The Chief and I
The article I have included was written in 1992, this was my first year as Chairman of the Tribal Gaming Board. This was an elected governmental unit and those who served on the board elected their own chair. I was fortunate to have served as the Chairman until 1996 when the board was disbanded to form the CEO board composed of Tribal Council officers.
I never intended to become part of any government when I was a young man but my adopted father inspired me to participate in reservation life. He would often tell me that I am going to go back to my tribe one day and contribute.
He was right.
The stories I am publishing spotlight my relationship with the Tribal chairman of the Hannahville Indian Community. He hired me on a part time basis and eventually supported the tribal council hiring me as the official of the local Indian Housing Authority, which had been defunct since losing grant status for not managing a low-income housing program in the mid 1970’s.
I would correct the problem with the help of the elected housing board of the tribe.
The government operations were housed in a single wide trailer with no septic or water facilities.
The tribal government was still forming in the early 1990’s but Indian Gaming would soon change all of that for tribal members and its government.
I won the chairmanship of the Gaming Board, as we called it, and beat the Tribal Chairman of the Council for the position. This ended our professional relationship and we soon became adversaries as our approach to community building did not match.
The article I included is evidence of the accomplishments the tribal boards were making in the housing and casino industries. I had never intended to be in the article but the tribal chairman insisted I talk to the reporter, as I was more aware of what was going on as the tribe was developing its housing and gaming operations.
There rest is history.
It has been a battle of rotten politics since and if you look for any of my contributions to the tribe there are none to be found as others have claimed them as their own accomplishments. I thought that accolades belonged to the boards I served.
Tribal government was quite an experience but also very corrupt and unforgiving. Truth and fair play are not the motivation in many cases.
As I continue to write this history I still motivate myself to stick around here in hopes of making it better for all tribal members.