Bill John Baker
Bill John Baker

Bison return to the Cherokee Nation

BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
10/24/2014 04:31 PM
A historic part of our past recently became an exciting part of our future.

The Cherokee Nation is back in the bison business. In October we received a herd of 38 female bison from the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. The 2-year-old cows will be joined by an additional 10 bulls from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota any day now.

Seeing them released onto their new home was a moving experience and one that will forever stay with me. Right now they are grazing on 66 acres of specially fenced pasture in Delaware County, but about a thousand acres are available to open up as the herd grows. For many of us, bison are an iconic symbol of our great country – free, strong and resilient. Those are the same traits we identify in ourselves as Indian people.

That’s why bison have always represented something deeply spiritual to our Cherokee tribal ancestors and why it’s important for us, as a tribal nation, to reintroduce bison within our homelands.

Most people only associate bison with Great Plains tribes, but woodland bison once roamed the CN and all along the Atlantic Coast. Prior to European colonization, the animals played a critical role for the Cherokee people. Hundreds of years ago when buffalo migrated east of the Mississippi, the Cherokee people survived, in part, by hunting buffalo and using them as a vital food source. It was only after Europeans’ colonization that bison were mostly wiped out from the east and southeast parts of the present-day United States.

Today, we have an extraordinary opportunity to reconnect the modern CN with a prominent part of our history and our cultural roots from our traditional homelands. There is a nationwide resurgence by tribes, including the CN, to reconnect with these animals.

This Native renaissance with bison is being led by the InterTribal Buffalo Council, an organization that we proudly support as one of 60 member tribes. It’s through the ITBC that we were able to secure these surplus animals from the national parks.

We hope to qualify for more surplus bison in the future. Our Natural Resources Department has been preparing for nearly two years to successfully acquire this herd. We have strategically planned how to sustain and grow it, and we are prepared to take additional herds. The ITBC staff generously consulted with our staff to plan for the herd’s arrival and helped provide funding for the special 7-foot-fencing and supplies to maintain the animals. These bison will continue to be monitored by our Natural Resources Department and our specialized veterinarians. The Nation’s Natural Resources Department manages 22,000 acres of tribally owned land in northeast Oklahoma, and this herd of bison will be housed on 1,000 acres near Kenwood.

Historically, bison provided more than an essential source of protein for tribes. Every part of the bison was used for food, clothing, shelter, tools and ceremonial purposes. For future generations of Cherokee people, these newly acquired bison will help revive some ancient cultural traditions, as well as provide expanded economic opportunities.

The economic benefit bison can have for the CN is profound. There is great potential for a boon in regional tourism. The bison can provide an extra tribal destination for tourists to experience. That will only enhance our current cultural and historical offerings we provide through CN museums, art galleries and historical sites.

We know bison is a lean protein, and down the road we may look at bison as a locally produced food source for our Cherokee citizens and senior citizen nutrition centers. Healthy, nutritional food to counterbalance the modern epidemic of obesity and diabetes affecting Indian people could change that current trajectory.

Bison are the beginning of a new chapter to a familiar story for the Cherokee people, and we are eager and proud to share it.
Children carry chairs from one room to another at the Little Singer Community School in Winslow, Arizona. The school, which serves 81 students, consists of a cluster of rundown classroom buildings containing asbestos, radon, mice, mold and flimsy outside door locks. JOHN LOCHER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Children carry chairs from one room to another at the Little Singer Community School in Winslow, Arizona. The school, which serves 81 students, consists of a cluster of rundown classroom buildings containing asbestos, radon, mice, mold and flimsy outside door locks. JOHN LOCHER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Indian schools face decayed buildings, poverty

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
10/24/2014 01:24 PM
WINSLOW, Ariz. (AP) – On a desert outpost miles from the closest paved road, Navajo students at the Little Singer Community School gleefully taste traditional fry bread during the school’s heritage week.

“It reminds us of the Native American people a long time ago,” says a smiling 9-year-old, Arissa Chee.

The cheer comes in the midst of dire surroundings: Little Singer, like so many of the 183 Indian schools overseen by the federal government, is verging on decrepit.

