To free the land, you must first free your mind...


This is a conceptual platform for the expression of ideas and issues initiating discussion and action. The communiqué's are my perceptions, opinions and vision about contemporary issues/causes, people I admire & respect, and my goals for the future. My main focus is on the Chahta People by sharing our past to plan for the future today!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Choctaw Nation Election 2015: time to speak up!

Due to an wave of outrage by the citizens of the Choctaw Nation after the federal conviction of Jason Merida for corruption, Chief Gary Batton, appointed his Election Reform Task Force, to provide him with a bullet-list to present to the tribal council.

One resulting action is that the Biskinik will now have an insert with candidates and election information in the May issue. Another is that a letter was sent to registered voters asking they check box whether they want their addresses released to qualified candidates, those whose replies were postmarked before April 30th will be accepted. It is unknown at this point the number of letters that were returned undeliverable as a result of no forwarding address or if the person was deceased. Some have quoted their sources as saying it numbered in the thousands.

On Monday morning (May 11th) the Election Board at the Choctaw Nation headquarters in Durant will begin accepting applications for candidacy for the offices of Chief and Council. The council seats and incumbents are:
Choctaw District Map

District 1 - Idabel, Thomas Williston
District 2 - Broken Bow, Tony Messenger (retiring)
District 3 - Talihina, Kenny Bryant
District 5 - Stigler, Ron Perry
District 8 - Hugo, Perry Thompson
District 11 - McAlester, Bob Pate

Filing will close at the end of business day on Wednesday, May 13th. After that date, the names of the qualified candidates will be posted along with information on how they can be reached. The date of election is July 11th.



Eaglemanz Commentary

This election year, we have heard that several candidates are running in District 2 - Broken Bow, where long time Choctaw Nation employee, Tony Messenger, is retiring from public service. Names of possible candidates have popped up for this open seat: Ivan Battiest, Tony Ward, Green Davis, Mike Amos and Taloa Gibson. Originally, I had intended to run for Chief this year, but after the Merida trial, attending the the only public Election Reform Task Force meeting and then seeing the resulting tribal council actions, I began to consider running for District 2 council. It wasn't until an incident of  betrayal by a Senior Executive Officer, Stacy Shepard, regarding developing a prison reintegration program for Chahta people leaving prison, that I decided my best course of action was to wait until the 2019 election where I will run for Chief.

My decision based upon the experiences I pointed out above is to demonstrate the capacity of our people to become the leaders we are. Those who are elected are not our leaders, they are the people who willingly offer themselves up for public service. This means they are to be accountable to the people, their actions are open and above board. No secret meetings behind closed doors, no withholding of information affecting the Chahta people and above all no refusal to answer the questions of the Chahta people.

It seems that years ago after the Chahta people won a victory in averting termination by J.W. Belvin and the federal government, we were beginning to recover when we had our only free and fair election that placed David Gardner as Chief. When he died in office, it seemed that a process was put into place that began to disempower the Chahta people. If you spoke out against the chief, you or your relatives were threatened with the loss of their Choctaw Nation job or you might be blacklisted and services were withheld from you. Then the sitting chief was arrested and convicted for embezzlement, but won re-election in spite of that. Then a few years later he was indicted for sexual assault of a female employee and sentenced to prison.

Most everyone had thought the era of fear and intimidation was over. People remembered Chahta people passing out pamphlets printed by "Choctaws for Democracy" and being arrested and charged. This had a chilling effect on the voice of the people that one had better not speak out or up. The issues were a biased election process and a slanted tribal paper that actively promoted the Chief and Tribal Council. People began calling the Biskinik, "The Bisquik: for white and fluffy feel good news", tribal employees were conditioned to tell nursery fairy tales about the administration, or to not speak at all.

