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Clearing up the facts about tribal government

In response to the recent article, "Protesting Tribal Government," readers deserve the facts. No reporter asked for my comments.

The White Earth Tribal Council follows the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Constitution on enrollment of tribal members, a two-step process of approval by the White Earth Reservation Tribal Council and the Minnesota Tribal Executive Committee.

No member of the Tribal Council arbitrarily handpicks and enrolls people.

The 1997 resolution referred to in the article has not been in effect since I have been tribal chairwoman.

Tribal Council meetings are open. The Tribal Council has adopted a meeting decorum policy. People are welcome to attend our meetings as long as they are respectful and orderly.

Any person who follows procedure and gets on the agenda has the opportunity to speak. Outbursts, yelling, disruptions, interruptions, and name-calling are not tolerated at our meetings.

One individual was asked to leave the meeting when he refused to sit down and stop yelling. Such behavior is disrespectful and disruptive to the business at hand and to those who came to listen.

The article refers to a letter written by me in 1998 (more than 12 years ago!), during a time of turmoil and instability at White Earth.

As tribal chairwoman, I have done my best to heal the pain of the past, to make amends, to reconcile, to bring people together, and move forward for the betterment of the tribe. As a result, White Earth has been stable and progressive.

Unfortunately and sadly, there are some people in the tribe who live and thrive on turmoil, conflict, anger, jealousy, lies, rumors, and grudges on a daily basis.

They come to disrupt and vent anger at meetings. They teach their negative behavior to their children and the cycle continues.

Hate and anger are the reasons for the violence, fighting, abuse and the destruction of property in our communities.

The vast majority of tribal members are satisfied and pleased with the success accomplished by the White Earth tribal government.

Almost 1,000 people came to listen to the State of the Nation Address on March 10 and that should say it all. -- Erma J. Vizenor, White Earth Nation chairwoman