Willy and Billy’s Tobacco Shack on West Allen Road in Tahlequah, Okla., is one Cherokee Nation-regulated smoke shop that will receive a 75 percent subsidy from the tribe during fiscal year 2013 to help pay its monthly land lease agreement. The Tribal Council on Sept. 17 passed an act calling for the subsidy so that smoke shop operators can keep Cherokees employed and tobacco revenue coming to the tribe. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Councilors pass smoke shops subsidy act
Tobacco products are displayed at Willy and Billy’s Tobacco Shack on West Allen Road in Tahlequah, Okla. The shop is a Cherokee Nation-regulated smoke shop that will receive a 75 percent subsidy from the tribe during fiscal year 2013 to help pay its monthly land lease agreement. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Councilors unanimously passed an act on Sept. 17 that calls for subsidizing 75 percent of monthly land lease payments for operators of certain Cherokee Nation-regulated smoke shops.
“One of the burdens the retailers face is the payments they make each month to landowners. So in a situation like this you have someone that operates the smoke shop. The land on which they operate is land held in trust for a Cherokee. A lease payment is paid from the shop operator…to the landowner,” Tribal Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr. said.
He said Legislative Act 12-109 calls for the subsidies to be disbursed only for fiscal year 2013, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, 2013.
According to Cherokee Nation Tax Commission records, the commission regulates 52 operational smoke shops. However, only 37 shops will be eligible for the subsidy because 15 are owned by Cherokee Nation Businesses.
Treasurer Lacey Horn said the subsidies are expected to total nearly $725,000 and come from the tribe’s General Fund, which will receive FY 2011 carryover to cover the subsidies.
Hoskin said the subsidy amount each smoke shop operator will receive is based on individual land lease agreements. He said the subsidy would “free up” cash for operators and allow them to keep their doors open, Cherokees employed and revenue coming to the Nation.
“They employee a lot of Cherokees, and they pay lease payments for the most part to Cherokee landowners,” Hoskin said. “So there’s a lot of economic activity that’s generated by our smoke shops that benefit the Cherokee people, but we know that they’re struggling.”
He said one reason why smoke shops struggle is because the tribe’s tobacco compact with the state restricts how the Nation can help CNTC-regulated smoke shops.
“The current tobacco compact, which comes up for negotiation next year, was generally considered not to be a good compact for the retailers,” Hoskin said. “They’ve struggled under it, and there’s other market forces at play – neighboring tribes, and of course, you’ve got the big players in the industry. So there’s a lot of market pressure on these smoke shops.”
He added that some shops have closed and others are near closing, which will result in more lost revenue and jobs. Hoskin said the legislation should help operators bridge the gap until a better tobacco compact is signed next year.
According to the tribe’s FY 2011 audit, tobacco tax revenues have decreased from $7 million in FY 2006 to $3.99 million in FY 2011.
The Cherokee Phoenix contacted several smoke shop operators for statements but was told they did not know enough about the legislation to comment.
Councilors also unanimously passed an act that allows armed security staff at Cherokee casinos.
Previously, the only armed security officers at the casinos were reserve marshals. However, the new act allows any CNE security personnel to become armed.
Also, councilors unanimously confirmed Linda O’Leary, Betty Barker and Farrell Mackey Prater as CN Registration Committee members.
918-453-5000, ext. 6139
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Aug. 10, six outgoing Tribal Councilors, who either termed out or gave up their seat, were honored with plaques during their last day of meetings.
Former Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory Jordan thanked her constituents for entrusting her as their representative.
“I believe we’ve made the situation a little better for them. I’m very proud of what we did for the Head Start Program,” she said. “I love the fact that we’ve given out more scholarships this year than we’ve ever given out before. And if you can educate a young person that’s really all they ever want from the tribe because they’re go on, they’ll be productive and they’ll take care of their families.”
She said she loves that the tribe is building houses again and receiving one is a life-changing event.
“We’ll never be able to build enough houses, but we’re getting there. As you have people that you satisfy on the program, you have five more that are coming on to the program. But I love the fact that we’re building houses again,” Jordan said.
Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts said she hopes she left the tribe a little better with her service during the past 12 years.
“I know I am a better person for having served and am thankful for the experience,” she said. “I will continue to pray for the Cherokee Nation and our government and business staff who work diligently throughout the year to serve our Nation. My thoughts and prayers are with them as they make decisions for the Nation.”
She added that she would continue her community service by working with Native students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and scholarships.
Tribal Councilor Janelle Fulbright said one of the best things she’s seen happen within the CN during her eight years on council was the construction of the new Redbird Smith Clinic and dialysis center in Sallisaw.
“And I just consider it a privilege to serve, a privilege and an honor, and I’ve greatly enjoyed my eight years. “The newly elected council members, I have great confidence in them that they will carry on and be very responsive to the needs of our people,” she said.
Tribal Councilor Lee Keener said he was humbled and honored to represent the Cherokee people.
“It’s been an awesome experience. One of the best experiences of my life. I’ve learned a lot. I wish every Cherokee citizen could experience being on council so they could understand their government and what goes on,” he said. “I hope that I’ve done it to the best of my ability as far as voting, and it’s been a very good education for me and I’ll have it with me for the rest of my life.”
Tribal Councilors Jodie Fishinghawk and Julia Coates said a few words regarding their service to the tribe during the Aug. 10 Tribal Council meeting.
Fishinghawk said she wanted to thank Adair, Delaware and Ottawa counties for the privilege to serve.
“Thank you to the great employees we have over hear at the Nation,” she added.
Coates said it has been an honor to serve on the behalf of the At-Large people.
“I’ve said it at so many community meetings. It takes a lot of effort for the At-Large folks to remain involved and to remain connected, and it’s very gratifying to see how very many of them do continue to make that effort. I’ve tried to advocate as strongly as I possible could on your behalf,” she said. “And I appreciate the trust and honor that you have given me in these eight years and I hope I have fulfilled your trust in me.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During an Aug. 17 Rules Committee meeting, Tribal Councilors chose new chairs and co-chairs for their six standing committees.
The new committee leaders follow the election of eight Tribal Councilors in June and July. Five of those eight legislators are new to the Tribal Council.
Dist. 2 Tribal Councilor and former Principal Chief Joe Byrd was elected as speaker of the 17-member body. Byrd also serves as chairman of the Rules Committee.
Dist. 5 Tribal Councilor David Thornton was initially chosen as deputy speaker, but he withdrew his name. Dist. 11 Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez was then chosen as deputy speaker.
Dist. 7 Tribal Councilor Frankie Hargis was chosen as the body’s secretary. She was also chosen as co-chairwoman of the Rules Committee, and is the new chairwoman of the Health Committee. New Dist. 6 Tribal Councilor Bryan Warner was chosen as co-chairman of the Health Committee.
Dist. 3 Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick will serve as chairman of the Education Committee, and Dist. 4 Tribal Councilor Don Garvin will serve as co-chairman.
Dist. 15 Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor was chosen to chair the Executive & Finance Committee, while Dist. 14 Councilor Keith Austin was chosen as co-chairman. Dist. 12 Tribal Councilor Dick Lay will continue as chairman of the Community Services Committee, and Dist. 10 Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard will serve as co-chairman.
Dist. 9 Tribal Councilor Curtis Snell also will continue to chair the Resources Committee, and new Dist. 1 Tribal Councilor Rex Jordan will co-chair that committee.
Councilors also serve as advisory members on the Cherokee Nation Businesses board of directors. Current members include Byrd, Hargis, Snell and Thornton. Vazquez, Jordan, Austin and new At-Large Tribal Councilor Wanda Hatfield were added as advisory board members during the Aug. 17 meeting.
Warner then nominated former Dist. 6 Tribal Councilor Janelle Fullbright to serve on the CNB board.
Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said Fullbright would make the board “even stronger than it is.”
