CN leaders support Clinton at DNC

BY CHRIS CASTEEL
The Oklahoman © 2016
07/27/2016 01:00 PM
PHILADELPHIA – Four years ago, at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker called President Barack Obama “the best president for Indian Country in the history of the United States.”

Baker is here this week hoping Hillary Clinton succeeds Obama in office next year.

“I truly believe that Hillary gets the issues of sovereign nations,” Baker said on Monday.

Baker recalled her talking to tribal officials in the mid-1990s, when her husband, Bill Clinton, was president. That discussion was soon followed by an executive order that cut through red tape and allowed tribes to deal directly with government agencies, rather than working through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, he said.

“I'm proud to support Hillary Clinton,” Baker said. “I think she will make a wonderful president.”
Principal Chief Bill John Baker speaks to Oklahoma delegates at the Democratic National Convention on July 25 in Philadelphia. CHRIS CASTEEL/THE OKLAHOMAN
Principal Chief Bill John Baker speaks to Oklahoma delegates at the Democratic National Convention on July 25 in Philadelphia. CHRIS CASTEEL/THE OKLAHOMAN

Boutique to help domestic violence awareness groups

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
07/27/2016 09:00 AM
WAGONER, Okla. – When Cherokee Nation citizen Donna Shade Brown took a class focused on domestic violence at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah she didn’t think it would forever change her life. What she learned resonated with her and eventually led her to open Wolf Clan Gallery and Boutique with hopes of giving back to organizations such as Help-In-Crisis and the tribe’s ONE FIRE Victim Services.

“I retired from the corporate life two years ago, and I was making things at home and had given my family and friends all my little crafts that I had made, and so my son suggested that I open a shop,” she said. “We were kicking around the idea, and I had taken a class at NSU on domestic violence and it touched my heart because I didn’t know that that type of family dynamic existed. It was hard for me to understand because I kept saying, ‘why didn’t you leave? Why did you stay?’ That class touched my life. So that’s what our mission is, is to help Help-In-Crisis and ONE FIRE and donate money when we start making money.”

She said her shop offers items from Native Americans and non-Natives.

“We have everything. We have earrings. We have dreamcatchers. We have artwork. We have jewelry. We have pipes, quilts,” she said. “A lot of the work, it’s (from) people who work out of their home. That’s the main thing I want is to have a place for them to display their arts and crafts because you don’t want people coming to your house.”

Shade Brown said she features several Native artists, one of them being her cousin Matt Girty, a United Keetoowah Band citizen who sculpts.
Cherokee Nation citizen Donna Shade Brown stands next to a quilt, left, that was donated by her brother-in-law Charles Murphy and a quilt, right, that was hand-stitched by her mother Geraldine Shade at her Wolf Clan Gallery and Boutique in Wagoner, Oklahoma. Shade Brown opened the shop hoping to give back to organizations such as Help-In-Crisis and the CN’s ONE FIRE Victim Services. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX A mask created by Cherokee National Treasure Jane Osti, which dates back to the 1990s, is for sale at Cherokee Nation citizen Donna Shade Brown’s Wolf Clan Gallery and Boutique in Wagoner, Oklahoma. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Donna Shade Brown’s shop Wolf Clan Gallery and Boutique offers Native and non-Native art. The shop is located at 33965 Hwy 51 in Wagoner, Oklahoma. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Donna Shade Brown stands next to a quilt, left, that was donated by her brother-in-law Charles Murphy and a quilt, right, that was hand-stitched by her mother Geraldine Shade at her Wolf Clan Gallery and Boutique in Wagoner, Oklahoma. Shade Brown opened the shop hoping to give back to organizations such as Help-In-Crisis and the CN’s ONE FIRE Victim Services. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
http://moonhawkart.com

CN, OIGA officials currently oppose fantasy sports gaming

BY LENZY KREHBIEL-BURTON
Special Correspondent
07/26/2016 04:00 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – Don’t bank on seeing Cherokee Nation or the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association officials playing fantasy football any time soon.

