BREAKING: Smith files appeal in Supreme Court, motion in District Court

07/06/2015 07:03 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Former Principal Chief and former candidate Chad Smith filed an appeal with the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court on July 6 on the validity of the June 27 general election’s outcome.

Smith is requesting that the Supreme Court rule the principal chief’s election invalid, declare Principal Chief Bill John Baker disqualified for violation of campaign finance laws, declare no mathematical certainty exists to establish the majority of votes for Baker because the Election Commission improperly accepted early walk-in and in-person ballots that should have been rejected, find the commission’s denial of 261 absentee ballots a violation of election law and order a new principal chief election or run-off of the remaining top two candidates.

According to the appeal Smith alleges that the Election Commission failed to establish the identity of those attempting to vote.

“The Commission is required by statute to establish the identity of those attempting to vote. The Commission failed to comply with 26 CNCA subsections 12 (C)(1) for early walk-in voting and in-person voting in the Tahlequah and other precincts. This violation of the early walk-in and in-person voting procedure results in an improper acceptance ballots that should have been rejected,” the appeal states.

It also alleges that the EC refused to disclose where 261 absentee ballots were mailed to and states that the commission is bound by law that allows tribal citizen a list of voters.

“The Commission must provide the list by any method available for a nominal fee, as well as making it available at their office for inspection by a Cherokee citizen free of charge,” the appeal states.

Smith also alleges that Baker violated campaign finance laws by use of personal funds including “failure to report campaign expenditures made with personal funds,” “illegal expenditures to Consumer Logic” and a “violation if Baker paid Consumer Logic through a third party.”

Smith also filed a motion in Cherokee Nation District Court on July 6 for the production of documents against the EC and Principal Chief Bill John Baker.

Smith requests a list of precinct workers by title, address and precinct worked, the voter sign in books for early walk-in voting and Tahlequah precincts as well as all invoices, scope of work, cancelled payment check or instrument showing date to or from Consumer Logic Inc. from the EC.

He also requested the same cancelled payment information from Baker as well as other financial documents including invoices showing payments from personal funds from Baker referred to from the Cherokee Nation District Court in CV 2014-569, Smith v. Election Commission.

“’While Principal Chief Baker has taken steps to support his re-election campaign for Principal Chief, all activities have been paid for from his own personal funds,’” the motion states.

Click here to viewthe Appeal Challenging the Validity of Election Outcome.

Click here to viewthe Motion for Production of Documents.

Cherokee youth to attend law agricultural summit

07/06/2015 01:53 PM
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Nine Cherokee Nation citizens are scheduled to attend the second annual Native Youth in Agriculture Leadership Summit from July 19-28 at the University of Arkansas School of Law.
Nearly 80 youths and 15 student leaders will be participating, representing 47 tribes from across the country, said Erin Shirl, a staff attorney and visiting research professor involved with the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative.

Of those participants, nine represent the CN.

The program is intended to provide classroom knowledge about the roles Native Americans can play in food and agriculture, as well as how to confront special legal risks that Indian Country may face with land and land tenure.

Students will also gain practical experience by touring the university’s greenhouses and food science labs, visiting the Fayetteville Farmers Market to meet farmers and touring the Chickasaw Nation’s company Bedre Chocolate in Ada, Okla.

Additionally, students will visit an organic farm, meet with food sovereignty advocates and visit buyers from Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club before touring a Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Bentonville.
Participating youths will also work on a group project throughout the program’s duration make a final presentation on July 27.

Program sponsors cover all travel costs for students to and from the summit, where they will also receive free food, lodging and instructional program materials.

The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative began in 2013 as the first of its kind in the nation to focus on tribal food systems, agriculture and community sustainability, according to the University of Arkansas School of Law website.

The initiative is the culmination of work done by Chickasaw Nation citizen Janie Simms Hipp and Cherokee Nation citizen Stacy Leeds, who serve as the leadership director and dean of the college, respectively.

