By Jerome Tharaud
The Chippewa Cree tribal council has adopted a no-smoking policy for tribal buildings.
The ordinance, proposed by tribal council member John "Chance" Houle, declares all tribal buildings off-limits to smoking, including most businesses, and designates smoking areas on the reservation, council Vice Chair Bruce Sun Child said today. He said the 4-C's casino is exempt from the ban.
Tribal public relations director Mario Patacsil said the ordinance passed 6-0 Friday, and that tribal council members Jake Parker and Charles Gopher were not present for the vote.
Sun Child said most buildings at Rocky Boy already had a no-smoking policy after the U.S. government requested it more than 10 years ago, but smoking was allowed in the tribal office until Friday.
"I think it's wise," said Sun Child, who said he was the only one smoking during the Friday meeting.
Sun Child said the ban had already been posted at the tribal office this morning.
"In fact I just threw my ashtray away," he said.
Sun Child said he hopes the policy is adopted in buildings not owned by the tribe.
"We would hope that it would send a message to the rest of the buildings that we don't have control over to prohibit smoking in the buildings," he said.
Once the weather improves, the tribal council will build a room outside the tribal office for employees who wish to smoke. Until then, he said, they will have to go outside.
He said the Bear Paw Cafe and Grill is an example of a building that will not fall under the ban because it is leased by a private individual.
The ban is "really a big step for our community," Patacsil said. He estimated that the majority of tribal members smoke.
Sun Child was more optimistic, estimating that less than half of the tribe smokes, and that "There's more young people that are not smoking than the other way."
He said the tribe requires its establishments to card young people who try to buy cigarettes to ensure they are over 18.
Patacsil said the ordinance is being drawn up by tribal chief of staff Richard Sangrey, who could not be reached for comment this morning.
The ordinance is not the first time smoking has been dealt with at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation. In May of 2001, the Rocky Boy Public Schools school board adopted a policy that prohibited tobacco use on school district property, as well as at all school events and activities.
The Blackfeet Indian Nation approved a similar resolution banning smoking in tribal buildings in 1989.