Speaking to attendees on July 14 of the Reservation Economic Summit inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, CN Assistant Attorney General Chrissi Ross Nimmo, OIGA Executive Director Sheila Morago and OIGA Chairman Brian Foster said while they are not necessarily opposed to daily fantasy sports, that type of gaming constitutes a violation of the exclusivity provisions of Oklahoma’s current gaming compacts.

Daily fantasy sports involves participants picking professional athletes to be a part of their fantasy teams for anywhere from a day to a year. Depending on those athletes’ real-life performances, a participant can win cash or other prizes.

Sites such as DraftKings.com and FanDuel.com contend that fantasy sports is a game of skill rather than gambling because successful participants often research different athletes, playing conditions and other potential factors before forming their teams.

However, none of the RES panelists are buying that argument.

Bacone College looking for donations to repair campus

BY STAFF REPORTS
07/26/2016 01:00 PM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Still recovering from damaging wind and a rainstorm in December, Bacone College recently suffered another blow to its campus and is looking for donations to help cover repair costs.

According to a press release, college officials seek monetary donations so they can repair a dormitory and cafeteria that a small tornado damaged on July 14. The release states the storm ripped off the dorm’s roof displacing about 100 students and effectively closing the cafeteria.

Online donations can be made at www.bacone.edu. To mail in donations, send to Bacone College, Office of Development, 2299 Old Bacone Road, Muskogee, OK 74403.

To volunteer to help with repairs, call Pat Spinks at 918-781-7216 or email spinksp@bacone.edu
http://www.americaslenderonline.com

NMAI gathers ideas for Native veterans memorial

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter – @cp_wchavez
07/26/2016 08:30 AM
CATOOSA, Okla. – National Museum of American Indian officials, Cherokee Nation leaders and Native veterans gathered July 21 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to discuss and share ideas about the creation of a National Native American Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The memorial would be built on NMAI grounds, and a committee is traveling Indian Country to gather ideas and support for the $15 million project.

“Many fine, young Native men and women have served. To all of them, through the generations, we owe a debt of gratitude. They are true American heroes and deserved to be included. With all of the monuments that are in Washington, D.C., none of them (specifically) recognize Native veterans. This monument will do that, so it’s especially important that we get this done,” Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden said at the meeting.

He added that the memorial should “be representative of all tribes” in the country.

In 2013, Congress authorized the establishment of a National Native American Veterans Memorial on the NMAI’s grounds to give “all Americans the opportunity to learn of the proud and courageous tradition of Native Americans in the United States armed forces.”
Muscogee (Creek) Marine Corps veteran Joe Taylor, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, speaks to the National Native American Veterans Memorial Committee on July 21 in Catoosa to share his ideas about the memorial that is expected to be complete in 2020. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX National Museum of the American Indian Director Kevin Gover, right, talks with Army veteran Jonah Tiger, left, and Debra American Horse Wilson, a Marine Corps veteran, following a July 21 meeting to gather ideas for a National Native American Veterans Memorial. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Debra American Horse Wilson, an Oglala Lakota Sioux Marine Corps veteran, speaks to the National Native American Veterans Memorial Committee on July 21 in Catoosa, Oklahoma, to share her ideas about a memorial that will be built in Washington, D.C. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Muscogee (Creek) Marine Corps veteran Joe Taylor, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, speaks to the National Native American Veterans Memorial Committee on July 21 in Catoosa to share his ideas about the memorial that is expected to be complete in 2020. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Public invited to brown bag discussion on Aug. 2

BY STAFF REPORTS
07/25/2016 04:00 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Join Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism in honoring the legacy of former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief John Ross on Aug. 2 at the John Ross Museum.

The one-hour discussion begins at noon with Amanda Pritchett, historical interpreter of the George M. Murrell Home historic site, leading the session.

John Ross, principal chief from 1828–66, served longer in the position than any other person. As principal chief, Ross witnessed devastation by both the Indian removals and the U.S. Civil War.

The discussion is open to the public and free to attend. Guests are encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch. The museum will also offer free admission throughout the day.

