Fort Hall Business Council from left, member Ladd Edmo, member Lee Juan Tyler, Sergeant-At-Arms Gaylen Edmo, Vice Chairman Donna Thompson, Treasurer Roland Marshall and Secretary Claudia Washakie.
By LORI ANN EDMO
FORT HALL — Fort Hall Business Council members Gaylen Edmo, Donna Thompson and Claudia Washakie were sworn into office June 14, 2022, along with Land Use Policy Commissioners Pat Broncho and Darrell Shay.
After the swearing in, officers were elected: Nathan Small was elected chairman, Donna Thompson is vice chairperson, Roland Marshall is treasurer, Claudia Washakie is secretary and Gaylen Edmo is sergeant at arms. Ladd Edmo and Lee Juan Tyler are also tribal council members.
After taking a group photo, District representatives were selected. Roland Marshall will continue as Lincoln Creek representative; Claudia Washakie will represent Bannock Creek; Gaylen Edmo is Ross Fork District representative; Donna Thompson and Lee Juan Tyler will represent Fort Hall District while Ladd Edmo and Nathan Small are Gibson representatives.
Veterans Frances Sanchez Goli and Zannita FastHorse Pongah brought in the flags. Lloyd Yupe gave the prayer. Spring Creek Singers sang the flag and honor song. Anthony Pete Broncho and Franklin Devinney did the smudging of the FHBC.
Outgoing FHBC Chairman Devon Boyer accepts a gift for his service.
First time tribal council member Gaylen Edmo, said listening to Lloyd Yupe’s words earlier who advised to not get a big head and listen to the people is something he doesn’t take lightly. He promised everyone – the membership — he intends to work his hardest to learn everything he needs to learn, review all of the materials, the resolutions, the ordinances and everything that he needs to understand to be able to make decisions in the best interests of our tribe with our people. “I encourage you to come see me when we have time, when it’s open. I want to learn from our people because when I was at these district meetings running and trying to be elected, one of the things I realized is our people have so much knowledge when it comes to government, past tribal actions, when it comes to ceremony,” he said. “I don’t have all the answers but I have a solid foundation that I’m going to use to help our people. I will and I’m open to learning from everybody up here and everybody out here because we are all this government there’s not a difference.” One of the things he wants to do is to help facilitate that change of more involvement of the government and our people that needs to happen. He recalled hearing stories his late grandmother Maxine and Emaline George too about the involvement of our people when we were strong, “our people used to feel strong coming in here (referring to the council chambers) to help us make decisions – weigh in on those things,” Gaylen continued. “I think that’s important and we need that now more than ever.” He hoped his ancestors are here and he wants to say thank you to them for giving him the strength to be able put himself in front of our people.
Claudia Washakie said thank you for all of your support through the years she’s been running for council. “It’s only because I think I can be an avenue to help direct our tribe. It’s not just me, it’s all of us as a collective body and the general membership. I always see the business council as the governing body but in reality the governing body is the general membership — we take direction from the membership.” She’s seen in recent years how things have gone astray and she’s been vocal about it. “We do need input from our membership to tell us where the good decisions should be – we need to include everybody and that’s one thing I want to work on while I’m up here is being that communication between the governing body and the membership itself.” The tribal membership needs information because “when we were left out in the dark. I’ve been out there I’ve seen some of the decisions and I think what were they thinking?” She wants to open up the lines of communication. “I will be coming out to the tribal departments — I want to meet your employees and I want to talk to them as well as out in the districts, she continued. She will attend the district meetings she is assigned to but will also attend other district meetings just to help the other council members when they’re having their meetings. She asked for prayers because being a council member is stressful. “Prayers will help make the good decisions,” she concluded.
Donna Thompson thanked the rest of the council as well, “it’s been a struggle I served two previous terms and it wasn’t always easy.” She thanked Devon, Elma and Marlene for their service the last two years. “It’s very important we learn to communicate not only among ourselves but with the community as a whole.” She’s glad to hear from Claudia that she’s going to support at the district meetings, “it’s important to be there but I encourage all of you to attend the district meetings because that’s where we give out information.” She thanked the men for all the prayers at the Sundance. In addition, she thanked her partner and her family for their support. She asked for a moment of silence for those we’ve lost the last couple of years.
Darrell Shay said thank you for turning out and supporting me in a long campaign. “I’m glad to see the younger people taking over on the council — way it’s supposed to be – the older people show the younger people, let them be the leaders that’s the way it was. “Hopefully will see some good results from them.” He made the promises of being more open about what happens in Land Use and “I’m going to do my best to go along with that. I don’t have the luxury of picking a district that I’m going to represent — I have to represent the entire reservation.” “I’m going to do my best to try and be out there to every district. I don’t know if it will be monthly or every three months — something like that.” He said it depends on the workload, “what we’re doing and the issues.” He intends to bring the issues out there to make sure everybody has a chance. “I want to congratulate Claudia, Donna and Gaylen and do my best to support you,” noting that’s kind of what we do as Land Use Commissioners, “we play a supporting role to the council to uphold what the government is doing.”
Land Use Policy Commission members Pat Broncho (left) and Darrell Shay take the oath of office
from BIA Superintendent Randy Thompson.
Pat Broncho said he worked for the federal government for 26 years and dealt with a lot of land issues. He believes he has a lot to offer growing up down Bottoms. He raised his own cattle, did his own farming, “So I got a little knowledge I think I can offer into the Land Use Commission. I think I can do a decent job and do the best I can.” He ran for LUPC because he was approached by the cattlemen and people that he knew kept asking him when he was going to retire. So he thought about it. Some of the older people he grew up with, elders he attended ceremonies with had a lot of good words to put down for our people. He said some of the major issues LUPC may be faced with is the housing development going on around the reservation. “How’s that going to affect our water, roadways?” He said there’s a lot of issues coming up and you can see it around the reservation — everything is encroaching around the reservation boundaries. “Protecting the reservation and resources, standing up, having to defend our homeland especially the water, without water we have no life and that’s kind of the main thing it’s always been prayed for so we have to look after it – all of our resources,” he concluded.