Cherokee Nation Businesses Executive Vice President Shawn Slaton, middle, presents a check to Cherokee Nation Executive Director of Health Connie Davis and Principal Chief Bill John Baker at the May 14 Tribal Council meeting for a special $1.5 million dividend payment made possible through the sale of CNB’s corporate plane. COURTESY PHOTO
CNB gives $1.5M check to Contract Health Services
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation’s Contract Health Services received a dividend check for $1.51 million during the May 14 Tribal Council meeting thanks to the sale of Cherokee Nation Businesses’ corporate plane.
Authorized by CNB’s board of directors, the check stemmed from the sale of CNB’s C-90B Raytheon King Air, which sold on March 30 for $1.58 million to Jackson Demolition of Albany, N.Y.
“We’re going to help a lot of our people with the money from that plane,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “The Cherokee government is here to serve the Cherokee people and basic needs like the services provided by contract health are an obvious place to start.”
Officials said the tribe’s health services are administered in two ways. Federally funded programs are earmarked for specific programs and procedures. Money designated for those programs cannot be redirected. Self-funded CN Contract Health Services, however, is more flexible in the types of services and items covered, giving the tribe discretion in how to best meet its citizens’ needs.
“Contract Health (Services) is one of the most important ways we serve the Cherokee people,” Baker said. “That’s how we fill much needed gaps that are not covered by federal funding.”
Officials said CNB used a professional broker to bid out the plane. Through the sale, CNB will save by eliminating the plane and its hangar-associated expenses, including maintenance and fuel.
The plane became a topic of debate between former Principal Chief Chad Smith and Baker during the 2011 election. One of Baker’s campaign promises was to sell the plane if he were to become chief.
Cherokee Nation Entertainment purchased the eight-seat plane in 2007 for $1.87 million, which replaced an older model plane that the tribe owned. According to flight records, the plane was used primarily by previous administrations for tribal business.
This is the second funding increase for Contract Health Services since Baker has taken office. In November, Baker signed the Health Care Dividend Act, which authorized an additional 5 percent of casino profits be directed specifically to Contract Health Services.
“I’ve made health care a top priority of my administration,” Baker said. “Ensuring our people have access to good health care ensures a better quality of life for all. It’s my hope that these types of changes leave a lasting legacy on our people.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During the March 16 Tribal Council meeting, Principal Chief Bill John Baker announced that the Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry law firm and attorney Lloyd Miller have jointly donated $200,000 for the construction of Cherokee Nation health care facilities.
“We’ve fought the fight on self-governance issues, your battles with the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, your battles to ensure the integrity of the Cherokee Nation sometimes against other tribes, and it’s all been successful,” said Miller, who is employed with the law firm that has worked with the tribe for more than 20 years. “You’ve been wonderful to us in terms of your confidence in us, your trust in us, and it’s our pleasure to be able to give back to you.”
Baker said the tribe has been successful with Miller as its attorney on contract support costs.
“He originally won a lawsuit of about $12 million. Then we just won another one for $20 million with part of the settlement being they (federal government) will fully find contract support costs from now on.”
The donation will go to CN construction projects such as health care clinics in Ochelata and Jay as well as a new W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah.
In other business, Tribal Councilors unanimously authorized CN Human Services – specifically children, youth and family services – to submit a grant application for fiscal year 2016 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts absent.
Tribal Councilor Frankie Hargis said earlier in the day at the Community Services Committee meeting that the grant is a formula-based grant with a minimum funding of $350,000 for victims of family violence.
Tribal Councilors also authorized CN Career Services to submit a grant application to the U.S. Department of Education for vocational rehabilitation program funding.
Since 1992, the tribe has operated the vocational rehabilitation program, which assists in ensuring self-sufficiency for tribal citizens. It is Oklahoma’s longest running tribal vocational rehabilitation program.
According to the resolution, individuals with disabilities are in need of employment and training activities so they can enter jobs and become self-sufficient, and the Department of Education has funding available for vocational training programs for such individuals.
