Tribal Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr., left, stands with Deputy Chief Joe Crittenden, right, as Principal Chief Bill John Baker signs his first piece of legislation, the Cherokee Nation Corporation Health Dividend Act of 2011. This bill increases the percentage of the profits the tribe directly receives from its for-profit corporations, from 30 percent to 35 percent, with the additional 5 percent earmarked for contract health services across the Cherokee Nation’s 14-county jurisdiction. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Council increases CNB dividend for contract health care

This map shows contract health service delivery areas for Native Americans living in Oklahoma. MAP COURTESY OF INDIAN HEALTH SERVICES OFFICE OF PLANNING AND PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
This map shows contract health service delivery areas for Native Americans living in Oklahoma. MAP COURTESY OF INDIAN HEALTH SERVICES OFFICE OF PLANNING AND PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
BY WILL CHAVEZ
11/21/2011 11:09 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Principal Chief Bill John Baker signed into law on Nov. 21 the Corporation Health Dividend Act of 2011, which adds 5 percent to the 30 percent dividend that Cherokee Nation Businesses provides to the Nation for health care needs.

According to the act, the additional 5 percent will be “set aside exclusively for contract health services” for CN citizens. The act also states funds “shall be expended to Cherokee Nation citizens who reside anywhere” within the CN’s 14-county jurisdictional area.

“Our people should be pleased with this,” Baker said. “This will go a long way to making sure the health needs of the Cherokee people across our 14 counties are being met.”

Baker originally sponsored the legislation when he was on the Tribal Council. Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr., a current sponsor, said it’s estimated that the legislation would yield $5 million for health care services including, but not limited to, eyeglasses, dentures, prosthesis, cancer treatments and hearing aids “provided the amount of increase over the current 30 percent is conditioned upon CNB remaining in compliance with the financial covenants of any credit agreement and guaranty.”

Councilors passed the act Nov. 14 by an 11-4 vote with Councilors Jack Baker, Julia Coates, Lee Keener and Cara Cowan Watts voting against it.
Before the vote, Cowan Watts requested a friendly amendment to the act clarifying that the dividend increase would only come from “for profit” corporations and not nonprofits such as the Cherokee Heritage Center.

Her amendment request, which was accepted, was part of a larger amendment request sponsored by her, Buel Anglen and Keener. Keener requested that the additional dividend funds be set aside exclusively for in-patient and out-patient contract health services as defined by tribal Health Service policy for CN citizens living within the jurisdiction who are not currently served by contract health services.

Keener also asked that Health Services monitor contract health services at Claremore Indian Hospital, Miami Clinic and Muscogee Creek Nation clinics to ensure CN citizens are not being denied solely because of the new dividend funding.

“I want to ensure that those that qualify for any help will get it,” Keener said. “I just want to ensure that whoever gets the (dividend) money will be a Cherokee citizen.”

Hoskin rejected Keener’s request because he said some of its content is already in the dividend legislation, and the request limited health coverage for citizens.

“I don’t accept because it starts to draw lines. Even though the federal government has compelled us to draw some lines, I don’t think we need to be in the business of drawing lines,” Hoskin said. ‘I think we have mechanisms in place that Cherokee citizens get this money whether they live in Craig County or they live in Cherokee County. I think the legislation as written will do that.”

Cowan Watts said the contract health services issue is a difficult one because of a lack of funding. Contract health services are specialty services such as cancer treatments, heart surgeries or advanced diabetic care provided outside an Indian Health Service-funded facility.

She added that it was suggested in committee that CNB provide an additional 10 percent rather than 5 percent to fund contract health care, but that suggestion was rejected.

“I think it falls short as it’s written today. It’s even more grievous when we’re looking at serving 14 counties under the existing structure of contract health services,” Cowan Watts said.

Before the meeting, she provided a letter that Claremore Indian Hospital gives to patients inquiring about contract health care. In it, written by hospital CEO James Cussen, patients are informed that northeastern Oklahoma has varied contract health service areas, and each area has established different contract health priorities. Also, eligible patients must use the clinic or hospital assigned to the county they live in for their contract health requests, the letter states.

