KAMIAH — All the incumbents in the three seats up for election in the Nez Perce Tribe’s governing committee retained their positions.

Shannon Wheeler, chairman, Elizabeth Arthur-Attao and Arthur Broncheau all fought off opponents to keep their seats on the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee.The final votes on Saturday night came to 359 for Arthur-Attao and 286 for Christie Lussoro; Wheeler at 363 to Quintin Ellenwood’s 298; Broncheau at 363 to Samuel Penney’s 290.

Earlier in the day, the twice-yearly conference wrapped up with a handful of reports presented and calls from tribal members for the tribe to explore more sustainable energy.

On the final day of General Council at Kamiah’s Wa-A’Yas community center, tribal member Erik Holt encouraged the tribe to seek out solar energy.

Holt said farming solar energy could make the tribe energy independent and give it a leg up on in it’s long term support of breaching the four lower dams on the Snake River.

The tribe has held the position of breaching the dams for some time to help revitalize salmon returns, but losing the dams would stop a lot of agriculture barging and some hydro energy production.

Holt argued solar farming could offset some of the loss in hydro energy should the dams be breached.

NPTEC member Chantel Eastman said the tribe has been working on making solar panels possible for tribal housing and elsewhere. She said the tribe is partnering with other tribal entities to develop a feasibility study to install solar panels to qualify for a U.S. Department of Interior grant of $300,000.

Earlier in the meeting, the Land Commission presented its report on the tribe’s recent land acquisitions. NPTEC member McCoy Oatman said the tribe has “aggressively” purchased land back on its historical territory with the end goal to be the primary steward of traditional lands.

Oatman noted that since 2009, the tribe has added 11,565 acres of land, both on and off the reservation. This year, the tribe bought land back and owns 166,289 acres.

“The tribe is in a unique spot where we have a lot of different pools and pots of money to buy land,” Oatman said. “And I think it’s good for the tribe to be really aggressive in purchasing land.”

Also discussed was possibly moving the tribe’s ownership of appaloosa horses as a tourist opportunity and transitioning the horse care to private individuals rather than the tribe’s government.

In other business, the tribe is also working on a final report on assessing habitat possibilities for reintroducing condors on the reservation. And the tribe is partnering through a multi-agency project to bring bighorn sheep back to harvestable levels in the region. The only resolution brought forward in open session over the three-day meeting called for a monthly $200 payment to enrolled elders age 62 and older, but the resolution failed on a voice vote.

Holm may be contacted at (208) 848-2275 or tholm@lmtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomHolm4

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