SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


By Charles Edwardson


January 14, 2011
Friday PM

I served four years on the tribal council, including two years as treasurer, and have worked with training our members in the construction field for about a decade. My biggest concern then, as it is now, is that our tribal members only get involved about election time. I KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE, I MISSED ONE MEETING IN FOUR YEARS. THERE WAS RARELY IF EVER MORE THAN A COUPLE PEOPLE IN THE AUDIENCE UNLESS WE WERE FIRING SOMEONE. And the information they are voting on is based only on sound bites they hear from random run-ins with candidates seeking election.

The SAME TIRED OLD ACCUSATIONS AND rhetoric is always the same... TRIBAL COUNCIL SPENDS TOO MUCH on travel stipends and per diem. For the members benefit, the tribal council budget is out of a separate budget than our other programs, it doesn't affect the services we are required by law to provide. The budget it comes out of for council activities is called tribal operations. This budget rarely gets over-spent. IF IT DOES GET OVER SPENT WE ADD MORE OUT OF OUR GENERAL FUND OUT OF UNRESTRICTED which is a fund made up out of interest earned on investments, and in fact council supplements other programs on occasion due to its unrestricted nature.

Ketchikan Indian Community recently had a McDowell study done (a financial analyst firm) to evaluate our organization. What we found through this very intensive study, is that we pump 31 million dollars into this community annually in salaries, goods and services and support from vendors, with an additional 14 million in construction projects over the last several years with all local subcontractors and vendors.

The reason KIC has been able to maintain this kind of impact on our economy year after year is that we have a tribal council willing to take the criticism and unfounded accusations of elaborate trips to Vegas and that they are living large off of the tribe. And despite this attack by some misinformed members, they show up day in and day out for months even years on end. I don't see a single one of our council driving around in a Bentley or lavishing gifts on any one due to a surplus of cash, in fact every one of them either works seasonally or full time even if they are retired they serve our community in addition to working in their private lives at least 16 to 20 hours a week in council committee meetings to help you all.

Even those that may want to complain about this or that, I would invite any member to attend at least four council meetings and stay through the whole thing and try to grasp what it takes to run the seventh largest employer in the region. We have a housing authority, we run a clinic, we run our own education department, contract health services, veterans programs, college student housing, drug and alcohol prevention programs, construction training programs, summer youth programs, college tuition - just to name a few and that takes a lot of time. Don't get me wrong, our council is not made up of saints, nor are they made up of villains trying to deprive you of your services, this and past councils are made up of someone's KIDs, INLAWs, OR COUSINs -- not really what KIC stands for but I try to keep it light some times.

Give yourselves a break and the people running out of true compassion for their tribal members. There is no conspiracy to deprive anyone of the good services, we are all privileged to have (by no means are they perfect in every way but were would we all be without those services).

Believe me if they're running for some misguided idea of riches and glory they will be sorely disappointed. I applaud everyone who runs for KIC council, city council, borough assembly. I rarely agree with everyone but I try not to ever disrespect the person.

Charles Edwardson
Ketchikan, AK

About: "Concerned about tribal members not getting involved"

Received January 14, 2010 - Published January 14, 2011



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