Tribes hope for renewal in solar eclipse; not all will watch

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
08/21/2017 09:45 AM
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — While much of the country gawks at the solar eclipse, Bobbieann Baldwin will be inside with her children, shades drawn.

In Navajo culture, the passing of the moon over the sun is an intimate moment in which the sun is reborn and tribal members take time out for themselves. No talking. No eating or drinking. No lying down. No fussing.

"It's a time of renewal," said Baldwin, a Navajo woman from Fort Defiance, Arizona. "Kind of like pressing the alt, control, delete button on your computer, resetting everything."

Across the country, American Indian tribes are observing the eclipse in similar and not-so-similar ways. Some tribal members will ignore it, others might watch while praying for an anticipated renewal, and those in prime viewing spots are welcoming visitors with storytelling, food and celebration. For the Crow Tribe in Montana, the eclipse coincides with the Parade Dance at the annual Crow fair, marking the tribe's new year.

Many American Indian tribes revere the sun and moon as cultural deities, great sources of power and giver of life.

CN says opioid lawsuit belongs in tribal court

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
08/21/2017 08:15 AM
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Cherokee Nation is urging a federal judge to allow a tribal lawsuit against distributors and retailers of opioid medications to be litigated in the tribe’s court.

CN Attorney General Todd Hembree has filed written arguments with U.S. District Judge Terence Kern in a lawsuit that alleges the companies have contributed to “an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse” among the tribe’s citizens. The lawsuit alleges that six distribution and pharmaceutical companies have created conditions in which “vast amounts of opioids have flowed freely from manufacturers to abusers and drug dealers” within the tribe’s territory.

Opioid-related addiction has taken the lives of hundreds of CN citizens and cost the tribe hundreds of millions of dollars in health care costs, the lawsuit says.

The companies have asked Kern to block the lawsuit, saying there is no legal basis for the CN’s claim that it has authority within a 14-county area in northeastern Oklahoma.

But in legal papers accepted by Kern on Wednesday, Hembree says an Aug. 8 ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals “provides a substantial alternative basis” for the lawsuit to be tried in tribal court.
Todd Hembree
Todd Hembree

Organizers set dates for annual Gathering of Nations powwow

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
08/20/2017 02:00 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Organizers of one of North America's most prominent American Indian powwows say they're already gearing up for next year's event.

They are kicking off their promotional campaign for the 2018 Gathering of Nations on Friday with the release of the event's official poster.

The 35th annual event takes place April 26-28 at the state fairgrounds in Albuquerque. The Miss Indian World Talent Competition will be held downtown at the city's convention center.

New for next year will be a parade featuring Native American riders in full regalia. Organizers say the parade is meant to recognize the importance that the horse culture holds for some tribes.

The gathering usually draws tens of thousands of people, including dancers, singers and drummers representing tribes from across the United States, Canada and elsewhere.

West Nile virus cases picking up in Oklahoma

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
08/19/2017 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Health officials say more than a half-dozen cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Oklahoma so far this year.

The Oklahoma Department of Health says the cases have been confirmed in Cleveland, Muskogee, Oklahoma and Tulsa counties. According to health officials, most people are infected with the virus from June through September, with the number of infections peaking in mid-August. The illness is transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes.

Health officials say the best way to prevent the disease is to avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellants and wearing long sleeves, pants and socks when outdoors.

According to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 200 cases of the illness have been reported nationwide so far this year.
http://cherokee.org/About-The-Nation/National-Holiday

Rocky Mountain Community Organization hosting events in August

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/18/2017 03:15 PM
ROCKY MOUNTAIN, Okla. – The Rocky Mountain Community Organization is hosting two events in August at its community building near Stilwell.

RMCO will host the Adair County Historical & Genealogical Association at 6 p.m., Aug. 22. ACH&GA volunteers will be on hand to discuss area history and genealogy. Beans and cornbread will be served at 5:30 p.m., and everyone is welcome to attend.

The Adair County Historical & Genealogical Association is a non-profit organization maintained by volunteers. Located in the rehabilitated 1915 Kansas City Southern Railroad Depot in Stilwell, the association collects countywide research materials, genealogies of county families and artifacts of historical and cultural significance.

