As you may have heard, Brothertown Indian Nation elections have been postponed until June. Ballots will be going out in the mail shortly. Be sure to mark your choices and return your ballot by the date provided in your packet.
Brothertown Forward’s Meet The Candidates forum really helped citizens get to know the candidates and understand their vision for the Tribe. Notably, almost all are multi-generational Brothertown volunteers. Here is a list of openings and those running for them:
3 nominees are running for the 2 open Council positions: Skip Blanc (incumbent), Erin Farris-Olsen, and Tad Delude. Below, please find bios for those who chose to make their information available here:
“I appreciate the opportunity to announce my candidacy for Brothertown Indian Nation Tribal Council. In 2019, my two children were enrolled in our Nation and I never could have envisioned the fire that ceremony lit within me to be more involved and supportive of my children and their cousins as they start their journeys as Brothertown.
Over the years, I have desired to be more involved in our tribal issues. After attending the tribal council meeting in October 2019, I better understood the limited capacity of our tribal government. From my experience, in order to be more involved, it’s not enough to wait for the right moment or opportunity. Sometimes, you just have to jump in.
My background is in non-profit and government program management, conservation, law,
and rural economic development. I am called to leadership because of my visionary tendencies and passion for putting good ideas to action.
My past volunteer efforts for our Nation include assisting on a committee designed to respond to our federal recognition issues in 2009. Recently, I enjoyed helping plan the 2019 Pacific Northwest Gathering and the origination of the Brothertown Department of Natural Resources.
As a tribal council person, I will listen to other council persons and the members and work with other council persons to continue to build the strength of our Nation. Specifically, I care about restoring our sense of community, achieving federal recognition, and exercising our sovereignty.
I would like to apply my skills in organizational management to enhance our financial practices to include annual budgeting and reporting to our membership. I would also like to apply my legal and policy background on our federal recognition effort. Finally, I will be on the lookout for opportunities for members like myself, who would like to be more engaged, to learn more, and to practice our culture. Sharing points of access that will strengthen our community so that future generations never have to question the validity of their heritage.
I am a proactive and energetic spirit and my desire is to make my grandmother proud and be a valuable resource to our Nation, present and future. I hope that my diverse background will be uniquely helpful in serving our members and fulfilling the Council’s responsibility to govern many aspects of our Nation’s affairs.”
You can learn more at Erin’s website: https://www.erinnuwisuwok.com/
“Hello, my name is Tad Delude. I’m a descendent of Lucy Skeesuck, a Narragansett, and Cyrus Welch. I first became interested in our tribe after listening to my grandfather, Dennis Gramentz, tell me about our history. I watched his involvement with the tribe as a former Council Member, Enrollment Chairman, and Peacemaker.
My grandfather grew up in Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Some members of our tribe migrated to Minnesota in search of better land in the late 1800’s. This is how my grandfather originated in Redwood Falls and how many other members of our tribe were spread throughout the Union. My mother, Theresa Delude, married my father, Stephen, and moved to Des Moines, Iowa for my dad’s career, where I was born and raised, along with my two brothers. Later, my grandparents, late uncle, and aunt moved to central Iowa to be closer to family.
I graduated from Des Moines Christian and majored in Political Science at Iowa State University. I have an IT background and run a small videogame 501(c)(3). I pursued political science instead of a harder science because reading, writing, and speaking are not my natural strong points. I was born with the gift of being more technically inclined and enjoy navigating complex systems of any sort. I consider myself an avid learner.
I suffer from severe Crohn’s disease, which I was diagnosed with at age 11. I was on IV nutrition for over 130 days with no food or drink while waiting for a surgery in 2008. My experiences with health issues have taught me to always try to keep life in balance, while maintaining an open mind. Over the years, I became thankful that I had to endure these hardships and will continue to endure them, for without these experiences, I’d be half the person I am today.
