As fall approaches, another go-round of winner take all politics raises it’s sinister head on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. For many years now, whatever political faction that gets elected into office on the reservation rewards itself with new houses, range units, land trades, business start-ups, business deals, jobs, high salaries, new vehicles, travel, loans, donations, grants, etc. and revenge on other political factions.
This type of government only benefits a few at a time. The overall tribal population suffers because of it. These factions also ignore or change tribal law to fit their needs.
Many prospective tribal council candidates have realized this fact in the past, and have campaigned on constitutional change and code of ethics implementation. However, once they got into power and realized that with change they couldn’t get what they wanted, they changed only their minds about change.
I cannot put all the blame on tribal council members for having this type of government. Our ratified constitution is not a balanced, three-branch constitution, and was written for us by the United States. Also, we do not have the courage, strength or conviction to demand a new constitution and ethics code. A revised three-branch constitution and a viable code of ethics with teeth would force council members, and their factions to live and govern by the rule of the law and for the good of all.
-Kyle P. Baker
New Town, N.D.