Tribal Councilor Jack Back reads a resolution during the July 10 Tribal Council meeting in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. During the meeting, legislators approved the Cherokee Nation’s fiscal year 2018 Indian Housing Plan submission to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee councilors OK initial 2018 Indian Housing Plan
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During its July 10 meeting, Tribal Councilors approved the Cherokee Nation’s fiscal year 2018 Indian Housing Plan submission to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Earlier that day in the Community Services Committee meeting, Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation Director Gary Cooper said the IHP must be submitted annually and acts as a “road map” for the tribe’s spending.
“This will have to be amended, and it can be amended at any time. It is required to be submitted to HUD every year. It’s basically a road map that tells what we plan to do and how we plan to spend those monies,” he said.
According to the plan, officials estimate that approximately $37.4 million would be “expended” during the “12-month program year.”
“This would allocate $37 million and some change. Those are both in NAHASDA (Native American Housing and Self Determination Act) and there’s a few non-NAHASDA dollars that we have to account for in this IHP part of that. One of those programs is our VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) program,” he said. “It’s not a part of NAHASDA, but we do have to account for it in this. So this authorizes us to begin spending NAHASDA dollars at the beginning of the fiscal year. There are no new programs in this plan. These are all existing programs. We will need to come back after we get those estimates for 2018.”
The tribe’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
Cooper said HUD’s estimates for the 2018 IHP should be available by September.
“Our estimates for 2018, we don’t have those and they’re not projected to be completed until at least Sept. 6. So even after we do this IHP we will have to come back and amend it, which we can do at any time we need to. We just have to have one submitted to HUD before the beginning of the fiscal year,” he said.
According to the IHP, funds will be used for low-rent modernization, homeownership modernization, low-rent operations, to construct rental housing, rent-to-own modernization, mortgage assistance, homeownership rehab, the homeownership replacement home program, rental assistance, temporary rental assistance, transitional housing, project-based college housing and other programs.
Also during the Tribal Council meeting, Councilors Don Garvin, Curtis Snell, Jack Baker and David Thornton said their goodbyes while participating in their last council meeting before newly elected legislators are inaugurated in August.
Garvin, Snell, Baker and Thornton are term-limited and must sit out four years before running for the same council seat.
Councilor Joe Byrd said although they would no longer be serving after Aug. 14, they’re “not going anywhere” because they’re still “family.”
“We won’t ever have that knowledge and wisdom again at that level. You got a different generation, a different era of council members coming up. Not that they’re bad, but when you take away the…mind of four guys that are 70 and older you’re really taking away a lot of wisdom,” he said. “These guys don’t come in here with an agenda. They come in there in council and committee meetings and they’ll vote on an issue, but after they vote it’s over. They’ll come shake your hand and go eat a sandwich with you. That is hard to find in today’s time. I’ve served with them in many ways, and I will truly miss them.”
In other business, legislators:
• Increased the FY 2017 operating budget by $8.5 million to $703 million,
• Authorized a partnership between the Oklahoma State Department of Health and tribe’s maternal, infant and early childhood home-visiting grant for the remainder of FY 2017 and FY 2018 to improve home-visiting services for children and families,
• Approved Gabe Mosteller to the Economic Development Trust Authority board of directors, and
• Approved the CN Security Department to donate equipment to the Stilwell Police Department.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation honored a grandfather and grandson with Medals of Patriotism on July 10 at the Tribal Council meeting.
Jack De Vera, 74, of Independence, Kansas, and Sean Hutchinson, 25, of Catoosa, were acknowledged their service and sacrifices to their country.
Petty Officer 3rd Class De Vera was born Jan. 30, 1942, in Corona, California. De Vera enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1960 and arrived at the Naval Training Center in San Diego only three days after he graduated from high school. In September 1960, he attended Hospital Marine Corps School at the Naval Hospital where he received medical training in electrocardiographs. After completing school, he was stationed at the 11th Naval District Medical Office. De Vera received an honorable discharge from the Navy in 1964. After discharge, De Vera attended the San Francisco College of Mortuary Sciences and later graduated from Fullerton Community College in 1967, California State University in 1969 and, finally, Pittsburgh State University where he received a master’s degree in administration. In addition to his military career, De Vera served as a principal at schools in Caney, Kansas, and Towanda, Kansas, and worked as a teacher in California for a total of 26 years before retiring to Kansas in 2007 with his wife. De Vera is a member of American Legion Post 139.
“I just want to say thank you very much, but my grandson is the war hero here, not me,” said De Vera.
