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STATEMENT OF DALE ANN FRYE SHERMAN

CANDIDATE FOR YUROK TRIBAL CHAIRPERSON

August 11, 2000

 

First, this is who I am: My father was Bill Frye, a Yurok, son of Amanda Frye, born at Kepel, raised on the River. Dad was a logger who had a ranch on Resighini Rancheria. He sang songs and gillnetted on the river until he died. My mother was born Dorothy Lopez, and although she is Tolowa, one of her grandmothers was Annie of Rekwoi. Before the Hoopa-Yurok Settlement Act Mom was on the Resighini Tribal Council. We just celebrated her 90th birthday. I was raised on the Resighini Rancheria and graduated from Del Norte High School. A couple of years after earning my Masterís Degree I was hired as the NAGPRA (1990 Native American Graves Repatriation and Protection Act) Coordinator with the Yurok Tribe. My job is to bring back our ancestors and sacred things from museums across the country.

Every campaign is full of empty promises, and we donít need any more. Letís promise something we can actually live up to. This is what I propose: Honesty and Communication.

Those should be the two marks of a true public servant. The Tribal Council exists to serve the Yurok People, not the other way around. Leading the Tribe really means following the People. We need to first consult with the People, then give them the honest truth about what their government is doing, looking for real solutions in the process, rather than just political decisions.

There are a lot of important issues to work on Ė tribal jurisdiction on the Reservation and on the River; protecting the salmon; increasing river flows; hunting and fishing rights; police protection on the Reservation; more jobs for Yurok Tribal members; housing; economic development; the Settlement Act waiver; education; culture; and many others Ė but those are long-term issues that every Tribal Council has to work on. I will give those issues my full attention, but I also intend to keep talking and listening to the Yurok People, keeping an open mind, taking care of all issues openly and honestly.

That is my simple promise.

HONESTY

Tribal Council members have to answer to the Yurok People, to work for your interests, and to keep close in touch with Tribal members on all issues. Honestly, in one short three-year term, a council member canít expect to solve all the problems facing Yuroks, but we can at least make a good start. We need to make an honest effort to work for the river, for the people, for the young ones yet unborn. We need to make an honest effort to listen to the people, and to try to do what the people want and need. We need to make ourselves available all day, every day.

I can realistically accomplish a certain number of things in three years. As a representative of the community and the tribe, I know I will not be the only problem solver. I will only be one member of a team. My job on that team will be to point the Tribal Council in the right direction, like the helm on a ship, so the Tribe doesnít crash on the rocks.

Hereís an example: We need to take more care to protect our culture. If we lose our culture, we are no better than the invaders who came here and took our land and our trees. Those old ways are what made us rich before the gold miners came, and those old ways are what have kept us going in the 150 years since. So the Tribal Council needs to do everything possible to save our Yurok culture. We need to work harder to save our culture, and to bring back what was lost. We can do that, we must do that, and we will do that. We can do it by supporting the fight to bring our ancestors and sacred things back from museums (we should no longer have to stand by the side of the road selling beanstalk beans to make money to buy back our sacred baskets). We can do it by increasing our language classes and striving to have Yurok history included in local classrooms. And we can do it by finding ways to buy back or save our sacred lands. Blue Creek, for instance, has special meaning to Yuroks, and we need to find ways to protect it.

COMMUNICATION

The Tribal Council needs to communicate with the Yurok People. The one thing I have heard over and over is that the People donít know what is going on inside their government. That needs to change. All of the candidates need to put aside their self-interest and start thinking of ways to benefit all the people, no matter where they live. Duty comes first. Itís time to put the Jesse Short era behind us.

I was away at school, and so was not directly involved in the civil wars that we Yuroks faced after the Jesse Short settlement, and after the Hoopa-Yurok Settlement Act. That time is gone. The past is the past, and we canít change it, but the future we can write for ourselves. We need to make every possible effort to talk to each other, to bring ourselves together, to put aside our family differences. We need to move past our geographic differences and work together for the common good.

YUROK EMPLOYEES

And we need to give our tribal employees time and space to do their jobs. For instance, now that we finally have our housing program on the move, we need to allow the current staff to do their jobs. We need to get as many Yuroks in as many houses as we can, as soon as we can. In order to do that, we need to get out of the way and let our staff do the job they were trained for. The job of the Tribal Council is to set policy, not to manage the staff.

Many valuable employees have left the Tribe because the Yurok Tribal bureaucracy is not a friendly place to work. For instance, in my current job as the Tribeís NAGPRA Coordinator, I have the responsibility to work toward bringing our ancestors and sacred things back from museums across the country. The museums are putting up a fight to keep what they feel is their property. It is very sad that I have to fight with the museums and then come home to fight with our very own Yurok bureaucracy, just to be able to do my job. Many of the other Yurok employees have faced the same fight here in the office. Some of them quit because they felt they shouldnít have to fight the Tribe in order to work for the Yurok People. Some of them were fired for "insubordination" although they were dedicated employees and had done their jobs well. This has to change. We lose ground every time we lose a good employee.

As Tribal Council Chairperson, I would have a responsibility toward everything Yurok, and that includes the people, the river, the land and the sea. Only by involving ALL Yuroks in our tribal government will we become strong, healthy and wealthy again.

Copyright © 2000 Dale Ann for Yurok Chairperson, All Rights Reserved

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