Fullbright said she believed she was well-qualified for the position because she served on the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission for nine years and attended many gaming seminars and workshops regarding tribal gaming. She also served on the Tribal Council for eight years with her second term ending on Aug. 14. Fullbright was unanimously confirmed to the CNB board.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At the Aug. 10 meeting, Tribal Councilors unanimously approved the Cherokee Nation’s fiscal year 2016 Indian Housing Plan that asks the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for money for tribal housing programs.
According to the IHP, the tribe is requesting $28.6 million to disperse to housing programs such as overcrowded households, college student housing and housing rehabilitation.
In an earlier committee meeting, Community Services Executive Director Ron Qualls said the FY 2016 funding is almost identical to FY 2015. Qualls added that it is important to realize “the funding that is being budgeted for the upcoming 2016 fiscal year is the 2015 (FY) funds.”
“I can’t recall exactly when the 2015 funds came in. I believe it might have been January or February of last year. That’s the reason that we always prepare the Indian Housing Plan on the previous year’s funds,” he said. “We’re coming up on 2016 fiscal year, and the 2016 funds are, as far as I can say, nowhere in sight. It’s the way the federal government works as far as the budget goes. We just don’t know when the budget will be approved, so we always work on prior year’s funds. That way we have the funds.”
Qualls said in prior years funds have been received anywhere from three to five months late.
Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard said he would like to see more funding for Project-Based College Housing Assistance. The fund is currently at $601,865.
“College is really important to our young kids. The more we can get in college, the better off we’re going to be in the long term,” he said. “If we can increase that up to $800, $900,000 next year, I think I’d help us all. I’d like to see the college fund increased, if at all possible. I realize that something else will have to take a hit if we do increase this. I just think college education is going to be the key for our kids to be successful.”
Tribal Councilor David Thornton asked if money was a problem when it came to building homes under the Homeownership Replacement Home Program.
“We put $1.4 million in replacement homes and we build about 15 a year, from what I understand,” he said. “Is there any reason we can’t build more than 15 except for money?”
David Pruitt, Housing Services/Housing Rehabilitation director, said there isn’t enough money.
“I know a couple, three years back we took discretionary funding and added it to that program,” Thornton said. “When we do the budget we need to go through and check on that and see if we can’t help some of these people that need replacement homes because their homes are so deteriorated and in bad shape that they can’t live in it. We have to tear the things down and replace them. There’s several of them out there in my district, Cherokee County and Adair County that need replaced.”
Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory Jordan said the program needs more funding because it serves the neediest people.
“If we take money and put it there by just moving it around in this NAHASDA (Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 1996) budget, it is going to take funding away from another program that also truly believes, and we believe, is serving the neediest of our people,” she said. “It’s a balancing act.”
She said if a program needs more money than another, its budget could be amended monthly.
“This was something that was hard for me to learn eight years ago. I wanted to make all those changes right then, but then I learned that you could, on a monthly basis, amend your Indian Housing Plan as you saw it fit for your people,” she said.
Tribal Councilors also approved a grant submission to the Special Diabetes Program for Indians. According to the resolution, the CN has been an SDPI grant recipient since the program’s inception in 1997. Since then, the CN “has utilized SDPI funding to provide a wide range of services, staffing, equipment and supplies for the prevention and treatment of diabetes for the past 18 years,” the resolution states.
It also states that numerous CN citizens and patients at CN health facilities have benefited from the program.
“This grant program has been a blessing to the Cherokee Nation and allowed our health care system to provide critical services to thousands of diabetic citizens,” Tribal Councilor Janelle Fullbright said. “With the continuation of funding, our diabetes program will continue to reduce the number of diabetes patients in the Cherokee Nation and educate our citizens on diabetes prevention.”
Legislators also approved a resolution accepting trust land status for five acres near the Oaks Mission School (Rocky Ford) in northern Cherokee County.
Councilors also unanimously authorized the tribe’s Information Technology Department to donate surplus office equipment to Moffett Police Department in Sequoyah County.
In other news, Tribal Councilors Glory Jordan, Fullbright, Jodie Fishinghawk, Cara Cowan Watts, Lee Keener and Julia Coates were each given time to say a few words about their time serving on the legislative branch.
