Students invited to Ancient Cherokee Days

09/17/2014 11:37 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Oct. 2-3, students will have the opportunity to interact at the Cherokee Heritage Center and learn about Cherokee history as part of Ancient Cherokee Days.

“This is a great opportunity for children to learn about ancient Cherokee life in a fun, interactive way,” CHC Education Director Tonia Weavel said. “When they leave Cherokee Heritage Center, they will have a better understanding of what life was like for Cherokees 300 years ago.”

The event is set in an outdoor classroom setting for students in grades kindergarten through 12 and is for public, private and homeschooled children. The event is primarily held inside Diligwa, which is the CHC’s authentic recreation of Cherokee life in the early 1700s.

There are many Cherokee cultural learning stations available throughout the grounds that feature chunkey, marbles, stickball, blowguns and language.

The outdoor cultural classes also feature interactive curriculum and games centered on Cherokee lifestyle in the early 18th century, including craft demonstrations in pottery making, basket weaving, food grinding, weapons or tool making and language.

Admission to Ancient Cherokee Days is $5 per student. Accompanying adults are free. Face painting, which represents Cherokee tattoos from the early 1700s, is offered at $1 per design. Admission also includes tours of the Cherokee National Museum, the Trail of Tears exhibit and Adams Corner.

Picnic tables are available for guests bringing lunches. The CHC has ample parking for school buses and private vehicles. The Murrell Home, one-half mile south, has additional picnic and playground areas.

Registration for Ancient Cherokee Days begins at 9:30 a.m. The event will occur rain or shine, with an established curriculum in place for inclement weather that allows students to continue to enjoy the stations.

For more information, call Weavel at 918-456-6007 or email
Coltyn Majors has been involved in sports for a majority of his life. Cherokee Nation citizens Coltyn and his father Dallas Majors share a moment on Sept. 3 after Coltyn’s practice with his ages 8 and under team at the Muskogee (Okla.) High School baseball fields. Coltyn said he likes baseball but is looking forward to wrestling season. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Coltyn Majors has been involved in sports for a majority of his life.

Young CN citizen excels in sports

09/17/2014 08:07 AM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – In the history of sports there have been famous players of various sports from Oklahoma and even the Cherokee Nation. One CN citizen hopes to one day achieve the ranks of those before him.

Coltyn Majors, 7, is a second grade student at Pershing Elementary School. While in school he works to maintain the highest standard of grades while still excelling in sports. Coltyn said he enjoys sports, with baseball being his favorite.

He said he enjoys it because, “it’s fun and you get to run and play.”

Coltyn plays baseball on a team for children ages 8 and under. He said he trains hard so he can get better each time he plays.

Dallas Majors, Coltyn’s father, said he trains with Coltyn.

“He practices everyday,” Dallas said. “If we’re not practicing here (Muskogee High School baseball fields), it’s all at the house. We practice hard at the house.”

Aside from baseball, Coltyn wrestles. Dallas said this is the sport Coltyn wins trophies in and receives praise from coaches.

Coltyn will compete in the open category this year instead of his previous novice category, which is for a wrestler who is within their first two years of competing. While in his second season as a novice, Coltyn wrestled in 87 matches winning 76. He competed in approximately 20 tournaments, winning first place in eight, second place in six and third place in two.

Coltyn said this year of wrestling would be, “a little bit hard.”

“I’m going to be playing in open and not in novice,” he said. “I’ve been training hard and working out hard.”

Aside from winning trophies, Coltyn has won awards for Outstanding Wrestler and Outstanding Sportsmanship.

Coltyn said one of his heroes is fellow CN citizen Wes Nofire, a boxer. Dallas said his son looks up to him.

Dallas said he has been teaching his son about the world of sports since he was a baby.

“He’s been in it knee deep since about 2 years old, learning the game at the age of close to 1,” he said. “He’s been a student of the game for about six years strong.”

Dallas said he helps his son strive for excellence with the hope of one day Coltyn receiving an athletic scholarship to a university.

“Coltyn’s a very humble kid, and our main goal is to get his scholarship,” he said. “He has three rules before he goes to school: make straight A’s, eat all his food and do not get in trouble. That’s the key to success. He’s got a very bright future as long as he keeps doing what he’s doing. He will make it.”

