|October 17, 2013
Fall Quarterly Meeting revisits events of the summer
By Alyssa Nenemay
Yamncut was host drum for the meeting. The group performed honor songs for the event. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay)
PABLO — Amidst a government shut down, rumors of bonuses, and a tribal council election, the October Quarterly meeting was packed to capacity. All tribal council representatives were in attendance and the agenda predicted the meeting would end by lunch. Host drum was Yamncut and catering was provided by the Hangin’ Art Gallery.
Tribal Health and Human Services
The first speaker of the morning was Tribal Health and Human Services director Kevin Howlett who discussed the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” and its effects on Tribal Health patients. Howlett said 23 clinical staff members are being trained and office spaces will be designated to accommodate the extensive registration process that will be required by the new law.
“I know that people are reluctant to share information but they won’t have a choice–this will be required by law. They want to keep track of everyone in the US. This is going to be awkward because we’re not used to it but we’re going to have trained staff to make the transition as easy as we can. I don’t want people to think that because we’re Indian we don’t have to do it. It’s required by Federal law,” said Howlett.
Gary Neumann, a CS&KT member and Native American liaison for the Montana Health Co-Op Insurance program said he has been contracted to provide information on the Affordable Care Act and its effects on Native Americans. Neumann will be assisting with health fairs within the next few months that will be held in each tribal community throughout the Flathead Reservation to provide further information.
“I was hired to gather information on the Affordable Care Act because there hasn’t been a specific focus on how it will effect Native Americans. I am not selling insurance. It was important that a Native American gather the information and be able to provide it to tribal communities,” said Neumann.
Tribal Lands Department head Teresa Wall-McDonald gave an update on CS&KT’s current status with the Land Buy Back program. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay)
Tribal Lands Department
The 2010 Cobell Settlement allocated a $1.9 billion Trust Land Consolidation Fund in order for tribes to acquire fractionated trust or restricted lands that individuals are willing to sell. The funds must be used within in a 10-year period and distribution will begin next year beginning with the top 40 tribes to meet initial purchase qualifications.
Tribal Lands department head Teresa Wall-McDonald gave an update on CS&KT’s current status with the Land Buy-Back Program (formerly called the Cobell Land Consolidation Program). McDonald said the Lands department worked tirelessly to build a case in order to be ranked number 38 on the initial purchase list, which was determined by three factors:
1. The total number of purchasable fractional interests within a reservation
2. The number of fractionated tracts within a reservation
3. The number of acres related to those fractional interests
McDonald said CS&KT has already been in the process of land consolidation and was the first of the top 40 tribes to create a system to implement the Land Buy Back program. In the 1930’s the tribes owned 20 percent of the Flathead Reservation’s land base; today CS&KT owns 65 percent.
“Our department has really been hard at work and it is so important because our land plays a significant role in our sovereignty. This is an exciting time for CS&KT. We are continuing to work towards goals that were set by past leaders,” McDonald said.
With an estimated purchase ceiling of $7,464,000, McDonald said the Tribal Lands department is in the process of mapping potential property purchases from tribal members who own fractionated trust land. Priorities will be based on cultural significance, estimated market value, and location. Offer letters will be sent as soon as January.
Salish Kootenai Housing Authority director Jason Adams and board of commissioners Chairwoman Teri Shaw presented Tribal Council with a plaque in honor of past and present leadership that contributed to the program’s success. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay)
Salish Kootenai Housing Authority
The Salish Kootenai Housing Authority recently celebrated it 50th Anniversary and the program’s director Jason Adams was joined by SKHA Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Teri Shaw to present a plaque in honor of past and present Tribal Council members who contributed to the program’s success. “SKHA has had tremendous success because of strong leadership. If you look at other Housing Authorities, they look to ours for mentorship,” said Shaw.
Jim Durglo and Ron Swaney of the tribal Fire Division were awarded a plaque in honor of the fire crews’ response during an aggressive fire season this year in spite of budget cuts. (Photo By Alyssa Nenemay)
Division of Fire
In spite of extensive budget cuts, the Tribes’ Division of Fire department successfully responded to a very aggressive fire season this year that included the 1,750-acre Fire Stone Flats fire in Arlee as well as 99 forest fires. The department received a plaque from Tribal Council in honor of the crew’s work.
“Our crew is a strong group of individuals who are dedicated. They are on the frontline and truly deserve recognition. I would also like to thank our department’s strong leadership, they help us battle for funding each year,” said Fire Management Officer Ron Swaney.
The tribes’ Department of Human Resources Development’s Fatherhood program is in its third year of operation serving 325 individuals. With heavy budget cuts, the CS&KT Fatherhood program was lucky to have received its $2.4 million annual funding as 90 percent of programs that applied were denied.
Collaborating with over 31 departments and businesses throughout the reservation, Fatherhood added the Tribal Lands department to its area of job experience for clients. This summer, the crew aided in land maintenance activities that included fencing, upkeep, and a project to build stairs at the S&K Marina in Polson.
An honorary slideshow was presented by Fatherhood’s program director Gary Acevedo, who was joined by DHRD department head Arlene Templer, in recognizing the crews’ work. “These crews were very hard workers and they contributed to improving our tribal land base. We just wanted to recognize their work,” said Acevedo.
Part Two of the October Quarterly Meeting will include Public Comment