HorseChief selected for Five Tribes Lighthorse Monument

BY STAFF REPORTS
06/14/2018 08:30 AM
FORT SMITH, Ark. – Cherokee artist Daniel HorseChief is designing the Lighthorse Monument for the U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith after being selected by the Five Tribes InterTribal Council.

HorseChief’s life-size bronze statue will reflect a Native law enforcement officer of the post-Civil War era patrolling Indian Territory. His attire will include a Native-designed hunting jacket and the base of the statue traditional Southeast Indian designs to honor the ancestral homelands of the Five Tribes that consist of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole, prior to forced removal.

The tribes referred to their law enforcement entities as lighthorsemen. Formed in some of the tribes as early as the late 18th century, the law enforcement companies remain on duty today under the title of marshals.

“This design truly honors our Native law enforcement who historically and today serve as protectors of our tribal people and land,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker, who also serves as president of the Five Tribes InterTribal Council, said. “This monument is to honor the dedication and sacrifice of Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole lawmen and Indian U.S. Marshals who worked tirelessly to bring peace and order to Indian Territory and its borders.”

Leaders of the Five Tribes selected HorseChief’s design during this past April’s InterTribal Council gathering. It was presented on June 4 to the U.S. Marshals Museum board.
The Lighthorse Monument designed by Cherokee artist Daniel HorseChief will be set at the center of a 40-foot square plaza outside the U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith, Arkansas. A completion date has not been announced. COURTESY Drawings done by Cherokee artist Daniel HorseChief show some of the details included in the Lighthorse Monument to be located at the U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The bronze statue will reflect a Native law enforcement officer of the post-Civil War era patrolling Indian Territory. His attire will include a Native-designed hunting jacket and the base of the statue traditional Southeast Indian designs to honor the ancestral homelands of the Five Tribes that consist of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole. COURTESY
The Lighthorse Monument designed by Cherokee artist Daniel HorseChief will be set at the center of a 40-foot square plaza outside the U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith, Arkansas. A completion date has not been announced. COURTESY

Cherokee Speakers Bureau set for June 14

BY STAFF REPORTS
06/11/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Speakers Bureau will be held Thursday June 14 from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. We will meet in the Community Ballroom that is located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokee. All Cherokee speakers are invited to attend. If you want to bring a side dish or a dessert, feel free to bring it. Come speak Cherokee and enjoy food and fellowship.

For further information about the event, please contact the Language Program at 918-453-5151.

Tsalagi aniwonisgi unadatlugv dodvnatlosi Nvgineiga Dehaluyi 14 ganvsulvi 12:30 p.m. adalenisgi 4 p.m. igohida. Na Anitsalagi tsunalisdayetiyi tsigotlv unaditli wayvsdi onadilvyvi utani kanvsula dodvnatlosi. Naniv Anitsalagi aniwonisgi otsitayohiha uniluhisdii. Alisdayvdi ayohisdi yodulia. Dodayotsadatlisani ale dodayotsalisdayvna hilutsvi.

Ugodesdi tsadulihesdi tsadelayohisdi hiina wigehiyadvdi Tsalagi Gawonihisdi Unadotlvsv 918-453-5151.

Sequoyah Chapbook Award offered to emerging Native poets

BY STAFF REPORTS
06/08/2018 05:15 PM
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Sequoyah National Research Center is offering the 2018 Sequoyah Chapbook Award for emerging American Indian and Alaska Native poets, with the winner receiving 250 copies of the chapbook that will be archived in the Center’s Tribal Writers Digital Library.

The award is open to any enrolled citizen of a federally recognized tribe in the United States.

Poetry manuscripts should be 20 to 36 pages in length and may be submitted in hard copy or digitally. Hard copy manuscript should be single-spaced, one poem per page, paginated, with a table of contents and bound with a binder clip. Digital submissions should be single-spaced, one poem per page (start each poem on a new page). Individual poems may have been published previously in a journal or magazine, but we will not accept work that has appeared as a whole (self-published or otherwise).

