Saturday 9 July 2005

The regularly scheduled meeting of the Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs was held on Saturday, July 9, 2005 at Cumberland University, Labry Hall, Room 118, Lebanon, TN. At 10:40 a.m. the chairperson, David Teat called the meeting to order. Opening prayer was presented by Don Merzlak in the Lakota language.

    In attendance:
  • David Teat - Middle Tennessee
  • John Hedgecoth - East Tennessee
  • Donna Bivens - West Tennessee
  • Dale Mitchell - Middle Tennessee
  • Tommy Veal - Knoxville
  • tom kunesh - Chattanooga
  • Don Merzlak - East Tennessee
  • Joe McCaleb - Nashville
  • Jo Nicholson - West Tennessee

The following visitors were in attendance: Tommy Bivens, Jackie Hicks-Burris, Pat Merzlak, Chelie Britt.

The agenda was reviewed and approved.

There was no report available from TCIA.

An "unofficial" report was given on behalf of TNNAC. It was stated that the results of this year’s caucus are now available on line. One correction that will be made is that Paul Vaughn did not obtain the necessary 4 caucuses to be on the September ballot. A list of those candidates who would be considered on the September ballot was read. There was a reminder that each candidate has to be passed by a majority at the convention for that person to be considered as a Commissioner Nominee or runner-up. The average attendance at the TNNAC caucuses was 17 people.

Donna Bivens presented the financial report. No change since last meeting. There is $781.07 in checking and $15 cash. A donation of $5 was received at this meeting. She reminded the Board that filing of the 501(c)3 will deplete some of the funds. A motion was made and seconded to approve the financial report. Motion carried.

Notes from the meeting of 17 April 2005 were read. They were tentatively approved pending transcription and on-line review.


A report from the ACTIA Chair was given. The Chair informed everyone that all Commissions had been approved for another year. The Chair stated that the Advisory Council will be in a transition period over the next six months with new appointments being made and some changes in the By-Laws and Standing Rules. It is time to set a time frame for the changes that need to be made. The Commission is looking to the Advisory Council to come up with the wording for several of the resolutions that have been presented. A meeting has been scheduled with TDOT for Monday. David Teat, Joe McCaleb, Tommy Veal and several other people from NA organizations will be meeting with Gerald Kline, Commissioner for TDOT.

There was no report available from the Tribal Recognition/Native History Committee. It was stated that Melba was presently working on an "apology to Native Americans".

Donna Bivens reported that there had been no formal meeting of the Education Committee but several members had expressed an interest in meeting soon. There is another genealogy class tentatively planned for 2006 in Nashville. It was stated that a class needed to be done in Chattanooga due to the fact that the CNO is coming to present a Cherokee history class through Chattanooga State. It was suggested that ACTIA spread the word about this class also.

There was no report from the Health Committee at this time.

There was no report from the Legal Defense Committee at this time.

Dale Mitchell reported that there had been no action from the Social/Public Relations/Staff & Support Committee. It was suggested that this committee prepare a presentation display detailing some of the work ACTIA has done. It was stated that this needed to be presented at pow-wows and other functions across the state.

The Chair of the Native Tourism Committee reported that the Native Tourism Committee had not met yet.

Tommy Veal reported on the Archaeology Advisory Committee. Tommy stated that TDOT would not recognize us as a legitimate non-profit organization until we had the necessary 501(c)3 status.

John Hedgecoth reported on the Operational Procedures Committee. He has researched and copies procedures being used by other organizations for the Board’s study.


A motion was made and seconded that Jo Nicholson be accepted as an at-large member of the Advisory Council. The motion passed unanimously.

There was a final discussion concerning the ACTIA logo. It was decided that the basic design would be the name "ACTIA" in red superimposed over an eagle feather which was laying at an angle over the outline of the State of Tennessee with a shadow in dark blue around the state image. A motion was made and seconded to accept the design. The motion carried.

There was a continuation of the discussion concerning ACTIA’s non-profit status. It was brought up the fact that 501(c)3 organizations are limited in their political involvement. In the case of 501(c)4, the organization is allowed to be heavily involved in the political arena but donations are not tax deductible as they are with the 501(c)3. A motion was made and seconded that ACTIA immediately seek a 501(c)3 status. The motion carried. A a motion was made and seconded to set aside $400 from the treasury to cover the cost of filing the 501(c)3 forms. The motion carried. A motion was made that the chair appoint tom kunesh to completed the 501(c)3 application which will then be reviewed by Joe McCaleb and have Dale Mitchell study the by-laws, get them in order and propose amendments. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.

The discussion now went into the staffing procedures for ACTIA. Because of the changes that have been made in the election process and the fact that there appeared to be little interest in running for the positions available, ideas were asked to be brought forward that would promote a more positive image for ACTIA. During the discussion it was decided that TNNAC would continue to hold ACTIA elections. It was suggested that each ACTIA member work a little harder on PR in their own areas. A motion was made and seconded that ACTIA continue to allow TNNAC to democratically facilitate the elections for ACTIA on the current biennial basis. The motion carried.

