Category Archives: Tribal Opinion

Keeping Tribal Members at poverty level wages

The signs of reality are setting in from a locally governed tribal member, point of view, on the Hannahville Indian Reservation. While continuing to battle to expose tribal government corruption and how tribal members resources are being squandered. Resources availability for this tribal member continues to suffer, due to tribal government regulations and rules.

The tribal government and its hired, contracted and paid cronies continue to skirt obligations of improving the lives of tribal members. The dominant view of the tribal government is the tribal members are a resource that provide grant dollars, from foreign governments and their influences and control.

The main objective of the tribal governments grant division is too keep a majority of tribal members at or near federally published poverty level wages.

This produces a negative effect for the economic growth of tribal members as new qualifications and requirements find their way into the disbursement of resources.

Not only is this a control issue for registered tribal members but, premium jobs, paid contracts and outside experts often are the only people who meet qualifications and per-requite demands. The tribal member is pushed down so that tribal government’s official acquaintances and family members qualify for grant dollars that pay premium wages.

The decisions connected to the making of this problem, do rest on the shoulders of elected tribal member leaders.

This tribal government body is composed of fourteen (14) elected tribal members and non-voting members,that comprise the tribal council. These elected officials have established a smaller control group, called the Executive Officers (CEO Board). These five (5) tribal members and (2) two members who are not tribal members, make all the critical decisions for the tribe.

This CEO board controls all aspects of the tribe and for all intents and purposes are the Elects of this tribe.

These people are often close family to voting tribal members which creates a cesspool for nepotism and rule skirting. The probem is this activity is not helping the tribal member who has become qualified and has an experienced background.

I ride an e bike around daily and notice the grant writer, a finance employee and a few other government employees (non-tribal) come into the back door with no masks on or tempatures being checked.

It is really disturbing because these are the people who determine the policies for Indian people on this reservation and do not follow their own recommended rules for grant dollars.

It is a sign of contempt and is a slap in the face to tribal member’s who has work hard to obtain a Bachelors degree (Cum laude) and is two course short of a Masters degree (3.8 GPA) that does not qualify for jobs but has to wear a mask to get Health Services after a third stoke.

Have a great day and fight political corruption before we have no chance left.

Creating division through policy

Must the world continue to promote division?

Yesterday I went to our local convenience store, located on the reservation, on the Hannahville Indian Community. The store or tribal government is in partnership with BP oil company and faithfully collects taxes for the State of Michigan.

Governor Whitmere, with her new relationship with the Pfizer drug company, recently allowed the pharmaceutical giant a move in to the State. This company and others are in the DRUG RACE to sell its vaccine on the market as a cure for the worlds newest threat. This has created policies worldwide, such as requirements to wear mask or face coverings

Due to the Tribes compact agreement and recent negotiations to allow the tribal economy to open, a new hardship has been created and more qualifications on tribal members and creating constant division.

Is this the intent of the policy, while the public is experimenting with unproven drugs from some of these companies?

The policy agreement between the State and the Michigan tribes is creating more additional social problems not needed in this social environment.

Yesterday, while visiting our store on the reservation, which is considered a sovereign territory authorized by the Federal Government to operate a tribal government. A young lady tribal member attempted to embarrass me into wearing a mask in the store before I could purchase my items.

Our tribe is small and even without social media platforms, we all know each other business. At least we have idea that we think we know, as information travels fast in the community.

I am in the minority today and it is no secret here about my opposition to mask wearing. Most people respect this position and law enforcement has never been needed or involved over mask issues to date, on the reservation.

That nearly changed yesterday as the young lady cashing me out from behind a large Plexiglas window, put her hand under the service window and waved a mask at me, while looking at me without saying a word.

It was an attempt at embarrassing me and to harass me about my position of not wearing masks. Her Uncle is the Chief of the Tribe and she knows I do not support his agreement with the Governor in Michigan. His whole family are large democratic supporters, which has already created division in the tribe on other issues.

We are supposed to be a sovereign entity and the State at its rules, largely do not apply unless the tribal government negotiations terms.

There are also rules in economic exchange as well but that is not relevant when people are waiting for a chance to tell others what to do. It is not out of fear of spreading a virus or anyones safety, they just want to be rude and bossy to people they feel threatened, by due to personal views.