A cover letter should include a short bio and identify the writer’s tribal affiliation along with name, mailing address, email and phone number.

Those submitting paper copy should include a self-addressed stamped envelope for confirmation of receipt of the manuscript. Manuscripts will not be returned. Mail hard copy submissions to H.K. Hummel, Department of English, 501 Stabler Hall, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 2801 South University Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72204.
https://www.facebook.com/CASA-of-Cherokee-Country-184365501631027/

Enhanced tour adds dimension for Will Rogers Museum visitors

BY STAFF REPORTS
06/07/2018 12:00 PM
CLAREMORE – An “Enhanced Tour” of Will Rogers Memorial Museums is bringing a new level of information to people visiting the memorial in Claremore and the Oologah Birthplace Ranch.

The voice of Michael Wallis, author of “Rt. 66 – the Mother Road” and voice of the Sheriff in Disney Pixar movie “Cars,” narrates a tour of the museum starting in the west gallery through the final journey of the American cowboy philosopher.

Using an electronic device, areas in both museums are marked with “Stop” numbers to provide audio information, images and other content. There are 16 enhanced features in the museum. The “Enhanced Tour” can also be accessed from the website, www.willrogers.com and people can take the tour anytime.

Each month people come from most of the United States and foreign countries to learn more about Will Rogers. Now, through use of smart devices, they are able to see what he had to say about their state or country.

“Will commented on about every state and many countries,” Tad Jones, museum executive director, said. “He was aware of their politics and their surroundings and shared them in his writings. The new ‘Enhanced Tour’ will allow visitors to search their state or country and read what Will had to say about them and hopefully have a new connection with him.”
Brandi Glasscock, of Collinsville, is among the first to try out the “Enhanced Tour” dimension added to the Will Rogers Memorial Museum as she checks out a replica of Will Rogers’ study in California. COURTESY
Brandi Glasscock, of Collinsville, is among the first to try out the “Enhanced Tour” dimension added to the Will Rogers Memorial Museum as she checks out a replica of Will Rogers’ study in California. COURTESY

88 translated words added to Cherokee language

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
06/06/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – During a March meeting, Cherokee speakers added 88 newly translated words to the tribe’s language. The new additions contain science, art and grammar terminology, which will be added to a terminology booklet.

Since 2007, a Cherokee language consortium of fluent speakers from the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have translated more than 2,500 modern English words into Cherokee.

“The reason we formed was because there are so many words that we did not have in Cherokee, for instance, ‘computer.’ All the newer stuff that we have in school and that we use in our homes, we didn’t have Cherokee words for that,” Anna Sixkiller, CN translator specialist, said.

Kathy Sierra, language consortium chairwoman, said at each quarterly meeting, a new list of words is brought and translations begin by writing out the English version, looking at the definition and describing the words using the Cherokee language.

“Just about everything that we say is described. We find the best description for that word,” she said.
http://cherokeepublichealth.org/

Venues celebrate Will Rogers’ life, career

BY MARK DREADFULWATER
Multimedia Editor – @cp_mdreadfulwat
06/04/2018 08:30 AM
CLAREMORE – Humorist, newspaper columnist, social commentator and actor are a few words to describe William Penn Adair Rogers, better known as Will Rogers. Another is Cherokee.

Will was born Nov. 4, 1879, to Clement Vann and Mary America Schrimsher Rogers in Indian Territory near present-day Oologah. Built in 1875, the Birthplace Ranch where Will grew up was known as “the White House on the Verdigris River.”

Clement was a prominent Cherokee politician, and the home was used as a meeting place for commerce, government, social events and funerals, according to willrogers.com.

“His dad was very involved in the Cherokee Nation,” Tad Jones, Will Rogers Memorial Museum and Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch executive director, said. “He sat on the council and was a judge. He was very involved in Cherokee politics.”

