Cherokee Nation Election Commissioner Teresa Hart visits with EC attorney Harvey Chaffin regarding the voter precinct map at the commission’s Oct. 14 meeting in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Red stars show the Cherokee Nation voting precincts for the 2015 election cycle. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation Election Commissioner Teresa Hart visits with EC attorney Harvey Chaffin regarding the voter precinct map at the commission’s Oct. 14 meeting in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

EC removes polling places, limits media access

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The policy amendment passed unanimously.

The Cherokee Phoenix requested a copy of the changes but was told that until they pass the Tribal Council they are not final.

“The By-laws and Rules & Regulations of the Election Commission that have been approved through the Election Commission still have to go through Council for approval before they are official, so those aren’t ready,” Cornett said.

CN Angel Project applications available

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/22/2014 11:42 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Oct. 27, parents can begin registering their Cherokee children for the Cherokee Nation Angel Project.

CNAP, formerly known as Angel Tree, is a program that allows the public to purchase and donate clothing, toys and other gifts for Cherokee children who live within the 14-county tribal jurisdiction, and who may not otherwise receive gifts during the holiday season, according to a CN press release.

“More than 2,200 children received holiday gifts through the program last year,” the release states.

To qualify for the program, children must be 16 years of age or younger. Applicants must provide proof of income for all household members over the age of 18. For example, a family of three must not exceed $2,061 in household income per month, and a family of four must not exceed $2,484 per month.

Those applying must provide a proof of residency and tribal citizenship card for each child.

For more information, please call 918-266-5626, ext. 7720 or 918-458-6900.

Applications must be filled out at the following locations from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Nov. 7.

Beginning Oct. 27

Salina: A-Mo Health Center, 900 N. Owen Walters Blvd.

Catoosa: Indian Child Welfare Office, 750 S. Cherokee St., Suite O

Muskogee: Three Rivers Health Center, 1001 S. 41st St. E.

Vinita: Vinita Health Center, 27371 S. 4410 Road

Beginning Oct. 28

Chouteau: Chouteau Public Schools, 521 N. McCracken

Collinsville: Victory Cherokee Community Building, 1025 N. 12th St.

Nowata: Will Rogers Health Center, 1020 Lenape Drive

Pryor: Cherokee Heights Housing Addition, 133 Cherokee Heights

Stilwell: Indian Child Welfare Office, 401 S. 2nd

Westville: 402 S. Park St. (house across from Westville Junior High)

Jay: Cherokee Nation Human Services, 1501 Industrial Park

Beginning Oct. 30

Bartlesville: Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, 1003 S. Virginia

Beginning Nov. 3

Tahlequah: W.W. Keeler Complex Financial Resource Building, 17675 S. Muskogee Ave.
http://academics.nsuok.edu/Portals/18/Flyer.pdf

Cherokee Nation to open $5M drug treatment center

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

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

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

The campus features a recreation center, cafeteria, group therapy rooms and male and female dorms.
University of Tulsa junior Kathryn Thompson has sensors attached to her face at the TU lab for testing chronic pain in Native Americans. Sensors are attached to the face, hands, torso, top of the head and back of the leg when testing. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Dr. Joanna Shadlow, applied assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Tulsa, and Dr. Jamie Rhudy, associate professor of clinical psychology at TU, are conducting tests to determine a possible causing factor of chronic pain in Native Americans. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
University of Tulsa junior Kathryn Thompson has sensors attached to her face at the TU lab for testing chronic pain in Native Americans. Sensors are attached to the face, hands, torso, top of the head and back of the leg when testing. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Chronic pain testing for Native Americans in full swing

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter
10/22/2014 08:09 AM
TULSA, Okla. – Clinical psychologists at the University of Tulsa, along with undergraduate and graduate students, are working to determine whether Native Americans process pain differently than other races.

