Effective interventions prevent alcohol use among Native youth

BY STAFF REPORTS
03/16/2017 12:15 PM
ATLANTA, Ga. – Community-based and individual-level prevention strategies are effective ways to reduce alcohol use among American Indian and other youth living in rural communities, according to a new study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse also provided support for the study.

“This important study underscores our commitment to finding evidence-based solutions for alcohol problems in American Indian and other underserved populations,” said NIAAA Director George F. Koob “This study is one of the largest alcohol prevention trials ever conducted with an American Indian population, and the first to demonstrate the effectiveness of screening and brief counseling intervention in significantly reducing youth alcohol use at a community level.”

Although American Indian teens drink at rates similar to other United States teens, they have early onset alcohol use compared to other groups and higher rates of alcohol problems. Rural youths, including those who are a racial minority relative to their community, are also at increased risk for alcohol misuse. Early prevention is critical in these populations, but both American Indians and rural communities have been underrepresented in studies aimed at finding effective solutions for underage drinking.

To address this gap, researchers led by Kelli A. Komro of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta worked with the Cherokee Nation, the second-largest tribe in the U.S., to implement a rigorous research trial of two distinct strategies to reduce underage drinking and its consequences.

Family fights for childhood cancer funds

BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
03/13/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Former Cherokee Nation employee Gary McAlpin returned home on March 10 with his family and son, Kai, who’s been battling cancer since May. Gary has pleaded with citizens locally and across the United States to fight for more children’s cancer research and treatment funding.

Kai, who has been dubbed “Warrior Kai,” suffers from a rare cancer call T-Cell Leukemia. According to Gary’s Facebook page, he said he and his family have knocked on all the hospital doors available to them for Kai, but none would take him due to the complexity of his condition.

And after battling for so long and watching his son’s pain daily, they chose to take Kai home.

“Where Kai will continue to have the same medical care, but with hospice. He will have the same pain management and fluids being given,” Gary stated on Facebook.

During the past year, while attempting to stay positive about his son’s diagnosis, Gary has pleaded with people to pressure the country’s leaders into offering more funding for childhood cancers.
Kai McAlpin COURTESY The McAlpin family COURTESY Gary McAlpin holds his son Kai while Kai rests in the hospital during cancer treatments. COURTESY
Kai McAlpin COURTESY
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Exercising helps achieve healthy lifestyle

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
03/09/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – While eating healthy is a major component to weight loss and leading a healthy life, exercise also plays a role in taking on a well-rounded lifestyle change.

Brandon Goad, a physical activity specialist at the Cherokee Nation Male Seminary Recreation Center, said people who are looking to begin exercising should speak with “fitness professionals.”

“I would suggest come into a facility like we have, or anywhere where they have fitness professionals, and get some advice,” he said.

Goad said when beginning an exercise program people should exercise two to three times a week.

“Your body will kind of tell you if you need to be in the gym or if you don’t. If you’re extremely sore and you can’t move it’s probably not going to benefit you to show up and do more exercise on top of that. I’d probably be more beneficial to stay at home or come up here and walk and then maybe do some stretching and some mobility exercises,” he said.
Brandon Goad, Cherokee Nation Male Seminary Recreation Center physical activity specialist, serves as a trainer and teaches classes at the MSRC in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He said people looking to start exercising should speak with a “fitness professional” for advice. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX In this 2016 photo, people exercise during a boot camp class at the Cherokee Nation Male Seminary Recreation Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Brandon Goad, MSRC physical activity specialist, said participating in a class is a good way to start one’s physical fitness journey. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Weights are displayed in the weight room on the bottom floor of the Cherokee Nation Male Seminary Recreation Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The MSRC is open seven days a week. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Brandon Goad, Cherokee Nation Male Seminary Recreation Center physical activity specialist, serves as a trainer and teaches classes at the MSRC in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He said people looking to start exercising should speak with a “fitness professional” for advice. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Meal planning, preparation key to healthy lifestyle

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
03/03/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Whether its eating breakfast, lunch or dinner, Larissa Hancock, a registered dietitian at W.W. Hasting’s Hospital, said meal planning and preparation are keys to making a healthy lifestyle change.

“I think one of the main things about healthy eating is actually taking some time to do your planning,” she said. “Healthy eating starts at the grocery store. So when we are in a hurry or we’re just trying to come up with something quick it’s so much easier to make those convenience choices. Anything you bring in your house from the grocery store, that’s what you’re going to eat.”

She said a good way to meal plan is to make a menu and stick to it.