According the website, the home was a “seat of power and site of culture” and a working ranch. Will worked as a cowboy on the 400-acre ranch, learning to lasso from a freed slave. He later used that skill on the Vaudeville stage and in movies.
A Will Rogers statue with the inscription “I never met a man I didn’t like” stands in the rotunda of the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore. WILL ROGERS MEMORIAL MUSEUMS A statue of Will Rogers sitting atop his horse, Soapsuds, can be seen outside the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore. WILL ROGERS MEMORIAL MUSEUMS The “Mural Room” inside the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore is a popular site for special events and is available for rent. WILL ROGERS MEMORIAL MUSEUMS The “Final Journey” exhibit houses a plane replica and Will Rogers’ personal items rescued from the site of the fatal plane crash where he and famed aviator Wiley Post died on Aug. 15, 1935. WILL ROGERS MEMORIAL MUSEUMS Built in 1875, the “White House of the Verdigris” is the site where Will Rogers was born and raised near Oologah. There he learned to lasso while working as a cowboy on the ranch. WILL ROGERS MEMORIAL MUSEUMS
A Will Rogers statue with the inscription “I never met a man I didn’t like” stands in the rotunda of the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore. WILL ROGERS MEMORIAL MUSEUMS

Cherokee Nation partners with Blue Star Museums

BY STAFF REPORTS
06/03/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation and Cherokee National Historical Society are partnering again with Blue Star Families to provide free admission to active duty military personnel and their families at Cherokee Nation museums and the Cherokee Heritage Center from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The Blue Star Museums program features more than 2,000 museums nationwide, representing fine arts, science, history, music, film, crafts, nature and children’s museums.

The Cherokee National Prison Museum, John Ross Museum, Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum, Sequoyah’s Cabin and Cherokee Heritage Center are participating in the program.

The Blue Star Museums program began in 2010 and is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families and the Department of Defense. Free admission is offered to active duty military, including Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, National Guard and Reserve members and up to five family members.

For more information and a state-by-state list of participating museums, visit www.arts.gov/national/blue-star-museums.

Fort Smith National Historic site increases entrance fees

BY STAFF REPORTS
05/28/2018 04:00 PM
FORT SMITH, Ark. – The National Park Service has announced the Fort Smith National Historic Site will modify its entrance fees to provide additional funding for infrastructure and maintenance needs to enhance the visitor experience.

Effective June 1 the entrance fees to the park’s Visitor Center exhibits will be $10 per person, an increase of $3. An annual Fort Smith National Historic Site park pass will cost $30. All the money received from entrance fees remains with the NPS with at least 80 percent of the revenue going to Fort Smith National Historic Site.

Revenue from entrance fees remains in the NPS and helps ensure a quality experience for all who visit. At the Fort Smith National Historic Site, at least 80 percent of entrance fees stay in the park and are devoted to spending that supports the visitor. The remaining 20 percent is shared with other national parks for projects.

In response to public comments on a fee proposal released in October, there will be a modest increase for all entrance fee-charging parks, rather than the higher peak-season fees initially proposed only for 17 highly visited national parks.

The additional revenue from entrance fees at Fort Smith will improve walking paths, update and develop interpretive exhibits, replace the Visitor Center’s elevator, improve accessibility and other projects that directly benefit park visitors.

CN hosts inaugural ‘Sequoyah Day'

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
05/22/2018 04:00 PM
AKINS – Visitors to the first “Sequoyah Day” event held May 20 experienced all things Cherokee such as art, music, lectures, performances, demonstrations and National Treasures all on the grounds of the historic Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum where the Cherokee syllabary creator lived.

“This is a chance to celebrate Sequoyah’s life and his legacy,” Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism Director Travis Owens said. “We’ve had a flute-playing performance, the Cherokee National Youth Choir performed. We had the Girty Family Singers and presenters on our language today.”

