Council shows dependent public schools support

Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
02/18/2016 12:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
John Sparks is unanimously confirmed to the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission during the Feb. 16 Tribal Council meeting in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Shaun Shepherd is confirmed to the Cherokee Nation Business board of directors at the Feb. 16 Tribal Council meeting. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Fannie Robinson speaks during the Tribal Council’s Feb. 16 meeting. She was confirmed to the Cherokee Nation Tax Commission at the meeting. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The Cherokee Nation Code Annotated five-book volume contains the tribe’s law and resolutions. The volume can be viewed at the CN legislative offices or the Attorney General’s Office. It can also be purchased at the CN Gift Shop for $455. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During its Feb. 16 meeting, Tribal Councilors unanimously declared support for the continual operation of dependent public schools located within Cherokee Nation jurisdiction.

According to the resolution, there are 26 dependent public schools located within the jurisdiction. Those schools have 6,965 students enrolled, and 3,294, or 47 percent, of them are CN citizens.

The resolution states the CN percentage of students enrolled at the schools is higher than the number of CN students enrolled at independent schools within the tribe’s jurisdiction and that the closure of dependent schools would have a “devastating” effect on CN citizens attending and the CN families living in surrounding communities.

Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd said keeping the rural schools open is important for “the good of the students and community.”

“The small, rural dependent school districts are the heartbeat of their community, and the Cherokee Nation has an obligation to help keep that heartbeat going,” Byrd said. “Whether it is financial support through car tag sales or vocal support through legislation, this Tribal Council stands united in backing our dependent school districts and helping them keep their doors open.”

Tribal Councilors also passed an act affirming and codifying CN laws and statues.

Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor said the act acknowledges that tribal officials have created a volume of five books titled “Cherokee Nation Code Annotated” that has the tribe’s laws and resolutions within them.

“It took quite a while to do, but it’s just making it official that those are our laws and our resolutions, basically everything that we have,” she said. “If somebody wants to look up a law for some reason they can do it in one place now.”

Taylor said the books can be found in the legislative offices and the Attorney General’s Office. The books can also be purchased at the CN Gift Shop for $455.

Legislators also confirmed John Sparks, of Norman, to the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission; Shaun Shepherd, of Tahlequah, to the Cherokee Nation Businesses board of directors; and Fannie Robinson, of Kansas, Oklahoma, to the Cherokee Nation Tax Commission.

Sparks and Robinson were approved unanimously while three legislators opposed Shepherd’s confirmation.

Sparks said he is thankful for the opportunity to serve on the CNGC.

“Thank you all for having me, and I just want you to know how flattered and honored I am to be asked to serve…to execute my duties in this role,” he said.

While serving on the CNB board, Shepherd said he looks forward to the challenges it holds.

“Mr. Speaker, council, I want to thank everybody in this administration for putting their trust in me for this position,” he said. “I look forward to the challenges, and look forward to serving the Cherokee Nation and its citizens.”

Councilors also passed a resolution supporting the CN’s Promise Zone application.

The Promise Zone is a White House initiative that consists of the federal government investing in and partnering with tribal communities to increase economic activity, create jobs, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime and improve educational opportunities.

According to, Promise Zones are “high poverty communities.” The initiative provides resources such as tax incentives, pending enactment of tax incentives by Congress and grants to these communities.

Currently the only location in Oklahoma designated as a Promise Zone is the Choctaw Nation, which occurred in 2014.

Councilors also unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the Bureau of Indian Affairs to revise and update the tribe’s Inventory of Tribal Transportation Facilities to include three new routes.

The routes are in Ottawa County and consist of S610 Loop, EW-0190 Road and NS-4610 Road.

In other news, councilors increased the fiscal year 2016 capital budget by $2.2 million to $121.6 million. The increase of $2,245,423 went to the Motor Vehicle Tax budget. Councilors also increased the FY 2016 operating budget by $1.9 million to $656.7 million. In it the General Fund increased by $84,578, the Motor Vehicle Tax increase by $1,156,896 and DOI-Self Governance received $124,108. The remaining $609,208 came from grants.

The council also passed nine resolutions authorizing the donation of surplus office equipment to Nowata Cherokees in Nowata County, Redbird Stomp Grounds in Sequoyah County, Boys and Girls Club in Delaware County, 51 West Fire Department in Adair County, Brushy Cherokee Community Organization in Sequoyah County, Boys and Girls Club in Sequoyah County, Stokes Stomp Grounds in Sequoyah County and Belfonte Baptist Church in Sequoyah County.

The next Tribal Council meeting is set for 6 p.m. on March 14.


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