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Cherokees mull water rights issue
[December 16, 2008]

Cherokees mull water rights issue

(Tahlequah Daily Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dec. 16--During his state of the nation address Monday night, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith told the councilors the tribe's attorneys are investigating whether to become involved in Attorney General Drew Edmondson's suit against the poultry companies concerning poultry litter.

"The poultry companies are requesting the attorney general's lawsuit be dismissed, saying the state doesn't own the water rights, but the Cherokee Nation does," said Smith. "We will be making a decision in the coming weeks as to whether we should become involved in this issue."

Smith said this instance is the first in 100 years that the tribe has faced a matter of this import, and would consider the decision to become involved very carefully.

Smith also said a envoy from the tribe recently met with President-elect Barack Obama's transition team and discussed issues important to Indian Country, as well as the economic stimulus package.

During committee reports, Cherokee Nation Enterprises representative Sean Slaton indicated earnings for November had been soft, but this was customary for the time of year.

Cherokee Nation Industries CEO Bryan Collins said business had slowed in his sector as well, with the company posting a $391,000 loss for November and bringing the total loss for the year to $694,000.

Tribal councilors confirmed the nomination of Kimberlie Gilliland as a board member of the tribe's education corporation board of directors.

They also approved the reappointment of Benny Smith, Shelley Butler-Allen and Marilyn Watt as board members of the same body.

Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice Kyle Haskins was reconfirmed to his position, and Brenda Walker was confirmed as the fifth election commission member.

Councilors approved an act increasing the tribe's 2009 budget $3.4 million for a total for $489 million.

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