New constitution remains on hold

BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor
12/04/2003 10:06 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - Sometimes no news is good news. But regarding the Bureau of Indian Affairs' decision whether to certify Cherokee Nation's amendment question in the May 24 general election, it's not.

Todd Hembree, vice chairman of the CN Constitution Convention Commission, said there is no new news regarding the BIA and its decision on whether to certify the citizens' vote that removes Article XV, Section 10 in the 1976 CN Constitution.

The article requires federal approval for any amendments or changes to the tribe's current constitution. Cherokee citizens voted to eliminate the federal approval clause May 24.

Julian Fite, general counsel for the tribe, said the BIA has still not certified that election and that its lack of action may be based on the recent Cherokee Freedmen lawsuit filed against the Department of Interior. The Freedmen are asking the BIA to overturn recent tribal elections and appoint a trustee to oversee Freedmen rights. The Freedmen claim they were denied the right to vote.

CN officials said earlier this year that none of the Freedmen plaintiffs ever tried to register for the May 24 tribal election.

"They (BIA) are still jacking around," Fite said. "We're talking to them, but there has been no movement on that (election certification). It all seems to be tied to their concern about the Freedmen issues that have been bouncing around. They've given us no timetable. They just haven't done anything."

Hembree said he also didn't know why the BIA is taking so long to certify the election.

"We are still waiting from the Bureau of Indian Affairs that has not certified the first election process, and I really don't know what needs to be certified," he said. "I think it's clear that Cherokee people voted on it and it passed."

He said the tribe should "pressure" the BIA because the CN "can't just sit around… and just wait."

A call was made to the BIA's Muskogee Area Office by the Phoenix, but was not returned.

Because citizens voted to abolish the amendment, they were allowed to vote in the July 26 run-off election to decide whether to retain the current 1976 Constitution or ratify the new 1999 Constitution. Cherokees voted 54 percent to 46 percent to ratify the new constitution, according to Election Commission results.

If the BIA decides to certify the amendment vote, the 1999 Constitution would automatically go into effect, Hembree said.

Some of the changes that would occur under the new constitution would include creating the office of speaker that would chair Tribal Council meetings and be third in line of succession to the head of government behind the principal chief and deputy chief, add two at-large councilors to the Tribal Council, provide term limits and set staggered council terms, establish a voting process for Cherokee voters residing outside CN jurisdiction, provide a delegate to the U.S. Congress and create the office of attorney general. The new constitution would also create District Courts in the tribe's judicial system as well as renaming the Judicial Appeals Tribunal as the Supreme Court and increasing its members from three to five.
About the Author
Travis Snell has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2000. He began as a staff writer, a position that allowed him to win numerous writing awards from the Native American Journalists Association, including the Richard LaCourse Award for best investigative story in 2003. He was promoted to assistant editor in 2007, switching his focus from writing to story development, editing, design and other duties.

He is a member of NAJA, as well as the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and Society for News Design.

Travis earned his journalism degree with a print emphasis in 1999 from Oklahoma City University. While at OCU, he served as editor, assistant editor and sports reporter for the school’s newspaper.

He is married to Native Oklahoma publisher Lisa Snell. The couple has two children, Sadie and Swimmer. He is the grandson of original enrollee Swimmer Wesley Snell and Patricia Ann (Roberts) Snell.
TRAVIS-SNELL@cherokee.org • 918-453-5358
Travis Snell has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2000. He began as a staff writer, a position that allowed him to win numerous writing awards from the Native American Journalists Association, including the Richard LaCourse Award for best investigative story in 2003. He was promoted to assistant editor in 2007, switching his focus from writing to story development, editing, design and other duties. He is a member of NAJA, as well as the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and Society for News Design. Travis earned his journalism degree with a print emphasis in 1999 from Oklahoma City University. While at OCU, he served as editor, assistant editor and sports reporter for the school’s newspaper. He is married to Native Oklahoma publisher Lisa Snell. The couple has two children, Sadie and Swimmer. He is the grandson of original enrollee Swimmer Wesley Snell and Patricia Ann (Roberts) Snell.