Coltyn still has a long road to haul, but his father said he believes he will do great things in his future.

“I couldn’t be any happier. I’m ecstatic and just very grateful. He’s a very warm-hearted kid that brings your spirits up when you’re feeling down,” he said. “I can’t thank all the people that’s helped him along his way.”

Cherokee Phoenix Radio Sept. 14, 2014

09/16/2014 04:34 PM
  • In this week's broadcast.
  • We feature Tahlequah High School student Lanice Belcher who excels in music as the school's only bassoonist in the band.
  • Reporter Jami Murphy has a story on Jack Brown Center employee Ralph Winburn as he recounts the 9/11 attacks in New York City.
  • ...and much more.

Election code amended for At-Large absentee ballots

09/16/2014 03:11 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Sept. 15, the Tribal Council amended the tribe’s election code to address notary public issues stemming from Cherokee Nation citizens in California.

According to the act, the purpose is to address notary public requirements to assure legal notarization of At-Large absentee ballots.

“A voter shall mark his ballot in permanent black or blue ball point ink; seal the ballot in the secrecy envelope; fill it out completely and sign the affidavit on the front of the affidavit envelope in the presence of a notary public; the affidavit envelope must be notarized and the notary seal affixed for the ballot to be counted; and return the documents inside the postage paid return envelope via the United States mail to the Election Commission,” the legislation states. “Only those absentee ballots which are mailed to the Election Commission and which reach the Election Commission post office box in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, no later than 7 p.m. on election day shall be counted; provided that personal delivery of an absentee ballot shall be accepted from the Wednesday prior to election day until election day only if the voter or a person designated by the voter delivers the ballot to the Election Services Office between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during those four days.”

Tribal Councilor Julia Coates abstained from the act’s vote, saying the act would make better policy than legislation.

“I don’t necessarily have any opposition. It’s a fairly meaningless amendment that simply describes how a ballot or an envelope is to be arranged. It’s not something I would necessarily favor legislating,” Coates said. “What I am happy about is that we have worked, and this body has worked, and we have gotten a promise from the Election Commission that they will shift the language on the Cherokee Nation ballot so that it is the same language that is acceptable under California law. And it’s language that should be acceptable under any state, including Oklahoma. So I’m glad for the acknowledgement and the understanding of the people on this body that there was an issue here.”

Tribal Councilor Janelle Fulbright said acquiring a notary in California isn’t as easy as it is in Oklahoma.

“But out there it’s a totally different world. And I think this is going to ease the pathway for them to, you know, make it easier for them to vote, and that’s what we want. And we certainly never intended or meant in any way to disenfranchise someone or make it difficult for them to vote,” she said.

After some discussion, the act passed by acclamation with Coates abstaining.

Also, councilors appointed six people to the Cherokee Health Partners board. The board is comprised of employees from the tribe and Northeastern Health System, which is formerly known as Tahlequah City Hospital. Those appointments were Ricky Kelly, Sandie Taggart, Ami Sams, Brian Hail, Connie Davis and Dr. Roger Montgomery.

According to board’s website, the NHS and CN joined forces to fight heart disease among Native Americans. From this union, Cherokee Health Partners was born. It states that CN and NHS leaders realized they could offer quality care and improved services to both communities if they worked together.

The Tribal Council also approved CN citizen Steven Barrick as a Cherokee Nation Gaming Commissioner.

Barrick replaces Jason Soper. Barrick’s term began on Sept. 16 and will end on Sept. 30, 2017.

The CNGC is the independent tribal gaming regulatory authority that ensures fairness and integrity of gaming activity within CN gaming facilities, as well as to protect the Nation’s assets and the public health and safety of those who work and visit CN gaming facilities.

“It’s a pleasure to serve the Nation and I’m excited to get started,” Barrick said during the meeting.

The council also authorized the tribe to become a National Congress of American Indians member, as well as named Principal Chief Bill John Baker as the tribe’s delegate. The tribe’s alternate delegates included Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and all the Tribal Councilors. The motion passed with Tribal Councilor David Thornton voting against it.