Cowan Watts, who served from 2003-11, said she is honored to have been able to represent the tribe and its citizens, especially those in Rogers and Tulsa counties.
“At times even when it was a challenge it was truly a blessing, and I’ll always look at this part of my life as something that was successful,” she said. “I want to say particularly that I appreciate the staff of our government and businesses who quietly serve the Cherokee Nation, our people, often without fanfare each day. You are noticed, not just by elected leadership, but by our constituents and those that you serve with such passion. I’ll miss my colleagues who graciously served with me, consistently extended their hand in friendship and respect. You will be missed in my daily work life as I return to my engineering career. I pray for all levels of leadership throughout the Cherokee Nation and wish our tribe and community much success as we move forward.”
Watts served as the deputy speaker of the Tribal Council and co-chair of the Executive and Finance Committee from 2007-11.
Fishinghawk, who served for two consecutive terms, said she would like to thank all the employees who work for the tribe, among others.
“I’d like to thank Adair County, and I guess Delaware and Ottawa county at one time, for allowing me the privilege to serve you all,” she said.
Beginning in 2011, Fishinghawk served as the chairwoman of the Executive Finance Committee until the end of her term.
On Aug. 14, eight Tribal Councilors, along with Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, were slated to be sworn into office. The Tribal Councilors are Rex Jordan (Dist. 1), David Walkingstick (Dist. 3), Bryan Warner (Dist. 6), Shawn Crittenden (Dist. 8), Dick Lay (Dist. 12), Buel Anglen (Dist. 13), Keith Austin (Dist. 14) and Wanda Claphan Hatfield (At-Large).
The inauguration is slated for 10:30 a.m. at The Place Where They Play at Sequoyah High School.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During the July 29 Resources Committee meeting, officials with the tribe’s Management Resources announced that the department had put in a request for the purchase of 50 additional bison from the Badlands Bison Roundup.
“There is a surplus of bison in the Badlands and they’re going to do another round up,” Executive Director Bruce Davis said. “They expect another 600 to 700 head. It doesn’t mean that we will get 50 because they are 60 tribes vying for them, but we were lucky enough last year to get them. I think we’ll get some.”
He said there have also been placement requests made for the potential influx of bison such as in Sallisaw, near the Cherokee Heritage Center and the Jack Brown Center.
Davis indicated that some of the bison calves already located within Cherokee Nation would eventually be cut from the herd and placed in a feeder program for slaughter. Heifers in the herd would be kept as cows until such time they were also appropriate for slaughter.
Tribal Councilors expressed concerns over how the bison are tested for diseases, including brucellosis, but Management Resources officials said the herd has been kept in isolation to test before being moved.
Officials also said they have also drafted a cattle operation proposal that would be presented at a later date.
“We would love to start a cattle herd,” Davis said. “We have the property and the hay. We have the meats to take care of them, and we have the personnel.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Councilors on July 30 confirmed nominations to the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board and the Cherokee Nation Comprehensive Care Agency board.
Cherokee Nation citizen Lauren Jones joined the Editorial Board with a vote of 15-1 with Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts voting against her. Tribal Councilor Jodie Fishinghawk absent.
According to Jones’ resume, she is the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma public relations senior supervisor. Her duties include writing, editing, proofing and coordinating design and production for targeted communication pieces in the health care industry.
The Tribal Council also unanimously approved Luka E. Madison’s nomination as a governing board member of the CN Comprehensive Care Agency, or PACE.
“I’m excited to serve the Cherokee Nation on the board for the all inclusive care of the elderly, and I look forward to contributing to leadership through governance,” Madison said.
According to Madison’s resume, she is the nursing supervisor at Northeastern Health System in Tahlequah, and in 2012 she received a master’s degree in nursing. Madison also serves on the Northeastern Oklahoma Health Centers board of directors.
According to the CN Comprehensive Care Agency Organic Act, the board was created in 2004 within the tribe’s executive branch to establish a government agency to access resources unavailable to existing health programs and to take advantage of future opportunities to better serve the health needs of both tribal citizens and others in the community.
