Greetings tribal citizen,
These past few weeks, the administration’s team has been hectic processing the CARES Act distribution of fifteen hundred dollars to the Shawnee Tribe’s adult citizens. About half of the qualifying Shawnee Tribe’s citizens have been processed at the time of this writing. If you still have not completed your application, please hurry to complete it prior to the September 30 due date. Online applications can be found on the Shawnee Tribe’s website (details below.)
In last month’s newsletter, I mentioned the Shawnee Tribe’s victory in federal court that resulted in our receiving CARES Act dollars for our peoples, but we have also since received funds from the American Rescue Plan. Receipt of these monies and the obligations that accompany them have challenges that we are meeting by increasing the staff of the Shawnee Tribe. We are no longer an organization that has a couple of handfuls of employees. We are quickly approaching thirty employees, and I suspect we will exceed forty full-time positions within a couple of years. As we have always done, our practice has been to prefer Shawnee applicants when deciding between job candidates.
While the CARES Act monies must be spent before the conclusion of this year, the funds provided to our Nation from the American Rescue Plan will be eligible to use until the end of 2024. Last newsletter, I mentioned the Shawnee phrase “ke’melonaatehe”, or to do something at a measured and considered pace. It is with “ke’melonaatehe” in mind that we are crafting a process for our Nation to adequately plan for our people during this lingering pandemic. The planning processes we are developing will measure the needs of you and your family to fund the pressing needs of the Shawnee people.
We also have some great, new programs to share with you when we see you at the annual meeting. As we did last year, we are again planning with pandemic prevention measures in mind. Details for the annual meeting and the protections we are taking to protect you are discussed later within the newsletter.
To conclude, the purpose of the business council and my office, as well as that of the rest of the Shawnee Tribe’s administration, is to serve and honor Shawnee people and interests—past, present and future. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.
niyaawe, hini lekhi, ke’pekwihoolo
hato caaki wiyefa.
I hope that everyone is doing well post covid. I know that many are still experiencing difficulties and will for some time. I would like to assure you that we are doing our best to serve you by restoring programs such as education assistance and adding new programs such as burial assistance. In the recent past, we were forced to suspend programs such as educational assistance when supporting funds to that program and others disappeared. Today as we bring those programs back, we are determined to ensure that those programs will have support for generations to come. I would also like to inform all citizens that we plan for most of the tribal supported programs to serve all citizens from coast to coast and abroad. In the future, you will see many changes aimed at providing everyone with information about our tribe in culture, language, program accessibility and citizen support.
Over the past two years, our tribal government has shared many new experiences accelerated by COVID-19 and other changes. In the past, for instance, council meetings often took only a couple of hours. Today they have been expanded to two days a month, often going from 3 to 4 hours. The recent CARES Act COVID-19 financial assistance checks were only able to be issued because of a lawsuit we were forced to file against the federal government, beginning with the Trump administration and ending with the Biden administration. Chief Barnes’s eloquence during meetings with the federal government and other tribes ensured rectification for not only our tribe, but also for many smaller tribes that shared our experience of being miscounted by the U.S. Treasury.
Today, as a result of our past, we are proactive in planning our future. We are constantly contacting other tribes such as the Chickasaw Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee to learn best practices and pitfalls to avoid as we prepare for a self-sustaining future for all Shawnee citizens. We are working toward transparent operations and communications so that citizens’ ideas about our tribe’s future may always be part of the discussion. In closing, I would like to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve.
Roy D. Baldridge