When we hear the word bully, many of us tend to visualize a mean kid at a local school who will strong-arm other students into getting what he/she wants. We have to stop stereotyping our school children as the major bully figures because we have adults with much worse behavior.
Bullying is a learned behavior. The mean kid on the playground learned how to be mean from someone, right? Most of his or her actions can be traced back to a specific adult. And it might not be a parent.
We all know of at least one adult bully. On the Rez they are really prevalent. Many have developed excellent intimidation skills over the years. They are used to getting their way, even if it means acting violently in order to do so.
The bully is also in the workplace. Whether you are employed with the tribe, the federal government, a local school or a private company, you will most likely witness some form of the bully in your workplace.
Is it a bullying tactic to manipulate someone? I believe it is, especially when the one manipulating is doing it for some sort of personal gain. I saw this behavior in a workplace recently where some employees manipulate their co-workers and the system for financial gain. That’s an example of a corrupt system, which might be addressed in a future column.
The 1934 Indian Reorganization Act created the modern day tribal governments, which are patterned after the other political systems. Tribal governments consist of constitutional officers and tribal council representatives; along with an array of committees, commissions, boards and a treaty council. Most members are elected while several are appointed to these bodies.
These are the people who make decisions affecting all of us living on the Rez. Our lives could be changed by one simple motion. Or not. And the people who get their way on these councils, boards and commissions often resort to their bully skills to get what they want. Especially where it concerns money.
Many of those who sit on these councils, committees, boards or commissions receive a stipend for attending meetings. Or there might be travel money involved. In any case, money always seems to bring out the bully tactics of these so-called officials.
It’s not right to bully people into tears to get your way. Real Lakota leaders do not operate that way. The staff are there to help, not for you to pick on because your check isn’t ready.
On the other hand, sometimes the only way to get a bully to back off from you is to bully them right back. All of a sudden they are the victim!
A vicious cycle for sure.