Transcription November, 1997

St. Petersburg Times Interview with Chief Billie
Full Transcription (Tape Three)

CHIEF: . . . exactly how to go about to tell my political constituents that some of you guys are not going to be receiving your dividend, what is it called, uh welfare checks, um, and some others.
T: HUD and whatnot . . .
CHIEF: Yeah, those type of things, because these people for many gener . . . well, from 1957 till 1979, there were several generations depending on this. They think this is the only way life is. And then when we came forth with these new monies, things changed. Something they never had before. My worst employees are ex-government employees because they're used to saying, "We're gonna submit a budget." The thing is only worth $100,000, but they want to ask for $120 million. And then when that year comes, he doesn't get 120 million, he gets actually 100 million or whatever it is. And when the time comes, he thinks he's got to spend that whole 20 million, not in my government. If you only spend $50 million, Jeez, that goes to the bank and we save that much. And it gets to the point sometimes I have to lie to my own general public so they don't know about it so they got that money in the bank reserve when that damn chaos comes and there's no money and they think there's no money, we say, "We had money, guys," and then that will become another political issue: "You lied to us." I mean, "Hey, you better be glad I lied to you a little bit." It's like trying to lie to you . . .
T: In other words, you had a reserve in the bank that you didn't tell your constituents about . . .
CHIEF: If I had that, if I had that, that would happen. I don't have a reserve.
T: . . . at the time you doubled the dividend; is that what you just said?
CHIEF: No, I didn't say that. I said if I could do that, they would have a reserve.
T: Oh.
CHIEF: Make sure he gets that shit straight.
T: Do you have a reserve at all now?
CHIEF: Yes, we have a little reserve. I don't think, I don't know how much we have, but, man, I hate to tell you that . . .
T: Okay.
CHIEF: . . . because you'll be the dick head to wipe out our account and Seminole Tribe won't have any money. Then we would have to go to FEMA, remember.
T: FEMA, yeah. What about FEMA?
CHIEF: I don't know. That's uh . . .
T: Cars. Chevrolets.
CHIEF: That's a situation that -- Seminole Tribe is not in the habit of spending because we got more money in 80, what's it, $80,000? So what, from the legend that I -- it's almost like a legend to me because I wasn't really involved in it, that went through the corporation for some damn reason. The corporate part of our organization which has a totally different body of human beings, but I'm part of it, but I wasn't really knowledgeable, so when the election time came, it became a, uh, some sort of a gossip. But what I heard was that the Tribe had already taken care of itself with its own monies, but somebody with this FEMA group came in and said, "Well, we'd like to reimburse you for your things." So that check came in, and they just -- When the check comes in and if we already disbursed it with our monies and they're just reimbursing us, it just goes to our general pot of money, general account. So that's what I knew happened. But then another four thousand come in there, the same thing, they would just reimburse us for something. So however they, however the bullshit finally came down, it did not come down in -- If you got the message in the middle of a transit somewhere, you might have got -- But from what I heard, they got cleared up.
T: One more time on the Tribal dividend. This man right here (Gallagher) wrote very complete, thorough stories on this entire situation. He talked about this man (Boyd) standing up in a meeting and saying if you double this Tribal dividend it will put us in economic chaos, it will put us in a catastrophic situation . . .
Boyd: If there are not -- don't forget the other part of -- if there are not compensatory cuts. And the cuts have been made. This is the other side of that story.
CHIEF: Yeah, there's a flip side to what we do. We have to let them know, but you got to remember, this money that we make is not sitting in a bank.
T: I understand. It's coming to . . .
CHIEF: Then if you understood it, then why are you asking me the stupid question?
T: I'm a stupid guy.
CHIEF: Boy, you're quick. I see you're married. You're doing cool. But, anyway, I didn't mean it in that fashion. But when they asked us, we didn't know if we're gonna make it. Matter of fact, the $130 million, we really don't know if we're gonna make that. But at a time when the U.S. Attorney is going to court and threatening to take away about two-thirds of your gaming income which is above, you know, what you get. You sell cigarettes . . .
CHIEF: The Councilman stood up. So that you can't beat on these guys -- the councilman stood up. Max Osceola stood up and wanted to be a hero for some damned . . . We told him that it might be devastating. "Well," he said , "when that happens, we'll just cut it". He's a Miami University graduate with a political science, so he must have, he must have Machiavelli up his ass or something. I don't know. He knows how to do something. But when he did that, we had to do a lot of shuffling. We're still doing a lot of shuffling. There's people that's bugging the crap out of me today for loans that they can't get anywhere, but I can't give them that loan because we don't know what's gonna happen.