For more information about the Native Youth in Agriculture Leadership Summit or the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, visit
Oklahoma native J.C. (Jerry) High Eagle Elliott shares his experiences at NASA, including his critical support of the Apollo 13 mission in 1970, with attendees of an April 18 presentation at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. KIMBERLY DURMENT LOCKE/SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
Oklahoma native J.C. (Jerry) High Eagle Elliott shares his experiences at NASA, including his critical support of the Apollo 13 mission in 1970, with attendees of an April 18 presentation at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. KIMBERLY DURMENT LOCKE/SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Oklahoma native shares Apollo 13 experience

Special Correspondent
07/06/2015 07:22 AM
LOS ANGELES – Oklahoma native J.C. (Jerry) High Eagle Elliott shared his experiences working at NASA, including his critical support of the Apollo 13 mission in 1970, and his perspective on life as a Native American with attendees of a presentation April 18 at the California Science Center.

Elliott’s talk commemorated the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission.

Elliott said he was convinced early in life that he would land a man on the moon and enjoyed watching cartoons and TV programs focused on space and space exploration. He majored in physics at the University of Oklahoma in Norman and became the first Native American to graduate from OU with a physics degree. From there, he began his 41-year career at NASA as a flight controller, which Elliott considers his destiny.

Elliott said his Cherokee and Osage heritage played a significant role in his physics degree and NASA career.

“I love physics because, more than anything else, it speaks truly to who I am as a Native American,” he said. “Natives have a unique way of seeing the world because they perceive all things as connected to one another. It’s a systems engineering view of life.”

He encouraged attendees to discover what’s inside of them in terms of interests, innate talents and skills.

“Life is about discovery. It’s about what’s inside you, and what you can do with it,” he said. “When I started at NASA, I can remember asking others there for technical journals and other materials that I could read to enhance my knowledge. One of my colleagues said to me, ‘we don’t read books, we write them.’”

It was then that Elliott began writing the first handbook on the Agena rocket.

It wasn’t long before he found himself working on the Gemini Project and continued on to the Apollo Program as an operations flight controller on console at Mission Control Center at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. And it would be the Apollo 13 project that would not only put astronauts James Lovell Jr., John Swigert and Fred Haise Jr. to the test, but the entire ground crew, including Elliott.

Elliott was lead retrofire officer for the Apollo 13 mission, which was to be a lunar landing mission. Due to a system failure, the mission was aborted on route to the moon when there was a loss of service module cryogenic oxygen and consequent loss of capability to generate electrical power, provide oxygen and produce water. The cause, he said, was the explosion of an oxygen tank that blew out one-quarter side of the service module, which housed and supplied all of the power, oxygen and propellant.

This resulted in a powering down of the command module, the place where the astronauts remained on the way to the moon. It was then that the lunar module was configured to supply the necessary power and other consumables for the crew to survive.

Elliott said to return the astronauts safely, a new return trajectory had to be calculated and that is where his education in physics, as well as his experience at NASA, came into play. Calculating that return trajectory was like threading a needle from 70 feet away, he said. “We had to be accurate.”

“Apollo 13 was a test of real leadership and how we took a potential tragedy and turned it into a success,” he said. “All of us had a conviction to ride Apollo 13 to the end. We never thought we couldn’t do it.’

Elliot also emphasized the importance of diversity in identifying solutions to issues wherever they may occur.

“We all think differently and diversity of thought is important,” he said. “A lot of how we think, how we approach challenges, is based on our culture, our religion, our education. My perspective as a Native American is different from others who are not Native American. We have a connection with all of life and are part of the sacred circle of life. We are no greater or lesser than the other creatures on Earth,” he said.

Elliott attributed his sense of dedication to the Apollo 13 mission to the determined spirit of his ancestors.

“The Cherokee people had the tenacity to persevere on the Trail of Tears and through other adversities,” he said. “I told myself then and still tell myself now, I have their blood and I can do this.”

