Online Reunion, Building the Tribal Community

As a Tribe, The Grand Ronde Tribe is dispersed throughout the United States and abroad because of termination policies forced upon us by the U.S. Federal government back in the 1950s, for more on termination click here.  This has put us in the unique situation of being a Tribe and Tribal without living in close proximity to each other.  This begs the question: What does it mean to be “Tribal?” 

Tribal Elder, Elinore Anders

Recently, I was talking with two elders, my Mother, Elinore Anders (LaChance), and Margret Provost when I posed that question.  Their response surprised me.  “It is not about beads and moccasins,” replied Provost, “Rather it is about family and sharing our lives with each other.”  The conversation turned to reminiscing about days gone by, stories of friends, family, and reservation life.

It dawned on me, today it is impossible for my Tribe to enjoy being “Tribal” the way our elders enjoyed it because it is physically impossible for us to gather together in one place.

So, how do we build relationships with extended family members who live hundreds, even thousands of miles away?  We connect online, using the technology available to us.  We use social media to find each other and begin to share our lives with each other.  We have conversations, dialogs about our lives and passions because this is what makes us a Tribe.

Do you agree?  What do you think makes us a Tribe and how do you suggest we be more “Tribal?”

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Tribal Ethics

I first served on Tribal Council from 1992-1995.  During my first year, discussions took place regarding ethics and the need to establish ethical standards.  In August of 1993 we, the Tribal Council, established ethical standards of conduct for Tribal officials by adopting the Tribal Ethical Standards Ordinance (TESO).  While this is the primary ordinance that governs the conduct of Tribal officials, ethical standards can also be found in the Election ordinance and the Tribal Council Ordinance

The primary purpose for having ethical standards, explained in TESO Section (b) Background and Intent, is to preserve public confidence and trust in the Tribal Government, officials should act in an ethical manner. 

Ethics

This would include Tribal officials avoiding actual or potential conflicts of interest, treating all people with respect and courtesy, and carry out their duties with impartiality, fairness, and equity under Tribal law.  Specific ethical conduct is then defined in the remainder of the ordinance.

Back in 1993 when we, the Tribal Council, first passed TESO, we could not conceive of the internet or of social media.  As Council members and other Tribal officials engage in social media I wonder how this and other ordinances will be amended to govern online conduct.

What do you think?  Should Tribal official’s online conduct be regulated by Tribal ordinance?  If so, how should online conduct be regulated?

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Hi Impact Tweeting

Twitter really can make a difference by opening a dialog between people who otherwise would never talk.  There are a few simple keys to making tweets more impactful.  Mark Schaefer in his post “The four keys to tweet success” clearly explains some best practices for successful tweeting. 

Keys to Tweeting

(1)    Quality tweets are more impactful than the quantity of tweets.  Basically, it is better to tweet relevant valuable information rather than tweeting anything and everything.  Too many tweets that are irrelevant become an annoyance and none of us wants that.

(2)    Treat your tweets like a headline on a news paper or magazine article.  If they are impactful people are more likely to read all 140 characters and if there is a link are more likely to go to the link.  This also applies to re-tweets.  By placing the re-tweet information at the end of the tweet will keep your reader’s attention better.

(3)    Quality tweets have a longer life.

(4)    Tweet timing is important.  Tweeting between 30-60 minutes or between 2 and 3 hours is most effective for engaging your readers.  Too often becomes noisy and too few gets lost in the sea of tweets.

I am going to suggest that some of our Council members begin to tweet throughout the day.  It would be great if we can build a Tribal online community to give them an audience and us a voice directly to Council.

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Fast Paced Social Media

Social media, a young field, can and will change rapidly.  Face book is forever changing the look and feel of their site.  Tiwitter too has changed their user interface.  Sean Howard’s recent post, 5 Fabulous Facebook tips, demonstrates this as it was outdated by the time it hit cyber space.

Social Media Landscape

While Sean’s tips were good and useful in the old look of Facebook format, he came under fire by readers for posting outdated information.  Specifically, the post used screen shots from the old Facebook page layout and suggested certain best practices for a corporate Facebook page.  As I said earlier the information was good but because it was in the old format a few readers took issue with the post.  This is a prime example of how the social media landscape can quickly change.

