By PRINCIPAL CHIEF PATRICK LAMBERT
Let me begin by acknowledging that I did not get a monthly report out to you for the month of March 2017. So, this report will catch-up March and also give you my report for April 2017.
I want to start out this report with a sincere apology to our Tribe. Not only an apology for all the political upheaval and unrest within our government, but mostly an apology for the stress on our community and the impact this has on our families. If I could change it, I certainly would. What some who want rid of me fail to understand or appreciate is that even if they succeed and somehow run me out of office, the federal investigations are still proceeding, and getting rid of me will not end that.
The past few months have been a trying time and one that has been totally unnecessary. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not perfect and will be the first to say that I have made some mistakes. But, nothing that can rise to the level of an impeachable matter.
There are many who started calling for my impeachment on my first day in office… and some who joined the impeachment bandwagon after they saw I was determined to do what I promised, to work to clean up the past 12 years of corruption and waste, fraud and abuse of our Tribal resources. There are many Tribal employees who work hard every day and really appreciate the higher level of accountability that is required of everyone the same. And there is that minority that is upset to be held accountable and will work harder to cause problems than they’ve ever worked to solve problems.
But, I have always believed that setting an example and making decisions from the heart with the prayerful and thoughtful intentions to do that which is for the greater good, and not the select few, that the right results will follow. I have tried to approach everyday as a renewed start and have loved coming to work every day. As I have said before, if you really work this job it is a tremendous amount of work and not a whole lot of glamour or prestige. It is just hard work that is mountain high all the time. I usually work 6-7 days a week and most every day until late in the evening. There is just so much to do and to do it right takes time. I enjoy making a difference and will do all I can for our Cherokee Families.
Thank you for all your patience and prayers. We will get through this in a good way and our Tribe will grow stronger because of it. Our sermon in Church at Yellowhill this past Sunday morning was on Daniel and the lion’s den; we must put our trust and faith in the lord and he will deliver us. Even though the mob may call for blood… God’s will shall prevail. I saw a quote in the bulletin that read something like this, “If you are worried, pray. If you are praying, stop worrying”. Some have asked how I can stand and face these matters as calmly as I do… and my only response is that I believe! I expect the outcome of any trials or tribulations I must endure is for HIS will.
Let me get started on these monthly reports and please pardon me for the length, I will touch mostly just the highlights and try to be lite on the details where possible:
Today we had work sessions scheduled for a land issue and also for the Budget Stabilization ordinance.
Today was Tribal Council and began the process of lawyers and political battles. Tribal Council pulled a resolution from under the desk that was not on the agenda or announced and began their retaliatory strike against me for all the work I’ve done to clean up corruption and fraud. Tribal Council refused to allow Snowbird Elders to speak even as one stood at the podium politely seeking a minute to speak. Without legal authority and in violation of the Cherokee Code, the protests were not allowed to proceed to a hearing. The Attorney General has issued a legal opinion on this matter and showed the law violations by the Council Chairman.
Office work and preparations for the coming battles with Council.
Today, I had several staff meetings and also funeral services. My heart goes out to all who lost loved ones as there was a series of many, many deaths at one short time period.
Today I was able to participate in a ceremony with our seniors to “Sign the Last Beam” in the topping off ceremony for our new Bowling Center being built on the Casino. I am so pleased we will be getting this accomplished for our seniors and all our families and visitors alike. It will be a great facility. Also in the evening we held an organizing meeting for the petition drive for to collect signatures for two referendum questions, term limits for Tribal Council and Recall power of elected officials.
More funeral services today. Also had a capital committee meeting for purchases. Had lunch with the Seniors at Tsali Manor and began collecting signatures on the petitions. We lowered the flags to Half-Staff for respect to Kina Swayney passing, RIP.
I had an office full of meetings and visitors today and handled several constituent matters. I am proud of our Constituent services team… they do a great job working with members to get the services delivered to them.
Today, I worked half a day in the office and then drove to Charlotte to give a speech at the NC Unity Conference.
I traveled to Vegas to attend the annual RES Conference. It is a great business conference for Tribes and individual Indian businesses. I even meet a few of our own local business members there and had a chance to speak with them about their business and plans back home.
Had several meetings today and in the afternoon held the Bingo game for our Elders. This month was sponsored by the SWAT Team and the Detention Services. They did a great job. Thank you.
