A 15-district map introduced by Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts includes Cherokee citizens with ‘bad addresses” as directed by the Cherokee Nation District Court. The Rules Committee rejected the map in a 10-7 vote on June 28. COURTESY MAP

Rules Committee passes 15-district map

This 15-district map sponsored by Tribal Councilor Jodie Fishinghawk was approved by the Tribal Council’s Rules Committee on June 28. It does not include Cherokee Nation citizens with “bad addresses,” which caused it to be called into question by some councilors. COURTESY MAP
This 15-district map sponsored by Tribal Councilor Jodie Fishinghawk was approved by the Tribal Council’s Rules Committee on June 28. It does not include Cherokee Nation citizens with “bad addresses,” which caused it to be called into question by some councilors. COURTESY MAP
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Interim Executive Editor – @cp_wchavez
07/09/2012 08:36 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Racing against an Aug. 1 deadline, the Tribal Council’s Rules Committee on June 28 voted 10-7 to re-apportion the Cherokee Nation’s five representative districts into 15 districts.

The legislation, sponsored by Councilor Jodie Fishinghawk, now heads to full council on July 16. It calls for amending Legislative Act 36-10 by increasing districts within the CN jurisdiction from five to 15. Currently, each district has three councilors. If amended, LA 36-10 would create 15 districts with one councilor per district.

Councilors first approved the 15-district map during a Rules subcommittee meeting in May using data from CN Geographic Information Systems.

GIS Administrator David Justice said 7,115 CN citizens is the optimal number of citizens for each of the 15 districts and that all of the districts are within 10 percent of that optimal number. He also said the map is “representative” of the jurisdiction’s citizenship count.

However, Councilor Cara Cowan Watts disagreed, saying the map did not include citizens with bad addresses or who have not provided the Nation with updated or correct addresses.

A current GIS report states 12,000 jurisdictional citizens have bad addresses.

Fishinghawk said citizens with bad addresses were sent two mailings or visited twice to ask them to update their address with the CN. After two attempts, those addresses were no longer counted, she said.

Cowan Watts said Fishinghawk’s map also “gerrymandered” or manipulated the districts’ boundaries to favor a few councilors and prevents Councilor Buel Anglen from running in 2013.

Anglen serves Tulsa and Rogers counties, but if the 15-district map is approved on July 16, his home in Sperry would be part of Dist. 12. That district would include parts of Tulsa, Rogers and Nowata counties and all of Washington County and would be represented by Councilor Dick Lay until 2015.

“If I’m going to be voted out, I’d like to be voted out by the people,” Anglen said.

Councilor David Thornton said when the council changed from nine districts to five districts, Delaware and Adair counties lost seats to other districts.

“Mr. (Lee) Keener is sitting in one of those seats right now that went over to that district,” Thornton said.

He added that gerrymandering may be a problem, but that it also took place two years ago.
“This gerrymandering business can go two different ways,” Thornton said.

Cowan Watts introduced an alternative map during the June 28 meeting that she said “gerrymandered for all seated officials so everyone has a seat to run for in 2013” instead of only councilors in the majority.

“If we’re going to gerrymander for one, we need to gerrymander for all,” she said.

But Councilor Tina Glory Jordan interrupted her, saying there was a motion to approve Fishinghawk’s map and that Cowan Watts’ map was not “germane” to the discussion.

Cowan Watts said her map was germane and that her map includes citizens with bad addresses as instructed in 2010 by the tribe’s District Court. She said the court ruled that people with bad addresses could not be “arbitrarily stricken.”

Glory Jordan said citizens with bad addresses would be counted as part of the at-large population (citizens living outside the jurisdiction) until they give a new address to the Registration Department.

She said she believes the bad address count for Cherokee County is too low at 359 and that it’s not fair for some councilors to want to count bad addresses numbering in the thousands because it gives them an unfair advantage when re-apportioning districts.

“She’s (Cowan Watts) trying to substitute a map that’s other than the map in the (committee) book that we have worked months on. I’m just not in favor of that substitution,” Glory Jordan said. “The gerrymandering was done four years ago. It’s not being done now.”

