The Angel Tree Project helps provide gifts for children 16 years old and younger and will be accepting applications until Oct. 27.
Rachel Fore, Indian Child Welfare administrative operations manager, said in 2016 the program helped 1,739 children receive gifts and needed items for the holiday season.
For children to qualify they must live within the tribe’s jurisdiction and their parents or legal guardians must meet income guidelines. Income guidelines change annually.
According to a CN press release, applicants must provide proof of income for all household members over the age of 18. For example, a family of three must not exceed $2,127 net income per month, and a family of four must not exceed $2,562 per month.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – As the season of giving approaches, the Cherokee Nation provides ways for children and elders to receive much-needed items or gifts they may not receive without the help of others.
The $1.13 million project includes an asphalt overlay covering nearly 6 miles of road, along with the placement of gravel shoulders, new striping and the installation of new signs.
“Dwight Mission Road is an important route traveled by many of the residents and visitors in Sequoyah County each and every day, and it also leads into the scenic Cherokee National Park,” Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden said. “This is another example of our tribal government’s commitment to building strong and positive partnerships with county and city governments in northeast Oklahoma. Collaborations like the one we completed on Dwight Mission Road improve the lives not only of Cherokees, but of non-Cherokees, as well.”
The CN used Federal Highway Administration Tribal Transportation Program funds to cover the costs. The tribe chose JOB Construction of Poteau as the contractor for the project.
“I’m not only a county commissioner, but I’m also a Cherokee Nation citizen, and it means so much to me to be able to say to the citizens in Sequoyah County, ‘It’s my chief, my tribe and my councilmembers who made this project happen,’” Sequoyah County Dist. 2 Commissioner Steve Carter said. “I get to live the best of both worlds on a project like this, and I can’t say enough good things about this partnership.”
SALLISAW, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation and Sequoyah County officials gathered on Oct. 16 near Sallisaw to dedicate a newly paved 6-mile stretch of Dwight Mission Road in rural Sequoyah County.
iSave teaches individuals to budget their incomes and how to save money. After saving money, the program matches those individuals’ savings.
“We were actually the very first Indian tribe to start a Individual Development Account program in 1998,” Commerce Services Executive Director Anna Knight said.
The program went through changes after Knight said she discovered Cherokees were mostly using funds for housing rehab.
“Now we focus specifically on housing rehab. And when we talk about rehab, we’re talking about improvements that are made to the home that increase the value of the home,” she said.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Commerce Services helps Cherokees whose homes are undergoing rehabilitation pay for the work with its Individual Development Account program known as iSave.
Thanks in part to a donation from Cherokee Nation Businesses, as well as donations from Cherokee Phoenix individual subscribers, it was possible to expand the fund to include Cherokee veterans of any age.
“The Elder Fund was created to provide free subscriptions to Cherokee elders 65 and older,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “Due to an influx of recent donations, we had the ability to extend the Elder Fund to include Cherokee veterans. We will continue to give free subscriptions to our elders and veterans as long as we have money in our Elder & Veteran Fund.”
Using the newly renamed Elder & Veteran Fund, elders who are 65 and older and Cherokee veterans of any age can apply to receive a free one-year subscription by visiting, calling or writing the Cherokee Phoenix office and requesting a subscription.
The Cherokee Phoenix office is located in the Annex Building on the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The postal address is Cherokee Phoenix, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465. To call about the Elder & Veteran Fund, call 918-207-4975 or 918-453-5269 or email email@example.com
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Phoenix recently made a change to its Elder Fund to make U.S. military veterans eligible for free yearlong subscriptions to the Cherokee Phoenix.
“We realized that we have a need for people more in the late fall during the holiday season, so that they can get that money to get over that hump. So a lot of them are without jobs, they’re without training. So we decided that we would start actually start working on the Day Training program after the Labor Day holiday,” Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelley said.
Jonathan Crittenden, Day Training coordinator, said the program has slowed because of participants utilizing newer programs throughout the year such as the Dislocated Worker Program and the Summer Youth Employment Program.
