Creditcard users will be better off after new credit card laws go into effect inFebruary. (Photo by Jami Custer)
New credit card laws designed to help consumers
Creditcard users will be better off after new credit card laws go into effect inFebruary. (Photo by Jami Custer)
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – This year credit card companies and consumers were introduced to new laws designed to help protect consumers. Some laws went into effect in August, but others will not take effect until December and late February.
According to one Cherokee Nation employee, these laws have been needed for several decades because the credit card industry has gone unregulated, raising interest rates and changing terms of credit card contracts for millions of customers while they could.
“With the current economy and financial institutions being held to a stricter code of ethics and operations, reform was just a matter of time,” Deborah Vanderpool, a Self-Sufficiency supervisor with the tribe’s Commerce Group, said. “Consumers have been subject to unscrupulous credit card practices for decades, and we’ve still got a few months until we are fully protected.”
In response to the laws, many banks and credit card issuers have tightened standards for issuing cards, and most all have made it more difficult to qualify for a credit card.
“In a survey of the largest national banks, including 19 that issue credit cards, 68 percent indicated to bank examiners that they had tightened credit card lending standards during the 12-month period ending March 31, 2009,” Vanderpool said.
She said the new laws would affect people who use or will use a credit card and that benefits of these changes are huge for consumers.
In the past, credit card issuers could change account terms, including interest rates and fees, without giving much notice. Now, according to the new laws, lenders must give account holders at least 45 days advance notice of significant changes.
Other big changes include informing customers of the right to cancel an account and that cancelling does not require the users to immediately pay off the balance. Further changes include:
• Monthly credit card bills must disclose the dates by which payments must be received to avoid late penalties and the dates that late fees will be charged to the accounts.
• Card issuers must include warnings in monthly statements indicating consumers who only make minimum payments that the amount of time it will take to pay off the debt in full and the interest they will pay will increase.
• Card issuers must disclose whether interest rates will increase if one or more payments are not received on time and what the penalty interest rate will be. This notice must appear on the monthly statement near the payment due date.
• Consumers can opt out of significant changes in terms to their accounts, including interest rate hikes and increase in fees and other charges.
• Cardholders who are more than 60 days late making payments do not have the right to opt out of APR increases.
• Credit card issuers must inform card users of the right to cancel when they mail the 45-day advance notice of the change in terms.
• Opting out is not considered defaulting on the account and should not be penalized by the card issuers.
• Issuers cannot demand payment in full of the outstanding balance or charge monthly maintenance fees on closed accounts if the consumer rejects the changes in terms.
• Opting out does not include raising minimum monthly payments required as this would actually be better for the consumer and pay off the card balance earlier.
“Currently opting out of interest rate hikes is only granted at the card issuer’s discretion and is not a consumer right,” Vanderpool said. “Opting out will allow the consumer to pay the old, lower interest rate but will not allow further purchases on the card.”
She said there are three methods for repaying balances on accounts that have been closed by consumers choosing to reject changes. They are: paying the balance over at least five years, charging a minimum payment that is up to twice the percentage charged before the change in terms and using the same repayment plan used on the account at the time the consumer rejects the change in terms.
Vanderpool said retroactive interest rate hikes on existing balances are banned except when an introductory period ends, the interest rate is tied to an index and is variable, the card user completes the terms of a workout plan for debt repayment or fails to comply with a workout plan or the card user is more than 60 days late making monthly payments.
Vanderpool said consumers younger than 21 who are not authorized users on a parent’s account must show proof of income to repay credit card loan or have an adult co-signer if they want accounts in their own names.
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – The Bureau of Indian Affairs Eastern Oklahoma Regional Office released a letter on May 11 to Principal Chief Bill John Baker that states it declined to approve LA-04-14 and LA-26-14, both amendments to the tribe’s election laws.
Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree said the decision to decline to approve the amendments will not interfere with the tribe’s upcoming election.
“We will have an election June 27,” Hembree said. “I want to be very clear on that.”
The Regional Office offered comments regarding how it reached its decision.
“Because LA-04-14 is so extensively intertwined with the appropriate provisions within the 1999 Constitution, it is impossible to propose revisions to LA-04-14 to reference appropriate provisions within the 1976 Constitution,” the letter states. “Because LA-04-14 purports to be based on the authority in a Constitution which the Regional Office does not recognize, we decline to approve LA-04-14.”