Cowan Watts also said her map meets the 10 percent criteria set by the court. She said if bad addresses are added to Fishinghawk’s map as instructed by the court, nearly all of the 15 districts are above 10 percent deviation.

“One is even 22 percent greater than it is supposed to be,” she said.

Glory Jordan said she the court’s ruling that bad addresses be counted was “faulty” and needed to be corrected, which she said the Rules Committee did on June 28. She added that “more than likely” citizens with bad addresses are now at-large citizens.

In October 2006, the council created 15 districts, replacing the nine districts it had been using. However, then-Principal Chief Chad Smith vetoed the act. The council attempted twice more to create 15 districts, but again Smith vetoed the acts.

After two years of working on redistricting and taking part in lawsuits over whether districts were properly apportioned, the council approved a five-district map on Dec. 24, 2010, six months before the 2011 general election, which caused confusion among candidates and voters.

Keener said there’s potential for voter confusion with Fishinghawk’s map because voters at some precincts may find themselves voting for candidates from three districts.

“We want to do the will of the people, not the will of the few,” he said. “I don’t see any benefit from this map except for the dictionary. When you look up gerrymandering there will be a picture of that map.”

The committee rejected Cowan Watts’ map by a 10-7 vote and approved Fishinghawk’s map.

Those councilors voting for against Cowan Watts’ map and for Fishinghawk’s map were Joe Byrd, Fishinghawk, Janelle Fullbright, Frankie Hargis, Chuck Hoskin Jr., Glory Jordan, Lay, Curtis Snell, Thornton and David Walkingstick.

Cowan Watts said she sees more lawsuits in the future with the Fishinghawk map.

“I feel strongly this map is violating the principles that our court set out. It doesn’t meet the 10 percent standard. It doesn’t meet the use of bad addresses standard, and it doesn’t meet fairness standards that were talked about during court proceedings in putting contiguous communities together and such,” she said. “I just think we are headed to court. That doesn’t do our people any justice.”

will-chavez@cherokee.org


918-207-3961

About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.

