Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard discusses a friendly amendment regarding changes to the Cherokee Nation’s Governmental Records Act during the Tribal Council’s June 16 meeting in Tahlequah, Okla. Buzzard requested the number of days for a GRA request response be lessened to 10 days rather than 20 days as stated in the legislation. JAMI MUPRHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Tribal Council amends FOIA, GRA

BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
06/18/2014 10:23 AM
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After several turbulent months of protest from citizens and some Cherokee Nation legislators, Tribal Councilors amended the Freedom of Information and Governmental Records acts during their June 16 meeting.

Amendments included increased time limits for responses under both laws. For the FOIA, the time limit goes from 15 days to 20 days. The FOIA amendment also included an additional 10-day extension, but only after the requesting party is notified in writing. The GRA time limit was increased from six days to 10 days, following a friendly amendment from Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard.

“And the amendment that I’d like to offer is to take away some of the days for the GRA act. We’re presently at 20. What I would propose to do is add four days to the existing act. Make it, I believe, 10 days,” he said. “It would be consistent with what we’re going to be doing with the FOIA, we added four (days). I would ask that we add four days to the present act which would make it 10 day turn around on documentation.”

The FOIA bill also creates an information officer position within the Attorney General’s Office to serve as a liaison for CN citizens seeking public records. The officer is to be independent of political influence and could only be terminated for cause and will be responsible for facilitating, gathering, tracking and responding to FOI requests, as well as providing monthly reports to the Tribal Council.

Both laws increase protection for CN citizens regarding personal information. Amendments included protecting a citizen’s Social Security number, date of birth, tribal citizenship number, email and other electronic identifiers specifically exempted under the FOIA.

“With technological advances, cases of identity theft have increased exponentially, and there are no indications of the trend changing course,” Tribal Councilor Tina Glory-Jordan said. “Along with other enhancements to this essential piece of legislation, this body wanted to ensure our citizens’ sensitive information on requested documents will remain private. Cherokee citizens can rest assured this body has taken every step needed to protect their identity and assets through this law.”

Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts expressed concern regarding “privileged or confidential” items that would be exempt.

The act states that privileged and confidential information is “exempt from disclosure under the Cherokee Nation Freedom of Information and Rights of Privacy Act, as amended, or is confidential under Cherokee Nation law, that record shall, nevertheless, be produced or otherwise made available to the requesting Council member…”

“So that still denies a council person the ability to have that electronically. So for instance, myself, that lives an hour to hour and a half away, I would still have to drive to the AG’s office to review the information it would not be given to me,” Cowan Watts said.

Glory Jordan said they had made no changes in that area and asked Attorney General Todd Hembree to respond.

“This law makes no changes to the current language that is in our Governmental Records Act. The question that you asked is precisely subject matter to a Supreme Court appeal to which Ms. (Julia) Coates is a plaintiff. We have our interpretation. Ms. Coates has her interpretation. There are going to be five members of the justice that’s going to decide that issue,” Hembree said.

Cowan Watts asked Hembree if the language would affect current lawsuits, to which he replied no.

The FOIA also clarifies that proprietary bid documents will be exempt from public disclosure. The law states that a contract is not exempt from disclosure once executed, but bid or other financial documents of the vendors who bid on a project will be exempt.

The FOIA bill passed 10-6, with Tribal Councilors Cowan Watts, Lee Keener, Coates, Don Garvin, Dick Lay and Jack Baker voting no. Councilor Jodie Fishinghawk did not attend the meeting.

The GRA bill passed 14-2, with Cowan Watts and Keener opposing.

Coates requested six friendly amendments to the FOIA bill, but they were voted down. They included:

• Any person denied a document request pursuant to the act for either copies or inspection, and any person denied attendance of a “work group or subcommittee meeting of the Tribal Council may appeal that decision to the Administrative Appeals Board or the District Court within 10 days of the denial of the request or deadline for providing the request if no response occurs,” and

• Any person alleging a violation of Section 107 (Meetings of public bodies shall be open) may seek relieve from the Administrative Appeals Board within 10 days of the alleged violation.

Glory Jordan said her biggest problem with the motions regarding the appeals board is that it is not set up to hear those types of cases.

