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 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.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/01/2015 04:00 PM
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 ...and more. <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.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
12/22/2014 10:59 AM
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.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter
12/17/2014 12:48 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At its Dec. 15 meeting, the Tribal Council unanimously amended the tribe’s fiscal year 2015 comprehensive operating and capital budgets. The operating budget increased to $622.9 million from $615.4 million. The extra funds came from FY 2014 carryover funds. The $7.5 million is to provide $2.1 million to operate the Ochelata Health Center and add new jobs, while $2.4 million will add employees at other CN health facilities. The CN health center in Bartlesville will move from its 5,000-square-foot space to a new 28,000-square-foot stand-alone facility in Ochelata. Approximately $2.7 million will be allocated to additional child care resources for CN citizens who meet income guidelines, and another $300,000 will go toward miscellaneous grants. “Providing Cherokee citizens with quality health care is the top priority of this body, and in order to achieve that goal we must ensure our health facilities employ staff that will meet the health needs of the citizens,” Tribal Councilor Tina Glory Jordan said. “We not only want to build first-class health care facilities, but we want to staff the facilities with first-class personnel. This increase in funds helps the Cherokee Nation work toward that goal.” The capital budget increased by $4.8 million to $124.5 million. The money is earmarked for medical equipment for the four new health centers, which are under construction. “Big, aesthetically pleasing health care facilities are only as good as the equipment and staff inside,” Tribal Councilor Janelle Fullbright said. “By increasing funding for staff and earmarking money for medical equipment, the Cherokee Nation is making it known the tribe is committed to the health of its citizens.” Officials also honored three Cherokee veterans with Cherokee Medals of Patriotism. Arthur “Watie” Bell, 80, of Claremore; Robert G. Ketcher, 72, of Stilwell; and Samuel W. O’Fields, 80, of Claremore, were all presented plaques and medals by Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden. Bell enlisted in the Navy in 1951 and was stationed at the Naval Air Station in Miramar-San Diego from 1951-53. While there his assignment was base security, which included roving patrols and brig force gate duty. He also trained guard dogs. Bell completed eight weeks of Airman Class P School in Norman in 1953 and reported to the USS Tarawa CV-40 where he was assigned to the aviation gasoline division. Bell maintained the inert gas room and refueling aircrafts on the flight and hanger decks. Bell made one cruise, which encircled the world and ended in October 1954. He was later released from active duty and returned to reserve status and was eventually discharged from the Navy in 1955. He then joined the Army Reserve and completed his eight years of military service. Bell was discharged from the Army in 1959. “This gentleman serves on our color guard, honor guard and does a great job and we’re so thankful for that,” Crittenden said. Ketcher enlisted in the Army in March 1966. In December 1966 he deployed to Vietnam where he became the 1st Calvary’s squad leader and fired 81mm mortar guns. While there Ketcher’s mission was to “search and destroy.” He was discharged in 1968. O’Fields enlisted in the Army in 1956. He completed seven weeks of basic training and specialty unit training in California. He was sent to Bamberg, Germany, and served in the Tactical Operations and Equipment unit, which was part of the Mortar Battery, 2nd Battalion Group, 29th Infantry. O’Fields’ rank was private first class when he was discharged in June 1962. Terry Crow, 47, of Tahlequah, was to be honored but was not able to attend. Crow enlisted in the Army in 1989. He served in Desert Storm in Iraq. Crow received a Bronze Star during his service and was discharged in 1992. During Cherokee Nation Businesses interim CEO Shawn Slaton’s monthly report, Tribal Councilor Lee Keener questioned Slaton about what would happen to the former American Woodmark building in Tahlequah that CNB purchased in 2012. The building was home to Cherokee Nation Industry employees who evaluated and repackaged televisions that had been returned to United States-based Wal-Mart stores. CNI had a two-year contract with Miami, Florida-based company TRG to repair and refurbish TVs for Wal-Mart. The contract ended Dec. 1. Slaton said employees were cleaning the site and he hoped to have something in the building as soon as possible. “We’re currently in the process of giving that a good scrub down and cleaning. (CNB Executive Vice President) Chuck Garrett’s group is actively searching for the next tenant. We’ve got two or three possibilities, one from Muskogee. We’re just trying to work those possibilities to see what we can land there.”