Since it’s inception in 2009, Day Training has helped more than 2,000 participants who have attained employment within the CN or its entities.
The majority of temporary jobs placements take place within the CN and Cherokee Nation Businesses.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Career Services’ Day Training program helps Cherokees with temporary job placement and training that could potentially result in permanent employment. And because of an influx of applicants during the holiday season, the program will not take applications until the autumn of each year, with the exception of special circumstances.
Elder Summit coordinator Kamisha Hair-Daniels said this year’s events marked the third year the tribe has hosted summits specifically created to benefit Cherokee elders.
“We feed them, we have a resource fair and we also have presenters who come in and give them useful information regarding identity theft, Medicaid fraud, healthy living and other topics like that,” she said.
Daniels said she’s glad that Cherokee Nation officials decided to hold summits for elders.
“It’s a day to let them know that there’s help out there,” she said.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The first of two meetings for the Cherokee Nation Elders Summit was held Sept. 26 at the Northeastern State University Ballroom.
This program is for seniors 60 and older who have little or no family and will not receive a gift without the program. It is for CN citizens and their spouses or widows.
Applications must be completed with a family or elder advocate and be turned in by Oct. 31.
Elder Angels will be available for adoption Nov. 1 - 17 and gifts will be delivered in December.
For more information, call Crystal Thomas at 918-453-5627, Rachelle Singleterry at 918-453-5694 or Juanita Bark at 918-253-4219.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Senior Services is once again taking applications for its Elder Angel Tree.
A draft plan copy will be available for review Aug. 21-22. During the review process, the public is encouraged to submit either written or verbal comments regarding the development of the final draft of the LIHEAP plan.
Anyone unable to review the application at one of the CN locations may request information and submit comments over the phone.
For more information and to submit comments, call 918-453-5150 or 918-453-5327.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to a Cherokee Nation Communications press release, the tribe’s fiscal year 2018 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program grant application will be available for public review at the tribe’s W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex and field offices.
Established in 2007, the Child Support Services office collects on average more than $4 million per year for Cherokee children and families.
Child Support Services Director Kara Whitworth said the program has changed a lot in the past 10 years and now operates with the whole picture in mind.
“When we opened our doors, the goal was focused on providing the basic child support services within our Cherokee communities. But our staff realized that child support is more than just collecting money,” Whitworth said. “It is about ensuring the family members involved in each household we serve are provided information and resources that assist with more than just child support assistance.”
In addition to child support enforcement, Child Support Services staff now assesses each family’s individual needs and makes suggestions on tribal programs or trainings that would be beneficial.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Child Support Services recently celebrated the office’s 10th anniversary.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Thanks in part from an Oklahoma Arts Council grant, the Northeastern State University Center for Tribal Studies will host the Indigenous Arts Education Series in November for American Indian Heritage Month.
The series will include the following:Nov. 2
Marcus Harjo (Pawnee/Seminole) will present “Creative Writing and Music Production Workshop” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the University Center Redbud Room. Harjo uses writing, music production and live performances to promote his passions of youth outreach, cultural awareness and promoting healthy, drug-free lifestyles, specifically among American Indian populations. His workshop will focus on teaching participants how to use writing and music composition skills to enhance the delivery of their message. His workshop will conclude with a live performance.Nov. 8
Sandy Fife Wilson (Muscogee Creek) will present “Shell Carving Demonstration” from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the University Center Redbud Room. Wilson is an experienced artist having learned her art techniques through both formal education and traditional means as she comes from a long line of family artists. Wilson specializes in Southeastern design shell carvings, finger-woven items and Creek basketry. She will host a demonstration that will educate the audience on this traditional form of art and lead participants through the process using a direct, hands-on approach to instruction.Nov. 14
Yatika Starr Fields (Muscogee Creek/Osage/Cherokee) will present “Becoming a Mural Artist” from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the University Center Redbud Room. Fields’ presentation will highlight his experience and work as a mural artist and provide attendees with some insight into the highly specialized field of mural art. This event will include a live art demonstration.