The John Ross Museum highlights the life Ross and houses exhibits and interactive displays on the Trail of Tears, Civil War, Cherokee Golden Age and the Nation’s passion for education. The museum is housed in an old, rural school building known as School No. 51 and sits at the foot of Ross Cemetery where John Ross and other notable Cherokee citizens are buried. The John Ross Museum is located at 22366 S. 530 Road.
http://www.rakerknives.com

CN remembers ONE FIRE co-founder Charles L. Head

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Media Specialist – @cp_rgraham
07/25/2016 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials, citizens and guests on July 18 celebrated the life and achievements of former CN Secretary of State Charles L. Head at the Cherokee Courthouse as part of the third annual Charles L. Head Day.

Head co-founded the tribe’s ONE FIRE Against Violence Victim Services Office before dying in a car accident on Jan. 30, 2013 near Chouteau. The CN citizen and Pryor native was 63.

That same year Principal Chief Bill John Baker designated July 18, Head’s Birthday, as a “national day of celebration of the life of Charles L. Head throughout the Cherokee Nation.”

According to the tribe’s website, ONE FIRE provides services to increase the safety for victims of crime. ONE FIRE stands for Our Nation Ending Fear, Intimidation, Rape and Endangerment.

“We’re real excited because today is our annual butterfly release in remembrance of Charles L. Head” ONE FIRE Victim Services Director Nikki Baker said. “Before he passed away, he was really working hard on ONE FIRE, which helps victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Today, we release butterflies in his memory and also to the legacy he leaves behind, which are the survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.”
Guest speaker and domestic violence survivor Lena Nells, right, speaks about the importance of the Cherokee Nation’s ONE FIRE Against Violence Victim Services Office on the third annual Charles L. Head Day on July 18 in Tahlequah, Okla. Head helped establish the office before dying in a 2013 car accident. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Guest speaker and domestic violence survivor Lena Nells, right, speaks about the importance of the Cherokee Nation’s ONE FIRE Against Violence Victim Services Office on the third annual Charles L. Head Day on July 18 in Tahlequah, Okla. Head helped establish the office before dying in a 2013 car accident. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Dorsett educates about early breast cancer detection

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
07/25/2016 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – W.W. Hastings Hospital is informing women about the importance of early breast cancer detection. Dr. Tschantre’ E. Dorsett, the hospital’s chief of obstetrics and gynecology, said she and her staff are providing women with patient education and brochures regarding awareness.

Dorsett said it’s important to receive an exam because “the majority of breast cancers in the U.S. are diagnosed from abnormal screening studies.”

“The patient, who then seeks out further testing from their provider, first detects many of these abnormalities,” she said.

Dorsett said age and intervals for breast exams vary depending on what government-sponsored or medical societies recommend.

“This is the reason that there may be variations in the age and intervals,” she said. “The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists currently recommends a clinical breast examination every one to three years from age 20 to 39, and annually thereafter. Mammography starts at age 40 and continues annually, based on ACOG guidelines. These ages are given for patients who are considered low-risk.”
Dr. Tschantre’ E. Dorsett, W.W. Hastings Hospital’s chief of obstetrics and gynecology, works on her computer in between seeing patients at the hospital’s women’s clinic in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Dorsett and the clinic’s staff work to educate women about the importance of early breast cancer detection. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Dr. Tschantre’ E. Dorsett, W.W. Hastings Hospital’s chief of obstetrics and gynecology, works on her computer in between seeing patients at the hospital’s women’s clinic in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Dorsett and the clinic’s staff work to educate women about the importance of early breast cancer detection. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Cherokee Phoenix Radio July 24, 2016

BY STAFF REPORTS
07/24/2016 10:00 AM
  • In this week's broadcast:
  • Cherokee Nation citizen Donna Shade Brown opens Wolf Clan Gallery and Boutique with hopes of donating to organizations such as Help-In-Crisis.
  • Also, we have a story on the Brushy Cherokee Action Association’s second annual back to school giveaway.
  • ...plus much more.

Culture

Timothy donates pieces for Cherokee Phoenix giveaway
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
07/21/2016 09:00 AM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen MaryBeth Timothy, of MoonHawk Art, recently donated four ceramic tiles to the Cherokee Phoenix for its third quarterly giveaway. The four tiles are 6 inches by 8 inches featuring a bear, eagle, wolf and horses.

Timothy, who has created art most of her life, said she didn’t become a professional artist until age 30.

