Monthly Archives: October 2020

What do Obi Wan, Phil Jackson, Dr. Dre, and Max B. Osceola have in Common?

By Jarrid L. Smith

Luke needed Obi Wan, Michael and the Bulls needed Phil, Eminem needed Dr. Dre. It’s a fact that when you’re doing something for the first time, you need a guide. There are countless other examples of famous guides that have helped a person reach their potential. Sometimes these guides take a major part in the development of their pupil, and other times the guides’ role is less intense but just as important. Either way, in retrospect the true appreciation for the guide comes into focus. This article is in memoriam to Max B. Osceola Jr., a guide to many.

2005

To start this off right, let’s go back to the good ole days of 2005. This year brought us some good times. Who can forget 50 Cent’s “The Massacre” album? How can Heat fans forget losing to Detroit 4-3 in the conference finals? The iPhone was still two years away, so Motorola’s Nextel phone was still the phone to use. For those of you reading this who aren’t too sure what a Nextel is, think of it as a phone and walkie talkie hybrid. Trust me, it was the Instagram of its day, and with that in mind Facebook was just a year old and Twitter was still in its development stage. Social media as we know it in 2020 didn’t exist.

Ah yes, the good ole days. If you wanted to get in touch with someone, it was still common to call versus sending a text or DM. If you wanted to book a hotel, you called and set it up. Airbnb was still a few years away. If you wanted to get somewhere without walking, you called a taxi cab and kept an eye out for the yellow car. Uber was also a few years away, no one imagined getting into an unmarked strangers’ personal car. If a football player got hit hard, no one gave a second thought beyond hoping he had a good backup. No one had heard of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), nor its effects related to people with a history of repetitive head trauma. If you wanted the opinion of an informed scientist, there was Dr. Anthony Fauci, who served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Oh wait…this is still the same. So maybe not all things change.

A precocious young man named Jarrid Smith lived in this world. Yes, this was before he started using the L. for signature purposes, and wrote in the third person. This was when Jarrid was 19 years old, but he could act younger despite his parents and grandparents teaching him better. This was when he had been given an opportunity to attend Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and play football. This was a time when he needed a guide.

Enter Max B. Osceola Jr.,
Exit 3rd Person Writing

It’s as if Max’s life was meant to align toward this moment in my own life. Max was first elected as council representative in 1985, the very same year I was born. Many changes within the tribe were shepherded under his guidance, and as the years went on the people continued to vote for him. I grew up on the Hollywood reservation, and although I did not know Max personally in those early years I know he was looking out for people like me. Young, impressionable, and needing a path forward. No elected representative can fix everything, but their actions show where their heart is.

My earliest memory of Max comes from community meetings and gatherings. In the present, we certainly take these things for granted. Perhaps this is a minor revelation for us now, as these gatherings haven’t happened for most of 2020. In the summer of 1999 my first paying job was at the Bill Osceola rodeo arena. I worked for the summer work experience program, and the job was with the recreation department. If you’re 25 or younger, chances are you don’t remember the arena. I had some great memories working there and participating in the rodeos.

The arena was razed to the ground in 2003 and Max had a hand in that too. I remember hearing about the arena being torn down and I was upset, but that’s because it was a special place to me. I also didn’t know what was going to be built on that spot. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino was opened in 2004 on the very spot where I first worked. Many people had a hand in making the Hard Rock a reality for the Seminoles, Max was one of them.

I recall attending several funerals over the years in Hollywood, and I remember Max being at all of them. Some were for family, others for friends, but he constantly showed up. There were times when his relationship to the deceased was strong and other times when he didn’t know the person as well, but he did know their family. No matter his connection, he was there and that counts for a lot.

The Problem

In the early spring of 2005 I was finishing up my sophomore year at FAU and I had a problem. I needed to declare a major, but I had no idea what to choose. This is essentially the whole point of going to college, to decide what to study so that when you graduate you can begin a career. I was missing the point and I didn’t know who to ask to help. FAU had resources and my parents were always there, but I needed a connection between what I was experiencing and the future I envisioned for myself. What I didn’t know at the time was that Max had a hand in FAU football as well.