Nearly three years ago, Dr. Jamie Rhudy, associate professor of clinical psychology at TU, and Dr. Joanna Shadlow, applied assistant professor of clinical psychology at TU, became interested in pain processing within Natives after realizing Natives had yet to be thoroughly examined but were shown to have a high prevalence of chronic pain.

“We did some digging around (and) we found that hardly anything had been done looking at pain in Native Americans,” Rhudy said. “(Existing studies) were (primarily) epidemiological, meaning that they were studying prevalence rates. There was not much out there in the literature, but what literature there was suggested that Native Americans actually have a higher prevalence of chronic pain and pain in general than any other minority group or the majority white group.”

The duo then conducted a pilot study.

“We developed a very small study and we conducted (it) over the course of about 18 months and we were able to get about 22 individual Native Americans, both male and female, all pain-free and healthy, and a control group of 20 Caucasians (healthy and pain-free),” he said. “We were surprised to find the Native Americans had lower pain sensitivity. They had higher pain thresholds, higher pain tolerances.”

Rhudy said this was opposite of what they predicted, stating that people who are at risk for chronic pain usually have higher pain sensitivity. He added that factors that contribute to chronic pain risk may be different in Native Americans.

With hopes of receiving funding and conducting a larger, more in-depth study of the link between Natives and chronic pain, Rhudy said they submitted a grant proposal to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, an institute within the National Institutes of Health that focuses on reducing health disparities in minorities.

“The group (NIMHD) believed that this would be a good project to invest their funds in,” said Rhudy. “They gave us funds to do a multi-year project and we’re going to do it (on a) much larger scale.”

The project began in August 2013 with equipment purchasing, setting up lab areas and training student researchers. This past March researchers began recruiting participants.

The project is funded for four years but Rhudy said he hopes to extend it to a fifth year if funds allow.

“We’re targeting 120 Native American and 120 Caucasian controls. The first thing that we want to do is be able to replicate the findings that we found in our first pilot study and (find out) if that’s true the Native American group is less pain sensitive than the Caucasian group,” he said.

Individuals partaking in the study must be healthy, currently pain-free, have no history of chronic pain and be 18 years of age or older. Before coming to the TU lab, participants will receive a phone screening to ensure they are qualified. For example, participants cannot be on pain medications. If they do take pain medications the medications must be washed out of their systems before they can participate, Rhudy said.

The study involves two days of testing. Each testing day can last between four and six hours.

On one testing day sensors are placed on the participants face, hands, torso, top of the head and back of the leg. It generally takes an hour to apply the sensors.

“It’s not like when folks come in that they’ll actually be going through four hours of continuous painful stimuli,” he said. “We very thoughtfully tried to arrange the tests in such a way that there are breaks in between them.”

The test can occur on back-to-back days or be spread out. The tests are also available on weekends. Those who complete both days of testing receive $200 and those who complete one day receive $100.

Rhudy said participants who have to drive more than 30 minutes for testing are reimbursed for mileage.

“If the participants are coming in from out of town we reimburse for mileage,” he said. “For people who are coming a really far distance and it’s not feasible for them to come in on two separate days, we actually have money available to put individuals up in a hotel room to stay over night so that we can get them tested in two consecutive days.”

The multiple tests include those involving heat, cold water and pressure. He said one stimulus they would test is a controlled heat stimulus conducted with safe and precise equipment.

“We deliver heat pulses and then we measure people’s reactions to that both subjectively, like their perception of it, then we measure the body’s (physiological) reaction,” he said.

Another stimulus will be cold water. Rhudy said they would have circulating water that they can set at a specific temperature. Rhudy said during one test participants will be asked to place their hand in the water, up to their wrist and to keep it there as long as they can tolerate it.

“While their arm is in the water we have them rate, in real time, the pain as it’s evolving,” he said.

He said researchers also have a device that applies pressure to the skin to examine how much pressure is needed before the body site becomes painful, a device that dispenses electric stimuli to active nerves known to be involved with pain processing and a device that works with blood flow and requires the participant to wear a blood pressure cuff that squeezes the upper arm and creates a throbbing pain in the forearm muscles.