Tribal Councilors also amended the tribe’s comprehensive operating budget for fiscal year 2015 by increasing it by $1.3 million for a total of $646.8 million. According to the act, the tribe received $312,689 in grants and made a modification request of $1,072,399. The modification request includes an increase in the General Fund of $682,566, an increase in the Motor Fuel Tax budget of $300,000 and an increase in the Department of Interior-Self Governance budget of $89,833.
After amending the agenda, legislators also amended the tribe’s comprehensive capital budget by increasing it by $3.7 million in the Capital Projects budget for a total of $128.9 million. According to the budget, the increased amount will go towards the Tribal Complex construction.
Also, after amending the agenda, Tribal Councilors amended the comprehensive operating budget again by increasing it by $17.1 million for a total of $663.9 million. According to the act, the tribe received $7.6 million in grants and made a modification request of $9.5 million. The modification request includes a decrease in the General Fund of $280,772, an increase in the Indirect Cost Pool budget of $478,277, an increase in the Enterprise budget of $300,000, an increase in the DOI-Self Governance budget of $245,264, an increase in the DOI-General budget of $284,926, an increase in the Indian Health Services-Self Governance Health budget of $8.2 million and an increase in the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act budget of $305,476.
<strong>During the 6 p.m. May 11, 2015 Tribal Council meeting, Councilors discussed:</strong>
• A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE LOCATION OF THE 2015 ELECTION POLLING PLACES
Councilor Fullbright moved to approve. Councilor Hargis seconded the motion. The motion carried with no opposition.
• A RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE PROPOSED CHANGES MADE BY THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS TO STRENGTHEN THE INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT OF 1978
Councilor Thornton raised question regarding the polling places and a location missing from the list in Sallisaw. Speaker Glory Jordan requested to revisit this item at the end of this meeting and allow time for the Election Commissioner to check on the location in question.
Councilor Hargis moved to approve. Councilor Thornton seconded the motion. The motion carried with no opposition.
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9486_May11TribalCouncilMinutes.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the May 11, 2015 Tribal Council meeting minutes.
<strong>During the 6 p.m. May 28, 2015 Special Tribal Council meeting called by Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Councilors discussed:</strong>
•A LEGISLATIVE ACT RELATING TO AND APPROVING A COMPACT TO BE KNOWN AS THE "HUNTING AND FISHING COMPACT BETWEEN THE CHEROKEE NATION AND THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA"
Councilor Vazquez moved to approve. Councilor Hargis seconded the motion. Speaker Glory Jordan stated lengthy discussion was just held on this item in committee and requested those comments stand.
Councilor Hargis called for the question. Councilor Snell seconded the motion. The motion carried with the following roll call vote:
??Council of the Cherokee Nation
?Yea: 10 - Dick Lay;Jodie Fishinghawk;Janelle Fullbright;Tina Glory Jordan;Joe Byrd;David Thornton, Sr. ;Frankie Hargis ;Curtis Snell;Janees Taylor and Victoria Vazquez
Nay: 5 - Lee Keener Jr.;Cara Cowan Watts;Don Garvin;Harley Buzzard and Jack D. Baker
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9486_May28TribalCouncilMinutes.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the May 28, 2015 Special Tribal Council meeting minutes.
<strong>During the 6 p.m. April 13, 2015 Tribal Council meeting, Councilors discussed:</strong>
• AN ACT AMENDING LEGISLATIVE ACT #25-14 AUTHORIZING THE COMPREHENSIVE OPERATING BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2015 - MOD. 9; AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY
Councilor Taylor moved to approve. Councilor Cowan Watts seconded the motion. The motion carried by acclimation.
• A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE SUBMISSION OF A SPECIAL GRANT APPLICATION FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR, OFFICE OF INDIAN ENERGY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (IEED), ENERGY AND MINERALS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Councilor Fullbright moved to approve. Councilor Thornton seconded the motion. The motion carried.
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9486_June15TribalCouncilMinutes.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the June 15, 2015 Tribal Council meeting minutes.