Fort Sill accuses gambling panel of shirking court order

01/19/2017 04:00 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Oklahoma-based American Indian tribe is accusing the National Indian Gaming Commission of shirking a federal court order to reconsider an earlier decision that prohibited the tribe from conducting gambling on its land in southern New Mexico.

Attorneys for the Fort Sill Apache filed a motion Tuesday, calling for the commission to be held in contempt.

A previous order required the commission to reconsider its 2015 decision as part of a settlement process after receiving an opinion from the U.S. Interior Department on the tribe's eligibility to conduct gaming at Akela Flats, New Mexico.

The commission notified the tribe last week there were no grounds for reconsideration. The commission did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Fort Sill Chairman Jeff Haozous says the commission is violating the tribe's right to a speedy resolution of the gaming dispute.

CN marshals reward 5 students with computers

01/19/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation marshals surprised five high school students at their respective schools in January with new desktop computers to have for college.

Sequoyah High School freshman Santos Sanchez, Pryor High School senior Chance Cox, Claremore Sequoyah High School senior Andrew Wilson, Colcord High School senior Cainan Lay and Gans High School junior Michael Collins each received a new computer as part of the North Pole Project.

The Cherokee Nation Marshal Service receives five computers to present to five deserving students identified by their respective school leaders each year through the program. The North Pole Project was originally started by the Broken Arrow Police Department. Several Tulsa-metro law enforcement agencies, as well as the CNMS and Osage Nation, now participate.

“It means a whole lot to receive this computer. I come from a family where we never really get stuff like this,” Wilson said. “It’s just a blessing.”

Wilson, who plays the piano, plans to attend Oklahoma Wesleyan University and major in music education.

Grand Casino shooter dies

01/19/2017 10:00 AM
SHAWNEE, Okla. (AP) — A Shawnee casino security guard who shot himself after fatally shooting a fellow officer has died.

The Oklahoman reports 28-year-old Justin Wells entered the Grand Casino on Jan. 10, shot and killed 22-year-old Matt Palmer and then turned the gun on himself. An online obituary says Wells was hospitalized and died Wednesday.

FBI spokesman Terry Weber says that Wells had not yet been arrested. The agency is handling the case because the casino sits on trust land for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, which also owns and operates the casino.

Potawatomi spokeswoman Jennifer Bell says Palmer and Wells were both security guards at the casino, who are not allowed to carry guns. Bell declined to comment on the shooting.

The tribe says Palmer was hired in August, and Wells in 2012.

Nanabelle’s Boutique promotes feeling ‘good’ at any size

Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
01/19/2017 08:15 AM
PRYOR, Okla. – Nanabelle’s Boutique in downtown Pryor has a mission to motivate women and assist them in purchasing trendy clothes that will help them feel “good” no matter their sizes.

Owner and Cherokee Nation citizen Jennie Marlin, 22, said her boutique offers a broad range of clothing sizes because it was “needed.”

“I started this boutique because I thought there was something we needed in downtown Pryor that wasn’t even being offered in other places,” she said. “I, as a plus-size woman, would like to look trendy, and I wanted to be able to do it and still be able to afford it, especially being younger and going to college. When you walk in you’ll be able to find everything in our store in a size small through 3X.”

She said after gaining experience as a part-time manager for a retail store she decided to “take a chance” and open a shop.

“I started a pop-up shop when I was 20 years old at a little event we had in downtown Pryor. I kind of got some good feedback from that, so I decided while I was in college that I was going to open up a little spot in the back of an antique mall. Then whenever I did that I got even more great feedback, and social media was really positive and I just keep growing and growing. So about 10, 11 months ago I opened here in Pryor,” she said.
Cherokee Nation citizen Jennie Marlin, 22, owns Nanabelle’s Boutique in Pryor, Oklahoma. The boutique offers clothing in sizes small to 3X. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Jennie Marlin, owner of Nanabelle’s Boutique, offers a variety of clothing at the boutique, including graphic T-shirts and jewelry designed by her. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Courtney Parker, of Pryor, Oklahoma, speaks with Nanabelle’s Boutique owner Jennie Marlin while shopping. Marlin said her boutique offers a broad range of clothing sizes in downtown Pryor. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Jennie Marlin, 22, owns Nanabelle’s Boutique in Pryor, Oklahoma. The boutique offers clothing in sizes small to 3X. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Grand opening held for Cherokee Casino Grove

Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
01/18/2017 04:15 PM
GROVE, Okla. – Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Nation Businesses and Grove officials on Jan. 17 dedicated the Cherokee Casino Grove with a ribbon-cutting and grand opening.

