Cherokee Phoenix Radio August 28, 2016

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/28/2016 10:00 AM
  • In this week's broadcast:
  • We feature Northeastern State University’s Early Settlement East Mediation Program that offers a way for people to seek free or low-cost mediation services.
  • Also, we revisit a story on artist Buffalo Gouge who designed the Cherokee Phoenix limited edition Cherokee National Holiday shirts.
  • ...plus much more.

NIGC to conduct assessment at Hard Rock

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
08/27/2016 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to a National Indian Gaming Commission letter, NIGC officials are scheduled to conduct an “oversight internal control assessment” at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa starting Sept. 7 that could take up to three weeks.

The letter states that after approving the Cherokee Nation’s Gaming Act amendments in 2014, NIGC Chairman Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri noted his “misgivings over some aspects of the gaming act.”

“In particular, the provision of the gaming act that requires tribal regulations and controls not to exceed federal control undermines the spirit of the NIGC regulations, especially the MICS (Minimum Internal Control Standards) – which are designed to be the ground floor of regulations upon which a tribe could build up from to address its specific requirements,” the letters states.

Chaudhuri states the act’s provisions “limit the ability” of the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission “to create controls it finds uniquely and perhaps better suited to its needs.” He states the MICS are in place to allow tribes to develop “tribal-specific regulations,” which are unique to their gaming operations.

The letter also states that by the tribe amending its Gaming Act it has chosen not to heighten its use of MICS and has chosen to work by the standards set in place by federal regulations and state compact terms. The letter states that if the CN continues to work under the amended Gaming Act it could be difficult for “tribal regulators” to determine what would “exceed” the “NIGC MICS.”
Two women play gaming machines at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa in Catoosa, Oklahoma. National Indian Gaming Commission officials sent a letter on Aug. 16 to Cherokee Nation officials stating that NIGC officials would conduct an oversight internal control assessment at Hard Rock in September. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Two women play gaming machines at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa in Catoosa, Oklahoma. National Indian Gaming Commission officials sent a letter on Aug. 16 to Cherokee Nation officials stating that NIGC officials would conduct an oversight internal control assessment at Hard Rock in September. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

CN honors military veterans in August

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/26/2016 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials honored a World War II veteran and two Vietnam War veterans with Medals of Patriotism at the Aug. 15 Tribal Council meeting.

Gary Dale Douglas, 71, of Coweta; James Clarence Huggins, 95, of Fort Gibson; and James David Murphy, 65, of Stilwell, each received a medal acknowledging their service to the country from Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden.

Spc. Douglas was born Feb. 27, 1945, in Houston, Missouri. He was drafted into the Army in 1967, attended basic training at Fort Bliss, Texas, and advanced individual training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

He was sent to Vietnam in October 1967 and was assigned to the 585th Dump Truck Company. Douglas drove a jeep for the first platoon sergeant and then the company commander. After the company commander was killed in an ambush, he drove a jeep for the second platoon sergeant.

Douglas was ambushed twice, first by the Viet Cong and then by the North Vietnamese regular army. As a result, he earned two Silver Star medals for valor in combat. Douglas took over the night crew of the motor pool for the remainder of his service after the second ambush. The motor pool was responsible for the upkeep and repair of the vehicles. Douglas received an honorable discharge in 1968.
Standing, from left, Tribal Councilor Don Garvin, Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden honor U.S. Army veteran James Clarence Huggins with a Cherokee Nation Medal of Patriotism during the Aug. 15 Tribal Council meeting in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. COURTESY Gary Dale Douglas, 71, of Coweta, Oklahoma, shakes hands with Principal Chief Bill John Baker at the Aug. 15 Tribal Council meeting in Tahlequah after being honored with a Cherokee Nation Medal of Patriotism for his military service. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX James David Murphy, 65, of Stilwell, Oklahoma, receives a Cherokee Nation Medal of Patriotism from Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden at the Aug. 15 Tribal Council meeting in Tahlequah. Murphy served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Standing, from left, Tribal Councilor Don Garvin, Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden honor U.S. Army veteran James Clarence Huggins with a Cherokee Nation Medal of Patriotism during the Aug. 15 Tribal Council meeting in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. COURTESY

McCoy named 2016-17 Junior Miss Cherokee

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/26/2016 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Lauryn Skye McCoy, 15, was crowned the 2016-17 Junior Miss Cherokee during the 25th annual competition on Aug. 20 at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center.