Volunteers provide research and genealogical assistance to individuals interested in learning more about their family’s past. Tours of the county history museum provide access to artifacts that provide a deeper appreciation of the county’s history.

Also, at 7 p.m., Aug. 26, RMCO will host a Movie Night where “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” will be shown. Admission is free, and the concession stand will open at 6 p.m. Seating is available, but moviegoers are welcome to bring their own chairs. People also have an opportunity to win a door prize by signing in when they arrive.

Will Rogers & Wiley Post Fly-In offers special experience

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
08/18/2017 08:15 AM
OOLOGAH, Okla. – For more than 20 years, the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore has paid homage to Will Rogers and Wiley Post with an annual fly-in at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch.

Rogers, a Cherokee Nation citizen, and Post, a famed aviator, died in a plane crash on Aug. 15, 1935, in Point Barrow, Alaska. Tad Jones, the museum’s executive director, said this year commemorates the 82nd anniversary of their passing.

“His (Rogers) character is what we want to try to keep alive. He was a guy that respected everybody, which I think it’d be great for our entire nation now to show that respect towards others,” he said. “I know Will Rogers, if he was here, he would love it because he was a man that just loved action activities, and this event has just gotten to be huge over the last number of years.”

The event kicked off at 7:30 a.m. Jones said people and planes began arriving as early as 6:45 a.m.

The free event offered more than 100 planes, a car show, Cherokee storytelling, 19th century games for children and the opportunity to tour Rogers’ birthplace home.
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
A plane flies over a crowd while preparing to land on a grass airstrip during the annual Will Rogers & Wiley Post Fly-In at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch on Aug. 12 in Oologah, Oklahoma. The event commemorated the 82nd anniversary of the passing of Rogers and Post. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Visitors take photos and watch as a plane circles during the annual Will Rogers & Wiley Post Fly-In at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch on Aug. 12 in Oologah, Oklahoma. Visitors get up-close experiences with the planes, one being when they land. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The “Yellow Peril” is one of more than 100 planes that participated in the annual Will Rogers & Wiley Post Fly-In at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch on Aug. 12 in Oologah, Oklahoma. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
A plane flies over a crowd while preparing to land on a grass airstrip during the annual Will Rogers & Wiley Post Fly-In at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch on Aug. 12 in Oologah, Oklahoma. The event commemorated the 82nd anniversary of the passing of Rogers and Post. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
https://www.facebook.com/ScissorCutArtByTana/

Former CNMS building to be disassembled

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
08/15/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The former Cherokee Nation Marshal Service building located west of the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex has had many uses since it was built in the 1980s, but its days are numbered.

The building will soon be taken down to provide more parking for the Tribal Complex, on which a second story was recently added to provide more office space and accommodate the tribe’s courts.

“The building will be disassembled rather than demolished,” CN Construction Project Administrator Paul Crosslin said. “We’re hoping we can save some parts for future construction projects.”

Crosslin said he is not certain when the building will be disassembled. Tests such as tests for asbestos levels first need to be completed.

“We’re hoping to start the disassembly next week (week of Aug. 14) but that decision hasn’t been made yet,” he said.
Plans are underway to take down the old Cherokee Nation Marshal Service building, which housed the Cherokee Nation’s law enforcement department from 2001 until this past March. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Plans are underway to take down the old Cherokee Nation Marshal Service building, which housed the Cherokee Nation’s law enforcement department from 2001 until this past March. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

2017-18 Little Cherokee Ambassadors crowned

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/15/2017 10:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Nearly 20 Cherokee children competed in three age divisions on Aug. 12 at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center for the titles of Little Cherokee Ambassadors. But only six walked away earning crowns.

Salina Elementary School fifth grader Leah Gardner was crowned as the 2017-18 Little Cherokee Ambassador in the 10-12 age category.