Participants will also view a series of emotional photos that are pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.

He said electrical stimulations will be delivered to nerves in the ankle during the pictures and researchers can see how reactions in the brain and spinal cord change by the pictures participants are seeing.

Participants will also be put through a test to see how their body reacts to pain when tasked with another painful procedure.

“The way we do this is we have participants place their arm in the cold circulating water and then we test pain using electric stimulations and heat on a different body part before, during and after having their hand in the cold water,” he said.

After conducting the tests, Rhudy said, researches will contact participants and conduct brief assessments to see if any participants have began to develop chronic pain.

“We’re going to be checking in with them every six months,” he said.

He said this would be a 30-minute assessment regarding the participant’s health, pain and well-being and that no painful tests would be conducted.

Rhudy said by conducting the tests and ongoing assessments, researches hope to identify potential risk factors for chronic pain development so they can prevent or possibly reverse chronic pain development.

Ultimately, Rhudy said he and other researchers hope to help Native Americans who have high-risk factors for or who live with chronic pain.

“We hope that this is going to help thousands of people in the future to be able to keep them from going on to develop chronic pain and maybe even develop interventions for those that do ultimately develop chronic pain, but we can’t know (do) that without doing these types of studies,” he said.

For more information, call 918-631-3565 or 918-631-2175.

Lowering high cholesterol with healthy diet

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/21/2014 03:12 PM
BOSTON, Mass. – According to an October 2014 Harvard Women’s Health Watch, to lower cholesterol a health diet is necessary, but that doesn’t mean the food must be “less appetizing.”

“A heart-healthy diet doesn't have to be an exercise in self-deprivation,” states the Harvard health publication.

“It's a good idea to say goodbye to some snacks and fast foods, but they can usually be replaced with others that are equally satisfying. The key is exchanging bad fats for good ones,” Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said. “Because all fats contain the same number of calories – about 100 per tablespoon – the substitution isn’t likely to leave you feeling hungry.”

She adds that trans fats show up on food labels as “partially hydrogenated” oils.

“They are found most commonly in packaged bakery goods, crackers, microwave popcorn, and other snacks,” she said. “Trans fats boost the level of harmful LDL cholesterol, lower protective HDL cholesterol, and increase inflammation.”

The publication also states to use vegetable oils when possible.

“These contain a mixture of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Other good sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats include most seeds and nuts, avocados, and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, herring, and mackerel,” Harvard Women’s Health Watch states.

McManus said saturated fats and dietary cholesterol are all right in small amounts, they are mostly found in animal-based foods like red meat and milk.

“That translates to four eggs a week and small servings of red meat, shrimp, lobster, cheese, butter, and organ meats every couple of weeks or so. But don't make the mistake of substituting sugar for fat. Many foods advertised as low fat, like salad dressings and cookies, contain extra sugar to make up for the loss of flavor from removing fat,” the publication states.

McManus said doing so is one of the worst choices you can make.

“The higher-fat version may sometimes be a better choice,” she added.

Area Cherokee communities to host Halloween events

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/21/2014 01:06 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Three Cherokee communities will host Halloween-related events before and during Halloween.

In Marble City, citizens are hosting the “Trail of Terror” to provide a safe but scary fun for those who dare to walk the trail. This is the ninth year for the outdoor event, and it will be held one mile south of Marble City from 7:30 p.m. to 11:55 p.m. on Oct. 24-25. People should follow signs to the Noisey Ranch.

Admission is $3 per person. Because the trail is outdoors, no flip-flops are allowed to prevent injuries. It will take 15 to 20 minutes to walk through the trail, which is situated in 10 acres of woods.

This year, the eighth grade class at Marble City School is doing a special scene. A volunteer work crew from Haskell Indian Nations University is also assisting with the trail. This year’s big feature is a maze and a psychedelic tunnel, said coordinator Tamara Hibbard.

