Roy Sampsel

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "The Fearless Approach to Building Effective Governance"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Institute for Tribal Government Director Roy Sampsel describes the fearless mindset that so many Native nations are displaying as they work to build their governance capacity in order to exercise their sovereignty effectively, and the incredible innovation they exhibit in doing so.

People
Native Nations
Resource Type
Topics
Citation

Sampsel, Roy. "The Fearless Approach to Building Effective Governance." Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. August 31, 2010. Interview.

"I don't know of any successful tribe that has managed to build its nation in its capacity that doesn't set extremely high standards for itself and saying, 'Yes, we want to do this, we're going to do it and we're going to be innovative and creative.' Part of the great attraction, if you will, of working in tribal government is that those tribes and those nations that are succeeding have no sense of fear and no sense of their inability to do it. This sort of boldness of sovereignty and the exercising of it, with the understanding that you may stumble a little bit, but the end goal is: 'We're going to succeed and we're going to be better than we have ever been before.' And we can go across the country and name tribe after tribe that has succeeded in making those shifts and changes among their governments."

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "Defending Sovereignty Through Its Effective Exercise"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Native leaders speak to the notion that Native nations' best defense of their sovereignty is the demonstration of their ability to exercise that sovereignty effectively.

Native Nations
Topics
Citation

Diver, Karen. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. September 17, 2009. Interview.

Fullmer, Jamie. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. June 17, 2008. Interview.

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

Gipp, David. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona.

Gray, James R. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. September 17, 2009. Interview.

Hicks, Sarah. "NCAI and the Partnership for Tribal Governance." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economics, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. September 18, 2009. Presentation.

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

Wilkins, David E. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. August 6, 2008. Interview.

Greg Gilham:

"Most nations proclaim their inherent sovereignty. But without action, all it is is a proclamation. So at some point in time, you've got to develop a way of exercising it in order for it to work."

David Wilkins:

"Vine [Deloria] was always saying just that in his many writings about tribal sovereignty, encouraging tribes all along, dating back to Custer Died for Your Sins and even when he was Executive Director of NCAI [National Congress of American Indians], to quit talking and to get out there and start acting, to start exercising, to start wielding the residual inherent sovereign powers that you still have. He said, 'They're all there, and if you don't wield them, if you don't use them, in their dormant state, they atrophy.' When something atrophies in this society, it eventually becomes brittle and it breaks away and someone from the outside swoops in and just takes it away, because they say, 'You're not exercising it, you're going to lose it.' It's the old water law doctrine: either you use it or you lose it. And I think that's what Vine, and certainly what Oren Lyons, is referencing there. That's where I think tribes today are really doing some wonderful things."

Sarah Hicks:

"There are many issues where, if we don't deal with them ourselves, we know that the federal government will intervene. Where there's a perceived vacuum around policy making, the federal government will intervene to develop policy, and so if we aren't developing our own policies, if we aren't making sure that county and state and federal governments know about the policies that we're developing, there's a real danger there."

Jamie Fullmer:

"Sovereignty is indeed is the act thereof. But it is also understanding that it's important for us to redefine it as time allows us. There are things that we as Indian tribes and nations couldn't do 20 years ago that we can do now because people are willing to exercise and express the sovereignty and push the boundaries. And really those leaders and those tribes that took on those challenges, those spearheads, allowed the rest of us to be able to stretch our own boundaries."

David Gipp:

"Well I think in this day in age when we deal with the U.S. government, or the tribal nations that deal with both the U.S. government, with state government, then all the creatures of the state as they say -- I think it is very important for us to utilize what that sovereignty is all about. Whether we do it through law enforcement, whether we exercise it in commerce, or whether we exercise it through our courts, or if we do it with our resources such as water. Those kinds of things have to be done if we're going to maintain and, for that matter, amplify our sovereignty. If you don't use it, you lose it, is, I think, part of the issue. And that is something that is very evident when we talk about things like court cases."

Karen Diver:

"To me, that really means, once again building those capable institutions. Everybody likes to know what are the rules that we're playing by, especially if you're dealing with outside entities that you do work with, whether it's governmental or through your economic development efforts. But also, that you're defining what those rules are. And whether you're dealing with a local unit of government, the feds, bankers, auditors, you know, they don't get to define the playing field. You're defining the rules, you're communicating them, and you're saying that 'Your work with us is going to be defined by us.'"

Jim Gray:

"I think that's an excellent point. I think a lot of tribes, certainly during the last century, really operate under the notion that if you stay quiet, if you stay under the radar screen, they'll leave you alone. And I think what is happening in the last generation of tribal leaders and tribal governments is that they've kind of broken out of that model and have taken the initiative to states, to the federal government, to the communities in their area and say, 'You know, we have the ability to help solve community-wide problems. We have the ability to address the social problems we have in our community.' We now -- in other words, instead of blaming somebody else and just operating under the radar screen, we're taking just the opposite approach, which is taking the fight to the streets and taking, and using the sovereignty of the nation to create programs and departments and initiatives that actually address the needs of our community."

Roy Sampsel:

"I think the tribes have been fortunate in that they have recognized that they have the ability to be self-determined and to exercise and to use their sovereignty. The question now is, 'Do they have to governance structures in place that allow them to make good decisions over time, and to implement their wishes into programs that actually deliver effectively?' That's the challenge, it seems to me, of the tribes since the seventies. But even more importantly, it'll be the challenge over the next few decades."

Great Tribal Leaders of Modern Times: Roy Sampsel

Producer
Institute for Tribal Government
Year

Produced by the Institute for Tribal Government at Portland State University in 2004, the landmark “Great Tribal Leaders of Modern Times” interview series presents the oral histories of contemporary leaders who have played instrumental roles in Native nations' struggles for sovereignty, self-determination, and treaty rights. The leadership themes presented in these unique videos provide a rich resource that can be used by present and future generations of Native nations, students in Native American studies programs, and other interested groups.

Institute for Tribal Government Director Roy Sampsel is convinced that tribes have unique skills as natural resource managers. Sampsel often serves as a bridge between tribes and federal, state & local agencies. His past positions include Executive Director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Interior for the Pacific Northwest Region, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Policy, Department of Interior.

