Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe December 8th Monthly Meeting Notes

 


By Mahlon Smoke

December 8th will be the last monthly meeting that will be held in the old administration building before the move into the new administration building. As such, there was corn soup and fry bread served in honor of this.

Previous Action Items

• Discussion on cigarette allocation: as of right now current reports show that New York State will not release the allocation until a decision has been made.

• Tribal Council will back a candidate to run for a seat in the Town of Bombay. Communication department is working with the Franklin County Board of Elections to share information on candidate eligibility requirements and voter information.

• Information on how to improve the overflow at the recycle bins located at the old Mohawk Bingo Palace parking lot. (All information provided by Environment Department.)

- There are three pick-ups a week, sometimes four.

- The area is monitored daily. If there is a need for an additional pickup, it is done that day.

- There is a camera on-site. Any incidents are reported to Compliance along with photos.

- For the upcoming holiday season there will be special collections along with public announcements that may include food waste collection and manned paper collection at the depot to accommodate the overflows.

- Fencing may be discussed in the future as a means of exclusion and as a means of preventing materials from being scattered by weather conditions.

- Signage can be improved and can coincide with public service announcements and with the special manned holiday collection event.

- Abuse with trash and non-recyclables is low, but there are instances where people put stuff alongside the bins. This results in people believing that the bins are full when they are not.

- The SRMT Solid Waste Program will have special holiday collections on December 26 and January 2 to assist community members and provide direct assistance at the depot with recycle collection and food waste collection. Household waste will not be accepted as this is the responsibility of each community member either using the transfer station, the blue-bag program or a tribal permitted waste hauler. More details will be released soon.

- Transfer staff will continue to monitor the recycling bins and make adjustments as needed.

Presentation on Generations Park by Mary Terrance

• Called it a successful year.

• Completed all construction on bathrooms, roads, park and new Tribal Administration building.

• More sidewalks, ramps, making it more inclusive for handicap and individuals with disabilities.

• Big focus on safety such as more entrances and exits away from the employee area.

• An overview of playground and park renovations: adding environmentally friendly mulch from recycled materials and an initiative to give more control of the park (volunteering, clean up, events, etc.) to the community.

• More signs will be placed throughout the park for children and community safety.

• Helped fund PSA for Travis Solomon Box and placing PSAs alongside ads within the box. Funds from these ads will go back to the park.

• Counted this year as a good year for volunteers, mostly lacrosse teams who helped clean the box, sidewalks, painting the bridge, and more.

• Given a tree grant, with the help of the Environment Division and NYS, to plant 1,200 new trees at the park that will increase bio-diversity.

• Events: 61 applications received, 350 total events held at the park this year, 15 new group events held at the park including the Miss You Remembrance Walk, Winter Classic and Thompson Brothers Lacrosse Camp. (The park was closed for six weeks due to renovations, nine events were canceled or relocated due to renovations.)

Presentation on School Attendance by Stephanie Cook

• Showed a Top 10 Facts about School Attendance and how it improves student performance.

• Some of the facts include:

- By 6th grade, chronic absence is an indication that a student will drop out of high school.

- High levels of poverty are 4 times more likely to be chronically absent for reasons beyond their control (unstable housing, unreliable transportation, lack of access to health care.)

(Information courtesy of Local Schools on Student Attendance.)

• Salmon River: attendance this school year is at 95.36% but there is still an absence rate at 4.43% and they wish to bring it down even further.

• Massena High School: calculated that there are around 48 students from Akwesasne that are chronically absent.

• Suggested solutions and how everyone can help:

- Recognize good and improved attendance.

- Engage students and parents in reasons why school attendance is important.

- Monitor attendance data closely.

- Provide personalized early outreach for younger students (who are more likely to miss school than older children).

- Develop programs to help children in need so they can get help and attend school.

- Attendance is set as a priority goal across local school districts and they are having flyers sent to family homes periodically.

- Contact the school when challenges arise that prevent children from going to school.

- Working on PSA for Akwesasne TV in 2019

- Partnership with Social Services for children who are chronically absent.

• Another reason to focus on good attendance is because NYS might be clamping down on education budgets if attendance continues to go down. Schools require these funding aids for supplies and a better learning experience for children.

Tribal Heating Assistance Program

• While eligibility requirements have been the same since 2015, as of 2019 the heating assistance program will eliminate the fall application and only have Winter Assistance due to budgetary issues. Part of the changes that will be implemented within the next few years will assist elders first and foremost.

• A few changes to eligibility requirements are that “Eligible tribal members 68 years of age and up are eligible to receive up to $1000 dollars for the winter season” and “Eligible tribal members less than 68 years of age will be eligible to receive up to $800 dollars for the winter season only”

• These changes are a result of young adult participation and an increase in people who are 60+. These two ages have doubled in the last few years and will continue to increase in the next five years. As such, the budget is being spread thin. Thus, the new age requirement as well as the application must be filled out by the applicant and house owner themselves; it must not be filled out on behalf of said applicant.

Updates on New Administration Building

• Construction will be done by the end of the month, as stated in the construction contract.

• The move in will begin the week of December 17th, and by the end of the month the old building will be completely closed, and the new building opened for business.

• The final inspection will be done on December 13th.

• There will be a full community grand opening in the spring once winter has broken.

Surplus Tribal Assets Disposal Priorities

1. Tribal Government Programs

2. Tribal Components

3. Non-Profit Community Groups

4. Individual Community members

- All extra furniture will be kept at the old bingo palace. The process for taking any leftover desks, chairs or any other furniture that is not taken to the new building has not been decided but will be discussed at a later date.

New Business

• Looking for new revenue; might include selling water outside the reservation.

• How to fix the food bank system due to complaints.

• Concerns about children and food at the schools.

• Allegations of students being punished for speaking Mohawk at school.

The next monthly meeting will be held on January 5, 2019 with Chief Thompson as Chairperson at the new administration building.

 

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