He recounted his experience meeting Oscar Award-winning actor Tom Hanks, who starred in the “Apollo 13” movie and how he and others on that mission were asked for their comments about the movie.

“Apollo 13 was a marvelous achievement among seemingly unsurmountable odds,” Elliott said.

He later served as staff engineer on the Apollo/Soyuz Program, the world’s first joint Russian-American space mission and completed his lengthy NASA career supporting the Space Shuttle Program.

The former NASA scientist, engineer and project manager has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Richard M. Nixon for his Apollo 13role. Other awards include the Cherokee Medal of Honor and the Navajo Medal of Honor.

BREAKING: Hatfield, Swimmer still top 2 in At-Large race

07/03/2015 12:48 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to certified recount results, Wanda Hatfield and Betsy Swimmer are still the top two vote-getters who will face each other in the July 25 runoff for the At-Large Tribal Council seat.

Following the June 27 general election, Election Commission officials posted results showing Hatfield leading with 25.94 percent of the ballots cast at 1,057 votes. Swimmer was second with 18.9 percent or 770 votes.

Following the July 2 recount, Hatfield continued to lead with 1,057 votes, but Swimmer lost seven votes to finish with 763.

The Cherokee Phoenix attempted to learn what happened to the seven votes, but as of press time EC officials were unavailable for comment.

Swimmer said she was confident the EC had valid numbers.

“So I’m pleased that it came out like it did,” she said. “I’m pressing forward and I plan to win the election.”

Hatfield said the top three finishers remained the same with the recount and congratulated Swimmer on being in the runoff.

“It has been a great experience and the next three weeks will be extremely busy reaching out to the At-Large Cherokee citizens,” she added.

Candidate Shane Jett, who requested the recount, received 717 votes in the general election, but saw his vote count lowered to 713 in the recount.

Jett said with the 2015 election being his first venture into Cherokee politics it was a learning experience, especially the importance of voters ensuring they cast their ballots correctly.

“They (EC) had to throw away over 350 absentee ballots because they either did not sign them, notarize them or fill them out properly. So those votes were never counted,” he said. “It’s important that people slow down and make sure their vote counts. I hope everyone gets out and votes for their candidate of choice because their (Cherokee) Nation is worth it.”

The EC performed the recount with CN Supreme Court justices present before certifying the results.

Runoff absentee ballots will be mailed on July 13-14 and the runoff election will take place on July 25.

All successful candidates are to be sworn into office on Aug. 14, according to the CN election timeline.

BREAKING: Pearson wins Dist. 14 recount by 6 votes

07/02/2015 11:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to the certified results from a July 2 recount, William “Bill” Pearson has beaten Keith Austin by six votes to win the Dist. 14 Tribal Council seat.

Original certified results from the June 27 general election showed Pearson receiving 534 votes for 50.5 percent of the ballots cast, while Austin garnered 533 votes for 49.95 percent.

Austin filed for a recount, which the tribe’s Election Commission performed. After that recount, Pearson had 525 votes for 50.2 percent compared to Austin’s 519 votes at 49.7 percent.

The votes tabulated during the recount consisted of precinct, absentee, early absentee and precinct challenged.

The recount had 23 votes less compared to the original count. EC officials said that occurred because of human error when inputting votes.

“The challenged ballots from the districts were processed on Sunday (June 28) beginning at ”1 p.m. through 12:11 a.m. on Monday and resulted in 349 out of approximately 700 challenged ballots being accepted,” an EC statement reads. “The 349 ballots were then fed through a voting machine that was pre-defined for absentees, to get the vote count for the various races and candidates. The card from the machine was then placed in the computer to print out the challenged vote results. And unbeknownst to the operator it recorded the ballots as absentee votes then the operator took the printout of challenged ballots and manually entered them for the appropriate race and candidate, resulting in the 349 votes being entered twice.”

The EC statement also reads that once this was discovered, those votes entered into the machine under absentee were removed. The challenged votes that were correctly placed in districts remained in those districts.