“If you sit down on Saturday or Sunday afternoon and just say ‘this is what I’m going to make this week,’ and you shop for those ingredients that you need for those things, then it’s easier to stick to that plan than if we’re just kind of flying through each day,” she said. “Then spend some time doing some meal prep. Do your meal prep and have breakfast ready for each morning of the week, or same thing for lunch.”

Hancock said stick with lean meats when shopping.
Larissa Hancock, a registered dietitian at W.W. Hasting’s Hospital, looks at bananas inside Reasor’s Grocery in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Hancock said when shopping it is usually best to stick to the perimeter of the store because that’s where the produce and meats are located. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Larissa Hancock, a registered dietitian at W.W. Hasting’s Hospital, holds a handful of fruit at Reasor’s Grocery in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Hancock said fruits are good to eat as part of a healthy meal. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Registered dietitian Larissa Hancock looks through a display of green beans at Reasor’s Grocery in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Hancock said healthy eating starts at the grocery store. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Various fruits are displayed along a wall at Reasor’s Grocery in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Larissa Hancock, a registered dietitian, said it’s important to have a balanced plate, which is often colorful. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Larissa Hancock, a registered dietitian at W.W. Hasting’s Hospital, looks at bananas inside Reasor’s Grocery in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Hancock said when shopping it is usually best to stick to the perimeter of the store because that’s where the produce and meats are located. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
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Ground broken for Hastings Hospital addition

BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
02/17/2017 06:15 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials – along with representatives from state, federal and local governments – broke ground Feb. 17 on a 469,000-square-foot addition at the W.W. Hastings Hospital campus.

According to a CN Communications press release, the facility will be four stories tall and feature 180 exam rooms with access to a MRI machine; 10 new cardiac, lung and kidney specialists; and an ambulatory surgery center.

“The facility is the outcome of the largest IHS-joint venture agreement ever between a tribe and the federal government. The Cherokee Nation is paying for the $200 million construction of the health center, while Indian Health Service has agreed to pay an estimated $80 million or more per year for at least 20 years for staffing and operation costs,” the release states.

Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said the facility would offer a new level of health care and increase access to services in northeastern Oklahoma.

“On behalf of the Cherokee Nation Health Services staff, I thank (Principal) Chief (Bill John) Baker, the Tribal Council and Cherokee Nation Businesses for giving us the opportunity to deliver first-class health care to our patients,” Davis said.
An artist’s rendering of the 469,000-square-foot addition adjacent to W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Cherokee Nation officials broke ground on the addition on Feb. 17. COURTESY Principal Chief Bill John Baker speaks to the crowd attending a Feb. 17 groundbreaking ceremony for a 469,000-square-foot addition adjacent to W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Students from the Cherokee Immersion Charter School sing a song in Cherokee during the Feb. 17 groundbreaking ceremony for an addition to the W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The facility will be the length of two football fields and 2-1/2 times the size of the current facilities. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Principal Chief Bill John Baker, second from right, and other tribal leaders break ground on Feb. 17 for an addition to W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The facility will be four stories tall and feature 180 exam rooms with access to a MRI machine, 10 new cardiac, lung and kidney specialists and an ambulatory surgery center. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
An artist’s rendering of the 469,000-square-foot addition adjacent to W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Cherokee Nation officials broke ground on the addition on Feb. 17. COURTESY

Claremore Indian Hospital to host ACA fair

BY STAFF REPORTS
02/15/2017 04:00 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Claremore Indian Hospital will host an Affordable Care Act Outreach and Enrollment Fair from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on March 1 in Conference Room 1.

“We will be hosting another ACA Outreach and Enrollment Fair here at Claremore,” Sheila Dishno, patient benefit coordinator, said. “Even though members of federally recognized tribes have a special monthly enrollment status, it is important for American Indian and Alaska Native individuals and families to learn about their insurance options. Whether it’s purchasing insurance through the Marketplace or qualifying for SoonerCare, knowing that you have quality coverage provides peace of mind.”

Dishno said people who attend the fair should bring their Social Security cards, pay stubs, W-2 forms or wage and tax statements, policy numbers for any current health insurance and information about any health insurance they or their families could get from an employer.

Also Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Oklahoma will attend to assist patients with signing up for free-to-low-cost health insurance.

The hospital is located at 101 S. Moore Ave. For more information, call 918-342-6240, 918-342-6559 or 918-342-6507.

