For a number of weeks I have witnessed the President of the United States encourage racial discord between blacks and whites because a man was declared innocent by a jury who viewed the evidence and found him not guilty in Florida. I was reminded of all the Blackfeet members who have written him or those in the U.S. Interior Department asking for some type of intervention concerning the lawlessness now existing on the Blackfeet Reservation, but not once has he answered their request. This is the same man who promised Indian Country change if we would vote for him.
Crime has gone rampant on the reservation because there is no leadership, as a matter of fact it is the leadership who is breaking the law and telling law enforcement, “You can’t touch me I’m sovereign.” Residential break-ins have increased because the thieves know there will be no investigation or prosecution. Each week reports of crimes on the Blackfeet Reservation are common knowledge in all the state’s newspapers, radio and television stations. The President is sending John Kerry to the Middle East for peace talks, I wish he would stop on the Blackfeet Reservation and use his peace making skills here and help stop the suffering of the people who have illegally lost their jobs and have no means to support their families or those who are living in constant fear of reprisal because of fabricated charges.
No one seems to care! Millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted, stolen, or misused and no one cares. The BIA, when asked for assistance in this matter that has existed since Aug. 27, 2012, reply that it’s an internal conflict. What about their “Trust Responsibility” they talk about when it comes to our money from tribal resources and now the Elouise Cobell record $3.4 billion settlement? They sure don’t turn that over to the tribes and say, “That’s an internal conflict” you manage the money. The bottom line is that the Blackfeet Constitution states there MUST be six elected council members to constitute a quorum, not three, four, or illegal replacements. Any number other than six elected councilors is illegal and those who have broken the law must be held accountable for their actions. I was elected to the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council in July 2012 by 1,833 votes and 30 days later four council members and one illegal replacement removed me without pay on August 27, 2012. What about the voters, don’t they count? If we were blacks or Hispanic would the U.S. Department of Justice then investigate the injustice?
No man or government is above the law – on or off the reservation. How will history record this shameful chapter of the Blackfeet people? Our past is colored with survival and determination, with leaders who gave their all in order that the people would remain on the very land that is being torn apart today because of greed of power and money. Our tribal court is in disarray, thus investors have lost trust that their resources will be protected in the future. Our Head Start program has been compromised, thus financial setbacks and funding have affected the children – the future of the Blackfeet Nation.
What has divided the Blackfeet Nation in months will take years to heal. Those in power on the Blackfeet Reservation have incited fear, suffering and division among the people in order to take attention away from their inability to lead and create employment, improve healthcare, and provide a safe environment for the people. According to the Blackfeet tribal chairman we are under “Marshall Law” and if the people speak up or stand up they will be put down at any cost. According to him, the U.S. Department of Interior is not welcome to intervene in the issues of the Blackfeet people because we are a “Sovereign Nation.” As long as the federal government continues to funnel millions of dollars onto the Blackfeet Reservation with corrupt people, corruption will flourish under the umbrella of sovereignty and self-determination. Washington! Stop the corruption and lawlessness on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation please.
William Old Chief
Former Blackfeet Tribal Business Council Member
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