Janice Boswell: Moving the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes forward
Janice Prairie Chief-Boswell is the Governor of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma.

The 3rd Legislature of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes concluded their impeachment proceedings on Friday, July 9, 2010. In the end, the Legislature did not reach a conviction, by unanimous vote of all eight legislators, for any of the twelve charges in their Articles of Impeachment.

The Legislature has apologized to the tribal public for conducting the trial but stated that the legislative majority felt it necessary to curtail actions they allege to be unconstitutional. I am very hopeful that we can now focus our energies and attention on the future. We need to concentrate on what we can accomplish together, rather than repeating the fruitless, distracting political skirmishes that have plagued these Tribes in the past.

I have put forth a constant effort to work with the 3rd Legislature to accomplish many of the things the 2nd Legislature was unable to accomplish during Flyingman's tenure. Together, we have finalized the Tribal Code of Ethics, which I signed into law on March 25, 2010. In May, I signed into law the enactment to amend the Tribes' Gaming Revenue Allocation Plan ("GRAP"). Those amendments to the Tribes' GRAP were developed to include minors in the per capita distribution, provide consistent and reliable funding for the Tribal College, and allow more flexibility in funding the tribal government and all its programs.

This type of legislation is what we need to focus our time and attention toward. As we move forward, I hope to put notions of impeachment, and the consequent disruption, behind us and, in the future, avoid similar distractions.

It is my expectation that the Legislature will start working with me to fulfill many of the promises we made to our electorate. I am looking forward to signing a 2011 Budget into law and am committed to providing the Legislature access to and support of Executive Branch personnel to assist with the implementation of vital updates to the Tribes' Personnel Policies and Procedures.

I know some of the decisions and actions of this administration during our initial months in office were not well-received by some. However, I entered office facing a $5 million deficit in excessive expenditures from the previous administration. Additionally, I found the Tribes' finances to be in complete disarray; encountered numerous instances of misspending and wasteful spending; and discovered tribal records that contained misleading information and misrepresentations concerning tribal revenues. The philosophy of my administration and the current Department of Treasury is, and will continue to be, fiscal responsibility - we are committed to conservative and careful spending of our Tribes' revenues, especially in these times of economic distress. We will not continue the practice of excessive and exorbitant spending exhibited by the previous administration. The buck stops here, so to speak.

The Department of Treasury and the Office of Finance requested that everyone cut their budgets and expects everyone to tow the line. The Tribes' revenues support our functioning. Our tribal government funds allow us to provide services and make it possible for us to continue doing good things for our members. My heart is with the people, and it is very important to me that we budget, spend wisely, and safeguard the monies that go toward the greater good.

I believe the tribal membership will seek the truth and offer their understanding as I strive to bring positive and lasting change to the Cheyenne and Arapaho government. I will continue to view our traditions, our culture and the wisdom of our traditional leadership as a cornerstone of our tribal government. Traditional values represent the heart of our Tribes and the foundation upon which our culture survives, and I intend to honor that.

It is time for all of our tribal leaders to make a commitment to improve the way our government operates and to move past the instability and the infighting. It is time we concentrate our focus and energies on the very important things that we all have in common, instead of wasting them on the issues that divide us.

We have important business to tend to. We have a judicial system that needs meaningful rehabilitation. We have an Elder Care Program in need of reform. We own land that is waiting to be placed into trust - when this happens, we can expand, create additional revenue and generate more employment for our membership. We can accomplish all of this, by year's end, if we work together. As Henry Ford said, "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." With that in mind, I intend to lead our Tribes toward progress, and standing together, we will succeed.

Related Stories:
Leader of Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes survives impeachment (7/13)
Cheyenne and Arapaho leader defends herself at impeachment (7/9)