Archives for posts with tag: Choctaw WIC

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 Brothers & Sisters,

I have received word that the lavish kick off campaign party for Miko Batton was paid for out of a long standing campaign fund. Council members and Chiefs in the past have not had challengers for their seats in office, hence the surplus. My question would be where do these funds come from? Is the bank account where the funds are housed pay interest and if so to whom? Are these funds from Enterprises? Are they donations or a combination of both? To me, and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, sound like funds that belong to the Chahta people. Why, you may ask. Well because they wouldn’t exist without the sovereignty and existence of our tribe and our tribe wouldn’t exist without our people.

The question about whether these funds were added to by a former Chief with donations from certain construction companies is also in question. Is this the same fund mentioned at the Jason Merida trial? Which begs the question, why do we even have to ask all these questions? This my Chahta family is at the heart of transparency. I personally don’t see anything wrong with having a special campaign fund that acquired it’s monies through any of the above mentioned ways. I would just like someone, anyone to stand up and say “yep it’s a campaign fund and here is the money trail”.

Also, as you know I think it’s ludicrous that a person would have to be well above upper middle class to run for an elected office within our tribe. I’ve said this on numerous occasions. Listen carefully to what I am about to write, if this campaign fund, belongs to the Chahta people then it shouldn’t benefit ONLY the sitting elected officials as it does now. An agreed upon amount should be divided evenly to all the candidates that qualify to run for an elected office. Then after receiving the amount of funds no one candidate should be allowed to spend an exuberant amount of money over that fund amount. If receipts need to be turned in showing the funds were actually used for campaign materials then so be it. We don’t want our tribe to mirror that particular trait of our federal government where millions are spent to attain an elected office.

So as we are readying ourselves to vote I ask only that as a Chahta citizen that you gather all the information you can about the candidates in each council district and the candidates for Chief. It is important to discern between expensive campaign materials and rhetoric verses grass roots efforts for change. This election year is so very important after the exposure of corruption and the rejection of transparency concerning distribution of the registered voters list. Our elected officials must be held accountable. So far, they have refused to answer questions that we as Chahta deserve answers to. They may even have logical legitimate answers but the silence is deafening and reeks of the old school mentality of keeping our people in the dark.

I suspect that you, like me, could handle the truth.

Chi Pisa La Chike

S. Crowder (Choctaw Wright)

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 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

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 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