Archives for posts with tag: campaign

Halito Sisters & Brothers,

I noticed on Facebook many Chahta proudly displaying their ballots for the upcoming elections. It warms my heart just to see that we actually have people who are brave enough and are willing to stand up to a decades old system that is well known for it’s unfriendly (to say the least) attitude for those candidates who are not incumbents. We have come quite a ways since the last election cycle and we have so much farther to go for the sake of our descendants.

While there is no candidate to run against Perry Thompson so I can’t vote for council I have cast my vote for Chief. I paused to think before marking my ballot because I know next to nothing about the challenger. I don’t know about her background and I don’t know where she stands on the issues that have plagued our Chahta government for decades but I marked her name as my choice because I do know a thing or two about our current Miko.

I know that he most likely has good intentions but no business experience outside of the CNO. I know that his efforts toward election reform while historic were very shallow. I know that there is no TERO at the CNO. This means that Choctaw business owners and employees have no recourse in their own tribal nation to take advantage of Choctaw preference. I know that he has never answered the question concerning the campaign fund. I know that he is surrounded by the old guard and that, to me, is what we have had since I was a child riding along with my mother campaigning for Wendell David. That campaigning cost my mother her job at the tribally owned Indian Clinic in Hugo all for the right of Choctaw people to have a vote that actually counted. I know that during this election year I have seen more expensive commercials with Miko’s face in them than any other time that I recently remember. I know that some Chahta’s with large families are now receiving some big promotions. Ironically, these are promotions they should have had long ago.

So tonight I want to really encourage our absentee voters (I count myself among you) to think about the legacy Gary Batton proudly carries into his office, an office that we didn’t elect him into. He carries with him corruption, greed and disregard for the well-being of the Chahta people. He carries with him a legacy of intimidation and force. He carries with him a false sense of importance and that is due to lack of experience in other business arenas. I had hoped that he would carry something else. I had hoped that he would change the system. That he would speak frankly and honestly. That he would announce that any employee using intimidation and threats during the election year would be immediately terminated. I had hoped he wouldn’t participate in the jobs for votes practice. He proved my hopes to be futile. Absentee voters we need YOU to set the stage for real change by voting for the challenger. You can break the strength of the chain that has held us back for decades. The opposition has no secret campaign fund and she doesn’t have the power to intimidate those Chahta who work for the nation. If she doesn’t fulfill the duties of a Chief with integrity and business acumen we will have the choice to vote her out next election cycle. Remember the longer those corrupt old guard people hold top positions in our government the longer it will take for us to rid ourselves of them. This is our chance to send a clear message concerning integrity and answering to the very people leadership is charged with serving.

I would also like for you to view this short documentary concerning the struggle we have dealt with in our corrupt political system. When I first watched it I was shocked. Even though I had known about the intimidation and the strong armed tactics to see even a glimpse of it against one of our elders infuriated me. What you should remember is that this is the legacy that Batton continues to proliferate. The link to the documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugc1AoPs_gk

Chi Pisa La Chike,

S. Crowder  (CW)

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Halito Sisters & Brothers,

Our Chief is announcing his candidacy by throwing a huge party in McAlester with none other than Neal McCoy as entertainment. Here I sit shaking my head again. Who will be the guest speaker the anti-native Governor Mary Fallon? Who planned this kickoff event? It must be the same old people who seem to always plan them because it’s just like the ones the former chief and the felony chief had to announce their “candidacy”. I am trying so hard to see the silver lining for our current Chief but so far I see a man who cannot get true election reform and who is walking in the same muddy foot prints as those who have come before him. Let me tell you the sad part – this Chief has so much potential. Who in the world is advising him to throw an obviously outrageously expensive party only months after the Merida trial? How much is it costing? Who is paying for it? Who will be working it? Where is the million dollars noted in the federal trial that former Chief Pyle put away for your campaign? Is this where the money is coming from? Will there be transparency concerning how much JUST the kickoff event cost? And I mean down to the last lavish give away.