Sgt. Hutchinson was born June 17, 1991. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in June 2009. Hutchinson completed his basic and infantry training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. Hutchinson was stationed in Fort Lewis in Washington. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 and attached to a MARSOK/Marine Corps, Special Forces team where he served on route clearance with the 571 Sapper Company. From August to December 2011, Hutchinson cleared roadway explosives and Improvised Explosive Devices, eventually suffering from eight direct IED blasts during his time in southern Afghanistan. Due to the extent of his injuries, Hutchinson was restricted from combat and spent the remainder of his service working as a driver and mechanic. Hutchinson received a Purple Heart and several additional honors for his bravery and service. He received an honorable discharge in 2012 and now works for Cherokee Nation Businesses.
Each month the CN recognizes Cherokee service men and women for their sacrifices and as a way to demonstrate the high regard in which the tribe holds veterans. To nominate a veteran, call 918-772-4166.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At the May 15 Tribal Council meeting, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Garrett swore in T. Luke Barteaux as a District Court judge after legislators confirmed his appointment.
Barteaux is completing the late Bart Fite’s term, which expires on Feb. 10, 2018.
Fourteen Tribal Councilors voted to approve the appointment, while Tribal Councilors Shawn Crittenden, Harley Buzzard and Buel Anglen opposed it.
Barteaux, 33, of Bixby, said he considers the appointment the “pinnacle” of his career.
“It’s something that I never thought would happen within this amount of time, but I’m extremely honored to have been appointed by (Principal) Chief (Bill John) Baker and confirmed by the Tribal Council. I look forward to helping protect our Nation through the legal process,” he said.
He said prior to the appointment his only experience as a judge was serving on the Oklahoma Trial Advocacy Institute.
“I’m a faculty member at the Oklahoma Trial Advocacy Institute, which trains attorneys, and I have, basically judging their performances and things like that,” he said. “I’ve been a panel member for judging the mock trial competitions for, I think it’s out of Pryor, the last two years.”
Barteaux said he has been licensed and acting on his own as an attorney since 2012, with his legal career officially starting in 2009.
“My legal career started back in 2009, and I think around 2011 I started basically practicing under the supervision of another attorney here at my current firm (Fry & Elder),” he said.
Barteaux also addressed concerns about discrepancies on his résumé with dates regarding his time acting as an attorney.
“My current position, I believe it said the dates were June of 2011 to current, and underneath it it said attorney or trial attorney, and there was a question regarding whether or not I was an attorney that entire time,” he said. “The reason it had been worded that way, and kind of stepping back, the jobs underneath were done the same way and it was just the main job. I work at Fry & Elder now and those are the dates that I have worked here, and the position underneath it is the main job I’ve had and the current job. So it was more of me trying to fit a resume on one page and someone brought up, I guess, wanting more of a full job history instead of just what the final job or main job while I was there.”
Legislators also unanimously authorized the establishment of a CN conservation district.
Bruce Davis, management resources executive director, brought the resolution to the May 15 Resource Committee meeting after a trip to the United States Department of Agriculture where he and others learned of 47 programs available to the tribe and its citizens that are not being utilized.
“The first thing we’ve got to do before we can apply for these programs are pass this resolution to start our own conservation district, the Cherokee Nation Conservation District, before we can apply for these monies,” he said.
According to the Oklahoma Conservation Commission’s website, a conservation district serves “as the primary local unit of government responsible for the conservation of the renewable natural resources.”
Bryan Shade, CN chief special project analyst, said the resolution would “authorize” Principal Chief Bill John Baker to establish the conservation district that would allow tribal citizens to visit it rather than the state’s conservation district. He added that establishing the district would help the tribe “streamline” certain operations.
“It’s the exact same thing the state of Oklahoma’s doing, but this district will exist in our 14-county area,” Shade said. “By taking on this function, right now the Cherokee Nation has to go through those state offices, get our lands put in the database, in the system, before we can take advantage of these programs. By establishing this conservation district we’ll be able to do this ourselves and help us streamline things.”
In other business, legislators:
• Increased the tribe’s fiscal year 2017 concurrent enrollment fund by $87,000,
• Increased the FY 2017 capital budget by $857,848 to $279 million,
• Reappointed Amber Lynn George to the Cherokee Nation Foundation board,
• Approved Wilfred C. Gernandt III to the Cherokee Nation Comprehensive Care Agency governing board,
• Reappointed Dan Carter as a Cherokee Nation Businesses board member,
• Approved a resolution for Tribal Council to receive a confidential report monthly of all charitable donations and surplus equipment donations from all CN subsidiaries,
• Granted a right-of-way easement on an existing natural gas line to the Oklahoma Natural Gas Company for Cherokee Heights Addition in Pryor, and
• Authorized a sovereign immunity waiver for software agreement between Sequoyah Schools with Municipal Accounting Systems.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At the April 10 Tribal Council meeting, legislators unanimously passed an act to protect Cherokee Nation-owned lands against ingress, egress and encroachment.
