ADVISORY COUNCIL OF TENNESSEE INDIAN AFFAIRS

Saturday 28 August 2004

The quarterly meeting of ACTIA was held on Saturday, August 28, 2004 at Cumberland University in Lebanon, TN. At 10:40 a.m., Chairperson Edna Fay called the meeting to order. She welcomed all present and asked that the visitors introduce themselves. Sandi Perry presented the opening prayer.

In attendance:

  • Edna Fay - Nashville
  • David Teat - Middle Tennessee
  • Donna Bivens - West Tennessee
  • Dale Mitchell - Middle Tennessee
  • Lee Vest - East Tennessee
  • Tommy Veal - Knoxville
  • Sandi Perry - Nashville
  • tom kunesh - Chattanooga
  • Melba Checote Eads - Middle Tennessee

The following visitors were also present: Don & Pat Merzlak and daughter, Tom Arnette, Robert Arnette, Lance & Cyndi Cook and Wyman, Estel Perry, Wayne Swiftbird.

The agenda was reviewed, amended and approved.

There was no report available from TNCIA.

A report of the activities of TNNAC was given by tom kunesh. Efforts are underway to pre-register voters prior to the next caucus. The attendance lists of 2001 and 2003 are also being used to expedite the sign-in process. A Standard Operating Manual will be made available on the TNNAC website. Also, a complaint form will be placed on the website. There will be an open practice caucus on 15 January 2005 from 1-4 p.m. at MTSU for training purposes. The training is open to all. There will be a TNNAC Board meeting that morning from 9-12 a.m. Discussions are still on-going concerning the splitting of Commission and Advisory Council elections. TNNAC is studying the definition of "Indian preference" and requests the Advisory Council's input. The next TNNAC quarterly meeting will be on 16 October 2004 at MTSU.

David Teat suggested that the Recognition Committee discuss and submit a recommendation at the next ACTIA meeting concerning the request from TNNAC regarding "Indian preference". Edna Fay agreed that it would be placed on the next agenda.

The financial report was given by Donna Bivens. The balance from the last quarterly meeting was $271.65. The proceeds from the genealogy class in Jackson, TN came to $306.00, making a total of $577.65 less a small charge for printed checks. A collection was taken of $31.00, making a total of $608.65. A motion was made and passed to accept the financial report.

Lee Vest brought up a fund raising suggestion that had been discussed before; the prospect of ushering at one of the NASCAR races. He knew of several organizations that had raised quite a bit of money this way. Another uggestion was ushering at a Titans game.

Donna Bivens gave a report from the Education Committee. The first genealogy class was held in Jackson, TN in August. The cost of the class was $20. There were 54 paying participants. The presenters were paid $600. The remainder of the fee was kept by ACTIA ($306) after expenses for printed material was deducted. Total attendance, counting volunteers, spouses and presenters, came to 64 people. November 13th was suggested as the next class, to be held in Memphis. A class will be scheduled in Nashville after the first of the year. It was suggested by David Teat and Sandi Perry that efforts be made to locate other individuals knowledgeable in Muscogee research to be included in the presentations. Sandi Perry suggested that the Education Committee meet with the Native American Educational Association to coordinate efforts in standardizing information that is handed out for use in the school systems. It was agreed that the organizations across the state should try to schedule a meeting in the near future.

There was no report from the Health Committee.

There was no report from the Legal Defense Committee.

There was no activity from the Social/Public Relations/Staff & Support Committee. David Teat reported that due to his heavy work load at his office he would like to resign as chairman of this committee. He recommended that Dale Mitchell be considered as chairperson. It was suggested by tom kunesh that ACTIA provide an on-line monthly calendar of events. tom kunesh made a motion for a calendar of events be placed on the ACTIA website. Motion was seconded by David Teat. Motion passed.

There has been no meeting by the Native Tourism/Native History Committee. Dale Mitchell reported that due to having vehicle problems he had not been able to get the committee together. tom kunesh reported the Native American Tourism Map was lost due to a crash of his hard drive. He requested that anyone who might have the information that he had shared to please send copies back to him.

