http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgA map of the Cherokee Nation’s property around the old Chilocco Indian Boarding School in Kay County in central Oklahoma. CNB WIND PROJECT PRESENTATION
A map of the Cherokee Nation’s property around the old Chilocco Indian Boarding School in Kay County in central Oklahoma. CNB WIND PROJECT PRESENTATION

Tribe pushes forward with wind farm

Former Reporter
05/24/2013 08:58 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During the past 10 years, the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses have considered entering the wind energy business. On May 13, Tribal Councilors authorized the tribe to move forward on a wind farm project in Kay County.

The authorization allows tribal officials to enter into leases with PNE Wind USA for the placement of 90 turbines on 6,000 acres, 3,000 of which is CN-owned, near the former Chilocco Indian Agricultural School. The tribe is expected to earn approximately $16 million in 20 years.

History of Chilocco Wind Farm

According to tribal documents, the wind farm was conceived as a Cherokee project, but CNB did not pursue it alone. After discussions with possible developers, CNB selected PNE Wind USA, a North American subsidiary of PNE Wind in Germany.

“PNE was the only developer not to require CNB to pay up-front for the evaluation and development of the project,” tribal documents state. “A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between PNE and CNB to develop the Chilocco Wind Project in September 2010.”

From 2003-09, CNB received from the Energy and Interior departments approximately $581,000 for predevelopment of a wind farm. In 2010, CNB received a grant from the Energy Department totaling $990,550. According to documents, CNB has received $1.57 million in federal grants for the project.
In addition to the grants, CNB has spent $588,000 on the project, while PNE has spent $1.26 million.

Documents show that on Jan. 11 CNB contacted Cimarron Power Ventures to review project agreements and provide recommendations. CPV is a consulting subsidiary of Walters Power International LLC in Oklahoma City. Former Oklahoma Gov. David Walters owns WPI.

According to tribal documents, the review resulted in an increase in CN’s returns beyond those anticipated when the Tribal Council voted to approve the project and two types of leases on Dec. 10. CNB and CN officials reviewed the findings and CPV followed up with the council’s Resource Committee on March 11.

CNB hired former Principal Chief Ross Swimmer as a government relations officer in 2009. During that time he helped develop business opportunities, one being the wind project.

“I worked on probably $30 to $50 million worth of business development that came into the businesses,” Swimmer said. “As I was doing that though, I was made aware of this particular project by a lady named Carol Wyatt. Carol had actually worked a little bit with the Kaw Nation that owns a tract of land at Chilocco back in about 2000 or 2001. And the Kaw had decided that they would like to do a wind farm on their portion of the Chilocco land. At that time there really wasn’t any federal money to do renewable energy. Carol had brought that idea with her to Cherokee Nation Businesses when she was hired as a technician there and said you know ‘maybe this is something the Cherokee Nation would like to pursue or Cherokee Nation Businesses.”

Swimmer said he’s glad to hear the tribe is continuing with the wind farm but voiced concern that the project has moved from CNB to CN.

“The one major advantage that we have always had, and I started it in the 1970s, is to insure that there is a bright line between business and politics,” he said. “And when that bright line gets blurred and we see business kind of going directly to the Cherokee Nation and visa versa then that can cause problems. I would rather see the project developed strictly as a business opportunity with CNB and managed over the years and frankly that CNB would own it.”

According to tribal documents, CN requested that it rather CNB be the contracting party so that all proceeds go directly to CN upon achieving commercial operations and the sale of the investors. CN therefore retains 100 percent of the proceeds and not a 35 percent cash dividend, documents state.
“This transition will also simplify the contracting since CN has the leases and CNB had the development agreements,” documents state.

With the current project setup, the tribe expects to make a $16 million in 20 years for its General Fund, records show.

Project Ownership

According to tribal documents, PNE Wind USA owns Chilocco Wind Farm LLC, which is the special purpose vehicle used as the project’s development entity.