T: A guy like me, see, would come in, would read this stuff, read this guy's work, given -- You know, you got to make those cuts or it's going to be a catastrophe, would understand that the U.S. Attorney's come in, has threatened to take away all your game machines, and would say, would conclude Seminole Tribe right now is like a house of cards. If they pull out that gaming machine over here, the whole thing is going to collapse.
CHIEF: They would say that.
Gallagher: But everything that's in the newspaper, that isn't everything that's happening. I mean the St. Pete Times doesn't print every single thing . . .
CHIEF: He reported what happened in there. That's what was happening.
Gallagher: That was what happened at the meeting. There are things behind the scenes.
T: . . . this perilous financial situation . . .
CHIEF: You need to ask the man, you need to ask the man who offered that. I'm the kind of guy that knows that when you mention monies to a human being, you can't back out, especially in the political nature that we're in. So every time, even though I go against and tell this guy we're not, we shouldn't be mentioning monies here, he, he would jump up and go totally against, thinking that it's supposed to undermine my ass or whatever the hell he's doing, and went ahead and did it, and I went ahead and voted for it because it's not gonna hurt me in that, it's not gonna really hurt anybody in that, because these Seminoles that's in Florida here, this is a real nice situation they're in, and it's one of the best things that ever happened to them, long overdue. They were sitting around in them god-damned barbed wire fence, all these things. You got your people out of the constantine wire somewhere out in Europe. We're still in a fenced-in area called Seminole Tribe of Florida, and we're still there. It's a form of, what's it, constantine wires all these years, and it changes disguise. Now you're the new constantine wire, the way you're all sounding. It's in a political form. So, um . . .
T: Chief, you know, it seems to me a prudent person would ask . . .
CHIEF: You have to ask the political person that did that.
Editor: So you say that was Max Osceola's proposal?
CHIEF: I, I went against it.
CHIEF: I went against it, the rest of us went against. But it is not politically -- we are in -- we are politicians. When some asshole stands up and says, "We're gonna give it out," and he's got a second and for us to say no is politically suicide.
Editor: So what you're saying is this is not your . . .
CHIEF: I didn't author it, but I did vote for it.
Editor: It was Osceola's . . .
CHIEF: Yeah, Max Osceola. So you have to ask him why.
Editor: Okay.
CHIEF: Because I have no . . .
Gallagher: You didn't even know -- Did you know he was even gonna do that at the meeting?
CHIEF: No, I didn't.
Editor: And you're saying that if you had voted against it, it would have been political suicide (inaudible)?
CHIEF: Yeah. When it comes to monies to, let's say, a group of people that never had monies before, it's dangerous to do that because even you can create somebody to shoot your ass, literally cut your head off, throw rocks at you, anything. So you have to go right around with the flow, and we're not going to actually die because of that money. We're hoping that it's going to get there. And if it dies, as a matter of fact, the guy right in the, as a matter of fact it's a video in there, I think, said, "Well, if it happens, we're" . . .
T: Okay.
CHIEF: So what the hell you gonna do? These guys that elevated their income to that level and can't come down? He's a college graduate. You know, you guys are all humpty-dumpty with education. I don't know how to answer it. I'm just a high school graduate.
T: If we had taken the $30 million and said, "We've got a big rainy day ahead of us. Let's put this money over here . . ."
CHIEF: That's what Jim Billie generally says.
T: ". . .let's not raise those dividends right now."
CHIEF: I did.
T: "And if we don't raise those dividends . . . "
CHIEF: I did.
T: " . . . we will keep the federal aid for a lot of our people.
CHIEF: I said that. I said that.
T: Is that what you said?
CHIEF: I said that.
Boyd: (inaudible) the Tribal members
CHIEF: They would have kicked your ass out. But that's my philosophy. You have to have . . .
T: But you went, you went along anyway?
CHIEF: I had to because that's political suicide.
T: Okay.
CHIEF: I mean to be Chief for the rest of my life until somebody beats me. I'm not there just because some idiot over 30 million dollars. And there's three other guys. We all sat there and said, "Jesus Christ." And they knew that we would do that and they went with him. But we catch his ass on some other things.
Gallagher: This stuff was all talked about at community meetings before that.
CHIEF: Yeah.
Gallagher: The council just . . .