Lee Vest reported that the Archaeological Advisory Committee was to meet with TDOT on September 11th at 11:30 - 12:30. Mr. Gerald Kline, supervisor of the Archaeological Office in Nashville will meet with the Committee members: Lee Vest, Tommy Veal, tom kunesh, Edna Fay, Melba Checote Eads, Jo Nicholson, Bill Potts and Pat Cummings at 1:00 p.m., 9th floor of the James K. Polk Building in downtown Nashville. Mr. Kline will meet the members in the lobby to escort them through the security check point.

Lee Vest was notified of an auction of land which included a 6,000-yea-old village site. There were reports that "artifacts" were being included in the auction. Included were the skeleton of an infant and a human jawbone. Russell Townsend, the Historical Preservation Officer of the Eastern Band of Cherokee arrived on site and was allowed to take possession of the remains. The property was bought by a car dealership. Certain building restrictions have been set on the property. This site will continue to be watched.

Sandi Perry informed the Board that the Alliance will be sending out a letter to all media concerning the display of Native American remains. The letter will ask that the media refrain from any public display of remains. She stated that the law clearly states that there will be no public display of human remains except in the situation of a forensic examination. Any organization which would like to support this request is invited to do so.

A general discussion ensued concerning burials, treatment of remains and the State personnel who are employed to oversee findings across the state.

David Teat made a motion to break for lunch for an hour. Dale Mitchell seconded the motion. Motion passed.

The Archeological Advisory Committee report continued. tom kunesh presented the TN Native American Mound Protection proposal. tom gave an estimate of a possible 500 mounds in the State of Tennessee. Of these, the state legally owns around 60 which are on about 3,000 acres of what is considered "Indian lands". Of these 500, about 85-95% are probably burial mounds. State law says that you cannot disturb graves but people still dig into burial mounds not knowing that they are burial mounds. Since most mounds are on private land, it is legal for owners to dig into a mound until it is revealed that there are burials present, at which time the state archaeologist is supposed to be notified. That usually doesn't happen. The proposal is supposedly designed to stop the digging and desecration of burial and ceremonial mounds. tom explained, at length, the legal ramifications of the proposal. There was a long discussion concerning the proposal. David Teat made a motion to table the proposal and send it back to the Archaeological Committee for further study. He asked that the Committee seek input and suggestions from other organizations and interested parties across the state; getting information on what other states have in place and also recommendations from Tribes in the southeast. Edna Fay seconded the motion. Motion passed.

tom presented a Native American "Interested Persons" amendment proposal. At the present time, Native Americans have no representation as "interested parties" in any Native American burials. Sandi Perry requested that any proposal concerning disposition of burials be presented to the Alliance before ACTIA makes a decision to approve and present a proposal for legislation. David Teat stated that the Archeological Advisory Committee should solicit input and comments from other organizations and interested parties before ANY proposals be brought before the Board. Dale Mitchell agreed that the Board should discuss proposals but not make any definite decision before consulting with other organizations. tom kunesh made a motion that the Archeological Advisory Committee is directed to solicit input and comments and report findings at the next ACTIA meeting. Dale Mitchell seconded the motion. Motion passed.

Lee Vest requested that consideration been given to securing some type of identification badge or card. David Teat reminded everyone that ACTIA is a private non-profit organization and should not be confused with any connection with a state agency. Several different means of identification were discussed and it was emphasized that any allowances made for ACTIA are done as a "professional courtesy" to "interested parties" only. ACTIA has no legal authority. It was suggested that a "Letter of Authorization" be presented on ACTIA letterhead for identification purposes.

