How Did We Get to this State?

We at Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. are not alone in conducting research on the effectiveness of tribal government. In 2007, the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development published a survey titled: The State of the Native Nations: Conditions Under U.S. Policies of Self-Determination.

The intent of this volume is to survey the state of Native American nations and communities at this early stages of the twenty-first century (p. xix, Kalt, et al., 2007).”

The authors of this document point out that the reduction of federal interference in the day-to-day operations of the tribal governments has had, for the most part, a positive impact on tribal governments. However, they also note the “federal pullback” and “prolonged federal paternalism” have resulted in very few tribal members possessing the leadership skills necessary to lead their sovereign nations. Having never been decision makers, many tribes face a daunting task of governing tribal institutions, courts, police departments, school, social services agencies, etc. Due to this inexperience, the report goes on to say,

The Native Press is filled with stories of tribal political infighting, continuing economic hardship, and the unraveling of the social fiber that one held the communities together (p 24, Kalt et al, 2007)”

Before we go any further let’s talk about why this course is extremely important in Indian Country. Although Indian reservations have made tremendous progress in economic development, education and other areas they still lack far behind in critical areas; jobs, housing, due process, law and order, violation of tribal constitutions, etc.

We are of the opinion that there is a great need for an ethical education in Indian country, and not just in cases of conflicting opinions on what is right. Sometimes there are very clear examples of wrong-doing occurring, such as embezzlement, hiring unqualified personnel who don't come to work but still are on the payroll, falsifying time cards by charging for eight hours when you came to work at 10 a.m. and left at noon.