatives or clan members, clan fathers, whatever it is comes to you and needs something, how do you reconcile that? I know that's a challenge, ‘cause we have to keep our cultural values alive but we still have to work and thrive in the modern day era. So that's one of the things I think that has to be reconciled.

Another is with our traditional ways as you've mentioned earlier, to call them out. I think from a traditional mindset we're taught not to do that ‘cause we choose avoidance over confrontation whenever we can. And when we have a conflict with somebody, that's when we give direct eye contact, that's when we have that confrontation with them and we go full force. But we don't like to do that but rather we avoid confrontation whenever we can. If that means going on the other side of the street or not returning a phone call or not showing up for a meeting, for many of us, that's the proper thing to do rather than call them out. That's more of a modern day, white man kind of a thinking, at least I think. Utilizing our elders is another traditional way where we as tribal leaders or whatever we are think we're all it and leave out that segment of decision making or reliance upon our tribal elders to utilize them.

And I think what I'm gathering as part of what's happening here is to rebuilding nations is really about going back, going back. It's not building the tribal nation, it's rebuilding and it's remembrance and keeping a lot of our cultural values alive, of the form of governance that was thrust upon us. And if we look at those things, I do have a question specifically for you guys or anyone can answer this and that is, what would happen if salaries were not paid to elected council members and only expenses were paid, what kind of people would we have in there? What would we gain, what would we lose, what would it look like if we went back to that traditional sense of governance where these were not paid positions? Looking forward to your responses."

Robert McGhee:

"Just want to touch on a couple things there that you stated before. Yes, I have an allegiance to my family but I was raised to have, mostly from my mother, my father was a military man and things, but my mom, there was something about honesty, there was something about humility. And what bothers me is say when I have a larger family, not the nucleus but the extended family come up and ask me to do something that is inappropriate. I don't have a problem asking them, ‘Why are you asking me to do this? This is not...' because right now when you sign, when you run for council it's no longer mom, dad and my brother and my nephews and my grandparents, it's my...it's the 3,000 other members. Now every council member in here may have a different idea of that. That's mine. I represent all of them, the ones that you don't want to represent, the ones that still will call you by not your real name, any other name, the ones that still have some varied problems that we need to address. So I always know that I can go back to my family once I'm done serving my terms if I choose not to get elected because my dad doesn't allow us to speak tribal politics in our house either whenever we have an event or anything like that because he used to serve there. So he's like, ‘No one's allowed to come up to each other and talk to me about this or that or why did you do that?' He posted it on...he actually has a sign, he writes and he puts it on the door, ‘No politics are going to be discussed today,' which is helpful because sometimes you do...all of us here, you do get tired of going to certain events because you know someone's going to come up and ask a question or question you about this so at least I know it's...in the house, dad's house, it's off limits even at my brother's house ‘cause he served too. So he's like, ‘We don't talk about that.' To get back to your calling out question, I think I put that, yes, when I said calling out but keep in mind that we do it respectfully. It's one of those things of when I know...I don't necessarily have to call you always out in front. If I know you're upset, what I'm going to do though is have a conversation with you somewhere to ask why because I don't think me personally that we can move forward until I know what your issues are.

The full-time council...I agree with you on the...our part-time members...about four years ago we only got paid a stipend of $50 a meeting, five years ago. However, though, I would say the difference between that was there was also a different leadership at that time, too, so the council wasn't involved...a lot of them were involved but they just didn't feel that they had the time because there were some things going on where, ‘We're going to have a meeting today at 10:00.' ‘Well, I can't make a meeting today at 10:00. I'm working.' And until you got this...until you can change where you know that the leadership or whoever, the chairman, is going to respect if it's either a part-time council or a full-time one to know that we'll work around various schedules. I meant they do it for us now. We ask them, because like I said, two of us are part-time so we only have workshops on one day a month, all day. I actually use vacation time to do that. But the rest, they're welcome to attend their committee meetings. The committee meetings that I serve on, I'm allowed to determine when those meetings are so I think it could work as a part-time, but I don't think you would have the problems that you do. But keep in mind when you're full-time too, I think there are added pressures where a lot of the general council members now are looking at qualifications of putting somebody in office because they're paying them this much money. So that's actually a good, I would say a good side to it. Now, individuals are having to run on their qualifications because they're making salaries that are...that the program director or so and so, I make this and I have to have a master's in this or I make... So what are you bringing to the table as a council member that you're worth that much money? And so I think that's a good thing to it. It's stepping up to get other individuals involved that have qualifications or whatever those qualifications are it just could be not necessarily educational, it just could be serving on various committees or boards or things like that. And we have a cell center, just so you know, and that's where all our seniors hang out, all our elders hang out and I'm there probably...I eat lunch with them once a week to twice...to hear what they have to say. And we play bingo with them in the area and that's the best time to do it is when they're all gathered and just, ‘Well, what do you guys want us to see or where did I screw up today,' and they'll let you know quickly where."

