Editorial: Delaware plans

After tribal elections this week, Delaware tribal leaders may be ready to move forward on plans for their property north of Lawrence.

The Delaware Tribe is busy with an election of its own this week, but it may not be long before tribal leaders are ready to get down to business on plans for property they have purchased north of Lawrence.

Lawrence and Douglas County governments and several other local institutions have signed on to a cooperative agreement that commits them “to engage in collaborative planning process” to address the tribe’s desire to develop about 90 acres just east of the East Lawrence interchange on the Kansas Turnpike. The process will include a design charrette that will help refine development plans.

Exactly who will be pursuing this effort on behalf of the Delawares will be decided in tribal elections scheduled for next Saturday. The October issue of the Delaware Indian News, the tribe’s official newsletter, was filled with information and ads about candidates seeking to serve as chief and members of the tribal council. It also included a message from the current Delaware chief, Paula Pechonick, who reported on the tribal council’s July meeting, which was held in Lawrence.

Pechonick reported it was “a really happy meeting,” attended by a number of tribal members who don’t usually get to attend council meetings. She noted that the leaders had met with the city and county and officials from Haskell Indian Nations University, Kansas University, Kansas State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Lawrence school district and chamber of commerce. “But in the end,” she added, “we will do what’s best for the Tribe!”

The tribe’s plans, the chief said, include a multi-purpose building to house programs currently located in Bartlesville, Okla., and Caney, Kan., along with offices and classrooms “to further our culture, our language and other projects.”

Those plans for a tribal headquarters coincide with what the tribe has outlined for local officials for the western 30 acres of the property. The remaining 60 acres reportedly would be used for some kind of agricultural purpose.

The planned design charrette should provide more details about the Delawares’ plans. It’s great that the tribe is involving the community in their planning for this property, and the more open tribal leaders are about their planning, the more likely they are to gain the community’s support for their headquarter project.