Shoshone-Bannock Tribal officials at the May 13 Annual Meeting.
By ROSELYNN WAHTOMY
FORT HALL – The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Annual Meeting was on Saturday, May 13 and began without an official quorum established.
Tribal elder Alene Menta offered a prayer.
Following were reports from various commissions who gave an update on the things they’ve been working on the past year.
Land Use Policy Commission (LUPC) Vice-Chairman Casper Appenay, introduced commissioner and Land Use Department staff. They work together to protect the present character of the Fort Hall Reservation and insure clean air and water, open space and a quality human environment for the tribal membership. Appenay said the main thing they are dealing with now is the Bottoms Project to enhance the area and dealing with the difficult task of assigning home site locations.
Ladd Edmo, LUPC Secretary/Treasurer, talked how they are currently working on removing feral horses in the Bottoms area in able to create good stock. He encouraged all horse owners to thin out their herds and improve them with new stock. Also down Bottoms they’re repairing fencing along with dealing with flooding going on there. He wants those with concerns to come in, as they have an open door policy.
Travis Stone is the new Land Use Director and came on last fall. The biggest issues they have dealt with trying to buy fee land back and put into trust, buying ceded lands, improving home sites and housing issues, as well as improve resources. There are 54 projects ongoing right now and are working with many departments in the process. In the future he wants to see protections and employment and housing improved.
The Water Commission Chairman, Lester Galloway, talked about how the program works to manage the water resources are protected and water rights.
Glenn Fisher, Enrollment Commission Chairman, said the current tribal membership is 5,939 and at their last meeting they enrolled 43 people and denied five. He reported for the last few years, people have wanted to get enrolled with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and get relinquished from their tribe. In November 2016 the committee took out the relinquishment from another Indian tribes out of the enrollment ordinance. They went out to the district meetings and many were against it. Fisher said they needed to know if members want a blood degree.
Terry Racehorse, Enrollment Department supervisor, said they’re in step two of compiling list of descendants from the 435 people who had their blood degrees cut or changed in 1972. The next step is public notification and then sending certified letters to individuals telling them that their descendent had their blood degrees cut or increased and this is what it will be now. Those who’ve been increased in 1972 will not have their blood degree be cut back down. Those that have been decreased will have their blood degree restored. Those that don’t agree with the Enrollment Department’s findings may go through an appeal process with the Fort Hall Business Council (FHBC).
How about the people who don’t live here, that don’t suffer with us and try to prosper for us, beside themselves, specifically the white people, commented Quentin Pongah.
Lee Juan Tyler said they couldn’t discriminate whose Sho-Ban members.
Luke Eagle asked if there was a DNA test to tell what we are and where we come from? Racehorse said there is a DNA test established in the enrollment guidelines, she said there is a confidentiality clause they have to follow and the information is not public knowledge.
LeeAnn Dixey Avila said to set a date for a meeting on enrollment and Tribal Health, which is dire because of the U.S. President Trump administration.
Charlie Plentywounds said we should make everybody full blooded to make the tribe bigger. Cecil Broncho said the Calvary rounded up Indians from the whole area and that’s why we have so many mixed blood around the reservation. Now days all the events on the reservation bring other tribes to the reservation.
Lizzie Boyd said enrollment is an important topic and she was concerned about the fire protection efforts to house all enrollment documents.
Emma George said Shoshone-Bannock people are a rare breed and reminded people not more than a month ago there was a Secretarial Election on the topic. She asked when they do another election people are going to have to be informed and follow the process to vote. She said people need to be more proactive and maybe need a longer period for people to apply.
Acting FHBC Chairman Darrell Shay announced a quorum was reached at 11:29 a.m.
Quincy Pongah asked where were the new tribal members who are only seen during hunting and fishing and only come in for blood voting. He was concerned with being outnumbered.
Acting Chairman Shay said the FHBC doesn’t make the rules on enrollment and it’s the responsibility of the membership and it calls for further discussion if there is going to be a change.
Tribal Administrative Secretary Billie Appenay read the minutes of the May 14, 2016 Annual Meeting. A motion to accept the minutes was made by Velda Racehorse with a correction. Second was made by David Archuleta. Treasurer Tino Batt noted there was one more correction with his status. There were 155 in favor, 0 opposed and 0 abstentions. The minutes were passed for approval.
Virginia Monsisco wanted to know if the attorneys would be on the ballot this year. Shay said no because legal opinion said they wouldn’t have to be once they’re approved through the membership and until their contract runs out.
Audrey Ponzo from the Election Board said as far as she knows, they haven’t gotten word from the council regarding the attorneys to be placed on the ballot and are still waiting.