I will continue my personal protest and not participate in this economic sabotage being forced upon the worlds masses and my tribe. Who’s people, in most cases, trust what their governments and tell tribal members what to do.

Division is worsening daily over rule enforcement from the State of Michigan, while Tribal law is not being enforced in areas of tribal commerce.

This keeps many tribal members from benefits intended for them with no requirements, liking wearing a mask.

The Chief and I: “I am not going to jail for anyone!”

Being a part of history is not always recognized or told.

Recently my Uncle Ted Wandahsega passed away at an age typical of in the Native American population. Ted was tribal chairman for a year until the current tyrant took over.

My uncle Ted never got the credit he deserved for sticking his neck out on line, for the tribal members. In order for the tribal members to purchase slot machines for gaming operations an agreement had to be signed with a leasing company known as “Yellowhammer”.

One evening I sat with the Chief, Uncle Ted (Casino Manager)and I were “negotiating terms” for tribal members to lease slot machines for the relocation to US 2, a popular route through the U.P. of Michigan.

It was a perfect opportunity as the Seminole tribe was making headway in Florida.

Upon commencement of signing, Yellowhammer sent a woman who appealed to my Uncle’s taste. He was getting the contract signed for the casino or a date. I teased him quite a bit over the whole deal.

The contract was presented and she slide it over to the Chief for signature, and he almost immediately slide it to the middle of the table and stated, ” I am not going to jail for anyone!”.

Ted, as the Casino Manager, says, “Give me the damn thing, I will sign it, I have been to jail before!”

I believe that is history but some will call fake news.

Rest in peace Uncle and thanks for taking the risk for all the tribal members.

The Mask Wearing Dilemma

This whole idea that my body is not designed to meet the challenges of any natural viruses the earth’s environment produces, seems ludicrous to me. I believe in a Creator and the design given, so I can house the soul I carry around in this life.

When human intelligence wants to interfere with this design, I get very suspicious and somewhat insulted. Who is any human to think they can improve the design each one of us is give, individually?. Some of our designs are made for labor and some for planning. We do not chose these traits our parents give those to us as part of our creation package, if you will.

I am against wearing a mask or face covering for this reason. I am born naked and will eventually lie on my deathbed the same way. My body is designed to have oxygen, no person has any right to deny me of my proper intake of the very source that keeps me alive. I recently had a stroke caused by blood clots on my brain. I need all the oxygen I can get at this point. That is why I do not want to wear the mask. I also have many disabilities from anxiety and abuse which further complicate a mask wearing for me.

Recently the county in which my reservation is located recieved a memo from the local sherrif through facebook. I was delighted about his stance and feel the tide may be turning.

To me it is a choice to wear a mask, especially if you think you are sick. If I think I am sick, I stay home. Forcing people to wear a mask is not only dangerous to many but a violation of a basic human right to free oxygen needed to keep the body functioning properly.

Has governments forgotten some of us are not equipped to handle wearing a mask.

We are healthy for our age and pose no public threat.

I do not feel that way. I feel I am a threat to everyone for not obeying an unporven command. Besides, commands are for military personell not civilians

We have a choice to wear a mask or not, that is the law.

We have the right to LIFE, liberty and happiness.

Tribal Government: Child Protection Services

In the Hannahville Indian Community the welfare of the children is monitored by a child protection service team who follow the State of Michigan guidelines for child custody cases.

ICWA or the Indian Child Welfare Act is a Federal law that gives more authority to grandparents in the role of deciding where children are placed and taken care of in the tribe. Of course our legal and prosecutor department encourage the more stringent policies of the State of Michigan and due to funding gathered from State programs. These state guidelines allow child protective services to invade tribal member homes at will based on rumors.

For several years my girlfriend of 11 years and I, have been raising two young children that had been brutally traumatized. The court awarded my woman custody of 2 of the 3 children left in our care over 2 years ago. We have been struggling ever since but the children are coming along well and behaviors are improving. I love the little ones.

A few years ago the older boy had been talking in school. He often is separated from the class as he has behavioral outbursts from his traumatic experiences. He reminds me so much of myself at that age. I had speech impediments until I worked with a specialist. Anyway, he must have been babbling about past traumas and they were sexual in nature, evidently. This is what prompted the “investigation” of child protective services.

They showed up before lunch and two workers said they were there to pick up the 5 year old boy. I was in shock immediately because I have dealt with the CPS before and my brother ended up in Federal court over there “investigations”. Charges he ultimately beat after sitting in jail for 15 months going to court. I was worried I was next.

