Idaho Gubernatorial Candidate Paulette Jordan: Serving 2 Masters?

Paulette Jordan, the Democratic candidate for Idaho Governor, has made an issue of being “the only real Idahoan, the only real American running for this position as governor of a state in our country.”

Making this statement on September 21st on 670 KBOI radio, she reiterated these points in another article with the Couer d’Alene Press on October 14th.

Though she comes off as very condescending to her fellow Idahoans, she does have a point that her Native American genealogy has a lot to do with who she is and how she conducts herself in life. This begs the question as to how this perspective will affect her loyalties if she were to obtain the State’s highest elected position.

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As a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, and former member of the Tribal Council, Jordan is in a position that she has declared her unwavering loyalty to the tribe first and foremost. This is admirable for the tribe, but it does not bode well for the citizens of Idaho.

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Many issues come before the state that are directly involving her tribe, as well as other Native American Tribes. Examples would include the case of IDAHO et al. v. COEUR d’ALENE TRIBE OF IDAHO et al. which was finally decided by the Supreme Court of the United States.

In this case, the Tribe sought to establish its entitlement to the underwater land of Lake Coeur d’Alene. Within this entitlement, they sought a declaration of the invalidity of all Idaho laws, customs, or usages purporting to regulate those lands.

Additionally, there have been many instances throughout the country in which tribal members have gained elected office only to seemingly show that their intentions were just to further the tribe’s interests.

A case in point is a recent article entitled Possible record of 18 Native candidates seeking legislative seats this year from the Helena Independent Record, several candidates indicated their priorities include Native-specific issues.

Then there is Glacier County, Montana, whose ongoing legal disputes with it’s citizens seem to center around it’s Native American commissioners. The Great Falls Tribune tells us that Glacier County has a long-running dispute between some of its residents and the county commissioners.

Nearly $400,000 in entitlement and oil and gas tax payments are withheld from Glacier County because the county has not submitted tax collection reports, Steve Austin, an administrator with the Montana Department of Revenue, told the Local Government Interim Committee. Glacier County is the only county in the state delinquent enough to have money withheld from the state. 

Two Glacier County commissioners who are Native American placed some of their county’s financial struggles on a lingering resentment in the Cut Bank community against Indians, coupled with trouble in finding qualified county treasurers.

It is admirable for tribal members to hold public office, however, everyone must be reassured that their priorities will not weigh heavier for the Tribe’s interests than those for the State and it’s non-native citizens.

These examples, as well as others, certainly paint a picture that could show severe conflicts of interests for Paulette Jordan, should she win the upcoming election.

She cannot serve two masters, so where are Ms. Jordan’s priorities? And how can we, as her constituents, be assured that she can balance her loyalties to the tribe and the state, if and when the need arises?

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.” ~Matthew 6:24 KJV

Article posted with permission from Shari Dovale

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