Council Makes History in Immokalee

By Judy Weeks

IMMOKALEE — When the Seminole Tribe of Florida held its regular Tribal Council meeting on Sept. l5 at the Immokalee Gym, it marked a special day in the history of Immokalee. This was the first time that the Tribal Council had ever convened in Immokalee. All representatives and liaisons were in attendance for the occasion.

Chairman Mitchell Cypress called the meeting to order after which Immokalee Tribal elder Louise Motlow offered the opening prayer. Secretary Priscilla Sayen conducted the roll call before asking for reports of officials, departments and programs.

Executive Administrator Ken Fields presented the consent agenda, which contained items of a routine, administrative nature that had been previously discussed by the council. Resolutions 7 through 10 involved homesite leases and were immediately approved along with the Lee County electrical cooperative service line agreement for the Immokalee reservation. A package sales beer and wine license for the Hollywood Trading Post met with approval as well.

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) had asked for a Right of Entry permit for ingress and egress at the Brighton reservation in conjunction with a proposed 450 acre reservoir. This permit will allow the SFWMD to ingress, or enter, and egress, or leave, the property at their discretion. Brighton Representative Andrew Bowers requested a collection of data on the resolution.

Resolutions 14 through 19 dealt with SFWMD, the Invasive Species Management Program, Big Cypress Reservation Water Conservation Plan and a request for funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with regard to school bus pollutants.

In addition, the council agreed to professional services in the remediation of groundwater arsenic at the Red Barn Cattle Dip Vat site on the Brighton reservation. They also approved an application to the EPA for funds to assist in water quality monitoring in 2007. This will determine the extent of pollution on Seminole land.

Approval of the 2007 funding agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Indian Health Service under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act completed the agenda.

Having examined these 25 resolutions and discussed any matters of concern, Hollywood Representative Max B. Osceola Jr. made a motion to approve their content. Andrew Bowers seconded the motion and the resolutions were passed with a unanimous vote by the Council members.

Continuing with the new items on the Agenda, the council gave approval to a lease-purchase agreement for five vehicles with the Ford Motor Company.

Andrew Bowers asked several questions concerning the proposed John Deere Master Lease Agreement for a new wheel loader for the Big Cypress Rock Mine. Considerable discussion determined that while expensive, it was more cost effective than repairing the existing equipment or purchasing and maintaining a new loader.

President/Vice Chairman Moses Osceola asked about the life expectancy of the rock pit. He was informed that at the present rate, it should be good for approximately five years and an expansion would allow for 10 years. Big Cypress Council Representative David Cypress made a motion of approval, seconded by Max Osceola and the resolution passed.

General Counsel Jim Shore advised the council of the status of a settlement taking affect concerning the Golden Gem Growers, Inc. and affiliates as it pertained to the Tribe’s citrus industry. It required immediate dispersal of funds and Shore requested that the council give approval to the Tribal Treasurer. After considerable discussion, Andrew Bowers made a motion of approval, seconded by Max Osceola and it was carried by the vote.

Utilities Director Susie Kippenberger brought a standard form of agreement before the council for the construction of 11 homes. Ten of these homes will be located on the Big Cypress reservation and one at Brighton; all constructed by the Gulf Building Corporation. Considerable discussion ensued concerning the cost of the contract, time of conception, completion schedule and bidding process.

Moses Osceola inquired about mortgages, taxes and insurance requirements on an individual basis. Chairman Mitchell Cypress wondered if hurricanes had somehow influenced the cost increases. He was informed that a national material shortage and fuel prices had taken their toll on every aspect of the building industry.

The resolution for a construction agreement on the 11 residences with Gulf Building Corporation, a motion was made, seconded and passed unanimously.

After determining that a favorable feasibility study had been done and life insurance provided, the council approved a secured loan for a Pizza and Games Plaza for Jacob Osceola Jr.

Ken Fields concluded the business of the meeting by asking for approval of a sponsorship and advertising agreement with the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, LTD. It was pointed out that the advertising generated by the sponsorship and its exclusive nature would be worth three times the investment on the open market. Max Osceola pointed out that in January there would be four more facilities with slots and every effort should be made to stay in the forefront. A motion was made for approval, seconded and passed.

Franklin Keel of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) introduced Kirk Meyer as the temporary superintendent of lands in trust. He is a graduate of Haskell Indian University and has spend time on the national staff. He has a bachelor of science in business, spent three years as a bank examiner and four years with the BIA. Moses Osceola welcomed him to the meeting.

Following a short recess, Joel Frank Sr. addressed the council on behalf of Team Florida, who recently returned from the Native American Indigenous Game (NAIG) in Denver, Colo. He thanked the council for their sponsorship, and the Health department and EMS for providing paramedics, a nurse and assistant. Seminole Police Department were on hand with security and of course and the Recreation department pulled everything together and made it happen.

The end result was three gold medals: Amy Johns, rifle shooting, Cheyenne McInturff, archery and Terry Hahn, golf.

Silver medals went to Joe Frank, rifle shooting, Aaron Frank, Tae Kwon Do sparring and the Boys Bantam Basketball, ages 13–14. Team members were: Daylyn Hall, Anthony Balentine, Trent McInturff, Josie Balentine, Samuel Hunter II, DeForest Carter, Duelle Gore and Tyler Harjochee. Their coaches were Eddie and Gloria Redd.

Bronze medals were earned by Amy Johns, rifle shooting, Aaron Frank, Tae Kwon Do forms, Nick Frank, Tae Kwon Do sparring and Kevin Frank Tae Kwon Do sparring.

Joel Frank introduced the 12 members of Team Florida who were present at the meeting. Max Osceola echoed the sentiments of the council when he congratulated the fine group of athletes. He told them what important role models they had become for the members of the Seminole Tribe.

Joel Frank then introduced Maurice Smith from the NAIG.

“We are fortunate to have here today the chairman of the Society of Native American Indigenous Games,” said Joel Frank. “He is a member of the Native American Sports Council, which sits on the Olympic Committee.”

Stepping to the microphone, Smith said, “I am a Chirakawa Apache who has spent 20 years in competitive sports. I proudly recognize the leadership and support that brought over 8,000 athletes together for this year’s games.”

Looking at the group of medal winners assembled before the audience, he said, “To honor one, is to honor all.”

Frank then showed a short film that highlighted the games. Upon its conclusion the council and audience applauded the athletes of Team Florida and their competitors.