This video resource is featured on the Indigenous Governance Database with the permission of the Institute for Tribal Government.

People
Resource Type
Citation

Sampsel, Roy. "Great Tribal Leaders of Modern Times" (interview series). Institute for Tribal Government, Portland State University. Portland, Oregon. 2004. Interview.

Kathryn Harrison:

"Hello. My name is Kathryn Harrison. I am presently the Chairperson of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon. I have served on my council for 21 years. Tribal leaders have influenced the history of this country since time immemorial. Their stories have been handed down from generation to generation. Their teaching is alive today in our great contemporary tribal leaders whose stories told in this series are an inspiration to all Americans both tribal and non-tribal. In particular it is my hope that Indian youth everywhere will recognize the contributions and sacrifices made by these great tribal leaders."

[Native music]

Narrator:

"Roy Sampsel has had a decade's long fascination with fish, water, forests, oceans, wildlife and the rights of Indian tribes. More than a fascination, he has maintained a steady and creative commitment to the sovereignty of Indian Nations and the protection of their natural resources. As a policy advisor to the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission he has worked to protect, enhance and implement the tribal fishing rights of the Warm Springs, Yakima, Umatilla and Nez Perce tribes. Convinced that tribes have unusual skills and abilities as resource managers, he has worked behind the scenes and in front of the scenes to make sure tribes have a very solid seat at the table in the complex natural resource negotiations among federal and state agencies, tribal nations and other interests. Roy, who spent his early years in Broken Bow in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, is both Choctaw and Wyandot. His is a member of the Wyandot Nation. When his father went into the Navy in World War II, the family stayed with Roy's grandmother, a storyteller and a savvy strategist in conducting business with tribes on the reservation. She would often take Roy down to a tribal gathering place, one of the old creeks on the reservation on whose banks Roy says, ‘still stands a huge cottonwood tree.' The Sampsel family moved from Oklahoma to Tulane, Louisiana, then to Portland, Oregon, where Roy got the spark for public service from professors at Portland State University and from Oregon political leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties. After working at the Oregon Legislature, Roy had the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. where he served from 1971 to 1976 as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior for the Pacific Northwest Region. He was responsible for assisting the Secretary in developing and implementing departmental policy for federal resources and for a liaison with tribal and state governments and federal agencies throughout the region. From 1977 to 1979 he served as the first Executive Director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. He returned to Washington in 1981 serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs for the Department of the Interior. In this position he worked on Indian rights protection and natural resources policy including timber, fish, wildlife, oil, gas and minerals. He also worked with the Bureau of Indian Affairs on putting into action the Indian Self-Determination and Education Act of 1975. He relished participating in a great time of legislative accomplishments on behalf of Indian people. Roy Sampsel is known as a generous, openhearted leader. Helping people figure out how to solve problems is a pleasure for him and he will often say in reference to periods of challenge, difficulty or accomplishment, ‘I can't even tell you what an absolutely wonderful time that was.'"

Roy Sampsel's family lived in Broken Bow and Tahlequah in his early years. When his father went into the Navy for World War II, the family stayed with Roy's grandmother

Roy Sampsel:

"My mother was the youngest of 13 children and I was the youngest of all of the grandchildren so we had a great sort of time with my grandmother. She had a great deal of influence on my life at the time. She was a great teacher and spoke all of the Indian languages for the civilized tribes in Oklahoma: Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, Seminole and Chickasaw. She was an interpreter if you will for a lot of people who were trying to figure out how to do business or have dealings with the individual tribes. She was a fascinating woman. I can still remember her asking me how old I was as I was getting to be tall and taller than she was. And so I can remember when she took my hand, and I didn't think very much of it at the time, but kind of pronouncing that I was a man now, I was no longer her little boy. Of course that was the youngest of all of her grandchildren that she'd had. I had a lot of uncles that were gone before I was ever born of course because they had died in the first World War and I can remember granny saying to me that two of the saddest things that had ever happened was one, losing me as a baby cause I was now a man, and living longer than most of her sons."

Roy's father became a psychiatric social worker and the family eventually moved to Portland, Oregon. Roy had a variety of school experiences from Broken Bow to Portland.

Roy Sampsel:

"When we were in Broken Bow it was an Indian school in Tahlequah. I'm not sure if it was a state school or an Indian school but it was all Indian students. And then in New Orleans we lived in the student housing section at Tulane, which was a relatively wealthy section of New Orleans at the time. So it was not unusual to go to school in New Orleans and have classmates delivered there in their family limousine. So it was relatively...I wish I could remember the, there was a Mexican student. Anyway, he and I fought every morning with all the other kids. So it was kind of fun. Finally got a teacher who said, ‘that's not really a cool thing to do.' Franklin High School was a place where I decided; it's where I kind of developed my political student government interest, that type of thing. I was always better at politics and student government than I was at school itself, which was one of the things that was fun about Franklin. It was a place in which I got a lot of encouragement both from other student leaders that had been there prior to me getting interested and a faculty that was encouraging folks for that type of participation."

Roy learned from his professors at Portland State and from political leaders like Senator Mark Hatfield and Oregon Governor Tom McCall

Roy Sampsel:

"Dr. Garboni had one of the greatest and funniest lines about me ever. There was a student/faculty committee that they were appointing students to participate with faculty on the committee and he was advocating that I be one of those students and he was talking to his other faculty members at the faculty meeting and said, ‘Roy Sampsel is the smartest C student I've ever had.' That was kind of the classic reference to me. I was always the smartest C student that a bunch of these guys had ever had but we had a great time together and we got to be very, very close friends. And the University and the students that were there at the time had that opportunity to have that great sort of dialogue of politics and public service and communication at the same time."