CHIEF: If you just even bring it up, money, guess what's gonna happen. If somebody says, "Here's a rainy day," I don't know if you're that smart on that. I don't know if I'd be that smart either. "James, there's 10,000 out." But I'm in the income bracket that I've kinda learned how to manage my money quite a bit. So I would say, "Yes, I think that's good." But I'm talking about my government, the government portion. But these guys are representative of the individual people of the Tribe. I represent all of them as a whole, but I represent the government. I try to make money stay in the coffers for the tribal government. So if somebody comes in -- I've heard these individual you're talking about trying to come after me, where I came back from Vietnam one time -- You got to remember, I was over there looking at people that looked just like my people. I didn't hate them, but I got to be very alert. So I come home. They live almost like I do and cook and eat just like I do. And when I come home, I had this weird feeling about my own people for the longest time. And then when I started working with them, uh, I got, I kinda matured up in the military atmosphere. When you said something and you got a high rank, that guy better do it or else he's got Article 15 or court martial. When I come home and I barked at somebody and they said, "Fuck you," it was not the same thing. Boy, it was kind of like "what a dumb bunch of people" sort of feeling. But they tried to take that out of context because this guy was so chicken shit he wouldn't even go to Vietnam or even try to show any kind of duty. If he didn't go to Vietnam or anything like it, just do something that would give credit to somebody or join -- what is this farming thing they could go across the United States or the world? Do that and look at other countries. But they didn't do that. They want to sit by and hang onto their parents' coffers for a while and use their names to get out of some church thing that their father was, um, was sick and can't walk, so what they did, they kind of used it to, say, get out, get out of service. Those are the same people that you're trying to help out here that's writing you a letter.
T: Roy Pippen's the manager of your farms?
CHIEF: Yeah.
T: He, uh, went belly-up in Hillsborough with his own farm about three-four years ago. Lost everything, owed everybody but you and me it looked like from the bankruptcy file . . .
CHIEF: Yeah, he went bankrupt.
T: . . .uh, he's pulling a big contract with you right now?
CHIEF: He's been working with us, and things didn't quite go well with us neither. Because we went, what, five years, two years, three years?
Boyd: Three years.
CHIEF: Three years. Things I think would have gone perfect for him, except when that -- but we didn't -- the one omen that we didn't see, the moment we started planning our stuff, United States went into NAFTA and undercut Americans, not just us, but the entire American farmers. So we struggled along and kept on and we pumped -- farming is probably worse than gambling. I mean, we pumped some millions in that thing. And only this year do I have any confidence that we think we're gonna recoup a lot of those millions back.
T: What kind of contract do you got with Roy Pippen?.
CHIEF: What kind of contract?
Boyd: We have no contract. Roy is no longer the farm manager.
T: He's no longer the farm manager?
CHIEF: Yeah.
T: What happened?
Boyd: We terminated the contract.
T: I mean, why?
CHIEF: I don't know if you can say "terminated." I talked to him today and I said, "Well, if you can come up with something," because he didn't produce like he thought he was gonna produce.
Boyd: We thought that a Tribal member was ready to move in. That's where we're at.
CHIEF: And the expenses that the Tribal member knew . . .one of our Tribal members, his father was a Mexican who had run our operation years before. I was semi-aware of that, but I didn't know he was ready to step in and do anything. Not until we started doing something, did he step up and, I guess he's maturing mentally as a human being, as a male, started saying that, "You know, that man is not doing things quite right and we can -- It's just not quite the way it's supposed to, and it's my money," and I said, "I know it's your money. So you think you can do something?" He said, "Yeah, I'll start checking it out. " And then sure enough, he was telling the truth. And he's an Yzaquirre. Cleophus Yzaquirre. He comes from a farming family, but he just never really showed anything to us until . . . he and I are pretty good fishing friends. So we started talking. And then he started letting out his emotions about the feeling. Next thing I know, sure enough, he started getting teeth. I said, "I've been waiting for that." That took, if that's what it took to wake up one Tribal member, that's great.
T: Yes.
CHIEF: But he's taken over. And Pippin, when he came to me, he said, "We'll need two million dollars to get something, to get this going, and when it makes money, we'll make money, but you're going to have to have the money to do it." So he has farming expertise. Just because a person goes bankrupt doesn't scare me off. That just means that he tried and some things didn't go right. Farming, man, there's people out there right now that I don't know how in the hell some of them survive because you see, what do you call them, auctions, all the time. So that doesn't run me off just because he did that, but when . . .
T: Were you aware of that before you hired him?
CHIEF: Oh, yes.
T: Okay.
