On May 9, 2017, the Whitener Group facilitated a dialog with Council and key staff on the development of the Tribe’s five-year governmental strategic plan and the need to understand the fundamental purpose as to why we operate as a government. It was shared that the current mission statement is representative of a vision statement, and part of the strategic planning session would be to work towards developing a mission statement to align with the direction we are going as a Tribe. A mission statement describes the purpose of the organization, along with who, what and how. The current mission statement of Honoring our Past; Serving our Tribal Family; Protecting our Culture and Independence; and Controlling our Future, is more of a vison statement that is a source of inspiration that shares our desires.
During the strategic planning session, the group was posed with three questions: Who do you exist for? How you do what you do?
and What is your fundamental purpose? Stakeholders were directed to write down their thoughts and post their answer to each question. The group was later broken down into three sub-groups where they synthesized the data to identify the answer to their assigned question.
The “Who” question was relatively easy to identify and the top definition was Tolowa Dee-ni’ with more narrow groups defined under that umbrella including nuu-da’-ye’ (our family); nuu-srxii-xee (our children); nuu-k’wii-daa-naa~-ye’ (our future generations); nvn-nvst-‘aa~-ta (mother earth); xwii-t’i (everyone). The “What” question was a challenge but was honed in to represent what we are in this moment and the Dee-ni’ wee-ya’ word to define the present what is ch’a’-xvsh-naa-ghit-li~ (to be whole again) or to return to a better human as a community with the underlying principles of waa-tr’vslh-‘a~ (the way it is kept) as a foundational cornerstone to our existence; xatlh-sri (the beginning) sovereignty the way it is from the inner core and what we represent; and Ghes-naa-t’i (wellbeing) to ensure the wellbeing of all things under our jurisdiction and beyond. The “How” question was answered with foundational principles and common business sense. The Dee-ni’ word that over-archingly defined “How” is waa-tr’vslh-‘a~ (the way it is kept) combined with creating a sound governance structure that includes securing and preserving resources and moving forward on core principles that define the Tolowa Dee-ni’.
Following the synthesis of the defined principles of who we are, what we do, and how we do it, the following mission statement was adopted by way of Council motion on June 1, 2017:
To exert and protect the inherent sovereignty endowed upon the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation to promote our tribal identity, and the wellbeing of our people, community, and environment by building a strong foundation, managing resources, and perpetuating our cultural lifeways and legacy.
Submitted by, Briannon Fraley, Chief Governance Officer