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Seven tribal employees who were fired or demoted when former Principal Chief Patrick Lambert took office in 2015 have received a combined $698,000 in settlement payouts following a November agreement that Lambert made public this week.

Before white settlers corrupted the name to Cullowhee, the land along the Tuckasegee River south of Sylva was known to the Cherokee people as “Joolth-cullah-whee,” or Judaculla’s place.

A Tribal Council resolution calling for a special election to choose the next Vice Chief sat, unsigned, in the office of Principal Chief Richard Sneed since its passage Aug. 3 — until Sneed announced his decision to veto the decision on Monday, Sept. 4.

Principal Chief Richard Sneed has vetoed legislation that Tribal Council passed in July setting up a program to pay power bills for tribal elders.

Cherokee came one step closer last week to having a special election to fill the vacant vice chief’s seat, but the resolution narrowly passed by Tribal Council still needs a signature from Principal Chief Richard Sneed to become effective.

The September ballot could include a special election for vice chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, pending a decision by the Cherokee Supreme Court. 

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