First Nations’ Native Ag, Food Systems grants due Feb. 17

BY STAFF REPORTS
02/13/2017 02:00 PM
LONGMONT, Colo. – Applications for two grants under the First Nations Development Institute’s Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative are due by 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time on Feb. 17.

First Nations will award up to 12 grants of up to $35,000 each to support projects that aim to strengthen local food-system control; increase access to local, healthy and traditional foods; and decrease food insecurity and food deserts, all with an emphasis on serving Native American children and families.

For this grant opportunity, examples of allowable activities include, but are not limited to:

• Community Garden Development,

• Food Sovereignty Initiatives,

Hastings Hospital achieves technology use certification

BY STAFF REPORTS
02/06/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital is among a few hospitals in the country nationally recognized for using electronic medical records and other technology to advance health services for patients.

The CN received notification earlier in January that it is now certified as a Stage 6 hospital from the Chicago-based Health Information & Management System Society.

The nonprofit reports just 30 percent of the more than 5,400 hospitals in the United States have reached Stage 6 qualifications. There are 19 hospitals in Oklahoma certified as Stage 6, and the CN and Muscogee (Creek) Nation are the only tribes with the certification in the state.

“Implementing electronic health records was a huge endeavor for the Cherokee Nation and not an easy task, but we are seeing the tremendous benefits, including better quality of patient documentation, which increases the level of care of our Cherokee Nation citizens,” Donnie Parrish, CN Health Services Health IT division chief information officer, said. “As the Cherokee Nation applies for grants and accreditations, the technology component is a key part of obtaining those awards, and so we’re extremely grateful to now be certified by HIMSS for our technology advances.”

Health Services began working to upgrade its technology a few years ago.
W.W. Hastings Hospital emergency room physician Thomas Franklin uses a mobile cart while diagnosing a patient in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The hospital has been recognized for using electronic medical records and other technology to advance health services for patients. COURTESY
W.W. Hastings Hospital emergency room physician Thomas Franklin uses a mobile cart while diagnosing a patient in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The hospital has been recognized for using electronic medical records and other technology to advance health services for patients. COURTESY

BIA, BIE announce meth prevention for Native youth

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/24/2017 04:00 PM
WASHINGTON – As part of President Obama’s Generation Indigenous initiative to remove barriers to success for Native American youth, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education on Jan. 19 announced that they joined with federal partners to launch the Culture and Meth Don’t Mix program, a methamphetamine prevention initiative for Native youth.

The program is the result of collaboration under the Gen-I initiative between the White House Council on Native American Affairs, the BIA’s Office of Justice Services, BIE and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

It aims to be a culturally appropriate approach for meth prevention among Native American youth through community and interagency involvement. The program also reflects the Interior’s intent to uphold the United States’ trust responsibility to federally recognized tribes.

“Through the Generation Indigenous initiative, the Obama Administration has sought to utilize federal resources across the board to address the issues that can prevent Native youth from fulfilling their potential,” Deputy Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Lawrence S. Roberts said. “The Culture and Meth Don’t Mix program’s goal is to strengthen meth prevention in tribal communities through the combined efforts of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services, BIE schools, and SAMHSA. I want to thank SAMHSA for working with us to help tribes with protecting their children and youth, and tribal leaders for participating in this important effort.”

The program was rolled out with Indian Affairs, BIA and BIE officials and leaders from seven tribes: The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, the White Earth Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana, and the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe’s Pleasant Point and Indian Township communities in Maine.
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Culture

CHC to host 16th annual Cherokee Ancestry Conference
BY STAFF REPORTS
03/15/2017 12:45 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Discover your family history and Cherokee ancestry at the Cherokee Heritage Center’s 16th annual Cherokee Ancestry Conference June 9-10 at the Tribal Complex.

The event provides participants with the tools to research their ancestry with Cherokee historical records and features a variety of discussion topics, including historical events before and after the removal, inter-tribal relationships and advancements in social media and its effect on genealogy research.

Participants will also learn about various CN records available online as well as resources available in their local area for Cherokee ancestry research.

A discount is given to those who register before June 3. Pre-registration is $60 for Cherokee National Historical Society members and $75 for nonmembers. The deadline is June 3. Registrations after June 3 are $70 for CNHS members and $85 for nonmembers.

The Cherokee Ancestry Conference will be held in the Osiyo Room at the Tribal Complex. It is located at 17725 S. Muskogee Ave. in the same building as Restaurant of the Cherokees.

For more information, including accommodations and registration, call 918-456-6007, ext. 6162, or email ashley-vann@cherokee.org.

