Council approves submission of grant applications
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- The council passed a resolution that authorized the submission of a Rural Housing and Economic Development grant for the renovation of the John A. Ketcher Youth Shelter and for the addition of three single-resident occupancy units.
The purpose of the shelter is to provide safe housing to at-risk youth and will give them an additional resource needed to become responsible and self-sufficient while providing opportunities to learn leadership attributes and Cherokee culture.
Another resolution was passed that allows for the submission of an application by CN Housing Services for a Housing Preservation Grant through the USDA in the amount of $40,650. The funds will be used by Housing Rehab as a supplement to Housing Improvement Program Funds.
The council also approved a grant submission to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for an Indian Community Development Block Grant for the Nowata Food Distribution/Elderly Nutrition building.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Supreme Court Chief Justice John Garrett swore in Dist. 2 Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd and Dist. 11 Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez as the legislative body’s speaker and deputy speaker, respectively, during the Aug. 15 Tribal Council meeting at the W. W. Keeler Complex.
The Tribal Council re-elected the two legislators earlier in the day at a special Rules Committee meeting to serve in the positions.
“I am humbled by the confidence my fellow councilors place in me by voting for me to serve a second term as speaker of the Tribal Council,” Byrd said. “I believe we are on a positive trajectory in accomplishing great things for our people and look forward to working diligently to continue on that path.”
Vazquez said it was an “an honor and a privilege to serve as deputy speaker.”
“I look forward to continuing to work on behalf of the Cherokee Nation citizens, who should be at the heart and soul of everything we do as a Tribal Council. We are a strong Nation, and I look forward to seeing what the coming years hold for us,” she said.
During the special Rules Committee meeting, legislators also selected chairs and co-chairs for each Tribal Council committee as well as Tribal Council secretary.
Byrd was reappointed speaker by a 15-2 vote, while Vazquez was unanimously re-elected as deputy speaker.
Councilor Frankie Hargis was unanimously reappointed as secretary.
Byrd was also selected as Rules Committee chairman while Councilor Bryan Warner was chosen as co-chairman. Councilor Janees Taylor was reappointed chair as Executive and Finance Committee chairwoman with Councilor Keith Austin as her co-chairman. Councilor Dick Lay kept his position as chairman of the Community Service Committee with Councilor Harley Buzzard as co-chairman. Vazquez and Byrd also retained their positions as chairwoman and co-chairman of the Culture Committee. Councilor David Walkingstick was reappointed as chairman of the Education Committee with Warner as co-chairman. The Health Committee will have Councilor Mary Baker Shaw as its chairwoman and Councilor Dr. Mike Dobbins as co-chairman. Councilor Rex Jordan is the new chairman of the Resource Committee with Councilor E.O. Smith as co-chairman.
In other business, legislators:
• Unanimously passed two resolutions appointing Janice Purcell and Tina Glory Jordan to as commissioners on the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission,
• Increased the comprehensive capital budget for fiscal year 2017 by $79,956 for a total capital budget authority of $279.1 million,
• Increased the FY 2017 comprehensive operating budget by $1.3 million to $705.2 million, and
• Awarded Cherokee Warrior Veterans Medals of Patriotism to Darin McCarty, Jack Shamblin and Wayne Kellehan for their service in the U.S. military.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Aug. 14, nine Tribal Councilors who won elections for their respective districts this summer were sworn into office during an inauguration ceremony at Sequoyah High School’s “The Place Where They Play” gymnasium.
Incumbents Joe Byrd (Dist. 2), Frankie Hargis (Dist. 7), Harley Buzzard (Dist. 10), Victoria Vazquez (Dist. 11) and Janees Taylor (Dist. 15), as well as newcomers Dr. Mike Dobbins (Dist. 4), E.O. Smith (Dist. 5), Mike Shambaugh (Dist. 9) and Mary Baker Shaw (At-Large) will serve on the Tribal Council from 2017-21.