“All the workers are volunteers. We put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into getting it ready. We just do it for the enjoyment of the people. We never break even with admission,” she said. “Any money that we take goes back for expenses like fuel for the generator, fog juice, fake blood, props and costumes.”

A free “Daisy Trail” will be available for small children that will include carnival games and non-scary stuff. For more information, call Hibbard at 918-315-2583.

After trick or treating on Halloween, families are invited to the Rocky Mountain Cherokee Community Organization’s “Haunted Trail and Kiddie Carnival” from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the organization’s community building.

All activities are free except for the concession stand. Cherokee storyteller Sequoyah Guess will be the guest storyteller. The trail and storytelling will be held behind the community building, weather permitting. Games and concession stand will be held inside.

The trail will not be suitable for younger children. Carnival-type games will be set up and suitable for anyone.

The Rocky Mountain Community is located off of 100 Hwy. in Adair County, about seven miles west of Stilwell. For more information, call Vicki McLemore at 918-506-0487.

The Brushy Cherokee Action Association will host a “Haunted House and Trail” and a hayride from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 29-31 at the Brushy Community Center building. Events will last until 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 31.

Cherokee Nation staff members Stephanie Buckskin and Mary Owl, along with Brushy volunteers, are building and installing the “Haunted House and Trail.”

BCAAA welcomes all residents of Brushy and surrounding communities to the Halloween events. Admission is $2 per person and $10 per family. Concessions will be available.

The Brushy Community Center building is located seven miles north of Sallisaw on Hwy 59 on E. 1010 Road.

For more information call Gary Bolin at 918-315-7797 or Newton Spangler at 918-575-5998.
Bacone College students Eric Horsley, left, and Taylor Hosey use the Whelan Press to create a relief print in Printmaking 1 at the Muskogee, Okla.-based college. COURTESY
Bacone College students Eric Horsley, left, and Taylor Hosey use the Whelan Press to create a relief print in Printmaking 1 at the Muskogee, Okla.-based college. COURTESY

Bacone College receives donation from Cherokee artist

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

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

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

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

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

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

Culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Education

CNF audit: former director circumvented authority
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
10/02/2014 03:09 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to the Cherokee Nation Foundation’s 2013 audit, former Executive Director Kimberlie Gilliland “exercised substantial control over all phases of the organization and was able to circumvent board authority on a number of issues.”

Gilliland, a Cherokee Nation citizen, served as executive director from January 2010 to June 2013.

According to the audit, no accounting controls were exercised over restricted funds and their disbursements. The auditor was unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence about the amounts recorded as restricted funds. The auditor was also unable to determine whether adjustments to those amounts were necessary. Accounting controls over the disbursement of funds for the payment of expenditures and payroll were not sufficient and a great deal of those expenditures did not have appropriate supporting documentation, it states.

In CNF’s audit response, the new board has committed to improve the organization’s oversight, including the executive director, and it now requires two signatures on all checks and the executive director only is one of the signers in the event of an emergency.

“When I took over, we had an auditor and an outside accountant and the books hadn’t been balanced in three years,” current CNF Executive Director Randall told Tribal Councilors during the Aug. 11 Education and Culture Committee meeting.

“He (Robert St. Pierre of Stilwell) said it was the worst audit he had ever done in the history of his auditing.”

Gilliland said during her tenure she acted in accordance with the CNF bylaws.

Gilliland cited section 5.2 of the bylaws, which provides that the executive director “shall be the administrator of the corporation and charged with the responsibility of managing the business of the corporation in the roll of the chief executive officer and shall perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the board of directors or the president.”

Section 7.2 specifically delegates the executive director to “sign checks, receipts, deposit funds enter into contracts, modify or cancel contracts, on behalf for the board of directors, except in the amounts of over $5,000 which shall be required to have the signature of one officer.”

