Published On: Tue, May 23rd, 2017

Charles Penick – Yellowhill Tribal Council candidate


Siyo Yellowhill voters and interested Tsalagi people of the other communities constituting the Qualla Boundary.

My name is Charles Penick (Tsali Qunigi).  I am an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.  I was born here in the old Indian Health Service Hospital in October of 1956.  My mother is the former Gladys Roberts, now Penick, who is the daughter of Fred and Alice Roberts of the Birdtown Community.  I am related, as are most people here, to many families, most notably the Smith family and George Lewis Smith, the brother of Nimrod Jarrett Smith who was the Principal Chief in the 1880s.

I attended school here in the Cherokee Elementary and Cherokee High School up on the hill where I dropped out in the eleventh grade.  That was the wrong thing to do, which I have always regretted, but which I did and intended with the idea of bettering myself and my position in life by lying about my age and joining the U.S. Marine Corps.  This again, was the wrong thing to do, although the motivation to do so was of the highest order.  The Marines checked my age, 16 at the time in reality, found that it didn’t meet the requirements of the law at the time, and asked if both my parents would sign for me to stay.  They wouldn’t, well, one would, and they sent me home.  The following year, I joined the U.S. Army and served more than 20 years on active duty, no National Guard, no Reserve, and retired honorably in early 1995.

Before retiring, I was recruited by the Department of Defense as a contractor to several Fortune 500 companies where I managed, trained, supervised, and oversaw many projects and personnel involving the national defense for more than 12 years.  These activities required, and I have held for many years, a Top Secret (Special Background Investigation) clearance and access to and custody of many highly classified documents and materials.  These activities and clearances show that I have exercised the utmost truth and confidence of our country and did so with the highest character of service.  You can trust me to safeguard and protect the highest and most precious treasure of our people, the power of the people invested in me as your representative should I be so honored as to be elected.

Let me speak on education for a moment.  Previously, I stated that I dropped out of the 11th grade in order to join the Marines and that I was subsequently sent home.  As a result, I recognize more than most the importance of getting an education.  Therefore, after joining the Army, I studied for and was awarded a diploma for high school from the State of North Carolina.  Later still, while in the Army, I studied for and was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Business in Management from Clayton State University and the high degree of Master of Information Technology from American Intercontinental University.  I have often remarked that diplomas should be printed in the form of a “key” because it symbolically represents the “key” to the future for everyone who receives one.  I paid for an education myself, and in part am still paying for it.  The EBCI never paid, in any form, for my education.  I say this to highlight that there are now opportunities for an education for every tribal member who so desires, and I heartily endorse both the opportunity and the drive and motivation to do so.  It is essential that we educate our youth, train them in the way we would have, then go and provide jobs for them to fulfill their promise here on the Boundary.  This leads me to my next topic of economic diversification.

The single greatest threat we face as a people is the loss of that great economic engine which drives our ability to provide every service and benefit to our tribal members, the tribal casino.  It doesn’t take experience in managing multi-million dollar projects and activities, although I do have that extensive experience, to realize that if any one or a series of factors effecting the casino and it’s revenue to us, then we, as a people, are in dire circumstances.  So, how to alleviate and mitigate this risk?  There are many ways!  And, I will propose several means of doing so if elected.  The key to success is to open the mind to the many ways to diversify.  To spread risk out to many outside the EBCI, while maintaining safeguards and balances to mitigate risk, enhance revenue, gain influence regionally and nationally and reduce exposure of the EBCI in all business ventures.  We don’t have to fund, manage, run, maintain, and locate every business venture solely or exclusively on the Boundary or with only our money!  I fully realize that every dollar of revenue which is non-gaming derived, relieves pressure on gaming revenue and that subsequent relief can be applied to increases in per capita distribution to our enrolled members.

Let’s talk about myself and a vision for the future just a little more.  I retired from the U.S. Army after more than 20 years of service.  Traveling the world, managing projects, time, money and people.  Entrusted with materials, people, money, weapons, and infrastructure totaling many millions, if not billions, of dollars.  I am an honest man who has served honorably and well and my extensive performance record proves it.  I will stay honest and faithful to all you entrust me with as your representative.  I do not have businesses or extensive business relationships on the Qualla Boundary, nor do I owe extensive political favor to anyone.  My loyalty and my service is you if elected and no other.

Term limits.  I believe in term limits and have, in fact, been one of the first signatories of the Petition to institute term limits for Council members.  There is an old saying that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.  Two consecutive terms is enough.  Let others with fresh minds and new ideas have an opportunity.  A politician should never be able to claim a pension solely on the strength of being a politician, and I never will.

Lastly, we need a firm and codified guiding document that identifies the three individual branches of tribal government – Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.  This last (Judicial) is essential to the exercise of your individual rights in regard to tribal member versus tribal member but also in matters regarding tribal members versus tribal government.  Additionally, a clear and concise document of this type that states the role and responsibilities of each branch of government would clarify and mitigate against conflicts between branches for supremacy such as Executive against Legislative.  As it currently exists, no fair and impartial ruling is possible because Executive Branch has the Judicial function under subordination to and subject to potential influence of the Executive Branch.  There should be a separate, equal, independent Judicial Branch, independent of the other branches, and guided by the founding core documents granting power of the people to each branch and empowerment to adjudicate all disputes of such power and it’s exercise based upon that document whether that document is a Charter, Constitution or other guidance form the people.

If you elect me, I will faithfully, honestly, and fiercely represent you in all things which are ethical, moral, and legal.  No promises of empty rewards or acts are attached to my request for your vote, only my word that I will do the absolute best to fulfill my duties to you with God’s help.  I am a Christian man, and I ask His Divine blessing upon this undertaking and upon you.

Thank you.  Respectfully, Charles Penick