INCHELIUM—The Colville Business Council hosted only a small crowd at the 2015 General Membership meeting at the Inchelium School, Saturday, Oct. 10, and a number of audience members expressed their frustration with the small turnout present in the school gymnasium.
“My concern is all of us are going to die,” said Cheryl Priest, standing during the question and answer session after lunch. “Where are our younger generations? We need them here somewhere along the way.”
Priest received applause.
During his introduction, Colville Business Council Chair Jim Boyd noted a couple positives this year—listing the new 12 Tribes Casino and the recent finding the Ancient One is genetically linked to Plateau Tribes—and a few negatives—the largest of which has been the ‘devastating fires.’
Colville Tribal Executive Director Francis Somday noted the government center is complete and programs are moving in.
“Your Washington D.C.,” Somday called the new structure.
According to Somday, “Council and the Office of Reservation Attorneys was able to put together a package to not require a single dollar for construction.”
Audience members questioned the CBC concerning communication of the event.
Colville Tribal Federal Corporation, Tribal Accounting and Colville Tribal Solutions Corporation presented updates.
Mount Tolman Fire Center’s Ike Cawston and Cody Desautel presented on the North Star and Tunk Block fires.
During the after lunch session, other concerns raised included a court case titled Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter, environmental issues, the juvenile code, the impact of recent fires on the tribes’ potential sale of carbon credits, letters to the editor, transparency, an ethics committee and scholarships.
Capsules of each of these items are below.
Different then years past, CBC sat to the side rather than in front of the audience seats, and CBC Chair Jim Boyd expressed the change was to allow members to talk directly to their representatives without having to us the microphone. Somday emceed the event.
“I appreciate all of you that are here today,” said Cherie Moomaw. “I don’t appreciate having to talk through your employee. You are my leaders. You are who I wish to talk to.”
“There has to be a way to get more information to our members. I don’t know what you know. We need to have better contact.”
Tribal member questions ‘what’s going on with the juvenile code?’
Colville Tribal member Georgia Simpson raised the question: “What’s going on with the youth, juvenile code? We have had a number of vehicles stolen, and its not to the cost of the kids. It’s to the cost of the person who owns the vehicle.”
“We’re not teaching them anything,” continued Simpson. “We’re teaching them, ‘Go ahead. Take it. We’ll pay for it.’ Until it happens to you, you’re never knowing what happens. These kids need to know there are consequences.”
A current juvenile code exists in the Colville Tribal Code as Chapter 5-2, however, a new juvenile code is currently being drafted, responded Dana Cleveland, Office of Reservation Attorneys.
Cleveland noted that added complexity has forced ORA to identify funding sources for things such as enforcing delinquency.
Cleveland further anticipated the code would go to council within the next month.
Desautel discusses fires
Salvage has begun in the North Star and Tunk Block fire scar, said Colville Tribal Land and Property Director Cody Desautel; rehabilitation is expected to cost $36 million.
Mount Tolman Fire Center’s Ike Cawston and Desautel presented on the unprecedented fires that burned more than 270,000 acres on the Colville Indian Reservation late this summer.
“We’ve never received the type of
support that we received. The outreach was tremendous,” said Cawston after providing a narrative of the two fires that started in mid-August. “It really meant a lot to all the firefighters.”
Desautel noted more thank 93,000 acres of commercial forest was burned, along with 630 miles of creeks and 200 miles of range fence.
“Typically a big fire for us is 25,000 acres,” said Desautel. “We’re looking at a project ten times that size.”
Desautel stated the projected rehabilitation cost on the two fires was only an estimate and a current assessment of timber loss is underway.
The problem is that the Bureau of Indian Affairs is generally awarded $3 million annually nation wide for rehabilitation, said Desautel.
The fires on the Colville Reservation, Desautel noted five tribes in the Northwest had large fires, equaling a need Desautel estimated to likely be between $40-50 million.
“[There will be] a lot of work in D.C. to find funding,” said Desautel.
“We will probably take a second look to our restoration budget,” said Desautel later when asked if the Tribe would be funding rehabilitation of the fire. “If we can stretch those dollars over time, that will ease the burden.”
On the high side, said Desautel, the total impacted timber could be as high as 800 million board feet.
Desautel estimates fires’ impact on carbon deal around 20 percent decrease
To answer a question by tribal member Cheri Moomaw, Colville Tribal Land and Property Director Cody Desautel stated the North Star and Tunk Block fires’ likely reduced the carbon credit deal by around 20 percent.
“Up to this point the only contractual document we’ve signed is to sale any potential credits to B.P.,” said Desautel, who stated over the next six to eight months, a verification process will check the inventory of carbon credits available through current forest management process on the reservation.
In May, CBC approved two resolutions that promised the sell of potential carbon to British Petroleum under the California Air Resources Board’s cap-and-trade market.
No amounts were listed in the resolution, though in Chambers, Management and Budget Committee Chair Billy Nicholson noted the deal had a potential of providing $80 million to the Colville Tribes over the 100-year lifetime of the agreement.
Upon further question, Desautel confirmed the sale of carbon credits remains “a potential sale.”
According to Desautel, the California Carbon board will check the tribes’ forest management practices to ensure those practices align with forest practices accepted under the California market.
Accounting presents on upcoming budget
Tribal Accounting’s Tom Sergeant presented on the Tribal budget noting in the recently passed FY 2016 Budget there is an overage of just over $1 million, meaning the current source of funds is projected to be more than $1 million the total use of funds for the upcoming fiscal year.