During her reign, she will be a goodwill ambassador for the tribe and will promote the government, language, history and traditions of the Cherokee people.

McCoy said winning this title means she gets “to carry on the traditions of the past winners.”

“I also hope to spread awareness about who we are and what we do as a tribe, as well as my platform,” she said.

McCoy competed against five other girls in three categories: cultural presentation, impromptu question and a speech on their platform. For each respective category, McCoy demonstrated how to make traditional shell shackles for stomp dancing, answered why she thought the Cherokee society has always held women in high esteem and gave a speech on the importance of building self-confidence in Native youth.
From left are Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and his wife Lynda Crittenden, 2016-17 Junior Miss Cherokee Lauryn Skye McCoy, first lady Sherry Baker and Principal Chief Bill John Baker. McCoy won the Junior Miss Cherokee crown on Aug. 20 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. COURTESY
From left are Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and his wife Lynda Crittenden, 2016-17 Junior Miss Cherokee Lauryn Skye McCoy, first lady Sherry Baker and Principal Chief Bill John Baker. McCoy won the Junior Miss Cherokee crown on Aug. 20 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. COURTESY
http://www.rakerknives.com

Low-to-no-cost mediation services available

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
08/26/2016 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Northeastern State University’s Early Settlement East Mediation Program, which is part of the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution System, offers a way for people to seek free or low-cost mediation services.

Stacey Stephens, Cherokee Nation citizen and program director, said mediation costs could be free or as low as $5 and that mediators are “neutral” when dealing with opposing parties.

“We will sit down with both sides of the case that are in conflict, and we’re a neutral mediator…We will listen to both sides and let each side have a fair chance of speaking and expressing why they’re there, what they would like to see happen, and we help them work together and come to a resolution and hopefully where everyone leaves in a win-win situation,” Stephens said. “It is in a confidential, informal setting. We’re not in a courtroom. It’s not court. They’re not on trial, and usually we’re in a private room off somewhere.”

She said the grant-funded service is offered in Adair, Cherokee, Delaware, Mayes, Muskogee, Sequoyah and Wagoner counties.

She said while in mediation it’s the mediator’s job to help everyone feel “comfortable.”
Stacey Stephens, Cherokee Nation citizen and Northeastern State University’s Early Settlement East Mediation Program director, handles paperwork at her office in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The program offers mediation services for free or as low as $5. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Stacey Stephens, Cherokee Nation citizen and Northeastern State University’s Early Settlement East Mediation Program director, handles paperwork at her office in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The program offers mediation services for free or as low as $5. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Jacob Taylor

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter – @cp_wchavez
08/25/2016 04:00 PM
BROKEN ARROW, Okla. – Broken Arrow High School senior Jacob Taylor recently attended an engineering experience camp hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Office of Engineering Outreach Program.

Taylor’s late July visit to Cambridge, Massachusetts, was his second visit there in two years. In June 2015, the 17-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen traveled to MIT with fellow Broken Arrow students to present their idea for producing less costly food for tilapia fish farms that help sustain communities in developing countries.

Taylor said during his weeklong visit in July for the outreach program, students were invited to take courses such as electronics, aerospace engineering, computer science development or underwater robotics. He chose aerospace engineering.

He said he studied calculus and physics and made small rockets using water bottles to calculate how high they would travel. He said he also learned about financial aid opportunities, applying for college and what to look for in a college.

