Council's program helps with emergency housing repairs
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - In the latter part of fiscal year 2003, the Tribal Council appropriated money from the tribe's Motor Fuels Tax Fund to help tribal citizens in need of emergency home repair who may fall through the bureaucratic cracks of the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation.
Doug Evans, council certified public accountant, said councilors appropriated $150,000 in April to establish the Disaster Housing Relief Program. The council program helps tribal citizens repair their homes damaged by emergencies once they have expended all efforts through the HACN.
"The way I understand how they (councilors) wrote those procedures is that it (a repair request) has to not fit within the emergency program within the Housing Authority," Evans said. "In other words, these requests will be falling through the crack. It comes over here, and council approves it in the (Emergency Housing) sub-committee per incident. It's a tribal subsidy to a federal grant."
"The HACN emergency policy is limited to $2,500, and occasionally there is a need for funding in excess of $2,500," said David Southerland, HACN executive director. "The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council emergency program allows for additional funding to assist tribal citizens."
For example, Evans said, if a tribal citizen's home suffers $5,000 worth of flood damage, then the tribal citizen would apply to the HACN for minor emergency repairs. If the HACN spends its per-home maximum of $2,500 in minor emergency repairs, then the HACN could send a repair request to the Emergency Housing Sub-Committee hoping it would pick up the tab for the other $2,500 worth of damage.
"They (HACN) will do it with the block grant monies first, and if there is something else that still needs to be done or it's a little more than that, they will use this fund to pick up the difference," Evans said. "The money is already appropriated, but they set the policy up where it's not a carte blanche, where every incident has to come before the council for approval, before that committee."
Evans said most of the Disaster Housing Relief funds have rolled into FY 2004 and that council won't appropriate any more money into the program until funds are expended and if it has high enough priority over other needs. Even though the funds rolled over into the new fiscal year, most of the funds are already obligated to tribal citizens but not yet expended, he said.
According to the HACN's Web site, emergency repair work is offered to privately owned homes to low-income Cherokee Nation citizens when property conditions create a hazard to the life, health or safety of the occupants, or if there is risk of property damage if the condition is not corrected and has occurred in the last 72 hours. This also includes winterization activities.
The HACN's eligibility guidelines state that the applicant must be the legal owner of the home or a direct descendent of the homeowner. The applicant, spouse or a household family member must have a tribal membership card (blue card) and must live within the tribe's jurisdictional boundaries. Assistance will also be provided to original Dawes Commission enrollees who live in Oklahoma. The family's combined gross income must also be below the 50 percent mark of the national median income guidelines.
For more information, contact the HACN at 1-800-837-2869.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Sky Wildcat, 21, was crowned Miss Cherokee during a leadership competition on Aug. 27 at the Cornerstone Fellowship Church.
Wildcat, a senior at Northeastern State University, earned a $3,000 scholarship and will represent the tribe as a goodwill ambassador to promote the government, history, language and culture of the Cherokee people for the next year.
“Being crowned Miss Cherokee means I get to represent our tribe and represent the young Cherokee women that competed…who represent resilience and strength much like our ancestors,” she said.
Wildcat competed against nine women for the crown. The Miss Cherokee Leadership Competition judged contestants on their use of the Cherokee language, cultural and platform presentations and an impromptu question.
Wildcat shared the history of traditional Cherokee basket weaving for her cultural presentation and her platform focused on protecting the land and water and preserving natural resources.
“I really want to advocate for my platform of environmental preservation during my year as an ambassador for the tribe,” she said. “I also just want to educate others and our youth that there is a lot that they can do to change the world.”
Wildcat’s first public event as Miss Cherokee will be Sept. 3 at the State of the Nation Address during the 64th Cherokee National Holiday in Tahlequah.
First runner-up for the title was Amari McCoy, of Sallisaw, who earned a $2,000 scholarship and second runner-up was Madison Shoemaker, of Muskogee, who earned a $1,000 scholarship.
