“Spooklight” is a film Lind is developing with filmmaker Gabrielle Demeestere. It is a “psychological and environmental horror film” that examines the deteriorating relationship between two Cherokee siblings and their non-Native half brother. It will be filmed in northeastern Oklahoma and feature performances by local Native actors and non-actors.
“Allotment” is a documentary by Lind and filmmaker Mark Lazarz. It is an “impressionistic portrait” of northeastern Oklahoma and its people that examines the legacy of enforced land ownership inside the CN. It is being filmed across over the course of four seasons and will feature interviews with local residents, tribal leaders, elders, politicians, church leaders, cowboys, artisans and local historians.
“Growing up it wasn’t cool to be Indian,” Lind said. “Most of my classmates weren’t into it, and those that were didn’t see me as part of their group because I’m tall and blond.”
While at Yale University, Lind said he longed to connect with other Native Americans.
VINITA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen J.J. Lind is a Brooklyn, New York-based artist and artistic director of Immediate Medium, a nonprofit performance and producing collective he co-founded in 2002. He’s created more than 20 works spanning theater, video, photography and performance that have been presented throughout New York City. He also has two film projects in development that explore his Native ancestry and home state of Oklahoma.
Pettit said he grew up listening to broadcasts of the University of Oklahoma Sooners and University of Arkansas Razorbacks basketball teams.
“Now, I do my own stuff. I do basketball or game of the week here on 105.1 (KXMX in Sallisaw). I do the play-by-play, the color (commentary), all my own stats, everything,” he said.
He initially thought about going into the radio broadcasting business in 2010 while working as realtor in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
“I always had a passion for radio, and I got a note from one of my friends about doing broadcasting school, and it was all online so I was able to do it,” Pettit said.
SALLISAW, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Justin Pettit grew up with a passion for radio broadcasting after listening to sports on the radio during his early years.
Priscilla, Payton’s mother, said Payton won the Arizona State championship and three other races.
“This year she won the championship for Arizona State, taking home the first, and then we also competed for Gold cup, which is regional (District Championship). She competed in two gold cups, South Central (Regional Championship) and South West (Regional Championship). She won both of those receiving the number one,” she said. “The South Central was in Texas, which was a new track for her, new girls, and she went out there and she had a clean sweep, but she got first place on all three days of the championship so she came home the overall winner. Then the Southwestern was in Arizona, she also brought home first place that weekend.”
In 2015, Payton won the Arizona championship and third place for the DK Bikes Gold Cup Regional Championship, both in the 5-and-under girls’ class.
Priscilla said Payton is doing “awesome” and that her district championship win was not separated by age, gender or skill level.
BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. – After participating in BMX, or bicycle motocross, for the past few years, Cherokee Nation citizen Payton Sarabia, 7, had a successful 2016 when it came to taking home the gold.
The Goingsnake District Heritage Association is a nonprofit organization in Westville dedicated to the preservation of Cherokee history and genealogy, especially of the Goingsnake District.
GDHA President Jack Baker, of Oklahoma City, said the association was formed nearly 40 years ago to remember the history of the district, which encompassed what is now northern Adair County, a portion of eastern Cherokee County and a portion of southern Delaware County.
“It was formed in 1978 by a group of citizens in Westville whose families were all Cherokee citizens. They wanted to remember their families and what had happened in the (Cherokee) Nation,” said Baker, who was born on his grandfather’s land allotment in the Chewey Community of northern Adair County. “I may be the only one that’s left from that early time period. All of the ones who went to the early meetings, sometimes there would be only a half a dozen of us there, almost everyone of them are dead. But it was to remember what had happened and to perpetuate the history of the Goingsnake District.”
In 1983, the group started publishing the “Goingsnake Messenger,” a newsletter and historical journal that highlighted the group’s activities, genealogy and Cherokee history. The 30-page journal is now published twice a year.
WESTVILLE, Okla. – In Indian Territory, before Oklahoma statehood, the Cherokee Nation was divided into the Canadian, Cooweescoowee, Delaware, Flint, Goingsnake, Illinois, Saline, Sequoyah and Tahlequah districts.
Ray, a NSU graduate, said as an acting teacher she’s a firm believer that if she’s going to teach it she needs to do it well.
“I think coaches should play a game every once in a while. I think it’s good for you.” Ray said.
“In my career I have been fortunate to inhabit numerous different roles, whether it was a straight drama or a fun musical, but no experience comes close to playing Martha in Edward Albee’s Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play, ‘Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ It has been one of my favorite plays and by far my favorite role, and one I didn’t think I’d ever get the chance to play. NSU Theatre Company, which is my home stage, gave me that chance this past February, and I can’t thank my director, Dr. Robyn Pursley, enough for choosing me for this role.”
