Cherokee Phoenix Elder Fund now available to veterans

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/19/2017 10:00 AM
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.

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 justin-smith@cherokee.org or joy-rollice@cherokee.org.

CN 2018 LIHEAP grant app up for public review

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/13/2017 02:00 PM
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.

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.

CN Child Support Services celebrates 10 years

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/11/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Child Support Services recently celebrated the office’s 10th anniversary.

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.
Cherokee Nation Child Support Services customer service representative Tahnee Burr, left, visits with case specialist Sammie Gandy. Established in 2007, the tribe’s Child Support Services office collects on average more than $4 million per year for Cherokee children and families. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation Child Support Services customer service representative Tahnee Burr, left, visits with case specialist Sammie Gandy. Established in 2007, the tribe’s Child Support Services office collects on average more than $4 million per year for Cherokee children and families. COURTESY

Cherokee Nation ICW serves children with new programs

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
News Writer – @cp_bbennett
08/11/2017 08:45 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With two new programs, the Cherokee Nation’s Indian Child Welfare is expanding its efforts to assist children and reunite Cherokee families.

“What the law requires for an Indian child through the Indian Child Welfare Act is active efforts in order to try and reunite a family,” ICW Executive Director Nikki Baker Limore said. “I tell my workers, ‘we’re going to go to extreme efforts. We’re going to go as far as we can to provide these parents opportunity to reunite with these children.’”

The desire to go above and beyond led ICW officials to apply for two Victims of Crime Act of 1984 grants. The first was approved in September 2016 and used to create the Cherokee Children’s Cultural Connection program, or 4C. In April it began accepting children ages 4 to 18, giving them an educational and cultural foundation to build upon while in foster care and later in life.

Activities include canine and equine therapy, as well as time in a cultural classroom where children complete activities that teach them Cherokee colors, numbers and history.

“What I do is instill Cherokee culture and history into the children that come into our care,” Ruth Shade, ICW parenting paraprofessional, said. “They may not know anything at all, or some that do, they might not know they’re already living it.”
A cultural classroom displaying colors, shapes and animals in the Cherokee language is part of the Cherokee Children’s Cultural Connection or 4C program, one of two new programs the Cherokee Nation’s Indian Child Welfare created after getting two federal grants. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The Cherokee Children’s Cultural Connection or 4C program has computer stations equipped with Skype webcams for Indian Child Welfare children to have video conversations with Cherokee National Treasures if they cannot meet in person. Pairing children with Cherokee National Treasures is part of 4C’s art therapy curriculum. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX When children enter Cherokee Children’s Cultural Connection’s cultural classroom they must recite Cherokee Attributes, which teach Cherokee values and builds self-esteem through repetitive speech. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Ruth Shade, Indian Child Welfare parenting paraprofessional, came to ICW from the Cherokee Nation’s Education Services and is now in charge of teaching children Cherokee culture, history and government. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
A cultural classroom displaying colors, shapes and animals in the Cherokee language is part of the Cherokee Children’s Cultural Connection or 4C program, one of two new programs the Cherokee Nation’s Indian Child Welfare created after getting two federal grants. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
http://cherokee.org/About-The-Nation/National-Holiday

Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, CN enter partnership

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
08/10/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation have formed a medical legal partnership to offer certain civil legal help to Native American citizens in the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction.

Michael Figgins, LASO executive director, said the partnership began after LASO approached the tribe regarding the AmeriCorps’ Partnering for Native Health Grant.

“This special program came up through AmeriCorps, and we’re part of a consortium with six other states. It’s all tribes doing medical legal partnerships, one big AmeriCorps grant and we were awarded,” he said. “When Legal Aid approached Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Nation was very responsive. We talked about it in the past, and I’m pretty sure that Cherokee Nation saw the value of having the medical legal partnership.”

Laci Klinger, managing attorney for LASO in the Tahlequah area, said the idea is to help those who are in poverty by providing legal aid to help alleviate medical needs or issues.

