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Cherokee Nation Fixing Teeth and Making Tribal Government More Transparent

The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council voted June 16 to strengthen its Freedom of Information and Government Records acts.

The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council voted June 16 to strengthen its Freedom of Information and Government Records acts and passed a resolution to initiate a dental crown program at all tribal health centers.

To ensure citizens have better access to important information about their government, the council voted to hire an independent information officer and extend response time. To better manage requests, FOIA response time has been increased from 15 to 20 days, and response time for GRA requests has been increased from six to 10 days.

The rules committee voted for the amendments in May. The legislative acts then moved to the full Tribal Council for consideration at the regular council meeting June 16, where both the GRA and the FOIA passed.

The FOIA and GRA amendments also better protect sensitive personal information. Changes to the law now keep a citizen’s date of birth, social security number and other personal information confidential.

“With technological advances, cases of identity theft have increased exponentially, and there are no indications of the trend changing course,” said Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory-Jordan. “Along with other enhancements to this essential piece of legislation, this body wanted to ensure our citizens’ sensitive information on requested documents will remain private. Cherokee citizens can rest assured this body has taken every step needed to protect their identity and assets through this law.”

The legislation now moves to the Principal Chief’s office for his signature.

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The Tribal Council also unanimously voted to initiate the Cherokee Nation Dental Crown Program, starting July 1. Eligible patients, as determined by a Cherokee Nation dental provider, can receive a crown at a discounted rate. For a complete list of eligibility requirements, contact Cherokee Nation Health Services at (918) 453-5657 or

The legislative body also amended the Concurrent Enrollment Scholarship Act of 2011. The amended legislation now allows high school students to enroll in more college hours and receive more funding.

“More and more Cherokee high school students every year are asking to take college courses concurrently,” said Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick, chairperson of the education committee. “The amended legislation now allows eligible high school students to receive scholarship money for up to nine hours of college course work, rather than just six. The more hours our students enroll in shows their dedication to academics and their futures, and saves families money. This is our way to show those students the Cherokee Nation is committed to investing in their long-term success.”

In other business, the Tribal Council appointed the following citizens to their respective board or commission:

--Robin McClain Smith, of Laguna Beach, California, confirmed as a board member of the Cherokee Nation Community Association Corporation. Smith has an extensive history of working with nonprofit organizations, schools and government agencies.

--Jennifer D. Goins, of Tulsa, confirmed as a commissioner of the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission. Goins earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tulsa. She has more than 20 years of experience in working with private companies in various areas, including product commercialization, statistical problem-solving methods and manufacturing management.