By TEDDYE SNELL
The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council passed the tribe’s 2010 budget of $535 million during the regular meeting Monday night.
The measure was approved nearly unanimously, 15-2. Councilors opposing the passage included District 3 Councilor David Thornton Sr. and District 2 Councilor S. Joe Crittenden.
Budget initiatives included a $500 per semester increase in scholarships for tribal youth, as well as new opportunities for Cherokee language development among students. Both highlighted an education budget that topped $52 million.
During his state of the nation address, Principal Chief Chad Smith commended councilors for their work.
“The value of the budget is not just to say how much money you have, it provides you the authority to execute the work of the Cherokee Nation,” said Smith. “It reflects the overall strategy of the Cherokee Nation. It allows us to put our money where we want to go – into jobs, language and community. Because we’re frugal, we expect no layoffs or furloughs this year. We were able to provide a bonus for employees who’ve earned it and an increase in the amount of scholarships for students.”
Those attending the meeting Monday night may have noticed improvements to Council Chambers. While new seating has yet to be installed, the floor is now covered in carpet that includes the Cherokee syllabary inlaid in a taupe pile.
Smith joked with attendees, saying there would be a “pop quiz” at the end of the meeting asking attendees what the carpet says.
Due to a scheduling conflict with the National Congress of American Indians annual meeting, the council approved moving next month’s committee and general tribal council meeting to Oct. 19, instead of their regularly scheduled dates.
In other business, the council passed resolutions confirming the nomination of Rick Doherty and Tahlequah Mayor Ken Purdy as members of the board of directors of Cherokee Nation Waste Management LLC.
The council also approved a resolution ratifying litigation in the Northern District, which would allow Cherokee Nation Attorney General Diane Hammons to join in the State of Oklahoma’s lawsuit against the poultry industry.