Greasy School students learn of river cane

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
04/27/2017 08:15 AM
ROCK FENCE, Okla. – Leading a school bus of Greasy School fifth and sixth graders in his pickup truck, Cherokee Nation ethno botanist Roger Cain stops near a bridge overlooking Little Lee Creek, east of the Adair County school. After the children and teachers unload, he leads them to a nearby river canebrake where he shows them how cane grows, discusses how Cherokee people used it for tools and weapons and to hide in when they were attacked by enemy tribes.

For the past few years, Cain has researched and catalogued river cane fields in the tribe’s jurisdiction for the Cherokee River Cane Initiative. The initiative encourages people to understand better and preserve dwindling river cane fields in the jurisdiction.

Since January, Cain has visited fifth and sixth graders at Greasy School to teach them about river cane and how Cherokee people used it. The students have had opportunities to shoot blowguns made from river cane and learn how to throw river cane spears using an atlatl, which gives the spear more force.

“We’re finally finishing up the school year by coming out to a canebrake and seeing what a canebrake looks like and how it impacts the environment,” Cain said. “We’ve been talking about river cane and how it’s used for baskets, for blowguns, atlatls as well how it’s good for the environment...for water quality.

Cain also told students how he uses Google Maps to map and catalog river canebrakes in the CN.
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
Roger Cain, of the Cherokee River Cane Initiative, has been visiting fifth and sixth graders at Greasy School since January to teach them about river cane and how Cherokee people utilized it. On April 13 he led the students on a field trip to a nearby creek to see a canebrake and play in the creek. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation ethno botanist Roger Cain, left, shows Greasy School teacher Shawn Crittenden and students how a bloodroot plant can be used for dye for baskets and other items during an April 13 field trip in Adair County near Little Lee Creek. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Greasy School student Alex Soap throws a river cane spear using an atlatl to generate more force on April 13 near Little Creek. Using the atlatl was a part of a river cane class taught by Cherokee Nation ethno botanist Roger Cain this semester at the school. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Roger Cain, of the Cherokee River Cane Initiative, has been visiting fifth and sixth graders at Greasy School since January to teach them about river cane and how Cherokee people utilized it. On April 13 he led the students on a field trip to a nearby creek to see a canebrake and play in the creek. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Tiger wins Trail of Tears Art Show grand prize

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
04/18/2017 08:15 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Sac and Fox artist Tony Tiger took home the grand prize award for his work “Metamorphosis” at the Cherokee Heritage Center’s 46th annual Trail of Tears Art Show.

Winning artists for the show were announced April 7 during an opening-night celebration for the show, which can be viewed through May 6. The TOTAS is the longest-running Native American art show in Oklahoma and features a variety of authentic art. Featured artwork is available to purchase throughout the show’s duration.

CHC Interim Director Tonia Hogner Weavel said the show is open to any federally recognized tribal citizen. Artists competed for more than $14,000 in prize money in seven categories: paintings, graphics, sculpture, pottery, basketry, miniatures and jewelry.

“The art is the most prestigious in the country, and it is for sale to the public. The art show gives people the opportunity to see some of the most contemporary artists that are being featured nationally. So, we are pleased and happy to host this show,” she said.

Tiger said he has been participating in the art show for about 10 years, and this is the first time he’s won the grand prize.
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
The 2017 Trail of Tears Art Show grand prize was awarded to Tony Tiger (Sac and Fox) for his “Metamorphosis” entry. The show can be viewed through May 6 at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Toneh Chuleewah won first place in the Jewelry Category at the Trail of Tears Art Show for his piece “Copper Style Bracelet.” ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The 2017 Trail of Tears Art Show grand prize was awarded to Tony Tiger (Sac and Fox) for his “Metamorphosis” entry. The show can be viewed through May 6 at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
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Cherokee National Female Seminary history discussion set

BY STAFF REPORTS
04/11/2017 12:45 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Learn the history of the Cherokee National Female Seminary during a lunchtime discussion on April 21 at the John Ross Museum.