After my ordeal with my last bowel resection, I entered the realm of sport skydiving. I’ve been a licensed skydiver and a local skydiving club member for over a decade. Participation in our club meetings has given me first-hand experience in how to run an effective organization composed of diverse personalities. The skydiving world is not that different from being involved in a big extended family, like our tribe. Sometimes, there are various factions that arise over time, but it’s important to remember that we all generally have the same interests at heart.
I believe it’s important to preserve our past, and in order to do that, it will take more young people getting involved within the tribe. I think the modern world is full of things for young people to spend their time on, and as a result, interest in our tribe is declining. Many of us are spread throughout the country, seeking jobs or following their families. I believe we need to focus on bringing everyone back together as a tribe if we hope to survive in the future. We don’t have any federal benefits that bind us together like other tribes do, so it’s up to us to figure out ways to incentivize members to stay engaged, even when we are remote from each other.
As a tribe, we have been facing some important issues, which are currently hot topics of dispute. Specifically, our Red Tagged Files have continued to keep our rolls closed, we have not made any major headway on pursuing an Act of Congress for federal recognition, and government transparency is still not at a level where it probably should be. I don’t believe anyone is to blame for these things, but I do think that this is something we should be aggressively pursuing. I intend to serve more as a listener and a steward than as someone who wants to decide our future. I think whatever we decide to do, it must be done in the spirit of the tribe as a whole.
In closing, I want to make it clear that I am not running to make a name for myself, but rather, I want our tribe to continue progressing far into the future. That is my intent and what I aim for if I am elected.
Thank you for joining me in my thoughts. I hope to hear yours as well. Feel free to reach out to me in any way you like. I enjoy hearing other’s reflections and opinions.
Skip Blanc: Incumbent Skip Blanc did not attend Brothertown Forward’s Meet the Candidates event and did not respond to requests for a bio or photo to post here, but he is planning to run. Please check your voting packet for more information on this candidate.
The Secretary position, which is both a Council and Officer position, is also open but, so far, no one is running for this spot. If you’d like to run as a write-in candidate, please let me know and I’d be happy to help spread the word.
There are 2 men running as write-in candidates for the one Peacemaker position. Please write in 1 of their names on your ballot. Here is more about them:
Elder Steven Bissell:
I’m Steve Bissell, descended from the ancestry of Clarissa J. Johnson. I am throwing my hat in the ring for the Peacekeeper position at this election time.
I have a DVD of my election platform, which members may receive free by requesting it at my E-mail address: indianboy_whitehawk at yahoo.com, or by sending me a note to Converse Access television, PO Box 1314, Converse, Texas 78109. Just let me know where to send your DVD copy.
One thing that would help with inter-tribal communications would be a membership directory. Request and watch the DVD.
A historic documentary about the BIN could be produced with the DVD offered for sale in the BIN gift shop.
These are a few of the ideas to raise funds for the preservation of the Brothertown spirit. Please vote for me and I pledge to do my best as a Peacekeeper.
Steve Bissell, Elder
Mikel (Mike) Elsen:
“My name is Mikel Elsen and I am asking for your write in vote for Peacemaker. I believe that I am qualified for this position because of my vast experience of building relationships, being inclusive of others and negotiating with various stakeholders.
I have been a supervisor of eight people in the environmental public health sciences for a Washington state agency for 15 years and have been the director of nearly eighty people in that office for the last three years. In these positions, I set policy and have to interpret federal and state laws and regulations, policy, and guidance. Personal accountability, integrity, building relationships and inclusiveness have all contributed to the successful negotiations involving operations and environmental remediation of major facilities. In these negotiations, I have employed a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving and decision-making, having to balance the interests of my agency, affected Tribes, and licensees.
I am a descendant of Lucinda Brushel. Additionally, my mother Renona Welch Elsen was a past member of the tribal council and worked on re-recognition efforts for the tribe.
Thank you for your consideration.”
Who has my vote? Our young Council candidates who not only have a drive and fire for the Tribe but have clear cut ideas for seeing Brothertown through the next 7 generations as a stronger, better, more vibrant, and more cohesive community. My Council vote is for Erin Farris-Olsen and Tad Delude.