New constitution remains on hold

BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor
12/04/2003 10:06 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - Sometimes no news is good news. But regarding the Bureau of Indian Affairs' decision whether to certify Cherokee Nation's amendment question in the May 24 general election, it's not.

Todd Hembree, vice chairman of the CN Constitution Convention Commission, said there is no new news regarding the BIA and its decision on whether to certify the citizens' vote that removes Article XV, Section 10 in the 1976 CN Constitution.

The article requires federal approval for any amendments or changes to the tribe's current constitution. Cherokee citizens voted to eliminate the federal approval clause May 24.

Julian Fite, general counsel for the tribe, said the BIA has still not certified that election and that its lack of action may be based on the recent Cherokee Freedmen lawsuit filed against the Department of Interior. The Freedmen are asking the BIA to overturn recent tribal elections and appoint a trustee to oversee Freedmen rights. The Freedmen claim they were denied the right to vote.

CN officials said earlier this year that none of the Freedmen plaintiffs ever tried to register for the May 24 tribal election.

"They (BIA) are still jacking around," Fite said. "We're talking to them, but there has been no movement on that (election certification). It all seems to be tied to their concern about the Freedmen issues that have been bouncing around. They've given us no timetable. They just haven't done anything."

Hembree said he also didn't know why the BIA is taking so long to certify the election.

"We are still waiting from the Bureau of Indian Affairs that has not certified the first election process, and I really don't know what needs to be certified," he said. "I think it's clear that Cherokee people voted on it and it passed."

He said the tribe should "pressure" the BIA because the CN "can't just sit around… and just wait."

A call was made to the BIA's Muskogee Area Office by the Phoenix, but was not returned.

Because citizens voted to abolish the amendment, they were allowed to vote in the July 26 run-off election to decide whether to retain the current 1976 Constitution or ratify the new 1999 Constitution. Cherokees voted 54 percent to 46 percent to ratify the new constitution, according to Election Commission results.

If the BIA decides to certify the amendment vote, the 1999 Constitution would automatically go into effect, Hembree said.

Some of the changes that would occur under the new constitution would include creating the office of speaker that would chair Tribal Council meetings and be third in line of succession to the head of government behind the principal chief and deputy chief, add two at-large councilors to the Tribal Council, provide term limits and set staggered council terms, establish a voting process for Cherokee voters residing outside CN jurisdiction, provide a delegate to the U.S. Congress and create the office of attorney general. The new constitution would also create District Courts in the tribe's judicial system as well as renaming the Judicial Appeals Tribunal as the Supreme Court and increasing its members from three to five.
About the Author
Travis Snell has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2000. He began as a staff writer, a position that allowed him to win numerous writing awards from the Native American Journalists Association, including the Richard LaCourse Award for best investigative story in 2003. He was promoted to assistant editor in 2007, switching his focus from writing to story development, editing, design and other duties.

He is a member of NAJA, as well as the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and Society for News Design.

Travis earned his journalism degree with a print emphasis in 1999 from Oklahoma City University. While at OCU, he served as editor, assistant editor and sports reporter for the school’s newspaper.

He is married to Native Oklahoma publisher Lisa Snell. The couple has two children, Sadie and Swimmer. He is the grandson of original enrollee Swimmer Wesley Snell and Patricia Ann (Roberts) Snell.
TRAVIS-SNELL@cherokee.org • 918-453-5358
Travis Snell has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2000. He began as a staff writer, a position that allowed him to win numerous writing awards from the Native American Journalists Association, including the Richard LaCourse Award for best investigative story in 2003. He was promoted to assistant editor in 2007, switching his focus from writing to story development, editing, design and other duties. He is a member of NAJA, as well as the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and Society for News Design. Travis earned his journalism degree with a print emphasis in 1999 from Oklahoma City University. While at OCU, he served as editor, assistant editor and sports reporter for the school’s newspaper. He is married to Native Oklahoma publisher Lisa Snell. The couple has two children, Sadie and Swimmer. He is the grandson of original enrollee Swimmer Wesley Snell and Patricia Ann (Roberts) Snell.