‘The Principal Chief will direct appropriate offices and staff within the executive branch to not allow any individual, company or any other entity to restrict ingress/egress access to any Cherokee Nation property, to not allow any encroachment on any Cherokee properties whatsoever and if any entity has restricted ingress/egress or encroached on Cherokee Nation property to begin negotiations or legal proceedings to resolve ingress/egress problems, or remove encroachments on Cherokee Nation property,” the legislation states.
During the March 21 Rules Committee meeting, Tribal Councilor Dick Lay said he’s thought about the “protection” of tribal property since the tribe began purchasing more land.
“I’ve been thinking about this for years now, since we’ve started purchasing more property in the Cherokee Nation…the protection of our property and our lands, whether it be trust…or anything else,” he said. “I’ve checked with our legal counsel and with the assistant AG (attorney general) to make sure that this act does not interfere with any previous acts or resolutions or any other work that we’ve done previously in granting easements and that sort of thing.”
The bill follows the legislators rejecting a resolution in January to lease 190 acres of trust land in Adair County to Hunt Mill Hollow Ranch. The ranch is a hunting resort, and its owner wanted to lease the acreage to resolve a trespassing issue with the tribe. After purchasing approximately 5,000 acres nearly a decade ago, the ranch owner fenced in his property as well as CN trust land.
Legislators also unanimously authorized a right-of-way easement to Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company for the W.W. Hasting’s Hospital expansion. Ground was broken for a 469,000-square-foot addition in February.
During the April 10 Resource Committee meeting, Lay said he had concerns about a waiver in the right-of-way bill.
“We need power and gas and so forth, but I keep seeing, in fact, I see them on all three of these resolutions that are coming through Resources. Mr. Speaker and I, we’ve talked about these waivers of evaluation and waivers of bonds, waivers of compensation. Whenever I see a waiver, a red flag goes up, and forgive me for being so independent, but that’s just the way I am,” Lay said.
Joel Bean, of the CN Realty Department, said the waiver in place because the tribe wasn’t requesting any “compensation” for the land.
“For a project that we’re not requesting any compensation for, that’s the reason we’re asking for the wavier evaluation because there’s not really a reason for the tribe to spend three or $4,000 getting an appraisal done for the easement and the substation itself that we’re not going to be charging that company the money for,” he said. “The tribe itself isn’t going to charge for that easement itself, you know. If we’re charging for a pipeline going across our property or something like that we wouldn’t include the wavier unless it was for something that was supplying Cherokee Nation’s property or the business or the buildings or houses. Everything’s going to be supplied to the Nation.”
Lay said he didn’t “like” waivers but voted for the resolution “under protest.”
“What we’re doing here is a good thing. We need it. We gotta have it. But I’m going to vote for it under protest of all these waivers. I just don’t like these waivers because some of these things were built up and sent up for the protection of tribes at one time or another,” he said.
During the Tribal Council meeting, legislators also unanimously passed a resolution to allow the building of seven storm shelters for Head Start facilities in the tribe’s jurisdiction.
During the April 10 Education Committee meeting, Christina Carroll, of CN Grant Services, said the facilities were chosen because they are “Cherokee-owned facilities.”
“We can’t place them on state land or non-tribal facilities. So the seven facilities will be all various communities, and they’ll get shelters that fit their needs for each building,” she said. “They will be attached to the facilities. It’s not a under the ground or anything like that. It’s a additional room on the building and they will be FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)-rated buildings.”
Legislators also unanimously passed a resolution to sponsor a CN Scout Award for the Boy Scouts of America.
During the March 21 Rules Committee meeting, Tribal Councilor Keith Austin said by sponsoring the award “every Cherokee boy in scouting throughout the United States, or throughout the world, can achieve a Cherokee Scout Knot for their uniform.”
In other business, legislators:
• Increased the fiscal year 2017 capital budget by $375,000 to $279.9 million,
• Increased the FY 2017 operating budget by $2.02 million to $669.9 million,
• Approved Dewayne Marshall as a Sequoyah High School board of education member,
• Authorized CN to lease approximately 25 acres of tribal trust land on which a gym and ball field are located to the CC Camp Community Organization in Adair County,
• Authorized the BIA to update the tribe’s inventory of tribal transportation facilities,
• Authorized an application to the Federal Highway Administration for two bridges over Wickliffe Creek in Mayes County,
• Approved CN warehouse donations to Maryetta School, Boys & Girls Club in Delaware County, Disney Assembly of God Church, Spavinaw Community Building, Cedar Tree Baptist Church, Calvary Indian Baptist Church, Stilwell Public Library and the Neighborhood Association of Chewey, and
• Approved CN Education Service donations to Bluejacket Public School.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to Tribal Council records, nine of the 17 Tribal Councilors showed up for at least 95 percent of the meetings they were required to attend from Aug. 14, 2015, to March 21, 2017.