After honing his skills in a job at the Oregon State Legislature, Roy went to work for Secretary of the Interior Roger Morton

Roy Sampsel:

"In the early part of the Nixon administration and he'd been the first kind of easterner that had been named Secretary of the Interior and we had...so they were looking for somebody that had a little bit of public affairs experience but who also understood some of the Western politics to work with him and Roger C.B. Morton. So Rog Morton was the Secretary of Interior starting in '71. He had actually got...I guess he started in '70 but in '71 they said, ‘We'd like you to come and work as part of his communication team,' and that was done primarily because of the political context. We did not know each other. We'd never really met. But some of the western Republicans were a little bit nervous to have this east coast guy running the Secretary of the Interior. And that was a great opportunity for me cause it kind of reintroduced me back into Indian affairs at a political level and at a level in which we had a lot of changes taking place. So here I was this basically Indian kid who had left Oklahoma, came out to Oregon, got involved politically in those types of public affairs types of discussions, had gotten involved politically both in terms of Democrat/Republican politics, now going to work for a Secretary of the Interior who had huge Indian issues on his plate. At the same time you had U.S. v. Washington taking place. So those were very high profile Indian treaty fishing cases. At the same time you had Wounded Knee going on, Alcatraz, the takeover of the BIA building in Washington, D.C. A very good friend by the name of Louie Bruce who was the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. Louie Bruce was...ended up being a very great friend but was a person who had...they teased him when he first got in by saying that he was the only Republican Wall Street Indian they could find. Louie had worked in public affairs and worked in advertising and kind of the fame and fortune of creating the slogan for Miller Beer, ‘The Champagne of Beer,' was very well written and had been successful both financially and business wise, came in to be the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the time as the Commissioner when it was exploding with AIM and Wounded Knee and ended up being perhaps the only person during that period of time that could have held things together. He ended up...he's passed away now but he ended up being a great friend and everybody remembered him as probably the Commissioner of the 20th century for that period of time."

Major fishing rights and environmental issues came to the fore in the early 1970s

Roy Sampsel:

"So the environmental issues were huge. Legislative wise, you're at a period of time in which a small, relatively small group of people are working with a Democratic Congress to figure out how you're really going to implement, NEPA, the National Environmental Protection Act because it had just been passed a little bit earlier and now you had huge issues like what was the NEPA requirement to build something like the Alaska pipeline? Well, part of the excitement of the time was that with all of these issues, all of which touched each other, the environmental issues touched each other, the treaty right issues had tremendous implications to what it would mean in terms of the fishing relationship between Canada, the United States and Alaska because you had those fisheries all of which went into the various jurisdictions, none of which had been resolved yet. You had major pieces of legislation that were being passed. Indian Self-Determination and Education, the Nixon administration came out with a major Indian policy, hadn't had one in literally decades and it said, ‘Indian self-determination without termination reversed the termination policy of the ‘50s; major, major policy statement of fact. But with everybody kind of struggling about how would you implement that, what did it mean in relationship to AIM and the real poverty and problems that are taking place on Indian reservations? What did it mean in relationship to those environmental concerns that are now becoming very, very sensitive and key both to the treaty and legal obligations that the United States had for Indian tribes? So we were passing things like Endangered Species Act, same time frame. Clean Air, Clean Water Act, implementation of NEPA and then how are you going to co-manage between tribes and non-Indians, major resources like the fishery resources that had been in the courts. So it was within that sort of context that not only did I get the opportunity to work with the Secretary of Interior but with the other assistant secretaries that were dealing with these issues, all of which were pushing this sort of environmental Indian awareness climate together with some very significant changes that were taking place both within the Congress and within the administration. So an exciting five or six years."

The excitement of converging issues, Native treaty rights, the environment, economic development

Roy Sampsel:

"I think it was the sense that there was great change taking place and that no individual change, act or personality was insulated from the other. Nat Reed was an assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Nat had kind of an Ichabod Crane character about him because he was thin and came out of Florida and he had wealth. He essentially was one of those people who had served on a number of commissions and a number of positions in government basically for a dollar a year because he had this great sense of social responsibility. And so in this Nixon administration he came in with this wonderful sort of environmental ethic that had been gained during this period of time. I can still remember Nat trying to understand the relationship between the Native rights in Alaska and his concern for building parks and refuges and how was he going to do that with this Native Indigenous subsistence right. It didn't seem to fit. So here was this wonderful person wrestling with what his job was in relationship to this overriding responsibility that he had...you couldn't learn it in school, you hadn't been taught it, there wasn't a place to easily pick I up, with an administration who said, ‘Hey, Indians have rights and Indians have their right to be self determined and educated.' This sounds a little silly to be doing that in the latter part of the 20th century but in fact this is when it was starting to come together or back together again in this sort of awareness. You also had a political climate in Alaska that said, ‘We don't want reservations. We don't want this settlement of this lands issue and the building of this pipeline which is very, very important to us economically to be hampered by the fact that we're creating reservations in this state.' Therefore you ended up with something called the Native Claims Settlement Act which essentially changed the character of Native people by creating corporations."

The Alaskan Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 was a money-land settlement with Alaska Natives establishing regional corporations and terminating certain rights

Roy Sampsel:

"Thirteen regional corporations, village corporations, that would be given land and resources from the oil revenues as the means by which to insure that there would be success or assimilation of Native people into the broader society without what was perceived to be the inherent failure of the lower 48 reservation Indian situation. So when you asked what was there, you had all of this coming together at a time in which it hadn't been sorted out but you knew that this was, that period of time was in fact going to be a major change and if you can get involved with pieces of it maybe you could help make some of those changes better."

As special assistant to the Secretary of the Interior he had frequent contact with tribal communities

Roy Sampsel:

"In Alaska I probably went to I would say at least half, maybe 60 percent of all the villages and it was a timeframe that was just absolutely fascinating. I had not spent any time in Alaska before doing that so getting a chance to meet the tribal leaders, getting a chance to meet all the people that was very, very exciting. In the lower 48 the answer is, yeah, I got to spend a lot of time talking to tribal folks about a range of issues and the...I think probably some of the most tense times were when we were dealing in Sioux Country around the Wounded Knee timeframe. Up in Red Lake; that was during a period of time in which all of this was taking place. You had Roger Jordain under a tremendous amount of fire from the dissention within the tribe and its own people. So yeah, I spent a lot of time with a lot of folks. The difference in doing it at that particular level is that you were essentially talking to leadership about a issue of the moment as opposed to where do you want to be in a few years, where do you see the change taking you and that was kind of the exciting part about dealing with specific issues cause you could actually sit down with the folks that were involved in the fish commissions or getting involved in the fish commissions in the later ‘70s. And they had a vision of where they wanted to see things go and what they were trying to fight and protect for."

