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President's Report - January

It’s a new year.

I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays. 2018 is behind us. It was my 20th year here at the Tribe. That is a long time to be in one place with 13 years of that being in tribal politics. If you have ever been in tribal politics, you know what I am talking about. It’s a lot different being in this position though. Only a few would understand.

That being said, one good political memory was from December 2018 at the AoA Christmas Dinner. I served two elders who once served as Presidents of the Tribe and then another came in a little later, and so I made sure I served him too. How lucky can a person be to say that they served three former Tribal Presidents a Christmas Dinner? We only have four living besides me. No matter the politics, that was a neat opportunity. We may have our differences in politics at times, but you always remember to do your best to respect those who have served at that level.  

Only a few know the responsibility. I didn’t realize how big of a responsibility and how different your life is with all of that on your shoulders until I stepped into this role. It can be tough at times, but it is a new year and we have 1 ½ years left in this term to get some things moving.

Below are some of the reports on my meetings, travel, and updates.

As of today, January 23, 2019, the Federal Government is on Day 33 of a Government Shutdown. The shutdown has affected many of our tribal people working at various government agencies, including the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Wichita Executive Committee has tried to address the issue by providing a one-time assistance for those enrolled tribal members who work for the federal government.

The shutdown is starting to affect many other areas. Many of our grants are federally funded, many for which we can no longer draw down funds. 

I have been working on gathering information for discussion on a Revenue Allocation Plan. The first draft with many issues to consider was provided to the Wichita Executive Committee. 

Those issues include: whether elders’ payments would be included in the plan; inflation; budget authority; whether or not the Tribe will pursue a constitution; investment policy; charitable donation policy; donations to local governments; appeals board; laws that would affect the RAP Plan; loans by the Tribe for other economic  development projects; resolutions that will be needed; making sure language is clearly defined in the definitions; whether any per capita payments, if any, would be annually or bi-annually; procedures for tribal members to opt out of any per capita payments, if any; minor trust accounts; deceased accounts; address unknown; notifying tribal members of tax liability; how a per capita payment, if any, will affect those who receive DHS assistance, housing assistance, Social Security, etc.; how the Tribe will handle per capita payments, if any, for those who are incarcerated; and taking into consideration for some of the programs that the Tribe has using gaming revenues and how the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act applies to those programs. The Committee asked about defining the fiscal year, having court-appointed family members over minor accounts or those who have been declared incompetent and tax issues. The work being done does not mean that the Tribe will have a Per Capita Payment. Over the years, several people on the Wichita Executive Committee and also a group of tribal members has volunteered to prepare one, but no one ever prepared an official presentation to the General Council that explained the issues or what it might do to funding for our programs and affect the overall financial status of the Tribe.

During the Council Meeting held in July, I explained that I would gather the information for a presentation that lays out the issues regarding a Revenue Allocation Plan. Our Tribe has limited land and only one Casino. Our 8(a) companies aren’t producing like they did when we first started them several years ago. While many people want a per-capita payment, we are not getting the revenue we once did from our 8(a) companies; revenues from our cell tower program have basically stopped in December due to an FCC ruling; the Government Shutdown has proposed new issues with which we are encountering; with the grants and contracts that we get now, we are having to supplement more and more each year due to less funding from the Government; and more tribes sharing in the formula for funding. Once that money is gone, if it is given out in a per capita payment, we will have no funds for growth; no funds to purchase land; no funds to back up loans for expansion such as our casino expansion specifically; or if we run into issues with the Oil and Gas industry or another Government Shutdown. All of these things need to be considered before moving forward with any types of payment for a per capita. I would love to be able to give one but, in reality, it could be detrimental to future growth. Anyway, we have a Special General Council Meeting on Saturday, February 23, 2019, to discuss the pros and cons.

