One of the first observations made of the Comanche people, by early European observers, was that the Comanche tribes and bands were never known to fight each other. They were fiercely independent from one another, but never fought amongst themselves. Perhaps it was because of their individualism and independence, even in small groups, that it was not necessary to fight one another.
Today, things are intensely different. The “impeachment” (or “recall”) meeting of April 5, 2011, when the chairman (Michael Burgess) and one committee member (Mark Wauahdooah) were removed from office was just a taste of more battles to come. The April 16, 2011 General Council meeting, the annual gathering of Comanches to nominate new officers, to approve the annual budget, and to consider new motions, new proposals, etc., was racked with irony and impropriety.
Vice-Chairman (temporary acting chairman) Richard “Bunky” Henson attempted to conduct the annual meeting in a way that was never done before, and gave no prior notice of this radical move. It offended the people, and the meeting was a complete failure, except for some nominations. The consideration of the budget was put to the very end, and the people were essentially not allowed to speak or to discuss anything. The meeting got out of control, and Bunky called the meeting off. A quick count of the number of people present was given as the cause of adjournment. There was no longer a quorum. However, when the video of the meeting is posted on ComancheMedia’s USTREAM, it will show that there is considerable doubt that the attendance count was accurate. The legal quorum is only 150 people. There appear many more.
Be that as it may, the budget was not approved by the General Counsel. This is the second year such circumstance was created by the Comanche Business Committee leaders. To all appearance, when the CBC knows the people have major objections or questions about the budget, the agenda is arranged so that the budget is put last on the program, when it is more than likely that none of it will be considered carefully, the day is late, and people are leaving. Thus, the budget will have to be approved, rearranged, or otherwise manipulated, by the CBC, and then voted on by the people in May. But the people will have had no say in what’s on the budget. The people can only vote “yea” or “nay” on each line item. Worse, the people are never assured just exactly what the votes were.
The elders tell me that this recent uprising in Comanche land is nothing compared to what happened in the ’70′s, when the meetings were more like a mass bar room brawl. Threats and physical violence were common, and some elders to day, who were young then, wonder if we’re not headed for the same kind of frustrations. The General Council meeting of April 16th saw a definite rise in heat.
There is an interesting “inside” commentary on the tribal office nominations posted on a YahooGroups “ComancheNationForums,” entitled, “Read, Weep, Or Stick Your Head In The Sand.” The Lawton Constitution posted a report as well: “Dissention Mars Tribal Meeting.”
It seems obvious that the new CBC style is to truncate disscussion, or to streamline tribal meetings. The people are diverse in opinion, and the leaders, traditionally and legal bound to consider tribal opinion, want to avoid the logistical burden of hearing out the tribal members–who often disagree. The CBC would like to operate independently, efficiently, and progressively, and the people drag the CBC down. The CBC wants to run the tribe. The Comanche Consitution says that the people run the tribe. This is the foundation of the dissent. Bunky’s attempt to change the whole process of the General Council did not work, and probably will never work. Once a year the people gather. To cut off their voices at that time is outrageous, and will not be soon forgotten.
Interestingly, recently ousted chairman Michael Burgess was present, and managed to publicly pointed out two corrections in the budget. But, as discussion began to open just slightly, Vice-chairman Bunky Henson closed it off. This was not the people’s meeting. This was a CBC obligatory exercise–yet it did not meet the most fundamental concept of the General Council meeting as prescribed in the Comanche Consitution. At was an attempt to streamline the process, so that the CBC was not burdened with the diversity of conflicting and opposing opinions of the Comanche people.
In the near future, BadEagle.com will offer suggestions which may be of some usefulness in the way of Comanche government. The cues for Comanche people should derive from the old days, the free days, and not from superimposed Bureau of Indian Affairs formulae designed in the 1930′s. There is indeed governance tradition that has evolved since the reservation days. Many Comanches live by this. BadEagle.com, however, will suggest concepts of intuition evident in the pre-reservation days, the free days. Comanche people are still Comanche, before or after the wars. We mustn’t allow 20th century traditions obscure our genetic coding.
In the meantime, we all suffer from attempts to rule ourselves by concepts which are foreign to us. The rule of the world is egotism and despotism. This wasn’t the original Comanche way, at all.
Eleanor McDaniel, the woman who led out in the efforts to reform the Comanche Business Committee, was in fact nominated to run for Chairman of the Comanche Nation. It should prove an interesting race. Probably, her only competition will be the elder, Rodrick Whitewolf, of an ancient, “royal” Comanche family.
Comanche, White Wolf, 1894.