It is election eve on the Rosebud. Even though I do not have much faith in the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, it is the government which my tribe operates under. Sadly, it is the only form of government we have. Until the people rise up and re-write the constitution we are governed under, nothing will change.
I have been going to tribal council meetings pretty regularly for the last 10 years or so. I have learned a lot just sitting there watching them conduct business. I strongly believe a prerequisite for running for any office in tribal government should be to attend at least a year of tribal council meetings. The tribal council members who have served many terms are quite knowledgeable about tribal government. They know the system and this can also make them very dangerous.
Tribal members do not realize we are all put in great danger whenever there is a tribal council meeting. The tribal council is the governing body of our reservation. They hold power over all of our tribal programs. Their meetings often get emotionally charged and they approve legislation which hurts people. Some of them say they are voting the wishes of the people but there are times when the people are wrong, in my opinion. It is not a good practice to stand behind the people when the people are wrong.
Some of the current candidates who are running for office are only thinking of themselves. They need your vote. They do not want your vote because they want to help the people, per se. They need your vote so they can remain in the position they are in. They are serving in a job which pays an extremely decent salary. They also have unlimited access to pay advances, tribal loans, free travel and a free smartphone.
Some of them need more than what I just listed above. Some candidates have personal vendettas against tribal employees. They need to get back into office to carry out those agendas. There are candidates who want very badly for certain tribal employees to be fired. This isn’t right. But that is the history of tribal politics; sometimes you lose your job simply because someone doesn’t like you. And that person who doesn’t like you is usually related to or married to or buddy-buddy with the tribal council member or tribal president who can fire you from your job.
In May 2012, the tribal council voted “to terminate the Chief of Police for a lack of leadership and that the police department have a review done and that the Police Commission/Judiciary Committee start the process of restricting.” This very ambiguous motion carried by a vote of 8 for, 4 against, 4 not voting and 4 absent. This action plunged the most crucial arm of the tribe into instant uncertainty. And it was all due to politics.
I saw a department head disciplining the employees because they needed to be put in line. Many tribal members believe the police department is corrupt. But I also know that people who work within the law enforcement system on Rosebud believed the Chief of Police was dealing with corruption by taking proper action.
She was simply doing the job for which she was hired to do.
Consequently, the grievance committee determined that she was within her authority to take action, which included the termination of some police officers, so the integrity of the police department could be maintained. She was reinstated to her job.
Now, the representative from Rosebud Community, who is now running for tribal president, is still headhunting for the Chief of Police. Today at the tribal council meeting he suggested that the grievance committee didn’t know how to do their job and needed to meet with the tribal council. It was also suggested that the grievance committee needs training. What a slap in the face for the members of the grievance committee, who are appointed to their positions by the tribal council.
If the members of the grievance committee needed training, the tribal council should have provided whatever education they deemed necessary to the members at the time of their appointment. When a committee, board or commission makes a decision which the tribal council does not agree with, right away the tribal council determines that the committee, board or commission needs more training.
In my opinion, it is very self-serving to use your influence as a tribal council member to micromanage and attempt to extend your legislative duties to those which belong to the personnel manager and or grievance process. It also seems as though the character of the members of the grievance committee is being called into question. What is the point of having a grievance committee when their decisions are subject to being overruled by the tribal council?
I have often wondered why tribal council appoints those committees, boards and commissions to serve underneath them. Everything is fine and dandy until one of those committees, boards or commissions takes an action which irks the tribal council. Then the tribal council will (1) call members of the committee, board or commission into a council meeting and ask them what the heck were they thinking when they made that decision or (2) remove the entire committee, board or commission and appoint one which will make only the decisions favorable to the tribal council.
I know this for a fact because I was once Chairperson of a commission and I was called in to an executive session of a tribal council meeting to explain why a certain action was taken. Another time I was a member of a Board which was removed by the tribal council and replaced with a new Board.
In closing, I am still not sure who I am going to vote for in tomorrow’s election. How does that saying go? Sometimes you have to choose the lesser of two evils.
Our children deserve a tribal government which is free from corrupt individuals.