Catalina Alvarez:

"I think as...and you're right, as individuals we're taught from the beginning our roles, our female roles and male roles and where you stand and even how we should address our elders. I think one of the things with the previous councils and when I first came on to council is we have our cultural leave availability for employees to do their cultural participants and participate in their culture activities. And I think as I talk to elders as a council, when we would get into discussions and I had one of the councilmen go, ‘You're supposed to respect your elders all the time.' It's true, but as a council, you guys are all equal, we are all equal at least my response to them because you were all elected by the people and they expect you to have a voice like any other individual on council. That was my response to him. And I think that more and more the council understands that we all should have a voice in how we do things and even elders in our council, they're always constantly...and I point out to Mary Jane [Buenamea], ‘They'll keep us in line as well,' but I think they're open to know that we all can share our own ideas and still try to move forward on some of our activities. I know that the last council since I was the only female, they would not include me in some of the discussions on cultural and even like on stipends that we give for our festivities, which I would get upset because I'm like, ‘as a council, male, female, I'm here as a voice to the people that voted me in. So you can't hold that against me that I can't give my input on what's going on.' But I think as we move into a full-time council I think if they weren't...if we wouldn't receive a stipend, it would be very difficult to move as fast as we have I think. As a council it allowed us to pass a lot of and meet more frequently to get things done within the tribe."

Audience member:

"I had my question for Robert and I wanted to know...you talked about the three sides that have to be heard. Could you just tell us very quickly what those three sides of any issue?"

Robert McGhee:

"Your side, the other side and the opinion. There's always this side, this side, but then there's also just what's the opinion out there of this problem. There's a lot more of those than there are the opinions themselves.

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

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

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

Native Nations
Citation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heather Kendall-Miller:

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

Joseph P. Kalt:

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

Wilma Mankiller:

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

Gerald Sherman:

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

Jaime Pinkham:

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

Rebecca Miles:

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

Robert McGhee:

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

Ned Norris, Jr.:

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

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "The Challenges of Leadership"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Native leaders and scholars discuss some of the many formidable challenges facing leaders of Native nations, from the incredible demands on their time to the vast array of things they need to know and learn.

Native Nations
Topics
Citation

Diver, Karen. "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 24, 2010. Presentation.

Gray, James R. "Educating and Engaging the Community: What Works?" Remaking Indigenous Governance Systems seminar. Archibald Bush Foundation, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Prior Lake, Minnesota. May 3, 2011. Presentation.

Kalt, Joseph P. "The Long-Term Economic Strategy Choices for Native Nations." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. October 11, 2012. Presentation.

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.

James R. Gray:

"I'm sure all of you are aware of -- the recent events in Pakistan and the President's actions, recently. And I wanted to use this as an example to kind of comment on some of the discussions that I've heard over the last two days. One of them had to do with the questions of how much involvement the elected officials need to have in an action in order for them to properly take credit for it or to feel like they're accountable for it. And I think this is a big discussion. It occurred in the topic of economic development yesterday. I think it's occurring today in the discussions of government reform and the actions of your Nation. As an elected official, how much involvement do you personally have to have? Well, I think everyone is pretty well aware of the fact that if you're an elected official, you get way more credit than you deserve. And although I appreciate the 'lone nut' references and everything else, it's true. You do get more credit than you deserve. But with that you also get more blame than you deserve because a lot of things happen under your watch that you don't have control over but yet, regardless of the politics of your tribe or my tribe or the Nation, you're still accountable for it. Now had that incident, had that event that occurred in Pakistan to get Osama bin Laden failed, would they have blamed the Navy Seals? Nope. They would have blamed [President] Obama. And that's just the way it is. Now you just take that as a given if you're an elected official. When you swear an oath to defend your constitution and protect, fulfill your duties in office, that just comes with it."

