fr bearsEleven bears once confined to concrete pits at Chief Saunooke Bear Park in Cherokee have found greener pastures in Texas after the bear park was shut down following repeated federal violations. 

art frKnown as the finest showcase of native traditions, the ninth annual Festival of Native Peoples will take place July 12-13 at Cherokee Indian Fair Grounds. The event features a variety of traditional dance, storytelling and song performances honoring the collected history, culture, tradition and wisdom of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. 

“An array of entertainment as diverse as the tribes that provide it ensures visitors to Cherokee will be impressed,” said Howard Wahnetah, event supervisor for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. “The tribes are so different, and when we come together to celebrate our collective native heritage, we gain a better understanding of our own history and customs.”

coverGrowing up on the Isleta Pueblo reservation in New Mexico, 26-year-old Cody Grant could name off the tribes he descended from — Cherokee, two sects of Pueblo — but he didn’t know anything about them, except their names.

“For me, it was because culturally, I was lacking,” said Grant, who split his time between New Mexico and Cherokee as a child. “I didn’t place big stock in cultural values.”  

Cook and television personality Paula Deen has gotten into hot butter in recent weeks over allegations of racism, prompting Caesar’s Entertainment to shut the Paula Deen’s Kitchen at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Resort.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians could make the inmates housed in its future jail pay — literally.

out frA mountainside in Macon County once destined for a housing development is now destined to be a community forest area comparable to the arboretum in Asheville.

The Hall Mountain Tract is a 108-acre swath of land overlooking the Cowee mound — a sacred Cherokee site — and the Little Tennessee River. Local conservationists and Eastern Band of Cherokee Tribal members have been pushing hard since 2005 to save the site from becoming a large subdivision.

Enrolled members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will head to the polls Tuesday, June 6, to vote in the primary election for Tribal Council.

fr cherokeewelfareFrom the outside, Sandy Cloer’s office doesn’t look like much — not even a real office, in fact. 

The three double-wide trailers strung end-to-end and plopped at the back of a barren parking lot hardly seem cut from the same cloth as Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Resort just a few miles away, dripping with glitz and glam and money.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Resort’s bottom line is improving steadily each year as the nation continues to recover from the recession and as the casino expands its offerings.

State of housing in Cherokee to be surveyed

A federal study researching housing conditions on Indian reservations across the U.S. will include the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

In 2009, Congress mandated that the Department of Housing and Urban Development assess housing needs among people living on reservations. The study will determine need based on demographic, social and economic conditions.

The goal is to amass “clear, credible and consistent information that can inform Congress,” according to a resolution approved by Tribal Council last week.

Although all tribes can complete surveys online, the Eastern Band is one of 40 randomly selected tribes whose enrolled members have a chance answer more in-depth household surveys. Selected participants will receive a $20 gift card for their time.

The in-person household survey will ask questions such as: how many people live in each residence; reasons multiple people are living in the same household; and what features the home includes.

Although only a handful of enrolled members of the Eastern Band will fill out in the in-person survey, researchers are collecting multiple types of information to give a more complete picture of life on reservations. They will look at readily available information such as Census data, conduct in-person and phone interviews, and involve background interviews and literature reviews.

Data collection began in January and will continue until January next year, with preliminary findings scheduled for completion in June 2014. The results will not affect how much funding individual tribes receive but could influence overall allocations for the federal Indian Housing Block Grant program.

 

Cherokee leaders call for full transcripts

In an effort to increased accuracy and transparency, meetings of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Tribal Council will now be captured with a verbatim transcript.

Council Member Tommye Saunooke presented a resolution to council last week asking that all discussion at budget and Tribal Council meetings be transcribed word for word to keep an accurate history of what happened.

“I don’t want a summary. I want verbatim,” Saunooke said.

The resolution suggested hiring a court reporter for the job.

Council Members Terri Henry, Bo Taylor and B Ensley all voiced their agreement with Saunooke. However, Ensley questioned whether the tribe needed to hire outside help.

“I agree with what Tommye is trying to do here,” Ensley said. “But I am opposed to contracting someone to do this.”

The tribe already has employees who are capable or could learn to take verbatim notes, he argued. In the end, the council unanimously voted to take verbatim notes of its meetings but to contract a current employee to transcribe them.

Council’s monthly meetings are already broadcast on the tribe’s own cable channel as well as online, and are widely viewed.

Cherokee will be the only government entity in the region that offers complete transcripts of government proceedings. Towns and counties keep minutes of meetings, which are written as summaries of what transpired and vary in how comprehensive they are.

— By Caitlin Bowling

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