Cherokee Nation Tribal Council recognizes ‘Removal’ ride volunteer
Philip Viles, a former chief justice of the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court, is honored at the March 11 Tribal Council meeting for his service with the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. Viles served more than 25 years with the Supreme Court, 16 of them as chief justice. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Principal Chief Bill John Baker presents his monthly State of the Nation speech to the Tribal Council during its March 11 meeting. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – Tribal Councilors on March 11 recognized with a resolution a volunteer who supports the Cherokee Nation’s annual “Remember the Removal” bike ride.
Councilors unanimously recognized Jose Alcala for his volunteer work repairing the bicycles used during the nearly 1,000-mile journeys. Principal Chief Bill John Baker presented Alcala a traditional blanket and thanked for his efforts to ensure the safety of cyclists.
Councilors also authorized the donations of surplus equipment by the tribe’s warehouse to Vian Peace Center, Mid-County Community Organization, Oaks Community Organization, Zion School and No-We-Ta Cherokee Community Foundation.
Two budget amendments were also approved. The capital budget was adjusted to include an additional $538,441, bringing the total for fiscal 2019 to $281.2 million. The second item added increases of $45,393 to the general fund, $61,877 to the indirect cost pool and $36,311 to the enterprise budget.
During the afternoon meeting of the Tribal Council’s Community Services Committee, members approved a resolution authorizing the Bureau of Indian Affairs to update the CN’s tribal transportation facilities inventory to include 28.9 miles of road in Ottawa, Washington and Sequoyah counties. The item was amended into the council agenda and approved.
In his State of the Nation address, Baker mentioned the tribe’s disbursement of more than $5.7 million to more than 100 school districts in the Nation’s 14-county jurisdiction, and the arrangement between Financial Resources and Nissan USA to offer tribal citizens and employees a $3,500 rebate who purchase an electric Nissan LEAF by April 1.
Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Shawn Slaton, during his report, said CNB’s income was “up $8.7 million from last year” through the first four months of fiscal 2019.
After the report, Slaton and Councilor Shawn Crittenden engaged in an exchange about the claim that some Cherokee Nation Industries employees in Stilwell were “getting write-ups due to a computer system” erroneously logging “idle time.”
Slaton said of at least 125 employees, more than 100 were not experiencing problems. He further stated that an assessment of the idle time logged by 22 employees determined that 19 were issued justified write-ups. Crittenden was dissatisfied with the explanation and said a supervisor told him that a number of hard-working employees were written up.
Council Speaker Joe Byrd asked Slaton to email the council a summary of the situation.
Councilor Dick Lay said he had received inquiries about the process of selecting art for the W.W. Hastings Hospital expansion and the new casino in Tahlequah. Slaton said there were two bidding periods handled by a procurement company, and a committee selected the pieces.
Slaton said 25 artists submitted works for the first bid, and 20 had pieces selected. The second bid yielded pieces from 63 artists, Slaton said, with 48 having works chosen.
Before the meeting closed, Councilor Janees Taylor presented “forms” to councilors that she said refuted an allegation by Councilor David Walkingstick during the Feb. 28 Rules Committee meeting that her family owned a building that was rented to CN Career Services.
“I have never owned this building,” said Taylor, claiming the warranty deed on the property showed a sale in 2002. “Nobody in my family owns this building. Nobody in my family is a party to this contract with Cherokee Nation….”
Taylor said Walkingstick could have verified ownership of the property, but chose to “slander a fellow council member.”
Walkingstick claimed he researched the property, saying it was owned by an in-law of Taylor’s, and sold in 2015. He said “a CNB board member cannot have any immediate family member doing business with the Cherokee Nation.”
Taylor asked Walkingstick who in the Mayes County Courthouse informed him the property was sold in 2015, adding that her brother-in-law built the building and sold it in 1996. Walkingstick said he personally checked the deed, and would “distribute it to the council.”
Byrd closed the meeting with a statement to councilors to “do due diligence,” and “make sure you have your facts straight.”
According to Mayes County Assessor officials, the land the Career Services building in Pryor sits on is owned by Rex Alexander Enterprises. The company bought the property in 2002, county officials said.