Halito Brothers & Sisters,
Election reform supported by Miko Batton and recommended by the Election Reform Committee has met a somewhat expected road block: The Choctaw Council; any change in procedure must be approved by a percentage of the council without this approval the proposed changes are dead in the water. Our elected Choctaw Council has chosen not to approve key aspects of the proposed changes. The road blocks are coming from every council member except Anthony Dillard. It is my opinion that council members who make up to $151,000 per/year to represent the Chahta citizens should do just that represent the majority of Choctaw citizens. There are however some suggestions that have been approved and they are as follows:
- The most significant is candidate access to the Biskinik – We will have to wait and see exactly how this is formatted. I know as a Chahta I want to know the candidates platform and their management experience. I want to know where the campaign finances are coming from and if they support accountability and transparency across the Chahta leadership. If I want to donate to their campaign I want to know how I can do so.
- A step by step process for receiving absentee votes in the mail. I do not have the exact procedure but the jist of the process is to insure the integrity of the mailed votes.
The big issue and one of the most important parts of election reform is release of the voters list with contact information. The argument is that some voters don’t want their information released to the candidates. Did you know as an American Citizen that all elections have a voters list that is freely released to all candidates? That’s right every election big and small has a voters list that is free to the candidates. I have to shake my head, every election except at the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. What they have decided to do is send out an update sheet where you update your information such as address and other contact information which is fine – and your social security number and then they ask if you want your information released.
You know what, I wouldn’t want my social security number released to anyone in this day and age of stolen identities. So why implement this process, is it a tactic used to encourage, even subliminally, a person to not want to release their information? I want the candidates to know my address, my name, my telephone number, my email address and my Choctaw Membership ID they don’t need to know anything else. Did you know that every other tribe has a voters list that is given to candidates? Why do we as the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma have to distinguish ourselves as the only tribe who refuses to release the registered voters list? We already distinguish ourselves as being the only tribe with a non-elected Chief and Assistant Chief? In addition, the voters list and the Biskinik list is used by our leadership for other purposes such as sending the update form and sending absentee ballots. In essence the voter’s list is already being distributed to leadership within the CNO but it remains unavailable to registered candidates. That doesn’t sound quite right.
Every council member who voted not to release the voters list has expressed the need to protect those who don’t want their information released. Okay what about the thousands of voters who realize they have a responsibility once they register to vote to gather all possible relevant information concerning candidates who are running against the all-powerful incumbents? Who is protecting us? Listen sisters and brothers the only council member concerned about our rights as Chahta citizens is Anthony Dillard. The rest are taking a small segment of voters and using that segment to insure their own re-elections. You men have had the upper hand for decades and you’ve used a corrupt and immoral system to better the lives of you and your own. You will be marked for replacement. We will choose, as is our right, to fire you.
This paragraph I have saved for the registered voters and for the Chahta’s who are sure to register for the upcoming election in the summer of 2015. When you register to vote you have a responsibility to open your eyes and ears and listen to those people who wish to run for office. If you are one of the few who do not want to release your contact information then don’t register because you are aiding and abiding the loss of democracy for your own Chahta people. You are assisting these men to increase their own power and instead of listening to us, the Chahta people, they begin to believe they are untouchable and that’s when we see such obvious abuse of power.
Choctaw reform committee and Choctaw Nation leadership don’t ask us to turn in our social security numbers that should already be attached to our tribal membership at the TM office. As a matter of fact, reform the entire list and bring it into the 21st Century before the 22nd Century, this means putting into place procedures for culling those who have passed away and those who have chosen to be part of another tribe. Let us be known as a tribe that saw its shortcomings and lead the way to transparent fair and unbiased elections. And for those Choctaw Councilmen who are so proud of passing some election reform but refuse to release the voters list because change takes time – you have had DECADES if you can’t get it done by now you will never get it done; plain and simple.
The following council members are not only up for re-election in 2015 but voted to not release the voter’s registration list and are marked for removal this election year unfortunately we will need to remove the additional council members next election cycle:
Thomas Williston, Idabel
Tony Messenger, Broken Bow ( not seeking re-election at this time)
Kenny Bryant, Talihina
Ron Perry, Stigler
Perry Thompson, Hugo
Bob Pate, McAlester
My people it is imperative that these men be removed from office. I cannot stress enough the need to show our elected officials what it means to ignore the majority of the very people they represent.
Chi pisa la chike,
CW (S. Crowder)
(S. Crowder has written under the pseudonym Choctaw Wright and Muriel Wright since December 21, 2011)