Thursday, July 3, 2008

Musings on Political Development and Political Culture

My tribe, called the Huu-ay-aht, is currently involved in a treaty with the Crown governments of Canada, the federal government and the province of British Columbia. We're in together with four other tribes and we call our group the Maa-nulth Treaty Society. As a people, we all speak roughly the same language and we are all members of a greater organization called the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. Currently, the Maa-nulth Treaty Society has successfully negotiated and ratified the treaty and we're currently in a state of limbo between negotiation and implementation.

In any event, we have to prepare ourselves for self-government. We have done this in committees and I am a member of two of these committees: communications and governance. My current position with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations is in the Communications Department -- I am the Communications Coordinator. I maintain our Huu-ay-aht Website, the Huu-ay-aht Facebook Group, manage e-mails and other media relations. My most enjoyable tasks is putting together the monthly community newsletter, I both write articles and do most of the layout work on Adobe InDesign -- a fine program.

Today, I am more concerned with my involvement with the Huu-ay-aht Governance Committee. It is our task to read through the Maa-nulth Final Agreement, its Side Agreements, and the Huu-ay-aht Constitution and identify the laws, policies and other tasks that need to be done before we take over our collective destinies. Our mandate goes beyond the creation of laws, however, and this is where my mind has been going for the past while. 

When I think of governance, not only do I think of the laws and policies that are developed, but also the operating procedures of administrations and bureaucracies, infrastructure like communications and meeting space, human resource development, education and socialization. I think about the political development of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations. 

I wonder how we may identify those institutions that influence the overall political culture of our community. It's more than just the government. In thinking this way, I am reminded of the agents of socialization that I learned whilst earning my BA:
  • Family
  • Peer Group
  • School
  • Mass Media
  • Work
  • The State
  • Religion
The State is listed, but it goes further than that. Areas of influence overlap for each of the agents. I work for my government but I utilize contacts in the mass media to get our message out to our members and the general public. My government can have a distinct impact on how our children are educated and how our parents are employed. Influence is pervasive and reciprocal. It moves in all directions and it is difficult to predict how one change at the state level can influence the economy or our schools. Is it a science, or an art?

Thoughts to ponder, but I remain focused enough to keep thinking about it

Stay tuned to this blog, I'll post notions as they take form and etch themselves into my mind.


Macey said...

It is so important at stages and at all levels of communications and implementation to remember to step back and look at things holistically. Taking time to look at the whole picture, however overwhelming, will serve to remind those involved of the connectedness of their project. Division of labour, although sometimes efficient, looses light of the original goals and tasks they are working on. The more the intricate bonds of each level of the social network are realized, the more effective the final result will be. As part of the communication team it is part of your responsibility to constantly remind every one, despite their past, present or future role in the Huu-ay-aht community, that they are in fact, a community. A beautiful and complex community with young and old, men and women, sick and healthy, traditional and progressive. Strength and solidarity always rises from embracing differences, rather that striving for sameness. There is a noble and shared common goal, a common theme, that passes through each and every individual who's life is touching or is touched by the the treaty and implementation process. And that theme is what will bind the influences of the family, the peers, the schools, the media, the work place, and the state (however defined)together. However cliche, an analogy as simple as "the ripple effect" can make all the difference when one of the social agents are trying to take priority over they other. They are all important, and there for, all important. My favorite quote is my favorite quote for a reason. In their deliberations, they must consider the effect of their decisions on the next seven generations. Because, really, in the end, they are leaving this legacy will be left for their children, and their grand children and their great grand children, not themselves. And who can look in to a child's eyes and want anything but the best for them. The light in a child's eye, and the innocence in a child's laughter should be more then enough reason to stay focused.

John Alan Jack said...

Indeed, I agree with your astute assessment.

A quote I am reminded of goes something like this, "The world is not inherited from our ancestors, it is borrowed from our children."

I try my best to live that and other things.