Native American leaders meet with President Barack Obama back in 2010 in Washington, D.C. COURTESY PHOTO

2013 Indian Affairs budget request maintains prior levels

BY STAFF REPORTS
02/22/2012 08:43 AM
WASHINGTON – President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget request for Indian Affairs, which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education, is $2.5 billion – a $4.6 million decrease below the FY 2012 level.

Officials said the proposed budget maintains the president’s commitment to meeting the government’s responsibilities to the 566 American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, while toeing fiscal responsibility line and improving government efficiency.

“The budget request maintains President Obama’s commitment to strengthening tribal nations by making targeted increases in Indian Affairs programs that support tribal self-determination in managing BIA-funded programs, increase public safety in tribal communities by strengthening police capabilities, improve the administration of tribal land, mineral, timber and other trust resources and advance Indian education,” Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Larry EchoHawk said. “Indian Affairs is sensitive to the need for achieving greater results at a lower cost, and the proposed budget reflects the tough choices that will make us more cost efficient in carrying out our missions.”

The request includes $43.8 million in nation-to-nation relationships (up $12.3 million), protecting Indian Country (up $11 million), improving trust land management (up $15.4 million) and advancing Indian education (up $5.2 million).

Under nation-to-nation relationships, the budget request for Contract Support is $228.0 million – an $8.8 million increase – which enables a tribe operating BIA-funded programs to meet administrative costs without decreasing program funds. It also includes an increase of $3.5 million for land and water claim settlements.

The request for BIA Law Enforcement is $353.9 million with targeted increases of $11 million for law enforcement operations, detention center operations and tribal courts. The request for law enforcement operations builds on increases from previous years – for a total of $189.7 million – for criminal investigations and police services to enable the BIA to improve its recruitment and hiring for law enforcement officers and detention center staff, including veterans.

The request includes $88.2 million for detention center operations – an increase of $6.5 million – for staffing, training and equipment to increase capacity to hold and process detainees and to fund operations at newly constructed detention facilities.

The request includes $24.6 million for tribal courts to support the enhanced capabilities given to them in the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009.

The funding also supports the expansion of a 2010 program launched to reduce crime on four reservations with high violent crime rates. The program resulted in a 35 percent combined reduction in violent crime. Two additional reservations with high crime rates will be added to this initiative.
The DOI has also undertaken an overhaul of the federal fee-to-trust process. As a result, between 2009 and 2011 the DOI processed 697 applications. The 2013 budget request supports improving trust land management through a program increase of $15.4 million for:

  • Rights Protection Implementation (up $3.5 million) to support implementing federal court orders resulting from decisions in off-reservation treaty rights litigation,

  • Tribal Management Development Program (up $2.0 million) to support tribes in the management of their on-reservation fish and game programs,

  • Cooperative Landscape Development (up $800,000) to support participation for the bureau and tribes in the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives,

  • Invasive Species (up $500,000) to support tribal programs that control, manage and eradicate harmful plant and animal species from reservations,

  • Forestry Programs (up $1 million) that develop, maintain and enhance tribal forest resources,

  • Trust Services (up $5.5 million) to support the BIA’s responsibilities of trust services, probate and land titles and records, and

  • Litigation Support/Attorney Fees (up $1.5 million) to assist tribes in protecting trust resources.
    The budget also addresses educational needs from elementary through post secondary and adult education, including security issues at school facilities to ensure environments are safe for students and an educational reform to increase student academic achievement in BIE schools.


  • The request for the BIE is $796.1 million, an increase of $653,000 above the 2012 level, with increases for:

  • Tribal Grant Support Costs (up $2.0 million) to help tribes operating BIE schools cover administrative and indirect costs,

  • Tribal Colleges and Universities (up $2.5 million) to assist in the economic development of tribal communities as they offer resources and facilities to teach community members workplace skills and to support tribal plans for development, and

  • Scholarships (up $710,000) for the BIE’s Scholarships and Adult Education and Special Higher Education Scholarships programs to help adults obtain a GED, provide job skills training and provide financial aid for post secondary and graduate students pursuing degrees in professions that meet tribal communities’ needs.


