On the Rosebud Indian Reservation, May 25 (Elder Day) and May 28 (Memorial Day) are both legal holidays for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. All offices will be closed.
Qualified Rosebud Sioux Tribal members have seven days to submit a nominating affidavit and filing fee to run for election. The deadline to file for the office of Tribal President, Vice-President or Council Representative is May 31, 2012.
I visited tribal headquarters last week. Only a few people have filed to be placed on the ballot for the reservation wide primary election set for Thursday, July 26, 2012. Most are incumbents; some have served prior terms in office while others have not served at all.
Potential candidates are working on their campaign platform. Incumbents who are seeking re-election are dusting off the platform which was put away after the last election. We will be encouraged to vote for this or that political candidate.
Many people want to see new blood in Tribal Government. Still, when we elect new people to our governing body many of them have no clue about the position they have been appointed to. They walk into their very first tribal council meeting totally blind.
This is what usually happens:
It might take the whole first year to figure out how Tribal Government operates. Legislators will attend days upon days of endless meetings where controversial issues are talked to death before being voted on. There is never enough money. It is usually during this time when the legislator forgets what his or her original campaign platform actually proposed.
Then, after the process is somewhat figured out, the elected official may work to bring forward the issues he/she wanted to originally change, improve or eliminate. Legislators will soon find that not all of their colleagues will support the issues they seek to address. It may take six, ten, twelve or eighteen months to lobby for support from the other nineteen tribal council members.
By now legislators are approaching the end of a three year term in office. If they want to run for re-election, they might start campaigning now for the election which will take place next year. The last year in office is often dedicated to strategizing for re-election. Their vote for or against controversial issues may determine their chances of being re-elected.
In the six months leading up to the primary election, people are talking trash about incumbents who might want to be re-elected while encouraging innocent tribal members to file for office. This is where we are today.
If you’re thinking of running for election to a position in Tribal Government, I believe you should spend at least five years studying the governing body. It isn’t fair to your fellow tribal members to enter the biggest job of your life unprepared. You will only waste our time and financial resources.
Soon those hand painted signs will create a familiar eyesore at every major highway junction on our rez. Shall I vote for whoever has the best sign?