TAHLEQUAH – With passage of a piece of legislation, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council appropriated further funding to preserve places of significance in Cherokee history.

An act passed March 13 funnels money from several sources into the restoration and maintenance of properties listed on the Cherokee Nation Register of Historic Places.

At their monthly meeting, the Tribal Council unanimously agreed to create the Cherokee Nation Historic Places Preservation Fund to help preserve tribal sites and also commission official biographies and publications of historical significance.

“I appreciate the council’s consideration and the approval by the Rules Committee for the Historic Places Fund,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “This will enable us to look at the sites we’ve placed on the historic registry and put some funding behind the efforts to preserve them. Of course, year in and year out, we commit a significant amount of funding to historic preservation, but this act … will create a $1 million fund to bolster those efforts.”

The act – an amendment to the Cherokee Nation Registry of Historic Places Act of 2019 – transfers into the new fund $1 million held by the Cherokee Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Office and up to $1 million from the tribe’s agricultural and business leases. It can also receive funding from grants, contributions and other miscellaneous sources, according to the legislation.

“All funds placed into the Historic Places Preservation Fund by operation of the act or subsequent appropriations by the Council of the Cherokee Nation shall remain in the Historic Places Preservation Fund in subsequent fiscal years,” the act states.

Any property listed on the Cherokee Nation Register of Historic Places is eligible for funding from the Historic Places Preservation Fund.

Hoskin noted during his State of the Nation address that 16 sites are now on the CN historic registry. The act received unanimous approval from the full council.

During his report, Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Chuck Garrett said he had heard concerns from citizens about the welfare of CN finances after the Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank failures. He said the tribe’s money “is safe.”

“We have a very strict treasury policy with regards to what we can invest in and where we can invest it,” Garrett said. “To the extent it’s in cash, it’s all in triple-A securities or in a bank with the balance sheet acting as a full guarantee on that deposit. We have a very capable team monitoring all of that.”

Items for consideration, which all passed unanimously, included budget modifications, warehouse donations to area organizations and a resolution confirming the nomination of Colton Montgomery to the governing board of the CN Comprehensive Care Agency.

Earlier in the day, during the Community Services Committee meeting, Jennifer Kirby of Human Services said interviews and hiring would result in eight or nine full-time employees for a new program to assist homeless Cherokee citizens. 

“We will situate them throughout the reservation,” said Kirby, who noted that homelessness can take different forms. She suggested some may be “couch-surfing” with friend and relatives, and homelessness can occur due to unemployment, natural disaster or other reasons.

The new program would specifically address homelessness, which is currently being handled jointly by Human Services, the Housing Authority and Career Services. Kirby said the CN currently receives 50-60 office visits per month concerning the homeless seeking services.

“But we’re not being able to fully case manage it like we need to,” Kirby said. “Hopefully we will do great things with this and integrate it into what we do.”

The next regular meeting of the CN Tribal Council is 6 p.m., April 10 in the tribal headquarters inside the W.W. Keeler Complex.

Reporter Chad Hunter contributed to this story.