CSKT 2020 Winter Quarterly installs new Tribal Council Administration and Chair
PABLO — The New Year 2020 will serve as the metaphor for the new administration of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Tribal Council, said Chairwoman Shelly Fyant of the Arlee District. She was named the leader of the Flathead Nation governing body at the 2020 Winter Quarterly this past Friday. She will hold that position till the next election when the administration officers will be chosen again.
“With 2020 vision we can focus on accomplishing good things,” Fyant said. “I promise to work hard to bring the [CSKT] back to the [national] leadership position. We will leave our animosity at the door; our job is to work together for the membership.”
The newly elected Tribal Council Representatives, include: incumbent Dixon District Rep. Anita Matt; Hot Springs District Rep. Michael Dolson, who replaces Leonard Gray who did not seek reelection; St. Ignatius District Rep. LeEllen “Ellie” Bundy McLeod, who replaces former Chair Ronald Trahan who did not seek reelection; Pablo District Rep. Martin Charlo who topped Dennis Clairmont by one vote; and former and now Arlee District Rep. James “Bing” Matt who topped Myrna Dumontier.
They join incumbents: Ronan District Rep. Carole Lankford; Elmo District Rep. Leonard TwoTeeth; Polson District Rep. Charmel Gillin; and St. Ignatius District Rep. D. Fred Matt; as well as Arlee District Rep. Shelly Fyant who is now Flathead Nation Chair.
Anita Matt was named vice-chair; Bundy McLeod the secretary; and Charlo the treasurer.
The choice of the leaders of the Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai people seemed to be a generational change with the election of new members and the choice of the executive leadership.
Following the swearing in and naming of the executive officers an Honor Song was done by the Red Horn Drum.
“Today, I’m happy to see you all here,” said Pend d’Oreille Elder Stephan SmallSalmon of the crowd of more than 60 people. “I hope to see you all here next year.”
He expressed the urgent need to revitalize the Salish and Kootenai tribal languages and thanked the Tribal Council for its support and encouraged them to attend the Salish-Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai Culture Committee Elders Committee meetings.
SmallSalmon also promoted the upcoming showing of the film “The Last Beyond” in which he has a prominent part. It was filmed 14 years ago and was recently shown in Bozeman and Hollywood, and in Russia. It will be shown at the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest in Polson Showboat Cinema at 6 PM, Friday, January 24. Director Graham DuBose and SmallSalmon will be on hand and will conduct a post screening press session.
Louie Caye, Jr. offered his thanks to outgoing Tribal Council members and addressed the new Tribal Council.
“People come here because they have put their faith in you. They’re going to be walking with you; we’ll be behind you guys,” Caye said. “I am pretty proud and happy today at what I see. With new faces come new ideas. Take new ways, that’s what I’m looking for."
Caye advised the Tribal Council members to be cognizant of the memberships’ numerous concerns as they the foundation of the tribal government.
Tribal Council Updates
Lankford said she was joyful for the peaceful transition of the tribal government. “We want to make sure we have a united front moving forward. There are big issues we are facing,” she said. The issues she mentioned included the Flathead Nation Federal Reserved Water Rights Compact, reapportionment, updates of tribal laws, and land and personnel ordinances, among others. “We want to bring them up to date.”
Charlo said the Tribal Council needs to work as one to be able to accomplish the needs of the Flathead Nation and its membership. “We will always remember our constituents, our bosses. That is you out there,” he said.
Bing Matt said he was surprised about being elected back on the Tribal Council but is happy to be back to do the work for the people. “There’s a lot of work to be done out there,” he said. “There has been a lot of negativity out there about the Tribal Council the last four years. I want to bring stability back here, that’s what I really want to do. I hope we take that step forward.”
Bundy-McLeod said it was a great privilege to be entrusted with the service for the people. “I will always, always welcome your thoughts and opinions,” she said.
Anita Matt thanked the membership for their confidence in her by reelecting her to carry on the work for the membership.
Fred Matt, who first served on the Tribal Council beginning in 1985, said the Tribes have to, at times, make deals with the federal government and others that on the face might look bad. That included the latest interactions with the Trump Administration that addressed the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People and the Federal Reserved Water Rights Compact that included the return of the National Bison Range to the Flathead Nation.
Matt said some of the greatest federal acknowledgement of tribal rights have been under Republican Administrations, including President Richard Nixon with the 1975 Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. It laid the foundation of the tribal self-governance that the Flathead Nation has been on the forefront of administrating and benefitting from. And now the Trump Administration who along with the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior is on board with the FRWR Compact.
“Some folks are wondering what’s going on dealing with folks with baggage,” Matt said. “We will work with any administration to forward our needs. These things are big events in our history that I’m real proud of.”
Gillin said the goal of the new Tribal Council was to put the past acrimony in the rearview mirror and move forward positively for the betterment of the Tribes and its members. “I hope we can make the decisions that move us forward,” she said, adding that the 30 percent voter turnout was something that needed to be improved. “We have to open up ways of communication with the membership, not everyone can be here. And we need to work hard on improving tribal election turnout.”
TwoTeeth said he is looking forward to working with the new and old Tribal Councilmembers. “The past year has been very trying and the tribal membership is going through some trying times,” he said. “I look forward to working for them.”
Part two of 2020 Winter Quarterly will be the next issue of Char-Koosta News.