- In this week's broadcast:
We feature twenty-nine year-old Cherokee Nation citizen Steve Brickey, a professional calf roper, has competed in rodeos since about age 6.
Also, Reporter Jami Murphy stops by to discuss current and future stories she is working on.
...plus much more.
The refuge can be reached on S. 4520 Road, south of Vian, and is located along the Arkansas River in southern Sequoyah County. Volunteers may work one day, two days or all three days.
The tribe began a River Cane Initiative in 2010 to preserve, map and perpetuate the growth of river cane in the tribe’s jurisdiction in northeastern Oklahoma. Cherokee Nation administrative liaison Pat Gwin and researcher for the initiative, Roger Cain, have located and cataloged river cane on more than 60 acres of tribal land.
However, not much of the river cane found on the 60 acres of tribal land is fit for “traditional art” such as baskets, Cain said, because it has not been taken care of and is attempting to grow under the canopy of trees. River cane once grew 40 feet tall in the area, he said, but now cane growing only approximately 20 feet tall can be found.
River cane was the Cherokees’ plastic, Cain said. It was used for shelter, weapons (bows, arrows, knives, blowguns), mats, chairs, food, and supplied material for baskets.
VIAN, Okla. – Volunteers are needed to help plant river cane at the Sequoyah Wildlife Refuge near Vian from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Feb. 19, 22 and 23.
Locally, New, who died in 2002, is known as the Institute of American Indian Art’s first artistic director. Yet nationally, Native people refer to him as the “Godfather of Native Fashion.”
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts and the New Mexico Museum of Art will each present an exhibition in 2016 focusing on New’s contributions to contemporary Native culture. Additionally, the three institutions are planning a symposium, multiple lectures, panel discussions, fashion show, gala and 100th birthday party.
For the past two years, the museums have worked to honor New’s iconic status with items on view from their respective holdings, from his widow Aysen New’s collection and items rarely on public display from important private collections.
Opening first is the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Art’s “Lloyd Kiva New: Art, Design and Influence,” which draws on three themes of his legacy. The art aspect includes paintings by New from his personal collection, completed between 1938-95, many never before shown in a museum or gallery. The design portion presents the artist as an innovator of Native Modernism through fashion and textile design in an interpretive reproduction of the Kiva Studio – New’s successful 1950s showroom in Scottsdale, Arizona. The influence aspect features more than 40 printed textiles created by IAIA students during the 1960s and 1970s under New’s artistic direction – drawn from the permanent collection of the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.
SANTA FE, N.M. – This year is the centennial of the birth of the late Cherokee artist Lloyd Kiva New, and three Santa Fe arts institutions are celebrating this anniversary in style.
At its Jan. 19 meeting, the HACN board of directors unanimously approved two resolutions that would facilitate moving the tribe’s Housing Rehabilitation program from the tribe’s Community Services to the HACN, pending approval by Cherokee Nation.
As of Feb. 5, no move had been made, nor had any timeline been given for the proposed change.
If the switch ultimately happens, approximately 80 tribal employees would be shifted to the HACN.
One of the two resolutions approved by the HACN board would allow those employees to keep their accrued leave balances, as well as their original dates of seniority.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Housing Rehabilitation program may be on the move to the Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation.
Applications are being accepted until June 1 for the October event.
During the event, 50 elders from federally recognized Oklahoma tribes and nations will be honored for their contributions to their tribe or nation, family, community state or nation.
According to an AARP press release, AARP wants to honor at least one person from each of the 39 federally recognized tribes and nations in Oklahoma.
Those nominated must be enrolled in an Oklahoma tribe or nation, must be at least 50 years old and living.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Officials with the eighth annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors are accepting applications for the next round of tribal elders to be recognized this year.
Cohle Fowler, CN Government Relations legislative assistant, said he is coordinating the outreach initiative that aims to raise voter registration among the approximately 320,000 CN citizens.
