Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Construction in Indian Country elects new executive board, advisory council

TEMPE, Ariz. – Every two-years, the Construction In Indian Country® (CIIC) executive board and advisory council elect its membership and renews its spirit and dedication to construction education for the benefit of American Indian and Indigenous communities. On July 12, Salt River Project’s (SRP) Executive Principal of Intergovernmental Relations, Bob Roessel was elected Executive Board President and will take the leadership role as the programs “eyes and ears in the field.”


Roessel is honored to continue his involvement with CIIC in a new capacity, pivoting from his role as board secretary. He and SRP have been founding members and have supported the organization for over 16 years. SRP continues to be long standing partners of CIIC and ASU in enhancing the quality of construction and advancing construction management education throughout Indian Country.

“I have been involved since its inception, in the early 2000’s,” explained Roessel. “At the time, I was part of SRP Management team that just completed a major construction retrofit project in Indian Country and was asked by SRP executive management to support the development and execution of ASU’s Construction in Indian Country program.”

Roessel says, “CIIC is going in an exciting direction, with new approaches to ensure indigenous communities have technical capabilities and personnel to manage construction activities at industry-best standards. Also, the program is extending community partnerships and recruitment efforts to sustain enrollment of American Indian students in construction management fields.”

“Tribes are contacting us for assistance in areas of construction management; our CIIC team at ASU and on the Council are working on strengthening the lines of communication as to how we can assist,” he explained. “We’re ratcheting up our student recruitment efforts by talking with Tribal Colleges and Universities, community colleges, and other construction tech programs regionally and nationally.”

“We’re open for developing consultative agreements with Tribes and we’re currently working with several Communities here in Arizona to promote the construction industry at the 6th- 12th grade levels,” he continued. “Our annual golf tournament has sold out for two years in a row, a phenomenal response from the industry to support our scholarship endowment fund. Of course, we’re focusing on hosting our annual CIIC national conference this November which always brings in top-notch national speakers and meaningful program content.”

Roessel is supported by the newly elected executive board, filled by Roger Smith, Salt River Materials Group as Vice President, Dave Castillo, Native Capital Access as Treasurer and Kari McCormick, Arrowhead Builders, Ronn Lansky, PENTA Building Group and Brianne Arviso, Arviso/Okland as Members-At-Large. Each member bringing unique backgrounds and experience to the program.

CIIC would like to recognize the former board president, Urban Giff who has also been with the program since its inception and served as president for the past 10 years. Giff was recognized with the Legacy Award at last year’s Achievement Awards Banquet for all his contributions to the program. He will continue his involvement and dedication to CIIC and ASU construction management students as a CIIC Legacy Member.


About CIIC

The role of the CIIC executive board and Industry Advisory Council is to relay information as industry advisors to the construction school and the tribal construction industry. The Mission of Construction in Indian Country is to support construction management education to benefit American Indian and Indigenous communities as they increase their capacities to manage their own affairs while determining their own destinies.

CIIC’s Vision is to ensure that all Indigenous communities shall receive the highest level of quality construction services. CIIC promotes quality construction and construction management to industry-best standards while acknowledging and honoring tribal specific construction practices and cultures. For further information, contact Marcus Denetdale, Program Manager, Construction in Indian Country, ASU.

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive





Rear Adm. Kevin Meeks spoke about his 32 years of service to the U.S Public Health Service Commissioned Corps at a special ceremony at the Chickasaw Nation Community Center in Oklahoma City, June 27


OKLAHOMA CITY – Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby praised Rear Adm. Kevin Meeks, Chickasaw, for 32 years of service to Native Americans through the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps, which administers Indian Health Service.

Meeks formally retired in a special ceremony June 27 at the Chickasaw Community Center with full honors witnessed by a contingent of colleagues, peers, friends and family.

“Your retirement is bittersweet for us. You’ve been so good to Indian Country and the Chickasaw Nation. You will be very, very difficult to replace. We appreciate your intelligence and the passion you have for the people you serve,” Governor Anoatubby said.

“You are a great example of servant leadership,” Governor Anoatubby said, citing one of the Chickasaw Nation’s core values that include 11 guiding principles of professional behavior for tribal leaders and employees.

Governor Anoatubby pointed out Meeks was a critical player in providing quality health care to 2.2 million Native Americans and represented tribes in self-governance negotiations. He was praised for providing Native Americans leadership and sage advice in a career where he served in many states and worked with countless tribes.

He was awarded the PHS Commissioned Corps’ Distinguished Service Medal during the ceremony.

Meeks, reared in Byng, earned degrees from East Central University in Ada and the University of Oklahoma where he graduated with a master’s degree of public health.

