GTC zips through agenda at semi-annual meeting
By Dawn Walschinski - Kalihwisaks
The General Tribal Council (GTC) rejected two referendum
questions and a petition at the Monday, July 1 Semi-Annual GTC Meeting held at
the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center. 1932 Oneida citizens attended the
A referendum question and petition were both about term
limits for boards, committees and commissions and were presented together. The
first referendum question from the 2012 election read “Should there be term
limits for all board, committee and commission positions including the Business
Committee?” The question was
disregarded by GTC and accepted as For Your Information (FYI) because adding
limits to the Oneida Business Committee (OBC) candidates would take an
amendment to the Oneida Constitution.
The petition, presented by Linda Dallas, read “Direct that
all elected and appointed positions for all Oneida Boards, Committees and
Commissions, excluding the Oneida Business Committee, shall be for a four (4)
year term, with a term limit of two terms (totaling eight years), a two (2)
year waiting period before running for the same board, committee or commission,
and shall be effective for the elections of 2013 and all future elections.” The
motion was later amended to the 2014 elections and excluded the Oneida Nation
Commission on Aging (ONCOA) and the Oneida Nation Arts Board as both programs
receive state funds.
“People are in those positions for a very, very long time, and elected and appointed position are
not intended to be careers,” said Dallas in her presentation.
However, GTC member Elijah Hill stated he disagreed with the
petition during discussion.
“People have the right to vote for
whoever they want in a position,” said Hill. “If you’re in a position already,
you’ve gained all that experience and then to me it seem it’s almost got to
work backwards to put someone new in.”
The motion to accept the term limits would have needed a two
thirds majority to pass, but OBC Chairman Ed Delgado stated it was clear during
the hand vote that the petition didn’t have enough support, and the motion
The second referendum read “Should school board members have
educational backgrounds?” Councilman Brandon Stevens told the GTC members that
they would have to define “educational background.” Stevens also noted that
other area school boards had no such requirement, and it is currently difficult
to attract people who want to serve on the school board. Currently the only
requirements are that the nine member board all be Oneida citizens and that at
least seven members are parents or guardians of a student in the Oneida Nation
GTC member Linda Powless argued against the referendum
“The whole point of parental involvement was to get control
of our education so that we could support the cultural knowledge that we hold
within our communities,” said Powless.
The GTC denied the referendum.
Earlier in the meeting, the GTC approved minutes for the
July 2, 2012 semi-annual, the September 17, 2012 FY2013 Budget, and the
November 19, 2012 special meetings.
Treasurer Tina Danforth gave her semi-annual report. She
explained that the tribe was working on paying down debt and had created set
asides to do so.
The GTC accepted the Treasurer’s Report, however, the body
tabled a request to accept the 2013 Semi-Annual Report when some members of the
GTC complained that they hadn’t received the packet and didn’t know what they
Secretary Patty Hoeft explained that Oneida citizens needed
to return their postcard to receive the annual and semi-annual reports in the
mail, and that the material was available online at the members’ only website (https://oneida-nsn.gov/MembersOnly.aspx).
GTC member Diane McLester-Heim admonished the other
attendees to be prepared for meetings.
“Take responsibility and seek out the information?” she
Councilman David Jordan gave a report on plans to implement
a new parent communications and grievance process for the Oneida Childcare
Department. He stated that the policy was moving forward and they are creating
a parent-teacher association. The report was accepted by the GTC.
Councilwoman Melinda Danforth gave status report on
conducting a US Department of Interior Secretary election to vote on changes to
the Tribe’s constitution.
“We think we’re close, but we’ve been close for a long
time,” said Councilwoman Danforth.
She pointed out that voting might be limited to people who
live on the reservation, and that she was working to fight that limitation.
The five proposed changes to the constitution would be to
change Oneida’s official name from “Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin to
“Oneida Nation, lower the voting age from 21 to 18, remove language referring
to the Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary of Interior, include a
judiciary, and remove the first Monday of January and July requirement for the
Annual and Semi-Annual GTC meetings. The report was accepted by the GTC.
Councilwoman Danforth also gave an update on the Judiciary
Act, stating that elections would be held in the July, 2014 election and the
court would be in place in November 14 of 2014.
“We are on schedule,’ she said.
accepted the update and passed a GTC resolution that would allow language in
existing laws to be changed from referring to the Oneida Appeals Commission or
the Oneida Tribal Judicial System and replace with terms consistent with the
Judiciary Law. The resolution passed with the required two- third majority.