The Oklahoma Arts Council is the official state agency for the support and development of the arts. The agency’s mission is to lead in the advancement of Oklahoma’s thriving arts industry. Additional information is available at arts.ok.gov
WASHINGTON – The Global Press Institute is offering Native American women an experience with its Tribal Nations training-to-employment program, which allows women who are enrolled citizens in a tribe the opportunity to become journalists even if they have no prior experience in the field.
Cristi Hegranes, GPI founder and executive director, said in 2016 GPI conducted a pilot of the Tribal Nation’s program and are “excited” to expand the program and accurately tell the Native American story with hopes to get women from Oklahoma involved.
“So much of the coverage that makes it to the national scale is so stereotypically driven, and it really demonstrates a lack of understanding of so much of what happened within communities, tribal governments,” she said. “So we are expanding Global Press Tribal Nations to work with women from a variety of different tribes and communities across the United States to join the Global Press program.”
Hegranes said the program includes “rigorous” training and “long-term” employment.
“Anyone who graduates from our training program will receive long-term employment to cover their community over the long-term working for Global Press Journal,” she said.
Those who are accepted into the program would take part in a weeklong training in Washington, D.C., before reporting in their communities.
“We’ll be bringing women from all different tribes together to spend a week together learning what we call the principals and the practice of Global Press Journalism,” she said. “Then everyone will go back to their communities and they spend a couple of months doing three to six stories working with Global Press editors and fact checkers and copy editors to produce really unique coverage from the community.”
Hegranes said it’s important to highlight that no prior journalism experience or basic education limit is required and that applicants must be 18 or older.
“Really the only thing that is required is a natural curiosity and passion for storytelling and really the time to commit to the training and the long-term story production from the communities,” she said. “On average we work with our reporters for more than five years after the training. So we’re really looking for people who want to make an investment in their future as journalists.”
Hegranes said this “extraordinary” opportunity offers these future journalists the chance to play a “pivotal” role in changing the narrative for their community.
“Global Press news stories reach about 20 million people around the world every month. So this is a huge opportunity to really increase accurate information, to really dive in beyond the stereotypes and tell really authentic, true, important stories that might otherwise never be told,” she said.
Hegranes said GPI has been developing independent news bureaus in under-covered parts of the world for the past 11 years.
“The way that our program works is we identify local women from these communities and we put them through a rigorous training process. Teaching them to be ethical, accurate, investigative, feature journalists,” she said.
The deadline to apply is Oct. 15. To apply, visit http://bit.ly/2yF7fqP
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With 18 years of experience serving the Cherokee people, Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd looks forward to serving another four years as the representative for Dist. 2, which consists of most of northern Cherokee County.
“I love serving the Cherokee people. They’ve got somebody that’s going to work for them again for the next four years, and I’m really looking forward to that,” said Byrd.
Originally from Belfonte/Nicut, Byrd was the youngest Cherokee Nation legislator to be elected. He served on the Tribal Council from 1987-95, followed by term as principal chief from 1995-99. In January 2012, he won a special election to replace Bill John Baker on the Tribal Council. Baker had taken office as the principal chief on Oct. 19, 2011, after a contentious and lengthy principal chief’s race against incumbent Chad Smith.
In 2013, Byrd was re-elected to serve his first full term under the tribe’s 1999 Constitution, which limits elected officials to two consecutive four-year terms before having to sit out a term. He was also named speaker of the Tribal Council in 2015 after then-Speaker Tina Glory Jordan termed out.
When he first ran for office in 1987, Byrd said he felt the need to help the Cherokee people with the issues they were facing.
“Our government didn’t begin serving our people until the 1970s. When I first moved to Northeastern (State University) in 1972 to get an education, it really opened my eyes to a lot of the issues our people were facing,” he said. “In the rural areas there were a lot of people who weren’t self-efficient, and I saw right then we still had many people out in the rural areas that needed help and needed an awareness that there is a tribe out there that should have a responsibility to take care of our people.”