On October 17, 2018, the Wichita Executive Committee entered into an agreement with Leader, LLC for a strategic plan. We met with the Directors of tribal programs on Wednesday, January 16, 2019. Lots of ideas were put out there for their vision for their programs. On Monday, January 21, 2019, we held a joint session with the Wichita Executive Committee and the various Commissions of the Tribe. We will also hold a strategic planning session on Saturday, February 23, 2019, for the General Council’s participation. We want your vision for the future of the Tribe. This is a session to put out there your ideas—if money, time, and resources were no object—what you would envision for the Tribe’s future. After that session, Leader, LLC will develop the final strategic plan. This will be a road map for future leaders and generations so that they know what our Tribe saw for the future. We hope you will come and participate in this process.

Over the last few years, I have emailed the former Superintendent of the Anadarko Public Schools specific questions regarding Impact Aid. We have always gotten a response. This year, the Anadarko Public Schools has a new Superintendent, who was also willing to answer the same questions. In addition, I also sent those questions to the Apache Public Schools Superintendent who also provided a response. Below are their responses regarding Impact Aid.

1. How much impact aid money was received for 2019?

  • Response from Anadarko: Impact Aid is paid in what the Federal Government and the U.S. Department of Education call a LOT, which stands for Learning Opportunity Threshold. Our percentage of LOT for this current FY 19 year is 58.85%. We have received one payment this year in the amount of $864,920.53 but we are projected (not guaranteed due to Impact Aid not being forward-funded) to receive a total of $1,729,841.08 for FY 19. If we would have received 100% of our LOT for FY 19 the projected total amount would have been $2,939,407.10.

2. How many Indian students are enrolled in Anadarko Public Schools?

  • Response from Anadarko:  We have 1,216 Indian students enrolled in the Anadarko Public School District.

3. How much is received for each student?

  • Response from Anadarko:  The amount per student varies from year to year based on the % of LOT being distributed for the year and also whether a student is classified as special education.  But if you take the total amount projected to be received this year of $1,729,841.08 divided by the number of students (1,216), it would be an average of $1,422.57 per student.

4. Is there a budget for these specific funds or are they put into a general fund?

  • Response from Anadarko: As defined by the U.S. Department of Education, the purpose of Impact Aid is to compensate local educational agencies for lost revenue due to tax-exempt federal property, therefore the use of the funds is not restricted in any way. Impact Aid funds are to be used for general operating purposes as allowed by state or local guide, the same as all other general funds monies. We do also receive Title VII Indian Education funds and Johnson O’Malley funds, which sometimes the public confuses with Impact Aid funds. Title VII and Johnson O’Malley funds are run through David Sullivan’s Indian Education program and are designated specifically for use with Indian students only. Both of those programs do have specific budgets as set forth in their program guidelines.

1. How much impact aid money was received for 2019?

  • Response from Apache:  $390,158.28

2. How many Indian students are enrolled in Anadarko Public Schools?

  • Response from Apache:  319 Indian students, 577 total

3. How much is received for each student?

  • Response from Apache:  Impact Aid $676.19, total per-pupil expenditures $8,012.91

4. Is there a budget for these specific funds or are they put into a
general fund?

  • Response from Apache:  Placed into a general fund and used as needed for expenditures.  (Note: Apache also does not have a JOM Program nor does it receive Title VI funding. They do have a Native American Club
    for students.)

Land Claim Settlement Questions: 
Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker, LLP provided the responses.

1. Land Claim Settlements in the 1980’s-In regards to minerals, do we have any avenue to go after the mineral rights in those land claims? If not, can you give us the specific information from the Land Claims that keeps us from going after them?

  • As a general matter, when land is designated by the United States for tribal ownership, the tribe automatically obtains the subsurface mineral rights for that land unless those rights were explicitly reserved by the U.S. in the reservation grant or subsequent agreement. Starting in 1963, the Tribe had its ownership restored for three tracts of Settlement lands. In each of the federal Public Land Orders, the land was “restored to tribal ownership for the use and benefit of the Wichita and Affiliated Bands of Indians...subject to valid existing rights.” The Public Land Orders do not contain any specific restrictions or reservations of mineral rights to the federal government or any other party. Therefore, the Tribe should have obtained full rights over the subsurface minerals in the Settlement lands at the time the Public Land Orders were issued, except to the extent there were other parties that held “valid existing rights” to those minerals at the time the lands were restored to the Tribe’s ownership.

