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
Senior Reporter
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. • 918-207-3961

About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years.


11/17/2015 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tribal Council approved the newest member of the Cherokee Nation Administrative Appeals Board on Nov. 16 at the legislative body’s monthly meeting after moving forward the nomination from the Rules Committee meeting earlier in the day. Tribal Councilors, minus an absent Jack Baker, unanimously approved Junior Dewayne Littlejohn during the Rules Committee meeting and full Tribal Council. Littlejohn will begin serving Dec. 15 for a term of four years. “Junior Dewayne Littlejohn is duly qualified and should be appointed as a Member of the Administrative Appeals Board,” the legislation reads. The AAB is a board comprised of three members who hear employee grievances, including wrongful termination cases. The board’s other two members are James Cosby and Nathan Barnard. The Tribal Council also approved two budget modifications. The first modification passed the Executive and Finance Committee on Oct. 29 and increased the tribe’s budget by $4.2 million to more than $651 million. It included $3.97 million related to carryover of a Department of Labor grant. The second passed the committee on Nov. 16 and increased the tribe’s total operating budget by more than $1.1 million to more than $653 million. It contained $760,000 related to an increase in the Tribe’s Employment Rights Office program from TERO fees to be collected. Also during the meeting, Health Services Director Connie Davis recognized Craig Edgmon, a home health nurse for the tribe’s Redbird Smith Health Center, who successfully resuscitated an unresponsive patient during a home visit. “And because of his heroic efforts this patient survived that event,” she said. “He went on the next week to teach a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) class where the following week one of his students passed on that and paid it forward and successfully resuscitated yet another patient out in the field. That shows what your efforts have done.” In other news, Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Shawn Slaton said that the Outpost 1 convenient store on the Tribal Complex is expected to be open around Feb. 1. Once opened the fuel system would be shut down for about three months until new fueling stations can be added. Slaton also said the Roland Casino hotel is expected to open near Dec. 1 and that CNB’s television show “OsiyoTV” would expand to the Oklahoma City area playing at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings on channel CW 34. In addition, he said that CNB Native American employment rate is at 81.6 percent with 73.5 percent of that strictly CN citizens. Deputy Principal Chief S. Joe Crittenden also recognized two CN citizens for their military service, Christopher Dale Mayfield for his service in Operation Desert Storm and Jerry Wane Daniels for his time in Vietnam.
11/16/2015 12:00 PM
HULBERT, Okla. – Rex Jordan had spent the past 20 years serving the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, but this year he is taking on a new assignment as Dist. 1 Tribal Councilor. “I was both excited and humbled when I learned the Cherokee citizens of District 1 placed their faith in me to represent them in their government,” Jordan said. “I have always called District 1 home. It is the place where I grew up, was educated, and raised my family. Over the years, I have seen this area thrive and grow, and I want to do my part in seeing that progress continue.” Dist. 1 covers the western part of Cherokee County and a portion of eastern Wagoner County. Jordan was sworn into office Aug. 14 at Sequoyah High School’s The Place Where They Play after defeating Ryan Sierra in the June 27 general election. Certified results named Jordan the winner by a vote count of 856-494. Since inauguration, Jordan said he has been “impressed” with the Cherokee Nation orientation process for new Tribal Councilors. “We had the opportunity to visit with every single department head, and are undergoing a comprehensive program in which we spend time visiting individual departments,” he said. “The time spent with staff is invaluable, as we have the opportunity to ask very specific questions. It certainly makes both committee and council meetings work better.” During his term, Jordan plans to assist those in his district by focusing on improving housing. “Housing is an area of top priority for me,” he said. “I believe providing new homes and rehabilitating existing housing to meet the needs of the Cherokee people is of utmost importance.” Jordan is already working toward that goal by joining the HACN board as an advisory member along with fellow Tribal Councilors Bryan Warner, Frankie Hargis, Janees Taylor and Curtis Snell. Advisory member positions are non-voting positions. Jordan is also focused on increasing investments in education for citizens, especially since his background includes bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agriculture education from Oklahoma State University. “Education is also a key component of my platform,” he said. “I believe investing in tribal citizens by assisting