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Five Civilized Tribes’ Action

Photo by Deidre Elrod / Choctaw Nation

Housing, Health, Languages Prompt Five Civilized Tribes to Action

DURANT, Okla. – The Inter-Tribal Council (ITC) of the Five Civilized Tribes faced a light action agenda at its final 2018 quarterly meeting. The council is comprised of leaders of the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole nations. They represent 750,000 Native Americans. Three resolutions passed unanimously by voting delegates of the five tribes. They include:

Support for Indian Health Service’s (IHS) request for a separate budget line – or a separate indefinite appropriation – ensuring full funding for lease agreements between IHS and tribal governments.

Currently, the five tribes have IHS self-governance compacts. Each is entitled to full federal funding under the 1975 Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. Additionally, tribes are reimbursed for inflation-related expenses.

IHS is operating under a continuing resolution based upon last year’s federal budget, according to Oklahoma City IHS Director Capt. Travis Watts. The continuing resolution ends Dec. 7 unless Congress reauthorizes it or passes a national budget President Donald Trump will sign.

In July, IHS officials considered using the unallocated fiscal year 2018 funds to defray inflation’s impact and shore up existing lease agreement shortfalls. The five tribes opposed the move. The resolution passed by ITC calls for full funding of inflationary costs while allowing a separate budget exception for IHS to pay tribes the fully agreed upon lease amounts.

Opposed a plan by the National Low Income Housing Coalition calling for competitive allocation of 2018 funds to the Native American Housing Block Grant program. ITC members said a competitive process on low-income housing “is not encompassing of ITC members.”

Instead, ITC members reasserted its support of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) “definitions and processes,” agreed upon by the tribes and HUD during formal negotiations in a “government-to-government relationship.”

By making limited block grant funds available through a competitive process, it is possible for qualifying low-income tribal citizens’ housing needs would not be met.

Urged the U.S. Congress to reauthorize and fully fund the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act “as an investment in cultural and language revitalization goals.”

First authorized by U.S. lawmakers in 2006, the Act expired in 2012. According to the resolution, “the purpose of the Act is to preserve and increase fluency in Native American languages” many of which are rapidly declining and are not spoken anywhere else in the world. According to linguists, at the current rate of decline, only 20 Native American languages will remain by 2050.

“If they are not preserved, they will disappear forever,” the resolution states.

The Act awarded federal grants to support and strengthen Native American language immersion programs, language survival schools, and language restoration programs.


Leaders of the Five Civilized Tribes include, from left to right, Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby, Cherokee Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton, Seminole Nation Chief Greg Chilcoat, and Muscogee (Creek) Principal Chief James Floyd. They met in Durant at the Choctaw Casino & Resort Friday, Oct. 12.


Delton Cox to Lead Choctaw Tribal Council
Photos Provided by Choctaw Nation


Delton Cox – Speaker for the Council | Ronald Perry – Secretary | Jennifer Woods – Chaplain

TVSHKA HOMMA, Okla. – The Choctaw Nation Tribal Council met for its regular monthly session Oct. 13 in the Council Chambers at Tvshka Homma for the first time under its new slate of officers. Officers were elected at the Council’s September meeting. Their positions became effective Oct. 1.

Delton Cox, District 4 Council Member, was elected as the new Speaker for the Council, replacing Kenny Bryant, District 3 Council Member, who chose not to seek another term. Ronald Perry, Council Member for District 5, was picked to continue as the Council’s Secretary. Jennifer Woods, District 6 Council Member, will still serve as Council Chaplain.

Patty Hawkins was asked to continue as Recording Secretary, Daniel Adams was re-appointed as Sergeant-at-Arms, and Jordan Dennis will serve as Council Parliamentarian.


Choctaw Veteran Named Distinguished Alumni

Photo by Charles Clark / Choctaw Nation

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Tray Ardese accepts this year’s Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

DURANT, Okla. – A noted member of the Choctaw Nation was among those recognized at this year’s Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s Distinguished Alumni Banquet. The event, which took place on Oct. 12 in the Visual and Performing Arts Center, honored alumni and retired faculty and ushered in a new alumni board.

A member of the of the Class of 1989, retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Tray Ardese earned his bachelor’s degree in history at SOSU, where he also captained the football team. “No one gets here without the help of many others” Ardese stated as he thanked coaches and mentors.

Ardese later earned a master’s of Strategic Studies at the United States Army War College. As a marine, he became a pilot and amassed more than 3,000 hours of flight time and 257 combat missions in the air. He was wounded in an intense firefight and received the Purple Heart. His many decorations also include the Bronze Star with “V” for Valor in Combat.

Ardese began life in Krebbs. His time in the military took him to more than 50 countries around the world. He now resides with his family on the farm of his childhood. He is currently director of government and international affairs for Magpul Industries and serves as a Christian evangelist along with volunteering his time with Honored American Veterans Afield and Outdoor Network International.