The business committee meeting scheduled for October 15, started with the swearing in of newly elected BC Member, Larry Mercer. A special election took place on September 19, to fill a vacated position on the Quapaw Nation Business Committee, but that was also the day of the Business Committee meeting, which is why Mercer had to wait an entire month to be sworn in.
The meeting was filled with interesting moments; below are some of the highlights.
Feasibility study approved
A feasibility study was approved for a portion of the property – approximately 17 acres on the outskirts of Quapaw heading towards Miami, Okla. – to help determine the best use of the property. The feasibility study will be done by company Klas Robinson, which hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Klas Robinson has previously done feasibility studies on gaming properties for Quapaw Nation, including Downstream Casino Resort and Saracen Casino and Resort.
Quapaw Nation to put a new roof on Title VI building
The Quapaw Nation Business Committee has decided that the wear and tear on the Title VI building for Quapaw Nation calls for a new roof to be installed. According to Member Michelle Newton, “There was six bids from three different contractors to re-shingle the Title VI and Robert Whitebird Cultural center building.
Quapaw Nation donates two horses to Terry Birch
The horses were purchased sometime between 2013-2014 and have been residing at the Elk Dog Medicine Ranch under the care of Terry Birch. Since 2016, the horses have been utilized in Birch’s Veteran Rehabilitation Program. Birch, also a former employee, had been billing the Nation for the care of the animals and it was unclear as to what Quapaw Nation gained from the arrangement. Because of the age of the animals and the lack of need for Quapaw Nation to have them, Quapaw Nation decided to donate the animals to Birch.
Quapaw Nation purchases two lots in Miami, Okla.
Quapaw Nation entered into an agreement with KDF enterprises to purchase two lots on Main Street across from the Coleman Theatre in Miami, Okla. At this time, the business committee is unsure what the lots will be used for but felt the lots would be valuable to the nation in the future.
Tribal Administrator Donna Mercer retires after 20 years of service leading to the creation of new executive director positions
The Business Committee thanked Mercer for her time with the nation and wished her well on her future adventures. Mercer has held the role of Tribal Administrator for the duration of her employment with the nation. It was later made clear that the committee has no intention to fill the adminstrator position and instead has opted to restructure the work chart adding five new executive director positions.
“The tribal organizational structure has been flattened to support our growing needs and provide developmental opportunities for our talented teams,” said Secretary-Treasurer Wena Supernaw.
The new positions will cover different areas like Resource Management, Culture and Events, Department of Public Safety, Quapaw Facilities Authority, and Tribal Member Services.
EMS transport charges are free to Quapaw tribal members
Business Committee Member Zack Turley wanted to reiterate to Quapaw tribal members that they are not to pay a bill if they receive one in the mail. Instead, tribal members should alert Quapaw Fire and EMS that the bill is in error and it will be taken care of.
Quapaw Nation will begin utilizing GSA schedule
Business Committee Member Mike Shawnee stated that Procurement, and in the future the TERO office, will begin to take advantage of the GSA schedule, allowing for bulk purchasing discount opportunities. The GSA Schedule, often referred to as the Federal Supply Schedule or the Multiple Award Schedule, is a long-term government contract that provides access to millions of commercial products and services at fair and reasonable rates. Shawnee expressed that using the GSA schedule is available at no cost to Quapaw Nation.
Quapaw Nation increases utility assistance per household
The Business Committee is proud to announce that for two years in a row, the utility assistance would go up per household. Each household will see a $200 increase that begins Jan. 1 and runs through the calendar year.
Tribal member Amy Panther voiced that, while she is grateful for the increase, something should be done for households that include multiple tribal members. Vice-Chairwoman Callie Bowden sympathized with those concerns and said that she hopes one day Quapaw Nation will be able to help more, but we just aren’t there yet.
Tribe to increase its budget by nearly 5 million for fiscal year 2023
The increase in budget will help cover the increase in utility assistance as well as needed departmental increases in Law Enforcement, Tribal Court, THPO, Fire and EMS, EFA, Powwow and Social Services. The increase will also cover new departments such as Forestry, NAGPRA and Food Sovereignty a department that will focus on clearing land and cutting firewood for needy homes.
The increase to the budget will come from a greater distribution from Downstream Casino – story to come soon – after they surpassed their goal allowing for the $10 million distribution cap to be lifted. The distribution cap was in place because of a covenant in the lending terms. To date, since the 2021 refinance, Downstream Casino and Resort has paid over 100 million of the property’s remaining debt.
