CN could receive millions via Supreme Court ruling

BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
06/22/2012 07:46 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation could get back approximately $40 million thanks to a June 18 U.S. Supreme Court ruling calling for the federal government to fully reimburse Native American tribes for monies spent on their respective federal programs.

In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled in Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter that the federal government did not honor its contractual promises to tribes and provided insufficient funding for contracts and contract support costs from self-governance agreements.

The federal government had initially agreed to fully fund those contracts, but Congress placed a cap on the money earmarked for payments.

The Ramah Navajo Chapter sued the Department of Interior and the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver initially ruled the money must be fully reimbursed. The government appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled the Ramah Navajo Chapter and other Native American tribes must get their money back.

The ruling ends any claims that government agencies such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs are no longer liable for paying contracts if there is not enough money available.

Under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Act, tribes can contract to provide services that would otherwise be provided by the federal government, such as law enforcement, agricultural assistance and education.

As per the ruling, the federal government is now expected to reimburse tribes – including the Cherokee Nation – for tribal dollars used to make up that shortfall from 1994 to 2001.

Principal Chief Bill John Baker called the ruling a “tremendous victory for the Cherokee Nation.”

“We will be able to recover millions of dollars that has been denied our government through decades of underfunding,” Baker said. “This money will be used to support every facet of our government and will allow us to provide much-needed services to our people.”

The estimate of reimbursement for the tribe is approximately $35 to $40 million, Baker said, “mindful, that this includes IHS (Indian Health Service) claims that are involved in companion cases involving the same facts scenario.”

In 2005, the Supreme Court issued a similar ruling against IHS that resulted in several tribes collecting damages, including a $20 million payment to the Cherokee Nation.

Currently, the tribe is compiling documentation to show the total amount under recovery and to be sure that CN is made “whole from previous years.”

Baker said at this time there is not an expected date on reimbursement because of the many tribes involved, but a victory like this has been rare in the past.

“This was a long process and I appreciate the hard work our staff has committed to this project,” he added. “I also want to thank the council for their support of this and other matters, as we assert our rights.”

jami-custer@cherokee.org


918-453-5560

About the Author
Reporter

Jami Murphy graduated from Locust Grove High School in 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2006 from Northeastern State University and began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2007.

She said the Cherokee Phoenix has allowed her the opportunity to share valuable information with the Cherokee people on a daily basis. 

Jami married Michael Murphy in 2014. They have two sons, Caden and Austin. Together they have four children, including Johnny and Chase. They also have two grandchildren, Bentley and Baylea. 

She is a Cherokee Nation citizen and said working for the Cherokee Phoenix has meant a great deal to her. 

“My great-great-great-great grandfather, John Leaf Springston, worked for the paper long ago. It’s like coming full circle. I’ve learned so much about myself, the Cherokee people and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Jami is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. You can follow her on Twitter @jamilynnmurphy or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jamimurphy2014.
jami-murphy@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560
Reporter Jami Murphy graduated from Locust Grove High School in 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2006 from Northeastern State University and began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2007. She said the Cherokee Phoenix has allowed her the opportunity to share valuable information with the Cherokee people on a daily basis. Jami married Michael Murphy in 2014. They have two sons, Caden and Austin. Together they have four children, including Johnny and Chase. They also have two grandchildren, Bentley and Baylea. She is a Cherokee Nation citizen and said working for the Cherokee Phoenix has meant a great deal to her. “My great-great-great-great grandfather, John Leaf Springston, worked for the paper long ago. It’s like coming full circle. I’ve learned so much about myself, the Cherokee people and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.” Jami is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. You can follow her on Twitter @jamilynnmurphy or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jamimurphy2014.