The Merida trial exposed more than the administration probably cared for and when it became known of the abuses of office, various groups circulated the information in the social media. It has become known that the administration has began paying attention to various groups that have formed, such as Choctaws Rising, Chahta Veterans for Chahta Civil Rights, Eaglemanz: Chahta Nation, and the Choctaw National Party. These groups are made up of former council members, attorneys, military veterans, medical personnel, a minister, American Indian Movement activists and other Chahta citizens like yourself who want to bring about accountability and transparency in the constitution, elections and the administration of the Choctaw Nation.

These groups have traveled to a number of communities to help get the word out, even to the gathering in Bakersfield, California. There were several Chahta okla expressed their surprise because they had not known about the trial or the activities of the various grassroots for a positive transformation. Some of the delegation who traveled there were also surprised by the hostilities encountered from the organizers, Bill and Theresa Harrison. Two members, Yannash Scott and Stephen LeFlore, were told they could not march in the arena to honor military and war veterans with their banner "Chahta Veterans for Chahta Civil Rights". Even I was told that if I was going to talk about politics I don't need to come back. I returned on the following day and learned that the organizers had attempted to have campus security remove them from the premises. The day before, Batton was present when the veterans were told they could enter the arena with their banner, during the night and the next morning I learned that Batton had been made aware of the incidents taking place. I spoke with Batton later at this event and he had urged the organizers to not make an issue of it. Apparently, the Harrisons disregarded Batton, so when these men were approached by campus security, Batton sent his personal security officer to intervene as can be seen in the video.

Perhaps the most disturbing element of this event was the "Ugly Choctaw Contest". When I heard this over the loudspeakers, I was stunned. I watched one man urged on by his family to go out into the arena and it appeared he grudgingly stood up and with each step I saw his spirit sink away into the ground. He may have not felt he was the best looking man there, but he did not need this. I cannot explain how heartbroken I felt for this man. I saw others going out without a care, smiling. I turned away from this spectacle and thought about what has reduced us to something as disparaging as this. I've spent most of my life defending Native rights and lands through awareness and direct action. I've written about the conditioning and brainwashing that our people have gone through to make us feel inferior, and that we have to stand tall to make our children proud, to be Native, proud to be Chahta, even if they have other blood coursing through their veins because we all bleed red. We've taken on issues of mascots, policies that affect traditional cultural and spiritual practices and other forms of institutional racism, even from our own people. It was our Chahta people who recently walked off Adam Sandlers set after they had been lied to when they had been assured of a tasteful representation of Native people.

When it comes to institutional racism, we are often told that there are more important issues, I strongly disagree. All of these issues are interconnected, they can be tied into our high rate of alcoholism/drug use, teen suicides and low self-esteem, as well as a societal misunderstanding of whom we are as Native people.  It is hard to break through the steel walls of stereotypes, and people are surprised to find Natives who are educated and work as professionals. The struggle to break through has been ongoing for years.

And for Chahta people, we can look within our own territory and see these things happening, even during Tushkahoma. Instead of Native performers, we see only non-Native performers, we go into the arts & crafts building and see flea market items, and then our traditional stickball games, we see how it has been conformed to fit within another societys form of sports. We had no referees, time-outs, or announcers. It seems as if we are slowly losing our grip on whom we were as Chahta people.

This is where each and everyone of us comes in, we have to begin standing up in our leadership role and demand that the candidates who are going to run for office support what we want. We have to make our voice heard throughout our nation wherever our Chahta people live.

We must be the ones setting up a candidates forum so that we can present the changes that we want to see and find out who will vow to make it happen. One of the key points I feel will weed out the candidates is to ask who will present a council bill in their first meeting to reduce the salary of the Chief and Council:

The Chief makes $281,000.00 per year, with medical and numerous other perks. I would propose lowering that salary to $65,000.00 per year. If the Choctaw Nation health care is good enough for us, then it has to be good enough for them, otherwise, they can pay for superior health care out of their salary or work harder to improve our health care services. The Council members can have their $151,000.00 salary cut to $35,000.00 per year, with the same stipulations as the Chief regarding medical.

