Cherokee Phoenix calls for 2018 homecoming T-shirt concepts

BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
10/22/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With its 2017 annual homecoming T-shirt now for sale, the Cherokee Phoenix is calling for Cherokee artists to submit design concepts for the news organization’s 2018 T-shirt.

In 2016, the Cherokee Phoenix staff introduced a T-shirt to differ from the tribe’s Cherokee National Holiday T-shirt. Phoenix staff members contracted with artist Buffalo Gouge for the shirt’s initial design.

For this year’s homecoming shirt, Phoenix staff members selected Daniel HorseChief’s concept out of approximately 10 designs from artists. The Cherokee Phoenix then contracted with HorseChief to create the 2017 shirt.

HorseChief said his concept comes from a four-panel painting that features Selu, the Corn Mother in Cherokee lore.

The image shows the bust of Selu, who is looking down into a Southeastern art pattern. Behind her on the left side are seven ears of corn with water under it. Behind her on the opposite side is a phoenix with fire below it. Above the phoenix is the Cherokee seven-pointed star. Above the image, written in Cherokee, are the words “Cherokee Phoenix.” Below the image, in English, is “2017 CHEROKEE HOMECOMING.”
Cherokee artist Daniel HorseChief’s Selu, or Corn Mother, concept was selected as the Cherokee Phoenix’s 2017 homecoming T-shirt artwork. The shirt is on sale at the Cherokee Phoenix office and Cherokee Nation Gift Shop in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. ARCHIVE Cherokee artist Buffalo Gouge models the Cherokee Phoenix’s 2016 homecoming T-shirt, which sold out during the Cherokee National Holiday. The Cherokee Phoenix is currently seeking ideas from Cherokee artists for the 2018 homecoming T-shirt. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee artist Daniel HorseChief’s Selu, or Corn Mother, concept was selected as the Cherokee Phoenix’s 2017 homecoming T-shirt artwork. The shirt is on sale at the Cherokee Phoenix office and Cherokee Nation Gift Shop in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. ARCHIVE

NSU Center for Tribal Studies to host Indigenous Arts Education Series

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/19/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Thanks in part from an Oklahoma Arts Council grant, the Northeastern State University Center for Tribal Studies will host the Indigenous Arts Education Series in November for American Indian Heritage Month.

The series will include the following:

Nov. 2
Marcus Harjo (Pawnee/Seminole) will present “Creative Writing and Music Production Workshop” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the University Center Redbud Room. Harjo uses writing, music production and live performances to promote his passions of youth outreach, cultural awareness and promoting healthy, drug-free lifestyles, specifically among American Indian populations. His workshop will focus on teaching participants how to use writing and music composition skills to enhance the delivery of their message. His workshop will conclude with a live performance.

Nov. 8
Sandy Fife Wilson (Muscogee Creek) will present “Shell Carving Demonstration” from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the University Center Redbud Room. Wilson is an experienced artist having learned her art techniques through both formal education and traditional means as she comes from a long line of family artists. Wilson specializes in Southeastern design shell carvings, finger-woven items and Creek basketry. She will host a demonstration that will educate the audience on this traditional form of art and lead participants through the process using a direct, hands-on approach to instruction.
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Cherokee National Youth Choir wins NAMMY

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/18/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee National Youth Choir’s album “Celebration” was named Best Pop Recording during the 17th annual Native American Music Awards on Oct. 14.

This year’s award marks the fifth honor – referred to as a NAMMY – the Cherokee National Youth Choir has garnered since the choir’s inception in 2000. The youth choir was also nominated for Group of the Year and Record of the Year for its latest album.

“We were so excited to win Best Pop Recording at the Native American Music Awards,” Mary Kay Henderson, Cherokee National Youth Choir director, said. “Our CD, ‘Celebration,’ is a collection of Motown music and has been a fun way to encourage our young people to learn our language. Language teacher and choir coordinator Kathy Sierra and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to vote for the Cherokee National Youth Choir.”

The “Celebration” record is a combination of the 2017 Cherokee National Youth Choir and its soloists and members of the 2006 youth choir. Songs on the “Celebration” album include “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Celebration,” “Lean On Me,” “My Girl,” “Respect,” “My Guy,” “Stand By Me” and “We Are Family.” Sierra translated the lyrics from English to Cherokee for the recording.