  • The budget also requests $36.3 million for BIA Land and Water Claim Settlements to fund settlements that help deliver clean drinking water to Indian communities and provide certainty to water users across the West.

    In accordance with a 2011 Obama’s memo, the 2013 budget request includes reductions and identifies efficiencies that can be achieved through consolidation, cost cutting, realignments and program decreases such as:

  • Improved Management (down $19.7 million) includes measures taken and those anticipated to ensure that tribal needs and priorities are addressed to reduce Indian Affairs administrative costs,

  • Realignment (up $1.3 million) includes an increase to reflect the transfer of the Indian Arts and
    Crafts Board from the Office of the Secretary to Indian Affairs, which would oversee the implementation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, as amended,

  • Law Enforcement Special Initiatives (down $2.6 million) reflecting reduced participation on activities such as intelligence sharing,

  • Information Resources Technology (down $6.1 million) due to standardization and consolidation of IT infrastructure,

  • The Indian Student Equalization Program (down $4.5 million) to reflect a decline in student population,

  • Replacement School Construction (down $17.8 million) as it focuses on improving conditions of existing school facilities, and

  • The Indian Guaranteed Loan Program (down $2.1 million) for evaluating of effectiveness.



  • News

    BY STAFF REPORTS
    02/08/2016 01:30 PM
    VIAN, Okla. – Volunteers are needed to help plant river cane at the Sequoyah Wildlife Refuge near Vian from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Feb. 19, 22 and 23. The refuge can be reached on S. 4520 Road, south of Vian, and is located along the Arkansas River in southern Sequoyah County. Volunteers may work one day, two days or all three days. The tribe began a River Cane Initiative in 2010 to preserve, map and perpetuate the growth of river cane in the tribe’s jurisdiction in northeastern Oklahoma. Cherokee Nation administrative liaison Pat Gwin and researcher for the initiative, Roger Cain, have located and cataloged river cane on more than 60 acres of tribal land. However, not much of the river cane found on the 60 acres of tribal land is fit for “traditional art” such as baskets, Cain said, because it has not been taken care of and is attempting to grow under the canopy of trees. River cane once grew 40 feet tall in the area, he said, but now cane growing only approximately 20 feet tall can be found. River cane was the Cherokees’ plastic, Cain said. It was used for shelter, weapons (bows, arrows, knives, blowguns), mats, chairs, food, and supplied material for baskets. Also, research has found river cane riparian zones significantly reduce nutrient loads into area streams, creeks and rivers. This research has implications for the controversial issue of local poultry farmers allegedly polluting the Illinois River with runoff containing poultry waste. Large areas of river cane known as canebrakes were once abundant along river bottoms in the southeastern United States. Canebrakes are now considered critically endangered ecosystems due to agriculture, grazing, fire suppression and urbanization. A 98 percent decline in canebrakes has occurred since Europeans first made contact with Native people in North America about 500 years ago, Cain said. Gwin said canebrakes also would likely lesson the affects of flooding in low-lying areas if they still existed next to streams and rivers in urban areas. For more information, call Gwin at 918-453-5704 or email <a href="mailto: pat-gwin@cherokee.org">pat-gwin@cherokee.org</a>, Sequoyah Wildlife Refuge biologist Dustin Taylor at 918-773-5251 or email <a href="mailto: dustin_taylor@fws.gov">dustin_taylor@fws.gov</a> or call Cain at 918-696-0521 or email <a href="mailto: rivercane@gmail.com">rivercane@gmail.com</a>.
    BY LENZY KREHBIEL-BURTON
    Special Correspondent
    02/08/2016 08:15 AM
    TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Housing Rehabilitation program may be on the move to the Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation. At its Jan. 19 meeting, the HACN board of directors unanimously approved two resolutions that would facilitate moving the tribe’s Housing Rehabilitation program from the tribe’s Community Services to the HACN, pending approval by Cherokee Nation. As of Feb. 5, no move had been made, nor had any timeline been given for the proposed change. If the switch ultimately happens, approximately 80 tribal employees would be shifted to the HACN. One of the two resolutions approved by the HACN board would allow those employees to keep their accrued leave balances, as well as their original dates of seniority. As of publication, neither Community Services Director Ron Qualls nor HACN Executive Director Gary Cooper