“The ideal behind this grant is if we can assist with some of the barriers that indigent people, people in poverty, are facing then it will help with some of the medical issues that they are facing,” she said. “It will help curb some of those benefits. The disparities that they’re facing in society that often lead to the medical issues such as housing issues or benefits issues.”
The Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma Tahlequah office recently teamed up with the Cherokee Nation through a medical legal partnership to provide civil legal needs to those who qualify. COURTESY
The Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma Tahlequah office recently teamed up with the Cherokee Nation through a medical legal partnership to provide civil legal needs to those who qualify. COURTESY

Indian Child Welfare prioritizes tribal families, children

BY CHANDLER KIDD
Intern
08/07/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – For the Cherokee Nation’s Indian Child Welfare, ensuring children’s safety is its essential job component. And to do that, ICW has about 120 employees at five locations who follow specific protocols.

Charla Miller, ICW program manager and Child Protective Services intake, said ICW acts quickly once a call is received regarding a possibly endangered Cherokee child.

Miller, a CPS intake for 16 years, said although ICW receives the same guidelines as state child agencies, it approaches situations differently.

“We are Native people working with Native children and families. We understand, and we try to, as best as we can, honor their culture and traditions while maintaining the safety of children. Sometimes you don’t receive that on the state side,” she said.

ICW receives referrals from throughout the United States, but most are from the 14 counties in the tribe’s jurisdiction, she said.
Cherokee Nation employees walk in support of Indian Child Welfare in May. With about 120 employees, ensuring the safety of Cherokee children is ICW’s primary job and has procedures in place to act quickly once a referral is received about a child possibly in danger in a home. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX  Charla Miller
Cherokee Nation employees walk in support of Indian Child Welfare in May. With about 120 employees, ensuring the safety of Cherokee children is ICW’s primary job and has procedures in place to act quickly once a referral is received about a child possibly in danger in a home. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
https://www.facebook.com/ScissorCutArtByTana/

Tulsa Drillers hosts ‘Cherokee Nation Night’

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
08/03/2017 02:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizens, administrators, Tribal Councilors and representatives from several CN programs attended “Cherokee Nation Night” at ONEOK field on July 28 to see the Tulsa Drillers baseball team play the Arkansas Travelers.

Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., who threw out the first pitch, said the event is not only fun but also important because it brings awareness and access to CN programs to Cherokees in Oklahoma’s second-largest city.

“This is a sponsorship. Cherokee Nation Businesses sponsored this evening, so it’s an opportunity for employees to come out and get some free tickets to the game, but we also offer Cherokee citizens a chance to come out on this beautiful July evening,” he said. “We also have some staff here from some of our programs to show just what Cherokee Nation does for northeast Oklahoma.”

The programs and departments in attendance consisted of the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, Indian Child Welfare, Hunting & Fishing, Talking Leaves Job Corps, Health Services, Tax Commission, Cherokee Phoenix, Education Services, Commerce Services, Cherokee Vote and Career Services.

CN citizen Mandy Adair took her family to “Cherokee Nation Night” at the ballpark. “I’m here at ONEOK Field to watch the Drillers play, with my son, my nephew, my brother, my sister-in-law and a couple of friends. My reason for coming was just to catch a great game of baseball with my kiddo and support Cherokee Nation.”
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
Cherokee Nation administration officials meet Tulsa Drillers players on “Cherokee Nation Night” on July 28 at ONEOK Field in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Standing with Drillers Mascot “Hornsby” are Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., left, Drillers Manager Scott Hennessey, Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Principal Chief S. Joe Crittenden. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation administration officials meet Tulsa Drillers players on “Cherokee Nation Night” on July 28 at ONEOK Field in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Standing with Drillers Mascot “Hornsby” are Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., left, Drillers Manager Scott Hennessey, Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Principal Chief S. Joe Crittenden. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Cherokee Nation therapy animals assist citizens

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
News Writer – @cp_bbennett
07/27/2017 08:45 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Whether helping a patient during counseling or comforting a child transitioning into a foster home, therapy animals in Cherokee Nation programs are assisting tribal citizens in ways people cannot.

“It’s a positive benefit to each of the programs, and if anybody is going to use an animal, a tribe should be the one to do it,” James Bywater, a CN Behavioral Health licensed professional counselor, said.

Bywater owns 2-year-old Cotton, a golden doodle that is certified as a service and therapy animal. She works with Bywater in his office every Thursday and Friday, assisting patients directly and indirectly as they work through topics such as death, addiction, rape and suicide.