“I reported to the board president weekly, to the board’s Finance Committee monthly and to the full board quarterly,” Gilliland said. “I did not make any decisions without consulting the respective committee chairs or the board president.”

Gilliland said CNF’s financial records consisted of a general ledger, maintained using QuickBooks accounting software, bank statements and financial statements.

“An independent outside CPA (certified public accountant) reconciled the bank statements, the general ledger and the financial statements monthly,” she said. “Up to the summer of 2010, the accountant who performed these reconciliations was Chrissie Moore.”

At the time, Moore was a CN employee who reported to then-Treasurer Callie Catcher.

Gilliland said CPA Linda Drumm performed these reconciliations from the summer of 2010 through December 2011. Drumm is the financial director of St. John’s Medical Access Program.

Gilliland said from December 2011 through January 2013 Catcher performed the reconciliations, and former CN Finance Director Tamsye Dreadfulwater performed them from January 2013 to May 2013.

“I provided this information to the board’s Finance Committee each month,” Gilliland said. “This information was also provided within 48 hours to any Tribal Council member who requested it.”

Jim Rush, an independent CPA experienced in tribal policy and procedures and IRS regulations applicable to tribal and nonprofit entities, performed audits annually for the 2010 through 2012 fiscal years, she said.

“The corporation’s accounting records were kept according to generally accepted accounting principles found in the United States,” Gilliland said. “The financial statement presentation followed the recommendations of Financial Accounting Standards. Opinions in all audits stated that ‘the financial statements referred to present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Cherokee Nation Foundation…’ In summary, I acted at all times in accord with the authority expressly delegated to me by the bylaws and the board and with full disclosure to the board and the Tribal Council.”

CNF Employees

According to the audit, “the inherent limitation resulting from one employee performing functions that would normally be divided among several employees were a larger number available presents a proper segregation of accounting functions deficiency. A much larger staff would be necessary in order to assure adequate internal accounting controls.”

CNF officials said management plans to start presenting a list of all disbursements to the board each meeting that details the check number, amount of the check and the vendor name for disbursement. The board will also have access to a copy of the bank statement and a copy of the bank reconciliation and supporting documentation for all expenditures. New internal controls have also been implemented to address this recommendation and an outside accountant was hired in December 2013.

Gilliland said during her tenure three people reviewed each incoming donation or other payment.

“The office manager opened the mail and made photocopies of all checks, cash or other enclosures and removed any checks or cash. I entered the donations and payments into the accounting system. A third employee then deposited the checks or cash into the bank,” she said.

Gilliland said CNF maintained separate bank accounts for general operating funds, grants, restricted donations and unrestricted donations and that an independent CPA then reviewed and reconciled CNF’s financial records monthly.

“The board’s Finance Committee reviewed this information and constantly provided recommendation on how to improve CNF’s procedures and maximize the return on CNF’s funds,” she said. “Despite the limited number of employees, CNF had a procedure in place to ensure the integrity in handling all funds. I cannot address questions after June 13, 2013, when I left CNF, or what has happened since that date to the financial and other records CNF maintained during my tenure.”

She said that during her tenure the number of employees varied from one to five. Their duties also varied depending on the positions for which they were hired. All positions had job descriptions that outlined the duties, and the board approved these job descriptions before the employees were hired.

Endowments

The audit also states that records reflected endowment funds, which were $666,766, for both the University of Tulsa and Oklahoma State University, were reported as assets. This error caused the prior year audit as well as the current year’s assets to be overstated.

CNF’s audit response states that the “previous staff and auditor evidently did not have the knowledge and or skill to prepare financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.” The Foundation has hired an outside accountant in an effort to avoid this.

Gilliland said in the audits for fiscal years 2010 through 2012, CNF financial statements were prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

“The handling of the endowment funds for TU and OSU was dictated by the nature of the endowments and the manner in which the Memoranda of Understanding were written,” she said. “Three independent CPAs, all of whom had experience working for or with tribes, concurred in this.”

