Officers named for the next term of the Inter-Tribal Council of Northeastern Oklahoma.

MIAMI – The Inter-Tribal Council (ITC) of Northeastern Oklahoma has named new officers for the next term.

Peoria Tribe of Oklahoma Chief John Froman will now serve as Chairman of the Council, succeeding Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma Chief Ron Sparkman who previously held the seat.

“Chief Sparkman does not want to be president again. I think he's announced he's going to retire and do some traveling," Froman said prior to the vote.

Sparkman was absent from the meeting due to illness, according to Froman.

Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma Chief Ethel Cook was elected Vice Chair of ITC replacing Froman in the seat.

Eastern Shawnee Tribe Chief Glenna Wallace was elected Secretary in this election.

In other council business, Native American Affairs Brian Hendricks announced and Eastern Shawnee Chief Glenna Wallace confirmed the Annual Indian Child Welfare Association Conference will be held at Indigo Sky 's business conference facilities this year.

“I think that 's a great venue and I'm looking forward to it, and hopefully it will bring in some of those workers from surrounding states, “ Hendricks said.

Attorneys Mark Crawford of San Franciso, California and Kala Spigarelli of The Spigarelli Law Firm Pittsburg, Kansas gave a presentation and gave information about efforts to recoup losses from large pharmaceuticals incurred from the opioid crisis impacting tribes and others.

“One of the most effective ways to stop this is hit their pocketbook,” Spigarelli said.

The attorneys said they were reaching out to cities, counties, states and the “goal is to get tribes a seat at the table,” and through lawsuits recover damages and create an abatement fund much like previous tobacco litigation.

The plan is to bring action against the five main manufacturers and three main distributors, according to Crawford.

Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Paul Yates gave a brief report including proposed CDIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood) policy changes.

“We have unique needs and I think it's difficult for the rest of the nation to understand that,” Yates said.

A presentation was made on the availability of a possible Tribal Health Plan for tribal employees and members by Shimento Insurance by Joanna Covey and Sue Shimento.

Shimento told the tribal leaders her company's goal is to provide tribal members with the highest level of health care.

“It's something we feel is beneficial and our heart is to serve,” Covey said.

Shimento explained the offered plan includes services for tribal burial benefits for tribal members.

NEO A&M College's American Indian Center for Excellence (AICE) Director Hannah Berryman reported on the success of the recent NEO Tribal Scholarship Fair, new Honor's courses offered at NEO on Native American studies, and information regarding scholarship opportunity at the University of Illinois for five students.

“We had about 50 parents and students showed up that stayed from about 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. learning about tribal scholarships,” Berryman said.

Pelivan Director Kendra McGeady invited members to the Annual Tribal Luncheon on Mar. 22 and thanked the tribal leaders for grant support.

Curtis Lawrence gave a report on the Seneca Cayuga Tribe's efforts to lease the old Indian Health System to the Mercy Health System. The lease requires the consent by resolution of six tribes.

“We're still short a couple of resolutions,” Lawrence said, and warned the window for this opportunity is closing soon.

The next meeting of the ITC is set for 9 a.m. on Mar. 21.

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.