Hembree concerned with potential tribal sovereignty threats

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
03/27/2014 08:17 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree told Tribal Councilors at the Feb. 27 Rules Committee meeting that two issues within the state could pose threats to tribal sovereignty.

Hembree said he and members of his staff on Feb. 26 joined Chickasaw Nation and Choctaw Nation representatives to meet with Steve Mullins, general counsel for Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, to discuss “two major topics.”

One topic is a proposed rule change by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission to require a limited waiver of sovereign immunity to any tribal casino that applies for a liquor license with the state, which the tribes oppose.

“There are many legal reasons that this cannot take place. This is an issue that Gov. Fallin is promoting. It was a very impressive sight to see the Cherokees, Choctaws and Chickasaws all at one table with a united voice on this matter,” Hembree said. “I do believe we got the governor’s attention in this matter, and whether it is through policy negotiation or through legal challenge, I don’t not believe the ABLE Commission will be able to go forward with this rule. We will engage them.”

The item was not listed on the ABLE Commission’s March 10 meeting agenda, according to the commission’s website. Commissioners tabled the item at its February meeting.

The other issue deals with Shawnee city officials giving notice to the Citizen Pottawatomie Tribe in central Oklahoma that they intend to begin collecting sales tax from Citizen Pottawatomie Tribe-owned businesses located within the city limits.

Hembree said he believes issues similar to this issue have already been litigated in the state court and the U.S. Supreme Court. The Governor’s Office and the state Attorney General’s Office “are contemplating weighing in” one the side of the city, he added.

“Obviously this is an issue that is of great importance for all Indian tribes in Oklahoma. The Choctaws, Chickasaws and Cherokees expressed our thoughts on this matter, and we stand ready to engage the city of Shawnee or the state of Oklahoma,” Hembree said.

The two issues, however, could be decided by current litigation in the U. S. Supreme Court involving a Michigan tribe, he said.

This past fall, the CN joined 11 tribes in support of the Bay Mills Indian Community and its lawsuit against Michigan. The state is at odds with the BMIC because it believes it can close the tribe’s casino because it is not on the tribe’s lands.

A federal judge agreed with the state and issued an injunction in 2011 ordering the casino closed. However, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the judge’s injunction in late 2013.

“That (Supreme Court) decision could come in early April. My office is working on contingency plans depending on the severity (of the ruling). I think there will be some restriction of some sort,” Hembree said. “Depending on the tenor and wording of the United States Supreme Court decision, this tribe needs to be ready to act and act quickly to protect our sovereign immunity and our business rights.”

Hembree said after the Feb. 26 meeting between the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw nations and Oklahoma, he had a second meeting with state officials to discuss a hunting and fishing agreement.

“We have set up a series of meetings to exchange information and data to get that ball rolling,” he said.

Hembree also gave updates on litigation with the Department of Interior regarding the United Keetoowah Band’s 2.03 acres on which its casino sits, as well as 76 acres, also in Tahlequah, the UKB wants in trust status. He said the land lawsuits are separate and will not be joined together.

The court case for the 2.03-acre tract will be heard on May 9 in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Oklahoma in Tulsa.

Hembee said there has not been a briefing set for the 76-acre tract.

On Feb. 28, the CN filed an objection into the UKB’s intervention in the case for the 76-acre tract. Also, Hembree said the CN has managed to get a restraining order against putting that land in trust until the lawsuit is decided.

On Jan. 6, the Interior Board of Indian Appeals dismissed the CN’s appeal of a 2011 decision by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to allow the UKB to place the 76-acre parcel of land in trust. CN officials have said the UKB has no legal ground for trust land within the Nation’s 14-county jurisdiction.

On Jan. 13 the CN filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Oklahoma against Interior officials.

In the complaint, the CN states the DOI’s dismissal of its appeal makes the 2011 decision by the DOI “final” and permits Secretary Sally Jewell to take the 76 acres into trust for the UKB.