“Project 320K’s goal is to expand voter registration, and ultimately participation in all elections, including tribal, local, county, state and federal,” Fowler said. “We also aim to encourage parents to expose their children to the political process. When parents take their kids with them into the voting booth, it both demystifies the process for children, and teaches them that voting is an important part of citizenship.”
Fowler said with more than 320,000 CN citizens, the CN has the ability to become a powerful voice if it registers and mobilizes its voting population.
“In last year’s Cherokee elections, around only 7,500 votes were cast out of our tribe made up of over 320,000 citizens around the world,” he said. “Only 34 percent of voters participated in the state of Oklahoma’s general election last year, and turnout in the 2014 national midterm elections only 41.9 percent of voting age citizens participated which is the lowest rate in 45 years. Our hope is that through our efforts to educate Cherokee families on the impact of their vote and cultivate a positive culture around the process of voting, the Cherokee Nation will be able to stand as an example of civic responsibility in a nation seeing historic low turnouts at the polls.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Launched during the 2013 Cherokee National Holiday, the Cherokee Nation is moving ahead with its Project 320K as the 2016 race to the White House heats up.
The tribe’s bond rating was upgraded from a BBB- to BBB in 2014 for its solid financial operations, and Fitch affirmed its good credit rating in 2015 and 2016.
“The Cherokee Nation’s continued strong rating is third-party proof of our responsible fiscal management,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “I commend our financial resources staff for its performance, especially during a year when we pursued so many different and diverse expansion projects.”
Each year the CN is required to have an independent rating analyst review its financial statements, spending trends, debt and future outlook after the tribe issued tax-exempt bonds in 2006 to construct the Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee, Nowata Health Center and Redbird Smith Health Center annex in Sallisaw.
“The affirmation of our bond rating speaks to the financial strength of the Cherokee Nation. It means that our present is stable and our future is full of opportunities,” CN Treasurer Lacey Horn said. “I would like to thank my colleagues at Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses for their perpetual commitment to integrity and sound financial oversight.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation continues to show strong financial performance by maintaining its bond BBB rating in 2016, according to Fitch Ratings Inc., one of the top three global rating agencies.
CALERA, Okla. – When it comes to expressing herself through art, Cherokee Nation citizen Hailey Bishop has been doing so since she was 2. In the past 16 years she’s created art and won awards for it.
The 18-year-old said she first started with coloring books. That’s when her parents noticed her talent.
“I was like 2 and I’d be coloring in my high chair and my parents would notice a whole different change. They were like ‘this isn’t normal.’ So they started buying me little paint kits and 64 packs of crayons,” she said.
She started taking art seriously at age 7, entering her art in the Bryan County Fair. She said from then she branched out by attending art shows and finding her passion of creating portraits. She said it’s “intriguing” to capture people’s faces.
“That’s the thing that I’ve always been interested in since I was very little. That’s what I see. I like nature too, but just peoples faces, it’s very intriguing,” Bishop said. “Most people think that they’re the hardest to draw, but to me they’re the funnest and always the easiest.”
Bishop said she enjoys drawing faces because it feels as if she’s connecting with the person.
“There’s something about faces when I draw them. It’s almost like you know the person, especially if it’s a very old photo of Native Americans or just any person. It’s almost like you’re getting to know the person,” she said.
Bishop also said she creates art in various media.
“I paint. I’m trying to venture out into oil painting. Oil painting is kind of hard to do. You have to get things done really quick because it dries so slow,” she said. “I’m venturing out into clay. I’ve tried to mix mediums together with say leaves on canvases, really just out-of-the-box type things. I’ve painted on all types of surfaces. My go-to is in drawing. I really like charcoal. Charcoal is very messy, but it’s a challenging medium.”
As for her inspirations, they vary by piece and by how she’s feeling.
“I really love to feed off my inspirations of what God might give me, and usually it’s nature and people. Sometime it can just be something I’m just really happy about or I’m just really moved by. Most of my emotions drive my artwork,” she said. “Sometimes nothing really inspires me for some pieces. Sometimes I just want to do it…It’s like what I feel at the time and that’s really it.”