Can you not see and hear the Chahta people questioning your integrity? Let me tell you what I had hoped you would do and really what I thought you would be advised to do. Announce your candidacy in the most dignified possible way in the same fashion as “town hall” meetings. Invite any opponents or just regular hard working, struggling, Chahta’s to bring you their questions in a public forum and answer them as honestly as you can. Invite the absentee voters to participate by sending in questions by joining a meeting via Skype. Chahta’s are soooo tired of the smoke and mirrors and it’s very disappointing to know you cannot see that. If you must have music then have our Chahta people sing. Our tribe has some of the most beautiful voices out there, turn your candidacy announcement into a CHAHTA celebration. I’m sure Neal McCoy is a swell guy and a fantastic 90’s singer but I don’t associate him with our people. It’s insulting to think that this is part of your strategy for clearing your name? Insulting and very frankly, ineffective. You will have mostly employees there and some Choctaw people there as well but the whisperings will be about the money and you walked right into it. I would take a good long look at who is advising you concerning your strategy and let them know what worked in previous decades will not work the same way now not after all of the corruption. Pandora’s Box has been opened and a new flat screen isn’t going to close it.

This Chief, while not elected by the Chahta people, has so many positives working in his favor such as having managed a multi-billion dollar business. I bet a lot of you don’t know that he has been the one overseeing a business as the CEO for years now. Not just checking on it now and then but down in the trenches making big decisions. Why wouldn’t that be the focus? Why the circus? Tell me, tell us everything that qualifies you to be our Chief because it’s so much more than a title.

Be your own man don’t isolate yourself with the old guard. When I see that over the top party (and I’ve seen it in the past – was made to blow up balloons for it) I think of my grandmother and my room at her house. I would be lying in my bed and if it was windy outside my hair would blow in the wind as if the window was open. Why can’t we use all of these political dollars to insure safe and secure housing for our elders? Why does it take millions of dollars to run as a candidate for Choctaw Chief? Where did this go wrong? We have to look at this my Chahta family for what it is. We have to hold the amount of money it takes to throw this celebration in one hand and our elders’ needs in the other and see which is heaviest. My guess would be it’s about the same except the money hand benefits our people the least and our elders are still struggling. It’s a shame. The hunting trips, the fake boobs, the extravagant cars and the elitist parties while our elders do the best they can. I am beginning to wonder if we will ever be given the chance to make it right.

Chi pisa la chike,

CW (S. Crowder)

(S. Crowder has written under the pseudonym Choctaw Wright and Muriel Wright since December 21, 2011)

Halito Sisters & Brothers,

There has been much said about the last blog post entitled BLANK and I felt the need to respond.  Many people have asked me what changed my opinion about Miko Batton.  After reading the testimony from the Merida trial I remembered when I was employed with the CNO Federal Agencies visiting the complex which is not unusual but someone said “Assistant had an audit and they found something, heads are gonna roll”.

That was toward the end of my tenure in 2011 and the timeline fits.  In addition, MIKO Batton has made strides toward distinguishing his time as Chief versus the former Roberts/Pyle regime.  He has begun an office of accountability (I don’t know the official title), he has set in place consequences for not hiring qualified Chahta people when they apply, and he has met with former chief candidate and longtime Chahta election reformist attorney Doug Dry and requested he be a part of an election reform committee.  These changes have been unheard of for forty some odd years.  Is there much more reform that needs to take place, absolutely and I am sure I will be writing about it because the Chahta people have a right to know from someone whose only motive is the betterment of the Chahta people.

I have read that I am a traitor to the reform movement for writing what I have written in the last two blog posts and I say this to you and yours:  No one will tell me what to write and the fact that you want to control it makes you no different than the current administration holding hostage the tribal paper, which by the way Miko has promised to open to candidates running for Choctaw leadership positions.