Council

BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
04/12/2016 05:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Councilors on April 12 sent back to the Rules Committee Legislative Act 04-14, which amends the Cherokee Nation’s election code, after several legislators voiced concerns regarding the definition of “term.” In March, the committee defined “term” as “consecutive full four (4) years in which the elective or appointed officer may perform the functions of office and enjoy its privileges, a term shall not include the remainder of any unexpired term or partial year.” Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard said on April 12 that he could not support the act. “I feel like the Cherokee people had a constitutional convention and had decided what they wanted in the election code…I think we’re really messing with the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation if we go to changing some of the wording of that act. I could see if this passes as it’s stated, we’re going to have some problems with further elections that come down the road,” he said. Tribal Councilor Buel Anglen added that from what he’s read in the Constitutional Convention transcripts those involved did not want to add the word “full” when referring to one’s elected term. “There’s a lot of good stuff in this election law that we looked over for a long time, but at this time, putting that one (definition) in there is going to keep me from supporting this act,” Anglen said. Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor said she felt the committee discussions were geared toward making the election code clearly match the CN Constitution. “And so, I feel like our intent was to match the Constitution, which says in several areas a term is four years. If the Constitution can stand on its own, I’m not opposed to taking out “EE” (the section in the legislation defining term), but I just want to clarify that our intention was to firm it up and match the Constitution.” Tribal Councilor Dick Lay offered a friendly amendment to remove the section defining “term,” and Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez initially accepted it. She later revoked the friendly amendment and motioned to send the legislation back to Rules Committee. That motion passed with no opposition. Legislators also unanimously authorized the “approval of a loan agreement and limited waiver of sovereign immunity” as part of the Indian Health Service Joint Venture expansion in Tahlequah. According to the legislation, the CN will accept and execute a general obligation credit facility loan agreement “with a group of lenders to be arranged by BOKF, NA dba Bank of Oklahoma” and approved by the CN in a principal amount of $170 million to finance construction of the Cherokee Nation Tahlequah Outpatient Facility. The body also passed an act creating the Cherokee Nation Judgment Fund, which “governs all judgments, inclusive of attorney fees and interest, entered against the Cherokee Nation or any department, agency or subdivision thereof.” According to the act, “all monies accruing to the credit of the fund are hereby appropriated, and shall be budgeted and expended by the Treasurer for the payment of eligible claims.” Legislators also approved the three initial members of the Cherokee Immersion Charter School board: Rufus King, Melvina Shotpouch and Russell Feeling. According to CN Communications, all three are Cherokee speakers and will serve five-year terms. “Through the Cherokee Immersion Charter School, the Cherokee Nation is cultivating a new generation of Cherokee speakers,” Council Speaker Joe Byrd said. “The revitalization of our language is of the utmost importance, thus making this board extremely vital. We need governing school board members who not only speak our language, but understand the seriousness of the mission of our school.” The Tribal Council also: • Authorized interviews and research within the CN by the National Institute of Justice Regarding Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault regarding violence against Indian women; • Amended Title 21 of the CN code annotated relating to offenses against property; • Authorized the name change of Sallisaw Creek to National Cherokee Nation Park; • Allowed CN to lease tribal trust land to the Kenwood Rural Water District for a water treatment plant, tank, pump station and wells; and • Supported the deployment of the F-35 Lightning II Fighter Aircraft to the 138th Fighter Wing. Legislators also amended both the capital and operating budgets for fiscal year 2016.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
03/15/2016 04:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At its March 14 meeting, the Tribal Council approved the renomination of Chuck Hoskin Jr. as the Cherokee Nation’s secretary of state. He has served as state secretary since 2013 and officially began his second term following his confirmation and oath of office. Hoskin, who served as a Tribal Councilor from 2007-13, thanked Principal Chief Bill John Baker and the legislators for the “confidence” they have in him. “I appreciate the confidence that each of you have, and I will do my best to continue in good service to the (Cherokee) Nation,” he said. “We've got great challenges ahead, and I’m glad to be on the part of the team that is taking that on, and I do appreciate working with you and all of your colleagues, Mr. Speaker (Joe Byrd).” Hoskin’s wife, January, held the Bible as Supreme Court Justice John Garrett swore him into his second term. Councilors also separated the Education and Culture Committee, creating a respective committee for each. Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez said one of the best ways to continue preserving the Cherokee culture is to give it its own committee. “It’s very important to highlight the culture and the opportunity that we have to carry forward the Cherokee legacy of culture, art and language. It’s my theory that it can best be done by having a separate Culture Committee instead of having it as part of education/culture,” she said. They also authorized the tribe to lease trust lands to Burgher Haggard LLC “for the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Mustang Program.” Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick voted against the resolution, but Tribal Councilor David Thornton said it is important to help the horses. “The thing I think of when I think of horses is the Trail of Tears and I think about our people coming across from North Carolina, Tennessee all that way. And people, there’s some of them that would have never made it if it hadn’t been for a horse,” he said. “I think this is a great time to bring these horses here to this land because in time of need. We needed them and now they need us.” According to legislation, the horses would have trust land set aside in Adair and Delaware counties for five years beginning Oct. 1. There is also an option for a renewal of five additional years at a price that is set forth by the BLM. Tribal Councilors also amended wording within the Employment Rights Act. According to legislative details, Title 40, subsection 103 was amended to include “if a business is owned by a trust, it must be held in trust with over 51 percent of Indian trustees and 51 percent and more of the beneficiaries of the trust must be Indians to maintain majority Indian control of the business.” Another ERA amendment included “if the business is a trust owned business, the business must certify Indian trustees and beneficiaries and TERO (Tribal Employment Rights Office) will then” determine if the business would be given Indian preference within the TERO section of the act. Legislators also passed a resolution supporting Oklahoma House Bill 2261, which changes the definition of who can sell “Indian art” under the American Indian Arts and Crafts Sales Act of 1974. The proposed measure, which passed the House 90-0, defines “American Indian tribe” as any Indian tribe federally recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and “American Indian” as a citizen or enrolled member of an American Indian tribe. Councilors also authorized the acceptance of five tracts of day school land in fee. The lands consist of the former Cave Springs School in Cherokee County, Mulberry Hollow School in Adair County, Oak Hill School (Piney) in Delaware County, Ballou School in Mayes County and Redbird Smith School in Sequoyah County. Councilors also authorized the BIA to update the tribe’s Inventory of Tribal Transportation Facilities to include the Rocky Mountain School Road extensions 1 and 2 in Adair County. They also increased the fiscal year 2016 operating budget by $878,981 to $657.6 million. In it the DOI-Self Governance received an increase of $56,200. The remaining $822,781 came from grants. In other business, legislators: • Revised the tribe’s 2016 Indian Housing Plan to provide rental assistance for Native American veterans who qualify, • Amended the Motor Vehicle Licensing and Tax Code to include items manufactured homes, commercial trailers, farm trailers and CN vehicles to the license plates section, • Authorized the CN to negotiate and/or advertise for bid to lease tribal units on fee or trust land for grazing and farming, and • Reconfirmed Jack L. Spears to the Environmental Protection Commission and Johnnie Earp to the Economic Development Trust Authority board of directors.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
02/18/2016 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During its Feb. 16 meeting, Tribal Councilors unanimously declared support for the continual operation of dependent public schools located within Cherokee Nation jurisdiction. According to the resolution, there are 26 dependent public schools located within the jurisdiction. Those schools have 6,965 students enrolled, and 3,294, or 47 percent, of them are CN citizens. The resolution states the CN percentage of students enrolled at the schools is higher than the number of CN students enrolled at independent schools within the tribe’s jurisdiction and that the closure of dependent schools would have a “devastating” effect on CN citizens attending and the CN families living in surrounding communities. Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd said keeping the rural schools open is important for “the good of the students and community.” “The small, rural dependent school districts are the heartbeat of their community, and the Cherokee Nation has an obligation to help keep that heartbeat going,” Byrd said. “Whether it is financial support through car tag sales or vocal support through legislation, this Tribal Council stands united in backing our dependent school districts and helping them keep their doors open.” Tribal Councilors also passed an act affirming and codifying CN laws and statues. Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor said the act acknowledges that tribal officials have created a volume of five books titled “Cherokee Nation Code Annotated” that has the tribe’s laws and resolutions within them. “It took quite a while to do, but it’s just making it official that those are our laws and our resolutions, basically everything that we have,” she said. “If somebody wants to look up a law for some reason they can do it in one place now.” Taylor said the books can be found in the legislative offices and the Attorney General’s Office. The books can also be purchased at the CN Gift Shop for $455. Legislators also confirmed John Sparks, of Norman, to the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission; Shaun Shepherd, of Tahlequah, to the Cherokee Nation Businesses board of directors; and Fannie Robinson, of Kansas, Oklahoma, to the Cherokee Nation Tax Commission. Sparks and Robinson were approved unanimously