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Governor's Report - January

Hello Fellow AST Tribal Members,

  I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a safe New Years.  As the New Year is here, the Executive Committee is looking at positive changes in our Great Tribe.  We have gone through an extensive budget process to set the 2019 tribal budget and are hopeful we can be successful in generating additional revenue.  Unfortunately, as of print of this newsletter, the federal government is partially shut down over funding for a border wall.  If the dispute between the President and Congress is not resolved, the shutdown will affect our federal funding.  As of December 21, 2018, we were able to draw down funds available through a Continuing Resolution passed by Congress on December 7, 2018.  Both my office and the Lt. Governor's office are monitoring the situation.

The State of Oklahoma is looking at a new Governor that will take office on January 14, 2019.  I hope the new Governor will work with tribes and see us as partners in the overall success of the state.  The November 2018 election gave us a big surprise with the Fifth Congressional District electing Ms. Kendra Horn, Democrat, over Republican Incumbent Steve Russell.  Part of our jurisdictional boundary is in the Fifth District and I am very excited to work with Congresswoman Horn.  With the newly elected state and federal officials, I hope they will work for the best interest of the people instead of their political party.

THE HONORABLE ROBERT WILKIE, SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

On November 8, 2018, Lt. Governor Blanchard and I attended a Tribal Nations Veterans Town Hall at the Chickasaw Nation, Ada, Oklahoma.  Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby and National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President and Chickasaw Nation Lt. Governor Jefferson Keel hosted the Town Hall, where the Honorable Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie addressed issues Native Veterans face in VA services.  Secretary Wilkie provided some proposed solutions to help not only Native Veterans but all Veterans who are having difficulties accessing services.

Secretary Wilkie was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 23, 2018, and was sworn in on July 30, 2018, to serve as the Tenth Secretary of Veterans Affairs.  Before confirmation as VA Secretary, Mr. Wilkie served under Secretary of Defense James Mattis as his Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness -- the principal adviser to Secretary Mattis and Deputy Secretary of Defense for Total Force Management as it relates to readiness, National Guard and Reserve component affairs, health affairs, training, and personnel requirements and management, including equal opportunity, morale, welfare, recreation, and the quality of life for military families.

Tribal leaders of Oklahoma's 39 tribes were invited to attend.  Tribes that were represented were:  Seminole Nation - Principal Chief Greg Chilcoat and Second Chief Lewis Johnson, Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes - Governor Reggie Wassana and Lt. Governor Gilbert Miles, Chickasaw Nation - Governor Bill Anoatubby and Lt. Governor Jefferson Keel, and Absentee-Shawnee Tribe - Governor Edwina Butler-Wolfe and Lt. Governor Kenneth Blanchard.  Other state officials joined the new secretary at the Chickasaw Nation Community Center.  Secretary Wilkie mentioned the Suicide Task Force will be a national effort to provide the needed assistance to Veterans who are seeking help.

One of the VA issues our tribe is facing is the renewal of the contract of services between the VA and our health system.  There is a lapse in time on the renewal of contracts, which has slowed payment and services for our Veterans.  I did address this issue at the Town Hall and Secretary Wilkie indicated that it was a concern and they are working on getting things in order for faster renewals of contracts that tribes have with the Veterans Administration.

CONGRESSWOMAN KENDRA HORN

On December 16, 2018, the Oklahoma City Pow-Wow Club hosted an Honor Pow-Wow for Congresswoman Kendra Horn at Shawnee Middle School.  There were three tribes represented at the event; Vice-Chair Linda Capps, Citizen Potawatomi Nation Lt. Governor Gilbert Miles, Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes; Governor Edwina Butler-Wolfe and Representative Atheda Fletcher, Absentee Shawnee Tribe; and a representative from the Cherokee Nation.  Tribal leaders that were present had a chance to visit with Congresswoman Horn in an offsite room.  Some topics were: Protecting our Sovereignty as Nations, court cases of the recent ruling in Texas pertaining to the Indian Child Welfare, Adult Care, Health, Water Rights, and Department of Transportation Self-Governance Negotiated Rule Making.

Congresswoman Horn ran two nonprofits focused on developing leadership skills and encouraging women to run for public office.  Congresswoman Horn has also worked in the aerospace industry, Oklahoma's second largest public sector employer.  She also brings a deep understanding of how government should work and, as an attorney and mediator, has experience bringing people with differing opinions together.

LITTLE AXE PUBLIC SCHOOL MEETING

On December 18, 2018, the Absentee Shawnee Tribe Education Director Tresha Spoon, After School Coordinator Blake Goodman and I attended an Indian Education Parent Committee meeting at Little Axe Public Schools.  The meeting addressed information on the federal programs and funding the school receives for the Native student population.  There has been confusion and lack of understanding by several area schools on the consultation policy in the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Each school district receiving federal funds for their Native student population is required to have an annual consultation with tribes on the activities and funding.  Some school districts contend Parent Committee Meetings are Consultations, which is been very disturbing to me.

The Every Student Succeeds Act was signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015, and was designed so Tribal leaders and school superintendents could come together in consultation to discuss federal dollars that public schools receive and how those federal dollars are spent.  The Title VI Grant is for American Indian students and those dollars should be spent only on Indian Students.  I am finding that a few of our area schools are not following the law.

We hope in the near future all area public schools what the law is designed to do!

EXPRESSIONS

For those families that may have lost a loved one this month, I offer my sincere condolences to you and your family on your loss.

CONCLUSION

I appreciate Tribal members who have come by my office or called with their concerns.  My door is open unless I am in a meeting or attending a meeting elsewhere.

Help me make a difference - stand beside me and Let Us Build For The Future (BFF)

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