ANADARKO, OK — The fiscal year 2022 Annual General Council meeting was held at the Grady County Fairgrounds’ North exhibit building in Chickasha, Oklahoma. Despite the Omicron variant case spike in the area, tribal citizens still gathered to conduct business, but the number of citizens in attendance was lower than usual. The meeting was called to order by Vice President Michael McLane at 10:12 AM (CST), followed by a prayer spoken by Committee Member Terry Williams. Vice President McLane welcomed the attendees and began the meeting with the Princess Coronation, conducted by the Delaware Nation Cultural Preservation Department Director Sonnie Allen and Events Coordinator Evelyn Kionute. Sonnie introduced herself and thanked Lori and her family for her incredible work in representing the Delaware Nation! Lori’s father, Leonard Kionute, then approached the podium to express his thoughts and thanks to everyone that made the princess program a success during Lori’s reign. Evelyn Kionute announced that the Princess and her supporters had gifts for the Executive Committee to show support from the Kionute family. Lori distributed gifts to each member of the EC and returned to the podium area where Evelyn Kionute called the new Princess candidate, Serenitee McCasland, and her mother to join her. Lori gave Serenitee a gift to show her support for the Delaware Nation Princess. Lori then handed her crown to Serenitee by placing it over her head in witness to the General Council, giving the proper coronation ceremony. Sonnie Allen then announced the 2023 Delaware Nation Princess and the crowd applauded. Serenitee is the daughter of Jackie (Jaclyn) and Eric McCasland, Granddaughter of Denise and Mike Voyles, Great Granddaughter of Barbara and Wayne Nixon, Great Great Granddaughter of Louise Snake Yeahquo and Gerald Yeahquo, Great Great Great Granddaughter of Bessie Hunter Snake and Willie Snake, Great Great Great Great Granddaughter of Dunk-she, also known as Tennessee Thomas. In her new crown, she spoke Lenape very well, thanking the General Council, welcoming, and introducing herself. Sonnie concluded the ceremony and wished Serenitee good luck on her journey.
Vice President McLane called for a round of applause from the Cultural Preservation Department, then moved on to the special recognition where Committee Member Terry Williams honored Frank Keechi’s military service and contributions to Tribal affairs. Mr. Keechi could not attend the meeting, so his son, Matt Keechi, received an honorable plaque on his behalf by Terry Williams. Frank’s message of thanks was shared through his son through words of courage, honor, and individual freedoms we have as a small Nation.

Next, the citizenship Committee Secretary, Trinity Guido, approached the podium and introduced herself. She explained her role and introduced the applicants for citizenship. She then asked General Council if anyone had questions about each citizen applicant then voting was conducted for each one. Vice President Michael McLane assisted Trinity in counting the votes. Each citizen was approved by vote and the motions were passed. Trinity concluded the citizenship applications and thanked the General Council.

After Trinity left the podium, a memorial video began to honor the Delaware Nation loved ones that passed away in the previous year. This was a moment to recognize the life of these loved ones as a recording of ‘Amazing Grace’ in Lenape was playing. Vice President Michael McLane concluded the memorial by adding that those citizens lost are “far from forgotten.”

The Vice President then introduced Delaware Nation’s Comptroller, Kyle Dover, to provide financial information for the fiscal year. Kyle introduced himself and then jumped immediately into the positive financial audit results. Kyle discussed the increases in funds and revenues compared to the last fiscal year and how they were spent. He provided the CARES Act and ARPA funding financials and provided how they were spent. He also broke down the RAP Allocation /RAED Allocation and how they were spent, as well as, where we are at today financially. Overall, the numbers are up, the revenue is coming in and the dollars are still going out to the Tribal citizens.

Kyle thanked the General Council and left the podium. Vice President Michael McLane announced the approval of November 20, 2021, Special General Council Meeting minutes, read by Secretary Ann Brower. Meeting minutes were approved by vote 36-0-0 without any corrections needing to be made by the General Council.

