Tuesday, January 10, 2006

American Indians in Politics??

There was a time many years ago, natural laws were respected and adhered to by the aboriginal people of this land called the Americas. Our leaders knew the almost sacred obligation of leading a group of people and conducted themselves accordingly. It would take a person many years of living a life that could be respected and admired, before he would even consider leading the people. Among my relatives, I am told he would have to have one hundred give aways before he would be eligible for leadership, that's just to be eligible, and they called that his count to One Hundred. He would initiate this process maybe around his late twenties to mid thirties making his intentions known by feeding the people, putting on a feast. At this feast he would give away to all the clan leaders, tribal leaders, important guests, and/or the needy, his family and friends would most likely have to help him in his endeavors. With each feast and give away it would be similar in his efforts and noted by the tribe.

From that time on the people would then watch and observe him in the following years. They would ask..did he show compassion when compassion was needed? Was he generous and kind to people? Was he a man that you could go to for help and/or advice? Did he help solve problems and show respect for the elders, was he good to the children? Was he a good hunter and provider for his family? Was he humble and a man of prayer with good spiritual being? Did he put the people first in all his affairs? Was he quick to anger or did he show restraint before acting? Those are just a few of the things the people looked for in him as a leader. If he did live his life in a good way the people would then follow him, they would camp around him and support him. If he was picked as a leader his decisions were respected and the people willing followed his advice, he would most likely be in his fifties. That was many, many years ago before the coming of todays dominant society.

Today it appears that a significant number of tribes tend to follow the dominant societies way of governing. It seems that they put themselves and their families and friends first and the people they are supposed to serve last. They come accross as having too much pride in their status as tribal leaders and develop egos that prevents them from relating to the common man. All too frequently many tribes commit wholly to following the path of todays form of government and fruad, greed and corruption is the end result for many. They learn quickly to say many good words and make long speeches about the need for change and are swift to place blame on others for todays problems. Tribal governments are now elected by the popular vote and not the qualified vote their ancestored endorsed. This means they could be totally unqualified for the position, unethical and/or corrupt, have no actual concept on how to effectively manage a entity as large as a tribe, but because they have a lot of relatives/friends they get voted in. They have ultimate control over thousands and thousands of dollars in program monies. Their jurisdiction covers the entire reservation some which are as large as some states or maybe as small as one square block, but yet they have very little knowledge of governmental/accounting procedures or operating experience. The tribe's that do emulate the dominant societies form of goverening tend to fall to the pressures of centrism, nepotism and political favors with bribes, embezzlement with the waste of resources not far behind them

At first the United States founding fathers admired the American Indians original forms of governing so much so, they wrote the U.S. Constitution modeling it after the Great Law of Peace that the eastern woodland Indians lived by for generations. Through the years they have managed to change, amend and/or twist that democratic process to fit their own needs and wants, leaving the poor and less fortunate out of the picture. Today we have a very corrupt and ineffective form of government. Just look at the B.I.A. and the Interior Department as an example of how they have handled their trust responsibilities to see the neglect and mismanagement running rampant among the tribes. Not all tribes are that way but there are it seems to be more than naught. Currently some tribe's are even trying to play in the big game of Washington politics and with lobbying efforts that has unfortunately blown up on them, with a social/political backlash that will go against all tribes probably for many years to come, putting us back even further in our efforts to advance as a people in todays society.