SHS holds student-led variety show

Media Producer – @cp_rgraham
05/23/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Sequoyah High Schools drama department on May 12-13 held its bi-annual “Are You Not Entertained” variety show at the school’s “The Place Where They Play” gymnasium.

Cherokee Nation citizen and SHS drama teacher Amanda Ray said she switches from Broadway-style plays to variety shows on alternative years for several reasons.

“This year we decided to do a variety show because we have so many students at Sequoyah that come from all different walks of life when it comes to the performing arts. We have musicians. We have dancers, and we have singers. I just wanted to showcase as much talent as we had this year,” she said.

Ray said this year’s 25-act show included a lot of seniors. “I wanted to showcase their talents especially.”

CN citizen, SHS junior and veteran performer Katelyn Morton said participating in variety shows is a great change of pace.
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
Sequoyah High School holds its bi-annual “Are You Not Entertained” variety show on May 12-13 at “The Place Where They Play” gymnasium in Tahlequah, Okla. In the front row are SHS students Noah Scearce, Savannah Edgar, Mikaela Murphy, Stormie Dreadfulwater, Indy Hicks, Amanda Ray, Katelyn Morton, Kirsten Samuels and Hannah Jimenez. In the middle row are students Bretly Crawford, Liam McAlpin, Joseph Farmer, Josh Rooster and Seif Drywater. In the back row are students Jonathan Christie, Presley Hair, Elijah Bennett, Noah Bennett, Jillian Rose, Michael Lenaburg, Sinihele Rhoades, Aubrey Rose, Madalyn Arnall, Chyna Chupco and Danya Pigeon. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Sequoyah High School holds its bi-annual “Are You Not Entertained” variety show on May 12-13 at “The Place Where They Play” gymnasium in Tahlequah, Okla. In the front row are SHS students Noah Scearce, Savannah Edgar, Mikaela Murphy, Stormie Dreadfulwater, Indy Hicks, Amanda Ray, Katelyn Morton, Kirsten Samuels and Hannah Jimenez. In the middle row are students Bretly Crawford, Liam McAlpin, Joseph Farmer, Josh Rooster and Seif Drywater. In the back row are students Jonathan Christie, Presley Hair, Elijah Bennett, Noah Bennett, Jillian Rose, Michael Lenaburg, Sinihele Rhoades, Aubrey Rose, Madalyn Arnall, Chyna Chupco and Danya Pigeon. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Oklahoma adopts another trespassing law

05/22/2017 04:45 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A new Oklahoma law cracks down on protesters who trespass and anyone who financially supports them.

The Journal Record reports Republican Gov. Mary Fallin has signed legislation that will punish any person or organization affiliated with protests that result in property damage.

Fallin approved a similar bill earlier this month that imposes steep fines or prison time against people convicted of trespassing at a critical infrastructure facility to impede operations.

The author of the bills, Rep. Mark McBride, says the idea came after the protests along the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The American Civil Liberties Union in Oklahoma voiced concerns of such laws, noting property damage is already illegal and further legislation would likely serve as intimidators.

Rose working hard on her tennis game

Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
05/22/2017 02:45 PM
SANTA FE, N.M. – Macy Rose recently received a 2017 U.S. Tennis Association Native American Scholar Athlete Leadership Grant. The 13-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen is the No. 17-ranked girl in USTA Southwest Girls 14 and under rankings. She recently won the Lobo Tennis Club Winter Junior Open, the Jerry Cline Junior Open in 2016 and captured the women’s open title at the USTA Southwest Indoor Championships. She is ranked No. 1 in New Mexico and is pursuing a top 20 national ranking.

Originally from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Macy’s mother, Wahlesah Rose, also a CN citizen, was a tennis player at Northeastern State University and has been a section and national-level volunteer for the USTA for almost 10 years. Macy’s father, Eric Rose, is the owner and director of tennis at Shellaberger Tennis Center in Santa Fe.