HOMINY, Okla. (AP) — Members of the Osage Nation have celebrated the $74 million purchase of CNN founder Ted Turner's ranch north of Tulsa.
More than 300 Osage citizens attended a handover ceremony on Wednesday, the Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/2bS3yQ6 ) reports. A spokesman says Turner wasn't able to attend.
The deal was finalized in June.
Turner experimented with environmentally friendly ranching methods on the 43,000 acres of prairie. The tribe placed a winning bid for the ranch, and the deal was financed with casino profits.
Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear has received several proposals about what could be done with the land, including raising bison and renting out parts of the land to cattle operations.
Standing Bear has rejected a proposal to puts thousands of wild mustangs on the property. He said it would bring in a lot of revenue, "But it would take a heavy toll on the land. It's our responsibility to preserve this land for the future."
The tribe has begun the process of putting the land in trust with the federal government, which would give the Osage Nation sovereignty over the land.
The Osage Nation once owned nearly 1.5 million acres before the land was divided and distributed among individual tribe members in the early 1990s. Tribal holdings had decreased to less than 5 percent of the original Osage Reservation by the time Standing Bear took office in 2014.
The chief has said the tribe now controls more than 9 percent of its original landholdings.
"We had one home left, and this was it," said Osage Minerals Council chairman Everett Waller. "Our ancestors walked on this land. Our warriors died for this land. And today, this land is ours again.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to a National Indian Gaming Commission letter, NIGC officials are scheduled to conduct an “oversight internal control assessment” at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa starting Sept. 7 that could take up to three weeks.
The letter states that after approving the Cherokee Nation’s Gaming Act amendments in 2014, NIGC Chairman Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri noted his “misgivings over some aspects of the gaming act.”
“In particular, the provision of the gaming act that requires tribal regulations and controls not to exceed federal control undermines the spirit of the NIGC regulations, especially the MICS (Minimum Internal Control Standards) – which are designed to be the ground floor of regulations upon which a tribe could build up from to address its specific requirements,” the letters states.
Chaudhuri states the act’s provisions “limit the ability” of the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission “to create controls it finds uniquely and perhaps better suited to its needs.” He states the MICS are in place to allow tribes to develop “tribal-specific regulations,” which are unique to their gaming operations.
The letter also states that by the tribe amending its Gaming Act it has chosen not to heighten its use of MICS and has chosen to work by the standards set in place by federal regulations and state compact terms. The letter states that if the CN continues to work under the amended Gaming Act it could be difficult for “tribal regulators” to determine what would “exceed” the “NIGC MICS.”
The letter states because of the Gaming Act amendment, the NIGC would need “to review the Tribe’s gaming operations with greater scrutiny.”
For the assessment, the NIGC is to send out a team of five to eight people and is requesting documents to be at the team’s disposal. The letter states that documents are to come from March 19 and June 30 and are to contain “all gaming revenue documents” associated with “all gaming-related activities” from both 24-hour periods.
According to the letter, the NIGC is requesting:
• Cage, cashier and vault accountability reports;
• All currency drop and count reports;
• Documentation supporting the calculation of gaming machine win;
• Documentation supporting the calculation of bingo win;
• Documentation supporting the calculation of revenue received from all other gaming activities offered by the facilities;
• Gaming revenue journal entries;
• Inventory logs for gaming inventories, i.e. cards, keys, etc.;
• Class II gaming machine statistical analysis reports;
• Statistical analysis reports for all other gaming activities offered at the facilities;
• Internal audit reports, work papers, checklists, approved audit plan and all other work product documenting the internal audit process for the completed audits for fiscal year-end 2015 and FY-end 2016;
• All management letters prepared by an independent certified public accountant;
• Complimentary services and items reports;
• IT gaming network topology;
• All other documents supporting or relating to the gaming activities conducted; and
• Reconciliation of NIGC quarterly fee assessment reports submitted in 2015 to the audited financial statements for FY 2014.
The NIGC is also requesting a copy of the Tribal Internal Control Standards, which were established by the CNGC, as well as a copy of the System of Internal Control Standards regarding the implementation of the TICS.