The school, which serves 81 students, consists of a cluster of rundown classroom buildings containing asbestos, radon, mice, mold and flimsy outside door locks. The newest building, a large, white monolithic dome that is nearly 20 years old, houses the gym.

On a recent day, students carried chairs above their heads while they changed classes, so they would have a place to sit.

These are schools, says Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, whose department is responsible for them, “that you or I would not feel good sending our kids to, and I don’t feel good sending Indian kids there, either.”

Federally owned schools for Native Americans on reservations are marked by remoteness, extreme poverty and few construction dollars.

The schools serve about 48,000 children, or about 7 percent of Indian students, and are among the country’s lowest performing. At Little Singer, less than one-quarter of students were deemed proficient in reading and math on a 2012-2013 assessment.

The Obama administration is pushing ahead with a plan to improve the schools that gives tribes more control. But the endeavor is complicated by disrepair of so many buildings, not to mention a federal legacy dating to the 19th century that for many years forced Native American children to attend boarding schools.

Little Singer was the vision in the 1970s of a medicine man of the same name who wanted local children educated in the community.

Students often come from families struggling with domestic violence, alcoholism and a lack of running water at home, so nurturing is emphasized. The school provides showers, along with shampoo and washing machines.

Conflicts and discipline problems are resolved with traditional “peacemaking” discussions, and occasionally the use of a sweat lodge.

Principal Etta Shirley’s day starts at 6 a.m., when on her way to work, she picks up kids off the bus routes. Because there’s no teacher housing, a caravan of teachers commutes together about 90 minutes each morning on barely passable dirt roads.

All this, to teach in barely passable quarters.

“We have little to work with, but we make do with what we have,” says Verna Yazzie, a school board member.

The school is on the government’s priority list for replacement.

It’s been there since at least 2004.

The 183 schools are spread across 23 states and fall under the jurisdiction of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Education.

They are in some of the most out-of-the-way places in America; one is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, reachable by donkey or helicopter. Most are small, with fewer than 150 students.

Native Americans perform better in schools that are not overseen by the federal bureau than in schools that are, national and state assessments show. Overall, they trail their peers in an important national assessment and struggle with a graduation rate of 68 percent.

President Barack Obama visited Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota in June, where he announced the school improvement plan.
http://academics.nsuok.edu/Portals/18/Flyer.pdf
Sarah Ferrell
Sarah Ferrell

Ferrell earns Gates Scholarship, academic team honors

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
10/24/2014 08:35 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Sarah Ferrell is enjoying her first year of college at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.

The 18-year-old honor student is attending on a Gates Millennium Scholars Scholarship. She said her father encouraged her to apply for the scholarship, which is given annually to only 1,000 students from throughout the United States. Ferrell said she did not have high expectations of winning the scholarship, which pays for up to 10 years of college.

“A bunch of my friends applied for it, and they all kept getting rejection letters and I felt really bad,” she said.

The scholarship was established in 1999 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide outstanding American Indian/Alaska Native, African American, Asian Pacific Islander American and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate and graduate college education in any discipline area of interest.

Ferrell said having the scholarship relieves the pressure of worrying about how to pay for school.

“My friends talk about always having to deal with loans and how they’re going to pay it. I don’t have to worry about that,” she said.

At Tahlequah High School, she played soccer and was a part of the National Honor Society. One of her long-time interests may surprise some people – she is skilled at shooting a traditional Cherokee bow.

“I’ve never shot a compound (bow) or anything. It’s always traditional. My grandpa made them, and I’ve been doing it (shooting) since I was little,” she said.

She said if she had to hunt game with a bow and arrow to survive, she could do it.

At NSU, she has joined the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority and is concentrating on her studies. After completing her undergraduate studies, she plans to enroll in graduate school.

“I don’t want just four years. I want more than four years,” she said.

She admitted she has a tough time with her science classes but does well in her math classes. She is still is considering a career in the medical field, and understands a medical degree will require science classes.

Recently, Ferrell was the only Cherokee student selected to the American Indian Center’s “All Native American Academic Team.” Each year only 10 American Indian/Alaska Native students from across the United States are selected based on academic achievement, honors and awards, leadership and community service. Each student is given a monetary award that may be spent at the student’s discretion.