Others attending the event included Cherokee National Treasures Lorene Drywater and David Scott, as well as Cherokee artists Roy Boney, Jeff Edwards and Mary HorseChief. Tribal Councilors Bryan Warner and E.O. Junior Smith, and 2017-18 Miss Cherokee Madison Whitekiller also attended.

Another highlight was the Traditional Native Games competition. CN citizen and games coordinator Bayly Wright said “Sequoyah Day” was a great place to hold Cherokee marbles, cornstalk shoot, horseshoes, blowgun, a hatchet throw and chunky competitions.

“Today is the second of the five competitions leading up to the championships, which will be held on Aug. 25, the weekend before the Cherokee National Holiday,” she said.
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Marcus Thompson competes in the Traditional Native Games’ chunky competition held May 20 the Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum site. The competition was part of the tribe’s first “Sequoyah Day” held in Akins. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Marcus Thompson competes in the Traditional Native Games’ chunky competition held May 20 the Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum site. The competition was part of the tribe’s first “Sequoyah Day” held in Akins. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Culture

Descendants of Cherokee Seminaries award 2 scholarships
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
05/18/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Every year on May 7 the Descendants of the Cherokee Seminaries Students Organization hold its annual reunion at Northeastern State University where it awards two NSU students with scholarships. This year’s recipients were Cherokee Nation citizens Bryley Hoodenpyle and Marilyn Tschida.

Both students received a $1,000 scholarship based on their GPAs, activities and interviews.

Hoodenpyle said her fourth great-grandmother’s aunt and two cousins attended the Cherokee Male and Female seminaries, which she discovered through online research and NSU’s archives. She said after college she plans to attend NSU’s optometry school.

“It means a lot to me to receive this scholarship just because this university has given so much to me and has helped me grow personally,” Hoodenpyle said. “NSU has developed me as a student and as a leader so its really awesome to me that my family played a part in that story however many years ago.”

Tschida is an education graduate student and plans to graduate in December. She said she found her grandmother’s name in the Cherokee Female Seminary roll book in NSU’s archives and decided to apply for the scholarship.

“I am really proud to accept it, I think she would be very proud for me to have gotten something on her behalf,” Tschida said.

On May 7, 1889, the Cherokee Female Seminary reopened north of Tahlequah after a fire destroyed it two years earlier. So, no matter what day May 7 falls on, the descendants of students who attended the Cherokee Male and Female seminaries gather to honor their ancestors and their time at the schools.

DCSSO President Rick Ward said the reunion is the oldest tradition on NSU’s campus, accruing annually for 167 years with the exception of one year during World War II.

“It started out as a picnic, but it wasn’t the descendants getting together it was the actual students of the seminaries coming together, bringing food and visiting out in front of the sycamore tree,” he said.

After noticing the number seminary students fading away, Jack Brown established the DCSSO in 1975. Brown served as the executive vice president of the Cherokee Seminaries Students Alumni Association for years. He wanted to get the descendants of the alumni involved in the activities of the association as well as keep the tradition alive. In 1984 the name officially changed to the Descendants of Cherokee Seminaries Students Organization.

The state bought the Female Seminary in 1909, which now serves as Seminary Hall and the centerpiece of NSU.

DCSSO Secretary Ginny Wilson said she wants to keep the reunion tradition alive for her grandmother, who was a student at the Female Seminary.

“I do this for my grandmother. We used to bring her up here to this reunion. It was always the one thing in her life she wanted to do,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the DCSSO follows the same format as their ancestors did during their reunions, which consists of the organization’s meeting, lunch, a speaker, the Cherokee choir and Miss Cherokee.

“We follow that format as close as we can to just do the same thing. It’s gotten a whole lot smaller, but that’s what we do as descendants in memory of those people,” she said.

Since the DCSSO established a scholarship for students who are descendants in the early 2000s, its goal is to continue to provide that scholarship.

“Our biggest plan is to increase our scholarship amount. That’s the most important, but also to keep the (May 7) tradition going at Northeastern. Otherwise it will die,” Wilson said.