News

BY STAFF REPORTS
03/29/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –Red Dirt musician Stoney LaRue will be headlining this years Cherokee Nation Employee Appreciation Day, which honors employees for their hard work throughout the past year. The outdoor free concert is open to the public and is on April 2. It will take place just west of the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah. The opening act will be the all-Cherokee group, Pumpkin Hollow Band. They will kick off the show at 5:30 p.m. “These Oklahoma musicians have a strong local following and will put on a great show for our community and the entire Cherokee Nation,” said Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “We wanted to show our appreciation to our employees and the community with a night of good music and family fun.” LaRue, who is Texas-born but a longtime Oklahoman, is known for his hits “Down in Flames,” “Feet Don’t Touch the Ground,” “Oklahoma Breakdown” and “One Cord Song.” The crowd can expect to hear his hits and also songs from his new album, “AVIATOR.” “The theme is, essentially, following direction, trusting in yourself and new beginnings,” said LaRue. “I’d say it’s a little combination of rootsy rock, country, folk and whatever else is in the hodge podge, and separate as much of the pride and ego from it, and put it in a format that’s easy to listen to.” CN citizens Rod Buckhorn, Doo Reese, Kirk Reese and Spider Stopp named the band in honor of their birthplace, Pumpkin Hollow. The country and red dirt genre band has opened for Luke Bryan, Mark Chesnutt, Brantley Gilbert and Tracy Lawrence. According to a CN press release, no alcohol, tobacco or ice chests are permitted on the premises. Food vendors will be on site and shuttles available for parking. Bringing lawn chairs and blankets to sit on is encouraged. The Cherokee Nation W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex is located at 17675 S. Muskogee Ave.
BY STAFF REPORTS
03/29/2015 12:00 PM
OOLOGAH, Okla. –The Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club is having its ninth annual Old Fashioned Picnic at 10:30 a.m. on May 16 at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch. The event is free to the public but a $10 food donation is suggested to help raise funds for the Indian Women’s Pocahontas Cub Higher Education Scholarship fund. It is suggested to bring a lawn chair to the event. The event will include a hog fry, live music, an auction, Cherokee marbles, corn stalk shoots and hatchet throwing. Cherokee Nation Registration will also be set up at the event getting information for CN photo ID cards. Principal Chief Bill John Baker will be an honored guest at the event. Cherokee Nation Businesses and the Oklahoma Pork Council are sponsoring the event. For more information, call Debra West at 918-760-0813 or Ollie Starr at 918-760-7499 or visit <a href="http://www.iwpclub.org" target="_blank">www.iwpclub.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
03/28/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –There will be an Oklahoma Blood Institute blood drive from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 16 at the Cherokee Nation O-si-yo Ballroom behind the Restaurant of the Cherokees. Blood donors will receive donor T-shirts for their contributions. If they chose to reject the T-shirts the funds designed for the T-shirt will go to the Global Blood Fund, which is a nonprofit organization that provides safe blood services in developing countries. Donating blood takes approximately an hour and can be made every 56 days. According to an OBI press release, those with negative blood types are urged to donate. Only 18 percent of the population has negative blood types and patients with negative blood types can only receive blood from those 18 percent of people. A photo ID is required to donate at OBI blood drives. Participants must be 16 years old or older to donate. Participants who are 16 years old must provide a signed parental permission form and weigh in at 125 pounds or more to donate, those who are 17 years old must weigh in at 125 pounds or more and those 18 and older must weigh in at 110 pounds or more to donate. For more information, email <a href="mailto: patricia-hawk@cherokee.org">patricia-hawk@cherokee.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
03/28/2015 12:00 PM
