Tribal Councilors Jodie Fishinghawk, left, Tina Glory Jordan and Chuck Hoskin Jr. confer during the council’s Sept. 17 meeting in Tahlequah, Okla. The main topic on the agenda was the tribe’s fiscal year 2013 budget. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Head Start gets additional $400K in 2013 budget

Cherokee veteran Joeseph Fourkiller, 87, of Stilwell, Okla., was honored during the Sept. 17 Tribal Council for his military service by the council, Deputy Chief Joe Crittenden, shown pinning the medal onto Fourkiller, and Principal Chief Bill John Baker, right. Fourkiller was presented with a Cherokee Warrior medal and plaque. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee veteran Joeseph Fourkiller, 87, of Stilwell, Okla., was honored during the Sept. 17 Tribal Council for his military service by the council, Deputy Chief Joe Crittenden, shown pinning the medal onto Fourkiller, and Principal Chief Bill John Baker, right. Fourkiller was presented with a Cherokee Warrior medal and plaque. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
09/18/2012 04:56 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tribal Council approved the Cherokee Nation’s fiscal year 2013 budget by a 9-8 vote at its Sept. 17 meeting, giving Head Start $400,000 more than it had in FY 2012 but at the expense of the Cherokee Heritage Center and Cherokee Phoenix.

If Principal Chief Bill John Baker signs the budget act, the Head Start increase will be effective on Oct. 1 and provide pre-K education at tribal Head Start sites throughout northeast Oklahoma.

“Head Start makes a difference for kids and families throughout Cherokee Nation,” Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory Jordan said. “With this new funding, Head Start can increase teacher salaries and stay competitive.”

During the meeting, Head Start Director Verna Thompson said it has been difficult to retain experienced staff because she was not able to offer competitive salaries.

However, increased funding for Head Start came via 25 percent reductions for the Cherokee Heritage Center and the tribe’s newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix.

Glory Jordan said both of those entities were capable of finding new funding sources and would continue receiving large subsidies in the new budget.

The Phoenix has a plan to generate new revenues from advertisings sales, subscription fees and sponsored distribution sites, which Deputy Speaker Chuck Hoskin Jr. said would put the paper on the path to “fiscal independence.”

However, Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts disagreed with the CHC and Phoenix cuts.

“I do think that Head Start needs additional money, but it’s going to be at the cost of our Cherokee Heritage Center and our Cherokee Phoenix. They (both) have 25 percent budget cuts,” she said.

Cowan Watts said she thought the cuts had been discussed beforehand with the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board and staff, but later found that was not the case.

“Another group got caught in the middle of politics, and now I think the very essence of our free press act is at risk…they are going to have to eliminate the paper edition and free subscriptions to Cherokee citizens,” she said. “I think we could have done that way differently. We could plan ahead for that and have our free press be given the opportunity to plan one and three years out.”

She said she believes there’s enough money coming from the tribe’s gaming operations to fund all areas being cut.

Cherokee Phoenix Executive Editor Bryan Pollard shared the newspaper’s business plan with the council and said the budget cut would benefit the Phoenix in the long run.

“The Phoenix was basically at a fork in the road. Down one path was ever-increasing costs due to increasing circulation numbers, increasing printing costs and increasing mailing costs where we would be in the position of asking the council for more and more money,” Pollard said. “Or we could go down another path toward self-sufficiency, which is us finding ways to pay for our own operation, and so we’ve taken that path with this plan.”

Glory Jordan said councilors worked with the Phoenix to put the news organization on a path to self-sufficiency.

“I believe that we’re putting them on the road to, what I see, becoming completely on their own,” she said. “While they are being cut…their money is going to a very needed service, which is Head Start.”

The FY 2013 budget is based on a $618-million blueprint proposed by Chief Baker, his first comprehensive budget since taking office on Oct. 19, 2011. Other budget highlights included $1 million for community waterlines, $195,000 for area Boys & Girls Clubs, $50,000 for backpack nutrition programs for needy school children, $206,000 for a new vocational assistance program, $2 million to complete the Cherokee Veterans Center in Tahlequah and more than $90 million in a separate capital projects budget.

Councilors voting for the budget were Glory Jordan, Hoskin, Jodie Fishinghawk, Janelle Fullbright, Frankie Hargis, Dick Lay, Curtis Snell, Joe Byrd and David Walkingstick. Councilors Cara Cowan Watts, Jack Baker, Julia Coates, Meredith Frailey, Don Garvin, Lee Keener, Burl Anglen and David Thornton opposed it.

In other action, a resolution for a “friendly” lawsuit against the Election Commission seeking a declaratory judgment regarding the Voter Amendment Act of 2012 was approved by a 12-5 vote.

The resolution’s language was amended because the council’s attorney, Dianne Barker Harrold, filed the lawsuit on Aug. 31. The lawsuit is one of two filed in the tribe’s District Court regarding the issue of reapportioning the council’s legislative districts from five to 15.