In my first few blog posts I made a list of what I wanted to see change within the CNO:

  • “Current Choctaw Nation Employees” published 1/7/2012 TERO or Choctaw Employee Rights Organization – Chief Batton has implemented an employee rights department and has encouraged strongly the rights of Choctaw employees
  • “Choctaw Registered Voter Contact Information” published 2/28/2012 – Calls for the release of the voter list which is being discussed through Chief’s Election Reform Committee
  • “An Unelected Chief” published 4/8/2012 – A call to be able to vote for our own Chief – the current Chief willing to campaign in a fair and unbiased election is a true sign of giving power back to the people

So call me what you want I will write from the perspective of a Chahta woman only wanting the best for my family and I will not dismiss the very real progress made by the current Chief.  Honestly, I didn’t think I would see it in my lifetime so I apologize to Chief Batton for underestimating him.

As for mudslinging I wrote the truth with evidence and I asked questions concerning the hypocrisy of a self-proclaimed leader of the reform movement who had admitted in court breaking federal campaign laws in her own campaign.  So if you call that mudslinging after what was written, pictures that were posted and jokes that were published concerning the trial then once again turn that microscope on yourself because ethics don’t apply only when you want them to.

As for the current administration the time for secrecy has passed.  Another tribal leader used to publish “The Report to The People” which was a glossy papered report of the budget with a narrative explaining the reasoning behind the expenses and mailed to every member who received the tribal newspaper.  This is transparency.

We as Chahta deserve to know the governing of our people through our tribal paper because that is the most used media outlet read by Choctaw people.  We are not children who need to be sheltered from the truth we are professional hard working people who want to know our tribe is in good hands.

I, for one, am excited by the progress made by our new Chief and look forward to even further reform.

Yakoke

CW

Halito Brothers & Sisters,

This is a time of pivotal change.  It will be written in the history of our tribal nation.  We are about to lose the inherent right of our people to govern ourselves.  I am not talking about tribal self-governance and the relationship we as a sovereign nation have with state and federal governments.  I am talking about within ourselves.  We are about to sign away our rights to leadership that is Chahta.

Who is heading this movement to remove Chahta from our government – Kalyn Free the creator of Choctaws Rising.  Does she do this out of a love for the people?  Does she do it out of some obligation to rid us of corrupt leaders?  Corruption – that’s a heavy word with all kinds of nahullo meanings.  If corruption is defined as greedy and selfish (which by the way is the definition of nahullo) then maybe everyone should be measured with the same veracity.

Ms. Free reported this excerpt on her web page Choctaw’s Rising with scathing remarks concerning Chief Batton’s integrity and his moral character.  “I felt guilty about it.” This was Chief Batton’s response when asked why he wrote $27,500 checks to charities. Chief Batton was on the stand today for nearly four hours and testified to the following: (1) Batton went an all expense paid hunting trip to NM paid for by now convicted Brent Parsons of Builder’s Steel. Two of the four on that trip have pled guilty, the third is Merida, and the fourth is Batton. It was “not a business trip.”

Parsons flew a private plane to Hugo to pick up Batton. When asked if there were any other trips, Batton said “No.”; (2) When asked if he had gone to Ft Worth, Batton remembered that he had flown yet again on Brent’s private plane, this time being picked up in Durant, to Cabela’s in Ft Worth to “buy gear” for the NM hunting trip. Brent paid for everything. Batton wasn’t asked about the dinner Batton allegedly bought for the four of them during that trip and whether he used the tribe’s credit card or his own. Perhaps Matt Silverstein can ask the Chief to answer that question? (3) Batton admitted that Parsons paid $50,000 into Pyle’s campaign fund to have a private dinner at a fancy restaurant in Tulsa with Pyle and Batton;…”

In 2004 Kalyn Free made an unsuccessful bid for the United States Congress.  She blames much of this loss on then Chief Greg Pyle who didn’t support her in the democratic primary.  As part of the public record which can be accessed at http://eqs.fec.gov/eqsdocsMUR/28044212013.pdf Kalyn Free was found guilty of violating several federal campaign laws (see page 7 for a listing).  You will also see her signature acknowledging she stole money from her federal campaign for Congress.  http://eqs.fec.gov/eqsdocsMUR/28044211963.pdf

