Culture

First Nations to expand Native Arts Initiative
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/10/2017 12:00 PM
LONGMONT, Colo. – First Nations Development Institute, a national Native American nonprofit organization that works to improve Native economies and communities, on Feb. 2 announced it has received a $2.7 million grant for a three-year Native arts project.

This award will position First Nations to expand its Native Arts Initiative, formerly known as the “Native Arts Capacity Building Initiative,” into 2019.

Launched in early 2014, the purpose of the Native Arts Initiative is to support the perpetuation and proliferation of Native American arts, cultures and traditions as integral to Native community life. It does this by providing organizational and programmatic resources to Native-led organizations and tribal government programs that have existing programs in place that support Native artists and traditional arts in their communities.

Since 2014, First Nations has awarded more than $600,000 in grant funds to various eligible Native-led nonprofit organizations and tribal programs in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin to bolster the sustainability of their organizational and programmatic infrastructure as well as the professional development of their staff and leadership.

Under the expansion, First Nations will continue to offer competitive funding opportunities to Native-led nonprofit organizations and tribal programs in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. First Nations will begin to offer competitive funding opportunities to Native-led nonprofit organizations and tribal programs in two new regions – the Southwest, including Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California, and the Pacific Northwest, including Washington and Oregon.

First Nations expects to release a request for proposals in the coming days and will award approximately 45 Supporting Native Arts Grants of up to $32,000 each over the next three years to eligible Native-led nonprofits and tribal government programs in these regions.

NAI recipient organizations and programs will utilize their grants to strengthen their organizational and programmatic infrastructure and sustainability, which will reinforce their support of the field of Native American artists as culture bearers and traditional arts in their communities. In addition to financial support, the NAI will offer individualized training and technical assistance opportunities for grantees as well as competitive professional development opportunities for staff members of eligible Native-led organizations and tribal programs.

For a list of current and former NAI grantees, visit http://www.firstnations.org.

Education

Connors State’s Native center focuses on success, cultures
BY LINDSEY BARK
Staff Writer
02/17/2017 08:15 AM
WARNER, Okla. – In August, Connors State College opened the doors to its Native American Success and Cultural Center that features Native American art, a computer lab, language repository and study group rooms for students, faculty, staff and the public.

The center is part of a Title III grant program that Connors received in 2014.

“This was a $5 million dollar grant spread over five years. This particular one has two focus areas. It has the Native American Success Center area, and it also has another focus for online hybrid course development,” Gwen Rodgers, Connors Title III project director, said.

Rodgers said Connors developed a “pride model” to help Native students with retention, help them learn about their respective cultures and be “inclusive” of all cultures.

“The center is open to anybody. It is not exclusive to Native Americans. There’s a rumor going around that only Native American students can utilize the center, and we’re trying to dispel that,” Colleen Noble, NASCC director, said. “We want students, the public, faculty, staff to feel comfortable to come and learn about the history, culture, literature, artwork of the Five Civilized Tribes. That’s our focus. We are reaching out to school districts for them to come and be a part of field trips.”

The Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), Chickasaw and Seminole nations were labeled as the Five Civilized Tribes.

Noble said in the center’s cultural section artwork is featured with a majority of it being Cherokee, but it also has Muscogee, Seminole, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Pawnee and Osage artwork. For the grant’s remainder, NASCC officials plan to acquire more art pieces from the Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Cherokee tribes in Oklahoma.

The center also offers cultural activities throughout the year by inviting presenters from different tribes to teach classes such as basket making and moccasin making.

Noble said Connors has a high population of Native American students, and the center is a “stop gap” for them to learn more about their respective cultures and heritages without having to travel to places such as Tulsa, Tahlequah and Muskogee to visit museums.

“We are currently 38 percent Native American students, which is a really good percentage for this area. We are one of the highest Native American populations for the state of Oklahoma for a higher learning institute. The biggest percentage of our students are Cherokee. We have over 900 students who are Native American and out of that over 600 are Cherokee,” Noble said. “We’re able to partner with Cherokee Nation and bring in some really wonderful cultural experts to share their knowledge and skills with our students.”

In the NASCC’s success center section, students learn styles in audio, visual and kinesthetic areas. Kinesthetic learning or tactile learning is where students learn by carrying out physical activities rather than listening to a lecture or watching demonstrations.

Noble said the computers labs have headphones, study rooms have marker and art boards and students can utilize a “spinning chair” to de-stress and re-focus on college studies.

“It is a five-year grant, but it is developed and designed for continuation so that at the end of the five years this doesn’t all stop. It’s institutionalized throughout so that everything we’re doing now will keep going. So Connors will just be stronger because of it. We’re excited to be a part of it,” Rodgers said.