The NCAI is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities.

Councilors also passed three resolutions to donate surplus items: a surplus travel trailer to a citizen in Sequoyah County, exercise equipment to the Claremore Housing Authority and three flagpoles to the community organization Owen School House in Park Hill.

Oklahoma Indian Summer Festival in Bartlesville

09/16/2014 10:51 AM
BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – The Oklahoma Indian Summer Festival is Sept. 18-21 at the Bartlesville Community Center.

The state’s largest intertribal event and cultural exchange features a powwow with both competitive and non-competitive dancing on Friday and Saturday and a juried Native American and Western Art Show and Market, showcasing the talents of more than 30 artists, the website states.

The event will consist of free outdoor concerts, an art market, a carnival, cultural demonstrations, story telling and a Friday and Saturday powwow.

According to the website, artist Bunky Echo-Hawk will be a special guest.

“A graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts, he is a ?ne artist, graphic designer, photographer, writer and a non-pro?t professional,” the site states. “Bunky is a traditional singer and dancer of the Pawnee Nation and an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation.”

Christian Parrish or SupaMan, an Apsaalooke American Indian, will also be present during the event. He is from the Crow Nation reservation near Billings, Mont., and is also a champion powwow fancy dancer.

There will also be several food vendors, including Monie Horsechief, a two-time National Indian Taco Champion.

Admission is free and the event is open to the public. For a line up of events visit

Serious respiratory illness hits hundreds of kids

09/16/2014 09:31 AM
CHICAGO (AP) – Hundreds of children in more than 10 states have been sickened by a severe respiratory illness that public health officials say may be caused by an uncommon virus similar to the germ that causes the common cold.

Nearly 500 children have been treated at one hospital alone – Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, Mo., – and some required intensive care, according to authorities.

The suspected germ, enterovirus 68, is an uncommon strain of a very common family of viruses that typically hit from summertime through autumn.

The virus can cause mild coldlike symptoms including runny noses, coughing and wheezing but Mark Pallansch, director of the viral diseases division at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said this summer’s cases are unusually severe and include serious breathing problems.

“It’s not highly unusual but we’re trying to understand what happened this year in terms of these noticeable and much larger clusters of severe respiratory disease,” Pallansch said.

The virus typically causes illness lasting about a week and most children recover with no lasting problems.

Cases have been confirmed in Missouri and Illinois. CDC said it is testing to see if the virus caused respiratory illnesses reported in children in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah. The states’ tally changes as specimens are confirmed or test negative. A spokeswoman for Iowa’s public health department said CDC tests confirmed the virus in samples from patients in central Iowa and a Colorado hospital said it has confirmed cases.

The CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat said at a Monday news briefing that there are other viruses making kids sick.

“Most of the runny noses out there are not going to be turning into this,” she said.

Children with asthma and other health problems are especially at risk for the enterovirus, but reported cases include children without asthma who have developed asthmalike breathing problems, Pallansch said.

He said no deaths have been reported in the outbreak.

Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, director of infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy, said local cases began appearing in mid-August and they appear to have peaked in her area.

Schuchat said the strain involved also appeared in the United States last year and in specimens from other countries. She said the CDC learned it had reappeared in this country last month when authorities in Chicago and Kansas City notified the agency about severe illnesses in children who had to be hospitalized. She said the virus was found in 11 of 14 specimens from Chicago and in 19 of 22 specimens from Missouri.

In the Denver area, more than 900 children were treated for severe respiratory illnesses at Children’s Hospital Colorado and its urgent care locations and 86 were hospitalized in recent weeks. Spokeswoman Melissa Vizcarra said Monday that CDC had confirmed the virus in 19 of 25 samples from her hospital.

The University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital has treated several cases, including extremely sick children requiring life-support machines, said Dr. Rachel Wolfson, an intensive care unit physician.

Affected children are “as small as infants all the way up to teenagers,” Wolfson said.

The virus can spread through sneezing and experts say good hand-washing practices are important to curb transmission.