Education

Law lets school districts transfer land to HACN
BY STAFF REPORTS
06/14/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – A new bill signed into law June 12 allows Oklahoma school districts to transfer surplus land to the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation. Transferring surplus land will allow communities to grow and help their local school districts.

Gov. Mary Fallin signed House Bill 1334 into law, which allows school boards to transfer land to tribal housing authorities. Two Cherokee Nation citizens authored the bill – Rep. Chuck Hoskin, of Vinita, and Sen. John Sparks, of Norman.

“School districts often have undeveloped acreage with no plans to build and which is difficult to sell for market value. This law is a win-win solution for local school districts and for tribal governments. Tribal housing authorities can construct good, quality homes for tribal citizens and that provides economic growth locally as more jobs contribute to the local tax base,” Hoskin, who also serves as chief of staff for the CN, said. “This law will help so many schools, rural communities and Cherokee families prosper.”

Another benefit is federal impact aid, which means school districts receive $2,800 per year for every tribal student living in a CN-built home.

“The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation is excited to see this law passed. We’re thankful to Representative Hoskin and Senator Sparks for drafting the bill, the legislators who supported it and Governor Fallin for signing it into law,” HACN Executive Director Gary Cooper said. “The Cherokee Nation has helped schools receive thousands of federal dollars in impact aid with the homes built since 2012 and that amount will climb even higher with the passage of this bill.”

The tribe’s New Home Construction Program began in 2012 under Principal Chief Bill John Baker. The tribe has built more than 660 homes since then, and about 100 are under construction in northeast Oklahoma.

For more information on the bill, visit www.okhouse.gov. For more information on the New Home Construction Program, visit www.hacn.org.

Council

Gaming compact amended to add ‘ball-and-dice’ gaming
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
06/13/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Tribal Councilors on June 11 unanimously passed a gaming compact supplement with Oklahoma to allow Cherokee Nation’s casinos to begin offering Las Vegas-style table games such as craps and roulette.

The resolution follows Gov. Mary Fallin signing House Bill 3375 into law on April 1o, making the state’s tribal casinos eligible to begin offering “ball-and-dice” games as soon as Aug. 2.

Tribal Councilor Mike Shambaugh said during a May 31 Rules Committee meeting that passing the resolution was important.

“I think we have been progressive as a council in many different ways in how we support gaming. This could be a good way for more revenue, obviously. If other casinos are going to be doing it, we need to stay progressive. We need to do what it takes to be the best casino and give our casinos the best opportunity to succeed. I think this is a good step forward for doing this especially if the state is going to allow it. We need to take advantage of it,” he said.

Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission Director Jamie Hummingbird also said during the Rules Committee meeting that the CNGC has been working on regulations for the new gaming since April. He said the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa would be the first Cherokee Casino property to offer “ball-and-dice” games and that the CNGC is working with casino operations on “where and when” the other casino properties would begin featuring the games.

Legislators on June 11 also authorized placing 39.2 acres of land in southern Delaware County into trust. The acreage, known as Beck’s Mill “has a rich history as a trading post with a grain mill being operated in the 1800s,” the resolution states. The property is located along Flint Creek just north of Highway 412.

Legislators also approved a resolution “agreeing to choice of law and venue and authorizing a waiver of sovereign immunity” so that the Cherokee Immersion Charter School can enter into a software agreement with Municipal Accounting Systems Inc. The agreement will allow the school to submit certain financial information to state officials in the required Oklahoma Cost Accounting System.

Tribal Councilors also increased the tribe’s fiscal year 2018 comprehensive operating budget by $1.8 million for a total budget authority of $694.9 million. The changes consisted of a decrease in the Indian Health Service Self-Governance Health budget by $93,962 and increases in the General Fund, Enterprise, Department of Interior – Self-Governance and Federal “other” budgets.

In other business, legislators:

• Authorized a donation of a modular office building to Project A Association in Muskogee County, and

• Authorized a grant application to the Department of Health and Humans Services, Administration for Children and Families, the Office of Child Care for Tribal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.