Taylor said his only cost was paying for the flight to Cambridge.
Jacob Taylor
Jacob Taylor
http://www.cherokee.org/AboutTheNation/NationalHoliday.aspx

E&F Committee approves FY 2017 budget

BY LINDSEY BARK
Staff Writer
08/25/2016 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tribal Council’s Executive & Finance Committee unanimously passed the Cherokee Nation’s $934.2 million comprehensive budget for fiscal year 2017 during an Aug. 22 meeting.

The comprehensive budget is a result of the operating budget, used for tribal expenses and expected costs, approved at $656.4 million plus the capital budget, which includes land purchases and construction of facilities and roads, approved at $277.7 million.

The committee-approved FY 2017 comprehensive budget surpasses what the committee approved during the FY 2016 budget hearings by about $167.1 million.

“To be more specific, this is the (Cherokee) Nation’s largest ever beginning-of-the-year budget,” Treasurer Lacey Horn said.

In 2015, the committee approved the FY 2016 comprehensive budget for $767.1 million. Approximately, $647.7 million was for the operating budget and $119.4 million was for the capital budget.

Turtle lives with polycystic kidney disease

BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
08/25/2016 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Pam Turtle will spend the rest of her life taking medication to help her live with a transplanted kidney. The transplant was needed because she’s had polycystic kidney disease since she was 24.

Turtle, 49, is from Stilwell but lived in Kansas, Oklahoma, until five years ago. That’s when she got extremely sick and doctors told her the disease had progressed enough to necessitate dialysis. So she and her husband Mike Turtle moved to Tahlequah to be closer to a dialysis center.

PKD causes cysts to take the place of normal tissue. They enlarge the kidneys and make them work poorly, leading to kidney failure. The disease also runs in families.

As a child, Pam watched her mother suffer from PKD, so Pam carried a lot of responsibility, including helping keep the house and family together.

“My mom was sick the whole time I grew up. In fact, I had to miss some school to take my mom to dialysis and to drive her back. When I was 24 years old I was going to donate a kidney to my mother. I had just had my second child – my last child – and they told me I couldn’t. They told me I had the same disease that my mom had,” Pam said. “They had found cysts bilaterally on my kidneys, and they told me that I would have to start seeing a doctor.”
Following her kidney transplant surgery, Cherokee Nation citizen Pam Turtle, who suffers from polycystic kidney disease, had to take 26 pills a day to prevent illness following the transplant. Now she only takes about eight pills a day and will for the rest of her life. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Pam Turtle covers her great niece Dynver Eagle at Turtle’s home in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Turtle watches children to help make ends meet since her health makes it difficult for her to have a regular job. She suffers from polycystic kidney disease, a slow progressing disease that affects the whole body. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Just after her kidney transplant surgery, Cherokee Nation citizen Pam Turtle would have to take 26 pills a day because of her polycystic kidney disease. Now she only takes about eight pills a day and will for the rest of her life. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Pam Turtle shows a skin graft she had done in preparation for dialysis treatments because of her polycystic kidney disease. In all, Turtle has had 10 outpatient surgeries and nine inpatient surgeries, including a kidney transplant. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Following her kidney transplant surgery, Cherokee Nation citizen Pam Turtle, who suffers from polycystic kidney disease, had to take 26 pills a day to prevent illness following the transplant. Now she only takes about eight pills a day and will for the rest of her life. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
http://moonhawkart.com

Tribal Film Festival returns Sept. 2-4

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/24/2016 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The second Tribal Film Festival will be held during Cherokee National Holiday in downtown Tahlequah to include more than 30 Native American films as well as a Native Pop art show.

Founder and Executive Director Celia Xavier will host the festival. This year she’s partnered with Brent Learned of Native Pop, who will feature top Native Pop artists for a live art exhibit at 6 p.m. at the NSU Jazz Lab on Sept. 2 for the red carpet reception on opening night.

