TAHLEQUAH — Cherokee veterans will soon not pay sales tax on items purchased from Cherokee Nation-owned businesses.
The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council approved the Sales Tax Exemption Act of 2012 earlier this week. The act now exempts all Cherokee veterans from paying tribal sales tax on purchases at casino gift shops, restaurants and other businesses.
“The passage of this act couldn’t have come at a better time, just days after commemorating Veterans Day,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said in a media release. “This is our way to recognize and thank all the veterans who have sacrificed to protect our families and our freedom. It is our hope that this act will help save veterans a few dollars here and there during these challenging economic times.”
The act applies to any honorably discharged veteran who served in any branch of the armed services. The act will take effect later next year.
In other business, the council unanimously approved an equitable distribution for all higher education scholarships starting in 2013. The change means qualifying Cherokees attending tribal colleges or any of the five military academies can receive $2,000 per semester, the same amount that is awarded to students attending traditional colleges. Previously, Haskell Indian Nations University students received a maximum $500 per semester from the Cherokee Nation. Students attending West Point, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy were entirely excluded from Cherokee Nation educational policies.
“This is another piece of legislation that closes a small loophole where some students were treated somewhat less fairly than other students. This will put everyone on equal ground for scholarships,” said Speaker Tina Glory-Jordan.
The council also approved a resolution allowing the tribe to begin talks with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistical Service to potentially conduct a census poll of farmers and ranchers.
The USDA wants to start a database of how many farmers and ranchers are Cherokee citizens, as well as collect and store that data for all Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma. If approved by the USDA, Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd says it could bring new jobs to the area.
The Tribal Council also approved the following:
• A lease agreement of six acres of trust land in Adair County to CC Camp Community Organization.
• To bid nine separate units of agricultural land in 2013 to livestock and crop farmers on 4,300 acres owned by the tribe at Chilocco in Kay County.
• An act adding more copyright protections for Cherokee artists.
The next Tribal Council meeting is slated for 6 p.m., Dec. 10, at the W.W. Keeler Complex, 17763 S. Muskogee Ave. in Tahlequah.