them with their educational needs is the key to a secure future.” As only one of seven tribes in the United States to be awarded a Joint Venture Program project with the Indian Health Service, Jordan has also made it a priority to improve the health care for people of his district. “Health and the new joint venture is of great importance to the Cherokee citizens of District 1,” he said. “I want to provide all the assistance I can to seeing this completed and online within the next four years. The new health complex at (W.W.) Hastings (Hospital) will be of benefit to the Cherokee people for all our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This will be our future in health.” When completed, the project will add almost 470,000 square feet of space to the existing hospital, as well as provide state-of-the-art medical equipment to better meet the needs of patients. Jordan, a lifetime resident of Cherokee County, graduated from Hulbert High School and maintains a cattle operation on his family farm with wife and former Dist. 1 Tribal Councilor Tina Glory Jordan. When not herding cattle, he enjoys spending time with his grandchildren and meeting with the people in his district. “I am a hands-on individual. I enjoy visiting with the people in my district, many of whom will tell you I have spent time with them in their homes or on their front porches, listening to their concerns,” he said. “It's my job to take those concerns and questions back to the council and department heads so that we can work to provide information and solutions to the Cherokee citizens that I work with every day.”
10/13/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council on Oct. 12 confirmed Sara Hill as the first cabinet level Secretary of Natural Resources. After full council confirmed her nomination, she was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Angela Jones during the meeting. Hill said she was grateful for the faith that both Principal Chief Bill John Baker and the Tribal Council have in her. “This is such an important step for the Cherokee Nation that you’re taking. It’s very easy to continue to do what’s always been done. It’s difficult to do something new and I appreciate you taking this step to do something new,” Hill said. The cabinet position will be responsible for ensuring that the tribe’s natural resources are properly preserved for the future of the Cherokee Nation and its citizens. “I am so proud to say we are finally making our natural and environmental resources a priority. Our natural habitats and environment must be a factor in every decision we make. We have a responsibility to leave this land, this water and this air pure and clean for future generations,” Baker said in his weekly column regarding his nomination. “This position was originally established by the 1999 Constitutional Convention. Unfortunately, it was never filled, but this key advisory role cannot go vacant any longer.” Baker added that with the Secretary of Natural Resources in place and with the leadership of the Tribal Council, laws can be created that will sustain tribal lands, water and air for generations to come. “The Cherokee people deserve that. Clean air, safe water and a fertile land will always be our foundation for long-term health as a tribe and a people,” he said. The resolution confirming her appointment was passed unanimously. Hill previously served as the Deputy Attorney General of the Cherokee Nation, with expertise on environmental issues, water rights and natural resource protection, according to Baker’s column. Also passed by council was a resolution confirming the nomination of Tommye Sue Bradshaw Wright as a board member of Cherokee Nation Businesses. Her nomination was one of Baker’s and was passed during the Sept. 24 Rules Committee meeting with no discussion by a vote of 13-2 with one abstention. She was originally on the CNB beginning in 2011, but resigned for personal reasons in 2014. During the full council meeting where she was confirmed, Wright said she appreciates the opportunity to serve. “I will do a good job for the Cherokee people,” she added. Wright’s nomination passed by a vote of 13-3 with Councilors Harley Buzzard, Buel Anglen and Jack Baker voting against. Councilor Don Garvin abstained. Tribal Council also passed a resolution authorizing the tribe to become a member of the National Congress of American Indians as well as appoint the tribal delegates and alternates. Tribal Council also amended the agenda to bring three items from the Community Services Committee meeting that happened earlier that day. The three resolutions were voted on together: a resolution authorizing the appropriation of $267,000 of housing rehabilitation funding for FY 2015 for grant matching, a resolution certifying compliance with 24 CFR Chapter IX, and a resolution adopting standards for Section 8 housing rehabilitation. All passed unanimously. Brothers Oran L. Roberts and John Thomas Roberts Jr., who served in Vietnam as well as other service areas, were both recognized by Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and Baker for their service in the army and navy, respectively. Bill Horton, former Chairman of the Cherokee Nation Election Commission, was also recognized for his service in the army where he served in Vietnam.