Within that timeframe, Buel Anglen led all legislators in attendance of Tribal Council and committee meetings at 99.3 percent. Anglen attended 147 of 148 meetings.
According to Tribal Council records, Tribal Council meetings consist of regular monthly meetings, which are scheduled for the first Monday after the second Saturday, and any special meetings. Committee meetings are a combination of meetings of all seven standing legislative committees: Community Service, Culture, Education, Executive & Finance, Health, Resources and Rules.
Tribal Council records also state that all legislators serve on all committee except for Bryan Warner and David Walkingstick. They are not members of the Culture Committee. Also, Frankie Hargis joined the Culture Committee during its second meeting, records state.
Joe Byrd and Keith Austin reached 98.6 percent in attendance while Jack Baker garnered 97.2 percent.
Janees Tayler attended 96.6 percent of the required time, while Warner went 96.4 percent of the time. Shawn Crittenden, Curtis Snell and Victoria Vazquez all attended 95.9 percent of their required meetings.
Rex Jordan and Dick Lay each attended 93.9 percent of the time, while Don Garvin went to 91.8 percent of his required meetings. Walkingstick rounded out the 90-percent councilors at 91.5 percent.
Harley Buzzard attended 86.4 percent of his required meetings, while Hargis went 86.3 percent of the time to hers.
Wanda Hatfield went to 80.4 percent of her required meetings, while David Thornton attended 71.6 percent of the time to his required meetings.
Those councilors not seeking re-election because of term limits are Garvin, Thornton, Snell and Baker.
Tribal Councilors are elected by popular vote to four-year terms. Fifteen legislators are elected to represent the districts within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdictional boundaries while two are elected to represent CN citizens living outside the boundaries.
The Tribal Council has the power to establish laws, which it shall deem necessary and proper for the good of the Nation. According to the CN Constitution, the legislative body shall establish its rules for credentials, decorum and procedure. However, there are no policies regarding absences.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Councilors on Feb. 21 unanimously voted to accept an apology from the U.S. Forest Service Southern Region for damages to a Trail of Tears site in the Cherokee National Forest near Coker Creek, Tennessee.
In July 2015, U.S. Forest Service cultural resource managers notified higher-ranked Forest Service officials that they had discovered damage made in 2014 to a site on a Trail of Tears section. The damage consisted of holes dug by a bulldozer and other heavy equipment.
“At that site, 35 large holes were dug into the historic Trail of Tears to create large, earthen berms,” Sheila Bird, Cherokee Nation special projects officer, told the Cherokee Phoenix in 2016. “They used bulldozer and other heavy equipment, and this earthmoving resulted clear and extensive damage to the historic national trail.”
She added that Forest Service employees did the work and claimed that it was done for erosion control and to prevent areas of the Trail of Tears from washing out.
“This is a well-known and mapped Trail of Tears path, but it was not marked because it was privately owned. This land was purchased by Conservation Fund and held for the U.S. Forest Service,” she said. “The District Ranger failed to follow federal laws requiring consultation with Indian tribes. The Forest Service has acknowledged fault and committed to restoring the site.”
According to a Feb 21 resolution, the U.S. Forest Service-Southern Region “recognizes the cultural and historic significance held by the Cherokee Nation regarding the Trail of Tears historic site and extends an apology for the unfortunate and adverse effects that have occurred.”
It also states the “Cherokee Nation agrees to consult on a government to government basis with the U.S. Forest Service-Southern Region regarding the restoration and mitigation of these adverse effects to this Trail of Tears sacred site.”
It adds that as a “Good Faith Effort” and to commit to jointly pursue meaningful mitigation the Tribal Council accepts the apology.
Also during the meeting, Tribal Council voted 17-0 to support the nominations of Michael Doublehead and Steven Wilson as commissioners to the Tax Commission. They also voted Ceciley Thomason-Murphy onto the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
Tribal Councilors voted to donate three surplus vehicles from the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service to the Nowata Police Department and Muskogee and Delaware counties sheriff’s offices.
Three CN citizens were also honored with the Cherokee Medal of Freedom – John Thomas Cripps III, who served in the U.S. Army, and John Paul Atkinson and Jesse James Collins, who served in the Oklahoma Army National Guard and were activated in 2011 to the RECON 1-279th 45th Infantry to Afghanistan.
Two budget modifications were also passed. The comprehensive capital budget was increased by $1.8 million for a total capital budget authority of $279.6 million. The tribe’s operating budget was also increased by $2.1 million for a total budget authority of $666.6 million. The changes consisted of a decrease in the general fund by $92,000 and increases in the indirect cost pool, motor vehicle tax, Department of Interior Self Governance and IHS Self Governance and budgets.