“My mom taught me at the Tahlequah High School tennis courts. I would chase the balls around and eventually I started hitting them. I saw her teaching my cousins and other kids and playing, and I couldn’t wait to start hitting,” Macy said. “My parents let me come to tennis on my own. They both loved it. I told them my dream, and they told me how much hard work it is. I didn’t believe them, but now I do. It’s about the work and dedication each day to something, even when you don’t feel like it.”

Along with submitting an essay to the USTA about how the game of tennis has impacted her life and information about her future tennis aspirations, Macy showed that she maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment. She is of the Wolf Clan and attended the Cherokee Immersion Charter School until her family moved to Santa Fe when she was 7.

“I’m from Briggs (Oklahoma). I still go home and visit all my family. Each birthday my cousins and friends still sing to me in Cherokee. My mom will yell phrases in Cherokee to me on court and, when she says my Cherokee name, I know she is serious,” Macy said. “It’s in me. It always has been, and it always will be. No matter where I travel to, my home and tribe is always in my heart. My clan is known as the protectors, and I can see that in my family. We are strong women. We enjoy caring for others, and we don’t give up on the tennis court or in life.”
Cherokee Nation citizen Macy Rose is a Briggs, Oklahoma, native and recently received a 2017 U.S. Tennis Association Native American Scholar Athlete Leadership Grant. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen Macy Rose is a Briggs, Oklahoma, native and recently received a 2017 U.S. Tennis Association Native American Scholar Athlete Leadership Grant. COURTESY

Renovations finished at Will Rogers Downs

05/22/2017 11:45 AM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – Construction crews have finished renovations of Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs as the casino and race track welcomes gaming and horse racing fans alike for a better entertainment experience.

According to a Cherokee Nation press release, renovations include an upgraded dance floor and entertainment venue, an improved bar, new gaming floor and simulcast area, as well as redone banquet space.

Approximatley$5 million was invested to make 43,000 square feet of renovations, the release states. According to a 2016 story, the renovation was slated for completion by April 2017 and was estimated to cost $3.5 million.

“The feedback we’ve received from our guests made the investment worth it,” WRD General Manager Rusty Stamps said. “The upgrades offer a high-quality experience for new guests, while our loyal customer base is overjoyed with the improvements to their favorite horse racing facility.”

It also states the gaming floor offers 250 electronic games in a new location on the casino’s south side. The new layout offers a more cohesive gaming experience for guests and has created the opportunity to introduce some game variety, the release states.
Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs recently underwent a $5 million upgrade. The renovations covered 43,000 square feet of space. COURTESY Dog Iron Saloon offers a new dance floor and upgraded bar inside Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs. COURTESY
Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs recently underwent a $5 million upgrade. The renovations covered 43,000 square feet of space. COURTESY

CN donates $195K to area Boys & Girls Clubs

05/19/2017 12:45 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials on May 15 donated $195,000 to eight Boys & Girls Club programs throughout northeastern Oklahoma.

Funding recipients included clubs in Washington, Delaware, Sequoyah, Rogers, Nowata, Cherokee, Mayes and Adair counties.

Funding was based on the number of Native American students in each program. The eight area programs serve more than 11,000 students, with nearly 60 percent being Native American.

According to a press release, the CN donated to the following Boys & Girls Clubs:

• Bartlesville with a 1,021 enrollment at $5,299.09,

Clothing Assistance Program to begin July 5

Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
05/19/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Family Assistance will again give out school clothing vouchers to eligible children through its Clothing Assistance Program this summer beginning July 5.

The vouchers will be distributed from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at:

• Sequoyah High School’s “The Place Where They Play” on July 5 in Tahlequah,

• Carl Albert College’s Multi-Purpose Student Center on July 6 in Sallisaw,

• Stilwell High School cafeteria on July 12,
In this 2014 photo, Amanda Shell, from Locust Grove, Oklahoma, registers to receive Cherokee Nation clothing vouchers for two of her three children at Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah. ARCHIVE In this 2014 photo, Scarlett Shell looks for a pair of shoes at Stage in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, after receiving a Cherokee Nation $100 clothing voucher. COURTESY
In this 2014 photo, Amanda Shell, from Locust Grove, Oklahoma, registers to receive Cherokee Nation clothing vouchers for two of her three children at Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah. ARCHIVE

Tahlequah Writers group to meet May 20

05/18/2017 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The next meeting of the Tahlequah Writers group is 2 p.m., May 20 at the Cherokee Arts Center multi-purpose room at 212 S. Water St.

