Shannon Douma and Richard Luarkie: How Do We Choose Our Leaders and Maintain Quality Leadership? (Q&A)

Native Nations Institute

Shannon Douma and Richard Luarkie (Pueblo of Laguna) field questions from seminar participants about how the Pueblo and also the Santa Fe Indian School's Summer Policy Academy groom Pueblo youth to take over the reins of leadership of their nations.

Native Nations
Resource Type

Douma, Shannon. "How Do We Choose Our Leaders and Maintain Quality Leadership? (Q&A)." Tribal Constitutions seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 3, 2014. Q&A session.

Luarkie, Richard. "How Do We Choose Our Leaders and Maintain Quality Leadership? (Q&A)." Tribal Constitutions seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. April 3, 2014. Q&A session.

Casey Douma:

"If you think about it in the context of that analogy of farming, you have to clear the land and plow the field and get it ready for irrigation. Get intentional rather than just take some seeds and throwing out there and hoping something grows, and from that crop becomes the people you select for leadership. We're very intentional in providing the environment for our children so that when they grow with the proper care and attention, that as they grow and the care is given to them, that when it comes time to select the leaders, that we have individuals like Governor [Richard] Luarkie who have been instilled with those types of values, and that when it comes time for harvest, the individuals possess the values and attributes of leadership that we hope for. And we know that that doesn't just happen on its own, it's very intentional in the communities.

So emphasizing the work with youth is so critical because we have to keep thinking of the next generation of leaders: who will be our caretakers, who will sustain us into the future? So in the efforts to think about leadership and leadership development, when it comes time to elections, when it comes time to get leadership in place, you think about who are our choices of people, what types of attributes do they have? And if they lack in those attributes, how do we instill that so that in the future we're not going to just let up, take the best of the worst and just take the whoevers? So as a part of growing leadership to...because so much of the stuff that we talked about for the past two days it comes back to how do we make this happen, how do we get things moving or how do we have a constructive conversation regarding constitutions, about governance, about laws and about our judicial systems? It takes a mindset of critical thinkers, of people who are eager to contribute to their communities. And that doesn't happen naturally. We have to be intentional in our approach.

So I'd like to just add that...commend both Shannon [Douma] and Governor Luarkie of our people for providing that respect. That as youth develop, it is so important because we were blessed by the...we were blessed with...we have leadership like Governor Luarkie, others who are products of the community, that are able to effectively govern and lead."

Miriam Jorgensen:

"Are there other comments or questions? Thank you very much, Casey."

Terry Janis:

"As far as your leadership strategies that you're engaging in in the youth program, speak a little bit more about how you're thinking about the critical nature of service and core values in particular. I ask you for a couple reasons. One is I'm constantly impressed by the Pueblos in the role of service in so many parts of governance and community and everything else. And I was wondering if you could speak more about that kind of balance between service and core values in your curriculum, your pedagogy, and how you think about them."

Shannon Douma:

"I just wanted to touch upon that. I think with the Summer Policy Academy we recognize that we have to establish a strong foundation for our people, for our young people, to instill and reinforce the core values of our people. Our students come in with an understanding...our students come in from a variety of places. They come in with a lot of knowledge about their communities. They've been involved in their communities, they've been raised to know what those values are. And then we have students that have lived outside of the communities that are Pueblo communities... they're Pueblo students, they've lived in places like Colorado Springs or in Albuquerque that maybe don't have as much exposure to their communities, and so we understand that our students come in with a variety of experiences.

So going back to talking about being intentional, we have to be intentional about how we work with our students because they're not learning it in the schools. We know that. They're not learning our history, our knowledge, and our experiences in the school settings. So how do we instill these values with our students to understand service, to understand reciprocity? We want our students to come back home and help our communities and that's something that I think...with all of us...I think for myself, being able to go away and experience college outside of my community and to know that there was always an opportunity to come home and serve my community and in what capacity, but to understand that we serve our communities in many different capacities. Some of us are in direct positions, some of us are working from afar, but to understand that it looks different for all of us and to recognize that.

