Annual Meeting crowd on May 12.
By LACEY WHELAN
FORT HALL— No official quorum was reached at the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Annual Meeting at the Shoshone Bannock Hotel and Event Center on May 12.
At 11:20 a.m. there were 123 tribal members present when Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Nathan Small began the meeting. Tribal elder, Lionel Boyer gave the prayer.
CEO, Pam Gallegos started off by saying “You will see a lot of changes.” With the marketing strategy – in particular setting up a Geo fence – where the Fort Hall Casino can send out text messages for any upcoming promotions while in a close mile radius, to try to draw in people to participate. She advises this type of promotion has been out and around the casino world for about four years and has been proven effective. She wants to reduce expenses and increase the output to people out there.
For new employment and managers, Gallegos says she is going to provide more training for the management so they will be more prepared. Also she said she wants to set up an intern program where individuals can sign up and meet with her to set up a path for success. She wants to be able to provide more “in-house” business instead of contracting out. She believes customer training is very important — bringing more customer service training and setting up more education platforms, as well as setting up a program to put in place a Tribal Ambassadors Program. Gallegos is looking to hire tribal elders, who would like to spend their evening and days welcoming people to the casino, as greeters, and be able to be a part of the Fort Hall Casino.
She said the biggest issue is hiring enough tribal members to fill all the positions at the existing casino as well as the new casino. She is looking to fill many positions, but is concerned with the amount of people who cannot pass the background checks. Gallegos is looking to open up employment to non-tribal members, which left many concerned who attended the meeting. She encourages if you have previously been employed at the casino and left, to try to consider working there again because of the many changes.
Gallegos advises she is also looking to bring a culture and tourism project to the casino to educate visitors about our local culture. She wants to involve many of the tribal members in this program. There were no updates from Colista Farmer, Shoshone Bannock Hotel Manager.
Fort Hall Business Council Treasurer Tino Batt gave a financial highlight presentation for the Shoshone Bannock Tribes for the 12 month period ending September 30, 2017. Batt advised there was an increase in debt, because of paying down other the debt for the Justice Center and moving form the Native American Bank to the Idaho Central Credit Union (at a more favorable interest rate.) The Tribes also started requesting funds from Wells Fargo for the casino expansion. There was no financial update given.
Economic Development update
Marlin Fellows, construction manager did a slideshow update on the casino expansion, phase 2, which is scheduled for completion, fall of 2018. Fellows advised part of the problem with the previous contractor was a quality control issue. The FHBC decided to terminate the contract and move on to another contractor to get the issues corrected. Fellows advised because the case with the Ormond Company is under litigation, he at this time is not advised to talk about the case. Chairman Small went on to mention, they are looking to work with contractors, and architects who have a significant amount of experience. Small said they will be attending the district meetings to further answer questions about the casino expansion.
Public Affairs/Policy Analyst Yvette Tuell introduced Mapetsi Policy Group who is a group that provides a direct link for the Shoshone Bannock Tribes to federal lawmakers and agency officials to protect tribal and sovereignty rights. John Harte, who spoke on behalf of the Mapesti, gave a PowerPoint presentation on the top priorities the group is currently working on. Harte says there may be several issues that impact the tribes, one in particular is an attack by the Trump Administration on the Health and Human Services department — making if difficult to sign up for Medicare/Medicaid and possibly trying to make changes to IHS. Also he is concerned over sports betting that may be opened up in Idaho, but haven’t received any updates.
Mark Echo Hawk as well as Paul Echo Hawk gave an update on several cases they both are involved in. Paul has been working on several cases with Bill Bacon, the ongoing litigation on the casino project-Thalden Boyd-Emery Architects (TBE) terminated their contract with the Shoshone Bannock Tribes, so currently Paul Echo Hawk is doing a claim against TBE for wrongful termination. By having to hire another architect it is costing the Shoshone Bannock Tribes additional money, slowed the project down and he is pursuing TBE to pay for those damages. In the contract with TBE it required a non-binding arbitration process first, which he is finished with that and the contract provided for Tribal Court to be the dispute resolution form, which they are working on next.
Ormond Builders, the former contractor, called for a binding arbitration process for disputes. Ormond Builders and the Shoshone Bannock Tribes have three separate arbitration matters in front of the American Arbitration Association. They are in the early stages of going through it, the Tribes will be seeking damages from Ormond Builders and the additional costs they’ve cost the Tribes.