Education

OU to host symposium on environmental issues on March 24
BY STAFF REPORTS
03/20/2017 04:00 PM
NORMAN, Okla. – The University of Oklahoma College of Law on March 24 will host the American Indian Law Review’s annual “Indigenous Peoples, Law, and Power Symposium.”

This year’s theme is “Oil and Water.” The symposium is co-sponsored in partnership with the OU’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Native American Studies Department. The event will begin at 10 a.m. in the Dick Bell Courtroom in Andrew M. Coats Hall.

Experts of Native American environmental issues will sit on two panels and give two keynote addresses. The speakers and their topics include:

Morning Panel: “The Chickasaw-Choctaw Compact in Context,” Sara Hill, senior assistant attorney general of the Cherokee Nation, and Taiawagi Helton, professor of law, University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Morning Keynote: “Water Sovereignty and Stewardship: The Historic Chickasaw-Choctaw Water Settlement,” Stephen Greetham, chief general counsel and special counsel on water and natural resources, Chickasaw Nation and Michael Burrage, managing partner, Whitten Burrage Law Firm;

Afternoon Panel: “Justice and Juxtaposition: Environmental Justice and Protest in Parallel,” Taiawagi Helton, professor of law, University of Oklahoma College of Law; and
Afternoon Keynote: “The Impact of Fracking on Indian Nations: A Case Study,” Walter Echo-Hawk, of counsel, Crowe & Dunlevy.

“This year’s “Indigenous Peoples, Law, and Power Symposium” builds upon several dedicated events we have held this year, all of which have focused on the intersection of Native American rights and environmental law,” said OU College of Law Dean Joseph Harroz Jr. “We are honored to host these discussions on such important issues and we’re pleased to have the partnership of OU’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Native American Studies Department as we do so.”

In December 2015, the OU Board of Regents unanimously voted to elevate Native American Studies from a program to department status at the request of OU President David L. Boren. Since 1994, OU’s Native American Studies focus has attracted and served students of diverse backgrounds who are committed to using distinctly Native American perspectives to place the sovereignty of Native nations and the cultures of Native peoples at the center of academic study. In addition to a graduate certificate in American Indian Social Work, the Department offers bachelor’s, master’s, and joint master’s and juris doctorate degrees.

“This is our sixth year to co-host this special event,” said Dr. Amanda Cobb-Greetham (Chickasaw), chair of the Native American Studies Department and director of the newly established Native Nations Center. “Our partnership grows out of our joint M.A./J.D. program, which makes all of our students uniquely competitive. This year’s symposium topic is of critical importance to Native nations and communities. The subject matter is dear to our hearts as it impacts our lands as well as our political and cultural identities.”

Council

Tribal Council accepts U.S. Forest Service apology
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
02/22/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Councilors on Feb. 21 unanimously voted to accept an apology from the U.S. Forest Service Southern Region for damages to a Trail of Tears site in the Cherokee National Forest near Coker Creek, Tennessee.

In July 2015, U.S. Forest Service cultural resource managers notified higher-ranked Forest Service officials that they had discovered damage made in 2014 to a site on a Trail of Tears section. The damage consisted of holes dug by a bulldozer and other heavy equipment.

“At that site, 35 large holes were dug into the historic Trail of Tears to create large, earthen berms,” Sheila Bird, Cherokee Nation special projects officer, told the Cherokee Phoenix in 2016. “They used bulldozer and other heavy equipment, and this earthmoving resulted clear and extensive damage to the historic national trail.”

She added that Forest Service employees did the work and claimed that it was done for erosion control and to prevent areas of the Trail of Tears from washing out.

“This is a well-known and mapped Trail of Tears path, but it was not marked because it was privately owned. This land was purchased by Conservation Fund and held for the U.S. Forest Service,” she said. “The District Ranger failed to follow federal laws requiring consultation with Indian tribes. The Forest Service has acknowledged fault and committed to restoring the site.”

According to a Feb 21 resolution, the U.S. Forest Service-Southern Region “recognizes the cultural and historic significance held by the Cherokee Nation regarding the Trail of Tears historic site and extends an apology for the unfortunate and adverse effects that have occurred.”

It also states the “Cherokee Nation agrees to consult on a government to government basis with the U.S. Forest Service-Southern Region regarding the restoration and mitigation of these adverse effects to this Trail of Tears sacred site.”

It adds that as a “Good Faith Effort” and to commit to jointly pursue meaningful mitigation the Tribal Council accepts the apology.