The Cherokee National Youth Choir has performed dozens of songs in the Cherokee language in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and at venues across the country, including the Oklahoma State Capitol. The choir also previously performed with such legendary artists as Foreigner, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Roy Clark, Kenny Rogers and the Oak Ridge Boys.
The Cherokee National Youth Choir’s album “Celebration” was named Best Pop Recording during the 17th annual Native American Music Awards on Oct. 14.  COURTESY
The Cherokee National Youth Choir’s album “Celebration” was named Best Pop Recording during the 17th annual Native American Music Awards on Oct. 14. COURTESY

‘Navajo Bling’ wins Best of Show at Cherokee Art Market

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
10/17/2017 04:00 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – Navajo artist Ric Charlie won Best of Show for his jewelry piece “Navajo Bling” at the 12th annual Cherokee Art Market held Oct. 14-15 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.

Artists from throughout the nation competed in eight categories: painting, sculpture, beadwork/quillwork, basketry, pottery, textiles, jewelry and diverse art forms. Sixty artists received awards, and 150 artists displayed and sold their art during the event.

Charlie, 59, of Tuba City, Arizona, makes jewelry, paints and sculpts.

“I can’t make a living with those (painting and sculpting), but I do it for therapy,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed all kinds of art, ever since I was a kid.”

He said his winning necklace was inspired by “a nice summer day” when he was out of school and had time on his hands. “Navajo Bling” is a 14-karat gold jewelry set featuring more than 1,700 individually set diamonds and is valued at $75,000.
Navajo artist Ric Charlie wins Best of Show for his jewelry piece “Navajo Bling” at the 12th annual Cherokee Art Market held Oct. 14-15 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Miss Cherokee Madison Whitekiller, right, congratulates Navajo artist Ric Charlie for winning Best of Show for his jewelry piece “Navajo Bling” at the 12th annual Cherokee Art Market in Catoosa, Oklahoma. Also congratulating Charlie is Cherokee Art Market Manager Deborah Fritts. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX A jewelry piece titled “Navajo Bling” and made by Navajo artist Ric Charlie won Best of Show at the 12th annual Cherokee Art Market held Oct. 14-15 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. The 14-karat gold jewelry set features more than 1,700 individually set diamonds and is valued at $75,000. COURTESY
Navajo artist Ric Charlie wins Best of Show for his jewelry piece “Navajo Bling” at the 12th annual Cherokee Art Market held Oct. 14-15 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Georgia TOTA Chapter meeting set for Nov. 11

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/17/2017 12:00 PM
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. – The next meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 11 at the Bartow History Museum.

The speaker will be Jim Langford, and his topic will be “Impact of de Soto on Southeastern Native Americans.” Langford is a member and former officer of the Society of Georgia Archaeology and has been doing research on the Native American presence in the Southeast for many years.

The Bartow History Museum is located at 4 E. Church St. Its phone number is 770-382-3818.

The TOTA was created to support the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail established by an act of Congress in 1987. It is dedicated to identifying and preserving sites associated with the removal of Native Americans from the southeastern United States. The Georgia TOTA chapter is one of nine state chapters representing the nine states that the Cherokee and other tribes traveled through on their way to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma.

GATOTA meetings are free and open to the public. People need not have Native American ancestry to attend GATOTA meetings, just an interest and desire to learn more about this tragic period in this country’s history.

CN hosting educational events during fall break

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/12/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Families looking for a fun, educational adventure for their children during fall break should plan to visit the Cherokee Nation museums on Oct. 20. 

Museums participating are the Cherokee National Prison Museum, the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum and the John Ross Museum.

Enjoy free admission and special activities at all three locations.

There will be paper bandolier bags at the Cherokee National Prison Museum, Cherokee syllabary lessons at the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum and make your own clay beads at the John Ross Museum. The educational activities occur from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Cherokee National Prison was the only penitentiary building in Indian Territory from 1875 to 1901. It housed sentenced and accused prisoners from throughout the territory. The interpretive site and museum give visitors an idea about how law and order operated in Indian Territory. The site features a working blacksmith area and reconstructed gallows, exhibits about famous prisoners and daring escapes, local outlaws and Cherokee patriots, jail cells and much more.

Girty teaches others soapstone carving

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
10/09/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With the hope of teaching more Cherokees soapstone carving, United Keetoowah Band citizen Matt Girty is spreading his knowledge of the ancient art by offering classes in Tahlequah to people willing to learn.