They took the 5 year old boy after threatening to call police if I did not cooprate and hand him over. I was intimidated because this tribal government has repeatedly abused my personal rights as an American citizen and as an Indian person protected under the Indian Civil Rights Act or ICRA, a federal law. I let him go with the workers.

For an hour we waited. I cried many times in that hour worried I may meet the same fate as my brother as I was broke and could not bail out of any jail. I was so sick I was dry heaving and crying at the same time. I was scared as hell.

After an hour the lady’s returned the 5 year old boy to us and were very nice and apologetic. That is when they explained why they took the boy. I was disgusted and immediately wonder if they would do this to the Chief if it was him. I was completely mad and felt violated and mistrusted by my tribal government.

What do I when contact tracers show up on a whim? I am scared of the what the future holds for our freedoms and liberty as human beings.

Today I feel like a commodity that belongs to the tribal government, who is about 25 percent Indian, for a head count to get state funding from Michigan.

I am scared they may come after the children again, this time on suspicion of a virus.

This is communistic.

The Chief and I: Tribal Sovereignty

On a blistering winter night the Chief and I made our way to Lansing, Michigan during a frigid ice storm. The Chief did an excellent job navigating us to our hotel but we had to drive very slow. This gave us an opportunity to get to know each other a little better and talk about dreams and goals in life.

It was strange with us at times because we knew we have become adversaries but we still communicated with each other often.

As I reflect I understand his motivation. I was in control of the casino at the young age of 23. I was too green to understand the politics of everything but soon came to realize relationships are a means to an end in politics. In other words friendships are temporary and have no trust factors. In my opinion of course.

Anyway to make a long story short, the subject of “what we wanted to be” came up. I felt like I was 15 again and talking about being a fireman or police officer.

I told the Chief I wanted to be the Tribal Chairman one day as I had recently became chairman of both the Casino and Housing boards. He looked at be kind of puzzled and chuckled a bit.

I asked him what he wanted to be and the response left me speechless for a good hour. The ride just got longer for me after I heard his reply.

The Chief says to me, while looking straight forward, “I want to be a State Senator in Michigan”. I almost chocked. All I could think was, ” Your the Chief of an Indian tribe than has a special relationship with the Federal Government, isn’t that like taking a step backwards?”

Well we tribal members got a memo from our Chief today supporting Governor Whitmers decree or EO.

I guess Chief has fulfilled his wish to work for the State of Michigan!

I am feeeling a little disgusted today.

My Chief has still not asked me my opinion.

I suffer from anxiety cause by years of child abuse and cruel forms of punishment but that makes me the minority and now I am ostracized from my own community.

Are you people qualified?

Tribal governance on the Hannahville Indian Reservation began to gain strength and grow tremendously in the early 1990’s as Indian Gaming was introduced as an economic means to improve tribal member lives with employment and housing opportunities.

It also provided tribal government with an opportunity to control the population as well.

The tribe hired an assistant prosecutor from a neighboring county to replace the outgoing tribal member attorney from Bay Mills Indian Community. I knew him as “Mickey or Mick”. He was one of the silent champions of the tribal gaming compact negotiation with the State of Michigan. He moved on to become the Presidsent of the College on his reservation.

His replacement became nothing but a challenge to opportunities I thought belonged to tribal members. One of these was making decisions about child welfare issues occurring within the boundaries of the reservation.

Our tribe used to elect community boards every year and I was honored to have served on the Child Welfare board for one year. During that year the new tribal attorney became an adversary as we disagreed on regulatory control. In order to receive more “free funding” from the State of Michigan we needed tougher or more stringent guidelines than the Federal guidelines provided by ICWA.

I was not in support of this and felt it was taking away authority from the Child welfare board. When I questioned the new attorney about this her response was, “do you think you people are really qualified to make these descions?” I was immediately insulted as a member of that board.

I made an issue of this at our next meeting and the board decided to make all the decisions in regard to taking or leaving tribal children in homes that were experiencing dysfunctions compared to other communities. The attorney and child welfare team gave me some real nasty looks that day but for that year, the board was qualified to make decisions on its own merits, following guidelines provided by the federal government, not state.

