recognize the end of our second year of publishing Canku Ota,
I decided to write an article about the generosity of Indian Country.
It seems that so often we only hear, and write about, the negatives.
So, now, let us celebrate the unsung heroes.
Most of us have heard stories of the
great Indian leaders. Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Chief Joseph,
Geronimo, and on and on. But, do we know what it really takes
to become a leader?
A true leader, in Indian Country, gives.
He gives of his time, his advice, and his "worldly goods."
Traditional leaders often live in poverty because of their giving.
Sharing with others is the responsibility of every tribal member.
If someone is in need, help is found, and given.
That tradition has continued into this
century. Over the past few months, there have been some wonderful
stories of giving to those in need.
Within hours of the attack of the World
Trade Center, donations from Indian Country began to flood in.
Within 24 hours, the Morongo Band of
Mission Indians council met with the American Red Cross to donate
$25,000 to enable them to fly their disaster team to New York.
Others soon followed suit with cash
donations, including: Agua Caliente, $250,000; Prairie Band Potawatomi
Nation, $100,000; Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, $100,000;
Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians, $200,000; Mooretown Rancheria,
$25,000; Table Mountain Rancheria, $25,000; Tulalip Tribes, $100,000;
San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians, $500,000; Cabazon
Band of Mission Indians, $25,000; Viejas Tribal Council, $25,000;
Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians, $25,000; Forest County Potawatomi
Community, $100,000; Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, $25,000;
and Mohegan Tribe, $1 million. (This is only a partial list; check
Victor Rocha's Internet News Digest, www.pechanga.net,
for updated information.).
Then, there's the story of the Santee
Sioux tribe in Nebraska. The following is an excerpt by Roger
Trudell, Tribal Chairman of the Santee.
"The Department of Justice (DOJ),
has seized all available non-trust assets of the Santee Sioux
Tribe to pay fines imposed on our tribe for operating Class III
gaming without a tribal-state compact. (To date we have been unable
to obtain such a compact with the state of Nebraska, and the state
refuses to consent to a judicial resolution of this issue). We
have had to appeal to our brother and sister tribes this season
for assistance with food and clothing for our elders and children.
The DOJ seized nearly everything,
including the tribal grocery store account, the bake sale proceeds
for our elder care program, and even funds from a tribal Head
Start program for child education. The Justice Department also
initiated an unsuccessful federal trial to imprison our tribal
council members, and unilaterally blocked the processing of federal
grant applications submitted by the tribe for things such as law
enforcement and tribal courts.
Also brutally devastating has been
the Justice Departments repeated refusal of our urgent requests
to stop seizing loans, grants, and other assets that the tribe
could acquire for non-gaming economic development. As a result,
for over two years no person, bank or other institution will do
business with the Santee Sioux Tribe for fear that any assets
devoted to tribal projects will be seized by the DOJ to pay fines.
In an effort to gain relief from
this life-threatening stranglehold, the Santee Sioux tribe, acting
on the express advice and support of the National Indian Gaming
Commission (NIGC), ceased its class III gaming, and began offering
Class II pull-tab dispensers and Class II paper bingo. The NIGC
responded by promptly rescinding its closure order that had been
issued against the tribe."
The reality of this action was that
the Santee had no operating money. With the holidays approaching,
other tribes decided to act, and help. Here is a copy of the letter
that went out.
Dear Tribal Friend:
The Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska is in dire need of our help
for the Christmas holidays.
As you probably may know, the Department of Justice seized the
Santee Sioux tribes bank accounts and sued to close the
tribes gaming operation because the tribe has been unable
to get a tribal-state compact.
What you may not know is that the Department of Justice took everything.
Not only did they seize tribal bank accounts but they took the
funds from a tribal grocery store, their bake sale funds for their
elder care program and a fund used to pay for child car safety
It is a daily struggle just to ensure the basic necessities for
their children and elders and getting through Christmas will be
There is one thing you cannot do you cannot send money
directly to the tribe or it will just be taken away.
Write check to: "Tribal Relief Fund"
Send check to:" Tribal Relief Fund" c/o Mr. Roger Meyer,
Casino Morongo Accounting Department, 49750 Seminole Drive, Cabazon,
All monies collected will be used
to purchase food and necessities through local stores or to be
shipped to the tribe. Here is the request list they sent us that
we are using as our guide:
FOR ELDERS (79 Tribal Elders) : Turkeys, hams, food baskets, winter
FOR YOUNG CHILDREN (540 Children): Apples, oranges, gloves, winter
coats and candy
FOR THEIR TEENS (121 Teens): Gloves, stocking caps, winter coats
It gets bitterly cold in Nebraska and so warm coats, blankets,
sweaters, gloves will be especially precious. We are coordinating
a central effort so as to ensure minimal duplication. If you have
any questions, you can call Damon Sandoval at 909-849-4697 or
Waltona Manion at 800-937-7692.