Tribal leaders of the recent past, Roger Jordain, Red Lake, Chippewa Cree; Wendell Chino, Mescalero Apache; Bob Jim, Yakima; Lucy Covington, Colville

Roy Sampsel:

"Respect for each other but they disagreed a lot on a lot of things and they were grand leaders of their time. They were cutting edges in a time in which the things that they had had to fight for were changing a little bit. They were very distrustful of government and what it was trying to do but also very demanding that government had a responsibility, that those treaties meant things, that there was a trust obligation of the United States that extended beyond the Bureau of Indian Affairs and that it wasn't just based upon the land, the treaties talked about education, it talked about healthcare, it talked about those things that were a piece of the federal trust responsibility. Yeah, they were very articulate spokesmen and they had visions for their people. I don't know that anybody will ever really understand what Wendell Chino did but he was a rock and there was no question about it, there was that sort of presence. When he was there to make a comment and to talk about things, you knew it was worth listening to and you knew it was serious. There were a number of people during that same period of time that we're going at. Yakimas had a...Yakima tribe in Washington had Bob Jim. Bob was a wonderful, strong Indian leader. When the Native people in Alaska were wrestling with how they were going to deal with the Native Claims Settlement Act, Bob Jim went to his council and said, ‘We need to help these people.' The Yakima tribe loaned the Alaskan Native leadership $250,000, which was a lot of money in those days, a lot of money today but a lot of money in those days, so that they could get organized to deal with the federal government because he believed it was that important. I was dealing with a water rights issue at the time because I was working in Interior. And we called all of the tribal leadership and tribal attorneys together to deal with this particular question and a lot was going on, it was a two day meeting. We were into the second day and I can still remember Bob Jim standing up and saying, ‘Well, Roy,' he said, ‘I really enjoyed the fact that you've been doing this today.' He said, ‘I'd like to ask all of the non-Indian folks that are here just if they wouldn't mind leaving for awhile so some of us Indians can get together and talk about this a little bit.' He was very courteous about it and at the end of that they...of course people started picking up their things and leaving cause they respected Bob Jim's desire. And about...as they were starting to leave he said, ‘Now, Roy, I want you to stay.' He said, ‘I want you to stay.' So he got in there and he shut the door and he said, ‘I want you to understand what water means to me and what it means to...' and he went around the room because he said, ‘I think you're dealing with this in too much of an abstract legal sense. There are attorneys to deal with it legally but this is what water means to us.' It was dynamic and these were people who understood what it meant to be Indian, understood what it meant to be Indian in a time of conflict and controversy."

The Indian Self Determination and Education Act of 1975 gave tribal governments increased control of their affairs and funding for education assistance

Roy Sampsel:

"What I think the legislation that changed the character, that represented a major shift if you will in federal policy was the Indian Self-Determination and Education Act. Not because of the detail of the act but for the recognition that tribes were in fact not going to go away. That the termination and the assimilation era that had been in the ‘50s and early ‘60s was not where we wanted to be as a nation anymore and that there was a recognition that tribes had the ability to not only run but operate their own form of government. So the significance was this major change. The other piece that was significant about it is that this came about during the timeframe in which you had guys by the name of Forrest Girard who was working on the Indian committee with Senator Scoot Jackson of Washington. Scoot Jackson had been one of the architects of the termination period and here was this man, chairman of this committee, with Forrest Girard an Indian person working on his stand, working with the administration to create this piece of legislation. It was a significant turnaround and Indians seizing upon that as the means by which to identify how they chose to do business with the federal government and how the federal government were going to have to respond to them in the future."

Working in the administration of President Richard Nixon

Roy Sampsel:

"It would be wrong to characterize him as a person who had this great passion for Indian self-government and the rest of it. What he did is he understood that there were people who did and he let them move forward in a way that I think speaks well for his overall leadership. It was a time that it may have happened anyway regardless of who was president. I don't want to give too much credence to some of these things that just are necessary and are evolving anyway. So if you look at the Nixon timeframe, he did things like return Blue Lake to the Pueblos, his tremendous culturally significant event because he knew that Indian self-determination and the right for tribes to have this sort of... required specific actions that would demonstrate there was in fact a change."

Roy returns to the northwest to work with tribes keeping old friends and allies

Roy Sampsel:

"I decided that there were a couple of things that needed to happen. One, I wanted to work closer with the Indian issues on a specific basis and I was fortunate enough to be in the northwest and the fact that you had a few things that had been achieved in the federal courts didn't mean that they were being implemented and the question was, ‘Could you implement a court treaty right? Could you make it work?' And we had the advantage of having some great Indian leadership at the time and some pretty gutsy folks that were sitting around trying to figure out how to make that happen. And tribes had understood that they were gaining in terms of their management responsibility and that they weren't going to go away. A guy by the name of Wyman Babby had been back as a young Indian person working with Louie Bruce. Louie Bruce, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, first chairman of the Nixon administration and he had ended up being the area director for Aberdeen, Wounded Knee, young Indian man basically beat up by that period of time. I brought him on my staff in Portland, Oregon, in the Secretary's office because quite frankly he didn't have any place else to go. He was looking for...he still wanted to be active so I take Wyman Babby and let him go work for Don Hodel. During this period of time Don Hodel says, ‘Gee, there's this treaty thing going on with Indian fishing rights and we're right kind of in the middle of it, aren't we?' And the answer is, ‘Yes.' So this is a period of time in which Wyman Babby, because of his education and the opportunity to work with the Indian people out here, has determined that maybe what Don Hodel ought to do is be the one who leads the charge. So during that period of time on the Columbia River you've got Don Hodel working with the tribes to reach the first agreement between the treaty tribes and Bonneville Power Administration that they have a seat at the table to deal with these issues."

