COMMENTARY: Government transparency and other news issues

by May 2, 2016OPINIONS0 comments

Observations and random thoughts. Volume 8




A few items are in the news these days. One item, the now infamous HB2, the bill passed and signed into law by North Carolina effectively allowing legal discrimination against gay and transgender individuals, which dominates national and world headlines. The effects are already being felt in the tourism industry as the Asheville Citizen reports the cancelations of several group functions. Unless the State can endure the possible loss of thousands of jobs and many millions of dollars in lost revenue, this law is doomed to fail and ultimately be repealed. Stay tuned. Another item, making waves in Western NC and followed in Indian Country, is the specter and spectacle of the Tribal financial audit initiated by the Principal Chief. It seems guaranteed to find some dark, shady dealings. I love a transparent government, especially one that is forced to become transparent. Better wear clean underwear.

One final comment on the NC law. On the outside it is designed to force people to use bathrooms based upon their gender at birth. Delving deeper into the wording reveals that the State now has the power to compel all counties, towns to follow this law explicitly. In other words, a complete overreach of governmental authority. Simply put, and based upon some random fear that a cross dresser or someone disguised as a female will go into a bathroom for females and expose themselves to our daughters, wives and mothers, where is the protection for our sons from the predators and molesters who only use the men’s room? One scenario is real and the other isn’t. Guess which one is.

I have always found it a bit strange that people who get elected to some office and become government representatives immediately become wiser and smarter than they were when they were regular people. And we, the people that elected them become…just dumb civilians. And, by virtue of a simple majority of the popular vote, these become CPA’s, civil engineers, surveyors, attorneys, architects or what-have-you. I recall from my days at CDOT that some of these individuals thought that they could tell my people how best to do their jobs. But, enough about that. More importantly…because of this sudden self-importance they attempt to hide stuff from the people that elected them because apparently “we don’t need to know”. An audit seems to be the only way to get to the bottom of this mess. Bring on the audit. I wonder what this audit will cost the tribe. Maybe financial restitution paid while serving a little down time in a Federal boarding house would offset the cost? Nah…that’ll just pay the court fees.

Speaking of audits, what happened to the enrollment audit? Weren’t we supposed to audit the enrollment records and finally rid ourselves of those who fraudulently became tribal members by virtue of this audit? Are the results of that audit hiding somewhere in that backroom along with all them questionable expenditures?

Last item. News flash! After 9000 years the Kennewick Man is finally to be respectfully laid to rest by his people. Despite decades of BS and interference from a team of Smithsonian Institute paleoanthropologists who would dissect and study their own parents if they thought that could obtain the slightest hint of information, DNA research by a team of geneticists from Stanford University and the University of Copenhagen revealed that the K-Man is indeed a Native man. If you will recall the Smithsonian team went as far as constructing a facial re-creation around the K-Man’s skull based upon their mistaken beliefs that the ancient Native man was a member of the Ainu, a Japanese tribe. Why these intelligent and well-educated people insist on trying to prove that we all migrated from Siberia to an “unpopulated” continent is beyond me. I believe that groups of Native people did indeed cross the land bridge…traveling west to Asia. And that the hordes of mounted warriors that ruled Western Asia were descended from us, not the other way around. My theory makes so much more sense than theirs.

In the NFL…Tom Brady’s legal team lost their appeal and now Brady will serve a four game suspension of the Deflategate incident. Unless he appeals the appeal. Wonder if Brady’s ego was deflated by the ruling.

I saw in the One Feather that the bickering between Council and the Principal Chief is still ongoing. And the Council, minus those who are actually listening to their constituents, continue to demonstrate the maturity of middle school kids and denied a good faith vote to restore the discretionary fund to the Chief. I remind the people that read my stuff, remember, we voted these good people into Council to represent us, we can change our minds and get somebody else that will represent us. I can’t speak for any other community but I remember when Birdtown had Councilmembers we could be proud of, who took the lead, set the tone, lead. These guys…..? Oddly enough  I never thought that I’d be saying that I miss the days of my buddies Jim and Ab but are these current guys the best we Birdtowners can do? Maybe I should come home and run for Council. Heck, I’m big enough now to fit both seats.

Congratulations to Shannon Swimmer for passing the NC State bar. Way to go! I tried for years to pass bars but always had to stop and go in. Some were the places where everybody knew my name. I had some good times, well…I suppose I had a good time, people always pointed at my scabs and scars and told me that I did.

I read about Operation Medicine Drop. A very good initiative because expired medication left lying about is dangerous and needs to be disposed of properly. So, I’ve decided to take part. I’m sending out postage paid, self-sealing envelopes to all tribal members. Please feel free to drop any quantities of unused, expired medicinal marijuana in the pre-addressed envelope, seal and drop it in your mailbox. Rest assured that I will dispose of all samples properly. And promptly.

More NFL. The other day I saw a guy wearing some brand new Denver Bronco gear so shiny it must have come straight from the store. I wanted to tell this “fan” that real team supporters wear their older gear so not to stand out. I suppose the bandwagon was near so he felt compelled to buy some gear and climb on.

On a more somber note the Artist known as Prince passed away. Whether you were or weren’t a fan of his music Prince was a great singer, a prolific songwriter and an amazing guitar player and could play a variety of instruments really well. He wrote a great many hits for himself and other artists and it was one of his songs that accidentally made a star of Sinead O’Conner for a brief period. Soon her mediocrity unmasked itself and she faded to a footnote. It’s been a strange year so far, we’ve lost so many wonderful musicians that brought us nothing but joy and happiness but yet we still have Trump and Cruz. It ain’t fair I tell ya.

One more NFL note…the league is continuing to dispute findings from concussion studies conducted outside the fortress of denial that is the NFL. Who can blame them? After all quarterbacks and receivers get paid plenty of money to take head shots from steroid fueled mutant linebackers. Stop that whining. The only positive thing about it is some of these guys won’t remember the racist name of that franchise in Washington. Unfortunately they won’t remember that there’s a place other than their pants to use the bathroom in either.

I’ve carefully read the editorial from One Feather editor Robert Jumper regarding the adventure park concept for Cherokee. I totally agree with this concept. Valid points have been presented from people with alternative opinions but the real point was made in the editorial. We have to deal with real events in the real world. That reality is as Robert wrote, we eventually will not be the only game in town; we’ve already seen it happen once with the expansion of Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge-Sevierville. There are way too many entities envious of our success that do not have the restrictions we have imposed upon us by residing and operating on trust land. A prime example is this, there are 22 Native Nations in NM and casinos are abundant and appear wherever you travel on I40 and I25. The more successful are the four large establishments on the outskirts of Albuquerque owned by the Isleta, Sandia, Santa Ana and Laguna Pueblo Nations and the one owned by the Mescalero Apache near Ruidoso. The others spread out all over do fairly well but would do much, much better without the competition. We truly need a viable alternative to our gaming facilities. We could and would attract more people to the Rez if we had facilities that could attract families. Not everyone enjoys gambling. Not everyone enjoys fishing. People enjoy a good adventure park. Ain’t no skeeters in the adventure park.

As usual I’ll end this with a joke that I’ve always found both funny and ironic. “Why do Americans choose from just two people running for President and 50 for Miss America?” Remember, it’s the political season, until next time keep your head up and try to avoid both the falling and spent piles of BS accumulating around you.

Ledford is an EBCI tribal member living in Albuquerque, NM.