Louise Dixey recounted the discussion last year where it was said the attorney contracts that are due to expire were supposed to be recommended to the Election Board, plus the two positions held by Brandelle Whitworth’s and Bill Bacon; who were made permanent employees, and their positions were supposed to be advertised.
Monsisco said any changes to the attorney contracts concerning pay are supposed to be voted on. Acting Chairman Shay said they are still debating the attorney issue of which ones would go on the ballot.
Zanita Pongah said she made the motion last year asking for Whitworth and Bacon to be placed on the ballot and it went through and was voted by the people. She asked why it didn’t follow through and made the motion again, to put both of them on the ballot for this year. It was second by LeeAnn Dixey Avila. Those in favor of the motion for putting Bill Bacon and Brandelle Whitworth on the next General Election ballot was 136 in favor, 16 opposed, and 9 abstaining. The motion passed.
Shay said Whitworth and Bacon are involved in some litigation, which they are the lead folks on. He feels it will cause a weakness because they will have to find new attorneys to represent the Tribes in those cases.
Pongah asked who made them permanent employees because they have to be voted in by the people? Shay said it was done in 2002 or 2003, she said we need to go back to constitution. Emma George said the Election Board already has the ballots for the General Election and there are no attorneys on there. She said the second election to fill the seat of former FHBC Chairman Blaine Edmo may be an option there to place the attorneys, however it’s a process.
Clyde Duke Dixey explained he abstained his vote because they need to think of what the attorneys are doing right now, but one can still think about it when they go to vote. He said they’re working on projects for all the membership.
Cecil Broncho said since Bacon is still in litigation with FMC, it’s not the time to put the attorneys on the ballot. The election ballots cost and will cost the tribe more money.
Virginia Monsisco said Jill Grant was elected as the Tribe’s Environmental Attorney and Bill Bacon is not an environmental attorney. She said Grant is never given the opportunity to represent in court, and in her opinion is working hard for the Tribes on the FMC case.
Wes Edmo said the attorneys are a specialized deal. When it comes to going against a billionaire company like FMC and they need to have the best representative to be best prepared. Constitutionally they need to respect the rights of the people and have the attorneys explain to people and have legal updates and keep information here.
Emma George was unfamiliar with attorney Jill Grant and would like her to meet with tribe.
Marina Fasthorse said the people voted and discussion comes afterward - we should put it on the ballot and the people will decide.
Maxine Edmo is concerned about lobby work the FHBC needs to do as council people and recalled when she was on there they lobbied on bills and on foot. She’s concerned with the Trump administration. As for the attorneys, she wants people in there who know what they’re doing and not rookies.
Shay said there was a time that there was more access to legislators and times have changed. You can’t go up there and get access unannounced and if your tribe isn’t paying into campaigns you may not get heard either.
State Lobbyists for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes from Strategies 360 were in attendance to meet with the membership and introduce them. Brian Cronin has previous experience in the Idaho House of Representatives, serving two terms as a Democrat and was selected as the Minority Caucus Chairman. He’s in support of conservation and an ally to Idaho Tribes.
Ben Broxon leads S360’s Governmental Affairs practice. He previously worked as a lobbyist for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and served as the policy lead and departmental liaison for Idaho DEQ and the Idaho Historical Society, among others. His connections to the Governor’s Office have opened the doors for Tribes to build bridges.
Debbie Ho from Mapetsi Policy Group and has worked with Shoshone-Bannock Tribes on federal priorities since 2008. Mapetsi is a Native owned company. She said there are concerns with President Trump but they do have ways to contain them and that’s with Congress. Members of Congress realize the need for governance. She said the Tribes have friends in Congress and their delegation is working on their behalf. Ho said everyday they work to protect the tribal rights.
Treasurer Batt asked what they can expect from the budget going forward.
Ho said Congress just passed the FY17 Appropriations Bill and is relieved that occurred. The bill factors in for inflation and rising costs. The Sho-Ban leadership is testifying before a Appropriations Committee on Interior, which also handles funding for EPA. The tribes already submitted testimony to talk about environmental concerns, Sho-Ban school and infrastructure to name a few. Ho said the appropriations process is just starting.
Lori Edmo Suppah said a big concern is Trumpcare and the fact Indian Health Care Service (IHS) is under Obama Care funding she asked what is going to happen and how will we guarantee we get funding? Ho explained with the House passed Health Care Bill that repeals and replaces Obamacare; in that House Bill they protected the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. One of the main concerns for Shoshone-Bannock is Medicaid and Medicare will be impacted. For Indian Health Service, one-third of Medicaid goes to reimburse the local facility. The FHBC will testify next week on fully funding IHS, although that may never happen, the goals is to get it funded above 50 percent.