“The take-home point is wash your hands and keep your hands away from your face,” Wolfson said.
Shane LeClaire (Lakota Sioux) and Cherokee Nation citizen Malinda Blackbird make calls on Sept. 3 for the Cherokee Nation’s tobacco survey. The survey is conducted by phone to a select number of Cherokees in the tribal jurisdiction. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Shane LeClaire (Lakota Sioux) and Cherokee Nation citizen Malinda Blackbird make calls on Sept. 3 for the Cherokee Nation’s tobacco survey. The survey is conducted by phone to a select number of Cherokees in the tribal jurisdiction. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

CN conducting tobacco-use phone survey

09/16/2014 08:08 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – In August, the Cherokee Nation began a phone survey focusing on tobacco use within the tribe’s jurisdictional service area.

Dr. David Gahn, CN public health surveillance coordinator, said the survey is taken from the Centers for Disease Control and is specific to American Indians.

“And we’ve done it in Cherokee Nation before,” he said. “The main purpose is to document and track tobacco use among Cherokee adults in the TJSA.”

Participants were randomly selected from a list of Cherokee adults in each county within the TJSA.

“So, we used to survey the TJSA as a whole, and this year to get a better understanding of each county individually, we have a list of Cherokee adults from each county and we do our statistics based on each county,” Gahn said. “So instead of 600 to 700 people being surveyed it’s going to be about 4,200 people being surveyed so we can compare counties to see where we need to work.”

Phone numbers were shared through the tribe’s health care database. CN Health Services works off one database that encompasses the entire jurisdictional area.

“So there’s no Salina clinic database, it’s all just one. So I can ask the database ‘give me a list of every Cherokee adult in Mayes County’ and then ask the same database question about each county,” Gahn said.

The database is based all on whether the person is Cherokee and lives in the jurisdiction.

“So the way our health care database works is that if you’ve used our health system anytime, then you’re in the database,” he said.” And we’ve found in the past on some other projects that our health care database is more up to date than the Registration database.”

Shawn Arthur, Inara Creative Solutions vice president, said participants can be assured that names and contact information are kept in a locked drawer so it is not tampered with. Once the survey is complete that information will be destroyed.

Gahn said the goal is to more accurately estimate tobacco use within the jurisdiction.

“The information primarily is going to be used to direct our programs and our policies. So we give it to our policy makers like Tribal Council, our public health programs, our clinical programs,” he said. “We can see if we’ve made any progress over the last several years.”

The survey is to determine what areas of the CN need more services in regards to tobacco cessation.

“Of all of our tobacco control programs, we don’t have enough money or people to do all the programs in all 14 counties, so we have to direct our limited resources to where the need is the most,” Gahn said. “So we also want to track to see if our programs and policies are doing any good. So over time we can track is the rate going up or down.”

A survey was conducted in 2011, Gahn said, and from 2009 to 2011 there was no change in the smoking rate overall for Cherokee adults. Results from that survey found a drop in women of reproductive age using tobacco. Their rates dropped, but those surveyed were so few that they could not determine if the rates dropped due to programs offered by the tribe. Gahn said there must be a 15 percent rate of change to be able to determine whether or not a program made a difference.

The 2014 survey began in August and will continue until late October or early November. Results will not be available until late spring.

Inara Creative Solutions is a Tribal Employment Rights Office-certified vendor in Tahlequah. The business will continue to hire survey administrators until all positions are filled. Those interested can call Drew Trahms at 918-506-8587 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday or from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday. Those interested must be 18 or older.


4 named Cherokee National Treasures
09/15/2014 04:04 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Four Cherokee Nation citizens were given the designations of Cherokee National Treasure during an Aug. 28 ceremony in the Sequoyah High School gym.

“Our 2014 awardees all exemplify the values that we hold dear as Cherokee people and they advance our culture in their respective disciplines,” said Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “Each and every one of these honorees deserves our deepest respect and gratitude. Their positive influence propels us all, as Cherokee people, forward.”

David Comingdeer was named Cherokee Nation Treasure for his stickball stick making. He has been crafting his handmade sticks for 22 years from hickory wood that he cuts and then shapes using heat to make the wood flexible. He said he takes great care to perpetuate the art in the ways of his ancestors.