The act became affective with Baker’s signature.

will-chavez@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961


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Council

08/14/2014 08:25 AM
BY WILL CHAVEZ Senior Reporter TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Elmer C. Tadpole Jr., his brother Thomas Tadpole and Richard Acorn were the three Cherokee veterans honored with Cherokee Warrior awards during the Aug. 11 Tribal Council meeting. Elmer was born in June 1940 to Elmer Tadpole Sr. and Lillian Napier Tadpole in Muskogee. His father was an original enrollee with Cherokee family history tracing back to 1737. When Elmer was 4 years old, his family moved to Tulsa where he grew up and went to school. On his 17th birthday, in 1957, he joined the U.S. Navy Reserves. After graduating from high school he went active duty serving on the USS Woodson DE and USS Hornet CV-12. The USS Woodson DE was home ported at New Orleans where the boat patrolled from St. Louis down the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico to Miami. He then transferred to the USS Hornet CV-12. The USS Hornet CV-12 was home ported at Long Beach, Calif., and was part of the Pacific Sixth Fleet patrolling Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States. After this stint he was transferred to a naval supply and training base in Subic Bay, Philippines. There, Elmer performed duties such as security and training exercises. He was honorably discharged in June 1963. Elmer said he accepted the Warrior Award for “all the veterans lost in service.” Thomas Tadpole was born in Tulsa on July 21, 1948, to Elmer Sr. and Lillian Tadpole. Thomas lived in Tulsa and graduated from Tulsa Central High School in 1966. In 1968, Thomas volunteered for the U.S. Air Force and completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio after which he attended Security Police Training at Lackland AFB. In 1970, Thomas volunteered for duty in Vietnam and served there from September 1970 to September 1971 at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. He was assigned to Military Assistance Command Vietnam/7th Air Force, 12th Recon Intelligence Technical Squadron. Staff Sgt. Thomas Tadpole was honorably discharged in May 1972 and was awarded various medals and ribbons including USAF Commendation Medal (1971-Vietnam), Vietnam Service Medal with three Campaign Stars, Vietnam Campaign Medal w/device, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry and a Presidential Unit Citation (Vietnam). Thomas returned to Tulsa where he was re-employed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He spent 34 years with the Corps of Engineers as a construction representative and project engineer working on military and civil works construction projects in several states and retired in 2004. He and his wife Floy live in Claremore. “I want to thank you for this. I think this is a great thing to do for veterans,” he said during the meeting. Richard F. Acorn was born July 20, 1934, in Stilwell to Lillie Mae Acorn and Fred Aguirre in the family home place where Richard still lives. Shortly after his birth, his father and mother divorced. He was raised and adopted by his grandfather and grandmother Rev. John B. Acorn and Adeline Smith Acorn. After graduating from Sequoyah Indian School in Tahlequah in 1952, Acorn moved to Wichita, Kan., and worked in a sheet metal shop until 1955 when he moved back to Oklahoma to do plumbing with his uncle Bill Acorn. At this time he also met and married Shirley Dreadfulwater. Acorn was drafted into the Army in 1957. He was sent to Fort Chaffee, Ark., for basic training. After training he was assigned to overseas duty with 7th Army Headquarters, 78th Ordinance Company Field Supply, Mannheim, Germany, and drivers training for military vehicles in Mannheim. After his tour in Germany, Acorn returned back to the United States to join his family and they moved back to Wichita in 1959 where he worked at Cessna Air Craft Company and joined the U.S. Army Reserve Unit 5048th. He spent four years in the reserves and was honorably discharged in 1963. In 1965, with the death of his wife, he was left with three girls ages 5, 3 and 18 months. In 1967, he met Judith Ann, who had two girls and two boys, and they married and had a son together. They are still together after 47 years of marriage. In 1971, Richard moved back to Oklahoma, and in 1973 he began working for the Indian Health Service as an inspector. In 1983, he began working for the Cherokee Nation in Community Development and security. He currently serves as a security guard. “I’m proud to have been a part of the world’s greatest armed forces. I’m proud to work for the Cherokee Nation,” Acorn said after receiving the Cherokee Warrior medal.
08/13/2014 08:55 AM