Our resources were growing at an exponetially huge rate and budgeting needed to be established. I had to remove myself from several boards and concentrated on housing and gaming development.

Soon after the child welfare team and the attorney took back authority and implemented state standards which severely restricted tribal control of adoptions and other child welfare issues.

Tribal control was lost to implementing higher standards and the only people “qualified” were largely non-tribal people.

All for the “free funding”, our control was given over to non-tribal members again.

The child welfare board is still in existence but is merely a mouthpeice for the state of Michigan and its standards for Indian people and their children.

The political money (tribal member resources) games continue on the reservation as we continue to “disqualify” tribal members for jobs and governmental positions.

Tribal governments will never grow to protect tribal members if they continue to believe they are not qualified.

Political corruption is alive and well here, that is for sure.

The Chief and I: The Water Tower

After completing the water tower portion of the Home-ownership project in 1993, the Director of HUD, Region V Indian Programs, sent me a congratulatory letter on achieving the task of resolving compliance issues and the success of our building project. I immediately shared it with my direct boss, the tribal administrator and the Chief of the Council. They seemed fairly happy for me but after a few years it dawned on me that I had started a competition of sorts. Not my intention but that is how it was between the three of us from that point forward. The tribal-administrator became my first, “go-tween” communicator, as the Chief and I began to cement our rivalry.

The HUD funded water tower was constructed to service BIA school and the housing project. The tribe would match the program with a portion of my salary which was about 8 dollars an hour with full benefits. The IHS (Indian Health Service) representative invited the Cheif and I to take a tour of the newly constructed water tower similar to the one located at our golf course.

Tribal infrastructure services local Michigan township in Bark River

We met at the empty water tower. After entering the access area I immediately started to climb up the ladder, no saftey gear at all. Soon the Cheif and the IHS contract adminstrator were behind me as we ascended up the ladder, unsecured. I was pretty young and dumb, did I mention that fact?!

I wonder why they followed me to this day and often assume it is an internal drive to compete or something becuas it sure was dangerous.

On the descent my hand became very sweaty half-way down but we all made it down.

Too bad we did not film this lack of safety.

More later…

Vote for yourself next time

My experience as a tribal politician began when I learned that being insecure in any race, will cost you the “win”.

The first time I decided to “run” for a leadership position in tribal government I ran against the current Chief of the Tribal Council and lost by one vote. My inexperience and sheer lack of understanding of competition cost me the chairmanship of the Tribal Gaming Board in 1991. A few people really teased me a lot but the following year I did vote for myself and managed to secure the postion year after year until the late 1990’s

Organizing any business after business has already started is a challenge in any industry, the gaming industry presents many challenges as the inventory is cash.

When our tribe first “turned on” our slot machines, we had no management plan or controls to make sure people were not taking “excess inventory home with them. In the beginning we had no surveillance cameras and “leakage” was a major issue.

Eventually the board established depositng procedures and contintued to work on internal processes in terms of cash handling.

After 15 months the board improved deposits by nearly 200%. Not bad for a governmental unit. Eventually the deposits normalized to produce many tribal government programs, like housing, childcare, youth services and overhead costs to administer tribal government programs.

Overall it was a pretty successful government-run operation the tribal members had allowed their tribal council to participate in starting with car bingo in the 1980’s

Tribal operations had grown immensely since that time and now employs roughly 200 people to manage and govern operation funded with gaming revenue.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

I recently acquired a business degree, cost-benefit analysis is a major factor in evaluating business health.

Let me demonstrate from a personal level.

Yesterday, I attempted to do some gaming where I normally lose about 100 visit. I want to win of course but I know I am supporting some kid or parent in having a job and I go about my business after losing my shirt.

Now I am no longer allowed in the gaming establishment, my “public administration” builing or the Indian Health Service with out a mask.

Who is paying for all this if they are refusing long term customers like me?

I figure it cost the tribe for my refusal of service.

Young person to tell me I can not enter is paid 10 bucks an hour, while constuction is taking place about 100 yards away. Not only is that young masked fellow getting paid to turn away business, we have a room full of accountants out back smoking cigarette after cigarette with no masks on or praticing social distancing. Let just say they all get 10 bucks an hour. We are looking at about 100 bucks and hour to tell me no plus the 100 I normally lose.

The House just took a beating.

I still have not paid top management officials averaging 90 grand a year.

COVID is a killer of business too. No testing for that one.

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