Annual General Meeting Draws 70+ Tribal Members
by: Christina Pete, Sho-Pai New Editor
The Annual General Meeting was held at the Human Development Center on Thursday, March 3, 2023. Tribal leadership present was Chairman Brian Mason, Vice Chairman Arnold Thomas, council members Addie Parker, Russell McCoy and Daliah Able. Council members Lindsey Manning and LaDawna Rose were excused.
Chairman Mason welcomed tribal members as well as community members/employees. Tribal elder Laurie Caskey offered a prayer done in the Shoshone language.
Chairman Mason started off my letting the people know the business council has been working very hard and they’re fighting for people to get the different issues addressed and taken care of. Most of the issues have been around for a long time and they feel obligated to get them addressed.
The big issue on the table is Owyhee Combined School. The school was built in the 50’s and up until then, if families wanted their children to have an education, they would have to leave the reservation to attend boarding schools. So, when a school was built here it was very beneficial to the reservation and allowed children to get a high school education. Chairman Mason explained that back in the day, the school was built for 120 children, whereas today more that 350 students attend OCS. The school of course has added on the building, but the location now has more traffic than when it was first build.
The hydrocarbon plume was discovered in 1985, around 38 years ago. When the tribe wanted to add an additional greenhouse in an area where the plume lies, the Bureau of Indian Affairs didn’t want to forego with the land because they knew it was contaminated. The land sits adjacent to the school and the BIA didn’t want the liability of the tribe growing pants and selling them because of the contamination.
Chairman Mason also spoke a little on where the new school will be built proposed options is behind the rodeo grounds or behind the OGS. Of course, nothing is set in stone.
Brian Mason went on the inform the people that the BIA has a responsibility to fix the plume and they are not accepting the responsibility to fix it. BIA has done some work by removing soil and underground storage tanks, but the actual contamination is in the water table itself. “It’s been nearly 40 years and we’re still sending our kids there,” said Mason as we wrapped up on the topic. Chairman Mason and the business council did attend the NV Tribal Legislative day in Carson City on February 14th where they presented the BDR 627 in front of the assembly men and women (according to the tribes’ Facebook page BDR 627 is now Assembly Bill 273). You may follow the progression at https://legiscan.com/NV/bill/AB273/2023
Following, Chairman Mason talked about the Our Grocery Store. There is currently a board in which two tribal members do sit on, Associated Food Stores representative, banker just to mention a few. They are professionals who assist with running the local store. Mason spoke about the store is an enterprise that belongs to the people although we do not benefit from it. The business council is looking to get the tribal member discounted gas, “we are behind in times and need to catch up,” said Mason.
Next on the agenda was an update on the casino venture what was given by councilwoman Addie Parker. The big question I’m sure everyone has asked is – what are the tribes doing about the casino? Are we getting a casino that’s been talked over 20 years? Addie ran through the time line of the casino. The previous council had set up four investors that they had several meetings with to see which one work best for our tribe. JTC Gaming was the best benefit for the tribes, as Sho-Pai would start out at 60% owner of the casino. There was a lot of tribal members questioning why the tribes didn’t go with Shoshone-Bannock deal. After reading over some of the contracts with Sho-Ban, the initial percentage of ownership would have been at 10% with the option to buy up and max out at 40%, which Sho-Pai would never own a good percent of the casino if partnered with Sho-Ban. With JTC Gaming, the tribe will pay off the loans among other costs which will take up to around seven to ten years, after that the tribes will own the casino free and clear at 100% net profits to the Sho-Pai tribes.
During the annual general meeting last year, March 10, 2022, the tribal membership was introduced to Gabe Galanda, gaming attorney. The business council was looking to get enough membership at the meeting to vote on if he would represent the tribes on the casino venture. Due to the fact there wasn’t enough tribal members in attendance the vote had to be put to on the ballot during the General Elections which was held April 21, 2022 where membership did vote yes on working with Gabe.
July 26, 2022, Sho-Pai tribes sent an introductory letter to the U.S. Interior Department’s Office of Indian Gaming regarding the tribes’ efforts in establishing a casino. They continue to work JTC on trying to establish a financial plan and work on the list of what is need to get started and move forward. Chairman Mason wrapped up with the casino topic with letting the people know how much money our tribal members spend on a continuous basis in the town of Mountain Home, “our tribal members spend money there almost every day, we are born there, when someone passes on to the other side they are sent to Mountain Home,” stated Chairman Mason.
Dynneil Atkins, Assistant CFO, gave a short update of our financial standing. She has been working with the Sho-Pai tribes since 2018 and was appointed Assistant CFO in August of 2022. Finance has had a huge turnover in staff over the last year and years prior, which caused delays in paperwork in the department. They have expanded their finance department by adding new positions to keep up with the constant paperwork.
Anthony Marshall, ARPA Manager, gave a brief update on the funds and how they have been used. He introduced his staff; Yvette Thacker who does all of the footwork among other assigned duties, Yvonne Powers, who is paid 50% by ARPA to do some PR work for the ARPA Department and Rozilyn Jones, who is assisting finance with preparation on the audits and making sure their numbers are right.
In March 2021, the tribes were awarded $50,283,635.00 to help mitigate and work with Covid-19 by following set regulations. Tony’s presentation pie charts what broke down what and where the money was spent/given out to the membership. A total of $8,830,235.00 (58%) was received by all tribal membership living on and off the reservation. This included the family assistance in 2021 and 2022, fuel cards, holiday assistance etc. Staff at $519,080.00 (3%) which consisted of premium pay, housekeeping vehicle, and covid leave. Information Technology $581,676.00 (4%) infrastructure for internet business plan, fiber upgrade, community internet, and IT vehicle. Community Services $2,150,668.00 (14%) for school supplies, New Town lift station, burial assistance, GOOTH, Temporary Day Care Center, vaccine, booster and youth incentives, just to name a few. EOC Community Services $173,503.00 (1%) for quarantine and isolation assistance and Administration $1,035,389.00 (7%). There is $1,993,084.00 (13%) of unobligated money. The tribes and ARPA department has up until December 2024 to obligate the money and spent by December 2026. Chairman Mason mentioned that when the business council set up an Emergency Operations Center at the beginning of the pandemic it actually became a model that other tribes have looked at. IHS has stated that Duck Valley’s EOC done it right. He went on and thanked them for their contiguous work.
The meeting went well into the night ending just shortly around 9:30 pm. Quick updates and reports were also given by, Shawna Hicks, Tribal Health Administrator, Dr. Jagdish Goswami, Director of Operations, Kyle Prior, DVHA Executive Director and Shanina Hicks, Tribal Administrator. The business council went on to thank all those who attended and those who stayed to the end.