Supreme Court Justice John Garrett swore in the legislators. Councilors’ family members were invited to hold Bibles while the lawmakers took their oaths of office.
Dobbins said for his term he hopes to become “more informed” on certain issues and bring forth his knowledge on health and education.
“My plans are to become more informed on the multi-issues with the Cherokee people. I am pretty well-versed in health care and education, and I look forward to immediately start making some suggestions in that area,” he said. “Our health care system is a model for other systems to emulate, but that’s an area that I’ll have immediate effect on. But I do have a learning curve in other areas.”
Taylor said for her second term she would continue to focus on health care, education and the shift within the White House and how it could affect tribal programs.
“So we are going to have to watch the changes in Washington, D.C., from the funds that come down so that we can be sure to continue to serve our citizens with the programs that they depend on,” she said. “Even if there may be a change in funding or a change in the way we can administer the funds or the amount of funds, I don’t want that to get ahead of us where all of a sudden we don’t have the funding that we expected from Washington, D.C., and so we have to cut back on a program.”
Principal Chief Bill John Baker said he appreciates the Tribal Council, and while he would miss Tribal Councilors Don Garvin (Dist. 4), David Thornton (Dist. 5), Curtis Snell (Dist. 9) and Jack Baker (At-Large) who termed out of office on Aug. 14, he was looking forward to the ideas and energy the new legislative body would provide.
“I look forward to the new council, the new ideas, the new energy to make this Nation even greater than it is today,” he said. “They won’t play as much golf. They will not make it to as many events. They will miss some ball games. They will be late for supper because it’s a mission folks. Being on Tribal Council is a labor of love that sometimes family gets put on the backburner, but it is for the greater good.”
The Tribal Council consists of a 17 members who represent the 15 districts inside the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction and two at-large seats representing citizens who live outside the boundaries. Members are elected by popular vote to four-year terms.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation honored a grandfather and grandson with Medals of Patriotism on July 10 at the Tribal Council meeting.
Jack De Vera, 74, of Independence, Kansas, and Sean Hutchinson, 25, of Catoosa, were acknowledged their service and sacrifices to their country.
Petty Officer 3rd Class De Vera was born Jan. 30, 1942, in Corona, California. De Vera enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1960 and arrived at the Naval Training Center in San Diego only three days after he graduated from high school. In September 1960, he attended Hospital Marine Corps School at the Naval Hospital where he received medical training in electrocardiographs. After completing school, he was stationed at the 11th Naval District Medical Office. De Vera received an honorable discharge from the Navy in 1964. After discharge, De Vera attended the San Francisco College of Mortuary Sciences and later graduated from Fullerton Community College in 1967, California State University in 1969 and, finally, Pittsburgh State University where he received a master’s degree in administration. In addition to his military career, De Vera served as a principal at schools in Caney, Kansas, and Towanda, Kansas, and worked as a teacher in California for a total of 26 years before retiring to Kansas in 2007 with his wife. De Vera is a member of American Legion Post 139.
“I just want to say thank you very much, but my grandson is the war hero here, not me,” said De Vera.
Sgt. Hutchinson was born June 17, 1991. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in June 2009. Hutchinson completed his basic and infantry training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. Hutchinson was stationed in Fort Lewis in Washington. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 and attached to a MARSOK/Marine Corps, Special Forces team where he served on route clearance with the 571 Sapper Company. From August to December 2011, Hutchinson cleared roadway explosives and Improvised Explosive Devices, eventually suffering from eight direct IED blasts during his time in southern Afghanistan. Due to the extent of his injuries, Hutchinson was restricted from combat and spent the remainder of his service working as a driver and mechanic. Hutchinson received a Purple Heart and several additional honors for his bravery and service. He received an honorable discharge in 2012 and now works for Cherokee Nation Businesses.
