Where the tribal candidates stand


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A wide range of education and background is represented in the 37 candidates seeking positions on the tribal council at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation.

Half of the council's eight seats are up for election this year, and all four incumbents are seeking re-election.

The top eight vote-getters in Tuesday's election will move on to the general election in November.

Absentee ballots can be cast up until noon on Monday.

Tuesday's election will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the gynmasium at Stone Child College. Those voting must present proof of enrollment with a tribal identification card.

The Havre Daily News interviewed most of the candidates running for the council.

The following is information about each candidate's background and their views on the top issue faced by the council and proposed solutions:

Earl Charles Arkinson

Background: Arkinson, 52, has an associate's degree in human services from Stone Child College. He was formerly chief of police for the Rocky Boy Police Department, and now works as the central services director for the Chippewa Cree Tribe. He held a council postion for one term in the late 1980s. Arkinson said his experience qualifies him for the job. "I know the needs of Rocky Boy," he said. "I feel I can offer some help to our people."

Top Issue: Job Creation. Arkinson says he will search for additional funding to create jobs.

Jason Belcourt

Background: Belcourt, 33, attended five years of college. He has eight years of experience running his own business in Box Elder. Belcourt is the commissioner of gaming.

Top issue: Unemployment. "We really need to do something as far as small business," he said. "We need to become self- sufficient and Rocky Boy is ripe to do this."

Joe Big Knife

Background: Big Knife, 67, considers himself to be "not educated, but full of common sense, knowledge and wisdom." He is the school bus driver and maintenance man for Rocky Boy Schools. He served on the council for two terms, first from 1976 to 1980 and then again from 1990 to 1994.

Top issue: Education and employment. "We need more funding in many areas," BigKnife said.

Melvin Billy

Background: Billy, 68, has a ninth-grade education, has ranched his entire life, and is now retired. Billy's government experience includes work as a tribal loan officer in the 1960s, as well as serving as the secretary treasurer for the housing committee at its inception.

Top Issue: Drugs and alcohol. "No one has fixed it yet, the sheriff's office can't do anyting about it," Billy said. "The whole country is run by drugs."

Bert Corcoran

Background: Corcoran, 70, has a master's degree from University of Montana-Western. He says he has been in the education field for more than 30 years, with more than 15 as a superintendent of schools. He served as tribal council chairman from 1996 to 2000.

Top Issue: Improvement of all reservation programs. "I don't have any axes to grind. I just want to serve."

James R. Dubois

Could not be reached for comment.

Brian "Kelly" Eagleman

Background: Eagleman, 39, has worked for the tribe for 15 years, starting in 1985 as a clerk of court, then in 1989 moving to the environmental G.A.P. program. He served on the council for two terms, and is now a council member.

Top Issue: "The bottom line to all this is job creation. I think that is the number one goal." His other main issue is natural resources. "We need to start looking over our natural resources, and try to benefit from and protect these," he said.

Jay Eagleman

Background: Eagleman, 37, has a bachelor's degree from the University of Montana. He is a water resource professional, and says his extensive experience in the tribal processes and programs make him qualified for the job.

Top Issue: Water resources.

Harvey Friede Sr.

Background: Friede, 44, has six years of military service, three of them with the Army and three in the Reserves. He received a GED while in the military. He has spent the past eight years as road director for the Chippewa Cree Tribe. He says his main reason for running is that "I want to help the people."

Top issue: Economic developement and education. "We need to try to get some jobs up here, our unemployment is so high," Friede said.

Arnold Four Souls

Background: Four Souls, 39, is a high school graduate who works for D's Logwork on the reservation, and was employed by Bear Paw Propane for 11 years. He says he has rodeoed off and on for nearly his entire life, and is raising bucking horses on his land. Four Souls was previously on the council from 1996 to 2000. He is a lifelong resident of Rocky Boy. He said a main reason for his running is that "my greatgrandffather is one of the founders of this reservation, and I am trying to keep the legacy going."

Top issue: Concentrating on current tribal resources, including gaming and the tribal ranch. He also said he would like to see "more dollars toward youth and elderly activities."

Lois Gopher

Background: Gopher, 58, has a bachelor of science degree of home economics and health education from Montana State University-Bozeman. She currently works at the Woman, Infants and Children program. Gopher formerly worked as a community health representative and emergency medical technician for the Chipewa Cree Tribe for seven years. She also worked as a guidance counselor at Stone Child College for a year.

Top issue: "Our young people and what to do for them." She says jobs are an important part of keeping youth on the right track, and that the community is not currently providing them. "My main concern is creating jobs for the unemployed and working with the young people here on the reservation to prevent high alcohol and drug use among them," Gopher said.

Russel T. Gopher

Background: Gopher, 44, works for the Stone Child College language preservation program. He previously spent 20 years with Rocky Boy Schools before leaving that job in 2000. He also spent a year on the Rocky Boy school board. He is a Box Elder High School graduate and spent two years as a student at Stone Child, and has taken various courses from other colleges.

Top issue: "The future of the tribe and the direction the tribal government is going."

Virgil Lee Henderson

Background: Henderson, 47, has a high school diploma from Slandreau High School is South Dakota. He is now working as the compliance officer at the 4-C's Casino. He lived away from the reservation for 24 years while working for a construction company, but is now back. "We need a change in tribal government, I know that," he said.