Retired educator and local historian Beth Herrington will lead the one-hour discussion beginning at noon.

Construction began on the Cherokee National Female Seminary in 1847 under the direction of Principal Chief John Ross. It opened in 1851 as one of the earliest schools of higher learning established for women west of the Mississippi. The building was later destroyed by fire on Easter Sunday in 1887.

Rebuilt 130 years ago, the building represents the oldest structure on what would come to be known as Northeastern State University.

The event is open to the public and free to attend. Guests are encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch. The museum will also offer free admission throughout the day.

Rabbit continues family legacy via art business

BY LINDSEY BARK
Staff Writer
04/11/2017 08:15 AM
PRYOR, Okla. – Five years after her father Bill’s death, Cherokee Nation citizen Traci Rabbit is continuing her family’s artistic legacy with her ability to create and reproduce art for the studio they operated together – Rabbit Studios.

“(I’m) so just very blessed that I’m able to support quite a few people in my family…carrying on my dad’s legacy. Doing the only thing I knew to do,” Traci said.

Traci said her father was “progressive” when he started reproducing art to sell as a means of income to support a family. She said artists are realizing the value of reproductions and how to make a living as an artist.

For the Cherokee Phoenix’s second quarter giveaway, she donated an 18-inch-by-24-inch giclee (reproduction) on canvas of her “Gifts of Life” painting.

“I chose ‘Gifts of Life,’ which depicts a Native American woman with four hummingbirds representing the four directions, the four seasons, different stages of life. When people look at my work, I may try to convey one message but they see another. With spring coming, I thought that would be a good piece and people might like it,” Traci said. “The color palette that I used was to depict spring and the renewal of life and starting over. So that was what I was thinking when I painted that piece.”
Cherokee Nation citizen Traci Rabbit talks about photos that inspire her art projects on April 3 at Rabbit Studios in Pryor, Oklahoma. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee artist Traci Rabbit donated her painting “Gifts of Life” to the Cherokee Phoenix for its 2017 second quarter giveaway. The drawing for the piece will be held on July 1. People who donate at least $10 to the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veterans Fund, buy a subscription or purchase Cherokee Phoenix merchandise will be entered into the drawing. One entry is submitted for every $10. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Rabbit Studios is located at 231 S. Taylor in Pryor, Oklahoma. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Traci Rabbit talks about photos that inspire her art projects on April 3 at Rabbit Studios in Pryor, Oklahoma. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
http://www.billandtracirabbit.com/

Standingwaters pass on wild onion tradition

BY LINDSEY BARK
Staff Writer
04/10/2017 08:00 AM
SNAKE CREEK, Okla. – From the dirt to the plate, spring is when many Cherokees are in the woods and hollows gathering a delicacy known as wild onions.

For the Standingwater family, it’s a long-standing tradition passed generation to generation.

Cherokee Nation citizen Stephanie Standingwater-Cutrer said she’s gathered onions for more than 30 years and remembers going with her grandmother.

“I remember going with my grandma when I was old enough to walk. (I would) follow her. I didn’t know what she was doing. I just pretty much played in the dirt. She was always picking something. I would see her gathering everything up and take them and clean them,” Standingwater-Cutrer said. “I don’t remember actually being taught, I just was around it.”