The Columbia River Treaty Tribes, Yakima, Nez Perce, Warm Springs, Umatilla

Roy Sampsel:

"That memorandum of agreement between the four tribes signed by the Bonneville Power Administration really broke things open because it made the state very nervous and very unhappy. So that agreement was then modified and was signed also not only by the four treaty tribes and the Bonneville Power Administration but the Governor of Idaho, the Governor of Washington and the Governor of Oregon. The Governor of Oregon at the time was a guy by the name of Bob Straub, Dan Evans in the State of Washington and Cec Andrus in the State of Idaho. And so during that period of time is when you get the commissioned organized, that's when you get the tribal Indian commissions organized, you get this sort of expansion if you will of that authority, get the negotiation between the Puget Sound tribes on the U.S. v. Washington, the Bolt decision timeframe because the administration wanted very, very much to have a settlement of that court case. So there was a formal negotiation with the tribes, the State of Washington and President Carter had three cabinet officials as part of that team, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Interior. While all of this is taking place within this context about how do we begin to implement a court case and what is the United States' responsibility not only to file the case and to win it but then to implement it to make sure that the intent of that court case is in fact carried out, how much resource in terms of money is needed so all of this is being debated. How much authority do tribes have? What does co-management really mean?"

The strengths of the Pacific Northwest Tribes in the negotiations

Roy Sampsel:

"The one thing you can say about the tribal people at the time is that they never blinked. They knew exactly what it meant to them and they knew exactly what the United States was going to have to do. Now, we're still working to try to figure out what that means on any given day and how it still needs to be applied but during those late ‘70s and into the early ‘80s, there was this sort of commitment that we have won this right in the courts and the federal government needs to now step up to the plate to make sure that those rights are able to be implemented and that there is no further erosion."

Roy served as the first Executive Director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission from 1977-1979. The Northwest Indian Fish Commission in Puget Sound had been formed in 1974.

Roy Sampsel:

"I can still remember the meeting in which they asked if I'd be willing to come and be the Executive Director. We were meeting at the Portage Inn up in Dalles and the tribal leadership was up there and our tribal attorneys were involved and I said, ‘Well, let me just think about this for a minute.' And they said, ‘Well, you don't have too much time to think about it cause we've got a lot of work to do.' And so I said, ‘Okay, suppose I said yes, what would my first job be?' They said, ‘Well, you would have to go to Washington, D.C. and get some money cause we have no way to pay you.' And so that was sort of the...kind of the humor if you will about also and the importance of how would you actually put one of these commissions together? The commission in Puget Sound had been operating for a few years and it had gotten started a little bit earlier and we were still wrestling with those issues. Now, in comes the new administration and President Carter wants to try to figure out if they can figure out how to negotiate an agreement, a settlement to the disputes and the court cases in Puget Sound. So while we've started the Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, I'm not its executive director and being asked by the Puget Sound tribes if I will be their lead negotiator in negotiating with the State of Washington and the federal government during the supposed settlement negotiations. It was absolutely a fascinating timeframe. Now, why would a executive director from the Inter-Tribal Fish Commission on the Columbia River be asked to be the negotiator for the Puget Sound tribes? And the reason is because the Yakimas were a party to both cases and saw the need for somebody who they trusted to be a piece of this negotiating team and all of this earlier sort of experience that I'd had doing all these things, there weren't a whole lot of Indian folks that had actually worked in the administration and worked politically and so it was that sort of...all of that background experience now became a useful tool in how could you start to implement a treaty right. And what type of skills would you bring to a negotiating table? Okay, Roy, you can go negotiate but your job is to give away absolutely nothing and the State of Washington had hired a negotiator, a gentleman by the name of Bill Wilkerson. Bill then goes on later in his life to become the Fish and Wildlife Director for the State of Washington. And all of us in those period of times were trying to sit around and figure out how could you craft certain types of agreements that were consistent with what the court had said and consistent with what the tribes wanted and needed in order to be able to implement their treaty right."

Values and strengths on which he drew in these times

Roy Sampsel:

"That's the beauty of grandma and mom and dad who...granny who had that great Indian wisdom, mom and dad who survived the Depression and going to Indian boarding school in the ‘30s. The political teachings of Frank Roberts and all of those folks and so basically the people that had been teaching me how to do specifics had also taught you how to deal with opportunity and controversy and the challenge. The leadership that wouldn't allow you to fear failure or to understand that there was even an option to quit, how could you possible do that with people who hadn't quit in their entire lifetime or in the lifetimes of their parents or their grandparents. This was not something...it was not casual and it wasn't just political, it was very, very significant in terms about the culture and the religion of those people. You could not...you could not not do what was needed. It wasn't allowed. It wasn't an acceptable alternative. So what you didn't know you learned and what you didn't know you created. Blind luck, a lot of it."

Serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs under Secretary of the Interior James Watt

Roy Sampsel:

"He was one of the people who probably did more to damage himself than anybody could have done for him. And I say that because he had a sense of what it needed to be, he didn't really understand what it was and he understood that self-determination was really a piece of how you turned Indian reservations and Indian tribes around was the ability to have great economic independence, greater economic independence from the federal government. He didn't quite understand the relationship between the tribal government doing that and what was necessary. And I have known every Secretary of Interior since Stuart Udall who served in the Kennedy administration and without exception most of the Secretaries of Interior have left their position disappointed that they were not able to do more in relationship to their tribal and Indian responsibility and part of that is I think because none of them truly had an understanding of what it would take to implement a trust relationship with tribes. This particular Secretary that we're dealing with now in this administration, Gale Norton, working for the Bush administration inherited a hundred year old failure of federal government to deal honestly with trust assets of individual Indians and tribes. Now, how...can you imagine that happening in any other avenue of society in the United States of America in which you would have 100 year of failing to deal with fiduciary responsibilities associated with dealing with individual Indians and tribal resources, cash, real dollars going to real accounts not being able to be tracked or understood? Gale Norton didn't do that but she is the lady in charge of that department now. So for 100 years Secretaries of Interior in the federal government fail Indian people. And when you get back to an individual Secretary, they each understood pieces of it but never understood it enough to take it seriously as a responsibility to fix the deficiencies which allowed for...Jim Watt speaking about the need to create Indian wealth while his department was managing billions of dollars of Indian monies and not being able to figure out that that was a primary responsibility that he had as Secretary. So pieces of this are still weaving themselves together into a fabric that I think will speak well for where Indians end up at say the mid point of the 21st century."