Gardner, 10, is captain of her school’s Cherokee Language Bowl. She gave a demonstration on basket weaving as her cultural presentation. She also correctly named stickball as a traditional Cherokee game, answered 18 as the age that Cherokee Nation citizens must be to vote and knew the Cherokee Female Seminary was the first institution of higher learning for Cherokee girls west of the Mississippi River.

“I’m really excited to be a Little Cherokee Ambassador, and I’m looking forward to all the parades,” Gardner said.

Joining her in the male division of Little Cherokee Ambassador is Heritage Elementary School fourth grader Preston Gourd, 10, of Tahlequah.
The 2017-18 Little Cherokee Ambassadors, from left to right, are Avery Raper, Dante Anguiano, Leah Gardner, Preston Gourd, Alayna Paden and Cooper Dorr. COURTESY
The 2017-18 Little Cherokee Ambassadors, from left to right, are Avery Raper, Dante Anguiano, Leah Gardner, Preston Gourd, Alayna Paden and Cooper Dorr. COURTESY

CN to inaugurate 9 Tribal Councilors on Aug. 14

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/14/2017 09:45 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation will have nine Tribal Councilors sworn into office at 10 a.m. on Aug. 14 at Sequoyah High School’s gymnasium.

The nine Tribal Councilors who will be administered the oath of office by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Garrett are Joe Byrd (Dist. 2), Mike Dobbins (Dist. 4), E.O. Smith (Dist. 5), Frankie Hargis (Dist. 7), Mike Shambaugh (Dist. 9), Harley Buzzard (Dist. 10), Victoria Vazquez (Dist. 11), Janees Taylor (Dist. 11) and Mary Baker Shaw (At-Large).

The legislative branch consists of 17 members representing the 15 districts inside tribe’s jurisdiction and two at-large seats representing citizens outside the boundaries. Councilors are elected by popular vote to four-year terms.

Click here towatch the live feed of the inauguration.

Culture

Visitors get glimpse into CHC archives
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
08/18/2017 12:45 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Cherokee Heritage Center visitors had the chance to get a glimpse into the CHC’s permanent archive collections with the “Preserving Cherokee Culture: Holding the Past for the Future” exhibit that was set to run Aug. 14-19.

“We want to just feature things that people don’t get to see very often. On average only about 1 percent of a museums holdings are on display at any given time, so this will give people a little inside look into more of the items that we have,” Callie Chunestudy, CHC curator, said.

Nearly 60 historical artifacts were selected for the exhibit, including Gen. Stand Waite’s bowie knife, a hand-written first draft of the Articles of Agreement between the Cherokee Nation and U.S. governments in 1866, photographs and more.

Chunestudy said the goal is to find a way to create a new archives and collections building.

“We are in need of a new archives and collections building, so we want to feature some of the rare and special items that we do hold so the people can understand that we really need updated housing for these,” she said. “We’ve outgrown our space immensely, and it’s time for an up-to-date archives and collections building that we’re hoping to raise money for.”

All the archives and collections are stored in the CHC basement, which Chunestudy said doesn’t allow for proper preservation techniques.

“It’s a little difficult to climate control and things like that just because of the structure of the building, and so we’re looking at building a new facility that will be up-to-date and in line for best practices for housing these items,” she said. “Without a new archives and collections building the items that are currently housed in the basement of the (Cherokee) Heritage Center are in danger of becoming damaged. It’s a secure space, but it’s not up to best practices for archives and collections so our goal is to bring that up to par.”

CHC Director Charles Gourd said those at the CHC have a “responsibility” to preserve and protect the tribe’s history.

“One of the primary functions and purposes of the Cherokee National Historical Society, and then now the (Cherokee) Heritage Center, is the preservation of our material culture. Those objects of cultural patrimony and things that are important to our history,” he said. “In the (19)95 Constitution, we were mandated and specifically designated as the repository. Now, we’re the designated repository as an act of the (Tribal) Council in 1985 to back that up. So we have a responsibility to preserve and protect all of these objects that are important to Cherokee history, government and the Cherokee people.”

According to a CHC press release, the Cherokee National Archives has more than 40,000 items in collections and 200,000 items in archives dating back to pre-European contact.