CN citizen Willa Standingwater said she remembers what her dad told her about Cherokee people. “Dad used to say that Indians lived off the land during spring and summer. Like in the woods, they’d go get onions and all these different kind of plants that you can eat. During the winter they’d eat off the animals.”
Cherokee Nation citizens Stephanie Standingwater-Cutrer, left, and her cousin Willa Standingwater, right, gather wild onions with their children on March 27 in Snake Creek, Oklahoma. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Stephanie Standingwater-Cutrer cleans a wild onion by peeling back the top layer of the onion bulb and pinching off the roots. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Willa Standingwater chops cleaned wild onions into small pieces before cooking them. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX After wild onions are cooked to a dark green color, Cherokee Nation citizen Willa Standingwater adds whisked eggs as the final ingredient. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX A plate of cooked wild onions is ready to eat at the Standingwater home on March 27 in Snake Creek, Oklahoma. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizens Stephanie Standingwater-Cutrer, left, and her cousin Willa Standingwater, right, gather wild onions with their children on March 27 in Snake Creek, Oklahoma. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market and Festival is June 24-25

BY STAFF REPORTS
04/06/2017 04:00 PM
INDIANAPOLIS – One of downtown Indianapolis’ top artistic and cultural celebrations returns June 24-25, for its 25th anniversary: the Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market and Festival.

Visitors can meet Native American artists from more than 60 tribes and purchase their handmade art, including jewelry, pottery, beadwork, cultural items, basketry, paintings, sculpture and weavings. The weekend also will feature performances from renowned Native American musicians Arvel Bird and Tony Duncan, as well as family-friendly cultural demonstrations of Native art, cooking and storytelling.

The Indian Market and Festival will take place on the Eiteljorg Museum grounds from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) on both days, with artists’ booths located outside and inside the museum. A special feature this year will be a museum gallery exhibit celebrating 25 years of collecting Native American art during previous Eiteljorg Indian Markets.

“As the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival developed over the past 25 years, many Native American artists from all over the U.S. and Canada have traveled to Indianapolis to show their art and cultivate new collectors here in the Midwest – friends who return to Indian Market each year to see their favorite artists’ latest works,” said Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall. “This silver anniversary of Indian Market and Festival is especially meaningful, as longtime collectors and a second generation of visitors converge on the Eiteljorg Museum to experience Native American art and culture and share in this important community event.”

After a modest start in 1993, the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival has grown into one of the top Native American art markets in the nation, and thousands of people attend the event held on the weekend after Father’s Day each year.
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Camp Cherokee registrations open

BY STAFF REPORTS
03/31/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Registrations for Camp Cherokees are open online at https://secure.cherokee.org/campcherokee.

A parent or guardian will need to register for the camp with an email and password. Camp space is limited and slots are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

There will be five day camps located in Nowata, Claremore, Kansas, Jay, Briggs and Dwight Mission as well as a residential camp in Welling at Heart O’ the Hills.

Camp studies will include art, traditional games, storytelling, science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Day camps will be from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. The residential camp will be July 16-21.

Camp participants must be Cherokee Nation citizens. Those interested in attending day camps must be entering first grade through seventh grade during the fall 2017 school year.
Amanda Ray, Camp Cherokee performing arts instructor, helps a student with cutting a paper mache’ mask during the 2014 residential camp at Camp Heart O’ Hills in Welling, Oklahoma. ARCHIVE
Amanda Ray, Camp Cherokee performing arts instructor, helps a student with cutting a paper mache’ mask during the 2014 residential camp at Camp Heart O’ Hills in Welling, Oklahoma. ARCHIVE

Symposium on the American Indian films set for April 10-11

BY STAFF REPORTS
03/29/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The film series of Northeastern State University’s 45th annual Symposium on the American Indian will take place on Tahlequah’s campus April 10-11.

On April 10, “Violet” Mark Williams will present his creation at 6 p.m. in the Webb Auditorium.

Williams is an independent Choctaw filmmaker who creates feature films that deal with the paranormal. He recently premiered “Our Church,” the fifth documentary in his paranormal project series that deals with Native American-related sites of activity.

“Violet” is Williams 12th project. He describes the film as being a psychological thriller with an entirely Native American production team and cast. Starring Delno Ebie and Happy Frejo, the film begins with an escaped mental patient who dies under mysterious circumstances. The story continues 30 years later as a newlywed couple starts a life together in a new home and stumbles upon a mysterious package that was never meant to resurface.