CHIEF: I knew Roy. That's how he got there.
T: Okay.
CHIEF: I knew Roy Pippen. He was a what is it? A bean farmer. He had a new technical way of raising beans, I think, over in Plant City. That's how I know him. He wanted to try to do that years ago, back in . . . When was Jacob, when was Jacob trying to farm? Was that the early eighties?
Frank: Early eighties.
CHIEF: Early eighties. And we failed miserably because Jacob says, "I don't how to farm." I said, "I don't neither. Let's give it a try anyway. See what we do." So there was this farm that was out there, and we know why the white man farmer left that thing. When it rained, there was a pond. I think you raise things on dry land. But this one here, uh, it wasn't rain. We just did not get the prices. We were just devastated by the NAFTA. But this time the El Nino is helping the hell out of us. I mean, some people hate him. And the poor Mexicans, I mean, I see what they're going through. But I don't know why United States had to go out and do some shit like that and screw their own farmers.
T: Okay.
CHIEF: But hopefully this year no more than -- I guess this year, we'll know what the answer is on that.
Goldstein: Could we ask about the JPW contract that's pending with the NIGC? .
CHIEF: Who's that?
Goldstein: It's Butch's.
CHIEF: Those are gone.
Editor: But they have a, we're told by the NIGC -- Well, go ahead.
Goldstein: We're told by the NIGC that they applied in February of '97 for a three-year contract with the Tribe and that the Tribe had approved such contract pending approval of the NIGC.
CHIEF: Yeah, but there was another situation that developed out of that where, um, Let's see: NIGC started saying that, you know, where they were saying that they don't have a valid contract and they're gonna do something, so they started trying to go around us and trying to force themselves on us and trying to sue these guys. Wiseman and them are our employees. But it got to the point that I don't know if they, if they want to try to hide behind this type bullshit, and we said, "No, we're not gonna do that. If you can't handle the pressure on this thing like you've always done, you've got so many years left on your contract, you can't flip the bill, so we just -- But we are still paying towards that thing. And if it's -- I don't know if they're receiving, they're receiving it, or did you put it in escrow?
Boyd: No, they are receiving it.
CHIEF: Okay. So right now the bingo hall is totally ours and we have Larry Frank, our former administrator . . . I'm the administrator now covering that deal.
Goldstein: But you're not planning to pursue that three-year contract that NIGC tells us . . .
CHIEF: No, it's over with.
Goldstein: It's over?
CHIEF: It's over.
Goldstein: So then . . .
CHIEF: And then there's our time limits expire here with Tampa and Immokalee. However those go, we will have all those things in our hands. Now, we might rehire one of those guys as being managers, but they will not be into that type of a percentages.
Goldstein: They'll be getting . . .
CHIEF: They'll be getting a regular managers fee, a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year or something like that.
Goldstein: But the Tribe's percentage will obviously . . .
CHIEF: Obviously, my ass. We'll be at one hundred percent and we'll pay the people . . .
Goldstein: A hundred percent, yeah, right.
CHIEF: Yeah, it's totally -- This is what we've been waiting for years.
Goldstein: Mm-hmm.
CHIEF: But we could not move because of certain time frames that we put on ourselves, and if we didn't do it, we probably wouldn't have had the business.
Goldstein: If I may interrupt. . . Joel, since you're here, and I had no idea you were gonna be here, the former general counsel for the NIGC had made an allegation that the reason why the NIGC didn't move quicker on what they perceived to be problems with SMA was because you were on the, on that NIGC board and they felt that that would be a problem.
Editor: Embarrassment.
Goldstein: Embarrassment. Do you buy that?
Frank: Well, they've never said anything to me. Uh, they might have perceived it, I don't know. The Tribe had never approached me all the times I was on the NIGC.
CHIEF: We never even submitted it. If that's what they thought. Who's that, Tony Hope? That sounds like Tony Hope.
Gallagher: Who is the former general counsel?
Frank: Michael Cox.
CHIEF: Michael Cox? I don't know what his -- A lot of these people talk brass now, but they're more in a dangerous position nowadays than what they were years ago. We know what the hell's happening now.
Gallagher: (inaudible).
CHIEF: But any other thing you want to ask, the only ones, that anything that's pending that's being negotiated now, I just can't answer because . . .
T: We'll call Jim Shore. Do you feel like there was something that would enhance our understanding that we should have asked it but we didn't?
CHIEF: No. You should have just come to me from the beginning.
T: Fine.