“Resulting in the 349 being correctly counted,” the release stated.

The Cherokee Phoenix contacted Pearson but he was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

In an email statement, Austin did not state whether he would appeal the recount results to the Supreme Court but that he appreciated the EC’s hard work.

“They have the impossible job of determining a certifiable winner in a race that could not be closer,” Austin wrote. “Obviously, we want to work with the Election Commission and the Supreme Court to help determine that the election results are accurate. Cherokees took the time to vote because they have faith in our Nation. We owe it to them to ensure their intentions are honored and their votes count.”

The EC certified the recount on July 2 in the presence of Supreme Court justices.

Candidates have until July 6 to appeal election results with the Supreme Court. Provided there are any appeals, the Supreme Court would hear those cases July 7-9.

Candidates elected to office during the general and runoff elections are expected to be sworn in Aug. 14, according to the tribe’s election timeline. The runoff election is set for July 25.

Click here to viewthe Explanation of Recalculation of Vote Count document.

CNGC approves gaming dispute regulation

07/02/2015 10:28 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Gaming Commissioners on June 26 approved revised regulations that make it clear what procedure is to be followed for disputes involving electronic games.

CNGC powers and duties require the commission to have a dispute resolution process for Class II and Class III gaming. The resolution applies to gaming and gaming-related prize disputes between patrons and gaming operations that are subject to the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission’s jurisdiction.

The existing CNGC regulation was originally drafted to cover Class II gaming disputes, however without being designated as a Class II process, the regulation could apply to both Class II and Class III games. The proposed regulation for Class III games would also cover disputes involving card/table games. This regulation mirrors the procedure outlined in the tribe’s gaming compact with the state.

The regulation was split to make it clear what procedure is to be followed for disputes involving any electronic game and was posted online for a 30-day comment period under the CN Administrative Procedure Act.

“As you may recall we had presented a draft set of modifications based on the new gaming ordinance requirements where we were to have separate procedures for Class II and class III disputes,” CNGC Director Jamie Hummingbird said. “We presented regulations for the Class II, one for the tribal/state electronic games compact and one for the tribal/state off track-wagering compact. A couple of months ago they were put out on the Cherokee Nation website for the 30-day comment.”

According to the resolution, a patron may initiate a claim for the event for which payment is being sought by filing a written prize claim notice with either casino personnel or with the CNGC. Previous to the Gaming Commission Act amendment, the resolution included any event within the casinos.

The resolution now states “a patron may initiate a claim by notifying casino personnel of the gaming activity event for which payment is being sought.”

The resolution also states that a “management official receiving the claim shall investigate information available to render a decision” and the CNGC shall be informed of that decision. If the claim is not resolved within 72 hours the gaming commission will inform the State Compliance Agency.

If a patron wanted to appeal the decision, previously, the appeal would go through the CNGC. With the revision, the appeal would go to the CN District Court to coincide with the tribe’s gaming compact.

The revision also states that “in the event that the CNGC finds reasonable evidence that management failed to comply with any provision of this chapter, the CNGC may take action on the gaming license(s) of management personnel found to be in violation of this regulation and/or assess a minimum fine up to $25,000 to the operation for on each level of management found to be in non-compliance.”

The resolution previously set a minimum fine of up to $5,000.

Hummingbird said the CNGC did receive several comments during the 30-day period, and after the commission evaluated all those comments, some were accepted and some were not.

Along with approving the regulation, the commission established an effective date of Oct. 1 to allow time for the necessary policies to be enforced.

Clothing vouchers available in July

07/02/2015 08:25 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – This summer, the Cherokee Nation will be offering $100 clothing vouchers to help parents with the costs of getting their children clothes for school. The vouchers will be redeemable at select Stage stores in northeastern Oklahoma.

Since 2006, the CN has distributed vouchers to eligible students for back-to-school clothing through its Clothing Assistance Program.

