Representing the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes has been one of the greatest honors of my life. Throughout my eight years on the Tribal Council, I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people and work on issues that will have long lasting positive impacts for our tribes and community. These efforts could not have been accomplished without the support of our membership and our incredible team members who are committed to making our permanent homelands a better place.

The work of a Tribal Council member can be challenging, but the reward of seeing our efforts and hard work pay off have made it all worthwhile. Our mission and vision at CSKT are guided by our traditional principles and values. Adopting these principles into all facets of our government and embedding our traditional values and principles is how we serve our people. 

These principles have always guided my work because our traditions and values are critical in maintaining our very identity and existence as CSKT people. These core principles helped guide our Tribal Council in developing our seven policy initiatives. To integrate tradition and culture and language into our daily lives; and to focus on decreasing mental illness, homelessness, addiction, and food insecurity; while increasing earning opportunities and business ownership for our membership will provide a strong foundation for CSKT’s future.

The vision and foresight of our past and present leadership led to much success over my eight years on the Tribal Council. During that time, we were able to secure our water rights and a $1.9 billion dollar water settlement that included the historic restoration of the Bison Range back to our people. This was a monumental moment in our history that will have positive impacts for generations. But our work didn’t stop there. 

Our Council knew we had more work to do to protect the health and welfare of our people. It’s why we completed the nation’s first Tribal Community Response Plan through our Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Workgroup. It’s why we increased our efforts to combat Aquatic Invasive Species and protect our waters. It’s why we established the Cultural Waterways Ordinance and updated our lands and personnel ordinances. It’s why we reorganized our government to establish an executive team to help ensure that our long-term goals are at the forefront of our organization. And it’s why we fought for voting rights and decriminalized marijuana. It’s why we continue to work on transboundary issues that affect the lifeblood of Mother Earth, the waters that sustain us. It’s why we must continue to work on restoring buffalo to the landscape and salmon to the Columbia River Basin in the midst of climate change.

And the amazing thing is, we did much of this through a time of unrest and uncertainty during a global pandemic. To care for our community, we put our resources to work by leading the efforts on the reservation by establishing a unified incident command team with Lake County and providing COVID-19 testing and vaccines to the entire reservation community.

And although it is “see you later” for now, I will never forget the work we accomplished together and the important government relationships we developed. I will continue to be a changemaker and positive contributor to my community. Lemlmts for the opportunity to work for the people in this capacity. May our people be happy and healthy.

Keep the faith.

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