Also during the meeting, Tribal Council voted 17-0 to support the nominations of Michael Doublehead and Steven Wilson as commissioners to the Tax Commission. They also voted Ceciley Thomason-Murphy onto the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.

Tribal Councilors voted to donate three surplus vehicles from the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service to the Nowata Police Department and Muskogee and Delaware counties sheriff’s offices.

Three CN citizens were also honored with the Cherokee Medal of Freedom – John Thomas Cripps III, who served in the U.S. Army, and John Paul Atkinson and Jesse James Collins, who served in the Oklahoma Army National Guard and were activated in 2011 to the RECON 1-279th 45th Infantry to Afghanistan.

Two budget modifications were also passed. The comprehensive capital budget was increased by $1.8 million for a total capital budget authority of $279.6 million. The tribe’s operating budget was also increased by $2.1 million for a total budget authority of $666.6 million. The changes consisted of a decrease in the general fund by $92,000 and increases in the indirect cost pool, motor vehicle tax, Department of Interior Self Governance and IHS Self Governance and budgets.

Health

IHS to expand Community Health Aide Program
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/17/2017 12:00 PM
WASHINGTON – The Indian Health Service on Jan. 9 published a report outlining a policy and implementation plan to expand the use of community health aides in American Indian and Alaska Native health programs across the country.

Community health aides are paraprofessional health care workers who can perform a range of duties in health programs to improve access to quality care for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Under the new policy, facilities operated by the federal government and tribally operated facilities could see expanded opportunities for using these aides, a group that could include dental health aide therapists and workers in substance use and suicide prevention, health education, communicable disease control, maternal and child health, environmental health and other fields.

“Increased access to health care is a top priority for IHS, and community health aides expand much-needed health services for American Indian and Alaska Native communities,” said Mary L. Smith, IHS principal deputy director. “I thank all of our tribal partners for sharing their feedback, and I look forward to their continued participation and partnership as we work together to develop a robust implementation plan. Community health aides are already providing quality health care in some parts of Indian Country, and with the expansion of this program, Native American communities across the nation will have access to these valuable health workers.”

In June, IHS invited comments from tribal leaders on a draft policy statement to begin a process of expanding the use of community health aides at IHS facilities across the country. January’s announcement includes a report summarizing the comments received during consultation meetings and other comments sent to the IHS.

As described in the report, IHS will establish a national workgroup that includes tribal leaders and outside experts to advise IHS on the development of a policy and implementation plan for the Community Health Aide Program. IHS will then seek input through the formal tribal consultation process, and finalize the policy. IHS already runs an evaluation system mandated by statute to monitor current IHS community health aides to assure that quality health care is being provided to patients.

The Report on the Tribal Consultation for the IHS Policy Statement on Creating a National IHS Community Health Aide Program and Dear Tribal Leader Letter announcing the report are available at www.ihs.gov.

In August, through the Community Health Aide Program Certification Board it manages, IHS certified the latest group of community health aides in Alaska, totaling 171 behavioral health, dental health and other aides and practitioners.

Many community health aides come from the local communities and immediate surrounding areas.

Opinion

OPINION: I’ll just leave this here
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
03/09/2017 04:00 PM
I'm going to share some “feels” with you. I'm not going to weep all over the page, but I will share with you what this job has meant to me, what it’s done for me and how I come to spend nearly 10 years doing it.

This job has shaped not only my career but also my life. I wasn’t one of those kids who had their tribal heritage shared with them as they grew up. I mean my story isn't that different from a lot of people. I was Cherokee. I knew that, but I missed out on the cultural aspect of being a tribal citizen. This job gave me the opportunity to not only grow and establish a career, but I grew to understand my culture, where I came from and what the Cherokee people have overcome. I learned of a tumultuous history that my ancestors faced as well as a personal history regarding my direct ancestor, Anderson Springston. I even wrote a column about it explaining the roles my people played in the killing of three prominent Cherokees: Major Ridge, John Ridge and Elias Boudinot. I also learned of the connection the son of that ancestor, John Leak Springston, had with the Cherokee Phoenix. He was known to be an Indian activist, an interpreter, newspaper editor, attorney and Keetoowah revivalist.

There have been so many stories that have left a mark on me. I’ve covered countless meetings, several tribal elections, as well as your basic health, education, cultural and people stories, and they all served a purpose of educating, entertaining and informing the Cherokee people.

It’s been nearly 10 years since I started here, and I have loved having the opportunity to work for such a historic newspaper. I’ve met some great people and made lasting relationships, but my most favorite aspect of working in this capacity has ultimately been helping people by both informing them of what their government is doing, as well as giving our Cherokee people a voice - something that has been taken from them time and again.