Another negative comment was in response to the title of Sean’s post, “5 Fabulous Facebook tips.”  Apparently, the word “Fabulous” set an expectation in the reader’s mind that the out dated information just did not meet.  The lesson is to deliver what you promise.

I do have to applaud Sean for his tactful courteous response to user comments.  From this perspective Sean’s post, comments and responses are a good example of how to deal with less than favorable feedback.

As a blogger, it is inevitable that one day I will face opposing points of view.  How I deal with that will determine my longevity and influence.  What did I learn from this?  Give a timely response that is professional and correct the information if necessary.

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Twitter Growing Fast, Can We Use it to Help Us?

Tweet, tweets, Twitter, re-tweet, it sounds a little like everyone is a little twitterpated.

Follow me

We have all heard about Twitter but what is it really, and should we pay any attention to it? 

Well, twitter is like a blog only shorter (only 140 characters).  It is also like a big chat room except that you get to pick who you are talking with and listening to.  Finally, Twitter is like instant messaging except it’s archived and searchable.

Twitter is also growing fast.  Melissa Miller in her blog post Twitter Usage Per Capita: How States Compare [Infographic] shares growth rates of Twitter usage by state.  It’s interesting that Oregon has the 3rd fastest grow rate in the U.S.  Furthermore, Oregon’s per-capita Twitter usage is 60% higher than the national average.

Should we pay attention to Twitter?  YES!  For business, politics, and news Twitter is quickly becoming an invaluable source of information. 

I believe Twitter will become the information bridge between Tribal Council and the Tribal membership.  Recently, Council has come under member criticism for traveling too much and lack of accountability for work time.  If Tribal Council members were to tweet about their work day, be it traveling or in the home office, the membership’s concerns would be dispelled.  Likewise members would better understand the time demands placed on our Tribal Council.

Would you follow a Tribal Council member on Twitter?

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Whistleblower Dilemma, Conflicting Ethics & Consequences

Whistleblowers face conflicting ethics.  An employee who witnesses wrong doing on the part of their employer must weigh decisions carefully.  On one hand the infractions of their employer have negative impacts on the public interest.  On the other hand the employee,  constrained by confidentiality policies, face disciplinary action and retaliation from their employer if they expose the wrong doing.

Erin Brokovich "Heroic Whistleblower"

This ethical dilemma is not an easy issue to grapple with.  Confidentiality clauses, written policies, are expressly agreed to by the employee.  The conscious agreement creates a powerful motivation to keep one’s word.  Then when factoring in the added possibility of retaliation or disciplinary action employees have a hard decision to make.

Jean Kumagai in his blog post The Whistle-blower’s Dilemma, talks about the steep price whistleblowers pay when doing the right thing.  His experience working with whistleblowers reveals that it is very rare that a whistleblower does not experience retaliation and a loss of employment.  Yet he states the import role of the whistleblower in society: “And yet, an open society relies on those who are willing to come forward and reveal wrongdoing.”

State and Federal laws passed provide protection for whistleblowers but vary greatly in those protections depending on jurisdiction.  The Whistleblowers Blog provides great resources for individuals facing these complex issues.

Unfortunately, my Tribe a sovereign government, does not have any laws passed to protect Tribal employees from whistleblower retaliation.  It is one area I would encourage the Tribal Council to take action upon to ensure sound ethics.

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More on Transparency, is it Really Necessary?

I read an interesting piece on transparency.  One point resonated with me; when there is trust, transparency is not needed.  Think about that, if you trust someone there is no need for them to justify their actions or provide evidence of the truth their words.  However, without trust, every word and action is suspect and supporting evidence required.

Trust

Trust

It is all about TRUST and mistrust.  What causes mistrust?  Where does it come from?  Rich Becker in his post Sizing Us & Them, A Lesson in Transparency outlines two kinds of mistrust, functional and dysfunctional.  Dysfunctional mistrust is made up in our heads.  Its causes are many unhealthy suspicion, greed, or just because someone is different.

Functional mistrust comes from evidence of broken trust.  Becker argues that functional mistrust is “the only one that warrants transparency as a foothold for restoration.” 