CHIEF: And then check the other way. But you all didn't (inaudible), I guess. I don't know. It doesn't bother me. But it tickled me when, it tickled me when somebody wrote letters to my guys and all this thing. The people that you all were talking to, I got -- Let's see how many people did I win by this year. About five hundred and something, right? So there's about another five hundred people that would have voted against me. So naturally, but it's a democratic process.
Goldstein: Yeah.
CHIEF: I mean, if you're all in favor of those guys, you know, I can't win because of you guys. I don't care what the hell you put in the newspaper. I don't win by that. I win by, I might have a bigger family than the rest of the guys. Who gives a shit? But it's a democratic process that they need to get their act together and stick with one guy and win, but they haven't done that, so -- but I live by just primitive instincts and my family has always been in politics since, God, since the war days. And the way we lead from those days was by hierarchy or what they call that, a hereditary situation? Nowadays, it's by democratic process. But I still, if I'm the king bull right now I'll fight for my position. The young bucks got to just show it and win. And I'll respect them for it then. Previous people though, they all stepped down -- I don't know for what reason -- but I'm, I never did.
T: Are you optimistic about the future of the Tribe?
CHIEF: Oh, hell, yes. Seminole Tribe, they've been here as long as, there might be some ups and downs, but they're not -- It's your cord hanging across your camera, that's what they're trying to help you so you can take some photographs.
CHIEF: But, um, no, the Tribe will always be in good, if nothing else, they would have gone through a very educational process. But the main thing that I wish I could get through is probably learn how to manipulate their monies -- the money making entity -- how to preserve it, how to use it. And then the other thing is, if I could figure out how to kick this thing called "contraband abuse" off the reservations and anywhere else -- off the world, I'd be happy. But those are the sins.
T: How serious is that a problem for you?
CHIEF: Just like your community here. There's bad in this community. It's the same thing there. It's like . . .
Goldstein: Substance abuse meaning drugs and alcohol?
CHIEF: Yeah. It doesn't matter what community, just because you're not -- maybe you are, you're looking sober today, but it is bad everywhere. But how bad it is, I don't know. It's just a few people that does it -- it just pisses you off, because in our Tribe, like I said, there's 1,200 people and we know every one of them, and we just see one guy doing it, it pisses me off. So we talk about genocide, and they're standing out there beating their chest talking about, you know, white man this or white man or black man, whoever the hell they're trying to say. White man, hell, there's not a white man now. They're the ones that bent their arms to do it. I don't see them -- some of the people that wrote you a letter, they're into it themselves. So I think I might have tried one of the grasses, but I don't use that shit because I'm already hyper, naturally hyperactive, and it never did work, so I never got hooked on it. But some of my kids got onto it. And how that happens, I don't know, because they didn't grow up in a family that was alcoholism or drug abuse.
T: Yeah.
CHIEF: So that would be the two, the sins that I wish they would change. But the rest of it, I, my mind only works basically at the government level, trying to make sure that the government of Seminole Tribe can be existing, what makes the Tribe powerful. It can be powerful on its own, but it's got to have some sort of weapon called monies. United States has military power, but it can't have that military power unless it has money. But we don't have war power, so what the heck.
Gallagher: The more money you get, the more enemies you get
CHIEF: Yeah.
Gallagher: If they found out you had $500 million a year out of a Tampa casino, then there's other big businesses around Tampa Bay that would notice that.
CHIEF: Yeah. So you . . .
Editor: Pete said you're about to record an album?
CHIEF: Yeah. With John McEuen. He's working on another album.
Editor: Are you going to go with . . .
CHIEF: Yeah, I'll be going to California to go work on it.
Editor: Is it a Jim Billie album or a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album?
Gallagher: No, McEuen's no longer a member of the Dirt band.
CHIEF: No. There's one called Big Alli . . . I don't know what he's -- What are you calling it? McEuen: What?
CHIEF: What are you calling the album? McEuen: Hail to the Chief.
CHIEF: Hail (laughter) Oh, yeah, right. Don't call me chief, please.
Editor: An album of --
CHIEF: Huh?
Editor: An album of your music?
CHIEF: Yeah, it's music that I write. My ventilation, instead of going around killing people now, is ventilating through the guitar.
Editor: A shot at the St. Pete Times in the computer, right?
CHIEF: Yeah. No, no, I think somebody -- You, you did! (to Goldstein) You wrote a jackass letter that irritated . . . I don't care if you came out to me personally, but, you know, don't make the other guys acting like they should commit a crime, and then you're sitting there being a virgin. That's crazy. But, anyway, no harm done. I'll find the bastards and kill them later.