The grant requires that a 10 percent cash match be made available to the program each year of funding.
Hargis said the grant is new and would be approximately $600,000 per year for a five-year period.
Legislators also approved Bobby L. Vaughn as a governing board member of the CN Comprehensive Care Agency for a term of three years from March 2015 to March 2018.
“I’m the patient safety officer at Hastings Hospital right now, and I’d just like to say what an honor it is for me to be nominated for this position by the chief so it’s really near my heart,” Vaughn said during the Feb. 26 Rules Committee meeting. “I hope to do an excellent job for you.”
J. Blake Fletcher was reappointed as a commissioner of the CN Environmental Protection Commission for a three-year term.
“I just want to thank the council for allowing me to serve in this capacity and I really look forward to continuing that service,” Fletcher said on Feb. 26.
Marty D. Matlock was also reappointed as a commissioner of the CN Environmental Protection Commission for a four-year term.
The next Tribal Council meeting is scheduled for April 13.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At its Feb. 26 meeting, the Tribal Council approved an act that gives Cherokee Nation motor vehicle tax revenues to schools outside the tribe’s jurisdictional boundaries but within Tulsa, Rogers, Mayes, Wagoner and Muskogee counties.
The monies those schools receive would be based off the number of CN citizens attending each school. Tribal officials said schools would receive about $143 per CN citizen enrolled.
Officials said the tribe has garnered about $1.5 million in motor vehicle sales in the non-jurisdictional areas of the five counties since Nov. 1, 2013, when the compact went into effect.
Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez, who sponsored the bill, made the motion to approve the act and was seconded by Tribal Councilor Don Garvin.
However, Tribal Councilor Dick Lay said he didn’t think the bigger schools in the non-jurisdictional areas of Tulsa, Rogers, Mayes, Wagoner and Muskogee counties should benefit from the funding and that the tribe should focus more on the rural schools.
Lay also motioned to amend the legislation by asking that half the money go to the schools in the non-jurisdictional area of the five counties and half stay within the tribe’s jurisdiction.
“I motion to amend the legislation to leave everything the same except the new jurisdiction, compact jurisdiction, to share the revenue and proceeds 50/50 with the old in-jurisdiction legislation,” he said.
He then asked Vazquez if his amendment would work.
“I’m not sure its up to me. I would like to have input from our secretary of state (Chuck Hoskin Jr.),” she said.
Hoskin said the tribe’s administration was confident in the legislation as written.
“The legislation we put before you is consistent with the compact that this body approved, that the Cherokee Nation signed. And I, with respect to Councilman Lay, think that would not be consistent with it,” Hoskin said. “I’ve heard his arguments and respect him greatly but respectfully disagree.”
Vazquez refused the amendment and Lay requested that it be put in the form of a motion, but his motion failed for lack of a second.
The act passed 10-3 with Tribal Councilors Tina Glory Jordan, David Walkingstick and Lay voting against it. Tribal Councilors Curtis Snell, Julia Coates, Cara Cowan Watts and David Thornton were absent.
The council also confirmed CN citizens to various boards and commissions. Carrie Philpott was approved to the Registration Committee, and Rick Smith, Frances Head, Lyndon Emberton and Joe Hutchison were approved to the Elected Officials Citizen Committee.
Also, surplus office equipment was approved for donation to the Indian Capital Technology Center’s criminal justice program, Hulbert School, Greasy Community Building, the Tri-Community W.E.B., Chewey Neighborhood Association, the Chelsea Boys and Girls Club, Safenet Services Organization, Friends of the Library in Delaware County, Delaware County Fair Board and Delaware County Boys and Girls Club.
Councilors also approved two five-year, trust-land leases for TNT Fireworks. Each lease will last for four weeks in June and July. One lease was approved in Kay County for $7,328 annually and one in Rogers County for $5,000 annually.
Also passed was an act to set stipends for the Elected Officials Citizen Committee. The act will pay each member $500 “to cover all expenses they incur to attend up to three of their meetings.” Members are charged with the responsibility of setting salaries for all CN elected officials.