A perspective on tribes from the future

Roy Sampsel:

"You have to remember the time and schedule that tribes are on are a little bit different than the tribes and schedules that others might be on so they're going to be here for a long time and as many of my Indian friends will tell me, we're not going anywhere. We have our homes, we have our lands, our reservation, we have our homeland that we're...so you can change, society can change, it can change but we're going to still be here. So these sort of fixes that we're talking about will in fact take place. We don't know exactly what the picture of Indian America will look like another 50 years from now but I will tell you there will be an Indian America and the picture will be brighter than it is today, perhaps even superior to other societies that have failed to live with both their culture and their religion and their beliefs."

Leadership in Indian Country and the examples of the late Joe de la Cruz (Quinault) and Lucy Covington (Colville)

Roy Sampsel:

"I think Indian leadership will be enhanced by understanding that there have been previous great Indian leaders and that the ability to see that may encourage people to pursue it. I guess I would say the same thing about...Indian leadership is part of a tribal political process as well as a cultural process and if you're well grounded in your roots and the culture and the history of your people and your tribe, then you have to make a decision about whether or not the politics of it is something that you want to pursue and endure. What makes a great United States Senator? I would be hard to draw that profile. What makes a great President? Maybe the fact that he or she was a great Senator or a great Congressman or a good Governor or maybe it's just the events in which they find themselves and how they respond to the crisis of the moment. Would Lucy Covington have such an important place in my sense of history if she hadn't jumped off that tractor as a farmer in Colville and decided there was no way they were going to terminate her tribe? I don't know. If they hadn't been trying to terminate her tribe, would she have jumped off the tractor? So when you start looking at pieces of this, part of it is events and part of it is the fact that there is this sense of responsibility. And I don't know how an individual tribe or an individual person emerges to take on that level of responsibility but it's a personal thing. It's something that they are willing and want to do. Joe de la Cruz who was...there was never a meeting that Joe de la Cruz wasn't willing to go to. He was willing to participate at all levels because he was in some sense afraid not to for fear of what might happen if there wasn't that presence there. But I don't think there is an easy way to say, ‘What is...why did certain tribes have great leaders at this moment?' Well, they may have had spectacular leaders 200 years ago and we just don't know about it."

Tribes and Washington, D.C. politics in late 2002

Roy Sampsel:

"I don't see this administration being in a position or having as a priority great changes that would increase dollars and wealth to Indian Country and Indian tribes. Nor do I see it in a position in which it would be advocating additional resources for natural resources types of issues that Indian tribes are concerned about. I think the greatest sense that I see about Indian tribes and this particular Congress that's coming up and with this administration is that you have the growth of Native American caucuses in both the House and the Senate who are increasing in membership and are bipartisan. Now, that tells me that there is an understanding that the federal trust responsibility to Indian tribes and that special relationship is better understood now than it has been in the past and it is bipartisan in nature, not partisan in nature. I don't know of a Democratic or Republican way to improve Indian housing, to improve Indian health services delivery. There are ways in which it can be done but for the most part it's pretty well understood that those are responsibilities that need to be met. Now will the resources be there? More likely when you have greater money and you probably get a better response out of Democratic Congresses more than Republican Congresses but we'll have to wait and see. I don't see a major change coming about because there is a party in charge of all three. I'm encouraged by the fact that we see a bipartisan approach coming out of both the House and the Senate, Native American caucuses and I think that will have an influence on the budgeting that the President puts forth in future budgets. I think that I am more concerned about the Supreme Court now than I have been but anybody that's been tracking Indian affairs over the last number of years have been concerned about the Supreme Court for the last decade and a half and unless there is a legislative redefinition of federal responsibility and as a result of that the Congress defining the rights and responsibilities of Indian governments, I see continued erosion of that, regardless of which court is in there. But I don't see anything happening positive with this Court now or in the immediate future."

The changes in Indian Country and what's ahead

Roy Sampsel:

"A couple of these may surprise you. I think there are more people willing to say they are Indian now than there were 30 years ago. I think there is a greater personal pride in being an Indian person. There is I think a greater sense that...from the general population that Indians may have a unique wisdom that maybe wasn't appreciated as much 30 or 35 years ago as it is now and that the logic of taking care of the land and the water and the, if you will the cultural and religious significance of that Indian people is having a rebirth in non-Indian thought and pattern. I think that individual Indian entrepreneurship growth in terms of economic self sufficiency and development is what's going to be the most exciting thing to observe over the next couple of decades."

Roy has a reputation for goodwill and generosity: his comments

Roy Sampsel:

"It doesn't have to be big, it just has to be real. You've really got to care that this individual or this action or that type of activity will in some way be of value to something beyond what is now and certainly beyond who you are, that it isn't enough just to be right and to give the speech, it has to work and has to work over time and that requires the persistence and the diligence to make change happen."

The Great Tribal Leaders of Modern Times series and accompanying curricula are for the educational programs of tribes, schools and colleges. For usage authorization, to place an order or for further information, call or write Institute for Tribal Government – PA, Portland State University, P.O. Box 751, Portland, Oregon, 97207-0751. Telephone: 503-725-9000. Email: tribalgov@pdx.edu.