Senior Reporter
10/06/2015 04:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – With family support, Wanda Hatfield took on the challenge of winning the At-Large Tribal Council seat. Joining a field of 9 candidates, she said she used her background of growing up in the Cherry Tree in Adair County to held her understand the needs of Cherokee Nation citizens. “Basically we all have the same needs wherever we are, but I think just growing up in this part of the country I have a really good understanding of our people and our culture. Just growing in it I think I have, not an advantage, but maybe just more knowledge of the needs of Cherokees,” she said. She also said her strong desire to serve Cherokee people, like her late father did in Adair County, set her apart from the other candidates. “I didn’t have any speeches. I spoke from my heart. I’m a good listener,” she said. “The rest of the candidates were well-qualified. I think any one of us could have served well.” Hatfield traveled the United States during the 2015 campaign visiting with At-Large citizens to learn their thoughts and concerns. She learned that many want “a closer connection to the Cherokee Nation,” and want to experience the culture. She also learned many At-Large citizens are from eastern Oklahoma, having moved away during the federal government’s relocation program in the 1950s, or are descendants of Cherokees who moved away during the state’s Dust Bowl days or during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Also, some moved to the West Coast to find jobs, she said. She said At-Large citizens do get tribal higher education scholarships, but she would like to see more funding put in that area and more scholarships go to them. She said those scholarships are needed because college tuition continues to rise and citizens need scholarships to attend vocational schools or receive career trainings. Another need for At-Large citizens is health care. She said they are not able to get the specialized or contract health care that citizens living in the tribe’s boundary are able to receive. Hatfield resides in Oklahoma City with her husband Roger. They have one daughter and three grandchildren. Her parents are the late Jack Claphan and Carolyn Doublehead Claphan of Stilwell. Her great-great grandfather was Rabbit Bunch, who served as CN assistant principal chief from 1880-87. [BLOCKQUOTE]She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Oklahoma and taught in the Shawnee and Midwest City-Del City school districts for 28 years. “I have been successful in education, and I spent a lot of time in the classroom in the education field, and I was at the point in my life where I wanted to do something new and challenging,” she said. “This is something that I’ve always wanted to do – some kind of service for the Cherokees.” So far, she said it has been challenging to absorb the information given to Tribal Councilors regarding the tribe’s budget and other information they are expected to know. “I want to know it now, but I’m trying to embrace it slowly. I feel like the more knowledgeable I am, the more helpful I can be,” she said. She said serving on the council and meeting new people have been rewarding and the love and support she has been shown has been “overwhelming.” “I just want to thank everybody for their support. I’m available for my citizens any time, and I think it’s going to be a definite challenge but a wonderful challenge. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been an incredible journey so far.”
