your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Richard Monette: Indian Country loses a warrior in Dan Inouye

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: daniel inouye, obituaries, richard monette, scia, senate

When Dan Inouye moved on to the next journey, our world lost a giant of a man. Indian Country lost a warrior, a leader, a true chief.

Many knew Senator Inouye better than I did, but my few memories of the Senator are clear. As a young man and new lawyer, I had the opportunity to work for the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. For me, his central message was to always do the right thing in public life. He insisted tribal leaders be addressed as “The Honorable”. He treated them as Heads of State. The experience quite literally changed my life.

During the Iran-Contra hearings, I had the opportunity to hear the Senator at his most serious when he made an uncharacteristically unguarded remark how America’s constitution was being tested.

When my dad, who was serving as vice chairman of our tribe, was rushed to a regional medical center 90 miles away, I experienced Senator Inouye at his kindest.

I also saw him at his warmest. At one Christmas party I made the kind of meatballs that every family on my reservation makes for New Years Day. He ate them until an aide felt compelled to tell him he should stop.

My best memory was when, sitting in a meeting, he offered me some tea, to which I responded, “Senator, Indians aren’t supposed to drink tea." In that deep voice of his he sounded quizzical: “No? Why not?” I then hit the punchline: “We could drown in our own teepee.” He laughed more heartily than I had ever heard him laugh.

Perhaps my starkest memory of Senator Inouye belongs to the dreadful morning now known simply as 9/11. On leave from my law professor post, I was then the elected chairman of my tribe and, along with many other tribal leaders, I sat in the bowels of a hotel in downtown Washington, D.C., transfixed by a speech being given by the Senator. However, he got interrupted once by his aide whispering in his ear, then once again, and then he abruptly ended his speech due to the horrible events that morning. One of the many tragedies that morning was that the good Senator never finished that speech.

He commiserated that Native Americans would be in for a few difficult years ahead when it came to Washington politics. But then he said and did something against even his own teachings – he ventured into the internal affairs of the tribes. He implored the tribal leaders to provide due process to tribal members in their own tribal governments. He urged tribal leaders to be fair to all tribal members in providing jobs, housing, law enforcement. He flatly explained how difficult it becomes to defend Indian Country in the face of many of the unpleasant stories of tribal politics we hear over and over. We tribal leaders needed to hear that speech more than any other. While gains have been made since that time, it wouldn’t hurt us to hear that speech on a regular basis.

Sadly, if we do hear it again, we’ll have to settle for hearing from someone with less stature, less rez-cred, than Dan Inouye.

Aloha, Chairman.

Richard A. Monette, a former chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, is a professor of law at the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Related Stories:
Sen. Daniel Inouye, Democrat from Hawaii, passes away at 88 (12/18)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye endorses Hillary Clinton (10/21)
Twenty-Nine Palms Band disputes 'Trump, You're Fired' story (10/21)
Repatriation review committee announces additional meetings (10/21)
Native Sun News Today: Ping-pong continues in #NoDAPL case (10/21)
Lakota Country Times: 'Reel Jobs' school nurtures Lakota talent (10/21)
James Giago Davies: Drugs and crime overrun our reservations (10/21)
Dana Lone Hill: Becoming a grandmother is life's highest honor (10/21)
Misty Perkins: Indigenous voices are lost in colonial translation (10/21)
John Leguizamo: Who was 'mistreating indigenous people' first? (10/21)
Bureau of Land Management confirms repatriation for ancestor (10/21)
Cowlitz Tribe opposes coal export terminal on aboriginal lands (10/21)
Crow Tribe signs agreement to resolve long-running tax dispute (10/21)
National Indian Gaming Commission refutes online gaming claim (10/21)
Pinoleville Pomo Nation stays quiet on long-delayed casino plan (10/21)
Alaska tribes enter new era with first land-into-trust application (10/20)
Native leaders in Alaska endorse Hillary Clinton in historic move (10/20)
Bureau of Indian Affairs finishes update to model juvenile code (10/20)
Utah group aims to elevate Native issues in an unusual election (10/20)
Chemehuevi Tribe secures approval of HEARTH Act regulations (10/20)
Poarch Band of Creek Indians can't be sued for firing employee (10/20)
Native Sun News Today: Oglala veteran shot and killed by police (10/20)
Lakota Country Times: Founders of annual Spiritual Run honored (10/20)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Education system diminishes our people (10/20)
Brandon Ecoffey: It's business as usual for South Dakota's GOP (10/20)
Morgan Rodman: Federal agencies work to protect treaty rights (10/20)
Mary Annette Pember: First baby born at water protector camp (10/20)
Duane Yazzie: Spirituality prevails as #NoDAPL fight continues (10/20)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe opens reservation to #NoDAPL camp (10/20)
Haskell University confirms president is still under investigation (10/20)
Agua Caliente Band back in federal court to defend water rights (10/20)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe removes members amid per cap woes (10/20)
Ho-Chunk Nation moves forward with $33M expansion at casino (10/20)
Cowlitz Tribe announces more executives for fast-rising casino (10/20)
Wilton Rancheria continues to make progress on casino project (10/20)
Agency shifts course as ancient remains slated for repatriation (10/19)
Navajo Nation opposes bill that reduces share of trust revenues (10/19)
Doug George-Kanentiio: A voice for residential school survivors (10/19)
Native Sun News Today: LNI hosts girls volleyball tournament (10/19)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe voters send message (10/19)
Editorial: Republicans in South Dakota embrace Monster Trump (10/19)
Vi Waln: Water protector camps overflow with spiritual energy (10/19)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.