Chief’s Monthly Report for April ᎧᏬᏂ

by May 14, 2024NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments

Submitted by the Office of the Principal Chief 


We kicked off April by kicking off the 2024 Senior Games at the Peaches Squirrell Sports and Recreation Complex! The Vice Chief and I were excited to see the impressive turnout, with over 170 seniors participating. This year holds special significance as it is a qualifying year for the National Senior Games in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2025.

On April 3, we participated in the “I Believe” Sexual Assault Awareness Event as part of Sexual Assault Awareness month. It’s crucial to acknowledge the disproportionate impact of sexual assault on Indigenous peoples. Indigenous women and girls experience sexual violence at alarming rates, with statistics revealing that they are two and a half times more likely to experience assault than any other demographic in the United States. Moreover, according to the Department of Justice, more than four in five American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime, including sexual violence.

As part of our ongoing efforts to advocate for the EBCI (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians), the Tribal Council and I hosted a WNC Delegation Breakfast on April 5 at the Cornerstone Restaurant in Asheville. We aimed to strengthen ties with the North Carolina House Reps and Senators representing the western North Carolina area. This event provided a fantastic opportunity to enhance communication and foster partnerships.

On April 8, I was privileged to address the 2024 North Carolina Museums Council Conference held at the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. This year’s theme, “Weaving Our Voices,” presented an opportunity to spotlight the exceptional efforts of The Museum of the Cherokee People team. Their efforts have significantly improved the community’s visibility and engagement within the museum and have contributed to further educating visitors on who we are, where we’ve come from, and what makes us uniquely Cherokee.

We’re thrilled to announce an exciting new project on the horizon: the StoryWalk Project, in collaboration with the EBCI Tribal Option. This project is designed to combine physical activity and literacy, creating a unique and engaging experience for our community members. The StoryWalk will feature signs or “pages” from a children’s picture book set up in an outdoor space allowing the reader to follow along with the story by walking. This project was approved during the planning board session on April 15.

I traveled to Raleigh for discussions with North Carolina Representatives Destin Hall and Karl Gillespie and the team of House Speaker Tim Moore. During this time, I also had the chance to have dinner with two EBCI college students, Colby Taylor and Carson ‘Nuney’ Taylor. It was at this dinner that I was impressed to see a photograph of Chief Saunooke displayed on the wall of 42nd St Restaurant. I want to thank Paxton Myers, EBCI Tribal Council Reps. Michael Stamper and Bo Crowe, TCGE Board members Scooter McCoy and Tommy Lambert for their continued advocacy in advancing the EBCI’s legislative priorities.

The 8th Annual Spring Garden Fair was held on Friday, April 19, and marked the 20 years of the Garden Kit program. The ongoing distribution of garden kits our communities demonstrates a sustained effort to ensure access to fresh, nutritious produce and strengthen food security within the tribe.

From April 22-23, I traveled to Florida accompanied by Bill Taylor (Government Liaison), Paxton Myers, and Tribal Council Members Boyd Owle, Jim Owle, Perry Shell and Richard French. Our purpose was to reconnect with the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes, working to rebuild and strengthen our relationships.

On April 24, the Vice Chief, Tribal Council, and I hosted an FY2025 Entity Budget Kickoff meeting at Cherokee Central Schools. We focused on assessing the tribe’s financial standing, forecasting revenues, and reviewing new budget workbook processes. Among the attendees were the EBCI Secretaries, EBCI Holdings, L.L.C., Kituwah, L.L.C., Qualla, L.L.C., Cherokee Indian Hospital, Cherokee Central Schools, T.G.C., TCGE, Tribal Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, and Tribal A.L.E. Our aim for this gathering was to ensure consistency and transparency across the diverse entities and organizations within our tribe.

On April 25, I attended the first Cherokee Autism Celebration, an event that is working to end stigma and provide resources for individuals with autism and their families.

On April 30, I, along with Tribal Council Members and TERO representatives, visited the Oconaluftee Job Corps Center (OJCC) to explore collaboration and workforce development. Following discussions, we toured the center, meeting students in diverse fields like electrical work and firefighting, where we witnessed their passion firsthand. Our aim is to provide similar opportunities for our young members, highlighting the value of trade jobs as alternatives to traditional college paths.