The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive. For more information, call 918-456-6007 or visit www.cherokeeheritage.org.

Education

NSU Alumni Association honors 2 Cherokees
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/14/2017 12:00 PM
TAHELQUAH, Okla. – The Northeastern State University Alumni Association board of directors has chosen two Cherokee Nation citizens as 2017 honorees of the university’s Distinguished Alumnus awards.

CN Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and Julie Erb-Alvarez were selected as distinguished alumni and will receive their honors on Sept. 29 at the Alumni Association Honors Dinner and again Sept. 30 at the homecoming Emerald Ball. Both events are open to the public.

Awards are presented annually to NSU alumni who, through personal achievement and service, have brought honor and distinction to both themselves and the university, a NSU release states.

Crittenden graduated from NSU in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration. Crittenden has previously served on the Tribal Council, as the Eastern Oklahoma vice president for the National Congress of American Indians and as a U.S. Postal Service postmaster. He is also a Navy veteran.

“It is an honor to receive this award from Northeastern State University,” Crittenden said. “It has been 43 years since I graduated from the university, and I still wear my gold NSU class ring every single day. I was an atypical college student, returning to school after serving in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam. However, I was blessed to receive an excellent education at NSU, and what I learned there helped guide me on a long career of public service.”

Crittenden has given back to NSU by supporting the tribe’s efforts to restore Seminary Hall and install modern classroom technologies. He also offers support and advice to youth in their pursuit of higher-education opportunities.

“I am proud to say I am an alum of a school that is so committed to Native students and developing leaders for Indian Country,” Crittenden said. “Cherokee Nation and NSU have established one of the most unique and successful collaborations between a tribal government and public higher education institution.”

NSU President Dr. Steve Turner said Crittenden was extraordinarily qualified to be recognized as a distinguished alumnus.

“His career path is highlighted by many years of service to the Cherokee Nation and to our country. I am so excited for Joe and his family and am honored to call him friend,” Turner said.

Erb-Alvarez is a distinguished epidemiologist and chief of patient recruitment for the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute who graduated from NSU in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in health and human performance.

She continued her education at the University of Oklahoma, earning a master’s degree in epidemiology. She has served as an epidemiologist for the Oklahoma Tribal Epidemiology Center, the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Public Health, Ministry of Health in the Republic of Palau.

Erb-Alvarez was commissioned into the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in 2010 and was deployed to Monrovia, Liberia in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2014-15. She is a life member of the NSU Alumni Association.

“I was truly honored when I received the call from NSU President Steve Turner. I was completely surprised and really excited when he told me I had been selected as one of the 2017 Distinguished Alumni. And then when explained who the other honorees were, it instilled another sense of pride and emotion. I am deeply grateful for this honor, and am completely humbled with the company I now keep, with those who are also being honored this year and those who have been honored in the past,” she said. “I look forward to NSU Homecoming Weekend in September when I can come back to my beloved alma mater and experience NSU all these many years later. I can’t wait to talk with students, educators, other professionals and friends – those who helped build my education – and share my post-graduation career and life experiences. I want them all to know and understand how much NSU has given me. I had a very solid foundation thanks to my years at NSU. It was easy for me to find my way and excel after an educational experience like that. Both of my parents are NSU graduates, and I was born while my parents were students and living at NSU married student housing. I have a long, long and wonderful history with NSU. The fact that NSU began as a Cherokee Seminary gives it all the more meaning to me as a Cherokee citizen.”

Turner said Erb-Alvarez has amassed an outstanding list of accomplishments since her time at NSU.”

“Her commitment to preserving the health of the nation and serving others through the National Institute of Health and the United States Public Health Service is admirable and makes her more than deserving of this honor,” he said.

Council

Dobbins takes aim at improving health care
BY LINDSEY BARK
News Writer
08/17/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Dr. Mike Dobbins, of Fort Gibson, said he’s ready to serve his first term as the Dist. 4 Tribal Councilor and looks to improve the Cherokee Nation’s health care system.

Dobbins will take his councilor seat with 37 years of experience in health care, practicing dentistry for 20 of those years.

