By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
If ever there was an example of why we need clear, concise law, it is the situation we find ourselves in now. We are now finding that it is going to take a court session (or three) to figure the difference between the “letter of the law” and the “essence of the law”.
Doing a pulse check on the community, it would seem, is more confusing than a governmental hearing. Many, young and old, are reaching out to social media to get their “facts”. Many are trusting photos and scans of documents on friends’ pages that have not been confirmed as legal or legitimate. Even some supposedly mainstream media are getting their “news” from tweets and comments. The One Feather regularly hears from people claiming to have the inside scoop on what is going on, only to find that those people are passing along “grapevine” information that has no basis in fact.
Remember the old pass-a-long game we used to play in elementary school? The teacher would line up 20 or 30 children. She would whisper a sentence into a first child’s ear with instruction to whisper the exact sentence into the next child’s ear, who would do the same to the next kid, and so on. When the sentence gets to the end of the line, the last child is supposed to repeat the sentence out loud so that the whole class may hear it. Without fail, when the child announces the sentence, it bears no resemblance to the one that the teacher whispered the first child’s ear. Now, mediators and counselors around the world use this same exercise to educate staff and managers how dangerous it is to base decisions on gossip.
It is up to us to find out what is truth and fiction regarding any given situation. And, if we truly care about the future of the Tribe and the security of our next generations, we must stop making choices based on rhetoric.
I was speaking to a friend of mine concerning the immediate political issues that face the Tribe. His take on the issue, highly simplified, was that this goes beyond individual politicians and goes straight to the foundation of our written governing documents. With conflicting segments of Code and Charter, incomplete procedures, ambiguity as to whether we are a presidential versus a parliamentary government, it is no wonder that we are in position that we are in.
We speak of running our Tribe in the traditional ways of past generations of the Cherokee people, many times without even knowing what that really means. By the same token, we talk about operating under a democracy, but we don’t understand the need for lawmakers, executors and interpreters, and that there needs to be a clear delineation of the duties, and powers, of each.
The Cherokee One Feather continues to actively solicit commentary and reporting from elected officials and candidates. We have openly promoted the invitation to our currently elected officials with very little response. Some choose to stay within the boundaries of their own Facebook pages, which hits only a small fraction of the Tribe and typically only those who are “in their corner” already. We have heard time and time again from elected officials that they represent “all the people, not just a segment of the people”. The reach of any one individual official or candidate’s social media page may be hundreds. The One Feathers reach is in the tens of thousands. The reporting is separate from advertisements and the One Feather is offering this forum, one per month, without any charges. And, yet even the new candidates for office are relying on the same old traditional forms of media, cardboard signs on the roadways and posting in their small forums within their personal media pages.
I realize that for Tribal Council seats, the candidates need to be hyper-focused on their individual community constituencies now, but why, to use an old Southern analogy, would you try to put out a fire with a water pistol when you have a fire hose at your disposal?
I invite all the candidates and elected officials to share your positions with the public via our forum, the one that our Tribe has ordained, by law, as the official source of governmental information.