Cherokee Nation pursues $50 million federal lawsuit for IHS payments


TAHLEQUAH, Okla. —The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council passed a resolution Monday to file a lawsuit against the federal government for nearly $50 million, the amount of funds the tribe should’ve received for health services.

The tribe plans to file a lawsuit against the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., for the underpayment of health program costs that would normally be offered by Indian Health Services. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005, based on the Contract Dispute Act of 1978, that the federal government is responsible for paying the full amount promised.

“The federal government is dragging its feet on paying us the money that according to the Supreme Court we’re entitled to, so unfortunately we have to go to the next step of litigation,” Tribal Council member Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “We have to sue the federal government to recover those monies. We know that it will be successful, and it’s just unfortunate that it’s come to a lawsuit.”

During the June 10 Tribal Council meeting, council members also approved 10 new road improvement projects for completion over the next eight to 10 years.

They include the following:

In Craig County, near Vinita, improving a one-mile access road and bridge on ES4410 Road.
In Muskogee and McIntosh counties, near Porum, improving 15 miles on Texanna Road.
In Adair County, extending for three miles the existing Lyon Switch project on Lyon South Road.
In Delaware County, near Colcord, improving seven miles between NS4700 Road and U.S. 412 to state Route 116.
In Muskogee and Cherokee counties, a nine-mile project on Four Mile Road from U.S. 62 to Route 80.
In Sequoyah and Cherokee counties, a 13-mile project on Dwight Mission/Sequoyah Landing and Bay Road from Pinhook Corners to the Cherokee Nation property on the Robert S. Kerr Reservoir.
In Adair County, an eight-mile project on Bidding Springs Road from Route 51 to NS4620 Road and the intersection of EW0808 Road and Route 51.
In Rogers County, a six-mile project on Washington Road from Route 66 to EW0430 Road.

In Cherokee County, a five-mile project on Mud Valley Road between South Coos Thompson and Route 51 Spur.
In Cherokee County, improving the U.S. 62 and Coffee Hollow Road intersection that serves Sequoyah Schools. It could include a traffic signal.

In other business, the Tribal Council passed a resolution to oppose U.S. House Bill 1066, which amends the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. This could change the legal definition of “Indian” by including members of “Indian organizations,” whether or not such individuals are actually tribal citizens.

Sequoyah High School was authorized to apply for the Native American’s Esther Martinez Initiative Grant to aid in developing science, technology, engineering and math curriculum in the Cherokee language for grades 5-12. The grant is for $900,000 over three years. A budget modification was passed, increasing the overall budget for fiscal year 2013 to $572.6 million, of which $2.5 million will be used for housing rehabilitation throughout the Nation’s 14-county jurisdiction.

Cherokee Nation News Release
Julie Hubbard - 918-207-3896 

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