“I had to have a lot of volunteer activities and a bunch of leadership roles, and I listed the stuff I had done through the Cherokee Nation,” Ferrell said of the application process.

The objectives of the ANAAT is to increase awareness of academic achievement of Indian high school seniors among their peers, Indian Country and the public; to increase recognition of Indian student success and capabilities as a positive motivation for pursuing academic excellence and higher education; and to increase academic achievement and role models as positive influences in Indian Country.

The program also means to increase teacher, administrator, parent and community involvement by recommending, nominating and supporting student participation and to increase student participation in high school academic programs and the pursuit of higher education.

Ferrell said she felt good about her application to the ANAAT but still wasn’t sure she would be selected to the team because she faced a lot of competition.

“I didn’t really think I’d get it because so many people apply for it,” she said.

Moncooyea honored with ‘Court Support Excellence Award’

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
10/23/2014 12:45 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The North American Indian Court Judges Association recently honored Cherokee Nation District Court Clerk Kristi Moncooyea for her work with the court.

Moncooyea, who received the “Court Support Excellence Award,” has served as the only clerk for the District Court for the past 10 years and is “the amiable face that greets everyone who comes to the Cherokee Nation District Court,” a NAICJA statement reads.

“Handling the workload of at least three or four clerks all by herself, she handles the extraordinary caseload with great energy and resourcefulness,” the statement reads. “In addition to maintaining the court’s docket and case files, she answers the phone and patiently deals with attorneys, parties, law enforcement officers, and community members on a daily basis.”

Moncooyea, who is a CN citizen, said it is “very humbling” to be recognized by the NAICJA.

“I consider it an honor and privilege to work in the Cherokee Nation judicial system providing assistance to our Cherokee citizens as well as the general public who require services of the court,” Moncooyea said. “I share this award with the awesome court staff I work with daily who are always there to assist and help make the courthouse a friendly place to come to.”

District Court Judge John T. Cripps said Moncooyea is “a role model and inspiration” for tribal court personnel who are often challenged to do a great deal with very little assistance or resources.

“She is always courteous and respectful. I can find no one who does not appreciate her work and her abilities. She is the epitome of what a tribal employee should exemplify,” Cripps said.

Moncooyea is the first to receive the “Court Support Excellence Award,” from NAICJA.

Tribe’s TLJC reaches its 35th year

BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
10/23/2014 10:52 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Talking Leaves Job Corps recently reached its 35th year with the Cherokee Nation.

“The (federal) Job Corps program allows for the opportunity to improve many lives on a daily basis and has been doing so for the last 50 years,” Jay Littlejohn, TLJC director, said.

As part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, the Job Corps program started in 1964 to provide a no-cost education and career technical training for low-income young people ages 16-24. The program enrolls nearly 60,000 students annually at 125 Job Corps centers across the country and, since opening the program has trained more than 2.7 million people.

The TLJC was established in 1978 at Northeastern State University. It later moved to the CN Annex Building in 1991 before moving to its current location northeast of the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in 1994.

“With the Cherokee Nation as our contractor and the support of Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelley serving as the corporate liaison, our program is able to thrive and prepare students for the workforce so they may find meaningful employment,” Littlejohn said.

Job Corps is the nation’s largest and oldest federally funded career training and education program. Career training areas at TLJC include office administration, certified clinical medical aide, certified nursing assistant, culinary arts and electrical wiring and facilities maintenance.

By participating in the work-based learning program, students are provided hands-on experience while spending time in a real work environment. The program provides students with opportunities to prepare for high-skilled careers while making successful transitions from training to the workplace. Students start with classwork and then they can go into the field of their choice. Students must receive 400 hours of training.

