Tribal Chairperson Meets With U.S. President and Secretary of Interior

Rebecca McMahon, with the Office of Tribal Attorney (OTA), foreground, talked with the Tribal Council and Chairperson about title insurance for the Jackson Trailer Park purchase on Thursday, November 21. / Photo by Kristan Korns, Two Rivers Tribune

By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune

Hoopa Tribal Chairperson Danielle Vigil-Masten started the Tribal Council meeting on Thursday, November 21, with a report on her recent lobbying efforts in Washington D.C.

“I went to Washington D.C. for the week of November 11 to November 15, and I met with Secretary Jewell and President Obama,” Vigil-Masten said.

Barrack Obama met with leaders from 566 tribes during the 2013 White House Tribal Nations Conference as part of his administration’s effort to move toward greater levels of tribal self-determination and self-governance.

Obama said, “That’s what we’re called to do – to keep strong the covenant between us – for this and future generations.”

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell added that she’ll work to uphold the President’s “commitment to a strong government-to-government relationship with tribal nations.”

Vigil-Masten took the opportunity to invite Obama to visit the Hoopa Valley.

“He said he plans to visit tribes,” Vigil-Masten said. “So I gave him my business card and invited him to Hoopa.”

Other members of the Tribal Council also reported on their work and travel.

Tribal Vice Chairman Ryan Jackson returned from Spokane the day before the Council meeting; the latest in a series of trips representing the Tribe.

“We’re negotiating to have co-management status for the Tribe at the Trinity River Hatchery,” Jackson said. “We’re also trying to gather information on how we can best utilize the ACA [Affordable Care Act]; we’ve scheduled meetings with Covered California.”

Closer to home, Councilmember Diana McCovey-Ferris said she and several Councilmembers would be personally delivering Thanksgiving turkeys to tribal elders in the valley.

“I did it last year and I really enjoyed visiting with the elders and going out and serving the people,” McCovey-Ferris said.

Councilmembers voted unanimously to approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Humboldt County which will guarantee the continued operation of K’ima:w Medical Center’s ambulance base in Willow Creek in exchange for $200,000 in funding from the County.

K’ima:w and the Hoopa Valley Tribe have supported the ambulance service – the only one of its kind in Eastern Humboldt County – for decades, at the cost of yearly deficits of nearly $500,000.

Humboldt County and the Yurok and Karuk Tribes have each agreed to help support the ambulance service for the first time this year; after the Hoopa Valley Tribe announced that it couldn’t afford another half-million dollar loss after suffering sequestration budget cuts.

The Council also voted unanimously to approve Hoopa Valley Elementary School’s 8th grade class providing the tribal Christmas dinner.

There was some disagreement on a motion to waive tribal sovereign immunity in an agreement with Stewart Title Guarantee Company, Placer Title Company, and Humboldt Land Title Company to provide title insurance for the purchase of Jackson’s Trailer Park located in downtown Hoopa.

Rebecca McMahon, with the Office of Tribal Attorney (OTA), said, “At this point, all the title companies in Northern California require this. Any potential claims would go through Humboldt County Superior Court.”

The motion passed, with Council members Ollie-Mae Davis and Marjorie Colegrove voting no, Councilmember Wendy “Poppy” George abstaining, and Council members McCoy-Ferris, Jackson, and Shane McCullough voting yes.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for 5:30 pm on Thursday, December 5.

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January 9th, 2014

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