Health

Young adults need less sodium, saturated fats and added sugars
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
06/13/2018 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Establishing healthy eating patterns tailored to personal, cultural and traditional preferences that are low in sodium and saturated fat is essential to a balanced diet for young adults between the ages of 20 and 35, Cherokee Nation Clinical Dietitian Tonya Swim said.

“All the food and beverage choices a person makes matters,” Swim said. “For most healthy individuals a balanced diet should have a variety of vegetables and whole fruit, low-fat or fat-free diary, half of their grains from whole grain sources, a variety of protein choices, including lean meats, seafood and vegetable sources.”

Swim said that while a single healthy eating pattern will not fit everyone, all foods high in saturated fat, sodium and added sugar should be limited. She recommends individuals inspect their food’s nutrition facts label when shopping, especially for those who may buy frozen foods such as microwavable meals.

“Most meals like this lack in fruits and vegetables, so adding a whole piece of fruit and a steamed bag of frozen veggies can help to meet a person’s daily fruit and vegetable needs. This is also a great way to add in extra vitamins, minerals and fiber,” she said.

A good method of comparing the nutritional values of two or more food items is to examine the label’s percent of daily value, Swim said. “Search for items with the lowest amount of saturated fat and sodium and the highest amount of fiber. Five percent daily value or less of a nutrient per serving is low, and 20 percent daily value or more of a nutrient per serving is high. One nutrient that we want to strive to get more of is fiber, so this nutrient on the nutrition facts label should be as close to 20 percent daily value as possible.”

That advice is especially important for those who choose to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle.

“If an individual chooses to go 100 percent vegan, please be aware of nutrients that may be lacking in their diet, including iron, zinc, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12, vitamin D and calcium,” Swim said.

She said food sources for proper iron nutrients include almonds, oatmeal and spinach, while hummus, some whole wheat breads and cashews are good zinc sources. Fortified foods are good vitamin B-12 sources.

For protein, Swim recommends peanuts, quinoa, edamame, chickpeas, lentils, black beans and kidney beans, while calcium can be worked into a vegan diet with turnip, mustard and collard greens, figs and kale. Fortified soymilk is also a good source of vitamin D in addition to calcium, while walnuts and flaxseeds are good for Omega-3 fatty acids.

“Following a plant-based diet or even a full vegan plan does have health benefits, such as a lower risk of heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes,” Swim said. “If a vegan plan is something you would like to consider, please speak with your health care provider and registered dietitian before you begin.”

Young adults should also be aware of what they might be adding to their drinks, including coffee.

“It’s important to note that some coffee beverages can include calories from added sugars and saturated fat, such as creamers. So be cautious when getting your specialty coffees,” Swim said.

Coffee consumption should also be “moderate,” according to dietary guidelines.

“A moderate amount would be three to five 8-ounce cups a day,” Swim said. “This would approximately 400 milligrams of caffeine daily. The exception to this may be if a person has a medical condition in which their medical provider has reduced the amount of caffeine they should have, so talk to your primary provider.”

Swim recommends those eligible for services with CN Health Services and seeking more information about individualized diet plans should contact their primary providers and ask to schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian.

Opinion

OPINION: Addressing food insecurity for veterans in northeast Oklahoma
BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
06/01/2018 12:00 PM
The Cherokee Nation is steadfastly committed to our military veterans, those men and women who have sacrificed so much for our tribe, our country and our collective freedoms. Recently, we established a formal partnership with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma to help ensure these real-life heroes do not suffer from hunger and food instability. Nobody in Oklahoma, especially a military veteran, should go hungry.

This collaboration, which is the first time a tribal government has been involved with this local food bank program, means regular access to healthy and nutritious foods, and that will translate to better and fuller lives. It is a blessing that we are able to help, and it is the least we can do for those who have done so much for us.

