Cherokee Nation Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory Jordan looks on as Jim Owle, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council chairman, reads during the Tri-Council meeting on July 13 in Cherokee, N.C. SCOTT MCKIE B.P./CHEROKEE ONE FEATHER
Cherokee tribes come together at Tri-Council
United Keetoowah Band Tribal Councilor Clifford Wofford listens during the Tri-Council meeting on July 13 in Cherokee, N.C. Behind are UKB Tribal Councilors Peggy Girty, left, and Betty Holcomb. SCOTT MCKIE B.P./CHEROKEE ONE FEATHER
BY SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
Cherokee One Feather
CHEROKEE, N.C. – History was made at the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center on July 13 as the Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and United Keetoowah Band Tribal Councils gathered for an official meeting for the first time.
“Completing the Circle of Fire” was the theme for the historic Tri-Council meeting.
“The removal in 1838 separated our people,” EBCI citizen Shawn Crowe, who served as emcee for the event, said. “Today is a historic event as all three now come together. It means a lot to see our people come together as one. We are not three separate entities anymore. We are now one.”
CN Principal Chief Bill John Baker, EBCI Principal Chief Michell Hicks and UKB Principal Chief George Wickliffe each addressed the crowd.
“At this Tri-Council, I know that our ancestors are looking down with great pride and great pleasure,” Baker said. “It’s important to join together as one and talk about all the things that mean the most to our people.”
“Our elders have always said we will come together again one of these days and the time has come, so let’s make it count,” Wickliffe said.
While Hicks added, “The fire is within us…I know we’re not always going to agree on everything, but there is a time to set things aside.”
However, the event was still a business meeting and the Tri-Council passed several resolutions. Lawmakers from the three tribes reauthorized the tribal amendments in the federal Violence Against Women Act and authorized the incorporation of Cherokee syllabary into the U.S. Library of Congress Romanization Tables.
Cherokee is the first Native American language to be entered for preservation and given computer access for public research. Dozens of documents on the history and language of Sequoyah’s 85-character syllabary, invented around 1821, are to be entered into the tables.
“Even though Sequoyah is not here, he is probably considered the most famous Cherokee that ever lived,” CN Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd said. “The syllabary remained intact over the Trail of Tears and now it can be preserved into the future.”
The Tri-Council also resolved to work to retain the Cherokee language and traditions, as well as approving a “consortium method” to fight diseases such as diabetes affecting the Cherokee people.
Several other issues were discussed, including intellectual property rights of Cherokee people. The councilors approved seeking a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the raising of ancient plants and for natural Cherokee medicine that has been part of the Cherokee tradition for hundreds of years. It would create a legal means to prevent non-Cherokees from misusing or falsely selling such products and would create a standard.
The 25 councilors also decided to hold a Tri-Council meeting each year with the hosting duties rotating yearly. CN officials agreed to host the 2013 meeting, while the UKB will host in 2014. The meeting will return to North Carolina in 2015.
Together, the three Cherokee governments represent more than 330,000 citizens.
– CN Communications contributed to this report
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – In February, the Cherokee Phoenix requested compensation amounts for all Cherokee Nation-affiliated boards and commissions through the tribe’s Freedom of Information Act.
Some boards such as the tribe’s five-member Home Health Services board is not compensated for meeting monthly. The board includes Chairman Freddie Ferrell and members Debra Proctor, Dr. Roger Montgomery, Elmer Tadpole and Connie Davis.
The tribe’s Election Commission is responsible for running the tribe’s elections and each commissioner receives a monthly $500 stipend and $100 per meeting. The five-member commission also receives an hourly pay rate of $30. Commissioners are Chairman Bill W. Horton and Co-Chairwoman Teresa Hart and members Shawna Calico, Carolyn Allen and Martha Calico.
The Gaming Commission oversees gaming regulations and standards, and its commissioners receive a $1,500 stipend each month, mileage rate of 55 cents per mile and paid travel. Commissioners are Jennifer Goins, Shannon Fisher, Steve Barrick, Ruth Ann Weaver and Chairwoman Stacy Leeds.
The three members of the Tax Commission are paid $700 per month and meet quarterly in Tahlequah. Commissioners Jim Hummingbird, Steve Wilson and Chris Carter are responsible for rules regulating car tag operations and tax revenue from tribally operated businesses.
