By TEDDYE SNELL
In a 9-7 roll-call vote, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council passed an act earmarking dividends from Cherokee Nation Enterprises for contract health services during its regular meeting Monday night.
Cherokee Nation Enterprises currently provides a 30 percent dividend to the tribe. The new legislation will raise that percentage to 35, and earmark 5 percent for dental care, hearing aids and vision care.
Some tribal councilors were opposed to the measure, saying CNE had entered into an agreement approved by the council in January that would prevent them from altering the dividend.
Cherokee Nation Treasurer Callie Catcher was asked for clarification.
“We entered into an agreement with Bank of America as part of the three-year capitol plan with CNE and Cherokee Nation Industries that provides a $5.1 million line of credit, with the understanding we would not alter the current 30 percent dividend policy,” said Catcher. “That resolution was passed unanimously by the council in January. Can that agreement be renegotiated? Sure, but the Cherokee Nation gave its word, and now we’re changing it.”
Tribal councilors opposed to the measure believed that instead of taking profits from the tribe’s business entities, citizens would be greater served by growing those same businesses, and services would be provided through employment opportunities in which health insurance was included as a benefit.
Those favoring the measure argued the elderly and many others in rural areas had nothing to gain through long-term employment planning, and that services should be provided from the entities’ profits.
Ultimately, the measure passed, although many on both sides of the issue expect a veto from Principal Chief Chad Smith in the coming days.
Councilors unanimously passed a measure opposing the state’s legislation to make English the official language of Oklahoma.
Councilor Charles Hoskin sponsored the resolution, more in defense of native languages than in opposition to the state. Hoskin was absent from Monday’s meeting, as he was serving in the state Legislature. Councilor Bill John Baker spoke on Hoskin’s behalf.
“This resolution supports the preservation and development of Cherokee and other native languages more than it opposes English,” said Baker. “It wants to ensure the success of the Cherokee language degree program at Northeastern State University, and the immersion classes offered here at the Cherokee Nation Child Development Center, as well as preserving all native languages in the state of Oklahoma.”
Cherokee artists and copyrights on their work. The new legislation allows artists to negotiate for copyrights while still being able to sell their work to the Cherokee Nation. In the past, many artists felt they had been “black-balled” from being chosen for contracts if they refused to sell the copyright on their works.
The tribal council also approved a $2.2 million budget modification, which would appropriate $421,000 for a recreation center to be built on the property formerly home to Markoma Christian Academy, as well providing a $65,000 donation to the Tahlequah Boys & Girls Club.
In other business, the tribal council passed:
• A resolution confirming Pam Iron and Tom Herrian as governing board members of the Cherokee Nation Comprehensive Care Agency.
• A resolution allowing the donation of the tribe’s Health Services Mobile Unit to Cherokee County Emergency Management.
• Two resolutions allowing for grant applications to Centers for Disease Control for the breast and cervical cancer early detection program and the comprehensive cancer control program.
The next regular meeting of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council will be held at 6 p.m., Monday, May 14, in Council Chambers at the W.W. Keeler Complex south of Tahlequah.