This endeavor will create a quarterly mobile food pantry at the CN Veterans Center. Fresh produce, bakery items and nonperishable food items are available for about 125 veterans or widows of veterans through the collaboration. The first time we hosted the food pantry in late May, we distributed more than 10,000 pounds of food. The tribe will continue to help identify veterans in need, as well as provide volunteers to help staff the mobile pantry.

Today, the CN Veterans Center offers a wide array of activities for veterans. It serves as a place to sign up for benefits, play bingo or attend other activities, and now we have added the food pantry. It is just one more way we can meet the needs of our people.

The CN continues to look for ways to honor and serve our veteran warriors, and this partnership with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is another avenue to reach those in need. Food insecurity is a very real issue for families in northeast Oklahoma, and almost 20 percent of the households the Food Bank serves has a military veteran who resides there and utilizes the program. Additionally, national studies show veterans are affected more by hunger and food insecurity than the general population. Many struggle to put food on the table because of a myriad of issues, from employability after service to mental health and related trauma or an unwillingness to seek help.

Collaborating with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma means we are increasing and expanding its coverage and furthering its mission. Just like CN, the food bank wants to provide for our veterans so that they have what they need to prosper.

The CN also offers a food distribution program, which some veterans may also qualify for. For more information on the CN Veterans Center and food pantry, call 918-772-4166.

People

4-year-old Keys jumps into motocross
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
06/12/2018 08:30 AM
PARK HILL – Cherokee Nation citizen Cooper Keys is a 4-year-old with a passion for motocross. Born in 2013, Cooper began riding his 2004 Yamaha PW50 in February after finding tri-cycling slow and monotonous.

With half a dozen races under his belt on the peewee dirt track at Jandebeur’s Motor Sports Park in Okmulgee, he’s notched five third-place finishes and one second-place finish.

Cooper competes in the 50cc shaft drive/air cooled and 50cc beginner divisions and is the only 4-year-old racing against 5-to 7-year-olds.

“We got him a starter balance bike when he was about a year and a half old,” CN citizen and Cooper’s mother Emily Keys said. “Balance bikes don’t have pedals or training wheels, so he just kind of pushed himself around until he eventually got to where he could ride around without using his feet.”

Emily said Cooper soon began riding down hills, balancing perfectly on the bike that was designed for pushing around the yard.

“When he outgrew the balance bike, we got him a bicycle that resembled a dirt bike, which he mastered in no time,” she said. It was around then that Emily and her husband, Justin, began thinking that Cooper’s abilities” weren’t “normal.” Cooper’s agility was only surpassed by his constant request for a real (motorized) dirt bike,” she said.

“He was just gung-ho, and would not be quiet about it. My husband had a mini-bike when he was little but only rode it around the field, so we really knew nothing about dirt bikes or the sport,” Emily said.

She added that it was eventually her parents who sprang for Cooper’s first dirt bike, as a Christmas present. She said she thought he would just want to ride around the field with it. But that wasn’t the case. Cooper wanted to ride all the time.

“We were concerned about him racing at such a young age, so we just started at the bottom, learning everything we could on teaching Cooper how to ride safe and smart. We purchased every piece of safety gear a kid could have. Now the poor (child) looks like (a) mix between an astronaut and the Terminator when he’s all suited up to go,” Emily said. “He’s had some crashes but that hasn’t deterred him in the least.”

Cooper’s father and CN citizen Justin Keys said Cooper’s can-do attitude was only one of the qualities he noticed.

“It makes me really proud that he has such good sportsmanship and how he strives to make himself better. I mean he’s pushing himself more than anybody. He gets out there with a ride, ride, ride attitude and he never gives up. More than once, I’ve seen him fall down, get up and want to go again. You can’t teach that.”

“We don’t want him hurt, and it is scary putting him on such a fast bike, but we’ve done all we can,’ Emily said. “We continue to teach him about safety, and we can’t let our fears get in the way of something he’s that passionate about.”
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