10/06/2015 02:00 PM
STILWELL, Okla. – Dist. 8 Tribal Councilor Shawn Crittenden is less than two months into his four-year term, but true to form the auctioneer, musician and Greasy Public Schools teacher who is accustomed to giving back is hard at work for the people of his district. “I’m settling in good,” Crittenden said. “It’s a good council. Everyone has been welcoming. We’ve had a couple meetings and I’m learning how the meetings themselves go, but as far as my district, I’ve been working every day. That’s really why I ran, to help folks. I’ve been just helping anywhere from food to trying to get some of those folk’s houses improved. It’s just what I thought it would be,” he said. Crittenden was sworn into office Aug. 14 at Sequoyah High School’s The Place Where They Play after defeating Corey Bunch for the Dist. 8 Tribal Council seat in the June 27 general election. Crittenden won by a vote count of 486-307, according to certified results of the district’s three precincts. Those results showed Crittenden receiving 61.29 percent of the 793 ballots cast to Bunch’s 38.71 percent. “I’m mainly humbled and thankful for the folks in my district,” Crittenden said on June 28 after Bunch conceded. “I had a lot of support and I thank the good Lord for the good feeling I have right now. I’m ready to get down to business with the people in my district. My plans are to be accessible and to stay on top of issues when folks need something, when they want to be heard. I want to do everything I can to show them I care and I’m going to work hard for them.” Crittenden said he has always availed himself to helping others, and the council position put him in a better position to continue those efforts. He also said that while his agenda will be concerned with health care, education and housing, he wants to move away from other specific platforms in favor of the immediate needs of those in his district. “I never felt like that was my platform because I think it’s everybody’s, but one of the things I really believe is the needs of the people become my platform and that changes every day, every phone call, that changes. It could be that person’s immediate need. It’s their priority and it’s my priority,” he said. [BLOCKQUOTE]Raised in Peavine, Crittenden graduated from Stillwell High School before attending Northeastern State University and obtaining his bachelor’s degree in education in 2007. Since graduating, he has become a family man with a wife and four children, which he said makes his job easier because he can better relate to many of the families in the district. During the next four years, Crittenden said any upcoming agenda issues he must vote on, he will vote accordingly with the interests of Dist. 8 and wants his constituents to understand that he works for them. “I would want people to feel as if for them to realize that they are my boss and that I ran for this office knowing that they would be my boss, and I want them to feel like I’m accessible to them at all times,” he said.
10/06/2015 12:00 PM
VERDIGRIS, Okla. – Keith Austin is the new Tribal Councilor for Cherokee Nation’s Dist. 14. And as the new representative, he said he’s already achieving the first of his goals: communication with his constituents. “Every citizen in my district should expect that when they need their Tribal Councilor that they can reach their Tribal Councilor. Their Tribal Councilor will return their phone calls, will return their emails in a timely basis,” he said. “They won’t be wondering if they’re going to get back with them. That’s immediately achievable. That doesn’t require the assistance of anybody. I can make that happen, I’ve already made that happen.” In Dist. 14, Austin said he plans to work on getting citizens more access to CN health care equal to other tribal citizens in other areas of the CN jurisdiction. [BLOCKQUOTE]He said he would also like to get more knowledge to his citizens regarding the tribe’s Small Business Assistance Center. “We have great economic engines in places like Catoosa and (West) Siloam Springs and Tahlequah and Roland. But we need to be finding more and better creative ways to have a positive impact on the communities,” Austin said. He said throughout his life, before owning his own business, he’s always worked for small businesses and has often found himself in leadership roles within those businesses. “I really thought bringing the small business sensibility to the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council was something that would benefit the Tribal Council,” he said. He added that he is excited about the commitment to education the Nation has made. “The simple fact is the biggest difference over our lifetimes has started because of our investment in the children who are going to college and technical schools right now,” he said. Austin is a lifetime resident of Dist. 14, a characteristic he felt was a necessary of any candidate or elected official from the area. “A true lifetime resident of Rogers County to represent Rogers County. I spent my whole life in Rogers County. I raised my own kids in Rogers County. It’s where I lived because I truly want to live there. I truly want to see the best for my county,” he said. According to official results, Austin won the Dist. 14 Tribal Council race against William “Bill” Pearson on July 25. Results, which included 26 accepted challenged ballots, showed that Austin garnered 498 votes for 53.9 percent of the ballots, while Pearson got 425 votes for 46.1 percent. The tribe’s Election Commission rescheduled the Dist. 14 race after the CN Supreme Court on July 8 ruled that a winner from the June 27 general election could not be determined with mathematical certainty. Pearson was certified the winner of the Dist. 14 race after the June 27 election by one vote. Following a recount on July 2, his lead had been extended to six votes. Austin appealed the recount results to the Supreme Court alleging that ballots were cast that should not have been accepted, ballots were cast that should have been accepted and two absentee ballot envelopes could not be found. Constituents can reach Austin via email at <a href="mailto:"></a> or call 918-508-9116.