Ray said it was “exhilarating” being on the stage again in a role that was “emotionally draining and so rewarding.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen and Sequoyah High School drama teacher Amanda Ray starred in Northeastern State University Drama’s production of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” which ran Feb. 15-18 at the NSU Playhouse.
Brian Jackson, range coordinator, said the tournament was held to help students prepare for the state tournament.
“They wanted to host a tournament right before the state tournament, so we have 40 targets out there, over 400 archers and they’re going nuts out here,” he said.
Jackson said students could have scored a maximum of 300 points during the shoot.
“They will shoot at 10 meters, and they’ll shoot at 15 meters. They have three scoring rounds at 10 meters, three scoring rounds at 15 meters for a maximum of 300 possible points. Some of them will be in the top 280s, 290s,” he said.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Approximately 400 archers from 30 schools across visited the Cherokee Nation’s Joe Thornton Archery Range on Feb. 24 to compete in the Oklahoma Rural Elementary Schools Tournament.
Walters will lead the NAIHC beginning April 3. Tony is from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and most recently served as staff director and chief counsel to Sen. Jon Tester for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, a NAIHC press release states.
“He brings with him a strong background in advocacy and Indian law and policy, including the development of legislative strategies,” the release states.
His education includes a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and juris doctorate from the Oklahoma University College of Law.
“The Board of Directors strongly believes Tony is the right person to lead our organization as we strengthen our advocacy at the federal level,” states the release.
WASHINGTON – Cherokee Nation citizen Anthony “Tony” Walters has been named the executive director for the National American Indian Housing Council, which recently restructured its management positions.
Serving as executive vice president and director of Bank of Cherokee County in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, she received a three-year term on Jan. 1. Previously, she was a member of the Kansas City Fed’s Community Development Advisory Council.
“I’m pleased to be able to contribute to the work the Federal Reserve is doing to ensure that monetary policy is implemented with communities like Tahlequah and Cherokee County in mind. The 10th District Fed leaders in Kansas City and Oklahoma City are committed to listening to the perspectives of community-owned financial institutions like Bank of Cherokee County on the policy issues that greatly affect the future of small businesses across the region,” Plumb said. “I plan to give my best effort to bring pertinent economic information that contributes to the Federal Reserve’s mission of promoting maximum employment and low and stable inflation.”
As the regional headquarters of the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and its branches in Denver, Oklahoma City and Omaha serve the seven states of the 10th Federal Reserve District: Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, northern New Mexico and western Missouri.
The Federal Reserve Act established the authority of the Reserve Bank’s board of directors. Directors meet monthly to confer on economic and banking developments and to advise the bank on its operations and policies. The directors also are responsible for establishing the Reserve Bank’s discount rate, subject to review and determination by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Cherokee Nation citizen Susan Chapman Plumb was recently appointed to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Oklahoma City Branch.
Pickup said he became interested in tattooing at age 15.
“It was just something that first interested me when I saw somebody doing it with a homemade tattoo machine. So I wanted to try and make one. I did and started tattooing on my brothers and cousins,” he said.
Pickup worked in several tattoo shops before becoming licensed as a tattoo artist around age 26. Nearly 10 years after becoming licensed, he opened his shop in 2014.
“I decided to open my own shop once I worked at other tattoo shops, once they (Oklahoma lawmakers) legalized it. I first worked in a tattoo shop and thought it was pretty cool making money like that, but I was only making half. And then after a while I decided ‘man, I need to do this for myself,’” Pickup said.
SALINA, Okla. – With a love for art, Cherokee Nation citizen Brett Pickup has used his drawing skills to develop a career as a licensed tattoo artist and open the Underground Art Tattoo Studio.
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 email@example.com
NORMAN, Okla. – The University of Oklahoma College of Law on March 24 will host the American Indian Law Review’s annual “Indigenous Peoples, Law, and Power Symposium.”
This year’s theme is “Oil and Water.” The symposium is co-sponsored in partnership with the OU’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Native American Studies Department. The event will begin at 10 a.m. in the Dick Bell Courtroom in Andrew M. Coats Hall.
Experts of Native American environmental issues will sit on two panels and give two keynote addresses. The speakers and their topics include:
Morning Panel: “The Chickasaw-Choctaw Compact in Context,” Sara Hill, senior assistant attorney general of the Cherokee Nation, and Taiawagi Helton, professor of law, University of Oklahoma College of Law.
