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Tribal Council Strengthens Contracting Preference for Cherokees

The Cherokee Nation has strengthened a tribal law that will help put more citizens from all three federally recognized Cherokee tribes to work.

The Cherokee Nation has strengthened a tribal law that will help put more citizens from all three federally recognized Cherokee tribes to work.

The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council passed an amendment to the Cherokee Nation Employment Rights Act during its regular council meeting February 10. Prior to the amendment, businesses owned by Cherokee Nation citizens received first preference for tribal contracts, followed by businesses owned by citizens of all other Native American tribes.

The act now establishes a preference tier, placing businesses owned by Cherokee Nation citizens first, followed by a second tier preference for businesses owned by citizens of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees and Eastern Band of Cherokees. The third tier of preference includes all other Native-owned businesses, and the fourth tier includes non Indian-owned businesses.

The amendment also provide for the tribe’s TERO office to terminate the contracts of employers that fail to abide by the Indian preference provisions of the Act.

"This reform will put more Cherokees to work, give our contractors more opportunities to earn business and give Cherokee Nation Businesses the flexibility it needs to compete for more federal contracts,” said Tribal Council Secretary Jodie Fishinghawk of Stilwell. “We're now putting into law that Cherokee Nation and CNB must go the extra mile to find Cherokee applicants. We've already boosted Cherokee employment at CNB to record highs, and I expect that number to go higher."

Cherokee Nation’s Tribal Employment Rights Office negotiates with nearly 800 certified Indian-owned businesses to fill contracting needs within the Cherokee Nation and its business entities.

The Tribal Council also passed Monday various amendments to Cherokee Nation election laws, designed to make the election commission more autonomous in accordance with the Cherokee Nation Constitution.

“This act will strengthen the independence of the election commission and move us in the right direction,” said Cherokee Nation Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory Jordan.

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Tribal Council members also authorized donating surplus office equipment to six nonprofit organizations. Orchard Road Community Outreach, an emergency shelter in Adair County receiving some of the equipment, will get 20 chairs and two filing cabinets.

“If it weren’t for the Cherokee Nation, we wouldn’t have nearly as many supplies or as much furniture as we do,” said Max Ford, Orchard Road Community Outreach founder and board member. “The tribe has helped us a lot and we’re very appreciative of everything they do.”

The Marble City Food Pantry and Vian Peace Center in Sequoyah County, Chelsea Boys & Girls Club in Rogers County, Jay Museum in Delaware County and Native American Fellowship Inc. in Nowata County will also receive surplus items.

Several reappointments to key positions throughout the tribal government were also made. They are as follows.

-- District 8 Tribal Councilor Jodie Fishinghawk, of Stilwell, was re-elected to another one-year term as secretary of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council.

-- Bart Fite, of Muskogee, was reappointed to the position of district judge for the Cherokee Nation District Court. Fite has held the position since 2004, and will serve until August 2017.

-- Patsiann Nix Smith, of Tahlequah, was reappointed to the Cherokee Nation Foundation Board. Nix Smith has served on the board since April 2013.

-- Shannon Fisher, of Sallisaw, was reappointed to the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission. Fisher has been a voting member of the commission since 2004.