responded to multiple requests for comment regarding the possible move. During the Jan. 19 meeting, Cooper noted that the HACN has a similar agreement in place with employees who transfer from Cherokee Nation Businesses and described the potential move as “apples to apples.” “This would allow…whenever Cherokee Nation decides what they’re going to do on their end and we’re ready to hire folks over here, this will allow me to make sure that those accrued leave balances to remain,” he said at the meeting. If the move occurs, it would not be the first time employees were transferred from one entity to the other. In May 2008 the Cherokee Nation took the duties of providing housing to Cherokee citizens away from the HACN by transitioning seven programs from the HACN to the tribe. According to a 2009 Cherokee Phoenix article, tribal officials at that time said moving the HACN programs to the tribal administration would better coordinate programs and reduce costs, allowing more money to go to housing services. The transition of services from the HACN also meant moving employees to the CN. According to the 2009 story, 160 HACN employees transferred to the Nation, while about a dozen took severance packages instead of transferring. Following the election of Principal Chief Bill John Baker in 2011, the tribe transitioned back to building homes for Cherokee citizens through the HACN. The HACN was initially formed in 1966 to provide safe and sanitary housing to low income Native Americans by providing low rent apartments, homeownership through the construction of Mutual Help Homes and rental assistance.
    BY STAFF REPORTS
    02/05/2016 02:00 PM
    TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Officials with the eighth annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors are accepting applications for the next round of tribal elders to be recognized this year. Applications are being accepted until June 1 for the October event. During the event, 50 elders from federally recognized Oklahoma tribes and nations will be honored for their contributions to their tribe or nation, family, community state or nation. According to an AARP press release, AARP wants to honor at least one person from each of the 39 federally recognized tribes and nations in Oklahoma. Those nominated must be enrolled in an Oklahoma tribe or nation, must be at least 50 years old and living. The press release states, the AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors is the largest Native American recognition program in the state and since its inception in 2008 has honored 350 elders. The AARP welcomes the general public and Tribal governments to submit nominations. Nominations are being accepted at <a href="http://www.aarp.org/okindiannavigator" target="_blank">www.aarp.org/okindiannavigator</a> or by calling 405-715-4474. Eight Cherokee Nation citizens and one United Keetoowah Band citizen were among 50 honorees at the seventh annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors held Oct. 6 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. CN citizen Tom Anderson, director of the Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center of the Oklahoma City Area Inter Tribal Health Board, was awarded the Dr. John Edwards Memorial Leadership Award. Retired Sgt. 1st Class Norman W. Crowe Jr., a CN citizen and former Marine and retired Army sergeant, was honored for volunteering at Indian nonprofit organizations such as the Indian Health Care Resource Center and Red Earth and serving on the Mayor’s Indian Affairs Commission in Tulsa. Carol “Jane” Davis, a full-blood CN citizen, was honored for assisting tribal citizens and families in the health care system as a licensed clinical social worker, often serving as an interpreter for patients who only spoke Cherokee. Dr. John Farris, a CN citizen, was celebrated for working to improve the quality of health care for American Indians in Oklahoma. For more than 10 years he has served as chief medical officer for the Oklahoma City Area Office of Indian Health Services and previously served as clinical director at W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah. Howard Hansen Sr., a full-blood UKB citizen was honored for his service as Veterans of Foreign Wars commander and chaplain of the Grove Post and as service officer at the American Legion in Kansas, Oklahoma. He is a decorated veteran for his service in Vietnam. Doris “Coke” Lane Meyer, a CN citizen, was recognized for devoting much of her life to her community and Cherokee cultural activities involving the Cherokee Women’s Pocahontas Club, which was founded in 1899. She supports the club’s scholarship program, which sponsors young Cherokee women seeking higher educations. Ollie Starr, a CN citizen, was honored for promoting care issues for older Cherokees, securing grant money that has enabled young women to pursue higher educations and helping improve living conditions in Cherokee senior facilities. Bonnie Thaxton, a citizen of the CN and Delaware Tribe, was honored for more than 30 years of work with the War Mothers, Cultural Preservation and Elder committees. Dr. Pamela Jumper Thurman, a CN citizen, was honored for her work as a clinical psychologist and researcher. She has published extensively on issues challenging American Indians and Alaska Natives, especially issues such as methamphetamine treatment and prevention, violence and victimization and rural women’s issues.