The tribe’s 10th casino is expected to bring 175 jobs to northern Delaware County.

Principal Chief Bill John Baker said the jobs means employees would be able to take advantage of health insurance, retirement plans and other benefits to better their lives. He added that the casino would also bring more sales tax revenue to Grove.

Most importantly, he said, the casino means there would be more funding to provide health care in northeastern Oklahoma.

“You don’t have to drive very far to the south to see where we took $100 million dollars and used part of it to build a new clinic in Jay, Oklahoma. So each and every one of these employees that work here can come to work each and every day knowing they are making the lives of their parents, their grandparents and their children better because these dollars...go back into services, scholarships for our kids, builds houses for our people and provides better health care,” he said.
Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Nation Businesses and Grove on Jan. 17 dedicated the new Cherokee Casino Grove with a ribbon-cutting and grand opening. The facility offers 400 electronic games, a full-service bar, live music venue, dance floor and restaurant serving lunch and dinner. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The new Cherokee Casino Grove is expected to bring 175 jobs to northern Delaware County. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Nation Businesses and Grove on Jan. 17 dedicated the new Cherokee Casino Grove with a ribbon-cutting and grand opening. The facility offers 400 electronic games, a full-service bar, live music venue, dance floor and restaurant serving lunch and dinner. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Brazilian Christian organization visits CN

01/18/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – More than 30 members of “The Association of Mary,” a Brazilian Christian organization, visited the Cherokee Nation on Jan. 3 to offer prayers for unity and peace in 2017. The group held a cultural and informational exchange with tribal officials.

A representative from the association said prayers are offered daily for Indigenous populations in North and South America.

Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. addressed the group and thanked them for traveling to learn firsthand about issues facing tribal citizens in America, including the protection of natural resources.

“Now more than ever we should embrace an opportunity to bond with people of goodwill all over the world, people who are praying for our wellness and success,” Hoskin said. “They traveled thousands of miles to learn more about Indian issues, history and spirituality. Seeing this global support reinforces just how important and powerful unity can be.”
Members of “The Association of Mary,” a Brazilian Christian organization, visits the Cherokee Nation on Jan. 3 to offer prayers for unity and peace in 2017. The group held a cultural and informational exchange with tribal officials. COURTESY
Members of “The Association of Mary,” a Brazilian Christian organization, visits the Cherokee Nation on Jan. 3 to offer prayers for unity and peace in 2017. The group held a cultural and informational exchange with tribal officials. COURTESY

Winning essay contest benefits all of SHS

Media Specialist – @cp_rgraham
01/18/2017 03:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Through the efforts of Sequoyah High School senior Maddie Lamb, she and her fellow students received a DJ’d dance party and taco festival on Jan. 9.

This past fall, the 17-year-old Muskogee (Creek) Nation citizen entered an essay contest through the Get Schooled Foundation’s “2016 Homecoming Court.” After her essay made the top 20, Lamb received the most online votes.

“You had to enter 150 words about how to prevent bullying in your school,” she said.

She is the Junior Miss Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and bullying prevention is a part of her platform, which she said made her decide to enter the essay contest.