Each month the CN recognizes Cherokee service men and women for their sacrifices and as a way to demonstrate the high regard in which the tribe holds veterans. To nominate a veteran, call 918-772-4166.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During its July 10 meeting, Tribal Councilors approved the Cherokee Nation’s fiscal year 2018 Indian Housing Plan submission to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Earlier that day in the Community Services Committee meeting, Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation Director Gary Cooper said the IHP must be submitted annually and acts as a “road map” for the tribe’s spending.
“This will have to be amended, and it can be amended at any time. It is required to be submitted to HUD every year. It’s basically a road map that tells what we plan to do and how we plan to spend those monies,” he said.
According to the plan, officials estimate that approximately $37.4 million would be “expended” during the “12-month program year.”
“This would allocate $37 million and some change. Those are both in NAHASDA (Native American Housing and Self Determination Act) and there’s a few non-NAHASDA dollars that we have to account for in this IHP part of that. One of those programs is our VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) program,” he said. “It’s not a part of NAHASDA, but we do have to account for it in this. So this authorizes us to begin spending NAHASDA dollars at the beginning of the fiscal year. There are no new programs in this plan. These are all existing programs. We will need to come back after we get those estimates for 2018.”
The tribe’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
Cooper said HUD’s estimates for the 2018 IHP should be available by September.
“Our estimates for 2018, we don’t have those and they’re not projected to be completed until at least Sept. 6. So even after we do this IHP we will have to come back and amend it, which we can do at any time we need to. We just have to have one submitted to HUD before the beginning of the fiscal year,” he said.
According to the IHP, funds will be used for low-rent modernization, homeownership modernization, low-rent operations, to construct rental housing, rent-to-own modernization, mortgage assistance, homeownership rehab, the homeownership replacement home program, rental assistance, temporary rental assistance, transitional housing, project-based college housing and other programs.
Also during the Tribal Council meeting, Councilors Don Garvin, Curtis Snell, Jack Baker and David Thornton said their goodbyes while participating in their last council meeting before newly elected legislators are inaugurated in August.
Garvin, Snell, Baker and Thornton are term-limited and must sit out four years before running for the same council seat.
Councilor Joe Byrd said although they would no longer be serving after Aug. 14, they’re “not going anywhere” because they’re still “family.”
“We won’t ever have that knowledge and wisdom again at that level. You got a different generation, a different era of council members coming up. Not that they’re bad, but when you take away the…mind of four guys that are 70 and older you’re really taking away a lot of wisdom,” he said. “These guys don’t come in here with an agenda. They come in there in council and committee meetings and they’ll vote on an issue, but after they vote it’s over. They’ll come shake your hand and go eat a sandwich with you. That is hard to find in today’s time. I’ve served with them in many ways, and I will truly miss them.”
In other business, legislators:
• Increased the FY 2017 operating budget by $8.5 million to $703 million,
• Authorized a partnership between the Oklahoma State Department of Health and tribe’s maternal, infant and early childhood home-visiting grant for the remainder of FY 2017 and FY 2018 to improve home-visiting services for children and families,
• Approved Gabe Mosteller to the Economic Development Trust Authority board of directors, and
• Approved the CN Security Department to donate equipment to the Stilwell Police Department.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At the May 15 Tribal Council meeting, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Garrett swore in T. Luke Barteaux as a District Court judge after legislators confirmed his appointment.
Barteaux is completing the late Bart Fite’s term, which expires on Feb. 10, 2018.
Fourteen Tribal Councilors voted to approve the appointment, while Tribal Councilors Shawn Crittenden, Harley Buzzard and Buel Anglen opposed it.
Barteaux, 33, of Bixby, said he considers the appointment the “pinnacle” of his career.
“It’s something that I never thought would happen within this amount of time, but I’m extremely honored to have been appointed by (Principal) Chief (Bill John) Baker and confirmed by the Tribal Council. I look forward to helping protect our Nation through the legal process,” he said.
He said prior to the appointment his only experience as a judge was serving on the Oklahoma Trial Advocacy Institute.
