Swimmer and Ketcher speak of serving with Mankiller
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Two men who worked extremely close with the late Wilma Mankiller during her political career were former Principal Chief Ross Swimmer and former Deputy Chief John A. Ketcher. Both men spoke of their relationships with her during an April 10 memorial service at the Cherokee Nation Cultural Grounds.
Swimmer recalled on how Mankiller got her start at Cherokee Nation.
“When Wilma walked into my office and told me she had recently moved back to Oklahoma…she said, ‘I want to work for the Cherokee Nation. I want to do something for my tribe.’ Well it was pretty obvious to me that she was sincere and I thought that she’d make a good hand.”
He said he hired her for community work and planning, but ended up counting on her to do whatever needed to be done. He said Mankiller was instrumental in getting 16 miles of waterline laid in the Bell community as a self-help project.
“It was a learning experience for all of us and Wilma took it to heart,” Swimmer said. “She said this is the way the Cherokees should work and work together. And I said, ‘ well Wilma, let’s just make this a standard for the Cherokee Nation. Let’s create this Community Development Department and let’s do this from now on.’”
Swimmer said she took the position in the new department and everything they did from then on involved the people and her motivation to get the work done.
He also spoke of when he asked her to run for the deputy chief seat for the 1983 election. Mankiller won the seat and Swimmer was re-elected as principal chief. They served together from 1983-85. In 1985, Swimmer took a Bureau of Indian Affairs job and Mankiller assumed the principal chief position. However, before the 1983 election, Swimmer said she had no idea he was going to ask her to run as his deputy chief candidate.
“She was taken back and said, ‘let me think about it.’ I did not give a thought to the fact that she was a woman. I thought she was the best candidate that I had available to run and that she would do a wonderful job,” he said.
“Sometimes the Creator puts us in the right place at the right time, and I was in the right place 34 years ago when I met Wilma,” he added.
Ketcher, who served as deputy chief under Mankiller from 1985-95, said she was like a family member from the day they entered office together. However, Ketcher didn’t really know Mankiller two years before serving as her deputy chief.
“This lady stopped me in the hallway and asked what I thought the chances of Wilma becoming the deputy chief to Chief Swimmer. Since I didn’t even know that Wilma was an employee of the Cherokee Nation or anything about her work history, my answer was no opinion.”
He said as the campaign heated up, he learned of her work and what she had done for the CN.
“The voters liked what they heard also and the Swimmer/Mankiller ticket was successful. I, too, had entered the race for one of the seats for the 15-member Cherokee Nation Council at that time. I garnered enough votes to get the 15th seat, the last one that was available.”
Once Swimmer took the BIA job and Mankiller became principal chief, the council chose Ketcher to replace her as deputy chief for the rest of the 1983-87 term. Mankiller picked Ketcher as her deputy chief candidate for the 1987 election, and again in 1991.
“We went to the people for our term of four years on our own. We ran together as a team. Voters must have approved of what was happening and we were elected.”
Ketcher said she always reminded him to talk with the people, not to the people.
“See what they’re thinking because they have opinions, too,” he said. “This included everybody, especially the elders.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Nov. 21, the 2015-16 Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Councilors were sworn into office to begin serving and potentially help shape future tribal policy.
“It’s going to be a good opportunity to get involved and make a difference and build relationships within the tribe,” Laurel Reynolds, a Claremore High School sophomore, said.
The 17-member Council learns the CN Constitution and bylaws and identifies issues affecting Cherokee youths to pass on to the Tribal Council and administration.
The leadership program started in 1989 and has 184 alumni. Students meet monthly and serve as tribal ambassadors.
“The best days of the Cherokee Nation are in front of us and we need leaders in every field imaginable from doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, administrators and business people. Leadership starts with young people like you, who are willing to serve,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “The Tribal Youth Council is an opportunity for young Cherokees from all over the 14-county tribal jurisdiction to gain exposure to our tribal government, get to know the elected officials and have a voice in the discussions that will impact the Cherokee Nation today and in the future.”
The 2015-16 Tribal Youth Council members are Taylor Armbrister, of Kansas; Jori Cowley, of Vinita; Bradley Fields, of Locust Grove; Amy Hembree, of Tahlequah; Camerin James, of Fort Gibson; Austin Jones, of Hulbert; Destiny Matthews, of Watts; Emily Messimore, of Claremore; Treyton Morris, of Salina; Sarah Pilcher, of Westville; Sunday Plumb, of Tahlequah; Laurel Reynolds, of Claremore; Abigail Shepherd, of Ochelata; Julie Thornton, of Gore; Chelbie Turtle of Tahlequah; Jackson Wells, of Tahlequah; and Sky Wildcat, of Tahlequah.