The festival takes place Sept. 2-4 at the Dream Theater.

Xavier said the festival saw great success in 2015 and expects to have more than 1,000 attendees during the three-day weekend. She added that this year’s festival will bring a “wide range of films and shorts,” and each one is indigenous with some being in their own language. Proceeds from the silent auction to be held during the red carpet event will be used to benefit the Student Filmmaking Bootcamp.

Films and short films will begin screening at 2 p.m. on Sept. 3 and children’s movies will be on Sept. 4 beginning at 2 p.m.
The second Tribal Film Festival will be held during Cherokee National Holiday in downtown Tahlequah to include more than 30 Native American films as well as a Native Pop art show.
The second Tribal Film Festival will be held during Cherokee National Holiday in downtown Tahlequah to include more than 30 Native American films as well as a Native Pop art show.

Culture

Cherokee National Treasure to teach beadwork class in Oklahoma City
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/23/2016 04:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – Cherokee National Treasure Martha Berry will teach a beadwork class at 10 a.m. on Nov. 12 at the Oklahoma History Center.

The project will be a bandolier bag. Bandolier bags are beaded pouches with beaded flaps to enclose the pouches. They have beaded straps to enable the owners to wear the bags diagonally over the shoulder. The bag usually rests at hip level. The bag’s designs are created using glass beads.

Berry creates beaded bandolier bags, moccasins, belts, sashes, small purses and knee bands in the styles worn by the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole prior to 1850. She was designated a Cherokee National Treasure in 2013.

Her work can be viewed at http://www.berrybeadwork.com.

The Oklahoma History Center is located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive. For more information, call Sarah Dumas at 405-521-2491.

Education

Taylor helps to feed Kenyan orphans
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter – @cp_wchavez
08/22/2016 08:15 AM
BROKEN ARROW, Okla. – Broken Arrow High School student Jacob Taylor has a heart for mission work to help the less fortunate and recently helped solve a food problem for children in Kenya, Africa.

The 17-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen, and four other Broken Arrow students who are part of the school’s InvenTeam, traveled to Kenya in June to share research that is helping children living in an orphanage improve their diets.

“It all began with my teacher, and she had a connection with this man named Bill Lester who lives in Oklahoma City, who went to Broken Arrow High School back in the (19)60s. He has a big heart for missions and mission work, and he began an orphanage named Generations Children’s Home,” he said.

The home is located in central Kenya and accepts orphans and children whose parents could no longer afford to raise them.

“The problem with a lot of kids in this region is that they don’t get enough protein in their diet. My environmental science teacher has been teaching on subjects like this. She knew about the issue of protein deficiency in children, so she decided she wanted to try out this new trend going on in east Africa called aquaponic systems or artificial ponds for fish,” Taylor said.

Four years ago, environmental science teacher Donna Gradel took Broken Arrow students to Kenya and built 20-foot-by-40-foot ponds and a greenhouse. The ponds were used to raise tilapia fish to help solve the protein deficiency.

“But it became a problem because the fish food they were purchasing from town cost about $3 or $4 a day to feed all the fish, in this region where people make less than a dollar a day. So the problem was how expensive it was and the sustainability of that kind of fishery because it (fish food) was being shipped from China. It (fish food) was filled with tons of non-natural ingredients for the tilapia to eat like...ground-up pieces of dead fish,” Taylor said. “Plus that food was being shipped 1,000 miles from China, and it just cost too much to get there.”

In 2014, Gradel attended a seminar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge after she submitted an idea for producing less costly fish food for tilapia farms.

“She came back and we had to write a grant proposal to MIT by October (2014) for all the things we were going to build and what we were going to do and why it was important,” Taylor said. “We decided we were going to make a new kind of fish food out of natural ingredients in the diet of the tilapia, which are algae, duckweed (an aquatic plant), meal worms (the larvae form of beetles) and filler ingredients like ground-up banana leaves.”