The second suit filed on Sept. 5 by Cowan Watts, Keener, Anglen, Coates and Baker seeks judgment and relief from the redistricting law they deem unconstitutional.

Hoskin said the two lawsuits seek the same outcome, to determine if the Voter Amendment Act is constitutional or not. “It’s incredible. Often we are butting heads about where we want to go. We actually want to go to the same place.”

Cowan Watts, Keener, Anglen, Baker and Coates voted against the resolution.

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.

Election

BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
07/08/2015 02:58 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court on July 8 granted a new election in the Dist. 14 Tribal Council race between William “Bill” Pearson and Keith Austin. The verbal ruling followed several hours of testimony in the appeal that Austin filed after losing the general election on June 27 by one vote and a recount on July 2 by six votes. The court ordered the tribe’s Election Commission to hold the new election as soon as possible but didn’t specify if that would be during the July 25 runoff. As of publication, EC officials said they had no comment as to when they would conduct the new election. The court did not issue a written opinion when it announced its decision, but justices said they would release one within the statutorily mandated timeframe. Austin filed the appeal on July 6 alleging that ballots were cast that should not have been accepted, ballots were cast that should have been accepted and two absentee ballot envelopes could not be found. “There is one challenged ballot that was rejected that should have been accepted; there are eight voters who live outside of Dist. 14 who are incorrectly registered to vote in Dist. 14 who voted; there are two voters who voted by absentee who ballots were rejected that should have been accepted; there is one voter whose absentee ballot was accepted, but the commission cannot locate his affidavit envelope and there are two absentee voters who the commission has not given voter credit to,” the appeal states. “For the forgoing reasons, it is apparent that the results of this election cannot be determined with mathematical certainty and Petitioner Austin requests that the Court order a new election.” Austin said this election was just too close to accurately discern what the will of the people was. "That is why the Supreme Court, after examining all the evidence, decided that our best course of action is to hold another election in Tribal Council District 14 and give the people another chance to make their voice heard," he added. Pearson said, “my opinion is to go forward and try to increase the margin (of victory).” Check back with the Cherokee Phoenix for further developments.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
07/03/2015 12:48 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to certified recount results, Wanda Hatfield and Betsy Swimmer are still the top two vote-getters who will face each other in the July 25 runoff for the At-Large Tribal Council seat. Following the June 27 general election, Election Commission officials posted results showing Hatfield leading with 25.94 percent of the ballots cast at 1,057 votes. Swimmer was second with 18.9 percent or 770 votes. Following the July 2 recount, Hatfield continued to lead with 1,057 votes, but Swimmer lost seven votes to finish with 763. The Cherokee Phoenix attempted to learn what happened to the seven votes, but as of press time EC officials were unavailable for comment. Swimmer said she was confident the EC had valid numbers. “So I’m pleased that it came out like it did,” she said. “I’m pressing forward and I plan to win the election.” Hatfield said the top three finishers remained the same with the recount and congratulated Swimmer on being in the runoff. “It has been a great experience and the next three weeks will be extremely busy reaching out to the At-Large Cherokee citizens,” she added. Candidate Shane Jett, who requested the recount, received 717 votes in the general election, but saw his vote count lowered to 713 in the recount. Jett said with the 2015 election being his first venture into Cherokee politics it was a learning experience, especially the importance of voters ensuring they cast their ballots correctly. “They (EC) had to throw away over 350 absentee ballots because they either did not sign them, notarize them or fill them out properly. So those votes were never counted,” he said. “It’s important that people slow down and make sure their vote counts. I hope everyone gets out and votes for their candidate of choice because their (Cherokee) Nation is worth it.” The EC performed the recount with CN Supreme Court justices present before certifying the results. Runoff absentee ballots will be mailed on July 13-14 and the runoff election will take place on July 25. All successful candidates are to be sworn into office on Aug. 14, according to the CN election timeline.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
07/02/2015 11:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to the certified results from a July 2 recount, William “Bill” Pearson has beaten Keith Austin by six votes to win the Dist. 14 Tribal Council seat. Original certified results from the June 27 general election showed Pearson receiving 534 votes for 50.5 percent of the ballots cast, while Austin garnered 533 votes for 49.95 percent. Austin filed for a recount, which the tribe’s Election Commission performed. After that recount, Pearson had 525 votes for 50.2 percent compared to Austin’s 519 votes at 49.7 percent. The votes tabulated during the recount consisted of precinct, absentee, early absentee and precinct challenged. The recount had 23 votes less compared to the original count. EC officials said that occurred because of human error when inputting votes. “The challenged ballots from the districts were processed on Sunday (June 28) beginning at ”1 p.m. through 12:11 a.m. on Monday and resulted in 349 out of approximately 700 challenged ballots being accepted,” an EC statement reads. “The 349 ballots were then fed through a voting machine that was pre-defined for absentees, to get the vote count for the various races and candidates. The card from the machine was then placed in the computer to print out