KETCHUM, Okla. – Pine Lodge Resort at Grand Lake is inviting people to its 12th annual “Winter Wonderland Christmas Light Tour” seven nights a week from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Nov. 26 through January 1.
The “old fashion” Christmas light display features nearly half a million lights, lighted antique vehicles, a nativity scene and a host of characters. Admission is free and visitors may drive or walk through the light displays.
Pine Lodge Resort is located one-hour northeast of Tulsa and 2.5 miles east of Ketchum off of Hwy 85.
The resort, owned by Art and June Box, a Cherokee Nation citizen, sits near Grand Lake and has 17 cabins, seven mobile homes and RV sites for rent. The couple opened Pine Lodge Resort 15 years ago.
Ten minutes away from the resort is golfing, a swim beach, spas, hiking, wave runner rentals and the South Grand Lake Regional Airport with free shuttles to and from the airport provided by the Pine Lodge Resort staff. The lodge is also close to casual and fine dining. Groups may reserve the resort’s clubhouse for dinners or special occasions.
The resort has won the “Crystal Pelican Award” given by the Grand Lake Association for “The Most Outstanding Visitor’s Accommodations.”
For more information, call 918-782-1400 or visit the Pine Lodge website at <a href="http://www.pinelodgeresort.com" target="_blank">www.pinelodgeresort.com</a>. You can also find the resort on Facebook.
VINITA, Okla. – It’s easier for tribal leaders today to keep in contact with constituents via phone calls, social media and emails, but for Dist. 11 Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez nothing is better than seeing them in person.
Dist. 11 encompasses Craig County and parts of Mayes and Nowata counties, and Vazquez said she tries to hold meetings to allow constituents to meet with her, other tribal leaders and representatives from Cherokee Nation programs and departments that are based in Tahlequah about 70 miles south.
“It puts a more personal spin of what my job really is because I talk to individuals at those meetings, and they hear me talk things they don’t see on Facebook,” she said.
The meetings help her hear concerns from constituents. She then takes those concerns to the Tribal Council and other tribal representatives who may be able to address them.
“So many times after a community meeting I will go home with five or six issues that a citizen has told me about at the meeting and then the next day I call or email people in those (CN) departments,” Vazquez said.
During a Nov. 17 meeting at the tribe’s Vinita Health Center, staff from Cherokee Nation Businesses; Election Commission staff, who helped people register to vote; Education Services; Marshal Service; Tax Commission, who provided information about the new hunting and fishing license program; Health Services, who gave free flu shots; Human Services; Child Support Services; Dental Services; and Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation assisted CN citizens.
She said citizens also appreciated seeing their leaders. Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin Sr. all attended. The Hoskins are from Vinita and both served as Tribal Councilors and worked to bring more attention to the needs of people in the Vinita area.
Hoskin Sr., who served three four-year terms on the council from 1995 to 2007, said he has “witnessed tremendous growth” in the area since his childhood. He said “to be quite honest” during all the years of him growing up in Vinita until he got on the council in 1995, if you asked anyone in the Vinita area if there were CN services available “the answer would be no.”
“The only type of services we had was our housing addition out there, Buffington Heights, but as far as service, there wasn’t any,” he said. “Obviously, as you can tell this evening, there’s a lot of Cherokee up here, and I knew that, and the people that live up here, we knew that. So, that was the message, when I was first elected, that people told me to take to Tahlequah, and that’s exactly what I did.”
Hoskin Sr. said he was glad to serve with a council that believed tribal services were for everyone no matter where they lived in the CN. “I’m proud to say we started the first Cherokee health care in Vinita in 1996 when we got the mobile clinic up here. It came to Vinita one day a week, and the people showed up. I used those (clinic) numbers to prove Cherokees were here. We just needed to provide services.”
He said Principal Chief Bill John Baker, who served on the Tribal Council with him, also advocated for services for people in Vinita.
“As more services began to come up here, more and more people began to come out and take advantage of them and use them,” he said.