Health Insurance Payments

The audit also states when Gilliland reached an agreement on a severance package it doesn’t appear health insurance was part of the agreement.
However, it was found that CNF continued to pay the executive director’s health insurance for the remainder of the year.

As a response, Foundation officials said health insurance was not part of the severance package. For part of the year, the organization either had an interim director or no director. Because there was an inadequate management transition and several account changes, the automatic withdrawals to pay the health insurance were not stopped.

“In late April 2013, the board appointed Jason Denny as interim director,” Gilliland said. “Mr. Denny assumed responsibility for most day-to-day activities. I assisted with the transition as well as CNF’s summer programs.”

She said what happened was a CNF procedural issue and can only comment what happened while she was there.

“While I was there, CNF established automatic payments for health insurance at the independent outside CPA’s recommendation for the purpose of consistency and efficiency,” she said. “Had the financial reporting procedures that were instituted and in place while I was there been followed, the situation should have been found and corrected.”

Gilliland said she could not recall the amount of the monthly premium payment. CNF officials said they could not comment on the amount because the personnel information is confidential.

Office Equipment

While Gilliland was heading CNF, all the office computers were replaced with new computers for $8,931. According to the audit, this purchase didn’t appear to have been approved by the board as it exceeded the spending authorization limit the board established.

The audit states Gilliland “took possession of some of old computers and also removed data files from the offices.” She paid CNF $1,496, however, there doesn’t appear to be board approval for this transaction and the items were not declared surplus by the board, it states.

There also was a printer that was purchased possibly with grant funds. However, the printer was not at the Foundation offices. Current employees were told the printer had been taken by Gilliland and was possibly given to another CN program, the audit states. There was no board approval for the removal of the printer, according to the audit.

However, Gilliland said that isn’t true. The computers were small laptops with useful lives of approximately three years. When operating software could not be updated, the computers were given to scholarship students, she said.

“Two of the computers needing replacement had, at one time or other, contained sensitive information,” Gilliland said. “As a security precaution we made an inquiry to Apple regarding the trade in value. Apple responded with a value of $50 for one and nothing for the other.”

Gilliland said the computer she was using had a hard disk, which needed replacement.

“I discussed this situation with the board president (Robin Flint Ballenger) and the board treasurer,” she said. “I and one other employee offered to buy these two computers for $100 each.

“In regard to the additional $1396 dollars, I ordered iPads for the Cherokee Scholar program and the staff. We determined after we purchased this equipment that the students would use laptop computers rather than iPads, and two of the iPads were therefore no longer needed. I purchased them from CNF at the same price CNF paid with full disclosure to, and approval of, both the board president and the board treasurer.”

Gilliland added that all data files were backed up to a CD, which was given to CNF staff. The data files were also backed up to one of the new computers.

Gilliland said that $1,496 was the true value of the computers.

In regards to the printer, Gilliland said the printer was part of a First Nations grant for capacity building and was to be used for Cherokee language programs.

“Priorities changed at the Nation and it purchased its own printers to support Cherokee language projects,” she said. “The printer CNF purchased therefore went unused for several years and took up space needed for other CNF operational needs. CNF therefore donated the printer to the Nation.”

The printer was not donated until the grant was closed out, Gilliland said.

Gilliland said the printer was purchased approximately 3-1/2 years prior to the time CNF donated it at a cost of approximately $2,000.

Donor Restricted Funds

According to the audit, CNF receives contributions with donor-imposed restrictions. The Foundation management and board are responsible for insuring the funds are expended according to the donor’s wishes. However, the CNF offices were not sufficient to determine if the donor intentions were fulfilled, it states. “There is good reason to believe that funds were not expended in accordance with terms as set forth at the time of contribution,” the audit states.

In its response, the Foundation states, “we believe that all funds donated for scholarships have been expended to provide scholarships according to donor instructions,” however, they also state that records available are not sufficient to determine all donor restrictions.

