Char-Koosta News

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St. Ignatius District Meeting informs membership of tribal business, politics and news

Tribal Council St. Ignatius representative Patty Stevens speaks to the audience at last month's district meeting. (courtesy photo) Tribal Council St. Ignatius representative Patty Stevens speaks to the audience at last month's district meeting. (courtesy photo)

ST. IGNATIUS — Patty Stevens, Council member for the Mission District, held her first District meeting and had a good turn out considering the winter storm warnings throughout the day. Tribal Chairman Ronald Trahan and Vice-Chair Carole Lankford were also present for the gathering. The Salish Institute and the youth theater group began the afternoon with the Salish prayer followed by a meal of homemade chili and fry bread to over 60 people. The Institute wants to do their part in protecting the environment by using regular dishes and silverware (no paper products).

Communicating with the people is important to Stevens. “During my campaign, the people had a lot of questions about the Corporations and the jobs created. I think this is a good place to start given the fact that the Tribes will be acquiring Kerr Dam in 2015”. Join Patty for coffee and dessert on Wednesday, March 12 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Neil Charlo Conference Room to discuss the basics of the Tribes’ corporations and how they relate to the Tribal Council.

Patty informed the group that the Tribal Health Department will be hiring five Certified Application Counselors. Their primary responsibility will be educating and assisting individuals applying for health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Exchange. Kevin Howlett, Tribal Health Director, is also presenting a request to Tribal Council to contract CHS (Contract Health Services), which is now operated by the Indian Health Service.

Stevens told the group that some employees have announced their retirement. Martin Olsson, President of Eagle Bank is retiring September 2015 and the Board desires to train a tribal member for this position. Ralph Goode, General Manager of MVP, will also be retiring as well as Joe Dupuis, Director of Economic Development.

Announcements/Events:
   • SKHA has units available immediately at the Elderly Living Center in Elmo
   • The 2014 Celebrating Salish Conference starts March 4 and the Inter-Tribal Powwow is Thursday, March 6 beginning with dinner at 5:30 p.m. and Snake Dance at 7p.m.
   • SKHA has a house for sale $99,500 in Ronan on fee property ($17,500 below appraisal)
   • The Flathead Finance Program is offering Home Maintenance classes and Home Ownership Education classes once a month. The classes are free. Call Micky at 675-4491, Ext. 1517 to reserve your spot.
   • “Walking the Rez” program started February 14 and ends May 11. Sign up at any THHS Fitness Center in St. Ignatius, Arlee, Ronan and Elmo)
   • Registration for Spring Hunters Education Classes is February 28. Classes are March 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11 from 7-9 p.m. at SKC. Parent/guardian must accompany students under 18 to register. For more information, contact Virgil Rinke 676-8132, Tom Fieber 250-3386 or Germaine White 883-2888.
   • The Tribal Employee’s Christmas Campaign provided gifts for 571 children and gift certificates for 50 elders. This effort is funded by Tribal employee payroll deductions.

The Tribal Council met with Senators Tester and Walsh on February 22, 2014. Items discussed were:
   • Fish and Wildlife Federal Aid Funding
   • Federal Lands Invasive Species Control, Prevention and Management Act
   • Edward Byrne Memorial Grant for Law and Order Funding
   • Tribal Forestry and Fire Issues
   • Land Buy Back Program and Probate Processing
   • Columbia Basin Treaty Review
   • Veterans Issues
   • Preservation of Native Languages

This year the CSKT helped sponsor the 2014 Celebrating Salish Language Conference and selected the following tribal members to receive assistance with registration costs and/or lodging: Dolly Linsebigler, Vic Stevens, Frances Vanderburg, Allen and Kelly Pierre, Travis and Chelsea Arlee, Eva Boyd, Miranda Felix, Debra and Audra HomeGun and Jackson Adams.

Janet Camel and Rebecca Hendrickx were on hand from the Economic Development Office. The CSKTribes are working on a three-year project, funded by an ANA grant, to help tribal members find employment. The first year is to determine where there is the best potential for sustainable job opportunities on or near the Reservation. An Economic Development Plan will be developed the second year and in the third year, they will implement a Pilot Training Project. Surveys will go out to adult tribal members this spring.

An interesting discussion was held on the Cobell Land Buy Back Program. The CSKTribes were allocated $7.3 million to purchase fractionated interests. All lands purchased will be trust lands and will stay in trust. The overall goal of the program is to reduce the number of fractional interests through voluntary land sales by willing sellers. Prices offered are Fair Market Value as determined by licensed appraisers. Interested sellers should contact the Tribal Lands at (406) 675-2700. Staff is Anita Matt (ext. 1266), George Ducharme (ext. 1269), Tara Irvine (ext. 1274), Carolee Wenderoth (ext. 1199) or Teresa McDonald (ext. 1049).

Charmel Gillin, Director of Finance, gave a presentation about the Energy Keepers Inc. and fielded questions from the people. About 2/3 (9 of 14) of the employees are tribal members. The staff will expand to 21 by the time Kerr Dam is acquired in 2015. Join Stevens for dessert and beverage for the informational meeting on Wednesday, March 12 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Neil Charlo Conference Room in St. Ignatius to discuss “the basics” of corporations.

Stevens handed out 15 Salish Dictionaries that were provided by Nkwusm. Cash door prizes went to Sherry Michel, Marie Torosian and Patty Bundy. Sandy Stevens and Chelsea Arlee received earrings made by RuthAnn Swaney and Tara Matt won the beaded made by Kay Finley of Arlee.

To round out the afternoon, was a brief discussion about the social issues that our people face every day. Stevens and Lankford discussed the recent actions taken by the Tribal Council to deny services to family for newborn babies testing positive for drugs. The Tribes also passed a resolution (No. 14-036) authorizing the establishment of a work group to develop a strategic plan to combat and eliminate substance abuse. Stevens will be scheduling more meetings in the immediate future because this is her highest priority.

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