“I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I can remember going back in my parent’s desk and finding pictures that I’d drawn when I was really little. I remember in kindergarten winning first place for a Halloween drawing that I’d done,” she said. “I started professionally I guess when I was around 30. And started painting about that time as well.”

Timothy said she and her family had always taken an interest in the arts.

“My mother’s pretty creative. She’s always done crafty things with us since we were little, and we’re all very musically inclined as well. I’ve just always been drawn to it, that and nature,” she said.

Although she didn’t grow up in the Cherokee culture, she said it’s always been something she wanted to learn more about. As an adult, she said art helped her do that.

“I didn’t grow up traditional or around our people until I was an adult, and I had that yearning to learn about our history and culture, our heritage, and I think in learning that it has also inspired that part of my art as well,” Timothy said.

She said meeting influential people helped to further her artistic career.

“Betty Cramer-Synar and her daughter Addie Synar. They really were my kick to continue and to increase my knowledge on it and to venture out into other mediums as well,” she said.

Timothy said she’s experienced several art media, including drawing with graphite, pencil, pen and ink and acrylics. She has also worked with watercolor pencils, colored pencil, oil and she sculpts. More recently, she and her husband applied for a loan through the CN to print on ceramic tiles, coffee mugs and T-shirts.

“We do all of the original art, and then we do our own printing as well,” she said. “We are Moonhawk Art LLC now. So we just became an LLC a few months ago.”

Timothy and her husband’s artwork is for sale online and at craft shows and powwows, but they also take commission jobs. They also continue to work regular jobs, she said. MaryBeth works for the Five Civilized Tribes Museum and John for Bacone College, both in Muskogee.

Entries for the Cherokee Phoenix quarterly giveaways are obtained by people donating to the Cherokee Phoenix elder fund or buying a subscription or merchandise. One entry is given for every $10 spent. The third drawing will be on Oct. 1. The tile featuring a bear is titled “Bear Clan.” “Ancient Glory” is the tile with the eagle. “PeekaBoo” is the one with a wolf, and “Seven” or “GaLiQuoGi” is the tile with horses.

For more information regarding the giveaways call Samantha Cochran at 918-207-3825 or Justin Smith at 918-207-4975 or email samantha-cochran@cherokee.org or justin-smith@cherokee.org.

For more information on MoonHawk Art visit www.moonhawkart.com or email moonhawkart@gmail.com.

Education

Cobell scholarship fund at nearly $40M
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/23/2016 10:00 AM
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Interior on July 20 announced that the quarter’s transfer of nearly $500,000 to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund brings the total amount contributed so far close to $40 million.

The Scholarship Fund provides financial assistance through scholarships to American Indian and Alaska Native students wishing to pursue post-secondary and graduate education and training.

Funded in part by the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations, the scholarship program is overseen by the Cobell board of trustees and administered by Indigenous Education Inc., a non-profit corporation created to administer the scholarship fund.

So far approximately $2.2 million has been awarded in graduate and undergraduate scholarships to qualified American Indian students.

Based on data gathered by Indigenous Education, the most recent Cobell scholars include 404 undergraduate students and 64 graduate students representing 89 federally recognized tribes. Applications and information concerning scholarships for the academic year 2017-18 can be found at www.cobellscholar.org.

“With every new contribution, the scholarship fund will enable increasing numbers of Native American students across Indian Country to gain the advanced education and training that will help them meet the leadership challenges of the 21st century,” Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins, a Navajo Nation citizen who negotiated the Cobell settlement on behalf of the Interior, said. “They are pursuing their dreams, opening doors to new opportunities, preparing themselves for leadership and advancing self-determination for their communities all thanks to the vision of Elouise Cobell, whose life and legacy inspires and guides this noble initiative.”

Cobell board of trustees Chairman Alex Pearl said: “The latest distribution aids our mission of carrying out the vision of Elouise Cobell to enhance educational opportunities for American Indians and Alaskan Native students. With the beginning of the new school year, we are excited to continue awarding the talented students in Indian Country. Our board understands the financial aid needs in Indian Country are enormous. These transfers provide an important foundation from which to positively impact Native students. We remain committed to creating a uniquely tuned scholarship program attentive to the needs and issues of Native students.”