Throughout July, CN employees will visit sites in the tribe’s jurisdiction to take voucher applications. A limited number of vouchers will be available at each location. Parents or legal guardians are encouraged to apply at the site closest to where they live.

To qualify for a voucher, a student must be a CN citizen, live within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdictional boundaries and be entering grades kindergarten through 12 in the upcoming school year.

To receive a voucher, a parent or legal guardian must provide proof of residence, school enrollment and CN citizenship for each child and income for each adult in the household. If applicable, a notarized statement of no income must be presented. Kindergarteners do not have to show proof of enrollment but must be 5 years old by Sept. 1. Legal guardians must present a letter of guardianship issued by a district court. All families must meet income guidelines to qualify.

For more information, call Angela King at 918-453-5266.

Distribution Schedule

Voucher applications will be accepted on the following dates and locations from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. with the exception of South Coffeyville, which will be from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

July 7 – South Coffeyville Community Center

July 8 – Dewey Community Center

July 9 – Vinita Health Center

July 14 – Claremore High School

July 15 – Jay Middle School

July 16 – Salina High School Cafeteria

July 21 – Sequoyah Schools, The Place Where They Play

July 22 – Sallisaw High School

July 23 – Stilwell High School cafeteria

July 28 – Porum High School

July 29 – Sequoyah Schools, The Place Where They Play

Income Guidelines

Household size and income guide

1 – $14,712

2 – $19,912

3 – $25,112

4 – $30,312

5 – $35,512

6 – $40,712

7 – $45,912

8 – $51,112

For families with more than eight people, add $4,160 for each additional person.


Little Cherokee Ambassador application deadline set for July 22
06/24/2015 05:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –The 63rd Cherokee National Holiday Little Cherokee Ambassador Competition application deadline is set for July 22.

According to, the overall goal of Little Cherokee Ambassadors is to begin instilling leadership skills that will help them eventually become leaders for the Cherokee Nation. Participating in the Little Cherokee Ambassador event is intended to inspire youth to achieve their dreams. They are also encouraged to “lead by example” and become self-sufficient, as well as gain knowledge of their Cherokee heritage and begin to recognize their history, culture and language.

Those who wish to apply must be a CN citizen, reside within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction, be between ages 4 to 12 years old, ne physically able to perform duties, must not have previously served as Little Cherokee Ambassador in the same division and must provide a completed Little Cherokee Ambassador application by deadline.

The Little Cherokee Ambassador competition will be on Aug. 8 at Sequoyah Schools’ Place Where They Play.

Each age division will compete and the new ambassadors will be announced at the end of the event. Age categories range from 4 to 6 years old, 7 to 9 years old and 10 to 12 years old.

Applications should be emailed to, hand delivered to the CN College Resource Center or mailed to Cherokee Nation Little Cherokee Ambassador Program, Attention: Kristen Thomas, College Resource Center, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465.

For more information, call Kristen Thomas at 918-525-2266.


CN, TU team up for asthma-related study
06/26/2015 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –The Cherokee Nation and University of Tulsa are teaming up to conduct an indoor air quality study called “From Home to School” that will focus on indoor air quality and indoor environments in schools and homes where asthma allergens and contaminants are found.

Tribal and TU officials hope to reduce those contaminants, as well as asthma episodes and related illnesses.
TU Indoor Air Program research associate David Reisdorph said asthma health is a major concern for all ethnic groups, with Native American’s asthma rates being some of the highest.

“This study is important because we’re focusing on that and looking at ways of improving on asthma health,” he said.

He said the research is something the TU program regularly conducts research on and that this study is unique because it conducts research in the home and school.

“Indoor air is usually much more polluted than outdoor air, and people spend the majority of their time indoors. For children, that majority of time tends to be in their homes and school,” Reisdorph said. “In our research we know that lower indoor air quality has an impact on health and in particular on school performance. Those with asthma and severe allergies, they’re even more impacted by poor indoor air quality because the contaminants that trigger allergies and trigger asthma is higher.”

