http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgChoctaw Nation citizen Rick Wood of Ola, Arkansas, visits the “Untold Stories: American Indian Code Talkers of World War I” exhibit during its opening on Nov. 4 at the Sequoyah National Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The exhibit will run through Feb. 2. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Choctaw Nation citizen Rick Wood of Ola, Arkansas, visits the “Untold Stories: American Indian Code Talkers of World War I” exhibit during its opening on Nov. 4 at the Sequoyah National Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The exhibit will run through Feb. 2. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

WWI Code Talkers exhibit opens

A panel in the “Untold Stories: American Indian Code Talkers of World War I” exhibit honors Cherokee soldier and Code Talker George Adair, who served with the 36th Division of the U.S. Army during World War I. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
A panel in the “Untold Stories: American Indian Code Talkers of World War I” exhibit honors Cherokee soldier and Code Talker George Adair, who served with the 36th Division of the U.S. Army during World War I. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
11/10/2017 04:00 PM
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Sequoyah National Research Center at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock on Nov. 4 opened an exhibit on the history of Americans Indians who served as Code Talkers during World War I.

The “Untold Stories: American Indian Code Talkers of World War I” exhibit will run to Feb. 2.

During WWI, Native Americans transmitted military messages in their Native languages between U.S. forces and their allies. Germans forces had broken American codes but could not decode Native codes and messages. The Americans Indian Code Talker program expanded during WWII and included additional tribes.

“Today is our exhibit opening for “Untold Stories: American Indian Code Talkers of World War I.” The exhibit starts out with the history of Indian boarding schools and how those were prime places of recruitment for American Indians,” Erin Fehr, exhibit curator, said. “And then we go in and talk about the different tribes that have been identified as Code Talkers for World War I. We have the Choctaws, the Comanches, the Osages and Standing Rock Sioux. We have one identified Osage and one identified Cherokee even though we know that there is evidence that some of the Eastern Band Cherokees participated, and we do talk about that.”

Before the exhibit’s opening, SNRC Director Dr. Dan Littlefield provided information to put a “frame” around the exhibit. He said after the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917, Native Americans began enlisting in the military. At that time there were 336,000 Native Americans in the United States, and about 12,000 enlisted in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps to serve during WWI.

“I’ve seen the number as high as 17,000, and I think the research is going to show that the 12,000 number is probably a little too low,” Littlefield said. “After the fact, Indians had the lowest casualty rates of any identified group in the service.”

Littlefield said many Native servicemen talked about “defending the homeland” and were not just talking about the United States but about North America.

“Expressions like protecting our lands or protecting our nation referred as much to tribal lands as it did to land of the United States,” he said. “Some of them would talk about defending ‘our Native land.’”

Camp Pike, which was north of Little Rock, and the role it played during WWI is also part of the exhibit. Native American military personnel trained and mustered out of the military there after the war ended in 1918.

“And then we talk about the legacy. For a lot of those men who fought it was the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. It also paved the way for Indian code talkers to come in World War II,” Fehr said.

Also for the exhibit, Fehr and her assistants compiled the names of as many men as possible from tribes who served during WWI and placed them on a large display separated by their respective tribes.

“It’s called our ‘Wall of Honor.’ On our wall we have about 2,300 names, and it is by no means complete, but it is a start,” Fehr said.

Judy Allen, Choctaw Nation historic projects officer and Choctaw Code Talker Association board member, said she’s researched Choctaw Code Talkers since the 1980s. She said exhibits have been developed for American Indian Code Talker program during the years, including the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit.

“They’ve put a lot of work and collaboration into the one here. It looks very special,” Allen said. “They have a lot of photographs, some I’ve never seen before. So I’m excited to see exactly what the captions read.”

She said the university collaborated with the Choctaw Nation for the exhibit, but even with that collaboration there is a Choctaw photo in the exhibit she’s never seen.

Choctaw language speaker Chantelle Standefer shared how Choctaw Code Talkers adapted their language to things they were seeing on the battlefield. Her great-grandfather, Tobias Frazier, was a WWI Code Talker.

In 1918, U.S. forces in France were having communication difficulties on the battlefield. Their communications were compromised because the Germans were tapping into their telephone lines and had deciphered American codes. By chance, an officer in the 142nd Infantry Regiment heard two Choctaw soldiers conversing in the Choctaw language. This led to an experiment where the Choctaw soldiers were asked to communicate with other Choctaws at company headquarters using their language. The test was a success and the Choctaw Telephone Squad was born.

