Saturday 19 February 2005

The quarterly meeting of ACTIA was held on Saturday, February 19, 2005 at Cumberland University in Lebanon, TN. At 10:30 a.m., Chairperson David Teat called the meeting to order. He welcomed everyone to the meeting. Opening prayer was presented.

    In attendance:
  • David Teat - Middle Tennessee
  • Donna Bivens - West Tennessee
  • Dale Mitchell - Middle Tennessee
  • Tommy Veal - Knoxville
  • tom kunesh - Chattanooga
  • Melba Checote Eads - Middle Tennessee
  • Anita Prevatte - Middle Tennessee

    Also present were the following Members At Large nominees:

  • Don Merzlak - Lakota, Mossheim, Greene County NA Intertribal Association
  • Doris Tate Trevino - Sewanee, Chikamaka Cherokee, TN Chapter Trail Of Tears Association
  • Jeremy Meeks - Chikamaka Cherokee

The following visitors were in attendance: Tommy Bivens, Lee Trevino, Jackie Hicks-Burris, Donna Ashley, Pat Merzlak.

The agenda was reviewed, amended and approved.


There was no official report available from TCIA.

There was no official report available from TNNAC.

The financial report was given by Treasurer, Donna Bivens. The beginning balance was $577.22. Charges for the website for December came to $3.95. Application for a State Charter cost $100. A book of stamps for general use was purchased for $7.40. Charges for the website for January came to $3.95. Proceeds from the Cherokee Genealogy Class held in Memphis on January 29th brought in $400. Flowers were sent to Ms. Vann while she was in the hospital for the cost of $32.93. Payment was made of $37.92 for the discounted cost of the website for a year. This leaves a balance of $781.07 ($100 of which is restricted use for NA license art contest).

Melba Checote Eads presented a report from the Tribal Recognition/Native History Committee. The Commission has agreed to present a bill to the State as a resolution to recognize the historical tribes of Tennessee. Tom Kunesh stated that he believed that there would be an amendment proposed at the next Commission meeting to change the wording of the resolution. He also stated that the deadline for presentation of new bills for this year’s session has already passed and this resolution will probably be presented next January.

Donna Bivens presented a report from the Education Committee. There has not been a meeting of the entire committee yet. Another genealogy class was sponsored in Memphis on January 29th. There were 60 people who attended the class. The total income after expenses was $400. Proposals have been made for additional classes to Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville. Favorable responses have been received from all three areas. No definite plans have been made at this time. Information brochures were distributed for discussion later in the meeting.

There was no report available from the Health Committee.

There was no report available from the Legal Defense Committee.

Dale Mitchell gave a report on the status of the Social/Public Relations/Staff & Support Committee. Dale stated that he would like for someone else to take over the responsibility as chair for this committee.

Dale Mitchell reported that there had been no meeting of the Native Tourism Committee as of yet. He was planning to set up a meeting in March. Through this committee he intends to work with the TDOT regional working groups.

Tommy Veal presented a report from the Archaeology Committee. He had visited the Two Rivers site. He stated that a donation had been made to the Cherokee Nation of $3.5 million by the owner of the site for a museum. There are buildings being built now on the higher part of the land. The lower part of the site is the actual burial grounds. He had also visited the Little Cedar Mountain site. The opinion on it was that they build it without an option and that they create a “green space” which would be public domain. But the information disclosed during a meeting indicated that the site would only be used by the owners of the property. This is not the correct definition of a “green space” if it is restricted admission. The developers are using the law to get the property as a “green space” but locking it away from the general public. An impact survey is underway in the area at this time. Tom Kunesh reported that the archaeological survey had been completed. The survey was to have covered 600 acres and was completed in 10 days with a team of 8 or less people on site. The report was due out on this Tuesday. It was noted that prior surveys of the site have not been cited and general consensus being that this is an incompetent survey. Tommy Veal proposed that the letter of the law be imposed stating that there be 2 Native American observers present during the survey process. He also stated that the island that the developers were offering in the “trade” for the proposed development site was technically Indian land as stated by Federal law. The Chairperson suggested that ACTIA call a special meeting concerning this issue. Tommy Veal was charged with setting up a meeting with all interested parties with the next 30 days to determine public opinion and what action ACTIA needs to take.

John Hedgecoth, chairperson of the Operational Procedures Committee was unable to attend today due to vehicle problems. He did send some recommendations to be reviewed during New Business.

