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May 19, 2024

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Hicks Presents Resolution

Michell Hicks, Principal Chief EBCI

In one of the initial legislative actions of his current term, Principal Chief Michell Hicks presented Tribal Council with a resolution on Monday, October 9th. This resolution aimed to allocate an additional $19 million in funding to Qualla Enterprises under specific conditions.

According to the resolution, Qualla Enterprises, which had previously received $31 million from the tribe, would receive the additional $19 million as a loan. The company would be obligated to repay the principal amount along with interest and agree to comply with “other conditions as may be required.”

Moreover, the resolution specifies certain members of the tribal government who “shall” partake in discussions leading to the execution of the loan. These individuals include members of the Tribal Council, as well as officials from the offices of the principal chief, vice chief, attorney general, and budget and finance.

Qualla Enterprises, an LLC tasked with generating profits for the tribe within the cannabis industry, has been engaged in sometimes contentious discussions about funding with tribal leaders for nearly a year. In December 2022, the Tribal Council approved the company’s request for $63 million but stipulated that $53 million of this amount should be obtained through a bank loan, guaranteed by the tribe. Unfortunately, due to the federal illegality of marijuana, securing such a loan proved unfeasible.

Qualla Enterprises continued to negotiate funding options with the Tribal Council as they explored sources of funding not linked to casino revenues, which could trigger adverse responses from federal agencies. During this period, then-Principal Chief Richard Sneed expressed growing concerns about what he perceived as a lack of transparency and accountability within the enterprise. In his final months in office, Sneed pushed the Council to endorse a forensic audit of the company, although the required legislation for the audit was never passed.

The Tribal Council’s next scheduled meeting is set for 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, October 12th.

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