“She’s really intuitive,” he said. “She doesn’t go and jump and want to roughhouse with someone who’s grieving. Matter of fact, she’ll go over and she’ll just rest her chin on their knee, and it helps to comfort them. Things that I don’t even pick up on, she’ll pick up on. She’s a perfect mirror to people. So if they’re anxious, if they’re angry, she’ll step back.”

Bywater began researching the benefits of service and therapy animals before deciding to purchase Cotton with his funds.
Cotton is a golden doodle that works with her handler, James Bywater, a licensed professional counselor, in the Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health department. She is a service dog and a certified therapy dog. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The Cherokee Nation’s Animal-Assisted Therapy Program – which Cotton’s handler, James Bywater, helped write – requires animals wear a clearly identifiable service or therapy vest and a photo identification badge when working. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Unali, a golden retriever named after the Cherokee word for “friend,” is an emotional support dog for the Cherokee Nation’s Indian Child Welfare. She will receive additional training in the coming year to receive her therapy dog certification. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Teenagers who are getting treatment at the Cherokee Nation’s Jack Brown Treatment Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, feed carrots to Ambrosia – one of three miniature horses donated to the CN to provide equine therapy to Native children at the center and Indian Child Welfare. WENDY BURTON/MUSKOGEE PHOENIX
Cotton is a golden doodle that works with her handler, James Bywater, a licensed professional counselor, in the Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health department. She is a service dog and a certified therapy dog. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

CN Summer Youth Employment Program finds jobs for 726 participants

BY STAFF REPORTS
07/25/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation has helped 726 Cherokee youths earn a collective $1.6 million in potential summer wages via its Summer Youth Employment Program.

The tribe placed the youths at jobs in June and July, helping them gain work experience and income for high school, college and other needs.

The program, administered by the tribe’s Career Services, helped the youths, ages 16 to 24, work 40 hours a week for eight weeks. The program was expected to wrap up on July 28.

Each youth earned $7.25 per hour for a total potential income of $2,320 each, and a collective $1.6 million in summer wages.

While many participants work within CN departments across the tribe’s jurisdiction, the program also found opportunities for youths in the public and private sectors, including in schools and businesses.
Cherokee Nation citizen and Summer Youth Employment Program participant Madison Shoemaker visits with Zomac School of Music owner Jeffrey Jones. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen and Summer Youth Employment Program participant Madison Shoemaker visits with Zomac School of Music owner Jeffrey Jones. COURTESY

Culture

Visitors get glimpse into CHC archives
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
08/18/2017 12:45 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Cherokee Heritage Center visitors had the chance to get a glimpse into the CHC’s permanent archive collections with the “Preserving Cherokee Culture: Holding the Past for the Future” exhibit that was set to run Aug. 14-19.

“We want to just feature things that people don’t get to see very often. On average only about 1 percent of a museums holdings are on display at any given time, so this will give people a little inside look into more of the items that we have,” Callie Chunestudy, CHC curator, said.

Nearly 60 historical artifacts were selected for the exhibit, including Gen. Stand Waite’s bowie knife, a hand-written first draft of the Articles of Agreement between the Cherokee Nation and U.S. governments in 1866, photographs and more.

Chunestudy said the goal is to find a way to create a new archives and collections building.

“We are in need of a new archives and collections building, so we want to feature some of the rare and special items that we do hold so the people can understand that we really need updated housing for these,” she said. “We’ve outgrown our space immensely, and it’s time for an up-to-date archives and collections building that we’re hoping to raise money for.”

All the archives and collections are stored in the CHC basement, which Chunestudy said doesn’t allow for proper preservation techniques.

“It’s a little difficult to climate control and things like that just because of the structure of the building, and so we’re looking at building a new facility that will be up-to-date and in line for best practices for housing these items,” she said. “Without a new archives and collections building the items that are currently housed in the basement of the (Cherokee) Heritage Center are in danger of becoming damaged. It’s a secure space, but it’s not up to best practices for archives and collections so our goal is to bring that up to par.”

CHC Director Charles Gourd said those at the CHC have a “responsibility” to preserve and protect the tribe’s history.