David Teat presented a report and comments from the Chair. He suggested that once a year, at the time of the election of officers, that the Chair present a “State of the Advisory Council” address. This would include a report on the year’s activities, progress that has been made and comments of things that are proposed for the coming year. He suggested that ACTIA consider changes in the bylaws pertaining to the requirements for member’s at large positions. He also suggested that ACTIA look at the structuring of the Advisory Council, i.e. should it be all board members or should there be a membership and a 7 member board of directors chosen from the total membership. Several people have offered ideas concerning the restructuring/reorganization of ACTIA. The issue needs to be addressed as to how best to maintain a democratic structure while insuring continued growth of the organization. ACTIA needs to maintain a sufficient staff to be effective in their objectives. David reminded the members that ACTIA had made a recommendation to the Commission regarding criteria required of an organization to be recognized as legitimate American Indian organizations. As such, ACTIA needs to comply with these criteria. He also suggested that ACTIA make time for public comment during the quarterly meetings. Finally, he suggested that ACTIA begin working in conjunction with the Commission on ideas for legislation for next year.

Donna Bivens presented a “thank you” from Mrs. Van Lynch for the flowers that were sent while she was in the hospital.


A revisit was made regarding the suspension of the Standing Rules pertaining to appointments of members at large. Discussion was entered concerning By-Law changes to address filling of “at-large” positions. By-Laws cannot be suspended. It requires 6 months to enact changes. I was noted that in order to make changes to By-Laws, the change has to be read at two regular meetings and voted on at the third meeting. A motion was made by Dale Mitchell to resend the improper suspension of the By-Laws made at the last regular meeting. Donna Bivens seconded the motion. Motion carried.

A discussion was entered concerning changing the By-Laws pertaining to the requirements of members-at-large. The present By-Laws state:


(1) The Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs shall be governed by a board of directors that shall consist of no more than thirty-first (35) members as follows:

(c) Up to seven (7) members-at-large who are elected leaders of Native American organizations in Tennessee that have existed for more than four (4) years, elected by the ACTIA board members.

Dale Mitchell made a motion to amend Article 4 (1) (c) to read:

(c) Up to seven members-at-large, elected by the ACTIA board members, who meet the following criteria:

(i) First consideration will be given to Native American people who are residents of Tennessee and in leadership positions in a Tennessee Native American organization that has been established for at least four (4) years;

(ii) Secondary consideration will be given to other members and supporters of the Indian community who are residents of Tennessee and who have shown an interest and willingness to work for the betterment of the Native American community in Tennessee.

The discussion then shifted to the possible restructuring of the ACTIA board in order to meet the guidelines defining the recognition of a legitimate Native American organization. Since these guidelines were submitted by the Recognition Committee to the TCIA it was decided that it was imperative that ACTIA itself meet these criteria. The submitted proposal stated that the board of directors of the organization shall consist of 51% or more verifiably American Indians. In order to meet this requirement, it was suggested that ACTIA membership elect a Board of Directors of seven (7) individuals who meet this criteria. Out of those seven (7) the officers will be chosen.

Tom Kunesh drew a diagram showing how the ACTIA board members were selected during the caucus and the election process for officers at the present time and the proposed changes. At this time the discussion veered into the election process and the changes that had been instituted by TNNAC and the effect that this would have on the ACTIA membership. David Teat reminded everyone that the role of ACTIA was to assist the TCIA in any of their programs and also to act as a conduit from other organizations and individuals across the state to the TCIA. Tom Kunesh made a motion that the recommendation concerning the formation of an ACTIA Board of Directors be tabled and given to the Operational Procedures Committee to come up with a proposed amendment to the By-Laws which would address the requirements of being recognized as a Native American organization. Donna Bivens seconded the motion. Motion passed.

The three nominees for members-at-large were introduced and asked to make a short introduction.

Don Merzlak, Lakota presently resides in northeast Tennessee. He has been a member of the Greene County NA Intertribal Association for the last 5 years. He has done extensive work trying to rid schools of NA mascots.

Doris Tate Trevino, Sewanee, Chickamaka Cherokee is from southeast Tennessee. She is a member of the TN Chapter of the Trail of Tear Association. She has served 2 terms as President of the Association.

Jeremy Meeks, Chickamaka Cherokee lives in middle Tennessee. He teaches traditional dances and songs.

Melba Checote Eads made a motion that the three nominees be considered as members-at-large on ACTIA. Dale Mitchell seconded the motion. Motion carried.

All of these nominees could be confirmed at the next meeting.

Lunch Break

Tommy Veal introduced Jackie Hicks-Burris and asked that she be considered for membership on the Archaeology Advisory Committee. Jackie is of Cherokee descent with guidance received from Menominee and Oneida elders. A motion was made by Dale Mitchell to accept Jackie as a member of the Archaeology Advisory Committee. It was seconded by Donna Bivens. Motion carried.

