Phoenix taking names for elder/vet subscriptions

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/20/2018 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Phoenix is now taking names of elders and military veterans to provide free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper.

In November, Cherokee Nation Businesses donated $10,000 to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Fund. The fund provides free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper to elders 65 and older and military veterans who are Cherokee Nation citizens. Subscription rates are $10 for one year.

“The Elder/Veteran Fund was put into place to provide free subscriptions to our Cherokee elders and veterans,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “Some of our elders and veterans are on a very limited budget, and other items have a priority over buying a newspaper subscription. The donations we receive have a real world impact on our elders and veterans, so every dollar donated to the Elder Fund is significant.”

Using the Elder/Veteran Fund, elders who are 65 and older as well as veterans 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 fund, call 918-207-4975 or 918-453-5269 or email justin-smith@cherokee.org or joy-rollice@cherokee.org.
https://www.facebook.com/CASA-of-Cherokee-Country-184365501631027/

CN Seed Bank online distribution begins Feb. 1

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
01/17/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Seed Bank is set to go live for online orders on Feb. 1.

The Heirloom Garden and Native Plant Site produces enough seeds to disperse around 2,000 to 5,000 seed packets per year, depending on growing conditions.

“We’re actually in two years of what I would considered fairly poor growing conditions. It hasn’t been catastrophic, but it wasn’t the best. We’re going to say just a little bit above average. It takes some really bad stuff for us to not be able to make a product for folks,” Environmental Resources Senior Director Pat Gwin said.

He said the growing season is dependent on 4-inch soil temperatures. The ideal temperature for most plants to grow in is 65 degrees to 70 degrees.

“Last year, unfortunately that didn’t happen until June 1. We’ve actually put some things in the ground prior to that and it was just a disaster,” he said.
The Cherokee Nation’s Seed Bank officials will begin distributing seeds Feb. 1. The seeds are a variety of heirloom crops and native plants harvested from the Heirloom Garden and Native Plant Site in Tahlequah for dispersal to CN citizens. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The Cherokee Nation’s Seed Bank officials will begin distributing seeds Feb. 1. The seeds are a variety of heirloom crops and native plants harvested from the Heirloom Garden and Native Plant Site in Tahlequah for dispersal to CN citizens. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Cherokee Phoenix Elder Fund now available to veterans

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/13/2018 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.

CNB donates $10K for elder/vet subscriptions

BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
12/29/2017 01:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation Businesses in November donated $10,000 to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Fund, which provides free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper to elders who are Cherokee Nation citizens.

“The Elder/Veteran Fund was put into place to provide free subscriptions to our Cherokee elders and veterans,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “Some of our elders and vets are on a very limited budget, and other items have a priority over buying a newspaper subscription. The donations we receive have a real world impact on our elders and vets, so every dollar donated to the Elder/Veteran Fund is significant.”

Using the Cherokee Phoenix fund, elders who are 65 and older as well as any Cherokee veteran 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 fund, call 918-207-4975 or 918-453-5269 or email justin-smith@cherokee.org or joy-rollice@cherokee.org.

Subscription rates are $10 for one year, $18 for two years and $26 for three years.

WIC continues tradition of helping families

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
12/27/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Since 1977, the Cherokee Nation Women, Infants and Children Program has assisted more than 6,700 Native and non-Native American individuals each month with food, wellness and health services.

“Cherokee Nation WIC is unique in that we are located and operate within our health clinics and hospital operations and offer a more one-stop-shopping to health care,” CN WIC Director Brenda Carter said.

The federally funded program began in 1974 and extended to CN clinics and hospitals in 1977 to help pregnant and nursing women, as well as infants and children from birth to 5 years old living in the tribe’s jurisdiction.

It seeks to improve the well-being of mothers, infants and children by helping predict future and public health challenges for families, communities and the health care system.

“Studies have shown that the WIC Program is effective in protecting or improving the health and nutrition status of low-income women, infants and children,” Carter said.
In this archive photo, Natasha Bell, right, smiles at her son while Cherokee Nation Women, Infants and Children specialist Teresa Tackett records his weight at the W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. ARCHIVE
In this archive photo, Natasha Bell, right, smiles at her son while Cherokee Nation Women, Infants and Children specialist Teresa Tackett records his weight at the W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. ARCHIVE
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HACN accepting College Housing Assistance Program applications

BY STAFF REPORTS
12/14/2017 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation will accept College Housing Assistance Program applications for the spring 2018 semester starting Jan. 2.

The CHAP will provide up to $1,000 per semester for housing costs up to 125 students. Eligible applicants must be a citizen of a federally recognized tribe and reside within the Cherokee Nation. Applications will be accepted through Jan. 12.

