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Rebuttal to David Wilkins

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David Wilkins makes pertinent observations on the relationship of today’s 566 federally recognized Indian Nations and its struggle to balance its tribal citizenship rolls (Auditing Tribal Sovereignty, August 11).

But his assumption that third-party entities hired by tribes to assist in tribal enrollment audits are unfitting and with foul-intention is sorely under-informed and thus, misleading.

Professor Wilkins attempts to argue that my company, of which I am President, along with several other for-profit firms are “generally more committed to revenue generation than indigenous nation membership clarification.” For the record, my company is called Creating Stronger Nations, not Constructing Stronger Nations, as Wilkins erroneously stated. Secondly, CSN, Inc. and its partner company DCI America have been working closely with tribes and their communities for nearly a quarter century—well before promises of casino riches emerged in Indian country.

While I cannot speak for the motives of other businesses, I am committed to working with a team of tribal government experts who know what it’s like to work in the tribal trenches; who live in tribal communities; who are indigenous both in heritage and of mind.

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For Wilkins to suggest that even Native-owned companies are somehow less qualified in fixing centuries-old systems of tribal injustice is quite simply contradictory and insulting. His views also undermine the business decisions of tribes themselves in insinuating that they function irrationally or without direction for what is best for the future of their Indian Nations.

For any tribe that wishes to conduct an enrollment audit for all the right reasons, bravo to them and bravo to the notion of tribal sovereignty.

The whole purpose of tribal sovereignty and self-governance is to make those decisions without interference from outside agencies, consulting companies or even scholars.

James Mills was the Administrator of a large teaching Medical Center in New York. Mills’ extensive experience in non-profit financial and administrative positions was a great beginning to a career in Indian country, which has been progressing for more than 24 years. Mills has become the number one trainer and technical support provider of Tribal Enrollment, Leadership for Tribal Councils and Robert’s Rules for Tribal Boards. Mills has assisted scores of tribes in writing and developing their enrollment ordinances as well as their tribal constitutions and by-laws. As the President of the Consortium of Native American Parliamentarians, Mills has been contracted by tribal organizations as an objective moderator on a variety of controversial and challenging issues within their communities. Mills served as the Chairman of the Tribal Enrollment Advisory Committee for the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe from 1998-2000. He also served on his local school board from 1991-1993. Mills serves as the Chairman of CSN’s Audit Team, an independent committee of enrollment professionals. Mills established DCIAmerica in 1990 and CSN in 2008.