History of the Cherokee Phoenix

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/13/2015 10:13 AM
The first issue of the newspaper was printed on Feb. 21, 1828, in New Echota, Cherokee Nation (now Georgia), and edited by Elias Boudinot. It was printed in English and Cherokee, using the Cherokee syllabary created by Sequoyah.

Rev. Samuel Worcester and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions helped build the printing office, cast type in the Cherokee syllabary and procure the printer and other equipment. Also, Boudinot, his brother Stand Watie, John Ridge and Elijah Hicks, all leaders in the tribe at that time, raised money to start the newspaper.

In 1829, the newspaper name was amended to include the Indian Advocate at the request ofBoudinot. The Cherokee National Council approved of the name change and both the masthead and content were changed to reflect the paper’s broader mission.

In the 1830s Boudinot and Principal Chief John Ross used the Cherokee Phoenix to editorialize against the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the growing encroachment and harassment of settlers in Georgia.

The newspaper also contained news items, features, accounts about Cherokees living in Arkansas and other area tribes, and social and religious activities. The two U.S. Supreme Court decisions (Cherokee Nation v. Georgia and Worcester v. Georgia), which affected Cherokee rights, were also written about extensively.
Cherokee Phoenix currently publishes content in print, web and social media outlets. ARCHIVE
Cherokee Phoenix currently publishes content in print, web and social media outlets. ARCHIVE

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

Cherokee language program created for immersion school grads
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
01/23/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses signed a memorandum of understanding on Jan. 10 to begin a Cherokee language pilot project called the 14th Generation Master Apprentice Program.

The program aims to have select Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program participants teach the language to Cherokee Immersion Charter School graduates as they enter Sequoyah High School.

“We hope to make an opportunity for them to polish up their language skills and at the same time pass on the teaching techniques that we’ve developed in the adult master-apprentice program for the high school so they can be teachers one day or at least teach their family and friends,” Ryan Mackey, CLMAP curriculum supervisor, said.

The MOU states the “Cherokee Nation and CNB share a common interest in promoting and encouraging the continuous use of the Cherokee language. This requires trained and educated individuals who are prepared to further the proper use of the Cherokee language through instruction of others.”

The program is geared toward immersion school graduates attending SHS to continue learning the language in an after-school program and a 10-week summer intensive learning program.
CLMAP graduates will be selected and employed as instructors in the pilot project.

CNB is funding the program with $180,000 going toward salaries, materials and tools necessary to aid CLMAP instructors in conducting their teachings. Included in the funding is classroom space, meals for participating students, travel for natural language environment field trips, staff training, administrative costs and indirect costs where applicable.

“It’s a great day in the Cherokee Nation that we get the opportunity to take our language program to another level,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said.

CLMAP first-year participant and CN citizen Jeromy Miller said he is participating in CLMAP to help his children, who attend the immersion school, continue learning Cherokee at home and bridge the language gap.

“I didn’t have the language myself. I wasn’t able to teach my kids growing up how to speak in their tribal language, their own Cherokee language,” Miller said. “Now that I am learning the language I can bring that home as well, and I can complete the circle in my house of communicating in our tribal tongue.”

The CLMAP began in 2015 to create Cherokee speakers and teachers from adult second-language learners. The program promotes the revitalization of the Cherokee language with participants spending 40 hours a week immersed in the language to become proficient speakers.

The program recently received new office and classroom space on the second floor of the Cort Mall above the Kawi Café in Tahlequah. The space is needed for the program’s expansion.

“It gives us enough space to have breakout classrooms as well as a main classroom. It also provides office space for our staff members, and that’s not something that we’ve had. We started as a very small program and so we needed a small space. But at this point we’ve expanded and we’ve been very successful and we want to make sure that people are accommodated,” Mackey said.

For more information about the 14th Generation Master Apprentice Program, call 918-207-4950.

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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