The Administrative Appeals Board hears appeals made by employees who have been terminated from their jobs. The three-member board receives $600 per meeting and a $200 monthly stipend. They also receive 55 cents per mile for traveling to meetings. Board members are James Cosby and Nathan Barnard. One seat is vacant.
The Waste Management board is responsible for oversight of the tribe’s landfill and meets monthly. Chairwoman Fan Robinson receives a monthly stipend of $1,500 while board members Shawn Shepard and Luanne Collins receive $1,000 each. Board members also receive 55 cents per mile in travel expenses.
Comprehensive Care Agency board members receive no compensation for serving. The members, which oversee the Programs for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly and Elder Care, are Chairwoman Janie Dibble and Dr. Roger Montgomery, Elmer Tadpole and Connie Davis. There is one vacant seat.
The five-member Economic Development Trust Authority is also not paid for its work, according to the FOIA response. EDTA members are Mike Crawley, Johnnie Earp, Pamela Bickford, Glendon Watkins and Brian Hartley.
The Environmental Protection Commission meets monthly in Tahlequah and administers environmental rules and regulations. Its five members are Marty Matlock, Ed Fite, Lynna Carson, Jack Spears and Blake Fletcher. They are paid $500 per meeting.
Cherokee Nation Foundation board members, who oversee a scholarship program that includes scholarships established by CN citizens and others, are not compensated. Its six members are Tonya Rozell, Carole Richmond, Leroy Qualls, Patsi Nix Smith, Amber George and Susan Chapman Plumb.
CN Community Association Corporation members are also not paid for their service. The five-member board currently has one vacancy and its members are Dawnena Mackey, Jacquie Archambeau, Ron Qualls, and Robin Smith. The board supports the efforts of Cherokee community groups that are tribally affiliated.
The Registration Committee works on registration concerns and is compensated $250 per monthly meeting. Members include Registrar Linda O’Leary and Farrell Prater. In January, the Tribal Council voted to fill the committee vacancy with Carrie Philpot. She has yet to be confirmed.
The Phoenix requested the compensation for the Cherokee Nation Businesses board of directors but was denied. According to the FOIA response, the information is exempt from public disclosure.
“In response to your request, the information requested is exempt from disclosure pursuant to Cherokee Nation Legislative Act 16-14, 105(A)(6), which states: ‘all salary compensation paid by public bodies to individuals by authorized positions as classified by Cherokee Nation laws or Executive and Legislative Human Resources or Personnel Policies and Procedures. The annual budgets shall contain such position listings without the names of the individual holding such positions,’” states the FOIA response.
The Phoenix attempted to get a clarification from CNB officials for why board compensation could not be disclosed but did not receive a response.
According to a 2010 story, the CNB board chair received $72,000 annually while other members’ base pay ranged from $24,000 to $54,000. According to the story, as part of the base pay, each member served on at least one committee, but members also received $12,000 for each additional committee on which they served. The story also states committee chairs received an additional $6,000 annually and that Executive Committee members received an additional $12,000 annually except the board chairman, who forewent any Executive Committee compensation.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Sequoyah National Research Center is seeking three tribally affiliated student interns for summer 2015 during the period of June 1 through July 31. Interns will work at least 25 hours per week in the center doing basic archival and research work under the direction of SNRC staff.
The SNRC at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock houses the papers and special collections of tribal individuals and organizations, the world’s largest archival collection of newspapers and other periodicals published by tribal individuals and organizations, and the Dr. J. W. Wiggins Collection of Native American Art, consisting more than 2,500 artworks.
The goal of the American Indian Student Internship Program is to provide students an experiential learning environment in which to acquire an understanding of the value of archives and the research potential of the collections of the center and to engage in academic research and practical database building activities related to tribal culture, society, and issues. Interns are expected to demonstrate the value of their experience by either a summary report of work, finding aids for collections, reports of research or other written work that may be shared with their home institutions.
To qualify for an internship, students must: be tribally affiliated, have completed at least 60 college hours, and be in good standing at their home institutions of higher learning.