Applicants must also meet Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act income guidelines as well as other eligibility requirements, according to the CHAP policy. Priority will be given to CN citizens and students who were served on the program the previous semester.

The CHAP is a NAHASDA-funded program designed to assist low-income CN citizens and other Native American students in securing safe and affordable housing while seeking a first-time bachelor’s degree and maintaining full-time student status at an accredited institute of higher education.

For more information, call 918-456-5482.

Cherokee Christmas exhibit opens Dec. 8

BY STAFF REPORTS
12/06/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Experience the first Cherokee Christmas through a holiday exhibit at the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum.

Cherokee Christmas shares the story of how Moravian missionaries brought holiday celebrations to the Cherokee people in 1805. The exhibit features information about how traditions began and displays decorations similar to what was used at the Vann’s Georgia home during the first Cherokee Christmas.

The Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum is at 122 E. Keetoowah St. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Originally built in 1844, it is Oklahoma’s oldest public building. The 1,950-square-foot museum features exhibits in three historic aspects: the Cherokee national judicial system, the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers and the Cherokee language, with historical items, including photos, stories, objects and furniture.

For information call 1-877-779-6977 or visit www.VisitCherokeeNation.com.

CN citizenship photo ID card No. 100K issued

BY STAFF REPORTS
12/04/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation issued its 100,000th photo identification citizenship card on Nov. 29 to Terry Shook, 58, of Siloam Springs, Arkansas, who expects to use it for traveling and tribal services.

“I’m a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Springdale and took a vacation day – one of the few I ever get to take during the holidays – to come over and get a photo ID,” Shook said.

The tribe’s Registration Department began issuing photo IDs in 2012. Department officials have traveled to various and Washington, D.C., to issue the cards to at-large citizens.

“We’ve issued a Cherokee Nation photo identification card to almost one-third of our 350,000-plus tribal citizens, and that is a significant achievement,” Chief S. Joe Crittenden said. “Over the past five years, the tribe’s Registration Department has traveled to 11 states and Washington, D.C., so our at-large citizens also have the opportunity to receive a photo ID. They are not only useful for traditional photo ID needs such as traveling, but have also proven effective when used for tribal services. Having a Cherokee Nation photo ID is a source of pride for our people, and I would encourage all citizens to check into getting one at their earliest convenience.”

The tribe’s upgraded photo ID citizenship cards are similar in appearance to a driver’s license and feature the citizen’s CN registration number, photo and signature along with the official registrar and principal chief’s signatures and a CN hologram seal for validation. Citizens can opt for their official Bureau of Indian Affairs Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood on the card’s back.
Cherokee Nation citizen Terry Shook, left, stands with Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden after Shook becoming the 100,000th tribal citizen to receive a photo ID citizenship card. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen Terry Shook, left, stands with Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden after Shook becoming the 100,000th tribal citizen to receive a photo ID citizenship card. COURTESY

Food Distribution improving service to citizens

BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
12/04/2017 12:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Food Distribution program recently earned a perfect score on a U.S. Department of Agriculture Management evaluation, a testament on how it has improved during the years in serving tribal citizens.

“To be awarded a perfect score is already a big accomplishment for our team, but to be told that we made history, that was a huge credit to the program. The USDA Management evaluation is an extensive process where they examine many aspects of the operational processes,” Jennifer Kirby, Family Assistance interim director, said.

Beginning in 1983, the program began as a monthly tailgate service to ensure qualifying families received food. Funded by the USDA and CN, staff members traveled to locations in the tribe’s jurisdiction to distribute food.

“We used to take the food to them. We put everything on our trucks, and we took it to them,” Food Distribution Assistant Manager Felicia Foreman, who has worked in the program since it opened, said. “It was hard especially in the summers and the winters because it was either really hot or cold and families might have to take, their kids and the elderly had to wait in it. But it was really rewarding too when you know at the end of the day you helped somebody feed their family and the elderly.”

Families lined up at the sites for packaged and canned foods. Although the tailgate sites ended in December 2016, Kirby said they still make home deliveries under certain circumstances.
Cherokee Nation Food Distribution Manager Leah Duncan and employee David HorseChief stock shelves at the Food Distribution Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The program has improved its services to tribal citizens since its inception in 1983 and recently received a perfect score on a U.S. Department of Agriculture Management evaluation. COURTESY Boxes of cereal set on shelves at the Cherokee Nation’s Food Distribution Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The center is for qualifying citizens of federally recognized tribes to ensure their families have food. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation Food Distribution Manager Leah Duncan and employee David HorseChief stock shelves at the Food Distribution Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The program has improved its services to tribal citizens since its inception in 1983 and recently received a perfect score on a U.S. Department of Agriculture Management evaluation. COURTESY

Culture

Sunchokes harvested at CN plant site
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
01/22/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – On a cold and windy Jan. 9, Cherokee Nation cultural biologists and Environmental Resources specialists harvested sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes, at the Heirloom Garden and Native Plant Site on the Tribal Complex.

