indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree - University of Tulsa College of Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Richard Monette: Indian Country loses a warrior in Dan Inouye

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: daniel inouye, obituaries, richard monette, scia, senate
   

When Dan Inouye moved on to the next journey, our world lost a giant of a man. Indian Country lost a warrior, a leader, a true chief.

Many knew Senator Inouye better than I did, but my few memories of the Senator are clear. As a young man and new lawyer, I had the opportunity to work for the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. For me, his central message was to always do the right thing in public life. He insisted tribal leaders be addressed as “The Honorable”. He treated them as Heads of State. The experience quite literally changed my life.

During the Iran-Contra hearings, I had the opportunity to hear the Senator at his most serious when he made an uncharacteristically unguarded remark how America’s constitution was being tested.

When my dad, who was serving as vice chairman of our tribe, was rushed to a regional medical center 90 miles away, I experienced Senator Inouye at his kindest.

I also saw him at his warmest. At one Christmas party I made the kind of meatballs that every family on my reservation makes for New Years Day. He ate them until an aide felt compelled to tell him he should stop.

My best memory was when, sitting in a meeting, he offered me some tea, to which I responded, “Senator, Indians aren’t supposed to drink tea." In that deep voice of his he sounded quizzical: “No? Why not?” I then hit the punchline: “We could drown in our own teepee.” He laughed more heartily than I had ever heard him laugh.

Perhaps my starkest memory of Senator Inouye belongs to the dreadful morning now known simply as 9/11. On leave from my law professor post, I was then the elected chairman of my tribe and, along with many other tribal leaders, I sat in the bowels of a hotel in downtown Washington, D.C., transfixed by a speech being given by the Senator. However, he got interrupted once by his aide whispering in his ear, then once again, and then he abruptly ended his speech due to the horrible events that morning. One of the many tragedies that morning was that the good Senator never finished that speech.

He commiserated that Native Americans would be in for a few difficult years ahead when it came to Washington politics. But then he said and did something against even his own teachings – he ventured into the internal affairs of the tribes. He implored the tribal leaders to provide due process to tribal members in their own tribal governments. He urged tribal leaders to be fair to all tribal members in providing jobs, housing, law enforcement. He flatly explained how difficult it becomes to defend Indian Country in the face of many of the unpleasant stories of tribal politics we hear over and over. We tribal leaders needed to hear that speech more than any other. While gains have been made since that time, it wouldn’t hurt us to hear that speech on a regular basis.

Sadly, if we do hear it again, we’ll have to settle for hearing from someone with less stature, less rez-cred, than Dan Inouye.

Aloha, Chairman.

Richard A. Monette, a former chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, is a professor of law at the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Related Stories:
Sen. Daniel Inouye, Democrat from Hawaii, passes away at 88 (12/18)


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: A ride-along with a South Dakota county sheriff (4/17)
Lakota Country Times: Sen. Tester pushes for tribal college funds (4/17)
Native Sun News: Walk hits uranium mining sites on reservations (4/17)
Brandon Ecoffey: Vincent Brewer was a family man and a cowboy (4/17)
Delphine Red Shirt: Restoring our sacred peak to its original name (4/17)
Clara Caufield: A faithful servant to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe (4/17)
Steve Russell: Shocking students with the truth about US history (4/17)
Sunnie Clahchischiligi: Get on board with Ho-Chunk Nation player (4/17)
Navajo Nation candidates enter final stretch of bumpy campaign (4/17)
Man from Tulalip Tribes enters not guilty plea to firearms charge (4/17)
Colorado lawmaker continues tradition of bolo ties on Capitol Hill (4/17)
Editorial: End discrimination against Native Americans in Michigan (4/17)
Editorial: Virginia's tribes need federal recognition from Congress (4/17)
Indiana lawmakers not so welcoming to Pokagon Band casino bid (4/17)
Arizona agency threatens to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (4/17)
Kansas seeks injunction to stop Quapaw Tribe gaming expansion (4/17)
Mohegan Tribe's casino enterprise named one of best employers (4/17)
Native Sun News: Senate field hearing focuses on tribes and coal (4/16)
Lakota Country Times: Program brings healthy food to Pine Ridge (4/16)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Death rituals among the Mohawk people (4/16)
James Giago Davies: Just another crazy breed Lakota in the IHS (4/16)
Karin Eagle: UNITY media summit draws people to reservation (4/16)
Walt Lamar: Addicts in Indian Country turning to spiked heroin (4/16)
Congress passes renewal of Indian Country diabetes program (4/16)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee takes up tribal labor measure (4/16)
Sen. Barrasso highlights 100 days of work on Indian legislation (4/16)
Alaska to make changes to Indian Child Welfare Act procedures (4/16)
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe council meeting ends in shouting match (4/16)
Manitoba agrees to pay funeral bill for murdered Native woman (4/16)
New York City approves marker where Indian slaves were sold (4/16)
President of Rosebud Sioux Tribe removed after ethics hearing (4/16)
Colorado House approves bill to restrict use of Indian mascots (4/16)
Lumbee Tribe remains in long quest to gain federal recognition (4/16)
Senate votes to confirm Jonodev Chaudhuri as leader of NIGC (4/16)
Letter raises legal issues for new tribal casinos in Connecticut (4/16)
Mohegan Tribe went to South Korea to discuss potential casino (4/16)
Quapaw Tribe faces opposition over possible casino in Arkansas (4/16)
Colville Tribes plan ceremonial debut of $68M casino next month (4/16)
Rincon Band contributes $9.5M to highway projects near casino (4/16)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux district endorses marijuana (4/15)
Native Sun News: Candidates to debate on tribal college campus (4/15)
Native Sun News: Former police chief runs for Rapid City mayor (4/15)
Mark Trahant: Millions of Native Americans wait on health care (4/15)
Dana Lone Elk: Francis Pumpkin Seed always had a bright smile (4/15)
Stephen Pevar: Tribes and families fight back with ICWA lawsuit (4/15)
Paul Moorehead: Tribes need greater control of their own lands (4/15)
Obama to visit city near Sisseton Wahpeton Reservation in May (4/15)
Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes host honoring for Suzan Shown Harjo (4/15)
DOI issues $10.5M in offers on Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation (4/15)
Navajo Nation signs buy-back cooperative agreement with DOI (4/15)
Indian arts organization seeks replacement for top executive (4/15)
National Park Service releases eight grants for NAGPRA efforts (4/15)
Bill introduced in Senate to support placing woman on $20 bill (4/15)
Judge Judy chooses reservation school for graduation speech (4/15)
Museum named after famed Pueblo woman artist closes doors (4/15)
Quick justice for assault of woman on Chitimacha Reservation (4/15)
WBUR: Reporter discusses youth suicide in Oglala Sioux Tribe (4/15)
Editorial: Agua Caliente Band can help ease tensions over land (4/15)
BIA hears from public on Pokagon Band gaming plan in Indiana (4/15)
Fond du Lac Band spars with city over services for urban casino (4/15)
Seminole Tribe faces complaints over business deals at casino (4/15)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.