Any Choctaw who is making minimum wage ($7.25 an hour) could gross as much as $15,080.00 per year. As a person who has met real traditional chiefs, they are usually the poorest of their people because they give what they have to help the people survive. Our Chief and council should not be living better than the people they have been elected to serve. I can accept that corporate ceo's get paid a lot more, and if our people want that kind of money, then go to work for a corporation. We are not a corporation, we are a Nation of Indigenous peoples and we have a cultural standard of practice that served us well before we began acting like Nahullos. If a person who is elected can show us how they have raised our people above the poverty line and that we have prospered as a people, TOGETHER! Then I say we should reward them with a slight salary increase. The people who run for these positions should do so solely for the love of their people, not for how much money they can pocket.

The following are some points that can be formulated into questions for the upcoming election so that we can find those willing to stand up for the people. More will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.

Election and campaign reform: one should not be able to “buy” an election based upon how much money one has or how popular they have made themselves as a result. It should be about the issues that they stand upon and what they will contribute to the Nation as a whole. The hard honest truth is that a candidate needs access to the registered voters, and we have a vehicle for that: 
a) The Biskinik, in the three months prior to an election, candidates must announce their intent to file and present their platforms, the paper must give equal time to all candidates after they have formally filed their candidacy,

b) Our community centers should be made available to the community for a candidate’s forum for council and chiefs. I'm inclined to make attendance by candidates mandatory or they forfeit the race.

c) The CNO website should have a section of the website set aside for the candidates with their platforms, their photo, bio and contact info. With these items, it isn't really necessary to fund-raise, because this will provide at a minimum, exposure and a means of connecting with registered voters.
d) It also needs to be said that no campaigning should be conducted by the candidates while employed by the CNO, nor should volunteers employed by the CNO conduct similar campaign activities. Violators employment will be terminated and future employment will be prohibited. 

(Not all of us have a million dollars to run a campaign with. From the information revealed by Pyle and Batton during the Merida trial, their ability to raise such a massive amount is by virtue of their office creates an uneven playing field. Should this be adopted, then we should ask Batton to transfer the estimated one million dollars to an interest bearing account to cover the expense of mailing the paper and documented related costs. The balance in this account with interest accrued should be published each month. The basis for this is as I’ve stated, this money was raised by the position held in the Choctaw Nation, it would be an honorable gesture.)
After the elections, Battons' Election Reform Task Force will reconvene. We must ask that the candidates present a bill to make all committees, and any meetings called by an official or employee of the Choctaw Nation, public. At the same time, each of our districts needs to organize into groups that can attend these meetings and report back to their community to work on reform provisions.

Constitutional Amendments or a Constitutional Convention: There is a need to strengthen our constitution, after 32 years, we now have an better idea of its shortcomings. We need to know from our candidates if they will support a constitutional convention before the next election in two years. Choctaws Rising has a list of proposed amendments, while I do not support tampering with the blood quantum for holding office, I would support all the other proposed changes.

The Choctaw National Party also has a list of the platforms, take a look at these and see if this is something you will support and ask the candidates to affirm or refuse to support these type of changes.

And because it is an election time for the next two months, maybe we can obtain a public reply from Batton on the Chahta Veterans for Chahta Civil Rights Petition to respond to the Chahta peoples concerns about how this breakdown occurred, where are the checks and balances to guarantee this hasn't happened in other circumstances prior to this federal investigation, and afterwards. There are many questions that have been on the table, but Batton has said he would only meet with the people one on one. I'm sorry, that is not good enough, nor is it productive. It would be more expedient to address a general gathering where we can all hear the questions and the answers at the same time, as well as record it for those who could not attend. This is the accountability that is lacking from our administration. Whenever we ask for answers, no official should refuse to provide it.


We only have two months to get our own forums set up and the Chief will have to (or should) attend forums set up by the people in each district. Especially when we have a candidate for Chief who will be filing this week, D.J. Battiest. I recently heard D.J. speak in Durant and found her to be charismatic, sincere and above all down to earth. We will be looking forward to hearing more from her in the next two months.