[Native music]

The Institute for Tribal Government is directed by a Policy Board of 23 tribal leaders,
Hon. Kathryn Harrison (Grand Ronde) leads the Great Tribal Leaders project and is assisted by former Congresswoman Elizabeth Furse, Director and Kay Reid, Oral Historian

Videotaping and Video Assistance
Chuck Hudson, Jeremy Fivecrows and John Platt of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission

Editing
Green Fire Productions

Great Tribal Leaders of Modern Times is also supported by the non-profit Tribal Leadership Forum, and by grants from:
Spirit Mountain Community Fund
Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs
Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, Chickasaw Nation
Coeur d'Alene Tribe
Delaware Nation of Oklahoma
Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe
Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians
Jayne Fawcett, Ambassador
Mohegan Tribal Council
And other tribal governments

Support has also been received from:
Portland State University
Qwest Foundation
Pendleton Woolen Mills
The U.S. Dept. of Education
The Administration for Native Americans
Bonneville Power Administration
And the U.S. Dept. of Defense

This program is not to be reproduced without the express written permission of the Institute for Tribal Government

© 2004 The Institute for Tribal Government  

 

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "What Successful Intergovernmental Relationships Require"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Native leaders explain the importance of Native nations building their capacity to effectively engage in the development and maintenance of intergovernmental relationships with other sovereign governments, stressing that doing so is a critical component of the full exercise of tribal sovereignty. 

Native Nations
Citation

Ettawageshik, Frank. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy. University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. April 13, 2010. Interview.

Killer, Kevin. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Rapid City, South Dakota. May 24, 2010. Interview.

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

McCoy, John. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Cambridge, Massachusetts. September 18, 2009. Interview.

Penney, Sam. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. August 20, 2010. Interview.

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

Vizenor, Erma. "Engaging the Nation's Citizens and Effecting Change: Stories from Indian Country." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 25, 2010. Presentation.

 

Erma Vizenor:

"We have to function outside of our reservation and our tribe. We have to deal with companies. We have to deal with the federal government. We have to deal with the states. And so we have to have structures and institutions that empower us so that we are never taken advantage of again."

Frank Ettawageshik:

"When you acknowledge that sovereignty in yourself and in others, then you have to exercise or negotiate that sovereignty with your neighbors. So what I think is here is that you're constantly working with those other sovereigns, but you need to figure out how to decide who you're dealing with and who you aren't. And so the most basic way of that is that if somebody else acknowledges you, well you can acknowledge them, but you have to have some sort of a process for that. What this clause in our constitution does is it establishes a basis for some office, or staff person, or somebody that would be akin to a state department, for instance, where there is an international relations office that deals with negotiations with other sovereigns and those types of things."

John McCoy:

"My advice to them all is to create a governmental affairs office, where these folks just work on policy, that they work with state legislatures, with county governments, with other city governments. Because you need to touch them all, because they pass laws that infringe on the tribal sovereignty. So you need to be there to educate them so that they modify their law to where it does no harm to the tribal sovereignty. They're not doing -- my personal opinion -- 99 percent of them, of these laws that infringe on tribal sovereignty, is done out of ignorance not maliciousness. It's out of ignorance. Once you inform them, educate them on the issue, then they adjust their language to where they do no harm. So they need to be at the city level, the county level, the state level, and we've always done the federal level."

Roy Sampsel:

"A part of the strength of tribal governments and tribal nation building is the capacity of that nation to perform seriously for its broader community, and for the lands, and for that seven generations, for that future. So the strength of these is to deal with them in not a casual manner but a serious manner, and to do it in such a way that you're asking the same standards that you're applying to your nation and to your government to be the means by which other governments are entering into those agreements with you. It does not do any good to say, 'Gee, I wish that our state had a better system by which people could know about Indian people and Indian tribes.' A wonderful sort of sentiment, but where's the commitment to do that? Are you going to encourage curriculum development? If curriculum is developed, is it going to get into the school systems? In other words, it's not the recognition of either the problem and/or the opportunity, it's the commitment over time to make that work."

Deron Marquez:

"Well it was once said that, 'How do you know you're a nation?' Well the answer to that was you're recognized by another nation. And so you need to forge those gaps, be it cities, counties, states or federal government, or even foreign nations. We've had visitors from China come in and visit our reservation and talk with us. Those are the things that I think nation-building leaders tackle. And while doing so, I think it's very critical when they're out there doing that, they're not just representing your nation. You're representing all nations and to act accordingly, but have the understanding that what you do -- you're authentic voice, is what I always say -- still resonates from your community and your people."

Sam Penney:

"I think first of all we need to educate ourselves and to know exactly what those other entities do and what their purpose and function and mission is. I think that's very important for a tribal leader to understand that. Then I think secondly, going out on the national state and local level and being present to represent your tribe is important as well. And I think thirdly, just continuing that dialogue with various people you meet throughout your travels. I've often found that most of the long-lasting friendships and relationships that I have is talking with people informally. May not even be during the actual meeting, it's either out in the hallway or at a luncheon, or something like that. That's where you get the one-on-one and build that personal relationship that goes a long ways and building that trust between yourself and other individuals that you're going to be working with."

Kevin Killer:

"Understand that you're coming into this with a different frame of mind, a different set of experiences than somebody else who grew up in a different part of the state who may have never have had contact with Native communities. And really empathize with that mindset because if you don't, if you hold on to what you believe in, and the other side holds on to what they believe in, then there's going to be no workability, I guess. And so if you can't work beyond what you believe or what you think you know is true, then there's going to be no compromise. There's going to be no solutions... That's the thing that I would encourage all tribal leaders to remember, is that there's always something that we can look at. We can agree on something, something that needs to be improved, especially if we're committed in this for future generations and the future of our nations, whether that's a statehood, or whether that's a Native nationhood, or [the] federal government. We're all in this together, and ensuring that that never leaves the room is that we're all in this together. So how are we going to work for everybody in the future?"

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "Intergovernmental Relationships: Tools for Nation Building"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Native leaders discuss the ways that intergovernmental agreements serve as important nation-building tools for Native nations, strengthening their sovereignty and jurisdiction in the process.

Native Nations
Citation

Cladoosby, Brian. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy. University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 24, 2010. Interview.

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

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

Ninham-Hoeft, Patricia. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy. University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 26, 2009. Interview.

Pecos, Regis. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy. University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. June 17, 2008. Interview.