Gilliland said any restricted funds were not used improperly, and during her tenure at CNF, a separate bank account was set up in order to honor donor restrictions.

“Restricted and unrestricted funds were not mixed,” she said. “CNF had very strict accounting codes and procedures for handling restricted funds.
Restricted funds had an MOU and/or donor restrictions. Each fund had its own binder. At the time I left CNF, there were records properly documenting the handling of all restricted funds. I cannot comment on what happened to those records after I left CNF in June 2013.”

Travel Expenses

The audit also found that Gilliland appeared to have paid expenses such as airfare, food and lodging for people not affiliated with CNF. However, there were not adequate records to determine if there was a business purpose or reason for additional travelers, it states.

It was also noted that travel receipts were sometimes in the name of Cherokee Media, a company partially owned by Gilliland and partially owned by Gilliland’s husband, Andrew Sikora. However, they were paid for with a CNF credit card.

Gilliland said this isn’t true.

“The board and its Finance Committee scrupulously monitored all CNF expenditures, especially travel,” she said. “CNF employees often shared rooms and paid for meals at their own expense. Cherokee Media had rewards cards that were used to obtain lower travel and hotel rates. The use of the Cherokee Media rewards cards was thus a way to reduce CNF’s travel costs and was properly documented.”

Gilliland added that CNF paid travel for CNF staff and volunteers, and to determine the cost of the travel she would have to examine records that she no longer has access to.

She said that the CNF board approved all travel expenses and that CNF was not paying for travel for Cherokee Media. However, Cherokee Media’s travel rewards cards were used to obtain discounts and save CNF money on travel, she said.

Sunshine Ethics Act

According to the audit, under the Sunshine Ethics Act, the auditor believes the Foundation and CN employees are prohibited from contracting with the organization unless they enter into an extra duty contract. “The former executive director was aware of this via email from Chrissy Nimmo (Assistant Attorney General) dated Sept. 1, 2009.” It was found that CNF did issue at least one check to Cherokee Media for $988.

Gilliland also said this wasn’t true.

“The Oklahoma Arts Council wanted to work with Cherokee Media on the Cherokee Cultural Exchange Program,” she said. “This was a cultural exchange program that allowed Cherokee students at Sequoyah, Maryetta and Fort Gibson schools to interact with schools in Brighton, England, and talk about culture, language and history. The program resulted in the introduction of Cherokee history into the English school curriculum. Cherokee Media provided services to CNF to document this program.”

Gilliland added that the payment was approved and signed by the CNF board.

“During my tenure, CNF took the Sunshine Act and conflict of interest very seriously,” she said. “Proper policy and procedure were always front and center. This particular program was an eight-month project that came about pursuant to a restricted grant. CNF and I consulted with an attorney who assured that there were no violations of the Sunshine Act was followed.”

Ballenger said that she could understand how someone looking in from the outside might question paying Cherokee Media for work with the Foundation.
“In actual fact, Andrew’s early generosity in donating 99 percent of his services to CNF was of huge benefit to us,” she said. “He was a wonderful benefactor, donating some lovely videos and media work to us. We paid him for a tiny fraction of his services. His donations gave us a big boost and I’ll always be grateful to him.”

Click here to read the audit document.

Council

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Health

Hard Rock decorating for Breast Cancer Awareness
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/20/2014 03:45 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – Throughout October, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa guests can enjoy a stay on a hotel floor decked out in pink décor and earn a chance to win a custom, restored 1955 pink Cadillac and purchase limited edition pink apparel.

“We’ve taken pink to a whole new level this year, and it is a creative way for our guests and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa to contribute to the ongoing fight against breast cancer,” Jon Davidson, hotel director of hospitality said. “We’re extremely proud to help bring awareness to Oklahoma Project Woman, because it is a local organization that provides services year-round to those who are battling a disease that impacts thousands of Oklahomans each year.”

