By Louis Montclair
Fort Peck Tribal employees with a Coronavirus vaccination will be awarded an extra $500.
At the March 28, 2022, full board meeting, the Tribal Executive Board approved the payment for employees as an incentive. Money for this will come out of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act money, which has rules that allow for incentive payments.
According to committee minutes, newly reinstated Chief Financial Officer Randy Redpath said it would cost the Tribes $1,200,814.12. Because it’s such a large amount, this payment will require a budget modification. The Tribal Constitution states at least nine of 12 TEB members must approve a budget modification.
The original motion at the Finance Committee level was made by councilman Justin Gray Hawk, seconded by councilman Lawrence Hamilton, and passed seven for, none opposed.
At the full board, the motion passed with nine for, two (councilman Bryce Kirk and Patt Iron Cloud) opposed. Councilwoman Carolyn Brugh didn’t vote.
Vaccination rates among tribal members were reported to be the highest in Montana Indian Country.
The following highlights are from the full board meeting on March 28, 2022.
Tribal enrollment brought in a group of names for membership.
Minutes state the recommendations for enrollment are (13) group, four full membership, six name changes, one blood degree change, two relinquishment’s, and five associate memberships.
All TEB voted to approve the recommendations, with the exception of councilwoman Marva Chapman, who was absent for the vote.
The Tribal Council voted to declare a state of emergency for tribal children who are in foster care.
In addition, the Tribes voted to hold the Bureau of Indian Affairs accountable for it’s trust responsibility to the Tribes.
The final vote was five for (TEB members Shannon Martell, Alex Smith, Terry Rattling Thunder, Grant Stafne, and Stacey Summers), four opposed (TEB members Lawrence Hamilton, Wayne Martell, Justin Gray Hawk, and Bryce Kirk), two not voting (TEB members Marva Chapman and Carolyn Brugh), and one absent (Patt Iron Cloud).
Councilman Gray Hawk was appointed to the Montana State Burial Board on behalf of the Fort Peck Tribes.
According to their website, the SBB is “to protect from disturbance or destruction human skeletal remains, burial sites, and burial materials found on state and private lands in Montana and to resolve claims for repatriation of human skeletal remains and funerary objects.”
Previously, the late councilman Tom Escarcega Sr. was on the SBB.
In a related motion, the council tabled a motion that would approve of another budget modification for construction of a new grave yard in Poplar.
The Poplar City grave yard is at the capacity for burials. Spaces are limited and marked for family plots.
A new grave yard has been something the Tribes have talked about for a long time but have never acted on.
Spotted Bull Recovery Resource Center medical bills from 2021.
The first bill was from Orion Healthcare for $138. The other is from the Huron Regional Medical Center for $939.50, with the money coming out of FY2022.
Tribal leaders approved of advertising two job positions; warehouse labor and a laborer.
Tom Week, manager of the Tribes American Rescue Plan Act funds, said he needed these positions filled.
All tribal leaders voted to approve a task order to survey, design, construction and resident project representative for water and sewer main replacement in Fort Kipp.
A development committee met with the TEB to update on all of the projects they are working on, minutes state. Attorney Ryan Rusche said the projects could be funded with ARPA funds.
The committee is waiting to have a public hearing for the Brockton Lagoon project before they can pick a location for the site.
A requirement for employers in the Affordable Care Act include a provision called the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment. All large employers are required to pay this.
Originally starting in 2018, the Tribes owe over $1 million. Tribal leaders voted to pay the due amount of $1,200,814.12. Again, because of this large amount it must be approved through a budget modification.
Community Services Director Shelia Spotted Bull met with the finance committee about the ARPA payments she talked about last week.
After speaking with Montana Dakota Utilities (MDU), she got the numbers who owes on a power bill and who has credit. The program will make the initial payment and it will only go to the applicants who need it, minutes state.
The Office of Environmental Protection applied and was approved for a one time landfarm permit from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.
A purchase of land was approved for allotment No. 746,-1054-A and 2944B for the appraisal price of $51,730.90.
A new homesite lease was approved for Wayne Weeks.
Irene Wilkins was approved for an enrolled member lease renewal.