The following is my suggestion for a timeline for the districts to host the forum for the candidates/incumbents (Chief and Council) on a Saturday:

May 23rd
District 1, Idabel @ 12pm
District 2, Broken Bow, @ 6pm

May 30th, 
NONE (Memorial Day weekend is when most families have their own time)

June 6th,
District 3 - Talihina, @12pm
District 11 - McAlester @6pm

June 13th
District 5 - Stigler @ 6PM

June 20th
District 8 - Hugo @ 6PM

These are merely suggestions and it could work for those where the locations are nearby that two in one day could be done. The community in each district could host the forums with a potluck and set the stage for future political campaigns, making fundraising an obsolete process. We don't need to see wasteful spending of tour buses, lavish spectacles or big name musicians. We aren't Nahullo's, we just want to hear the truth and see your hearts with no distractions.

Remember several corporations have made political contributions to Batton and Pyle with hopes of obtaining a contract with the Choctaw Nation enriching them with a million dollars to campaign. Lets remove the potential for abuse and take control of our elections. We are the leaders, and they are the public servants. We didn't get this way overnight and it it isn't going to be fixed quickly, we have a long road, so lets begin walking it together with dignity, integrity and a common voice.


YAKOKE!
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Friday, November 28, 2014

Chahta Nation: the times are changing!

"The Choctaw people have walked the farthest into the world of the white man. They will have a long walk back to find who they are." Harry Hill, Chahta

On this day of celebrating dead Indians through a Thanksgiving feast, history has been more than successful in denying its origins to the populace. It seems that the romantic drawing of Indians peaceable partaking in their feasts is the truth of Thanksgiving. Just a small part, but it isn't the entire truth. Thanksgiving feasts were held after pilgrims raided and murdered Indian villages for their food store. Today it is an illusion of a Nation giving thanks for the good things in their lives who are anxiously awaiting the beginning of Black Friday sales. Have to find the best deals in preparation for xmas!

That and so many other examples illustrate how we can be conditioned to only believe what we have been told to believe. With that, our responsibility to seek and find the truth has disappeared. When some of us do ask questions or create actions to seek the truth, attempts to mislead or denigrate us takes place. Which is happening now, following the conviction of a former Choctaw Nation senior executive for bribery and corruption in federal court.

During the course of the trial testimony presented by the witnesses reverberated across the social media. Those revelations of lavish lifestyles only affirmed the whispers and allegations of similar unethical practices that have been occurring for years. Bribery and corruption is only a minute part of the stories shared by many Chahta citizens who have first hand knowledge of these excesses. Other allegations include:

nepotism, although no policy, law or constitutional provision guide this, unqualified employees have been given executive positions without qualifications, such as Jason Merida, for example. So how many employees actually secured their positions due to the relationship of a family member;

censorship in the Biskinik - (sarcastically referred to as the Bisquick for its fluffiness and whiteness) As much criticism that has persisted to now, no one has ever read about it in the Bisquick. Personally, I spoke with a executive assistant a few years ago about this, she looked shocked at my question and responded "Why would we want to do that?" I said "For transparency and accountability." She just scowled and shook her head walking away. I still feel that as long as our finances is funding a so-call "tribal paper" it should be balanced. One masthead for a paper said "It is a newspapers duty to tell the truth and raise hell", but I doubt that anyone has ever seen that in the Bisquick!

lack of transparency in financial, business, and employee practices - pictured below is from the 90's when they use to be transparent. The council conducts its business behind closed doors, and then meets in Tushkahoma just to go through the motions of voting. No one is permitted to speak from the audience unless all council members approve. In one instance, Ted Dosh was the opposing vote when he said that they have never done it that way. Except, this was not the truth. The council use to hear from the audience, and many times they were meeting late in the evening, missing supper. Employees feel they have no recourse to lodge complaints, even through procedures established because of repercussions if they do.