while three legislators opposed Shepherd’s confirmation. Sparks said he is thankful for the opportunity to serve on the CNGC. “Thank you all for having me, and I just want you to know how flattered and honored I am to be asked to serve…to execute my duties in this role,” he said. While serving on the CNB board, Shepherd said he looks forward to the challenges it holds. “Mr. Speaker, council, I want to thank everybody in this administration for putting their trust in me for this position,” he said. “I look forward to the challenges, and look forward to serving the Cherokee Nation and its citizens.” Councilors also passed a resolution supporting the CN’s Promise Zone application. The Promise Zone is a White House initiative that consists of the federal government investing in and partnering with tribal communities to increase economic activity, create jobs, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime and improve educational opportunities. According to hud.gov, Promise Zones are “high poverty communities.” The initiative provides resources such as tax incentives, pending enactment of tax incentives by Congress and grants to these communities. Currently the only location in Oklahoma designated as a Promise Zone is the Choctaw Nation, which occurred in 2014. Councilors also unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the Bureau of Indian Affairs to revise and update the tribe’s Inventory of Tribal Transportation Facilities to include three new routes. The routes are in Ottawa County and consist of S610 Loop, EW-0190 Road and NS-4610 Road. In other news, councilors increased the fiscal year 2016 capital budget by $2.2 million to $121.6 million. The increase of $2,245,423 went to the Motor Vehicle Tax budget. Councilors also increased the FY 2016 operating budget by $1.9 million to $656.7 million. In it the General Fund increased by $84,578, the Motor Vehicle Tax increase by $1,156,896 and DOI-Self Governance received $124,108. The remaining $609,208 came from grants. The council also passed nine resolutions authorizing the donation of surplus office equipment to Nowata Cherokees in Nowata County, Redbird Stomp Grounds in Sequoyah County, Boys and Girls Club in Delaware County, 51 West Fire Department in Adair County, Brushy Cherokee Community Organization in Sequoyah County, Boys and Girls Club in Sequoyah County, Stokes Stomp Grounds in Sequoyah County and Belfonte Baptist Church in Sequoyah County. The next Tribal Council meeting is set for 6 p.m. on March 14.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
01/13/2016 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During its Jan. 11 meeting, the Tribal Council, via Legislative Act 17-15, increased the fiscal year 2016 operating budget by $1,773,125 making the total operating budget authority $654.7 million. The modification consisted of adding $1.8 million in grant and carryover funding, as well as a decrease of approximately $75,000 from several tribal funds. Although there was no discussion during the meeting, Tribal Councilor Dick Lay abstained during the act’s voting. All other legislators voted to approve. The act passed 16-0-1. In an email, Lay stated he abstained because of inefficiencies in the Cherokee Nation’s Rehabilitation Housing group and the fact the tribe’s administration is making changes to it. “They may move CN Rehab employees to the CN Housing Authority. The CN administration placed in the budget mod (modification) to move the funding from CN Rehab to the CN Housing Authority,” Lay said. “These items were in CN Rehab budgets, and now have been sent to the CN Housing authority. “The CN Rehab Housing is a CN government entity, under the authority of the CN government. These 79 CN Rehab housing jobs had full vesting and employment rights in the CN government,” he added. “The CN Housing Authority is not a CN government department. It is a State of Oklahoma agency. I’m being told its employees are considered at-will employees. The CN government essentially funds the state agency – the CN Housing Authority. Because it has not been explained, and I’m still not sure how the CN Rehab group will be improved, and more importantly, because I’m concerned for the 79 CN government Rehab Housing employees and their families, I voted abstain instead of yes.” Councilors also approved the donation of surplus office equipment to the Foyil Community Building. Also, Principal Chief Bill John Baker said in his State of the Nation address that CN officials met with Secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro to discuss a new program that will benefit Native American veterans who are homeless. “We were one of 26 tribes nationwide to be selected. It gives us an opportunity to get 20 veterans that are homeless into safe, sanitary, decent housing with our partnership with the VA (Veterans Affairs),” Baker said. “If you know them, help us locate them.” He also said the Attorney General’s Office and the tribe’s One Fire program has secured a $400,000 grant to “increase awareness and help prosecute more cases involving sexual assault against women.” Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden also honored three veterans during the meeting, giving them CN Medal of Patriotism awards. The veterans were Chester Benton Havenstrite, who served in the Army during the Cold War; Selbert Lee Taylor, who served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War; and Samuel Jordan, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