Monthly Tahlequah Writers meetings are casual and involve news of interest to writers and updates on what attendees are writing. Attendees include poets, fiction writers, historians, essayists, humorists, playwrights and scriptwriters. Participants discuss the art of writing as well as the business of publishing and promotion.

The public is invited. Area writers are encouraged to bring their works to the meeting to be critiqued.

Tahlequah Writers organizer Karen Cooper is asking members to bring ideas about structuring the group so that it continues after she moves to Florida soon.

Cooper also announced some Tahlequah Writers members would be reading poetry at 11 a.m., May 27 at the Wagoner Arts Alliance in Wagoner.

Council confirms Barteaux as District Court judge

Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
05/18/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At the May 15 Tribal Council meeting, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Garrett swore in T. Luke Barteaux as a District Court judge after legislators confirmed his appointment.

Barteaux is completing the late Bart Fite’s term, which expires on Feb. 10, 2018.

Fourteen Tribal Councilors voted to approve the appointment, while Tribal Councilors Shawn Crittenden, Harley Buzzard and Buel Anglen opposed it.

Barteaux, 33, of Bixby, said he considers the appointment the “pinnacle” of his career.

“It’s something that I never thought would happen within this amount of time, but I’m extremely honored to have been appointed by (Principal) Chief (Bill John) Baker and confirmed by the Tribal Council. I look forward to helping protect our Nation through the legal process,” he said.
T. Luke Barteaux, center, is sworn in as a Cherokee Nation District Court judge by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Garrett while Barteaux’s wife, Sarah, holds the Bible. Barteaux is completing the late Bart Fite’s term, which expires on Feb. 10, 2018. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
T. Luke Barteaux, center, is sworn in as a Cherokee Nation District Court judge by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Garrett while Barteaux’s wife, Sarah, holds the Bible. Barteaux is completing the late Bart Fite’s term, which expires on Feb. 10, 2018. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Emergency Management now a Type 3 FEMA response team

05/18/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — According to a Cherokee Nation press release, the tribe’s Emergency Management team is now equipped with the expertise and vehicles to respond to a Type 3-level Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster.

Only about 120 entities nationally have attained the Type 3 all-hazard incident management team status, and the CN is among the first tribe to attain it, Emergency Management Manager Jeremie Fisher said.

As defined by FEMA, a Type 3 team can respond within hours to a natural disaster, a public health emergency, a large-scale crash or another crisis within tribal boundaries.

The status also allows the team to remain active and on scene for several days to help coordinate with other agencies to respond to disasters.

“We are one of the first tribal Type 3 All-Hazard Incident Management Teams in the nation,” Fisher said. “Because we have combined our resources from within the Cherokee Nation, we can coordinate on-scene operations after natural disasters like a tornado or flood, or during other emergencies. Our team includes trained personnel from different departments and agencies who have a variety of expertise.”
Cherokee Nation Emergency Management Manager Jeremie Fisher, center, gets training with his response team regarding the use of the tribe’s new Mobile Command Center earlier this year. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation Emergency Management Manager Jeremie Fisher, center, gets training with his response team regarding the use of the tribe’s new Mobile Command Center earlier this year. COURTESY


Online classes, new texts helping revitalize Cherokee language
05/10/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Research of Native American languages and how they are taught is helping revitalize the Cherokee language, in part, through online courses and textbooks the Cherokee Nation developed.

Using these methods, the CN’s Cherokee Language Program has up to 3,000 students taking online courses and around 400 students in community classes annually. Participating students represent all ages and parts of the world.