BY WILL CHAVEZ Senior Reporter TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At its Aug. 11 meeting, the Tribal Council approved a request to participate in the Indian Health Service’s 2014 Joint Venture Construction Program so that it can build a hospital in Tahlequah. If the tribe’s request is approved, the IHS would agree to provide staffing and operations funding. Under the agreement, the Cherokee Nation would purchase the necessary equipment and construct the facility. The CN has a construction budget of $54.1 million, and the construction is managed by Cherokee Nation Construction Resources LLC. CN Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said the CN would not break ground for the hospital until it receives word about whether the tribe can participate in the program. To do so would disqualify the CN from being considered by the IHS. The IHS is authorized to establish Joint Venture Construction Program projects with tribes for the construction of health care facilities as long as tribes are able to spend tribal funds or other non-IHS funds, including loan guarantees, for the construction of a tribally owned health care facility. In exchange, for a minimum of 20 years, the IHS agrees to lease the health care facility and the land under a no-cost lease and agrees to provide equipment, supplies and staffing for the operation and maintenance of the facility, according to IHS information. The CN is receiving funding for the hospital from its business arm, Cherokee Nation Businesses. The CNB board has also allocated additional funding to improve upon the hospital’s plans. In April, the board approved $7.5 million to the hospital’s construction budget to “strengthen” the hospital’s construction in the event of a tornado. In February, it added $650,000 for a 1,500-square-foot area that will house a C-section unit and storage for the intensive care unit. In other business, the council unanimously approved a resolution to receive 35 to 50 head of bison through the Intertribal Buffalo Council in Rapid City, S.D. The ITBC is a cooperative of 57 Native American nations with more than 15,000 head of bison. The resolution states “the Cherokee Nation as a working member in the Intertribal Buffalo Council is taking necessary steps for the development and required expertise needed for American Bison husbandry.” The buffalo are coming from the Badlands of South Dakota and will be fenced in on CN land near Kenwood in Delaware County. “We’re getting 35 to 50 or whatever we can haul. We’ve already got our fences built on the Cherokee Nation ranch, and we’re ready to receive them,” Tribal Councilor Curtis Snell said. The council also approved a resolution to accept 1,000 pounds of bison meat from the ITBC. The meat will be distributed during the Cherokee National Holiday, Snell said. The council also added $3,334 to the tribe’s comprehensive capital budget for fiscal year 2014 for a total budget authority of $103.4 million. Also, $4.6 million was added to the tribe’s comprehensive operating budget for a total budget authority of $618.4 million. Also, during his State of the Nation address, Principal Chief Bill John Baker said the tribe’s school clothing voucher program has “been a true success,” having provided $100 vouchers to more than 7,000 students. The next council meeting is 6 p.m. on Sept. 15.
BY TESINA JACKSON
05/15/2014 08:29 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At its May 12 meeting, the Tribal Council unanimously voted to provide equal per capita funding to all eligible Johnson-O’Malley students attending public schools within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction. The resolution adds Lowrey, Shady Grove and Mosley public schools to the Cherokee Nation Education Services’ JOM funding list, which will serve more than 250 additional students at $45 per student in the 2015 fiscal year. All three schools previously did not receive JOM funding for eligible Native American students. The tribe’s fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and runs to Sept. 30. The JOM program’s purpose is to meet specialized and unique educational needs of American Indian children attending public and some tribal schools through the use of supplemental education programs. “I’m just glad that the tribe supports Indian education,” Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick, who sponsored the amendment, said. “The Cherokee Nation must guarantee all of our students are given equal opportunity to succeed. Creating equal per capita funding for all JOM students within the Cherokee Nation gives each student access to educational programs that will only enhance their learning capabilities and open more doors that lead to successful lives.” Before the resolution, which excludes charter and private schools, the tribe’s JOM program worked with 71 school districts with a total of 24,167 eligible students. “Today we are making critical investments in the next generation of Cherokee leaders. Successful JOM programs in our service area not only ensure all Cherokee children receive the educational tools they need to succeed, like books, fees and equipment, but they also incorporate our tribal heritage and culture in the local education curriculum,” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “We have a responsibility to keep pushing for greater successes and raising the