The letter states once the audit team completes its on-site work “it will take approximately eight weeks to process and analyze the information.” Once the review is complete the CN would be briefed on the NIGC’s findings.
Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Shawn Slaton said it is the NIGC’s responsibility to periodically perform audits and reviews of all tribal gaming and that Cherokee Nation Entertainment, CNB’s gaming entity, was selected for a standard internal control assessment scheduled for September as part of NIGC’s regulatory oversight. He added that an internal control assessment is not an audit.
“Cherokee Nation Entertainment is highly regulated for and by the Cherokee Nation and oversight is rigorous. In addition to the NIGC, oversight is provided by various bodies, including our own internal audit department, independent external auditors, the Internal Revenue Service, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council and the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission, which has on-site offices with near constant oversight,” Slaton said. “We’re confident the NICG’s upcoming inquiry will confirm the findings of all other reviews – that CNE operates earnestly and with the utmost integrity, meeting or exceeding NIGC standards.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tribal Council’s Executive & Finance Committee unanimously passed the Cherokee Nation’s $934.2 million comprehensive budget for fiscal year 2017 during an Aug. 22 meeting.
The comprehensive budget is a result of the operating budget, used for tribal expenses and expected costs, approved at $656.4 million plus the capital budget, which includes land purchases and construction of facilities and roads, approved at $277.7 million.
The committee-approved FY 2017 comprehensive budget surpasses what the committee approved during the FY 2016 budget hearings by about $167.1 million.
“To be more specific, this is the (Cherokee) Nation’s largest ever beginning-of-the-year budget,” Treasurer Lacey Horn said.
In 2015, the committee approved the FY 2016 comprehensive budget for $767.1 million. Approximately, $647.7 million was for the operating budget and $119.4 million was for the capital budget.
Horn said tribal revenue increased by $171.5 million as a result of a $160.5 million increase in Planning and Developments budget thanks to the tribe’s and Indian Health Services Joint Venture project at W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah.
Horn added that the FY 2017 budget includes an added $2.3 million for the tribe’s Adair County landfill; a $5.9 million increase in financial operations as a result of the 2014 Contract Support Cost Settlement; a $2 million dollar increase for highway construction and roads; and $800,000 focused on service improvements and new programs.
The focus on service improvements included increases for the Adult Language program at $145,000 because of the need for more Cherokee speakers; the hunting and fishing license service at $104,000 for the implementation of a new employee to solely operate the service.
The tribe’s Educations Services budget also implements two initiatives that include an archery program with the Joe Thorton Archery Park at $30,000; education outreach at $30,000.
Other departments that saw significant budget increases were the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission at $177,000 for new employment and new fingerprinting units. The Information Technology department also received $318,000 for needed salary adjustments.
The official 2017 budget will not be available until approved at the Sept. 12 Tribal Council meeting. For information on previous budgets and reports, visit <a href="http://www.cherokee.org/AboutTheNation/AnnualReports/BudgetAndFinancials.aspx" target="_blank">http://www.cherokee.org/AboutTheNation/AnnualReports/BudgetAndFinancials.aspx</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The second Tribal Film Festival will be held during Cherokee National Holiday in downtown Tahlequah to include more than 30 Native American films as well as a Native Pop art show.
Founder and Executive Director Celia Xavier will host the festival. This year she’s partnered with Brent Learned of Native Pop, who will feature top Native Pop artists for a live art exhibit at 6 p.m. at the NSU Jazz Lab on Sept. 2 for the red carpet reception on opening night.
The festival takes place Sept. 2-4 at the Dream Theater.
Xavier said the festival saw great success in 2015 and expects to have more than 1,000 attendees during the three-day weekend. She added that this year’s festival will bring a “wide range of films and shorts,” and each one is indigenous with some being in their own language. Proceeds from the silent auction to be held during the red carpet event will be used to benefit the Student Filmmaking Bootcamp.
Films and short films will begin screening at 2 p.m. on Sept. 3 and children’s movies will be on Sept. 4 beginning at 2 p.m.
