We had a question earlier this week about who makes the budget decisions at Cherokee Nation Businesses. We’ll keep it short so your eyes don’t glaze over.
The truth is out there, if we just know where to look for it. In this case, we look on the Cherokee Nation’s online resource for legislation and find that the tribe’s corporation act appears to have first passed in 1996.
It’s been amended a few times since then, the most notable being in 2005, when CNB was established to basically own and manage the other companies (mainly just CNE and CNI at that time), and in 2010 when they combined all the boards of directors to form one company.
Smith signed the amendments in 2005 and 2010, and Baker voted for them, so there should be no controversy there. Baker also voted for the 1996 act when he was on the council.
Those acts designate the corporations and their board of directors to make the policy decisions for the businesses. The board of directors are proposed by the Chief and confirmed by the council. So the elected officials don’t make the decisions on the businesses, but they are able to hold them accountable.
After the debate where Smith talked about the smart guys from Harvard saying that, basically, the Cherokee Nation has done it the right way by keeping politics out of business, we looked to find out if the smart guys from Harvard actually said that. It took a few minutes of googling, but it turns out, yes they do (skip the boring stuff and go to page 12).
Turns out that research confirms what your eyes can probably tell you: tribes with a stable government and no politics in their business probably do better than the other way around. Chickasaws and Choctaws, for instance, are doing really well and don’t play politics with their businesses. And they’ve had the same Chief longer than the Cherokees.