Candidate Essay: Branden Bowstring

Chairperson Candidate: Branden Bowstring

Aaniin indinawemaganugidoog niizhoo migiziwug indigoo Branden Bowstring indizhinakaz chachabahning indoojibah migizi name is Branden Bowstring and I am running for the tribal chairman position.

You may know me from my time as a powwow mc, or my stint as professional wrestler Arik Storm, my time as a headstart teacher, my time as class president at the best college little college in Minnesota the Leech Lake Tribal College. Or maybe you’ve heard me sing, I’ve been called the songbird of my generation by people who have heard me sing. Regardless of where you know me from you know that I always work my hardest to do good and represent my family, my community and my tribe the best I can.

I am running this year because there needs to be a change in the way we conduct our business. With every election that comes and goes we are always promised the same thing we need to take care of our children, elders and culture. But time and time again these promises go broken. Our cries and pleas for help fall upon deaf ears. The personal attacks, the fear of retaliation if you speak your mind. These are only some of the reasons why politics have become so divisive and toxic.

For years our youth program has been almost nonexistent with budgetary constraints and lack of staff. We owe it to our youth to make sure that they have all the opportunities and access to resources that will help guide them down a path where they can succeed in this challenging new world. We keep hearing that there’s just no money in the budget for these programs because we need to balance the budget first. That’s all well and good if we had time but time is something we’re not afforded. These runaways, these suicides, these overdoses, don’t wait for budgets to get balanced. We need ACTION now! We need to set up a plan and infrastructure so that our children can succeed, so we can find the ones who slip through the cracks and be there for them. A strong nation is built from the ground up. The children are our future and we need them to be successful in everything that they do because they are the ones who will be making the decisions next.

Our elders should never have to worry about if they’re going to eat that day or if their going to have enough money to cover rent and bills. They certainly should never be raising their grandchildren while they’re adult children are able to work. They should be enjoying their twilight years playing bingo or whatever they want to do. They should not be doing any of the above. Our elders worked their tails off to save what we have today. Because of our elders we still have our language and culture. We talk about our 7 teachings all the time but how can we live these teachings when we have elders living in squalor. We need more elder housing and assisted living facilities.

Our culture and language should be held in high regard. Our culture, language and land base is what makes us aanishinabe and separates us from other tribes. Some time ago we made ojibwe our official language of the tribe but none our tribal business is conducted in ojibwe. We need to get back to our ceremonial ways and reconnect with our land.

We know what we have to do to succeed as a tribe. We must be united in this fight for our future because no one person can fix the problematic situations we’ve found ourselves in. Not even five people on tribal council can fix these issues. It’s going to take all of us as a tribe and people to tackle these issues. When you start to build a house you don’t start with the roof. You start with a solid foundation. And our foundation is our tribal members. If our tribal members are successful then our tribe will be successful. My approach to leadership is and always will be that real leadership works best when it’s lead by the people. Regardless of the outcome of this election cycle I want you to hold whoever gets in accountable for their decisions. If I win that’s cool but what I really want to see is record voter turnout for this election. When the people lead the leaders will follow.

Aho miigwech.