Comingdeer’s family has lived in both Adair and Cherokee counties since their arrival in Indian Territory. He resides in the community of Spade Mountain, where he cultivates a pine tree plantation. Comingdeer is of the Paint Clan and is a member of the Echota Ground at Park Hill where he is head chief. He and his children have an active ceremonial life and spend much of their time traveling to ceremonial stomp dances across eastern Oklahoma.

A lifelong resident of the CN, Clesta J. Manley was born on her father’s allotment land on the banks of the Grand River. For 30 years, Manley has shared Cherokee culture and art with the Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club where she encourages members to learn more about history and culture.

She started drawing at age 9 and continues to paint in a variety of media. Manley has participated in exhibitions throughout the state, won numerous awards, as well as a grant for a month to paint in Italy provided by the University of Tulsa Art Department. She has participated in juried shows at Philbrook Art Museum,
Gilcrease Art Museum, Walton Art Center and the Cherokee Homecoming Art Show.

Eddie Morrison, a native of Tahlequah, is a contemporary sculptor who has worked in wood and stone for 38 years.
He is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, N.M.

Morrison often uses red cedar in his works for the variations in color provided by the wood. Another favored material is Kansas limestone that he collects himself. Much of this limestone contains fossils from a prehistoric sea that once covered much of North America. These fossils are often visible in the rough portions of Morrison’s stone sculptures.

Morrison’s works are featured at the Department of Interior Building in Washington, D.C., on the Chisholm Trail monument at the Kansas-Oklahoma border, as well as in permanent collections throughout the country.

Cherokee language specialist John Ross is a native of Greasy and a translation specialist for the tribe’s Education Services. Ross previously worked as a research analyst and grant writer for CN Community Services and served eight years as chief and four years as treasurer for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.

Ross is bilingual and speaks Cherokee as a primary language.

He serves as chairman of the Ethnobotany Publications board, which focuses on Cherokee cultural-environmental issues and is dedicated to the preservation of tribal environmental knowledge. Ross also serves on the Cherokee Elders Council.

In 2013, Ross received the Perry Aunko Indigenous Language Preservation Award from the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission.


Walkingstick to serve on state Indian education council
09/08/2014 10:19 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Gov. Mary Fallin recently appointed Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick to serve on the Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education.

Walkingstick will serve on the 18-member council to make recommendations to the state board of education and the state superintendent of schools on issues affecting Native American students.

“It truly is an honor to receive this appointment from Gov. Fallin. I thank my parents, elders, coaches, custodians and others who were all hands on deck in my life every day at Woodall and Tahlequah Sequoyah. They instilled the value of education at an early age,” Walkingstick said. “The Cherokee Nation has an extensive history of promoting education and culture, and there is proven research that cultural inclusion, which is Native language and culture-enriched curriculum, boosts test scores. It’s very important that our Native American students walk in both worlds.”

Walkingstick serves as the federal programs director for Muskogee Public Schools, overseeing federal funding and compliance for the school district. Walkingstick is also a former teacher and athletic director for Bell Elementary School in Adair County.

“David Walkingstick is a dedicated educator and mentor to students,” Fallin said. “He has been heavily involved in Cherokee Nation issues through his work on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council.”

Walkingstick graduated from Sequoyah High School in 1999 and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond and a master’s degree in school administration from East Central University in Ada. He has served on Tribal Council since 2011. He was also named a 2013 “Native American 40 Under 40” recipient by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development.


3 Cherokee councils oppose new BIA recognition attempt
09/04/2014 07:38 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tribal Councils of the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians passed three pieces of legislation, including affirming equality among the three tribes, at the annual Tri-Council meeting on Aug. 15 at Northeastern State University.

Although the resolutions passed unanimously, the resolution affirming equality among the three tribes caused about an hour’s worth of debate after CN Tribal Councilor Lee Keener offered an amendment to change the name Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma to Cherokee Nation.

“Our constitution has us as Cherokee Nation only, and also updating or amending this would make it the same as the second and third propositions that are before us,” Keener said. “It would be consistent with all three.”

However, UKB Chief Wickliffe, who chaired the meeting, took issue with the amendment.

