By Cedric Cromwell
When people ask me why I want to be chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, my first and best answer is that I have the passion, desire, and qualifications to do the job and will do it with honesty, integrity and respect for the whole tribe.
I just don't talk the talk, I live and breathe being a MashpeeWampanoag with all of my heart and spirit from the day I was born andwill continue through to the day that I reach the spirit world.
As the proud son of Constance "Lone Eaglist" Tobey-Cromwell, a Mashpee Wampanoag, and James Cromwell, a Mohawk and Mic Mac, I am deeply rooted in tribal tradition. I have been involved in tribal affairs both political and cultural since I was a child on my mother's lap at council meetings and became a traditional Eastern war dancer at powwows. I am an active member of the Eastern Sons drummers and singers, performing at powwows and tribal socials throughout the region.
With degrees in management and community planning as well as computer information systems, I have over a decade of corporate experience managing multi-million dollar financial portfolios. I also have more than eight years of experience as a Wampanoag Tribal Council member and I am eager to apply this knowledge and these skills to help advance our nation building. But the key to my leadership will be having respect for our traditions and making sure the tribe comes first.
I am a Mashpee Wampanoag tribal leader that is successful in the business world while always living the Native way of life. I can provide the best of both worlds as chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. I just don't talk the talk, I live and breathe being a Mashpee Wampanoag with all of my heart and spirit from the day I was born and will continue through to the day that I reach the spirit world.
This is a time for change in the Mashpee Wampanoag Council, and elevating me from a council member to council chairman will represent significant change.
Fighting for tribal justice
For the last eight years, I have been fighting for tribal justice on this council with my hands tied behind my back as a result of the lack of support from tribal officers who were not being honest with the council or tribal body, and not providing information despite repeated demands for transparency.
Now that the curtain has been drawn on the misdeeds of that administration, we need to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work that is necessary to establish a leadership of integrity and one that can work toward serving the people fairly, and be accountable and transparent as we advance our economic development initiatives, and honor our traditions and culture.
Among the other changes the tribe can expect, better communication and an immediate audit of the process for evaluating pending applications to the tribe. All departments, with a particular focus on finance, will be carefully examined for efficiency and effectiveness.
Work will continue with all urgency to restore our Old Indian Meetinghouse and the Mashpee Wampanoag Museum to reopen these historic landmarks to our tribe and community.
We will do our work as a new council focusing on the future of our tribe and allow the legal drama surrounding our former council chairman to play out in federal court.
While Glenn Marshall admits to fraud and embezzlement of tribal funds, tribal members who unwittingly accepted help from him will not be punished.
We have been facing tough financial woes long before these recessionary times have caught up with us. Tribal members, facing very serious financial needs, who requested and received assistance whether a cash donation or check from the Fisherman's Association, did nothing criminal and will not be exposed by this council!
Will lead a tribal council that is open and responsive
As chairman of the new governing body, I will insist on a code of conduct that provides honest leadership that respects the constitution, the people and our tribal traditions. I promise to lead a council that is open and responsive, fiscally accountable, and will have the ability to make sound business decisions.
We need leaders who remember who we are. We are the Mashpee Wampanoag,the people who fought for more than three decades for our federalrecognition. Our tribe has very rich culture, history and ancestry thatshow we are the great people of this land.
We need leaders who remember who we are. We are the Mashpee Wampanoag, the people who fought for more than three decades for our federal recognition. Our tribe has very rich culture, history and ancestry that show we are the great people of this land. We petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs to gain sovereignty and we successfully showed and proved that our people continuously existed as an Indian tribe since historic times. We proved we are an Indian tribe based on the seven criteria necessary to gain federal recognition.
No one can take that away from us, and under my watch, it will never be called into question again. We are the People of the First Light!
Both as people of color, and proud Americans, many Mashpee Wampanoag are feeling a new sense of hope as a result of the election of our first African-American president, Barack Obama.
Our national and tribal governments shared many ironies over the last eight years.
Watching Obama's inaugural address I was moved by his strength and integrity in the face of our national and international crisis and particularly inspired and mindful of our circumstance when he said:
"And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then we can restore the vital trust between a people and their government.\
To that, I say aho!
\Yes we can" restore integrity to our government, unity to our tribe and good will among our neighbors, but make no mistake, it will be a long and carefully navigated road.
On Sunday I expect the tribe to come out in great numbers to establish a tribal government that has the knowledge, skills, and determination to lead us on that path. I am the candidate who is ready to lead that change. I respectfully ask my fellow tribal members to vote for me, Cedric "Running Bear" Cromwell, for tribal chairman.