Morning Keynote: “Water Sovereignty and Stewardship: The Historic Chickasaw-Choctaw Water Settlement,” Stephen Greetham, chief general counsel and special counsel on water and natural resources, Chickasaw Nation and Michael Burrage, managing partner, Whitten Burrage Law Firm;
Afternoon Panel: “Justice and Juxtaposition: Environmental Justice and Protest in Parallel,” Taiawagi Helton, professor of law, University of Oklahoma College of Law; and
Afternoon Keynote: “The Impact of Fracking on Indian Nations: A Case Study,” Walter Echo-Hawk, of counsel, Crowe & Dunlevy.
“This year’s “Indigenous Peoples, Law, and Power Symposium” builds upon several dedicated events we have held this year, all of which have focused on the intersection of Native American rights and environmental law,” said OU College of Law Dean Joseph Harroz Jr. “We are honored to host these discussions on such important issues and we’re pleased to have the partnership of OU’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Native American Studies Department as we do so.”
In December 2015, the OU Board of Regents unanimously voted to elevate Native American Studies from a program to department status at the request of OU President David L. Boren. Since 1994, OU’s Native American Studies focus has attracted and served students of diverse backgrounds who are committed to using distinctly Native American perspectives to place the sovereignty of Native nations and the cultures of Native peoples at the center of academic study. In addition to a graduate certificate in American Indian Social Work, the Department offers bachelor’s, master’s, and joint master’s and juris doctorate degrees.
“This is our sixth year to co-host this special event,” said Dr. Amanda Cobb-Greetham (Chickasaw), chair of the Native American Studies Department and director of the newly established Native Nations Center. “Our partnership grows out of our joint M.A./J.D. program, which makes all of our students uniquely competitive. This year’s symposium topic is of critical importance to Native nations and communities. The subject matter is dear to our hearts as it impacts our lands as well as our political and cultural identities.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Councilors on Feb. 21 unanimously voted to accept an apology from the U.S. Forest Service Southern Region for damages to a Trail of Tears site in the Cherokee National Forest near Coker Creek, Tennessee.
In July 2015, U.S. Forest Service cultural resource managers notified higher-ranked Forest Service officials that they had discovered damage made in 2014 to a site on a Trail of Tears section. The damage consisted of holes dug by a bulldozer and other heavy equipment.
“At that site, 35 large holes were dug into the historic Trail of Tears to create large, earthen berms,” Sheila Bird, Cherokee Nation special projects officer, told the Cherokee Phoenix in 2016. “They used bulldozer and other heavy equipment, and this earthmoving resulted clear and extensive damage to the historic national trail.”
She added that Forest Service employees did the work and claimed that it was done for erosion control and to prevent areas of the Trail of Tears from washing out.
“This is a well-known and mapped Trail of Tears path, but it was not marked because it was privately owned. This land was purchased by Conservation Fund and held for the U.S. Forest Service,” she said. “The District Ranger failed to follow federal laws requiring consultation with Indian tribes. The Forest Service has acknowledged fault and committed to restoring the site.”
According to a Feb 21 resolution, the U.S. Forest Service-Southern Region “recognizes the cultural and historic significance held by the Cherokee Nation regarding the Trail of Tears historic site and extends an apology for the unfortunate and adverse effects that have occurred.”
It also states the “Cherokee Nation agrees to consult on a government to government basis with the U.S. Forest Service-Southern Region regarding the restoration and mitigation of these adverse effects to this Trail of Tears sacred site.”
It adds that as a “Good Faith Effort” and to commit to jointly pursue meaningful mitigation the Tribal Council accepts the apology.
Also during the meeting, Tribal Council voted 17-0 to support the nominations of Michael Doublehead and Steven Wilson as commissioners to the Tax Commission. They also voted Ceciley Thomason-Murphy onto the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
Tribal Councilors voted to donate three surplus vehicles from the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service to the Nowata Police Department and Muskogee and Delaware counties sheriff’s offices.
Three CN citizens were also honored with the Cherokee Medal of Freedom – John Thomas Cripps III, who served in the U.S. Army, and John Paul Atkinson and Jesse James Collins, who served in the Oklahoma Army National Guard and were activated in 2011 to the RECON 1-279th 45th Infantry to Afghanistan.
Two budget modifications were also passed. The comprehensive capital budget was increased by $1.8 million for a total capital budget authority of $279.6 million. The tribe’s operating budget was also increased by $2.1 million for a total budget authority of $666.6 million. The changes consisted of a decrease in the general fund by $92,000 and increases in the indirect cost pool, motor vehicle tax, Department of Interior Self Governance and IHS Self Governance and budgets.
