Cherokee Nation partnering with city on crisis shelter

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Apr. 16—A resolution supporting economic development and a new way to address the homeless issue was approved during the April 15 Cherokee Nation Tribal Council meeting.

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the council approached the issue of homelessness in good faith, and wants to find a solution.

The resolution is a combination of subjects; one is the topic of homelessness and building a crisis shelter. The second part is a contribution to the city to build a new ball park in exchange for the Phoenix Park property.

"The challenge was finding a location, and we found one in Phoenix Park," Hoskin said after the meeting. "The city has an interest in developing a new ball park, so the other part of this is a contribution to the city to build this ball park in a new location through a memorandum of understanding, which the council has now authorized me to negotiate."

Phoenix Park is at West Keetoowah Street and South Phoenix Avenue.

"If [homelessness] was an easy issue, somebody would have figured it out a long time ago," Hoskin said after the meeting.

Hoskin's State of the Nation address started out with the car tag compact. From the tribe's standpoint, there is good news in what the compact has delivered for the past 10 years: infrastructure dollars, law enforcement partnerships, and donations to public schools.

"Since the inception of the compact, we've seen $92 million go to the causes within the framework of the compact, 38% of which goes to education," Hoskin said.

Money collected through car tag sales and taxes goes directly from the treasury of the CN to police, roads or schools, Hoskin said.

"Every dollar from the Cherokee Nation is a dollar," Hoskin said. "With all due respect to the state of Oklahoma, when it collects a dollar, by the time it goes to Oklahoma City, goes through the treasurer, through both chambers, the governor's signature, the funding agency, and the funding formula — particularly for education — works its magic, a dollar is not a dollar."

Negotiations will come to a point soon wherein proposals will change the structure of the compact, Hoskins said.

A memorandum of understanding was signed to expand the program "Local Infrastructure Dollars." The council has spent nearly $14 million of $15 million set aside for local projects on infrastructure, Hoskin said.

"We are adding $1.7 million to that and will include our at-large members with the opportunity to help in the contiguous counties," Hoskin said.

A key concern for CN is House Bill 4118, authored by State Rep. David Hardin, R-District 6. The measure purportedly shields poultry growers from lawsuits if that grower is following a nutrient management plan. The bill has made it through a Senate committee, Hoskin said.

"The men and women who work in the poultry industry, the people on the farms — we certainly support them," Hoskin said. "But we have to, as a nation, care for something that is going to outlast all of us, and that is our water."

Members of the "Remember the Removal Bike Riders" introduced themselves to Tribal Council, sharing their family information first in Cherokee and then English.

Ashawna Miles, one of the riders, talked after the meeting about the event. At age 50, she is riding her bicycle with the group for 950 miles, from Georgia back to Oklahoma.

RTR is an annual bicycle ride of nearly 1,000 miles commemorating the forced removal of the Cherokee people, states the RTR Facebook page.

Three Cherokee Warrior veteran awards were given — one posthumously — by Joe Crittenden, secretary of veteran affairs and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. Christopher Michael Huitt, Luke Isaac Brown, and posthumously Daniel Lee Brown, were honored for their service.

Daniel Brown completed three combat tours in Afghanistan as a hospital corpsman assigned to the U.S. Marine Corp.

"Mr. Daniel Brown was temporarily honorably discharged early due to a traumatic brain injury suffered during combat action in Afghanistan and later permanently honorably discharged on Feb. 25, 2015."

He received a purple heart plus many other achievement medals during his military service.

What's next

The next meeting of the CN Tribal Council is May 13, 6 p.m., at the Tribal Complex.