“I’ve been the center director at Talking Leaves since 2009 and am very proud to say that since then we have had over 1,200 students complete a trade and nearly 900 students receive their GED,” Littlejohn said. “We look forward to the next 35 years of success.”
The installation of traffic lights at the intersection of U.S. Hwy 62 and Coffee Hollow Road will add better signage, turning lanes and improved acceleration and deceleration lanes to the intersection, which is the entrance to Sequoyah Schools, the Cherokee Nation Charter Immersion School, Head Start and Early Childhood Center in Cherokee County. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX A construction worker installs a traffic light at the intersection of U.S. Hwy 62 and Coffee Hollow Road in front of Sequoyah Schools. The lights will help with traffic congestion at the school’s entrance. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The installation of traffic lights at the intersection of U.S. Hwy 62 and Coffee Hollow Road will add better signage, turning lanes and improved acceleration and deceleration lanes to the intersection, which is the entrance to Sequoyah Schools, the Cherokee Nation Charter Immersion School, Head Start and Early Childhood Center in Cherokee County. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

SHS stoplight installation nearing completion

BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
10/23/2014 08:24 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After starting construction in August, Cherokee Nation officials said the new stoplight at Sequoyah High School’s entrance was expected to be complete by the end of October.

“It’s very important for Cherokee Nation to keep the students, parents and faculty and staff safe as they travel through this intersection,” Michael Lynn, CN Roads Department director, said.

The CN Roads Department received $525,000 from Federal Highway Administration’s Tribal Transportation Program safety funds in 2013 to improve highways on tribal lands. With those funds, the department planned to install the four-way stoplight at the busy intersection of U.S. Hwy 62 and Coffee Hollow Road, with the cooperation of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

“There are over 16,000 vehicles a day that travel across U.S. 62, about 1,800 cars that travel into Sequoyah High School at any point in time depending on activities going on at the school,” Lynn said.

The funds were given to add signal lights, better signage, turning lanes and improved acceleration and deceleration lanes to the intersection, which is the entrance to Sequoyah Schools, the CN Charter Immersion School, Head Start and Early Childhood Center in Cherokee County.

Before the stoplight, CN citizen Colleen Daugherty, who has a daughter in Head Start, said although she doesn’t have to pick up her child from Head Start that often, when she did she would notice how dangerous the intersection became.

“Traffic backs up. You have a really hard time turning left (in and out of the school), so I think the stoplight is a very beneficial thing, and I will be able to turn left (into the school) in the morning when I’m dropping her off,” she said.

Lynn said during the past 10 years, there have been approximately 15 accidents at that intersection but no fatalities.

“We’re working to improve the safety of this intersection to reduce that number,” he said.

This is the fist time the Roads Department has been awarded this grant. The Tribal Transportation Program was established to address transportation needs of tribal governments throughout the United States.

As of Oct. 21, traffic lights were being installed at the four-way intersection. Lynn said that once installation was complete, incidental work was still needed such as sod, striping, general cleanup and traffic light activation.

Roads Department officials said they still expected the intersection work to be complete by the end of October.
Cherokee Nation Election Commissioner Teresa Hart visits with EC attorney Harvey Chaffin regarding the voter precinct map at the commission’s Oct. 14 meeting in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Red stars show the Cherokee Nation voting precincts for the 2015 election cycle. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation Election Commissioner Teresa Hart visits with EC attorney Harvey Chaffin regarding the voter precinct map at the commission’s Oct. 14 meeting in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

EC removes polling places, limits media access

BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
10/22/2014 01:08 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission on Oct. 14 voted to remove two voting precincts and limit the time news reporters can shoot inside precincts during elections to five minutes.

Commissioners said a precinct in Cookson was added during the Tribal Council’s redistricting process but never opened as a polling place. Commissioner Shawna Calico said a decision was needed on whether to keep Cookson’s polling place or remove it. She said after some research, voters were going to have to drive either north or south around Lake Tenkiller to vote in Cookson.

“So this (Keys) is still the central location, so I say we just leave it at Keys (and remove Cookson),” she said.

Commissioner Teresa Hart asked how many voters were located in that area and Calico said there were more voters on the Keys side of Lake Tenkiller than the Cookson side. According to an EC report, Keys has more than 500 voters registered and Cookson had a little more than 150.

Calico motioned to remove Cookson’s precinct from Dist. 3 and Commissioner Carolyn Allen seconded it. The motion passed with Calico and Allen voting yes and Hart voting no. EC Commissioner Martha Calico was absent.

