Byrd files complaint alleging anonymous contribution

BY JAMI MURPHY
Former Reporter
01/13/2012 10:43 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Council candidate Joe Byrd filed a complaint Jan. 11 with the Cherokee Nation Election Commission accusing opposing candidate Pam Iron of mailing election material that’s not reflected in her financial disclosure report.

Both individuals are running for Dist. 1, Seat 1. That election is set for Jan. 14.

According to the mailer, a third party called “No on Joe Byrd” sent the material. Byrd’s complaint states the postage stamp used is one that’s been used on mailers for Iron.

“On Jan. 9, hundreds of citizens throughout the Cherokee Nation received a mail piece from an organization calling themselves ‘No on Joe Byrd,’” states the complaint. “The mail piece is affixed with postage permit No. 2146. This mail piece was enclosed in an outer envelope which bears postage permit No. 849. The ‘Elect Pam Iron’ campaign has used postage permit No. 849.”

According to a letter sent to the EC, Attorney General Diane Hammons and Marshal Shannon Buhl, Byrd states CN law “does not allow anonymous contributions or expenditures in Cherokee elections. Printing, mailing and postage may have been paid for by a third party. Clearly, the entity or person sending out the mail piece went to great lengths to hide his or her identity.”

Byrd states that naming the organization “No on Byrd” and not listing a candidate who could be backing the effort is an anonymous contribution.

However, Iron said she did not know who mailed the material and her campaign had nothing to do with it. “I use a professional mailing service. That’s basically all that I know. I didn’t put the piece out and I didn’t get one in the mail myself. I didn’t have anything to do with it.”

EC Chairwoman Susan Chapman-Plumb said she didn’t think there were any election law violations, but that didn’t mean the commission wouldn’t take action.

“That just means we’re going to research it to determine if a law exists or if one was violated,” she said. “We’re getting ready after the District 1 election is over with to sit down and have a comprehensive review.”

The mailer resembles a four-page tabloid newspaper and cites controversies during Byrd’s principal chief term of 1995-99. The mailer also uses apparently copyrighted material from past newspaper articles, and does not indicate whether permission was granted to use it. Some of the mailer’s claims against Byrd include that he lobbied and supported former California Rep. Diane Watson’s attempt to cut the tribe’s federal funds and that he’s been a paid lobbyist for the United Keetoowah Band. Byrd said both statements are false.

It states that he has worked to get the UKB trust land. Byrd said he’s in economic development, not trust land matters, and he’s working on getting the UKB its federal 8A certification, which provides government contracting opportunities to disadvantaged ethnicities.

It states that his administration couldn’t audit financial records, jeopardized payrolls and laid off workers. Byrd said none of the allegations were completely true and that all audits done by federal agencies received their respective approvals.

The mailer also ties Byrd to Principal Chief Bill John Baker employing non-Cherokees to run CN offices. Baker said the “anonymous” campaign mailer “incorrectly smeared” his administration. With respect to his contracting of General Counsel Kalyn Free (Choctaw), Communications/Government Relations Executive Director Jim Gray (Osage) and consultant Mike Bailey (Choctaw), he said hiring citizens of neighboring tribes “should not reflect a broken campaign promise, but that he is assembling an independently qualified team that will have an immediate, positive impact.”

The mailer also makes claims regarding administration officials’ salaries. It claims Free stands to earn $1 million a year, Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin Sr. will earn $158,000 a year and Senior Adviser Gina Blackfox will earn $128,000 a year. It also claims a James Admont will earn $468,000 annually.

According to CN documents, Free’s salary is capped at $150,000 per year, Hoskin has an annual contract for $130,000, and Blackfox will make nearly $125,000. There is no James Admont working for CN, but a Jason Aamodt is an attorney contracted at $200,000 a year to work on the Freedmen litigation.