The Regional office also referred to the term “citizen of the Cherokee Nation” stating that provisions in LA-04-14 indicate that only persons of Cherokee blood are tribal members.
“Given the extensive litigations regarding the Freedmen, the Regional Office cannot approve LA-04-14 because to do so may imply recognition of removal of the Freedmen as citizens,” the letter states.
And finally, in regards to absentee voter rules in LA-26-14, the letter states that it is an amendment to Title 26 of the Cherokee Nation Code Annotated.
“Approving LA-26-14 may be interpreted as approving LA-04-14; therefore, we decline to approve LA-26-14,” it states.
Hembree said tribal officials met with the BIA and Department of Justice to seek clarification of the letter and to also present additional information and as well as inform the bureau on action the CN has taken to resolve certain issues.
“We had a very fruitful communication last week and the Bureau of Indian Affairs is considering additional information that we’ve given them and we look forward to a clarifying letter coming from the bureau really soon,” Hembree said.
He said the information shared with the bureau included the efforts made by the CN to resolve the Freedman issue, including having the case tried on its merits, which occurred in May 2014.
“We have expected to have a decision on this matter and it is at no fault to anyone. We don’t have it. That is information that the BIA did not consider in its initial letter nor did they consider the fact that they have previously approved the election procedures that are substantially the same back in 2011.”
The possibility of the act remaining unapproved by the BIA and requiring the CN to revert back to the original law prior to the amendments made in 2011 are uncertain at this time.
“That has yet to be determined, but there have been no substantial changes as to the election law since they were previously approved in September 2011,” Hembree added. “We expect to hold our elections on June 27 under the laws that have been passed by the Cherokee Nation to date.”
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/5/9290_nws_150526_BIA_document.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the letter from the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs.
DALLAS (AP) – A long-lost silent film admired by historians as a rare visual account of Native American customs is being released after a private detective in North Carolina stumbled across a damaged copy.
“The Daughter of Dawn” - first screened in Los Angeles in 1920 - features a large cast of Comanche and Kiowa people and shows scenes of buffalo hunting and ceremonial dances obscured by time. The copy, discovered more than a decade ago, has been restored and was screened in Texas this week, ahead of its commercial release later this year.
“We were just so stunned that it existed,” said Jeff Moore, a project director for the Oklahoma Historical Society, which purchased reels of the film from the detective in 2007.
The delicate restoration work took years, and an orchestral score was completed in 2012. A year later the Library of Congress added the movie to its National Film Registry, describing the work as “a fascinating example of the daringly unexpected topics and scope showcased by the best regional, independent filmmaking during the silent era. ...”
The same year the movie was first screened, it survived a fire that destroyed the Dallas warehouse where the small Texas Film Co., which produced “The Daughter of Dawn, stored most of its work.
Somehow, a copy ended up in the care of a North Carolina resident, who offered five nitrate celluloid reels to the private detective as payment in an unrelated matter, Milestone Film owner Dennis Doros said.
The detective then sold the reels of the movie - shot in the Wichita Mountains in southwestern Oklahoma - to the Oklahoma Historical Society for more than $5,000 before Milestone was recruited as the distributor. The historical society retains ownership of the original nitrate film, which is being stored at the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Los Angeles.
“It’s a really compelling story for film restoration,” Doros said. “There’s still hope for lost films. How many times do you get to premiere a film 95 years after its production?”
An initial screening of the 87-minute, black-and-white film was held this week at an Amarillo library.
“The village scenes, the hunting scenes all look very accurate,” Michael Grauer with the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum told the Amarillo Globe-News. “It’s a little bit Hollywood-ed up. ... But the fact that they used native actors was groundbreaking, really quite astonishing.”
Two of the approximately 300 Comanche and Kiowa people in the film, which portrays a fictional love story that also serves as a record of Native-American traditions, are children of legendary Comanche chief Quanah Parker, whose exploits were widely recounted on the frontier.
Author S.C. Gwynne, whose book “Empire of the Summer Moon” accounted the rise and fall of the Comanche, said during his research he came across only one film germane to the tribe, a two-reeler western from 1911 called “The Bank Robbery” in which Parker had a role.
“I would think that a film featuring only Native Americans would possibly be unique,” he said. “Who at that time only made a film featuring Native Americans? That, to me, is something of great rarity.”
Moore said the Oklahoma Historical Society had known about the film because years ago it had obtained the works of a photographer who was on the movie set, but it was thought the film was lost.
