New constitution remains on hold
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.
LONGMONT, Colo. –The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 included historic provisions that reaffirm tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians in certain domestic violence cases. When this provision takes effect nationwide on March 7, Indian tribes will be able to prosecute non-Indians who abuse Indian women on tribal lands for the first time since the Oliphant v. Suquamish decision.
Importantly, there are a number of due process requirements that must first be met. The National Congress of American Indians has developed a website to assist tribes as they implement the new law.
The website includes a tribal code checklist, which offers a quick guide to the due process requirements. Also, the website collects information from the Inter-Tribal Technical Assistance Working Group, which is a collaboration of 40 tribes sharing information and advice on how to best implement VAWA, combat domestic violence, recognize victims' rights and safety needs and safeguard defendants' rights.
Three of the ITWG tribes have also been participating in a U.S. Department of Justice pilot project that allowed them to begin exercising jurisdiction over non-Indians last year.
Materials from the three pilot tribes are now available. They offer useful examples of how individual tribes have modified tribal code language and constructed jury pools for VAWA cases. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe has also developed a very useful "Practical Guide to Implementing VAWA and TLOA." ?
The website includes past webinars on a variety of VAWA implementation topics, including jury pools and selection, defendants' rights, protection orders and victims' rights. Finally, the website will track any VAWA updates and upcoming events. All tribes seeking to implement SDVCJ are also encouraged to join the Intertribal Technical-Assistance Working Group.
To view the website, visit <a href="http://www.ncai.org/tribal-vawa" target="_blank">http://www.ncai.org/tribal-vawa</a>.
For more information, email <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Voters wanting an absentee ballot mailed to them need to apply as soon as possible to receive one for the June 27 general election. Voters have until May 8 to apply for absentee ballots.
“Although the Cherokee Nation Election Commission has been accepting applications for absentee ballots, and will continue accepting them until 5 p.m. on May 8, we urge voters who want to vote by absentee ballot to apply early,” Connie Parnell, election services director, said.
The commission only suggests applying early because two mail transactions must be made in the absentee ballot process and that takes time.
“The Election Commission must mail the ballots to the voter and the voter must return the voted ballots by mail. Ballots must be in the hands of the Cherokee Nation Election Commission office by 7 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.” Parnell said.
EC officials said any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot in any election in which he or she is eligible to vote.
“However, a voter must be registered and reside at an address within the jurisdictional boundaries of a council district or at-large to be eligible to vote in Cherokee Nation elections,” officials said. “It is not necessary to give a reason or excuse for voting absentee. Anyone can vote absentee without giving a reason.”
The EC will begin mailing absentee ballots on May 26.
The procedure a voter should follow if his or her absentee ballot does not arrive is to contact the Election Services Office and report that he or she has not received an absentee ballot, EC officials said.
Absentee ballot application forms are available at the Election Services Office located at 22116 S. Bald Hill Road. Forms are also available online at <a href="http://www.cherokee.org/elections" target="_blank">www.cherokee.org/elections</a>.
CHEROKEE, N.C. – The producers of the outdoor drama “Unto These Hills” that is held each summer in Cherokee is searching for male and female actors, ages 18-60, for the 2015 season.
Several roles need to be cast for the drama that is performed in a 2,000-seat outdoor amphitheater. Actors are paid $200 to $400 per week, and the production offers on-site housing for $20 per week. The drama’s season runs from May 30 through Aug. 15, with rehearsals starting May 10.
The Cherokee Historical Association will accept video auditions. Video submissions should include a monologue (2 minutes maximum); 16 bars up-tempo; 16 bars ballad, if you sing; movement reel (fight or dance) and a picture and resume. For more information, email <a href="mailto: Marina@cherokeeadventure.com">Marina@cherokeeadventure.com</a> or call 828-497-3652.
This will be the 63nd season for the drama that tells the story of the Cherokee people “through the eons, through the zenith of their power, through the heartbreak of the Trail of Tears, finally ending, appropriately, in the present day, where the Cherokee people...continue to rewrite their place in the world.”
There are also job opportunities at the Oconaluftee Indian Village, which is a re-created Cherokee village of the 1700-1800’s. Here the CHA depicts life as it was through historical interpretation and people are in character roles. This venue is open from May 1 through Oct. 24.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – From March 2-5, 36 candidates filed for the 10 seats that will be on the Cherokee Nation’s June 27 general election ballot, according to the Election Commission.
Those filing for principal chief are incumbent Bill John Baker, state Rep. Will Fourkiller, former Principal Chief Chad Smith and former CN Community Services Director Charlie Soap.
Deputy chief candidates are incumbent S. Joe Crittenden, current At-Large Tribal Councilor Julia Coates and current Dist. 14 Tribal Councilor Lee Keener.
The Dist. 1 seat will have two candidates, Rex Jordan and Ryan Sierra. Current Tribal Councilor Tina Glory Jordan is terming out of office in August.
The Dist. 3 seat candidates are incumbent David Walkingstick, Brian Berry, Brandon Girty, Kathy Kilpatrick and Larry Pritchett.
Dist. 6 voters will have four candidates to choose from: Ron Goff, Natalie Fullbright, Bryan Warner and B. Keith McCoy. Current Tribal Councilor Janelle Fullbright is terming out of office.
