The Cherokee Nation increased its 2014 operating budget to $613.7 million during its August Tribal Council meeting on Monday. The added $4.6 million will help cover more Cherokee citizen health costs, put more Cherokees to work and help with emergency housing.
The budget increase will use $1.2 million to help cover contract health costs for Cherokee Nation citizens who use Claremore Indian Hospital and are then referred to non-Cherokee Nation facilities for specialized care.
“Increasing access to quality health care for our citizens is absolutely a top priority for this legislative body,” said Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory-Jordan. “As tribal leaders we have a responsibility to ensure Cherokee citizens receive the best possible care, whether it is at our health facilities or from a contracted specialist. The additional contract health funding will help meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in the northern region of our jurisdiction.”
Another $2.9 million will help some Cherokee Nation departments when they need matching grant money. The Cherokee Day Training Program provides temporary jobs and employment training. It will get $345,000, with $150,000 earmarked for transitional emergency housing.
In other business, the tribal council unanimously approved a resolution to request surplus bison from the Badlands in South Dakota through the InterTribal Buffalo Council. The Cherokee Nation will have the option to receive bison from the Badlands and is still a candidate to receive surplus bison from Yellowstone National Park.
The tribe could receive 35 to 50 bison this fall. If a herd is received, it could be placed on tribal land in Delaware County.
“Restoring the tradition of raising buffalo is very exciting,” said Tribal Councilor Curtis Snell of Delaware County. “This could be another source of tourism for the Cherokee Nation and provide another healthy source of protein for our citizens.”
The tribal council also authorized the tribe to receive 1,000 pounds of bison meat from the InterTribal Buffalo Council in South Dakota, which would be served at Cherokee Nation community events.
The next tribal council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., September 15, at the W.W. Keeler Complex in Tahlequah.