“I’m a faculty member at the Oklahoma Trial Advocacy Institute, which trains attorneys, and I have, basically judging their performances and things like that,” he said. “I’ve been a panel member for judging the mock trial competitions for, I think it’s out of Pryor, the last two years.”
Barteaux said he has been licensed and acting on his own as an attorney since 2012, with his legal career officially starting in 2009.
“My legal career started back in 2009, and I think around 2011 I started basically practicing under the supervision of another attorney here at my current firm (Fry & Elder),” he said.
Barteaux also addressed concerns about discrepancies on his résumé with dates regarding his time acting as an attorney.
“My current position, I believe it said the dates were June of 2011 to current, and underneath it it said attorney or trial attorney, and there was a question regarding whether or not I was an attorney that entire time,” he said. “The reason it had been worded that way, and kind of stepping back, the jobs underneath were done the same way and it was just the main job. I work at Fry & Elder now and those are the dates that I have worked here, and the position underneath it is the main job I’ve had and the current job. So it was more of me trying to fit a resume on one page and someone brought up, I guess, wanting more of a full job history instead of just what the final job or main job while I was there.”
Legislators also unanimously authorized the establishment of a CN conservation district.
Bruce Davis, management resources executive director, brought the resolution to the May 15 Resource Committee meeting after a trip to the United States Department of Agriculture where he and others learned of 47 programs available to the tribe and its citizens that are not being utilized.
“The first thing we’ve got to do before we can apply for these programs are pass this resolution to start our own conservation district, the Cherokee Nation Conservation District, before we can apply for these monies,” he said.
According to the Oklahoma Conservation Commission’s website, a conservation district serves “as the primary local unit of government responsible for the conservation of the renewable natural resources.”
Bryan Shade, CN chief special project analyst, said the resolution would “authorize” Principal Chief Bill John Baker to establish the conservation district that would allow tribal citizens to visit it rather than the state’s conservation district. He added that establishing the district would help the tribe “streamline” certain operations.
“It’s the exact same thing the state of Oklahoma’s doing, but this district will exist in our 14-county area,” Shade said. “By taking on this function, right now the Cherokee Nation has to go through those state offices, get our lands put in the database, in the system, before we can take advantage of these programs. By establishing this conservation district we’ll be able to do this ourselves and help us streamline things.”
In other business, legislators:
• Increased the tribe’s fiscal year 2017 concurrent enrollment fund by $87,000,
• Increased the FY 2017 capital budget by $857,848 to $279 million,
• Reappointed Amber Lynn George to the Cherokee Nation Foundation board,
• Approved Wilfred C. Gernandt III to the Cherokee Nation Comprehensive Care Agency governing board,
• Reappointed Dan Carter as a Cherokee Nation Businesses board member,
• Approved a resolution for Tribal Council to receive a confidential report monthly of all charitable donations and surplus equipment donations from all CN subsidiaries,
• Granted a right-of-way easement on an existing natural gas line to the Oklahoma Natural Gas Company for Cherokee Heights Addition in Pryor, and
• Authorized a sovereign immunity waiver for software agreement between Sequoyah Schools with Municipal Accounting Systems.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At the April 10 Tribal Council meeting, legislators unanimously passed an act to protect Cherokee Nation-owned lands against ingress, egress and encroachment.
‘The Principal Chief will direct appropriate offices and staff within the executive branch to not allow any individual, company or any other entity to restrict ingress/egress access to any Cherokee Nation property, to not allow any encroachment on any Cherokee properties whatsoever and if any entity has restricted ingress/egress or encroached on Cherokee Nation property to begin negotiations or legal proceedings to resolve ingress/egress problems, or remove encroachments on Cherokee Nation property,” the legislation states.
During the March 21 Rules Committee meeting, Tribal Councilor Dick Lay said he’s thought about the “protection” of tribal property since the tribe began purchasing more land.