We had an Investment Committee meeting and reviewed our accounts. The Committee has done a great job and have made great decisions on the proper funds and made our investments grow by millions. Great work!
Today, we held a Cabinet Meeting with all the Secretaries and also later held staff meetings. In the afternoon I held project development meetings for planning and updates on the current projects we are doing within the Tribe. A lot of activity is happening and the distraction of the political climate is a real drain, but our Tribal employees and Casino staff are professionals and continue to push forward even though some on Tribal Council are trying to derail all progress. I insist to keep working and we are making great strides to provide better programs and facilities for our Cherokee Families.
Today, I delivered opening remarks and a welcome address to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) conference held at the WCU Campus.
Today was the funeral service of a very dear lady, Ms. Maggie Owle. She was a real Cherokee Treasure and will be greatly missed. Also today was the “Bankers Meeting” for financing the new Hotel Tower and Convention Center. There were many Banks represented and a lot of good interest in pursuing the loan package. The way we have structured our casino operations and put good controls and business models into place to succeed is a real testament to the professionalism at our Casino, TCGE and Gaming Commission. Thank you and great work!
Today, I met with several members in an open door day and got to hear about many accomplishments and concerns as well. Thank you to everyone for your support and I promise my continued support of our Cherokee Families. My friend, Nancy, was laid to rest today in a surprise departure. She was a strong advocate for doing the right thing and staying true as a Cherokee!
Held office staff meetings this morning in preparation of upcoming events. At lunch attended a benefit for Simon Librado to help with his hospital stay and expenses for his family. Also today was the memorial service for my Great Aunt, Priscilla Cooper. She will be greatly missed by her family and will be remembered as a great business owner in town.
Today was a very special day… it was the 20th Annual Rainbow and Ramps Festival! I gave a short welcome speech and spent over two hours just visiting, laughing and having a great time with all our members who came out. Great event! Later in the afternoon I attended a surprise Birthday Party for Mr. Jack Saunooke, his 80th!
Following a morning meeting I went to the John Welch Center in Cherokee County to have lunch with our seniors there. After lunch, I helped pass out the Community Harvest Garden Kits for our Cherokee County members. Cyndi and I then traveled over to Snowbird and held the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new Snowbird Senior Center… What a beautiful facility! I am so glad that we were finally able to get to this point and get our Snowbird Seniors into a high-quality building! After the ceremony and some punch, we went to meet the Snowbird Free Labor Group and presented them a new Funeral Tent to use as needed. We also helped pass out the Community Harvest Garden Kits at Snowbird Complex this same day. Following these events we traveled back to Murphy to attend the visitation for Lex Owle, a very sad passing. God bless the Owle family.
Today would have been my sister Henrietta’s Birthday, the first year in my life on this date I don’t get to tell her Happy Birthday. All my family still grieves her passing. Today we also gave out Community Harvest Garden Kits at Tsali Manor at noon and at Yellowhill at 6pm. Great job to all the volunteers and especially to the NC Cooperative Extension! Thank you for another great year with help to get those gardens started!
Held a morning meeting prior to departing to Washington DC for the Annual “Cherokee Days” held at the Smithsonian American Indian Museum. This was the first year we took on an important and lead role! It was a great event and we really were able to showcase our native talent, art and artists, traditional games, stories, dress and legends. We took nearly 100 of our members and spent 4 days with over 20,000 visitors to the museum. Great work to everyone and I look forward to it again next year!
Today, we had the Easter Bunny and our new Annual Easter Eggstravaganza! Hundreds of kids and families came out for it and it was so much fun! Egg hunts, Bouncy houses, snow cones, popcorn, mini-golf, facepainting and lunch! Thank you to all our volunteers and to the Soldiers of Truth! Great Job
Various meeting and office work
Budget Council and more attacks toward me. In the afternoon, meetings scheduled with National Park Superintendent to discuss land and also gathering rules.
Deadline for Per Cap loans this month.
Spent the biggest part of the day in contemplation about the political issues facing us and the fact of how much time is wasted dealing with such. I suppose because some politicians can’t be proactive and bring good legislation they would rather stifle the entire system. I know most including myself is tired of the political nonsense and games. Let’s get down to the People’s business and work on Tribal matters that affect all our Cherokee Families. Elections are coming up in about 3-4 weeks and I think we should see some new faces. There are only 2-3 of those running who deserve another term. That’s how you make change in government, by voting out those who are not doing what they were elected to do. And if in two more years you evaluate me and decide that I have not performed my promises or brought new programs forward for our members and Cherokee Families then vote me out too. But they can’t make change in Government by trying to pull a coup and simply impeach people on trumped up accusations because you don’t like them. That is a decision for the People and I will honor that decision.