Commissioners also removed the precinct in Paradise Hill and placed it in Gore. EC Chairman Bill Horton said it would be more feasible for voters.

“Probably Gore will encompass more local people than Paradise Hill’s got,” he said.

Commissioners then approved the revised precinct map, which is to be printed opposite of the voter registration form. Shawna Calico motioned to remove Cookson and Paradise Hill from the precinct map and add Gore as a location. The changes made to the precinct map passed with a 3-0 vote.

The EC also changed a policy regarding media coverage at voting precincts. The change limits media access to five minutes in a precinct. EC officials said the new policy models the state’s voting laws.

“We took the Oklahoma statutes and what they do and kind of adopted our situation to allow cameras into the election closure and photograph but limit the time so that they wouldn’t disrupt the voting process,” EC attorney Harvey Chaffin said.

The policy amendment passed unanimously.

The Cherokee Phoenix requested a copy by-laws and the rules and regulations but they are currently not in their “final form” and will not be submitted or published until then.

“The Election Commission Rules and Regulations shall be published and transmitted to the Council no later than 90 days before the first day of filing for the election,” EC Administrator Madison Cornett said.

She said the rules and regulations would apply, but do not have to be approved by Tribal Council. The by-laws were expected to be approved at the next regular EC meeting.

Culture

Cherokee women make up 16 percent of CAM artists
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
10/20/2014 01:05 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – Numerous Cherokee women artists participated in the ninth annual Cherokee Art Market held Oct. 11-12 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Of the 154 CAM participants, 25 were Cherokee women artists.

Cherokee artist Janet Smith, who traveled from nearby Wagoner, said her main interest is creating “traditional Cherokee paintings.”

“I paint in the old style, the old flat style that I was taught at Bacon (College),” she said. “I’ve been doing some type of art ever since I can remember, but primarily to sell since the early (19)80s.”

Along with attending the Cherokee Art Market each year, she said she travels and competes in many art shows each year, including the Santa Fe (New Mexico) Art Market and the annual Cherokee art shows held in Tahlequah.

“This is a great market. For one thing, the location is just super, and they take good care of us. I always do well here,” she said. “You have so many artists, not just Cherokee artists, but from all over. This is really a national show. It’s just always so much fun to visit with them and to look at what other artists are doing. I just really enjoy it.”

Cherokee artist America Meredith of Santa Fe attended this year’s Cherokee Art Market as a publisher to share her art magazine “First American Art,” which showcases the “Art of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas.”

“They let me do a magazine booth, which is really exciting because a lot of the writers are here. Some of our advisors are here, and some of the artists are here like Troy Jackson (Cherokee), who was the cover of our last issue,” Meredith said. “So it’s kind of fun that the people can meet the artists and take this (magazine) home and read about the artists, too.”

Meredith said she taught Native American art history, but found writing about art was a better way to reach more people.

“There’s really a lot of exciting things happening in Native American art, but we just need that context and understanding, so I feel like I’m serving the public better,” she said. “My own art career is on hiatus. I figure it’s more important for people to understand what’s going on in Native art. So, we try to present all tribes and try to have hemispheric approach – North and South America – because I think we have a lot of cultural connections with South America...because people used to travel a lot in the old days, I think.”

She said the magazine, which publishes quarterly, allows artists to explain their work and makes Native artwork accessible. She profiles four artists in each issue from a variety of mediums and areas.

When she does create art she paints and has recently began doing smoke art. Her work can be seen at the Spider Gallery in Tahlequah.

One of a handful of Cherokee finger weavers, Karen Berry of Garland, Texas entered her finger weaving and gourd art in the market. She won a third place ribbon in the Traditional Weaving division for her “Red Men’s Garters.”

“I actually have been trying to do the oblique style of finger weaving, which hasn’t been done lately, and I’ve been trying to help revive it. It is what we did in the 18th century with trade goods from Europe,” she said. “I’ve really been enjoying it and have been perfecting the technique. It’s usually a solid color of yarn with white beads woven into it. It’s time consuming to get the beads on the yarn, but I really enjoy working with it.”

She also entered a 3-foot-tall gourd fashioned into the legendary snake-like creature Uktena from Cherokee folklore. The piece is titled “The Guardian” and depicts Uktena twisting up in a coil of water.

