http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgPat Gwin, Cherokee Nation Environmental Resources senior director, looks at a Georgia candy roaster squash at the tribe’s heirloom garden in Tahlequah. A National Science Foundation grant worth nearly $500,000 will be used to preserve the Cherokee culture through the establishment of a mentor program for young CN citizens. COURTESY
Pat Gwin, Cherokee Nation Environmental Resources senior director, looks at a Georgia candy roaster squash at the tribe’s heirloom garden in Tahlequah. A National Science Foundation grant worth nearly $500,000 will be used to preserve the Cherokee culture through the establishment of a mentor program for young CN citizens. COURTESY

$500K grant aims to preserve Cherokee ecological knowledge

02/27/2018 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – A nearly $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation aims to preserve the Cherokee culture through the establishment of a mentor program for young Cherokee Nation citizens.

The program will match young Cherokees from northeastern Oklahoma with elders in the tribe’s Medicine Keepers to learn about and sustain traditional Cherokee life ways by working in the tribe’s heirloom garden, learning the language and participating in field botany exercises.

Clint Carroll, a CN citizen and University of Colorado Boulder professor, was recently awarded the five-year grant. He is working with Pat Gwin, senior director of CN Environmental Resources, to administer a three-year program in the CN.

“Dr. Carroll’s National Science Foundation project promises to be a unique opportunity for Cherokee students to be taught traditional ecological knowledge in a manner and setting as would have been the case centuries ago,” Gwin said.

The Cherokee Environmental Leadership Program works directly with the CN Medicine Keepers to educate five Cherokee students about the Cherokee culture, the Cherokee language and local environmental issues. The Medicine Keepers are a group of 12 fluent Cherokee speakers whose mission is to preserve the traditional language, culture and natural resources of the tribe.

“The project seeks to revitalize the Cherokee language and traditional knowledge and to inform tribal land conservation policy, which we hope will promote Cherokee cultural resilience and overall well-being,” Carroll said.

Carroll has worked closely with the Medicine Keepers since its inception in 2008.

Participants will be expected to dedicate 10 hours per week to the project, working in the CN heirloom garden, taking Cherokee language courses and meeting regularly with the Medicine Keepers.

Students who live in northeastern Oklahoma and are citizens of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes are eligible to apply. Applications must be submitted by March 16. To apply, visit