Spring Garden Fair was held today and it was another big success. We had some great booths and demonstrations. Jody and her family deserve all the credit and thanks for putting together a great event! Thank you. Today was also the Snowbird Easter Egg Hunt at the Little Snowbird Fields, a big thanks to the Community Club and all the volunteers.
Had a full day of meetings and planning sessions with staff and legal advisors.
Had morning meetings with tribal members and staff. At 3pm held our first organizational meeting for Elders Council and had a great meeting. We discussed the possibility of calling a Grand Council and I was advised to proceed as soon as possible. I made the decision then to call it for the following week.
This morning, I attended Tsali Manor and held the Easter Egg Hunt! It was a lot of fun and the lunch following it was great too! Thank you to all the volunteers and especially to the Great Staff at Tsali Manor, Deb and her team do so much good work with our Elders, Thank you.
Today was a special day for Chief Robert Youngdeer, it was a drop-in Birthday event for him. It was well attended and you can see all the love for him! He is a remarkable man and has had a great life and career. He is someone I look up to with great respect and admiration, Happy Birthday Chief Youngdeer!
Good Friday – Offices closed
HE is RISEN
Held a staff meeting and a Cabinet level meeting. At 10am held a prayer meeting and discussed our new Faith Based Initiative with our Pastors. Held a second Elders Council meeting to discuss recent events and gain advice and guidance.
A truly historic day in our Tribe’s history! Today we assembled the first Grand Council of the People in over two decades and passed some serious legislation. With only one week notice we had over 1,350 people pack into the High School Arena and debate and vote on issues ranging from elders care, tribal facilities and the recent political moves by Tribal Council on impeachment. The Council will try to ignore the power of the People demonstrated here by claiming such matters as if it was not called properly, or voting was not proper, or to some… the People have no power! Well, if they look at the numbers we had a total of 37 percent of the total number of votes cast in the last election to turn out in one weeks’ notice to vote on these matters. In last election there were 3,661 votes cast and at this Grand Council we had 1,355 attend… 37 percent of the total of votes cast in last election. I think that speaks for itself. The People have spoken… let’s see if they adhere to the People’s voice.
Tribal Council called an unlawful Tribal Council session in violation of the Charter and Code and all prior procedures to try and attack me again. Later in the day, I attended a special ceremony for our beloved friend and special confidant, Mr. Ray Kinsland where he was awarded the “Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award”. It is a State Wide honor of special recognition for outstanding service as a citizen of the State and your Community. Congratulations Ray… we love you!
Today, we held our monthly Bingo games for our Elders. Lots of fun! Thanks
Tribal Council called even another Special called session of Tribal Council, again in total violation of the Charter, Code and all prior procedures. Their hatred and resolve to get me has reached a point of their complete disregard to the law, procedures and listening to any voice from our Elders or the People assembled. Council voted to ignore the results from the Grand Council and charge on into their attempts to impeach me. Also and of great importance… Today was a very special day for Big Cove and our Child Care system! We cut the ribbon and opened a brand new Child Care facility in the Big Cove community sitting on the property where the original center still stands. I am so proud of Big Cove and so glad that we were able to deliver this new facility to provide a safe, sanitary and modern place for our youngest members to get a great start at life and learning, Good job!
Meetings all day. In the evening, I left on travel to attend the NAFOA (Native American Financial Officers Association) Conference in San Francisco and then on Wednesday into Tulsa for the Tri-Council meetings with the UKB and CNO. Our three Cherokee Tribes unified in one meeting once a year is a special event. I was humbled and honored to be a part of it and look forward to next year when we will be the hosts.
Tri-Council meetings in Tahlequah, Okla.
Today, I celebrate my good fortune and my blessing from God. It is the 31st Anniversary of Cyndi allowing me to be her husband and I am so proud and thankful for her!
I realize this is a long report, thank you for reading it. I am working every day and with the right Tribal Council we can make some good things happen for our Tribe. I need willing partners that want to work and build a better future for our Cherokee Families. We need to stop all this political fighting and get back to work. Make your vote count next month on Thursday June 1st!
May God Bless You, Your Family and Our Tribe! Sgi