Mr. Snyder has been quick to point out that he has the support of a handful of those he calls “tribal leaders,” such as the Lower Brule Sioux tribe vice chairman, Boyd Gourneau, and the Pueblo of Zuni governor, Arlen Quetawki, both quoted in the news release.
“Tribal officials” might be a better term here than “tribal leaders” because although they are elected, it is in no way clear that they actually represent the sentiments of their constituents any more than John Boehner represents the sentiments of most Americans. These officials’ public-relations-ready comments — “I appreciate your sincerity” and “the entire tribe is so appreciative” — are the diplomatic words of dignitaries, nothing more. It would be a mistake to assume that those words imply democratic consent.
from The Price of a Slur, NYTimes