“That means that we got to go change that law,” she said. “And I don’t see how we vote on doing this tonight without changing that law to broaden their ability to hear this type of case because they were set up to hear basically wrongful termination-type cases.”

Councilors also confirmed CN citizens Robin McClain Smith to the Cherokee Nation Community Association Cooperation and Jennifer Goins to the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission.

The Concurrent Enrollment Scholarship Act was also amended to allow students to enroll in more college hours and receive more funding.

“The amended legislation now allows eligible high school students to receive scholarship money for up to nine hours of college course work, rather than just six,” Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick said. “The more hours our students enroll in shows their dedication to academics and their futures, and saves families money.”
About the Author
Reporter

Jami Murphy graduated from Locust Grove High School in 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2006 from Northeastern State University and began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2007.

She said the Cherokee Phoenix has allowed her the opportunity to share valuable information with the Cherokee people on a daily basis. 

Jami married Michael Murphy in 2014. They have two sons, Caden and Austin. Together they have four children, including Johnny and Chase. They also have two grandchildren, Bentley and Baylea. 

She is a Cherokee Nation citizen and said working for the Cherokee Phoenix has meant a great deal to her. 

“My great-great-great-great grandfather, John Leaf Springston, worked for the paper long ago. It’s like coming full circle. I’ve learned so much about myself, the Cherokee people and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Jami is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. You can follow her on Twitter @jamilynnmurphy or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jamimurphy2014.
Reporter Jami Murphy graduated from Locust Grove High School in 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2006 from Northeastern State University and began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2007. She said the Cherokee Phoenix has allowed her the opportunity to share valuable information with the Cherokee people on a daily basis. Jami married Michael Murphy in 2014. They have two sons, Caden and Austin. Together they have four children, including Johnny and Chase. They also have two grandchildren, Bentley and Baylea. She is a Cherokee Nation citizen and said working for the Cherokee Phoenix has meant a great deal to her. “My great-great-great-great grandfather, John Leaf Springston, worked for the paper long ago. It’s like coming full circle. I’ve learned so much about myself, the Cherokee people and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.” Jami is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. You can follow her on Twitter @jamilynnmurphy or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jamimurphy2014.