Applications should include a unofficial copy of the student’s academic transcript, a recommendation letter from the head of the student’s major department or from another relevant academic official, and a statement of no more than one page expressing why the intern experience would likely be beneficial to the student’s academic or career goals.
To assist the student in meeting expenses during the two-month tenure of the internship, the Center will provide on-campus housing and $2,000 to defray other living expenses.
Students interested in applying should send applications or inquiries by email to Daniel F. Littlefield at <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>; Robert E. Sanderson at <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>; Erin H. Fehr at <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>; or by mail to: SNRC, University Plaza, Suite 500, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 2801 S. University Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72204. The SNRC must receive applications by March 15. The SNRC staff will select three applicants and three alternates. Staff will notify students of their decision by April 1.
For information regarding UALR and its guest housing facilities, visit <a href="http://www.ualr.edu/housing" target="_blank">http://www.ualr.edu/housing</a>. For information on the SNRC and its work, visit <a href="http://ualr.edu/sequoyah" target="_blank">http://ualr.edu/sequoyah</a>.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A federal government decision to cancel the Washington Redskins’ trademark because it may be disparaging infringes on free-speech rights and unfairly singles the team out, lawyers argued in court papers filed Feb. 23.
The team wants to overturn a decision in 2014 by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancel the Redskins’ trademark on the grounds that it may be offensive to Native Americans. But the team’s attorneys say the law barring registration of disparaging trademarks is unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
The trademark board’s decision unfairly singles out the Redskins “for disfavored treatment based solely on the content of its protected speech, interfering with the ongoing public discourse over the Redskins’ name by choosing sides and cutting off the debate. This the U.S. Constitution does not tolerate,” the lawyers write in their brief.
The lawyers argue that the government has no business deciding that a name such as Redskins is disparaging and undeserving of trademark protection while deeming other names such as Braves to be content-neutral and allowable for trademarks.
The team still disputes that Redskins is a disparaging term and has asked the judge to rule in the team’s favor based on that argument. But the court papers filed Feb. 23 focus on the constitutionality of the law that bans registration of disparaging trademarks.
The government has intervened in the civil lawsuit to defend the law’s constitutionality. In similar cases, government lawyers have argued that the law doesn’t ban disparaging speech; it just denies the protection of a federal trademark to those words. For instance, the Redskins would not be prohibited from calling themselves the Redskins just because they lose the trademark case – they would just lose some of the legal protections that go along with a registered trademark.
The team says free-speech protections should be understood more broadly. The team says the First Amendment can be violated by government restrictions that burden speech even if they don’t ban it outright. The team argues that canceling a trademark represents such a burden, especially for a football club that has used the name since 1933.
A lawyer for the group of Native Americans that sought cancellation of the trademark did not return a call seeking comment Feb. 24.
The team also argues that canceling the trademark after decades of lawful registration amounts due a denial of due process because of the difficulty in trying to defend itself so many years after the fact.
A hearing on the issue is scheduled for May 5.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – In a Feb. 13 letter, Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree informed Tribal Councilor Lee Keener that he could not use the Cherokee Nation-owned Tribal Council photograph of himself in his campaign materials for deputy chief.
“It has come to the attention of the Office of the Attorney General that you have used tribal property for campaign purposes,” Hembree writes. “On numerous political advertisements, letters and emails you have used a photograph of yourself that was paid for by the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council and is currently owned by the Cherokee Nation. Much like council stationary, tribal vehicles or other tribal equipment, pictures owned by the Nation cannot be used in campaign efforts.”
Hembree tells Keener to “cease and desist any use of the photograph in question” and attached the photo for clarification. He also requests that Keener removed the photo from any website, email or any electronic form and that it not be disseminated on printed material.
Hembree also states that he sent a courtesy copy of the letter to the rest of the Tribal Council to “ensure that all officials are aware that use of Cherokee Nation owned photographs in campaign materials is prohibited.”
Keener told the Cherokee Phoenix he would abide by Hembree’s letter and stop using the photo.
“The attorney general alerted me to an issue with a particular picture we were using on campaign materials. I am happy to comply and will cease using the photo,” Keener said.
Hembree said a CN citizen brought Keener’s use of the official photograph to his attention.