jami-custer@cherokee.org
918-453-5560

News

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
08/21/2017 09:45 AM
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — While much of the country gawks at the solar eclipse, Bobbieann Baldwin will be inside with her children, shades drawn. In Navajo culture, the passing of the moon over the sun is an intimate moment in which the sun is reborn and tribal members take time out for themselves. No talking. No eating or drinking. No lying down. No fussing. "It's a time of renewal," said Baldwin, a Navajo woman from Fort Defiance, Arizona. "Kind of like pressing the alt, control, delete button on your computer, resetting everything." Across the country, American Indian tribes are observing the eclipse in similar and not-so-similar ways. Some tribal members will ignore it, others might watch while praying for an anticipated renewal, and those in prime viewing spots are welcoming visitors with storytelling, food and celebration. For the Crow Tribe in Montana, the eclipse coincides with the Parade Dance at the annual Crow fair, marking the tribe's new year. Many American Indian tribes revere the sun and moon as cultural deities, great sources of power and giver of life. The Crow's cultural director, William Big Day, said the sun is believed to die and come back to life during an eclipse. In more nomadic days, Crows would offer each other "good wishes" for their travels, and elders would advise them to do a cleansing ceremony to start anew, he said. U.S. Bureau of Indian Education spokeswoman Nedra Darling said the agency's schools, most of which are on the Navajo Nation, were given the option of closing Monday. Navajo Nation employees have Monday off, and other schools on and off the reservation that extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah earlier decided to close in respect of the culture that teaches that looking at the sun during an eclipse can be harmful not only to one's eyesight but for overall well-being. "You're welcoming negativity into your life, or turmoil, or troublesome times ahead of you, as well as socially, health-wise and spiritually," Baldwin said. "You're observing something that should not be observed." Farther east near the Great Smoky Mountains, the Eastern Cherokee tribe is expecting thousands of spillover visitors from the national park. Stickball games during a two-day event will reinforce a lesson about cheating and the appearance of the moon. Fairgrounds supervisor Frieda Huskey recalled a legend of a player on the losing team picking up the ball, which is against the rules, and throwing it against the solid sky, so its appearance is small and pale. When the moon or sun is eclipsed, it's because a great frog is trying to swallow it, she said. In response, Cherokees beat drums and fire guns to scare off the frog and ensure the moon or sun don't disappear forever — just as they will do during Monday's solar eclipse, she said. Once the eclipse is over, Cherokee warriors will dance to celebrate the great frog's defeat. When the sun and the moon disappeared during eclipses in the past, it frightened indigenous people who believed they displeased the gods, said Stanford "Butch" Devinney, an Eastern Shoshone spiritual leader and teacher at Wyoming Indian Schools on the Wind River Reservation. The way he sees it now, the eclipse is an opportunity for renewal. "Maybe our way of thinking might change, our behavior," he said. "People will have a different outlook on life. Maybe it will change for the better. Be a different person." Students at two Northern Arapaho schools that share a reservation with the Eastern Shoshone will be using telescopes donated by NASA and special glasses to view the eclipse. Principal Elberta Monroe said teachers have been talking to students about the solar eclipse for months. It's "something students are going to remember for a lifetime," she said. Baldwin will call her children into the living room Monday, share traditional Navajo stories and ask them to meditate and reflect on what they want out of school, athletics and life, she said. For one daughter, the focus would be acceptance from elders on her role in rodeo. Baldwin will ask the children to concentrate and wish for happiness and health for their family, friends and all of humanity. "There's a little conversation, but there's that constant reminder that we need to be quiet," she said.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
08/21/2017 08:15 AM
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Cherokee Nation is urging a federal judge to allow a tribal lawsuit against distributors and retailers of opioid medications to be litigated in the tribe’s court. CN Attorney General Todd Hembree has filed written arguments with U.S. District Judge Terence Kern in a lawsuit that alleges the companies have contributed to “an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse” among the tribe’s citizens. The lawsuit alleges that six distribution and pharmaceutical companies have created conditions in which “vast amounts of opioids have flowed freely from manufacturers to abusers and drug dealers” within the tribe’s territory. Opioid-related addiction has taken the lives of hundreds of CN citizens and cost the tribe hundreds of millions of dollars in health care costs, the lawsuit says. The companies have asked Kern to block the lawsuit, saying there is no legal basis for the CN’s claim that it has authority within a 14-county area in northeastern Oklahoma. But in legal papers accepted by Kern on Wednesday, Hembree says an Aug. 8 ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals “provides a substantial alternative basis” for the lawsuit to be tried in tribal court. The appeals court’s ruling involved Patrick Dwayne Murphy, who was convicted and sentenced to death in state court for the 1999 killing of a McIntosh County man. The court ruled Murphy should have been tried in federal court because he is Native American and the death occurred in “Indian Country.” Hembree says the CN has legal jurisdiction in the area where the tribe’s citizens were allegedly harmed by opioid addiction and that the lawsuit should remain in tribal court for reasons similar to those cited by the appeals court. Kern has not indicated when he may hand down a ruling.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