Phase 1 of the project calls for CWF holding the ground and wind resource leases from CN. Phase 2 involves PNE holding similar leases issued by the Ponca, Pawnee, Kaw and Otoe-Missouri tribes that cover their portions of the Chilocco lands.

PNE will sell the project to investors after its completion and it has achieved commercial operations. Documents state that PNE guarantees the project’s construction and performance and may stay on as operator but not as an owner. Owners of CWF will include General Electric Finance Corp., as the tax equity investor. So far an equity investor has not been signed onto the project. A final participant includes the banks and investors that are loaning the debt portion of the project’s financing.

Debt financing extends over a 31-year period. Except for debt service requirements, GE and the pension fund will take 99 percent of the available tax earnings and cash flow in the early years, with the equity owner entitled to 1 percent of the cash flow. Once their investment is repaid, plus their margin, GE and the owner will flip positions, with GE earning 1 percent of the cash flows and the equity owner earning 99 percent. Debt service requirements will be paid out of total cash flows before payout to GE or the equity owner. The equity owner will own 99 percent of the project once GE and the pension fund achieve payout, with GE owning 1 percent.

Later, there may be an opportunity for CN to take on ownership of the project. According to tribal documents, “CPV is currently reviewing the option of CN borrowing the equity required to own the project, recourse only to the project, and have the equity loan retired from the tax savings that result from CN’s ownership.”

“This is still in the exploration stage. As an overview, PNE has offered CN the opportunity to own 99 percent of CWP, which includes both Phases 1 and 2,” documents state. “If CWP’s project finance structure is as outlined above, CN would own 99 percent of CWP but initially only have a claim to 1 percent of the cash flows.”

If that occurs, after 10 years, when GE and the equity loan are fully repaid, plus margin, CN would be entitled to 99 percent of the cash flows and see significant earnings materialize. The financial forecasts suggests that this type of ownership would generate approximately $200 million over 20 years with a net present value (discounted at 10 percent) of approximately $42 million, documents state.

Tribal Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the current deal, estimated at $16 million for the tribe, was better than previous deals considered by the Nation and probably the best deal it could get.

“I can tell you that one of the reasons the council took as long as it did to get to this point…is that there was a lot of discussion about improving the deal, and it has improved,” Hoskin said. “So I do think that we’ve got really the best deal we can get.”

The legislation that passed earlier on May 13 included a limited waiver of sovereignty that was necessary, Hoskin said, to allow Chilocco Wind Farm LLC to bring action if the tribe defaulted under its lease terms.

If a claim were brought against the tribe, it would allow Chilocco Wind Farm LLC to access the Chilocco lands to retrieve its possessions, Hoskin said.

Hoskin said this is a great venture for the tribe because it allows it to use an under-utilized resource.

“The land we have out in the Chilocco area, number one, it’s a good use of our resources which we should always improve upon. Number two, it makes us a leader in renewable energy,” he said. “This will be the largest wind power project of any tribe in the U.S., and it’s really fitting that Cherokee Nation be a leader on this. We are leaders in so many areas. Why shouldn’t we be a leader in renewable energy while at the same time generating millions of dollars for the people?”

Hoskin said there is not presently a plan in place to deliver the electric to the tribe or any of its entities. The power would be fed into the power grid for power companies to utilize and purchase.