Ned Norris, Jr.:

"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."

Gerald Clarke, Jr.:

"It's not just a job; it's an adventure. Before I took office I knew I'd have to go to meetings and I do think I've put on the 20 pounds, the 'tribal council 20 pounds,' [because] I'm sitting all day in these meetings. But what I didn't know is I would be woke up at three in the morning with a car flipped over in the middle of the road or a domestic violence incident or a shooting or what have you. You can be a council member, but I think there's a difference between a council member and a tribal leader and it's all encompassing. You have to walk the walk to try to get these things done. But it's a lot more than simply going to these meetings."

Joseph P. Kalt:

"Being a tribal leader is like one of the hardest jobs in the world. And the reason for that -- right, Minnie? -- the reason for that in part is because [of] the range of things you have to know. Here you are sitting and looking at, you know, number after number and balance sheets and accounting and everything else, and at the same time your citizens are expecting you to take care of, you know, that heating bill that didn't get paid, and you've got to keep your eye on the big picture, the big strategies of the nation as a whole."

Rebecca Miles:

"Anybody who's a tribal leader today has it much harder than they did 30, 40 years ago in this respect. I know they went through things that we never have had to go through, but in this regard tribal leaders now have to know so much more than tribal leaders then. We have...I found myself having to know, here's a table full of all these foods, I have to know how all of them are made, just a little bit and be able to report on them. That's what it feels like because on every policy arena, you've got to know what's going on in all these areas and where Congress is at with this and funding is going to be cut for that and we're in litigation here and what did the judge say, 'And, oh, now this tribe's going against us and filing an amicus, what are going to do about that?'"

Robert McGhee:

"Tribal council members now have to learn all facets of government. They have to know what decisions were made in the past, why the decisions were made regarding at the tribal council level, what impact did it have on the community, and what were the necessary meaning behind that. And just not to mention the county and the city and federal law. I think they become inundated with constant communication and information from those levels of government that I don't think they were involved in years ago. I would say that was one of the hardest things to deal with, to know that, wow, it's not about just helping my tribal council, general council members. I am now the individual who is meeting with all these other representatives of government to formulate policy, decisions, and make laws. So I think it's, I think it's challenging on that part."

Karen Diver:

"The people who didn't vote for you -- some of them really hate your guts. Politics is personal in Indian Country, and after you win, there is no magic that will make them all of a sudden like you. They are going to keep hating you, and they didn't like you before and they are not going to like you now, and that's just the way it is. So get used to it. The other part of it is they are still your tribal members whether they like you or not, so it's your job to get over it, because they still deserve your time, attention, and your work as much as all of the rest of them, so you need to own the fact that they have a right to their feelings, but you still have a job to do."

Robert McGhee: What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Treasurer of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Robert McGhee shares some of the things that he wished he knew before he first took office. He also discusses how he and his elected leader colleagues have built a team approach to making informed decisions on behalf of their constituents.

People
Resource Type
Citation

McGhee, Robert. "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. October 10, 2012. Presentation.

Robert McGhee:

"Once again, thank you to the Native Nations Institute and to the tribe allowing us to be here this afternoon and to go through this, I think a very interesting subject. As she was speaking, I can hit on a lot of those and say, ‘Okay, I had that written down. I had that written down,' so at least to show we're somehow consistent from tribe to tribe. We are located in a small town. We're the only tribe in the state of...federally recognized tribe in the State of Alabama. We have several other state-recognized tribes in the state that we have a pretty good working relationship with. However, we are a council of nine. Just some background; we are [on] staggered terms. So the good thing and one of the best things I can say about our tribe is that we're staggered and we have the continuity instead of being all elected at once, ours is three people every year come up. So at least we're only, if we're replacing somebody, we're replacing one to three people. We have never once actually even replaced entirely three people during the time that I've been on. I'm on my second term...third term and will be up next June for my [fourth] term.