As you can see Ms. Free committed the following federal violations during and after her 2004 campaign:

  1. Accepted a lump sum of $15,000.00 from campaign funds AFTER the loss
  2. Accepted a lump sum of $30,000 from campaign funds AFTER the loss
  3. Set up an accounting system to pay her an advance AFTER the loss
  4. Did not report the monies paid as a debt thereby nullifying the monies as a loan

The above were violations of USC 2 Improper Use of Federal Campaign Dollars for Personal Use.  All told the monies added up to almost $50,000.00 the same amount she is so outraged by in the above reference post on Choctaws Rising.

My question is this why does she want to remove the blood quantum restrictions? She has no interest in running for Chief?  However, she does have interest in acting as the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma legal counsel as she currently does for the Cherokee, or so she says.  As a person who often quotes what the Chahta Chief and Council are being paid I think you will be delighted to know the Cherokee Nation Executive Branch (which is basically the Chief) pays Ms. Free some $275,000 per/year.  Her first year with the Cherokees she made more than half a million dollars in nine months and the Tribal Council voted to forbid any one not Cherokee from being Chief Counsel, this was targeted directly at her.  So she changed her title and moved her invoices over to the Cherokee Nation Businesses where it is not available for public review and denies FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests from the Council.  She’s taken more than a million from the Cherokees in less than four years by instigating the removal of blood quantum and greatly helping Bill John Baker 1/164th Cherokee become the current Cherokee Chief.  Is this what our people want, a Chief that is 1/164th?

I think what really affects me concerning these revelations is how powerfully and with ease she throws stones in her own glass house.  Tell us Ms. Free after breaking federal campaign laws did you give that amount to charity, because Chief Batton broke not one federal campaign law, as a matter of fact, he did not break any law and yet he gave the money to charity.  This Chief as Assistant Chief began the very process that brought the illegal activities to light. You signed the above referenced documents in federal court admitting your guilt and yet you call for campaign reform?  These reforms were discussed and created, written and re-written long before you or I ever started our separate efforts to change the CNO.  Yes the amendments were discussed except for removal of the blood quantum requirement YOU insisted on that little change.

Did you feel bad? Did you track down who donated that money for your own campaign and pay it back to them?  Or did you pay back the Federal Government and call it a day after you were caught?  You demand so many answers from Chief Batton how about providing some answers to your own actions?  At the end of the day Ms. Free I want to know do the Cherokee people welcome you with open arms or do they keep asking themselves how you managed to ingrain yourself into their nation at more than one million dollars a year.

Chahta people we have so much to do to make change but signing our Chahta away is not one of them.

CW

Halito Sisters & Brothers,

These are sad days for us.  Here we are knowing more than we probably wanted to know about our government.  Once again our leadership is in Federal Court and again the Chahta people are the ones to pay with our dignity and our programs.   Concerned citizens have been giving reports via web pages and Facebook.  YOU need to discern from a variety of reports and perspectives of what has been going on during the trial of Jason Merida.  The media has let our people down on this coverage so has the Biskinik but we knew that would happen.

I applaud those Chahta citizens who have taken off from work and covered this trial for our people.  They can’t silence all of us.  However, the tone of some of the reports does not communicate what an unfortunate time this is for all Chahta.  I find myself analyzing Miko Batton and I find myself dismissing former Chief Pyle.  Former Chief Pyle and his family have and should spend their remaining days together in peace no matter his sins.  Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease and its effects according to those I have been communicating with, were evident in our former Chief as he took the witness stand.  I send his family my prayers.

Our current Chief and former Chief gave monies from “campaign contributions” to various charities and educational institutions.  We are left to wonder, did they donate that money AFTER the investigation?  And, whose monies were they donating?  Were the funds given directly to them so therefore they made a personal donation?  If that were the case why were they given a personal donation in the first place from major players in the construction industry in correlation with Tribal affairs and businesses?  Or was it monies donated to the Chahta people and when the waters started to boil it was decided to quickly donate the monies without the consent or knowledge of the very people they serve?  Did the IRS have any say in the matter? Either way the situation was unethical to say the least and since the verdict we know they were definitely criminal.