In 1998 FAU announced that it was going to field a team and that legendary coach Howard Schnellenberger was going to be the person in charge. In 1983, Schnellenberger led the University of Miami to its first ever national championship. Max Osceola had previously graduated from the University of Miami and knew very well the accomplishments of coach Schnellenberger. Upon his appointment to be head coach at FAU, Schnellenberger began to solicit funding donations. He would approach the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and the tribal council approved a sizable donation to get FAU’s program going. Although Max’s exact role in this is not clear to me, it was approved by the council he was a part of and I have no doubt that coach Schnellenberger was had a big role in the yes vote.

Back to my problem. In the spring of 2005 I attended a community meeting on the Hollywood reservation. Prior to the meeting beginning, there was dinner and this was a good time to speak to Max. I was nervous before approaching him at his table, I was certain he would speak with me but I didn’t know if he could help with my particular problem. I took a breath for courage, walked up with hope in my step, and introduced myself. I told him my situation, about FAU and how I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study. I needed his help, I needed his guidance. As in many other times of his life, he was there to help.

My Guide

Our conversation lasted about 5 minutes, but its effects have only compounded over the last 15 years. Max told me a few stories about coach Schnellenberger from when he coached at UM, and he shared with me what he studied. He told me his major was Political Science, I remember the words coming out of his mouth in the distinct way he spoke. I remember hearing them and not having any idea what he meant. I remember thinking, if this was what he studied and it helped get him to where he is now, then it’s something worth looking into more. I remember the time he took to talk with me, for those few minutes Max was the guide I needed.

I left the meeting that day with a purpose, to find out more about what exactly Political Science was. I already knew it was going to be my major, even if I couldn’t explain what it was. I spent the next two years at FAU studying Political Science and graduated in 2007. From that point on life has taken me on a great journey, the last 15 years have been more than I could have ever imagined. The journey included living in Washington, DC and interning on Capitol Hill, to living in Tallahassee, FL and working within the governor’s office. Other stops included working with AmeriCorps, Miami Dade College, the Ahfachkee School, and several other K-12 schools. The journey would not have been possible without my guide.

A Final Word

Today I’m an educator and I get the opportunity to be a guide to others. I think that is one of the deepest ways to honor what Max stood for and what he did for his community. My regret is that he didn’t get to hear this from me. It’s so true that we don’t often get the chance to thank those who have helped us along the way. It’s also true our guides don’t do what they do for thank yous. They do it because they know it’s the right thing to do. They do it because they know it needs to be done. They do it because they love the people they’re helping.

Who’s the Max in your life? Honor them by being open to guiding others. Do it because you know it’s the right thing. Do it because you can. Most of all, do it because actions speak words of love.

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Spending Funds: U.S. Politics and the Seminole Tribe

By Jarrid L. Smith

The 2020 Presidential and Congressional election season is nearing its end point, there are three weeks until the November 3rd election day.  During the current election cycle, which is from 2019-2020, the Center for Responsive Politics is projecting the total money spent to be just under $11 billion.  This record number is stunning, and it reflects the perception that those who have the most money also wield the most power.  With this in mind, to what extent has the Seminole Tribe of Florida gotten involved in the campaigns?  Read on to follow the money and see where it goes.

Campaign Finance in Context

In politics the best position to be in is that of an incumbent.  Being an incumbent comes with advantages, including name recognition, voting record, visibility, and campaign support, among other things.  But how does someone become an incumbent?  With lots of money, and the person who spends the most usually wins.  The money spent on winning House campaigns range from $200,000 to $2 million, but there are some outliers.  When it comes to the Senate, the cost of winning a seat jumps to an average of $19.4 million.  

The source of the money comes from different places, but they include small donations of $200 or less, large donations, self-funded campaigns, Political Action Committees (PACs), and Super PACs.  

Seminole Contributions

The Seminole Tribe of Florida, and other indigenous tribes within the United States, maintain a sovereign relationship with the federal government.  This means that the tribes and the U.S. federal government function as equals, similar to the U.S. and other countries from around the world.  The nature of this relationship, however, is different than those the U.S. has with other countries.  Whereas the U.S. entered into various one-sided treaties with tribes, their goal was to exert influence over the indigenous people.  In the present day, tribes have attempted to reverse this influence in various ways, one of which is through elections.  

