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GUEST VIEW By Ross Johnson

Over the last two weeks and with the Niagara Falls Reporter finally learning about the serious nature of the Tuscarora Nation's lack of organized and public leadership, it brings to light the serious need for a new leadership.

My name is Ross Johnson Jr. I was also a member of the "Tuscarora Financial Advisory Committee," which was the "dog-and-pony-show" that the Pattersons and Leo Henry created to give some legitimacy to and was a prelude to the actions that have denied the Tuscarora money from their own people.

The problem here is the secrecy and non-public meetings that are held. Chief's Council meetings should be held where any member of the tribe can view the procedures and conversation -- unless you have something to hide, of course. Any organized, responsible form of government is held accountable to their people. Our current form of "government" is not held accountable to anyone, at least not yet.

Most Tuscaroras, as Ed Farnham stated, are kept in the dark concerning most if not all of the issues concerning the reservation, and that is the way they like it. As long as we have no idea, there will be no problems. Well, being on the Financial Advisory Committee, I can affirm that the numbers given to us were $21 million lump sum or around $55 million if it was to be taken in installments over the length of the agreement.

That in itself is a crime to the Tuscarora people, the fact that the Pattersons and Leo Henry were negotiating for $100 million and telling us $55 million. I truly believe that, if not for the Reporter, we still would not be aware of the true amount. I left the committee after a few meetings, when it became obvious that it was going nowhere, as we were frequently told that we were just an advisory committee and that the Chiefs would have final say over how the money was spent.

I believe the problem lies with unorganized leadership. As long as the current form of "government" is in place, we will continue to be kept in the dark about the nation's finances, allowing doubt to be cast on whether or not our money is being stolen.

Our current form of the Chief-style government was simply not prepared to handle a financial project of this size. The Chief-style system was set up so many years ago that it worked when your main source of buying and trading power was wheat, corn and squash. It does not work when a few people are handed $100 million.

I don't want to sound disrespectful when I talk about the Chief system of leadership. My grandfather, Tracy "Tine" Johnson Sr., was a Chief. Even though he died when I was only 6 years old, I still remember the passion and fire he had for his people.

Our current "Chiefs" and wannabe Chiefs don't have this same desire to lead -- they want control, something I'm personally not ready to give them, nor should any Tuscarora be ready to give them.

We need to modify our current form of government, whether it is a modified Chief system, or even electoral system. I mentioned the electoral type of system previously, and one of the fears was that it would jeopardize our sovereignty. The Senecas went to an electoral system long ago, and they have evolved into a strong sovereign nation, possibly the most recognized in New York state.

We can still keep our traditions and culture alive without a Chief system.

The Tuscarora people have long been fighting with the Chief problem that has finally come to light. My fear is that a lot of Tuscarora have given up their attempts to get our reservation back. We have no way of meeting together, since the buildings that we can meet in are controlled by the so-called Chiefs. They want to keep us like this so that they can remain in power.

People out here are afraid to speak and are in fear of having their electricity shut off or are afraid of repercussions from the "Chiefs" for speaking their mind.

My request is for our people to come together to fix this problem. We allow it to happen by doing nothing about it. We give them the control that allows them to instill that fear of having your utilities denied.

It's time for our people to step up and take control of our nation and government.

Our "Chiefs" have no idea how to lead; they don't want to lead. They want control -- control of your money, your utilities, your land.

If they wanted to be true leaders, they would make themselves accessible to our people. They would not treat our people like this. I remember when I heard they were worried that if money was given to the people they would just spend it on alcohol and drugs. That shows they are not leaders, they are dictators.

We need to be bolder in stepping up and getting our nation back, we can't be afraid anymore of speaking our mind. We need to start by getting together, speaking to each other.

I would like to try and organize this by inviting anyone with ideas to my home on Fridays between 1 and 4 p.m. Most of you know where I live. Come on over and let's get this started. If you can't stop by, please e-mail me at tcas1521@yahoo.com.

Everyone is invited to stop by, even the "Chiefs" and their supporters. We need to do this in order to stop a "regime" that has been in place far too long.

The only way to stop this is by stepping up and coming together. I'm done trying to avoid the Chiefs and their repercussions. Their dictatorship is about to end. It's time to be held accountable by your people. Go ahead and shut off my electricity, I'm ready for the fight.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com May 31, 2011