There is no denying Jason Merida could not have committed the crimes he was found guilty of without considerable support from people very high in our government structure.  Now whether that support was just turning a blind eye or partaking in the embezzlement or setting up as “business as usual” it is up to YOU to decide but one thing is perfectly clear we have been dealing with this for forty some odd years. It is clearly time for change.

So my question for Miko is this, how much more illegal, unethical, abuse of power, embezzlement and criminal behavior are we going to endure before there is legislative change?  Must we always look to the Federal Government to clean our house?  Do you know there are people tasked to go onto Social Media to try to shut down the very people reporting from the court house?  What other types of governments do this?!  China!  Iraq! North Korea!  You see Chief what happens when they cannot rely on their own tribal paper to write the truth they have to go find it themselves and report back to their families and friends.  Free us from the suppression of our Choctaw constitutional right to free speech and our first amendment rights to free speech.

There is something very important I want all Chahta to consider if Miko and Council are removed by the Federal Government then we are at the mercy of that same government until we could change our constitution and re-structure our entire election process.  Assistant Chief Austin would be the third Chief put into office without a vote of the people.  The Bureau of Indian Affairs would occupy us and create a plan for us that we should be creating ourselves.  This would happen AGAIN, how demeaning for us to once again be forced to rely on the Feds to clean our house as if we were children.

Please hear me out on what I am about to say, we could work with our current Chief to change our system.  Batton has met with attorney and Choctaw citizen Doug Dry who has been fighting for free and unbiased elections for decades. No one has been willing to do this since Mr. Dry ran for Chief in the 90’s and blacklisted from the tribe so for Chief Batton to sit with him for two hours really says something about our leader.  A trusted source informed me that he has also demanded a new call to truly support preserving our traditions and he has terminated one of the major sources of anti-Choctaw personnel policies.  If we as Choctaw people were to work with Batton then we as a united people right our own government through compromise and issue voting.

Chief Batton the citizens of the Choctaw Nation know too much not to hear from you. They will draw their own conclusions and you nor I can blame them.  I ask you out of support and good faith to address our tribal nation.  What a historic event it would be for ANY government leader to stand in front of his people and say “I’m going to speak honestly so we can heal”.

I know many are saying it’s time to rid the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma of all current leadership but our constitution is too weak but Miko could strengthen through reform. He could call for a new order, new elections, freedom of information, balance the constitution and right the rift that separates us.

He may be the Chief who will put his own personal embarrassment aside to empower our people and to change our tribe for the better.  What we need from him is to open our paper to all opinions and platforms.  We need him to balance the power of the political system which means lessening his own power.  Our leadership should support and make into Choctaw law transparency.  Our people should be able to access the budgets and know where every dollar is spent.  Any contractor doing business with the CNO should have to follow TERO guidelines which would drastically lessen the opportunity for unethical behavior.  He should apologize for taking the money.  I want to hear him speak plainly and openly.  If he would then we might stand a chance of taking care of our own business.  It may be too late.

Years ago I was angry and I spoke my mind, but I haven’t felt anger since the trial started.  I kept waiting for it but I only felt intense sadness.  I saw the cartoonish memes and the disrespectful behavior toward all those involved and it was like an earthquake.  Our people are splintering in the middle and ready to do whatever it takes to remove our top leadership and in their haste may sign away our right to have Choctaw people lead our tribe.  Choctaws Rising is not Choctaw Voting Block we respectfully distanced ourselves from them after Tushka Homma and although we tried to work with them and I even announced the petition I don’t support that anymore.  I will not support removing the blood quantum requirement for Council and Chief.  It chips away at our fabric as Chahta people and insults those of a higher blood quantum by insinuating we are not intelligent enough to operate our own tribe.  In addition my motives have always been transparent in the fact that I don’t expect gain from my writings.  I expect Chahta to participate freely in their government and for our leadership to welcome and encourage the participation.

