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February 13, 2020

Avoiding Politics is not easy

by leroywandahsega

The children are laughing before school, that is rare and a delight to my ears. It reminds that life and its hardships are not that important, relevant to a child’s laugh.

This morning I write in hopes that I can wake up more appreciative for my state, although it be a personal challenge for me. You see I live on an Indian Reservation where nepotism, cronyism and favoritism have given rise to qualifications for jobs we or “Indian People” performed for many years but now have qualifications put on these jobs so they are out of reach for many tribal members who live in poverty and continue a trend common in “Indian Country”. This is not the intent of the federal law Indian Gaming regulatory act of 1988 (IGRA) or tribal law known as Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance (TERO). IGRA provided the economic means to support TERO and other tribal law providing for the welfare of tribal members and Indian people on or near the reservation.

The federal governments policy on Indian Affairs has never been consistent and now tribal governments are following a similar pattern. The end result of these inconsistencies is that the social influence and social demands fall upon tribal members. The deficiency in tribal government and the businesses the government owns are evident in employment. Employment is created for tribal members through gaming activity and those proceeds are to be used for 5 specific needs, all intended to improve the quality of life for impoverished and poor tribal members within the tribal governments reach. This is not working in some tribal members favor, especially mine.

My problem is I can advocate for myself and I would rather interpret ideas and theories for myself. I prefer not to lean on everyone else’s understanding for everything. I know the intent of tribal gaming as I have been involved in the industry since 1988. The early years were especially tough because local business did not like the idea of tribal members benefiting from casino business, but pig farming was just fine. We had to prove our economic worth with pubic relations and promotion of the extended benefits to neighboring communities.

Now these same communities have many people working in the tribal government who interpret and impose tribal, federal and state laws and write policy and rules at their leisure. They benefit from tribal gaming and set the rules for tribal members to follow. One of these are recommending job qualifications.

About 75% of all tribal government and business managers are not tribal members. This presents an agency problem for tribal members in employment areas as the tribal government attempts to retain family control. Managers and directors, who often fear for their jobs, write qualifications that do not uphold TERO and the tribal committee who approves the job descriptions never reviews or strikes these additional and unnecessary requirements for a job because most are personal friends with managers and directors in the workforce.

Where does a tribal member go to resolve this issue ? The Executive management are also in charge of the court system where civil law is supposed to be debated and memorialized. One can not expect equality and fair application of procedure and law with this type of structure.

Tribal members have no protection of rights and often are criminalized for seeking an improved quality of life. Tribal Chiefs continue to admire beads and trinkets over the success of its own people.

My struggle continue.

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