Good Morning Brothers & Sisters,

I have been doing work behind the scenes meeting with our people and organizing fund-raising events. A man I have been working extensively with made a comment that I found hilarious. He said, “I thought you would be a smart ass intellectual with a chip on your shoulder”, he was then surprised he said it out loud. He also went on to say that I wasn’t anything like what he had perceived me to be by my essays only. I realized that if a person were to judge me by those essays his perceptions would be spot on. As every human being should know we as individuals and groups are way more than meets the eye. I have always been proud to be Chahta. I grew up with other Chahta’s and part of my identity, how I see myself is firmly based in my community. That’s why I was so appalled at what I had witnessed at our highest level of government to members of my Chahta family.

If I were to be honest I would have to say that if I hadn’t been treated with such contempt by three separate Director’s (one interim, one unhinged, one self-serving) I would have stayed in my position and kept my mouth firmly closed. I would have sacrificed professional integrity to feed my little family and I know this is the case with many employees at the CNO. However, the abuse went on up the chain of command and as you know my name was smeared with no thought. At each level these Directors and the Executive Director were all nahollo and I was in their way. I was easily expendable with lies perpetrated by the need for security, power and plain ole’ greed. If it had been only me I would have gone on, angry but resigned to my fate. It wasn’t only me and I wasn’t the only one who was Chahta. THOSE OF US WHO WERE FIRED AND SLANDERED, WE WERE ALL CHAHTA!

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” Elbert Hubbard (American editor, publisher and writer 1856-1915)
I chose to fight. I chose to fight the Choctaw leaders who know about the abuse and still support those who do the abusing. Our leaders are made of paper, they are shells of what a leader is supposed to be. Or I should say what ethical leaders should strive to be. Part of my work included sexual harassment prevention training. As I took this training across the CNO I would get pulled aside and told the most horrible stories of abuse perpetrated to not only our people but other non-Chahta’s as well. I would promise to go back and relay to those in power the situations so that they could do something about the abuse. I may as well have been spitting in the wind. Then I realized they didn’t care about the actual abuse, they were putting on a show to get the policy signed off on by our workforce as individuals. We even had a Chahta Director who was pleading for help to no avail. Did you know that in our health system we have sexual predators who treat our people? Did you know that all employees around these aggressors have no recourse? Oh they can fill out a complaint but they will still have to face the aggressor on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong there have been terminations for such actions. A deputy director’s husband was let go for this exact reason; however she is still married to him and supervises said sexual harassment training, ironic isn’t it? We still have men with great power who choose (and make no mistake it’s a choice) to dominate and humiliate the women who work for and around them. What has happened in the healthcare system is the worst abusers get transferred with no official record of their depravity so they are free to act like animals once again to indian people. I guess this can be expected when you have an executive director who was talking about the state of his hanging member in a director’s meeting. Assistant Chief, by the way, thought it was very funny.

I don’t know about you, but I worked my way through college and I plan to send my little girl to university as well and I don’t want her to have to cope with such abuse if at all possible. I want a Chief who chooses a different path. A path of integrity and I know and you know that if we don’t get our smart asses out there to make a difference this kind of behavior and defamation will follow our Chahta children and grandchildren. I want a Chief who says “you abuse our people you will not only be fired but if you sexually abuse them you will be prosecuted”. I want a chief that if anyone working for the CNO is stalked, almost raped, raped or made to endure filthy suggestive language he/she will say “fired”. It seems so simple, leadership with integrity so why has it eluded us for almost forty years? Maybe even more than that. Why do we want to be Corporate America? Corporate America should want to be us.

If being a smart ass intellectual means finally making a difference for our people I am okay with that. I may even put it on a t-shirt and where it proudly. So for all of you smart ass intellectuals I say this: WE CAN DO THIS. IT IS WITHIN OUR GRASP!  And for that man who was actually paying me a compliment, yakoke for the title I will wear it proudly.

Chi Hollo Li my Chahta family,