All tribes who send contributions will be listed in a summary
we are sending to the Santee Sioux and we will provide the names
of donating tribes and individuals to the media and for posting
on Victor Rochas website www.pechanga.net.
Thank you in advance for your generosity to a tribe who will be
deeply grateful for your assistance. And this comes with our best
wishes for a happy holiday season you will have made better for
Santee Sioux tribal families.
With sincere appreciation,
Damon Sandoval, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, California
Anthony Miranda, Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, California
Tracy Burris, Chickasaw Nation, and Chairman, Oklahoma Indian
James Starr, Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma
Wilson Pipestem, Otoe-Missouria Tribe, Oklahoma
And, here's a partial list of the contributions
that flooded in to help the Santee.
Morongo Band of Mission Indians (CA)
donated $27,000 ** The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians (Temecula,
CA) donated $10,000 ** NIGA donated $1,000 ** Walkyrio Amorim
(Los Gatos, CA) donated $20 ** Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker,
LLP (Washington, DC) donated $500 ** Prairie Island Indian Community
(Welch, MN) donated $10,000 ** Alyssa Sandoval (Banning, CA )
donated $250 ** Harriet & Christina McNally donated $100 **
Ken & Debbie Krol donated $20 ** Kent Appel donated $200 **
Victor Rocha (Los Angeles, CA) donated $200 ** Monteau & Peebles
gave $50,000 in services ** Ietan Consulting, LLC donated $1000**
Americash donated $500 ** Seneca Cayuga Bingo Hall donated $500
|Trust Fund Monies
And, then, there's the story of the
Indian Trust Fund. As reported in previous issues, the Department
of Interior shut down all of their computers. This action meant
that ALL funds were cut off. The story below is another example
RAPID CITY - In black jeans, a blue-gray
flannel shirt and black baseball cap, Michael Jandreau, chairman
of the Lower Brule Sioux, hardly looks like Santa Claus. But he
and the tribe were overflowing with the Christmas spirit of generosity
A Dec. 5 federal court order stemming
from the Cobell v. Norton class action suit against the Department
of the Interior shut down computers used to pay Indian trustees
when it became apparent hackers could enter the network used to
track the assets of 300,000 Indians.
The shutdown meant $15 million in
trust payments were held, including funds for social programs
for the poorest northern plains tribal members.
"The payments aren't much, less
than $400. But it was really heart-breaking to think these people
would not get any money before Christmas," said Cora Jones,
regional director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Aberdeen.
"I have never been through anything so heart-wrenching."
Into the breach stepped the Lower
Brule Sioux, who underwrote about $500,000 in payments to trust
recipients. "We agreed to do it as a service to others,"
Jandreau said. "In our culture, an essential part of it is
what you must do for each other, in spite of the differences between
He said the tribe wrote 4,600 checks
to trust recipients in North and South Dakota. "We did have
the money to cover that until we were reimbursed," he said.
"We have a decent financial system, and we could pursue this
Jones called it a godsend.
"They have a great financial
system out there," Jones said. "We were looking at every
which way for help we could. Then they came along ... To me, the
gesture was just outstanding."
|American Indian College Fund
Then, there's the story of how the Shakopee
Mdewakanton's have just donated to the American Indian College
... Last week,
the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Prior Lake, Minn.,
donated $900,000 to the college fund, marking the first tribal
donation in the fund's history.
"This gift is very significant
in Indian history, because it marks the first time a tribe has
committed to supporting scholarships for American Indian students
across the country," said Richard Williams, the Denver-based
fund's executive director. "We deeply appreciate the care
and generosity of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux to support education
for all Indian people."
|Canku Ota (Many Paths)
And, finally, but certainly not of less
importance is the generous help that people from all over Indian
Country have contributed to us. Your help is allowing us to share
your writings, art and music has allowed us to celebrate another
year of publishing. Additionally, the help of those who promote
us is invaluable. Lastly, the support of you, our readers, keeps
us keeping on. It seems that the tradition of gifting is enduring,
even in these hard times.
Pidamaya yedo to all of you.