The Tribal Attorney update was given by Bill Bacon, who came on in 2002 and in that time has worked on over 3,000 cases assigned to him. He talked about cases he’s currently working on like U.S. v. Oregon, Right of Ways issues, Southeast Idaho Mine Natural Resource Damning Act (NRDA), to name a few.
Attorney Paul Echo Hawk explained the case against FMC he was working on along with Bacon. The case started back in 1997 when the federal government sued FMC for a number of violations. FMC reached an agreement with the Tribes where they agreed to pay a permit fee to store hazardous waste from the reservation that came from the FMC site. They agreed to pay $1.5 million per year for a waste storage permit fee, they paid it four years. When they ceased operations they stopped paying the fee, their agreement was not just to pay that fee when they were operating. The words of the agreement are very clear and state as long as the waste is on the reservation, even after the ponds cease to be used.
The argument since 2005 has been that FMC is responsible to pay that annual $1.5 million permit fee for as long as that waste is there until the clean it up.
The court process has been ongoing. Echo Hawk said they expect to win but FMC will probably appeal and it’s possible the case could end up before the Unites States Supreme Court. The process is timely and could take years he doesn’t expect there to be a settlement anytime soon. On July 13 is the oral argument of the current case before Judge Winmill in the Idaho Federal District Court.
Virginia Monsisco asked how much money the Tribes spent on FMC suit so far? Attorneys fees are about $300,000 so far. It was noted FMC had numerous lawyers dealing with the case and it’s big time litigation.
Sherwin Racehorse wanted to suspend the agenda and hear the resolutions that were to be presented. Acting Chairman Shay said Robert’s Rules of Order haven’t been adopted officially.
The quorum was lost at around 2:15 p.m. with 134 tribal members. It was determined they would continue with the reports.
There were complaints that TERO should be followed, Maxine Edmo said it is a tribal law and our council should back that up.
Marcia Robles said her son put in a contract and it was given to a non-Indian company. Shay said we support TERO and all contractors are to abide by it.
Wes Edmo said those with a complaint should file it with TERO. They have a staff of five people, who are currently working on two major road projects and dealing with 50 contractors.
Sheryl Slim called for support of a petition she drafted for an independent federal audit of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. She brought the petition for tribal members to sign. FHBC Treasurer Tino Batt asked Sheryl which specific area she wants audited, as there are several areas. Batt said they do follow guidelines and to do an audit would be costly.
Billie Appenay said they received Sheryl’s resolution but didn’t get early enough to make copies. In the future, she asked people to bring their resolution drafts well in advance for legal review and will have copies as necessary.
Belma Colter thanked former FHBC Chairman Blaine Edmo for his service on council.
Nancy Eschief-Murillo, said she had resolutions to present on tgetting the blood degrees back to where they should be; long-term care for the elderly facility transition; regarding the FHBC to abide by the constitution and bylaws; another concerning the FHBC making high risk investments. She said there needs to be more meetings and time to present resolutions. She was disappointed the portion time for resolutions was not on the agenda.
Shay said he plans to call for two other meetings to discuss tribal issues in September and in January.
Shay told her all the issues brought up pertaining to the resolutions is something the FHBC is empowered to do and will adhere to it. The FHBC is trying to be as accountable as they can be.
Carlee Tissidimit, retail operations manager, gave Enterprise report, she noted Donzia had a difficult year in sales and gross profit declined. Donzia purchased $196,600 in tribal member arts in 2016. Trading Post has a loss of revenue due to declining sales and increased operating expenses. TP Gas is the highest volume department in both sales and net income of all the retail departments, because of its biggest staples of tobacco and fuel sales. Sage Hill had a slight decline in overall net income from 2015 to 2016. Bannock Peak Convenience Store also loss revenue with the major factor being a decline in sales. There are scheduled improvements for the store this year.
Overall tobacco has been a decline market but seems to be stabilizing.
Financial performance for the Enterprise Farms and joint ventures with Funk Farms and Wada Farms for the year ended September 30, 2016 and was up from the previous fiscal year. Farming operations had a financially difficult year. There was 4,443 tons of hay yielded. Buffalo operations had a profitable year.
LeeAnn Dixey Avila mentioned customer service issues need to be dealt with and Tissidimit said they got on someone new to deal with that priority.
Clyde Dixey commended Sage Hill for having $1 burgers and commended Eddie for his work ethic.