His latest class was on Sept. 16 at the UKB Culture Center, where students gained insight and hands-on experience with soapstone carving.

“My goal was to get more carvers out here because I see a lot of opportunity. So what many people are going to have to do around here is look within their self, look (at) who they are, and most of us out here are Cherokees,” he said. “If I can do it, there’s more out here that can do it. Even if they don’t get seen...then they’ve got a piece of their culture. They can show whoever they want to…so that way it’ll stay alive here within us and not die like it almost has been.”

Girty said he starts his students with creating a turtle.

“This right here is basically to get them to figure out their shapes and to get their hands on soapstone,” he said. “Figure out how to work it, how it feels on your hands.”
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
Matt Girty, a United Keetoowah Band citizen, helps UKB citizen Ernestine Berry with her soapstone turtle during his Sept. 16 class at the UKB Culture Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Girty’s goal is to get Cherokees carving soapstone art again. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX United Keetoowah Band citizen Ernestine Berry traces an outline of a turtle for a soapstone piece she worked on during UKB artist Matt Girty’s class on Sept. 16 class at the UKB Culture Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The class was Girty’s second soapstone class, and he hopes to have more. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX United Keetoowah Band citizen Ernestine Berry saws soapstone with the intention of making a turtle during UKB artist Matt Girty’s Sept. 16 class at the UKB Culture Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX A finished soapstone turtle sits on display for students to view during Matt Girty’s soapstone carving class on Sept. 16 at the United Keetoowah Band’s Culture Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Girty has been carving for approximately 24 years. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Matt Girty, a United Keetoowah Band citizen, helps UKB citizen Ernestine Berry with her soapstone turtle during his Sept. 16 class at the UKB Culture Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Girty’s goal is to get Cherokees carving soapstone art again. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Cherokee Speakers Bureau to meet Oct. 12 in Tahlequah

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/06/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Speakers Bureau meeting will be held 12:30-4 p.m., Oct. 12 in the Community Ballroom located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokees in Tahlequah.

All Cherokee speakers are invited to attend. Participants who wish to bring a side dish or dessert for lunch may do so.

The monthly meeting allows area Cherokee speakers to meet and fellowship using the Cherokee language. The speakers share songs, tell handed-down stories in Cherokee, hear presentations and share a meal.

For further information about the event, contact the Language Program at 918-453-5151 or John Ross at 918-453-6170 or Roy Boney, Jr. at 918-453-5487.

IPAO, NSU to host ‘Indigenous People’s Day’ celebration

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/06/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Indigenous Peoples Alliance of Oklahoma in conjunction with Northeastern State University’s Center for Tribal Studies, Cherokee and Indigenous Studies, Cherokee Language Education and Cherokee Cultural Studies programs will host an “Indigenous People’s Day” celebration on Oct. 9.

The day will include an Indigenous People’s Walk, keynote speaker Sunhawk Hill, a stomp dance exhibition and intertribal dances.

Cole Hogner, Tahlequah resident and Cherokee Nation citizen, said the Tahlequah area has such a diverse population of Indigenous people and the event will allow the Indigenous community to come together as a whole.

“We wanted to give this community the opportunity to come together so we can celebrate the strength of our people and share our culture as it has been handed down to us. Partnering with NSU has helped ensure this event is a successful one,” Hogner said.

Sara Barnett, chair of the NSU American Indian Heritage Committee, said she’s happy to partner with IPAO.

Culture

Exhibition series calls for Indigenous artists
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/03/2017 04:00 PM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Travois is hosting a juried visual art exhibition series featuring North American Indigenous artists at its headquarters in the Crossroads Art District at 310 W. 19th Terrace.

North American indigenous artists (American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians) are encouraged to respond to a call for artists for consideration in the series that is open through Oct. 30 at https://www.callforentry.org/festivals_unique_info.php?ID=4683.

“Kansas City’s First Fridays events bring thousands of people to our neighborhood every month,” Travois CEO Elizabeth Glynn said. “Our goal with this exhibition series is to highlight the strength and modern-day vitality of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists and to stimulate art purchases and commissions for these artists. We want to expose Kansas City to new artists and their work, along with the rich culture of Indigenous people and Indian Country.”