“My platform is teen dating, violence, abuse and awareness. And so I told how that tied in with bullying,” she said. “And so I ended up winning… that’s crazy!”
Sequoyah High School senior Maddie Lamb helps paint a mural in the school’s old gym after an essay she wrote to the Get Schooled Foundation won her and the school prizes. The foundation provided funding to create the mural. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Sequoyah High School students finish panting a mural in the school’s old gym that reads “We Are The Future.” The Get Schooled Foundation provided funding for the mural after SHS senior Maddie Lamb won an essay contest sponsored by the foundation. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Sequoyah High School senior Maddie Lamb helps paint a mural in the school’s old gym after an essay she wrote to the Get Schooled Foundation won her and the school prizes. The foundation provided funding to create the mural. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

UPDATE: Fourkiller refuses to appear before House investigators

Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
01/18/2017 01:15 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – On Jan. 17, Cherokee Nation citizen and Dist. 86 Rep. Will Fourkiller refused to appear before the House of Representative’s committee that is investigating him and another state representative for sexual harassment claims.

The Stilwell native said he would only speak to the Special Investigation Committee if the proceeding was open to the public. According to reports, the committee has been hearing from witnesses in only closed sessions.

“Though uncertain of the precise allegation, I am certain I have nothing to hide,” Fourkiller told Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette, in a letter. Cockroft chairs the committee. “A confidential, closed-door proceeding does not provide the equitable forum to repair my character and reputation.”

Fourkiller is under investigation for a sexual complaint lodged against him in April 2015 by a female high school page.

“That was the extent of what I was told,” Fourkiller said on Jan. 17 of his 2015 meeting with a House attorney and an employee of the House chief clerk. “The page was not identified and I did not inquire. I denied anything improper but immediately shied away from my normal interaction and role with the page program for that week out of an abundance of caution.”
Rep. Will Fourkiller
Rep. Will Fourkiller

Gallery opening fulfills dream of Fields

Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
01/18/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – It has been a dream of Cherokee Nation citizen Richard Fields to open a gallery where he could bring in fellow Cherokee artists and share what they’ve created. That dream came to fruition on Jan. 5 when he and his wife opened the 4 Winds, 7 Clans Gallery.

The gallery consists of Richard’s and his wife Sheila’s art, as well as Cherokee National Treasures, well-known area artists and up-and-coming artists.

“I made it all Cherokee artists, all Cherokee work…because we got a pretty good past, not just the Trail of Tears. That’s the sad part, but we got some good things too, you know,” he said.

The couple held a ribbon-cutting and grand opening of the gallery, which is located at 210 S. Muskogee Ave.

“We’ve been chasing (the gallery) for a while. We just didn’t know when to open it up. I got some really good artists. I’ve got some (Cherokee) National Treasures, three of them – Dorothy Ice, Bessie Russell and Jane Osti,” Richard said. “And I’ve got some really good up-and-coming artists or some that’s already been known such as Virginia Stroud, Daniel Horsechief, Matt Girty…I got Mary Horsechief…and I got a young guy, his name is Matt Stick.”
Richard Fields, left, shows visitor Ryan Langston, of Locust Grove, Oklahoma, a bow he made. Fields and his wife Sheila opened the 4 Winds, 7 Clans Gallery on Jan. 5 in Tahlequah. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Baskets set in the 4 Winds, 7 Clans Gallery in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.  All the artists showcased in the gallery are of Cherokee descent. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Pottery by Cherokee National Treasure Jane Osti set in the 4 Winds, 7 Clans Gallery. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Artwork by various Cherokee artists hangs in the 4 Winds, 7 Clans Gallery. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Richard Fields, left, shows visitor Ryan Langston, of Locust Grove, Oklahoma, a bow he made. Fields and his wife Sheila opened the 4 Winds, 7 Clans Gallery on Jan. 5 in Tahlequah. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX


Standingwater passes on archery knowledge
Staff Writer
01/11/2017 08:15 AM
LOCUST GROVE, Okla. – Since he was 8 years old, Cherokee Nation citizen Dave Standingwater has had an interest in archery and been fascinated by the flight of the arrow.

Growing up in the Snake Creek Community near Locust Grove, Standingwater learned about hunting from his grandmother, Maggie Whitekiller Standingwater.

His first hunting experience was at age 13, killing a deer with a bow and arrow his uncle made.
“I was hooked after that,” he said.

He said when times were hard and his father was unemployed, he helped out by hunting and providing for his family.

“It was rough times back then,” he said.

Years later, he became a nationally ranked archer in the Cabela’s Archery Shooters Association, competing across the United States and in national championship tournaments.

