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.



  • Election

    BY JAMI MURPHY
    Reporter
    07/03/2015 12:48 AM
    TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to certified recount results, Wanda Hatfield and Betsy Swimmer are still the top two vote-getters who will face each other in the July 25 runoff for the At-Large Tribal Council seat. Following the June 27 general election, Election Commission officials posted results showing Hatfield leading with 25.94 percent of the ballots cast at 1,057 votes. Swimmer was second with 18.9 percent or 770 votes. Following the July 2 recount, Hatfield continued to lead with 1,057 votes, but Swimmer lost seven votes to finish with 763. The Cherokee Phoenix attempted to learn what happened to the seven votes, but as of press time EC officials were unavailable for comment. Swimmer said she was confident the EC had valid numbers. “So I’m pleased that it came out like it did,” she said. “I’m pressing forward and I plan to win the election.” Hatfield said the top three finishers remained the same with the recount and congratulated Swimmer on being in the runoff. “It has been a great experience and the next three weeks will be extremely busy reaching out to the At-Large Cherokee citizens,” she added. Candidate Shane Jett, who requested the recount, received 717 votes in the general election, but saw his vote count lowered to 713 in the recount. Jett said with the 2015 election being his first venture into Cherokee politics it was a learning experience, especially the importance of voters ensuring they cast their ballots correctly. “They (EC) had to throw away over 350 absentee ballots because they either did not sign them, notarize them or fill them out properly. So those votes were never counted,” he said. “It’s important that people slow down and make sure their vote counts. I hope everyone gets out and votes for their candidate of choice because their (Cherokee) Nation is worth it.” The EC performed the recount with CN Supreme Court justices present before certifying the results. Runoff absentee ballots will be mailed on July 13-14 and the runoff election will take place on July 25. All successful candidates are to be sworn into office on Aug. 14, according to the CN election timeline.
    BY JAMI MURPHY
    Reporter
    07/02/2015 11:30 PM
    TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to the certified results from a July 2 recount, William “Bill” Pearson has beaten Keith Austin by six votes to win the Dist. 14 Tribal Council seat. Original certified results from the June 27 general election showed Pearson receiving 534 votes for 50.5 percent of the ballots cast, while Austin garnered 533 votes for 49.95 percent. Austin filed for a recount, which the tribe’s Election Commission performed. After that recount, Pearson had 525 votes for 50.2 percent compared to Austin’s 519 votes at 49.7 percent. The votes tabulated during the recount consisted of precinct, absentee, early absentee and precinct challenged. The recount had 23 votes less compared to the original count. EC officials said that occurred because of human error when inputting votes. “The challenged ballots from the districts were processed on Sunday (June 28) beginning at ”1 p.m. through 12:11 a.m. on Monday and resulted in 349 out of approximately 700 challenged ballots being accepted,” an EC statement reads. “The 349 ballots were then fed through a voting machine that was pre-defined for absentees, to get the vote count for the various races and candidates. The card from the machine was then placed in the computer to print out the challenged vote results. And unbeknownst to the operator it recorded the ballots as absentee votes then the operator took the printout of challenged ballots and manually entered them for the appropriate race and candidate, resulting in the 349 votes being entered twice.” The EC statement also reads that once this was discovered, those votes entered into the machine under absentee were removed. The challenged votes that were correctly placed in districts remained in those districts. “Resulting in the 349 being correctly counted,” the release stated. The Cherokee Phoenix contacted Pearson but he was unavailable for comment at the time of publication. In an email statement, Austin did not state whether he would appeal the recount results to the Supreme Court but that he appreciated the EC’s hard work. “They have the impossible job of determining a certifiable winner in a race that could not be closer,” Austin wrote. “Obviously, we want to work with the Election Commission and the Supreme Court to help determine that the election results are accurate. Cherokees took the time to vote because they have faith in our Nation. We owe it to them to ensure their intentions are honored and their votes count.” The EC certified the recount on July 2 in the presence of Supreme Court justices. Candidates have until July 6 to appeal election results with the Supreme Court. Provided there are any appeals, the Supreme Court would hear those cases July 7-9. Candidates elected to office during the general and runoff elections are expected to be sworn in Aug. 14, according to the tribe’s election timeline. The runoff election is set for July 25. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9410_ExplanationofRecalculationofVoteCount.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the Explanation of Recalculation of Vote Count document.