Council

BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
10/14/2014 02:33 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During their Oct. 13 meeting, Tribal Councilors unanimously approved resolutions requesting the U.S. Interior Department to place into trust land associated with two of the tribe’s health facilities. Legislators approved land-into-trust applications for 5.6 acres that the Redbird Smith Health Clinic in Stilwell sits on and .98 acres that is part of the W.W. Hastings Hospital expansion in Tahlequah. Earlier this year, CN and Cherokee Nation Businesses officials said they would invest $104.3 million for new and existing health facilities. More than $53 million is expected to build a new 150,000-square foot Hastings Hospital. That project is expected to start next spring and conclude in the fall of 2015. Redbird Smith Health Center’s main building recently underwent a remodel the past two years because of mold found inside. The building was closed in 2012, and its patient services were moved to different parts of the health center after the mold was discovered. “We’ve been wanting to put it into trust for a long time,” Tribal Councilor Janelle Fullbright said. “All of our properties need to be in trust that way if there’s ever anything like a special project, such as a joint venture, and we have the opportunity for something that comes up, the land needs to be in trust.” Councilors also approved an application to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for fiscal year 2015 funding for the tribe’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The funding amount in the application is more than $1.3 million, which would provide residential health assistance payments for approximately 2,000 low-income tribal households. It will also provide crisis aid for about 800 eligible households, and if funding permits, cooling assistance payments to about 1,800 households. LIHEAP services contain Residential Heating Assistance, which provides assistance to eligible households for their primary sources of heating, including wood, wood pellets, natural gas, propane, electric, kerosene and coal. To continue the tribe’s Food Distribution Program, councilors also approved an application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more than $3.3 million with a cash match of more than $840,000 and an in-kind amount of more than $70,000. The resolution states that the funding would provide distribution of food to approximately 11,000 participants a month, representing 4,900 tribal households. “This is accomplished through the current operations of 7 Food Distribution Centers located in the communities of Tahlequah, Jay, Salina, Sallisaw, Stilwell, Collinsville, and Nowata,” the resolution states. The centers operate in a grocery store environment allowing people to shop in comfortable and familiar settings. The Tribal Council also approved the nominations of Luke Barteaux and Kendra McGeady as Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board members. Barteaux, who was nominated by Principal Chief Bill John Baker and will serve a six-year term, passed via a 14-1-1 vote. Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts voted against the nomination, while Tribal Councilor Julia Coates abstained. Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez was absent. “I’m familiar with Luke. He’s a great individual and this has nothing to do with him as a person,” Cowan Watts said. “It’s a responsibility of the chief’s office to fit the letter of the law and unfortunately, I don’t believe, even though he’s a highly qualified individual, he’s not qualified with the way I understand our Free Press Act is written. So at this time, I cannot support the nomination even though I fully believe in Luke as a person.” Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd asked Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. if the criteria was checked to see if Barteaux was qualified to be nominated as a board member. “Yes, we have,” Hoskin said. “I just have to say that I respectfully disagree with the council lady from Rogers County. In fact, Mr. Barteaux, by any objective standards, meets the letter of the law that this council passed. I’m very confident that he meets the qualifications.” Barteaux thanked Baker for the nomination and the council for the confirmation. “I look forward to working with the Cherokee Phoenix,” he said. “It’s a great asset to the Cherokee people, and I look forward to helping them move forward and doing even more great things.” McGeady, who was nominated by the Tribal Council and will serve a six-year term, passed by a 13-2-1 vote. Tribal Councilors Cowan Watts and Lee Keener voted no, while Coates abstained. “I just wanted to reiterate my comments in the committee and this is nothing against Miss McGeady or her qualifications,” Coates said. “I just am saddened that the person who was serving on this board, Jason Terrell, who is from Memphis, Tennessee, and one of the few At-Large people that is able to serve on any of our boards and commissions, and who had done a very able job in the years, that he had been on this board, that the decision to not reappoint him. That’s my sadness about it.” McGeady said she appreciated the confidence of the tribe’s leadership in her nomination and confirmation and looked forward to serving the Phoenix and tribal citizens. Councilors also modified the tribe’s budget by moving $429,313 out of General Funds into the fund being used for the new Ochelata health clinic, or Cooweescoowee Health Center, in Washington County. The budget item includes new positions for a physician and a registered nurse as well as operating expenditures. The 28,000-square-foot health center in Ochelata, just south of Bartlesville, will replace the existing 5,000-square-foot CN Bartlesville Health Center, which operates in a small storefront building.
BY STAFF REPORTS