“We are representing the Cherokee Nation, the original, all three of us sitting here,” Wickliffe said. “We’re federally recognized. You people are too, and the Eastern Band. I don’t think there needs to be superiority anywhere. If we’re going to work together, let’s do it right.”

Keener said he did not mean to have one tribe over another, but if Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma was to be in the first legislation then it would need to be in the other two as well.

“I’m not understanding. That’s just our name. We’re not better than anyone else that’s just our name,” Keener added. “I don’t understand the opposition.”

After discussion among the three tribes and a recess, a compromise was suggested. Rather than naming all three tribes, the councils decided to accept EBCI Chief Michell Hicks’ suggestion of changing the names to “the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes.”

“Instead of postponing this issue…what if we said the ‘three federally recognized Cherokee tribes.’ And we don’t get into these technicalities because we’re fussing over technicalities here. Make it something more generic. But I think when it comes to the federal government, obviously they’ll recognize the stamps of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes.”

Wickliffe and Keener, as well as all councilors, accepted the compromise.

The councils also passed a resolution to combat the regulations the federal government is attempting to pass with regards to federal recognition.

Tribal officials said the standards for becoming federally recognized are potentially going to be reduced allowing for smaller state recognized tribes to seek federal recognition.

Currently, to be acknowledged, a tribe must have history dating back nearly 200 years. But with the possible changes it would only mean the group seeking the recognition could have history dating back to the early 1900s. The resolution states the three tribes being against the more lenient guidelines.

CN Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd said legislation was to keep other Cherokee groups throughout the United States from seeking federal recognition.

“We only have three federal recognized tribes in the United States, only three, and we don’t need any more the federal government is attempting to recognize,” he said. “They’re trying to water down policies from the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ state recognized tribes. We do not condone that. So we want to keep three federal Cherokee tribes in the United States and that’s it. That’s all we’re trying to do here.”

The Tri-Council also passed a resolution supporting the establishment of a steering committee for the cultural preservation of historically significant Cherokee sites and heritage events.

The UKB hosted the nearly weeklong Tri-Council gathering, which included pre-meetings and cultural activities. The EBCI will host the next meeting in 2015. According to EBCI officials, they are looking to have the meeting in Red Clay, Tenn.


Salina health clinic gets artists’ ‘Prayer Feather’
09/15/2014 08:04 AM
SALINA, Okla. – Public art created for the Cherokee Nation’s A-mo Health Center by Cherokee artists Bill and Demos Glass was carefully delivered by crane to a prominent place in front of the clinic on Sept. 3.

Though Bill insists Demos created the stainless steel “Prayer Feather,” Demos said he collaborated with his father to create the 8-foot, 2-inch tall and 24-inch wide piece.

“Dad and I wanted to do this symbolic ‘Prayer Feather’ for our clinic in Salina because the staff is very friendly and courteous. We also wanted to do this in loving remembrance of my grandmother Jean Justice Glass, who was a trained Army nurse,” Demos said. “I primarily designed the feather, and he had a ceramics portion in it. The ceramic’s got an inset detail with a nice four (crossed) logs motif. It’s just our symbol for prayer.”

The material used was fabricated stainless steel, so it began as a sheet of steel that had to be cut and welded. Demos said he and his dad spent the past five months working on it and that working with stainless steel is challenging.

“It’s not going to let you do everything, so you got to use a lot of manipulation,” he said.

He said after the piece was welded together, he hand polished it, which can sometimes take months.

“I’m still planning and trying to get some of the time cut down in different processes, so I’m always researching. That’s what my whole philosophy is on art. I’m a contemporary artist, and I’m going to continue to research the boundaries of what I can do because it’s exciting to me,” Demos said. “I think the Southeastern designs are the perfect platform to use fabrication techniques.”

He said it is a benefit to use the minimalist, and sometimes intricate, designs of Southeastern designs and art used by Cherokee people in ancient times.

Gina Olaya, Cherokee Nation Businesses director of cultural art procurement, said the Glasses were commissioned to do the “Prayer Feather” for the clinic.

“Bill Glass is a patient at the Salina Clinic. He thought it would be good to have some place where people could actually say a prayer as they’re walking into the building, so that’s how the idea for the ‘Prayer Feather’ sculpture started,” she said. “I’m excited about this. I’m excited for the clinic.”