Old Business

There was a discussion concerning the voting age and separation of election of Commission and ACTIA Board members. There was some discussion about the voting age. David Teat expressed concern that allowing persons under 18 to vote may be viewed as irregular by some. ACTIA, in the main, concurs with TNNAC that the voting age remain at 16. Dale Mitchell made a motion that ACTIA recommend to TNNAC that the voting age remain at 16. Donna Bivens seconded the motion. Motion passed. There was discussion concerning the separation of election of Commissioners and ACTIA Board members and how the "winners" and "losers" are viewed by the public. Sandi Perry suggested that the positions be clarified some how so that people's perception of the Advisory Council would improve. David Teat stated that some people who ran did not realize the amount of commitment required. If it improves situation and increases participation, then separate it. Edna Fay stated that someone who runs for the Commission should have the dedication to serve the Indian community and the Advisory Council gives them the additional chance to do so.

David Teat, as a representative of ACTIA, was asked to review the tapes of the Commission meeting in Memphis. David agreed that ACTIA would help in any way that we could. David stated that he had not received those tapes but would contact Commissioner Allen in the coming week. Sandi Perry suggested that ACTIA purchase a good tape deck to use at all meetings including ACTIA, TNNAC and TCIA. tom kunesh made a motion that the Advisory Council appropriate $50 to get the tapes of the Memphis Commission meeting professionally assessed as to the quality of the tape recording and a cost estimate of transcription of same. An amendment was made to add an additional $10 to pay for the cost of the tape copies. David Teat seconded the motion. Motion passed.

Discussion was entered concerning formation of standing rules regarding projects undertaken by committees. tom kunesh suggested that any project that uses ACTIA's name requires the approval of the Advisory Council or, if the need is immediate, the written consent of 2 officers and an ACTIA Board member who is not a member of said Committee. Sandi Perry made a motion to adopt this rule. Donna Bivens seconded the motion. Motion passed.

Discussion concerning whether the Committee meetings would be closed or open and whether the minutes of Committee meetings would be made available to the public was entered. David Teat had suggested at the last Recognition Committee meeting that minutes be kept and posted on ACTIA's website. Sandi Perry advocated that committee meetings be made open with limited participation by the public. Dale Mitchell pointed out that decisions made at committee meetings are ultimately brought before the entire Board during the regular quarterly meeting before anything is actually done. tom kunesh made the point that submitting minutes of committee meetings would involve a lot of unnecessary time and effort since the final decisions are made by the Board as a whole and those decisions will be entered into the minutes of the regular meetings. tom also suggested that committee meetings not be termed as "open" or "closed" but be announced to Advisory Council and committee members at least 3 days in advance. tom then proceeded to apologize for presenting several proposals to the Board before first going through the Archaeological Advisory Committee. tom kunesh made a motion that all committee meetings be announced to ACTIA Board members and committee members at least 3 days prior to a meeting. David Teat seconded the motion. Motion passed. tom kunesh made a motion that all proposals to the Advisory Council must first be approved by the relevant committee. David Teat seconded the motion. Motion passed. Dale Mitchell made a motion to amend the committee rule to delete any reference of posting committee minutes to the ACTIA website and any other NA message boards. tom kunesh seconded the motion. Motion passed.

Melba Checote Eads presented a report from the Tribal Recognition/Native History Committee. Melba read through suggested changes to the Tribal Recognition criteria - the addition of definition of "tribe", other minor changes. Melba stated that the recognition criteria are on the website. There was extensive discussion concerning changes proposed and whether to present these changes to the Commission. The question was raised whether there was a law in the state of Tennessee that made it "illegal" to be an Indian. This will be investigated further. Sandi Perry asked if the criteria only applied to tribes. Melba Checote Eads stated that the Recognition Committee had only reviewed the criteria for historical nation, tribes and bands. The criteria concerning individuals had not been examined as yet. The Commission had requested input from ACTIA's Tribal Recognition Committee and Melba stated that they had been working very hard to put something together for a presentation. tom kunesh suggested that several words in the proposed changes needed to be clearly defined. David Teat suggested that the discussion concerning proposed changes be continued on line.

The need for a logo for ACTIA was acknowledged. Tommy Veal presented a design which was called the "tree of peace". It consisted of three triangles stacked in the pattern of a pine tree within a circle within a square. There was some discussion about the origin of the design and the general consensus was that the symbol seemed to be universal. It was decided that anyone interested in the project would investigate and report back at the next quarterly meeting.