Currently Paul is working against Travelers insurance, which provided the performance bond for the project. (A performance bond is like an insurance policy.) If the first contractor is terminated from the job, Travelers Insurance is supposed to pay the difference the added cost to bring in a new contractor. Travelers Insurance is refusing to do so. The SBT and Paul have filed suit against the company in Tribal Court asking the Travelers Insurance be held responsible, and to cover the additional cost by bringing in Big D construction. So their hope is to be to recover these damages.
Paul also touched base on the FMC case that could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, it is an ongoing effort and will be updated as the case progresses.
Mark expressed his thanks for letting him work with the Shoshone Bannock Tribes, and he advised he is currently working on 40 active matters, which have been assigned to him. He is continuing to work on the school district with administrative issues; he has worked with the Fort Hall Business Council and the Tribal Enterprises to help the Tribe create a new organizational model for economic development.
Mark also has been working with the TERO department to get their ordinance amendment out to the public and FHBC.
Mark has recently been working on the Union Pacific Railroad Claim, which once the land is no longer being used for railroad purposes it reverts back to the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. The Tribes brought the claim several times to the federal government and now is on the verge of filing the complaints and is now down to technical questions regarding claims. He believes the Tribes have a strong claim on and will continue to go on with the case.
Jeneatte Wolfley, who was the final speaker explained that she is working as a special counsel for the Shoshone Bannock Tribes on a few issues for the water resources department, enrollment, and she drafted a probate code and banishment ordinance for the Fort Hall Business Council, which is currently submitted to the council for approval.
Wolfley explained she is currently is working on the eastern boundary claim- where she is seeking administrative litigation and also legislation.
She is also working on the southwest Montana issue where the 1868 Treaty with the mixed bands of Shoshone, Bannocks, and Sheep eaters. The Treaty was never ratified and all were moved out of the Montana area using the unratified treaty, which the SBT and Wolfley are trying to get resolved.
Everyone who attended received annual reports from the Shoshone Bannock Gaming and Hotel, the Shoshone Bannock Tribal Enterprises, the Shoshone Bannock Tribal Water Resources Department and Commission, The Language and Cultural Department, the Fort Hall Housing Authority, The Shoshone Bannock Tribes, and the Shoshone Bannock Tribes Tribal Court.
By the end of the meeting, there was no Enterprise update, nor any Agri-Business update. There also was no commissioner’s update- from LUPC, water or the enrollment department. There were no motions brought forth. The meeting concluded at 4:34 p.m.
BOISE (AP) — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Thursday approved a limited hunting season for grizzly bears in eastern Idaho just a year after the animals were removed from the Endangered Species List.
Under the plan, the Department of Fish and Game will hold a random drawing to award one Idaho hunter a grizzly tag for a hunting season running from Sept. 1 to Nov. 15.
If successful, the hunter won't be allowed to reapply for future tags. Baiting or hound-hunting will not be allowed.
Grizzlies in the Yellowstone National Park region were on the Endangered Species Act list until 2017, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed federal protections.
That cleared the way for Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to allow limited hunting when the population has more than 600 bears. Last year's population estimate for the region was 718 bears.
Wyoming is also planning a limited trophy hunt this fall.
Wyoming's proposed hunt, which will be considered on May 23 by the state's Game and Fish Commission, would allow for 11 bears to be hunted — 10 males and one female — between Sept. 15 and Nov. 15.
However, under the proposal rules, the Wyoming hunt would be stopped when one female bear is taken even if no male bears have been killed.
Montana officials have decided not to hold a grizzly bear hunt this year.
Idaho officials are warning would-be hunters that the grizzly hunt could still be canceled because of a pending federal lawsuit.
The U.S. Department of the Interior is locked in a court battle with conservationists and American Indian tribes over the lifting of protections for a group of grizzlies in and around Yellowstone National Park.
Attorney Andrea Santarsiere, with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said Idaho bowed to the wishes of trophy hunters in approving a hunt.
“This is a sad day for the many state residents who value our native wildlife and the critical role it plays in keeping wild lands in balance,'' Santarsiere said in a prepared statement.
Santarsiere said her organization oppose any hunting of grizzly bears, saying it would threaten continued recovery of the bears.