News

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BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY STAFF REPORTS
04/23/2015 12:00 PM
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BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
04/23/2015 08:45 AM
EUCHA, Okla. – Three Cherokee families gathered April 18 at the Round Springs Cemetery to honor their respective ancestors who survived the Trail of Tears and later died in the Cherokee Nation. The descendants of Chief Charles “Oochalata” Thompson, Anderson Springston and Charlotte Chopper, some traveling from other states, came to the cemetery west of Jay for a ceremony hosted by the Oklahoma Trail of Tears Association. On the headstone of all three survivors, a metal plaque was placed that read: “In honor of one who endured the forced removal of the Cherokees in 1838-39. The Trail of Tears Association Oklahoma Chapter” and included the TOTA and CN seals. Oklahoma TOTA President Curtis Rohr said 130 survivors’ graves have been marked since 1997. Daniel Tanner, 66, came from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, to honor “Oochalata” Thompson. “It was hard to hold back tears,” he said. “I’m really glad I came down here when I did. I’ve been here for two weeks now, and this is going to be the highlight of my trip. I think it’s a real honor to be recognized in this way, and all the family that’s here should be really proud of our ancestors and those who survived the Trail of Tears.” Thompson was born in the CN East circa 1821. Prior to the removal, the family lived on the Toccoa River in what is now Gilmer County, Georgia. In 1838-39, Oochalata’s family endured the removal, traveling with the Choowa-looky/Wofford Detachment, and settled on Brush Creek, south of what is now Jay. In 1875, running on the Downing Party ticket, Thompson defeated Chief William Potter Ross and was elected chief of the CN. He was the last monolingual Cherokee speaker to be chief. His term was marked through its entirety by disagreements with the U.S. government over its refusal to allow the CN to set its citizenship requirements and remove people the Cherokees felt were intruders in the Nation. He died in 1891. Patti Jo King of Muskogee is a descendant of Springston. The director of Bacone College’s Center for American Indians in Muskogee, she has researched her ancestors and knew about Springston before the ceremony. “I’ve been coming out here (cemetery) since I was child,” she said. “I thought the ceremony was absolutely beautiful, and I wouldn’t have missed this for the world…My mother was quite close to Anderson Springston’s son John Leak Springston. I’m so happy that this has happened. I thank the Trail of Tears Association for bringing our family’s history to light.” Springston was born Oct. 13, 1814, in the CN East, probably on the Tennessee River and possibly in present-day Marshall County, Alabama. He was adamantly opposed to removal. In 1834, he and his half-brother, James Foreman, were implicated in the murder of John Walker, a removal advocate. However, they were not convicted. On June 22, 1839, he and five others took part in the assassination of Major Ridge, a signer of the Treaty of New Echota that sold remaining Cherokee lands in the east and leader of the Treaty Party. Disagreements over this removal treaty caused tension in the CN during the next decade. Springston eventually settled near Spavinaw Creek in what is now Eucha in Delaware County. About 1844 he married Sarah “Sallie” Elliott. They had seven children. Trained as an attorney, Springston served as solicitor in the Delaware District from 1841-44. In 1845, he was elected to the Cherokee Committee (later called the Senate) from the same district and served one term. Springston died on March 15, 1866. He was originally buried in a cemetery at Galcatcher Hollow. In 1952, his body was reinterred in Round Springs Cemetery. Carol Hamby came to honor her great-great grandmother Charlotte Chopper. She said she is “proud” of her grandmother for surviving the Trail of Tears and submitted the paperwork to have her grandmother honored two years ago. “I looked at her headstone, saw her birthdate, saw when she died, and said, ‘she had to have come across it’ (Trail of Tears),” she said. “It’s been exciting. I have relatives here from Denver, Joplin, Missouri; Kansas City, Missouri; Dallas, Texas; Tahlequah; Jay; Tulsa. We have a bunch of family here” Sah-lah-dah, known in English as Charlotte, was a full-blood Cherokee born circa 1817 in the CN East. Her father’s name has not been preserved, but her mother was named Ne-di. About 1833, she married Gah-loo-yah, known in English as Chopper. They lived on the Ellijay River in what is now Gilmer County, Georgia, and had four children. In 1838-39, she had her husband and daughter endured the forced removal in the Choowalooky/Wofford detachment. The family settled in the Delaware District near what is now Eucha. She died on Feb. 28, 1858, at Eucha and was buried in the Chopper family cemetery near the Lake Eucha Bridge on Hwy. 59. At the formation of the Lake Eucha in 1952, her body was reinterred at Round Springs Cemetery. National President of the Trail of Tears Association and Tribal Councilor Jack Baker said the markings honor Trail of Tears survivors and enable their families to understand the removal wasn’t an “isolated event” in the tribe’s history and it happened to their family. “This wasn’t just an event in history, but it actually happened to our family,” he said. “We have the markers on the grave, so when you visit the gravesites with your children later on...and they ask what that marker is you can tell them that’s your family and your family was a part of the Trail of Tears.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/22/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On April 17, Principal Chief Bill John Baker signed a proclamation in remembrance of the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the domestic terrorism act that took place in Oklahoma. Baker also released a statement regarding the day and the 20th anniversary: “The April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was an incredibly dark day for our state. It was a tragedy of epic proportions that sent an entire nation into mourning. The loss of 168 innocent civilians, including 19 precious children, was the result of an evil act we never imagined could happen in Oklahoma. As tragic as that day was, what emerged was a united Oklahoma that showed strength, humanity, courage and resilience. No act of terror could extinguish the indomitable Oklahoma spirit. “On Sunday, the 20th anniversary of that tragedy, we will collectively mourn again, but we will also reflect on our strength as a society to pick ourselves up and pull through anything, despite our broken hearts. I hold the deepest admiration for the courage shown by everyone affected by that day: the survivors, their families, first responders and so many others. So while we grieve with you for those we lost, we also honor you for your strength and resilience. “On behalf of the entire Cherokee Nation, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with each and every one of you. God bless.”