TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council passed a resolution Monday requesting a joint venture between Cherokee Nation Education Services and the Bureau of Indian Education to fund Sequoyah High School, and heard from Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Chuck Garrett on gaming and legal issues.
Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd said it would be similar to the tribe's Indian Health Services joint venture.
"This is proposing a joint venture with BIE for Sequoyah High School to improve various projects up there," said Byrd. "The chief and I have had this discussion, so we still need some more input and probably some visits to Washington, D.C., to make this happen."
The request dovetails the tribe's hope to secure staffing, operational, renovation and construction funding for expansion of the high school and other education services.
During his State of the Nation address, Hoskin updated the council on the quarterly meeting of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes, during which Hoskin said solidarity among Oklahoma tribes on the gaming compact dispute with Gov. Kevin Stitt is evident. He also mentioned the tribe has, along with the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations, filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to determine whether the compact automatically renewed at the beginning of the year.
"Every tribe that engages in gaming in this state agrees we are on the right track collectively, and that's good, because there is strength in our numbers, and ultimately it will be the best for our people and, in fact, it would be best for all four million Oklahomans if the tribes' position is ultimately upheld," said Hoskin.
The ongoing legal battle with Stitt has reportedly generated expenses from CNB. Garrett said the expenses are related to the marketing campaign it has created with the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations - United For Oklahoma, which is used by the tribes to spread their message on the gaming compact.
Garrett said CNB had another non-recurring expense related to gaming efforts in Arkansas. He said the Arkansas Racing Commission "inappropriately opened a second application window" for a casino license in Pope County, Arkansas.
"We have revised and updated our application, and it will be resubmitted this week per the invitation of the commission. We're looking forward to establishing that we are, in fact, the only qualified applicant for the license in Arkansas," said Garrett. "We are the only applicant that has received the required endorsement of the county officials. We've also received a resolution of welcoming from the city council, declaring their willingness and ability to deliver the utilities we need to develop a first-class facility that we intend to develop."
Garrett added there have been "some judicial proceedings" related to the Arkansas gaming license in which CNB is not a defendant, but has intervened in to ensure the tribe's voice is heard.
Six more students have graduated from the CN Master Apprentice Language Program, and Hoskin highlighted the tribe's continued commitment to preserving the Cherokee language by discussing a new partnership with Rogers State University. The two entities agreed to launch a televised language course.
"I appreciate the leadership off Councilor Taylor and Councilor [Keith] Austin in brining us an opportunity to partner with RSU in way that not only brings Cherokee language classes to students of Roger State University, but because of the way in which it is conducted and produces, it is a high-quality product that people can access, in fact, all over the world through RSU's YouTube channel," said Hoskin.
The chief will be making a visit to New Orleans Jan. 22 to show support for the Indian Child Welfare Act to be upheld as constitutional in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The act was a previously struck down by a district judge and then reversed by a three-judge panel.
"There is a rehearing, and it is a critical moment, I think, in the Indian Child Welfare Act," said Hoskin.
The next Cherokee Nation Tribal Council meeting is Feb. 10, 6 p.m., at W.W. Keeler Complex.