He began his career in 1987 as a service unit sanitarian at the Lower Brule/Crow Creek reservations in South Dakota. He ended his career as deputy director of field operations for Indian Health Service, the principle federal entity advocating and providing health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives. Meeks served from 2009-2017 as Oklahoma City area director, overseeing health care to the “largest and most diverse service population” managed by the Indian Health Service.

In addition to Governor Anoatubby, Rear Adm. Silvia Trent-Adams, principal deputy assistant secretary for health, and Rear Adm. Michael Weahkee, principal deputy director of Indian Health Service, lauded Meeks’ years of service.

Both told Meeks’ wife, Janice, to expect phone calls when the breadth of experience and knowledge possessed by her husband was required in the future – even though he is retired. Janice Meeks smiled broadly and nodded acceptance of the inevitable.

About PHS Commissioned Corps

As one of the United States’ seven uniformed services, the PHS Commissioned Corps fills public health leadership and service roles within federal government agencies and programs. The PHS Commissioned Corps includes officers drawn from many professions, including environmental and occupational health, medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, psychology, social work, hospital administration, health record administration, nutrition, engineering, science, veterinary, health information technology and other health-related occupations.

Officers of the corps wear uniforms similar to those of the United States Navy with special PHSCC insignia, and the corps uses the same commissioned officer ranks as the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association Commissioned Officer Corps from ensign to admiral. Since June 1960, PHSCC has been considered military service for retirement purposes.

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive


OKLAHOMA CITY (July 12, 2019)– The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes (ITC)  provided a unified, formal and firm response to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s recent repudiation of the Oklahoma Model Tribal Gaming Compact through a joint resolution signed by the leaders of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole Nations.  The Tribal leaders unanimously agreed and adopted the resolution at the Inter-Tribal Council meeting today at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Okla. 

The ITC is an organization that unites the tribal governments of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), and Seminole Nations.   

Leaders of all five nations, which collectively represent more than 750,000 Native people, jointly signed the resolution outlining a clear and strong response to Governor Stitt’s letter dated July 5, 2019, proposing the Tribes negotiate a new Class III gaming compact.

Tribal leaders expressed their disappointment in the action by Gov. Stitt to take a matter of such great importance to the media before engaging in respectful and purposeful conversations given the complexity of the compacts and the law.  The ITC memorialized through the joint resolution their collective intent to reject the state’s attempt to unlawfully and unilaterally terminate the compact.

The gaming industry has become a significant driver of Oklahoma’s economy, employing over 55,000 Oklahomans, primarily in rural areas, and paying more than $1.5 billion in exclusivity fees over the past 15 years, mostly for public education. In response to the exclusive fee arrangement outlined in the compacts, Tribes have invested hundreds of millions of those dollars into education, roads, health care, public safety, and tourism to support the betterment of our state for the benefit of all residents.  The tribes’ investments have allowed the state to channel tax revenue to other high priority needs.

During Friday’s general session of the ITC, the tribal leaders detailed the extensive legal history and complexity surrounding gaming compacts and highlighted the current compact, which was approved by Oklahoma voters on November 4, 2004, and approved by the U.S. Secretary of Interior.  

The tribes also detailed their concerns that Gov. Stitt made no proposal of any terms, nor presented a framework, for any renegotiation. That noted, the ITC pledged their support for the continuation of the exclusive fee structure and amounts outlined in the current compact. They underscored their confidence in the legal reality that the compact does not expire, but in fact renews on January 1, 2020.

Joint Statement from the Five Tribal Leaders: 

“We have considered the state of Oklahoma a trustworthy partner through the years. Working together we have made strides in building a better, stronger and more prosperous Oklahoma for the benefit of the hundreds of thousands of members of our Tribes who live and work here as well as all residents of this great State.  We can trace the starting point of our constructive partnership to the carefully crafted and balanced approach represented in the current compact negotiated in a respectful manner between the State of Oklahoma and the sovereign Tribes residing in Oklahoma. This compact represents a continuing and mutually beneficial partnership. The recent action of Governor Stitt puts into question his sincerity to work with us in a cooperative manner moving ahead.  We are resolute in our position, and it is our hope Governor Stitt and his advisors will not attempt any bad faith interference on the compact which could set back the progress we have achieved by working together.”

Bill John Baker, Principal Chief, The Cherokee Nation

Bill Anoatubby, Governor, The Chickasaw Nation

Gary Batton, Chief, The Choctaw Nation

James R. Floyd, Principal Chief, The Muscogee (Creek) Nation

Greg P. Chilcoat, Chief, The Seminole Nation

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

December 12, 2018 - The House of Representatives today passed a Farm Bill compromise by a vote of 369-47 following passage yesterday in the Senate by a vote of 87-13. There was an historic level of lobbying on this bill from Indian Country and it shows in the final legislation.

What follows is a brief, title-by-title, summary of some of the key provisions in the bill for Indian Country that APS prepared for some of its tribal clients.

