I will be planning to do a show on this in the coming weeks at Eaglemanz:Chahta Nation. I will post when we have confirmed a date! - Ben Carnes)
“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…
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
cc: DOI Solicitor General Hilary Tompkins
Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn
BIA Area Director Bob Impson