By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Tribal Council approved two land purchases for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) during its monthly Budget Council session on Tuesday, March 3. The purchases were approved through the passage of Res. No. 118 (2020) and Res. No. 145 (2020).
Council first approved the purchase of 21.22 acres near the Sequoyah National Golf Club in Jackson County with the passage of Res. No. 118 (2020) which was submitted by the EBCI Lands Acquisition Committee. The property, found in Book 714 Page 128 of the Jackson County Register of Deeds, was purchased for $875,000 from the estate of Robert A. Lawhon, Jr.
The resolution states, “The $875,000 purchase price is essentially appraised value and half the asking price of another adjacent parcel.”
Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley said, “We’ve worked on this parcel here for several years since we started the project out on the four-lane. It has been through the Lands Acquisition Committee, and we recommend the purchase of this property to join what we already own out there.”
Jay Gallinger, EBCI tribal attorney, said the Tribe has been looking at this property since 2005. He related that the parcel will be EBCI deeded property and not trust land and it is already zoned for residential usage.
Painttown Rep. Tommye Saunooke inquired, “Has there been any plans to put any tribal housing out there?”
Tiny Taylor, EBCI Secretary of Housing, answered, “It is on the radar, but until we actually have it in our possession we haven’t made any plans.”
Birdtown Rep. Boyd Owle made the move to pass the legislation authorizing the purchase and said, “This is, of course, valuable land and we’re going to try to put housing there eventually. Any time you build something, especially like the golf course that is big and gets visited quite a bit, the land around it gets more expensive.”
He went on to note, “It’s a beautiful piece of property, and it already has road access going up to the golf course.”
Wolftown Rep. Bo Crowe and Birdtown Rep. Albert Rose voted in opposition of the legislation.
The other land purchase on the day involved two parcels in the Wolftown Community totaling 59.508 acres for the total price of $300,000 with the passage of Res. No. 145 (2020). Wolftown Community Parcel No. 812-L containing 2.749 acres and Wolftown Community Parcel No. 812-N containing 56.759 were purchased from Juanita Wilson, an EBCI tribal member, and added to the EBCI Tribal Reserve. The purchase was approved unanimously.
“When we spoke about this in the Lands Acquisition Committee, it was to put additional property into the tribal reserve,” said Vice Chief Ensley. “The amount that they’re asking and that we agreed upon is less than what we’ve paid for other properties that we’ve bought and put in reserve.”
The funds for both purchases came out of the EBCI Endowment Fund No. 2.