In 1991, he experienced his first archery outing when his son invited him to a 3-D archery range in Locust Grove. Though he hunted growing up, shooting 3-D targets proved a challenge.

“My first outing was terrible. I was so bad, and so I asked them if they (archery range) was open every weekend. So I went back. I started shooting and practicing,” Standingwater said.

He said he practiced at home for 20 minutes to 30 minutes a day, eventually entering local archery tournaments.

“I got to taking first, second and third place trophies and stuff like that,” he said.

In 1994, he joined the Cabela’s Archery Shooters Association tour and his first tournament was in Oklahoma City.

He began competing in out-of-state tournaments and racked up points to qualify for the championship tournament in Tennessee.

“At that particular tournament, there were like 2,500 actual shooters, and I shot the traditional way – stick and string,” he said.

He used a custom-made modern dual-purpose Black Widow bow.

He said competing nationally enhanced his archery skills against many high-level shooters.

“If you missed, your arrow was just gone. But in competition like that you didn’t miss, you just didn’t miss, he said.”

He competed until 2001. He never won a championship tournament but often placed second and third. One of the biggest highlights of his career was when a Cabela’s magazine recognized him as one of the top 10 traditional bow shooters in the nation during the 1999 tour.

“I started looking down that list there and my name was No. 7. I wore that magazine out showing people,” Standingwater said. “I just wanted to shoot. I never thought that I’d become in the top 10 bracket.”

Now at 74, Standingwater continues his passion for shooting, bow making and learning how to flint knap. He made his first bow out of bois d’arc, learned how to cut a stave (a trimmed rod of wood used to make a bow) and make bowstring from squirrel hide.

He studies to become a more “powerful” and “faster” bow shooter and said he is staying with the traditional way of shooting so that he has the knowledge to survive and provide for his family if he needs to.

“I’m a full traditional shooter. I don’t aim down the arrow. I don’t look at the string. I look at the place where I want to hit. That’s where I want the arrow to go and that’s what I’m looking at. So that’s as traditional as you can get. I think that’s a plus when you get out in the woods. A lot of times your shots are going to be quick,” he said.

He said he’s passing his archery knowledge to his family and compared his great-niece’s shooting to that of Robin Hood. He said the two often take nature walks and practice shooting rabbits and squirrels.

Standingwater said he’s retained what he learned from his grandmother, who was a midwife and knew how to gather plants for medicines. Through her, he also learned to fish and gather foods that are in season. “I learned a lot from my grandmother, (she) taught me a lot.”


Interior transfers nearly $8M to Cobell scholarship fund
01/16/2017 04:00 PM
WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior announced on Jan. 11 that an additional $7.9 million has been transferred to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund, bringing the total amount contributed to more than $47 million.

The scholarship fund – funded in part by the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations and authorized by the Cobell Settlement – provides financial assistance through scholarships to American Indian and Alaska Native students wishing to pursue post-secondary and graduate education and training.

The Cobell board of trustees oversees the scholarship fund, while the Indigenous Education Inc., a nonprofit corporation created to administer the scholarship program, oversees it.

“Our hope is that these young people will not be forced to rethink their decision to pursue an education because they are worried about whether they can afford the tuition and fees necessary to attend post-secondary and graduate institutions,” said Deputy Secretary of the Interior Department Michael L. Connor. “Through contributions from the Land Buy-Back Program, the scholarship fund is helping the next generation of Native American and Alaska Native students reach their goals and attain an education that will make them competitive in the 21st century workforce and beyond.”

The Cobell board of trustees has reported that to date, nearly 1,800 scholarships totaling more than $5.25 million have been awarded to almost 1,000 Native American students for undergraduate and graduate study.

The scholarship awards are $5,000 per semester for undergraduates and $10,000 per semester for graduate and doctoral students. Applications and information concerning scholarships can be found at

Alex Pearl, Cobell board of trustees chairman, said: “The latest distribution helps our mission of carrying out the vision of Elouise Cobell to enhance educational opportunities for American Indians and Alaskan Native students. Recently, President Obama honored Ms. Cobell by awarding her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The president’s recognition of her leadership and dedication to fighting long-standing injustice on behalf of individual Indians is a testament to her life. The Cobell board of trustees is honored to continue her legacy and further her impact on Native people. We remain committed to creating a uniquely tuned and perpetual scholarship program designed to respond to the needs and issues of Native students.”