Bishop said she won big at the 2015 Southeastern Art Show and Market in Sulphur even though she missed the deadline but was allowed to enter. She said by entering late she had limited time to create.
“I had a week and a half to work on my work. That was the most challenging thing I have ever done.”
She entered four pieces and they all placed.
“I didn’t expect that I would win anything. I was just like ‘I’m just going to try.’ I usually shoot for the best, which would be best of show, which I didn’t get but I’m totally OK with that. I wasn’t expecting to get anything,” she said. “It was a really awesome experience. It’s just another year that you get these opportunities and more experience. Now that I’m going into the adult category I’m really stepping up my game, and it’s just a whole different world.”
She won “Best of Two-Dimensional Art” for her drawing “2 Corinthians 4:7” in the youth category.
“It just happened to be the one that I was least expecting to place that won the whole shebang,” she said.
She also won three youth juror awards for her drawings “Song of Solomon 4:7,” “Study of Native American Woman by Manuel Librodo” and her painting “Find Peace.”
She earned nearly $1,200 in award money and nearly another $1,200 from selling her artwork.
Bishop said it’s important to have found her calling in art and believes young people should also find something that drives them.
“Know what drives you and stick with those things because if you don’t have a purpose behind anything that you want to do how are you going to stick with it? How are you going to achieve more things?” she said. “Especially for young people, I think it’s important for them to have something to grasp on to, especially in our society today.”
Bishop said she enjoys being an artist and is grateful for the opportunities art has provided her.
“The artist that I am is just, it’s a crazy thing to really describe, but if I wasn’t an artist I think that I wouldn’t know how to express myself,” she said. “I love the fact that being an artist affects my whole person. It affects how I see everything. It affects what my morals are. It affects many aspects in my daily life.”
Bishop attends Calera High School and is set to graduate this year. She was recently accepted into Oklahoma State University in Stillwater and plans to major in graphic design.
“I’ve decided to venture out and major in graphic design because of the work that I’m doing at my local vo-tech down here. I’m in a graphic design class now, so I have a lot of opportunities to already get hands-on experience,” she said.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – While many schools within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction are struggling with the Oklahoma State Board of Education’s decision to cut education funding by $47 million this year, tribal officials said the Cherokee Immersion Charter School would not be affected.
“No classrooms or students will be directly impacted this school year as a result of state education cuts, which is just one of many sources of funding encompassing the Cherokee Immersion Charter School’s budget,” Dr. Neil Morton, Education Services senior advisor, said.
On Jan. 7 the state board voted to approve roughly $47 million in budget cuts from Oklahoma public schools. The figure represents about 3 percent of each school district’s fiscal year budget ending June 30.
To help alleviate the strain on schools using the per-student formula, the board recommended making deeper cuts to specific programs.
Areas affected include a 55 percent reduction in advanced placement teacher training and testing fee assistance, a 30 percent reduction in school lunch matching funds and a 50 percent reduction in staff and teacher development. State funds allocated for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, were eliminated completely.
Holly Davis, Cherokee Immersion Charter School principal, said the school would not be forced to cut back as other schools are halfway through the fiscal year.
“We are fortunate that the Cherokee Nation supports education, as it should be,” Davis said. “The majority of our funds come from the Cherokee Nation, so state budget cuts will not impact our school like other public schools who rely solely on state funding.”
Morton said the tribe’s Education Services is monitoring any future funding discussions, but as of publication, it is business as usual.
“The Cherokee Nation continues its effort to preserve our cultural identity by funding the immersion school each year with about $2 million in tribal funding so that our youngest generations continue to learn and speak the Cherokee language to carry it on,” he said. “That mission will not change.”
The cuts come after state finance officials declared a revenue loss in December, largely due to struggles within the oil and gas industry.
While the immersion school may not see reductions, other schools within the CN territory could be forced to cut back on staff or close.
Salina Public School Superintendent Tony Thomas said his district is trying to survive amid the projected cuts, which he estimates to be between $55,000 to $70,000 at the school.
