John Dempsey and his daughter Kelly were members of the Navajo tribe in the Iroquois Nation for eight years. John served as Tribal Chief of the Navajo in 2005, and was Nation Chief of the Iroquois from 2006 to 2008. His PRISIP leadership mantra, “It’s all about the girls,” was a focusing inspiration for many in the Iroquois. Here he shares some memories of his personal experiences, as well as some thoughts on what it means to be a part of the Indian Princesses and the Iroquois:
Like most dads, mom received a flyer at school (Kindergarten class for my daughter) saying what a great opportunity to join PRIS. My initial reaction was “What am I getting myself into?” Back in 2002, tribes were smaller than today. I conceded and said “OK” and went to the recruiting night, and then the induction ceremony. I was the only Navajo present back then with nobody to wisk us into our new tribe. A Seminole Chief saw I was a bit lost and offered to introduce us into a tribe other than his. It was the first of my many great experiences in this organization, because it showed me that our neighbors and future friends do truly care for each other.
We spent the next several years having the most daddy-daughter fun you can imagine. I traveled a lot, so the time with my daughter was precious and this was the ticket. In the early days the 7 Aims were a mystery to almost everyone, but as leadership evolved and camaraderie grew throughout the Iroquois Nation, suddenly the girls began to recite the 7 Aims, get a patch for memorizing them and I finally had a clearer picture of what we are all about. My daughter Kelly earned one of the first patches. Find the 7 Aims on this site and you will see how spot on they are, and how we as adults must live by them too.
I was fortunate to move up through the ranks and work with the best team of dads imaginable. I would not have met most of the friends in our community and would have regretted that today had I ‘blinked my eyes’ and the time would have surely passed us by.
I saw my daughter grow into a PRIS Elder and watched how she mentored younger ones, especially when they were on their first scary overnight campout and not in their own beds or when they we running low with candy to share during the Memorial Day parade because they threw it all to the crowd by about the third block into the celebration. If you are considering joining, please don’t wait too long. Time passes in a the blink of an eye.
And remember, “It’s All About The Girls.” — John Dempsey