The Land Buy-Back Program was created to implement the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractionated interests in trust or restricted land from willing landowners. Consolidated interests are transferred to tribal government ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal citizens.

The Interior makes quarterly transfers to the scholarship fund as a result of land buy-back sales, up to a total of $60 million. The amount the Interior contributes is based on a formula set forth in the Cobell Settlement that sets aside an amount of funding depending on the value of the fractionated interests sold. These contributions do not reduce the amount that an owner will receive.


Council reconfirms Hembree as attorney general
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
11/16/2016 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During its Nov. 14 meeting, the Tribal Council unanimously reconfirmed Todd Hembree as the Cherokee Nation’s attorney general.

Hembree was reappointed for a period of five years from January 2017 to January 2021 after being re-nominated by Principal Chief Bill John Baker.

Hembree was first appointed to serve as attorney general in January 2012. Previous to that he served as the attorney for the Tribal Council for 12 years.

“I am very honored to be afforded the opportunity to serve the Cherokee Nation for another term as attorney general. However, the many successes that this office has had over the last several years has only been made possible due to the dedication and hard work of the staff,” Hembree said. “The Cherokee people are very fortunate to have such a group working for them.”

Legislators also unanimously approved Sheryl Rountree, of Tahlequah, to serve a five-year term on the Sequoyah High School board of education. Tribal Council approval is needed because the tribe operates the school. Rountree will serve from December 2016 to December 2021.

Her resume states she has 31 years of experience as a professional educator that includes five years as school counselor. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1980, a master’s degree in school counseling in 1995, graduate certification as a secondary and elementary principal in 2000 and a graduate certification as a superintendent in 2002. All of her degrees and certificates were earned at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.

She has taught or counseled students at Westville, Woodall, Tahlequah, Briggs, Grandview and Tenkiller schools.

“I appreciate the nomination, and I hope to do a good job. I’m eager,” Rountree said.

The Tribal Council also unanimously approved Dr. James Stallcup to serve on the Cherokee Nation Health Partners board.

In 2004, the CN partnered with Tahlequah City Hospital, now called Northeastern Health System, to form Cherokee Health Partners “to assure there is alternative health services in certain specialty areas and for the Cherokee Nation to work together with TCH for the best health services for its citizens.”

Stallcup, a non-Native American, is serving as the tribe’s interim executive medical director until the position is permanently filled. Stallcup has worked for the CN for about six years, with two years as medical director for the Bartlesville Health Center and Will Rogers Health Center in Nowata.

He did not attend the Nov. 14 meeting but said previously that the CN health system is “incredible” in the care that it provides and the system has “an exceptional group of providers and nursing staff.”

He also previously said he is looking forward to the opportunities the tribe will have with the new Indian Health Service Joint Venture building that will be built adjacent to W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah.

In other business, legislators unanimously approved a resolution to honor CN Security Officer Joe Polecat who “saw a large amount of smoke in the vicinity of (CN) cultural grounds” on Sept. 29 and took action. After arriving at the fire, Polecat radioed for assistance and then “took immediate action,” using fire extinguishers to try to contain the fire.

In his report, Security Manager John Paden writes Polecat used his experience as a volunteer firefighter to take control of the situation. Polecat asked Paden to locate a water hose at a nearby residence and to start watering down the property near the residence. Later, Security Officer Richard Acorn arrived on the scene when the fire was within 15 feet of the residence. Acorn and Paden watered around the property while Polecat was at the front of the fire using extinguishers.

“With Polecat’s experience as a volunteer fire fighter and quick thinking along with his concern for others, Polecat saved both homes that were in the path of the grass fire,” states the resolution. “The Council of the Cherokee Nation hereby recognizes Cherokee Citizen Joe Polecat for his service to citizens of the Cherokee Nation as a security officer and volunteer firefighter, which protects and saves people of fire danger.”

