An eleven member steering committee has been appointed by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Wilma P. Mankiller to determine the need for veteran's services and what the tribe can do to assist individuals in obtaining those services.
According to George Bearpaw, co-chairman of the veteran's committee and executive director of tribal operations, the committee is currently developing a database of veterans who have served during both war and peacetime.
The committee held their first formal activity during a presentation to the tribal council which included a Cherokee color guard and a special presentation to Cherokee tribal member and WWII veteran Jack C. Montgomery, a recipient of the Medal of Honor.
During the presentation, the council unanimously passed a resolution recognising Montgomery for his heroism and his outstanding service to the United States.
Montgomery, who served in the US. Army, 45th Infantry, "Thunderbird" Division, Company I, said he was extremely honored to have been recognized by the Cherokee Nation.
"It has been 51 years since President Roosevelt read that Medal of Honor citation to me and during that 51 years I have been honored many times, but none has compared to the recognition I am receiving tonight," he said."The department of Defense has asked the Cherokee Nation to help coordinate a national effort to recognize all American Indian veterans, "Bearpaw said. "We are very happy that they have chosen us to take the lead in this effort and plans are already underway to begin networking with other organizations. We have always taken pride in the fact that so many of our Cherokee tribal members have contributed to the welfare of this country and we're pleased to be able to begin establishing a network of services for those veterans."
According to George Bearpaw, co-chairman of an 11-member steering committee appointed by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Wilma P. Mankiller, the organization is seeking veterans from all branches of service, who have served during both war and peacetime, for the development of a database.
According to Deputy Principal Chief John A. Ketcher, also co-chairman of the verteran's steering committee, tribal members are being encouraged to submit the necessary information, including name, address, branch of service, date of service, honors and citations and tribal roll number of veterans who wish to be included in the network.
The committee is comprised of individuals representing various branches of the military. Bearpaw served as a member of the U.S. Special Forces during the Vietnam Conflict, and Ketcher served with the U.S. Navy in World War 2 on the U.S.S. New Orleans. Other members of the committee are Alex Borowski. Charles Head, Allan Harder, Richard Allen, Will Chavez, Mike Dawes, Joe Grayson Sr., Thomas Bearpaw and Foreman Ross.
For more information about individual veterans, enquiries should be sent to Cherokee Nation Veteran's Organization, P.O.Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465
To begin the meeting President John A. Ketcher presented a report as part of the state of the nation address. He reported the Stilwell clinic is near completion and will open May 20; the tribal Marshal Service is investigating the illegal cutting of more than $10,000 worth of timber on Cherokee land, and the tribe will soon begin purchasing building materials for the Seqouyah chapel which is scheduled to begin construction this month.
During a special presentation, Executive Director of Tribal Operations, George Bearpaw, announced to the council that the Cherokee Nation is the second tribe in the country to be recognized as a World War II Commerative Committee.
In a special program, which included the Cherokee Nation Color Guard, the council recognized World War II Veteran Jack Montgomery by passing a resolution to recognize Montgomery, a Cherokee tribal member who distinguished himself in battle in World War II and received the medal of honor.
The nine additional resolutions that were unanimously passed as part of the regular session included:
In other business the council addressed thirteen items in open session. The majority of the items addressed the proposed cuts in services by the U.S. Congress.
Tribal leadership is greatly concerned that the U.S. Congress is voting to cancel or cut back many social programs which would greatly affect the services provided by the Cherokee Nation to its tribal members.
"These are very crucial times, not only for Cherokee nation but for all Indian nations," said Council President John Ketcher.
Two of the additional resolutions passed in the open session pertained to placing on the ballot, in the next tribal election, whether to call a constitutional convention and whether to have a constitutional amendment establishing certain residency requirements for principal and deputy chief.
With no other business, the meeting was recessed until 6pm., May 30, where there will be a continuation of discussion on how the tribe will deal with cuts in spending by the federal government.
This meeting was held April 10, 1995