As for his current term, deciding to run again for the Dist. 2 seat was an easy decision, he said, because of his love for serving the Cherokee people and because of his constituents who asked him to continue.
He spoke of elderly women who continues to set an example of how his constituents have not forgotten their Cherokee culture or who they are as a people.
“When people like that come up to me and ask me to run, it’s a real honor to have people with that kind of stature to say, ‘you need to run another time,’” he said. “The people will let you know when it’s time to run. You don’t have to consult them, they’ll let you know.”
During his time as Dist. 2 representative, Byrd has helped with projects to improve services for CN citizens, including the passing of a $900 million budget, a $100 million investment in Cherokee health care as well as a $200 million dollar expansion of the W.W. Hastings Hospital.
For this term, Byrd said he would continue working with the tribe to ensure rural area schools have shelter for inclement weather and that elders and veterans are taken care of.
“Our veterans seem to not be taken care of like they should,” he said. “When we give speeches and talks we all say, ‘we respect our elder’s and we respect our veterans,’ but we have many that are still homeless and not being served. I want to do anything I can to assist in making sure our elders and veterans are taken care of.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Health Services is introducing a program to educate patients on alternative ways other than antibiotics to heal common illnesses.
According to recent information released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotics are often misused for illnesses such as influenza and the common cold, and like other medications, they could have side effects.
According to the CDC, antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in the United States and across the world. The CDC states the main driving factors behind antibiotic resistance are the overuse and misuse of antibiotics.
Using the CDC guidelines, the tribe will more closely monitor antibiotic prescriptions and the use of antibiotics by patients throughout all CN health facilities.
Leadership at Health Services’ nine health centers and W.W. Hastings Hospital is also working to further educate staff on the proper use of antibiotics.
“We strive to educate our citizens and our doctors about the possible dangers of over prescribing medications and of building antibiotic resistance,” Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said. “Throughout Cherokee Nation Health Services, we treat more than a million patients per year, and it is so important that we stay vigilant and educated when prescribing.”
In 2012, Hastings Hospital began the antibiotic stewardship program within its inpatient care, and this year the program will expand to the tribe’s nine health centers, positively impacting the health and treatment of even more CN citizens.
“Antibiotics can be a life-saving or life-threatening intervention depending on how they are used,” Health Services nurse practitioner Whitney Essex said. “We are committed to improving patient outcomes by using antibiotics responsibly.”
The CN operates the largest tribal health system in the country. In fiscal year 2016, the tribe had more than 1.1 million patient visits. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/index.html
As you may have noticed, this month’s cover is a bit more colorful than usual. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we here at the Cherokee Phoenix wanted to help raise awareness about the importance of screening and early detection.
The probability of a woman being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime is 1 in 8, and breast cancer is the second-leading cause of mortality among women in the United States. Within the Cherokee Nation, Breast cancer is the second-most frequently diagnosed cancer and the leading cancer among women. These statistics, coupled with the fact that Native American women have some of the lowest breast cancer screening rates of any ethnic group, is a sobering reality.
Breast cancer cannot be prevented, but early detection is key to successful treatment. Women whose breast cancer is caught at an early stage have a 93 percent survival rate. A Breast Self Exam or BSE, Clinical Breast Exam or CBE and mammogram are all effective early detection methods. CBE and BSE instruction occurs at all CN health centers, and mammograms are performed at the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center, Vinita Health Center, Three Rivers Health Center, A-Mo Health Center, Sam Hider Health Center and the Claremore Indian Hospital.
Additionally, the Cherokee Nation Comprehensive Cancer Control was established to ensure CN citizens were receiving quality treatment, access to clinical trials, patient advocates and instructions on screening and detection. In 2015, more than 2,000 women participated in the screening and early detection program provided by the CNCCC. It is my hope that the number of participants in this program continues to grow year over year.