A Fort Hall Casino update was given by Andrea Ramone who said they’re changing the way they do hiring to make for a quicker turn around. The Shoshone-Bannock Hotel & Events Center saw revenue was increased. There are now more full time employees, who get health benefits. The operating expenses did increase.
Dave Archuleta said the revenue is not that great and it should’ve been growing. He asked why raise wages when there is not a lot of profit. He wants to see the place succeed and would like to see more rooms filled however, he commended all the workers for doing a good job.
There were complaints about the service at the Buffalo Horn Grill and some didn’t like to wait in line to order. Ramone said they would take the recommendations into consideration.
LeeAnn Dixey Avila said an ethics policy needs to be updated because there is lots of bias.
Pauline Tindore asked about the safety of the people and what can security do to look after them. Ernestine Ellsworth recommended implementing new billing and eating at the Grill and asked about a restroom and a place that is kid and elderly friendly in the future.
Colista Farmer went over occupancy of the Hotel & Events Center and it has gone up compared to the previous year. The average daily room rate is $74.40. Room revenues have increased.
Marlin Fellows gave an update on construction of the new casino and reported they are about 90 percent done with the steel and think they will be done around April 2018. There are about 30-35 employees working on the project now and about 70 to 80 percent are tribal members. That number may go down as time goes on.
When it came to the interior design the Tribes Public Affairs Randy’L Teton said Indian relay would be highlighted as well as historical and present family photos.
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Finance Director Steve Hagler said there are five separate entities that operate under the tribal umbrella and all five entities have an independent audit that are conducted every year. He mentioned no unusual findings in the 2016 audits. Hagler went over the Tribe’s Revenue Distribution Plan, which are all earnings from the gaming operations. It is distributed into four different pools, for this year they went to per capita at 40 percent, tribal government at 29.12 percent, economic development at 25.88 percent and general welfare at 5 percent. He called it the bulk of the revenue the Tribes generate. Hagler talked about a refinance on the Justice Center loan, which had a balance of $9,445,334 at the beginning of this year. The loan was refinanced with Idaho Central Credit Union. The old rate was at 4.25 percent versus the new debt at a net cost of one percent. The savings with the refinance will be $2,217,258.02.
In closing FHBC candidates Kevin Callahan, Ladd Edmo and Dave Archuleta briefly spoke to the sparse membership in attendance about their run for office.
The meeting concluded at 5:55 p.m.
Truma Teton Davis
FORT HALL — On May 20, while Americans across the Nation are remembering loved ones, the family and community of Fort Hall will be paying tribute to an elder Truma Teton Davis.
The tribute includes a cultural gathering of powwow, feast and celebration. Furthermore, it is also customary for Shoshone Bannock people to recognize and commemorate loved ones during the month of May and in the spring. At this time of the year, the young are taught to remember the history, deeds, and accomplishments of those who walked on. In this way, history and culture is preserved for future generations to come.
Truma’s daughter, Pam Davis and her family were raised with these cultural teachings, and with this in mind, along with what Truma gave to her culture and community, that they spent a year preparing for this event. They wanted to share with the young how an elder, learned a tribal art and shared this gift with those around her.
Truma Davis was a skilled beadworker and made everything from fully beaded dresses to horse regalia. Many people on the reservation have worn her craftsmanship at gatherings, powwows, and even for the Miss Shoshone Bannock title. She encouraged her family and others by making items for them to wear at our tribal powwows and elsewhere.
Following is a bit of history:
“My mother was raised out at Lincoln Creek and lost her mother at an early age, and went on to boarding schools in her youth. And it was during this time, she lived with Jesse Teton Jim who taught her how to do beadwork. She learned different types of arts including quillwork. My mother’s skills grew and she made 25 beaded dresses for different ladies, here and in other states!
When she married our dad Stanford Davis, and we came along, she made us fully beaded outfits, and then for her granddaughter in Europe she made a fully beaded Indian saddle.”
Pam and the family also wanted to share how kind and wise she was, but most importantly, how she loved her family, the land, and its community. She was the wife of a cattle rancher, and worked hard, but she always had a smile and kind words for those who would come to visit her, and she also did not hesitate to give a helping hand wherever it was needed. These attributes made many love her. She was a mom, auntie and grandmother to many people.
Therefore, the family chose to remember her with the May 20 Powwow at the Timbee Hall.
Timbee Hall has been a gathering place for many generations, and would be the appropriate setting for this event. Pam Davis extends a special invitation to one and all to celebrate the life of a special elder, Truma Davis. The event includes contest dancing and a feast. Please come and enjoy this Shoshone Bannock way of teachings and commemoration.