by Ellen Thompson
Havre Daily News
ROCKY BOY'S INDIAN RESERVATION - The Rocky Boy tribal council will meet next week to fill in the details of a reorganized government structure.
The council decided this week, on a tie-breaking vote by chairman John "Chance" Houle, to eliminate council subcommittees. All nine council members will oversee every tribal program.
In the past, each subcommittee corresponded to a tribal program, and consisted of about five council members who reported to the full council when necessary. Tribal programs include health, law and order, housing, risk management, gaming and others.
"What did the people vote us in for?" Houle asked at Wednesday's council meeting. He said tribal members have shared a concern with him that council members are not involved in all tribal matters.
The current subcommittee chairs and vice chairs will retain their position and head discussions about their respective programs, but matters will be decided by the full council.
Houle proposed the change at a council meeting Wednesday. He said some subcommittees are overlooked, particularly housing, and that not all subcommittees are meeting once a month. The reorganization will also put more responsibility into the hands of department directors, he said.
Council member Jonathan Windy Boy said the proposed changes would amount to "micro-managing," although he eventually voted for them.
"I'm not ready for this change," council member Jake Parker said. "I think we'd be meeting too much."
Houle said the council should be meeting once a week. The tribe's constitution requires at least monthly meetings, but he said more meetings are needed.
Ricky Morsette, who joined the council after a special election in December, said he was left with the remaining subcommittee openings.
"I wanted to be involved in every aspect of tribal government and that includes all programs," he said.
Council members struggled through several votes to determine the scope of the change, deciding that it would not involve giving department leaders check-signing authority.
"No how, no way was this an effort for me to control all the boards," Houle said in an interview following the vote. "I'd be crazy to want to take on that responsibility."
Council vice chair Bruce Sunchild said he hopes the result of the change is that each tribal program is reviewed monthly.
"Somebody is supposed to produce a calendar (of monthly program meetings), and I haven't seen that yet," he said, adding that the council has had since November to organize that.
The council will meet Thursday to discuss the reorganization, Houle said.