Editor: Do you already have albums or tapes or something?
CHIEF: Yeah, we have a Big Alligator . . . McEuen: I've recorded five cuts. For this project is what I feel like is his first album.
Editor: Can we, can we get a copy?
CHIEF: Sure. I don't have any. We came here to talk to you, not sell . . .
Goldstein: What I meant to ask you . . .
CHIEF: I'll be damned, Pete always seems to have . . .
Goldstein: . . . do you ever seen a time when you're going to have some kind of mutual funds or some set up for IRAs for Tribal members?
CHIEF: Employees have that.
Goldstein: Yeah, but for Tribal members (inaudible).
CHIEF: Yeah, that would be nice, but I'm not sure how it works, so what I do with the accounts, with our monies now, is if some Seminole -- let's say Joel Frank happened to wind up in Japan somewhere and if he can still remember the toll-free number and he's in good shape and somehow he contacts us, we are arrogant enough to -- like we were talking about that jet -- send that fucking jet on over, go pick his ass up, and bring him back and take care of his own. Nobody can really suffer in the Seminole Tribe today. The basic needs are taken care of, the very basic needs. There are certain programs that the government -- What is that term, Joe? I don't give a darn how many billions of dollars or trillions of dollars we have, the government said they're gonna give it and they're gonna have to do it whether they like it or not.
Frank: Treaty obligations.
CHIEF: Yeah, treaty obligations, they do that. And those are meager anyway. We go way beyond that. But let's just say some member isn't that well off, he can still go to that like a community clinic that we have called IHS and get his aspirins and also be taken care of.
Goldstein: Is that federally funded or is that --
CHIEF: How is that funded? That's a --
Frank: Part of public health service. Any individual including yourself can go to public health service.
Goldstein: Yeah, but like the school, for example, the Tribe pays the salaries of the teachers and (inaudible).
CHIEF: Sir, here's one that's not even on the record. There's a couple of older men on our reservation that I've known them all my life. One of them belongs to the Wind clan. Another one belongs to the Panther clan. And we know he wasn't gonna pay that loan off, but we gave it to him. We don't give a damn if he pays it back. So he's driving a very decent 19, maybe a '96 or '95, some sort of pickup truck. He says he doesn't have any money this month. "Can you give me $500?" We'll give him $500. And if somebody wants to politically challenge me on that, that was my decision, and plus it kept his pants on and he's not sitting in a, what do they call those things, a retirement home. He's maintaining himself, and I guess he still is, because once in a while I see some young woman sitting beside him, jerking him off, doing some, I don't know. So we do that. Then there's woman out there that just need, so we just carefully disseminate monies. And our politician gets challenged on that, but as long as we have cash, they will be taken care of in that fashion. But one day when it goes out . . .
Goldstein: Was the school built with Tribal money or federal . . .
CHIEF: Part.
Goldstein: Part?
CHIEF: Yeah. I forgot what the total budget was, but BIA -- You know, education is supposed to be a free education. And BIA was sort of obligated to come up with money, but when the time started expanding, they could not meet that type of monies. And then this big fan fare in the air that the Tribe is getting rich. We don't complain about United States getting rich, but when the Tribe is getting rich, they said that, "Well, you might have to add some money," so we added a couple of million dollars into it. And it's basically done in the public school manner. The majority of the people on our reservation are Tribal members, but there are people who are not Tribal members that wish to have . . . and it's accredited. So some people who live in nearby swamps, they can come in there. And these people are by no means wealthy, so they might get their free food or something like that. But we are now entering the stage where we used to be able to get this couple of thousand dollars, whatever it is, for adding money to USDA type foods, probably just supplies to those people. Our people aren't qualified. We put the monies in to feed our own kids.
Boyd: You guys should really focus on the things that Seminole Tribe did right rather than looking at the negative.
Editor: Well, go ahead . . .
Boyd: There's a lot of things the Tribe does well.
Editor: This is a good chance. That's an excellent point.
CHIEF: Well, we hired Ted Boyd.
Boyd: We're responding to negative questions. That's not fair. It's hard to emphasize positive stuff when we're responding to negative questions.
Editor: But this is a good opportunity for you to do that.
T: The cell phone business makes money . . .
CHIEF: Yeah, Jim Shore knows more about that because I got that started way back when uh . . .
T: What do you know about the cell phone business?