The Tribes projected largest revenues include: stumpage, estimated to be $8.1 million; leases, estimated at $1.1 million; Wells Dam payments of $6 million; cigarette compacts of $2.8 million; and fuel compacts of $1.9 million. A number of other, smaller revenue sources were identified.
Bray asks about scholarships under Qwam Qwmpt plan
“I thought part of what was going to happen with the Qwam Qwmpt money was something to help with scholarships, especially in the area of natural resources,” stated Jonnie Bray at the General Membership meeting. “We don’t see many people come back in those positions. Why aren’t we putting money into tribal members?”
“We have a core group of people and they get everything. We recycle them, and we’re not adding to that pool. Can we get a commitment from our leaders that they won’t fill unadvertised positions at least without an inquiry on why it wasn’t advertised?”
Colville Business Council member Jack Ferguson, who chairs CBC’s Education and Employment Committee, responded to not his understanding was all jobs are advertised.
“If there is a specific thing you’re talking about, I would like to know,” said Ferguson.
“To answer about scholarships, we did set aside $1 million,” said tribal Land and Property Director Cody Desautel. “I agree completely we don’t have enough folks coming back.”
“We just have to continue different avenues to introduce kids to natural resources. I’m not sure what the solution to the problem is.”
The Red Writer says, ‘Please take dictatorship away from Tribal
Mel “Bugs” Toulou stood during the question and answer session of the 2015 General Membership meeting.
“How many of you ever read The Red Writer?” Toulou asked the crowd.
A number raised their hand.
“Okay. I am The Red Writer,” said Toulou. “Two years ago, I got a letter from the Tribal Tribune saying that they would no longer accept my writing. There were other people who would write in there too with different kinds of messages.”
“I would like to ask the tribal council now to please take the dictatorship from the Tribal Tribune. A former voice of the reservation needs to be heard.”
Tribal members Kara Finley, Doug Seymour, Lou Stone and Cheri Moomaw reiterated the concern throughout the discussion period.
After a hiatus, in January the Tribal Tribune began accepting letter to the editor submissions again with renewed guidelines Stone called “really lame.”
“When you have censorship of the membership, you have no transparency. When letters to the editor are being blocked, you’re not listening,” said Stone.
Closing the meeting, Colville Business Council Chair Jim Boyd thanked the audience for their questions and concerns, noting CBC may reconsider the letters to the editor guidelines.
Tribal member questions Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter lawsuit
Colville Tribal member Charlene Bearcub stood up:
“I have more than a question,” said Bearcub. “I just want to share with you that we are the recent recipient of a Ramah Navajo Chapter settlement in the amount of $13 million dollars.”
“My main concern is our tribal council was on the onset of this without letting us know. The payee is listed as CBC, not Colville Tribes.”
“The Colville Business Council are the leaders and unit of the tribal membership. Rest assured,” answered Executive Director Francis Somday, “when those funds come forward they go into a specific settlement account until the CBC meets and decides what to do.”
In May, Tribal Tribune reported on a first round of settlement negotiations in which the CBC members Andy Joseph Jr. and Mel Tonasket negotiated $1.4 million from Indian Health Services over contract support costs owed.
On Monday, U.S. News and World Report, reported the federal government agreed to pay $940 million to settle claims related to the case.
Leaders from the Oglala Sioux, Zuni Pueblo and Ramah Chapter of the Navajo Nation were among the lead plaintiffs that was filed on behalf of more than 600 tribes and tribal agencies.
The CBC has issued no statement at this time.
Colville Tribal federal contracting company is slowly growing says CEO
John Panamaroff, Colville Tribal Solutions Company, presented concerning the Colville Tribes federal contracting company.
“Federal contracting is big. It takes a while to get into,” said Panamaroff, who noted, “54 percent of all [Gross Domestic Product] is actually directed by the federal government. If we’re not working with the federal government on some capacity, you’re missing out on that.”
CTSC’s 1872 Force Protection, a security company, is currently working at Chief Joseph Dam, Omak Wood Products and with Lydig Construction. Panamaroff reported a new contract has been awarded to 1872 for security at Pier 36 in Seattle and currently three other bids have been sent out for security contracts at regional dams.
Panamaroff also noted a potential business opportunity with investment in an international security company and discussed 1872 FINCOM, LLC, an accounting/technology security company.
Johnson suggests ethics committee change
In response to a question by Colville Tribal member Charlene Bearcub requesting for consideration of an ethics committee, Colville Business Council member Nancy Johnson stated she is in the process of creating a recommendation sheet for an ethics committee unattached to the CBC.
“You have a lot of rogue things going on,” said Bearcub. “That concerns me as a tribal member, especially when we are talking about millions and millions of dollars. Apparently there is no way to police yourselves and the people are not satisfied with your decisions.”
“I’ve sat through several ethics cases, and I would be glad to have someone else be the judge on these cases,” said Andy Joseph Jr., Nespelem District.
“I support taking the ethics committee out of council’s hands,” said Susie Allen, Inchelium District. “We first of all have to follow the code when it comes to ethics. You can’t have one group determine it. I will support Nancy’s recommendation, but again it falls under majority vote.”
According to Johnson, her recommendation would create an unassociated group that could “bring options forward to the council to approve.”
“Some people I am thinking of would be good to be on the ethics committee would be ORA, Administration and members of the general membership,” said Johnson.
CTFC reports four highlights
Bill Smith, Colville Tribal Federal Corporation, reported four highlights from FY2015: Gaming revenue reached $54.8 million, CTFC distributed $9.6 million to the tribe, CTFC formed Colville Gaming LLC and a $43 million financial agreement was made to build the 12 Tribes Casino in Omak, which opened this summer.