http://www.cherokeephoenix.org“It’s Not That Hard To...” is a new book by Cherokee author Faith Phillips. It is a compilation of personal essays she has written for years. COURTESY
“It’s Not That Hard To...” is a new book by Cherokee author Faith Phillips. It is a compilation of personal essays she has written for years. COURTESY

Cherokee author releases book, working on 2 others

Cherokee author Faith Phillips has published a new book published titled “It’s Not That Hard To...” and is preparing to release two more books. COURTESY
Cherokee author Faith Phillips has published a new book published titled “It’s Not That Hard To...” and is preparing to release two more books. COURTESY
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
11/07/2017 08:00 AM
PROCTOR, Okla. – Cherokee author Faith Phillips has published a new book and is working on two others that will be released soon.

Her new self-published essay book titled “It’s Not That Hard To...” was available in 2016 as a Kindle device download. She said she wanted to get the book into print quickly but decided to wait even after an outside publishing house wanted to publish the book. She said she didn’t go with the publishing house because it would have been a lengthy process, and she wanted to get the paperback book out as soon as possible.

“The book is really (a) compilation of essays that I’ve been writing over my own life for a long time, since I was probably in my 20s. I’ve always kept journal books. At the time I wasn’t thinking of writing an essay. I would just write. I ended up having maybe 50 of these composition books just filled with writing,” she said.

She said she intended to be a fiction writer, and she published her first fiction novel “Ezekiel’s Wheels” in 2014. For that novel, she drew from her experiences of growing up in Adair and Cherokee counties with her Cherokee family. For a twist, she added the legend of the floating “Hornet Spook-light” reportedly seen in northeastern Oklahoma for decades.

Phillips said her best friend told her people were more drawn to her “true-life essays” than her fiction stories. “Which was kind of hurtful because I really consider the fiction art, and the non-fiction essays come to me so easy that it doesn’t feel like work. To me, at a certain point, I needed to have to feel like I was working to make fiction.”

She said she had personal essays she could compile and publish but was devoting her time to writing her second fiction novel when she had her “heart broken” after a “horrible relationship experience.”

“When it happened, it coincided with a lot of things that were also going on in my life, and I just felt knocked off my feet like I’d never felt before at a time when I expected to feel more stable than I’d ever been,” she said. “So I went back and started reading through some of these journals, and I thought, ‘maybe somebody could relate to them.’”

She began gathering essays starting with funny ones because she “was in a bad place” and wanted to get her mind off of her “misery.” She also found essays about insecurity and tragedy. She included about 10 percent of her essays for the book.

“These are the ones that I felt like still resonated with me years after the event had already happened, and that’s usually my test and it usually proves true. If I read something that makes me feel sad or makes me laugh or I feel entertained I want to hear more, and that usually happens in the reader too, I’ve found,” she said. “I probably will do another essay collection later, but in the meantime I have two other books that are brewing.”

She said that neither of the two books she is writing is a follow-up to “Ezekiel’s Wheels,” but said, at 39, if “she lives long enough” there will probably be a follow-up.

Her next book will be out by Christmas and is a true crime novel based on murders that happened in Oklahoma.

“I’ve really kind of lucked out to have access to people directly involved in the investigations and people close to the murder victims. It’s really an intriguing story that happened in Okemah not long ago,” she said. “When I was growing up...I was always intrigued by true crime novels. I read all of the true crime novels I could get my hands on.”

Without divulging the storyline, she said he plans to release her next fiction novel in the spring after carrying around its draft for two years.

“I haven’t polished it to the point where I feel comfortable releasing it yet. I kind of feel like it’s my masterpiece, so therefore I’m a little scared to let it go,” she said. “I know it’s an amazing story, and if I do it justice then it will be an amazing book as well.”

When she is writing, Phillips said, it’s a time in her life when she doesn’t worry and she’s not stressed.

“If I’m writing I am in a completely fulfilled place. That’s my work and that’s what I feel like I’ve been put here to do...whether it’s fiction or non-fiction or some stupid post on Facebook.”

Phillips said she was also set to go on a book tour, which included the Cherokee Heritage Center during the Cherokee National Holiday. For more information about the tour, email fthphillips@gmail.com.
About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.