CHIEF: Well, that's good. That shows you how ignorant some of the people you were talking to. You should talk to me. Myself, Ted Boyd, Joel Frank, police department would be Tom Hernon, Jim Shore, but your first pivoting point is generally, uh, my office and then, and the reason why we don't like just a Joe Blow off the street asking you a question, it's just like asking -- let me see you ask those people about your own government. They don't know jack shit about it. So what we do is we, um, come on over. Oh, that's your editor. That 's Dyckman, isn't it? Representative Dyckman. I was coming over here and a guy up in Tallahassee was calling me this morning and said, "What you doing?" "I've got some interview with the St. Pete Times." He say, "You gonna talk to Representative" -- Is it Dyckman?
Editor: Dyckman.
CHIEF: Martin Dyckman. "You're gonna talk to Representative Dyckman." They hate his ass.
Editor: Yeah, they do.
CHIEF: But anyway . . .
Goldstein: But gambling money has helped pay for teachers.
CHIEF: Everything.
Gallagher: Every kid has a college education if they want it.
CHIEF: Money, just money in general, but --
Editor: Every kid has a college education?
Gallagher: If they want it, they do.
CHIEF: Everything that we do, everything that we do, buying my boat, Tribal money . . . How the hell do you think I'm gonna buy the boat with? I'm probably one of the highest paid son of a bitches in the Tribe.
T: How high are you paid?
CHIEF: Probably close to over a couple of hundred thousand.
T: Are you paid to publish the paper?
CHIEF: Huh?
T: Are you paid to publish the paper?
CHIEF: No, that's part of my weapons, just like whoever it is over there. That's my . . .
Goldstein: You're too kind.
CHIEF: No, some of the things I started is my broadcasting.
Editor: I'm sure the Mayor of St. Pete would like to have his own newspaper.
CHIEF: Yeah, but I'm in charge -- You got to remember, this is a government that we're dealing with. And a lot of things that is handled over there, I have to make a decision whether you like it or not or whether anybody else likes it or not with my very small form of education. I know that it takes money to make things run. And I know that you need the power of the ink because you're gonna hide behind the First Amendment every fucking chance you get. So if I'm gonna fight, you're not gonna print what I want to say. You're gonna print only what you want to distort. So I'll have my own papers to do the same thing. Even though it's small, we get out there. And so we have a communications department. As a matter of fact, the boy we put in it, he got on a drug binge and was on cocaine really bad, and I was using him as a liaison up in Tallahassee, and he just, just the novelty of being a liaison, a representative of the Seminole Tribe up in Tallahassee, boy, he got hooked on the wrong shit. So I fired him and I told him, I told him, "Once you straighten up, I'll know when you're straightened out, I'll put you back on, but I don't know where to put you." Time went along about five years I think. It's about five years, weren't it, Joel? About five years old, I mean five years, and he was out there working with the Miccosukees, cutting trees down and all this kind of crap. And one day I saw him and he was stone sober. And I said, "Hey, Danny, you're sober or something?" "Yeah, James, finally got off that shit about six months ago and, boy, am I glad." I said, "You really sure you're sober?" He said, "Yeah." "Remember that promise I made you?" "What's that?" "You know, you can come back." He say, "You really mean it?" I said, "Yeah. Come in a couple of days from now and we'll talk and see where we can put you." And he came in and I said, "I have a new program I'm gonna try to do, broadcasting. I don't know the slightest thing about Ikegami or anything like this, but you're gonna have to learn. You'll be in charge of it." So he's in charge of it now. So we have a pretty good Broadcasting, cable network type thing that we do. And then Betty May Jumper's in charge of the Communication. We try to touch every phase of what a government's supposed to be.
Goldstein: Can you explain why you fired your business manager?
CHIEF: Huh?
Goldstein: Your business manager.
CHIEF: Who's that? Who?
Goldstein: Tallick, Jim Tallick.
CHIEF: That's a corporate thing. I don't have an answer for that.
Gallagher: That's a corporate thing.
CHIEF: Yeah, Mitchell Cypress. I don't know what he would do.
Editor: Okay. We appreciate the time you've given us. I think we're --
CHIEF: All right. Money. You take my . . .
T: $2,000?
CHIEF: $3,000.
T: You got to submit a bill.
CHIEF: No, we don't want to submit a bill. But, anyway, you're more than welcome, you're more than welcome to come to the Tribal office, look around, chat to people, and I would love to see what, what's her name, I'll use your program to do it.
REPORTER: Ellen(inaudible).
CHIEF: I want to see what she says.