Photographer and social documentarian Matika Wilbur (Swinomish and Tulalip) is the series’ founding launch artist. Her “Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women” exhibition will be on view to the public for two First Fridays: Oct. 6 and Nov. 3.

Wilbur will attend the Oct. 6 showing and will give a talk titled “Changing the Way We See Native America: Dismantling Native American Stereotypes.” Preregistration is available on the Travois website at travois.com/news-events/first-fridays/.

“It will be especially powerful to hear Matika speak about Native American stereotypes before the federally observed holiday of Columbus Day,” Travois President Phil Glynn said. “At Travois, we do not observe this holiday and support efforts to rename it as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

A jury of artists and Kansas City industry professionals will select six Indigenous artists to show work as the part of the series over the next year.

For information about the juried exhibition series, visit travois.com/news-events/first-fridays/.

Education

GPI offers Native women journalistic opportunity
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
10/12/2017 10:00 AM
WASHINGTON – The Global Press Institute is offering Native American women an experience with its Tribal Nations training-to-employment program, which allows women who are enrolled citizens in a tribe the opportunity to become journalists even if they have no prior experience in the field.

Cristi Hegranes, GPI founder and executive director, said in 2016 GPI conducted a pilot of the Tribal Nation’s program and are “excited” to expand the program and accurately tell the Native American story with hopes to get women from Oklahoma involved.

“So much of the coverage that makes it to the national scale is so stereotypically driven, and it really demonstrates a lack of understanding of so much of what happened within communities, tribal governments,” she said. “So we are expanding Global Press Tribal Nations to work with women from a variety of different tribes and communities across the United States to join the Global Press program.”

Hegranes said the program includes “rigorous” training and “long-term” employment.

“Anyone who graduates from our training program will receive long-term employment to cover their community over the long-term working for Global Press Journal,” she said.

Those who are accepted into the program would take part in a weeklong training in Washington, D.C., before reporting in their communities.

“We’ll be bringing women from all different tribes together to spend a week together learning what we call the principals and the practice of Global Press Journalism,” she said. “Then everyone will go back to their communities and they spend a couple of months doing three to six stories working with Global Press editors and fact checkers and copy editors to produce really unique coverage from the community.”

Hegranes said it’s important to highlight that no prior journalism experience or basic education limit is required and that applicants must be 18 or older.
“Really the only thing that is required is a natural curiosity and passion for storytelling and really the time to commit to the training and the long-term story production from the communities,” she said. “On average we work with our reporters for more than five years after the training. So we’re really looking for people who want to make an investment in their future as journalists.”

Hegranes said this “extraordinary” opportunity offers these future journalists the chance to play a “pivotal” role in changing the narrative for their community.

“Global Press news stories reach about 20 million people around the world every month. So this is a huge opportunity to really increase accurate information, to really dive in beyond the stereotypes and tell really authentic, true, important stories that might otherwise never be told,” she said.

Hegranes said GPI has been developing independent news bureaus in under-covered parts of the world for the past 11 years.

“The way that our program works is we identify local women from these communities and we put them through a rigorous training process. Teaching them to be ethical, accurate, investigative, feature journalists,” she said.

The deadline to apply is Oct. 15. To apply, visit http://bit.ly/2yF7fqP.

Council

Byrd builds on 18-year legacy of serving CN
BY KENLEA HENSON
News Writer
08/22/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With 18 years of experience serving the Cherokee people, Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd looks forward to serving another four years as the representative for Dist. 2, which consists of most of northern Cherokee County.

“I love serving the Cherokee people. They’ve got somebody that’s going to work for them again for the next four years, and I’m really looking forward to that,” said Byrd.

Originally from Belfonte/Nicut, Byrd was the youngest Cherokee Nation legislator to be elected. He served on the Tribal Council from 1987-95, followed by term as principal chief from 1995-99. In January 2012, he won a special election to replace Bill John Baker on the Tribal Council. Baker had taken office as the principal chief on Oct. 19, 2011, after a contentious and lengthy principal chief’s race against incumbent Chad Smith.

In 2013, Byrd was re-elected to serve his first full term under the tribe’s 1999 Constitution, which limits elected officials to two consecutive four-year terms before having to sit out a term. He was also named speaker of the Tribal Council in 2015 after then-Speaker Tina Glory Jordan termed out.

When he first ran for office in 1987, Byrd said he felt the need to help the Cherokee people with the issues they were facing.