Today, a pink ribbon is synonymous with breast cancer awareness. But I urge you to take more than just a passing glance at all of the pink you will see this month. I encourage you to take time to learn about the early warning signs, receive instruction on self-exams and make a plan to utilize the resources available through CN Health Services for clinical exams. And men, we should take an active role in the fight against breast cancer as well. Encourage the women you love to take the time for breast cancer screening. It just might save their life.
TULSA, Okla. – For some it’s traditional games such as stickball or marbles. For other Cherokees it may be weaving baskets with traditional materials that bring them closer to their culture. But for 15-year-old Regina Scott, it’s the love for the fiddle and fiddle music that brings her in tune to Cherokee culture.
“I think it’s really cool that I am Cherokee and that I play the fiddle because the fiddle was part of the Cherokee culture,” Cherokee Nation citizen said. “I know there are a lot of people that are Cherokee that probably don’t have a direct connection to their culture, so I am really proud that I have the fiddle because I feel like it brings me closer to my Cherokee culture.”
The Tulsa native found an interest in the bowed-string musical instrument at age 5 when she began taking classical violin lessons from longtime violinist Jody Naifeh. However, it was hearing her cousin play the fiddle that sparked her curiosity for the instrument.
“My cousin was the only one that fiddled, and she doesn’t anymore. It was kind of a brief thing. But it’s really amazing that I even got into it because really no one in my family is musical. My mom told me that both of her grandmothers were musical...but really I’m the only one,” she said.
Scott continued taking violin lessons and began studying fiddling.
“I started off with classical violin from Mrs. Naifeh, which I am still with her today. The cool thing about her is a lot of classical teachers don’t really do fiddling and aren’t super into that side of music. But she took me to my first fiddle contest, and so because of her I kind of got started in fiddling,” she said.
Although fiddle and violin appear the same, Scott said the styles are different.
“The violin and fiddle are very different styles, but both benefit each other. The violin is classical music and is technically difficult and you sight-read the music to learn it. But fiddling you learn by ear, so it’s more like reading a book versus storytelling,” Scott said. “Violin helps the intonation and technical aspect of fiddling, whereas the fiddling helps me to put feeling into the classical music and make it more than just the notes on the page”
As early as 7 years old, Scott traveled statewide to fiddling contests and performances, learning and watching some of the best fiddle players. Now she plays among them, continuing to make her mark. She has also competed in fiddling contests in surrounding states and as far as Idaho.
“I have competed all over. I do the Oklahoma state fiddle contest, the Colorado state fiddle contest, and there is a fiddle contest in Grove called the Grand Lake National Fiddle Contest, and I actual won that a couple of years ago. I am the youngest person to ever win it,” she said. “I have probably been to, I would say, over 50 competitions.
For her accomplishments, CN officials proclaimed Feb. 10 as “Regina Scott Day.” Tribal Councilor Keith Austin presented Scott with the proclamation after her performance at the National Fiddler Hall of Fame Ceremony and Concert in Tulsa in front of an audience of celebrated fiddlers and country musician Vince Gill.
“The National Fiddler Hall of Fame inducts people every year, so I got to play for Randy Howard who was being inducted. So I was on stage and I had just finished and it was a really great moment, and one of the Cherokees came on stage and he said ‘wait, don’t go yet,’ and I was very confused, but then he read a proclamation from the chief that basically said that the day Feb. 10, 2017, was a day dedicated to me and my accomplishments,” she said. “I was thinking ‘is this real?’ like, ‘is this a prank?’ but it was amazing and I have it framed at home.”
As for her violin, Scott still plays. She is part of the Tulsa Youth Symphony, the Holland Hall Orchestra and Honors Orchestra, in which she is first chair violin. She also teaches a beginner’s orchestra class to help her violin teacher.
She advises young musicians who are pursuing their dreams to keep practicing.
“Practice, practice because sometimes you don’t feel like practicing or it’s just not in your schedule, but if you really like it you can make time for it. You know, if you really want to be good at it and it’s something you are really passionate about that’s the only way to get good,” she said.
Scott will be the featured entertainment during the annual Will Rogers birthday celebration reception. The reception begins at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs in Claremore.