For the Freedmen case in federal court, Hembree said oral arguments are to be heard on April 28 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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
06/29/2015 12:33 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission certified voting results from the June 27 general election during a special meeting on June 29. Winners for the eight races in which a victor was declared are: • Bill John Baker, principal chief, • S. Joe Crittenden, deputy chief, • Rex Jordan, Dist. 1, • David Walkingstick, Dist. 3, • Shawn Crittenden, Dist. 8, • Dick Lay, Dist. 12, • Buel Anglen, Dist. 13, and • William “Bill” Pearson, Dist. 14 There will be two run-off elections slated for July 25. In the Dist. 6 Tribal Council race, Natalie Fullbright will face Bryan Warner. In the At-Large Tribal Council race, Wanda Claphan Hatfield will face Betsy Swimmer. The EC will mail runoff absentee ballots July 13-14. Voters interested in early walk-in voting can do so from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on July 18 and July 21- 23 at the Election Services Office in Tahlequah. Election day voting will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at precincts inside the tribe’s jurisdiction. The EC election timeline states the recount request deadline was 5 p.m. on July 1. Recounts were scheduled for July 2-3 with Supreme Court justices in attendance. The election appeals deadline was July 6. Provided there are any appeals, the Supreme Court was expected to hear any of those cases on July 7-9. Candidates elected to office during the general and runoff elections are to be sworn in Aug. 14, according to the tribe’s election timeline. For more information on the upcoming runoff elections, call 918-458-5899. According to the EC, the June 27 election had 19,298 ballots cast out of 63,703 registered voters. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/6/9397_officialvotecount.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the official count document.
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.
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
06/29/2015 01:18 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to certified election results, former Tribal Councilor Buel Anglen will return to the Tribal Council to fill the Dist. 13 seat. Anglen, who previously served as Tribal Councilor from 2002-13, won the race with 63.67 percent of the votes at 517 votes. His opponent, Kenneth Holloway, had 36.33 percent or 295 votes. Election Commission officials returned to the Election Services Office on June 28 to count challenged ballots and included them in the final unofficial results. The EC certified the results on June 29. Anglen said, to be safe, he would wait until the challenged ballots were counted before commenting. He could not be reached at the time of publication. Holloway, who conceded the race around 9 a.m. on June 28, congratulated Anglen and offered his support and prayers as Anglen moves into office. He also thanked his supporters. “I want to thank God first and foremost, then my wife who is my biggest supporter and kept me going, my family and everyone who believed in me on this journey to become Dist. 13’s Tribal Councilor,” he said. Dist. 13 covers most of the northeast Tulsa County and part of western Rogers County. Inauguration day for elected officials is set for Aug. 14, according to the Cherokee Nation’s election timeline.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
06/29/2015 01:13 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Dist. 12 Tribal Councilor Dick Lay has retained his seat during the 2015 general election, according to certified election results from the Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission. Results show Lay, of Ochelata, received 61.18 percent of the votes with 446 ballots, while his opponent, Dora Smith Patzkowski, received 38.82 percent of the votes with 283 ballots. Lay is expected to begin serving his second term on Aug. 14, the day when tribal elected officials are inaugurated. “Feeling very humble, grateful and thankful today,” Lay said. “Thanks to my wife and family they have allowed me the time to have the privilege to serve the Cherokee people. Thanks to all of our family, friends, and supporters who made it happen. Old friends and new worked hard to get it done. God bless you all and God bless the Cherokee Nation.” Patzkowski, of Bartlesville, could not be reached for comment before publication but said in an earlier statement her top legislative priority for the Dist. 12 was to improve health care and housing for CN citizens. Dist. 12 includes Washington County and part of Tulsa, Rogers and Nowata counties. The EC certified the general election results on June 29.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter
06/29/2015 01:03 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to certified results, Natalie Fullbright and Bryan Warner will face each other in the July 25 runoff election for the Cherokee Nation’s Dist. 6 Tribal Council seat. According to certified results of the June 27 general election, Fullbright received 44.11 percent of the votes with 618, while Warner garnered 35.76 percent with 501 votes. The Cherokee Phoenix attempted to contact Fullbright but was unsuccessful. Warner said he is “proud and humbled” to be in a runoff race for Dist. 6. He added that it has been hard work to get to where he’s at and he will continue to work hard for the seat. “We plan on continuing to work hard, I think it’s important as a potential council member to work hard,” he said. “Then if you’re left to be elected, that’s when the real work starts.” He also extended his appreciation to all of the CN citizens who cast their votes for him. “One thing like I’ve always told all of them is it’s a group effort, and I feel like I want them to be part of this process because if I’m elected I’ll continue to inform and have the citizens be aware of everything, use their ideas with mine to do the best job possible,” he said. Dist. 6 covers the eastern part of Sequoyah County. Brian Keith McCoy came in third with 11.85 percent or 166 votes, and Ron Goff came in fourth with 8.28 percent or 116 votes. Runoff absentee ballots will be mailed out on July 13-14. The EC met on June 29 to certify the results from the general election. Candidates who are successful in their races are set to be sworn into office on Aug. 14.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Phoenix Intern
06/29/2015 01:01 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Incumbent David Walkingstick defeated four challengers for the Cherokee Nation’s Dist. 3 Tribal Council seat in the June 27 general election. Walkingstick garnered 686 votes for 54.1 percent of the total ballots cast, according to the Cherokee Nation Election Commission's certified results. Those results also listed Kathy Poor Kilpatrick as Walkingstick’s closest competitor at 25.16 percent with 319 votes, while Larry Pritchett finished third at 12.22 percent with 155 votes. Brian Berry followed at 7.33 percent with 93 votes, and Brandon Girty rounded out the candidates at 1.18 percent with 15 votes. “It feels really humbling that people have confidence in my leadership, but I also have a lot of respect for the other candidates,” Walkingstick said. “It’s exciting to see qualified candidates come out and want to be a part of these exciting times for the Cherokee Nation.” Walkingstick indicated the campaign was hard won, but beneficial in terms of moving forward. “I met a lot of good people along the way and I got to see my constituents in their environments and their lifestyles,” he said. “I worked harder this time than what I did last time, and I think it was because of the potential I see that the Cherokee Nation has to help people. I care so much for the Cherokee people and I know I’m the guy that’s going to deliver.” Walkingstick said he’s already looking to get back to work, indicating a desire to continue finalizing the $60 million dollar Indian Health Service Joint Venture Construction Program project announced in January. He also said he wants to increase scholarship amounts for students, as well as seek out grants to build storm shelters and install storm sirens in rural communities. “We have so many unfinished projects that are going to not only benefit our generation, but generations to come,” he said. “I’m lucky to be elected four more years to finish out those projects. God has blessed the Cherokee Nation, and I’m honored to be a part of that.” Dist. 3 covers the southern portion of Cherokee County. The EC met on June 29 to certify the general election results. Walkingstick will be sworn into office on Aug. 14, the tribe’s inauguration day.