"The Only Independent Cherokee Newspaper"
"The Original On-line Independent Cherokee Newspaper"
Copyright © 1992-2002 All Worldwide Rights
The Cherokee Observer,
The Cherokee Observer obtained copies of these interview reports
INTERVIEWS 2 - Investigative Reports
Byrd Administration investigating Mankiller Administration?
Report of Interview of Greg Pitcher on 10-24-95 at Vinita.
Mr. Pitcher was contacted at the office of his wife, Pamela
Pitcher - Hartley 244 South Scraper where he provided the following
He is in the Insurance - Real Estate business in Vinita. He
was a member of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council from August 1991
until the last election when he chose not to run. He had other
duties for the Cherokee Nation such as being Chairnan of the Board
of Directors of Bingo Outpost Inc. This is a Cherokeee Nation
Corporation originally formed by Wilma Mankiller and Tommy Thompson
for the purpose of Gaming Operations. The stock is owned by the
Cherokee Nation and voted 100% by the Chief of the Cherokee Nation.
The corporation was originally funded through a Federal loan which
was paid back the Cherokee Nation Trust Authority and earmarketed
for economic development. This loan which was used to open the
Roland, Oklahoma operation is now paid off. Bingo Operations at
Silom Springs and Catoosa, Oklahoma were financed through loans
obtained on the commerecial market and have not yet been repaid:
Most profits from the operations are being used for debt
in order to repay the loans as soon as possible. Some
profits have been declared as dividends to the stockholders which
is the Cherokee Nation.
The Corporation head-quarters of the Outpost is in Stilwell,
Oklahoma and is open during business hours. Records of the
Corporation are maintained there.
Rules and regulations governing Indian Gaming are set forth in
the National Indian Gaming Regulations Act.
This Act is
administrated by the National Indian Gaming Cominission. The
Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission has been set up to enforce the
regulations in regards to the Cherokee Nation and answers to the
N.I.G.C. The Cherokee National Gaming Commission is comprised of
Bill Langley , Lawey Adair and Ms. Vaughan who is unknown to Mr.
The Board of Directors for Bingo Outpost Incorporated is
comprised soley of appointees of the Cherokee Nation Chief and seen
at the Chief's pleasure. Members of the Board of Directors at the
time of the recent severance pay issue are as follows:
Wilma Mankiller Chief
Member Tribal Council
Tommy Thompson Chief Executive
Officer Bingo Outpost
According to Mr. Pitcher, the Board of Directors was kept well
informed regarding activities of the Bingo operations; however~
they had no actual authority wince members could be replaced at any
time by the Tribal chief. All votes taken by the Board of
Directors became unanimous after 48 hours unless protested in
writing. Minutes were taken by Tommy Thompson and were usually
approved at the following meeting. Meetings were called by Chief
Information provided to the Board of Directors by Thompson and
Chief Mankiller indicated that the Corp. was being run above
industry standards. Salaries paid were exactly within industry
standards. Information received by the
Board of Directors
indicated the Corp. was being efficiently run, however, this
information came from those running the operation.
Although Mr. Pitcher, cannot recall the exact dates, two
meetings ware held prior to the inauguration of Chief elected Joe
Byrd regarding severance pay. George Bearpaw was not present at
-either of these meetings The first meecting took place during the
first week of August 1995. Severance pay was discussed in general
terms regarding employees of Bingo outpost. The severance package
for Tommy Thompson was discussed in detail and it was pointed out
that other former employees of Bingo outpost has received severance
pay although Mr. Pitcher doesn't recall who they were. Through
discussions, primarily by Chief Mankiller and Thompson it was
decided that Thompson should receive a severance package as if he
were being fired by chief Elect Byrd. This package would be
determined based on a formula used previously for Bingo outpost
employees. Dollar amounts ware not provided.
Mr. Pitcher can't recall the use of the words resign or fired
regarding Thompson's termination. It was discussed that he would
be rewarded by Joe Byrd and that Byrd had made promises to do so
The Board ot Directors felt Thompson had done a good job.
A motion was made by Chief Mankiller to approve the severance
package and was seconded by John Ketcher. No one else voted on the
matter and it passed- Wording of
the resolution was not
distributed during the meeting and Mr. Pitcher is unsure if
Thompson was fired or he resigned. The minutes to this meeting
were taken by Thompson but were never seen by the noard of
Directors or submitted for approval.
The second meetting regarding severance pay was held just prior
to the inauguration. No figures were provided but a formula was
discussed which has been used in the past for fired employees.
Rick Smith told the Board of Directors that he had been locked out
and denied access to his work. He cried during these revelations.
Chief Mankiller, Thompson and Smith discussed several employees
who would be leavinq because of the change in administration.
There was an attitude that the situation was intolerable and the
employees would be fired. Mr. Pitcher described it as a siege
Chief flankiller made a motion to offer severance to named
employees, Ketcher second the motion and they were the only two to
vote and it passed. Within a very few days both resolutions were
faxed to the Board members individually. Mr. Pitcher read his copy
of each and signed them. He noted the severance amounts as he read
the resolutions. He thought they were a little higher then he
expected for employees other than Thompson and Smith which he
expected to be high.