ATLANTA, Ga. – Community-based and individual-level prevention strategies are effective ways to reduce alcohol use among American Indian and other youth living in rural communities, according to a new study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse also provided support for the study.
“This important study underscores our commitment to finding evidence-based solutions for alcohol problems in American Indian and other underserved populations,” said NIAAA Director George F. Koob “This study is one of the largest alcohol prevention trials ever conducted with an American Indian population, and the first to demonstrate the effectiveness of screening and brief counseling intervention in significantly reducing youth alcohol use at a community level.”
Although American Indian teens drink at rates similar to other United States teens, they have early onset alcohol use compared to other groups and higher rates of alcohol problems. Rural youths, including those who are a racial minority relative to their community, are also at increased risk for alcohol misuse. Early prevention is critical in these populations, but both American Indians and rural communities have been underrepresented in studies aimed at finding effective solutions for underage drinking.
To address this gap, researchers led by Kelli A. Komro of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta worked with the Cherokee Nation, the second-largest tribe in the U.S., to implement a rigorous research trial of two distinct strategies to reduce underage drinking and its consequences.
Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol is a community-organizing intervention designed to reduce alcohol access, use and consequences among underage youths. The second strategy, called CONNECT, is an individually delivered screening and brief intervention delivered in schools. The study was conducted within the 14 counties of northeastern Oklahoma that comprise the CN jurisdictional area, which is home to about 40 percent of the tribe. While CN citizens constitute a significant proportion of the population, whites and other racial/ethnic minorities also live within this area. Results of the trial are reported in the March 2017 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
“Community organizing has been used effectively in multiple other health intervention trials and appeared to be an optimal strategy to engage diverse citizens in these multicultural communities,” explained Dr. Komro. CMCA involves training teams of adults to implement policies and take actions to reduce youth access to alcohol through social and commercial sources. In the school-based intervention, a school social worker conducts a brief one-on-one health consultation with each student each semester to encourage healthy behavior change related to alcohol consumption. Students who report high risk drinking attend follow-up sessions and are referred to specialty treatment when appropriate.
Six communities, each served by a single high school, participated in the study. The student population in these communities was nearly 50 percent American Indian. The study population consisted of students who were in ninth or 10th grade when the study began and followed over three years through 11th or 12th grade.
By random assignment, students in two communities received both the community-organizing intervention and the individually delivered intervention. Students in two different communities served as controls, and received neither intervention. One of the remaining two communities used only the community-organizing intervention while the other used only the school-based individually administered intervention.
Over the course of the study, researchers found that self-reports of alcohol use, including any use and heavy drinking episodes (five or more drinks on at least one occasion) in the past 30 days, was significantly reduced among students receiving either or both interventions, compared with students in the control communities.
“The two distinct interventions alone and in combination resulted in similar patterns of effect across time,” said Komro, “but, interestingly, we found no evidence that the two interventions combined had significantly greater effects than either alone.”
Komro and her colleagues conclude that, while alcohol use among high school students remains a serious public health problem, and rural and American Indian youths are particularly vulnerable populations, the specific community and school-based interventions they examined are effective approaches for addressing alcohol problems in these diverse communities.
Additional alcohol research information and publications are available at: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov
I'm going to share some “feels” with you. I'm not going to weep all over the page, but I will share with you what this job has meant to me, what it’s done for me and how I come to spend nearly 10 years doing it.
This job has shaped not only my career but also my life. I wasn’t one of those kids who had their tribal heritage shared with them as they grew up. I mean my story isn't that different from a lot of people. I was Cherokee. I knew that, but I missed out on the cultural aspect of being a tribal citizen. This job gave me the opportunity to not only grow and establish a career, but I grew to understand my culture, where I came from and what the Cherokee people have overcome. I learned of a tumultuous history that my ancestors faced as well as a personal history regarding my direct ancestor, Anderson Springston. I even wrote a column about it explaining the roles my people played in the killing of three prominent Cherokees: Major Ridge, John Ridge and Elias Boudinot. I also learned of the connection the son of that ancestor, John Leak Springston, had with the Cherokee Phoenix. He was known to be an Indian activist, an interpreter, newspaper editor, attorney and Keetoowah revivalist.
There have been so many stories that have left a mark on me. I’ve covered countless meetings, several tribal elections, as well as your basic health, education, cultural and people stories, and they all served a purpose of educating, entertaining and informing the Cherokee people.
