indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
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:
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tribes united against Keystone XL Pipeline (9/19)
Regina Brave: The earth that once was will soon be no more (9/19)
Chelsey Luger and Gyasi Ross: A conversation about suicide (9/19)
Cobell settlement checks being cashed across Indian Country (9/19)
Congress passes measure for tribal general welfare programs (9/19)
Native Sun News: US Senate candidates debate Native issues (9/18)
Cobell settlement checks landing in Indian Country mailboxes (9/18)
Sen. Walsh welcomes arrival of last Cobell settlement payout (9/18)
Rep. Daines praises House action on tribal general welfare bill (9/18)
Winnebago attorney joins BIA as a deputy assistant secretary (9/18)
NWIFC schedules briefing on 'Treaty Rights 101' on Capitol Hill (9/18)
Norbert Hill: It's past time to drop the Washington NFL mascot (9/18)
Peter d'Errico: Connecting mascots to racism and termination (9/18)
Opinion: Eliminating NFL team's racist mascot is just the start (9/18)
Student newspaper punished over refusal to print the R-word (9/18)
Officer investigated for 'drunk uneducated animals' comment (9/18)
9th Circuit rules against Chemehuevi Tribe in land deed case (9/18)
Mashable: Oglala Sioux man still pushing MazaCoin currency (9/18)
City won't allow vote on Tohono O'odham Nation casino plan (9/18)
9th Circuit poses tough questions in Big Lagoon casino case (9/18)
North Fork Rancheria banks on voter approval of casino deal (9/18)
KBIC judge dismisses lawsuit challenging plan for new casino (9/18)
Oneida Nation concerned about location of commercial casino (9/18)
Mashantucket Tribe's gaming executive to resign next month (9/18)
Column: Time for Mohegan Tribe to show its hand over casino (9/18)
Native Sun News: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe honors veterans (9/17)
Mark Trahant: Is independence in the future for tribal nations? (9/17)
Audio: SCIA takes up bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/17)
House approves bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/17)
House Natural Resources Committee sets markup on tribal bills (9/17)
House subcommittee to hold hearing on bill for Hualapai Tribe (9/17)
9th Circuit takes up Big Lagoon Rancheria gaming land dispute (9/17)
House passes bill to shield Gun Lake Tribe casino from litigation (9/17)
Andre Cramblit: Enjoying life at Dartmouth as a Native student (9/17)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Tribes need to lead climate change reform (9/17)
Sarah Deer wins genius grant for work to protect Native women (9/17)
Tex Hall loses bid for another term as chair of North Dakota tribe (9/17)
Group starts dragging of river in search of missing Native women (9/17)
Appeal filed over Navajo language ability of presidential hopeful (9/17)
Trial delayed for leader of Muscogee Nation accused in theft case (9/17)
Editorial: Pass bill to extend federal recognition to Virginia tribes (9/17)
NLRB reaffirms jurisdiction over Little River Band gaming facility (9/17)
Chumash Tribe to use labor unions for all work on casino project (9/17)
Student arrested over theft at Saginaw Chippewa Tribe's casino (9/17)
Native Sun News: Homeless students find support in Rapid City (9/16)
Checks from final payment of Cobell settlement put in the mail (9/16)
DOI offers $9.4M for Cobell buy-backs on Umatilla Reservation (9/16)
House takes up bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/16)
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.