John Nygard was approved for an enrolled member renewal.
Gary Grainger and Carl Payne were granted lease cancellations.
Lori Rakstad and Thomas Flynn Sr. were granted enrolled member new leases.
Dale Anderson and Randy Reddig were approved for non-enrolled member renewals.
A fee to trust application was given to the Tollenfson Family Revocable Living Trust Purchase for tract one, two, three, and four, documents state.
Roger Nygaard was approved for his fee to trust application.
The Tribes voted to name the Poplar baseball fields after a deceased police officer who used to coach little league. The late Richie McDonald Sr. spent his later years in life coaching baseball and all games were at this diamond.
The park is in Poplar, north of the Activity Center by the grave yard.
Tribal Human Resources were approved of creating a position with the Tribes Cultural Resources Department.
Minutes state the position is a “Field Research Manager.” There is no job description included.
Tribal leaders approved of selecting a new accounting firm.
Moss Adams LLP will perform the audit of the Fort Peck Tribal Government operations for the fiscal years ended, September 30, 2021 through September 30, 2025.
The Tribal Health Program Scope of work will be revised and approved by the Tribal Chairman.
In a related motion, a 30-day extension for Dennis Four Bear was approved. He is the deputy director for the Record fiscal recovery funds.
Michael Headdress and Sharon Red Thunder were approved for a two year term on the Poplar Housing Commissioners.
Wolf Point’s Cultural Center will be getting a new floor soon.
Tribal Maintenance Director Bruce Nordwick brought in a proposal for the Wolf Point Community Hall, as people have been complaining about the floor. The Tribes sent out a bid notice and there was one that came back with an offer and it was from Long Building Intelligence.
Rocky Mountain Decks and Flooring submitted a proposal for $43,789, which the Tribes accepted.
In a related motion, Long Building of Intelligence submitted a proposal for $49,805 to remove and replace the control system for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. Funds for this will come from a donation to the Tribes from the Sonosky law firm in Washington DC.
The Tribes will purchase Federal Employee Health Benefits medical coverage for tribal employees. Chairman Floyd Azure is to sign all documents and begin the process of enrollment for all tribal employees.
Tribal leaders offered the Poplar Community Organization $133,000 for the old wellness center/roller rink.
Right now, Fort Peck Community College is using the building for their wellness center, but with the new Thundering Buffalo Wellness Center being prepared for opening, the old wellness center may be rendered obsolete.
The council approved issuing a deed of ownership of the “respective units.” These units are at Hope Ranch north of Poplar.
The Tribal Foster Licenses program renewed one regular kinship.
Tribal Fish and Game Director Robbie Magnan requested the Chairman to sign a new law that would make the Tribal Buffalo Ranch management being funded through P.L. 93-638.
According to the minutes, the Buffalo Management Act has passed through the House of Representatives and is currently sitting in the Senate.
If approved, it would include buffalo herd management in the regular 638 contracts. These funds will be used to assist the Tribes in establishing or enhancing buffalo herds on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
A Wolf Point Police Officer with questionable police practices got a letter of backing from the Tribal Council.
Alisha Morales applied for the City of Wolf Point Police Chief.
Morales and her husband Enrique Morales had their cross deputizations (right to arrest tribal members) revoked. This came from a request by the Tribal Council. The two officers were charged with assaulting a Poplar man.
Both were charged with crimes were arraigned.
The Wolf Point Community Organization elected new officers that were recognized officially by the Tribal Council.
Selected by WPCO is Roxanne Gourneau for Chair, Vice-Chair Chris Fourstar, Secretary-Treasurer Holly Hamilton, and Curtis Forth for Sgt.-At-Arms.
A new reclassification of a Tribal Court position was approved.
The Court Operations Analyst is now a Grade 11, with a starting salary of Step One at $19,75 per hour, in accordance with the Tribal Primary Salary Schedule.
A related motion authorizes the development and rating of three positions to be used in future grant applications by the Fort Peck Tribal Health for Suicide Crisis Intervention, Prevention and Treatment: a Suicide/Crisis Intervention Project Director, Training Coordinator, and a Grant Management Coordinator.