“One thing about the Choctaw language is we are adaptive, so if we see something and we don’t have a word for it, we’ll make up one, we’ll describe it,” Standefer said. “So they (Choctaw soldiers) saw things like a tank...and they said that looks like a turtle, so they called it luksi. And for guns, we didn’t necessarily have the word for that, so we adapted and used the word for bow.”

She said reports state the Choctaw language confused the German army because it sounded like someone was talking underwater.

“So it was a message that they could not crack. It was effective in translating messages, and Indian Code Talker efforts have been credited with helping the war come to a close a lot sooner and is credited with saving several thousand, if not hundreds of thousands, of lives.”

The SNRC is located in Suite 500, University Plaza, UALR at 5820 Asher Ave.
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.

News

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
12/11/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee National Treasures were honored by Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Business officials with an annual holiday luncheon on Dec. 4 in the O-Si-Yo Room at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. Treasures enjoyed a lunch catered by the Restaurant of the Cherokees and received $100 gift cards and chances to win door prizes. The luncheon was hosted by CNB, which officially took on the program in 2015. “Today’s event was the annual holiday luncheon for Cherokee National Treasures. This event brings treasures together to celebrate the holidays and a special meal together where they can visit and just catch up with everyone before the busy Christmas season,” CNB Senior Vice President of Marketing and Cultural Tourism Molly Jarvis said. Tribal Councilor and Cherokee National Treasure Victoria Vazquez spoke about the day’s importance. “It’s very important because throughout the year (Cherokee) National Treasures continually contribute to sharing the art and culture and language that they have learned and used for many years. A lot of times it’s done without anyone knowing about what they’ve done. So it’s a way to pay back for their giving because a lot of these treasures are elderly and probably have been doing this thing that they do probably for 25, 30 years. This is just a small pay back for them.” CN officials spoke about the CNT program and what it means to keep the arts, language and culture alive. Principal Chief Bill John Baker said since the recognition of treasures, the value of their art has increased. “I was talking to Lorene (Drywater)…and her (buffalo grass) dolls have gone up seven and a half times, which is part of the marketing,” Baker said. “I hope that all of our art goes up in value because it’s priceless. It truly is priceless. But it’s my honor and privilege to work with you and work for you. I’m always there with an open ear, an open mind and an open heart to help you do what you do.” Jane Osti, a Cherokee National Treasure for pottery, said she came to the event to see her “treasure” friends and thinks the program is on a “good path” with the mentoring program. “I think we are on a really good path with our mentoring. I think if we continue that, we can continue our arts and language and culture. I think that everybody is wanting to work toward that, that we have a good group of people that care about it,” Osti said. Many treasures brought their “Cherokee National Treasures: In Their Own Words” books to be signed by other treasures with the opportunity to visit and take photos. For more information, call 918-575-7486 or email <a href="mailto: jodie.fishinghawk@cn-bus.com">jodie.fishinghawk@cn-bus.com</a>.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
12/09/2017 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A nonprofit public watchdog is suing Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter for refusing to release a special audit into criminal allegations connected to the state's effort to clean up heavily polluted communities in northwest Oklahoma. Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Accountability filed the lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court Monday against Hunter and Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones, seeking the audit's release. Jones' office conducted the audit in 2011 at the request of former Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump's pick to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But after the audit's completion, Pruitt ordered it not to be released. The audit looked into suspected unlawful contracting practices of a state trust involved in a buyout of residents in the lead-polluted communities. Hunter's office declined comment Monday on the lawsuit.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
12/07/2017 04:15 PM
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — President Donald Trump's rare move to shrink two large national monuments in Utah triggered another round of outrage among Native American leaders who vowed to unite and take the fight to court to preserve protections for lands they consider sacred. Environmental and conservation groups and a coalition of tribes joined the battle Monday and began filing lawsuits that ensure that Trump's announcement is far from the final chapter of the yearslong public lands battle. The court cases are likely to drag on for years, maybe even into a new presidency. Trump decided to reduce Bears Ears — created last December by President Barack Obama — by about 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante — designated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton — by nearly half. The moves earned him cheers from Republican leaders in Utah who lobbied him to undo protections they considered overly broad. Conservation groups called it the largest elimination of protected land in American history. The move comes a week after tribal leaders decried Trump for using the name of a historical Native American figure as a slur. On Nov. 27, Trump used a White House event honoring Navajo Code Talkers to take a political jab at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat he has derisively nicknamed "Pocahontas" for her claim to have Native American heritage. "It's just another slap in the face for a lot of us, a lot of our Native American brothers and sisters," Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez said. "To see that happen a week ago, with disparaging remarks, and now this." Trump also overrode tribal objections to approve the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. The Navajo Nation was one of five tribes that formed a coalition that spent years lobbying Obama to declare Bears Ears to preserve lands home to ancient cliff dwellings and an estimated 100,000 archaeological sites. Native Americans visit the area to perform ceremonies, collect herbs and wood for medicinal and spiritual purposes, and do healing rituals. A lawsuit from the coalition of the Hopi, Ute Indian, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni tribes and Navajo Nation was filed late Monday night. Earlier Monday, Earthjustice filed the first of several expected lawsuits, calling the reduction of Grand Staircase-Escalante an abuse of the president's power that jeopardizes a "Dinosaur Shangri-la" full of fossils. Some of the dinosaur fossils sit on a plateau that is home to one of the country's largest known coal reserves, which could now be open to mining. The organization is representing eight conservation groups. Trump, in a speech at Utah's Capitol with the governor and other politicians, said the state's lands should not be managed by "very distant bureaucrats located in Washington." "Your timeless bond with the outdoors should not be replaced with the whims of regulators thousands and thousands of miles away," Trump said. "I've come to Utah to take a very historic action to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens." The decision marks the first time in a half century that a president has undone these types of land protections. Trump's move followed months of lobbying by Utah's mostly Republican officials who said the two monuments closed off the area to energy development and other access. Environmental and tribal groups say the designations are needed to protect important archaeological and cultural resources, especially the more than 1.3 million-acre (2,030-square-mile) Bears Ears site featuring thousands of Native American artifacts. Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch said only Congress, not the president, has the power to reduce a national monument, something that the tribal coalition argued in its lawsuit. Additional legal challenges were expected from environmental groups and outdoor clothing company Patagonia. Outside Trump's announcement Monday, roughly 3,000 protesters lined up near the State Capitol. Some held signs that said, "Keep your tiny hands off our public lands," and they chanted, "Lock him up!" A smaller group gathered in support, including some who said they favor potential drilling or mining there that could create jobs. Bears Ears has no oil or gas, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters, though Grand Staircase-Escalante has coal. Bears Ears, created nearly a year ago, will be reduced to 201,876 acres (315 square miles). Grand Staircase-Escalante will be reduced from nearly 1.9 million acres (nearly 3,000 square miles) to 1 million acres (1,569 square miles). Both were among a group of 27 monuments that Trump ordered Zinke to review this year. Democrats and environmentalists accuse Trump and Zinke of engaging in a secretive process aimed at helping industry groups that have donated to Republican political campaigns. Zinke accompanied Trump aboard Air Force One, as did Utah's Republican U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. Hatch and other Utah Republican leaders pushed Trump to launch the review, saying the monuments designated by the former Democratic presidents locked up too much federal land. Trump framed the decision as returning power to the state, saying, "You know and love this land the best and you know the best how to take care of your land." He said the decision would "give back your voice." "Public lands will once again be for public use," Trump said to cheers. Hatch, who introduced Trump, said that when "you talk, this president listens" and that Trump promised to help him with "federal overreach." No president has tried to eliminate a monument, but some have reduced or redrawn the boundaries on 18 occasions, according to the National Park Service. The most recent instance came in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy slightly downsized Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico. Trump signed an executive order in April directing Zinke to review the protections, which Trump is able to upend under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The law gives presidents broad authority to declare federal lands as monuments and restrict their use. Zinke has also recommended to Trump that Nevada's Gold Butte and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou monuments be reduced in size, though details remain unclear. The former Montana congressman's plan would allow logging at a newly designated monument in Maine and more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico. Patagonia President and CEO Rose Marcario said the outdoor-apparel company will join an expected court fight against the monument reduction, which she described as the "largest elimination of protected land in American history."
BY STAFF REPORTS