TU Indoor Air Research Program Director Richard Shaughnessy said officials are hoping to reduce health symptoms related to asthma, which will ultimately reduce the number of absent students from school.

“Along with that too, one of the reasons is that this is one of the first studies related to tribal populations in terms of really making a difference in asthma-related to indoor air quality in homes and schools,” he said.

For the study, officials recruited Briggs, Brushy, Cave Springs, Gore, Hulbert, Liberty, Muldrow, Rocky Mountain, Stilwell, Tenkiller, Westville and Zion public schools.

Each school was chosen based on the number of Cherokee students enrolled, with the study calling for children who are in kindergarten to eighth grade for the coming school year.

“We’re looking for families with children with asthma or severe allergies,” Reisdorph said. “We can enroll up to 104 families, so we are wanting to get as close as possible to that number.”

Reisdorph said there would be a total of four groups, which would be study groups, control groups and a combination of both. He said all families and schools participating in the study would receive education on how to lower indoor air contaminants, a free HEPA vacuum cleaner, cleaning materials and supplies and an asthma mattress encasement for an asthmatic child’s bed. He said families or schools in the control groups would receive the education and the supplies at the end of the study.

CN Health Research Director Sohail Khan said he is glad study officials are able to offer the education and cleaning items to these families.

“We feel that this is good. We’re going to provide cleaning supplies and specialized vacuum cleaner, and these are not the kind that you buy in store,” he said. “The good part is that even the families who are in the control group at the end of the 12 months they get the same supplies, just not during that part. All the techniques the materials, the vacuum all that.”

All groups will be visited three times during the year, each time receiving a $30 gift card for participating.
Reisdorph said through the study, officials were able to hire six CN citizens who are students at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. He said these students would collect a portion of the data in the homes and schools.

“So they’ll be working with Richard and I and others on the research project and they’ll be collecting a lot of the data and they’re going to be learning about field research,” he said. “They all have science backgrounds and interests in environmental health. We’re happy to have them.”

Khan said the study’s goal is to figure out what works best when it comes to reducing asthma-related illnesses and be able to replicate those findings. He said officials also want to be able to produce education material concerning the study and share the results with others.

“Our hope is that the potential benefit of the research is that you have healthier kids, fewer missed classes, less and less and fewer trips to the…ER, which is the most expensive way of treating anybody, fewer medication that you have to rely on,” he said. “When you improve the air quality inside the house it actually benefits everybody, not just the kid with asthma.”

Families are now being enrolled for the study for the upcoming school year. For more information, call Reisdorph at 918-237-2189 or email or call Shaun West at 918-453-5363 or email


UPDATE: Crittenden wins Dist. 8 Tribal Council race
Phoenix Intern
06/29/2015 09:07 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Oka. – Shawn Crittenden defeated Corey Bunch for the Cherokee Nation’s District 8 Tribal Council seat in the June 27 general election.

Crittenden won by a vote count of 486-307, according to certified results of the district’s three precincts. Those results showed Crittenden receiving 61.29 percent of the 793 ballots cast to Bunch’s 38.71 percent.

“I’m mainly humbled and thankful for the folks in my district,” Crittenden said. “I had a lot of support and I thank the good Lord for the good feeling I have right now. I’m ready to get down to business with the people in my district. My plans are to be accessible and to stay on top of issues when folks need something, when they want to be heard. I want to do everything I can to show them I care and I’m going to work hard for them.”

Bunch conceded the race in a Facebook post around midnight on June 28.

“I want to congratulate Shawn Crittenden on winning the district 8 council seat. He ran a good and clean campaign and deserves the victory,” Bunch wrote. “I called and told him that I’m behind him 100% and that I would ask everyone else to do the same. I also want to say ‘Thank you’ to everyone who showed such kindness to me and my family for the past several months.”

Dist. 8 covers the eastern part of Adair County, as well as much of its northern border.

Crittenden is expected to be sworn into office on Aug. 14, the tribe’s inauguration day. The EC certified the results at 10:30 a.m. on June 29.


