Opinion-More at Stake than Money
By BYRON NELSON JR., Vice Chairman of the Hoopa Valley Tribe
Some people will agree that there is a group of Tribal Members, small in number, willing to discard tribalism for individual gain for less money than the price of a new car.
Tribalism makes us what we are. It’s a consciousness and loyalty to the people as a whole, with less emphasis on the individual. Without that belief and concept, we no longer exist as a tribe, and if that happens, we may as well assimilate into the greater society.
This settlement money will be the last windfall the tribe will see in a great while. With the drastic decline in the value of our timber and the expected cutbacks in Federal funding, tough times are surely ahead. Now is the time to shore up programs that support the most vulnerable.
Many elders, due to lack of jobs over the years, have little or no retirement funds or any substantial Social Security benefits to draw down. We must endow the monthly elder payment program to ensure its continuance over the years, and to increase the amount to no less than $500 per month. The youth also should be assured that the scholarship money will be there when they get ready to head off to college. An endowment for that program would guarantee it well into the future. Through a strict endowment procedure, both of these two programs would be locked down and the money could not be used for anything else. These two programs are examples of true tribalism and protect the groups of people that we hold close to our hearts.
In keeping with the letter you received in the mail under my signature, I do support a large pay out to the people and putting 100% of the children’s money into their IIM account in addition to endowing these programs.
So please do not let a small group of people convince you that individual greed should over- ride our basic beliefs.