09/30/2014 11:52 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation honored a World War II veteran, a Vietnam veteran and a veteran on government contract during Operation Iraqi Freedom with Cherokee Medals of Patriotism during the Sept. 15 Tribal Council meeting. William Wood, 94, of Vinita; Gary Craig Daugherty, 68, of Stilwell; and Peggy Zuber, 59, of Tulsa, received medals and plaques from Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, acknowledging their service to the country. Wood was born in 1920 to John Edward and Helen Wood. He graduated from Nowata High School and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1942. He attended training in Ontario and Taft, California, learning to fly single engine planes. In 1943, Wood transitioned to the B-25 bomber. He was sent to India in 1944 where his aircraft was shot in the left wing and the tail. In all, Wood flew 63 missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, two air medals and four campaign ribbons for his service. “I can’t explain what it means to be recognized by my tribe,” Wood said. “It’s a great day for me to be recognized by Cherokees, and it’s just something I can’t express.” Daugherty was born in 1946 to Grover Eugene and Ernestine Craig Daugherty. He attended Wauhillau School for first through eighth grades and graduated from Stilwell High School. In 1969, Daugherty enlisted in the U.S. Army and received basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. He was stationed in Germany and served overseas during the Vietnam War. Daugherty received an honorable discharge in 1971 and was awarded the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal for his service. Zuber was born in 1955 to Ray and Nancy Zuber. She followed her father’s footsteps by joining the U.S. Navy in 1976. Zuber completed basic training in Orlando, Florida, and served four years. After her service, she enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves. During Zuber’s 17 years, she served in various overseas operations in Belgium and Germany. After retiring in 2001, she worked as a U.S. Department of Defense contractor on the ground in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Zuber now works for Cherokee Nation Businesses as a contract analyst for government contracts. Each month the tribe honors Cherokee service men and women for their sacrifices and as a way to demonstrate the high regard in which the tribe holds all veterans. Native Americans, including Cherokees, are thought to have more citizens serving per capita than any other ethnic group, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. To nominate a veteran who is a Cherokee Nation citizen, call 918-453-5541 or 1-800-256-0671, ext. 5541.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
09/16/2014 03:11 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Sept. 15, the Tribal Council amended the tribe’s election code to address notary public issues stemming from Cherokee Nation citizens in California. According to the act, the purpose is to address notary public requirements to assure legal notarization of At-Large absentee ballots. “A voter shall mark his ballot in permanent black or blue ball point ink; seal the ballot in the secrecy envelope; fill it out completely and sign the affidavit on the front of the affidavit envelope in the presence of a notary public; the affidavit envelope must be notarized and the notary seal affixed for the ballot to be counted; and return the documents inside the postage paid return envelope via the United States mail to the Election Commission,” the legislation states. “Only those absentee ballots which are mailed to the Election Commission and which reach the Election Commission post office box in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, no later than 7 p.m. on election day shall be counted; provided that personal delivery of an absentee ballot shall be accepted from the Wednesday prior to election day until election day only if the voter or a person designated by the voter delivers the ballot to the Election Services Office between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during those four days.” Tribal Councilor Julia Coates abstained from the act’s vote, saying the act would make better policy than legislation. “I don’t necessarily have any opposition. It’s a fairly meaningless amendment that simply describes how a ballot or an envelope is to be arranged. It’s not something I would necessarily favor legislating,” Coates said. “What I am happy about is that we have worked, and this body has worked, and we have gotten a promise from the Election Commission that they will shift the language on the Cherokee Nation ballot so that it is the same language that is acceptable under California law. And it’s language that should be acceptable under any state, including Oklahoma. So I’m glad for the acknowledgement and the understanding of the people on this body that there was an issue here.” Tribal Councilor Janelle Fulbright said acquiring a notary in California isn’t as easy as it is in Oklahoma. “But out there it’s a totally different world. And I think this is going to ease the pathway for them to, you know, make it easier for them to vote, and that’s what we want. And we certainly never intended or meant in any way to disenfranchise someone or make it difficult for them to vote,” she said. After some discussion, the act passed by acclamation with Coates abstaining. Also, councilors appointed six people to the Cherokee Health Partners board. The board is comprised of employees from the tribe and Northeastern Health System, which is formerly known as Tahlequah City Hospital. Those appointments were Ricky Kelly, Sandie Taggart, Ami Sams, Brian Hail, Connie Davis and Dr. Roger Montgomery. According to board’s website, the NHS and CN joined forces to fight heart disease among Native Americans. From this union, Cherokee Health Partners was born. It states that CN and NHS leaders realized they could offer quality care and improved services to both communities if they worked together. The Tribal Council also approved CN citizen Steven Barrick as a Cherokee Nation Gaming Commissioner. Barrick replaces Jason Soper. Barrick’s term began on Sept. 16 and will end on Sept. 30, 2017. The CNGC is the independent tribal gaming regulatory authority that ensures fairness and integrity of gaming activity within CN gaming facilities, as well as to protect the Nation’s assets and the public health and safety of those who work and visit CN gaming facilities. “It’s a pleasure to serve the Nation and I’m excited to get started,” Barrick said during the meeting. The council also authorized the tribe to become a National Congress of American Indians member, as well as named Principal Chief Bill John Baker as the tribe’s delegate. The tribe’s alternate delegates included Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and all the Tribal Councilors. The motion passed with Tribal Councilor David Thornton voting against it. The NCAI is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities. Councilors also passed three resolutions to donate surplus items: a surplus travel trailer to a citizen in Sequoyah County, exercise equipment to the Claremore Housing Authority and three flagpoles to the community organization Owen School House in Park Hill.