UPDATE: Jordan defeats Sierra in Dist. 1 Tribal Council race
06/29/2015 12:58 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to certified results, the Cherokee Nation’s Dist. 1 Tribal Council seat goes to Rex Jordan after he defeated Ryan Sierra in the June 27 general election.

Certified results show Jordan won by a vote count of 856 to Sierra’s 494 votes.

Jordan received 63.41 percent of the ballots cast while Sierra received 36.59 percent.

The Cherokee Phoenix attempted to contact Jordan but was unsuccessful.

In a Facebook post, Sierra expressed his gratitude to those who supported him during his campaign.

“I must first praise God for giving my family and me this opportunity. He is still in control no matter what,” he wrote. “The numbers are in and we did not gain enough votes to serve as councilman for district one. I want to thank each and every person who showed us support and gave us your vote. You are appreciated! I will continue to serve within my community and in anyway God sees fit. Best wishes to Rex Jordan. Serve the people well.”

Dist. 1 covers the western part of Cherokee County and a portion of eastern Wagoner County.

The EC certified the results from the general election on June 29.

Jordan is expected to be sworn into office on Aug. 14, which is the tribe’s inauguration day.


OPINION: Leaving a strong legacy while building a bright future
Principal Chief
06/01/2015 11:00 AM
Economists at Oklahoma City University recently released a report detailing the Cherokee Nation’s economic impact in northeast Oklahoma. The results were what we expected and already knew for the most part – business is booming in the Cherokee Nation. What we didn’t expect was to what extent our economic footprint had grown – by more than 50 percent during the past four years.

Dr. Russell Evans of the Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University prepared the report. It showed in 2014 CN had an impact to the tune of $1.55 billion on our 14-county jurisdiction. That doesn’t even include spillover effects on the rest of the state. The same economists previously prepared economic impact reports for the CN. They showed in 2012 that number was $1.3 billion, compared to just over $1 billion in 2010. Clearly, the CN is growing by leaps and bounds.

But what does a $1.55 billion impact really mean to the Cherokee people? Perhaps most importantly, it means jobs to our economy. The CN was either directly or indirectly responsible for 15,610 jobs in northeast Oklahoma in 2014. Folks, that’s an impact that can’t be understated.

When we build roads, bridges, waterlines or homes, we’re employing people. The CN is making it possible for the good people responsible for those projects to provide for their families. We make it possible for them to have good insurance and opportunities to send their kids to school and enjoy an improved quality of life.

In addition to employing people to build those projects, we have to get the supplies from somewhere. That means the CN is purchasing lumber, concrete, pipes, paint and everything else that is needed to improve infrastructure for the Cherokee people. When we purchase those items, we’re supporting local, small businesses, allowing them to hire more people to meet our demand.

Likewise, our casino operations are providing opportunities we could not have imagined 10 or 15 years ago. We recently opened a new casino in South Coffeyville, bringing more than 100 jobs to Nowata County. In a county with barely more than 10,000 people, that’s huge. The boost of 100 jobs there will mean more paychecks pumped into local businesses and more out-of-town traffic that will bring new dollars to the area.

As is true with all our casinos, we need supplies ranging from food and beverage, uniforms, cleaning materials, furniture and other goods to meet our guests’ needs. Much of that is purchased locally, all across the 14 counties and from TERO-certified vendors. Every employee at every casino is guaranteed at least the CN minimum wage of $9.50 per hour, with many earning much more than that. Every full-time employee is also eligible for full medical, dental and vision insurance as well as 401(k) and paid vacation and sick leave. Where else in the CN can a restaurant server enjoy the same generous benefits as the CEO of their organization?

But a $1.55 billion impact also means services to our people. When our businesses succeed, services such as housing, health care, education and elder care are better funded and access is expanded. It means we reach more people with more services. Since restarting the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation in 2012, we’ve built more houses than in the previous decade. In 2014, we sent more college students to school on CN scholarships than ever before. And I’m proud to say we are treating more people through contract health services than ever before.

