Tuesday, September 25, 2012

You think US Elections get vicious?

Try a Tribal Election process. I am a registered member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. This year was an election year for the tribe. Every two years half the board is elected, 4  year terms. The Tribal Chairperson is up for election every four years, coinciding with US Presidential election. Tribal election is held in early summer.
This year, Aaron Payment was elected for his second, non-consecutive term. I can't tell you much of what happened over the past four years, because I am not a resident of the regular tribal service area. I am allowed to vote in the elections, but it requires that I register with one of the 5 Units of the Upper Peninsula. Unless I actively stay on top of things, it's far too easy to slip through the cracks. I don't have the numbers right now, but I know that tribal members living outside the UP's service area vastly outnumber those in the area. And since the Tribe is a nation within a nation, getting things done requires even more finesse than most other political situations. Just wrapping your brain around all of the factors involved can be a workout.
Fortunately, Aaron is a hands-on Chairman. I don't know him personally, but followed what he was doing during the beginning of his last time in office. He actually established regular meetings in the lower peninsula. He acknowledged that there needs to be separate representation for the members not living in the 5 units. He also recognized that you reach a point where blood quantum isn't as important as knowing your heritage. He was a break from the lackadaisical status quo that had previously reigned over the tribe.
I don't know what lead to him losing re-election. I don't know what happened over the past 5 years or so with the tribe. But I know that those outside the 5 Units were once again forgotten and ignored.
Now that someone is in place who is willing to help the rest of us be acknowledged and informed, I'm looking forward to being active with the tribe. Because it's about time for the rest of our voices to be heard.

As far as the voracity of tribal politics goes... look at back issues of the tribal newspaper. Start with the first issue listed in 2005, page 4, Aaron's update. Yeah. It gets better. I'm going to have to skim through the following issues to see where things went from there.

So this is a heads-up to you... I will continue posting about knitting and baking, but don't be surprised if there are posts about the Sault Tribe and things going on with that. I'm not interested in starting a new blog, because this is all about me, and about all of me. :)

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