Tag Archives: Tribal Government

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.

rising sun

The past few days have created more personal challenges that leave one to wonder and ponder the point of life. It seems people prefer negative over positive. Maybe the culture I live in has influenced my behavior to recognize only the negative as this seems to be the case when I look for assistance from my tribe.

Over the past 20 years I have attempted to regain my own own sense of self worth by chasing a dream that has been over for some time. Although many of the accomplishments that were made continue to benefit tribal member today, even though I believe tribal members have been robbed and left by its leaders, in favor of economic development.

There is always a push to create more tribal government which largely excludes tribal membership. This results in the tribal government being made up of mainly non-tribal members who create rules, policies and laws that benefit tribal government and its employees. These people, very often, make all the critical decisions that are kicked up to the Chief and his executives, who continue to practice State law on Sovereign tribal members.

I am continually ostracized by my own tribal government but I must find a way to move forward as I look to the heavens toward the Rising Sun.

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.

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…

The Chief and I: Low-Rent Housing Program

I mentioned earlier the Chief and tribal council government of the Hannahville Indian Community hired me to manage and resolve compliance issues with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in order resume housing construction programs for the tribe.

Several federal programs were available, such as the section 8 voucher or another low-rent housing program. The board and I chose a rent-to-own program called the Mutual help Homeowner Opportunity Program, which provided housing at a discounted rate. Another income-based housing program but one the resulted in owning the housing unit for the tribal member. Another lesson in local and family politics in this process too, but that is another story as well.

The director of Region V, HUD Indian Programs was a Choctaw man, and very insistent on rule and regulation enforcement, even when the project was over 20 years old with dilapidated and rotting housing units, he still wanted 30% of tribal member income collected as rent to fund housing operations. If done successfully this would resolve compliance issues and grant status would be restored to the tribal entity.

Re-certification or Certification is a process where household income is evaluated and rental payment are based on the adjusted income. The Chief live in one of the 15 units of low-income housing project from the 1970’s. I computed his payment first and found out the amount would be quite high. He said he was not paying that much for a house in the condition he lived in at the time. I agree with him but he wanted the program reinstituted but did not want to pay his rent. It made my job more difficult and also created a negative relationship with him and the director. At this point I felt both were making my job harder. I just wanted to see some Indian people get housing.

Hence, my very negative political career began. I was very young and gullible to the world. I thought everyone played fair. I should have known better after seeing many “trustworthy” people take advantage of my Dad Wilsey.

Tribal entrepreneur performing routine maintenance for tribe.
Ty doing the prep work

The board (tribal government leaders) and I eventfully resolved the 20 year compliance issue and won a new contract for 1.4 million that funded a 10 unit home ownership project with water and newer infrastructure.

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.

Political Corruption

I sympathize with the families and ethnic groups that suffer from racism, I am a half-breed but you would not know to look at me. I have been verbally assaulted in many scenarios throughout life involving race, as I am often labeled a “Wetback”, “Chico”, and other assortment of name calling from all races. All designed to make be feel ashamed and most never know I am a half-breed “white guy” (Swedish mom). To look at me one would think I am of Mexican descent. These comment can come from any race, person or “sexual orientation” people. None care about how they talk to others they do not know.

Understanding and living with racism is difficult enough, I have arrived at a point where I do not recognize when people are treating me different, based on my skin color. It often frustrates me because I forget it is a real factor in our society.

As a person who has suffered racism and reverse racism from my own tribal members I know it is an issue but not as important as Political corruption in governments.

Yesterday I published an article about activties involving Michigan Governers standards for tribal casinos to open in Michigan. I also pointed out how tribal politics has already started with this mask wearing business.

The article led to information about tribal leaders or tribal government officials action in regard to use of Federal resources. Not even a day passed and I start getting contacted by tribal government officials asking me to not talk about things from 20 years ago…uh this incident was a few days ago, not 20 years ago and it is not about me.

I guess the tribal government is worried about how they treated me over the past 20 years. I tried to resolve the matter with the tribal government represetatives. They told me to go to the work rehab program. They additional spread community rumors that I went there because I was not getting what I want.