12/15/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tribal Council on Dec. 14 approved a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Eastern Oklahoma Region for wildland and fire management. “Basically the (wildland and fire) resolution allows us to continue to receive funding from the BIA and we work with them in protecting our tribal lands,” Willard Mounce, CN Tribal Employment Rights Office administration officer, said. Mounce said as of Dec. 14 the tribe’s Wildland and Fire Management program did not have a firefighter over it, but that the position was expected to open. He said to be eligible for the position one has to pass an endurance test as and meet specific BIA requirements. Until the position is filled, he said the BIA would provide a firefighter during the increased fire season. The agreement is approved annually, Mounce said, and funds $65,000 to the tribe. Tribal Councilors also approved a bill allowing the CN to become a Native American Fish and Wildlife Society member. The NAFWS has been in existence since 1983. It assists tribes with establishing fish and wildlife programs, supporting funding for tribal fish and wildlife programs and educating and training Native fish and wildlife biologists, managers, technicians and conservation officers. However, to benefit from the group’s services, the CN must first be a member. “Be it resolved by the Cherokee Nation, that this Council hereby wishes to become a member of the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society and to participate in the services provided by the organization and its staff; and be it further resolved; that this Resolution of Support be submitted to the NAFWS; and be it further resolved; that the Cherokee Nation supports the efforts of the NAFWS to secure funding to maintain the organization and the services that will be provided directly to tribal fish and wildlife programs,” the legislation states. Both resolutions passed unanimously. The Tribal Council also unanimously passed Janie Dibble’s nomination to the Comprehensive Care Agency or PACE board. Also, legislators approved the re-appointments Carrie Philpott and Farrell Prater to the Registration Committee, Amon Baker to the Sequoyah High School board of education and Nathan Barnard to the Appeals Board. Councilors also unanimously approved CN citizen Chris Carter to the Cherokee Nation Businesses board of directors. He resigned from the Cherokee Nation Tax Commission effective Dec. 14, upon confirmation to the CNB board. “I am very pleased with the opportunity to share insights from my many years as a businessman for the benefit of all the citizens of the Cherokee Nation,” Carter, a business owner from Vinita, said. During the State of the Nation, Principal Chief Bill John Baker recognized the Cherokee Renegades, a basketball team of Cherokee men who won the National Indian Association championship in 1981, and the new CN Tribal Youth Council. In other news, CNB CEO Shawn Slaton said fiscal year 2015 was a success bringing in $123 million in net income. He also reported that the Roland Casino hotel opened on Dec. 10 and that CNB employs more than 4,600 CN citizens and has more than 80 percent Native American in its employment. Also, Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation Director Gary Cooper reported that 6,600 families have received some kind of assistance this year from the HACN.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
11/17/2015 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tribal Council approved the newest member of the Cherokee Nation Administrative Appeals Board on Nov. 16 at the legislative body’s monthly meeting after moving forward the nomination from the Rules Committee meeting earlier in the day. Tribal Councilors, minus an absent Jack Baker, unanimously approved Junior Dewayne Littlejohn during the Rules Committee meeting and full Tribal Council. Littlejohn will begin serving Dec. 15 for a term of four years. “Junior Dewayne Littlejohn is duly qualified and should be appointed as a Member of the Administrative Appeals Board,” the legislation reads. The AAB is a board comprised of three members who hear employee grievances, including wrongful termination cases. The board’s other two members are James Cosby and Nathan Barnard. The Tribal Council also approved two budget modifications. The first modification passed the Executive and Finance Committee on Oct. 29 and increased the tribe’s budget by $4.2 million to more than $651 million. It included $3.97 million related to carryover of a Department of Labor grant. The second passed the committee on Nov. 16 and increased the tribe’s total operating budget by more than $1.1 million to more than $653 million. It contained $760,000 related to an increase in the Tribe’s Employment Rights Office program from TERO fees to be collected. Also during the meeting, Health Services Director Connie Davis recognized Craig Edgmon, a home health nurse for the tribe’s Redbird Smith Health Center, who successfully resuscitated an unresponsive patient during a home visit. “And because of his heroic efforts this patient survived that event,” she said. “He went on the next week to teach a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) class where the following week one of his students passed on that and paid it forward and successfully resuscitated yet another patient out in the field. That shows what your efforts have done.” In other news, Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Shawn Slaton said that the Outpost 1 convenient store on the Tribal Complex is expected to be open around Feb. 1. Once opened the fuel system would be shut down for about three months until new fueling stations can be added. Slaton also said the Roland Casino hotel is expected to open near Dec. 1 and that CNB’s television show “OsiyoTV” would expand to the Oklahoma City area playing at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings on channel CW 34. In addition, he said that CNB Native American employment rate is at 81.6 percent with 73.5 percent of that strictly CN citizens. Deputy Principal Chief S. Joe Crittenden also recognized two CN citizens for their military service, Christopher Dale Mayfield for his service in Operation Desert Storm and Jerry Wane Daniels for his time in Vietnam.