The discussion went into the need to expand the ability for the ACTIA Board to recruit and seat new members in areas where there are vacancies. One suggestion was that the Advisory Council expand the number of available seats for members-at-large. Another suggestion was that the By-laws be changed to allow the inclusion of other elected persons to be considered as ACTIA Board members. A motion was made and seconed that an amendment be made to the By-laws, ARTICLE 4. MEMBERSHIP, Section (1), (a) and (b) to strike the word "commissioner-nominees" and replace it with "nominees or delegates". The motion carried. A motion was made and seconded to strike ARTICLE 4. Section (4), "Vacancies in a caucus’s representation shall not be filled". The motion carried.

A motion was made and seconded to set aside the standing rules governing the attendance of nominated members-at-large to allow Jo Nicholson to become a full Board member beginning today. The motion carried.

It was noted that due to the change in the election process, ACTIA would need to make an amendment to the By-laws concerning the beginning and duration of the terms of membership of the elected members. A motion was made and seconded that the By-laws be amended to:

strike : (3)(a) Board members who are caucus commissioner-nominees serve for four-year terms, beginning upon their election at the TNNAC Convention and ending upon the election four years later.

replace with: (3)(a) Board members who are caucus nominees or delegates shall serve for four-year terms, beginning upon the meeting immediately following their election at a caucus and ends upon the election four years later. Nominees will not be considered members until they have attended an ACTIA meeting.

The motion carried.

There was continued discussion about restructuring of the ACTIA Board to possibly elect a 7 member board of directors. This would allow ACTIA to continue to be recognized as a legitimate Indian organization while opening the general membership up to more interested non-Indian participants. It was also noted that having an Indian organization made up of a majority of Indians may or may not be a novel idea. Some agreed that since our membership is limited to only 35 and that the majority of those were elected at the caucuses that there should be no problem in maintaining the status of an Indian organization while others foresaw a possible problem in the future if ACTIA began to grow beyond that number. A motion was made and seconded that the discussion be tabled for the present and brought up at a later date. The motion carried.

Don Merzlak presented a proposed revision to the Recommended Resolution to the TCIA on Mascots. The amended recommendation is confined to public schools K - 12 which receive state and federal funds. A motion was made and seconded to accept the revised version of the recommendation. The motion carried.


The next item that was discussed was the recommended resolution to the TCIA on Recognition of Historical Tribes, Bands, and Nations through legislative action. The TCIA has reviewed the resolution and returned it to ACTIA because they felt it needed a few changes made. It had been suggested that perhaps some of the historical tribes had been omitted from the resolution. It was stated that it was thought that the resolution left it fairly open to additions as information was brought forward concerning other historical groups. The omission of the Chickamauga from the original resolution was discussed and various methods of how to best deal with this issue were presented. Several different opinions on how to amend the resolution were discussed. It was decided not to rush the rewording of this resolution. A motion was made and seconded that this issue would be discussed on line among ACTIA members. The motion carried.

There was a discussion concerning recommendations on recognition criteria, review procedures and forms for the TCIA to use. It was asked that we provide rationale for any word/terminology and procedural changes recommended. It was stated that what the TCIA needs is a recommendation on any changes that ACTIA might see fit to make on the review procedures. They have already been advised to remove the word "enrolled" where it applies to the recognition by TCIA. A motion was made and seconded that ACTIA work on revising the 1990 Recognition Criteria on line. The motion carried.


A discussion on developing "Visiting Sacred Sites in Tennessee" guidelines for consideration by ACTIA as an endorser was presented. Penny Plumlee had placed a "Prayer Site Protocol" on line. tom kunesh read the list to the Board. He said that the guidelines had already been approved by the Alliance. A motion

Was made and seconded that ACTIA endorse the guidelines. The motion carried.

The discussion then moved to the subject of how to assist TCIA go from passing resolutions to implementation. It was stated that TCIA was having difficulty keeping up with what resolutions had been made, which had been passed and their status. The ACTIA Chair charged the membership to think on this problem and come up with some ideas to discuss at the next meeting. A motion was made and seconded that this project be tabled for now but keep it on the agenda for future consideration. The motion carried.

A welcome was extended to Joe McCaleb, newly elected ACTIA member from the 2005 caucus from the Nashville area.

A motion was made and seconded to accept Jackie Hicks-Burris as a new member-at-large. The motion carried.

The next regular meeting of ACTIA will be on Sunday, 21 August 2005 at Shell Mound Park Gazebo on Little Cedar Mountain, Jasper, TN at 10:00 a.m. Central. There will be a cook-out and picnic after the meeting.

Tommy Veal offered a closing prayer.

Meeting was adjourned.

These minutes are submitted for approval on July 24, 2005.

Donna Bivens, Secretary/Treasurer