The Northern Cheyenne Tribe’s capitol building in Lame Deer, Montana. Photo: Jimmy Emerson, DVM
‘Lame duck to dead duck’
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Native Sun News Today Correspondent

With great interest and appreciation, I studied the column recently provided by a fellow Native Sun News Today columnist Ivan Star Comes Out. He is a very thoughtful writer, familiar with the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) style of tribal government afflicting the Tribes of our area, both by study and hands on experience as a tribally elected servant.

I use the word servant because that is how he comes across, filled with compassion for his people as well as other Tribes.

Star Comes Out hits the nail right on the head when he concludes that the IRA form of government is too foreign for us, especially the Great Plains Tribes, has not and probably will not ever serve the best interests of the people. It is, indeed, a manifestation of colonialism, whereby those who play the game (elected officials, federal and tribal employees) often stand to reap personal financial gain.

On one hand, I believe that most tribal members seek office with good intent, in order to help and improve the overall situation on reservations, akin to those of third world countries, also struggling to deal with the lingering effects of full-blown colonialism.

But soon after election some realize they have won the lottery, rising from being an average “skin” to the crème de la crème overnight. Suddenly, they reap big paychecks with very little accountability other than that which is self-imposed and better yet, get to travel America, enjoying very nice per diem rates, wonderful meals, lush lodging and other entertainments. They no longer have to worry about a blowout in an old rig, making their way to Walmart on the First.

Very seductive temptation indeed. Not all, but too many find it impossible to resist. And, for many that is their downfall.

At Northern Cheyenne, we are looking to a Primary Election on October 1st the first step in choosing the next crop of elected officials. The offices of Tribal President, Vice-President, two Judgeships and five Council seats are up for grabs.

Interestingly, several incumbents including the Tribal President, Vice President and one Council member are not seeking re-election, some candidly acknowledging that the Tribe does not serve the best interests of the people.

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Clara Caufield can be reached at acheyennevoice@gmail.com