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

printer friendly version
Anderson asks for prayers in new job as head of BIA
Thursday, February 5, 2004

HAPPY, HEALTHY, TERRIFIC: Bureau of Indian Affairs chief Dave Anderson leads tribal leaders through motivational cheer at United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) meeting.
Dave Anderson doesn't mind telling people that he used to abuse alcohol and drugs. Or that was once ashamed of being Native American. Or that he thought he would never make it in life.

Normally, these aren't things a person who was just sworn in to head a government agency shares with the public. But for Anderson, better known for his barbeque sauces than his positions on Indian issues, these aren't normal days.

So it sort of made sense when Anderson showed up to a meeting of tribal leaders yesterday and got them all to stand up and recite a cheer. It was a motivational cheer from his days in the restaurant business.

"I feel happy, I feel healthy, I feel terrific!" Anderson yelled, fist pumped in the air.

He knew it was an odd thing to ask of several dozen tribal leaders, tribal members and attendees of the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) meeting. He said just as much.

"Some of you are thinking this is out of place and hokey already," he said. "But that's OK. I really want everybody to get of your comfort zones and just share with me in being excited and being enthusiastic. It's OK, right?"

So he did it again. Not once, but twice.


Anderson, a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe in Wisconsin, didn't always feel that way. A high-school dropout, he spent the early part of his life as a "drinking person," someone who "couldn't get up in front of a group and lead them in silent prayer."

"That's how far behind I was," he said.

But his life changed, he revealed, when "somebody got a hold of me and practically shook me up and said 'Dave, as a Native person, you should be proud.'"

That was about nine years ago. Since then, he's been spending his life a "sober person," someone who started a restaurant near his tribe's reservation in 1994 and built it into a publicly-traded chain of of 87 restaurants in 23 states. Last year, Famous Dave's of America reported $90.8 million in revenues.

He went on to create the LifeSkills Center for Leadership to help at-risk Native youth, a label that could have applied to him 40 years ago. Oprah Winfrey lauded his success on her popular television show and gave the organization a $25,000 grant in 2002.

Those are the good things, the things people want him to talk about. But Anderson thinks he has something else to bring to the table.

"I don't believe that I would be doing my people any service if I just shared the good things," he told USET attendees yesterday. "You need to know that I've had adversity in my life. You need to know that I've been through alcohol and drug abuse treatment."

"Because, by my being able to say that, I believe I can also be a role model to our young people and other people that are looking for change in their lives," he continued. "I really believe, as Native people, we weren't meant to be living our lives half-unconscious."

For Anderson, that means reading two or three books a week, and, yes, even making people stand up and say they feel happy, healthy and terrific.

But just what is he going to do as head of the BIA? He doesn't know exactly just yet. "I don't have all the answers and probably don't have a lot of things I can share with you," he admitted yesterday.

He does have some ideas. Not surprisingly, they center around education and economics. He cited youth drug abuse and youth gangs, even though both aren't exactly duties of the BIA. Reservations in Minnesota, where he currently resides, have been overrun by both.

He said he wants to improve economic opportunities in Indian Country. "When I was chief executive officer of my tribe, my whole job was to try and get other businesses to come to the tribe," he said. "It was a difficult thing to do."

But "one of the things I realized," he added, "is that we just don't need another government program to build us another business, so we could fill that building with inventory and hang our sign out. Really, what we needed was Indian people that were willing to get up in the morning, that out of every cell in their body, came passion and the desire to make that business succeed."

Anderson also had a request. "I'm going to ask that the tribes not beat us up," he said. Just about everybody laughed when he said that.

He knows the BIA has its problems -- trust fund mismanagement, to name one -- because people urged him not to take the job. They told him to stay home and keep running his business. "I thought that there were better people who better understood all these issues," he said.

But Anderson said he believes "we can turn this around."

"I learned a long time ago [that] I cannot do this journey by myself," he said. "I need your prayers."

Relevant Links:
Famous Daves -
LifeSkills Center for Leadership -

Related Stories:
Dave Anderson finally sworn in as head of BIA (2/3)
Q&A with Dave Anderson: 'I'm not an Indian leader' (12/15)
Dave Anderson: So much to do, so little time (12/12)
'Famous' Dave Anderson confirmed to head BIA (12/11)
'Nobody better' to head BIA than Anderson (12/10)
Dave Anderson nomination hits another snag in Senate (12/01)
Daschle meets with BIA nominee Dave Anderson (11/21)
Anderson asked to reconsider Pequot recognition (11/20)
Indian Affairs panel had placed hold on Anderson (11/17)
Ex-Anderson partner funding Nipmuc recognition bid (11/11)
Anderson faces challenges upon arrival at BIA (11/10)
Hold on Anderson nomination for BIA baffles some (11/3)
Anderson nomination to head BIA put on hold (10/31)
Anderson involved in opening of new restaurant (10/31)
Minn. senator rejects talk of Anderson hearing snub (10/24)
BIA nominee wins endorsement of Senate panel (10/23)
Minn. senator upset over Anderson hearing snub (10/23)
Anderson firm took 40 percent of casino profits (10/22)
Anderson's marching orders: Avoid controversy (10/22)
Hearing on BIA pick Anderson moved to new room (10/21)
Editorial: 'Cloud' hanging over Famous Dave (10/17)
Ex-Anderson partner has projects before BIA (10/13)
BIA nominee Anderson not so famous beyond BBQ (09/26)
Martin not upset she was passed over for BIA post (09/25)
White House acts to fill top BIA leadership post (09/15)
Biography: BIA nominee 'Famous' Dave Anderson (09/15)
Lack of BIA nominee puzzles Indian Country (08/07)