Vice President McLane then introduced Public Comments and started by explaining the elder’s medical care cards for 60 and older tribal citizens. An elder complimented for how grateful she was for the elder care and was overwhelmed by the amount of assistance she will be receiving. She was very thankful for the assistance and Mr. McLane expressed his gratitude for this program. Another citizen asked what it would take to get the age lowered to 55 and the Vice President explained how federally funded programs are required to be at the ages they specify another citizen responded by questioning why lowering the age is a good idea if it will result in lowering the amount the elders. The next comment made was in regards to when the Constitution Committee would meet and an elder requested that transparency be provided in regards to when the Constitution Committee meets, who they are and how they are elected. The Lenape Entertainment board was also mentioned and citizens requested that the Executive Committee provided better communication to the Tribal citizens via the website, social media, and newspaper. A comment from another citizen was made that they heard the President was making her term indefinite and Vice President Michael McLane responded that there has not been anything brought to the Executive Committee. The same citizen then proceeded to express how she felt about the leadership, her experiences on the Citizenship Committee and how she wants to see more support towards the committees and to treat the people right. Another citizen asked why multiple board positions are being occupied by the same individuals for long periods and then questioned term limits. She expressed how this was “double-dipping” and that more citizens should have the opportunity to serve on boards. Vice President Michael McLane responded that there is a lack of active participation when there are open positions on boards. The citizen responded that she has submitted applications for board positions and was never reviewed. An elder jumped in and asked how come new board applicants are getting heard and why the same members are in their positions for multiple boards. She then expressed the young talent coming up and that something should be done with the current leadership. Another citizen reiterated that communication is lacking and they would like to see more postcards, flyers, or something to help boost transparency. An online attendee commented that there need to be more programs outside the Anadarko service areas. Mr. McLane responded that the services provided may have grant requirements that are restricted to that particular service area. Another citizen brought back the topic of board members and lack of transparency with the Casino employees. She claimed that the board members are having a hard time becoming aware and relevant to staff and how that was an issue. Another citizen reiterated that board applicants need to all be considered, rather than favorites being selected or even fear of jobs being lost due to that individual’s consideration status. One of the LE Board members responded that they appreciate the patrons and employees and that she is fully aware of how important it is to not feel like their job is in danger and that they are important to the success of the Casinos. Another citizen pointed out that the board members need to shake hands and get to know the patrons and employees. She then asked that they please be respectful towards the staff and to “not throw their weight around.” A citizen jumped in and reiterated the fact that having competent individuals sitting on the boards is important and if there is a lack of knowledge, training should be provided to the board member. The next comment made was on a good note on how she would like to see the tribe go back to square one with the tribal leaders to be more involved with the cultural aspects of Delaware Nation. She also requested that the tribal leaders designate members to oversee these endeavors. “We got to get back to what we’re supposed to do, as a Nation” she ended. An online attendee requested a reason why the RAED Plan was approved without much discussion before being voted on. McLane responded that there were several meetings discussing the RAED plan and that communication and visual ads will improve. Another question from a citizen was asked in regards to out-of-date housing perimeters and a response was provided to continue to fight against someone purchasing tribal housing with grants and letting the house be deteriorated by non-tribal, irresponsible tenants. On another note, the citizen mentioned being on tribal WCD lands and being harassed by BIA, due to issues with outsiders trespassing and committing crimes on WCD lands. Michael McLane apologized for the situation and explained that BIA is tightening up security on who is trespassing on tribal lands then offered possible solutions to present to the other tribes on limiting who can come in and out of WCD lands so citizens can enjoy it in peace. A citizen asked if the General Council can vote on the floor and then made a motion to set term limits on each Executive Committee position that failed and another citizen requested a motion on the floor to limit to one committee per member. Motion failed to discontinue individuals from serving in multiple committees after discussion. A question from another citizen mentioned that if a person is doing a good job and in good faith to the tribe should remain in their position. Another citizen added that committee applications be submitted in person at the Tribal complex, rather than being submitted via email. Providing training and looking at experience were added by other another citizen to remain resilient as a tribe. A previous citizen finished by expressing her concerns about the Executive Committee working to provide Tribal stomping grounds to host outdoor pow-wows, dances, and events, outside of the Cultural Preservation building. She felt that the cultural traditions should take precedence over the current matters of today and that even the committees should become more culturally involved.

Public Comments were concluded and Vice President Michael McLane thanked all who attended and then provided a motion to adjourn the meeting at 12:10 PM (CST). Attendees were provided a tasty Taco Bar provided by Ted’s Escondido, blessed by Tribal citizen Leonard Kionute. Elders were served first by newly crowned Princess Serenitee McCasland and Previous Princess Lori Kionute.

Attendees received the chance to win a raffle prize and free play at the Casinos as they ate their taco dinners and visited each other. Despite the numbers being down in attendance, a great discussion took place and the fellowship was sweet. Many thanks to the hard-working staff that made this possible, the Executive Committee for their continued leadership, and the staff at Ted’s for the outstanding catering experience. Wanishi Lenapeok!

– By Wesley Boone Public Relations 7/9/2022 | Photos by Wesley Boone