bar for our JOM programs. With those increased opportunities comes hope for a brighter future for our youth.” CN Communications officials said money for the per capita funding would come from the tribe’s existing Education budget. Tribal Councilors also approved resolution authorizing a 15-foot temporary access easement across and existing roadway located on tribal trust land for a term of 30 years to CN citizens Jeremy and Jamey Croley. During the April 14 Resource Committee meeting, Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard said he was concerned about granting the easement access in the middle of the property because, if not taken care of properly, it could ruin the property. Tribal Councilor Tina Glory Jordan made a friendly amendment that the easement be considered non-assignable and if the owners decide to sell the easement, it would be reverted back to the tribe. The amendment passed and was included in the resolution approved on May 12. The council also approved two budget modifications for fiscal year 2014. One modification increases the tribe’s comprehensive operating budget by more than $9.8 million for a total of more than $606 million. The other budget modification increases the tribe’s capital budget by more than $3.3 million by adding money from the Tribal Council House Building Fund and $2.7 million in carryover funds to Health Services for a total of more than $102 million. As part of the capital budget modification, approximately $6 million worth of equipment and supplies will go inside the tribe’s four new health centers under construction and Hastings Hospital, slated for construction later this year. Tribal Councilors also amended the agenda to add a resolution from the May 12 Community Services meeting. The resolution authorized Human Services to submit an $83,333 grant application to the U.S. Family and Youth Services Bureau to supplement the emergency shelter operations and supportive services of the John A. Ketcher Youth Services Center. The next Tribal Council meeting is slated for 6 p.m. on June 16.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/01/2014 10:09 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation honored a World War II veteran and Vietnam veteran with Cherokee Medals of Patriotism at the Tribal Council’s April 14 meeting. Elmer Scullawl, 89, of Bartlesville, and Durbin Feeling, 67, of Tahlequah, both received a medal and plaque from Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden acknowledging their military service. Seaman Scullawl was born on Dec. 15, 1925, near Ochelata to Maggie and Richard Scullawl. He graduated from Ochelata High School in 1944 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He attended boot camp at Camp Wallace, Texas, and was assigned to the USS St. Louis. Scullawl said during the meeting he might be the last member of the St. Louis crew still living. During WWII, he was involved in air attacks near the Philippines and was wounded in when Japanese Kamikaze pilots flew their planes into the ship. He was awarded the Purple Heart for his injuries and the Navy Unit Citation. He said he was glad the United States dropped atomic bombs on Japan to end the war because he believes the bombs saved a lot of lives, including his. “I’m glad I’m still here,” Scullawl said. “Back in 1945 when we were getting ready to make the attack on Japan, we’d done been guaranteed that we weren’t coming home, but we did. I think I’m about the last one on that ship that’s left. Thank you for this honor.” Spc. Feeling was born April 2, 1946, near Locust Grove to Jeff and Elizabeth Feeling. In 1964, he graduated from Chilocco Indian School, where he was active in football and the marching band. After high school, he received an associate’s degree from Bacone College. Feeling was drafted into the Army in 1967 and trained at Fort Polk, La. He served as a door gunner with the 195th Assault Helicopter Company during Vietnam and was honorably discharged in 1970. He received the Vietnam Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation and other service medals. Feeling went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern State University and studied linguistics at the University of California-Irvine. In 2004, Feeling received an honorary doctorate from Ohio State University for his work in linguistics. He wrote the Cherokee dictionary used by the tribe. He now works as a translation specialist for the CN. “Chief Baker, Deputy Chief Crittenden, Tribal Council and everybody who has had a part in the nomination of my award, I thank you very much,” Feeling said. “My wife, I’m glad she’s here with me because of some of the things she has to go through living with somebody who has gone through combat. Lastly, I want to salute the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice: the heroes and their families.” 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. Native Americans, including Cherokees, are thought to have more citizens serving per capita than any other ethnic group, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. To nominate a veteran who is a CN citizen, call 918-453-5541 or 1-800-256-0671, ext. 5541.
