Councilors hear updates on UKB case, casino flooding

BY D. SEAN ROWLEY
Senior Reporter &
CHAD HUNTER
Reporter
10/09/2019 11:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH – During the Sept. 26 Rules Committee meeting, Deputy Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo updated tribal councilors regarding the Cherokee Nation’s stance on the United Keetoowah Band’s recent court victory to place 76 acres of land in trust.

“We are currently considering what our options are regarding rehearing and/or appeal,” Nimmo said. “Because it is pending litigation, I can’t really have a discussion today about the issues or options. There are some specific deadlines … if you are asking for a rehearing either by the three that decided it or the entire group. The general deadline for that is 30 days. Although … you can ask for an extension of time. If you are seeking the Supreme Court to hear a case from a circuit decision, the general timeframe is 45 days. But there you can also ask for an extension of time.”

On Sept. 5, the U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit vacated a 2017 injunction that prevented the 76 acres from being placed in trust in the case of United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians v. the Cherokee Nation.

Tribal Councilor Shawn Crittenden asked Nimmo if “just leaving them alone” was an option.
“I think that is an option,” she said. “I don’t know that’s on the table.”

CNB looks to insurance for flooding loss

At the Sept. 26 Executive & Finance Committee meeting, Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Chuck Garrett said CNB is filing against its “business interruption” coverage in the wake of the temporary closure of Cherokee Casino Fort Gibson.

“We were closed for 100 days,” Garrett said. “We have business interruption insurance. Our CFO Doug Evans and I had a meeting this morning about the process of adjusting that claim. It’s going smoothly, but it is a process of basically establishing ‘what revenue did you lose?’ That’s what we’re insured to replace…. We’re thrilled to be back up and running and have our employees back….”

Garrett said CNB wants to hold an event to mark the casino’s reopening, but acknowledged continued hardship in the area due to the flooding. He said any such function must be organized “at the right time and with the right tone.”

Discussing the Cherokee Springs Plaza in Tahlequah, Garrett said potential lessees were expressing interest and work continues to prepare the siting of a planned hotel.

“You probably have seen some groundwork being done on the hotel,” he said. “That had been somewhat delayed because of the shutdown of the federal government. It is a USDA loan…. We are in negotiations with two tenants for the plaza. We’re looking at some pretty exciting national tenants.”

Councilors back $1 million for customized training

The Rules Committee also unanimously supported a plan to earmark $1 million for a customized career training program geared toward jobs in fields such as health care and construction.

“What this does is authorizes an additional $1 million – in excess of what we already have appropriated – for career readiness programs,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “It can be anything from the building trades to information technology to health care.”

He said funding would be eligible for certain citizens the tribe does not currently cover, or to fill in federal funding gaps.

“It’s really designed to catch the people we’re not helping,” he said. “Career Services takes these applications all the time and sometimes has to say no because they don’t qualify or they don’t fit that program.”

Councilor Janees Taylor said she appreciated the administration recognizing the fact that not everybody wants to go to college.

Call Career Services at 918-453-5555 for more information.
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