That October, the Broken Arrow team began working to create sustainable fish food for developing countries after it won a Lemelson-MIT Program grant, which provides funding for projects to help sustain communities.

From October 2014 to May 2015, the group spent 500 hours in the lab working on tilapia food. They worked on ponds for algae and duckweed to grow in, built pens for meal worms and worked on ways to dehydrate those ingredients on a reflective surface outside. They also worked on a machine that made fish food pellets from the ingredients.

“We had a lot of trial and error and failure, but we ended up coming up with a clear idea of what we wanted to do, so by the time we got to June 2015, we got to propose all of our ideas (at MIT),” he said. “Ours was unique because we had a set place (Kenya) where we wanted to solve a problem.”

Taylor said the process decreased fish food cost by 90 percent. Some students on the project in 2015 graduated high school, but the remaining students took the endeavor to Kenya this past June to share it with the orphanage.

“We were able to build some things we imagined and shared with the Kenyans what we thought they could do to solve their (fish food) problem,” Taylor said. “We will probably go back to check on how it’s doing next year.”

For two weeks the students stayed in the Kenyan village. One thing Taylor said he appreciated about his visit was that he learned some Swahili, the Kenyan people’s language.

“We got to try to talk to people on the streets and say ‘hello, how are you.’ And we got to play soccer with some of the kids and got to go to their church. All of those experiences were pretty amazing,” he said.

Council

Councilors reimplement Whistleblower Act
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
08/17/2016 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At their Aug. 15 meeting, Tribal Councilors passed a new Whistleblower Protection Act after learning earlier this year it was repealed in 2012.

The act is to protect employees from “retaliatory action” when participating in “protected activities” such as reporting alleged wrongdoing of a co-worker, supervisor or elected official.

The vote passed unanimously with Tribal Councilor Wanda Hatfield absent.

During the July 12 Rules Committee meeting, Assistant Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo said the act would replace the one that legislators repealed in 2012.

“When the Ethics Act was amended in, I believe, 2012 it was included in the language… this repeals Title 28. When you repeal a title you repeal all of the title,” she said. “No one caught that at the time that the Ethics Act was passed…It should have said it repeals this section of Title 28, but what it said was it repeals Title 28. When the new Ethics Act was passed…it took out the whistleblower language.”

Tribal Councilor Buel Anglen said as soon as he heard the Whistleblower Act was no longer in place he and others worked to reinstate it.

“Of course that opened my eyes up when I found out that there was that one case where we found out that the Whistleblower Act was not in effect anymore and that it had been taken out,” Anglen said. “So I asked some of the council people that were on it when it came out, why did that happen, and none of them knew anything about it. It was kind of worded in there to where it didn’t look like anything had changed, eliminated…So we just jumped right on it to get it back in once we found that out.

“(Tribal Councilor) Dick Lay and I took the charge on it,” he added. “We got it back in, and I think now the employees can feel comfortable again. If something’s going on, they speak up and not have to worry about losing their job or anything else.”

Nimmo said new language states “protected activity does not include false information provided by the employee.” Nimmo said what this means is that the employee’s allegations have to be “true.”

“What we intended by putting this language in is saying that what they report has to be true. So it keeps an employee from making up something,” she said. “The way that this is written, also in the burden of proof, that if an employee made up false information and they were terminated for that and they filed a claim under the Whistleblower Act in District Court of the (Cherokee) Nation, which would be the AG’s office defending the Nation, could prove that the information that they shared was false and they knew that it was false then they don’t get their job back, they don’t get back pay and they’re not protected under the Whistleblower Act because the Whistleblower Act is intended to protect employees who make a good-faith effort to shed light on possible wrongdoing by the government.”

Also at the Aug. 15 meeting, legislators transferred tribally owned trust lands to mutual-help home participants. According to legislation, the tribe acquired Delaware County land in 1937 and 1938 from the United States. The tribe later set aside certain areas within that land to be leased “for the construction of Mutual-Help Homes.”