When the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 became law, tribes across the country entered into a new era of economic growth.  The newfound leverage gained from economic success would soon be put to use to grow new opportunities.  Soon thereafter tribes began their financial contributions to political candidates and parties.  Unless otherwise noted, all data presented in this article is via the Center for Responsive Politics, information accurate as of October 8, 2020. The data in the following chart shows the contributions of nine tribes in the current election cycle.

Tribe2019-2020 Contributions 
Seminole Tribe of Florida$225,992
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation (CT)$150,867
Chickasaw Nation (OK)$860,486
Pechanga Band of Lusieno Mission Indians (CA)$680,538
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians (CA)$218,385
Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut$57,684
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma$206,411
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (NC)$312,408
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (MN)$648,003
Total / Average$3,360,774 / $373,419.34

Further analysis of the financial contributions of the Seminole Tribe of Florida showed the following:

PartyTotal ContributionPercent of Total Contributions
Democrat$165,27375.00%
Republican$55,08525.00%
Total$225,992100%
Incumbents vs. Non-IncumbentsPercent of Total Contributions Received
Incumbents89.99%
Non-Incumbents10.01%

Contributions within Florida

The Seminole Tribe of Florida has six reservations spread throughout southern Florida.  Within Florida, contributions to congressional candidates often matched the districts where those reservations are located.

CandidatePartyFL Congressional DistrictTotal Contribution
Stephanie MurphyD7$2,800
Darren SotoD9$5,600
Charlie CristD13$14,000
Kathy CastorD14*$5,600
Greg SteubeR17*$5,600
Brian MastR18*$5,600
Ted DeutchD22*$5,600
Debbie Wasserman-SchultzD23*$5,600
Mario Diaz-BalartR25*$2,800
Donna ShalalaD27$5,600
Total / Average$58,800 / $5,880
* = district containing Seminole reservation
FL SenatorPartyTotal ContributionNote
Marco RubioR$10,000Contribution made to Reclaim America PAC
Rick ScottR$15,000Contribution made to Let’s Get to Work PAC
Neither Rubio or Scott was up for reelection in the 2019-2020 cycle.

Analysis of Florida Contributions

Nationwide, the contributions of the nine indigenous tribes varies. While the Seminole tribe does not contribute as much as several others, it must be remembered that each tribe makes their own independent decisions on contribution amounts and who those amounts go to. Last, these nine tribes operate the largest indigenous owned casinos across the United States, thus their ability to make contributions is comparative and illustrative of the various levels tribes give to candidates.

The contributions of the Seminole Tribe within Florida are all to incumbent candidates, and each candidate district contains or is adjacent to a district containing a Seminole reservation.  The exception to this is Florida district 7 candidate Stephanie Murphy.  Murphy is currently appointed to the very influential House Ways and Means Committee, which is the chief tax writing committee in the House.  Charlie Crist is currently appointed to the House Appropriations Committee, which is responsible for passing the House federal budget.  Crist also has a long history in Florida politics, having served in various roles since the mid-1990’s, including being elected Florida governor from 2007-2011.  Darren Soto serves Florida district 9 and he is also appointed to the House Natural Resources Committee, where he serves on the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States.  Bills relating to tribes from across the country will typically come before this subcommittee at some point.  Donna Shalala serves Florida district 27, and she is appointed to the House Committee on Rules.  This committee is responsible for setting virtually all rules relating to a bill before the House.

The remaining House candidates serve districts that contain Seminole reservations.  On its surface there does not appear to be a correlation to the tribe beyond proximity.  Contributions to all Florida candidates does not appear to be linked to party or ideology.  As the tribe is supporting incumbents, it can be assumed that the goal is access to the candidates in some formal capacity.  As the saying goes, all politics is local and it serves the interest of the tribe to know the Congressmen and Congresswomen who represent their tribal citizens.  Further, the government to government relationship between the tribe and Congress is fostered through relationship building.  Having elected representatives as allies helps the tribe in its efforts to maintain its independence and sovereignty.  

