MVSKOKE RESERVATION – On Jan 23, the Health, Education, and Wellness committee and the Land, Natural Resources, and Cultural Resources committee held a joint meeting in person. Passed legislation will go on to the council, unless otherwise noted.
The committee addressed the following legislation, the interpretation of which is attributed to language in the bills:
TR 24-003 A tribal resolution of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation authorizing the Principal Chief to execute FY 2022, 2023, and 2024 105(l) renewal lease agreements with the United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs for the benefit of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Citizenship Office passed with a vote of 8-0. It was sponsored by Representative Galen Cloud.
According to the Indian Affairs Office of Tribal Leases, “The 105(1) program is provided under the Indian Self-Determination Education and Assistance Act (OSDEAA). A 105(l) lease is not a traditional lease but an agreement between Indian Affairs and a Tribe or Tribal Organization to reimburse facility costs. Costs may be reimbursed when a facility (or part of a facility) is used to carry out ISDEAA approved programs, functions, services, or activities.”
There were no questions for discussion.
NCA 24-005 A law of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation authorizing the expenditure of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) fiscal relief funding in the amount of $1,392,900 for the installation and optimization of broadband and communications tower equipment located within Okmulgee County, Oklahoma passed with a vote of 7-1 with Representative Robyn Whitecloud voting no. It was sponsored by Representative Nelson Harjo Sr. and co-sponsored by Rep. Whitecloud.
NCA 22-152 had previously authorized the purchase of broadband communications equipment. The tower, owned by the MCN, has been operating on leased land. This legislation, NCA 24-005, will begin what MCN Director of Emergency Management Bobby Howard described during discussion as Phase II of the communication project and includes buying property the tower sits on. Howard stated, “We have cell coverage, but this is the cornerstone piece for the Nation to build out because we’ll have put the tower in Eufaula and the tower in Holdenville and we’ll have 100% saturation for communication for Lighthorse, EMS, Transit, Chief vehicles across the nation. So the benefit is that it builds upon the equipment that the nation has already purchased which is state of the art.”
Rachel Langley, a representative from MCN Reality, stated that the Nation is still waiting for the correct appraisal and other supporting documents.
Included in the bill is monies for the Tribal Utility Authority. Micah White, a representative from the Tribal Utility Authority, stated that to comply with FCC agreements this equipment is necessary. He stated, “The other piece of this legislation is the radios and communications equipment that outfits it for broadband purposes. The nation received the 2.5 Ghz spectrum license from the FCC in 2020 and as such we are responsible for meeting construction buildout times to convert that from lease to ownership. This is the first step in meeting that construction building out time, we have to have 50% coverage by 2025. That’s why the equipment was requested as well.”
To view the full agenda, visit: mcnnc.com.