Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Chairman A.J. Not Afraid and his wife, Deneen, (center) stand for photos after being sworn into office.Newly-elected Chairman of the Crow Tribe Alvin “A.J.” Not Afraid speaks during his inaugural address Monday afternoon. An attendee greets Vice Chairman Carlson “Duke” Goes Ahead after hearing the elects’ inaugural addresses.


Crow Tribe Executive Branch officials take oath of office
Sounds of cheers and celebration echoed through Crow Agency’s Multipurpose Building Monday following the inauguration of Crow Tribe Chairman-elect Alvin “A.J.” Not Afraid and his administration.
Prominent guests and various Montana officials also made an appearance to congratulate the newly-elected officials. Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, Fort Belknap Tribal Council President Mark Azure and Northern Cheyenne Tribal President Lawrence Killsback, who also took office, were among these guests.
According to Not Afraid, although the chairman position comes with an extensive list of goals and responsibilities, he remains ambitious and dedicated to the service of the Crow Nation.
“It’s a courageous and ambitious step for myself to find ways to improve not only the quality, but also the lifestyle of the Crow people in modern times,” he said. “In a nutshell, the position itself comes with quite a few tasks and obstacles, but we bring solutions and ways to overcome. Now, we get to implement them and execute plans for the Apsáalooke people.”
Crow Nation-elects who were sworn in Monday by Chief Judge Honorable Leroy Not Afraid included Chairman Not Afraid, Vice Chairman Carlson “Duke” Goes Ahead, Secretary Rudolph Knute Old Crow and Vice Secretary Shawn Backbone, who is now on his second term.
In his inaugural address, Vice Chairman-elect Goes Ahead stressed the importance of inspiring hope in the people like the tribal leaders of the past. 
“I’m here because the Apsáalooke people have placed me in this position,” he said. “I want to say something that I call prophetic; when we look at leaders, we look at hope, hope that there will be better change that will affect each and every one of us for the prosperity of the Apsáalooke people.”
“Reset, align yourself; we must turn our clocks and synchronize together so that we can move together as one,” he continued. “We have to lay aside our differences in every area of our lives, we have to move forward and reset. Find that vision, find that purpose, and find that destiny that God has placed upon the great Apsáalooke Nation.”
For Secretary-elect Old Crow, the prosperity of the Crow Nation depends on the cooperation and support between tribal leaders and the public.
“The leaders of yesterday led the people, they did not rule them, and that’s what we all have to understand. We need your help and you need ours; that is why you elected us,” he said. “We need your support and your prayers for all the endeavors we have in the future, so that the great Crow Nation can prosper, not only financially, but spiritually and mentally.”
Prosperity and sovereignty, according to Not Afraid, can be the result of prominent goals of the new administration and requires increased efforts in community development, particularly to outlying districts of the Crow Reservation.
“Currently, we have a government system that poses as a centralized government, yet all the surrounding districts rarely have finances or transportation to work in tribal government,” Not Afraid explained. “Therefore, we want to bring it back to the communities for them to evolve into their own form of government.”
“The first year of my tenure as chairman is going to be pretty tough, being that finances are not only in disarray but there is a lack of strategic planning for long-term financial accountability,” he continued. “The general fund will be split in half by 2018 without the contract between Westmoreland and [the Sherco power plant]. We have this year of coal revenues, but that doesn’t mean anything for remainder of the future of the Crow Tribe, so our team will have to find ways to diversify and create a financial plan to offset that deficiency in revenue.”
Not Afraid noted additional prominent tasks including community development, infrastructure and drug prevention. He also made note of the uncertain future of coal revenue for the tribe, saying that diversifying revenue sources is a prominent task of his administration for the first months of its tenure.
As the first order of business, Not Afraid plans to create a tribal financial report to serve as a foundation for his administration as they begin “moving forward.”
Vice Secretary-elect Shawn Backbone created a wave of laughter among attendees as he gave thanks to those attending and those who assisted in the inauguration ceremony.
“Today is a great day, we’re coming together as a tribe, we’re moving forward and we are your servants,” he said. “No matter what, we are moving on, so let’s do this together.”
Remaining humble and honest, Not Afraid delivered an impromptu inaugural address to Crow tribal members, to whom he also noted himself as a servant.
“I didn’t prepare a speech today, because, I felt that as Crow people, coming from the heart means a lot more than reading off of a piece of paper. I stand before you today as a servant; that’s how I call it and see it,” said Not Afraid. “Most humbly, at this time, I still am trying to grasp or accept the honor of being titled chairman at this point. I am very proud to be Apsaalooke. I’d like to serve not only my family, but all Crow members as proud as I can.”
“A Crow chief in the past would give his shirt off his back to someone who needed it; a Crow leader would give everything he has to someone in need,” he continued. “Today, our way is kind, giving, considerate and respectful, and that’s what I offer to you as your servant. I’ll make sure to try as hard as I can with all my might, power and teamwork to be your champion.”