BY JAMI MURPHY
04/28/2014 08:35 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After tabling amendments to the Cherokee Nation’s Freedom Of Information and Governmental Records acts for one month, the Tribal Council’s Rules Committee on April 24 agreed to form a work group to examine the acts’ requests processes, backlogs, compliance rates and associated costs. “The council has tabled two, the GRA and the FOIA, amendments. The council is going to form a working group or ad hoc group to gather information about past FOIA requests, what were the costs in both dollars and man hours on these programs,” Attorney General Todd Hembree said. “I’m assuming they will also work on how to maintain the most clearest and purest forms of transparency and bring recommendations back to this body to consider at the next Rules meeting to how to make this system better.” In the tabled FOIA legislation, Cherokee Nation Businesses and its entities are removed from adhering to public disclosure requirements by redefining the term “public body” and adding “governmental body.” The legislation defines public body as any “board, commission, agency, or authority of any statutorily-created body” but “shall not include governmental departments of the Executive Branch, any business entities owned by the Cherokee Nation, or any Cherokee Nation corporation or limited liability company.” CNB is the tribe’s wholly owned business entity that contains other business entities such as Cherokee Nation Entertainment and Cherokee Nation Industries under its corporate umbrella. The bill defines governmental body as “any public or governmental body (including but not limited to the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branch) or political subdivision of the Nation and any Cherokee Nation board, commission, agency or authority of any statutorily-created body.” The legislation also states that the production of printed or digital documents is at the discretion of the governmental body. “Any person has a right to inspect or copy any public record of a governmental body,” but “At its discretion, the governmental body may provide electronic or paper copies of the records requested to the person requesting instead of allowing inspection and copying of the records.” If the governmental body provides copies of the records, the governmental body may first require a fee. Also within the legislation, a change to the time allotted for a FOIA request would be extended from 15 days to 60 days excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal public holidays. Another change allows for the Attorney General’s Office to deem records confidential “based on the sensitive nature of the content or documents that may be subject to pending or contemplated litigation.” Of the GRA amendments, one proposed change states that the director, supervisor, agency or principal chief could deem requested documents confidential and allow only viewing of the documents to Tribal Councilors. “The records may be provided through a viewing of the documents without a copy provided,” the bill states. Although the GRA and FOIA’s current versions have no wording for such a move, Hembree has taken that step in at least one instance, which led to a lawsuit that is before the tribe’s Supreme Court. In the case, Hembree told Tribal Councilor Julia Coates that she could only view documents that she requested under the GRA and FOIA in his office and that documents would not be copied for her. Coates sued in District Court, which ruled against her. She appealed to the Supreme Court and the case is pending. Another proposed amendment increases the amount of time for a GRA request to be fulfilled. The fulfillment time goes from six working days to 15 and “in no event shall the total time to produce be extended beyond 30 working days from the date of the receipt of the initial request.” Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory Jordan, who sponsored both bills, made the motion to table the bills saying that Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd, who chairs the committee, wanted to form the work group. “It’s my understanding, Chairman Byrd, that you want to form a work group, and that during the month continuance that work group will pull all of the number of years of GRA and FOIA requests, check costs, check manpower utilization to fulfill those requests, check what those requests were for and a number of other issues that I think you and I have talked about, and that those issues and responses will then be returned to this body in one month at the regular Rules meeting.” The motion passed unanimously, and Byrd said he would select the work group. Prior to the meeting, Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts said she believed the amendments would remove CNB and all associated entities, personnel, meetings and documents exempting them from public disclosure. “The Cherokee people deserve to know where there money is going and who is getting large contracts with the government or business,” she said. Tribal Councilor Lee Keener said amendments to both acts attack transparency because both acts fall under what may be called “sunshine laws.” “Sunshine acts are called that because the records need to see the light of day and be able to hold up under scrutiny. It is an abuse of power to try and operate behind closed doors,” Keener said. “To me it violates a basic principle of the public’s right to access government records. It is not my government or your government, it is our government.”
