COMMENTARY: Birdtown Rep. explains Power to the People vote

by Jul 21, 2017OPINIONS0 comments


My decision regarding the Power to the People resolution presented to tribal council has caused some questions in the community. I would like to take this opportunity to explain my decision regarding this resolution. I am committed to protecting the financial resources of our Tribe and ensuring those resources are used in the best way possible to benefit all tribal members.

Currently, the tribe sponsors a program which assists our elders in financial need and that includes electrical bills. If you are an elder in need and do not know how to access this program, please contact me and I can assist you. I feel the Power to the People resolution is a duplication of this program and that we are committing funds in an amount twice the amount necessary to assist those elders who need the service. I have supported the senior assistance program in the past and will continue to do so. These are not new tribal programs, and I do not believe that duplicating programs provides any more assistance than is currently available.

I am also concerned that more financial distributions to elders will impact the assistance received from programs like Social Security. I think it is important to consider the overall impact to our senior citizens when making decisions. It does not benefit our seniors to have assistance with their bills if they lose their annual benefits.

I also felt the program, as presented, did not have any guidelines. This type of action without guidelines fails to protect the resources of the tribe. We must have guidelines that everyone understands and agrees to follow.

I think there are ways to assist our seniors without causing harm to their other benefits. The Tribe could invest the money into alternative energy sources which can provide electricity to all our families for decades. The Tribe is investigating the possibility of these types of solutions, but we must have funding in place to move forward. When we obligate our resources in double the amount necessary to provide for tribal members, we are delaying improvements in our community for all tribal members.

I would like to hear from the community to determine if there are more community members that need assistance who would not meet the requirements of the senior citizen utility assistance program. I’m always available for discussion and here to help all of our enrolled members.


Travis Smith

Birdtown Tribal Council Representative or cell – (828) 269-8155