We're structured as we have a separate economic development authority who, we have Creek Indian Enterprises that takes care of all of our economic development authorities, all of our businesses. And then we have a PCI Gaming authority, which takes care of all of our gaming ventures, and we have them throughout the state and in Florida and working in California and some other places too. We do have one council member who serves on each of those, which it helps so we can know that...you were coming to that trust issue and just saying what is being done at those board levels. Each council member actually serves on one of those entities and we rotate every year. So what it is, is we want to learn about...we don't want to give somebody too much autonomous and too much power where I'm serving on PCI gaming for three years, I'm the only one that really knows what's going on. We ask that everybody rotate a year. So this year I get to be involved in those decisions. Next year it's going to be Catalina [Alvarez] that gets to be involved in those decisions. So it helps us to get a better understanding of what is out there because we did not have that.

So to get back to the things that...when I first got started on council, it was...I worked for the tribe a number of years ago as a social worker out of undergrad. My father served on council, my brother served on council, my great-grandfather was the chief and so I always had an identity that one day I would come back home and serve on the council. However, I went off to graduate school and went and worked in Washington, D.C. and worked for the United States Senate Committee [on Indian Affairs] and worked for the federal government. So I had an understanding of the way D.C. government impacted the tribal governments, but I really did not have an understanding of how local politics impacted our tribal government. And not even...when I say local politics, county commissions and cities, but also just the tribal members themselves. So the hardest part for me was coming back. And I got elected. I worked for a year and I got elected. And we have, we are part-time council members and full-time council members. What I mean is, you have the opportunity to choose if you will be a full-time council member or a part-time council member. There's two of us that are part-time council members. That's me along with actually our general manager of our casino is also a council member and then the other seven are full-time council members. I also handle the government relations part of the tribe.

But the hardest thing was when I came back home and you got elected was the fact that it's really difficult working for your family. You are working...we have 3,000 members and the amount of...you go into these meetings and you're sitting there and you're thinking you're making the best decisions for the tribe and then you have your own cousins and things like say, ‘Well, why did he make...Robbie just stood up and made that decision and he...' without them knowing the facts that were presented. As a social worker, and I got my degree as a master's in social worker, and it was like I always know to look at there's three sides to every story. And the sad part is the general council, and that's to our own fault, sometimes they're not aware of all the sides to the decision that's being made. They only see the one side that's being presented, they don't take the opportunity or we're not providing them the opportunity to learn all of the different discussions that took place.

When we first moved back, we were, I would say probably 10 years ago, 'Type A' development that was up there. We were, I wouldn't call us -- you may know some of our past tribal leaders so I'm not going to -- we were just in a different direction. We had strong leadership; the other council members at that time necessarily did not have a voice. What happened was, when I came back on after working in D.C. and then we encouraged a couple other younger individuals to run for council, that we started not necessarily challenging but we started just saying, ‘Why was that decision made or why are we going this route?' That's not necessarily the way I perceive the law. Because we had...our general council, we set up education funds and we educated our youth and we educate. So they went off and got the education, now they want to come back and serve and there was a gap there. It was a gap between the elders who served on the council and then you had these young bucks and the McGhee boys who were coming back and they were trying to run the tribe and that wasn't true. It was just one of those things of -- as I said before -- you do not know the history that has taken place under your tribal leadership for hundreds of years. You'll never know. The sad part is you will never know. You can sit there and study, you can sit there and look and you can sit there and research. I do not know why that decision was made 10 years ago or 15 years ago, but that was the hardest part. Why did you make that decision 15 years ago? Why did you make that decision 20 years ago? And to get them to answer those when you're coming into new directions. Sometimes those questions are hard to get answered because it's maybe it's one of those things that it was pride, it was we had...you had to get reelected, you had to...to get progress done you had to make certain sacrifices.

But I think as we've gotten, as we've moved forward, I would say that the hardest thing that, I would say a key attribute that I think every council member should have is just humility. I think they should have humility, I think they should have generosity and I think they should have authenticity. I think it's one of...because as you're moving forward to make a decision you have to be authentic, but I think if you can recognize...if you're authentic, then you can recognize someone else's generosity. You can sit around a table now of our nine, and we have leaders who have been on council now for 25 years, there's two of those. The rest of us have been on, I'm the next at nine years and then after that it's six and three. And I think it's taken...what we had to do was come together as a group. We weren't as a group when I first got elected. You still had this...our elders who are on the council who are very strong and very opinionated and they had the right to be. They have already lived this and we were coming in and challenging their decisions, which was not very respectful at that time when I look back. But we were coming in and challenging them and saying, ‘Well, that's not necessarily true,' or ‘I've worked here and I see a different approach,' and that really did separate us a lot when you had these newer people coming onboard against the elders.