Editor: We tried or they tried.
CHIEF: Try it again. I'll call her up. I'm gonna call her up.
T: Sure.
CHIEF: I'm gonna call her up and say, "You're gonna have to answer that because I didn't know what to tell them, so I told them you can talk to her." But if you all had asked us first, "Can we talk to her," we would have said yes. We don't try to hide anything, but we want you to know where to go.
Goldstein: Okay.
CHIEF: The average person -- If you went down to Vietnam and you don't know what the hell you're doing, where in the hell are you gonna go? You're gonna try to go to someplace that they're gonna prove you right or wrong, and there's other people you can ask them a question, but . . .
Editor: That's fair enough.
CHIEF: We have moved pretty darned fast that a lot of people in the Tribe wouldn't even understand, and they're catching up, which is good.
Gallagher: It seems suspicious to me. Jeff knew I worked for them. He'd been on the case for months and months, never gave me a call. I live right in St. Pete. I helped a lot of reporters at the Times. I offered to bring them right down to his house.
CHIEF: Come on down.
Gallagher: It made me feel that he thought if he told me something, I'd run down here and say "Hey, everybody, close your books, the St. Pete Times is comin'" and everything else. But that's not how it operates down there.
CHIEF: But when I heard the shindig, the way you all were doing it . . .
Gallagher: When I heard his name, I was suspicious. Why didn't he call me?
CHIEF: I knew immediately, after the election there's a bunch of people that might be disenchanted on how the election went. But I won the election. They can say any damned thing they want.
T: Pete told us that you told him that our reporters have been surveilled down in Peru.
CHIEF: Yeah, who went down there?
Goldstein: I did.
CHIEF: Did you?
Goldstein: Yeah.
CHIEF: How did you like it? They speak Spanish down there? You take cocaine and send some to the higher mountains? We might have something for you. We're going -- Oh, that's another one that we're getting into. I'll let you know about it. It's called Ay-eet-chee I think. What is it, river of grass or something? We're going to go into herbal-like natural healing medicines. And that's going to be controversial because a lot of Indians I've run into say, "We don't want to tell the white man anything." "Yeah, but they come and tell you, so what's the damned joke?" So but we're getting into that.
Goldstein: I wouldn't recommend Lima.
CHIEF: Who's that?
Goldstein: Lima, Peru.
CHIEF: Oh.
Goldstein: It's not a, it's not a must-see place.
CHIEF: I haven't been down there. I have been invited to go down there because Jim Clare and them went down there and I guess they were expanding their own personal private businesses. But they've invited me to go down there, but my knees are all screwed up. I've got both knee replacements November 10.
Goldstein: Is that congenital or is that . . .
CHIEF: I don't know. There's a lot of bow-legged Indians and there's a lot of people that has operations on it.
Goldstein: The reason I asked that is I had heard that the diabetes was a problem.
CHIEF: Yeah. My family doesn't have . . .
Goldstein: Diabetes.
CHIEF: . . .diabetes. Maybe malnutrition. But my kids have grown up, they don't have any problems. I don't even want to ask questions. You want to ask questions?
Gallagher: What about your reporters, do they know?
Editor: That's what I'm saying. I'm relying on them to tell me, and in the documents I've seen, I'm not sure what would be considered or, you know, confidential.
Gallagher: Chief, what would be considered classified or, you know, confidential?
CHIEF: In Seminole Tribe?
Gallagher: I'm saying what do they have? And he says I don't know. He's not sure what's classified and what's not. Basically, all financial records are classified, right, except those that are . . .
CHIEF: I can answer that because if he gave that out, I'd fire his ass. Anything that I'm in negotiation with I want to keep my leading edge. Those are classified.
Editor: Your Tribal budget is not classified?
CHIEF: It's classified (inaudible). It's nobody else's business. This is no Sunshine Law on my reservation. We do have to report to BIA about the findings and we get audited and all that. They do that and we tell them we don't want nobody knowing about it if they don't have to. It's not like your Tallahassee because you didn't -- I don't know if you voted for him or not -- but I don't go up there and ask them what the financial records. Number one, I wouldn't appreciate it anyway. It's so fucking big, I wouldn't even understand it, unless it's a specific area. So in ours, those are just it. But the main classified areas which you still can get, if you really wanted to, is individual person that wants to keep their life as a private person.
Goldstein: We don't have any of those. That's a nice belt buckle by the way. (Note: At this point the formal interview involving the St. Petersburg Times and Chief Billie ended.)

(Tape ends)

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