unfair election & representation practices - there are no campaign or finance reporting requirements. It was only through court testimony in the Merida trial that we learned Greg Pyle had transferred an estimated 1 million dollars held in 5 bank accounts to Gary Batton. When Pyle was asked if the bulk of the money came from vendors who had or were seeking contracts, Pyle was vague on the matter. As to representation, Chahta citizens who live outside the boundaries of the Chahta Nation are allowed to select at random any district they choose to be represented in. Which has skewed the election results. The people who live in those districts and see the need for a change in representation, are denied a fair election by absentee voters who are unaware of the problems in the respective districts, and vote for the incumbent they have read about in fluff pieces written by the Bisquick.

lack of accountability - the power of a nation must lie within its citizens, but what established procedures exists for the citizens to call upon those public servants elected into positions of trust at the time those circumstances arrive. We need a expedient form of a check and balance to have the people support an issue. We certainly cannot rely on the Bisquick, which is sent to every registered voter. And where do we meet? We cannot meet at our community centers, but candidates for public positions outside of the nation is granted access, yet we cannot meet there.

These issues demand a call for a constitutional convention to amend our constitution to repair the apparent defects. These amendments should not be left to a handful of people in the council, or the administration, but should be brought for debate and vote by all the people. We need to fix our constitution to block unethical practices that are allowed to exist just because there is no rule against it.

In matters affecting the people, it rests in our hands to stand up and speak up. In relation to the quote at the top by Chahta WWII Veteran and Purple Heart recipient, the late Harry Hill  Its time we all start doing a little walking, reading and researching our true history, not the myths we have been led to believe. It is how we will empower ourselves as a people!

Tomorrow, Saturday Nov. 29th, the Chahta veterans for Chahta Civil Rights is asking Chahta's to meet in Durant to sign a petition to have a public forum at the next council meeting in Tushkahoma. The time everyone is asked to convene in Durant is 4-6 PM at529 N. 16th Ave., across from the offices of the Choctaw Nation. If you are on Facebook, you can find their event page here: Chahta Veterans for Chahta Civil Rights: Petition the Council.

Eaglemanz: Chahta Nation, will do a live blogtalkradio broadcast from this location. Come and represent to have your voice heard!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Your Opportunity to Change the Lives Of Our People

Halito Chahta Family,
“I want to become the number one employer in Oklahoma and love for the Choctaw Nation to become world renown in the future, said Gary Batton”.
This is a quote from our new Miko.  I respectfully say, number one employer of whom?  World renown to whom?  Love for the Choctaw Nation by whom?  This can’t be directed to us, the Chahta people?  I don’t know about you, my brothers and sisters but I don’t want the world to “love” the Chahta.  I would rather have freedom to vote, freedom to run for election, freedom to work and prosper without henchmen to tear down signs, to intimidate and pay voters, to pistol whip candidates at our annual gathering. I want a workplace that doesn’t see the Chahta as stupid or threatening to those non-Chahta in power.  I want our Chahta people to be informed of the true goings on within our government, I want those Chahta who have left our land boundaries to have incentives to come home or at least know that their sisters and brothers welcome their input on tribal affairs.  I want candidates to not have to be wealthy to run for office.  I want our tribal paper to present both sides of the story and hold accountable our leaders.  We all know what I want.  I have written about it over and over.  I have also prayed to our Creator God for relief from the tyranny and embarrassment of our Chahta government.

Now, I once again respectfully request you read the following letter from attorney and Chahta tribal member, Kalyn Free requesting the desperately needed changes required to truly give our people the freedom we not only deserve but are entitled to as Chahta people. To find out how to sign this petition please see Ms. Free’s email address listed at the bottom of the last page.  It’s not requested as a favor it’s requested because for the first time in forty plus years you may actually have a say in the future leadership of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.  Please pay special attention to the “CC” at the bottom of the letter.
I hope this is the Miko who will change our decades long history of being one of the most oppressed and violently controlled tribes in the United States.  We will see…
CW

KALYN FREE
ATTORNEY AT LAW

May 1, 2014

Principal Chief Gary Batton Assistant Chief Jack Austin, Jr Speaker Delton Cox & Tribal Council
PO Box 1210 Durant, OK 74701

Dear Chief Batton, Assistant Chief Austin, Speaker Cox and Councilors:
This is an historic opportunity for the Choctaw Nation and our people. As we enter this unprecedented time in our nation’s history, my hope is for this new administration to be imbued with the wisdom, integrity and compassion of those who came before us. My prayer is that you, our elected and appointed leaders, will find it in your hearts to embrace the Choctaw people, to engage with us and to welcome participation in our government.