While I agree that functional mistrust is a justification for required transparency, I would argue transparency is also needed in government.  The concentration of political power is cause to require transparency.  Becker agrees, suspicion of those who manage governmental power is appropriate. 

At the Tribe, we must introduce checks and balances to ensure transparency and healthy management of power.

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RSS Feeds, Vital to Staying Informed

RSS feeds have become the mainstay for keeping up with the news and thought leaders of today.  Really Simple Syndication (RSS) functions to aggregate news to your computer.  The number of bloggers on the internet and topics discussed is staggering.  Trying to keep up with the news is physically impossible.  This is where RSS feeds and news aggregators come in to play.  Using an automated system, RSS reader or news aggregator, web sites are able to share with other web sites headlines and news stories.  Access this wealth of information and wisdom by following a few simple steps:

Netvibes

  1. Sign up for an RSS reader or aggregator:  There are many RSS readers available, I use Netvibes, but I understand that Google reader is also good; to find other aggregators simply google “RSS reader.”  Once you have signed up for an RSS reader you can easily add feeds to it but first you need to find feeds that are of interest to you. 

    Netvibes "add content"

  2. Finding feeds:  Start with a google search for a topic that interests you.  Many web sites have information updated regularly and tracked via an RSS feed.  If you are looking specifically for blogs to add, a good site to visit and bookmark is Alltop.  Once a blog of interest is found add it to your feed reader.
  3. Adding feeds:  This process is specific to Netvibes but it is similar for other sites as well. 
    1. While at the site, Netvibes, click on the button “add content” in the upper left hand corner.
    2. In the dialog box click on “add a feed.”
    3. Follow the instructions for adding the URL or web address of the feed you wish to add.
    4. If you make your news reader your default home page or always open in a tab you can easily keep up on all the news of interest to you.

There are two Tribal Council members who blog, Chris Mercier (The Grand Ronde Post) and Toby McClary.  Councilman McClary also has an older blog on blogspot; here is the link to Toby’s Blogspot.  I encourage you to add their blogs to your RSS reader.  Likewise, I hope you will add my blog as well the link is on the left under “Meta” then “Entries RSS.” 

Stay tuned as I discuss Tribal issues and our Tribal online community.

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Social Media is a Journey not an Event

Communication
Communication

Social media is not just a fad or an activity to be finished.  Rather, social media is an ongoing way of communication.  Just like any relationship that takes time to build through years spent communicating so is social media.  It is active continual communication over a long period of time.   

Adam Vincenzini in his blog Commscorner argues that there is no such thing as a “social media campaign.”  He defines a campaign as “a systematic course of aggressive activities for some specific purpose”.  A friendship or relationship is not something that we focus on for a while and then move on but rather takes persistant work for a long time.

Vincenzini also puts social media in proper perspective: “Social Media is tiny.” It really is only one avenue of communication available.  An organization has many options to engage with its customers, clients or constituents.  

One advantage social media has over other forms of communication is that it is two-way communication and a rich source of end-user information.  For the organization that is serious about being customer focused, social media is an important tool for listening to those it serves.

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Corruption

For many people, the word corruption brings to mind a picture of some politician, police officer or other civil servant taking a bribe.  While this picture fits the definition of corruption, its definition is simply:  “The misuse of public office for private gain,” according to the World Bank and Transparency International (TI).

“As such, it involves the improper and unlawful behavior of public-service officials, both politicians and civil servants, whose positions create opportunities for the diversion of money and assets from government to themselves and their accomplices” (United Nations, Global Program Against Corruption 1999).  It is that simple

Money

Corruptions Enticement

The negative effects of corruption are many.  Corruption undermines the democratic underpinnings of a government, causes inefficient government programs and ultimately causes citizens to doubt their government and elected officials.  It also weakens or destroys the rule of law resulting in further distrust.

In the fall of last year the Thomson Reuters Foundation launched a global program called Trustlaw.  It’s goal is to bring together free legal assistance with those who are facing corruption, according to The Corruption blog

Ultimately, the best defense against corruption is transparency.  Full disclosure avoids the opportunity to take advantage and use resources for personal gain.

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