Olaya said there is a CN law that allows for 1 percent of construction or renovation funding to be set aside to procure Cherokee art for the tribal building being constructed or renovated.

“We had some money left over from a couple of projects that we pulled together, and those leftover funds are what’s funding these “Prayer Feather” sculpture projects,” Olaya said.

Three “Prayer Feathers” are being created at a cost of $76,000. A second “Prayer Feather” will be placed at the renovated Redbird Smith Clinic in Sallisaw, and a third one will be placed at the new W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah when it is constructed.

“The overall design of it will be the same, but the tiling that the Glasses are putting on the bottom of the sculpture will be different at each one of the facilities,” she said.

Olaya said she would work with the Glasses to determine the wording for the plaques that will be placed at the bottom of the three sculptures to explain the artwork.

CN Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said the sculpture is “absolutely beautiful.”

“I think the important thing is that a patient here was inspired and felt like they wanted to contribute something to the clinic,” she said. “Mr. Glass spoke of how he appreciated the care the staff here delivered to him and his family, and I think that just shows the tightness of this community and how well the staff does take care of its patients.”

Demos studied metalsmithing and sculpture at the University of Southern Illinois. He shares an art studio with Bill in Locust Grove, located south of Salina.

Demos said he and his father put their thoughts together to come up with an idea that represented prayer.

“We know that when you go through the health care system sometimes you’re not really looking forward to going there, so we just thought it would be a nice thing,” Demos said. “Public art can affect people just by walking by it, we believe. So, that’s what we are trying to do. We’re trying to create good feelings here.”


I can have it all, but with a little help
05/05/2014 11:18 AM
Who says you can’t have it all? Lately my reality has been just that. However, I haven’t been doing it alone.

During the past year I have experienced several changes. All of which have changed not only my life, but my family’s, too.

In March 2013, I had the opportunity to finally purchase my own car, a new model. That was exciting. I had been having trouble with mine and I badly wanted to purchase a new car. I never thought I could, but I did and that was a fantastic blessing.

Two months later, my family and I moved into a new house built by the Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation under the tribes’ new home construction program. My in-laws allowed us to purchase a small piece of property from them north of Tahlequah for the home to be built upon.

I filed for the program the week of its inception in April 2012, and a year later we moved into our first new home. That was a dream come true. Without that program I’m afraid it would have been far longer for me to buy a home, a new home at that.

In June, my then-partner Mike Murphy and I discovered we were expecting our second child. So together we have four children. This news was quite surprising, but great. We thought having another child wasn’t a possibility any longer considering we’d tried for nearly two years, but we were blessed with another boy. I thought I had my hands full with one in the home (the other two live outside the home). So on Jan. 27, we welcomed the newest Murphy, Austin.

So after all these changes and the welcomed surprise why not go ahead and throw another one in the mix. Mike and I finally got married. I had taken my maternity leave a week before going into labor. So my last week of my leave we planned a small, nice ceremony on the Cherokee Nation Courthouse grounds beneath a beautiful magnolia tree. And the ceremony was just that, beautiful. CN citizen David Comingdeer officiated.

So on April 8 at 4:08 p.m. on the grounds of the historic courthouse, David gave the prayer and welcome in both Cherokee and English and proceeded with the marriage ceremony.

I have waited nearly seven years to marry Mike and for whatever reason in the past it just wasn’t the right time. So on that day I walked to a floral archway where Mike stood as Jami Custer and we left that ceremony as Mr. and Mrs. Michael Murphy.

Now I’ve returned to work, a much-awaited return in my eyes. I have missed the past three months without writing for the Cherokee Phoenix and contributing to what I feel is a much-needed news outlet for our Cherokee people. It feels great to be back working again.

Even though we’ve spent the past seven years as a couple, I want to try and be as a good of a mother and wife as I can. Why wouldn’t I? But life is a lot of work.

In today’s society, many women and men attempt to do it all. They want to work, bring up babies, have personal relationships and still try to find the time for themselves. I tell you, it’s not easy. It can be done, but there’s a lot of help behind the scenes that many don’t see.