This is proof of what a 50 percent increase in economic impact means over just four years. It means expanded opportunities and new services for Cherokees and, as a by-product, for all Oklahomans. Folks, our future is bright and getting brighter. With many new projects in the works, we look forward to expanding our impact to employ more Cherokees, support more Cherokee-owned business, send more Cherokees to school and build more Cherokee homes in the future.

In the interest of transparency, we’ve put the full report online for you to view yourself. It can be found at We hope you visit the website and see for yourself the progress we are making by leaps and bounds.


CN citizen picked for USA Elite Select Softball Team
Phoenix Intern
06/19/2015 08:14 AM
WISTER, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Sage Anson is one of 15 players who have been selected for the
11-and-Under USA Elite Select All American Midwest Regional Softball Team.

As an elite player, the left-handed pitcher and outfielder will compete with fast-pitch players from around the country when the inaugural USA Elite Softball Tournament takes place July 13-16 in Kissimmee, Florida.

“I’m most excited about going to Florida and getting to play against other regions and meeting my coaches, because they will be the Pride players that play professional softball,” Anson said.

She and other Elite Select players were notified during a May 26 selection show on

USA Elite Select began traveling the country in 2014 to scout for softball talent with 23 tryouts across eight regions. The competition consists of age divisions from 10-14, with 15 spots per age group, per region.

“I felt very excited and very happy that I was one out of a lot of girls that got picked,” Anson said. “It was unbelievable to me, out of all those girls at all those tryouts, that I was one that made it.”

As part of the Midwest region, she will be on a team of players from Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and parts of Missouri and Texas. She will also be provided two Midwest USA Elite Select jerseys for the tournament.

Anson tried out on March 14 at Savage Park in Tulsa, where a USA Elite Select Committee, the National Scouting Report and USSSA Pride players Megan Willis and Brigette Del Ponte evaluated her performance as a pitcher and outfielder. The National Scouting Report then evaluates players on a scale from one to five.

“You would go to batting, to pitching, then you would go to infield and outfield,” Anson said. “It was a simple process. It’s really nerve wracking, but it’s fun at the same time.”

Her decision to tryout for the team was originally not with the sole intention to be selected, her father, Kevin Anson, said.

“I had a friend of mine post on my Facebook page about the tryout, sort of a last minute thing,” he said. “We went more for experience than anything. We wanted to see what it was like going to a tryout like that, with the next level of players. We didn’t know where we were at and went to the tryout just hoping to do the best we could, and it ended up that she made it.”

The tryout was not only informative for Sage, but her parents too, who attended a seminar meant to help parents understand their roles in the sports careers of their players.

“It was mostly just how to be a good softball parent,” Kevin said. “Don’t push too hard. Encourage your kids to play hard and always keep in mind that about one in 5,000 get picked to go play college ball.”

Quay Matheny, who coaches Sage’s independent team, the Tulsa Elite, said left handers are particularly skilled if they can throw four different pitches at speeds up to 50 mph. She said she hopes Sage returns with more tools in her arsenal.

“I hope she goes down there and gets to meet different people, gets to learn new ways to play,” Matheny said. “Florida ball is a lot different than here in Oklahoma, so I hope she goes down there and has fun.”

Sage also thanked Stacey and Hunter Gibson, her pitching and batting coaches.

“I wouldn’t be anywhere without them,” she said.

Sage said she is inspired by USSSA Pride player Keilani Ricketts and former Olympian Monica Abbott and that she aspires to play college softball in Florida before moving on to playing professionally.

“I would like to meet some college scouts and have them tell me that they would be excited to have me when I get older,” Sage said. “That would really be an exciting moment, to know that they’re watching me.”

USA Elite Select is sponsored by Boombah and provides opportunities for fast-pitch softball players to showcase their skills at high levels of competition, gain resources to further their academic careers and serve their communities, according to the organization’s website.
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