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Finally we have our Chief of police who reports to Executive Director of Tribal Operations and he is also a Director on Tribal Board of Directors. So any intelligent person can see people reporting to themselves is a conflict of interest. Yet each of them will tell you they do not see a conflict. Each Tribal Board position is also a paid position. Yet none of these Board members who have more than one career is ever seen putting in 40 hours a week in each position. The CEO of Detroit casino does not even reside in Lower Peninsula where job is.
It does not stop there; almost every committee in Tribe has at least two Board members on it. Every committee must report back to Tribal Board of Directors. The worst committee conflict is our school board, which has five board members on it and only a couple of parents. So if you disagree with school board decisions your out of luck as you have basically reached end of line. The Tribal members would like to see Board of Directors removed from all of committees and replaced by regular members or at least make them ex-official.
The actual Tribal members receive several services from Tribe. Some of larger ones are, a school for children, educational benefits, health care, affordable housing, low income rent, elder services, USDA food program, employment, community and family services and several other smaller services like recreational activities. Unfortunately a large number of members live below National poverty level while Tribal Chairman alone makes over $250,000 per year. Another thing to point out is that all of these programs are subsidized if not completely funded by Federal grants and dollars.
The Tribal constitution states that we shall follow US Constitution, however when a lot of members try to voice their political opinions they are labeled as dissidents or accused of attacking board members and if you work for Tribe you risk becoming unemployed for exercising your right to freedom of speech. Many of these socialistic ideas were presented in an article in Detroit news in its November 11th 2001 edition.
The Tribal Board of Directors controls everything that happens within Tribe. They control only newspaper. Anyone seeking employment has to be approved by Chairman and Executive Director of Tribal Operations, basically to be hired golden trio must like you. All of other services provided, all of its court system and they control Tribal police. The Board controls even school and election process.
The Tribal Board also has many closed door meetings preventing members from knowing exactly what they are up to even though we have an open meetings act. This is what they did when they decided to make Chairman CEO and when they gave themselves pay raises.
Recently many complaints were submitted to election committee only to be thrown out. A majority of Tribal members want our election process changed in several ways, but Board refuses to listen, as they are not willing to give up their dictatorship powers. One of main issues is members want a primary election. Another is we want Board to follow Tribal Constitution and eliminate a Board resolution, which requires a blood quantum to become a director, which was illegally enacted. Some members would also like elections controlled by an outside neutral party to prevent election fraud.
Also millions of dollars have been wasted by this board on failed business attempts or pay offs (political contributions) to US Congressmen. This is all an example of socialism right here inside our own boarders. The Tribal members continue to be oppressed while members of Board of Directors especially golden trio continue to grow richer. Just last year they voted themselves a 35% retroactive five year pay raise.
Another interesting thing to point out is that our local casino has concerts which every seated incumbent gets unlimited tickets to which they could use to persuade members to vote for them or golden trio can offer people who work for Tribe pay raises or employment to get votes. This all makes it harder for political challengers to get elected.
Now you must be asking yourself why would someone want to go through this and be a Tribal member? First lets look at another example. In World War 1 and World War 2 did Jewish people stop being Jews just because Hitler a Dictator wanted to destroy all of them? No, it is part of their heritage and race. They did not give up but continued to fight dictator until they were freed. Now life is better for most of them, especially ones living in United States whom enjoy all of rights afforded to US citizens.
So it is same for Native Americans, we have fought oppression for centuries it is our heritage and race; it is a part of who we are. Simply put some of us are proud to be Native Americans and hope to someday change our Board of Directors from a Dictatorship to a Government of people by people for people. Eventually we plan on having a free democratic and capitalistic government guiding our Tribe. We must do this to secure future for our children so they too can be proud to be Americans and Native Americans.
As a Disabled American Veteran, I have all ready given a part of myself for this country and I will continue until socialism is removed from our borders. As a Native American I will try to help protect rights of other Native Americans whom are afraid to speak their minds for fear of reprisal from Tribal Board of Directors. So that someday they too will enjoy same rights afforded to any other US citizen.
“Where men cannot freely convey their thoughts to one another, no other liberty is secure.” Harvard philosopher William Hocking wrote in 1947.
This final paper has shown many of aspects of business history we learned this term. Mainly it has shown socialism and capitalism in United States. Also it has revealed aspects of poverty, dictatorship, political oppression, poor management and complete disregard for rights of others. With all that we have learned in history this term I leave you with one final thing to consider. Would people who are US citizens working for any Tribe be considered expatriates? This is a tough one because there are people who live on Tribal property and work for Tribe even though they are all US citizens. You could argue it either way.
References: Include but not limited to Articles from Detroit News November 11th 2001 edition, Many articles from Sault Tribe paper, Tribal and US Constitutions.
BBA student at Northwood University