Thursday, January 14
I signed the Title IV-E Grant in the council chambers along with Rafael López, Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, US Department of Health and Human Services from Washington DC; Council members; children and the PHHS staff. It was a very important milestone in the history of our Tribe. Our Tribe became only the seventh all across the United States to have direct access to a Title IV-E plan. This speaks highly of our staff and their abilities as well as the sovereignty of our Tribe. It was a very proud moment for our children and families and I was very happy to be a part of it.
Monday, January 18
The Big Cove community honored volunteers and other contributors to their community with an Appreciation Dinner. I appreciated the invitation and Cyndi attended on our behalf. The Big Cove community has always been very special to us and we always enjoy their company and the food. Thank you Big Cove for recognizing all your volunteers.
Tuesday, January 19
We had a work session with Tribal Council where several new pieces of legislation was discussed and worked on. We also had a Planning Committee meeting where we agreed to build the bowling alley. I was able to work with the TCGE and got the Tribe’s share of the bowling alley cut back, from the $15 million that was originally proposed by the prior administration, to where it will only cost the Tribe $6.5 million. I was able to save the Tribal reserves $8.5 million from what the previous administration was pushing to spend!
Thursday, January 21
In one day, we lost five tribal members. This had to have been one of the saddest days for so many of our families. My heart was heavy with sadness and sorrow for all of the families that went through the loss of a loved one. There were so many deaths in just that one day that the vast majority of our Tribe felt the pain of losing many of our beloved enrolled members. Grimly enough, that was just the start to a stretch of a week to 10 days where we had 13 deaths of Tribal members. On Friday, Jan. 29, there were four funeral services in one day. I have never seen it like this before. Words cannot express how we all felt because it was shocking and very sad. I personally want to extend my prayers and condolences to each of these families.
Several of those deaths had some drug abuse involvement, and I am so angry about that and heartbroken for the senselessness of it all. I am bringing emergency legislation into the February Council to meet this drug epidemic head-on! Treatment centers alone is not going to be enough, so I am going to propose abolishing the Drug Court and instead send the drug dealers and users when they commit crimes into Criminal Court and get tough on crime! I will propose stringent sentencing requirements and stop treating this like a sickness and treat it as a crime! I am angry about the drugs in our communities, and I know we have to have treatment and recovery centers, but we also have to protect our Cherokee families and if that means throwing their butts in jail then that is what needs to happen. Enough misery has gripped our Tribe and we must pull out all the stops to end this madness! Talk to your Council member to support the legislation I bring forward to help our Tribe and to make the changes we all want to see.
Wednesday, January 20 – Friday, January 22
I issued Administrative Leave due to the severe weather with ice and snow. We were hit with several inches of snow and the Tribe, schools and businesses had to shut down for a few days due to the dangerous road conditions. I am very proud of our emergency crews such as the Fire, EMS, Police, DOT, etc. for being on standby and taking charge to make sure our elders, children, and families were safe and taken care of. Our preparations really paid off, and I am proud of the work all our departments did. I have recently approved expenditures for several more pieces of equipment to handle additional snow falls and we will be able to do an even better job if it hits again.
Monday, January 25 – Friday, January 29
This entire week I attended on average two or more funerals every day for all of the people we lost in the previous week. Again, it has been so heartbreaking for our Tribe to lose so many in this short amount of time. We all need to continue to be there to support these families because they will need us more than ever. Please keep them all in your prayers.
Tuesday, January 26
I attended the opening for the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) training session held at our casino. It is the first time the NIGC has held a training session here and I was pleased to give the opening and welcome speech. We had visitors from several different tribes across the East and South.
Later that same morning, we held a Business Committee meeting that took up the rest of the morning and we were able to get a lot of Tribal business done. I appreciate Cherokee County – Snowbird Rep. Adam Wachacha coming up from Snowbird and attending the meeting so that we would have a quorum to be able to vote on all the issues and complete the agenda.
Sadly, on Friday, Jan. 29 and Saturday, Jan. 30, we lost two more members. My prayers are with Rock Burgess and her family and also Ms. Nannie Taylor and her family.
This month has been very busy, and we will continue to make the right decisions for our Tribe and our people. I want to thank all of our employees that helped through the difficult days of snow and the difficult days of sadness. Tribal Construction has done a really good job helping get all the graves dug, ready and covered and the bad weather on top of it made it difficult as well. I also want to thank all the churches, singers and Preachers in our communities! We truly have some remarkable, strong people and together we can support each other when we need it the most. Thank you so much.
And, finally I want to let you know that I have been hard at work putting together a “First 100 Days” report and will be sending that out to you in a few days, so watch for it. We have covered so much ground in a short period of time and I think you will enjoy looking back over the past 100 days and remember how far we have already come and how much more work that lies ahead. I am very proud to be a part of such a great Tribe!
God bless you and the EBCI.