Cherokee Nation

Next week, people will head to the ballot box to vote on whether Oklahoma will expand Medicaid through State Question 802. Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton with Oklahoma Engaged explores the impact expanding Medicaid could have on tribes.

Cherokee Nation

Two Confederate monuments have been removed from the Cherokee Nation Capitol Square in Tahlequah.

The first was a fountain memorializing Confederate soldiers and General Stand Watie was dedicated in 1913 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. A second monument also honored Watie and was also dedicated by the UDC in 1921.

The monuments were placed in the square when the property was a county courthouse and owned by the State of Oklahoma. They were not placed by the Cherokee Nation, which reclaimed ownership  of the square in 1979.

Governor Kevin Stitt and nine Oklahoma gaming tribes filed paperwork last Friday telling a federal judge why he should rule in their favor in the dispute over gaming compacts in the state.

It hinges on one statement, "this compact shall have a term which will expire on January 1, 2020," as well as "the compact shall automatically renew for successive additional fifteen-year terms."

Cherokee Nation Businesses has announced their plan to reopen some businesses under their new "responsible hospitality" plan.

The plan includes guidelines for the nation's casinos, golf courses, restaurants and live entertainment. Guests and employees will be required to wear masks and undergo a quote "noninvasive" temperature check. There will be fewer hours and a plan to allow for physical distancing.

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Starting at 10 a.m. on Friday, Osage Casino Hotel in Tulsa will start a limited reopening.

Only the gaming floor will be open, table games will not be available, food won't be served and bar service will be limited. The hotel and pool will remain closed.

Capacity will be limited to 25% and groups will be restricted to 10 or fewer people. The casino is also encouraging visitors to wear a mask and gloves.

Osage Casinos in Bartlesville, Hominy, Pawhuska, Sand Springs and Skiatook will also open. Osage Casino in Ponca City reopened last week.

Tribes all over the nation will start receiving more than half of the $8 billion dollars in relief funds under the CARES Act. That's according to a statement from the U.S. Treasury Department.

This comes eight days after a federal judge issued a temporary injunction saying that Alaska Native Corporations weren't eligible to receive money from the CARES Act.

The Cherokee Nation has joined five other tribes from California, Arizona, Wyoming and Washington in a lawsuit against the federal government, saying they have yet to receive their federal COVID 19 relief funds.

President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act on March 27, which required the treasury department to send the money no later than thirty days after the signing.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the federal government owes tribes $8 billion in CARES Act funds.

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Updated at 4:34 p.m.

Four of the largest tribes in Oklahoma — the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and the Muscogee Creek Nations — will keep their casinos closed through May 15, saying they are prioritizing their employees and the public's health over the pressure to reopen.

On Monday, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction preventing Alaska Native Corporations from receiving money allocated to tribes under the CARES Act.

Tribes, including the Cherokee Nation, argued it was unfair that relief funds were slated to go to for-profit organizations. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. says he's pleased with the ruling.

The Cherokee Nation is donating thousands of KN95 masks to first responders and emergency personnel in northeastern Oklahoma and to the Navajo Nation.

More than 2,500 KN95 masks are headed to firefighters, police officers and other emergency personnel across the tribe's 14 counties. Many first responders in the area say it's been difficult to obtain personal protective equipment for staff.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the tribe's own supply of PPE's was in pretty good shape and they wanted to help.