TAHLEQUAH DAILY PRESS —
“UKBCIO has no treaty rights and no jurisdictional area,” said Miller. “The fact that UKBCIO has no jurisdictional area was underscored again just last week when a federal court in Muskogee ruled UKBCIO could not receive HUD funding because it has no jurisdictional area.”
A week before that, he added, the federal government denied the UKBCIO’s request to take land into trust, again keeping the UKBCIO without any jurisdiction.
“Since tribes can only exercise IHS contracting within their jurisdictional area, UKBCIO’s announcement means nothing,” Miller said. “There is nothing to suggest that IHS or any other agency of the federal government would attempt to reverse hundreds of years of treaties with the Cherokee Nation and countless federal court rulings that say the UKBCIO has no jurisdiction; only the Cherokee Nation has jurisdiction over Indian Country within our 14-county area.”
UKB Chief George Wickliffe believes the CN would fall short in caring for patients or employees, should it gain control of the hospital.
“The UKB is concerned that a proposal made by another tribe to provide services in the area will not address the real health care problems faced by eligible Indians in the Tahlequah service unit, nor will it adequately protect the present employees of the facilities at [Hastings],” said Wickliffe.
Miller said the UKB announcement is nothing more than a ploy to complicate the self-governance process the Cherokee Nation has already undertaken, and places unneeded uncertainty in the minds of employees and patients.
“Cherokee Nation has already said that, upon any transition of services to Cherokee Nation, that all Hastings employees will be offered the opportunity either remain as federal employees or become tribal employees,” said Miller. “Our goal, as we stated last week, is to keep every employee, should any transition occur. Employees would be given the opportunity to pick the compensation package they feel would benefit them the most, either federal or tribal.”