“One of the primary functions and purposes of the Cherokee National Historical Society, and then now the (Cherokee) Heritage Center, is the preservation of our material culture. Those objects of cultural patrimony and things that are important to our history,” he said. “In the (19)95 Constitution, we were mandated and specifically designated as the repository. Now, we’re the designated repository as an act of the (Tribal) Council in 1985 to back that up. So we have a responsibility to preserve and protect all of these objects that are important to Cherokee history, government and the Cherokee people.”

According to a CHC press release, the Cherokee National Archives has more than 40,000 items in collections and 200,000 items in archives dating back to pre-European contact.

The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive. For more information, call 918-456-6007 or visit www.cherokeeheritage.org.

Education

NSU Alumni Association honors 2 Cherokees
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/14/2017 12:00 PM
TAHELQUAH, Okla. – The Northeastern State University Alumni Association board of directors has chosen two Cherokee Nation citizens as 2017 honorees of the university’s Distinguished Alumnus awards.

CN Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and Julie Erb-Alvarez were selected as distinguished alumni and will receive their honors on Sept. 29 at the Alumni Association Honors Dinner and again Sept. 30 at the homecoming Emerald Ball. Both events are open to the public.

Awards are presented annually to NSU alumni who, through personal achievement and service, have brought honor and distinction to both themselves and the university, a NSU release states.

Crittenden graduated from NSU in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration. Crittenden has previously served on the Tribal Council, as the Eastern Oklahoma vice president for the National Congress of American Indians and as a U.S. Postal Service postmaster. He is also a Navy veteran.

“It is an honor to receive this award from Northeastern State University,” Crittenden said. “It has been 43 years since I graduated from the university, and I still wear my gold NSU class ring every single day. I was an atypical college student, returning to school after serving in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam. However, I was blessed to receive an excellent education at NSU, and what I learned there helped guide me on a long career of public service.”

Crittenden has given back to NSU by supporting the tribe’s efforts to restore Seminary Hall and install modern classroom technologies. He also offers support and advice to youth in their pursuit of higher-education opportunities.

“I am proud to say I am an alum of a school that is so committed to Native students and developing leaders for Indian Country,” Crittenden said. “Cherokee Nation and NSU have established one of the most unique and successful collaborations between a tribal government and public higher education institution.”

NSU President Dr. Steve Turner said Crittenden was extraordinarily qualified to be recognized as a distinguished alumnus.

“His career path is highlighted by many years of service to the Cherokee Nation and to our country. I am so excited for Joe and his family and am honored to call him friend,” Turner said.

Erb-Alvarez is a distinguished epidemiologist and chief of patient recruitment for the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute who graduated from NSU in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in health and human performance.

She continued her education at the University of Oklahoma, earning a master’s degree in epidemiology. She has served as an epidemiologist for the Oklahoma Tribal Epidemiology Center, the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Public Health, Ministry of Health in the Republic of Palau.

Erb-Alvarez was commissioned into the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in 2010 and was deployed to Monrovia, Liberia in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2014-15. She is a life member of the NSU Alumni Association.

“I was truly honored when I received the call from NSU President Steve Turner. I was completely surprised and really excited when he told me I had been selected as one of the 2017 Distinguished Alumni. And then when explained who the other honorees were, it instilled another sense of pride and emotion. I am deeply grateful for this honor, and am completely humbled with the company I now keep, with those who are also being honored this year and those who have been honored in the past,” she said. “I look forward to NSU Homecoming Weekend in September when I can come back to my beloved alma mater and experience NSU all these many years later. I can’t wait to talk with students, educators, other professionals and friends – those who helped build my education – and share my post-graduation career and life experiences. I want them all to know and understand how much NSU has given me. I had a very solid foundation thanks to my years at NSU. It was easy for me to find my way and excel after an educational experience like that. Both of my parents are NSU graduates, and I was born while my parents were students and living at NSU married student housing. I have a long, long and wonderful history with NSU. The fact that NSU began as a Cherokee Seminary gives it all the more meaning to me as a Cherokee citizen.”

Turner said Erb-Alvarez has amassed an outstanding list of accomplishments since her time at NSU.”

“Her commitment to preserving the health of the nation and serving others through the National Institute of Health and the United States Public Health Service is admirable and makes her more than deserving of this honor,” he said.

