By PRINCIPAL CHIEF PATRICK LAMBERT
This month’s report is a little later than normal because we have all been distracted by the many events and upheaval within our Tribe. Over the past few weeks, there have been several events that have drained a lot of focus and energy away from the tasks at hand for our Cherokee Families. As I promised to you during my campaign, I completed a series of Forensic Audits on various programs within our Tribe and turned those results over to the U.S. attorney and FBI to pursue if there are any criminal matters involved. As you are aware from recent news reports, there have been several FBI warrants, subpoenas and searches issued and served. This has obviously caused some political officials uneasiness, but, rest assured…I will not be swayed from doing my job and doing what is right. I was elected to do exactly what I am doing and will continue to clean up the corruption, waste, fraud and abuse that was prevalent in the past. You deserve accountability; this government works for you. Thank you for all your support in these troubling times.
This report is for the month of January and I plan to get the report for February out to you early next month:
January started with a holiday and was a great wrap-up to a very nice holiday season. The “12 Days of Christmas” was a big hit and allowed so many of our families to spend some good quality time together. I was glad to be able to provide this work schedule and extra days for the holidays. I hope everyone enjoyed it…
The first week back we saw our first measurable snow fall and this delayed a return to digging back into work until Wednesday, Jan. 11. During this time out I took my family to Orlando and competed in a 48.6 mile run that consisted of a 5K, 10K, ½ marathon and a full marathon over a four-day period. I completed all four races for a total of 48.6 miles and finished the full Marathon (26.2 miles) in my record time of 5:01:32. I almost broke the five-hour mark! It was a lot of fun and a great challenge. Thank you for all the well wishes in my challenge.
We settled back in for work finally and had January Tribal Council. (Budget Council originally scheduled for Jan. 10 was moved to the 17th due to snow). Also on this evening I had the pleasure to attend the dress rehearsal for the Cherokee Chamber Singers and to wish them well on their trip to Orlando to perform at Walt Disney World. What a great bunch of kids with such great talent!
Today marked a very important day for our Tribe. We held a signing ceremony with Bob Etheredge, from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), to execute an agreement for our Tribe. This agreement will help us be able to launch our own Department of Agriculture and begin pulling down more assistance for our local farmers. The USDA will also help us to develop our own Tribal agriculture and energy resources.
Later in the afternoon, I met with Cherokee Boys Club General Manager Skooter McCoy to discuss an agreement for us to take the old Children’s Home and remodel it for the Homeless Shelter and Soup Kitchen that we have been planning. In exchange, we plan to help the Club replenish and upgrade its fleet of motor coach buses. It is through these mutual areas that we are finding new and better ways of working together to make progress in our communities.
We held the rescheduled Budget Council today. Later in the afternoon, I took another tour through the old high school building to look at the progress on refurbishing the interior. The building is in remarkable shape and will take minor repair and efforts to turn it into a great space for our Tribal Headquarters. We will be able to house nearly every program in the same location and essentially create a “one-stop shop” for our tribal members to access all the tribal services available, rather than traveling all over the place to many different buildings. This will also help us to be better accountable and will save a lot of money on facilities upkeep and overhead costs.
I traveled to Washington, DC to attend a USET meeting for the transition to the new administration. I also attended a meeting with Chairman Chaudhuri and his staff at the National Indian Gaming Commission. We discussed the upcoming submission of the renewed management contract with Harrah’s and our management of the Murphy casino. These actions are proceeding as planned.
I returned from DC following a quick and successful trip. Today, we also held my monthly bingo games that I have started for our seniors each month. This month’s prizes were sponsored by the Cherokee Police Department. Thank you for coming out; we had a big crowd and a lot of fun!
Today, I held several meetings with various folks and also with our Investment Committee and our Capital Committee to discuss the financial strength of our Tribe and approve various capital items for purchase.
Today was very busy with several meetings. I started with a welcome speech to our friends with the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police Conference at the Casino. Later, I held a Cabinet meeting with our Secretaries and staff, and afterwards met with our Projects Development Team to look at our progress for the recently approved casino developments and Tribal projects. We have a lot going on and will be holding several ribbon cuttings for new facilities that we have constructed.
For the first half day I caught up on some office work and answered messages and tried to return some phone calls. Later in the afternoon, I had several meetings with various staff and tribal members on local concerns. On this evening, Cyndi and I attended the banquet at the Casino with the Chiefs of Police association. They invited a hypnotist from Atlanta for entertainment who had a whole stage full of people hypnotized and acting crazy! It was very entertaining. They have entered a contract with the Casino to keep their conference here with us through at least 2020.
I had several staff meetings and a project meeting to discuss the completion of the new Big Cove Day Care center, the new Snowbird Senior Center and the new Graham County Indian Education Center. We are busy with several projects and are looking to complete the new Birdtown Senior Athletic training center and to begin work on our new Wolfetown, Birdtown and Big Cove Community Club buildings. It is important to continue to serve the communities with special projects, especially as we move forward with large economic opportunities for the whole Tribe.
Today, I had the pleasure of visiting our Heart to Heart Child Advocacy Center and our Cherokee Central Schools system. I met with several staff and learned more about some recent events that are a concern to us all. The staff under the leadership of Lloyd Wolfe at Child Advocacy have been doing a superb job in working with very delicate and serious matters.
Also, this morning the Tribal Council decided to hold closed door sessions in violation of the open meetings law to discuss the one-sided report about HR matters and contracts. It seems there are a few Council members who think this gives them the right to remove me from office. They seemed to think they could easily vote to “suspend” me from office. This will be a hard fight for them and it will cause much unnecessary stress in our Tribe. There are some who are simply upset because accountability is a hard thing to face when you’ve never had to in the past. I will continue doing my job and will not back down.
For the rest of the day I met with over 22 various tribal members on their personal concerns and added assistance where we could. I ended the day by visiting our Water Treatment Plant to look at new equipment requested for dealing with pollutants to our water supply that are caused by cattle farming activities.
It was a day to catch up on work and return calls and messages.
Today was a very sad day for many of our families as there was several funerals and visitations. God Bless each of you who have lost loved ones recently and know that you are in my prayers.
This day started with a Cabinet meeting for our Secretaries wherein we discussed many of the current and upcoming challenges to providing the absolute best service we can to our Tribal members and Cherokee families. Later in the afternoon, I met with the Cherokee Preservation Foundation staff to review recent activities and discuss upcoming plans for Cherokee.
Today was a regular scheduled Budget Council.
My report for February will be coming soon, and I will update everyone on my recent activities for the month of February.
Let me close by giving a big thank you to all my supporters and those who are praying for our Tribe to heal and grow. I will continue doing all I can every day on your behalf, and will always keep my eyes set on doing that which I know is pleasing unto Him. God Bless You.
– Chief Lambert