Tahlequah Holiday Bazaar set for community building
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – A Tahlequah Holiday Bazaar that will include an arts and crafts show and an “upscale” flea market is set 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Nov. 11 and 12 in the Tahlequah Community Building at 908 S. College.
Admission is free. Concessions along with more than 40 local artists and crafters will be a part of the bazaar, which will raise money for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society in the memory of Melinda Ann Dickson.
Organizer Linda Jones said this is the first time for the event, and the idea for the event came to her last winter while attending an event in the community building.
“The thought occurred to me what a great location and building it was to have a big event for the holidays. They have indoor flea markets there all the time, but not big events that feature our local artists and crafters,” said Jones, who is a jewelry vendor. “I lost my daughter to lymphoma in 2002 and wanted to do an event in her memory to honor her and to raise money for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society.”
Jones said she and her husband Bobby are using all the vendor setup fees to advertise the event. They are purchasing banners, buying radio advertising and placing notices in area newspapers and magazines.
By getting the word out and generating a good crowd, Jones said she hopes vendors will want to return for next year’s event.
While she is selling her jewelry, Jones said her husband would be coordinating the concessions, where they couple expects most of the money for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society.
The booth fee for vendors is $30, which includes a 12 x 12 foot area, two eight-foot tables and two chairs. Electrical outlets will be available.
Contact Linda Jones at 918-694-3349 or 918-316-6518 for more information.
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.”
SALLISAW, Okla. – In March, the U.S. Department of Energy announced its participation in the development of Clean Line Energy’s Plains & Eastern project, a 700-mile, high-voltage transmission line expected to transfer wind energy from western Oklahoma to Tennessee.
A study shows the line would deliver 4,000 megawatts of power from the panhandle to utilities and customers in Arkansas, Tennessee and the Mid-South and Southeast areas.
One county the line would traverse is Sequoyah County. Many residents there are Cherokee Nation citizens, and the proposed route would run near and parallel to the historic Trail of Tears and Sequoyah’s Home, a site where the noted Cherokee linguist lived.
Residents who could be affected by the line recently met to discuss opposition to it.
Kathryn Wilburne, who lives near Sallisaw, said she and her husband James would have a clear view of the line from their living room. They bought their property about 12 years ago and built a home on it in 2008 when they retired.
“This has been a dream for decades to come back (from California) and have a farm and be in a beautiful historical area that we have here,” she said. “It is so precious what is here. It can be found nowhere else. It’s an honor to be here. It’s an honor to be a steward here. We love our farm.”
Kathryn, a Sequoyah County Historical Society member, said she’s concerned about the potential loss of hidden historic places. She said the lands were Cherokee allotments and that Cherokee families have plots and cemeteries throughout the county. Surveyors have worked to document the historic aspects and discoveries in the area, she said, and those would be key to developments.
“There are also Indian signal trees here (trees bent to mark routes or significant sites), and there are also paths people have found designating where wagons have gone through,” she said. “We have to be respectful of what is here. We know that there are people buried here, and as such, the landowners know it, and they are very protective of these people that are buried here even if they’re not related to them.”
Tribal Councilor Bryan Warner said he’s listened to citizens living in areas where the line would pass.
“What I’m hearing from this group overall is about the lack of transparency, the disgraceful tactics and the other things that have come from Clean Line. I feel if there was big need, this group (landowners) would consider letting this thing come through, but from the research they have done they believe there is not that great of need at this moment,” he said.
He said the Tribal Council stands behind its 2015 resolution objecting to the line going through the CN.
“I’ve talked with (Principal) Chief (Bill John) Baker. I’ve talked with the Attorney General Todd Hembree. I’ve talked with Sara Hill, secretary of Natural Resources, and we all still are a go to help these individuals and do what we can to help stop this transmission line,” Warner said.
He said because the CN owns part of the Arkansas Riverbed, it may be able to stop Clean Line from crossing the river in western Sequoyah County.
Clean Line Energy Executive Vice President Mario Hurtado said the CN resolution contains information that is “not factually true.” It states the line would cross ceremonial grounds, however, Hurtado said Clean Line has worked hard not to do that and “has absolutely no knowledge” it would.
The resolution suggests the project would go “across the Stokes Smith Ceremonial Ground” near Vian, but Hurtado said the DOE obtained locational details about the ground from the CN.