Mr. Pitcher feels that under the by-laws, the Board of
Directors had the authority to offer severance. These were not
tribal funds until dividends were voted. Mr. Pitcher questioned
whether the Board members may have
responsibility to the stockholders but believes the Board is
indemnified by the By-laws of the Corp.
Report of Interview 11/0/95 in Tahlequah
Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, OK
Ms. Kelley stated that she was the Executive Director, Social
Programs for the Cherokee Nation at the timc of the change in
administration during August 1995. During the transition period,
the old administration designated a transition team or points or
contact which included George Long, Mark Downing and Don Vaughn.
The new administration designated Joe Jones, Bill Collins and Gena
Blackfox as a transition team. It appeared that Joe Jones was
calling the shots for the new administration.
On Thursday (probably August 31 1995) she was told by Don
Vaughn that he had been informed that the new administration wanted
cabinet level personnel to consider submitting resignations. Later
that day she was told by Joe Byrd ttiat he would like to speak with
her but he never came by her office.
Friday the following afternoon she saw Don Vaughn, Mark
Downing and Pat Ragsdale outside the office. They told her that
everyone but Ragsdale was resigning. Until this time she had been
unaware of these developments. She heard that some individuals had
been offered severance pay by Wilma Mankiller. She voiced her
concern to Pat Ragsdale who told her her would mention it to Chief
Mankiller that weekend.
On Wednesday, August 9th, she received a call from Chief
Mankiller. When Ms. Kelley told her that she, Kelley, might be on
a hit list, Mankiller told her she would let her have severance pay
if she chose to resign. Ms. Kelley told Mankiller she would stick
it out but later did speak with Kerry Langley, who was in charge of
benefits, regarding severance pay. Langley told her that Chief
Mankiller would have to decide how many weeks of severance pay to
calculate and she could give Kelley the proper figures. Ms. Kelley
did not pursue the matter further. Ms. Kelley had heard that some
individuals were receiving more severance than others.
Ms. Kelley was aware that Lynn Howard had been responsible for
some negative campaigning and was close to Wilma Mankiller.
Sometime after her phone conversation with Wilma Mankiller,
Ms. Kelley had a discussion with Joe Jones in her office. Je told
her that:, for the record, the new administration was requesting
cabinet level employees, those who reported directly to Chief
Mankiller, to consider tending resignations. He stated that Joe
Byrd had not asked for her resignation.
Ms Kelley believe that Deputy Chief elect Garland Eagle is
after her due to a past school board issue. In her opinion that is
why she has been removed from her position. She does not know her
present job title.
She recalled that about the time of transition, Bill Collins
and Andy Dreadfulwater were going around the halls saying who was
going to be fired and who was not.
Report ot Interview 10/23/95 at Tahlequah
Donald Ray Vaughan
Director of Exocutive Support
Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, OK
Mr. Vaughan was part of a transition team for the Mankiller
administration prior to the inauguration of chief elect Joe Byrd.
On August 3 he was at a meeting with the Byrd transition team which
included Joe Jones, Gena Blackfox and Bill Collins. During this
meeting Joe Jones said that they expected an offer or there should
be an offer to resign from the executive directors. This included
the employees who reported directly to Chief Mankiller.
It was Mr. Vaughan's understanding that they were expected to
resign. He felt they would be fired one way or another. He
not want to resign but did submit a resignation August 3, 1995
effective August 11, 1995. On August 7, 1995 he was contacted by
Joe Jones and was told there would be a meeting at Western Hills.
Chief Byrd wished to meet with he and George Long. Joe Jones also
told him that it was not the intention that Don Vaughan or George
Long resign. Mr. Vaughan rescinded his resignation after the
meeting with chief Byrd.
Prior to rescinding his own resignation Mr. Vaughan had
conversations with other tribal executives and told them that their
resignations were expected. After hearing of Mr. Vaughan's
resignation, Chief Mankiller telephoned him and stated that she had
thought be and George Long would not resign. She offered him the
sane severance pay that others were receiving. He planned to
accept it until he rescinded his resignation.
When a fax was received at Cherokee Nation from Jim Wilcoxen
regarding the severance pay, he and George Long took it to Chief
Mankiller. She told them she choose not to follow the legal advice
and instructed them to pay. He believes that some of the checks
had already been cut by that time and some were being cut that day.
He and Long noted on the letter that she ignored the advice.
Mr. Vaughan knows of no meeting with Chief Mankiller regarding
severance pay. He provided a copy of notes talen by Mark Downing
in the transition meeting referred to above. This copy is attached
to this report of interview as is a copy of the Jim Wilcoxen's
letter with Mr. Vaughan's and Mr. Long's note.
Report of Interview 11/15/95 at Tahlequah
Area Contracting Officer
BIA Muskogee, OK
Mr Wilson explained that the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
operates under a Compact of Self - Governance; therefor funding
passes directly from the Department of Interior to the Cherokee
Nation. The BIA would have no authoriby to approve severance pay
for the Cherokee Nation.
CLICK MAILBOX TO EMAIL
THE CHEROKEE OBSERVER