It is believed the sunchoke was a main food source for Cherokee people prior to European contact.

“The sunchoke is a very important cultural plant. So that was one of the plants that we really wanted to establish in the Seed Bank and the native plant site. We were lucky enough to be gifted some really nice specimens from the Eastern Band (of Cherokee Indians) several years ago. They brought us three really nice plants. The three plants have really expanded,” Environmental Resources Senior Director Pat Gwin said.

Gwin said the sunchoke is able to produce in mass amounts to harvest for the Seed Bank and as a food source.

“Sunchoke, it was an important plant for a reason. It grows an extremely large amount of product for the amount of space, time and effort that you put into it,” he said. “We produce lots and lots of seeds every year.”

Though the harvest ran a little late this season, Gwin said he expected hundreds to thousands of sunchoke tubers to yield. The plant is commonly harvested in the winter and may have been a winter food source for Cherokee because of its ability to grow in cold weather.

Gwin said pre-European contact, the sunchoke was an important food source though it “fell out of favor” after contact. The plant has recently started to rise under the name of Jerusalem artichoke.

The sunchoke resembles a sunflower when in full bloom. When harvested, the tuber underneath the ground resembles a potato, or water chestnut, and has similar qualities and textures due to its root structure.

“When I have cooked these in the past, I’ve noticed that sort of eating them raw kind of tastes like a raw potato or even kind of like water chestnut. If you cook them, and don’t cook them at a high heat, they’ll kind of keep the texture of a water chestnut. They can mostly be cooked just the way that we would cook a potato,” Feather Smith-Trevino, CN cultural biologist, said.

She said sunchokes are not commonly found in a grocery store or produced commercially, possibly because of its inability to “keep” once it is out of the ground.

“With the potato, once we gather those, they can be stored for months and months at a time and they won’t go bad. But with Jerusalem artichokes, once they’re pulled out of the ground their usually only good for maybe about another week to two weeks. They don’t keep much longer than that,” Smith-Trevino said.

For this year’s Seed Bank, around 88 packages were created for Cherokees to grow and harvest their own sunchoke plants.

Education

NSU to increase 4-year leadership scholarships
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/18/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Beginning this fall, Northeastern State University will increase the number of President’s Leadership Class scholarships awarded to incoming freshmen each year.

According to NSU officials, the President's Leadership Class is a unique leadership and scholarship program designed to cultivate the outstanding potential of proven student leaders.

Previously offered to about 15 incoming students each fall, the President’s Leadership Class scholarship will be awarded to 20 incoming freshmen in the fall 2018 semester and will increase to 25 over the next two years. The expansion will allow for a more comprehensive scholarship experience for student leaders, officials said.

In the fall 2018 semester, incoming members of the President’s Leadership Class will receive more than $5,000 per semester for four years for housing, tuition and foundation support.

“The President's Leadership Class is among the very best student aid programs in the state in terms of length (four years) and total value,” NSU President Steve Turner said. “By increasing the number of leadership scholarships over the next two years, we are demonstrating our commitment to meet our state's need for highly skilled college graduates.”?

Applicants for the President’s Leadership Class should display outstanding leadership capabilities and must have an exceptionally strong academic record. High school seniors are required to have an ACT composite score of 20 or higher for consideration. Applications are available online at scholarships.nsuok.edu.

Council

Council approves Sovereign Wealth Fund
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
12/14/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Councilors on Dec. 11 passed an act that establishes the Cherokee Nation Sovereign Wealth Fund, a fund that is expected to “ensure the continuation of tribal operations and the general welfare of tribal citizens for future generations.”

Tribal Councilor Dick Lay spoke about the act’s importance during the Nov. 14 Rules Committee.

“So the idea was to take a small amount of funding from the businesses, set it aside for just extreme financial emergencies, and I think (Treasurer) Lacey (Horn) and her group have been working along the same lines, so we’re going to try and get those together,” Lay said.

Horn said creating a “permanent fund” was something she had wanted to do, and after working on Lay’s model with Controller Jamie Cole and Assistant Attorney General Chad Harsha they created an act to bring before Council.