08/20/2017 02:00 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Organizers of one of North America's most prominent American Indian powwows say they're already gearing up for next year's event. They are kicking off their promotional campaign for the 2018 Gathering of Nations on Friday with the release of the event's official poster. The 35th annual event takes place April 26-28 at the state fairgrounds in Albuquerque. The Miss Indian World Talent Competition will be held downtown at the city's convention center. New for next year will be a parade featuring Native American riders in full regalia. Organizers say the parade is meant to recognize the importance that the horse culture holds for some tribes. The gathering usually draws tens of thousands of people, including dancers, singers and drummers representing tribes from across the United States, Canada and elsewhere.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
08/19/2017 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Health officials say more than a half-dozen cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Oklahoma so far this year. The Oklahoma Department of Health says the cases have been confirmed in Cleveland, Muskogee, Oklahoma and Tulsa counties. According to health officials, most people are infected with the virus from June through September, with the number of infections peaking in mid-August. The illness is transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes. Health officials say the best way to prevent the disease is to avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellants and wearing long sleeves, pants and socks when outdoors. According to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 200 cases of the illness have been reported nationwide so far this year.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/18/2017 03:15 PM
ROCKY MOUNTAIN, Okla. – The Rocky Mountain Community Organization is hosting two events in August at its community building near Stilwell. RMCO will host the Adair County Historical & Genealogical Association at 6 p.m., Aug. 22. ACH&GA volunteers will be on hand to discuss area history and genealogy. Beans and cornbread will be served at 5:30 p.m., and everyone is welcome to attend. The Adair County Historical & Genealogical Association is a non-profit organization maintained by volunteers. Located in the rehabilitated 1915 Kansas City Southern Railroad Depot in Stilwell, the association collects countywide research materials, genealogies of county families and artifacts of historical and cultural significance. Volunteers provide research and genealogical assistance to individuals interested in learning more about their family’s past. Tours of the county history museum provide access to artifacts that provide a deeper appreciation of the county’s history. Also, at 7 p.m., Aug. 26, RMCO will host a Movie Night where “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” will be shown. Admission is free, and the concession stand will open at 6 p.m. Seating is available, but moviegoers are welcome to bring their own chairs. People also have an opportunity to win a door prize by signing in when they arrive. For more information, call 918-696-4965.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
08/18/2017 08:15 AM
OOLOGAH, Okla. – For more than 20 years, the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore has paid homage to Will Rogers and Wiley Post with an annual fly-in at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch. Rogers, a Cherokee Nation citizen, and Post, a famed aviator, died in a plane crash on Aug. 15, 1935, in Point Barrow, Alaska. Tad Jones, the museum’s executive director, said this year commemorates the 82nd anniversary of their passing. “His (Rogers) character is what we want to try to keep alive. He was a guy that respected everybody, which I think it’d be great for our entire nation now to show that respect towards others,” he said. “I know Will Rogers, if he was here, he would love it because he was a man that just loved action activities, and this event has just gotten to be huge over the last number of years.” The event kicked off at 7:30 a.m. Jones said people and planes began arriving as early as 6:45 a.m. The free event offered more than 100 planes, a car show, Cherokee storytelling, 19th century games for children and the opportunity to tour Rogers’ birthplace home. The planes landed on an airstrip adjacent to the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch allowing visitors to get an up-close look at them. “You get to walk around with the planes, so it’s not just looking at them from a distance. But when they land you can walk out among the planes, and sometimes they’ll let you sit in the cockpits,” Jones said. Rogers’ great-granddaughter, Jennifer Rogers-Etcheverry, said the event is a great way to continue Rogers’ legacy while helping others learn his story. “This is what I love the most is seeing these young children out here with a mixture of older generations because that’s who needs to learn about Will Rogers is these up-and-coming children,” she said. “I am just so grateful that people want to continue his legacy, and to bring their families out to something that’s a tradition like this. And what better place than his actual birth home.” Rogers-Etcheverry said seeing people honor Rogers’ means “everything” to her. “There’s nothing negative when you talk to people who remember him or have heard about him, it’s always positive,” she said. “He was such a role model to so many people, so that means everything to me.” Tribal Councilor Keith Austin said the tribe annually contributes to the museum and ranch to ensure they remain “healthy and strong.” This year the CN gave $25,000. “This is a state of Oklahoma facility, and they are really struggling with their budget,” he said. “It’s important to us as Cherokee people to support this and make sure that it remains healthy and strong.” For the past three years there has also been a National Day of Remembrance during the fly-in for those who have died in small airplane crashes. “We have Will and Wiley who died in a small airplane crash, and so we want to honor anyone who has died in a small airplane crash. You hear a tragedy with the big airplanes, but there is a lot of people who have passed away in small airplane crashes,” Jones said. “At 10 o’clock (a.m.) we have a National Day of Remembrance that we put on Facebook all over the country, and we honor those that have died in small airplane crashes. We have a 35 second moment of silence, which is for 1935 when Will Rogers and Wiley Post died.” For more information, visit <a href="http://www.willrogers.com" target="_blank">www.willrogers.com</a>.