Council

Dobbins takes aim at improving health care
BY LINDSEY BARK
News Writer
08/17/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Dr. Mike Dobbins, of Fort Gibson, said he’s ready to serve his first term as the Dist. 4 Tribal Councilor and looks to improve the Cherokee Nation’s health care system.

Dobbins will take his councilor seat with 37 years of experience in health care, practicing dentistry for 20 of those years.

“I chose to run because from a distance I’ve become quite familiar with the Cherokee health system, and there are some great things about it. The framework’s in place…and a lot of good has transpired. With my experience I feel like I can lend some expertise to help improve the system. That was my primary motive in running for council...to see what I could do to improve the health care system,” Dobbins said.

He said he has more to learn about the CN Health Services and how it functions on a daily basis.

Dobbins is also involved in higher education, teaching at dental schools for the past 17 years and assisting Cherokee students interested in health care.

“I’ve assisted multiple Cherokee students with scholarship opportunities, not only with Cherokee scholarships, but with other Native American scholarships and try to help them go through college with little-to-no debt as possible,” he said.

He said in Dist. 4, he’s also heard concerns from CN citizens about housing issues.

“I’m also knowledgeable of the fact that there’s a lot of other Cherokee needs (including) infrastructure, housing, elder care. I’m also sensitive to those areas as well. I plan to be a multi-purpose councilman,” Dobbins said. “I’m on the outside right now, but I intend to see (and) get familiarized with the housing program and make sure that citizens of District 4 are considered for any housing possibilities.”

The 2017 Tribal Council election was Dobbins’ second attempt at becoming a CN legislator. He said he learned from his “mistakes” four years ago and that it was a “less stressful” campaign this time around.

“I ran four years ago and lost by two (votes) to an 18-year incumbent,” he said. “You learn by experience, and I enlisted more help, actually, this time. I tried to do a lot of myself four years ago. I’d say…most importantly I learned what not to do rather than what to do.”

Dobbins said he has an obligation to serve not only the CN citizens who helped or voted for him, but also those who did not.

“I’m their councilman now, and I feel a deep debt of obligation to fulfill that duty,” he said. “I just look forward to serving the Cherokee people on the council. I do have a busy schedule but I feel like I will be accessible. I have a busy schedule outside my councilman responsibilities, but my councilman responsibility will be my priority.”

Health

Casting for Recovery to hold retreat for Native women with breast cancer
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/08/2017 04:00 PM
AUSTIN, Texas – Casting for Recovery, a national nonprofit organization providing free fly fishing retreats for women with breast cancer, will hold a retreat exclusively for Native American women in October in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Set for Oct. 13-15, Native American women who reside in Oklahoma and have received a breast cancer diagnosis are eligible to apply. Up to 14 women will be randomly selected to attend the retreat at no cost. Meals, lodging, equipment and supplies will be provided for each participant. The deadline to apply is Aug. 11.

CfR officials said Native American women face numerous cultural and economic barriers to cancer care. By providing support, education and resources, CfR officials said they hope to improve the quality of life for Native American women, creating a ripple effect for health in their communities.

CfR officials said the program empowers women with educational resources, a new support group and fly fishing, which promotes emotional, physical, and spiritual healing. For more information or to apply for this retreat, visit https://castingforrecovery.org/breast-cancer-retreats/arkansas-oklahoma/ or call Susan Gaetz at 512-940-0246.

CfR is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1996 featuring a program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing. Officials said its retreats offer opportunities for women to find inspiration, discover renewed energy for life and experience healing connections with other women and nature. CfR’s retreats are open to women of all ages, all stages of breast cancer treatment and recovery, and are free to participants.

?For more information, visit https://castingforrecovery.org.

Opinion

OPINION: Environmental efforts ensure fresh water, better future
BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
08/01/2017 12:00 PM
Protecting the environment and practicing conservation principles have always been important to the Cherokee people. It’s fitting that the 65th annual Cherokee National Holiday theme is “Water is Sacred.” It is something that resonates with all of us as Cherokees. Water is sacred to our people and has been forever. Water has been part of our ceremonies. Water has sustained us with food and an ability to grow our crops. Water is something we share and celebrate with our families. Our close relationship to water, the land and the traditional knowledge about our natural surroundings has always been part of who we are. Cherokee values and these historic ideas, established over multiple generations, about ecological preservation benefit all of northeast Oklahoma.

