Tulsa councilors begin meetings with area tribal leaders
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
6/20/12 at 3:57 AM
Read continuing coverage of Tulsa’s City Council.
City councilors last week sat down with Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker - the first of three meetings planned with area tribal leaders.
"The council as a whole has agreed we as a city government need to do a better job of communicating with major area tribes that have an impact on Tulsa," said Council Chairman G.T. Bynum. "As a first step in improving those lines of communication, we are going around meeting with chiefs of the Cherokee, Creek and Osage nations."
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 5.3 percent - or 20,771 - of Tulsa's population of 391,906 is of either American Indian or Alaska Native descent.
Six councilors - Bynum, Skip Steele, David Patrick, Jack Henderson, Karen Gilbert and Jeannie Cue - met with Baker on Thursday morning at the Cherokee Nation headquarters in Tahlequah.
The meeting agenda was published on the city's website as required under the state Open Meetings Act.
"I think the meeting went extremely well," Baker said. "They were quite gracious."
Baker said talks focused on job creation and economic development.
Possible joint ventures discussed included using vacant land in north Tulsa to build homes for Cherokee Nation members. The program would create construction jobs; provide quality, affordable housing; and funnel $2,800 per child into the local school system, Baker said.
In addition, the Cherokee Nation offers a program in which the tribe recruits and trains employees for companies in return for a $4,000 tax credit for the company. The tax credit doubles if the employee is married to a Cherokee.
Baker and the councilors also discussed using the Indian preference in federal contracts to bring work into the city, Baker said.
Henderson said his District 1 includes a large number of tribal members and that programs that help them would also benefit his other constituents.
"What we are trying to do is see how the council and the tribes could work together to make Tulsa a better place," Henderson said.
Patrick said the meeting went well.
"The Cherokees, I am really interested in because most of my district is in the Cherokee Nation," the District 3 councilor said.
Bynum said the meetings with tribal leaders are part of a broader effort by the council to build relationships with all levels of government that have jurisdiction within the city - including the state, the county and the federal government.
Bynum noted that last week's meeting with the Cherokee Nation was the first time the council had sat down with an area tribal leader since he took office in 2008.
"You don't go to somebody when you need something from them," Bynum said. "You build a relationship when you have an opportunity to do it on good terms and have the ability to work ahead at ways you can work together."
Council, tribes talking
City councilors last week began a series of meetings with area tribal leaders. They met with Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker on Thursday at the Cherokee Nation headquarters in Tahlequah.
They are scheduled to meet Tuesday in Okmulgee with Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief George Tiger. On July 17, they will meet at City Hall with Osage Nation Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle.
The meetings are scheduled for 10 a.m. and are open to the public.
Original Print Headline: Tulsa councilors begin meetings with tribal leaders
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
Bill John Baker: The principal chief of the Cherokee Nation discussed possible joint ventures on housing and jobs. "I think the meeting went extremely well," Baker said. "They were quite gracious."
Councilor G.T. Bynum: The council chairman says last week's meeting was the first time the council had sat down with an area tribal leader since he took office in 2008. "You build a relationship when you have an opportunity to do it on good terms and have the ability to work ahead at ways you can work together," he said