“We have already cut programs and have had class sizes increase because of funding cuts since 2009,” Thomas said. “We have lost over $600,000 just in state aid since 2009. We will continue to look for all areas where we can cut back in spending. Salaries are the biggest area, but we will also cut back on professional development and travel and the purchasing of new items at this time.”
Thomas said he plans to continue operations without cutting staff, but knows difficult decisions are still coming, as the state will face an even bigger budget deficit of $900 million in the next fiscal year.
“In the next few months we will formulate a plan to not only deal with the current cuts but also the suspected 7 percent cut we may take with the budget next school year,” he said. “With the anticipation of the state having $900 million dollars less to spend next year, there is no way that education will not take a big hit for next year.”
Stillwell Public Schools Superintendent Geri Gilstrap said her school will be forced to make a $100,000 cut and is concerned about the possibility of more before the end of the fiscal year.
“We have worked diligently to secure grant funds to offset the budget cuts for years now and have watched our carryover funds closely as we continue to be cut in funding,” she said. “Grant writing and donations from private donors used to supplement our budget, and now those are vital dollars helping supply our students with the updated programs and equipment they need and deserve.”
She cited the lack of funding for STEM programs as particularly troubling, saying it jeopardizes the vision she has to provide an education that “envelopes individual potentials, creating well-rounded, college- and trade school-ready students.”
The cuts have both districts watching state lawmakers closely.
“We must continue to make our voice heard among our legislators that determine where the funding goes,” Gilstrap said. “We must continue to suggest to the legislators that better financial decisions be made in order to insure the children of Oklahoma are made a priority.”
Thomas agreed. “We need to fix these problems at the state level and the legislature, along with the governor, who needs to put education first,” he said. “The kids of this state deserve better than what we are giving them.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During its Jan. 11 meeting, the Tribal Council, via Legislative Act 17-15, increased the fiscal year 2016 operating budget by $1,773,125 making the total operating budget authority $654.7 million.
The modification consisted of adding $1.8 million in grant and carryover funding, as well as a decrease of approximately $75,000 from several tribal funds.
Although there was no discussion during the meeting, Tribal Councilor Dick Lay abstained during the act’s voting. All other legislators voted to approve. The act passed 16-0-1.
In an email, Lay stated he abstained because of inefficiencies in the Cherokee Nation’s Rehabilitation Housing group and the fact the tribe’s administration is making changes to it.
“They may move CN Rehab employees to the CN Housing Authority. The CN administration placed in the budget mod (modification) to move the funding from CN Rehab to the CN Housing Authority,” Lay said. “These items were in CN Rehab budgets, and now have been sent to the CN Housing authority.
“The CN Rehab Housing is a CN government entity, under the authority of the CN government. These 79 CN Rehab housing jobs had full vesting and employment rights in the CN government,” he added. “The CN Housing Authority is not a CN government department. It is a State of Oklahoma agency. I’m being told its employees are considered at-will employees. The CN government essentially funds the state agency – the CN Housing Authority. Because it has not been explained, and I’m still not sure how the CN Rehab group will be improved, and more importantly, because I’m concerned for the 79 CN government Rehab Housing employees and their families, I voted abstain instead of yes.”
Councilors also approved the donation of surplus office equipment to the Foyil Community Building.
Also, Principal Chief Bill John Baker said in his State of the Nation address that CN officials met with Secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro to discuss a new program that will benefit Native American veterans who are homeless.
“We were one of 26 tribes nationwide to be selected. It gives us an opportunity to get 20 veterans that are homeless into safe, sanitary, decent housing with our partnership with the VA (Veterans Affairs),” Baker said. “If you know them, help us locate them.”
He also said the Attorney General’s Office and the tribe’s One Fire program has secured a $400,000 grant to “increase awareness and help prosecute more cases involving sexual assault against women.”
Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden also honored three veterans during the meeting, giving them CN Medal of Patriotism awards. The veterans were Chester Benton Havenstrite, who served in the Army during the Cold War; Selbert Lee Taylor, who served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War; and Samuel Jordan, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War.