The Seminole contributions to the PACs supporting Sen. Rubio and Sen. Scott can be seen in several ways.  First, as both senators were not up for reelection they were not actively soliciting campaign contributions.  The purpose of a PAC is to elect candidates, and the tribe did contribute to the PACs of both senators.  Although not direct campaign contributions, these can be viewed in that respect as the PACs work to reelect the senators.  Secondly, in a similar vein as the House, the tribe is seeking to maintain a relationship with the senators.  Senators are elected every six years, and the positions are very influential.  The relationships between the tribe and senators is not established overnight, thus ongoing contributions can be seen as building blocks.  

National Contributions

CandidateParty – State – RaceTotal Contribution
Mark KellyD – AZ – Senate$6,700
Ben Ray LujanD – NM – Senate$5,600
Sharice DavidsD – KS – House$5,625
Deb HaalandD – NM – House$5,600
Tom ColeR – OK – House$5,600
Ruben GallegoD – AZ – House$2,800
Paul CookR – CA – House$2,800
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee$35,000
Donald TrumpR – Presidential$3,385
Joe BidenD – Presidential$2,274

Analysis of National Contributions

Senate candidates Mark Kelly and Ben Ray Lujan are both democrats running in states that have high percentages of Indigenous people.  Both Kelly and Lujan are non-incumbents, but they are facing different races.  Kelly is running against an incumbent, which negatively impacts him, but he has received massive support in Arizona and nationally.  Polls show Kelly with a current advantage in his race.  Lujan, on the other hand, is running in a race where there is no incumbent.  Tom Udall (D) is retiring from the Senate at the end of his term, and Lujan is running to replace him.  Udall currently serves on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and given the high percentage of Indigenous people in New Mexico it can be assumed his replacement would seek the same committee assignment.

Representatives Sharice Davids, Deb Haaland, and Tom Cole are all members of indigenous tribes.  Davids and Haaland were first elected in 2018, and they are the first two indigenous women to serve in Congress. Tom Cole has represented Oklahoma’s 4th district since 2003.  All three candidates receive contributions from tribes from across the country.  Additionally, Rep. Haaland serves on the House Subcommittee on Indigenous Peoples of the U.S.  The House Subcommittee on Indigenous Peoples currently has eleven members.  As mentioned previously, Rep. Haaland sits on the subcommittee, and she is joined by Rep. Ruben Gallego, Rep. Darren Soto, and Rep. Paul Cook.  Each of these members of Congress have received contributions from the Seminole Tribe.  

The Seminole contribution to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) stands out due to its amount, but this must be considered in context.  First, the purpose of the DCCC is to support the election efforts of Democratic party candidates from across the country.  The tribe is allowed to support any party, and election finance laws provide a higher limit to how much can be given.  Second, the tribe has historically given similar amounts to the Democratic party (see chart below).  The tribe has given to the Republican party, but the contributions largely go to the Democratic party.  

OrganizationYearContribution
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee2020$35,000
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee2009$34,000
Democratic National Committee2014$32,000
Democratic National Committee2011$30,800
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee2012$30,800
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee2017$30,000

Looking at present contribution efforts, the Seminole tribe tends to favor incumbent Democratic candidates.  In Florida, candidates with a proximal or congressional tie to the tribe can receive a contribution.  Nationally,  the correlation of contributions to indigenous tribes and indigenous representatives remains high.  The Seminole Tribe has contributed to the efforts of both presidential campaigns, but there appears to be no obvious favor to the candidates and the amount of each contribution is relatively low.  Although much attention is given to the executive branch in terms of country wide campaign giving, the Seminole tribe does not contribute in a meaningful or preferential amount.  

Lobbyists

Another way the Seminole tribe has attempted to influence the federal government is through the use of lobbyists.  Lobbying is the lawful attempt to influence policies and actions of elected representatives and government agencies.  Lobbying is a common practice and can be performed by any person, but access to high-powered lobbyists comes at a price.  

YearLobbying Total AmountLobbyist Employed
2020$220,000 (total through Q1-Q2)4
2019$470,0004
2018$520,0003
2017$530,0009
2016$550,0009
2015$660,0007
2014$650,00012
2013$750,00011
2012$590,00013
2011$640,0008
Total / Average$5,580,000 / $558,0008

The purpose of lobbying is to influence current legislative or government agency efforts.  The cost to employ lobbyist ranges, but generally the cost is higher if the lobbyist has served in a government agency before.  The cost can go even higher if the lobbyist has served in an elected position, such as House representative or Senator.  The ability of lobbyists to shape legislation and policy is recognized through strict legislative efforts, such as the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, that aim to increase accountability into the profession.  Thus, the use of lobbyists is a normal part of business for large entities such as the Seminole tribe, and the expense can often be justified by the end product of favorable legislation and governmental policy.  