For more information, visit


03/17/2018 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 or No income guidelines have been specified for the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veteran Fund, and free subscriptions will be given as long as funds last. Tax-deductible donations for the fund can also be sent to the Cherokee Phoenix by check or money order specifying the donation for the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veteran Fund. Cash is also accepted at the Cherokee Phoenix offices and local events where Cherokee Phoenix staff members are accepting Elder/Veteran Fund donations. The Cherokee Phoenix also has a free website, <a href="" target="_blank"></a>, that posts news seven days a week about the Cherokee government, people, history and events of interest. The monthly newspaper is also posted in PDF format to the website at the beginning of each month.
03/02/2018 12:00 PM
TULSA – Cherokee Nation Businesses and a team of its employee volunteers are increasing support in the battle against hunger, as well as helping those in need endure the harsh elements of Oklahoma’s ever-changing weather. CNB’s Community Impact Team, a companywide initiative dedicated to helping promote volunteerism and community engagement, has committed an increase in volunteer efforts and donations to Iron Gate’s soup kitchen and grocery pantry. “Iron Gate relies on the generosity of volunteers to help us feed Tulsa’s hungry every day. We are so grateful to the employees of Cherokee Nation Businesses, who not only donated much-needed canned goods, but also gave of their time, helping us serve food,” Carrie Vesely Henderson, Iron Gate executive director, said. “We’re thrilled that they have increased their support recently and will be serving regularly through June. We’re celebrating 40 years of feeding Tulsa, and we couldn’t do it without generous community partners like the Cherokee Nation and its businesses.” The company kicked off this year’s endeavor with supply drives to collect food and winter weather items. Community Impact Team volunteers donated, collected and recently delivered nearly 300 items such as food, toiletries, coats, blankets and winter accessories. “Iron Gate’s Grocery Pantry is always in need of protein-rich items, and Cherokee Nation Businesses really came through for us, donating more than 230 pounds of protein and other canned goods,” Ashli Sims, Iron Gate development director, said. “Many of our pantry guests have jobs. They have a home. They just need a little extra to help make ends meet that month. So this donation will have a huge impact on them.” This year, the tribally owned company moved its service day, when teams of CNB employees volunteer together at Iron Gate, from Saturdays to Wednesdays. The move encourages more employees to volunteer and increases accessibility, allowing entire departments to participate together as a team building opportunity. The schedule of employees signed up for shifts at Iron Gate is booked through the summer and continues to increase. “We are proud partners with Iron Gate and longtime supporters of its mission to feed the hungry while providing a place of comfort,” CNB CEO Shawn Slaton said. “Our employees have given their time and personal resources to the nonprofit’s soup kitchen, grocery pantry and Kids Pantry since 2011. It is their continued dedication that has encouraged us, as a company, to increase our support of the organization.” In 2017, CNB employees dedicated roughly 4,000 volunteer service hours to community outreach projects and numerous charitable efforts, including Iron Gate, Cherokee Nation Angel Project, Junior Achievement and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s Trash-OFF and Adopt-A-Highway programs. They also coordinate essential item and school supply drives, blood donation events, the tribe’s Heart of a Nation annual fundraising campaign and many other efforts. Iron Gate is always in need of additional volunteers, as well as donations of protein-rich canned goods, peanut butter, juice boxes and shelf-stable milk. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
02/28/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – After opening in 2013, the Cherokee Nation’s Veterans Center continues to strive to service all veterans through different programs and events. The center was formerly under Human Services, which set the foundation for what is now offered to veterans. In 2017, Barbara Foreman became the director of CN Veterans Affairs. “I can say that Human Services laid a good foundation here. They actually started some of the programs, so we’re just trying to build on some the programs that have been started here and maybe to extend more services here for our veterans,” Foreman said. The center offers readjustment counselor Matt Tiger of the Tulsa Veterans Affairs Center, who does group sessions and individual counseling. Representatives from the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs and Disabled American Veterans are available every Tuesday to offer help with benefits. “We’re collecting resources to refer them to. In the future we are trying to have more and more services. We’re just trying to add to what we have,” Foreman said. Foreman said she wants to add service personnel from the CN who have the same capabilities the ODVA and the DAV offer. She also said feedback from the veterans is important in knowing what is needed for them. The Veterans Center is the first among many of the tribes in Oklahoma. “I think we kind of, by taking the first steps and being the first tribe out there with this, we set the standard for other tribes. Now when veterans from other tribes are hearing what the Cherokees are doing for their veterans, they start asking those questions. It starts that ball rolling so other tribes think ‘well, we need to be something like that for our veterans, too,’” CN General Counsel Bryan Shade said. Shade said he’s working with the center to help it expand its offerings to veterans. The center also offers various event opportunities for veteran participation. Foreman said they host events on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, the Cherokee National Holiday, and every September a select group of veterans participate in the Cherokee Warrior Flight to Washington, D.C. New events have recently been added such as employee veteran’s lunches, bingo nights and a Valentine’s dance and social event. The Veterans Center is fully funded through a tribal appropriations budget to maintain the building and staff. “We’re never going to stop reaching out for more. We owe it to them to never get satisfied with what we’re doing for them, to keep wanting to do more,” Shade said. For more information call 1-800-256-0671 or visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