On April 11, “Medicine Woman” will be presented at 6 p.m. in the Webb Auditorium.
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Cultural classes coming to Sequoyah Birthplace Museum

BY STAFF REPORTS
03/24/2017 04:00 PM
VENORE, Tenn. – Various cultural classes will take place in April at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum.
Cornhusk doll making taught by Tonya Dockery will begin at 10 a.m. on April 1. The fee is $15, and class size is limited to 15 to 18 people.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian enrolled citizens Mary Brown and Gil Jackson will teach a Cherokee language class from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on April 3. The cost is $50 for four consecutive classes to be held on Monday evenings.

Sharon Ensminger will teach a finger weaving class from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 22 by. Cost is $25. Participants are asked to bring a small box and two skeins of heavy weight yarn of different colors (one light, one dark) and a bag lunch. Class size is limited to 15 people.

EBCI citizen Mary Thompson will teach a Cherokee basket weaving class from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 29. The cost of the class is $20 plus the cost of materials. Students should call for list of needed materials to bring to class. Participants are asked to bring a bag lunch. Class size limited to 12 people.

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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

CN donates $14K to Kansas Public Schools
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/18/2017 01:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials donated $14,000 to Kansas Public Schools in Delaware County to help construct an indoor hitting facility for the school’s baseball and softball teams.

Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Tribal Councilor Curtis Snell presented KHS head baseball and softball coach Austin Graham the check at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex.

“Schools today don’t have the extra revenue to dedicate toward the needs of extracurricular activities,” Tribal Councilor Curtis Snell said. “It’s great that the tribe can step up and help schools like Kansas partially fill the funding gap so that students can have amenities like the baseball and softball teams’ indoor hitting facility.”

Graham said that without the donation, the hitting facility would not be possible.

“The tribe’s help is huge,” Graham said. “We wouldn’t even be able to think about getting new batting cages or a building built without their support.”

The tribe donated the money from its special projects fund.

Council

Legislators resolve to protect tribally owned land
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
04/12/2017 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At the April 10 Tribal Council meeting, legislators unanimously passed an act to protect Cherokee Nation-owned lands against ingress, egress and encroachment.

‘The Principal Chief will direct appropriate offices and staff within the executive branch to not allow any individual, company or any other entity to restrict ingress/egress access to any Cherokee Nation property, to not allow any encroachment on any Cherokee properties whatsoever and if any entity has restricted ingress/egress or encroached on Cherokee Nation property to begin negotiations or legal proceedings to resolve ingress/egress problems, or remove encroachments on Cherokee Nation property,” the legislation states.

During the March 21 Rules Committee meeting, Tribal Councilor Dick Lay said he’s thought about the “protection” of tribal property since the tribe began purchasing more land.

“I’ve been thinking about this for years now, since we’ve started purchasing more property in the Cherokee Nation…the protection of our property and our lands, whether it be trust…or anything else,” he said. “I’ve checked with our legal counsel and with the assistant AG (attorney general) to make sure that this act does not interfere with any previous acts or resolutions or any other work that we’ve done previously in granting easements and that sort of thing.”

The bill follows the legislators rejecting a resolution in January to lease 190 acres of trust land in Adair County to Hunt Mill Hollow Ranch. The ranch is a hunting resort, and its owner wanted to lease the acreage to resolve a trespassing issue with the tribe. After purchasing approximately 5,000 acres nearly a decade ago, the ranch owner fenced in his property as well as CN trust land.

Legislators also unanimously authorized a right-of-way easement to Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company for the W.W. Hasting’s Hospital expansion. Ground was broken for a 469,000-square-foot addition in February.

During the April 10 Resource Committee meeting, Lay said he had concerns about a waiver in the right-of-way bill.

“We need power and gas and so forth, but I keep seeing, in fact, I see them on all three of these resolutions that are coming through Resources. Mr. Speaker and I, we’ve talked about these waivers of evaluation and waivers of bonds, waivers of compensation. Whenever I see a waiver, a red flag goes up, and forgive me for being so independent, but that’s just the way I am,” Lay said.