Councilors also approved Human Services to submit an application for funding to the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs for Youth Shelter Services and Prevention. Legislators also authorized the Bureau of Indian Affairs to revise and update the tribe’s inventory of tribal transportation facilities.
Other resolutions passed consisted of support for the Autry National Center’s Civil War and the West exhibit and the placement of land into trust for the Clinic in the Woods and Cascade properties in Tahlequah. Officials said the properties would be used for the tribe’s Behavioral Health.
Councilors also unanimously passed an act relating to intoxicating liquors. The act allows the tribe to take Cherokees into tribal court and offer them services that may not be available outside of the tribe’s courts.
Also, Tribal Councilor Jodie Fishinghawk was elected the council’s new secretary until her council term ends in August.
CLAREMORE, Okla. – Principal Chief Bill John Baker recently named Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor as the tribe’s representative to the Claremore Indian Hospital advisory board.
Taylor, of Pryor, replaced Tribal Councilor Dick Lay who resigned in December. As a board member, Taylor will work to promote the CN’s interest in decisions that are made at the Indian Health Service-operated hospital.
“A lot of positive changes have been made at Claremore Indian Hospital in the last couple of years, and I hope to be a part of it,” Taylor said. “Claremore Indian Hospital is unique in that it is not controlled by the Cherokee Nation, like our other health centers and W.W. Hastings Hospital are. For that reason, continuing to have a Cherokee Nation representative on this board will help our own health care system work toward a seamless transition for our citizens using Claremore Indian Hospital.”
The advisory board meets quarterly to discuss current hospital policy and operations.
“Councilor Taylor brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the board of directors. She will be a strong advocate for the hospital’s commitment to quality health care for Native people in northeast Oklahoma,” Baker said.
Taylor had her first meeting as a board member on Jan. 20.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During its Jan. 12 meeting, the Tribal Council unanimously approved a resolution opposing the construction of a transmission power line that would carry power generated by windmills in western Oklahoma through the state and Arkansas into Tennessee.
With Julia Coates absent, the 16 Tribal Councilors present voted against the 750-mile project being proposed by the Plains & Eastern Company based in Houston. Legislators are particularly opposed to the line running through Sequoyah County, which is within the tribe’s jurisdiction.
Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts initially abstained from voting for the resolution in committee because she said she did not have enough information.
“We don’t have information, all the information, I think. Even if it is accurate and it’s going to impact our facilities or places and locations and historic places and routes, not just in Sequoyah County but also in Arkansas, we have a lot of work to do,” Cowan Watts said. “What came out in committee was potentially they had been contacting the tribe for three years, and we (council) hadn’t been informed. So, I think there’s additional investigations that need to occur about what did or didn’t happen with involvement with the tribe.”
Tribal Councilor Janelle Fullbright, who helps represent Sequoyah County, said she has attended public meetings regarding the transmission line and heard from landowners who may be affected and who do not want to give up lands.
She said landowners, some of them CN citizens, also do not want to see 200-foot towers on their lands or hear humming noises emitted by transmission lines. There is also the possibility that the lines would emit a low-grade level of radiation, Fullbright said.
She said 800 Sequoyah County residents have signed a petition against the transmission line and that Sequoyah County commissioners are also against it. Also, the line would run near and parallel to the marked Trail of Tears trail in the county, she said.
Tribal Councilor Jack Baker, who serves as the president of the national Trail of Tears Association, said the superintendent who oversees the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail is also opposed to the project because it would affect Trail of Tears sites in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
“I’m also opposed to it simply because of the affect it will have on Cherokee citizens as it crosses their property,” he said.
In other business, the Tribal Council unanimously approved Nathan Barnard nomination to the CN Administrative Appeals Board, which hears appeals from people who have lost employment with the tribe.
Barnard is filling a vacancy left by Lynn Burris, who resigned after being confirmed to the tribe’s Supreme Court. Bernard will serve from Jan. 13 to Oct. 31.
Supreme Court Judge John Garrett swore in Barnard during the meeting.