He said the town eventually received a walk-in clinic and finally a 92,000-square-foot health center in 2012, which was justified by the number of people in the Vinita area who needed and utilized CN services.
Leon Dick, 81, of Vinita, who is Shawnee and Delaware and a CN citizen, said he comes to the community meetings to “find out what’s going on,” to fellowship and for “the eats.” He also gets to see family and friends in one place, he said.
He said he grew up in nearby White Oak and takes part in the Shawnee stomp dances there, reading the Shawnee prayer before the dances.
He said he appreciates the Vinita Health Center because he only has to drive 4 miles to receive medical care and no longer has to drive to the Claremore Indian Hospital nearly 40 miles away or the tribe’s Nowata clinic about 29 miles away.
“At Claremore you’ve got to wait all day and sit around there all day. Here you get taken right in,” he said.
Vazquez said Vinita has long been a center for Cherokees who built their homes and businesses there. Cherokee attorney Elias C. Boudinot established the Craig County seat in Vinita in 1871.
“It was a center for Cherokees. They built the buildings and lived here, and we had chiefs come from here, streets are named after Cherokees,” she said.
More attention is being brought to that history, she said, because the tribe now has more money to give to the Eastern Trails Museum in Vinita, which stores and displays the area’s history, and to buy artifacts and art to showcase the history of Vinita and Craig County in the Vinita Health Center.
“We have a very caring and giving administration, and I’m just thankful to be a part of that and because of that I’m able to share much more locally than I have been in the past,” Vazquez said.
KESHENA, Wis. – The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin is suing federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Justice after federal agents destroyed the tribe’s industrial hemp crop on Oct. 23.
“The Menominee Tribe, in cooperation with the College of Menominee Nation, should have the right under the Farm Bill to cultivate industrial hemp in the same manner as Kentucky, Colorado and other states,” Gary Besaw, Menominee chairman, said. “These and other states cultivate industrial hemp without threats or interference from the United States government. In contrast, when our tribe attempted to cultivate industrial hemp we were subjected to armed federal agents who came to our reservation and destroyed our crop. The Department of Justice should recognize the equality of tribes under the Farm Bill, and provide us with the same respect they have demonstrated to states growing industrial hemp for research purposes.”
Industrial hemp, which can be grown as a fiber and a seed crop, is used to produce a range of textiles, foods, papers, body care products, detergents, plastics and building materials that are available throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Unlike marijuana, it has no psychoactive effect. Farmers in more than 30 countries around the world cultivate industrial hemp.
“This is a straightforward legal issue,” Brendan Johnson, Menominee attorney, said. “The lawsuit focuses on the specific legal question of whether the Farm Bill’s industrial hemp provisions apply to Menominee. We are confident that the provisions do apply to Menominee, that Menominee is authorized under federal law to cultivate industrial hemp consistent with those provisions and that a federal court will read the Farm Bill provisions as we do and require the federal government to recognize Menominee’s rights under federal law to cultivate industrial hemp.”
The Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board will meet at 9 a.m. CDT, Dec. 8, 2015, via conference call. It is an open meeting and the public is welcome to attend by using the conference call information to join the meeting. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/11/9837_Editorial_Board_Agenda_Dec._2015.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the agenda.
Entry code: 4331082
CATOOSA, Okla. – Singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson will bring his show to The Joint inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Jan. 21. Tickets start at $60 and went on sale Nov. 19.
According to a Cherokee Nation Entertainment release, Robinson features songs such as “Just to See Her,” “Quiet Storm,” “Cruisin’” and “Being with You.”
“The Detroit native has an accomplished 50-year career in music. Robinson founded the critically acclaimed group The Miracles, was instrumental in developing the Motown Records dynasty where he served as vice president for a time, and has more than 4,000 songs to his credit,” the release states. “The hits he has written include ‘The Way You Do the Things You Do,’ ‘My Girl’ and ‘The Tracks of My Tears.’”
Robinson has received awards including the Grammy Living Legend and Kennedy Center Honors.
“He has also been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame,” the release states.
For more information on his tour, visit <a href="http://www.smokeyrobinson.com" target="_blank">www.smokeyrobinson.com</a>.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is located off Interstate 44 at exit 240. Ticket prices and information on upcoming shows are available online in The Joint section of <a href="http://www.hardrockcasinotulsa.com" target="_blank">www.hardrockcasinotulsa.com</a> or by calling (918) 384-ROCK. The Joint box office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.