Copyright � 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...

Latest Headlines:

Decision day for National Congress of American Indians with leadership changes
House subcommittee takes up controversial American Indian Empowerment Act
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on public safety measures
Arne Vainio: I wanted you to know you are loved and that I am bringing you home
Albert Bender: Native community celebrates Indigenous Peoples' Day in Nashville
Native Sun News Today: Student speaks out about racism in South Dakota school
James Giago Davies: School fumbles historic opportunity after incident of racism
Tribes open their doors in response to devastating wildfires in northern California
National Congress of American Indians looks ahead to Tara Sweeney confirmation
Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs sign agreement for Cobell buy-back program
Alaska Native executive Tara Sweeney named to top Bureau of Indian Affairs job
Tribes slam Trump administration for adding hurdles to land-into-trust process
Native Sun News Today: Native Americans are over-represented in county's jail
Tim Giago: Clones in Congress won't stand up to the Clown in the White House
Mark Trahant: Exploring the 'business' of news in Indian Country these days
Native Sun News Today: Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate debuts new grocery store
Bears Ears remains in limbo as Republicans leave tribes out of monument bill
Mark Trahant: Trump brings more chaos to health coverage for tribal citizens
YES! Magazine: Tribal hospital in Alaska brings traditional foods to patients
Native Sun News Today: Tribal leaders absent at border town liquor summit
Native Sun News Today Editorial: Teams continue to denigrate Indian people
Secretary Zinke requires special flag to be flown when he's in Interior building
Lawsuit seeks damages for death of girl at Bureau of Indian Education school
President of Northern Cheyenne Tribe remains in office after disputed removal
Republican candidate questions mural for depicting Indian people as too 'dark'
Bureau of Indian Affairs supports name change for 'Negro Bill Canyon' in Utah
Aroostook Band of Micmacs backs ballot referendum for new casino in Maine
Gun Lake Tribe secures strong local support in casino case except for one town
Second federal appeals court chimes in with decision favoring tribal homelands
Harold Frazier: Another incident of racism targets Native youth in South Dakota
Native American Voting Rights Coalition convenes second hearing in Wisconsin
Yurok Tribe welcomes introduction of bill to add important lands to reservation
YES! Magazine: Native family uses energy proceeds to benefit Indian Country
Native Sun News Today: Oglala Sioux Tribe refutes rumors of Black Hills 'sale'
James Giago Davies: A best friend sticks with us even at the very end of life
Cronkite News: Republicans quickly move bill to limit new national monuments
Raymond Hitchcock: Sorry but tribal casinos aren't linked to increases in crime
Osage Nation prepared to fight state over water rights on historic reservation
Eastern Cherokee council complete after second round of voting for one seat
Iowa Tribe announces 'Monsterous' deal linked to long-delayed poker website
Squaxin Island Tribe holds grand opening for remodeled hotel tower at casino
Judge deals tribes major setback with decision in Dakota Access Pipeline case
YES! Magazine: Winnemem Wintu Tribe struggles to bring salmon back home
Native Sun News Today: Rapid City turns out for Native American Day parade
Ivan Star Comes Out: Our teachers shouldn't be doing the jobs of the parents
Non-Indian parents file lawsuit to halt transfer of child custody cases to tribes
County in Oregon holds public hearing on name of 'Dead Indian Memorial Road'
Swinomish Tribe set to open substance abuse treatment center in Washington
All-Native band Warpath from California mixes heavy metal with tribal elements
Ramapough Lunaape Nation defends right to host prayer camp in New Jersey
Chehalis Tribe working with local authorities on fatal shooting outside casino
Gun Lake Tribe shares oral arguments with Trump team in Supreme Court case
Supreme Court puts end to case challenging Colorado River Indian Tribes lease
Kansas asks Supreme Court to overturn ruling in Quapaw Tribe homeland case
Jacqueline Keeler: 'Black Snake' film explores fight over pipeline in Minnesota
The Conversation: Indigenous people invented the so-called 'American Dream'
Navajo Nation mourns passing of Code Talker David Patterson Sr. at age of 94
>>> 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.