“Our government didn’t begin serving our people until the 1970s. When I first moved to Northeastern (State University) in 1972 to get an education, it really opened my eyes to a lot of the issues our people were facing,” he said. “In the rural areas there were a lot of people who weren’t self-efficient, and I saw right then we still had many people out in the rural areas that needed help and needed an awareness that there is a tribe out there that should have a responsibility to take care of our people.”

As for his current term, deciding to run again for the Dist. 2 seat was an easy decision, he said, because of his love for serving the Cherokee people and because of his constituents who asked him to continue.

He spoke of elderly women who continues to set an example of how his constituents have not forgotten their Cherokee culture or who they are as a people.

“When people like that come up to me and ask me to run, it’s a real honor to have people with that kind of stature to say, ‘you need to run another time,’” he said. “The people will let you know when it’s time to run. You don’t have to consult them, they’ll let you know.”

During his time as Dist. 2 representative, Byrd has helped with projects to improve services for CN citizens, including the passing of a $900 million budget, a $100 million investment in Cherokee health care as well as a $200 million dollar expansion of the W.W. Hastings Hospital.

For this term, Byrd said he would continue working with the tribe to ensure rural area schools have shelter for inclement weather and that elders and veterans are taken care of.

“Our veterans seem to not be taken care of like they should,” he said. “When we give speeches and talks we all say, ‘we respect our elder’s and we respect our veterans,’ but we have many that are still homeless and not being served. I want to do anything I can to assist in making sure our elders and veterans are taken care of.”

Health

Health Services introduces antibiotic guidelines
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/19/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Health Services is introducing a program to educate patients on alternative ways other than antibiotics to heal common illnesses.

According to recent information released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotics are often misused for illnesses such as influenza and the common cold, and like other medications, they could have side effects.

According to the CDC, antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in the United States and across the world. The CDC states the main driving factors behind antibiotic resistance are the overuse and misuse of antibiotics.

Using the CDC guidelines, the tribe will more closely monitor antibiotic prescriptions and the use of antibiotics by patients throughout all CN health facilities.

Leadership at Health Services’ nine health centers and W.W. Hastings Hospital is also working to further educate staff on the proper use of antibiotics.

“We strive to educate our citizens and our doctors about the possible dangers of over prescribing medications and of building antibiotic resistance,” Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said. “Throughout Cherokee Nation Health Services, we treat more than a million patients per year, and it is so important that we stay vigilant and educated when prescribing.”

In 2012, Hastings Hospital began the antibiotic stewardship program within its inpatient care, and this year the program will expand to the tribe’s nine health centers, positively impacting the health and treatment of even more CN citizens.

“Antibiotics can be a life-saving or life-threatening intervention depending on how they are used,” Health Services nurse practitioner Whitney Essex said. “We are committed to improving patient outcomes by using antibiotics responsibly.”

The CN operates the largest tribal health system in the country. In fiscal year 2016, the tribe had more than 1.1 million patient visits. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/index.html.

Opinion

OPINION: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
BY BRANDON SCOTT
Executive Editor - @cp_brandonscott
10/01/2017 04:00 PM
As you may have noticed, this month’s cover is a bit more colorful than usual. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we here at the Cherokee Phoenix wanted to help raise awareness about the importance of screening and early detection.

The probability of a woman being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime is 1 in 8, and breast cancer is the second-leading cause of mortality among women in the United States. Within the Cherokee Nation, Breast cancer is the second-most frequently diagnosed cancer and the leading cancer among women. These statistics, coupled with the fact that Native American women have some of the lowest breast cancer screening rates of any ethnic group, is a sobering reality.

Breast cancer cannot be prevented, but early detection is key to successful treatment. Women whose breast cancer is caught at an early stage have a 93 percent survival rate. A Breast Self Exam or BSE, Clinical Breast Exam or CBE and mammogram are all effective early detection methods. CBE and BSE instruction occurs at all CN health centers, and mammograms are performed at the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center, Vinita Health Center, Three Rivers Health Center, A-Mo Health Center, Sam Hider Health Center and the Claremore Indian Hospital.

Additionally, the Cherokee Nation Comprehensive Cancer Control was established to ensure CN citizens were receiving quality treatment, access to clinical trials, patient advocates and instructions on screening and detection. In 2015, more than 2,000 women participated in the screening and early detection program provided by the CNCCC. It is my hope that the number of participants in this program continues to grow year over year.