The council also modified the tribe’s operating budget for fiscal year 2017 by adding $5.4 million for a total budget authority of $661.8 million.


IHS to expand Community Health Aide Program
01/17/2017 12:00 PM
WASHINGTON – The Indian Health Service on Jan. 9 published a report outlining a policy and implementation plan to expand the use of community health aides in American Indian and Alaska Native health programs across the country.

Community health aides are paraprofessional health care workers who can perform a range of duties in health programs to improve access to quality care for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Under the new policy, facilities operated by the federal government and tribally operated facilities could see expanded opportunities for using these aides, a group that could include dental health aide therapists and workers in substance use and suicide prevention, health education, communicable disease control, maternal and child health, environmental health and other fields.

“Increased access to health care is a top priority for IHS, and community health aides expand much-needed health services for American Indian and Alaska Native communities,” said Mary L. Smith, IHS principal deputy director. “I thank all of our tribal partners for sharing their feedback, and I look forward to their continued participation and partnership as we work together to develop a robust implementation plan. Community health aides are already providing quality health care in some parts of Indian Country, and with the expansion of this program, Native American communities across the nation will have access to these valuable health workers.”

In June, IHS invited comments from tribal leaders on a draft policy statement to begin a process of expanding the use of community health aides at IHS facilities across the country. January’s announcement includes a report summarizing the comments received during consultation meetings and other comments sent to the IHS.

As described in the report, IHS will establish a national workgroup that includes tribal leaders and outside experts to advise IHS on the development of a policy and implementation plan for the Community Health Aide Program. IHS will then seek input through the formal tribal consultation process, and finalize the policy. IHS already runs an evaluation system mandated by statute to monitor current IHS community health aides to assure that quality health care is being provided to patients.

The Report on the Tribal Consultation for the IHS Policy Statement on Creating a National IHS Community Health Aide Program and Dear Tribal Leader Letter announcing the report are available at

In August, through the Community Health Aide Program Certification Board it manages, IHS certified the latest group of community health aides in Alaska, totaling 171 behavioral health, dental health and other aides and practitioners.

Many community health aides come from the local communities and immediate surrounding areas.


OPINION: CN files suit over ‘Broken Treaties’
Principal Chief
01/01/2017 02:00 PM
The Cherokee Nation recently filed a lawsuit against the federal government to uncover details about how the United States throughout history managed the tribe’s trust fund, which includes money, property and other resources. The claim was filed in federal court in the Western District of Oklahoma on the 231st anniversary of the Treaty of Hopewell, the first treaty between the Cherokee Nation and the United States government. In the Treaty of Hopewell, the United States agreed its actions would be for “the benefit and comfort” of the Cherokee Nation. Sadly, the United States violated this treaty and every other treaty signed with the Cherokee Nation’s government.

This current lawsuit is about holding the federal government accountable; it is about making sure there is an accurate accounting of the vast Cherokee trust fund, the money and natural resources, including the land, coal, timber, water, grazing, and oil and gas, that the federal government agreed to hold in trust for the benefit of the Cherokee Nation.

As a trustee, the federal government managed the Cherokee trust fund, handling the money earned off the land and resources. The federal government’s reports state that Indian trust funds were handled with a “pitchfork.” As a result, many of the recorded transactions are lost or scattered across the country in epically disorganized accounting books. Our hope and desire are to address the information and management gap at the core of the federal government’s mishandling.

At different times throughout history, Cherokee lands in Indian Territory were taken, sold or leased by the federal government, the most powerful and sophisticated government in the world. Yet, because of the federal government’s management, we cannot get an accurate accounting of what it did with the revenue from our natural resources. The resources relate to the treaty lands of the Cherokee Nation, including the current 14-county jurisdiction of our tribe.

The federal government can’t tell us what it did with our trust fund resources; it can’t tell us what profit was realized from the sale of those resources; it can’t tell us where the money went or whether it was fairly and justly allocated to the tribe as negotiated and agreed upon. We believe the United States government should live up to its word, and we think most Americans feel the same way.

