The sun sets at Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Okla., which Cherokee NationEntertainment bought from the Choctaw Nation in December. (Photo courtesy ofChoctaw Nation)
Cherokee Nation buys Blue Ribbon Downs
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Entertainment officials on Dec. 10 announced that they closed a deal with the Choctaw Nation to purchase Blue Ribbon Downs, a horse racing track in Sallisaw. The property consists of nearly 100 acres in Sequoyah County and is located near Interstate 40 and Highway 64, two miles west of the Cherokee Casino Sallisaw, which CNE operates. “We had an opportunity to purchase property that is within our tribal jurisdiction so we always closely consider that, and see it as a wise business decision to take advantage of that any time we can,” CNE CEO David Stewart said.The BRD purchase means CNE now owns two horse racing tracks. The other is Will Rogers Down in Claremore. CNE officials stated in a press release that there are no “immediate plans” for BRD. In a Dec. 14 meeting, CN administration officials said the property was purchased for the real estate and assets and that they would not reopen it as a horse track. Principal Chief Chad Smith said there was no economic viability for the property as a race track.
According to the Sequoyah County Clerk’s Office, the tribe bought the property for approximately $2.5 million. CNE’s purchase of BRD includes land, facilities and equipment.
“The purchase is also an opportunity for us to utilize some of the equipment at Will Rogers Downs, which will provide some needed upgrades at that facility,” Stewart said.CNE had planned to purchase the property in 2003 at a sheriff’s auction. However, a Choctaw Nation-owned business bought it for $4.25 million a day before the auction.The Choctaws put the property up for sale more than a year ago. Claiming financial problems they ended their six-year operation of BRD, which included horse racing and electronic gaming, in November after the track’s fall racing dates concluded. BRD began racing in the early 1960s. In 1984 it became the state’s first track to offer pari-mutuel racing. However, the track has a history of financial struggles. Not only did the Choctaws experience financial problems with it, but past owners did as well. The track has been in bankruptcy twice – in 1997 and 2002.“The Choctaws did an excellent job in trying to make the track profitable,” Stewart said. “As owners of a track in Oklahoma, we understand the economics of the industry.”In 2008, the Choctaw Nation chose not to renew its license with the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, signaling the closure of the track. BRD is now considered an unauthorized gaming facility. The Cherokee Phoenix contacted the Choctaw Nation for comment regarding the sale, but was referred to the CNE press release.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.
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>.
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.
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.
WASHINGTON – On March 25, Principal Chief Bill John Baker delivered testimony before the U.S. House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee in Washington, D.C.
Baker addressed the necessity for increased Indian Health Service funding and the significance of contract support costs.
“Cherokee Nation and other tribes have successfully litigated three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. These cases established the federal government is legally obligated to fully fund BIA and IHS contract support costs,” Baker said. “Last year, we negotiated a $29.5 million settlement with IHS to collect nearly a decade’s worth of underpaid contract support costs. Unlike the IHS claims, resolution to BIA’s case has been slow. We request that the Subcommittee encourage BIA to work harder to reach a settlement with tribes. We also request that the Subcommittee support the president’s fiscal year 2016 proposal to fully fund IHS and BIA contract support costs.”
Baker also discussed the CN’s commitment to invest its own $100 million for new and improved health facilities, but said IHS needs to pay its share for staffing doctors and nurses.
“We have invested more than $100 million from our casino profits to build, expand and renovate our health care facilities. We are the largest tribal health provider, seeing more than 1 million patient visits in 2014.
Last year, I testified before this Subcommittee and requested the IHS Joint Venture Construction Program be reopened,” he said. “We are deeply grateful to Rep. Cole, Ranking Member McCollum, and members of the Subcommittee for your efforts that resulted in IHS reopening the program in fiscal year 2014.
Cherokee Nation was selected as a Joint Venture project, and the tribe will fund construction of a new health care facility. We request that the Subcommittee ensure IHS meets its obligation by funding the staffing and operations for our Joint Venture facility.”
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) chaired the hearing. He was joined by ranking members Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.).
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – To help with staffing, travel and community members in need, the Cherokee Nation donated $30,000 to Friends of the Murrell Home, War Pony Community Outreach and the CN Color Guard.
Friends of the Murrell Home support and promote the Murrell Home Historic Site in Park Hill. The Murrell Home was built following the Trail of Tears for then CN Chief John Ross’ niece, Minerva Ross Murrell. The group uses donations to help cover museum staffing.
“Without this donation from the Cherokee Nation, a Cherokee citizen who works for us in the Living History Program would be out of a job,” said Murrell Home Site Manager David Fowler. “Because of that, we’re very appreciative of the help the tribe provides.”
War Pony Community Outreach is a nonprofit organization in Cherokee County dedicated to helping people across the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction with living expenses. The group plans to use the donation to buy beds, washers, stoves and other household appliances.
“Whatever a community member that qualifies needs, we help provide it,” said Raymond Vann, who works with the outreach.
Making appearances at public events, funerals or other venues across the country, veterans who act as cultural ambassadors for the tribe make up the CN Color Guard of Native American. The Color Guard will use the donation for travel expenses.