By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
We can never be too grateful. With all the opportunities and challenges that this new year will bring, we shouldn’t forget those people and things that make our lives better.
Our emergency services workers were praised time and time again this year for their dedication and service. The One Feather receives several “thank you” letters over the course of the year. The majority of those letters make mention of the assistance of EBCI fire, emergency medical and police personnel. At year’s end, many of our emergency services workers were pressed into duty to fight against fires, some intentionally set, both on and off the Boundary. Our men and women also helped with the devastating fires in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Not only did they fight the fires, they helped with the aftermath, which included recovering the remains of victims. From working stand-by for governmental and school events to overdoses to life-or-death medical situations our fire and emergency medical personnel have worked long, difficult hours on our behalf. As anyone who regularly reads the arrest report can attest, it has been a busy year for the patrol officers. They are on the front line of the “war” on drugs. But they also deal with domestic violence calls, wellness checks on the elderly, protection details and hundreds of other assignments to keep the Cherokee community safe and allow citizens to carry on our daily business. We may remember the efforts of these men and women with pride and gratitude.
The Cherokee Veteran’s Memorial received a long overdue overhaul. The memorial has been expanded to double its original size. The entire area was re-landscaped, with new pads for the tribe’s two artillery guns and tank, new concrete walkways, benches and trash receptacles. Old shrubbery that had been allowed to overgrow the granite slabs and monument with the lists of Cherokee soldiers was removed and the area pressure washed and cleaned. Our two artillery guns and tank were put on proper display, receiving an initial cleaning (with plans to restore the tank and partially restore the artillery guns in 2017). The entire electrical system at the memorial was overhauled to provide additional lighting for all of the displays, monuments, and flag. A life-sized bronze of Cherokee war hero Charles George was created and erected at the Veteran’s Memorial in the latter part of 2016. Several Cherokee veterans, the Executive Office and Tribal Council were all involved in bringing this tribute to those brave tribal members who served their country and nation through military service.
The Executive Office and Tribal Council enacted laws calling for staggered distribution of minor’s fund disbursement, allowing for tribal youth reaching the age to receive per capita compensation to avoid some hefty federal tax penalties. Many also saw the measure as a way to assist the youth, who typically come into a large sum of money early in life, in financial planning for the long term. They also enacted new law allowing tribal members advanced access of up to $500 per month of their next per capita pay out. These measures provide additional protection and accessibility for all tribal members. Money, hopefully, that will be used to enhance the quality of life and security of the community. We are grateful for the vision and wisdom of our leadership in making these historic changes to our tribal law.
These are just three of the positive actions and achievements of our tribe during 2016. I encourage you to add and share your thoughts on the positive progress within our community. When we progress into this new year, we will be facing new challenges, threats and opportunities. Much was unresolved in 2016 and some will certainly find resolution this year. As we are sure to deal with dark clouds in 2017, we all need to take time to find our silver linings.