Opinion

Ray Cook: Native leaders should put people first not politics





Ray Cook on tribal leadership:
Too often we simply accept that tribal governments (as opposed to our traditional governments) have elected representatives—presidents, chiefs, chairmen or CEO’s and so forth. They are entrusted with great powers and are expected to rule according to their thoughts, desires and beliefs. This is a dangerous thing.

We rarely hear what is in their minds and hearts as they compete for electoral votes and vie for positions of government. Positions of great power.

In Iroquoia amongst the Haudenosaunee we shun the gestures of the eager ones whose ambitions make them want a leadership role. We think them greedy or dim-witted, because only a crazy person would want the heavy responsibilities and the endless worries of leadership. So, in our traditions we pick our headmen and headwomen and when we do, all must agree. In order to agree that a certain person should be in a leadership position we must be able to honestly say we know this person and their character. Because we must trust them with all that we have.

Get the Story:
Ray Cook: Native Leaders Need to Put People, Not Politics, First (Indian Country Today 5/17)