The legislation states within portions of this trust land the tribe “established multiple housing Subdivisions” and “desires to transfer the following Mutual Help-Home sites to the participants in Trust.”

The legislation lists Peggy Wagnon, Jerry and Velma Tagg, Molly Sapp, Stanley and Amy Proctor and Roxanne and Cordell Smith as the participants of the project, which will be in Kenwood.

Legislators also authorized the tribe to lease trust land to the CC Camp Community Organization.

According to legislation, the land is 26.48 acres in Adair County located on Hwy 59 that encompasses the Cherry Tree Red Gym and softball fields. The legislation states the organization will lease the land from the tribe for $1 a year for 25 years beginning this year.

Tribal Councilor Frankie Hargis said leasing “this property to the organization will only lead to more community events and create a tighter bond between Cherokee families.”

In other business, legislators:

• Reconfirmed Susan Chapman Plumb to the Cherokee Nation Foundation board and Jeff Limore to Sequoyah High School board of education, and

• Authorized a grant of easement for right-of-way to the Adair County commissioners for the reconstruction of a bridge in the Lyons Switch community.

Health

ACA offers American Indian/Alaska Native provisions
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
08/15/2016 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Health Services officials said although the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment begins in November, American Indians, Alaska Natives and their non-Native household members can enroll any month, and they are encouraging Cherokee Nation citizens to take advantage of this and other Native provisions in the ACA.

Connie Dunavin, Health Services special projects officer and ACA lead, said the use of one’s tribal health care facility is not considered insurance coverage but a benefit by the federal government’s Indian Health Services.

Dunavin explained “we get calls now that Cherokee Nation citizens think that because they have access to Cherokee Nation Health Services facilities, that they are considered covered by insurance.”

But IHS is limited in certain services offered, Dunavin said, therefore having coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the Marketplace will help insure things such as specialty care, or accidents that could occur out of state.

“So we’re trying to encourage completing a marketplace application,” Dunavin said. “As a member of a federally recognized tribe, one of the special provisions for American Indian/Alaska Native is an opportunity to qualify for a zero-cost-sharing plan.”

American Indian/Alaska Native households or individuals whose income falls between 100 percent and 300 percent of the federal poverty level can qualify for the zero-cost-sharing plan, she said.

“That is no co-pay, no deductible and zero cost for medicines whether they’re name brand or generic. Many of our people qualify for that,” she said. “And that is an American Indian special provision.”

Health Services has certified application counselors available in each health center and at W.W. Hastings Hospital to assist tribal citizens with applications, enrollments and exemptions.

Without coverage or an exemption, people who are required to file income taxes will be assessed penalties called shared-responsibility payments.

“We have another special provision, the American Indian/Alaska Native or AI/AN Exemption,” she said.

After filing for this exemption the marketplace will issue a lifetime Exemption Certificate Number (ECN), Dunavin said, which is an indicator to the IRS that the filer is of American Indian status and has been confirmed by the federal government and not just claiming to be an American Indian/Alaska Native to avoid a penalty.

She said this spring in Dallas, the Regional Center for Medicare and Medicaid/IHS meeting informed tribal officials that filing for the exemption would end soon and the last ECN would be issued in December 2016, but officials are still waiting for that official notification.

“The only option then (without an ECN) will be to just check on your income tax form (8965) and claim to be Indian,” Dunavin said. “So the IRS has said, it’s not in writing, but they have told us that they will no longer audit you based on a claim of being Indian to avoid a penalty.”

However, this year, Dunavin said she and other tribal officials attending the regional meeting reported accounts of families that were contacted by the IRS based on the claim of being Indian (not having an ECN), as well as accounts of citizens unknowingly claiming use of their tribal facilities as insurance coverage.

