Archives for posts with tag: Choctaw Membership

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,

I have received word just today that Chahta employees can no longer run for an elected office unless they resign their positions. Good thing Tony Messenger, Greg Pyle, Gary Batton, you were assigned your positions before this new rule was enacted. Whew…really dodged a bullet on that one. What happened did Birdie get too many votes? Was this rule brought before the council or introduced by the council? If it was, man that got passed fast. I thought things took a few decades longer than that. Were the people consulted about this new rule at all? I didn’t think so.

You may sense a little anger and frustration and believe me you do. I have heard from other Chahta employees about past voters registration list usage. Yes, my Chahta family the sacred voter’s registration list has been shared in the following ways:

“We were given pages of voters with all of their contact information. We were dropped off in a different county and went door to door. We would call and offer to pick up their vote. We would call continuously if they were undecided about who to vote for. Everyone saw that list and working to get the vote was not a choice it was a command”.

So let me get this straight. Thousands of employees are forced to work the elections? Yes, I believe it because I’ve seen it. Yakoke for contacting me and telling me about your experience. This concerned Chahta wasn’t the only one who contacted me. Please read further:

“I’m tired of this. I’m just not going to do it anymore and I have done it. I have let them (CNO) tell me what to do and when; whether it was my time or theirs. I have let them tell me who to vote for and when to work at fundraisers. My children are grown and live on their own. I don’t have to let them take away my rights ever again and if I get fired at least I have only myself to worry about supporting”.

Is this where we are Chief? Is this where we are Councilmen? Did Tony Messenger not say he didn’t like people ignoring the election reform progress and choose to attack them on releasing the voter’s list? He said he felt like it was the Middle East or something. How do you think we the Chahta people feel Tony? I agree with you it DOES feel like the Middle East or something. We have no rights and it’s still condoned to intimidate and threaten candidates. Is this the century where we will still take away people’s livelihoods for exercising their right to vote? I agree Tony after all this time it’s still like some violent dictatorship. Why don’t we use this expedited Council process to pass a regulation about intimidating and threatening candidates? Why not say if you do this you get fired because that’s not what democracy is all about. Could that be passed as quickly as employees can no longer run without resigning their positions?

Okay, now tell me what Indian nation doesn’t allow their candidates to campaign at their community centers but does allow the nahullo political candidates who are running for senate or whatever office campaign at their community centers – that’s right the CHOCTAW NATION of OKLAHOMA. Our own candidates cannot campaign at our own community centers but the Boren family can. Tell me this is something that went before the council? Did they vote on this too? Once again if they did that was passed quickly? If not who made that rule? Please someone let me know because this is Tiananmen Square China not the 10 ½ counties of the Choctaw Nation.

I congratulate and I challenge this Chief on election reform but it’s a long way from being done and the time is approaching to elect new officials. Come out with it! Tell the truth and be proud of it. The Chahta our TIRED of the tyranny and the threats and intimidation. It’s time to make the changes necessary and if we don’t watch out brothers and sisters the reform will be delayed and pushed back until the elections have come and gone. Now is the time to show them who they are charged to represent and reclaim your right for free and unbiased elections. Register to vote, encourage people to run let’s get rid of this council and get a council that can get things done who are honorable and have the welfare of the Chahta people uppermost in their mind and not their enormous rates of pay.

Chi pisa la chike,

CW (S. Crowder)

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

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:

District #1

Thomas Williston, Idabel

District #2

Tony Messenger, Broken Bow ( not seeking re-election at this time)

District #3

Kenny Bryant, Talihina

District #5

Ron Perry, Stigler

District #8

Perry Thompson, Hugo

District #11

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)

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

Good evening Brothers and Sisters,

The following is a guest editorial:

“These past days and weeks of the Merida Trial have been some of the darker days we

have faced as a Nation. The Choctaw People have witnessed mockery, public debasement, and

dramatization of the trial on Social Media. At a time when we needed to join together as a

Nation, instead we experienced the opposite: gossip, calls for changes to election requirements

for personal gain and more.

 

            This decades long lack of unity will potentially be the issue that rips apart the fabric

sacrificially woven by our ancestors.

 

            Chief Batton, you did not deserve the disrespect that was shown to you by various

 individuals and organizations. As struggling simple people, most of us do not have good

feelings about this money changing hands. A simple press conference would have prevented

much of the confusion swirling in the minds of many. It is possible this was contrary to what

was recommended by legal counsel. Even an acknowledgement of a press conference to come

after the trial would have been sufficient. The silence has been deafening. We respectfully ask

that you address your people.

 

The lessons learned from this are;

No one is infallible

There must be accountability

Checks and balances are absolutely necessary

Financial transparency is a must

Annual audits of all Tribal accounts by an independent firm are nonnegotiable

Audits of personal accounts of Chief, Assistant Chief and Council should perhaps be considered

 

            As Choctaws we must remain true to our traditions and conduct ourselves in a manner

that brings honor to our Tribe, our ancestors, our families, and ourselves always-even during

difficult times, if not especially.

Vlichi”

I would like to invite other’s who would like to express their opinion to contact me.  If the message isn’t vulgar or demeaning I will gladly post it for you whether you agree with my opinions or not.  As Chahta’s we need at least one place where we can be heard as we speak our truth.

Yakoke,

CW

Good Morning Brothers & Sisters,

In the last eight days I have received word of abuse, firings and humiliation of five Chahta people.  I am outragedat the arrogance of the nahollo’s who rule over us.  I am further outraged at the Choctaw men who let it happen.  I am outraged that these Choctaw men are our leadership.  These abusive back stabbing nahollo’s could not wield so much power if not for these men.  The Choctaw men who call themselves Council, Assistant Chief and Chief.  Yes, I know many people love Greg Pyle and the times I have interacted with him I found him very likeable and charismatic.  His flaws are he believes Chahta’s are a dumb helpless people that need the superior intellect of non-Chahta’s and he believes in no term limits and limitless power.  A king in his own country.  Except the king is ill only to be replaced by one with the same ideology.  I am here to tell YOU my precious Chahta family WE DO NOT need nahollo’s to operate our own nation.  And if we believe we do and keep these apples in power then we have set our children and their children up for the same oppression and abuse.

People look to me to do something and I feel helpless to make their lives better.  All I can do is write words that will inform our people and hopefully will motivate them enough to make the change.  My vote is only one but with your votes and your family votes we can make a true revolution that will affect our descendents for generations to come.

So, we turn our eyes to summer 2013 when our first candidate will run for council.  We haven’t had anyone step forward to run for the other council seats so those of you who feel powerless to affect change but feel you aren’t worthy to run for council, think again because that is exactly what they hope for you; to remain brow beaten and unproud.  This is the time for new blood in our leadership.  We do not need any more men who are afraid of the king so much so they turn away from the abuse of their own.  We do not need paper men who are afraid of the fire.  We do not need selfish men who use the Chahta people for their own personal gain.  OUR PEOPLE need you to help put a stop to the tyranny.  To do that you must overcome our gentle nature and be prepared to fight this 21st century war.

For those of you who have come to me and other leaders of this movement there may be a reason you were treated with scorn and humiliation.  The reason, to be sure, wasn’t the one given to you by our invaders.  The reason is that God may have chosen you to be a warrior for this cause so that you would know what we fight for.  We fight for our dignity and for our descendents prosperity.  So, you hold your head up and know our time is coming.

With much love and respect,

CW