This is a tremendous opportunity for the United States to reconcile its management of the Cherokee trust fund over the centuries and to finally account for the resources that it was legally obligated to manage for the benefit of the Cherokee people. We believe the Cherokee Nation is in a position of strength in this litigation and that the Nation is able to pursue its legal interests to hold the federal government accountable. Yes, lawsuits by nature are adversarial, but this is a chance for the government of the United States to do what is right. This can chart a path of healing and of stronger cooperation between our governments going forward.

The United States has a trust responsibility to the Cherokee Nation, and similar duties to other tribes nationwide. In the recent past, the United States was sued by other tribes seeking an accounting like the Cherokee Nation seeks in this lawsuit. The United States, ultimately, never provided any accountings in those other cases, but instead it has paid other tribes the values of the trust funds for which it cannot account. To date, there have been dozens of such settlements spanning the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.

Without a doubt, this lawsuit is overdue, and as Principal Chief it is essential for me to hold the United States accountable for the promises made. As a leader among tribal governments, we hope Cherokee Nation’s lawsuit helps all of Indian Country move forward. We have very strong claims, and we are hopeful for a positive outcome in the courtroom. This suit will mean a brighter future for the Cherokee Nation.

Learn more at


Ross receives award for promoting horseshoes
Staff Writer
12/29/2016 04:00 PM
STILLWATER, Okla. - Cherokee Nation citizen Al Ross received the “Charlie Brewer Award” on Dec. 3 at the Oklahoma Horseshoe Pitchers Association Hall of Fame banquet at the Stillwater Senior Citizen’s Center.

As a member of the OHPA for 12 years, Ross received the award for promoting, fostering and building the sport of horseshoes in the northeast area of the state.

Ross said he was “surprised” and did not expect to receive any type of recognition for his love of horseshoes.

“The ‘Charlie Brewer Award’ is given to people who promote horseshoes and foster…try to keep horseshoes going, try to recruit members,” Ross said.

Charlotte Bowen, OHPA Secretary, said the award is given in memory of horseshoe pitcher Charlie Brewer of Yukon, Oklahoma, “who was a tremendous promoter of horseshoes in that area and the state of Oklahoma.” The award was established in 2013.

The way Ross has been able to “keep horseshoes going” was helping to establish a horseshoe court in the Tri-Community (Welling, Eldon, Briggs) area in Briggs in 2014.

The horseshoe court was constructed with the help of the Cherokee Nation. Ross took over maintaining the courts and hosting sanctioned horseshoe tournaments by becoming the official tournament director.

Ross also is the OHPA youth director and tries to get youth involved in horseshoe pitching as much as he can, which is also part of receiving the “Charlie Brewer Award.” He got his grandchildren involved, and one of his grandchildren became a world champion at the 2016 World Tournament in Montgomery, Alabama, in July.

As part of the coming 2017 season, Ross hopes to reach a few goals to continue to build up the sport of horseshoes.

He said he wants to get more pitchers involved by enhancing the existing sanctioned league at the Tri-Community (W.E.B.) court and working with the Northwest Arkansas Horseshoe Pitchers Association league in Fayetteville, Arkansas, to have the first Oklahoma-Arkansas Challenge horseshoe tournament.

Ross also wants to encourage more youth to pitch by adding a junior tournament to the existing 2017 tournament schedule. He also hopes that more Cherokees will get involved in sanctioned pitching because “there are some good pitchers.”

Ross said none of the things he does for horseshoes would be possible without the help of his family.

“If it wasn’t for my family, it would be impossible for me to do all the things that is necessary to do. It takes people. That’s why it’s important to get a working league going,” Ross said.

Bowen said the award Ross received is important in helping horseshoes grow, and that this is a step for him to become a hall of fame member in the future.

Ross also received a certificate of appreciation as a tournament director and a patch for pitching “10 in a Row” World Tournaments at the Hall of Fame banquet.

“I do it because I love horseshoes. I want a lot of people to show up. I like to pitch. But it was nice of them to consider, or at least think about, someone over in this part of the state trying to get something going,” Ross said.

For more information about the OHPA, visit
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