Top issue: Unemployment. One of his solutions is to open a larger casino, which he feels would create more employment.

John Chance Houle

Houle could not be reached for comment.

Russell Houle Sr.

Houle could not be reached for comment.

Gibby Russette

Background: Russette, 41, has a two-year certificate in engineering and technology from Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, as well as a degree in construction management for Albuquerque Institute. He is now a construction management representative for Water Resources. He previously worked for Conoco Gas and Oil Production, as well as working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs for nine years.

Top issue: Economic developement and stabilization. "We are stagnant, we aren't developing like we should," Russette said.

Enos R. Johnson Sr.

Background: Johnson, 55, works for tribal court as a juvenile counselor. Prior to that, he was an associate judge for six years and prosecutor for two years. He's also a former member of the tribal council, from 1980 to 1982. "I figure I can represent my people in employment and educational areas," he said.

Top issue: "The primary focus is youth. Bringing in programs in youth areas, see what we can do for our youth."

Joseph J. LaFromBoise Jr.

Background: LaFromBoise, 42, has an associate's degree in computer science and business from Stone Child College. He's worked in the college's financial aid department for 12 years and has been on the Rocky Boy school board for 1 years. "I think that it's time for someone to get in there who thinks more about the people, someone who looks toward the future," he said.

Top issue: "Rocky Boy has lots of chances to get funding. First we have to go after the money, then we have to spend it in the right way," he said.

Larry Morsette Jr.

Background: Morsette, 42, attended college for two years and was in the U.S. Army for six years. He's been the risk management director of the Chippewa Cree Tribe for 3 years. "I'm going to attempt to bring more jobs and businesses to the reservation and to continue to develop our self-governance."

Top issue: Employment. "We have people employed within our government, but we don't have jobs for college and high school graduates to look forward to. We have to provide a future for our young people and create more jobs for our people."

Luke Parisian

Parisian could not be reached for comment.

Mario Patacsil Sr.

Patacsil declined to comment.

Duane Raining Bird

Raining Bird could not be reached for comment.

Tim W. Rosette Sr.

Rosette could not be reached for comment.

Sybil Sangrey

Background: Sangrey, 53, graduated from Montana State University-Northern with a degree in English. She attended graduate school at Northern and Montana State University-Bozeman. Sangrey, who works in tribal administration, was formerly employed in tribal goverment with the health department for 13 years. "I think that people need a choice and it is a good thing to commit to serving people," she said. "This is my home, and I want to see it be a good and safe place to live."

Top issue: "We need to stimulate economic (growth) by training children for jobs, then go for aggressive economic development."

Duncan Standing Rock Sr.

Background: Standing Rock, 67, attended school through the eighth grade. He is seeking a fourth term on tribal council. He worked for Montana Legal Services for 14 years as a paralegal until 1983. "Quite a few people asked me to run," he said. "It's very difficult to run away."

Top issue: "It has always been economic development," said Standing Rock, who plans to work with Stone Child College in improving computer and Internet education.

Russell Standing Rock

Background: Standing Rock was a tribal council member from 1996 to 2000.

Top issue: "The tribe is so seriously broke. I have known the tribe's financial situation for many years from being so active. What I am trying to do is implement some audits and report to the people the findings. I think it should be a people's government."

Debbie St. Pierre

St. Pierre could not be reached for comment.

Roger St. Pierre

Background: St. Pierre, 57, has a four-year college degree and 36 years of work experience with the U.S. government and the tribe.

Top issue: "If elected to the tribal council, I will guarantee that I will get the financial records of the tribe audited so you can for yourself where your money has gone."

Clinton "Chewees" Small

Small could not be reached for comment.

Bruce Sunchild Sr.

Background: Sunchild, 57, earned a GED and completed one year of Great Falls Auto College. He spent two years in the U.S. Army. Sunchild has been vice chairman of the Chippewa Cree tribe for four years. Prior to joining the council eight years ago, he was employed with Indian House Service for 25 years.

Top issue: "The main issue right now is we're plagued with high employment. We would like to hire as many as we can, but we are limited in resources."

Marva Stump Sunchild

Background: Sunchild provided a written statement that did not describe her background or education.

Top issue: Drug abuse, alcoholism and crime among youth.

Leon Blackie Sutherland

Sutherland could not be reached for comment.

Gaile Rock Torres

Torres could not be reached for comment.

Lana M. Turner

Turner could not be reached for comment.

Arthur "Ozzie" Windy Boy

Background: Windy Boy, 44, earned his GED and graduated from the police academy. The police chief at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, his law enforcement career began in 1983. From 1993 to 2000, he was an associate tribal judge. Windy Boy rejoined the police force last year. "I have been in the midst with lots of the problems of community members," he said. "I think a lot of people are not aware of what some problems are. I'd like to make people aware of what is going on within the tribal government structure."

Top issue: "To try to upgrade (law enforcement) technology, to support the law enforcement people," he said. "We need to freely exercise our culture, traditions, and religion. Education is important and maintaining the cultures and traditions."

Jonathan Windy Boy

Background: Windy Boy, 43, has a telecommunications degree from Southwest Indian Polytech in New Mexico. He's an incumbent council member seeking a second term. "Some of the things I have done to date have made a difference," Windy Boy said.

Top issue: Improving health programs and health care.

Kenneth C. Writing Bird

Writing Bird could not be reached for comment.


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