To contribute to the ongoing fight against breast cancer, The Hard Rock Store is also selling limited edition pink apparel with a portion of the proceeds being donated to Oklahoma Project Woman, which provides breast health education, no cost mammography, diagnostic procedures and surgical services for women who because of financial hardship may delay seeking medical attention.

Also during the month, guests who book a room on the 10th floor of Hard Rock’s newest hotel tower will experience all pink amenities, including sheets, pillows, robes, elevator and hotel suite doors.

For giveaway rules and details for the pink Cadillac or for more information, visit www.hardrockcasinotulsa.com or visit the Cherokee Star Rewards Club.

Opinion

I can have it all, but with a little help
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
05/05/2014 11:18 AM
Who says you can’t have it all? Lately my reality has been just that. However, I haven’t been doing it alone.

During the past year I have experienced several changes. All of which have changed not only my life, but my family’s, too.

In March 2013, I had the opportunity to finally purchase my own car, a new model. That was exciting. I had been having trouble with mine and I badly wanted to purchase a new car. I never thought I could, but I did and that was a fantastic blessing.

Two months later, my family and I moved into a new house built by the Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation under the tribes’ new home construction program. My in-laws allowed us to purchase a small piece of property from them north of Tahlequah for the home to be built upon.

I filed for the program the week of its inception in April 2012, and a year later we moved into our first new home. That was a dream come true. Without that program I’m afraid it would have been far longer for me to buy a home, a new home at that.

In June, my then-partner Mike Murphy and I discovered we were expecting our second child. So together we have four children. This news was quite surprising, but great. We thought having another child wasn’t a possibility any longer considering we’d tried for nearly two years, but we were blessed with another boy. I thought I had my hands full with one in the home (the other two live outside the home). So on Jan. 27, we welcomed the newest Murphy, Austin.

So after all these changes and the welcomed surprise why not go ahead and throw another one in the mix. Mike and I finally got married. I had taken my maternity leave a week before going into labor. So my last week of my leave we planned a small, nice ceremony on the Cherokee Nation Courthouse grounds beneath a beautiful magnolia tree. And the ceremony was just that, beautiful. CN citizen David Comingdeer officiated.

So on April 8 at 4:08 p.m. on the grounds of the historic courthouse, David gave the prayer and welcome in both Cherokee and English and proceeded with the marriage ceremony.

I have waited nearly seven years to marry Mike and for whatever reason in the past it just wasn’t the right time. So on that day I walked to a floral archway where Mike stood as Jami Custer and we left that ceremony as Mr. and Mrs. Michael Murphy.

Now I’ve returned to work, a much-awaited return in my eyes. I have missed the past three months without writing for the Cherokee Phoenix and contributing to what I feel is a much-needed news outlet for our Cherokee people. It feels great to be back working again.

Even though we’ve spent the past seven years as a couple, I want to try and be as a good of a mother and wife as I can. Why wouldn’t I? But life is a lot of work.

In today’s society, many women and men attempt to do it all. They want to work, bring up babies, have personal relationships and still try to find the time for themselves. I tell you, it’s not easy. It can be done, but there’s a lot of help behind the scenes that many don’t see.

For example, purchasing my new car couldn’t have been achieved without my employment with the Cherokee Phoenix. Working for the past seven years has allowed me the opportunity to establish better credit and work steadily and that afforded me the opportunity for the new car.

My home would not have been possible without the help of CN citizens William and Deborah Smoke. They have helped us more than words can express.
And finally, the old saying “it takes a village to raise a child” I think can be linked to our relationships. Many people have had a hand in my and Mike’s seven-year courtship, both good and bad, but either way all leading us where we are today, married.

We can have it all. But when you look at it, really look at what you’re accomplishing, I don’t think you’re doing it alone. Many people are there helping, some we can’t even see.

Thanks friends, family and extended family for all you’ve done behind the scenes.

People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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