Donna Bivens asked for assistance in compiling the paperwork required to apply for the 501(c)3 status. Jeremy Meeks and Tom Kunesh were asked to assist in the wording of the application since they had both successfully completed and filed forms for other organizations. They both agreed to assist. Dale Mitchell made a motion to allow Jeremy and Tom to assist with the application. Donna Bivens seconded the motion. Motion carried.

The proposed ACTIA logo and website was discussed. The new website design has been made available for viewing. One of the additions will be an event calendar. The webpage will also be available by phone link. It was also suggested that a photo of every member of ACTIA be placed on the website. Jeremy Meeks suggested a link on the front page to future archives of minutes.

The basic design of the proposed logo was discussed and suggestions were made by several people concerning changes. Tom Kunesh made a motion that the logo be approved as follows: the word ACTIA in Palatino red italic contained within the boundaries of the state and that the eagle feather extends from the northeast to the southwest with no breaks in the feathering. The state will be white with a dark blue shadow. Motion was seconded by Donna Bivens. Motion carried.



The annual scheduled election of officers was conducted in keeping with the ACTIA By-Laws.

Donna Bivens nominated David Teat for chairperson. There were no other nominations. David Teat was re-elected unanimously.

Dale Mitchell nominated John Hedgecoth for vice-chairperson. There were no other nominations. John Hedgecoth was elected unanimously.

Tom Kunesh nominated Donna Bivens for secretary/treasurer. There were no other nominations. Donna Bivens was re-elected unanimously.

There was a discussion concerning appointment of assistants to the secretary/treasurer. Donna Bivens suggested that someone should be able to step into the position in the event of her not being able to fulfill her duties. Dale Mitchell volunteered to be an assistant secretary. Jackie Hicks-Burris also volunteered to assist. Tom Kunesh made a motion to appoint Dale Mitchell and Jackie Hicks-Burris as assistants to the secretary/treasurer. Tommy Veal seconded the motion. Motion carried.

David Teat stated that John Hedgecoth had submitted some suggestions from the Operational Procedures Committee regarding handling of complaints, conflict resolution and ACTIA procedures. Since no one had a chance to study the suggestions, it was decided that the ideas would be tabled until such time that John could present them to the Board. Dale Mitchell made a motion to table the discussion. Tom Kunesh seconded. Motion carried.

Tom Kunesh presented TNNAC’s new application and the changes that have been made which may affect ACTIA. He also outlined the TNNAC election procedures which were established during the SOP training.

Tim Meeks had submitted by email a proposal for individual recognition criteria. Tom Kunesh read this email, “Meeks recognition proposal 18Feb05”. David Teat stated that the Recognition Committee would be looking into the suggestions voiced in this message. Doris Tate Trevino stated that the TCIA “1796” amendment to tribal recognition is ludicrous. Tom Kunesh made a motion to advise TCIA to strike that amendment. It was seconded by Dale Mitchell. Motion passed unanimously. Tom Kunesh was charged with drafting a letter to submit to the TCIA.

The status of ACTIA’s members-at-large was reviewed. ACTIA presently has 3 members-at-large: John Smith, Ray Emanuel and Melba Checote Eads. There were an additional 3 members nominated for positions today: Don Merzlak, Doris Tate Trevino and Jeremy Meeks. It was suggested that the remaining seat be held until we receive a decision from Jo Nicholson.

The possibility was discussed to invite the “Aztlanahuac: MesoAmerica in North America Map Exhibit” to Tennessee. Tom Kunesh reminded everyone that the ceremonial complexes found in the southeast were evidence of major influences of MesoAmerica in the area. Tom has contacted the presenters to see if they could possibly have the exhibit somewhere in Tennessee. They have yet to reply. Tom Kunesh made a motion to present a proposal to sponsor this program by the next meeting. Dale Mitchell seconded the motion. Motion carried.

Donna Bivens distributed a brochure: “Answers to Questions about Native Americans in Tennessee” which had been compiled by Tom Kunesh and that she had been distributing at the genealogy classes. She asked that ACTIA assume sponsorship of the brochure, under ACTIA’s name, after several minor revisions were made. Donna Bivens made a motion that Tom Kunesh make revisions on the brochure and submit them for approval on line. Tommy Veal seconded the motion. Motion carried.

Tom Kunesh presented a resolution for the discontinuation of Indian mascots in the state of Tennessee. It was suggested that some additions and revisions be made to the resolution and it be presented to the Commission with ACTIA’s recommendation for passage. Tom Kunesh made a motion that the resolution be passed on to the TCIA for consideration. Donna Bivens seconded the motion. Motion carried.

The next regular meeting was scheduled for Sunday, 17th April 2005 at a location to be announced at 12:00 noon.

Motion was made, seconded and passed to adjourn.

These minutes are submitted for approval by the ACTIA Board on May 11, 2005.

Donna Bivens, Secretary/Treasurer