My concern for the Cherokee people and their involvement in the goings-on within their government is something that during the past several years I’ve noticed is most important. So I’ve tried to do that. It’s important to become educated in your government. You should want to have a say in what happens within your tribe. We’ve seen in our history what happens when we allow others to decide for us, and we’re a stronger people than that. I personally missed out on being involved with my tribe while growing up, but that will not be the case any longer and neither will it be for my children.

I buried the lede with this one friends, but on purpose, because once I’ve written it and once you’ve read it, it’s real. I have tendered my resignation from the Cherokee Phoenix effective April 8. I have accepted a job with the city of Tahlequah. Although I’m sad, scared and nervous for what is coming I know this is the best move for me.
This change will afford me the chance to reach for goals that working for the tribe will not allow. Although those goals may be far down the road, I need to give myself a true shot at accomplishing them. But new is always scary.

I hope the Cherokee Phoenix, a newspaper that has been at the forefront and example for excellent tribal journalism, will continue to be what it was created to be, what it should be – a true voice of the Cherokee people. One that stands up for what is right by its citizens and one that the Cherokee people can count on to be a real representation of the what happens within our tribe, not just what you need to know.

You are the Cherokee Nation. No voice is too big or small and at the end of the day the Cherokee Nation is not a thing, it’s a people and those people should be treated with respect and love like all people.

I wish all my fellow staffers, current and former, the best. You made me better, smarter and definitely more quick-witted.

So with that said, I bid you a fond farewell. Much love to anyone who played a part in the stories I’ve told over the years. This isn’t goodbye. If I can be of any help to someone in the future, you can email me at jamilynnmurphy@gmail.com. Do-na-da-go-hv-i.

People

Pettit thrives as radio show host
BY LINDSEY BARK
Staff Writer
03/16/2017 08:15 AM
SALLISAW, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Justin Pettit grew up with a passion for radio broadcasting after listening to sports on the radio during his early years.

Pettit said he grew up listening to broadcasts of the University of Oklahoma Sooners and University of Arkansas Razorbacks basketball teams.

“Now, I do my own stuff. I do basketball or game of the week here on 105.1 (KXMX in Sallisaw). I do the play-by-play, the color (commentary), all my own stats, everything,” he said.

He initially thought about going into the radio broadcasting business in 2010 while working as realtor in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

“I always had a passion for radio, and I got a note from one of my friends about doing broadcasting school, and it was all online so I was able to do it,” Pettit said.

In 2011, he graduated from the American Broadcasting School and started with Cumulus Broadcasting Inc. in Fayetteville. While there, Pettit honed his skills as a radio broadcast host by covering local and college sports.

In 2015, he became a host at Mix 105.1 FM with a show called “JP in the Morning.” He is also the station’s sports director.

“I’m on the air 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. having a good time, getting people ready for the morning, getting them ready for their job or school or whatever it is they got going on,” Pettit said.

He said one of his favorite aspects of the job is interacting with listeners and fans.

“I love the interaction. That’s probably my favorite part. We’re a local radio station. We’re not owned by any big company. We get to do whatever we want. So if there’s a big event happening across town that involves the kids or anything, we’re there. We go out and interact with all the people. They love us,” he said.

He said the radio station provides more than just a show to its listeners.

“We play a mix of music. We play country, rock, Christian, all of it. They know any type of music they like they know they can listen to us and we’ll have it there for them,” he said. “They know if they need any kind of breaking weather, if there is any news happening in and around the area they tune to us. We’re live on the air. A lot of radio stations aren’t live anymore. So if there’s an accident or a road’s blocked off or anything, the people know they can tune to us or call us and we’ll let them know where to be and where not to be.”

He said to work in radio his personality has to come through in his voice.

“In radio you got to have a big personality, and a lot of guys have a radio voice. I don’t really have one. I don’t put it on because when I go out with the public, we have a lot of interaction. People say ‘well you sound just like you do on the radio.’ Well I don’t put the big…radio voice on so that’s kind one of my trademarks,” he said.

Pettit said though the radio station is only 3 or 4 years old, the ratings “are up there with the guys” who have been in the radio broadcasting business for 30 or 40 years.

His fellow employees praised Pettit for his work ethic.

Delanna Nutter, sales director, said Pettit steps up when they need him to do extra voice work and that he is “always right on point.”

“I’m just a normal guy working the job that I love and living the dream,” Pettit said.
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