I would like to respectfully address the op-ed by David E. Wilkins, Creating weaker nations: Who decides who belongs?
What Mr. Wilkins clearly does not get is that our audit team works to ensure that the membership requirements of a nation serve their best interests, not ours. We do not interfere or ask a tribal nation to change anything unless we are specifically asked for our advice, and then, only after consultation with our team which is comprised of tribal members with decades of hands-on enrollment experience, of which Mr. Wilkins has none.
We often facilitate workshops to train internal auditors when a tribal nation wishes to do so and we emphatically demonstrate the importance of how they must work in teams to ensure accuracy and compliance. However, the notion that even fully trained tribal members can facilitate enrollment audits is often problematic.
There are some tribal members that have a specific agenda which is counter to their tribal constitutions and their customs and has in many ways created the problems tribal nations face today.
I have seen it first hand, and Mr. Wilkins has not. Do financial audits happen with internal auditors? Of course they don’t. And that is why tribes often seek outside auditors.
My team and I work hard to do the right thing no matter what Mr. Wilkins believes. All of us will continue to do what we feel will best serve the interests of our clients. My company is successful in enrollment endeavors because we never interfere in a tribe's internal matters; never. We respect and hold sacred a tribe's right to self-governance and self-determination. And as mentioned, we only give advice when specifically asked to do so. Our team has worked in the tribal trenches collectively for longer than Mr. Wilkins has been alive. And contrary to his beliefs, we help to Create Stronger Nations by strengthening a tribe’s right to sovereignty; we never seek to diminish or weaken it. Never.
I invited Mr. Wilkins to attend the 25th Annual Tribal Enrollment Conference in New Orleans in November of 2019. If he came, perhaps then he would understand how enrollment really works. Not theoretically, not academically, not “scholarly”, but absolutely. He has declined.
James Mills is president of Creating Stronger Nations, Inc. His email: firstname.lastname@example.org