Shawn Crittenden and Corey Bunch will vie for the Dist. 8 seat, which is currently held by Tribal Councilor Jodie Fishinghawk, who terms out in August.
The Dist. 12 seat also has two candidates, incumbent Dick Lay and Dora Smith Patzkowski.
Former Tribal Councilor Buel Anglen will vie for the Dist. 13 seat against Kenneth Holloway. Current Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts terms out of that seat in August.
Former Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board member Keith Austin will go up against William “Bill” Pearson for the Dist. 14 seat, which is currently held by Keener.
The At-Large seat brought out 10 candidates. They are Linda Leaf-Bolin, Trey Brown, Pamela Fox, Shane Jett, Tommy Jones, Wanda Hatfield, Darell Matlock, Benjamin McKee,
Deborah Reed and Betsy Swimmer. Coates currently holds that council seat, but she also terms out in August.
All candidate filings can be contested through March 12 during the candidacy eligibility period.
The Cherokee Phoenix will host a principal chief and deputy chief debate on May 16 at the W. Roger Webb Educational Technologies Center (Net Lab) at Northeastern State University located at 610 North Grand Ave. in Tahlequah. The debate will be live streamed. Time has yet to be determined.
The Phoenix will also publish a Tribal Council candidate questionnaire in its May issue.
March 5-12: Contest of candidacy eligibility.
March 5-19: Candidate withdrawal period.
March 5-23: EC investigates candidates.
March 24: Meeting to draw for order of candidates and watchers at 4 p.m.
March 24: Appeal of EC eligibility decision with Cherokee Nation Supreme Court.
March 31: Voter registration closes.
March 31-April 3: Supreme Court establishes hearing schedule.
April 15: Candidate financial reports due.
May 8: Absentee request closes at 5 p.m.
May 13: Deadline to set and publish precinct locations on the website and newspaper.
May 15: Candidate financials due.
May 20: Mail voter cards.
May 26-27: Mail absentee ballots.
June 15: Candidate financial reports due.
June 20: Early walk-in voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
June 22-27: Verify absentee ballots and take down to the secrecy envelope.
June 23: Early walk-in voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
June 23-27: Drop box for absentee from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
June 24: Early walk-in voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
June 25: Early walk-in voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
June 26: Supplies go out and deliver tubs to precincts.
June 27: Election Day.
June 29: Request for recount ends 5 p.m. on July 1.
July 2-3: Recount held by EC and Supreme Court Justices attend.
July 6: Election appeals deadline.
July 7-9: Supreme Court hearing and provide results.
July 13-14: Run-off absentee ballots mail out.
July 15: Candidate financial reports due.
July 18 & 21-23: Early walk in 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
July 21-25: Personal delivery box.
July 24: Supplies got out and deliver tubs to precincts.
July 25: Run-off election.
July 27-July 29: Request for run-off election recount.
July 30: Recount held by EC and Supreme Court justices attend.
Aug. 3: Run-off election appeal deadline.
Aug. 4-6: Supreme Court hearing and provide results.
Aug. 7: Final candidate financial report due.
Aug. 11: Regular meeting and certification of election and candidates.
Aug. 14: Swearing in of elected officials.
Aug. 17: Registration opens.
Sept. 15: Candidate financial report due.
Oct. 15: Candidate financial report due,
Nov. 16: Candidate financial report due.
Dec. 15: Candidate financial report due.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Regardless of inclement weather expected to hit Tahlequah Tuesday night, the Election Commission’s Election Services Office will open on Wednesday to allow candidates to file for the June 27 election.
Election Director Connie Parnell said Cherokee Nation election law states that March 2-5 are the four days that are designated for filing.
The filing period for candidates closes at 5 p.m. March 5.
“This office will be open tomorrow even if Cherokee Nation is not,” she said.
According to News On 6 Tulsa’s weather forecast, Tahlequah is expected to get rain Tuesday evening, which will turn into freezing rain and sleet during overnight with anywhere from 2-6 inches of snow expected by Wednesday morning. Thursday is expected to be sunny with a high of 35 degrees.
Registered voters residing outside the CN jurisdiction who wish to vote by absentee ballot may fill out an absentee ballot request to be processed from Feb. 2 to May 8. Absentee ballot requests will be available at the Election Services Office and online at www.cherokee.org/elections. The EC will mail absentee ballots May 26-27.
Voter registration will close March 31. To print a voter registration form online visit www.cherokee.org/elections or pick up one in person at the Election Services Office. Citizens can request to have one sent by email or fax.
Also, voters with address changes, name changes or any changed information will need to submit a new voter registration application, according to the release.
The Election Services Office is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It’s located at 22116 S. Bald Hill Road. For more information call 918-458-5899.
SOUTH COFFEYVILLE, Okla. – On March 5, Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Entertainment officials will celebrate the opening of the Cherokee Casino South Coffeyville, which is expected to bring more than 100 new jobs to the area.
CNE, the tribe’s gaming arm, broke ground on the 17,000-square-foot facility in August. The $10 million development offers 300 electronic games and a dining venue featuring lunch, dinner and cocktail options.
CNE currently operates Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa, eight Cherokee Casinos, a horse racing track, three hotels, three golf courses and other retail operations.
The public ribbon cutting and opening celebration will be held at 2 p.m. at the facility located off Highway 169 south of South Coffeyville.