For more information, visit connorsstate.edu or call 918-463-6364.

Council

Tribal Council amends capital, operating budgets
BY LINDSEY BARK
Staff Writer
01/26/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During its Jan. 16 meeting, the Tribal Council unanimously amended the tribe’s fiscal year 2017 capital and operating budgets, increasing both funds.

With Tribal Councilors Curtis Snell and Wanda Hatfield absent, legislators added $76,837 to the capital budget for a total budget authority of $277.8 million. Officials said the increase came from a carryover environmental review for roads projects.

Legislators also increased the FY 2017 operating budget by $132,762 for a total budget authority of $664.5 million. Officials said the increase stems from grants received and authorized carryover reconciliation, new funding awards and an ending grant.

In other business, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden honored three Cherokee veterans with Cherokee Warrior Awards for their military service.

Dale Leon Johnson was drafted in 1967 and sworn into the Army at Fort Polk, Louisiana. In 1968 he was transferred to Fulda, Germany, serving with Company C 19th Maintenance Battalion USAUR as a tank mechanic. He was honorably discharged as Specialist 4 in 1973. He and his wife Patricia have been married for 51 years and he recently retired from AEP/PSO after 37 years working as a lineman.

Shad Nicholas Taylor enlisted in the Oklahoma Army Guard in 1983 while still in high school. After basic and advanced training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, he spent almost 10 years working at Camp Gruber near Muskogee. His duty included tours to Panama and Jamaica for hurricane relief. In 2003 he was deployed for 12 months to Fallujah, Iraq, for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Days before being sent home from Fallujah, he was wounded, sent to Bagdad, Kuwait, and Germany before finally going Fort Sill in Lawton to heal. He said he takes pride in all the commendations he has received and was honored to receive the awards and medals for his 20-plus years of service.

Jimmy Donald Quetone is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He served as a teacher and basketball coach for East Central High School in Tulsa before being drafted by the Army in 1954. He was stationed at Fort Knox in Kentucky and Fort Sam Houston in Texas. He served in the 97th Machine Record Unit where he was responsible for keeping records for personnel and equipment in the 4th Army Area. He was honorably discharged in 1956 and returned to the education field. He retired working as the CN director of Education in 2001. Quetone is also an inductee of the NSU Athletic Hall of Fame and continues to serve others by volunteering at the Tahlequah Senior Citizens center.

In reports, Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Shawn Slaton recognized the CNB and CN Entertainment Community Impact Teams for raising $21,406.67 for the “Heart of a Nation” campaign, which will be used to help buy needed medical equipment for tribal citizens.

A check was presented to Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Crittenden for the campaign.

“All across the board we’ve got a very giving company both in terms of time and money,” Slaton said. “What it’s intended to do is impact in a positive way, helping Cherokee people.”

Health

Claremore Indian Hospital to host ACA fair
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/15/2017 04:00 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Claremore Indian Hospital will host an Affordable Care Act Outreach and Enrollment Fair from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on March 1 in Conference Room 1.

“We will be hosting another ACA Outreach and Enrollment Fair here at Claremore,” Sheila Dishno, patient benefit coordinator, said. “Even though members of federally recognized tribes have a special monthly enrollment status, it is important for American Indian and Alaska Native individuals and families to learn about their insurance options. Whether it’s purchasing insurance through the Marketplace or qualifying for SoonerCare, knowing that you have quality coverage provides peace of mind.”

Dishno said people who attend the fair should bring their Social Security cards, pay stubs, W-2 forms or wage and tax statements, policy numbers for any current health insurance and information about any health insurance they or their families could get from an employer.

Also Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Oklahoma will attend to assist patients with signing up for free-to-low-cost health insurance.

The hospital is located at 101 S. Moore Ave. For more information, call 918-342-6240, 918-342-6559 or 918-342-6507.

Opinion

OPINION: Creating new Cherokee speakers
BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
02/01/2017 12:15 PM
The Cherokee language is one of the most vital elements of our tribal culture. We have invested in preservation efforts and youth education endeavors, including the Cherokee Immersion Charter School, which is a renowned global example for developing youth speakers.

Today, there are an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 fluent Cherokee speakers, and many others who are conversational second-language learners of Cherokee. While we have elders who are fluent and the emerging youth who will be, there was a void in the development of young adults.

That is why, two years ago, we launched the Cherokee Language Master-Apprentice Program. The goal of this program is to create new adult Cherokee language teachers. We selected four young adults to be the first class, and I am proud to say two of the students recently graduated and one of them will soon be teaching at the Immersion School.

When the selected students came into the program, they had little to no knowledge of the Cherokee language. However, upon graduating two years later, they have achieved high conversational levels. That is truly amazing.