“This act establishes a wealth fund, which shall be held by the treasurer in accordance with the act, and assets shall be maintained in an interest-bearing account or otherwise invested to promote growth of the fund's assets,” she said.

Within the fund, Horn said, there would be an Emergency Reserve Fund that would “receive a direct and continuing appropriation.”

“The Emergency Reserve Fund that receives the direct and continuing appropriation of 2 percent of the net income of our dividend-paying corporations as well as not less than 50 percent of funds received by the Cherokee Nation through judgment or settlement of legal claims,” she said. “That’s not to say that we couldn’t put 90 percent. That’s not to say that we couldn’t put some percent higher, but it’s just sort of setting that floor as to what’s going to go into this fund.”
The Motor Fuel Education Trust would also be moved to the new fund, which Horn confirmed would be an added “safety” measure.

“It had previously been collateralized in an interest-bearing CD that was used to borrow funds to build the Vinita (Health) Clinic, and that collateralization was removed whenever we entered into the loan with Bank of Oklahoma for the Tahlequah Joint Venture Project, and so these funds are…free and clear,” she said. “So this will take that fund, put that within the construct of the Cherokee Nation Sovereign Wealth Fund and allow us to invest that fund and continue to grow it.”

Horn said the fund could also have endowments, trusts or other funds incorporated within it periodically. “There’s often endowments, trusts that we receive from individuals that need to be invested for income-generating purposes, and this would be the perfect place to put (those) up underneath as well.”

Horn said all assets for the fund would be “reported and accounted” for separately and would support itself by not relying on any General Fund dollars.

“Expenses incurred and maintenance invested in the fund shall be paid for by the fund. So we won’t be utilizing any General Fund dollars to operate this fund it will be self-sustaining,” she said.

When it comes to distributing the fund’s money, there must be approval from two-thirds of the Tribal Council as well as the principal chief. According to the act, “a distribution from the Reserve Fund may only be made in the event that a financial emergency exists, the severity of which threatens the life, property or financial stability of the Nation.”

Also, according to the act, “a distribution from the Education Trust may only be made to satisfy a substantial need in higher education scholarships resulting from an unexpected funding loss or shortfall and distributions from all endowments, trusts or other funds held in the fund shall be made in accordance with any originating document or restriction applicable thereto, and subject to the appropriation laws of the Cherokee Nation.”

The act also notes that the fund “may not be used to finance or influence political activities.”

“I hope that you can see that we feel very strongly, very happy about this legislation that we put forward, and we hope the Tribal Council feels the same,” Horn said.

Councilors also passed an act relating to the adjustment of dividends known as the Corporation Emergency Dividend Reserve Fund Act, which is included within the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

Lay presented the act during the Oct. 26 Rules Committee meeting where he said it’s not an “original” idea but one that should be implemented as an “emergency fund.”

“It would cause the chief and the super majority of council to bring funding out of it to be used only for abject financial emergencies,” he said.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker was pleased to sign the Sovereign Wealth Fund into law.

“The idea of permanent fund was something we discussed within the administration several years ago. Having reached a number of major policy and legislative goals during the past six years, the time was right to focus our attention on this important safety net. I was pleased to sign this important act into law before year’s end, and appreciate the collaborative effort of my team and members of the Council in achieving this goal.”
According to the act, for-profit corporations that the tribe is the “sole or majority shareholder” and are under CN law “shall issue a monthly cash dividend in the amount of 30 percent” from a “special quarterly dividend” they “deem” appropriate. An additional 5 percent is set aside for Contract Health services for citizens. According to the act, another 2 percent would “be set aside exclusively for an unanticipated and extraordinary revenue or funding loss that creates a budget shortfall where appropriation from any other source would be unavailable.”

To view the Sovereign Wealth Fund Act, click here.

To view the Corporation Emergency Dividend Reserve Fund Act, click here.

Health

Blue Cross and Blue Shield hosting enrollment support in Vinita
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/19/2018 10:00 AM
VINITA — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma’s Mobile Assistance Center is hosting an education and enrollment event from 1 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 22 at the Craig County Fairgrounds and Community Center located at 915 E. Apperson Road.

Tribal citizens and all individuals who attend this free come-and-go event are invited to visit with BCBSOK representatives to receive assistance with their health insurance questions and needs. Tribal citizens have the ability to enroll in coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace at any time, outside of the standard Open Enrollment period. Tribal citizens can also visit to see if they qualify for available financial assistance to help lower the cost of monthly payments. In some cases, this financial assistance may cover the full premium cost. Customer service support will also be available for current members who may have questions about their coverage.

