Havre Daily News
The Rocky Boy tribal council chairman has decided to allow the Havre Daily News to again cover council meetings.
Chairman John "Chance" Houle said today that he and the council members would like to have a good relationship with the local media.
The council on Sept. 9 barred the newspaper from attending its meetings and had a Daily News reporter escorted out of the building. Council members objected to an Aug. 31 article about proposed changes to tribal enrollment policies.
Houle met with Havre Daily News Publisher Harvey Brock on Friday and told him of his decision to admit the newspaper to council meetings again.
"We thought we had really opened things up," Houle said today about the council under his chairmanship. "There's always room for improvement."
Houle said he will implement a request from the newspaper that the council make its meeting agendas available in advance so the public can be notified.
"I think that's an excellent idea," Houle said.
Houle said he will also get a schedule of the council's subcommittee meetings to the Havre Daily News. "I think the missing piece, we've got it in our newsletter, but getting it into an independent news source" is important, Houle said.
Submitting agendas to the Havre Daily News will be one of several moves Houle said he's taken to open up council work to the public since he took office in January.
"Subcommittees used to meet on the spur of the moment," Houle said. "What I have implemented and what we have done, and we will get this to the Havre Daily, we have a three months calendar of subcommittee meetings. We get that posted in the newsletter."
The full tribal council now sits on every subcommittee too, a way to involve each official in every aspect of government, Houle said.
Those meetings are also open to the public, he said.
"If somebody wants to come hear about law and order, or someone wants to hear about natural resources, come in and hear about it," he said.
The tribal newsletter has been published each month since Houle took office, he said, another effort to involve the public. Houle said he plans to include council meeting minutes as well so that people who don't attend meetings know what action the council has taken.
He said he spoke to seven of the eight council members, who agreed with the decision to allow the Havre Daily News to cover council meetings.
The only council member he could not reach was Jonathan Windy Boy, who was out of town this weekend.
Before leaving Friday, Windy Boy spoke to a reporter.
"Since my seven years I've been there, there's always been accusations we're trying to hide things," Windy Boy said Friday. "That's not the case. Everything is on the record."
He said he was glad that the newspaper will be allowed back to meetings.
"I've never had a problem with any media in any meeting with any affair," said Windy Boy, who is also a state representative.
The Rocky Boy tribal constitution says that council meetings will be open to the public.
Montana law requires that state and local governmental bodies conduct open meetings and make public their agendas in advance of the meetings. State law does not apply to Indian reservations, which are sovereign nations.