With the ECN on tax form 8965, Dunavin said, the IRS knows that the federal government has confirmed a person to be a citizen of a federally recognized tribe and not just claiming Native status to avoid the penalty.

“We are encouraging our citizens to come in before or by November and let us help you file for the ECN to confirm your status,” she said.

For those wanting to file for the ECN or read more information, go to www.healthcare.gov/tribal and follow the AI/AN Exemption links.

Dunavin said applying for health coverage through the marketplace can be confusing and difficult and that many tribal citizens have tried the “Quick Estimator” for pricing that’s provided at healthcare.gov not knowing the estimator does not reflect the zero-cost-sharing special provision for American Indians/Alaska Natives. “So health officials are urging citizens to utilize the CN staff available that can help with looking at types of coverage one may qualify for at a zero or low cost.”

Health Services has 24 certified application counselors to help tribal citizens, she said.

“Call to set up an appointment, or come in and meet your community health center’s PBC (Patient Benefit Coordinator) and let us help you with applications, enrollments, to see if you qualify for those zero-cost-share plans, and to help you with the AI/AN Exemption,” Dunavin said.

For more information, call your local CN health clinic or 918-453-5000, ext. 5657.

Opinion

OPINION: Celebrate history, culture during annual Cherokee National Holiday
BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
08/01/2016 02:00 PM
It is my favorite weekend of the year. Labor Day weekend always means it is time for Cherokee National Holiday. The 64th annual event, which runs Sept. 2-4 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, will again draw a crowd of more than 100,000 visitors to our capital city. I invite anyone who has never experienced Cherokee National Holiday to join us for fellowship and fun as we celebrate the history, heritage and hospitality of the Cherokee Nation. And, of course, we always look forward to seeing the thousands of friends that return every year, while meeting new friends this homecoming weekend.

As we come together this year, we celebrate the accomplishments of our tribal government and our bright future. We share our Cherokee traditions and values. The first Cherokee National Holiday was held in 1953 to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the 1839 Cherokee Constitution.

This year’s Cherokee National Holiday theme, “Stewards of our Land,” is a reminder that Cherokee people have, since time immemorial, protected our earth and safeguarded our precious natural resources. Cherokee people were among the first conservationists in this country’s history, and today that spirit lives on in our important work.

We proudly celebrate the natural world and strive to keep our land clean, our water safe and our air pristine. Every decision we make is deliberate and with our natural resources in mind. One of the things we achieved in the past year is establishing a secretary of Natural Resources, who’s responsible for shaping a policy to preserve our land, water and air. We also secured a historic hunting and fishing compact with the state and a portion of those earmarked funds go specifically to statewide conservation efforts. We have an inherent responsibility to the next seven generations of Cherokees to leave the world a better place.

The 2016 Cherokee National Holiday design, which was created by Cherokee National Treasure Dan Mink, is simply beautiful and ties so many of concepts together in one piece of art. It will be exceptional on a shirt or a poster. At the center is a deer sugar skull decorated with elements of predator and prey. Inside the skull are snakeskin, fish scales and patterns associated with Southeast Woodland design, native to the Cherokee people. The cape feathers directly under the deer embrace the tribe’s 14 counties. The blue background is the horizon over Lake Tenkiller, marked with the seven-pointed star. The circle is encompassed by three patterns, including deer tracks to embody a successful hunt, stylized turkey feathers and scales. The three patterns represent the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes. Lastly, the seven Buffalo Carp fish under the circle honor the seven Cherokee clans.

Every year the Cherokee Nation offers its citizens and visitors an array of entertainment, cultural and athletic events to participate in. The Cherokee National Holiday has something of interest for all walks of life, from traditional foods and music to competitive marbles, a car show, softball and stickball tournaments and the annual children’s fishing derby, hosted by pro angler Jason Christie. Additionally, I encourage history enthusiasts to explore our local museums during the holiday weekend. They all highlight different aspects of Cherokee events and people.