    BY CN COMMUNICATIONS
    Cherokee Nation
    07/01/2015 06:22 PM
    TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — At-Large Tribal Council candidate Shane Jett submitted a formal recount request Wednesday to the Cherokee Nation Election Commission after certified General Election results showed Jett finished third to candidates Wanda Hatfield and Betsy Swimmer. After Election Commission officials tabulated challenge ballots Sunday, results had Jett with 717 votes to Hatfield’s 1,057 votes and Swimmer’s 770 votes. Hatfield and Swimmer are scheduled for a run-off election Saturday, July 25, since no candidate garnered more than 50 percent of the vote, pending the outcome of the requested recount. Election Commission officials are now waiting on a formal order from the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court to begin preparation for the recount. Officials must have the recount completed by Friday, July 3. A recount for the District 14 race was ordered by the Supreme Court on Tuesday after candidate Keith Austin submitted a formal request late Monday. District 14 candidates Keith Austin and William Pearson were separated by one vote in the certified election results.
    BY STAFF REPORTS
    07/01/2015 02:14 PM
    TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Oklahoma Fire fastpitch softball team will face girls from all across the country when they travel July 13-18 to Gulf Shores, Alabama, to compete in the USSSA National World Series. The team is comprised of 14 girls, 12 of which are Cherokee, from the Tahlequah area. They reserved their spot for the series on June 21 by capturing the Oklahoma State 12u Rec/All-Stars Championship in Bixby. The team is also fundraising for the trip. It created a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $15,000. To visit the page, go to <a href=" http://www.gofundme.com/okfire" target="_blank">http://www.gofundme.com/okfire</a>. The team is also holding an Indian taco sale from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 3 at the Oklahoma American Legion Post 135 In Tahlequah. Tickets can be purchased in advance from parents, players and team partner O’Reilly Auto Parts.
    BY STAFF REPORTS
    07/01/2015 12:00 PM
    TULSA, Okla. – Jonathan Powell, director of marketing and business development for Cherokee Nation Industries, was recently named to the Federal Communications Commission’s Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council. “It is an honor to receive this nomination and to have the opportunity to serve as a voice for rural and tribal communities while influencing advancements in our nation’s communications systems,” said Powell. “My focus is providing the best services to all citizens, continuing to bridge interoperability gaps and ensuring rural and tribal land is a consideration when making recommendations to the FCC.” A CN citizen and Pryor native, Powell has more than 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern State University in finance and a master’s degree in business administration from Oklahoma City University. Powell will join the fifth charter of the CSRIC, which provides guidance, expertise and recommendations to the FCC to ensure optimal security and reliability of the nation’s communications systems. The council addresses the availability of communications during natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other events that result in exceptional strain on the communications infrastructure, as well as the rapid restoration of communications services in the event of widespread or major disruptions. “Mr. Powell is a valuable asset at CNI, leading teams in the areas of market strategy and research, partnership development, sales planning and business development,” said Chris Moody, CNI president. “As a leader within a tribally owned business, he provides a unique and valuable insight to the CSRIC that will be crucial for the future of communications in tribal entities and Indian Country.” Members of the CSRIC are appointed by the chairman of the FCC and selected from public safety agencies, consumer or community organizations or other nonprofit entities and the private sector to balance various expertise and viewpoints.
    BY STAFF REPORTS
    07/01/2015 08:37 AM
    In this month's issue: • Baker, Crittenden win 2nd terms • 6 Tribal Council candidates win, 2 are incumbents • Dist. 6, At-Large council races head to runoffs • Chief, governor sign hunting, fishing compact ...plus much more. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9402_2015-07-01.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the July 2015 issue of the Cherokee Phoenix.