“It’s a creature that we feared and also revered,” she said. “I kind of thought that would win something, but you just never know.”

This was Berry’s fourth year at the art market and the first time she won a ribbon.

“I’m excited to win. It’s a hard show to win in and it just feels really rewarding when you do win because there are some really amazing artists here,” Berry said.

Education

Bacone College receives donation from Cherokee artist
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/21/2014 10:16 AM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Bacone College’s Art Department recently received a vintage 30-foot-by-64-foot Whelan Press from Cherokee artist Sallyann Paschall.

The press now resides in the William McCombs Hall and is valued at approximately $3,000.

According to a Bacone College press release, the Whelan Press is an etching press system that “implements 21st century design and manufacturing techniques as a means of answering the creative needs and safety concerns of artists and printmaking labs.”

The press is able to create various pieces, such as reliefs, monotypes and etchings among other pieces.
Bacone College Director of Art Tony Tiger said he is grateful for the donation.

“We’re glad to see students express themselves creatively through art,” he said. “We are also developing better methods to help guide students to success.”

For more information, email Tony Tiger at tigert@bacone.edu.

Council

Council approves trust applications for 2 health facilities
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
10/14/2014 02:33 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During their Oct. 13 meeting, Tribal Councilors unanimously approved resolutions requesting the U.S. Interior Department to place into trust land associated with two of the tribe’s health facilities.

Legislators approved land-into-trust applications for 5.6 acres that the Redbird Smith Health Clinic in Stilwell sits on and .98 acres that is part of the W.W. Hastings Hospital expansion in Tahlequah.

Earlier this year, CN and Cherokee Nation Businesses officials said they would invest $104.3 million for new and existing health facilities. More than $53 million is expected to build a new 150,000-square foot Hastings Hospital. That project is expected to start next spring and conclude in the fall of 2015.

Redbird Smith Health Center’s main building recently underwent a remodel the past two years because of mold found inside. The building was closed in 2012, and its patient services were moved to different parts of the health center after the mold was discovered.

“We’ve been wanting to put it into trust for a long time,” Tribal Councilor Janelle Fullbright said. “All of our properties need to be in trust that way if there’s ever anything like a special project, such as a joint venture, and we have the opportunity for something that comes up, the land needs to be in trust.”

Councilors also approved an application to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for fiscal year 2015 funding for the tribe’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The funding amount in the application is more than $1.3 million, which would provide residential health assistance payments for approximately 2,000 low-income tribal households. It will also provide crisis aid for about 800 eligible households, and if funding permits, cooling assistance payments to about 1,800 households.

LIHEAP services contain Residential Heating Assistance, which provides assistance to eligible households for their primary sources of heating, including wood, wood pellets, natural gas, propane, electric, kerosene and coal.

To continue the tribe’s Food Distribution Program, councilors also approved an application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more than $3.3 million with a cash match of more than $840,000 and an in-kind amount of more than $70,000.

The resolution states that the funding would provide distribution of food to approximately 11,000 participants a month, representing 4,900 tribal households.

“This is accomplished through the current operations of 7 Food Distribution Centers located in the communities of Tahlequah, Jay, Salina, Sallisaw, Stilwell, Collinsville, and Nowata,” the resolution states.

The centers operate in a grocery store environment allowing people to shop in comfortable and familiar settings.

The Tribal Council also approved the nominations of Luke Barteaux and Kendra McGeady as Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board members.

Barteaux, who was nominated by Principal Chief Bill John Baker and will serve a six-year term, passed via a 14-1-1 vote. Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts voted against the nomination, while Tribal Councilor Julia Coates abstained. Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez was absent.

“I’m familiar with Luke. He’s a great individual and this has nothing to do with him as a person,” Cowan Watts said. “It’s a responsibility of the chief’s office to fit the letter of the law and unfortunately, I don’t believe, even though he’s a highly qualified individual, he’s not qualified with the way I understand our Free Press Act is written. So at this time, I cannot support the nomination even though I fully believe in Luke as a person.”

Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd asked Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. if the criteria was checked to see if Barteaux was qualified to be nominated as a board member.