But it was one of those things of, ‘Well, how can we work together?' So what we did, after the second year of my serving on council, I asked that, ‘How about we just take a retreat? How about all of us go somewhere? Not at the local, at the casino hotel because that's not getting away. Let's go somewhere else.' And so we went to...the good thing is where we live, we live on the coast so between two beaches an hour away. So we took the council away to the beach for the weekend and we asked...and I asked another thing. I said...because I'm a very, at that time, I was a very challenging individual; passionate is what my tribal leaders called me. So that was the term that was labeled actually at the retreat about Robbie, ‘He is passionate.' So I asked then, I said, ‘Well, for all of us to have a voice at this retreat, we need to bring in somebody from the outside who does not know anything about us. Can we bring in a moderator?' So it's not Robbie taking over a conversation, it's not our elder, the past chairman for 25 years taking over the conversation, who at this time is no longer the chairman but he still had a strong voice or others. And so that was where we started shifting in the right, not in the right direction, but in a new direction.

We sat there, we went through that weekend, we challenged each other, we were able to speak freely to each other about how I feel threatened by you or how you feel threatened by me and we also talked about the micromanaging and how things needed to change. Because at that time we were...the council not...in the past was going in and pretty much just telling directors what to do and that is not the way this government was set up. This government was set up of, ‘We have hired competent people in place as our program directors and we need them to do their jobs.' So we figured, ‘Well, how can we get the full-time council more, not work, but where they feel more involved in the process but yet not going in and micromanaging every department?' So we set up legislative committees. So every council member now, by law, had to, we passed an ordinance that you had, to be a full-time council member, we created several legislative committees and you had to serve on two or more. And then those legislative committees were the ones who actually would work with the administrator or if there were laws that had to be changed or any policies that had to be changed or resolutions that had to be amended, they would go and meet with the directors and of course not just directly to the director.

We made it...we had a plan that you had to go through the administrator or even the chairman's office out of respect to arrange these meetings and that actually was a great move for the tribal council because it...no longer did they feel the need to call up so-and-so in social services, ‘why didn't...why did you turn down the...application?' Because like I said before, there's always two to three sides to every story and when you have a general council member going to a council member, you're only getting one side. And that's the hardest thing for the council member themselves to realize. When a general council member comes to you, you are only hearing one side and the sad part is sometimes you're hearing a truth that may be sometimes flawed. And so what we had to encourage the tribal council members to do was we need to meet with every, get all the parties in a room or ‘Hey, call this...you got this side of the story, now call the director and get their side of the story and let's move forward from there.' I think that as we've done this it's been one of those growing challenges because you still will have individuals who talk in the community. I always think that's amazing but now we've empowered each of our council members through these leadership retreats and through events such as this to also challenge each other but also to challenge a general council member. Meaning if so-and-so is saying so-and-so about another council member, now we stand up for each other. Now we say, ‘Well, why do you think so-and-so made that decision? Well, I know why he's made that decision or why she's made that decision but you're more than welcome to call them to address it.'

We have a lot of open...in the past we didn't have transparency of government. What we did was we decided that from now on everything would be open. You can come in and you can look at financials, you can come in and you can look at every document that you need to look in. However, you can't leave with the documents but you can come in. That's still not perfect. They still want to take the documents but we say, ‘No, you can come in and look at everything.' We have community meetings. We don't have...in our community meetings, if there are any topics that are bothering the tribe, we open it up. We have to sit up there, all nine of us and we have to take hit after hit after hit. We only have one speaker. We don't ask everybody to speak, only if there's a question that's directed to them. I usually draw the short end of the stick because I'm the government relations person so I'm the one that takes a lot of the hits. But it's...you stand up there and you give every council member the voice because that's all they want. Our general council just wants a voice and they want to be heard and that's one of the hardest things was trying to get evolved to the rest of the council, is just taking the opportunity to listen to the general council and be honest with them.

