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
Senior Reporter
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.
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.

Council

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter
04/14/2015 03:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At their April 13 meeting, Tribal Councilors questioned Cherokee Nation Businesses interim CEO Shawn Slaton about home construction projects that Cherokee Nation Construction Resources, a division of CNB, is overseeing in West Siloam Springs and Roland. Slaton said construction in West Siloam Springs “is making progress.” “Our housing up at (West) Siloam (Springs) is making progress. They’ve got the gravel down for the roads. They got the utilities in. The house pads are there. We would have been making more progress on that had the pads not been so wet the last couple of weeks,” he said. “As soon as they dry out we’ll begin to put the foundation in and get going there.” He said the construction of homes in Roland would be on the same track as soon as the water from the recent rainfall clears. Tribal Councilor Dick Lay then asked how many houses are to be built in each location. Slaton deferred the question to CNB Executive Vice President Charles Garrett, who said 29 houses are expected in West Siloam Springs and 23 are expected in Roland. Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard then asked if occupants have been chosen for the houses yet. Slaton said CNB is building the homes and the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation is picking applicants for them. Buzzard said he doesn’t anticipate there will be a problem filling the houses. “I don’t think we’ll have any problems at West Siloam Springs because I heard housing is really, really short,” he said. “I’ve also heard that there is some excitement about us building houses.” Lay asked Slaton if CNB is using the list of people from the HACN for the homes. Slaton said he wasn’t sure of the process of choosing the applicants. Principal Chief Bill John Baker told the Tribal Council that there are two lists from which the HACN chooses its applicants. “One is if you own your property and another list that has come up is if you don’t own your property,” he said. “So as I understand it, they’ll start though time and date of people that said that they wanted a house, but they did not own land. All of them are not going to want to live in West Siloam Springs, but the ones that do, it’s first-come first-served, time and date on the list.” Tribal Councilor Tina Glory Jordan said the way she understands the process is the applicants “designate the area that they would like to get a house in if they don’t have land.” HACN Executive Director Gary Cooper confirmed Glory Jordan’s understanding of the process. “They designate a county and then we narrow it down by that way. For instance, in West Siloam (Springs) what we would do is because it’s right there on the county line we would merge Adair and Delaware County and we would work on finding families to take those,” he said. “Every application we collect is by date and then time of the application, so everyone is assigned a number. That’s how it’s placed on the waiting list. So either they have land or they don’t have land. We will take those who are on the waiting lists for the folks who don’t have land for Adair and Delaware County and ask them if they would be interested in one of those (houses).” Cooper said HACN officials have sent out approximately 144 letters to tribal citizens in those counties to see if there was an interest for these homes. According to a December 2014 Cherokee Phoenix article, CNB will sell the homes to the HACN once they are built. Then the HACN will find occupants to fill those homes. In other news, Baker introduced the tribe’s 2015 “Remember the Removal” riders at the meeting. There are 12 riders participating this year from the CN. Citizens of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will also participate in the ride. The CN participants are Billy Flint, Shawna Harter, Hailey Seago, Caleb Cox, Tanner Crow, Maggie McKinnis, Kayla Davis, Tennessee Loy, Haylee Caviness, Wrighter Weavel, Alexis Watt and Tristan Trumbla. The participants will bike the nearly 1,000-mile trip that retraces the Trail of Tears through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas and will end in Tahlequah. Legislators also approved Eddie Morrison as an advisory committee member for the Cherokee National Treasures Program for a term of one year. They also modified the tribe’s comprehensive budget for fiscal year 2015 for a total budget authority of $639 million. Approximately $653,310 came from grants, while $8.45 million resulted from modification requests. Approximately $6.89 million is going to the General Fund and $1.57 million is going to the Motor Fuel Tax Fund. The next Tribal Council meeting is slated for 6 p.m. on May 11.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/01/2015 02:00 PM
<strong>During the 6 p.m. Jan. 12, 2015 Tribal Council meeting, Councilors discussed:</strong> • A RESOLUTION CONFIRMING THE NOMINATION OF NATHAN E. BARNARD AS A BOARD MEMBER OF THE CHEROKEE NATION ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS BOARD Councilor Fishinghawk moved to approve. Councilor Taylor seconded the motion. After a few questions from Councilor Cowan Watts the motion to approve carried with no opposition. Supreme Court Justice Garrett performed the swearing in ceremony for Mr. Barnard. • A RESOLUTION OPPOSING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF AN ENERGY LINE ROUTE BYT HE PLAINS AND EASTERN CLEAN LINE IN SEQUOYAH COUNTY, OKLAHOMA LOCATED WITHIN THE CHEROKEE NATION JURISDICTIONAL AREA Councilor Fullbright moved to approve. Councilor Baker seconded the motion. After discussion was held the motion to approve carried with no opposition. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9111_Jan12TribalCouncilMinutes.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to read</a> the Jan. 12, 2015 meeting minutes. <strong>During the 6 p.m. Feb. 26, 2015 Tribal Council meeting, Councilors discussed:</strong> • A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING BUSINESS LEASE ON TRUST LAND IN ROGERS COUNTY, OKLAHOMA Councilor Taylor moved to approve. Councilor Keener seconded the motion. Councilors Keener, Fullbright and Fishinghawk requested to be added as sponsors. The motion to approve carried with no opposition. • AN ACT RELATING TO SALARIES FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS AND TECHNICAL AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2012 RELATING TO THE STIPEND FOR THE CITIZEN COMMITTEE Speaker Glory Jordan requested the amended handout be approved. Councilor Fullbright moved to approve the revised handout. Councilor Garvin seconded the motion. The motion carried by acclimation. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9111_Feb26TribalCouncilMinutes.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to read</a> the Feb. 26, 2015 meeting minutes.
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
03/17/2015 12:00 PM
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.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
02/27/2015 04:00 PM
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.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/01/2015 12:00 PM
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.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
01/13/2015 02:29 PM
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.