“This is so visually interesting and it is very much an Oklahoma story because you have two of the premier tribes in the state, and then you have the horse culture,” he said. “It’s so indicative of the southern plains.”
Bryan Vizzini, an associate professor of history at West Texas A&M University, said “The Daughter of Dawn” was a striking departure from the racial stereotypes found in films from that time, such as D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation.”
“And here’s this small independent film company that gets it right,” Vizzini said. “It’s a very un-Hollywood kind of experience.”
The film will be released on DVD and Blue-ray, and made available through online outlets.
NORMAN, Okla. – Cherokee Phoenix Executive Editor Bryan Pollard has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2003. In March, Vision Maker Media interviewed Pollard in Norman during the Native Media Summit at the Gaylord College of Journalism.
The interview covers Pollard’s early career and the founding of Street Roots in Portland, Ore., the early history of the Cherokee Phoenix, the modern Cherokee Phoenix, and the failings of mainstream media in covering Indian Country, and the pioneering use of the Cherokee language in the Cherokee Phoenix.
Pollard said the paper made its debut in 1828 and the founding editor Elias Boudinot wanted to create a news source that told stories about the Cherokee people, but not necessarily for the Cherokee people.
“He (Boudinot) wanted to demonstrate to the rest of the world that Cherokees were civilized,” Pollard said. “That Cherokees were able to govern themselves, that we were creative, that we were deliberative, that we were humorous, that we had many, many great qualities because at the time – you have to keep in mind – this was just prior to the era of Indian removal. So a lot of tribes were under pressure to be forced out of their homelands and the Cherokees were in the same situation.”
Since working for the newspaper, Pollard has helped to expand the audience of the print and digital publication by implementing new products including an electronic newsletter, a radio show and online videos as well as giving the Cherokee Phoenix a presence in social media.
“As a result, the Cherokee Phoenix is recognized as one of the best newspapers in the state of Oklahoma and all of Indian Country,” VMM reports.
To listen to this broadcast in its entirety visit: <a href="http://www.visionmakermedia.org/listen/bryan-pollard" target="_blank">http://www.visionmakermedia.org/listen/bryan-pollard</a>.
OKLAHOMA CITY – A measure by state Rep. Chuck Hoskin that’s intended to provide a degree of protection for highway maintenance vehicles and workers encountered little resistance in the legislature and was signed recently by the governor.
House Bill 1113 by Hoskin, D-Vinita, establishes a safety zone around state highway and turnpike maintenance vehicles and employees.
Transportation Department records indicate that 57 of their highway maintenance employees have been killed in work zones, while numerous others have been involved in accidents and close calls due to unsafe speed, proximity or inattention. Also, the Turnpike Authority recorded 50 injuries among its toll and maintenance personnel over the past three years, agency spokesman Jack Damrill reported.
HB 1113 “may actually enable some hardworking Oklahoma man or woman to return home to his or her family after a tough day on the job,” Hoskin said.
The bill sailed through the House unopposed, 96-0, and passed the Senate, 41-3. The bill was co-authored by Rep. Ben Sherrer, D-Chouteau, and was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Susan Paddack, D-Ada.
With the signature of Governor Fallin, HB 1113 goes into effect Nov. 1.
The new law will require any driver approaching a parked maintenance vehicle assigned to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation or the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to move over into another lane, if possible. “If the driver is not able to change lanes, or if to do so would be unsafe,” the motorist should proceed with “due caution” and slow to “a safe speed for the existing road, weather, and traffic conditions.”
Such precautions already are mandated by state law when approaching any stationary emergency vehicle such as an ambulance or wrecker that is “displaying a flashing combination” of red and/or blue lights. Similar precautions are required when approaching a location where an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper or other law enforcement officer is writing a traffic ticket or working an accident.
“For far too long we’ve inadvertently overlooked the real safety concerns of these public servants who put their lives on the line to keep our roadways safe,” Sherrer said. “This measure sends a message that we value their service and want them to be safe while performing their jobs.”
A violation of the law will be a misdemeanor offense. For an initial violation, the penalty will be a fine of $5 to $500 or by a 10-day jail sentence. For a second conviction within a year, the penalty will be a 20-day jail term. For a third or subsequent violation within a year, punishment will be a jail sentence of up to six months and/or a fine of up to $500.
Hoskin said HB 1113 was prompted by a discussion he had with some highway maintenance workers from his legislative district.
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>.
Entry code: 4331082
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.