Tribal Government & News

Julio Martinez takes over as Tribe's Finance Officer

07.29.2011 Dean Rhodes Tribal employees

After 20 years in the Everglades with the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, ending as chief of staff and financial officer, Cuban-born Julio Martinez, 46, was looking for a change.

He said he wanted to use what he had learned while with the Miccosukee in other places.

He started with the Miccosukee right out of college, the year before Indian gaming took off, and soared with the once poor, 600-member Tribe as it grew into a major enterprise with $1 billion in annual revenues.

The Miccosukee Tribe, located just on the edge of the lucrative Miami population center, offered Martinez a front row seat among Natives who live in "hammocks," or tiny communities of thatched roof huts, way out in the Everglades. Hammocks is the Mikasuki word for these small encampments, each a family outpost.

These hard-to-reach hammocks kept the Tribe alive and together during the time of European encroachment, he said.

When Martinez arrived at the Miccosukee Reservation in 1989, it was funded 90 percent by government grants. Today, it is a very wealthy Tribe funded 90 percent by a casino and other enterprises they run.

"I wanted to take what I'd learned there to other places," Martinez said.

The biggest of those: "I learned to listen," he said.

"When I first started, I wanted to talk, to tell what I knew, but they are taught to listen. They don't talk over one another. They still speak Mikasuki and most also speak English. They use a lot of allegory. They communicate important points using short stories. Historically, that's how they teach their children."

Since his arrival in Grand Ronde in July, Martinez has been evaluating Tribal portfolios and reported to Tribal Council. "There is no urgency to change anything. The investments are well-structured and well-documented."

"Diversification," he said, "is a need for all Tribes that are going to survive. Relying on a single source of revenue is dangerous.

"I'm very happy to see that this Tribe is actively pursuing this."

Martinez said he anticipates working in partnership with the Executive, Legal and Economic Development offices in safeguarding and building Tribal assets.

Gaming revenue, he said, has enabled Tribes "to organize a true government and fight for their rights." 

Coming from a life near the ocean, Martinez and his wife, Marcie, found a place on the Oregon Coast, near a golf course (he's a golfer) and, of course, the ocean. Though in Miami, the ocean is 80 degrees. He said he is planning on playing golf, but not on swimming in the Oregon Pacific anytime soon.

On the other hand, working in the Everglades, he said, a snake once came through the porous wall of his office, and other deadly Everglade creatures also came knocking from time to time, creatures he won't have to worry about in his office here.

He said he loves a lot of outdoor activities, including fishing. Oregon's reputation for great outdoors played a part in his decision to move cross-country.

 "I was warned about the rain, but in south Florida, we have torrential rains. Maybe I've been spoiled because since I arrived, there have been a lot of beautiful days.

"I'm here to take what you have, which is working, to protect it and make sure your assets continue to be invested properly."