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Siyo and welcome to the official website of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.
We invite you to take a look around and find out who we are and why we are known as the Traditional, Historic & Cultural Keetoowah Cherokees.
The United Keetoowah Band Jim Proctor Elder Center (Title VI) will be closed today, Monday, March 2, due to illness. The center will be open tomorrow, Tuesday, March 3.
The February 2015 edition of Gaduwa Cherokee News is now online. Current and prior editions of Gaduwa Cherokee News can be read online at http://www.ukb-nsn.gov/news/gaduwa-cherokee-news.
It was standing room only during the swearing-in ceremony for the newly re-elected and elected tribal representatives and elected Assistant Chief.
The event was held at the Jim Proctor Elder Center, Saturday, January 10.
Joe Bunch was elected in a special election to serve out the final two-years of the late Assistant Chief Charles Locust’s four-year term. With his wife Karen standing beside him as she held Bunch’s grandfather’s bible that was presented to Joseph Proctor in 1939, Bunch placed his left hand on the bible and held his right hand up, taking the oath of office for Assistant Chief which was given by Judge Dewayne Littlejohn, UKB tribal district judge, for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.
After the Assistant Chief swearing-in, UKB District Judge Littlejohn gave the oath of office to the nine District Representatives as each one held up their right hand and took their oath of office.
In a brief speech Chief Wickliffe informed everyone that the tribal officers held four-year terms and that Joe Bunch was elected in a special election to fulfill the last two-years of the late Assistant Chief Charles Locust’s four-year term.
"We have many ongoing issues that are vital to the tribe and I want the council to focus and stay focused on these important issues. The late Assistant Chief Locust had been involved throughout my tenure which began in 2005. I do not want to lose track on where we are going. We are going to continue with all our efforts to get this land in trust and it will happen,” said Chief Wickliffe.
Newly sworn-in Assistant Chief Joe Bunch was given the opportunity to address the audience.
Assistant Chief Bunch thanked everyone who was involved in his election bid for the second-in-command position for the UKB.
“It’s been a long five months, ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate all the work everyone did to make this possible for me and my family,” said Assistant Chief Bunch.
“My campaign was pretty much small, short, and simple, to bring unity back into the tribe. I’m looking forward to all the progressthat is in place, working with the tribal council and with the Chief. I want to say thank you to the council and together as a team we will get this accomplished, we will get our land in trust and we’re going to move forward,” added Bunch.
Tribal Representatives Eddie Sacks, Canadian District; Clifford Wofford, Cooweescoowee District; Peggy Girty, Illinois District; and Charles Smoke, Saline District; all ran unopposed while Jerry Hansen, Delaware District; Tom Duncan, Flint District; William Christie, Goingsnake District; and Barry Dotson, Sequoyah District; all ran for re-election and defeated their opponents. In the Tahlequah District incumbent Betty Holcomb was defeated in a run-off election by Anile Locust who became the only new representative on the tribal council.
The new Tahlequah District representative said she felt excited about the morning event and looked forward to the new adventure in her life.
“Since I’m very new to the community I am honored that people chose me not knowing me, so I feel real honored about that and I’ll do my best to live up to their expectations. I want to learn all I can about the workings of the government so that I can hopefully improve the way our people live and looking forward to getting our land in trust,” said Locust.
When asked how he felt about being sworn-in as the newly elected Assistant Chief, Bunch responded by saying, “I think it’s a great achievement for the tribal people and I’m honored. We have many hurdles ahead of us, the first thing we need to do is bring the word united back into the tribe.
The people have spoken; they want integrity, accountability, and transparency in their leaders. It’s going to be wonderful sharing new ideas together, having the opportunity to speak and be heard. Not every idea is going to be accepted, but through negotiations and working together we can make it happen,” said Bunch.
A short reception followed before the Chief, Assistant Chief and tribal council adjourned to begin their first 2015 tribal council meeting.
The Eastern Oklahoma Regional Bureau of Indian Affairs, located in Muskogee, OK, is focusing in various tribal programs throughout the eastern region. Some of the programs include education, health, law enforcement, domestic violence and many other programs. Working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is the Chickasaw Nation in assisting in the project by producing a video of the different programs.
The BIA selected the United Keetoowah Band of the Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma Housing department, featuring the Housing Improvement Program (HIP) funded through a grant from the BIA.
The UKB Housing submits applications throughout the year for the HIP program through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Based on the reports sent to the bureau, it is evaluated through a point system, and then BIA selects the applicants who they will assist.
According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs Housing Improvement Program the guidelines is comprised of two charts, one for the Lower 48 states and the other for Alaska. The income figures on the chart establish the points they will receive for the first Need Ranking Factor based on Annual Household Income.
The HIP program is designated to help renovate homes of families who have limited resources. In 2014 three families were selected by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to receive help through the Home Improvement Program due to a carryover in funding from the year before.
“As tribal members apply for the United Keetoowah Band Housing rehabilitation program, a HIP application is also handed out to the applicant,” said Pat Reese, Director of Housing.
One of the renovated homes featured through HIP funding was the home of Tom and Glenda Handle of the Echota community, located between Wauhillau and Rocky Mountain communities in Adair County.
An extensive renovation was done on Handle’s home. The UKB Housing replaced their furnace, air conditioning unit, replaced their old roof with new roofing, repainted their inside walls, replace their old windows and remodeled one of theirbathrooms back to working conditions, even replaced their vent pipe.
Handle’s home is located on his mother’s restricted land, Maggie Handle. She turned the property over to Tom after his marriage to Glenda. Tom was born in 1955 and raised there in the Echota area. He met Glenda after she moved to Oklahoma from Houston, TX and married her in 1981.
“This was his mother’s land; the land belonged to the family for many generations. When Tom and I got married she gave him the land to build our house,” said Glenda.
“The house was in great condition when it was built, but through the years my sink starting falling in. My son and his wife had to rebuild it to reach me, unless I wanted to do the dishes on the floor. We got our house back now; it needed a lot of work, and we just couldn’t afford it. I’m glad they fixed it, they did a fantastic job, and it was a blessing. They painted the rooms, fixed the bathroom, they redid the roof, it had a leak, they shingled it and they put in new windows,” said Glenda.
“We are proud of it. We’ve lived here since 1991, and probably live here the rest of our lives,” added Glenda.
“I’m very pleased with the project; I feel that we are very fortunate to have that extra funding through the HIP program to help more tribal members. I think it’s very beneficial overall. It allows us to spend more dollars on a house. Some of the homes may need more work, and with that funding that we receive helps,” stated Reese.
The Housing Improvement Program was established under the Snyder Act of 1921. It was a BIA program authorized by Congress to benefit Native Americans. The program is a home repair, renovation, replacement and new housing grant program which is administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
A person has to be a member of a federally recognized American Indian tribe or Alaska Native to be eligible and have an income that does not exceed 125% of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines.
Distribution of HIP funds to tribes are based upon the number of eligible applicants and their estimated cost of program services through Public Law 93-638 contracts, self-determination compacts or to Bureau of Indian Affairs offices.
For more information you can contact the UKB Housing at 918-431-1808, and ask for Pat Reese, UKB Housing director.