It’s been nearly 10 years since I started here, and I have loved having the opportunity to work for such a historic newspaper. I’ve met some great people and made lasting relationships, but my most favorite aspect of working in this capacity has ultimately been helping people by both informing them of what their government is doing, as well as giving our Cherokee people a voice - something that has been taken from them time and again.
My concern for the Cherokee people and their involvement in the goings-on within their government is something that during the past several years I’ve noticed is most important. So I’ve tried to do that. It’s important to become educated in your government. You should want to have a say in what happens within your tribe. We’ve seen in our history what happens when we allow others to decide for us, and we’re a stronger people than that. I personally missed out on being involved with my tribe while growing up, but that will not be the case any longer and neither will it be for my children.
I buried the lede with this one friends, but on purpose, because once I’ve written it and once you’ve read it, it’s real. I have tendered my resignation from the Cherokee Phoenix effective April 8. I have accepted a job with the city of Tahlequah. Although I’m sad, scared and nervous for what is coming I know this is the best move for me.
This change will afford me the chance to reach for goals that working for the tribe will not allow. Although those goals may be far down the road, I need to give myself a true shot at accomplishing them. But new is always scary.
I hope the Cherokee Phoenix, a newspaper that has been at the forefront and example for excellent tribal journalism, will continue to be what it was created to be, what it should be – a true voice of the Cherokee people. One that stands up for what is right by its citizens and one that the Cherokee people can count on to be a real representation of the what happens within our tribe, not just what you need to know.
You are the Cherokee Nation. No voice is too big or small and at the end of the day the Cherokee Nation is not a thing, it’s a people and those people should be treated with respect and love like all people.
I wish all my fellow staffers, current and former, the best. You made me better, smarter and definitely more quick-witted.
So with that said, I bid you a fond farewell. Much love to anyone who played a part in the stories I’ve told over the years. This isn’t goodbye. If I can be of any help to someone in the future, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
KANSAS, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Sonny Bullett grew up with a passion for wrestling. Now he’s sharing that passion via the Kansas Wrestling Club with children from the Kansas, Oaks and Leach areas in southern Delaware County.
The club, which belongs to the Oklahoma Wrestling Association, completed its first season in February.
“It has taken a long time to see a dream become a reality. You don’t just have a dream one day and it becomes a reality the next. It takes time,” Bullett said.
Bullett said he and his wife invested around $20,000 of their own money to finance the club. He said he had to find a facility; purchase wrestling mats, uniforms and shoes; and find kids who wanted to try the sport.
The club practices at the former Lowery Head Start between Leach and Twin Oaks.
Bullet said the club’s ultimate goal is to get wrestling into area schools that do not have programs such as Kansas and Oaks.
“So that’s kind of been my whole goal since we started was to try to get it pushed into schools, and you have to start when they’re little. You can’t just start in high school and expect any results because everybody’s been wrestling so long before they ever get there, so you have to start them young and then roll them on up into high school,” Bullett said.
There are approximately 15 kids who have joined the club since it has started, he said.
Most come from Kansas Public Schools and are CN citizens. They compete in folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman style wrestling. For many members, it is their first time in the sport while others have been wrestling for years.
CN citizen Mason Carnes is the oldest wrestler in the club and a freshman at Kansas High School. At 14, he has been wrestling for four years, has won 16 medals and competed in 32 tournaments.
“I really like it. It’s real fun,” he said.
The club also received its first state champion in CN citizen Landyn Atchley. At 9 years old, in Heavyweight Division 2, Atchley placed first in January at the OKWA Novice State Championship tournament in Oklahoma City and first in February at the OKWA Open State Championship in Tulsa. This qualifies him to compete in April for the Oklahoma state team at the World Championships in Reno, Nevada.
“It’s been one of the short-term goals, to get a state champion in the club and then that will boost the presence in the community,” Bullett said.
Bullett said the parents involved are supportive of the club in bringing their kids to practices and taking them to wrestling events.
“I think they’re better kids being in wrestling...I see no negative at all being in wrestling. The coach is always trying to get them to improve and to be respectful to other people,” Charles Atchley, Landyn’s father, said.
Kim Carnes, Mason’s mother, said she has seen growth in Mason as the sport has built his self-esteem and coordination.
Bullett said Oaks High School is interested in starting a wrestling program, and he hopes to help them build one in the near future.
“It’s exciting to see others starting to see the value of wrestling gives not only to the individual, but to the community as well,” he said.
For more information, 918-809-3032 or visit the Kansas Wrestling Club Facebook page.