MINNEAPOLIS – On March 25, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community announced Seeds of Native Health, a philanthropic campaign to improve the nutrition of Native Americans across the country. “Nutrition is very poor among many of our fellow Native Americans, which leads to major health problems,” said SMSC Chairman Charlie Vig. “Our Community has a tradition of helping other tribes and Native American people. The SMSC is committed to making a major contribution and bringing others together to help develop permanent solutions to this serious problem.” The campaign will include efforts to improve awareness of Native nutrition problems, promote the wider application of proven best practices, and encourage additional work related to food access, education and research. “Many tribes, nonprofits, public health experts, researchers, and advocates have already been working on solutions,” said SMSC Vice Chairman Keith Anderson. “We hope this campaign will bring more attention to their work, build on it, bring more resources to the table, and ultimately put Indian Country on the path to develop a comprehensive strategy, which does not exist today.” According to the Seeds of Native Health website, approximately 16 percent of Native Americans suffer from type 2 diabetes and more than 30 percent of Native Americans are obese. Native Americans are 1.6 times more likely to become obese than others. “Native health problems have many causes, but we know that many of these problems can be traced to poor nutrition,” said SMSC Secretary/Treasurer Lori Watso, who provided the original idea for the SMSC’s nutrition campaign. “Traditional Native foods have a much higher nutritional value than what is most easily accessible today. By promoting best practices, evidence-based methods, and the re-introduction of healthy cultural practices, we believe that tribal governments, nonprofits, and grassroots practitioners can collectively make lasting strides towards a better future.” For more information, visit <a href="http://seedsofnativehealth.org/" target="_blank">http://seedsofnativehealth.org/</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
03/27/2015 04:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – On April 2, the public is invited to the Oklahoma State Capitol’s first floor rotunda for a program concerning violence against Native women, which will be followed with the Monument Quilt viewing on the capitol’s east lawn. The Monument Quilt is described as a bright red, hand-sewn story of survival. It is made up of numerous 4-square-foot pieces that are created by survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence. There will 400 stories displayed on the lawn for others to read. Survivors and supporters will have the chance to add their stories on their own quilt square following the program and viewing. According to a press release, the Monument Quilt is a physical space that provides public recognition to survivors and reconnects them with their community. The Monument Quilt seeks to change the public perception of who experience sexual violence by telling many stories, not just one. The release states, Native American women suffer from the highest rate of sexual assault in the country, and non-Natives commit 80 percent of those assaults. A staggering 39 percent of Native women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. The Native Alliance Against Violence is Oklahoma’s tribal domestic violence and sexual assault coalition. NAAV serves tribal programs that provide victims with the protections and services they need to have safe and happy lives. FORCE and the NAAV are partnering to put on the event with hopes of bringing attention to the state of violence against Native women and to reconnect survivors to their community. The April 2 program is at 10:30 a.m. to noon and the quilt viewing is from noon to 3 p.m.
BY STAFF REPORTS
03/27/2015 02:00 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – The Friends of the Murrell Home Gift Shop have launched a brand new online store, which carries a variety of items relating to Cherokee history and nineteenth century life in Indian Territory. The museum gift shop, housed at the Murrell Home Historic Site, sells history and language books, maps, historic toys, handmade reproductions, souvenirs and more. A new line of heirloom seeds are also available in-store and online. These vegetable, flower and herb seeds are provided by Seed Savers Exchange, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic seed varieties. The varieties sold at the Murrell Home are representative of nineteenth-century flora that would have been grown in Indian Territory. These vegetables and herbs will be planted in the historic site’s kitchen garden beginning this spring. Cherokee Trail of Tears beans, bloody butcher corn, Cherokee purple tomatoes and Moon & Stars watermelon are just a few of the twenty-four varieties now available for purchase. All of the proceeds from the gift shop and online store benefit the Friends of the Murrell Home, the support organization for the Murrell Home Historic Site. To view the new online store, visit <a href="http://www.mkt.com/murrellhome" target="_blank">mkt.com/murrellhome</a> or <a href="http://www.facebook.com/murrellhome" target="_blank">facebook.com/murrellhome</a>. The historic site is located at 19479 E. Murrell Home Road, three miles south of Tahlequah. The museum store is open from 10 a.m. to5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call 918-456-2751.