“There are so many people interested in preserving the language,” Ed Fields, a CLP online instructor who has taught courses for more than a decade, said.

Fields teaches a 10-week online course each spring and fall, with participants convening two hours weekly. His spring course started in April, and fall class will start Sept. 11 with registration opening Aug. 28.

Via a camera, students see Fields as he uses his curriculum and life experiences to teach Cherokee. Online language classes are offered for free at

Courses are divided as Cherokee I for beginners, Cherokee II for intermediates and Cherokee III for advanced students. While classes are live, archived videos and materials are also posted online for those who have conflicting schedules. There is no limit to the number of participants, nor to the number of times a student can take the classes.

“Students have quizzes to test themselves and see if they’re learning, and they also help each other in the classroom. It’s what we call ‘gadugi’ – you know, togetherness,” Fields said. “We emphasize gadugi to be resourceful. Quite a few students might not have anyone else to talk to, so the online interaction keeps them refreshed.”

Fields said he teaches young children, high school students, college students, graduates with master’s degrees and doctorates and elders who are teaching neighborhood children the language.

“A lot of people who want to come to the class, their relatives spoke Cherokee but they don’t, so they want to honor their ancestors who spoke the language,” he said. “This is a good way to do it. One student recently said her father speaks Cherokee but she doesn’t know what he’s saying. One of these days, she’s going to answer him back in Cherokee. She’s going to surprise him, she said.”

Fields earned his bachelor’s degree from Northeastern State University. He grew up exposed to the Cherokee language and uses stories he learned to teach.

“I want them to learn. That’s what I’m here for,” he said. “There’s nothing that says you have to learn the Cherokee language, so those who enroll are taking the class because they have a genuine desire to learn it.”

Beginning in May, the CLP was to introduce a new textbook in its community language classes. The book “We Are Learning Cherokee” incorporates newer methods of teaching Cherokee, compared to the book, “See, Say, Write,” which had been used since 1991.

“See, Say, Write” focused on basic words and phrases and how to write them in the Cherokee syllabary. Its primary goal was to help fluent Cherokee speakers learn to read and write in syllabary. Teaching second-language learners was its secondary goal.

While it saw revisions through the years, language revitalization grew and changed.

“A lot more research and studies have been conducted on the teaching methods of Native American languages,” CLP Manager Roy Boney said. “Many students in the community language classes are repeat students, with some taking the classes since the introduction of the ‘See, Say, Write’ book in the 90s. In recent years, an increasing demand from our communities was for an updated Cherokee language textbook that could act as a companion to the classic ‘See, Say, Write’ but one that incorporated some of the new methodologies.”

“We Are Learning Cherokee” was designed with the second-language learner of Cherokee in mind. Lessons focus around grammar concepts and verb forms rather than memorization of words and phrases.

“This will help students learn how to create their own sentences and express their own thoughts rather than repeating simply what they have memorized,” Boney said. “’We Are Learning Cherokee’ is designed to be used in the classroom as well as for use by students on their own.”

It is color-coded with marked phrases that have been recorded by fluent Cherokee speakers for proper pronunciation. Audio accompanying the book can be downloaded at Click here to

It is available only to students attending CN community language classes, and more than 400 copies of it were distributed for the March classes.

The CLP consists of translation, community language and language technology. It offers various services, including translation of Cherokee documents, the creation of Cherokee language teaching materials, community and employee Cherokee language classes, as well as the development and support of Cherokee language on digital devices such as smart phones, tablets and computers.

For more information, visit or email


CN Education Services still has residential camp slots
05/17/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Education Services announced on May 12 that it still has slots available for students ages 14-17 for its Safeguarding Natural Heritage Youth Residential Camp in June.

According to CN email, the 14-day residential camp is limited to 10 female and 10 male students who are interested in learning more about safeguarding their natural heritage in the CN. Students will experience hands-on labs, workshops, discussions, field trips, team-building activities and Cherokee language, history and culture activities.