As the opposition we need to concede on issues as well without letting our leadership fall back into the same old corrupt government.  We need to stop disrespecting the OFFICE of Chief (and I freely admit to this particular offense) but on the other hand we need leaders who deserve our respect.  If we aren’t careful we will lose Choctaw people running the Choctaw Nation.  Are we prepared to sign Choctaws Rising’s petition to remove the ¼ blood quantum requirement for leadership?  If we lose it we have lost it forever and the days of our Chief and Council being elected from our own Choctaw families is lost to us.

One last thing please keep in mind I write under the name Choctaw Wright and I haven’t written anything concerning the trial those who are quoting almost verbatim past blog posts and taking those words as their own are not speaking as me.  I speak now as I always have from my love for my Chahta family – we must work together and if Miko Batton is willing to compromise on election reform and implement internal controls then I say let’s support him and rebuild our own house.

Chi Pisa La Chike,

CW

Good Evening Sisters and Brothers,

I’ve heard many native people say our history, the old wounds and tyranny should be left in the past and that today is a new day. They want to concentrate on progress and prosperity after all it didn’t happen to we modern day American Indians. I beg to differ, baby Veronica was taken away from her biological native father almost a year ago crippling the Indian Child Welfare Act . This was done in 2013 not the 1930’s.

The United States has a long history of removing Native American children from their native families the Indian Child Welfare Act was supposed to protect us from losing our children…wait let me rephrase that the Indian Child Welfare Act was supposed to give our leadership the legislation to PROTECT our children. Yet in celebration the CNO created a statue to salute the strength of the Choctaw woman. Good concept I could really get on board with that one except then they ask one of the most anti-American Indian governors in history to unveil it. Yakoke to Creator God for the strength of our Chahta people who voiced their opinions on this decision very strongly. In case you missed it Governor Fallin was instrumental in returning Baby Veronica to her adoptive parents Read the rest of this entry »

Good Day Sisters and Brothers!

I want to say yakoke for all of my birthday wishes.  Sometimes I feel I am writing to myself but no man is an island.  The Chahta people are ready for change and that makes me feel like this little thing I do is worthwhile.  Never forget my Chahta family we are not only worthy of change but we have the power to demand change.  On to other subjects.

Another Chahta in a discussion concerning blood quantum limits mentioned sovereignty for all tribes.  Which brings up a topic that has concerned me for quite sometime.  I was told and please let me know if this isn’t the case, that indians who work for the U.S. government (specifically IHS or BIA) aren’t allowed to participate in tribal elections.  They can vote but they can’t campaign.

As long as campaigning isn’t done during work hours or on work grounds, I feel this is denying us our right to participate to whatever degree we please in our own elections.  My next question would, of course, be so non tribal persons who work for the government allowed to campaign in U.S. elections?  Are they allowed to set out flyers on their own time?  Are they allowed to design brochures?  Are they allowed to drive their elders to the polls?  If they are allowed then aren’t we also U.S. citizens?

Of course, in the world of the all powerful CNO their employee’s are pressured by their supervisors to attend a mandatory meeting at lunch time to dole out assignments for the Chief election.  “Your blowing up balloons”, “Your stacking chairs”, “Your serving food”.  The irony of non-Chahta supervisors, managers, directors and executive directors assigning our people jobs for a Chahta election!  Oh just the thought hurts my soul.

Business wise the value of all those people pressured to work election events is worth thousands upon thousands of dollars.  Those little meetings aren’t voluntary and those assignments aren’t voluntary even though the mouth moves and says you don’t “have” to take an assignment.  How do you think that would go over if an employee refused?  I think you can imagine what it would do to one’s career.  Back to the money.  So it cost $5000 to put your hat into the Chief election.  Then the Chief has thousands of workers at his disposal.

Goliath to be sure but it’s possible.  It’s possible to take back our nation and make the changes our people need to experience true empowerment.  What choice do we have?  For our descendents what choice do we have?

Yakoke,

CW