JAY, Okla. – It is estimated that most visits to Cherokee Nation’s medical clinics are diabetic related, a tribal health official said.
In 2013, Principal Chief Bill John Baker promised to invest $100 million of casino profits to better the health care and the lives of the Cherokee people.
When the initiative was launched Baker said, “Our financial success belongs to the Cherokee people.”
The heath care of CN citizens was and still remains a top priority.
“There have been many medical success stories,” said Connie Davis, executive director of Health Services, referring to the $100 million initiative.
Diabetic care was just one of the many medical conditions problems CN officials wanted to address with the health initiative, she said.
“Over 50 percent of the health care visits to our clinics is diabetic related,” Davis said.
National data states diabetes affects 25.8 million people, more than 8 percent of the country’s population. And of that number, 7 million people are undiagnosed. It is the seventh-leading cause of death for individuals in the United States, according to national data.
“The tribe’s care for diabetic and the A1C program exceeds national averages,” Davis said.
The A1C test measures the amount of glucose in a person’s blood over three months. The higher the number means the person’s diabetes is out of control. An A1C level of 14 percent means the estimated average blood sugar level is around 355. Most diabetic patients strive for an AIC number of 6, an estimated blood sugar level of around 126.
The tribe is working to beat the national average of 6, Davis said.
The tribe also collaborated with the University of Oklahoma and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to eradicate Hepatitis C within the tribe, Davis said.
“No one in the United States is doing this,” she said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that affects the liver. Most people become infected with the virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. For some people, it is a short-term illness but for 70 to 85 percent of infected people, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection.
There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, according to data released by the CDC.
The tribe has also earmarked a large chunk of the $100 million for buildings.
The CN operates a network of eight health centers and one hospital throughout its jurisdiction.
“Half of the money went to new clinics and clinic expansions,” Davis said.
Some of those improvements included expanding the Wilma Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell and the Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw.
Other projects included the construction of a new 28,000-square-foot Cooweescoowee Health Center in Ochelata and the ongoing construction of a new 42,000–square-foot Sam Hider Health Center in Jay.
An Indian Health Service Joint Venture Construction program increased the Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee to more than 100,000 square-feet and is the largest center in the CN health system.
Another joint venture with the IHS will build a new 450,000-square-foot medical center in Tahlequah. The new hospital will replace the 30-year-old facility, W.W. Hastings Hospital, which serves more than 400,000 patient visits annually. Hastings averages 4,600 hospital admissions, 13,000 inpatient days, 1,000 newborn admissions and more than 350,000 visits annually, according to the tribe’s website.
The tribe also has plans for a partnership with Oklahoma State University to recruit, train and hire Cherokee doctors.
The tribe’s other clinics are the Will Rogers Health Center in Nowata, A-Mo Health Center in Salina and the Vinita Health Center, which is the first to offer an on-site Wellness Workout Center.
Baker spoke before the U.S. House Interior Appropriation Subcommittee in 2014 about how a joint venture with the CN would benefit many citizens. Innovative programs, such as a joint venture, can help reduce the $2.2 billion health construction backlog, according to his testimony.
“The Affordable Care Act has been great for tribes,” Amanda Clinton, CNB Communications and Govern director, said. She added that many tribal citizens have been able to obtain extremely low-cost insurance under the Affordable Care Act, some for just pennies on the dollar. “Many of these patients never had insurance prior to the Affordable Care Act.”
Most CN health centers offer medical, dental, lab, radiology, public health, WIC, nutrition, contract health, pharmacy, behavioral health, optometry, community health service and mammography.
The Jack Brown Center in Tahlequah serves CN citizens who may be struggling with an alcohol or drug dependency.
Heroes deserve hope.
That’s a mission that will be fulfilled as we create more opportunities for the brave men and women who have given so much of themselves to our great country through their military service.
A new tribal program launched in partnership between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will ensure Native military veterans have access to safe and secure housing. This partnership is especially significant because it marks the first time the HUD/VA housing assistance program has included tribes. Nationwide, $5.9 million will be distributed among the selected tribal governments.