For example, purchasing my new car couldn’t have been achieved without my employment with the Cherokee Phoenix. Working for the past seven years has allowed me the opportunity to establish better credit and work steadily and that afforded me the opportunity for the new car.

My home would not have been possible without the help of CN citizens William and Deborah Smoke. They have helped us more than words can express.
And finally, the old saying “it takes a village to raise a child” I think can be linked to our relationships. Many people have had a hand in my and Mike’s seven-year courtship, both good and bad, but either way all leading us where we are today, married.

We can have it all. But when you look at it, really look at what you’re accomplishing, I don’t think you’re doing it alone. Many people are there helping, some we can’t even see.

Thanks friends, family and extended family for all you’ve done behind the scenes.


Jack Brown Center employee recounts 9/11
09/11/2014 01:28 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation employee Ralph Winburn, a licensed practical nurse with the tribe’s Jack Brown Center, remembers thinking he was watching a movie trailer on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, as terrorist attacks unfolded in New York City.

In 2001, he was employed by New York City Fire as an emergency medical technician and stationed in South Bronx while living in Queens.

“It was a ‘RDO’ or regular day off, and I was at home surfing the web and looking at the TV with the volume down. And I kind of looked at the TV and thought it was a made-for-TV movie because the bombing in (19)93 had just happened. ‘Wow that’s kind of soon to make a made-for-TV movie,’ he said. “But the screen didn’t change, I turned up the volume, and there was a news announcer stating he didn’t know what happened, if it was an accident or terrorism.”

Anytime there is a possibility of 100 or more patients, Winburn said, even on a day off working for Emergency Medical Services, personnel must put on the uniform and respond to the closest battalion.

“It was two units that went out from there (Queens), and we were trying to figure out the best route because there was no plan for that. They quickly told us that the only route is the only route we didn’t want to take, which was under water, the mid-town tunnel. All the overpasses were shut down for security purposes,” he said. “We took that underwater route and go into Manhattan, and it was kind of eerie because we were the only two vehicles in the mid-town tunnel. That never happens. You’ve got a sea of yellow cabs at all times, trucks, this, that and the other, everyone moving back and forth. It’ll take you probably 30 to 40 minutes to get through that tunnel. We got through that tunnel in four minutes.”

He said once they came out of the tunnel and saw the smoke everything got quiet and somber. For the first two hours he and others helped with the “mass exodus” of lower Manhattan.

“And that happened through waterways or on foot. There was no bus or train services. There was only ferry services. So we were directing people how to get out of the city. After the city was cleared, we were then back to our makeshift hospitals,” Winburn said.

He said in the makeshift hospitals their plans were for every doctor to have two nurses, every nurse to have two paramedics, every paramedic to have five EMTs and every EMT was to triage and treat 15 patients.

“That didn’t happen because within those first two hours either you walked out with the evacuation or you were considered dead,” he said. “The only patients we got were emergency workers. A policeman, fireman, cut here, scratch there, a fall or whatever.”

After working for 16 hours, he said he was required to go home, be off for eight hours and return if needed.

“But before I left, a lot of us had to do a makeshift building of people. Whereas if you knew your anatomy you were needed. If there was a body part and you could identify it, you would label it,” he said. “If it was connected to an MOS uniform, a member of service uniform, then it went to a certain area. If it was not it was considered civilian. It went to a different area that way you could get an accurate body count by building bodies exactly what was there and not there.”

Winburn said one of the more horrific things he experienced during the attacks was the inability to reach his family via phone. But in the aftermath, he said finding out who didn’t make it home that night was just as horrible.

Trying to find a bright side in any bad situation is a challenge, but Winburn said coming out of 9/11 was an appreciation for life.

“I myself, I grew up in an orphanage, so not having mom and dad where most people did was one of those things where you appreciate everything that is around you, whereas most people don’t,” he said.

He said experiencing 9/11 intensified that feeling of appreciating life.

“To make me want to go forward and continue to do good and share this gift of life that I was given with everybody else,” Winburn said. “The only thing we ask, I say we, I mean people who have gone through that experience, is that everyone not forget. How you choose to not forget is basically what counts to you.”
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