By RICHARD G. SNEED
The role of Principal Chief is multi-faceted, at times intensely challenging, but also amazingly rewarding. It is an honor to represent our Cherokee people, and I work to do so with our most vulnerable always in my mind. Whether I am working on housing issues, government to government relationships, or shaping policy regarding our natural resources I remain mindful of how the issues I face affect our elders, our hardworking families, our youth, and the generations to come.
This stewardship mindset is extremely helpful to me when staying grounded and fighting for the rights and privileges for our community when in Washington, DC. This past week, Tribal Council, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) program leaders, and I met with legislators from Congress and the US Senate regarding issues important to the Cherokee. Every year, several tribal leaders travel to Washington for the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) Impact Week where we have the opportunity to work with other tribes to protect the sovereignty of all Tribal Nations. While in DC I had the pleasure of meeting with Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Congressman Patrick McHenry R-N.C.), Congressman Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), and Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). Tribal Council and I discussed issues related to gaming in Indian Country, the Federal Recognition Process and tribes’ efforts to bypass the process, and Indian Health Service funding. Meeting with Congresswoman Haaland was one of the highlights of my visit. This lady is doing remarkable things for Indian Country and setting a standard for our youth to aspire to.
Congressman Cole was instrumental in assisting the EBCI with Indian Health Service (IHS) funding. Currently Native Nations must request IHS funding each year, which does not keep up with national inflated medical costs. I am advocating for a change in the administration of funding that would allow for advanced appropriations, which would extend the time funding is provided. This would mean tribes across the country would receive funding on two year terms instead of applying each year. Additionally, I am advocating that IHS funding be transferred from the Department of Interior to Labor and Human Services. The overall budget for the Department of Labor and Human Services is much larger, granting more opportunity for budget increases which are desperately needed by many underprivileged tribes.
Snowbird and Cherokee County Representative Bucky Brown submitted Resolution No. 123 (2018) on Feb. 27, 2018 advocating for the construction of a new Cornsilk Complex for the Snowbird Community. The current Complex is over 40-years-old and in desperate need of updating. This proposed Complex would include a new gymnasium, Library, Family Support Department, Community Health Services, Housekeeping, Commons area, and weight room. When Resolution No. 123 passed, I immediately gave the directive to the project management team to make the Snowbird Complex a top priority.
The EBCI Project Management Program has completed the design work for the Complex and is preparing the project for construction. I was happy to present the design plans at the Snowbird Community on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019 to garner feedback and relay the next steps that will be taken in the process.
I had the opportunity to attend Community Bingo this past month and would like to invite everyone to the March Community Bingo, which will be held on March 21 at 1 p.m. in the Cherokee Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall. The Community Bingo events are very enjoyable with great prizes and lunch provided. I hope you can join me.
Finally, I want to remind all constituents that I am here to serve you. If you have needs of me, please contact my office at (828) 359-7002 to schedule a meeting with me.
Sgi and God Bless!