"Now that the Election is over, Congratulations to Chairman Steve Ortiz.
In July 1999, we started talking about constitutional amendments and many TC’s have passed since then and yet we have none. As seen in this last election, there were 10 candidates all eligible for the Chairperson position. The winner won by 27% or 390 votes of the total tribal vote. The other 73% or 1,062 voted for other candidates.
If our election process were amended for the 2 highest voted candidates, then there would be a run-off election. This would mean that the person elected would have a higher percentage of the Nation’s voters. It is something that I would have preferred knowing that more than a majority of the voters and I agreed on the same priorities. In this case, how could I go wrong if Prairie Band, and I desired this for our Nation?
As a Native Nation, our requirements for government are not like that of the United States. A tribal member does not have to be rich, educated, experienced, campaign based on race or religion, male or female, a career minded bureaucrat or a War hero. As a tribal member with age, you are eligible. In our traditional history, our personal word enforcing customs and traditions is tribal law. With our personal beliefs and integrity, we believed in each other. In our tribal business world today, we still expect that from our leaders and without it, who will cast the first petition?
There is a personal trait desired by tribal voters that cannot be measured by work performance, blood quantum or bureaucratic speeches that amounts to nothing and that is an honest heart for the people they will serve. Because of our Native history, that is why no strict requirements were ever installed in Native constitutions unlike our non-Native counterparts. We know what their government is like and that will always be part of our unresolved problem!
Other Native Nations have encountered the same recalls for dishonesty and basically saying your just not one of us anymore. We elect you and you forget about us every time. The greed that overcomes the elected destroys them over time.
The newly elected “swears true faith, allegiance . . . . . to faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which they are about to enter. So help me God.” This is called the Oath of Office that deploys their character subject to question and accountability in a public office. I have taken the Oath of Office three times as a tribal citizen: upon entering the military, the federal government and tribal government.
We are enjoying more success today our way while adjusting to authority and business solutions not encountered before in our history and we will overcome those as well.
We still need that Constitution Committee interacting with the community to produce one-issue amendments that will gradually construct this strong governing document. The CC still needs the GC and TC support to get this done. We are all of the same blood so why should this be a difficult task? This governing document will record our past, strengthen the present and give vision to our children to continue our ageless but inherent sovereign right to be Nish na bek."
Thomas M. Wabnum