The Potential by nuhman10


									                                        The Potential

                        “There is no greater burden than potential”
                                                       - Charlie Brown

         I want to define for you in this commentary the word “Potential.” Potential:
aptitude; capability; possibilities that exist; the unused or untapped energy and success
in a person, place, or thing. I personally believe the tragedies of the “Reservation” life
can be traced to the unused energy or untapped potential of the land and the people. Our
“economic repression” which is the cause of our high unemployment and poverty rate
has caused many adults to fall victim to an “idle addiction.” This is a term I have made
up to help us understand the economic situation within the tribe. Let me define it for you.
Idle Addiction: A situation denying principles of progress which causes uncontrolled or
intemperate behavior and dependence.
         You may ask how this is so. From my observations much of our unemployed
population is between the ages of 30 and 40 year olds. Thank God for American social
security or that age range would go well into the senior members of the tribe. A startling
statistic came out some years ago about a high percentage of Reservation Indians not
reaching half the national average in life span, compared to the life span of American
people which is about 88 years old. Those results are shocking. This study has concluded
that a number of our Mescalero Apache fellow tribal members are not expected to live
past 40 years of age and mostly because of addictive behavior. My argument is that this
addictive behavior is encouraged by an inactive economy.
         According to the last US census that rate has not changed much. Unfortunately, I
did not have to have statistics reveal this fact to me. I am presently 39 years old and I
have lost more friends due to alcohol and drugs than I can count on both my hands and
feet and they were all about forty years old or younger. This should speak to us about our
situation. This should cause us to be concerned about how we can affect a positive
change for our people.

                                  Social Economic Environments

         I am presently unemployed, and yes, I admit it was because of immoderate
behavior, it’s a personal thing I’m working on it. I am realizing now how it is nearly
impossible to find any work for myself at my age here on the “Rez.” Much of the jobs
within the tribe are given to the younger generation so they may experience some of the
rewards money can bring and that’s good. But what I also see is some of the people my
age who cannot find a job have just “given up” and resorted wholly to addictive behavior.
To be honest, if it wasn’t for the support of the church I would be doing the same thing.
         In consideration of our present situation, I must say I appreciate the Tribe for
instituting the “hiring preference for tribal members” but I still see a discrepancy and it is
in the contrast of social economic environments. To me it appears the management of our
tribal enterprises has set the standards of employment so high as to eventually exclude a
tribal membership employment (not intentionally). Much of these working standards
were created from the angle of a society with a much stronger economic environment, the
American economic environment (American = many sources of income). Our tribal

members who battle personal “issues” lose their job and for a whole year are unable to
get rehired at the tribal enterprises (their only source for income). Much of these job
losses are due to the fact that tribal members don’t posses the incentive for promotion or
the inspiration to seek a passive income or to “get ahead” financially. The management of
our “only source of income” the tribal enterprises, should understand that “American
private financial opportunity” presently does not exist within the tribal economic
environment. I also believe, these “issues” that contributed to a job loss were caused by
an “idle addiction” related to the economics of the tribe and have been “handed down”
for years. Yes, some of it was pure irresponsibility, but let’s give the benefit of the doubt;
the statistics are against all of us.

                             Now Hiring Dishwashers!!! …in Ruidoso

        My question is: Where else are these tribal members going to find work? The
American society of nearby Ruidoso (20 miles away!) has private businesses that can
offer employment to their applicants but here in Mescalero we have no such assurance. In
American society (not the Reservation) more than 85% of the American job market is
provided in private businesses. That means most of the American labor force work for
privately owned and operated businesses or corporations. We have no opportunities for
privatization established within our Tribal nation and that means we would not be able to
offer (potentially more than half of) the people here work if the tribal government won’t
hire them.
        As for myself and the many other Apaches who have lost their job we simply
have no where to go for work. Last I heard our Mescalero Apache tribal enterprises were
offering the best employment benefits in the state of New Mexico next to the US military.
I’m sure many good neighboring people wouldn’t mind traveling the 30+ miles to work
where I should be working for those benefits and won’t lose the job. So what does that
mean to me? I wonder if I will even have a job a year from now.
        This economic disparity does reveal itself in our financial arrangements with
banks, loan companies, and even pawn shops. What kind of oversight is actually taking
place so that those who are actually at an economic disadvantage can get an intelligent
defense? If our leaders can’t approach the real problems they should at least provide
some kind of defense against this economic encroachment. I believe a defense is
absolutely necessary in this type of situation for we who are bound to the “grassroots”
level. But I would suggest the Tribe start by getting the State of New Mexico’s nose out
of our casino and resort business. I hear State NM is firing tribal people in our resort for
breaking their laws.