“I’ve been thinking about this for years now, since we’ve started purchasing more property in the Cherokee Nation…the protection of our property and our lands, whether it be trust…or anything else,” he said. “I’ve checked with our legal counsel and with the assistant AG (attorney general) to make sure that this act does not interfere with any previous acts or resolutions or any other work that we’ve done previously in granting easements and that sort of thing.”
The bill follows the legislators rejecting a resolution in January to lease 190 acres of trust land in Adair County to Hunt Mill Hollow Ranch. The ranch is a hunting resort, and its owner wanted to lease the acreage to resolve a trespassing issue with the tribe. After purchasing approximately 5,000 acres nearly a decade ago, the ranch owner fenced in his property as well as CN trust land.
Legislators also unanimously authorized a right-of-way easement to Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company for the W.W. Hasting’s Hospital expansion. Ground was broken for a 469,000-square-foot addition in February.
During the April 10 Resource Committee meeting, Lay said he had concerns about a waiver in the right-of-way bill.
“We need power and gas and so forth, but I keep seeing, in fact, I see them on all three of these resolutions that are coming through Resources. Mr. Speaker and I, we’ve talked about these waivers of evaluation and waivers of bonds, waivers of compensation. Whenever I see a waiver, a red flag goes up, and forgive me for being so independent, but that’s just the way I am,” Lay said.
Joel Bean, of the CN Realty Department, said the waiver in place because the tribe wasn’t requesting any “compensation” for the land.
“For a project that we’re not requesting any compensation for, that’s the reason we’re asking for the wavier evaluation because there’s not really a reason for the tribe to spend three or $4,000 getting an appraisal done for the easement and the substation itself that we’re not going to be charging that company the money for,” he said. “The tribe itself isn’t going to charge for that easement itself, you know. If we’re charging for a pipeline going across our property or something like that we wouldn’t include the wavier unless it was for something that was supplying Cherokee Nation’s property or the business or the buildings or houses. Everything’s going to be supplied to the Nation.”
Lay said he didn’t “like” waivers but voted for the resolution “under protest.”
“What we’re doing here is a good thing. We need it. We gotta have it. But I’m going to vote for it under protest of all these waivers. I just don’t like these waivers because some of these things were built up and sent up for the protection of tribes at one time or another,” he said.
During the Tribal Council meeting, legislators also unanimously passed a resolution to allow the building of seven storm shelters for Head Start facilities in the tribe’s jurisdiction.
During the April 10 Education Committee meeting, Christina Carroll, of CN Grant Services, said the facilities were chosen because they are “Cherokee-owned facilities.”
“We can’t place them on state land or non-tribal facilities. So the seven facilities will be all various communities, and they’ll get shelters that fit their needs for each building,” she said. “They will be attached to the facilities. It’s not a under the ground or anything like that. It’s a additional room on the building and they will be FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)-rated buildings.”
Legislators also unanimously passed a resolution to sponsor a CN Scout Award for the Boy Scouts of America.
During the March 21 Rules Committee meeting, Tribal Councilor Keith Austin said by sponsoring the award “every Cherokee boy in scouting throughout the United States, or throughout the world, can achieve a Cherokee Scout Knot for their uniform.”
In other business, legislators:
• Increased the fiscal year 2017 capital budget by $375,000 to $279.9 million,
• Increased the FY 2017 operating budget by $2.02 million to $669.9 million,
• Approved Dewayne Marshall as a Sequoyah High School board of education member,
• Authorized CN to lease approximately 25 acres of tribal trust land on which a gym and ball field are located to the CC Camp Community Organization in Adair County,
• Authorized the BIA to update the tribe’s inventory of tribal transportation facilities,
• Authorized an application to the Federal Highway Administration for two bridges over Wickliffe Creek in Mayes County,
• Approved CN warehouse donations to Maryetta School, Boys & Girls Club in Delaware County, Disney Assembly of God Church, Spavinaw Community Building, Cedar Tree Baptist Church, Calvary Indian Baptist Church, Stilwell Public Library and the Neighborhood Association of Chewey, and
• Approved CN Education Service donations to Bluejacket Public School.