Joel Bean, of the CN Realty Department, said the waiver in place because the tribe wasn’t requesting any “compensation” for the land.

“For a project that we’re not requesting any compensation for, that’s the reason we’re asking for the wavier evaluation because there’s not really a reason for the tribe to spend three or $4,000 getting an appraisal done for the easement and the substation itself that we’re not going to be charging that company the money for,” he said. “The tribe itself isn’t going to charge for that easement itself, you know. If we’re charging for a pipeline going across our property or something like that we wouldn’t include the wavier unless it was for something that was supplying Cherokee Nation’s property or the business or the buildings or houses. Everything’s going to be supplied to the Nation.”

Lay said he didn’t “like” waivers but voted for the resolution “under protest.”

“What we’re doing here is a good thing. We need it. We gotta have it. But I’m going to vote for it under protest of all these waivers. I just don’t like these waivers because some of these things were built up and sent up for the protection of tribes at one time or another,” he said.

During the Tribal Council meeting, legislators also unanimously passed a resolution to allow the building of seven storm shelters for Head Start facilities in the tribe’s jurisdiction.

During the April 10 Education Committee meeting, Christina Carroll, of CN Grant Services, said the facilities were chosen because they are “Cherokee-owned facilities.”

“We can’t place them on state land or non-tribal facilities. So the seven facilities will be all various communities, and they’ll get shelters that fit their needs for each building,” she said. “They will be attached to the facilities. It’s not a under the ground or anything like that. It’s a additional room on the building and they will be FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)-rated buildings.”

Legislators also unanimously passed a resolution to sponsor a CN Scout Award for the Boy Scouts of America.

During the March 21 Rules Committee meeting, Tribal Councilor Keith Austin said by sponsoring the award “every Cherokee boy in scouting throughout the United States, or throughout the world, can achieve a Cherokee Scout Knot for their uniform.”

In other business, legislators:

• Increased the fiscal year 2017 capital budget by $375,000 to $279.9 million,

• Increased the FY 2017 operating budget by $2.02 million to $669.9 million,

• Approved Dewayne Marshall as a Sequoyah High School board of education member,

• Authorized CN to lease approximately 25 acres of tribal trust land on which a gym and ball field are located to the CC Camp Community Organization in Adair County,

• Authorized the BIA to update the tribe’s inventory of tribal transportation facilities,

• Authorized an application to the Federal Highway Administration for two bridges over Wickliffe Creek in Mayes County,

• Approved CN warehouse donations to Maryetta School, Boys & Girls Club in Delaware County, Disney Assembly of God Church, Spavinaw Community Building, Cedar Tree Baptist Church, Calvary Indian Baptist Church, Stilwell Public Library and the Neighborhood Association of Chewey, and

• Approved CN Education Service donations to Bluejacket Public School.

Health

Meth surge leads to record overdose deaths in Oklahoma
BY JEFF RAYMOND
Oklahoma Watch
04/05/2017 08:15 AM
A record number of Oklahomans died from drug overdoses in 2016, and for the first time in years, methamphetamine was the single biggest killer, preliminary data shows.

An Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control analysis shows 952 people died from overdoses, and the number is likely to rise as pending autopsies are finalized. The total number of overdose deaths is well above the 862 recorded in 2015 and the previous record of 870 in 2014.

Meth was involved in 328 of the deaths, climbing steeply from 271 in 2015 and surpassing the total combined deaths involving much-abused opioids hydrocodone and oxycodone.

Opioids remain a potent threat, however. As a group, they were involved in more fatal overdoses than meth in 2016.

Fatal heroin overdoses continued to surge, with the drug involved in 49 deaths in 2016, up from 31 in 2015. Other states have seen larger increases in deadly heroin abuse.