09/22/2017 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – For World War II veteran Jack Shamblin, being on this year’s Cherokee Warrior Flight is more than a trip. It’s another chance to visit the grave of his grandson, Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, who was killed by ISIS and laid to rest at Arlington Cemetery in 2015. He is among eight Cherokee veterans who will leave for the nation’s capital to visit several war memorials and tour the Capitol building as part of the Cherokee Nation’s fourth annual Cherokee Warrior Flight. At 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa a special dinner in the Sky Room will honor the veterans. The three World War II veterans, three Korean War veterans and two Vietnam veterans will be presented with vests and hats with Cherokee Warrior Flight patches from Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden. “It’s quite an honor to be recognized by the Cherokee Nation, and I look forward to sharing this trip with Joshua’s brother, Zack,” Shamblin, 90, of Roland, said. “I love this country, and I am thankful to the Cherokee Nation for everything they have done for my family and for so many other veterans.” The flight departs at 6:30 a.m. from Tulsa International Airport for Washington, D.C., on Monday. From Sept. 25-27, the veterans will tour Arlington National Cemetery, the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Wall and the U.S. Capitol before arriving back in Tulsa at 10:15 p.m. on Wednesday. “This trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a lot of our veterans, and one of the most important ways we can show our gratitude for their service,” Crittenden, a U.S. Navy veteran, said. “This year’s veterans represent a variety of service over many decades and many stories, and I feel honored to share this experience with each of them.” World War II veteran Wayne Kellehan, 92, of Claremore, said he is looking forward to sharing everything about the trip with his daughter, Carolyn, who is going as his chaperone. “I was so surprised to be invited on the Cherokee Warrior Flight,” Kellehan, who was a corporal in the U.S. Army, said. “It sure means a lot to me to go, and I am excited to see all that there is to see.” Also on the flight are two Vietnam veteran brothers, who had planned to attend with their third brother, but he recently died. The Cherokee Warrior Flight’s mission is similar to the national Honor Flight organization’s goal of helping all veterans, willing and able, to see the memorials that were erected in their honor. With more than 4,000 military veterans who are CN citizens, the CN is replicating that experience for its people. The veterans participating on the 2017 Cherokee Warrior Flight consist of: • Jack Shamblin, 90, Army Air Force, of Roland, World War II • Wayne Kellehan, 92, Army, of Claremore, World War II • Johnnie Crittenden, 92, Army, of Burbank, California, World War II • John Swimmer, 84, Army, of Vian, Korean War • Granvill “Buck” Murray, 84, Army, of Claremore, Korean War • Jim Quetone, 86, Army, of Tahlequah, Korean War • Ray Grass, 70, Navy, Air Force, of Locust Grove, Vietnam War • Russell Grass, 73, Navy, of Walnut Creek, California, Vietnam War.
09/21/2017 04:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – In honor of the U.S. Air Force’s past seven decades of service, Cherokee Nation Technology Solutions recently partnered with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center to honor its branch’s contributions to civil engineering. The effort is part of a broader Air Force anniversary campaign to highlight multiple generations of Airmen and their service to our country. “Civil engineers have been positioning the Air Force to fly, fight and win for 70 years,” John Hansen, CNTS operations general manager, said. “We are honored to have the opportunity to help showcase their achievements and heritage through our support of AFCEC’s ‘70 Years of Civil Engineers Leading the Way’ campaign.” CNTS, a company within the consulting sector of Cherokee Nation Businesses, designed commemorative posters, artwork and web pages highlighting significant eras in Air Force civil engineering history. The campaign highlights airfield support for the Korean conflict, establishment of highly mobile, heavy-construction squadrons known as Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer or RED HORSE, construction of the Vandenberg Space Launch Complex and support for the Gulf and Afghanistan wars. The civil engineer posters are available through AFCEC for use by Air Force installations around the world. The U.S. Air Force was officially formed into its own military branch on Sept.18, 1947. The date is commonly referred to as the Air Force’s birthday and is celebrated annually. For more information on CNTS, email <a href="mailto:"></a>.
News Writer
