Barnes in the hat he captured from the Cavalry.
BLACKFEET TRIBAL COUNCIL CHAIR REPORT
from Harry Barnes
I write this as I eagerly await the season premier of “Vikings.” Now, this is somewhat violent, so be sure you are an adult or you have adult supervision. Jana, where are you?
Actually, I wanted to write about a historic event. A week ago last Tuesday, a letter was hand delivered from the BIA in their normal blue envelope. These always tend to make me nervous when hand delivered as with urgency. Rarely is good news dispatched so quickly.
As it turned out, this was good news. It was from the Blackfeet Agency, noting that the Blackfeet Tribe was no longer “high risk”! The letter went on to further mention that because we are not “high risk,” we are also no longer “under sanction.” It has been a very long time since the Blackfeet Tribe could claim either issue. We did have a short spurt between completion of the 2013 audit and the due date of the 2014. About two weeks. Not long enough to realize any benefit.
Under sanction the Tribe has to use Tribal cash to front many 638 contracts and then file for reimbursement. that has been a cash flow nightmare. We are now requesting advance payment to run those programs. This is in fact historic.
The Council came onboard July 10, 2014, and made a commitment to get our fiscal house in order. In 18-19 months we have been able to catch up on past due audits and start the 2015 audit with the goal to stay current. Some will say, “Well, you are just doing what is supposed to be done.” Tht is true, but it in fact had not been done. I congratulate and thank the Council as this clearly demonstrates a fiscal discipline that has not been see in some time. It is an historic event.
A historic event happened in the U.S. senate as our Water Compact went through the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. First water compact in several years, and it still has to pass the Senate and get introduced to the House. We have a big struggle ahead of us.
This is still a big deal. I know there are members out there that are adamantly opposed to a water compact. This Council is under a prior Council’s Resolution calling on the Tribe to get an agreement and bring it back to the members. Once it gets through the Congress, it has to come back to the members for a ratification vote. Neither the Chairman nor the full Council can accept any deal unless the members vote to accept.
We have launched a Tribal website to help educate members on the details of the Water Compact. Please visit www.blackfeetnation.com, and you will be surprised by a wealth of information. We are living in historic times.
On April 4 we will repatriate 90 buffalo that are descendants of a dozen that were captured here in 1876 and moved to Salish/Kootenai country. In 1907 they were sold to Canada and we are bringing them home. Please watch for details as the date gets sooner.
I would love to report that everything is coming up roses. But I cannot as we continue to face some tremendous challenges. Each week as I think things are going really good, then the wheels fall off and we hit crisis mode. We are moving in the right direction and have received a lot of positive feedback. We will still make mistakes as we move aggressively to a better tomorrow. Please keep the Tribe and our people in your prayers. We want our grandchildren to look back on this time as historic and be empowered to make things better for their grandchildren.