The program is designed to expose students to natural resources, agriculture, science (veterinary, plant, environment) as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM areas. Students will visit local colleges and universities, while learning about potential job opportunities within the CN and its service area as well as opportunities with U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The USDA/APHIS is partnering with the CN to sponsor the program.

Students will check into the Sequoyah High School dorms at noon on June 4 and check out at noon on June 17. Students will be responsible for transportation to and from SHS. The USDA-APHIS will pay for costs for housing, meals, field trips and activity admission.

To apply, students must turn in completed and signed application forms, as well as medical release, liability and media release forms. Students also must submit short essays detailing their interests and hobbies, future plans, areas of interest in agriculture, natural resources, sciences (veterinary, plant, environment) and/or STEM and two letters of recommendation. One letter must be from a teacher or counselor and one from a person who knows but is not related to the student.

All items must be mailed to Cherokee Nation Education Services, Jennifer Pigeon, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465.

Students will receive written notification if selected to attend.

For more information or to get an application, call Neesie Blossom at 918-453-5341 or Jennifer Pigeon at 918-453-5367 or email


Legislators resolve to protect tribally owned land
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
04/12/2017 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At the April 10 Tribal Council meeting, legislators unanimously passed an act to protect Cherokee Nation-owned lands against ingress, egress and encroachment.

‘The Principal Chief will direct appropriate offices and staff within the executive branch to not allow any individual, company or any other entity to restrict ingress/egress access to any Cherokee Nation property, to not allow any encroachment on any Cherokee properties whatsoever and if any entity has restricted ingress/egress or encroached on Cherokee Nation property to begin negotiations or legal proceedings to resolve ingress/egress problems, or remove encroachments on Cherokee Nation property,” the legislation states.

During the March 21 Rules Committee meeting, Tribal Councilor Dick Lay said he’s thought about the “protection” of tribal property since the tribe began purchasing more land.

“I’ve been thinking about this for years now, since we’ve started purchasing more property in the Cherokee Nation…the protection of our property and our lands, whether it be trust…or anything else,” he said. “I’ve checked with our legal counsel and with the assistant AG (attorney general) to make sure that this act does not interfere with any previous acts or resolutions or any other work that we’ve done previously in granting easements and that sort of thing.”

The bill follows the legislators rejecting a resolution in January to lease 190 acres of trust land in Adair County to Hunt Mill Hollow Ranch. The ranch is a hunting resort, and its owner wanted to lease the acreage to resolve a trespassing issue with the tribe. After purchasing approximately 5,000 acres nearly a decade ago, the ranch owner fenced in his property as well as CN trust land.

Legislators also unanimously authorized a right-of-way easement to Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company for the W.W. Hasting’s Hospital expansion. Ground was broken for a 469,000-square-foot addition in February.

During the April 10 Resource Committee meeting, Lay said he had concerns about a waiver in the right-of-way bill.

“We need power and gas and so forth, but I keep seeing, in fact, I see them on all three of these resolutions that are coming through Resources. Mr. Speaker and I, we’ve talked about these waivers of evaluation and waivers of bonds, waivers of compensation. Whenever I see a waiver, a red flag goes up, and forgive me for being so independent, but that’s just the way I am,” Lay said.

Joel Bean, of the CN Realty Department, said the waiver in place because the tribe wasn’t requesting any “compensation” for the land.

“For a project that we’re not requesting any compensation for, that’s the reason we’re asking for the wavier evaluation because there’s not really a reason for the tribe to spend three or $4,000 getting an appraisal done for the easement and the substation itself that we’re not going to be charging that company the money for,” he said. “The tribe itself isn’t going to charge for that easement itself, you know. If we’re charging for a pipeline going across our property or something like that we wouldn’t include the wavier unless it was for something that was supplying Cherokee Nation’s property or the business or the buildings or houses. Everything’s going to be supplied to the Nation.”

Lay said he didn’t “like” waivers but voted for the resolution “under protest.”

“What we’re doing here is a good thing. We need it. We gotta have it. But I’m going to vote for it under protest of all these waivers. I just don’t like these waivers because some of these things were built up and sent up for the protection of tribes at one time or another,” he said.