09/21/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tribal Council unanimously passed the Cherokee Nation’s $895 million comprehensive budget for fiscal year 2018 at its Sept. 11 meeting. The comprehensive budget is comprised of the operating budget, used for tribal expenses and costs, approved at $648.3 million, plus the capital appropriations budget, which includes land purchases and construction of facilities and roads, approved at $246.7 million. In 2016, the Tribal Council’s Executive & Finance Committee approved its largest-ever beginning budget at $934.2 million for FY 2017. “The fiscal year 2018 budget has decreased by $39,209,252 primarily in the capital budget due to the ongoing construction of the Cherokee Nation Hastings joint venture project,” CN Treasurer Lacey Horn said. The W.W. Hastings Hospital joint venture project with Indian Health Services broke ground in February. Construction of the 469,000-square-foot addition in Tahlequah is expected to be completed in 2019. Horn said budget reductions in FY 2018 include a $250,000 reduction to the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation’s Housing Accessibility program; a $129,500 reduction for the completion of the Ketcher Youth Shelter repair; a $467,548 reduction for the CN Tax Commission; a $273,871 reduction for the Tribal Election Fund for the off-year election budget; and a $199,338 reduction for the secretary of Natural Resources for one-time funding. The new budget increases Health Services’ funds by $1.4 million for a total budget of $279 million, and One Fire Victim Services Office will receive an increase of $47,800 to help more victims of assault and domestic abuse. Other department increases include $147,221 for the Supreme Court for space cost and moving to the W.W. Keeler Complex’s second floor; a $276,187 increase for the CN Gaming Commission for a full year of career ladder changes; funding shifts for Registration at $857,904 and the Marshal Service’s Cherokee Nation Entertainment contract at $1.2 million. Horn said two new programs were recently granted funds through the General Fund with $132,150 going to the Tribal Historic Preservation Office and $126,053 to the Kawi Café for a one-year pilot project that was previously funded by federal grants with a continuation stipulation. Also included in the FY 2018 budget was $8 million in tribal and grant funds to be used for the preservation and protection of clean water. “As the chair of the Executive and Finance Committee, it is important to me that each Tribal Councilor fully understands each section of the budget,” Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor said. “We took our time going over every department, and in the end, the budget was passed without opposition. The full support of the council is an indication of this body’s desire to continue to serve the Cherokee people in the spirit of unity. I am proud of our ability to work together for the good of all of our citizens.” For more information on previous budgets and reports, visit <a href=" " target="_blank"></a>.
CNHI News Oklahoma
09/21/2017 10:00 AM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Questions on whether the Cherokee Nation has been misusing housing funds for college scholarships has led to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD is investigating whether the CN misused funds when it used Native American Housing and Self Determination Act money for the tribe’s Cherokee Promise Scholarship recipients since 2010, said Patricia Campbell, a regional public affairs officer for HUD. “SWONAP (Southwest Office of Native American Programs) office in OKC has not determined whether or not the funds were improperly used,” Campbell said in a recent email. “They have put the Nation on their list to audit in FY (fiscal year) 2018 (which starts Oct. 1). They do not have a scheduled date at this time. They tell me the tribal leaders have been very cooperative and are reviewing the situation themselves.” Amanda Clinton, CN Communications director, said CN officials have looked at the situation and believe that the funds used were allowable. “The Cherokee Nation Higher Education Department funds a portion of their scholars program out of the NAHASDA program identified in Section 18.2 of the Indian Housing Plan. The NAHASDA funding is specific to what is outlined in the IHP,” she said in a written statement. The CN did not provide any copies of the Indian Housing Plan to the Muskogee Phoenix. However, a copy of the tribe’s 2014 report to HUD found online at indicates Section 18.2 is titled “Project-based College Housing Assistance.” The program description is: “To provide housing and everything required by the college to attend and live on the campus of Northeastern State University or Rogers State University.” The intended use is: “Payment of all required expenses and fees for living on the college campus including room and tuition.” Clinton said that annual reports of the tribe’s use of NAHASDA funds have not raised any red flags with authorities in the past. The question was raised after 98 freshmen Cherokee Promise Scholarship applicants intending to attend NSU, RSU and Connors State College received letters in early August that said: “Due to a reinterpretation of federal guidelines, a significant portion of the scholarship package is no longer available.” Subsequent media releases from the CN indicated concerns for the amount of NAHASDA funding that would