Election Saturday for Native American commission nominees

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

   The bi-annual election of commissioner nominees to the Tennessee Commission on Indian Affairs will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23 at the Kingsport Public Library, in the community room of the Candy Factory in Knoxville, and the State Office Building in Chattanooga.
   The results of the local election will be submitted at the Tennessee Native American Convention Sept. 27-28 at Pinson Mounds State Park, just south of Jackson, Tenn.
   Voting is open to all American Indians, American Indian descendants, and any interested non-native voters in Tennessee. The caucus chair and co-chair in each caucus area are responsible for holding the election and tabulating local votes.
   Currently, Tennessee is one of the only states that provides a democratic process for the selection of nominees to the Commission on Indian Affairs.
   Local voters will each vote for up to four commissioner nominees for the East Tennessee Caucus, up to 15 delegates to the Tennessee Native American Convention to represent the Knoxville Caucus, and two representatives for the Knoxville Caucus who will serve as the 2005 Caucus Conveners and TNAC Board members.
   There are three grand divisions -- East, Middle and West -- and four metro divisions: Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville, and Memphis. Candidates for commissioner nominees running in this election will represent the grand divisions for a period of four years.
   Candidates include:
   * LEE VEST, also known as Night Thunder or Lee Yellow Vest, of Kingsport. Vest has lived in Tennessee 24 years and is employed by Traces, a division of Frontier Health, in therapeutic foster care. Vest is an unenrolled descendant who received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Marines after serving four years. He attended Virginia Western at Roanoke, Va., majoring in liberal arts.
   * LINDA JONES of Kingsport is a 54-year resident of Tennessee and is an unenrolled Cherokee descendant. She is employed by the Northeast Tennessee Regional Health Office in Johnson City.
   * MARION WAYNE SEAL of Knoxville has been a Tennessee resident more than 45 years and is currently attending the Tusculum College Knoxville campus, majoring in organizational management. He is an unenrolled Cherokee descendant who served three years in the U.S. Army in the early 1960s before being honorably discharged.
   * KIPPY LEE FLANDERS VAUGHN of Rockwood has been a Tennessee resident 15 years, graduating from Tennessee Correctional Academy in 1996. Vaughn is employed by Camelot Schools in Kingston, Tenn., as a counselor and security officer and is an unenrolled Cherokee descendant.
   * JOICE "ANN" GRIFFIN FICKENWORTH, "Serious Eagle" of Rockwood has been a Tennessee resident 17 years and served in the U.S. Navy eight years before being honorably discharged. She previously worked at Morgan County Correctional Facility. Fickenworth is an unenrolled Cherokee descendant.
   * JOHN WRIGHT HEDGECOTH, of Crossville, has lived in Tennessee 23 years. He attended Tennessee Technology Center in Crossville, receiving diplomas in Welding Technology and CAD Draftng. He is an unenrolled Cherokee descendant who served in the U.S. Navy before being honorably discharged.