2. What about water rights? Do the claims address water rights?

  • The Tribe currently has the opportunity to assert water rights claims in the Settlement lands based on two primary legal grounds. First, the Tribe can assert a water rights claim to water sufficient to support Tribal hunting and fishing rights within the boundaries of the former reservation. Second, the Tribe can assert agricultural water rights for irrigation on lands held in trust for the Tribe.

3. Does the Land Claims Settlement mention anything about the Tribe keeping or not being able to keep land in Texas and Kansas?

  • To establish new tribal lands in other states, the Tribe would need to demonstrate that the specific parcels meet the federal standards for taking lands into trust for the Tribe.

Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker, LLP provided the responses.

Below is a short summary and a link to copies of the decisions:

Indian Claims Commission cases:

Claims Commission Cases specific to Wichita:!Wichita/field/subjec!all/mode/exact!all/conn/and!all/order/nosort/ad/asc

The Wichita Tribe’s land claims were primarily addressed in conjunction with the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations’ claims to the same land under their prior treaties with the United States. In United States v. Choctaw Nation, 179 U.S. 494 (1900), the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the Wichita held rights to the lands within the Wichita Reservation, thus extinguishing the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations’ claims.  The Supreme Court further held that the Wichita Tribe was entitled to proceeds for sales of surplus lands within the Wichita Reservation, and awarded the Wichita Tribe $675,371.91.

Later, in the Wichita and Affiliated Bands of Indians in Oklahoma v. the United States, 89 Ct.Cl. 378 (1939), the Court of Claims examined whether the United States owed compensation to the Wichita Tribe for land takings. The Court found that the Wichita Tribe had not established occupancy rights to the Wichita Reservation until it was recognized to have rights to the land under the 1895 Jerome Agreement, nor had it established rights to other lands within Oklahoma and Texas. Further, it found that because the Supreme Court had already issued an award for surplus land sales within the Wichita Reservation, no more money was due to the Tribe.

The Wichita Tribe also sought to become an intervenor in the case Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache Tribes of Indians v. the United States, 26 Ind. Cl. Com. 101 (1971), regarding land claims in Northwestern Texas and Western Oklahoma (known as the “Royce Areas 510 and 511”). These lands included at least part of the Wichita Reservation within Royce Area 511. The KCA Tribes asserted that they held title to the lands, including the lands constituting the Wichita Reservation, through a treaty entered in 1865, and that they were divested of title to these lands through a subsequent 1867 Treaty without adequate compensation. The Wichita Tribe intervened, asserting that they held a recognized title to the lands within Royce Area 511 which constituted the Wichita Reservation, and sought a corresponding portion of any award granted to the KCA Tribes for the taking of these lands. The Court of Claims granted the Wichita Tribe’s motion to intervene; however, the decision was overturned on appeal, and the Wichita Tribe was prevented from participating further in the case. Ultimately, the KCA Tribes settled their claims with the United States for approximately $30 million.

Appraisal Question:
Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker, LLP provided the responses.

1. Do you have a list of any appraisals that we might have
had for various projects at Hinton?

  • We have located two appraisals in our records, one for the 80-acre tract south of Sugar Creek Casino in Hinton, and one for the 2.5-acre parking area on the north side of Sugar Creek Casino. Additionally, a statement of value was obtained for the Tribe’s property in Hydro. The statement of value establishes the value of the property, although it is not as detailed as an appraisal 

Bar in Hotel Question:
Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker, LLP provided the responses.