Today, a pink ribbon is synonymous with breast cancer awareness. But I urge you to take more than just a passing glance at all of the pink you will see this month. I encourage you to take time to learn about the early warning signs, receive instruction on self-exams and make a plan to utilize the resources available through CN Health Services for clinical exams. And men, we should take an active role in the fight against breast cancer as well. Encourage the women you love to take the time for breast cancer screening. It just might save their life.

People

Scott fiddles her way closer to Cherokee culture
BY KENLEA HENSON
News Writer
10/17/2017 08:00 AM
TULSA, Okla. – For some it’s traditional games such as stickball or marbles. For other Cherokees it may be weaving baskets with traditional materials that bring them closer to their culture. But for 15-year-old Regina Scott, it’s the love for the fiddle and fiddle music that brings her in tune to Cherokee culture.

“I think it’s really cool that I am Cherokee and that I play the fiddle because the fiddle was part of the Cherokee culture,” Cherokee Nation citizen said. “I know there are a lot of people that are Cherokee that probably don’t have a direct connection to their culture, so I am really proud that I have the fiddle because I feel like it brings me closer to my Cherokee culture.”

The Tulsa native found an interest in the bowed-string musical instrument at age 5 when she began taking classical violin lessons from longtime violinist Jody Naifeh. However, it was hearing her cousin play the fiddle that sparked her curiosity for the instrument.

“My cousin was the only one that fiddled, and she doesn’t anymore. It was kind of a brief thing. But it’s really amazing that I even got into it because really no one in my family is musical. My mom told me that both of her grandmothers were musical...but really I’m the only one,” she said.

Scott continued taking violin lessons and began studying fiddling.

“I started off with classical violin from Mrs. Naifeh, which I am still with her today. The cool thing about her is a lot of classical teachers don’t really do fiddling and aren’t super into that side of music. But she took me to my first fiddle contest, and so because of her I kind of got started in fiddling,” she said.

Although fiddle and violin appear the same, Scott said the styles are different.

“The violin and fiddle are very different styles, but both benefit each other. The violin is classical music and is technically difficult and you sight-read the music to learn it. But fiddling you learn by ear, so it’s more like reading a book versus storytelling,” Scott said. “Violin helps the intonation and technical aspect of fiddling, whereas the fiddling helps me to put feeling into the classical music and make it more than just the notes on the page”

As early as 7 years old, Scott traveled statewide to fiddling contests and performances, learning and watching some of the best fiddle players. Now she plays among them, continuing to make her mark. She has also competed in fiddling contests in surrounding states and as far as Idaho.

“I have competed all over. I do the Oklahoma state fiddle contest, the Colorado state fiddle contest, and there is a fiddle contest in Grove called the Grand Lake National Fiddle Contest, and I actual won that a couple of years ago. I am the youngest person to ever win it,” she said. “I have probably been to, I would say, over 50 competitions.

For her accomplishments, CN officials proclaimed Feb. 10 as “Regina Scott Day.” Tribal Councilor Keith Austin presented Scott with the proclamation after her performance at the National Fiddler Hall of Fame Ceremony and Concert in Tulsa in front of an audience of celebrated fiddlers and country musician Vince Gill.

“The National Fiddler Hall of Fame inducts people every year, so I got to play for Randy Howard who was being inducted. So I was on stage and I had just finished and it was a really great moment, and one of the Cherokees came on stage and he said ‘wait, don’t go yet,’ and I was very confused, but then he read a proclamation from the chief that basically said that the day Feb. 10, 2017, was a day dedicated to me and my accomplishments,” she said. “I was thinking ‘is this real?’ like, ‘is this a prank?’ but it was amazing and I have it framed at home.”

As for her violin, Scott still plays. She is part of the Tulsa Youth Symphony, the Holland Hall Orchestra and Honors Orchestra, in which she is first chair violin. She also teaches a beginner’s orchestra class to help her violin teacher.

She advises young musicians who are pursuing their dreams to keep practicing.

“Practice, practice because sometimes you don’t feel like practicing or it’s just not in your schedule, but if you really like it you can make time for it. You know, if you really want to be good at it and it’s something you are really passionate about that’s the only way to get good,” she said.

Scott will be the featured entertainment during the annual Will Rogers birthday celebration reception. The reception begins at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs in Claremore.
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