Multimedia

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
05/22/2018 04:00 PM
AKINS – Visitors to the first “Sequoyah Day” event held May 20 experienced all things Cherokee such as art, music, lectures, performances, demonstrations and National Treasures all on the grounds of the historic Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum where the Cherokee syllabary creator lived. “This is a chance to celebrate Sequoyah’s life and his legacy,” Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism Director Travis Owens said. “We’ve had a flute-playing performance, the Cherokee National Youth Choir performed. We had the Girty Family Singers and presenters on our language today.” Others attending the event included Cherokee National Treasures Lorene Drywater and David Scott, as well as Cherokee artists Roy Boney, Jeff Edwards and Mary HorseChief. Tribal Councilors Bryan Warner and E.O. Junior Smith, and 2017-18 Miss Cherokee Madison Whitekiller also attended. Another highlight was the Traditional Native Games competition. CN citizen and games coordinator Bayly Wright said “Sequoyah Day” was a great place to hold Cherokee marbles, cornstalk shoot, horseshoes, blowgun, a hatchet throw and chunky competitions. “Today is the second of the five competitions leading up to the championships, which will be held on Aug. 25, the weekend before the Cherokee National Holiday,” she said. For more information on cultural events, visit <a href="http://www.visitcherokeenation.com" target="_blank">www.visitcherokeenation.com</a> or call 1-877-779-6977.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
05/18/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Every year on May 7 the Descendants of the Cherokee Seminaries Students Organization hold its annual reunion at Northeastern State University where it awards two NSU students with scholarships. This year’s recipients were Cherokee Nation citizens Bryley Hoodenpyle and Marilyn Tschida. Both students received a $1,000 scholarship based on their GPAs, activities and interviews. Hoodenpyle said her fourth great-grandmother’s aunt and two cousins attended the Cherokee Male and Female seminaries, which she discovered through online research and NSU’s archives. She said after college she plans to attend NSU’s optometry school. “It means a lot to me to receive this scholarship just because this university has given so much to me and has helped me grow personally,” Hoodenpyle said. “NSU has developed me as a student and as a leader so its really awesome to me that my family played a part in that story however many years ago.” Tschida is an education graduate student and plans to graduate in December. She said she found her grandmother’s name in the Cherokee Female Seminary roll book in NSU’s archives and decided to apply for the scholarship. “I am really proud to accept it, I think she would be very proud for me to have gotten something on her behalf,” Tschida said. On May 7, 1889, the Cherokee Female Seminary reopened north of Tahlequah after a fire destroyed it two years earlier. So, no matter what day May 7 falls on, the descendants of students who attended the Cherokee Male and Female seminaries gather to honor their ancestors and their time at the schools. DCSSO President Rick Ward said the reunion is the oldest tradition on NSU’s campus, accruing annually for 167 years with the exception of one year during World War II. “It started out as a picnic, but it wasn’t the descendants getting together it was the actual students of the seminaries coming together, bringing food and visiting out in front of the sycamore tree,” he said. After noticing the number seminary students fading away, Jack Brown established the DCSSO in 1975. Brown served as the executive vice president of the Cherokee Seminaries Students Alumni Association for years. He wanted to get the descendants of the alumni involved in the activities of the association as well as keep the tradition alive. In 1984 the name officially changed to the Descendants of Cherokee Seminaries Students Organization. The state bought the Female Seminary in 1909, which now serves as Seminary Hall and the centerpiece of NSU. DCSSO Secretary Ginny Wilson said she wants to keep the reunion tradition alive for her grandmother, who was a student at the Female Seminary. “I do this for my grandmother. We used to bring her up here to this reunion. It was always the one thing in her life she wanted to do,” Wilson said. Wilson said the DCSSO follows the same format as their ancestors did during their reunions, which consists of the organization’s meeting, lunch, a speaker, the Cherokee choir and Miss Cherokee. “We follow that format as close as we can to just do the same thing. It’s gotten a whole lot smaller, but that’s what we do as descendants in memory of those people,” she said. Since the DCSSO established a scholarship for students who are descendants in the early 2000s, its goal is to continue to provide that scholarship. “Our biggest plan is to increase our scholarship amount. That’s the most important, but also to keep the (May 7) tradition going at Northeastern. Otherwise it will die,” Wilson said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/16/2018 12:00 PM