“Yes, we have,” Hoskin said. “I just have to say that I respectfully disagree with the council lady from Rogers County. In fact, Mr. Barteaux, by any objective standards, meets the letter of the law that this council passed. I’m very confident that he meets the qualifications.”

Barteaux thanked Baker for the nomination and the council for the confirmation.

“I look forward to working with the Cherokee Phoenix,” he said. “It’s a great asset to the Cherokee people, and I look forward to helping them move forward and doing even more great things.”

McGeady, who was nominated by the Tribal Council and will serve a six-year term, passed by a 13-2-1 vote. Tribal Councilors Cowan Watts and Lee Keener voted no, while Coates abstained.

“I just wanted to reiterate my comments in the committee and this is nothing against Miss McGeady or her qualifications,” Coates said. “I just am saddened that the person who was serving on this board, Jason Terrell, who is from Memphis, Tennessee, and one of the few At-Large people that is able to serve on any of our boards and commissions, and who had done a very able job in the years, that he had been on this board, that the decision to not reappoint him. That’s my sadness about it.”

McGeady said she appreciated the confidence of the tribe’s leadership in her nomination and confirmation and looked forward to serving the Phoenix and tribal citizens.

Councilors also modified the tribe’s budget by moving $429,313 out of General Funds into the fund being used for the new Ochelata health clinic, or Cooweescoowee Health Center, in Washington County. The budget item includes new positions for a physician and a registered nurse as well as operating expenditures.

The 28,000-square-foot health center in Ochelata, just south of Bartlesville, will replace the existing 5,000-square-foot CN Bartlesville Health Center, which operates in a small storefront building.

Health

Cherokee Nation to open $5M drug treatment center
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
10/22/2014 09:23 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) — The Cherokee Nation is opening a new $5 million substance abuse treatment center in Tahlequah.

Tribal officials will conduct a grand opening Monday for the new Jack Brown Center, which helps treat Native American youth for drug and alcohol addiction.

The tribe says the 28,000-square-foot campus includes five buildings and will serve up to 36 clients.

The campus features a recreation center, cafeteria, group therapy rooms and male and female dorms.

Opinion

I can have it all, but with a little help
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
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.

People

Hummingbird re-elected as NTGCR chairman
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
10/15/2014 08:06 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission Director Jamie Hummingbird was recently re-elected as chairman of the National Tribal Gaming Commissioners & Regulators, a non-profit organization that promotes cooperative relationships among the commissioners and regulators of tribal gaming enterprises.

“When I saw the NTGCR and what it was about and its purpose, I thought ‘this is a good way for me to get back to, to make good on the investment my early mentors made in me,’” Hummingbird said. “I can now reach out to other commissioners and say ‘you’re not alone out there. We’re here to help.’”

NTGCR was founded by tribal gaming regulators to provide information and education and promote an exchange of ideas from tribal regulators from across the country.

“We get together two times a year and offer up trainings in the areas of audit surveillance, investigations, IT and provide new commissioners and some seasoned commissioners with information and training that everybody would regardless of what jurisdiction they’re in,” Hummingbird said. “We train on federal laws, on compacts. We train on hearing procedures. We train on auditing. We train on anything that a commissioner might need to know to do his or her job.”

Hummingbird first elected as NTGCR chairman in 2006. He said the organization is a source of support and information.

“Early on when I started this job in 1998, I had very little knowledge gaming let alone how to regulate gaming,” Hummingbird said. “So when I first took this job I reached out to my counterparts at other tribes and they were very willing and happy to share (public) information with me that got me really up to speed in a very short amount of time as compared to learning it on my own.”

Hummingbird said during his involvement with NTGCR he has learned a lot about federal law and gaming.

“Early on when I started, it was just at the very beginning of electronic Class II bingo, and I was very fortunate enough at the time to see all the different court cases that were happening, which our tribe was involved in, go from the federal courts in the state to the appellate courts and all the way up to the Supreme Court and then being able to see all the other court cases that tribes have been involved in or initiated for different types of games,” he said. “I think by having that early foundation and being able to see this industry grow from the bottom up has really been an experience that very few have had, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be one of those people.”
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