The Narcotics Bureau said its numbers derive from its running collection of autopsy results from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Narcotics Bureau spokesman Mark Woodward attributed the meth-related deaths partly to the growing use and continued availability of the drug.

Oklahoma’s high rates of mental illness and addiction, along with crackdowns on opioid prescribing, have made the state a ready market for a form of meth, called “ice,” provided by Mexican cartels.

The living-room meth labs of the previous decade are less common now, with discoveries of labs decreasing dramatically, Woodward said. Instead, meth comes from “super labs” in Mexico and along the U.S.-Mexico border. People who once would have cooked small amounts of meth to sell and use now steal or barter to feed their habits.

“It’s cheap, it’s accessible and someone in your circle will have it if you’re using drugs,” he said.

Changes in law have helped decrease opioid overdoses, health officials say. A 2015 law requires doctors to check the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program database before prescribing opioids and benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, to new patients. A 2014 reclassification of combination opioids, such as Lortab, which includes hydrocodone and acetaminophen, into Schedule II controlled dangerous substances, prohibits doctors from writing prescriptions for more than 90 days and phoning them in to pharmacies.

Jeff Dismukes, spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, said the declining number of opioid-related deaths also corresponds with lives saved from administering opioid-blocking Naloxone.

“It’s pretty darn close,” he said. “You can see how we’re really making a difference in bringing that number down.”

However, prescription drug overdoses remain a scourge.

“We’ve made a little progress with opioids but we’re nowhere near that not being a problem,” Dismukes said. “That’s still the biggest issue in the state”

Jessica Hawkins, prevention director for the Mental Health Department, cautioned against oversimplifying potential links between meth and prescription drug abuse. A drop in one doesn’t necessarily lead to an increase in the other, she said.

“They’re concurrently problematic,” she said. “What we don’t want to do is switch attention from another serious epidemic, which is the opioid epidemic we’re in, and move attention away from that.”

Hawkins said potential causes include increased strength of methamphetamine, manner of taking the drug (IV users are more likely to suffer an overdose), using meth with other substances, and multigenerational use in some families.

Woodward said there is no way to know if the hundreds of Oklahomans who died from meth overdoses were regular users or were shifting from prescription opioids to meth. Autopsies and medical examiner reports only determine what was in a person’s body at the time of death, or if responders found drugs or paraphernalia nearby. Also, many people who die from drug overdoses have taken multiple drugs, although the Narcotics Bureau counts them according to the main drug found in their systems.

“When you’re an addict, you’ll take what you can get. … They all have their drug of choice, but they’re not exclusive to that drug,” he said.

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that produces in-depth and investigative content on public-policy issues facing the state. For more Oklahoma Watch content, go to oklahomawatch.org.

Opinion

OPINION: Women play essential role in history, success at CN
BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
04/01/2017 12:00 PM
Historically, the Cherokee Nation has been a matriarchal society and has always looked to strong women for guidance and leadership. Cherokee women are proud and powerful and fuel our success as a tribe. This fact is as true today as ever. We are honor and celebrate the enormous contributions Cherokee women have made throughout our history and in our modern government and business endeavors.

As Principal Chief, I strive to place talented women in leadership roles within this administration and at Cherokee Nation Businesses. In fact, there are more women in management at CNB and Cherokee Nation than ever before. Many of our tribal programs and departments are led by women and our tribal government’s workforce is dominated by women. Of the 3,665 employees we have at Cherokee Nation, 2,597 are female. That represents more than 71 percent of our staff.

We have created a more female-friendly work environment at Cherokee Nation by establishing a fully paid, eight-week maternity leave policy for expectant mothers who work for the Cherokee Nation and by raising the minimum wage for all employees, allowing our employees to continue working for the Cherokee people while meeting their family obligations.

The tribe’s legislative body, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, is shaped, in part, by Deputy Speaker Victoria Vazquez and Councilors Frankie Hargis, Janees Taylor and Wanda Hatfield. Their leadership and vision are helping drive the Cherokee Nation into a brighter future.