“I chose to run because from a distance I’ve become quite familiar with the Cherokee health system, and there are some great things about it. The framework’s in place…and a lot of good has transpired. With my experience I feel like I can lend some expertise to help improve the system. That was my primary motive in running for council...to see what I could do to improve the health care system,” Dobbins said.

He said he has more to learn about the CN Health Services and how it functions on a daily basis.

Dobbins is also involved in higher education, teaching at dental schools for the past 17 years and assisting Cherokee students interested in health care.

“I’ve assisted multiple Cherokee students with scholarship opportunities, not only with Cherokee scholarships, but with other Native American scholarships and try to help them go through college with little-to-no debt as possible,” he said.

He said in Dist. 4, he’s also heard concerns from CN citizens about housing issues.

“I’m also knowledgeable of the fact that there’s a lot of other Cherokee needs (including) infrastructure, housing, elder care. I’m also sensitive to those areas as well. I plan to be a multi-purpose councilman,” Dobbins said. “I’m on the outside right now, but I intend to see (and) get familiarized with the housing program and make sure that citizens of District 4 are considered for any housing possibilities.”

The 2017 Tribal Council election was Dobbins’ second attempt at becoming a CN legislator. He said he learned from his “mistakes” four years ago and that it was a “less stressful” campaign this time around.

“I ran four years ago and lost by two (votes) to an 18-year incumbent,” he said. “You learn by experience, and I enlisted more help, actually, this time. I tried to do a lot of myself four years ago. I’d say…most importantly I learned what not to do rather than what to do.”

Dobbins said he has an obligation to serve not only the CN citizens who helped or voted for him, but also those who did not.

“I’m their councilman now, and I feel a deep debt of obligation to fulfill that duty,” he said. “I just look forward to serving the Cherokee people on the council. I do have a busy schedule but I feel like I will be accessible. I have a busy schedule outside my councilman responsibilities, but my councilman responsibility will be my priority.”

Health

Casting for Recovery to hold retreat for Native women with breast cancer
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/08/2017 04:00 PM
AUSTIN, Texas – Casting for Recovery, a national nonprofit organization providing free fly fishing retreats for women with breast cancer, will hold a retreat exclusively for Native American women in October in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Set for Oct. 13-15, Native American women who reside in Oklahoma and have received a breast cancer diagnosis are eligible to apply. Up to 14 women will be randomly selected to attend the retreat at no cost. Meals, lodging, equipment and supplies will be provided for each participant. The deadline to apply is Aug. 11.

CfR officials said Native American women face numerous cultural and economic barriers to cancer care. By providing support, education and resources, CfR officials said they hope to improve the quality of life for Native American women, creating a ripple effect for health in their communities.

CfR officials said the program empowers women with educational resources, a new support group and fly fishing, which promotes emotional, physical, and spiritual healing. For more information or to apply for this retreat, visit https://castingforrecovery.org/breast-cancer-retreats/arkansas-oklahoma/ or call Susan Gaetz at 512-940-0246.

CfR is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1996 featuring a program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing. Officials said its retreats offer opportunities for women to find inspiration, discover renewed energy for life and experience healing connections with other women and nature. CfR’s retreats are open to women of all ages, all stages of breast cancer treatment and recovery, and are free to participants.

?For more information, visit https://castingforrecovery.org.

Opinion

OPINION: Environmental efforts ensure fresh water, better future
BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
08/01/2017 12:00 PM
Protecting the environment and practicing conservation principles have always been important to the Cherokee people. It’s fitting that the 65th annual Cherokee National Holiday theme is “Water is Sacred.” It is something that resonates with all of us as Cherokees. Water is sacred to our people and has been forever. Water has been part of our ceremonies. Water has sustained us with food and an ability to grow our crops. Water is something we share and celebrate with our families. Our close relationship to water, the land and the traditional knowledge about our natural surroundings has always been part of who we are. Cherokee values and these historic ideas, established over multiple generations, about ecological preservation benefit all of northeast Oklahoma.