The 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 the program’s land sales, up to a total of $60 million. The amount the Interior contributes is based on a formula set forth in the settlement that sets aside a certain amount of funding depending on the value of the fractionated interests sold. These contributions do not reduce the amount that an owner will receive.

Since December 2013, more than $760 million has been paid to individual landowners and more than 1.5 million acres have been transferred to tribal governments.

Participation in the Buy-Back Program is voluntary. Landowners can call the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 1-888-678-6836 or visit a local Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians to inquire about their land or purchase offers and learn about financial planning resources. More information and detailed frequently asked questions are available at https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/FAQ.

For more information on the Cobell scholarships, go to http://cobellscholar.org.

Council

Council approves FY 2017 Indian Housing Plan
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
07/13/2016 03:05 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tribal Council on July 12 approved the submission of the Cherokee Nation’s fiscal year 2017 Indian Housing Plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to the legislation, the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 requires a tribe to adopt a one-year plan for each fiscal year it requests federal funding. The resolution states the CN must submit an IHP in a form prescribed by HUD to receive its FY 2017 housing funding. According to the IHP, the plan needed to be submitted by on or by July 18.

“The Indian Housing Plan is basically a road map. It is a plan, but it’s basically a road map that says ‘federal government, here is how we propose to spend these federal funds that we get under NAHASDA,’” Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation Director Gary Cooper said.

Tribal Council officials said the tribe is requesting $52.8 million. According to the IHP the money will be used to help meet the following needs: overcrowded households, renters wanting to become homeowners, substandard units needing rehabilitation, homeless households, households needing affordable rental units, college student housing, disabled households needing accessibility, units needing energy efficiency upgrades and infrastructure to support housing.

The resolution passed unanimously with all councilors present.

Councilors also unanimously approved two applications to the Federal Highway Administration for money to replace two bridges located in Delaware and Washington counties.

Washington County’s bridge is over a tributary to the Caney River, according to the legislation. The legislation states that Bridge 84 provides “crucial access for many Cherokee citizens” and is identified as a candidate for replacement.

Bridge 27 in Delaware County bridge is over Whitewater Creek, and it too provides crucial access for CN citizens, according to the resolution. The resolution states it is identified for replacement as well.

Tribal Councilors also unanimously approved Sandra Hathcoat’s nomination to the CN Home Health Services and Comprehensive Care Agency or PACE boards.

Legislators also unanimously amended Legislative Act 05-16, the CN Employment Rights Act, to address businesses that are owned by trusts and assure that the beneficiaries of the enterprises are Native American.

According to the act, “Indian-owned economic enterprise” shall mean any Indian-owned commercial, industrial or business activity established or organized for the purpose of profit, provided that such Indian ownership shall constitute not less than 51 percent of the enterprise, and the ownership shall encompass active operation and control of the enterprise. No business that is more than 49 percent owned by a trust as a trust-owned business shall be included, legislation states.

The tribe’s FY 2016 comprehensive operating budget was also unanimously increased by $128,142 for a total budget authority of $676.8 million.

Health

Hastings Hospital auxiliary group needs volunteers
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter – @cp_wchavez
07/06/2016 01:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The auxiliary volunteer group at W.W. Hastings Hospital is always looking for more help and is again putting out a call for volunteers.

The group has nine regular volunteers down from its usual number of 12.

“It would be nice to get enough people to where we didn’t have to double up so much (work two different shifts). Being upstairs is a long day. When they work upstairs from early in the morning to who knows when, that is a long day,” volunteer Colleen Ketcher said. “I really enjoy working here. It’s been 20-something years that I’ve volunteered.”

Upstairs is the third floor with patient rooms and where surgeries occur. Volunteers assist with taking phone calls from family members inquiring about a person in surgery and help family members in the waiting room feel more comfortable.

Volunteers also maintain a gift shop near the hospital’s pharmacy where they sell candy, snacks, jewelry and T-shirts. Money from items sold has been used to buy rocking chairs for the hospital’s nursery and cell phone charging stations for four areas in the hospital.

“The patients and the staff have really enjoyed having those here,” Ketcher said of the stations.

