An article that I read in a local newspaper last week touched my heart and left an impression on my mind that makes me cognizant of the role of a leader. There are a lot of different categories and titles for leadership styles, but Jim Rettew, Interim Executive Director at Environmental Volunteers, University of Pennsylvania, has coined a leadership style that makes one sit up and think. His leadership style is described as “love and leadership.” I am extremely fond of that concept, and I think many of our Citizen Potawatomi Nation Legislators ascribe to that leadership style. I truly believe our Legislators have the element of love in their leadership with their constituents — if love is there, leadership will fall into place. I believe that our Tribal leaders really care for our CPN families.
One of the top leaders in Oklahoma and within Indian County throughout the United States of America is Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett. I know that Chairman Barrett cares for his constituents deeply, or he would never have given so much of his life to the chairmanship for nearly 33 years. He has a tough job with a lot of decisions to make on a regular basis. The burden of CPN’s top elected official cannot be underestimated. It is a very serious process to be planning for future Tribal businesses and programs to help ensure financial soundness for a tribe with over 33,000 members.
More and more businesses are approaching our executive team in hopes of partnering under the Hearth Act, which our tribe signed in November 2013. This act authorizes tribes to negotiate and enter into leases without further approval by the Secretary of Interior. The act specifically authorizes tribes to execute agricultural and business leases of tribal trust lands for a primary term of 25 years and up to two renewal terms of 25 years each. It is this portion of the act that our officials have concentrated on in regard to future growth.
Many business inquiries come from CPN tribal members. Legislators want to see our own people prosper and grow their businesses, which is an example of how the love in leadership surfaces. One thing is for sure: we must decide where future Hearth Act businesses will be located. “Build it and they will come” is not an option. A lot of strategic planning is needed for successful businesses. As our Tribal population increases, there is more demand for revenue in providing scholarships, health services, housing and burial assistance. The love element surfaces, too, as Legislators strive to provide a satisfactory level of services.
The recipe for CPN’s financial success lies in the accelerated growth of successful businesses. The tribe has a vast stretch of land along McLoud Road, just north of our FireLake Express Grocery in McLoud, Oklahoma. That portion of Tribal trust land is perfect for the much-needed businesses in the McLoud area. There is also the Harrah/Choctaw area, where land can be purchased within CPN jurisdictional boundaries. Many state and community leaders believe that particular area is a hot spot for present and future businesses to thrive due to the planning process for a greatly publicized turnpike.
The above mentioned dilemmas on choosing the right locations are problematic and must be investigated to the utmost extent. In addition to the focus on new businesses, the Chairman must oversee the task of keeping our gaming facilities competitive and well-designed. He has to keep up with technology in the workplace, within the public works and utilities area and for the emerging energy projects that are planned at CPN. It is true that he has excellent directors in all the above mentioned departments, but final decisions fall on him to present to our Legislators.
Each prospective business type, size, infrastructure and location is vitally important to the tribe and surrounding communities. We depend on customers in the area to patronize our businesses; therefore, we must also concentrate on the needs of the community, which is actually a key to the planning process. A lot of decisions must be made in the near future in order for our tribe to develop to its greatest potential. The tribe is fortunate to have caring Legislators, including a dynamic Chairman, all who possess a component of love in their leadership style.
(Black Bird Woman)