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/2/8982_nws_150219_Keener2.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to read</a> Attorney General Todd Hembree’s letter to Keener.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – In a response to a citizen’s complaint, Attorney General Todd Hembree states that Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board Vice Chairwoman Kendra McGeady did not violate the tribe’s Independent Press Act by attending a recent campaign event and was within her right to attend.
In a Jan. 15 letter, Cherokee Nation citizen Cheryl Brown requested Hembree investigate the matter, stating that McGeady was present at Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden’s Jan. 6 campaign kick-off event in violation of the IPA.
Legislative Act 16-09 states “board members shall not participate in any political campaign or be involved in any tribal political activity, except to exercise his or her right as a citizen to express his or her individual opinion and cast his or her right to vote.”
Hembree states that under the standard provided by Cherokee law there is no evidence that McGeady acted inappropriately. He also highlights the part of the act that states “except to exercise his or her right as a citizen to express his or her individual opinion and case his or her right to vote.”
“Ms. McGeady herself is not a candidate, a campaign consultant for any candidate and she does not a position in any candidate’s campaign,” the response states. “She is not collecting signatures for an initiative petition, nor soliciting campaign contributions for any candidate. Her mere presence at an event does not make her a participant in a political campaign.”
He further states that a diligent citizen may attend the campaign events of many candidates and her decision to investigate the relative merits of the candidates is not a violation of tribal law.
McGeady, who said her attendance at the public event was lawful, agreed with the attorney general’s decision.
“I think his findings are extremely appropriate,” she said.
Brown said she was glad the Attorney General’s Office looked in the issue but wasn’t shocked with Hembree’s response.
“One simply has to review the opinions issued by Mr. Hembree over the past year, more specifically when dealing with the free press act, to understand the outcome of this issue,” she said. “I respectfully disagree with Mr. Hembree but appreciate the process that is in place which will allow a Cherokee Nation private citizen the opportunity to voice their concerns and request that action be taken.”
In his response, Hembree also states that it is not the Attorney General Office’s responsibility to remove a Cherokee Phoenix board member, but that of the principal chief or majority of the Tribal Council.
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/2/8973_nws_150219_McGeadyUpdate1.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to read</a> Attorney General Todd Hembree’s letter response to Cheryl Brown.
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/2/8973_nws_150219_McGeadyUpdate2.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to read</a> Cheryl Brown's letter to CN Attorney General's Office.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Election Commission found its new Election Services Office administrator when it promoted former clerk Keeli Duncan during its Feb. 19 special meeting.
After returning from executive session, Election Commissioner Shawna Calico motioned to promote Duncan to the administrator position. Duncan has worked as a clerk for seven months at the office and was promoted because of the recent resignation of Madison Cornett in early February.
The administrator position, according to a 2009 Cherokee Nation Human Resources job description, requires a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university in business administration or related field. The applicant can also have six years related experience or equivalent combination of education and experience. The description also requires an experience requirement of “two years directly related experience in a supervisory capacity and or working at an election precinct.”
The Cherokee Phoenix requested to see the job description used for the recent administrator job posting but had not received it from HR as of publication.
Duncan, a CN citizen, said she would have a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in health care in May.
The administrator position is one dictated by CN Election Code.
“The administrator of the Election Commission shall be a Cherokee tribal citizen who is independently hired by the Election Commission using objective standards developed by the Election Commission,” the law states. “The administrator shall be under the direct supervision of the Election Commission.”
Before the EC promoted Duncan, Election Commissioner Carolyn Allen said she could not support the move.
“I think Keeli has done a fine job here in this office as clerk, and I think she has been a great asset in that position. I have nothing personal against Keeli, and I have talked with her personally about this.” Allen said. “But I think there are situations that I’ve discussed with this commission in executive session, and I think it’s not a wise decision on behalf of this commission for me to vote in support of that.”
Calico moved to promote Duncan from clerk 2 to administrator at a salary of $42,000. The motion carried 3-1 with Allen voting against.
Calico also motioned to promote Brooke Tillison from a clerk 1 to a clerk 3 at a salary of $12 per hour. Tillison had served as a clerk 1 for seven months. The motion carried unanimously.
The commission also hired Elizabeth Catron and Alexi Poteet for the clerk 2 and clerk 1 positions, respectively. Catron passed unanimously and Poteet passed 3-1 with Allen voting against.