Final Word

The citizens of the Seminole Tribe have a common heritage and shared culture, which lends to the tribe’s ability to navigate the present U.S. political climate.  The tribe has always sought to maintain its independence and self-governing responsibility, and to be successful at this the tribe must pursue efforts to build relationships with the U.S. federal government.  Further, the tribe also needs to have a presence as legislation and policies are being written.  To these ends, contributing to candidates and employing lobbyists are a necessity.  

There must be trust in the decisions regarding the spending of funds, especially considering the divisive nature of politics.  Tribal citizens have their own political ideologies, and these may or may not mesh with how the tribe is presently allocating contribution funds.  Despite these individual beliefs, it must be remembered that the tribe represents the collective good of all present and future tribal citizens.  What’s good for the tribe as a whole, is good for all individual Seminoles.

Lastly, tribal leaders are accountable to the people.  To further gain the trust of the people there needs to be an increased openness to the tribal decision-making process.  In the instance of contributions, a discussion on the giving strategy is a logical starting point.  The tribal people deserve an explanation as to why certain parties or candidates are important to the interests of the tribe.  Again, this may not mesh with personal ideologies, but the citizens of the tribe recognize what’s good for the tribe, is good for all individual Seminoles.  

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Past to Present: A Look at Seminole Self-Government

By Jarrid L. Smith

Since 1957, the year of U.S. federal recognition, the citizens of Seminole Tribe of Florida have sought to formally govern themselves.  From the beginning, the process of self-governance has been an uphill struggle.  What caused this struggle and what does this struggle look like today?  How are Seminole people working to solve this?  Read on to find out.

Organization

In 1953 the U.S. federal government began the process to terminate its government to government relationship with the Seminoles.  If this process were to go through, the people of the tribe would be seen by the U.S. government as regular citizens, and all federal obligations to the people would be gone as well.  This provided the impetus for the people of the tribe to begin the process to gain formal federal recognition and thereby maintain its sovereign status and government to government relationship with the U.S.  This is the overarching narrative, but it’s also an oversimplification.  

This narrative implies that the people of the tribe were ready to take up self-governance immediately upon the ratification of the Seminole Constitution.  However, this narrative gets bleak when provided with a dose of reality.  In her autobiography A Seminole Legend, Betty Mae Jumper, along with historian Patsy West, describe what life was like in the 1950’s.  By 1953, there were 918 Seminoles on official documentation (Pg.137).  Of these, only four Seminole students had graduated from high school (Pg.136).  Within this, more than half lived on reservation land but a sizable number of people remained off (Pg.137).  A fourth of the people spoke English, and 70 to 80 percent were illiterate (Pg.138).  There was no formal organizing mechanism that brought all the people together, as some chose to practice Christianity while others maintained traditional beliefs (Pg.138).  

To put it simply, the people were politically disjointed and their understanding of civic duty was minimal.  This makes the fact that the tribal people voted to formally organize only four years later even more amazing.  The process would not have been possible without the efforts of the men and women who worked to explain what organizing meant and how it would benefit the people to vote.  These efforts would pay off in 1957 when the Seminole Constitution was ratified.  Yet, despite achieving success in becoming federally recognized, the vast majority of people within the tribe were taking part in a governing process that they did not fully understand.   How exactly do these things affect the Seminoles today?

Governing Today

In the 63 years since the Seminole Constitution was first ratified the people of the tribe have leaped forward in many ways.  The efforts of the tribe as a whole and of individual tribal citizens has resulted in a drastic improvement in the overall welfare, health, education, and business of the tribe.  The Seminoles are a remarkable success story within U.S. tribes.  Here, just like in the past, the narrative of success overlooks issues that started back in 1957.  It begins with the Seminole Constitution itself, which was not something that the Seminole people created by themselves.  The concept of self-government for the Seminoles began with a constitution that was created by the U.S. government.  This isn’t to imply that the Seminole people didn’t need help, but it is to recognize that the fundamental concept of democracy, power by and of the people, was undermined from the beginning.  