I think the other key is just you tell them, ‘No, we cannot do that. I cannot do that for this family over here because...and this family actually does not represent the 3,000 other members that are here.' Even in a community meeting when I have 10 people speaking to an issue or the council has 10 people speaking to an issue, we let them know at that community meeting that, ‘Okay, there's only 300 people here. There's 3,000 members. So please know that we cannot leave this meeting making a change or an ordinance based upon the 100 that spoke out of the 300 that do not represent the 3,000.' But we will let them know in the newsletter that, ‘Hey, these 100 spoke to this and if you have a different agenda, then you need to contact us. You need to let...because if not, we will be going in this direction.' And that's when you get everybody then speaking. It's like, ‘Well, I wasn't at the meeting.' ‘Well, that's not our fault.' We make sure that we give a pretty amount...a lot of time and effort to go there.

Another thing that the...when you come into it with just the challenge of recognizing political agendas of each one. They have them. We did have several members that used to be employees who were upset. So they ran for council and they got elected. And they did make some changes, which was quite fun. But after you started working with each other and you understand just the political agendas of each one of them, you ask and it's like, ‘Well, that's actually not a bad political agenda. How can we do that together but I need you to support mine.' I didn't know the difficulty would be...it's like I was a politician per se, I was a lobbyist in D.C. also, too, and worked in government there but then moving back, that was a harder political game to play at the local level amongst tribal council members. But one of the things that we started to do was actually ask them at our meetings, private meetings, ‘What are your top 10? What are your top five?' or ‘What did you want to see done in your term?' And if they're not completely truthful, you can look at the newsletter when they wrote their platform for being elected, they're right there. So we can say, ‘Well, you said this, you're going to build an education institution and you do know an education institution costs $2 million. So how do we get that done?' I go, ‘I want to build a new health care facility, that's going to cost $10 million. So how do I get that done?' And it takes the time that we had to prioritize and to go through and say because...and we published these things and the good thing about it is it publishes all of the political agendas. But if they're little things, I encourage you to call. I encourage you to talk to your other council members prior to council meetings. Explain to them what's going on. We don't like anything presented without being discussed. We get very upset if you just throw something on the table. We will not support it. We've been very good about standing strong as a majority to say, ‘We can't support that. This is the first time you've ever talked to us about that and that's not necessarily something that's good for everybody.'

The last thing that we had done that I thought was...and it took...we went on a leadership retreat actually here in Tucson at Miraval. I don't know if you've ever heard of that. And we went away and we did all these team-building exercises. And we developed a goal and a purpose and we set a value statement. And we got to understand how each person on the council was. When we went to the core, we had emotional environments and we went to the core to each of us as individuals. And we realized that you make all the...so-and-so makes all his decisions based upon family, that was the core. So we knew if he made a decision, we're like, ‘Why did he make that decision?' and if we could relate it to his family, we knew why he related it. And he was honest about it and that was the best thing. At least I knew where you stood, you were always about, ‘I'm focused on my nuclear family, then my larger family,' which is the tribe. But at least we knew where so-and-so was coming from every time he made a decision and that's what helped us. And after that we developed a value statement for the council. And we actually wanted it to be a part of our constitution so we put it on the public. We put it on as a constitutional amendment; it was voted on. And we let the people know that every council member who runs in the future must support this purpose and this value statement for our tribe. And the people supported it; it passed overwhelmingly. And so now, over the last two years, when you have people running for council, we challenge them to say, ‘tell us how you support the purpose of this tribe and do you have the same value statements that we said we would all support?'

It's been an interesting road. I'm up next year. So far no one's come out against me. The sad...I would say one thing that I think every council member needs to be aware of is the role now that social media is though is playing in our lives and how it's becoming very difficult to get a message across that is accurate when you have social media taking over. If you can have one tribal council member who's not happy, you've provided now that individual a voice and you will spend a lot of your time engaging. And it's been a difficult thing to figure out how we can go around this with social media and the Facebook. That's been the difficult task because they're not...they're not getting the whole story. They're airing business that should not be aired and we try to...this is not...the nation sees that now. Not the tribal nation, the nation. And you can never take it back. So now we're trying to have community meetings on explaining the impact of social media. So if you're just now getting elected or anything like that, I would try to start addressing that very quickly because it can be a dangerous avenue. We're in a fight with the county and the county knows more stuff about us because they can...friends of friends and friends of friends and they see the arguments that are taking place and it's very difficult. So I would encourage all of you, if you can figure the best way, if anybody can come up with a model on how to put that genie back in the bottle or to at least use it as a more social activism for the tribe and not against the tribe. Thank you."