be available in the future, and concerns about the greatly increased number of applicants for the scholarship were the deciding factors in the denials rather than any concern that the tribe was misusing funds from NAHASDA. Campbell said the funding the CN received for NAHASDA slightly increased in 2017, but 2018 funding is unknown. “The president’s proposed IHBG (Indian Housing Block Grant) budget for FY 2018 is $48M less than 2017. However, that is a proposal only, and there is no FY18 budget that has been enacted yet,” she said. Soon after the letters of scholarship denial were sent to the freshmen applications, the CN announced in a media release that the 98 applicants would receive the funding for which they requested for school year 2017-18, but the program for all except current sophomores, juniors and seniors will be subsequently discontinued. – REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
News Writer
09/20/2017 03:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Marshal Service on Aug. 29 deployed a 10-member team to Houston for a week to aid in search and rescue efforts following Hurricane Harvey. The team worked with Oklahoma Task Force One to send swift-water trained marshals to help flood victims stuck in their homes. “We were working with several different Oklahoma agencies where we were at. We did evacuations, water rescues, a few short patrols, but mainly it was just calls for service, people trapped in high water,” Capt. Danny Tanner said. The marshals covered 15 square miles where water levels rose and fell because of water being let out of levies. Marshals were staged in a Target parking lot in the Memorial City Mall. With the OTF, marshals helped with approximately 1,000 evacuations, 250 water rescues, 200 animal rescues and other calls. “We train for these disasters to happen, hoping they don’t. But when they do then we’re ready to go. Our guys need to be ready within 24 hours of a disaster,” Tanner said. The team took its own supplies such as water, food, boat gas, generators, sleeping gear, fours ATVs, two UTVs and two boats. “We ran calls for seven days. They thought it was going to take 14 (days). We cleared 4,200 residences doing a door-to-door check on people, if there was anybody there,” Tanner said. CNMS Lt. Mike Roach said while working on rescues and evacuations, they discovered they needed rafts because of waters being too shallow for boats. Roach called the War Eagle Resort on Highway 10 near Tahlequah, asking manager Chance Imhoff if the marshals could rent or buy rafts. Imhoff donated four rafts, and two deputies delivered them to Houston the same night. They were used the next day. “It’s kind of interesting that help comes from local raft communities here in Cherokee County all the way down to Texas,” Roach said. One rescue included helping three Cherokee Nation citizens – Laramie George, her 5-month-old son Jasper, and her sister Terra George. Laramie was without baby supplies for her son and the marshals helped her. “I’m so blessed to have connected with them and be a Cherokee citizen. They bought Jasper diapers, formula and a new jumper. I’m ever so grateful,” Laramie said in a Facebook post. Marshals also teamed with (Muscogee) Creek Lighthorse members to work the same area. They worked together to rescue a 94-year-old Houston resident and his wife trapped in their nursing home apartment complex. Roach said Oklahomans provided a big help during the flood. “There was so much help from Oklahoma that they sent Houston Fire (Department) home to take calls from their fire stations and other parts of the city, and just let Oklahoma handle the flood. We handled all their calls that was in the floodwater while Houston did the things that they do, their other calls. So that was kind of neat for us to just pretty much take over that effort from Houston for that week.” Roach said while on the seven-day mission, Houston residents extended their kindness by providing hot meals to all aid workers. “Only thing I can say about Houston was (they had) probably the nicest people that we’ve ever tried to help. Everybody was real appreciative. They’d bring us food. They wouldn’t let us pay for anything. Nice fresh meals from strangers that didn’t know us from anything,” Roach said.
News Writer – @cp_bbennett
09/20/2017 12:00 PM
HOUSTON – When Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Aug. 25, it dumped more than 50 inches of rain and affected many people, including Cherokees. Hurricane Harvey’s rains destroyed the home of Cherokee Nation citizen Mary Margaret DeFiore, a resident in the Cinco Ranch Equestrian Village neighborhood of Houston. Her property backs up to an area that serves as a reservoir for Houston, though she said subdivision developers failed to disclose that fact. As a result, her home was in the path of the floodwaters released from two reservoirs as they reached capacity. “We are in the group that was flooded deliberately when they opened the gates and dumped the Addicks Reservoir into the Barker Reservoir so that the people with the county estates would be less affected,” DeFiore said. “We were never expecting to be victims of somebody releasing from another reservoir into ours because ours is like the affordable housing section of the builders who built down here.” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ordered the floodwaters’ release and is now facing a lawsuit by Fulkerson Lotz LLP on behalf of several communities, including DeFiore’s. The firm estimated the release caused approximately $3 billion in damages, according to the Houston Business Journal. “In our suit, we are asking only that the government compensate property owners for their losses caused by the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to use their home as a flood plain,” stated the law firm in a Facebook post. “We understand that the government felt it had to release to avoid a greater problem, but when the Corps made the decision to use vast residential and business areas as a water holding pen, it took those properties just as if it had taken them to make a road.” DeFiore said there was minimal warning to evacuate beforehand, and afterwards she and her husband faced price gouging at a hotel as they sought shelter. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has since stepped in to house her husband and other first responders, while DeFiore has been taken in by “the kindness of strangers.” The couple’s home suffered damage and the future is uncertain while Houston begins its recovery. “The house, there’s no carpeting. Everything’s torn up,” DeFiore said. “We had the cabinets removed. I need to have my insulation vacuumed out and then new insulation put back in because of the moisture. My walls in the entire house, the wallboards are cut all the way up to four feet. I don’t know what we’re going to do because we can’t move back in. I’m a nomad. I’m going to max out my credit cards. The insurance does not cover housing or food or anything. I’m going to have to have time to sit down on my computer and start applying for grants so that we can get our lives back.” CN citizen Vicki Henrichs, who lives in a Houston suburb, also suffered damage to her home after the release of floodwaters from two upstream dams. As with DeFiore, Henrichs said her neighborhood was only given warning of the release the day before. “Social media appeared to be the warning system, as residents looked outside to see water gushing from storm drains, then engulfing their yards and houses at frightening speed. Many sent alerts for rescue by social media,” she said. “The northern portion of my subdivision is a disaster area where most could not return to homes for many days to retrieve the majority of possessions due to remaining high water.” Henrichs escaped the brunt of the damage, though home repairs are still ongoing after more than 30 inches of rain created a crack in her ceiling and two feet of floodwaters and mold filled her garage. Harvey is not her first hurricane for Henrichs, who weathered Hurricane Rita in 2005. She credits that experience and her Cherokee roots for when it came time to prepare. “Credit my Cherokee maternal grandmother and my Cherokee mother for advocating for preparedness for many conditions,” she said. “Therefore, I always have ‘hurricane ready’ nonperishable foods and supplies and do supplement them for (a) typical hurricane season. Additionally, I have an emergency kit for my dog and ready-to-go baggage for my own needs.” Wade McAlister, Cherokee Citizens League of Southeast Texas president, said his group held a meeting after Harvey made landfall to begin organizing and collecting gift cards for affected families. “The families that do need stuff can use those over time, and it’s something that we can continue to give out two to three months from now,” he said. “It’s not like a bunch of bottled water and then they don’t need water anymore or we have a bunch of clothes and we don’t need clothes anymore. The needs are always changing.” CCLST Vice President Michele Hayes said many gift cards were for Lowe’s Home Improvement, Target and Wal-Mart so that families can buy essentials and start rebuilding. “The long-term things are going to be the hardest like paying for gas and groceries or just ice because since they don’t have a home, they’ve been forced to keep their food in coolers because they don’t have refrigerators. Just think about camping long term, what you would need, that’s what they need,” she said. As of Sept. 19, the organization had helped more than 20 families, and that number was expected to rise. “We’re still getting requests and we’re still getting donations,” he said. “I think during the storm and during the initial aftermath and even now during the recovery, I think Houston is showing the best side of its citizens. This is the most diverse city in the United States and everybody has been able to come together and take care of each other.” Information on how to donate to the CCLST can be found at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott estimated that recovery would take several years and cost $150 billion to $180 billion. According to The Weather Channel, the Category 4 hurricane had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph when it made landfall near Rockport.