The Master-Apprentice Program is an everyday effort. The students perform general, everyday activities but speak nothing but Cherokee. No English is spoken all day. They cook, look for wild onions and mushrooms and have general daily conversations in Cherokee. The approach is to do the everyday things, simple activities that are second nature to speak about in English, but do so only in Cherokee. The Cherokee language immersion environment is eight hours each day, five days per week.

The students are paid an hourly wage to attend the program and are selected through an essay and interview process. The students are referred to as apprentices, and these activities and classes are led by fluent, first-language speakers called masters. The program tries to identify young adults and older learners.

This method has been adopted by many tribes in California and has proven to be effective in producing fluent second-language learners. The evidence-based strategy integrates the Cherokee language and our staff has secured multiple grants to help fund the Master-Apprentice Program. Our success in the past year reinforces this effective learning method. Language immersion may be difficult and disorienting initially, but through perseverance and patience, students begin to grasp and learn Cherokee communication structures. Our mission is to develop Cherokee speakers who will have the knowledge to continue learning and teaching throughout the student’s life and ensure language preservation.

A third class of eight participants was selected in late 2016, bringing our total to 16 students. Increasing our number of speakers means preserving our unique culture. Our goal is to provide a seamless path for Cherokee language achievements that result in cultural preservation and eventually finding employment utilizing the Cherokee language.

With this effort, coupled with our Cherokee Immersion Charter School and the work of our Cherokee translation department, which has helped develop the Cherokee language for new technology that our citizens can use to text and email in Cherokee, we have set the bar for what it means to invest in language development. Cherokee Nation is a leader in Indian Country, and we are committed to preserving and growing our language. The tribe is proving we can cultivate more Cherokee speakers and enhance our language programs.

For more information on the Master-Apprentice Program, contact the program’s manager, Howard Paden, at Howard-Paden@Cherokee.org.

People

Water Spider Creations: Preservation through creation
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
02/14/2017 08:15 AM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – During the past several years, Cherokee Nation citizen Jules Brison has tried to preserve Cherokee culture through her art. That preservation has evolved into a business that shares culturally significant art to people from all over.

Brison owns and operates Water Spider Creations. She makes textiles art such as finger-woven belts, moccasins, ribbon shirts and tear dresses.

“I originally started doing art at a very young age. In some areas I’m self-taught, and some others I’ve had great influence from various other artists. My uncle Robert Lewis was probably my biggest influence along with my grandmother,” she said.

Lewis started her focus in textiles, she said. With regards to her sewing, both of Brison’s grandmothers were seamstresses, and they both shared their knowledge with her, which allowed her to create and wear items she had a hand in making.

“When I was Miss Cherokee and Junior Miss Cherokee, I actually helped create my tear dresses. When I ran for Miss Indian Summer my cousin Terri Fields and I and Cierra Fields actually helped make my entire regalia set to compete,” she said.

With influence from others she decided to sell her artwork. She began working as a paid artist two years ago, and each piece commissioned or created for show is unique.

“Each new piece of art I create is not exactly the same as another piece. So each individual piece is original. You’ll see artists that can duplicate things a million times, and that’s not exactly one of my fortes. I feel like that each piece of art has its own character or its influences drawn from other things,” Brison said.

She said it’s not uncommon for her to have multiple projects going at once. For this story, she was working on beaded moccasins, a finger-woven belt and a feather cape for her wedding.

“It kind of gives me a way to express myself in various different forms all in one setting,” she said.

Brison, who has sold pieces to people as far as England and Japan, uses different media to sell her art. Etsy.com – an online marketplace of individual sellers/creators of handmade or vintage items, art and supplies – is one of which she said is a great tool for artists.

“I encourage more artists to use that because that gets your art on a global scale. Anybody from, you know, Ukraine, China, Japan, England – anybody can get on there, see your work and order it,” she said. “I’ve actually sold things all across the globe.”

Brison is also available on Facebook at Water Spider Creations, where she said she enjoys working with customers most because it can be more personal that way.

On April 3, the Cherokee Phoenix will draw a winner for her finger-woven belt that she donated as part of the newspaper’s quarterly giveaway.

“Finger weaving is one of our oldest traditional arts, and it’s also one of the arts that is finally seeing a revitalization,” she said. “The finger-woven belt that I actually did for the Phoenix is purple, cream and maroon. It took me about six hours to complete and is an average waste length, but the colors essentially pop.”

Readers can get one entry in the drawing for every $10 spent with the Cherokee Phoenix. For more information, call 918-207-3825 or 918-207-4975.

To contact Brison for more information about her art, find her on Facebook or email her at usdigvna@icloud.com.
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Call Justin Smith 918-207-4975

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