It’s an admirable goal, and I am proud the Cherokee Nation will be one of 26 tribal governments nationwide to share in federal funding to provide long-term housing for veterans who need a permanent home. We will provide 20 vouchers to Cherokee veterans for rental assistance thanks to $194,000 awarded to our tribe.
As most of us know, Indian people serve in the military at a higher rate than any other group, and this program targets homeless veterans within tribal jurisdictions. There is no better way to honor the service and sacrifice of Cherokee veterans than by making sure they have a roof over their head.
In our communities, homelessness may not be the textbook definition of “homeless.” We don't see as much traditional homelessness in Indian Country as other racial populations because our people take care of one another. We don't kick people out on the streets. However, many Indian families and homes are severely overcrowded. This is one of the examples of “homelessness” within our tribal communities.
Cherokee Nation was selected to participate because we have raised the bar for veteran services. We have a state-of-the-art veterans center, which provides veterans invaluable resources and services, and we have a memorandum of understanding in place with the VA to treat Native veterans with routine health care in tribal facilities.
I applaud HUD Secretary Julián Castro for traveling to Oklahoma for the sole purpose of sharing this news with tribal leaders and for the White House’s efforts to curb the rate of veteran homelessness. This new effort will ensure Cherokee patriots get the assistance they desperately need after serving our country. As Secretary Castro said, we can “create a better 21st century for all Americans.”
We are already working with the VA to identify 20 Cherokees veterans who need adequate housing. My administration has been defined by homes and hope. I am so proud we will be able to do this for our veterans. Anytime you can help provide the basic necessities for a Cherokee Nation citizen and for a veteran, it is the right and honorable thing to do. Heroes deserve hope. I believe this program will be a great success and hope it will perpetuate and help more deserving souls in the future.
WEST SILOAM SPRINGS, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Tana Washington said her family has always encouraged and inspired her to create different art forms. Even more so, her emotions help drive and compel her to create.
“A lot of the times that I’ve done artwork is from emotions. So when I’m going through tough times it’s my therapy and it’s a way for me to express. I’m inspired by nature. I’m inspired by people,” she said. “As a young child, I was always intrigued. I used to get in trouble for staring at people because I was just fascinated with all the differences in all the people and what they do. A lot of my artwork comes from experiences in my life, and some of them were good and some of them were not so good, but I’ve always enjoyed doing art – no matter whether I sell them or not I’ll do art. I just love it.”
Washington has created art since she was a child. It’s something she said she’s always enjoyed doing, and it was only after leaving a regular job nearly five years ago that she focused on art.
“I started drawing when I was really small. I was always around artists. My dad and Jerome Tiger were best friends, so I was introduced to art at a very young age. So I’ve drawn my entire life basically, not professionally, but just because I love doing it.”
She began to get serious about her work around the time she lost her job.
“I decided that I needed to do something and I had time. I had the opportunity, and it’s just something I always loved doing,” she said. “When people were interested in buying some of my artwork I thought ‘well this is a way for me to make some money.’ I really wasn’t serious for a long time.”
Washington said she also enjoys working clay and scissor-cut art.
“I do several types of different art. I do scissor-cut art. It’s a really old art form that I turned into my style, I guess. I do pencil work. I love to paint. I just got back into some clay and just different types of art. I like to draw, so I draw with colored pencils, ink and regular pencils and smoke.”
Washington said she drew inspiration for her scissor-cut art after watching a Florida artist do it about seven years ago. She said he used little scissors, but after spending about $200 or $300 on different kinds of scissors, fabric scissors worked best for her. By using scissors to cut away white portions of a two-sided black and white paper, she “cuts away the bad and leaves the good” to create her art.
Washington has art pieces in the Spider Art Gallery in Tahlequah and creates commission pieces.
“I have an art page on Facebook. It’s called ‘Scissor Cut Art by Tana.’ I have a lot of the art that I’ve done on there. I’ve posted on there for people to see,” she said. “The best way if someone wanted to commission some of my artwork or see some artwork that I have for sale would be to contact me on Facebook.”