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Statement from Matthew J. Box, Chairman of the Southern Ute Tribe. - Comments (1) View Comments
Melanie Brubaker Mazur - 2/11/2011
February 10, 2011: 12:45 pm
Today and in the recent past, agitators have tried to take our battle to the plains where our short bows and short stocky horses are inferior. There is no question that we are in a battle for information and progress today.
I am here to explain to all whom read this that We, the Southern Ute Indian People are alive and well here in the Mountains where we have long had the advantage as a people. With our Constitution, our Government, our Policies and Procedures and our Traditions and Culture we have endured.
Even as young as I am, I have excepted that going through the politics, drama, rumors, and slings and arrows of agitators will take years off my life. Regardless of how I prepare and how committed I am to my People and my Family.
I do not walk on water or part the seas. I am not that perfect leader who can galvanize everyone to what is the future and what is right. I think we have all been waiting for that person, but I am not to sure that if that person comes that the same agitator’s who hold me in contempt wouldn’t do the same for that person. I will do what I can till that person comes …
Please afford me this time to get deeper to the point of what is happening to your Government in my opinion. The Tribal Council has asked me to resign. This action could be taken without review.
To be plain, sovereignty is the right to be arbitrary. The powers of the Tribal Council who act as the Legislative Branch are at odds with the powers of the Executive Branch which is constructed through my office by election and by my appointments. The arbitrary right of Council to decide who should be Chairman is in direct contrast to the original election vote and recent recall vote. My concern regarding these recent actions means that Council could easily disregard the Constitution by taking the voice of the membership who has voted and by eliminating my due process by taking an action without the Memberships or my consent. Let me explain.
The Tribal Council met without me to discuss my removal by a vote of the Council. The meeting was not announced and did not include the Chief Principal Officer of the Tribe (Chairman). The Council did meet with me the following day to discuss the situation and informed me of their concerns. They gave me a verbal ultimatum to resign by 5:00 pm that day. I expressed I would think seriously about this because they seemed united on the matter (except for Council man Cloud, who has been on leave). After careful consideration, I did not resign as the service to the Membership is a much more serious matter than the verbal request of Council. I asked the following day at a Council meeting that they provide their concerns in writing as required by the removal procedures of the Tribe which I presented to them.
There was then a second meeting on the matter and I was not allowed to attend although I am a member of the Council as the Chairman. I have not met with Council on the matter and they have not provided me any response in writing as I requested. They are currently meeting to discuss a recorded meeting on the matter today, February 10, 2011 at 1:30 pm.
The concerns stem from actions in the course of my duty but undertaken by the Executive Office and from their concern regarding the receipt of privileged confidential personnel information and actions. The Council was unclear as to their role regarding personnel issues so I provided them the legal review associated with it. I ended with the fact that neither the Executive Office nor I had broken any policies or procedures or abused our offices’ authorities.
I believe strongly that we all deserve due process. I am not sure that the Tribal Council in its current state will provide that due process and may ultimately abuse sovereignty by being arbitrary. I hope they will provide me a letter soon and ask to reconvene discussions on these very important issues.
I have lost faith in the ill-conceived Removal Ordinance established in 1996 by a past Council. No forethought was given to the Will of the People. I see that the Council intends to take this action regardless of my due process rights and the rights of the membership to select their leader. In recent days we have attempted to stabilize the government during what may be a difficult transition and even those attempts at civility have been thwarted. I truly do not trust an arbitrary action of the Council and realize that they are united in the recommendation of this action. In the end, it is disappointing to see these issues play out publicly. I will explain what I can in brief and without release of anyone’s confidential information.
I am comfortable in the fact that the truth stands all on its own. I am sure that I have not supported any actions that have come without non-bias legal and personnel review. I have on multiple occasions recued myself from potential conflicts of interest concerning nepotism. While I struggle with my youth to prevent myself from being defensive, I must defend the criticisms and ill intentions of others. I have done so by following the policies and procedures of the Tribe and the Constitution that governs my position.
It is easy to understand that while there may be different management styles everyone is bound to the policies and procedures. What is not clear is that the Council must earn by vote of the People, the privilege to determine which style of governmental administration they would like to have. For now I have been elected to make that determination and I stand behind those decisions.
While other governments see leaders come and go, a process is in place in most governments that allows for the elected officials to bring their entire staff to the organization. The difference in our case is so crucial in that the Chairman brings with him only the staff of the Executive Office. Other governments bring in their political appointees throughout key positions of the organization. Since we do not have this process, political dissention within the organization can exist. Our organization like others may run on chaos, rumors, and friction. Some day the people may revise the Constitution to resolve these issues. Until that time our existing policies and procedures must provide direction.
I would like to end with the hurt, pain, and suffering my family has endured. I have not responded to such actions in the past. As most of us do in our lives, when such conflicts arise, we simply move on to something better. My concern is that this is my home and my family has been thrown in the spot light on purpose to coax us to the plains out of our mountain home where we are protected, undefeatable and safe. As the leader of the Tribe I am duty bound to protect us to the best of my ability and I will do that. My family is being judged by the people watching us hurt each other. My family, the family that I love, is going through this…. All 1,474 of them.
Please also understand that the Durango Herald is inaccurate in that…. Neither of the Executive Officers resigned. Mr. Andrew Frost was relieved of his appointment as Co-Executive Officer for cause. Mr. Johnny T. Valdez was relieved of his appointment as Executive Officer by agreement and is now serving the Membership unpaid as the Co-Executive Officer until further notice.
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