So it is that the Seminole people today are still in effect hampered in their efforts at self-governance by what happened in 1957.  Over the years there have been instances of efforts to reform the Seminole Constitution to meet the needs of the people, and some of these efforts have met success.  However, the larger concern from 1957 remains, and that is that the people of the tribe by and large do not work together to influence or to make changes to the Tribe’s constitution.  The sustained effort that this requires falls flat, and in the end Seminole people miss out on their responsibility as citizens, which is to maintain a check on their government’s power.  The absence of the people can result in actual or perceived abuses in power by those in elected positions.  

The concept of self-government and how best to utilize it was new to the Seminole people, but politics aside, prior to 1957 there had existed systems of social structure.  Since time immemorial these included traditional beliefs, the clan system, and more recently, Christianity.  Although not formal governmental bodies, these social structures provide the fundamental characteristic of what a government does, which is to provide for the common good of the people.  These structures help to create the understanding that what affects one family, affects all families.  This moral imperative, to be caretakers of one another, remains strong to this day.  How are the Seminole people using this to formally influence their government?  

Community Voice

In recent months the elected leaders of Seminole Tribe of Florida have postponed in person meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Formal meetings of the Tribal Council have moved online, and these meetings are not easily accessible to Tribal citizens.  Prior to COVID, the people could attend in person meetings, but even then there was dissatisfaction in the sharing of official Tribal information.  To address this, the common practice was to hold monthly community meetings where elected leaders would present information and respond to questions.  Additionally, the elected leaders made themselves available to respond to concerns through in person meetings and phone calls.  The common thread in all of this is the central role that the Tribal Council plays, which is understandable given their elected positions.  However, seperate from the efforts of their tribal government, the Seminole people struggle to organize themselves in a sustained manner to check the power of their elected leaders.  

This fact is not lost on the Seminole people, and there are people who are working to address it. One recent effort is an online forum called Community Voice, and its goal is to provide a space for discussing ideas for the betterment of the tribe.  Community Voice has held four meetings to date, and it has already had an impact on the decision-making process within the Tribe.  Community Voice was organized over the summer in direct response to a Tribal Council decision regarding the production of hemp.  The online forum received many in-person attendees, and those who could not be present were able to watch a meeting recording.  As a result of the influence of this forum regarding hemp production, the organizers decided to continue holding meetings.  

Krystal Young is one of the people who has helped to organize Community Voice.  For her part, Krystal posts the meeting flyer, serves as a facilitator in the meetings, posts meeting recordings, and has even conducted a survey.  The survey responses helped to determine the most recent meeting topic, which centered on the role of the people to check the power of their elected leaders.  When asked her biggest takeaway from the meeting, Krystal discussed her surprise at the amount of power the Council holds.  “How…ridiculous it is how much power the Council has… I knew they had a lot of power but it’s really excessive,” said Krystal.  For her, this excess in power is seen most in the election process of the Tribe.  

At the close of the Community Voice meeting held September 29th, attendees decided to address concerns with the Seminole Constitution, with a focus to put power back into the hands of the Seminole people.  “The effort is to strip away the power of Tribal Council in certain areas,” said Mariann Billie during the meeting.  There were two decisions, the first related to giving tribal people a role in the process to determine tribal ordinances.  The second related to the election process, in particular a focus on ensuring that election winners must receive greater than 50 percent of the vote total.  The aim is to hold another meeting next month.

Final Thoughts

The Seminole people are striving to maintain a government that serves the needs of the people.  Using measures of welfare, health, education, and business, the government is fulfilling the needs of the people.  From its beginnings in the 1950’s, the Tribe is in a present-day position that the Seminole Constitution founders could only imagine.  On the other hand, the civic responsibility of the people to check the power their government is still in its beginning stages.  Efforts like Community Voice, which arise from the people and separate from the tribal government, are evidence that the Seminole people are gaining civic strength.  Actions of people like Krystal Young and Mariann Billie, among many others, are evidence that the moral and ethical beliefs of the tribe are alive and well.  When the success of the Tribe aligns with the capacity for civic duty of the people, only then can it be said that the Seminoles are self-governing.

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