Over the past year, Cherokee Nation has put a focused effort to preserve water rights and natural resources. We have been active within our 14 counties and across Indian Country when it comes to conservation of our water. CN established the office of the secretary of Natural Resources to address a various environmental issues. Secretary Sara Hill oversees the programs and services related to preservation and conservation of our air, land, water and animal and plant life.

As a tribal government, and as Cherokees, we have a responsibility to protect the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the land we live on. We will unequivocally fight for the rights of our people to live safely in their communities. We have a right and a responsibility to protect our water. It is our duty for the next seven generations.

An excellent example of our renewed conservation efforts was a recent federal court decision naming CN the court-appointed steward of restoration efforts of Saline Creek in Mayes County. David Benham, a CN citizen originally from the Kenwood area and a property owner along the creek bank, personally sued Ozark Materials River Rock for the extreme damage done to the water. The company, which will pay for the restoration effort, mined at the foot of the creek, removing the gravel at the lower reaches. Erosion upstream redirected the creek and eroded vegetation, which in turn increased stream temperature and algae growth.

It is appropriate that the court appointed CN as the steward of Saline Creek and will manage the recovery of the damaged areas and easement. Saline Creek has spiritual as well as historical significance to CN citizens in that area. Additionally, it is one of the most beautiful creeks in northeast Oklahoma.

Earlier this year, Secretary Hill’s team defended the Arkansas and Illinois rivers, as CN played a critical role in preventing Sequoyah Fuels Corporation from disposing radioactive waste near important waterways. We are working with the company to find appropriate off-site disposal.

Recently, the tribe also earned a $75,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency that will help support the critical environmental work that we do at the local level. The partnership between CN and the EPA benefits our people, our environmental endeavors, and the health and beauty of northeast Oklahoma.

Together with the EPA’s federal dollars, we can sustain the environmental protection efforts that preserve our clean air, healthy land and fresh water. The CN created a five-person board, the Environmental Protection Commission, which works with Secretary Hill to help the tribe administer its environmental programs and develop community and education programs.

The CN is also a founding member of the Inter-Tribal Environmental Council, an organization that helps protect the health of Native Americans, tribal natural resources and the environment. This tribal organization was created to provide support, technical assistance, program development and training to member tribes nationwide. Today, almost 50 tribal governments are members and share best practices.

Our tribal government strives to build a better future for our people and fights for the rights of our people to live safely in their communities. Protecting the environment through CN’s active and progressive conservation programs is one of the most important things we can do to ensure we achieve that goal.

People

Flag football combine has large Native turnout
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
08/17/2017 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Approximately 70 youths in first through fourth grades were athletically evaluated on Aug. 12 at the Boys and Girls Club of Tahlequah’s flag football combine held on the infield of Tahlequah High School’s track.

Testing included speed evaluations, route running as well as passing and catching a football.

Boys and Girls Club of Tahlequah CEO Dennis Kelley said the combine testing is crucial to selecting evenly matched league teams.

“It’s for all kids across the county. You don’t have to be a Boys & Girls Club member. We have 13 clubs throughout Cherokee County in almost every school except Hulbert and Shady Grove. Our club stats for Cherokee County show we’re at about 70 percent Native American. So anyone who wants to sign up can. Boys and girls are welcome.”

Kelley said the fee for joining is $45.

“We try to keep it as low as we can. Plus, if someone can’t afford it, we try to scholarship them in. Cherokee Nation helps us with some money throughout the year, so we try to use that money for scholarships for kids who can’t afford to pay,” he said.

Cherokee Nation citizen Julie Deerinwater Anderson said bringing her son to try out was a mutual decision.

“I brought my son out today because he was very interested in flag football. It’s an opportunity for him to be a part of a team. Plus it’s his first year, so he can learn some skills without the risk of tackle football,” she said. “It’s healthy and it’s outside. It’s important to me that my son has healthy options.”

For more information, call the Boys and Girls Club of Tahlequah at 918-456-6888.
Click To Subscribe

Call Justin Smith 918-207-4975

Cherokee Phoenix Daily
Digital Newsletter