the challenged vote results. And unbeknownst to the operator it recorded the ballots as absentee votes then the operator took the printout of challenged ballots and manually entered them for the appropriate race and candidate, resulting in the 349 votes being entered twice.” The EC statement also reads that once this was discovered, those votes entered into the machine under absentee were removed. The challenged votes that were correctly placed in districts remained in those districts. “Resulting in the 349 being correctly counted,” the release stated. The Cherokee Phoenix contacted Pearson but he was unavailable for comment at the time of publication. In an email statement, Austin did not state whether he would appeal the recount results to the Supreme Court but that he appreciated the EC’s hard work. “They have the impossible job of determining a certifiable winner in a race that could not be closer,” Austin wrote. “Obviously, we want to work with the Election Commission and the Supreme Court to help determine that the election results are accurate. Cherokees took the time to vote because they have faith in our Nation. We owe it to them to ensure their intentions are honored and their votes count.” The EC certified the recount on July 2 in the presence of Supreme Court justices. Candidates have until July 6 to appeal election results with the Supreme Court. Provided there are any appeals, the Supreme Court would hear those cases July 7-9. Candidates elected to office during the general and runoff elections are expected to be sworn in Aug. 14, according to the tribe’s election timeline. The runoff election is set for July 25. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9410_ExplanationofRecalculationofVoteCount.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the Explanation of Recalculation of Vote Count document.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Phoenix Intern
06/29/2015 09:07 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Oka. – Shawn Crittenden defeated Corey Bunch for the Cherokee Nation’s District 8 Tribal Council seat in the June 27 general election. Crittenden won by a vote count of 486-307, according to certified results of the district’s three precincts. Those results showed Crittenden receiving 61.29 percent of the 793 ballots cast to Bunch’s 38.71 percent. “I’m mainly humbled and thankful for the folks in my district,” Crittenden said. “I had a lot of support and I thank the good Lord for the good feeling I have right now. I’m ready to get down to business with the people in my district. My plans are to be accessible and to stay on top of issues when folks need something, when they want to be heard. I want to do everything I can to show them I care and I’m going to work hard for them.” Bunch conceded the race in a Facebook post around midnight on June 28. “I want to congratulate Shawn Crittenden on winning the district 8 council seat. He ran a good and clean campaign and deserves the victory,” Bunch wrote. “I called and told him that I’m behind him 100% and that I would ask everyone else to do the same. I also want to say ‘Thank you’ to everyone who showed such kindness to me and my family for the past several months.” Dist. 8 covers the eastern part of Adair County, as well as much of its northern border. Crittenden is expected to be sworn into office on Aug. 14, the tribe’s inauguration day. The EC certified the results at 10:30 a.m. on June 29.
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
06/29/2015 01:33 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to certified results, At-Large Tribal Council candidates Wanda Hatfield and Betsy Swimmer will face each other in the July 25 runoff. Election Commission officials posted results showing Wanda Hatfield leading with 25.94 percent or 1,057 votes, while Betsy Swimmer was second with 18.9 or 770 votes. “We’re very excited about it,” Hatfield said. “We’re already planning what we’re going to do next.” Hatfield, from Oklahoma City, said the At-Large race was clean, respectful and all online comments were kind and professional. “It was a race that I feel like there were 10 very qualified candidates, and I think we all worked very hard,” she said. Swimmer, of Broken Arrow, said she felt privileged the Cherokee people have confidence in her. “I will work very, very hard to make sure that they have proper representation,” she said. “We had some really wonderful candidates running, so with that in mind I certainly feel like it’s a great honor to have been selected.” According to the certified results, the vote breakdown for the remaining At-Large candidates were: • Shane Jett with 17.6 percent or 717 votes, • Deborah Reed with 7.98 percent or 325 votes, • Tommy Jones with 6.82 percent or 278 votes, • Pamela Fox with 6.06 percent or 247 votes, • Benjamin McKee with 6.06 percent or 247 votes, • Linda Leaf-Bolin with 4.71 percent or 192 votes, • Darell R. Matlock Jr. with 4 percent or 163 votes, and • Trey Brown with 1.94 percent or 79 votes. The EC met on June 29 to certify the general election results. Runoff absentee ballots will be mailed on July 13-14 and the runoff election will take place on July 25. All successful candidates are set to be sworn into office on Aug. 14, according to the Cherokee Nation’s election timeline.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
06/29/2015 01:26 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to the certified election results of the June 27 general election, William “Bill” Pearson beat Keith Austin by one vote to win the Tribal Council’s Dist. 14 seat. Results show that Pearson received 534 votes for 50.05 percent of the ballots, while Austin received 533 votes for 49.95 percent. The Cherokee Phoenix contacted both candidates, but neither was available for comment at the time of publication. The EC certified the results at on June 29. Candidates have until 5 p.m. on July 1 to request a recount. Recounts are scheduled for July 2-3 with Supreme Court justices in attendance. The election appeals deadline is July 6. Provided there are any appeals, the Supreme Court will hear those cases July 7-9. Candidates who are elected to office during the general and runoff elections are expected to be sworn in Aug. 14, according to the tribe’s election timeline. The runoff election is set for July 25.