2. What would we have to do to sell alcohol at the hotel? It is not on trust land.

  • Because the hotel is not on trust land, it would be regulated like any other private entity serving liquor within the state. The Tribe’s hotel would potentially need to acquire multiple licenses in order to sell alcohol, depending on the hotel’s plans for alcohol service. If the hotel has a store or sundries shop and plans to only sell closed containers of alcohol, it can obtain an off-premise beer license and/or an off-premise wine license, which permits the sale of closed containers of beer/wine for consumption away from the shop. If the hotel plans on having a restaurant, room service, or bar area, and plans to serve alcohol by the drink, it should obtain a mixed-beverage license. Even if the bar/restaurant is closed, a licensed employee could still sell alcohol from the bar/restaurant, so long as it is within a permissible time. A hotel can also obtain a catering license and serve alcohol for catered/special events. Hotels are unable to hold both an off-premise beer/wine license and a mixed-beverage license. 
  • If a hotel wants to operate a mini-bar, it must obtain a hotel license in addition to having either a mixed-beverage license or a catering license. A hotel property which holds an off-premise beer/wine license is unable to receive a hotel license permitting service of alcohol in mini-bars. Importantly, much as employees working serving liquor in mixed-beverage establishments must obtain licensure, all employees who restock minibars or otherwise participate in service or handling alcohol must obtain an employee license through ABLE, and must meet age requirements (18 or older to serve/sell beer and wine, and 21 or older to serve liquor). 
  • Because the hotel is operated by WTIDC, WTIDC would be responsible for obtaining licensure. It would need to provide a copy of requested information, and the information for the WTIDC will need to be provided as the “tribal committee officers” under the section requiring tribal ownership information.

Ethics Policies for Tribes:
We have pulled several examples of tribal ethics policies for reference. We will use the examples as references but tailor the policy to the needs of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes. This will be an ongoing project that we hope to have in place by the July 2020 elections.

In August of 2018, the Oklahoma Archeological Survey provided a report describing a geophysical survey done to search for unmarked graves within the Rock Spring Cemetery located north of Anadarko. They used gradiometry, electrical resistance, and ground penetrating radar. The survey identified nine anomalies that may represent unmarked graves and possibly three buried headstones. Those areas were marked. As the weather permits, the Tribe will investigate those anomalies to determine if they are unmarked graves or headstones to determine the proper action that needs to be taken.

On Thursday, December 13, 2018, the Wichita Executive Committee, by a vote of 5-0-0, approved a motion to increase the amount allowed for dental on the Tribal Member Health Plan from $400 to $500 beginning January 1, 2019. The maximum benefit, with limits on dental ($500), prescriptions ($500) and vision ($250), remains at $1,500 per tribal member with the exception of those tribal elders age 55 and older who have no restrictions.

UINOKT - October 15, 2018
I attended the United Indian Nations of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas (UINOKT) meeting held at the Osage Casino in Tulsa. This was an overnight trip. The Annual Elections were held. Edwina Butler-Wolfe, Governor of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe, was re-elected as the Vice-Chairman and George Tiger was re-elected as the Chairman. An NCAI update was provided regarding the National Convention,  elections, tribal sovereignty issues, broadband issues and issues regarding NCAI. Various candidates running for office in state elections addressed UINOKT. Information was provided on sports betting, and the Tribal Leader of the Year was given to President Terri Parton of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes. An update was provided on the DOI Reorganization. BIA Self Governance, Communications & Education Offices, Osage Nation Environmental Solutions, LLC and RWI gave a presentation to UINOKT members.

