If You're Not Upset, You Obviously Haven't Been Paying Attention

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I'm Back, Did You Miss Me?
After having retired, laying on the beach, starting another company and taking another job, I am back. What happened? Well, as often happens in corporations, I retired and was hired back part-time on a subcontract.  I will be the technical specialist on the new Tribal Leaders Institute.

Traditionally, stealing, dishonesty, and disrespect toward elders were not socially acceptable in Indian country:
"Among the Dakotas lying and stealing from other tribal members was a capital offense. A person who was capable of lying was believe to be capable of committing other cowardly crimes against the tribe and was put to death to prevent the evil from doing more harm. If a person stole from another tribal member he was forever after called Wamanon (thief) and this distinction followed him for the rest of his life"

(1911The Soul of the Indian: An Interpretation  by Charles A. Eastman)

Over $2 billion dollars are appropriated each year for the Operation of Indian Programs by the Department of the Interior alone (H.R. 5386, 2006). This figure does not include billions of dollars that come into each reservation through grant funds from other agencies, private philanthropy, the $14.1 billion (Abrams, 2003) brought in from tribal gaming or other tribal enterprises. Much of this money never reaches its intended recipients, being lost through expense accounts being used for personal benefit and payment of individuals for hours they did not work. Ethical violations are costing tribal organizations hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Most of these costs are not in large-scale embezzlement or kick-backs on multi-million dollar contracts. Small violations on a large scale are what bleed money from tribal and federal funds.

"A staple of storytelling in Indian Country has to do with political interference in business activity.  Over and over one hears of voided leases, hired or fired cousins, politicized management, and enterprises drained of funds by tribal council interference." (Cornell & Kalt, 2005).

Just think what could be done with millions of dollars more in funding. If those ethical violations could be reduced by a very significant amount, it would be like giving every reservation several extra grants.

In a nutshell, that is what the Tribal Leaders Institute is all about. My part of it will be to create the technical side - wikispaces, podcasts, forum, blogs, web pages, while Erich's will be the content. It should be fun.

Stay tuned for further information.

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