Recently, we also recognized the fourth anniversary of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. At Cherokee Nation, we remain committed to protecting women and children from the epidemic of domestic violence. We created the ONE FIRE Victim Services office to be a beacon of hope and safety for women and families within our tribal jurisdiction.

People

Stretch starts fencing program sparked from passion
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
03/29/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – A passion for fencing and teaching others the sport encouraged Cherokee Nation citizen Kevin Stretch to begin a fencing program at the Academy of Performing Arts.

He said the first class began approximately three months ago and he hopes to get “a lot” of attention drawn to fencing.

“Currently I have six (students). It’s my first group, and they range from 6 years old, which is pretty young, to probably in their mid-40s. Two dads come with their children,” he said.

Stretch said he’s tried to start a fencing program for “years.” He said he started one in Tahlequah because the sport is “under promoted” in the area.

“When I moved to Tahlequah, there’s not a lot of opportunity. The opportunities are in Fayetteville (Arkansas) or Little Rock, Arkansas, or Tulsa, so it’s an hour and a half drive to get to fencing in this area. Plus, I think that it’s…under promoted in this area, and I’d kind of like to see us grow into a nice club where we can go fence with our people,” he said.

Stretch said his program focuses on foil fencing, where one hand is typically behind the fencer.

“What we do primarily is foil fencing, and it is a thinner weapon. It has a blunt tip on it so it doesn’t actually make a puncture wound. Foil’s kind of the finesse of the sport,” he said. “So there’s foil, there’s épée and there’s sabre. Sabre’s like the MMA (mixed martial arts) of fencing where it’s kind of a brutal sport. Foil fencing, the torso, not counting arms, is the target area. So when you make a touch on the torso then you get a point. The way we play it is the first to five points wins.”

He said in fencing different articles of protection are necessary when competing. He said some items worn are the jacket, which is form-fitting with a strap that goes between the legs, and a mask, which provides protection for the head and neck. The mask’s face is metal mesh. There is also the plastron, an underarm protector that provides extra protection under the jacket, and gloves, which provide protection for the sword hand.

As for his students, Stretch said they’ve done a “great job.” “I didn’t really have any expectations, and they’ve done a great job. Some of them are turning into great fencers. They’re learning off of each other.”

Logan Stansell, 14, of Tahlequah, is a student who began fencing because he wanted to “get in shape.”

“I use to be very out of shape, you know, unhealthy, and I wanted to change that. So I saw fencing as a good idea due to it being an interesting alternative to normal exercise. Something that can be fun and enjoyable while at the same time a good workout,” he said.

He said the sport is “amazing,” and it’s something he enjoys weekly. “I feel like I’m actually learning. You feel the progress. You learn when you’re getting better.”

Stretch said he’s been interested in fencing since college and started fencing at the Tulsa YMCA.

“I was playing racquetball at the time, and I noticed that they had fencing, so I started taking fencing there and did it for several years,” he said. “Then I moved, at one point, to Little Rock, Arkansas, and they have great fencing there. So I was fencing in Little Rock at the Central Arkansas Fencing Club, and then I arose to be an assistant coach there and that’s kind of where I got the interest of coaching.”

Stretch said his next class starts on April 14 and it’s a beginner’s class for ages 6 and up. He said students do not have to have equipment immediately because he starts them on “footwork.”

“What we do is…we have a few weapons for you to practice with. You won’t fence anyone else because you won’t have equipment, but after you’ve done it for a couple of weeks then we have a little basic fencing set that you can purchase online,” he said. “That usually runs about $150 for that basic setup, and it’s the jacket, the mask and the glove and the weapon.”

He said he eventually hopes to offer advanced classes.

“So what we’re hoping is that once we build up a small group then maybe we can have intermediate classes and maybe advanced,” he said.

For more information, call 918-803-1408 or visit the “Fencing in NE Oklahoma” Facebook group.
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Call Justin Smith 918-207-4975

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