Title I.            Commodities

Adds Indian Tribes and tribal organizations as an eligible producer for assistance for coverage under the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) for the death of unweaned livestock due to adverse weather, makes available funding through ELAP for inspections of cattle tick fever and increases the cost share available under the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) to 75 percent for beginning farmers, ranchers and veterans.

Title II.           Conservation

Deletes subsections (a) and (f) of the 1985 Farm Bill, providing an authority for the review and guidance for practice costs and payment rates, amending the authority for alternative funding arrangements for Indian Tribes.

Title III.          Trade

Section 18 of the Trade Title directs the Secretary of Agriculture to support greater inclusion of Tribal agricultural and food products in trade-related activities.

Title IV.          Nutrition

The bill reauthorizes the Traditional and Locally-Grown Food Fund in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), adding the concept of regionally grown food, eliminating the requirement to conduct a survey of traditional foods, and authorizing funds made available to carry out FDPIR for two fiscal years. There is authorized an 80 percent floor for the Federal share of administrative costs and authorization for funds made to carry out FDPIR for States and Tribes for two fiscal years. The bill also establishes a demonstration project for one or more tribal organizations to enter into a self-determination contract to purchase agricultural commodities for FDPIR. The intent is for tribal organizations to have an increased role in procuring and distributing more locally, regionally and tribal produced foods under FDPIR.

The bill recognizes that access to healthy food may require a variety of retail settings in some areas, particularly rural areas and Tribal communities. To encompass a broader variety of Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) projects that will increase the supply of and demand for healthy foods in underserved communities, the bill expands eligible projects to include healthy food enterprises. These enterprises could include food hubs, mobile markets, direct to consumer markets, or food business incubators. 

Provide authority to the Secretary to allow a tribal agency to use certain types of federal funds for non-federal program matches.

The bill establishes a study to look at the impact of fraudulent foods that mimic traditional foods or Tribal seeds that are available in the commercial marketplace.

Title V.             Credit

Requires GAO (Government Accountability Office) to study the agricultural credit needs of farms and ranches owned or operated by Indian tribes or tribal members, and whether the Farm Credit System has the authority and resources to meet such needs.

Title VI.          Rural Development

Reauthorizes the Tribal College and University Essential Community Facilities Program through FY 2023.

Establish a technical assistance program to improve access by Tribal entities to rural development programs.

Title VII.         Research

Establish a “New Beginnings Initiative” in consultation with the Office of Tribal Relations. These funds to land-grant colleges or universities are to provide Indians educational programs and services or tuition at such colleges. These grants are targeted toward Tribal students.

Reauthorizes endowment funding, capacity-building grants, and research grants for the 36 tribal colleges for FY 2019 through FY 2023.

Includes Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program grants through Smith-Lever Community Extension Program.

Allows Indian Tribes eligible for grants through the Farm and Stress Assistance Network.

Title VIII.       Forestry

Gives authority to Indian Tribes to request to conduct forest management activities on Federal lands where they have a tribal interest by authorizing a demonstration project by which Indian Tribes may contract to perform certain functions and programs.

The bill authorizes counties and Indian Tribes to enter into good neighbor agreements.

Authorizes new enrollment consideration of acreage owned by Indian Tribes for the Healthy Forests Reserve Program.

Title X.            Horticulture

Secretary is authorized to provide technical assistance to Indian Tribes in the development of a tribal plan related to hemp production.

Title XI.          Crop Insurance

Provides premium subsidy at the rate of 90 percent for a member of an Indian tribe for the first purchase of Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage insurance.

Title XII.         Miscellaneous

Establishes USDA Tribal Advisory Committee to advise the Secretary on tribal agricultural topics and annually report recommendations to the Secretary.

Codifies the Tribal Promise Zones program and provides for the continuation of currently existing Tribal Promise Zones to leverage public-private investment.

Aronnax Public Strategies has committed to providing Native Oklahoma with regular updates from inside the halls of Congress on issues affecting Indian Country.  If you would like more in-depth information on any of these issues, or anything else relevant to Indian Country, please contact us.

 Fred Starzyk is founder and principal at Aronnax Public Strategies (APS), a Washington, D.C. based government affairs firm specializing in Native American affairs.  APS offers federal lobbying, grant writing, legislative monitoring, and business development services for Tribal clients across the country.  APS has strategic partnerships with state and local lobbyists in more than 25 states, giving their clients access to a full suite of government affairs services.  Find out more at


About Us

Native Oklahoma is a monthly publication featuring the art, people, culture and events of Oklahoma's intertribal community.

Native Oklahoma is available for free at tribal and Oklahoma welcome centers; hotels; travel plazas and online at

Content © Native Oklahoma Magazine.

Contact Us

+1 918 409 7252


PO BOX 1151
JENKS, OK 74037