Over the past year, Cherokee Nation has put a focused effort to preserve water rights and natural resources. We have been active within our 14 counties and across Indian Country when it comes to conservation of our water. CN established the office of the secretary of Natural Resources to address a various environmental issues. Secretary Sara Hill oversees the programs and services related to preservation and conservation of our air, land, water and animal and plant life.

As a tribal government, and as Cherokees, we have a responsibility to protect the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the land we live on. We will unequivocally fight for the rights of our people to live safely in their communities. We have a right and a responsibility to protect our water. It is our duty for the next seven generations.

An excellent example of our renewed conservation efforts was a recent federal court decision naming CN the court-appointed steward of restoration efforts of Saline Creek in Mayes County. David Benham, a CN citizen originally from the Kenwood area and a property owner along the creek bank, personally sued Ozark Materials River Rock for the extreme damage done to the water. The company, which will pay for the restoration effort, mined at the foot of the creek, removing the gravel at the lower reaches. Erosion upstream redirected the creek and eroded vegetation, which in turn increased stream temperature and algae growth.

It is appropriate that the court appointed CN as the steward of Saline Creek and will manage the recovery of the damaged areas and easement. Saline Creek has spiritual as well as historical significance to CN citizens in that area. Additionally, it is one of the most beautiful creeks in northeast Oklahoma.

Earlier this year, Secretary Hill’s team defended the Arkansas and Illinois rivers, as CN played a critical role in preventing Sequoyah Fuels Corporation from disposing radioactive waste near important waterways. We are working with the company to find appropriate off-site disposal.

Recently, the tribe also earned a $75,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency that will help support the critical environmental work that we do at the local level. The partnership between CN and the EPA benefits our people, our environmental endeavors, and the health and beauty of northeast Oklahoma.

Together with the EPA’s federal dollars, we can sustain the environmental protection efforts that preserve our clean air, healthy land and fresh water. The CN created a five-person board, the Environmental Protection Commission, which works with Secretary Hill to help the tribe administer its environmental programs and develop community and education programs.

The CN is also a founding member of the Inter-Tribal Environmental Council, an organization that helps protect the health of Native Americans, tribal natural resources and the environment. This tribal organization was created to provide support, technical assistance, program development and training to member tribes nationwide. Today, almost 50 tribal governments are members and share best practices.

Our tribal government strives to build a better future for our people and fights for the rights of our people to live safely in their communities. Protecting the environment through CN’s active and progressive conservation programs is one of the most important things we can do to ensure we achieve that goal.

People

Flag football combine has large Native turnout
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
08/17/2017 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Approximately 70 youths in first through fourth grades were athletically evaluated on Aug. 12 at the Boys and Girls Club of Tahlequah’s flag football combine held on the infield of Tahlequah High School’s track.

Testing included speed evaluations, route running as well as passing and catching a football.

Boys and Girls Club of Tahlequah CEO Dennis Kelley said the combine testing is crucial to selecting evenly matched league teams.

“It’s for all kids across the county. You don’t have to be a Boys & Girls Club member. We have 13 clubs throughout Cherokee County in almost every school except Hulbert and Shady Grove. Our club stats for Cherokee County show we’re at about 70 percent Native American. So anyone who wants to sign up can. Boys and girls are welcome.”

Kelley said the fee for joining is $45.

“We try to keep it as low as we can. Plus, if someone can’t afford it, we try to scholarship them in. Cherokee Nation helps us with some money throughout the year, so we try to use that money for scholarships for kids who can’t afford to pay,” he said.

Cherokee Nation citizen Julie Deerinwater Anderson said bringing her son to try out was a mutual decision.

“I brought my son out today because he was very interested in flag football. It’s an opportunity for him to be a part of a team. Plus it’s his first year, so he can learn some skills without the risk of tackle football,” she said. “It’s healthy and it’s outside. It’s important to me that my son has healthy options.”

For more information, call the Boys and Girls Club of Tahlequah at 918-456-6888.
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