News notes from CherokeeWritten by Caitlin Bowling
State of housing in Cherokee to be surveyed
A federal study researching housing conditions on Indian reservations across the U.S. will include the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
In 2009, Congress mandated that the Department of Housing and Urban Development assess housing needs among people living on reservations. The study will determine need based on demographic, social and economic conditions.
The goal is to amass “clear, credible and consistent information that can inform Congress,” according to a resolution approved by Tribal Council last week.
Although all tribes can complete surveys online, the Eastern Band is one of 40 randomly selected tribes whose enrolled members have a chance answer more in-depth household surveys. Selected participants will receive a $20 gift card for their time.
The in-person household survey will ask questions such as: how many people live in each residence; reasons multiple people are living in the same household; and what features the home includes.
Although only a handful of enrolled members of the Eastern Band will fill out in the in-person survey, researchers are collecting multiple types of information to give a more complete picture of life on reservations. They will look at readily available information such as Census data, conduct in-person and phone interviews, and involve background interviews and literature reviews.
Data collection began in January and will continue until January next year, with preliminary findings scheduled for completion in June 2014. The results will not affect how much funding individual tribes receive but could influence overall allocations for the federal Indian Housing Block Grant program.
Cherokee leaders call for full transcripts
In an effort to increased accuracy and transparency, meetings of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Tribal Council will now be captured with a verbatim transcript.
Council Member Tommye Saunooke presented a resolution to council last week asking that all discussion at budget and Tribal Council meetings be transcribed word for word to keep an accurate history of what happened.
“I don’t want a summary. I want verbatim,” Saunooke said.
The resolution suggested hiring a court reporter for the job.
Council Members Terri Henry, Bo Taylor and B Ensley all voiced their agreement with Saunooke. However, Ensley questioned whether the tribe needed to hire outside help.
“I agree with what Tommye is trying to do here,” Ensley said. “But I am opposed to contracting someone to do this.”
The tribe already has employees who are capable or could learn to take verbatim notes, he argued. In the end, the council unanimously voted to take verbatim notes of its meetings but to contract a current employee to transcribe them.
Council’s monthly meetings are already broadcast on the tribe’s own cable channel as well as online, and are widely viewed.
Cherokee will be the only government entity in the region that offers complete transcripts of government proceedings. Towns and counties keep minutes of meetings, which are written as summaries of what transpired and vary in how comprehensive they are.
— By Caitlin Bowling