President's Letter, Fr. Paul Demuth

I remember a lesson someone wiser than myself taught me long ago:

If you are in conflict with a person or group that has a very different interpretation than yours about life or one of its principles, don’t begin a dialogue by going directly after the conflicting position. Rather begin by trying to establish a relationship. Speak about topics that are safe and common to each of you or work together on a mutually agreeable project. Then you can move to speaking about and acting on the more contentious issue.”  


At a recent Bay Area Community Council Board meeting, we had an example of this process. Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach, Oneida Nation Tribal Chairman Tehassi Hill, and Oneida Nation Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Melinda Danforth spoke to our group. We were all aware of the sometimes contentious relationship that has taken place among area governments, especially regarding payment of fees in lieu of property taxes removed from properties purchased by the Oneida Nation as part of their endeavor to reclaim reservation acreage. Yes, this topic was addressed, but not at first. Instead they shared with us the mutual respect that each had for the other, both personally and as community leaders. They spoke about the common goals they had for making our community a better place to live and work in our shared territories. They discussed the varied but mutual cooperation that already exists in employment, health care and education.  You didn’t feel tension between them — even in the midst of thorny issues. Rather, we sensed common hopes for the future of the Oneida Nation and Brown County.

Isn’t this the better way for all of our many forms of government, education, nonprofits and business entities to proceed? I believe that there is a renewed sense among leaders of our area to develop cooperative stances rather than “divide and conquer.” It is said that all politics is local; perhaps our common goal is rather to be a shining example for state and federal governments of a political arena where people dialogue, build trust, and work together for the common good.

P.S. Beginning soon, BACC aims to post Q and A from Green Bay mayoral candidates on our Facebook page . Click on this link and "follow" and "like" our page now so you don't miss it!