Upcoming events to be noted
Quapaw Fall Gathering – 11-20-22 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Downstream Casino Pavilion
The Cultural Committee has been busy preparing for the Fall Gathering. Activities are to include social dancing, Indian dice, foot races, stick races, face painting, storytelling, cake walk and stomp dance. Food will revolve around chili and a flyer will be posted later next week.
Elders trip full but planning a second trip in the spring – 10-18/22 – 10-19-22
The Elder’s committee is planning a second trip for the springtime to allow for those not able to attend the upcoming dates. The spring trip has no specifics available at this time, but Quapaw Nation will keep you informed as information becomes available.
Quapaw Nation Employee Veterans Brunch – 11-10-22 – 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
The Quapaw Cultural committee is hosting the upcoming Veteran’s brunch at the community building located at the tribal complex. The committee invites all Quapaw Nation Veterans that are currently employees.
Quapaw Nation forms new committee, adds member to Elders Committee
Bonnie Schalk will join the Elders Committee by way of recommendation from the Quapaw Nation Business Committee. Schalk joins an established group led by current Chairwoman, Grace Goodeagle.
The Business Committee also decided to establish a new Children’s Committee to help plan events in the future. The members of this new committee were also selected by the Business Committee and are as follow, Billie Burtrum, Lori Shafer, Ashlee McCloud, Susan Davis, Virginia Mouse, Gabriel Gray and Debbie Wray.
Open Forum reaches high points and low points
Vice-Chairwoman Bowden apologized to those in attendance and on Zoom for not maintaining control in the September Business Committee meeting. Bowden was referring to an instance where names and positions were attacked during a heated discussion that took place during the previous open forum. Bowden said that she encourages people to speak openly at open forum, but that there is a line that should not be crossed.
Abigail Logan spoke this month about a lack of recognition for Quapaw Casino and its employees and the Business Committee agreed that a better job of highlighting their accomplishments will be a priority in the future. Vice-chairwoman Bowden also mentioned that Quapaw Casino was very close to getting some “TLC” and thanked Abigail for speaking.
Tribal member Heather Dismuke stood up and addressed the lack of communication stating that she has “learned more in the last three weeks as an employee of our nation than I have in a year as a member.” Dismuke went on to clarify that she was not intending for her comment to highlight issues with the IT or Communications department, but rather that there is a lot of “lip service” in regard to transparency and she would like to see more communication about what is happening within the tribe, the decisions made, and more coverage of events. “I know we can do better,” said Dismuke. “I realize you all are busy, but we can do better.”
At two different points, an issue of potential conflicts with committees was brought up. Amy Panther pointed out that sub-committees should not be filled with Business Committee members, that those positions should be filled with younger people looking to learn. Ben Waters asked the Business Committee if they were over the Directors at Downstream and BC Member Newton clarified that they are not directly over anyone aside from the General Manager and Chief Financial Officers at the gaming properties and the Chief Market Officer at Saracen. Waters believes that employees should not serve on the Grievance committee, an issue Secretary-Treasurer Supernaw and Vice-Chairwoman Bowden were quick to point out that General Council could address if they so choose.
Amy Panther also stated that the Emergency Financial Services are not addressing emergency needs for members. Panther believes that the guidelines for emergency assistance should not be so strict, a common complaint amongst other members. Panther pointed out that inflation is making it very difficult on Quapaw Nation members with increased costs in food, gas, and utilities crippling our tribal members budgets. The Business Committee has agreed to follow up with Panther this week.
Elder committee Chairwoman Grace Goodeagle wanted to discuss the local LEAD Agency and how proud she was that Quapaw Nation had a great presence at the conference. Goodeagle spoke highly of Quapaw Nation’s environmental awareness and mentioned a film created by the Cheyenne Arapaho that highlighted how environment issues are impacting Indian Country. Goodeagle is encouraged by Quapaw Nation’s environmental team and looks forward to their continued efforts in the future.
Linda Davis wanted to point out that – while she had not watched the meeting from the prior month due to her obligations as Election committee Chairwoman – she feels tribal member concerns have fallen on deaf ears for several years. “What happened last month with [employee name withheld] was the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Davis went on to vow that when she has a tribal member reach out for assistance, she will make the business committee aware. “It is important that our voices are heard.”
There were many other questions that were addressed during open forum, and tribal members are encouraged to listen to the meeting if they have the opportunity. To listen to the full meeting, please go to YouTube and look up Quapaw Nation.