I want fair play and equal treatment. If they want to talk about how I have been treated over the past 20 years and not last week that is OK too.

I have to talk on here though because I am not masking up for anyone to meet them in person.

God would not want me to be ashamed myself. Besides mask wearing is just a new form of discrimination already being practised quite efficiently

That is the my side of the story. Maybe they should publish their side of things, like firing me because people just can not get over me calling them in a black out drunk 20 years ago.

Have a nice day.

Tribal enforcement of Whitmer COVID standards

Hannahville Indian Community is a sovereign nation, also considered a sovereign-dependent, as we accept funding and make agreements with the sovereign Federal Governments. One of our dependent requirements of a tribe is to negotiate matters not regulated by the Federal government with State governments where Tribal governments are located. Indian gaming is a classic example of the “memorandums of understanding” tribes make with sovereign states of the U.S union.

COVID has presented a new tribal-state negotiation opportunity for tribal governments. Six of Seven tribes who originally negotiated the 1993 Federal State-Tribal Gaming Compact of Michigan arrive at a agreement to open recently. I was honored to be part of the 1993 historic negotiation event. Since that time our tribe has contributed millions upon millions of cash into state coffers. All payments from our tribe have always been paid on time, and on a monthly basis. Tribal members do not get this type of treatment for allowing the tribal government to operate a casino but that is an entirely different subject.

Today I went to my tribal government to file civil matters with a rigged court and ran into this sign:

Now I can not file any court matters without a mask, this is a blatant form of discrimination.

Yesterday I visited the Indian Health Service and mask wearing young lady demanded a mask be worn my me there as well. Politics (Politricks-thanks Dick Gregory!) were evident here as a mask wearing young lady prohibited me from entering with my significant other, with out a mask. I kindly refused and stood by our vehicle and waited. Within minutes another popular elder was allowed into the Health center to pick something up with NO MASK. A few minutes later the IT guy shows up and is let in with NO MASK. This all happening while the former chief of police was having lunch in the parking lot.

Am I thoroughly confused and disgusted yet?!!!

If COVID is so serious and our tribe succumbs to the States demands, why the discriminatory practice against people who suffer from wearing a mask? I am almost an elder here and felt completely stupid for having to wait for my partner while others received service, with NO MASK.

I would bring this up with the Chief but last time I asked him why IHS is not covering my 30,000 bill from a stroke, his reply, “Well, they pay mine!” I was thoroughly disgusted because he is compensated 2000 grand a week to look after tribal members welfare, like me, why is IHS paying his bills and not mine?

Tribal Politics are alive and well.

Thanks Governor, I can not even get served in my own community due to stupid regulations, not being equally enforced upon everyone!

We just created a new way to discriminate and become even more inefficient in deliver of services to human beings and business ventures.

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.

More later…

We, the Wisconsin Potawatomi

Our Tribal Constitution was formed by 47 tribal member in the mid 1930’s. A time when there was not much hope for tribal members. They formed their own tribal government with-in the the State of Michigan boundaries and often make government to government agreements with the State.

Tribal Government Office

The tribal government has an agreement with Potawatomi and Indian people that forms the basis for our National Constitution, as some may perceive the document, but non the less it is our forming documents that establishes a relation ship with the people and elected tribal government (s).

The following is an expert of our forming documents:

UNITED STATES
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
OFFICE OF INDIAN AFFAIRS

CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS OF THE
HANNAHVILLE INDIAN COMMUNITY
MICHIGAN

APPROVED JULY 23,1936

UNITED STATES
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON: 1936

CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS OF THE HANNAHVIILLE
INDIAN COMMUNITY

PREAMBLE

We, the Potowatomies residing near Wilson and Harris in Menominee County, Michigan, on lands reserved for the Wisconsin Pototatomies residing in Michigan, in order to form a representative organization, to promote the welfare of our people, to preserve the land for ourselves and our children, and to provide homes for all the Indians of this Community who need them, do establish this Constitution.

No where in the document is it stated the tribal government formed this arrangment.

Just like the US Constitution, ours begins with,

WE the Pottawatomie, not We the Tribal Government, or State Government.

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