Cherokee Nation Tribal Council approves new 5-district map
12/30/2010 9:01:40 AM
 
The Tribal Council approved another version of a five-district map for the tribe’s 2011 election at a special meeting Dec. 24. The new five-district map passed by a vote of 12-5.
MAP COURTESY OF TRIBAL COUNCIL
The Tribal Council approved another version of a five-district map for the tribe’s 2011 election at a special meeting Dec. 24. The new five-district map passed by a vote of 12-5. MAP COURTESY OF TRIBAL COUNCIL
By CHRISTINA GOOD VOICE Senior Reporter TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tribal Council voted 12-5 to approve another version of a five-district map for the tribe’s 2011 election at a special meeting Dec. 24. The meeting, which was called by Principal Chief Chad Smith Dec. 13, addressed the ongoing redistricting battle among councilors to approve a map that equally apportions Cherokee citizens. “The purpose of this special session this morning called by the principal chief is to act on an amendment to the election law that repeals legislative act 22-10, which the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in part as to a certain portion of configuration,” said Speaker of the Council Meredith Frailey. “This act provides for five voting districts in the Cherokee Nation jurisdictional boundaries. There will be three tribal council seats for each of the five districts.” According to the new five-district map, District 1 will include Cherokee County and eastern Wagoner County; District 2 will consist of all of Adair County, most of Delaware County and the southwest third of Ottawa County; District 3 will be portions of Muskogee and McIntosh counties, along with all of Sequoyah County; District 4 will be Craig, Mayes, Nowata and Washington counties; and District 5 will consist of Rogers County and Tulsa County north of Interstate 244. The CN Supreme Court ordered the council to approve a new map so the CN Election Commission can prepare for the tribal election slated for June 25, 2011. The Supreme Court ruled a previous five-district map unconstitutional Nov. 18, and mandated councilors to create new districts that meet the constitutional requirement that districts be reasonably equal in population. The SC’s ruling came less than two weeks after a hearing on Councilor Cara Cowan Watts’ appeal of CN District Court Judge Bart Fite’s Aug. 17 approval of the first five-district map. In the SC ruling, it found the first map unconstitutional because it created a district with a 22.8 percent deviation in population. “I want to go on the record as voting against this. I think I said at the last meeting that what we’re passing today ought to start with registration numbers,” said Councilor Jodie Fishinghawk. Councilors Fishinghawk, Chuck Hoskin Jr., Joe Crittenden, Curtis Snell and Harley Buzzard opposed the measure. Councilor Bradley Cobb believes 15 Districts is ideal for maximum representation of the Cherokee citizenry, but said the councilors that believe five districts is ideal are not wrong. “I truly believe we envision the same result, just different views on the path needed to achieve the required result,” Cobb said. Cobb said the Cherokee citizens and the Election Commission have been more than patient with the legislative branch during this process. “Voting for five districts was the correct compromise,” he said. “My job is to make good law for the Cherokee Nation – as well as control the purse strings.” But Buzzard said he’s never supported the five-district concept and he wouldn’t support it that day, but he would probably vote for it if it needed to pass. “It needs to go ahead and move forward,” he said. “I still want to go on record. I believe the 15 district (plan) is fair and equitable to the people who live in the Cherokee Nation.” Councilor Chris Soap said he voted for the five districts for several reasons including that it provides for equal representation for all citizens of the CN with more than one representative. “It was said during the meetings and discussions that citizens in districts with more than one council representative had an ‘advantage’,” Soap said. “I am encouraged that we are going to afford all of our citizens with this type of representation instead of the ‘less advantageous’ state of one representative per district.” Soap said a five-district plan should also encourage people to register and vote so that they ensure that they are well represented. “The five-district plan should also encourage the representatives to work closely together for national and local interests,” he said. “This will be important for continuity as the Cherokee Nation transitions into the staggered terms of future councils.” The figures used to determine the districts come from a combination of geographic coding and data from the tribal registrar as of May 2009. The methodology to determine citizenship numbers was the sticking point for some councilors, even though it was an approved method by the SC.
christina-goodvoice@cherokee.org • (918) 207-3825
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