By RICHARD G. SNEED
The Qualla Boundary is abuzz with excitement and events as we are approaching the Holiday Season. It is the time for family togetherness, celebrating with our co-workers and family, but also a season for giving to those less fortunate than ourselves. There have been several events this month which have given me the opportunity to spend quality time with tribal citizens as well as our neighboring tribes.
The United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) had their Fall meeting Nov. 4-7, hosted by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. These meetings serve to foster partnerships, share best practices, and thereafter jointly lobby for the betterment of Native Nations.
This meeting was particularly interesting to me given I was asked to serve on an Economic Development Panel. I was joined by Chief Cyrus Ben, Mississippi Band of Choctaw; Chairwoman Stephanie Bryan, Poarch Band of Creek Indians; Chairman Rodney Butler, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation; Vice Chairwoman Sarah E. Harris, Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut; and Nation Representative Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation.
It was helpful for me to hear the success stories and lessons learned from other Native Nations who have expanded their economic development beyond gaming. The development of these relationships is crucial to progressing economic development efforts on behalf of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI).
The Senior Games participants came together to enjoy a fun afternoon of fellowship and Cornhole this past Friday. I was happy to join this group to laugh with our seniors and hear their plans for the upcoming Holidays. A bowling excursion is planned for the New Year with these seniors.
The University of North Carolina-Asheville invited me and representatives from the Museum of the Cherokee Indian to participate in a Native American Heritage Month event on the UNC-A campus. I would like to thank Miss Livia Lambert for the opportunity to educate UNC-A students and faculty about the unique circumstances tribal citizens face in the modern world. This speaking engagement was followed by an invitation from Clemson University to speak regarding tribal sovereignty. Educating the general public about tribal issues is just one facet of my responsibility as Principal Chief, but one I take seriously. We must educate our neighbors to garner support and understanding regarding Native concerns.
While my schedule is quickly filling to accommodate community events, I continue to push forward tribal initiatives. I have been particularly interested in continuing to plan for language revitalization efforts. Partners in language preservation will be meeting this week to further our discussion regarding acquiring community input for planning efforts. Information will be forthcoming regarding a Language Symposium, which I hope community members will participate in.
I sincerely hope each of you enjoy the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday. I am eager to celebrate with the many tribal programs and entities who have planned a Thanksgiving luncheon. I hope to share with each of you personally and will attend as many events as possible.
As always, if you have issues with which you need assistance with please do not hesitate to contact my office at (828) 359-7002.