And I think one of the things that I wanted to mention is that the core values advocate to achieve a higher standard for ourselves and families and our leaders. I think once the expectations are established we begin to reinforce those in our communities, with our families, with our leaders and we start holding each other accountable and so that's what we notice in our students is they start an understanding of how we're supposed to function, how we're supposed to live in terms of through this experience of understanding the history, the culture of our people. There's a real intention that students have in like, 'What can I do to give back? I've learned how my people have gone through this policy with boarding schools.' We've also learned about self-determination. 'How can I now give back to my community?' and it happens in many different ways. It happens through individual service, in groups, it happens within the schools that they go to school at. We have students that, in our school, we have some students from Laguna Pueblo that came to our program this past year and there was three students, they said, 'I didn't learn about this. I'm not learning about this in my school at all. How can I bring back the language and culture to our communities?' And so through that is a process of how we provide them with the tools, but also how we support them along the way.

So I think one of the things that we learn is that our students have the need to give back and they support one another and they help one another and I think they're eager to stay involved. And how we keep them involved is devoting our time to them, real intention of how we support them throughout the process. We don't just say, 'Come to our conference, hang out for a little bit and then go home.' We want them to understand that we're all a network now, we're a community now. So how do we support one another to serve our community because we're all representing those communities of the Pueblo people. Was that helpful?"

Miriam Jorgensen:

"We have one more question and then it's going to be our last question because I want to make sure we have a chance for a brief break and then we also have time for a very exciting pre-lunch panel as well. So sir, you've got the mic for the last question."

Esequiel (Zeke) Garcia:

"I've got a question for both panelists. The Institute, does it incorporate anything like an internship where the youth is paired up with a council member and actually gets hands on experience? And then the question for the Governor, for incoming tribal council members is there any type y'all's setting in your Pueblo...any type of like orientation or how they...any type of orientation to make them aware of what their role is and how they should go about practicing their position as a leader?"

Shannon Douma:

"I think in terms of like an internship with the governor's office or in...I think that's possible. We haven't had a student that was interested in that particular internship. So that's an idea that I think it's something that we can explore. Our internships span across many different areas and we rely a lot on our faculty. Like for instance, the UNM [University of New Mexico] Law School, we have Professor Christine Zuni Cruz who has interns work with her, understanding how it all works with the law school programs, services provided. And so basically students have a certain interest area that they'll pursue and they'll ask us if they can have an internship there, but we haven't had anybody right now that has had an interest in being in the governor's office. I'm sure that would be a great experience for our students, I think that's an idea that we'll explore when it comes to our internships for the coming years. But thank you."

Richard Luarkie:

"Thank you for the question, sir. As far as incoming council members, those officials, we don't...we have a process as I explained earlier where you're kind of groomed from the town crier to the mayordomo to the council. So that's kind of the longer version of our orientation preparing them for those offices. When an individual is then eventually put into office on January 1st when we have our installation ceremony, it's the opportunity for the people to encourage and remind the officials of what their role is. So it's the people that provide that first level of orientation. 'Here's what your responsibility is. Here's your reminders. Here's what the priorities are that we set forward, continue with this.'

When we get into the council environment, when we convene as a council at the beginning of the year, we normally have...we go through what we call our council policy, just our conduct, how we conduct ourselves, our responsibilities. As an example, council council members with the exception of the staff officials, the cane-bearing officers, the only time our council members have authority is when a council meeting is convened. When the council meeting ends, they're regular Joe Blow. They can't go out in the community and say, 'Council said this or I have the authority.' They don't have that authority unless we delegate them. So those kind of things are done to orientate.

Now as far as an internship in the governor's office or the treasurer or the secretary's office, I don't see that those are impossible because we have the Government Affairs Office that's a part of the governor's office. But again, back to our teachings, we're taught, 'Don't chase these positions,' [Pueblo language]. They remind, 'Don't put your hand where you're not ready yet.' So they're very reminding that you don't chase them. When the people think they're ready, then they'll start putting you into these positions and that's kind of your flag that they're probably -- as Casey mentioned -- they're intentional about beginning you down that process. So that's probably a reason from the traditional side we've not necessarily had internships in those offices, but that doesn't mean that the other functions we can't create it now. Even I think in this modern day and age, I don't think that that's something that's unattainable. As a matter of fact, I think it'll be a really cool project that we can develop something like that to help our students, help our students with."

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