SALLISAW – Enjoy a day of traditional Cherokee art, music and more, honoring legendary statesman and inventor of the Cherokee syllabary, Sequoyah. The event will be held in conjunction with Cherokee Nation’s Traditional Native Games. Sequoyah Day begins at 10 a.m. on May 19 at Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum. “We are proud to bring to life an event like Sequoyah Day. It’s a unique daylong celebration of Cherokee history and culture at the home of the man who pioneered the Cherokee syllabary,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Now that Cherokee Nation owns and operates the Sequoyah Cabin Park, we can organize these types of family-driven events that are both educational and fun for all.” The event runs until 4 p.m. and features live performances, activities for children and cultural demonstrations such as pottery, flint-knapping, bow-making, stone carving and graphics. The event includes multiple performances from the Cherokee National Youth Choir and a special language presentation at 1:30 p.m. Sequoyah built the cabin in 1829 and welcomes more than 12,000 visitors each year. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and a National Literary Landmark in 2006. The homestead includes a one-room cabin and nearly 200 acres. Prior to reopening under CN management in 2017, Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum received much-needed repairs and renovations. The museum now features large displays that share the story of Sequoyah, his development of the Cherokee syllabary and the Cherokee language today. The museum also features a retail space offering Cherokee Nation apparel, gifts and souvenirs. The museum is located at Highway 101, 7 miles east of Highway 59. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/09/2018 12:00 PM
PARK HILL – Explore the messages of John Ross in his correspondences with fellow tribesmen and political allies throughout his 38 years as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. “The Letters of John Ross” is the tribe’s first digital exhibit and allows guests to view documents that are usually off view and housed in collections at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa. Featured writings address topics such as delegation nominations, potential resolutions, rumors of assassination plots and the possible removal of Cherokee people to Mexico. “This is the first exhibit of its kind for Cherokee Nation, and we are eager to see how the public responds,” Travis Owens, Cherokee Nation Businesses cultural tourism director, said. “The digital format enables guests to focus on their specific interests in an interactive and engaging way.” The exhibit runs May 4 through Jan. 31 at the John Ross Museum, which highlights Ross’ life and legacy and houses exhibits and interactive displays on the Trail of Tears, Civil War, Cherokee Golden Age and tribe’s passion for education. The museum is housed in an old, rural school building known as School #51 and sits at the foot of Ross Cemetery, where Ross and other notable CN citizens are buried. The museum is located at 22366 S. 530 Road. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, call -1877-779-6977 or visit <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/09/2018 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Speakers Bureau will be held Thursday May 10, 2018 from 12:30 – 4 p.m. We will meet in the Community Ballroom that is located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokee. All Cherokee speakers are invited to attend. If you want to bring a side dish or a dessert, feel free to bring it. Come speak Cherokee and enjoy food and fellowship. For further information about the event, please contact: the Language Program at 918-453-5151. Tsalagi aniwonisgi unadatlugv dodvnatlosi Nvgineiga Anisgvti 10, 2018, ganvsulvi 12:30pm adalenisgi 4 p.m. igohida. Na Anitsalagi tsunalisdayetiyi tsigotlv unaditli wayvsdi onadilvyvi utani kanvsula dodvnatlosi. Naniv Anitsalagi aniwonisgi otsitayohiha uniluhisdii. Alisdayvdi ayohisdi yodulia. Dodayotsadatlisani ale dodayotsalisdayvna hilutsvi. Ugodesdi tsadulihesdi tsadelayohisdi hiina wigehiyadvdi: Tsalagi Gawonihisdi Unadotlvsv 918- 453-5151.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/08/2018 08:00 AM
BENTONVILLE, Ark. – The Museum of Native American History will host storytelling and a beadwork class on May 12. The museum is located at 202 S.W. “O” St. Admission is free, and the events are open to all. From 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., MONAH staff will share traditional Yup'ik (Alaska) and Cherokee stories about how berries came to be just in time for berry season. “Our stories for the day include ‘Berry Magic,’ written and illustrated by Teri Sloat and Betty Huffmon, and ‘The First Strawberries: A Cherokee Story,’ retold by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Anna Vojtech. Stick around after the stories to make a self-portrait using nature and try akutaq, a traditional Yup'ik dish made with berries,” MONAH Director Charlotte Buchanan-Yale said. Storytime is geared toward ages 4 and up, but kids of all ages and their adults are welcome. A Creative Visions artist will host and teach a “Beadwork for Beginners” class beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the museum. Join Cherokee beadwork and jewelry artist Carolyn Chumwalooky for an in-depth introduction to the intricate art of beading. This hands-on workshop will lead participants through the process of creating a beaded keychain to take home. Registration is free and required. Supplies and refreshments will be provided. For more information, call the museum at 479-273-2456 or visit <a href="http://www.momah.us" target="_blank">www.momah.us</a>.