Funds raised have also been used to buy chair beds for people wishing to stay extended periods with their loved ones in a hospital room, extra large wheelchairs, a wheelchair and teddy bears for the operating room area, car seats for patients who can’t afford them for their newborns and a bassinet for babies.

“We try to give every baby that leaves here a blanket,” Ketcher said. “In general, when they (staff) come and say they need something we try to donate. That’s what we’re here for, the patients, and we do our best to do whatever we can for them.”

After Betty Lunsford moved to Tahlequah and began using the hospital for her medical care, she said she began thinking about volunteering to give back to the hospital. She said she volunteers at Hastings because its staff was “good to her mother” when she was dying.

“She was here in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) when she passed away, and they were so good to us. And then I had a brother who passed away here, too, and they went out of their way to help us up there in ICU,” she said. “If someone has hours to give, like me, I’m alone, do I want to sit at home all the time and be lonely or had I rather be out with someone else and have the companionship and helping someone?”

Phyllis Jimmeye volunteers to give back to the facility she worked at for more than 20 years.

“I volunteer because I worked here for over 20 years. This is a way that I can still have contact with people that I worked with, and plus I’m able to see some of my family that I normally wouldn’t see because they use this facility,” she said.

The auxiliary holds meetings at 1 p.m. every second Tuesday of the month. The meetings are open to the public and people interested in volunteering may attend. Meetings are in the conference room of the annex building in front of the playground just west of the hospital’s main entrance on the third floor. People interested in volunteering or wanting more information should call 918-458-3100, ext. 4127.

“If someone really wants to get a blessing, I think this is a good place to get one because whatever you give, you’re going to get back way more,” Ketcher said. “These patients are so grateful just for a smile. When you’re sick just a smile or a greeting like ‘good morning,’ that’s something they really love.”

Opinion

OPINION: Foster families needed for Cherokee children
BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
07/01/2016 12:00 PM
The work of our Cherokee foster parents, child welfare workers and advocates is near and dear to my heart. It is an issue that deserves our daily attention. Cherokee people have always believed our children are sacred and their care is a shared responsibility. Each and every Cherokee child is precious and ensures our collective continued existence.

Sadly, there are more than 1,800 Cherokee children in foster care, with 1,100 of those children living right here in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, we are at a crossroad, with more children in custody than Cherokee foster homes available. The importance of placing Cherokee children in Cherokee foster homes is vital. Not only do our children deserve the right to grow up in a safe, loving environment, but they deserve the right to maintain their tribal ties to Cherokee values and culture.

Removal of our people from our homelands more than 175 years ago is one of the saddest parts of not just Cherokee history, but one of the darkest chapters in all of American history. The Trail of Tears created a long-lasting trauma for generations of Cherokee people, and we are still seeing the effects of it today. One of the most gut-wrenching ways is the trauma of a child in need of family.

Since those dark days of removal, foster care has been a sad but necessary reality, and although it may look different than our tragic historic event, removal is still happening to our Cherokee children when they are plucked from unsafe environments. Unfortunately, there are times when our children are in unsafe situations and need an extra measure of support. Sometimes abuse and neglect can be repeated without interruption across several generations. When this happens, it is necessary to remove children for their well-being in order to facilitate a healing process, with the hope of family reunification.

Temporary foster care is critical in the process. It literally saves kids and families, and without intervention there is little chance for family healing.

These rights are protected under the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which mandate certain placement preferences occur should an Indian child become deprived and warrant removal from their home. In the placement preferences listed, citizens of a child’s tribe are listed as the second consideration, after family. For tribes nationwide, including the Cherokee Nation, protecting our children though ICWA is not simply a juvenile issue, it is also a tribal sovereignty and family rights issue.

Just last week, the Department of Interior issued strengthened ICWA regulations that will better protect the rights of Indian children, their parents and their tribes in state child welfare proceedings. The provisions ensure identification and tribal notification when Indian children are involved in state court custody proceedings and recognize Indian children are best served when ICWA is strictly enforced. Most important, the new regulations instruct state courts on how to provide reunification services to meet the ultimate goal in all foster care cases: reunification of the family.

