Tribal conscience vs. minds of immorality

What actually creates minds of immorality? And should matters of depraved indifference be elaborated on through the national media? Should representatives or bureaucrats that are assaulting constitutional civil and human rights be exposed?

I feel, the vast majority of citizens throughout these United States agree whole heartedly that criminals and their criminal activity must be brought forth to answer for their wrong doing. So why is it so wrong for American Indian Tribal Members to desire this type of action when they discover criminal corruption going on within the boundaries of their reservation?

When civil and human rights violation become obvious, should not there be a manner of legal recourse allowed? If not, why do American Indian Tribes have forms of governments and constitutions? Are they token bureaucracies to simply pacify the Indian for the sake of peace or are these Indian reorganization governments, the continued endeavors of the United States assimilation process of the American Indian?

Within the judiciary process there is supposed to be a structure devised to address the constitutional grievances of the people. Of course, in the non-Indian society the practice of payment to have complaints heard is a manner that actually has no means of fairness, equality or due process. This reduces constitutional privileges for those who have no financial means, which basically allows no structure for the innocent to be heard in some cases. However, legal aid, nonprofit groups and organizations have been created to provide aid and assistance to those facing financial burdens.

Indian Country has constitutions and by-laws, tribal councils, tribal courts, and tribal law enforcement, all fashioned after the non-Indian legal system and government. Within the tribal legal process, however, the Bureau of Indian Affairs is allowed to become a part of the legal process, with presumed authority, leaving the tribes [unable] to cope with or govern their own affairs.

Are tribal constitutions and by-laws written in such a form that prevents them from being understood? One would seem to think that were the case. And how is it that tribal courts and tribal law enforcement fail to fully comprehend legal policies and law codes? Are such practices composed with too much legalese?

Since 1934, when the Indian Reorganization Act came into existence and allowed for federally recognized tribes to establish their own tribal constitutions and by-laws, there have been major incidents where tribal governments found themselves in trouble. Why?

Dictators? Could it have been due to negligence? Did it have to do with poor judgment? Was it due to not being able to understand the language of their own constitution and by-laws? Or was it a premeditated misinterpretation of the constitution and by-laws? Whatever the case, various tribes found their self-government in chaos and the criminal atmosphere became very obvious for some.

Fraud, embezzlement, mismanagement of program monies, falsifying tribal documents, initiating projects or plans without tribal council approval, violating civil and human rights, ignoring due process and refusing to adhere to the tribal constitution and by-laws--these are just some of examples that have been found that lead to tribal corruption throughout Indian Country.

How should tribal corruption be dealt with? Impossible to answer, especially when each of the 562 tribes all have different forms of governments; but when the first sign of corruption appears obvious, then it would be best to immediately put a stop to it constructively and follow all procedures that are available through the tribal constitution and by-laws and make sure all facts and data are available to all tribal members.

Exposing tribal corruption is no easy task. In order to gain an upper hand on tribal corruption before it spreads and becomes a vile disease, all aspects of the corruption must be portrayed in full detail so that the voting tribal membership can determine the best course to take in order to stop it before it destroys the good name of the tribe.

Tribal Leaders, tribal council members and or tribal program administrators guilty of promoting or advocating tribal corruption should be recalled and or removed from their official position, whatever the situation. All activity leading to stopping tribal corruption must be done in a positive and constructive manner. Where necessary, individuals that need to be arrested should be, then prosecuted and sentenced to the maximum penalty of the law

Remember, when tribal election time comes around, be sure the candidate you select is familiar with your tribal constitution and can fully express the material in it and can explain the consequences if he or she fails to adhere to the tribal constitution and by-laws.

When you vote, elect the right candidate and remember, if that candidate should not suit the job he or she has been elected to, remember, you voted for that candidate, you are partly responsible, therefore it is your duty to help stop the wrong-doing before it spreads.

Electing the right candidate is no easy task. You should view each candidate with directness and determine to the best of your ability if in fact that the candidate you vote for is capable of understanding your tribal constitution and by-laws. Decide if that candidate has any expertise or intelligence to operate a tribal government and has the wisdom, knowledge and understanding of the culture and religious beliefs of your people.

Tribal corruption can be costly to you, your civil and human rights; but most of all, it can be costly to the future of your tribe and the future of your children. Help stop tribal corruption. Indian Country should not have politics that resemble the non-Indian world.

(Larry Kibby is a 55-year-old American Indian of the Sovereign Nation of the Wiyots of Northern California. For the past 23 years, he has resided on the Elko Indian Colony, a reservation established by Executive Order for the Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada.)


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