I listened intently to Chief Batton’s inaugural address and his closing words to always “do what is best for the Choctaw people” brought hope to my heart. This chief and council have the ability to right the wrongs of the past and to chart a new and promising course for the future of our great Nation.

During the course of my career, I have been particularly blessed to have traveled extensively throughout Indian Country, having visited almost every reservation in the lower 48. Literally hundreds of times over the years, when people learn that I am a proud citizen of the Choctaw Nation, I have heard remarks of “Oh yes, that’s the tribe that doesn’t have real elections”; “that’s the tribe that is ruled by a dictator”; “that’s the tribe that appoints their chiefs”; “that’s the tribe that won’t let their people participate in elections”; “that’s the tribe that won’t let candidates communicate with the voters.”

Most of Indian Country and engaged people in the state of Oklahoma are fully aware that the past two chiefs, both of whom ascended to office by virtue of appointment, Greg Pyle and Hollis Roberts, adamantly opposed fair elections and the release of contact information for Choctaw voters. In fact, since our removal to Oklahoma, we have only had one chief, C. David Gardner, elected by the people when he took the oath of office as Principal Chief.

Countless Choctaws are cautiously optimistic that Chief Batton and the Tribal Council will reverse this medieval position and release the voter lists so Choctaw citizens can be fully informed, communicate with one another, participate in the electoral process, have a true voice in tribal government and move our Nation forward.

Some tribal councilors and the Choctaw Nation Registration department have told me that the Election Board “does not meet until shortly before an election is called.” In other tribal governments, the requests below would be made to the election board or commission. However, Article IX Section 5 of our Constitution fully empowers the Council to prescribe election procedures and regulations. Given the unique nature and composition of the Election Board, coupled with the Tribal Council’s history on these issues and the timing restraints, I am requesting this information and cooperation from the Chief and Tribal Council.

Article XVI of the Choctaw Constitution sets forth specific procedures for our citizens to propose legislation through the Initiative and Referendum process. Section 1 of this Article mandates stringent timelines on the filing of petitions and the timing of special elections, which must be called if the petition is filed more than a year before the next chief s election.

Article XVIII Section 1 of the Constitution mandates that amendments to our Constitution may be proposed by the Tribal Council or by the filing of a petition signed by the requisite 30 percent of the voters who voted in the last chief s election, which was the 1999 election.

In order to propose legislation or amendments to the constitution a citizen must know certain factual information that is not publicly available and which only the Nation maintains records of.

Thus, I am requesting the following information:

1. Total Number of Choctaws aged 18 and over
2. Total Number of registered voters
3. Total Number of Choctaws in each county in Oklahoma
4. Total Number of Choctaws aged 18 and over in each county in Oklahoma
5. Total Number of Choctaws aged 18 and over in each state
6. Total Number of registered voters in each state
7. Total Number of Choctaws aged 18 and over with valid addresses
8. Total Number of Choctaws aged 18 and over with invalid addresses
9. Total Number of registered voters with valid addresses