During the Tribal Council meeting, legislators also unanimously passed a resolution to allow the building of seven storm shelters for Head Start facilities in the tribe’s jurisdiction.

During the April 10 Education Committee meeting, Christina Carroll, of CN Grant Services, said the facilities were chosen because they are “Cherokee-owned facilities.”

“We can’t place them on state land or non-tribal facilities. So the seven facilities will be all various communities, and they’ll get shelters that fit their needs for each building,” she said. “They will be attached to the facilities. It’s not a under the ground or anything like that. It’s a additional room on the building and they will be FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)-rated buildings.”

Legislators also unanimously passed a resolution to sponsor a CN Scout Award for the Boy Scouts of America.

During the March 21 Rules Committee meeting, Tribal Councilor Keith Austin said by sponsoring the award “every Cherokee boy in scouting throughout the United States, or throughout the world, can achieve a Cherokee Scout Knot for their uniform.”

In other business, legislators:

• Increased the fiscal year 2017 capital budget by $375,000 to $279.9 million,

• Increased the FY 2017 operating budget by $2.02 million to $669.9 million,

• Approved Dewayne Marshall as a Sequoyah High School board of education member,

• Authorized CN to lease approximately 25 acres of tribal trust land on which a gym and ball field are located to the CC Camp Community Organization in Adair County,

• Authorized the BIA to update the tribe’s inventory of tribal transportation facilities,

• Authorized an application to the Federal Highway Administration for two bridges over Wickliffe Creek in Mayes County,

• Approved CN warehouse donations to Maryetta School, Boys & Girls Club in Delaware County, Disney Assembly of God Church, Spavinaw Community Building, Cedar Tree Baptist Church, Calvary Indian Baptist Church, Stilwell Public Library and the Neighborhood Association of Chewey, and

• Approved CN Education Service donations to Bluejacket Public School.


OKCIC brings awareness to mental health in May
05/15/2017 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – For May, the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic, a nonprofit that provides services to Native Americans in central Oklahoma, is bringing awareness to mental health issues.

“It is important to understand early symptoms of mental illness and know when certain behaviors are potential signs of something more,” Summer Welcher-Duke, OKCIC Behavioral Health director, said. “We need to speak up early and educate people about risky behavior and its connection to mental illness, and do so in a compassionate, judgment-free way.”

According to an OKCIC press release, approximately 43.8 million adults in the United States, or 18.5 percent, experience mental illness in a given year.

The release states that specific populations of people, such as Native Americans, experience mental health concerns at a higher rate than the general population.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, Native Americans experience serious psychological distress 1.5 times more than the general population, experience post traumatic stress disorder more than twice as often as the general population and use and abuse alcohol and other drugs at younger ages and at higher rates than all other ethnic groups.

OKCIC offers counseling for a range of mental health and substance abuse issues through its Behavioral Health Department, which is a multi-faceted department of licensed mental health professionals that address the physical as well as mental, emotional and spiritual needs of the Native community.

“Prevention, early identification, early intervention and integrated services work,” OKCIC CEO Robyn Sunday-Allen said. “When we engage in prevention and early identification, we can help reduce the burden of mental illness by identifying symptoms and warning signs early.”

For more information, visit


OPINION: Donald Trump, Andrew Jackson: More in common than just populism
University of Denver
05/01/2017 02:00 PM
At President Donald Trump’s request, a portrait of former President Andrew Jackson now hangs in the Oval Office. Commentators have cast Trump’s populist appeal and inaugural address as “Jacksonian,” while others have tried to emphasize their differences. One writer lauded Jackson as “the president who, more than any other, secured the future of democracy in America.”

However, these comparisons overlook experiences of marginalized people while defining history in terms of the ideologies of progress and American exceptionalism.

Jackson’s intolerant attitudes and harsh treatment of African-American and Native American peoples have not gone without mention. They are indeed inescapable. As a scholar who has written about Native American history and literature, I am aware of how often the perspectives of Native people are neglected in conventional historical discourse.