News

BY STAFF REPORTS
05/22/2015 01:00 PM
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BY STAFF REPORTS
05/21/2015 02:00 PM
The Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board will be meeting via conference call at 9 a.m. CDT, June 2, 2015. To attend, please use the conference call information listed below. The meeting agenda is <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/5/9284_150602_EBAgenda.pdf" target="_blank">here</a>. Dial-in: 866-210-1669 Entry code: 4331082
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/21/2015 11:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tulsa Veterans Center is partnering with the Cherokee Nation to create three new combat support groups at the Cherokee Nation Veterans Service Center. To enroll, veterans need to bring a copy of their DD214 or discharge papers that show their combat service. According to a release, the VSC staff understands the issues combat veterans go through and wish to give a safe and private place for these veterans to be around other veterans who can relate to their experiences. The Combat Support Group meets from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. the second and fourth Mondays each month. The Vietnam Combat Support Group meets from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. the first and third Wednesdays each month. The Women’s Combat Support Group meets from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays each month. This group is open to any female who has served in a combat zone. Female combat veterans are encouraged to join other female combat veterans to talk about their experiences and to find others who can relate to your experiences. For more information, call Matthew Tiger at 918-453-5693.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/20/2015 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – A wreath ceremony to honor Cherokee veterans will be held at 2 p.m. on May 22 in recognition of Memorial Day at the Cherokee Nation’s Veterans Center and Warrior Memorial located on the Tribal Complex. Those expected to attend include Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, veterans and their families. According to a CN press release, the program includes the raising of the flags and a solo performance by a Cherokee National Youth Choir member. “Cherokees have always honored and revered our warriors,” Crittenden, a U.S. Navy veteran, said. “We invite the public to join us and pay tribute to all the men and women who bravely fought and died for our freedoms.” The release states that there will be a reception and Code Talkers exhibit following the program. The exhibit includes 12 panels of World War I and II memorabilia to recognize soldiers from the Cherokee Nation and other tribes who used their Native languages to relay important military messages in unbreakable codes, the release states. It also features the 2013 Congressional Gold Medal awarded to the tribe in recognition of the dedication and valor of Native American code talkers during WWII, the release states. For more information, call 918-772-4166.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/19/2015 04:00 PM
LOCUST GROVE, Okla. – The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation recently renovated a park in Locust Grove for children of all ages to enjoy. The $30,000 renovation project helped provide new picnic tables, slides and a swing set for the park located on the corner of Delaware Street and Ross Avenue. “The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation is constantly looking for project opportunities that not only benefit Cherokee children, but all children in our communities, and taking advantage of this opportunity at Locust Grove was a no-brainer for our group,” HACN Executive Director Gary Cooper said. “This newly restored playground gives the children of the community a safe and fun place to come and just enjoy time in the sun.” The HACN used money from Housing and Urban Development funds for the renovation project. “The Cherokee Nation and the Housing Authority are doing so much to promote healthy families. This play structure will be a place for children to come and have fun while they stay healthy,” Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor said. “I appreciate Principal Chief Bill John Baker and the Housing Authority’s enthusiasm for this project for the Locust Grove community.” CN citizen and Locust Grove resident Amber Buckskin Swarer said the addition is exciting for the community, including her two boys. “We are just so excited to have somewhere we can take our kids,” said Swarer. “Before this, there was not really anything. Now we have something and can get our children outdoors and active, and we don’t have to drive to another town to take advantage of it.” Locust Grove resident Ema Parker said she is thankful the new playground equipment is age-appropriate for toddlers, such as her 13-month-old, Chett. “It’s nice to have somewhere with safe, clean equipment that I can bring my son to so that we can play outside, and I’m so glad they put in the baby swings because there wasn’t much catering to babies before,” said Parker. “I appreciate everything the Cherokee Nation and Housing Authority have done to help out and give the kids a good place to play here in Locust Grove.” For more information on the HACN, visit <a href="http://www.hacn.org" target="_blank">www.hacn.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/19/2015 01:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – People can support the “Remember the Removal” bike ride by purchasing T-shirts that support the ride and the cyclists taking part. Proceeds from the sales of the shirts will help support the riders as they travel 950 miles retracing the Trail of Tears in June. The shirts (adult S-XXXL) cost $15 and are available at the Cherokee Nation Gift Shop Tahlequah and online at CherokeeGiftShop.com. Youth sizes small through large are $10. “Remember the Removal” staff members will be selling the shirts at local events such as the upcoming Strawberry Festival. Currently, 12 CN citizens are training to retrace the northern route of the Trail of Tears through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas before returning to Oklahoma. They will put their bodies to the test as they travel an average of 60 miles a day, mirroring in part the hardships of their Cherokee ancestors who made the same trek on foot 176 years ago. Of the estimated 16,000 Cherokees who were forced to make the journey to Indian Territory from eastern Tennessee and other sites in the old CN, 4,000 died due to exposure, starvation and disease. On the journey, the “Remember the Removal” cyclists visit various gravesites and historic landmarks along the trail, including Blythe Ferry in Tennessee, which was the last piece of Cherokee homeland the ancestors stood on before beginning the trek to Indian Territory, and Mantle Rock in Kentucky, which provided shelter to their ancestors as they waited for the Ohio River to thaw in order to cross safely. The cyclists and staff will leave on June 3 for Cherokee, North Carolina, where they will join up with seven cyclists from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The EBCI has been participating in the ride since 2011. The cyclists will begin making their way back from New Echota, Georgia, on June 7 along the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears and arrive in Tahlequah on June 25. For more information, visit RememberTheRemoval.Cherokee.org. The public may follow this year’s journey on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/removal.ride" target="_blank">www.facebook.com/removal.ride</a>.