, Muskogee, OK

June 4, 2014

Government should be transparent

— Transparency in government promotes freedom, and any attempt to curtail that transparency should be stopped in its track.

Cherokee Nation tribal councilors are considering amending tribal laws that some say curtail transparency.

A group of protesters attempted to get the council’s attention last week by staging a demonstration outside the Cherokee tribal complex.

The protesters are concerned that the measures, which next go before the council during its June meeting, will make it even more difficult to get information about tribal business.

Cheryl Brown of Cherokees for Civil Discourse said altering the tribe’s Freedom of Information Act will “remove or diminish” citizens’ rights of “access to information” about tribal government and businesses. She said Cherokee citizens “have a right and a responsibility to know what is happening with and where our nation’s money is going.”

We agree.

All citizens of all governments should have that right. Many don’t.

Opponents of the amendments have an obligation and responsibility to fight the measures.

The tribe’s lawyer says the amendments provide more transparency, not less.

Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree challenged councilor Cara Cowan Watts to prove the amendments restrict transparency.

That’s not the attitude we hope to get from a government official.

Clearly, tribal members are concerned.

Tribal councilors should slow the process and make sure they are doing the right thing.

And, by the right thing, we mean to promote transparency, not restrict it.