The criticisms Trump has directed against Indian casinos in the 1990s, along with his insult of calling Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas,” casts his veneration of Jackson in a particularly disturbing light.

Jackson was a staunch supporter of slavery and policies that forcibly removed Indians from their lands. The passage of the 1830 Indian Removal Act was aimed at isolating Native peoples to prevent conflict over territory and allow increased settlement.

The solution, originally conceived by Thomas Jefferson, was to empower the government to evict Native peoples living east of the Mississippi River from their lands. Those subjected to removal would be moved “beyond the white settlements” to distant reservations in the West, known at the time as “Indian Territory.” It was a form of segregation.

In 1832, the Supreme Court struck down Georgia laws aimed at depriving the Cherokee people of their rights and property in Worchester v. Georgia. The court affirmed a degree of Native political sovereignty and annulled state jurisdiction over Native lands. It was the final case of the so-called Marshall trilogy, named for Chief Justice John Marshall – the author of the majority decisions – and established major precedents of federal Indian law.

The immediate effect of the decision was to grant protections to the Cherokee Nation, and by extension to other tribes. It could have prevented forced removals, but Jackson was reportedly indignant at the result. According to the famed journalist Horace Greeley, Jackson was said to have responded, “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.”

Whether Jackson spoke those words has been contested by historians ever since. But his strong support for removal policy and subsequent refusal to enforce the court’s decision made his position clear. The response was a stern rebuke of the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, the doctrine of the separation of powers, the rule of law and ultimately the Constitution.

The result was the Trail of Tears, in which Cherokee and other Native peoples of the Southeast were forced at gunpoint to march 1,200 miles to “Indian territory.” Thousands of Cherokee died during the passage, while many who survived the trek lost their homes and most of their property. Ironically, much of the land on which the Cherokee and other removed tribes were settled was opened to homesteading and became Oklahoma some 60 years later.

Yet, the violent manner by which removal was carried out had been ruled illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the Worchester case.

New assault on native rights?
The new administration is showing similar malice toward the legal status and rights of Native peoples secured in American law. For example, Trump recently lifted President Obama’s injunction halting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The eviction of pipeline opponents from Sacred Stone Camp, led by the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, under threats of arrest has led to renewed uncertainty about Native rights.

Statements by Trump’s advisers and government officials calling for the privatization of Native lands guaranteed by treaties to seize natural resources have only heightened these concerns.

This rhetoric echos policies that oppressed Native people in the past. These include allotment, extending from 1887 to the 1930s, which eliminated communal ownership and led to the taking of millions of acres of Native land. This was followed by termination and relocation of the 1950s, aimed at eliminating the legal status of Native people while sending individuals from reservations to urban areas, further depriving Native peoples of their lands, liberty and culture.

Native treaties are unequivocally assured in Article 6, the Supremacy Clause, of the U.S. Constitution. It states: “all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land…”

Tribal leaders negotiated treaties in good faith to reserve what amounts to a fraction of their original lands, with all attendant rights. Privatizing tribal lands would be a violation of these treaties.

The casual rejection of these covenants heighten the insecurity among Native people evoked by Trump. His esteem for Jackson and their shared attitudes toward their legal rights and status should give us pause. That journalists and historians continue to offer positive views of Jackson’s presidency in light of this legacy underscores how the suffering of Native people continues to be ignored.


Actress balances Hollywood, high school
05/16/2017 08:00 AM
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Samantha Isler’s life is one of maintaining a balance in all things.
Learning about this young woman’s movie-making might make you think “high-profile and Hollywood” — but she’s all about low-profile and Tulsa.

The Cherokee Nation citizen’s latest movie, “Dig Two Graves,” opened in theaters — a couple of weeks before she graduates from Bishop Kelley High School.

She’ll have another movie — appearing in the directing debut of Aaron Sorkin and playing a young version of Jessica Chastain’s character — that’s being pegged for awards-season this fall, at a time when she’ll be a freshman in college.