If you have ever considered the path of foster care, we need Cherokee families more than ever in Oklahoma and across the nation. For more information on how you can become a Cherokee foster home or other ways to help, please call Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare at 918-458-6900 or visit www.cherokeekids.org.

People

NSU women’s tennis coach building winning teams
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter – @cp_wchavez
07/22/2016 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Building teams that are mentally tough and accountable for their play, Northeastern State University Women’s tennis coach Amanda Stone is experiencing success on the court and earning individual awards.

For the second consecutive year, the Cherokee Nation citizen was named Coach of the Year for the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association after her team finished 20-4 and won the MIAA regular season championship for a third straight year. The RiverHawks also advanced to the NCAA Championship round of 16 for the fourth straight year. The team finished 10th nationally, which is the first time in school history that NSU earned a top-10 placement. Also, six team members earned All-MIAA honors.

“I got it (Coach of the Year) last year too, and I was very happy to receive that award. I think it says a lot to get recognition from other coaches in the league,” she said.

Stone said the team played with five of seven players this season because of injuries, making the team “stronger.”

“It showed a lot of growth with our players. I think that’s what I’m most proud of. I mean, I think it’s awesome to be 10th in the nation, but I think our players played above what they were expected to play, which is awesome,” she said.

Before coaching at NSU, the 32-year-old played high school tennis in Claremore and basketball at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa before switching back to tennis. She attended NSU from 2004-07, where she served as half of the top doubles tandem and was ranked from No. 3 to No. 5 in singles play. She made two national tournament appearances, attained a No. 11 national doubles ranking in 2007 and was undefeated in singles play her senior year.

After graduating from NSU with a mass communications degree, she worked as a technical writer in Kansas City for four years before trying coaching.

“I wasn’t really happy there working inside all of the time in front of a computer, so I decided to go back to school and do a GA (graduate assistant) position. I did that at the University of Rochester. That’s how I got into coaching,” she said.

She returned to Tahlequah in 2013 and began turning around NSU women’s tennis. After finishing 10-9 in 2012, the team finished 23-4 in 2013 and advanced to the NCAA round of 16 for the first time since 2007.

The 23 wins were the most since 2006, and the RiverHawks finished runner-up in their first year in the MIAA at 9-1. Also, the team had seven All-MIAA performers, including four MIAA first teamers.
The 2014 squad went 23-6 and captured the first conference championship for any NSU sport since the university joined the MIAA. The team finished 20th nationally, and seven players won All-MIAA honors, including three first teamers.

The 2015 team finished 20-6, which included a 10-0 MIAA record. NSU claimed its second-straight MIAA title and won the regional to advance to the NCAA Championship round of 16 for the third-straight year. NSU ended the season 18th nationally, and all eight team members earned MIAA honors.

“I think the NSU tennis program has always been a good program. They were always nationally ranked, but it kind of dropped off a little bit the last few years before I started, so I’ve brought them back to where they were before,” Stone said. “This is the fourth spring we’ve had a 20-win season.”

She said it takes time to build a program but believes she has the pieces for continued success.

“We’ve re-established ourselves as a nationally contending team, and now we’re getting some better players coming in. We have players with better attitudes, and everyone is on the same page,” she said. “So I think all of those pieces are just starting to click now.”

She said being a player at NSU helps her understand what her players go through.

“I was on a good team, and they are on a good team. I understand the situations they’re in, and it helps me emphasize what needs to be done so they can be successful,” she said.

Four players are returning next season. The team plays an individuals season in September and October and starts team play in February.

She said she travels in the summer recruiting players and will recruit more in December.

“I’m sending emails all of the time and watching videos (of potential recruits) pretty much every day, staying on track with players that are good,” she said.

Stone currently has players from Oklahoma, Russia, England, Croatia, and has new players coming from Ireland, Slovakia and Arkansas.

She works on strategy with players because they usually come with a good “fundamental game.”

“We work a lot on mental toughness, and we do a ton of pattern hitting (where to hit the ball on the court). We just want to give them the tools they can use in a match and not have to think too much about ‘what am I going to do?’” she said. “The big thing for us is improvement. We just try to improve every year. I can’t do my job unless the players are buying in. They deserve a ton of credit.”
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