New council members sworn in at quarterly
By Lailani Upham
New and incumbent members of the Tribal Council were sworn in at the Winter Quarterly. Front, from left are: Carole Lankford, Len Two Teeth, Shelly Fyant, Vernon Finley and Patty Stevens. Back, from left are: Lloyd Irvine, Ron Trahan, Leonard Gray, Bing Matt and Terry Pitts. (B.L. Azure photo)
PABLO — Smiles, hugs and handshakes took over the room during the break following the swearing in of the four newly elected Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council members at the Friday Quarterly meeting.
Tribal elections were completed in December.
Shelly Fyant, won the district seat for Arlee; Len Two Teeth is the new Elmo Representative; Vernon Finley fills the Polson District seat; and Patty Stevens is now the St. Ignatius Representative. CSKT Ronan Representative Carole Lankford was the only incumbent to be reelected.
After three rounds of tied voting Ron Trahan and Vernon Finley decided to Sarah Palin it with each serving a half term as leader of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes governing body. (B.L. Azure photo)
The newly elected female officials are second-generation council members; both Fyant and Stevens’ fathers served as well.
Fyant stated during the meeting her focus is to take a look at tribal enrollment reform and electoral reform. She also stated the vital need to examine the meth and suicide problems arising on the Reservation community.
Newly elected Polson District Representative Tribal Councilmember Vernon Finley receives a hug. Elected tribal council officials were greeted by community members with smiles, hugs and handshakes, during the mid-morning break. (Lailani Upham photo)
“There is not an issue that can’t be solved if we don’t go back to our roots and culture.”
She stated the key is strong family values and assuring that a care for the people and families will lend a hand in many answers “falling into place.”
Fyant said she will have an office housed in Arlee soon at the Arlee Fitness Center where folks are welcome to drop and is convenient for Arlee residents.
Two Teeth stated he was grateful for the opportunity to serve however, at the present time he felt the heaviness of the community losses of many families in the recent weeks and months.
Stevens echoed the empathy of loss in the community.
Folks whiz through the crowd to greet elected officials. Newly elected Elmo Representative Leonard Two Teeth reaches for a handshake. (Lailani Upham photo)
Stevens stated, “My heart is always thankful for my people. We must never give up and be careful for our children and our elders. I’m doing my best for them and want to serve all of you while working with everyone else.” She added her appreciation to the previous council members for their time in the seats, “I also want to thank Joe, Steve, Jim, and Reuben for their service.”
Newly elected St. Ignatius Representative Tribal Councilmember Patty Stevens is greeted by cousin and Salish Kootenai College President Robert DePoe III. (Lailani Upham photo)
Finley acknowledged the cooperation of state, county, and tribal law enforcement for the recent funeral processions from St. Ignatius to Elmo and said he hope to see the cooperation continue within the Reservation boundaries.
He also thanked the voters and said he looked forward to the move ahead – together.
Mission District Councilman Ron Trahan and newly elected Polson District Councilman Vernon Finley deadlocked 5-5 votes in each of the three rounds of voting. Trahan and Finley agreed to split the term of chairman so that each would serve one year. Trahan will serve the first as chair then Finley will serve the second year. (B.L. Azure photo)
Officers are customarily elected at the January quarterly meeting following the elections. A Council Chair is selected every two years by the 10-members of Council.
Council members Ron Trahan and Vernon Finley who vied for the Chairmanship both received five votes in a process done before a crowded Council Chambers. After three rounds of voting, the tally remained at 5-5. After some deliberation, Council supported the idea of allowing the two to split the two-year Chair duties into one-year terms.
After the third round of voting for the chair position newly elected Polson District Councilman Vernon Finley and Mission District Councilman Ron Trahan agreed to spit the two-year term and each will serve one year as chair. Trahan first, then Finley. (B.L. Azure photo)
Serving immediately will be Chairman Ron Trahan, who has served 10 years on council. In 12 months, newly elected Councilman Vernon Finley will become Chair for a one-year term.
Lankford, the longest, continuous-serving member on Council, was re-elected as Vice-Chair.
TwoTeeth was elected for Treasurer.
Arlee District Representative James “Bing” Matt was elected to serve as Secretary.
Salish drum group Yamncut singers offer the people an honor song at the first quarterly of the year. (Lailani Upham photo)
Lankford was handed time on the mic as a reelected official and stated during her last term she was able to get to know the people of the community a bit more. She said she does take the service very serious and will continue to work hard for the people.
One speck of wisdom she picked up on was the ability to say, “No” when needed. “Because when you are always there for some people you can damage them more then help.” She said to be able to show and encourage people to learn to achieve things on their own it does so much for an individual.
Her input on working together as a council is to always listen when the people speak and to be able to “agree to disagree.”
(L to R) The 10Sticks Lacrosse team receive the Chairman’s Youth Award: Ambrose Brown, Albert “Al” Plant III, Mariam Branson, Daniel Lafanier, and Michael Brown. The team received third place at the Montana State Lacrosse Tournament and also won the Best Sportsmanship Award in 2013.
Lankford stated she appreciates and is humbled at the opportunity to serve another term and stated she wished both chairpersons well.
According to the CSKT Communication office, key issues for Council in the next two years pertain to the successful acquisition of the Kerr Dam hydroelectric facility and the approaching 2015 deadline to file water rights claims unless the water rights compact is embraced by the State Legislature. Language, culture, and natural resource management will also be key areas of focus.