She’ll tell you that what she really enjoys is attending a game at her school or going out to eat with her family or walking around downtown Tulsa.

But attending the Cannes Film Festival in France or meeting Meryl Streep, well, those aren’t bad either.

“That was just so insane,” Isler said of her January evening at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, where she and her co-stars were nominated for “Outstanding Cast Performance” in the acclaimed “Captain Fantastic.”

In the film, she played one of six children being raised in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest by their father, played by Viggo Mortensen, who was nominated for a best-actor Oscar — and who served as photographer for her and Streep at the SAG event.

“That’s the best photo ever,” Isler told the Tulsa World. “I just honestly told her how much I loved her, and I started crying almost immediately.

“I was able to stop and have an actual conversation with her, and I told her that she’s my hero as an actress and in how she uses her platforms to stand up for what she believes in.”

But that’s one night in Hollywood, and Isler’s life is in Tulsa, where she treasures time with her family and friends and where she knows she made the right call to stay, rather than move to California for even more acting opportunities.

Her performances, professionalism and a keen eye for choosing thought-provoking material have made it possible for opportunities to continue coming her way no matter where she lives.

“When I first started acting, I didn’t expect anything, and I was discovered by a manager here in Oklahoma and started getting roles and auditions,” Isler said. “But I’m all about Tulsa because all my family is here and I genuinely love it here.

“I couldn’t imagine leaving for acting ... My family is my life, and education is an important part. It’s been the best decision I’ve made regarding my ideas about a career. I was born and raised here, and I have grandparents who moved here for me and my sister.”

Her roles, ranging from playing the daughter of Sean Hayes on a sitcom to a patient on “Grey’s Anatomy,” have given her a glimpse of other young actors who made the move to Hollywood.

“I meet aspiring actors, and I see how they have given up things like education, and I come home and it’s so nice being around all these really humble people who have dreams of being a doctor or a good soccer player and not worrying about how famous they are,” Isler said.

“Every day I know I made the right decision, coming back home to normal life.”

Her latest movie, “Dig Two Graves,” is being released four years after it was filmed and shortly after she had first made “Home Run,” a 2013 faith-based sports drama shot in Okmulgee when she was 14.

“It was kind of a crazy ride for (“Dig Two Graves”), and we thought it might not come out beyond some film festivals,” Isler said. “But then a distributor got involved, and it’s now in select theaters and on iTunes, and I’m really proud of that film.”

Her first starring role came in this supernatural suspense thriller in which a young girl is given a brutal choice that could result in bringing her brother back to life — if she will agree to someone else taking his place.

“I really enjoyed the character, Jake, because she’s a tomboy, and she’s strong-willed and fearless, and her priorities are very different than most 14-year-olds in movies these days,” Isler said.

“She’s dealing with loss, and with making a hard decision, and in films and TV shows too often a girl this age is complaining about school and guys and is very stereotypical.”

The role offered new challenges, like gutting a deer (“That wasn’t too bad at all”) and acting in a water tank for an underwater scene.

“That was one of the scariest things I’ve done in my life, going 12 feet under, and strapped in with scuba experts with me, and then I hear ‘action’ and drop the breathing apparatus ... It was crazy and my mother was scared to death,” Isler recalled.

“That makes it hard to stay in character, but it all worked out.”

Most things are working out for Isler these days, and she’s making plans for a fun summer: traveling that includes rafting, hiking and going to the beach, taking in some concerts and just generally being in the outdoors.

But not before graduation, as well as talking to a Circle Cinema audience with her “Dig Two Graves” director in tow to answer questions about the film and about her acting experiences.

“I think it’s nice to be able to do this, to let people know about the movie,” Isler said. “I’ve done these and found it interesting how much people really do care about a movie and how much they want to know how we feel about the movie.

“I think that’s really nice, and, of course, it’s nice that I’ll probably have many friends and family in the theater.”

Because family, and Tulsa, are what really matter to this young talent.
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