Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
My last letter to the Gazette was sent many years ago in opposition to the effort to rename the town of Oak Bluffs. However, a recent article has spurred me to write again, primarily to support our democratic process.
The article dealt with the criticism levied by the chairman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) on two elected officials of the town of Aquinnah. The article attributes the chairman’s displeasure with them as a result of their lack of support for a tribal initiative to build a bingo hall in Aquinnah. She especially faults them for being tribal members, yet not being supportive of this effort.
I have nothing against bingo halls, nor do I know any of the individuals mentioned in this article. My following thoughts may likely be perceived as unwarranted and unwelcome; however, in this time of nationwide frustration with our political system, I feel compelled to express them.
What strikes me the most is the fact that the chairman feels the two elected officials should do whatever it takes to advance the proposed bingo hall by the tribe simply because they are both tribal members. The tribal chairman wants them to endorse her agenda for the tribe and not necessarily do what’s best for “the constituency of the town.” I understand her position as she was elected by tribal members to do what is best for the tribe. However, what’s best for the tribe may not be best for the town.
The voters of the town of Aquinnah, both tribal and nontribal, should embrace these two elected officials. They were elected to their respective positions by all voters of the town of Aquinnah. Accordingly, they were elected to look out for the best interests of the entire constituency of the town and not just the special interest of the tribe. These elected officials are taking a courageous stand to do what they feel is in the best interest of the entire constituency of the town of Aquinnah, and they are doing it over their personal allegiances to their tribe and to fellow tribal members. Again, I do not know these elected officials but can only imagine how painful this position must have been for them to take. My hat is off to them! I only wish all elected officials nationwide would dare demonstrate this kind of courage.
Stuart L. Santos, Jacksonville, Fla. and Oak Bluffs