    BY TRAVIS SNELL
    Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
    02/05/2016 12:00 PM
    TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Launched during the 2013 Cherokee National Holiday, the Cherokee Nation is moving ahead with its Project 320K as the 2016 race to the White House heats up. Cohle Fowler, CN Government Relations legislative assistant, said he is coordinating the outreach initiative that aims to raise voter registration among the approximately 320,000 CN citizens. “Project 320K’s goal is to expand voter registration, and ultimately participation in all elections, including tribal, local, county, state and federal,” Fowler said. “We also aim to encourage parents to expose their children to the political process. When parents take their kids with them into the voting booth, it both demystifies the process for children, and teaches them that voting is an important part of citizenship.” Fowler said with more than 320,000 CN citizens, the CN has the ability to become a powerful voice if it registers and mobilizes its voting population. “In last year’s Cherokee elections, around only 7,500 votes were cast out of our tribe made up of over 320,000 citizens around the world,” he said. “Only 34 percent of voters participated in the state of Oklahoma’s general election last year, and turnout in the 2014 national midterm elections only 41.9 percent of voting age citizens participated which is the lowest rate in 45 years. Our hope is that through our efforts to educate Cherokee families on the impact of their vote and cultivate a positive culture around the process of voting, the Cherokee Nation will be able to stand as an example of civic responsibility in a nation seeing historic low turnouts at the polls.” Fowler said the simplest way CN citizens can participate is to register and vote. He added that sitting down with friends and family members to ensure they are registered is another way to participate. “Remind those friends and family to vote when elections occur. If you are really excited to get out there and make a difference, you can volunteer with us by registering and talking with possible voters at events and activities we attend,” Fowler said. He said Government Relations staff members, volunteers and CN Tribal Youth Councilors plan to attend community meetings to register voters throughout Oklahoma and At-Large events in states where CN citizens reside. “In addition to community meetings, we also set up at high-traffic events such as the Tulsa State Fair. In addition to our work out in communities, we also hold phone banks where we call to remind voters we have registered of upcoming deadlines or elections,” he said. “We are constantly learning and looking for new ways to reach out and change the culture around voting in our Cherokee communities.” While many presidential campaigns are focusing their mobilization efforts on baby boomers and millennials, Fowler said Project 320K is focusing on all tribal citizens. “We are focusing on all Cherokees, not on a certain age group,” he said. “We want to register people to vote, get people in the voting booths and teach kids that voting is a responsibility and a privilege for citizens.” As the brainchild of Government Relations staff members, the project is an ongoing program but officials are making a push this year because of the presidential elections. “Voting will be on everyone’s mind, but we also do this work in non-election years,” Fowler said. For more information or to volunteer, email <a href="mailto: cohle-fowler@cherokee.org">cohle-fowler@cherokee.org</a>.
    BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
    Intern – @cp_bbennett
    02/04/2016 04:00 PM
    TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board is searching for a permanent executive editor under the direction of a selection committee it created during a Jan. 25 meeting. Board Chairman Luke Barteaux, Vice Chairwoman Kendra McGeady and Secretary Lauren Jones comprise the committee. Barteaux said finding a permanent executive editor is critical because of “the decisions that need to be made for moving forward on policy issues.” The Phoenix is currently under the direction of Interim Executive Editor Will Chavez, who replaced Bryan Pollard after Pollard resigned Dec. 4. While Barteaux said he appreciates Chavez’s work and believes Chavez has been acting in the organization’s best interest, it is important that a permanent editor be named. “We don’t need a lot of change over, so if we have an interim and it ends up not being Will as a permanent editor, they may want to change something moving forward,” he said. “It would be better to have a permanent editor in place just for the stability of the paper.” According to the Independent Press Amendment Act of 2009, the executive editor must be at least 25 years old; have a bachelor’s degree in journalism or related field from a college or university, or an appropriate combination of education and experience; be of good character and have a reputation of integrity; be physically able to carry out the duties of office; certify he or she will adhere to the standards of accepted ethics of journalism as defined by the Society of Professional Journalists and endorsed by the Native American Journalists Association; have experience necessary for the successful operation of the publication; and be a Cherokee Nation citizen. Barteaux said the board might have additional requirements, though specifics have yet to be discussed. “It hasn’t been done yet, but I’m assuming that will be a discussion among the committee,” he said. “Really, just someone who can be completely unbiased and report the news to Cherokee citizens.” The tribe’s Human Resources posted the editor position on the CN website on Jan. 13 and closed it Jan. 19. It drew a pool of four applicants, which Barteaux said the board has not gotten a chance to review. “We just got the four resumes’ a couple of days ago and we haven’t really got a chance to look over those,” he said. “There may be someone perfect in there, so we don’t really know at this point and time.” Barteaux said the board wants to advertise the job again to create a larger applicant pool, partly because of minor discrepancies between what was posted by Human Resources and what he said is required by statute. “We have four right now that have applied, and we think there’s probably more out there that would apply if it’s posted in other areas with the different requirements,” he said. “The original job posting didn’t completely follow what the statutory requirements were, so people may not have applied that could have.” When asked to elaborate on the requirements, Barteaux said some were too restrictive while others were not restrictive enough. “I’ll just say that some of the requirements that were posted were a little more, I don’t know if stringent might be the word, than what was required in the law and a few other little things that weren’t posted on it,” he said. “The editor is required to be a Cherokee citizen. I don’t think that was posted on the website. I think the education requirements were off a little.” Barteaux said despite the job description’s wording not being approved by the board, the board has no ill will toward Human Resources. Julie Hubbard, CN Communication public relations supervisor, said Human Resources ran the job description for the executive editor position that was previously ran years earlier and that it can be revised as needed at the discretion of the Editorial Board if the board chooses. She added that Human Resources also has the ability to advertise the position locally, statewide or nationally. Barteaux also called the job posting a “courtesy,” as the editor position “is not a job that’s hired through the Cherokee Nation HR department.” However, Hubbard referred to the 2009 IPA stating that whenever an executive editor vacancy occurs the Editorial Board recommends to the principal chief an executive editor, but the chief makes the decision whom to appoint. Barteaux said he also didn’t know how long the search would take and that the time frame is free flowing and that applicants could send resumes directly to board members.
    BY STAFF REPORTS
    02/04/2016 10:00 AM
    TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Summer Youth Program will take applications beginning Feb. 22 at all Career Services locations for the upcoming 6-week program. The program is for youth ages 16-21, who will work 40 hours a week at $7.25 per hour. Youth can work anywhere within the tribe’s jurisdiction so long as its not dangerous to the youth. This can include offices, banks, restaurants and tribal offices. A parent or guardian must accompany those interested in applying if under the age of 18 and all must apply in person. The program is open to any citizen of a federally recognized tribe. If a youth isn’t Cherokee he or she must fall within certain financial guidelines. CN citizens have no financial guideline. For more information on criteria needed to apply, call a Career Services offices. Bartlesville: 918-256-4576 Claremore: 918-342-7450 Jay: 918-253-3243 Miami: 918-256-4576 Muskogee: 918-781-6504 Pryor: 918-825-7988 Sallisaw: 918-776-0416 Stilwell: 918-696-3124 Vinita: 918-256-4576 Warner: 918-781-6504 Tahlequah: 918-453-5555