Visitors will be able to experience the annual marquee events like the powwow, parade and state of the nation address. The always-popular Cherokee National Holiday parade travels down Muskogee Avenue in downtown Tahlequah and is the only parade in the state to be announced in both Cherokee and English. The Cherokee National Holiday Intertribal Powwow is also routinely one of the biggest draws of the annual celebration and has been profiled as one of the best powwows in America. The two-night event offers thousands of dollars in prize money for Southern Straight, Northern Traditional, Fancy, Jingle and other dance categories.

Friends, I hope you will allow the Cherokee Nation to showcase our vibrant culture and rich history this Labor Day weekend. You’ll find a wealth of kind hearts, determined minds and resilient spirits, while making memories you and your family will cherish for a lifetime. You may even leave town with a cornhusk doll or a woven Cherokee basket. God bless each and every one of you, and God bless the Cherokee Nation.

Visit www.cherokee.org to find a complete list of the 64th Cherokee National Holiday events.

People

Cherokee bull rider named SOSU Athlete of Year
BY LINDSEY BARK
Staff Writer
08/19/2016 08:15 AM
DURANT, Okla. – Ever since he was 2 years old, Cherokee Nation citizen Wyatt Rogers, of Rose, knew he wanted to be a bull rider.

He grew up watching his dad, Dusty Rogers, compete in rodeos as a steer wrestler and team roper. But bull riding was Wyatt’s favorite. He said he “always found it more entertaining” than any other event.

His mom, Christine Rogers, said she took Wyatt to a rodeo when he was 3 and he took part in mutton busting (sheep riding), and he was hooked ever since.

After riding sheep, Wyatt moved up to calves and rode his first bull at age 13. He competed in rodeos through a junior rodeo series and was able to hone his skills.

Wyatt, a 2015 graduate of Locust Grove High School, was also a member of the Oklahoma High School Rodeo Association. It was there he caught the attention of college rodeo scouts.

“I was fortunate enough to get some offers and just chose what school I thought would be best for me,” Wyatt said about attending Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

As a freshman at SOSU, Wyatt made it to the national level in June at the 2016 College National Finals Rodeo. He was also selected as one of three SOSU students to receive Athlete of the Year. He is the second rodeo athlete to receive the honor since 2009 and the second rodeo athlete to make it to the national level.

“I was kind of shocked that it was me,” he said. “I mean, I did good in the national ranking in rodeo, but I just never thought that I would win that (honor) at my school.”

Not only is Wyatt a success in college rodeos, but in professional rodeos, too.

Tuff Hedeman, a retired professional bull rider, called Wyatt when he was a high school senior and asked him to join the Championship Bull Riding tour. He competed in first professional rodeo in October 2014 and won big.

“When I went to that event in Mercedes, Texas, I was the only guy to go three-for-three, and I won a little over $42,000,” Wyatt said.

Though he got a late start in his first season, he completed his first full season with the CBR in July at the world finals in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He rode two out of four bulls and finished ranked eighth in the world.

Wyatt said he gets the inspiration from his father, who died in May 2014.

“I continue to rodeo just to honor him,” Wyatt said. “I just know he would want me to do my best, and he always pushed me to do my best, and I just rodeo for him.”

He said he also gets full support from his mom in his rodeo endeavors.

“There are some out there that will make a name for themselves, be it a name that people will remember,” said Christine. “I guess that’s something that I would like to see Wyatt be, somebody that leaves a mark on the world.”

Wyatt said his goal in bull riding is to be called a world champion at the annual competition in Cheyenne.

“Man, it’s just great knowing my dad competed there,” Wyatt said. “And you get to go to that legendary rodeo and compete on the same floor as every legend that’s been there (in rodeo, such as) Lane Frost, Tuff Hedeman. All the big names in rodeo have been there at one time, and it’s just an honor to know that you get to stand on the same ground as them.”
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