“I want to thank Chief (Bill John) Baker for nominating me, and I want to thank the council for the opportunity to serve the Nation, and I will certainly do my very best,” Barnard said after taking his oath.
During his State of the Nation report, Principal Chief Bill John Baker announced that the tribe has expanded maternity leave for tribal employees.
“This means it’s on our insurance, and it doesn’t mean it is sick leave or vacation. It’s above and beyond (employee insurance), so that our young mothers, and fathers, can nurture our young Cherokee children,” he said.
Also, for tribal employees, the CN has adopted a new emergency communications system to better inform workers of “bad weather days.”
“The system will allow us to send voice mails and/or text messages directly to the staff in the event of a closing or a delay or any emergency,” Principal Chief Baker said.
The Tribal Council also honored CN citizen and artist Donald Vann for his support of fellow Cherokee veterans by donating his art to them and for his achievements as an artist.
Vann is a veteran who served in the Vietnam War and was assigned to the 1st Calvary Aviation Division. In November 1969, Vann’s helicopter was shot down. Only he and his crew chief survived the violent crash. After recovering from his injuries, Vann rejoined his unit in Fort Hood, Texas, where he was assigned to desk duty and later went on to be a drill instructor. In March 1973, he received an honorable discharge. He earned several medals, including the Purple Heart, National Defense, Good Conduct, Vietnam Campaign and Republic of Vietnam Campaign.
Vann’s Stilwell High School principal, Dr. Neil Morton, spoke about Vann during the meeting saying he recognized that Vann was not like other students and enrolled him in an alternative program and allowed him to paint murals on the school’s walls for two hours every day. He said Vann’s first mural was a depiction of the Trail of Tears.
Vann thanked the body for the honor and his business partner, Scott Bernard, for his assistance since moving to Tahlequah from Austin, Texas, about five years ago.
During the 6 p.m. Nov. 13, 2014 Tribal Council meeting, Councilors discussed:
• A resolution confirming the reappointment of James Amos as a commissioner of the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation Board of Commissioners
• A act amending the Legislative Act #25-14 authorizing the comprehensive operating budget for FY15
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2014/12/8797_Nov13_2014CouncilMinutes.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to read</a> the Nov. 13, 2014 meeting minutes.
<a href="https://cherokee.legistar.com/DepartmentDetail.aspx?ID=3301&GUID=C557BD6A-E296-4A30-BF3E-2035FF8607CC&Mode=MainBody" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> the Nov. 13 Tribal Council meeting video.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to a Dec. 19 statement, Tribal Councilor Dick Lay said he is resigning his position as a Cherokee Nation member of the Claremore Indian Hospital advisory board effective immediately.
“I have worked hard and greatly enjoyed my opportunity with the Claremore Indian Hospital Unit in service to Cherokee Nation citizens of the Claremore service area,” he said.
He added that during his tenure on the board he helped accomplish:
• Taking over the contract referrals for CN citizens in most of the service area,
• Supporting the purchase and installation of the MRI equipment at the hospital,
• Having the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service assist in law enforcement at the hospital,
• Having CN physicians on loan to Claremore hospital when needed,
• CN assist with Claremore patients during emergencies, and
• Providing all Claremore board reports to the Tribal Council and CN administration.
He said overall there the board has achieved “great cooperation” with the Indian Health Service, federal authorities, Claremore management, Claremore hospital personnel and the CN.
Lay added that serving on the board has helped him serve not only the hospital but also the tribe, which was one of his goals as a representative.
“I would like to thank all the Claremore advisory board members for their friendship and their service to the board,” he said. “Thanks also to the UKB (United Keetoowah Band) representative Dr. Charles Gosnell for his friendship and great insight. Thank you to (Principal) Chief (Bill John) Baker and his Cabinet for their trust in me and allowing me to serve our people.”
The Cherokee Phoenix asked for a reason for his resignation, but Lay declined to comment.
Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. released a statement on Dec. 22 stating the tribe appreciated Lay’s service on the board but that the position is an CN administration appointment and the executive branch was in the process of selecting his successor.