                                           A Contribution

        Personally, work is not the way to “a better life” for me, it is an honest element to
success, but I refuse to accept it as “success” itself, but that’s just me (I did say
“Personally” didn’t I?) I personally believe contribution is the way to a better life. But if
you don’t have “more than enough” to contribute from, you can’t and won’t contribute.
Our tribal economy restricts this opportunity of having “more than enough” preventing a
significant personal financial contribution to aid in the combat of our social problems.

Our young people could use a place to gather, play games, and have fun together with
people their age instead of hanging out at a multimillion dollar casino and being exposed
to the indulgent, unrestricted qualities of adult entertainment. Thank God it isn’t like
Vegas where they peddle porn at the doors. Our tribe has no money to build such a
facility for young people and if they do let’s hope they don’t build it near “Bigfoot’s
         I lived in Las Cruces, NM for a year and I witness several parks and entertainment
facilities targeted specifically for young people to spend their time. Most of these
facilities were built by private contributions. People who had their own private business
made so much money that they had to give back to their society and build these facilities
for their youth. Facilities with video games, techs, concerts and activities all for free, and
I did see some exciting ones if you ask me. Whenever you are in Las Cruces visit one of
these places and see for yourself what people would like to provide for their youth. They
are making it happen! I wonder what the people of Mescalero would do for their young
people, if we had a private opportunity scenario to draw from.

                                            They Know

        All this information about economic freedom, sovereignty, and our relationship
with the state, tribe, and federal government may have caught some people of guard. But
I know it hasn’t caught our 200 year old American government of guard. If you think
about the process and experiences of the American development of freedom from the
time of the pilgrims until now, you could probably calculate within that development they
are prepared for the potential arguments for nationalism and the economic freedom of
American tribal people. I would suppose that none of the things that I have been
discussing with you people by these commentaries have come as a surprise to the Interior
Department of US government. If I remember correctly that is the Department that
exercises interest in American Indian relations. They know. I believe they are just waiting
for an appropriate and intelligent approach from an American tribal people to appeal for
their economic freedom. It hasn’t happened yet or we would have known I suppose.
        I am going to list a number of things to stimulate your interest in issues that would
be discussed for a nation to nation relationship with America. This is just to get you
thinking. I’m going to talk about these things, if I already haven’t talked about them, in
coming commentaries. I think these are very relevant issues to tribal sovereignty and our
relationship with America. In this writing I will make little or no comment about these
issues but just to mention them. I don’t intend to mention everything because I don’t
know everything and never will know everything, even when I’m dead and gone to
heaven I still won’t know everything, only God knows everything.
        The issues are: Universal Suffrage, Currency, Border Expansion, Anti-trust
Sovereignty, Armament treaty, Taxes, Market relations, Solidarity, Treaty Constitution,
Embassy relations, Civil and Human Rights, Nationalism, and …maybe a loan.
        Now, I am going to list a number of things to stimulate your interest in issues that
would be discussed with our Tribal government.
        The issues are: Everything mentioned above plus: Separation of Tribal business
corporation from the Tribal government, the introduction of the tax paying tribal citizen
(a non-tribal member) of course we all will be paying taxes, indiscriminate privatization

of Tribal property, Tribal government to tribal member relations, Tribal government to
tribal citizen relations, Free Market economy, and Tribal government structure.


        Realizing our potential is discovering the power of the life in us. We don’t have to
live feeling “short changed” or “cut out of the loop” or we don’t have to die at forty (40)
years of age. We possess the power to make choices to change our future, relax no one is
going to make you make those choices but… it is up to your sovereign self.
        I have heard it said “Idleness is the devils workshop.” I do think we as a society
have the responsibility of taking preventative measure against negative behavior.
Becoming aware of some of the causes is a start. Let’s take away the chance for people to
blame our tribal economy for their demise.
        We should try to learn and understand the economic differences between the
American society and our present Tribal society. I think if we understand this difference
we can make better decisions about our treatment of others and our own people.
        Our solution is not in the federal government, the state of New Mexico, the Tribal
government or even in privatization, I personally believe it is in the potential generosity
of common people who want money for the right reasons.
        I like to believe America is ready to work with Tribal people for an economic
freedom and sovereignty. They should be prepared for it; after all it is their idea.

        “When we cease to contribute we begin to die.”
                                          - Eleanor Roosevelt

                                              Frederick Kanesewah


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