“The route is more than 0.5 miles to the south of the Stokes Smith Ceremonial Grounds, along an existing transmission line. Extensive analysis was done on this location and there is no visual or other impact from locating the new transmission line along the south side of the existing line in that area,” reads a company statement.
Hurtado said crews have been active along the right-of-way for the line gathering data on wetlands, rivers and other waters regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Crews are also conducting surveys to ensure cultural resources are not harmed.
He said crews are also working to acquire easements along the route, which would contain 150-foot towers.
“We are working with a couple of Oklahoma-based companies that do this kind of work a lot for all kinds of infrastructure projects. We’ve done training with those agents. We’re going to make sure they are going to be following the code of conduct. We’ve got to work with landowners to make sure they are respectful and treat people correctly,” Hurtado said.
The agents are also there to ensure landowners understand they will get 100 percent of the market value of the right-of-way, he said, and that Clean Line is paying for property structures that would need removed.
“People can get annual payments for structures on their property. Even if they don’t have structures on their property they can still get annual payments,” he said.
Steve Parish, who lives near Gore, said the proposed line “takes out” his 20 acres, which includes his home.
“If there was a need for this power to come through, if it was helping everybody, I would sacrifice. I probably would just go ahead with the deal, but it’s not. It just takes away, and we worked too hard for that,” he said.
Parish said he learned of the line in 2013 and met with a Clean Line official who showed him where the line would cross in relation to his property.
“It does affect me quite a bit. The 200-foot easement they are looking at is right next to my house, and I told them that’s pretty close,” he said.
He said the representative offered to move the line about 200 feet from his home. He said the representative also told him “it would still be in his backyard” and that Parish “wouldn’t get two cents.”
In July, Parish said Clean Line representatives returned for an environmental survey. He said he questioned whether they had already performed it on his property. Parish said his wife intervened and told them they did not have permission for the survey.
“They said, ‘we see that you’re going to be a little bit difficult. We’ll send somebody else out.’ I haven’t heard from them since,” he said.
Hurtado said if a landowner does not want to talk to a representative that wish is respected and the representative leaves and does not knock on their door again.
“If the result of that conversation is ‘I just don’t want an agent from Clean Line contacting me,’ then we take note of that, and we try to be respectful of that, but we have to be able to at least try. In fact, we are obligated to talk to people about the project, about easements,” he said. “People can always contact us. If they have an issue about how a land agent is acting towards them or they feel they haven’t been treated fairly, we want to know about that.”
People can call 1-855-466-1021 or email email@example.com to voice concerns, Hurtado said.
Projects like the transmission line take much time and planning, Hurtado said, and that it’s important to recognize the benefits that can come from the $2 billion endeavor.
“If folks have issues we want to be able to work through those. Our job is to do this in the best way possible. We really want to do right by the communities where the project is going to be located,” he said. “I think it’s important for people to know that it’s going to provide very economic, low-cost energy to well over a million homes, and it’s going to provide economic development and jobs to thousands and thousands of people.”
Hurtado said Clean Line wants to begin construction in late 2017 and for the line to be operational in 2020.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Attorneys for former Cherokee Nation Foundation Executive Director Kimberlie Gilliland filed a motion in the tribe’s District Court on Aug. 17 requesting the court stay a civil case filed against her on July 27 by the CNF.
The stay is requested pending the disposition of a criminal case against Gilliland filed by the CN attorney general’s office on July 28 alleging embezzlement and fraud during her time as CNF executive director.
In the civil case, Gilliland faces 22 counts that stem from a more-than-two-year investigation involving irregularities in her salary, travel expenses, spending and awarding of CNF scholarships. Gilliland was appointed to serve as CNF executive director in August 2009 and served until July 2013.
Gilliland has called the court filings “baseless.”
Her request for a stay states that eight of the nine counts in the criminal case “are based upon the same allegations” in the civil case and that she would face a dilemma of self-incrimination in the criminal case if she chooses to defend herself against the civil charges. The motion also states a stay pending a final resolution of the criminal case “would further the interests” of the court and “would not harm the public.”
Her civil case attorney, James Proszek of the law firm Hall, Estill, Hardwick, Gable of Tulsa, signed the motion.
Also on Aug. 17, her attorney in the civil suit filed a motion to dismiss embezzlement and conversion claims by CNF attorney Ralph Keen. The motion claims the embezzlement and conversion claims were filed two years after the claims accrued and exceed statute of limitations and should be dismissed.
District Judge Bart Fite had not responded to the two motions as of publication.