January 27, 2007
To: Louise J. Ramirez, Alfonso Rodriguez, Rose Marie Miranda, Rich Rodriguez, Anthony Gomez, Vivian Rodriguez, Gary Martinez
From: Lorraine Escobar
Re: Dogs in a Manger and Indian Givers
I received your letters of January 2007 and October 2006. Those letters will be posted on www.esselennation.net along with my response (see the table of contents under 2007). My response is as follows:
First, I write to you as individuals because you signed your names to the letter dated January 2007. However, let me make it very clear – I do not recognize you as the OCEN tribal council. As far as I am concerned, the OCEN tribal government does not exist. It ceased to exist the minute the 2005 elected council bailed out on its constituents in action and in word.
Even when the elected Chair, Cari Herthel, tried desperately to get the support of the elected council, they opted to play political chairs instead of buckling down and doing the work. When someone else did the work for them, they behaved like dogs in a manger. “Someone who has a dog-in-the-manger attitude has something of value that he cannot or will not use himself but which he won’t let anybody else have either.”
When I was recently appointed in June 2006, I got the job done. 1) The newsletter was delivered. 2) The minutes for three meetings were written. 3) The unanswered enrollment queries were answered. And, 4) the tribal web site was established. Aside from Cari and Susan Morley’s work, no one else was doing what needed doing – no one. If you don’t believe me, read the minutes that are posted on-line. So despite the contributions I made, you all decide that it is a good idea to take back a proxy vote that was given in June 2006 and that act somehow undoes my temporary appointment? I already resigned on October 18 because I did not want to be held liable for mistakes that were being made. But, let’s keep going with this topic – it must be explored to be evaluated.
At that June meeting, neither Al Rodriguez nor Rich Rodriguez planned to attend. Gloria Ritter and Janette Ritter were also not planning to attend this meeting. Without proxy votes, no business could be conducted. With the upcoming tribal gathering and pending business, it was essential to make sure that proxy votes were collected. Each was called prior to the meeting and each willingly gave their proxy vote as we have done for years. (Anthony Gomez couldn’t be reached because he was going to be “unavailable” for four months.) And, now they claim that their votes were not used according to their understanding? So now they have taken their votes back and can undo all the work that was done? Think of the precedence this sets!
If proxy votes can be withdrawn, then we can withdraw the votes that elected Al and Rich into office and un-elect them. And then if we can do that, we can un-elect Janette and Gloria Ritter, and Rudy Rosales. With this kind of thinking, we could start a whole movement to withdraw all of the votes cast to elect the council in 2005! Just think – every law, every motion, every election could get UNDONE! What an absurd notion. Not only is this idea bad government, but whoever talked Al and Rich into "withdrawing" their proxy votes from the June OCEN Tribal council meeting made them look like true “Indian givers.” (I apologize for using that term but I have no other that works.)
You write to me as if I had committed some kind of unsavory action. Your terminology was that I was guilty of “adversarial communication.” I’m here to tell you that making public information public is not “adversarial” although it is “communication.” We have a non-profit and that entitles the public to know what is happening with the meetings.
The evidence is out there. Let the people make their own conclusions about what it means. It’s bad enough you won’t do the work and try to get rid of those who will do the work. And, now you want me to take the blame for something I did not do? I do not tell people what to think. I give them the evidence they need to make their own decisions. I don’t treat people like mushrooms (keep them in the dark and feed them fertilizer).
I say to you, blaming me, or even threatening me, will not clean up the mess you made. I am not your scapegoat and will not lie down while you try to make me one. I am warning you one time and one time only – leave me alone. After fifteen years of sacrificing so much of my time and resources on behalf of the tribe, I have earned the right to stop right here and right now.
The wishes of the tribal people must first be respected. Someday, there may be a legitimate tribal government once again but, as far as I am concerned, there is nothing except a whole long list of people who seem to care more about status and reputation than getting the job done and care little what injury they cause to others. What we tried to do in 1992 just didn’t work. Maybe someday, our future generations will figure out a way to bypass all the selfish and dysfunctional behaviors we are now seeing and focus on doing something positive for the whole tribe. So until that day happens, I am not releasing any private information to anyone, least of all, not you and certainly not to your designee.
Blowing out my candle will not make yours burn any brighter. If you hope to gain any respect from the tribe as a whole, work on your own reputation. Do good deeds. Show respect. Be accountable. Reach out. Follow through with your promises. Listen to the people. Appreciate what help you get. Make the best of every situation. Keep these things in mind as you ponder what to do next. Otherwise, all was for naught.
Lorraine Escobar, Co-Founder of Ohlone/Costanoan Esselen Nation (Named by her people as Inam Mec Tanotc), Tribal Member, Former elected Tribal Council Member, Former Tribal Vice-Chair, Former elected Chair, Former appointed Secretary, Former Tribal Historian, Former Acting Enrollment Secretary, Former Tribal Newsletter Editor, and appointed Tribal Genealogist