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
09/04/2014 07:38 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tribal Councils of the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians passed three pieces of legislation, including affirming equality among the three tribes, at the annual Tri-Council meeting on Aug. 15 at Northeastern State University. Although the resolutions passed unanimously, the resolution affirming equality among the three tribes caused about an hour’s worth of debate after CN Tribal Councilor Lee Keener offered an amendment to change the name Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma to Cherokee Nation. “Our constitution has us as Cherokee Nation only, and also updating or amending this would make it the same as the second and third propositions that are before us,” Keener said. “It would be consistent with all three.” However, UKB Chief Wickliffe, who chaired the meeting, took issue with the amendment. “We are representing the Cherokee Nation, the original, all three of us sitting here,” Wickliffe said. “We’re federally recognized. You people are too, and the Eastern Band. I don’t think there needs to be superiority anywhere. If we’re going to work together, let’s do it right.” Keener said he did not mean to have one tribe over another, but if Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma was to be in the first legislation then it would need to be in the other two as well. “I’m not understanding. That’s just our name. We’re not better than anyone else that’s just our name,” Keener added. “I don’t understand the opposition.” After discussion among the three tribes and a recess, a compromise was suggested. Rather than naming all three tribes, the councils decided to accept EBCI Chief Michell Hicks’ suggestion of changing the names to “the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes.” “Instead of postponing this issue…what if we said the ‘three federally recognized Cherokee tribes.’ And we don’t get into these technicalities because we’re fussing over technicalities here. Make it something more generic. But I think when it comes to the federal government, obviously they’ll recognize the stamps of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes.” Wickliffe and Keener, as well as all councilors, accepted the compromise. The councils also passed a resolution to combat the regulations the federal government is attempting to pass with regards to federal recognition. Tribal officials said the standards for becoming federally recognized are potentially going to be reduced allowing for smaller state recognized tribes to seek federal recognition. Currently, to be acknowledged, a tribe must have history dating back nearly 200 years. But with the possible changes it would only mean the group seeking the recognition could have history dating back to the early 1900s. The resolution states the three tribes being against the more lenient guidelines. CN Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd said legislation was to keep other Cherokee groups throughout the United States from seeking federal recognition. “We only have three federal recognized tribes in the United States, only three, and we don’t need any more the federal government is attempting to recognize,” he said. “They’re trying to water down policies from the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ state recognized tribes. We do not condone that. So we want to keep three federal Cherokee tribes in the United States and that’s it. That’s all we’re trying to do here.” The Tri-Council also passed a resolution supporting the establishment of a steering committee for the cultural preservation of historically significant Cherokee sites and heritage events. The UKB hosted the nearly weeklong Tri-Council gathering, which included pre-meetings and cultural activities. The EBCI will host the next meeting in 2015. According to EBCI officials, they are looking to have the meeting in Red Clay, Tenn.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter
09/02/2014 07:56 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At a special meeting on Aug. 28, the Tribal Council unanimously approved the Cherokee Nation’s fiscal year 2015 comprehensive operating and capital budgets for a total of $731.3 million. The operating budget, which is the tribe’s overall budget, was approved for approximately $611.7 million. The capital budget, which funds construction projects, was approved for approximately $119.6 million. According to a previous Cherokee Phoenix story, the tribe had about $73 million more at the beginning of FY15 than it did at the start of FY14. The tribe’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. CN officials said the increase was because of new grant awards, increases in motor vehicle tax revenues related to the car tag expansion, changes in the rebate structure of the tobacco tax compact, proceeds from contract support cost settlement as well as increased Indian Health Service funding for the Vinita Health Center and contract health care. Officials said programs and services that received the largest increases this fiscal year are Higher Education scholarships at $11.37 million and Charitable Contributions with an $890,000 budget increase. Charitable contributions are made to communities and organizations to improve communities and help organizations perform. Officials said the Day Training and Summer Youth Employment Program fund received a $275,000 increase, while the Vocational Assistance Program that helps CN citizens train for and gain employment received a $150,000 budget increase. The Citizens Access to Transparency fund was increased by $650,000 for a total budget of $800,000. This program assists citizens who are seeking information about their tribal government, including how money is spent. The additional funding will provide free one-year subscriptions for the Cherokee Phoenix to Cherokee households with good addresses, both in the 14-county jurisdiction and outside the jurisdiction. Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory Jordan said working on the different budgets takes a lot of work. “This is an ongoing, yearly thing and a very important part of our duties, which we have taken very seriously this year,” she said. “I think everyone on this council has done a very good job. I think we’ve come up with a really good budget for the Cherokee people for the next (fiscal) year.” Councilors also unanimously modified the tribe’s overall budget for FY14 by $5.45 million for a total budget authority of $623.87 million. Approximately $1.15 million came from grants, while $4.3 million resulted from modification requests such as $2.49 million going to the General Fund and $687,000 going to the Motor Fuel Tax Fund. The next council meeting is at 6 p.m. on Sept. 15.
08/14/2014 08:25 AM
BY WILL CHAVEZ Senior Reporter TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Elmer C. Tadpole Jr., his brother Thomas Tadpole and Richard Acorn were the three Cherokee veterans honored with Cherokee Warrior awards during the Aug. 11 Tribal Council meeting. Elmer was born in June 1940 to Elmer Tadpole Sr. and Lillian Napier Tadpole in Muskogee. His father was an original enrollee with Cherokee family history tracing back to 1737. When Elmer was 4 years old, his family moved to Tulsa where he grew up and went to school. On his 17th birthday, in 1957, he joined the U.S. Navy Reserves. After graduating from high school he went active duty serving on the USS Woodson DE and USS Hornet CV-12. The USS Woodson DE was home ported at New Orleans where the boat patrolled from St. Louis down the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico to Miami. He then transferred to the USS Hornet CV-12. The USS Hornet CV-12 was home ported at Long Beach, Calif., and was part of the Pacific Sixth Fleet patrolling Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States. After this stint he was transferred to a naval supply and training base in Subic Bay, Philippines. There, Elmer performed duties such as security and training exercises. He was honorably discharged in June 1963. Elmer said he accepted the Warrior Award for “all the veterans lost in service.” Thomas Tadpole was born in Tulsa on July 21, 1948, to Elmer Sr. and Lillian Tadpole. Thomas lived in Tulsa and graduated from Tulsa Central High School in 1966. In 1968, Thomas volunteered for the U.S. Air Force and completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio after which he attended Security Police Training at Lackland AFB. In 1970, Thomas volunteered for duty in Vietnam and served there from September 1970 to September 1971 at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. He was assigned to Military Assistance Command Vietnam/7th Air Force, 12th Recon Intelligence Technical Squadron. Staff Sgt. Thomas Tadpole was honorably discharged in May 1972 and was awarded various medals and ribbons including USAF Commendation Medal (1971-Vietnam), Vietnam Service Medal with three Campaign Stars, Vietnam Campaign Medal w/device, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry and a Presidential Unit Citation (Vietnam). Thomas returned to Tulsa where he was re-employed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He spent 34 years with the Corps of Engineers as a construction representative and project engineer working on military and civil works construction projects in several states and retired in 2004. He and his wife Floy live in Claremore. “I want to thank you for this. I think this is a great thing to do for veterans,” he said during the meeting. Richard F. Acorn was born July 20, 1934, in Stilwell to Lillie Mae Acorn and Fred Aguirre in the family home place where Richard still lives. Shortly after his birth, his father and mother divorced. He was raised and adopted by his grandfather and grandmother Rev. John B. Acorn and Adeline Smith Acorn. After graduating from Sequoyah Indian School in Tahlequah in 1952, Acorn moved to Wichita, Kan., and worked in a sheet metal shop until 1955 when he moved back to Oklahoma to do plumbing with his uncle Bill Acorn. At this time he also met and married Shirley Dreadfulwater. Acorn was drafted into the Army in 1957. He was sent to Fort Chaffee, Ark., for basic training. After training he was assigned to overseas duty with 7th Army Headquarters, 78th Ordinance Company Field Supply, Mannheim, Germany, and drivers training for military vehicles in Mannheim. After his tour in Germany, Acorn returned back to the United States to join his family and they moved back to Wichita in 1959 where he worked at Cessna Air Craft Company and joined the U.S. Army Reserve Unit 5048th. He spent four years in the reserves and was honorably discharged in 1963. In 1965, with the death of his wife, he was left with three girls ages 5, 3 and 18 months. In 1967, he met Judith Ann, who had two girls and two boys, and they married and had a son together. They are still together after 47 years of marriage. In 1971, Richard moved back to Oklahoma, and in 1973 he began working for the Indian Health Service as an inspector. In 1983, he began working for the Cherokee Nation in Community Development and security. He currently serves as a security guard. “I’m proud to have been a part of the world’s greatest armed forces. I’m proud to work for the Cherokee Nation,” Acorn said after receiving the Cherokee Warrior medal.