12/07/2017 12:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation is accepting grant applications for projects in Cherokee County communities with a population less than 6,000. Designed to improve the quality of life for rural Oklahomans, the program will award grants to qualified nonprofit organizations or entities of state and local government for projects that will positively impact the community in the areas of arts, culture and history; health; and libraries and literacy. The deadline for grant applications is Jan. 15. The Community Grant program supports projects that provide opportunities for rural Oklahomans to improve themselves and their communities. Earlier this year, $168,140 was awarded for 16 community projects through the grant program. Grants are available for projects serving communities with a population less than 6,000 in Adair, Atoka, Bryan, Caddo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coal, Greer, Harmon, Haskell, Jackson, Johnston, Kiowa, Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain, Pushmataha, Sequoyah, Tillman and Washita counties. Grants of up to $10,000 will be considered for projects serving one eligible community and/or county and up to $15,000 for projects serving multiple eligible communities and/or counties. The one-year grant may be used to create a program or significantly expand an existing program and should benefit a broad range of individuals in the community. For complete grant guidelines and application information, visit <a href="http://www.ruraloklahoma.org/community-grants" target="_blank">ruraloklahoma.org/community-grants</a>. Call Erika Warren with questions at 405-606-2920 or email <a href="mailto: e.warren@occf.org">e.warren@occf.org</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
12/06/2017 08:15 AM
TULSA, Okla. – In accordance with Native American Heritage Month, the Tribal Film Festival and Circle Cinema on Nov. 29 presented the Tribal Film Festival Showcase, which honored Cherokee actor Wes Studi with a Career Achievement Award. People also had the opportunity to preview Studi’s new movie “Hostiles.” “I saw his performance in ‘Hostiles,’ and then I checked his IMDB credits, and he has over 92 credits and for an actor that’s incredible, let alone a Native actor. So I’m just blown away from what he has done, and I think he deserves this recognition,” Celia Xavier, TFF founder and executive director, said. Studi said he was honored to accept the award. “It’s an honor to be recognized for having achieved a career in this business. It’s not an easy thing.” Chuck Foxen, Circle Cinema film programmer, said the event started out small but grew as Xavier secured the screening of “Hostiles” as well as having Studi present for the film, which was followed with a Q & A with Studi, Chris Eyre (director and co-producer of ‘Smoke Signals’) and Dr. Joely Proudfit. “We were just going to pick a couple films out of her festival and then she was like, ‘let’s wait. I got a bigger film, the ‘Hostiles,’ that we might be able to do.’ And that’s a big film that’s going to release in December,” Foxen said. “Then it evolved into Wes is going to be here, then Chris Eyre and all these other guests were going to come.” The film was originally set to have one showing, but after a high demand two extra screenings were added. Set in 1892, “Hostiles” follows Capt. Joseph Blocker’s (Christian Bale) journey of transporting Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk (Studi), who’s dying of cancer, and his family (Adam Beach, Q’orianka Kilcher) through dangerous territory back to their ancestral lands in Montana after being imprisoned for the past seven years. Along the travel north, the group finds Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike) alongside her children and husband who were murdered by a Comanche war party, ultimately adding another layer to the story with ambushes and murder being a consistent theme as well as a sense of forgiveness and overcoming hatred for one another. After initially watching “Hostiles,” Studi said the “thought-provoking” film “blew” him away. “I first watched it, and I was simply almost dumbfounded. I was quiet for a good long while afterwards. I really had to absorb what I had just seen,” he said. “It’s a very effective film in its own way. It left me incapable of conversation immediately thereafter. You know, some films you can walk out of and say, ‘oh, I like this. I like that’ or ‘I didn’t like this or like that,’ but this one it’s thought-provoking. It absolutely is that, and it’s done in an entertaining way.” Xavier said with the festival’s creation and being the owner of TribalTV, which streams Indigenous films on Amazon Prime and Roku, she provides a platform for Indigenous people to tell their stories. She added that funding is the top issue when telling these stories. “One message…that’s very important is that we have a lot of projects that need to be made and a lot of stories that need to be told,” she said. “Funding is the number one issue that’s holding a lot of these stories back.” Aside from showing major production films such as “Hostiles,” Foxen said Circle Cinema also provides a platform where Native Americans, and other nationalities, can tell their stories. “It’s important for us to show films that are like Native American films, but more importantly ones made by Native Americans and telling like real Native American stories versus stereotyping Natives and putting them in roles that they’ve been in the past,” Foxen said. Circle Cinema hosts a quarterly series called Native Spotlight, which provides a storytelling platform. For more information on Circle Cinema, visit circlecinema.com. For more information on TFF, visit <a href="http://www.tribalfilmfestival.org" target="_blank">tribalfilmfestival.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
12/05/2017 05:00 PM
MESA, Ariz. – The United National Indian Tribal Youth is accepting nominations for its 2018 UNITY 25 Under 25 Native Youth Leadership Awards. The program is designed to celebrate the achievements of Native American and Alaskan Native youth ages 14-24 who embody UNITY’s core mission and exude living a balanced life developing their spiritual, mental, physical and social well-being. Honorees will be recognized at a ceremony during the National UNITY Conference July 5-9 in San Diego at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center. In addition to being recognized and receiving a custom-beaded medallion, each awardee will receive training by UNITY during a nine-month period that is designed to build on his/her individual achievements and promote community service. The 25 Under 25 Native Youth Leadership Awards has been made possible in past years thanks to a matching grant from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The awards program began in 2014 and is awarded every other year. The 2018 class will be UNITY’s third class of honorees.