By PRINCIPAL CHIEF
RICHARD G. SNEED
The month of January, while slow on events, has proven to be a busy month for planning and working towards long-term goals for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). These long-term efforts include commercial gaming efforts in Virginia, purchasing land in Tennessee, strategic planning for the EBCI, and language preservation. I am happy to have the opportunity to share my efforts on these fronts thus far and look to your feedback regarding these issues.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians became aware of the efforts for Virginia to introduce commercial gaming to the state via legislation that is being considered by the Virginia General Assembly. At this point the Commonwealth of Virginia has a bill before them to grant commercial gaming licenses to operators in five Virginia cities. Following the introduction of this legislation a study was commissioned to determine best practices and future steps for Virginia to enter the commercial gaming market. This study completed by the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee, hereafter referred to as the JLARC study, determined that opening commercial gaming via a competitive bidding system would ensure fairness and result in a system that better serves the good people of the Commonwealth of Virginia. I am pushing for this legislation to be amended to include that competitive bidding process and that the Virginia legislators consider the EBCI’s aboriginal connection to the region, which was also suggested by the JLARC study. I ask for your continued support as we advance this effort, and I look forward to reporting back to the community as this effort progresses.
The EBCI closed on the Dumplin Creek property in Sevier County, Tenn. This property, which contains 197.524 acres, will be transferred to the Kituwah LLC so they may find ways to develop the property. I am very excited about this purchase and look forward to seeing the options developed by the Kituwah LLC Board and staff. The EBCI is looking at many avenues for economic development and I am excited to see what becomes of this venture.
The tribal Secretaries and Executive staff came together last week to complete some strategic planning for the future priorities of the EBCI. I feel incredibly blessed to serve the citizens of the EBCI, but it is only because of the excellent team that has agreed to serve with me that we are able to accomplish anything. There is still work to be done with the strategic plan before it is ready to be shared, but we will continue to work on this front and share it with you as quickly as it is available. As leaders within the EBCI, we must be accountable for our progress and I look forward to sharing our plans as well as our accomplishments in the future.
Per my instruction, the EBCI Education Division has organized and now completed a Cherokee Language Symposium. We all recognize we are in a state of emergency regarding the language, but what is not clear is the best course of action to see a positive impact quickly and how to sustain any progress seen. The goal of this symposium was to start the dialogue with the many partners working on and interested in language preservation efforts. I appreciate everyone’s input and their frank feedback about where we might need improvement. It is only through working together that we stand a chance of being successful in revitalizing our language and I believe in the power of this group. I look forward to continuing this conversation and hope to get any and all suggestions as we move forward.
I would like to remind everyone that my office is always interested in the issues important to you. Please call us at 828-359-7002 if you have questions, comments or concerns you’d like to share with me or my staff. Sgi!