indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Interior Department consults tribes about new trust reform law (7/22)
Training sessions planned for final Indian Child Welfare Act rule (7/22)
Yurok Tribe shares sad news about salmon festival -- no salmon (7/22)
Mark Charles: An entire nation's big problem with Donald Trump (7/22)
Mark Trahant: Donald Trump promises a world with no treaties (7/22)
Native Sun News: Appeal delays release of Keepseagle checks (7/22)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe hosts walk for cancer (7/22)
James Giago Davies: Police officers get away with 'kill option' (7/22)
Andre Cramblit: Police officer shootings seem far too common (7/22)
Donald Trump closes convention that left out Indian Country (7/22)
New law in Oklahoma goes against Indian Arts and Crafts Act (7/22)
NMAI seeks input from tribes about veterans memorial in DC (7/22)
Blackfeet Nation swears in leaders and looks to a new future (7/22)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe kicks off popular powwow after absence (7/22)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe declares emergency over opioids (7/22)
Review: Hard look at drugs in Indian Country in 'Seventh Fire' (7/22)
State takes blame for sharing Tohono O'odham Nation minutes (7/22)
Pokagon Band debuts expansion of gaming facility in Michigan (7/22)
Karuk Tribe ready for groundbreaking on long-awaited casino (7/22)
California remains a battleground for Indian Child Welfare Act (7/21)
Yurok Tribe launches operation to rid reservation of marijuana (7/21)
Laguna Pueblo loses case linked to military contract kickbacks (7/21)
Cherokee player Koda Glover wins praise in major league debut (7/21)
Education Department hosts Native youth for roundtable in DC (7/21)
Navajo Nation lawmakers approve bill for travel plaza at casino (7/21)
Mark Trahant: Trump's Republican convention is one big failure (7/21)
Native Sun News: Five Rosebud tribal members killed in crash (7/21)
Lakota Country Times: Fire deals setback to Rosebud program (7/21)
Brandon Ecoffey: Carrying the voices of our people to masses (7/21)
Delphine Red Shirt: Our children need to be kept close to home (7/21)
Peter d'Errico: Celebrating the dark side of White 'civilization' (7/21)
Oglala Sioux Tribe confirms shooting death of 13-year-old girl (7/21)
Tribes in Connecticut sponsor cruise for Republican delegates (7/21)
Tribal lobbyist not buying Donald Trump's message of change (7/21)
Mechoopda Tribe aims to work with county on delayed casino (7/21)
Seminole Tribe helps with probe into robbery of casino patron (7/21)
John Schneider: New Little Traverse casino is underwhelming (7/21)
National Indian Gaming Commission reports growth in industry (7/20)
Interior Department sends more money for Cobell scholarships (7/20)
Former chairman of Winnebago Tribe indicted on theft charges (7/20)
Bill John Baker: An endorsement for Hillary Clinton as president (7/20)
Lakota Country Times: Skate competition moves to Pine Ridge (7/20)
Vi Waln: Lateral oppression is far too real for our tribal citizens (7/20)
Clara Caufield: Indian people too often vote with our stomachs (7/20)
Native Sun News Editorial: Improve our relationship with police (7/20)
Steven Newcomb: Focusing on the independence of our nations (7/20)
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.