BY JAMI MURPHY
04/22/2014 03:04 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tribal Council has set a special Rules Committee meeting for 2:30 p.m. on Thursday to consider amending the Cherokee Nation’s Freedom Of Information and Governmental Records acts, with one proposed change being to remove Cherokee Nation Businesses and its entities from adhering to requirements for public disclosure. The legislation changes the definition of a public body. According to the legislation, a public body would be defined as any “board, commission, agency, or authority of any statutorily-created body.” However, the definition also states “This shall not include governmental departments of the Executive Branch, any business entities owned by the Cherokee Nation, or any Cherokee Nation corporation or limited liability company.” CNB is the tribe’s wholly owned business entity that contains other business entities such as Cherokee Nation Entertainment and Cherokee Nation Industries under its corporate umbrella. The amendment adds a definition for a governmental body, defined as “any public or governmental body (including but not limited to the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branch) or political subdivision of the Nation and any Cherokee Nation board, commission, agency or authority of any statutorily-created body.” The legislation also states that the production of printed or digital documents is at the discretion of the governmental body. “Any person has a right to inspect or copy any public record of a governmental body,” but “At its discretion, the governmental body may provide electronic or paper copies of the records requested to the person requesting instead of allowing inspection and copying of the records.” If the governmental body provides copies of the records, the governmental body may first require a fee. Also within the legislation, a change to the time allotted for a FOIA request would be extended from 15 days to 60 days excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal public holidays. Another change allows for the Office of the Attorney General to deem records confidential “based on the sensitive nature of the content or documents that may be subject to pending or contemplated litigation.” Of the GRA amendments, one proposed change states that the director, supervisor, agency or principal chief could deem requested documents confidential and allow only viewing of the documents to Tribal Councilors. “The records may be provided through a viewing of the documents without a copy provided,” the proposed bill states. Although the GRA and FOIA’s current versions have no wording for such a move, CN Attorney General Todd Hembree has taken that step in at least one instance, which led to a lawsuit that is now before the tribe’s Supreme Court. In that case, Hembree told Tribal Councilor Julia Coates that she could only view documents that she requested under the GRA and FOIA in his office and that the documents would not be copied for her. Coates sued in District Court, which later ruled against her. She then appealed to the Supreme Court and the case is still pending. Another proposed amendment increases the amount of time for a GRA request to be fulfilled. The fulfillment time goes from six working days to 15 and “in no event shall the total time to produce be extended beyond 30 working days from the date of the receipt of the initial request.” Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory Jordan, who is the sponsor of both bills, said she preferred to not comment on the legislation prior to the Tribal Council hearing them. Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts said she believed the amendments would remove CNB and all associated entities, personnel, meetings and documents exempting them from public disclosure. “The Cherokee people deserve to know where there money is going and who is getting large contracts with the government or business,” she said. Tribal Councilor Jodie Fishinghawk said she was reviewing the legislation and would not comment. Tribal Councilor Lee Keener said amendments to both acts attack transparency because both acts fall under what may be called “sunshine laws.” “Sunshine acts are called that because the records need to see the light of day and be able to hold up under scrutiny. It is an abuse of power to try and operate behind closed doors,” Keener said. “To me it violates a basic principle of the public’s right to access government records. It is not my government or your government, it is our government.”