This document describes the reasoning for and basics elements of developing a system of governing our tribes with new expectations and procedures. What the Klamath tribes are doing now is not fulfilling its intentions for all. It can be said that without effective rules to operate by there will be only chaos. We as tribal people must create a clear path for an existence of our future generations that meets their expectations and needs. This was provided for us by the ancestors of our people thus we are obligated to do the same. It will take a system of governing ourselves that is both just and in line with our tribal values.
This document is premised in the fact that other tribal organization with very similar demographics as our tribes have are much further along in terms of preserving and practising cultural traditions and keeping the tribal languages and economy functioning. These aspects of tribal life, when in order, can lead to tribal prosperity. It is our belief that if we implement some of their practices and ask for permission for the usage we will regain a system unique to us based off of time immemorial ways of our traditional neighbours to the North, East, South, and West of our homeland.
Our current political system is constrained by a constitution and a governing body comprised of a Chairperson Vice chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer, and six at-large members. There are scheduled regular general council meetings held through out the year and are held at the tribal administration building in Chiloquin. The meeting must have enough people in attendance for a quorum of 50 people to be met in order for the meeting to commence. If there is not the meeting will be cancelled and end soon after.
Concerns that Need Addressing
Some of the concerns that have developed over the years are not being addressed and are a very large problem for some when there are preventative measures that can be taken to address in a meaningful way the prevention of the problematical concerns that have arisen due to a less than optimal political system.
In many instances tribal members will travel long distances to attend a meeting and then the meeting will be cancelled for one reason or another. This can cause loss of faith in the system along with anger.
In other instances members of the tribal council will respond to a concern of a general council member with an interpretation of the tribal constitution that will instantly be countered with an interpretation from one or many of the attendees. One must assume that the tribal council members ,by default, have a better understanding of said constitution when in fact that is not the case in many instances. Ambiguity exists where it should not.
Beings that a significant number of tribal members do not live in the vicinity but would otherwise like to attend the meeting but cannot, some peoples contributions wont be presented. This leaves many without first-hand knowledge from the general memberships' overall perspective on issues. This leads to an uninformed message on how to cast votes on important matters that affect future generations.
The location of the meetings are not conducive to a honest tribal way of thinking. They are held where the day to day operation of the administration occurs. This is a conflict of interest. The way of Tribal matters that are decided by the general membership are not covered by a spirit of tribal independence. They are in the presence of another government and the funding that represents. This issue is also complemented by a lack of space at times and no kitchen facilities. This is an issue.
In many meetings the process gets bogged down to do a lack of following protocol. Certain people will press their point much longer that alloted times and many disruptions have occurred from it. The lack of protocol that is inherent to a true tribal system is the cause for this. Termination has its desired effect.
There are many similar sounding concerns and grievances beyond these that could be considered legitimate but they can all be addressed with similar actions for the concerns listed.
When people who travel a long ways on the pretence that a meeting will be held in the names of the tribes they should have a more than good expectation that their efforts will produce more than hardships and undue expense. Meetings can still occur with only one person in the general membership. Voting on issues cannot occur, obviously, but to be just sent home with nothing is unacceptable. It is contrary to any group of peoples values and must be taken more serious than it has been. This is something that can be brought up as a concern and an alternative plan developed for such instances. This document will not present a distinct solution but does advocate it become an issue that be resolved.
There have been general council meetings where an individual with a concern and who has researched how it may be addressed under the current tribal constitution is dismissed solely on the notion that the responding tribal council member(s) interpretation supersedes the general council members take on it solely because they are on the tribal council. This can be addressed by providing a series of meetings that be held both in an on line forum for those who choose to use that vehicle and also a meeting in person. These meetings will describe the constitution to to everyone’s understanding and then be made mandatory for all the membership to signify that understanding . This will eliminate ambiguity.
With optimal Internet bandwidths available there is no reason that the general council meetings cannot be streamed live on line from the official meeting location to the rest of the members who cannot attend the meeting. This is cheap and easy to manage. There is no excuse for members who cannot attend to not be able to participate.
It has long been the position of Modoc Broadcasting that the current location for the general council meetings is inadequate. There is never any happiness brought forth from there. For thousands of years our people came together in building family homes for individual families. We can all come together and build a Tribal building for ceremony and council meetings. This building can be constructed out of logs. We have no shortage of logs. It can be built by volunteer work. A system of accountability can be made with little effort and a lot of goodness in your heart. Nothing but happy thoughts while working on structure. This can be build in between the Congregate. The only thing that can prevent such a thing is a decision not to. If a decision is made to do so it should be planned to take no longer than 18 months. All the infrastructure for supporting a structure is in place and should cost the tribes no more than $18,000.
The last concept we would like to present here is the advancing of our political system. This aspect alone is the guiding force in who we choose to be and how we choose to make that happen. There are many things that could be said here but this is meant to be a framework and not a direct first time full fix response.
We at Modoc Broadcasting recognize that in order to make a better standard of living for our tribal members there must be a consensus on the definition of success. This is something that cannot be decided by 10 council members. What needs to occur is that a definition for success that includes the enhancement of our culture and values be made. The method that this can occur and is most easily achieved is by an overall consensus. This can be accomplished by surveys delivered either by snail mail, email, or in person. The responses can be refined to the point that a list of preferred choices that can be voted on that best describes what we consider success. This list can then be refined to a definition. Then the hard part begins.
The best way to act upon this new revelation that comes with defining success is to develop a plan that includes a political governance of this plan as tribal priority. The amount of information that the membership will need to make decisions on will need to be concise and frequent. The current level of official tribal information being delivered to the members outside the service area in limited to 3 tribal news publications a year. We feel that changing the current political system can be a solution.
In two neighbouring tribes here in Eastern Oregon the political system is one of a confederation of the three separate tribes within the borders of the reservations. These individual tribes have a head figure Chief who represents the time immemorial existence of each tribe and the members within. These chiefs over see the operations of the Tribal Council and assist in sensitive issues that arise at times. The Tribal Councils are still comprised of the standard structure with a Chairperson, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer. There is typically a representative of communities within the reservation that seek acknowledgement in the tribal councils. Districts are delineated that the members who live there elect a representative to represent their interests. We feel that something similar can occur here.
The Klamath Tribes are composed of three tribes like in Warm Springs and Umatilla. We can also distinguish each tribe by electing a chief to represent each tribe. This is not unheard of in our tribal history. The legends and stories along with written record are the accurate position on the matter. The Chiefs do not interfere with the operations of the council affairs unless it is requested by the membership or councils.
Here in Klamath Country there are three main communities where members live. Chiloquin, Klamath Falls, and Beatty. Sprague River and Bly would be considered the same as Beatty. There are other communities here in Oregon that have many tribal members, most notably Portland and Salem. Also in Eugene and Medford. There are also many who live outside Oregon who could be considered a group needing representation. With the development of Internet streaming meetings and more members attending these meetings, these representatives can speak for their constituents.
It is the position of Modoc Broadcasting that it be considered that a new governing body be developed. Instead of six at-large members, seven district representatives be elected. One for a Klamath Falls rep, a Chiloquin rep, a Beatty Rep that includes Sprague River and Bly, a Medford / Eugene rep, a Portland /Salem rep, and an At large rep. These reps will be available digitally primarily and will speak and act for their respective constituents. All meetings will be open to tribal members who appear in person in Chiloquin or online with adequate visual and audio devices needed.
This is just the delivery part. The document used for governing is somewhat ambiguous or tends to be when convenient. This is another matter. This is just a framework for a governing body that resembles productive and functioning tribes that others here in Oregon do.