 

New Business

tom kunesh presented a proposal which had been brought by a missionary to Commissioner John Anderson concerning submitting a request to the Tennessee State Legislature to issue a public apology to TN Native Americans, similar to the one being proposed by the Federal government. Due to the potentially charged political climate concerning some of this nature, it was discussed and suggested that Melba Checote Eads contact Senator Harper and Representative Kernell to see what the feelings are on the Hill. It was decided that the Public Relations Committee investigate the proposal and submit a report at the next meeting.

The proposed expansion of number of Commissioners was discussed and since the author of this proposal did not see fit to attend the meeting it was decided that this was a dead issue. Dale Mitchell made a motion to drop the issue. David Teat seconded the motion. Motion passed.

tom kunesh reported that the review of the TNCIA has been delayed until after the elections in November. At that time, the Commission could possibly be sun-setted. He suggested that Board members contact Representative Kernell and Senator Harper and express their desire to have the Commission continue. tom kunesh made a motion that the officers of ACTIA contact the Government Operation Committee and request the TNCIA be allowed to continue. Tommy Veal seconded the motion. Motion passed.

Edna Fay submitted her resignation as ACTIA Chairperson effective immediately. Due to her school schedule she will be attending classes on Saturday. She will still be on the ACTIA Board. Dale Mitchell made a motion that we regretfully accept Edna's resignation. Melba Checote Eads seconded the motion. Motion passed. David Teat, as vice chair, now assumes the position of Chairperson. Donna Bivens declined to accept the position as vice-chairperson, preferring to remain in the position of Secretary/Treasurer. Dale Mitchell made a motion that David Teat be accepted as Chairperson and delay voting for a new vice-chairperson until the next quarterly meeting. tom kunesh seconded the motion. Motion passed.

It was discussed and decided that any ACTIA Board members who had missed two (2) consecutive meetings without any type of notice or reason be removed from the Board. Those names include: Cubert Bell, Jr., Alva Crowe, Virginia Ann Shields, Kippy Vaughn and Joice Fickenworth. tom kunesh made a motion that a registered letter by sent out by the secretary to these members citing the attendance rule and notifying them that they are removed from the Board. Edna Fay seconded the motion. Motion passed.

David Teat recommended that Dale Mitchell be placed as Chairperson of the Social/Public Relations Committee. Dale agreed to the position. tom kunesh made a motion that Dale Mitchell be made Chairperson of the Social/Public Relations Committee. Tommy Veal seconded the motion. Motion passed.

It was suggested that the Health and Legal Defense Committees be left without a Chairperson until ACTIA gains more members. It was also suggested that ideas for obtaining new members be investigated and the discussion be placed on the agenda for the new quarterly meeting. There are 3 of the 7 at-large positions filled at the present time. tom kunesh submitted the following names for consideration as members-at-large: Don Merzlak, Doris Tate Trevino, Jeremy Meeks and Jo Nicholson. Dale Mitchell suggested that we consider suspending the rule that a member-at-large had to be an officer in a Native American organization. Melba Checote Eads made a motion that the membership issue be brought up at the next quarterly meeting. Donna Bivens seconded the motion. Motion passed.

Melba Checote Eads requested that several people be approved to serve on the Tribal Recognition Committee. Names submitted were: Jackie Yazee and Tony Yahola. These people were approved for committee membership. tom kunesh submitted Corky Allen's name for membership on the Tribal Recognition Committee. The Board approved.

The next quarterly meeting of ACTIA was scheduled for November 27th. The time and place will be announced at a later date.

tom kunesh made a motion that all committee reports be submitted at least one (1) week prior to the Advisory Council meeting date. Melba Checote Eads seconded the motion. Motion passed.

The meeting was adjourned.

There was a closing prayer.

These minutes are submitted with the approval of the Board of the Advisory Council of Tennessee Indian Affairs on 23 November 2004.

Donna Bivens
Secretary/Treasurer