2 p.m. We Eat Fish!
2:30 p.m. St’at’ic The Salmon People
2:45 p.m. Nowhere to Call Home
4:10 p.m. Blessed
4:40 p.m. What does God smell like
5 p.m. Gambling for the Future
5:15 p.m. Q&A with Director Alan O’hashi
5:30 p.m. Ode to a Mentor
5:35 p.m. Q&A with sculptor Eddie Morrison
5:45 p.m. Rod Pocowatchit
5:57 p.m. Miss Lady
6 p.m. The Price of Peace
8 p.m. Smoke That Travels
8:03 p.m. Native Evolution
8:15 p.m. One Who Talks with God
8:30 p.m. Reign of Terror Preview
8:40 p.m. Q&A with Mark Williams
8:50 p.m. Wait a While
9 p.m. Shiloh with Wes Nofire & Shy
9:30 p.m. Q&A with Mark Williams
(Children’s movies from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.)
2 p.m. Agrinoui
The No Face Doll
Glooscap and the Baby
Ogress of the Gravel Bank
Little Folk of the Artic
Adzaa Doo Ats’a- The Lady and the Eagle
No. 16, Da An Road
The Ice Cream Man
3 p.m. Voyage into the depths of Kanloa
4 p.m. Medicine Woman
5 p.m. Punks for West Papua
5:45 p.m. Marovo Carver
5:57 p.m. Story of Rock
6 p.m. Honor Riders
7:45 p.m. Amazon Voice
8:30 p.m. What was Ours
9:30 p.m. Yacuna
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation administration and Tribal Council issued statements of support for the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in its effort to halt the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Standing Rock Sioux citizens and supporters are protesting the construction of the pipeline that would carry crude oil through four states. The pipeline would be built through that tribe’s land, and its tribal citizens are concerned that if the pipeline fails it will contaminate their water supply and surrounding sacred sites.
In July, the Standing Rock Sioux sued to stop construction of the pipeline, and it has been halted for now.
“The Cherokee Nation stands in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its effort to halt the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and I applaud our Tribal Council for showing the support of the legislative body of the Cherokee Nation as well,” said Principal Chief Bill John Baker in a statement. “The Standing Rock people have an inherent right to protect their homelands, their historic and sacred sites, their natural resources, their drinking water and their families from this potentially dangerous pipeline.”
Baker said the CN supports safe and responsible energy development, and energy development in Indian Country is only responsible if it respects the sovereign rights of tribal governments and includes meaningful consultation with tribal officials.
“As Indian people, we have a right to protect our lands and protect our water rights. That’s our responsibility to the next seven generations. The Standing Rock Sioux should be allowed a place at the table to express their legitimate concerns on a pipeline plan that could be detrimental to their tribe for many future generations,” Baker said.
On Aug. 19, the 17-member CN Tribal Council also stated its standing in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in its peaceful opposition to the pipeline project as the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile-long pipeline would cross Lake Oahe and the Missouri River, and would disturb burial grounds and sacred sites on ancestral treaty lands, states a press release from the Tribal Council.
Tribal Councilor Jack Baker, CN a noted historian, said the company constructing the pipeline has failed to recognize environmental and historical preservation issues.
“I am opposed to the Dakota Pipeline,” Jack Baker said. “They have refused to comply with an environmental assessment and have refused to consult with the tribal nations including the Cherokee Nation under Section 106 for Historic Preservation. They will be crossing the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail in southern Illinois. Without a consultation, it is not known what effect it could have on our forced removal route.”
Joe Byrd, Tribal Council speaker and vice president of the Eastern Oklahoma Region of the National Congress of American Indians, pointed out the lack of consultation infringes on the tribe’s sovereignty as a nation.
“They have not respected the Standing Rock Sioux as a federally-recognized tribe, with all the rights the treaties they have signed affords them as a sovereign nation,” said Byrd. “The pipeline could present both environmental hazards to native people, as well as possibly having a harmful impact on ancestral lands.”