Council establishes Free and Independent Press
The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council unanimously approved an act July 17 establishing a free and independent press for the Cherokee Nation after tabling the issue in May.
An important part of the act is the establishment of an editorial board. An amendment was made to the act to allow for the council to choose one of three editorial board members called for in the act. Previously, only the chief was to choose the board members.
The chief will appoint another board member and the third will be chosen by the "initial two." Each board member will be subject to confirmation by the council and principal chief. During the meeting, the council voted to change wording in the act to also provide the chief with confirmation power.
Another amendment made to the act was to remove the requirements of a journalism degree for board members. Board members must be at least 25 years old, and according to the act "have quality experience in the management and operations of publications, be of good character and have a reputation of integrity, be physically able to carry out the duties of office and certify he or she will adhere to the standards of accepted ethics of journalism as defined by the Society of Professional Journalists and endorsed by the Native American Journalists Association."
Editorial board members will serve staggered six-year terms, and "must serve their terms of office free from political influence from any executive or legislative officials of any branch, division or department of the government of the nation," the act states.
Commissioner Ralph Keen Jr. presented a report on the Constitution Convention Commission's effort to have the revised Cherokee Constitution approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and/or the president.
In May the council approved an amendment to the current constitution that abolished the required approval "of the president of the United States or his authorized representative" to approve the revised constitution.
Keen said the commission presented the council's amendment for approval to Assistant Secretary of the Interior and head of the BIA Kevin Gover.
"We also presented a letter to impress upon Mr. Gover the unity of Cherokee Nation to get this approved," Keen said.
Keen said Chief Smith recently spoke with Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, who volunteered to take another copy of the letter, put it on his letterhead and request some action be taken on it by Gover.
He said he and other commissioners also have begun a telephone campaign to Gover to attempt to have a meeting with him.
"We've been unable to communicate with him directly," Keen said.
Cherokee Nation Enterprises CEO Jerry Holderby reported CNE has "been able to show a very strong profit its first three quarters" with the third quarter ending in June. CNE has a net profit of $5 million, and all operations are showing a net profit, he said.
The Cherokee Gift Shop had "a very good third quarter, showing net profit of $12,000. The gift shop's mail orders have increased due to ads in the Cherokee Advocate," he said.
"We are gearing up for our final quarter, and we expect to see profits exceed last year's year-end totals. We expect to end the year very strong," he said.
Holderby said Chief Smith recently met with Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-HI, on gaming issues, which has led to a congressional committee oversight hearing to clarify Class II gaming definitions as it applies to the use of computers and technology aids for network bingo games and pool tab dispensers.
In other business the council approved 10 resolutions, including the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination resolution (see housing sidebar) and three acts including:
- notification of Housing and Urban Development of plan to designate the Cherokee Nation as the recipient for funding from the Act of 1996;
- authorization for Food Distribution Program to submit an application for $1,451,935 in funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture;
- authorization for the Child Care and Development Department to prepare and submit an application to the Department of Health and Human Services for continued funding of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Programs;
- authorization to submit a $260,039 grant application for the John A. Ketcher Youth Services Center Shelter and Community-Based Youth Services;
- authorization to submit an application for a $75,000 "Runaway and Homeless Youth" grant to supplement the operation of emergency shelter services at the John A. Ketcher Youth Services Center;
- approval of an amendment to the priority list of Indian Reservation Roads Projects to discontinue the Cherokee Heights Road Project in Mayes County because of unacceptable cost for right-of-way acquisition and instead complete another priority road known as Cedar Crest Road, also located in same county;
- authorization for a grant of right-of-way over Cherokee Nation tribal lands at Kirby Flats Road Project in Delaware County;
- authorization for preparation and submission of a grant application to the Department of Justice through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency to implement a Tribal Youth Program that will improve the tribe's juvenile justice system and prevent delinquency;
- authorization for Cherokee Nation Industries to have sovereign immunity to conduct business transactions;
- authorization for Principal Chief Chad Smith to negotiate on behalf of the Cherokee Nation regarding gaming;
- amendment of Legislative Act #22-99 authorizing the designation of motor fuels contract funds in the amount of $1 million for the purpose of road construction projects within the Cherokee Nation;
- appropriation of certain motor fuel tax funds for Community Development of septic and sewage contracts, amending the comprehensive budget for fiscal year 2000 and declaring an emergency; and
- amendment of the comprehensive budget for fiscal year 2000 and declaring an emergency.