January 17, 2019
I attended the UINOKT meeting held at the Absentee-Shawnee Tribal Complex in Shawnee, Oklahoma. I missed the opening session that included the Department of Commerce and an update on the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum (AICCM).  The Treasurer’s report was approved. Jefferson Keel, NCAI President, provided an update on the following national issues:

NCAI allegations; Government Shutdown; economic development; climate change; protection of tribal sovereignty; Indian Child Welfare; DOI Reorganization on hold; Medicaid legislation; the next Secretary of the Interior; water rights and treaty rights. A discussion was held on how Haskell Indian Nations University was severely underfunded; charter schools; STEM education; whether the federal government would allow reimbursement to Tribes for supplementing programs while the federal government was shut down; and UINOKT tribes joining in force to be ready for national meetings such as NCAI.

The Governor for the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes provided information on things their tribe is doing for economic development. Updates were provided on the Pawnee fracking litigation.  An update on the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), which included that legislation for updating Johnson O’Malley student count numbers, had been passed. This would update numbers that have been in place since 1995. 

Information was provided on the FCC ruling and how it has affected Tribes. I had to leave a little early to get back for a Wichita Executive Committee meeting.

The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes joined in on a Brief of Amicus Curiae that included 325 federally recognized tribes and various national organizations including the National Congress of American Indians, National Indian Child Welfare Association and other tribal organizations in support of Appellants and reversal of the decision. Cherokee Nation, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Oneida Nation and the Quinault Indian Nation has intervened in the case.

A lawsuit was filed on October 25, 2017, by the Brackeens, a non-Indian foster family in Texas, along with the State of Texas. The State of Indiana and the State of Louisiana also joined the lawsuit with other non-native families attempting to adopt Native American children. The foster family had an American Indian child placed with them and desired to adopt the child.

On October 4, 2018, the Northern District of Texas Federal Court issued a decision in Brackeen v. Zinke, a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and ICWA regulations. The Indian Child Welfare Act that has governed adoptions of Native American children since 1978 was established to keep Native American Children within Native American families was deemed unconstitutional in this court ruling.

Below is a link to the Amicus Brief that includes the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes:

We are still working through the draft of an election ordinance.

The metal building piece for the expansion to the café has been ordered for the Sugar Creek Casino Café Renovations. That piece should be delivered in early February with repairs and renovations to start soon after.

On December 19, 2018, the Wichita Executive Committee conducted interviews for an architect and owners’ representative. Worth Group was selected as the Architects, and Square One Consultants were selected as the Owners Rep. Our kickoff meeting was held this evening on January 23, 2019. The Wichita Executive Committee, FSA Advisors, Worth Group, Square One Consultants, Hobbs, Straus, Dean &  Walker, LLP, Wichita Gaming Commission and the Tribes’ Transportation Department were present.

We have almost completed the loan agreement, and we approved MOU’s with Worth Group and Square One Consultants. Next is to work on the remaining documents such as the contract, other loan documents, and design. The expansion will be an addition to the east of the Event Center and south of the current casino. The expansion will include new space for surveillance and some offices for the Wichita Gaming Commission staff.

For record purposes, I have included this topic. As of now, Secretary Zinke is no longer the United States Secretary of the Interior and, with the Government Shutdown, it is unclear if any of the reorganization efforts will continue.

I traveled to Denver on Monday, October 21, 2018. I made it through the first day and got sick with the flu. I did not attend the rest of the NCAI as I was sick in bed in the hotel room. I tried to go on Wednesday and Thursday but was still very ill. I came home that Thursday evening as scheduled. I am pretty sure I will do less traveling this year because of that. 

You don’t want to be sick like that away from home.

There was a deep dive meeting held in Washington, D.C. in December. I was unable to attend that meeting. Our next scheduled meeting was to be held on February 7 and February 8, 2019, but due to the Government Shutdown, this has been postponed.

It gets really busy in the summer, and then we start on budgets to get them passed by October 1. It is a really busy time of the year. I am going to try my best to do better to make sure I get the President’s Report in each newspaper. 

The Secretary will be working on the Minutes so hopefully, we can use those instead of my meeting notes. I did not address the Land Set Aside, but I hope to do so in the near future. I will give WCD and IHS updates in the February newspaper.

May the Creator bless our people many times over in this new year.



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