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

Sarah Hicks:

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

Brian Cladoosby:

"We've been creating intergovernmental agreements since 1855 at Swinomish when my grandfather's grandfather Kelkahltsoot signed the treaty with the U.S. government ceding vast acres of land to the U.S. government in exchange for some reserved rights and some promises that were put down on paper. So we have been, we are a government, and we have to be viewed as a government, and we have to look at other governments, and when we need to make agreements with them that benefit us and them, we have to do it. I don't see it as something that gets in the way of our sovereignty."

Paulette Jordan:

"A lot of that's recognition. They have to recognize you first as a sovereign entity. And that, I think, by that recognition, that's what strengthens who you are, and that's how it needs to be. If you don't allow that or if you limit that in any way, then yes, you're limiting your sovereignty, your inherent rights."

Regis Pecos:

"We consciously are regaining control by entering into this intergovernmental agreement with the Bureau of Land Management that makes us co-managers of lands that we will never afford to reacquire because of our financial situation and lack of financial resources. But we've used that intergovernmental agreement framework as a way to co-manage areas important to us. So that's probably one of the best examples that underscores how you can use that tool or that mechanism...Because now we're co-managers of these lands, and if we did not fully exercise our powers and authorities in this kind of creative way, in a very conscious way, that is a very significant part of our articulated vision of how we engage other governments for that purpose, we would not, today, have access to [those] places. In fact, we'd be trespassing upon those lands as we have historically."

Patricia Ninham-Hoeft:

"So one tool that my tribe has used are service agreements. And they enter into these agreements, or intergovernmental agreements, with local municipalities to figure out how to share in providing services to the area and to our community. So, for example, in Oneida we live so close to the city of Green Bay and some other villages, and they provide services that are important to us. For example, there's an airport that's across from our casino and it's run by the county. We depend on roads to be maintained and plowed right away when there's bad weather. And at the end of the day, those services have to be paid for by somebody. And so a tribe can say, 'We're not allowed to be taxed by another jurisdiction.' But those services still have to get provided and someone still has to pay for them. And so entering into an intergovernmental agreement or service agreement with a municipality is an exercise of sovereignty, that we are going to help provide for that service. We may not actually provide it ourselves but we may help pay for it through that kind of an agreement."

Roy Sampsel:

"I think if they are written with the understanding that they are trying to create an atmosphere in which a common product and consensus, if you will, can be reached is particularly important...I agree with the tribal leaders that are recognizing these as governance tools, as a means by which to exercise and implement their sovereignty and their nation building desires. Local governments, I think, are coming to the same conclusion." 

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

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

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

Native Nations
Resource Type
Topics
Citation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benny Shendo, Jr.:

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

Herminia Frias:

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

Jaime Pinkham:

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

Deron Marquez:

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

Frank Ettawageshik:

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

Sophie Pierre:

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

Roy Sampsel:

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

Erma Vizenor:

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

From the Rebuilding Native Nations Course Series: "Why are Some Native Nations More Successful than Others?"

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Native leaders offer their perspectives on why some Native nations have proven more successful than others in achieving their economic and community development goals.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Barrett, John "Rocky". Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 28, 2009. Interview.

Ninham-Hoeft, Patricia. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 26, 2009. Interview.

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

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

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

Ben Nuvamsa:

"We have this long history and teachings and so on. And if we hang onto those beliefs, core values, and so on, that really is the foundation from which we can build. So in successful nations, tribal nations, we're able to do that; to define who they are, understanding who they are, but also have a plan. A plan that's looking down, some people say seven generations. We don't just plan for ourselves, for tomorrow or next five years but long-term. We have to have a global vision of where we want to be. And if we can define that, then we can reduce that down to something that's gonna be achievable. And I think that economic development, economic success, goes back to having a good strategic direction where you want to be. The same way with us as communities and so on and to be able to build our healthy communities so that...it's the same kind of thing. What do we want to achieve? Who are we? And at Hopi, for example, it's just going back to the values of who we are as Hopi and Tewa people and defining our communities that way...and then setting our governance accordingly."

Patricia Ninham-Hoeft:

"I think it starts with short-term and long-term vision. That those tribes that are successful have a vision for what they think they're community should look like a hundred, two hundred years from today. And they've taken the time to make steps backwards to map out how to achieve that vision and then they start working on it together. And that they explain that vision to the entire community so that everyone is on the same page and they can help. And I think part of getting to that place of success means that we, as individuals in our community, have to change our mindset that we have to stop being the victim. We have to stop blaming our history for why we're not successful and we have to start living and defining our future as it is today. So values and ideas that worked for us in the past, they probably still work for us today, but it's the way we express them, the form that we use to live our daily lives has changed and we have to get with that. And when we do that when we start defining and taking charge of our own future then we'll start realizing our vision."

John "Rocky" Barrett:

"Common attributes, I think, of successful nation building are stable governments, expanded representation, lawful behavior, and something that lends itself to consistent performance. All those go back to constitutional forms but they also... those are really accomplished by diminishing nepotism which is, you know, since everyone is related in an Indian tribe, that is an issue. Financial accountability is a huge one; separation of powers seems to be a common attribute; and most importantly to make all that fall within a cultural relevance that means something to the culture of the tribe and the people."

Sophie Pierre:

"There's lots of reasons why...I think that for our case, the fact that we have made it a priority, that we listen to our people, that we, and that we ensure that we're engaging our people, our Ktunaxa people, with every aspect as we move forward I think that that's really what has really helped us to be successful."

Roy Sampsel:

"Where you have a strong sense of history, a strong cultural sense, it allows for that to be the foundational building blocks on which nations can then advance as they begin to take on either the political, social or economic needs of their tribes are. [...] A piece of it, I think, is individual history that the tribes have gone through and whether or not they have been able to sustain leadership continuity over time. I don't want to over emphasize that because it doesn't mean that young, new leaders don't emerge and make tremendous leaders. But if there is a cycle in which this isn't able to be built upon, and if everything has to start new, then what you end up is the lack of the foundational building blocks that allow for success to take place over time."