10. Total Number of registered voters with invalid addresses
11. Total Number of voters who voted in the 1999 chief s election
12. Tabulated results of the 1999 chief s election; specifically, the total votes received by each candidate
13. Total votes received in each precinct by each candidate in the 1999 chief s election
14. Total votes received by each candidate by absentee ballot in the 1999 chief s election
15. If absentee ballots were segregated in the 1999 chief s election, I am requesting the total absentee votes received by each candidate by voters residing within the Choctaw Nation
16. Tabulated results of the 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011tribal council elections 17. The names of all candidates who appeared on the ballot in the elections
referenced in #16 above and the results for each candidate by precinct and the number of absentee ballots cast for each candidate
18. A list of voters who voted by absentee in the 1999 chief s election and/or any of the subsequent tribal council elections, which include 2003, 2007 and 2011
19. A list of voters, including names and addresses, who voted by absentee in the 1999 chief s election and/or any of the subsequent tribal council elections, which include 2003, 2007 and 2011
20. A list of voters who voted in person in the 1999 chief s election and/or any of the subsequent tribal council elections, which include 2003, 2007 and 2011
21. A list of voters, including names and addresses, who voted in person in the 1999 chief s election and/or any of the subsequent tribal council elections, which include 2003, 2007 and 2011
22. A list of registered voters, including names and addresses, eligible to vote in tribal elections; please segregate this list by valid and invalid addresses
23. Total number of households the Biskinik is delivered to; it has been rumored that this number is 80,243
24. A list of all Choctaws who receive the Biskinik
25. A list of all Choctaws with complete mailing address who receive the Biskinik
26. Election Procedures or Ordinance that the Tribal Council contends are effective and will govern a special election and/or the 2015 chief and tribal council elections.

 

If the Tribal Council maintains that the Election Ordinance, referenced in # 26 above and currently displayed on the Nation’s website, is in effect and controlling, please provide documentary evidence that this Election Ordinance was approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. If there is a different set of election procedures, other than those currently on the Nation’s website, that the Council contends will govern special elections and the 2015 chief and tribal council elections, please provide those.

Article V, Section 1 of the Election Ordinance, which appears on the Nation’s website, purports to fully empower the Election Board with the authority to determine the date of the 2015 election, subject to approval by the chief and tribal council. Assuming only for this limited purpose that the referenced Election Ordinance is valid, please advise as to the month and year the Election Board and/or the Tribal Council intends to hold the next chief and council elections.

While I have faith that a majority of the Tribal Council will ultimately do the right thing and enact a new Election Ordinance that provides for full and open participation by all Choctaws, I recognize that this will take some time. Thus, during the interim, I am requesting a list of names of all Choctaws who have voted in every election including and since 1999. The Election Ordinance provides at Article VIII, Sections 1and 2 that any candidate who has filed for office, upon request, will be provided a list of the registered voters in each district. The incumbent tribal councilors, some of which have served more than two and three decades, have each had multiple opportunities to acquire and refine said lists. Thus, immediately releasing only the voters’ names to allow the citizenry to participate in the Initiative, Referendum and Petition process is only a small first step in allowing Choctaws to exercise our constitutional rights.

Because the Election Board is not available, I am asking the Chief and/or Council to designate an office or person(s) that I can communicate with and that can assemble the information I have requested. Clearly, there are certain parts of my request that should not be controversial and I am hopeful that I can get responses to these requests quickly. The requests that I believe can be quickly responded to are: ## 1- 14, 16, 17, and 23.

If the requested information is available in an electronic format, please provide it in the same format. For example, lists of citizens and voters are maintained in a digital format and thus are requested in this medium. Other documents, such as election results may be maintained in “hard copies” or pdfs. To the extent possible that these documents can be scanned and sent electronically, I am requesting this be done.
I will gladly pay for any research, scanning, copying or labor costs associated with fulfilling this request. I will be happy to travel to Durant and review records from our previous elections that are publicly available and make my own copies or designate for your staff which documents I wish to copy. If you have any questions about my request or wish to discuss this matter, please call me at 918.916.0716 or email me at kalyn@kalynfree.com.

In closing, Chief Batton I believed you when you said you want to do “what is best for the Choctaw people” and thus pray that you will lead by example and support the Council in their efforts to have a transparent and fair election process. My hope is that each of you will listen to your hearts, your people and pray on these things. If I may ever be of service to each of you or the Choctaw people, please call on me.

Yakoke,
(Kalyn Free)

cc: DOI Solicitor General Hilary Tompkins
      Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn
      BIA Area Director Bob Impson