“The Affordable Care Act provides American Indians with opportunities to compare and buy health insurance in a new way,” said BCBSOK President Ted Haynes. “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma wants to help people understand their options so they have an opportunity to enroll and choose a plan that’s right for them.”

To learn more about how to protect their health and finances and save on monthly payments, individuals may attend one of the MAC events, contact an independent, authorized BCBSOK agent, or call BCBSOK’s dedicated customer service representatives and product specialists at 855-636-8702.

To see the full schedule of MAC events, click here. For additional information about health plans and pricing, visit BCBSOK.com

Opinion

OPINION: Never too late to learn Cherokee Language
BY MARK DREADFULWATER
Multimedia Editor – @cp_mdreadfulwat
01/01/2018 02:00 PM
I am Cherokee. I know this because I have a Certificate of Indian Blood card that says so. I also have a blue card that says I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. I have identified as Cherokee my entire life but I have not immersed myself enough in the culture, or most regrettably, the language.

I grew up hearing the Cherokee language, as my dad is a first-language speaker. Cherokee was the only language my paternal grandmother chose to speak on a daily basis. She knew English, but hardly ever spoke it. I heard it so often as a child I was able to understand what my grandmother and dad were saying but never learned to speak, read or write. My granny died when I was 11 and that’s when my knowledge of the language died for me. My dad still spoke it to my aunts and uncles, but for a reason I can’t remember, I stopped really listening to understand it. He would try to get me to learn by giving me directives or asking common questions in Cherokee, but I didn’t take the time to sit down and learn.

As an adult, when people ask if I know how to speak, I tell them I was too busy as a kid playing sports and doing other things to learn. I also took Cherokee I and Cherokee II while at Northeastern State University, but none of the teachings resonated with me. Hearing me say that, and now typing it, I’ve come to realize that is a lame excuse.

I’ll be honest and say I really didn’t see the need to learn the language. I didn’t think knowing Cherokee would get me any further in life. Other than speaking to a few people, I would rarely use it, so why learn. I’ve worked for the Cherokee Phoenix for 11 years. We publish Cherokee stories in our monthly paper and when time allows, we have the translators record audio of the stories in order for readers to hear it spoken by scanning a QR code from a smartphone. I’ve not paid as much attention to it as I should. It’s a great way to see and hear the language.

Now that I’m older, I regret not paying attention to the language growing up and taking the time to learn. I think my generation has made a huge contribution to the downfall of the language. But all is not lost. Although it’s more difficult, it’s not too late to learn. I realize how vital the language is to Cherokees as a people. It is more than a way to communicate. It’s embodies our identity and soul of our tradition, history and the Cherokee way of life.

With the New Year fast approaching, my resolution will be to learn Cherokee. The CN has several outlets as well as online options that are available to learn the language. I also know my dad and aunts will be eager to teach me and I believe they will say, “It’s about time.”

People

AARP Oklahoma opens Indian Elder Honors nominations
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/12/2018 12:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – AARP Oklahoma is accepting nominations for its 10th annual Indian Elder Honors to celebrate 50 Native American elders who have positively impacted their respective communities, families, tribes and nation.

Since its inception in 2009, AARP Oklahoma has recognized 450 elders from all 39 tribal nations in Oklahoma.

“The AARP Indian Elder Honors recognizes the extraordinary contribution of Indian elders – many of whom have never been recognized before,” AARP Oklahoma Volunteer State President Joe Ann Vermillion said.

The 2017 honorees from 33 Oklahoma tribal nations included teachers, veterans, nurses, artists, tribal leaders, language and culture preservationists, champion archer and champion arm wrestler.

Cherokee Nation citizens Mary Rector Aitson, Dianne Barker Harrold, Marcella Morton and Joe T. Thornton, as well as United Keetoowah Band citizen Woody Hansen, were honored in 2017 and presented medallions by national and state AARP officials.

“This event celebrates a lifetime of service from these distinguished elders,” AARP State Director Sean Voskuhl said. “The common thread between the honorees, regardless of the contribution, is the commitment to community and service.”

This year’s Indian Elder Honors will be held Oct. 2 in Oklahoma City. Nomination applications are available at https://www.aarp.org/states/ok/stateeventdetails.eventId=671063&stateCode=OK/.
Nominations may be submitted electronically or mailed to AARP Oklahoma, 126 N. Bryant, Edmond, OK, 73034.

Nominees must be enrolled citizens of federally recognized Oklahoma tribal nations, at least 50 years old and be living. Nominees do not have to be AARP members. For more information, call Mashell Sourjohn at 405-715-4474 or email msourjohn@aarp.org. The deadline for submitting nominations is April 30.
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