02/25/2018 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Roads Program has 38 projects in its Transportation Improvement Program inventory with three projects expected to be complete by or in springtime. The Honey Hill project, located in Adair County on E0850 off Bell Road, is a total of 3.75 miles with a cost of nearly $3.8 million. Workers were expected to obliterate the old road, widen a new road and install drainage structures, ditches, new fences and signage. The project was expected to be complete by May. Because 0f past complications in road construction, adjustments needed to be made when planning and designing a road project, officials said. “Several years ago we went and tried to build the entire length of a project, and we had some issues with some right-of-way, so what we did was we phased it into two phases. The way we lay a road out is little different than one might think. We lay a road out from south to north, and then from west to east,” CN Road Program Director Michael Lynn said. The Leach/Kenwood project involves an overlay of 11.4 miles of road on N4540 that connects the Leach and Kenwood communities at a cost of $3.9 million. Some construction has already been finished. “We’ve gone in and replaced some drainage structures. We built some new box bridge type structures for drainage. Then we’re going in and overlaying the whole 11.4 miles from around Leach all the way up to Kenwood that will tie into Kenwood Road just east of Kenwood community,” Lynn said. The project is expected to end by early spring. The third project is Moonshine Road in Sequoyah County that runs about 5 miles north of Vian off Hwy. 82 and west to Hwy. 64. This project is 8.5 miles long, costs $2.5 million and is near completion. Lynn said construction consists of replacing guard rails, improving drainage structures, tearing out of old head walls (walls built at pipe openings to support the road and protect it from the erosion of flowing water) and replacing them with higher head walls to make them safe for drivers and overlaying the road. “One of the things that we’re doing with this job that we have not done on any other job is, and it is a safety feature that we’re adding, is we’re adding what we call a centerline rumble strip,” Lynn said. Rumble strip grooves are being added to the centerline and striped. “It kind of serves two purposes. The grooves serve as an audible warning for the drivers. If you go left of center you’ll hear and you’ll feel it in your steering wheel when you do it. It also helps in low light conditions and in the rain. You’ll see the upside of the groove. It gives you a better view of the stripe in rainy conditions,” he said. Other projects include the northeast Fort Gibson project, which is 6.9 miles of road between Tahlequah and Muskogee; White Oak Road in Craig County, also known as north-south 4340 road, which is 4.3 miles; Ross Street in Tahlequah that connects to the W.W. Hastings Hospital expansion; and eight projects that require right-of-way easements before construction can begin. A project is prioritized if it serves tribal facilities, public schools, bus routes, if there is trust or restricted land along the road route, and if the tribe is looking to develop property along the route, among other criteria. For more information, call 918-453-5731 or email <a href="mailto:"></a>.
02/13/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Human Services Burial Assistance Program continues to help families with funeral expenses. For nearly 20 years, the program has helped provide tribal citizens financial aid to bury family members who have passed with the Bureau of Indian Affairs paying a portion of those expenses. “It’s for people that have little or no resources to bury a loved one,” CN Family Assistance Manager Angela King said. In fiscal year 2017, BAP provided aid for 395 burials, and so far in FY 2018 (Oct. 1 to Jan. 31) the CN has aided with 80 burials. The tribe’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. The program is designed to alleviate financial stress that comes with funeral costs for low-income families. The deceased’s immediate family’s income must not exceed greater than 150 percent of the National Poverty Level income standards. To be eligible, the deceased must be a citizen of a federally recognized tribe: have resided in the CN jurisdiction six months prior to date of death: must not, or family must not, have resources that exceed $2,900, which include life insurance, veteran’s benefits, savings, checking or prepaid burial; and must select a funeral home that has an active burial contract with the tribe. The CN is contracted with 76 funeral homes in Oklahoma. The CN and BIA pay depending on two options offered through the BAP. Option 1 is restricted to CN citizens, if eligible, and services will be paid in full to eliminate financial burdens. This service provides at minimum a 20-gage steel casket, concrete outer container/grave liner, tent and cemetery set up, memorial package, death certificate, burial notice in a local newspaper and traditional professional services provided by a contracted funeral home to conduct the service. The CN and BIA payout for the Option 1 contracted service must not exceed $3,600 for the service to be paid in full. Option 2 is available to any citizen of a federally recognized tribe, who must meet all income and eligibility standards. The selected funeral home will provide services for any eligible non-CN citizen, as negotiated by the funeral home and the family. The CN will make a single payment up to $2,800 toward the service’s total cost. The family is responsible for the remaining balance due toward the funeral home costs. An eligible Cherokee family that wishes to switch from Option 1 to Option 2 may do so under the negotiation between funeral home and family. The CN will make a single payment of $2,800 toward funeral costs with the family responsible for the remaining balance. King said the reason some families switch is because a family member wanting a different service not provided in Option 1. She said the family is allowed to switch but is responsible for any extra expenses. “Since this is an income-based program it has to be someone outside of the household that is responsible for the remaining amount. Because we don’t want that family owing a funeral home because if they really can’t afford a funeral they’re going to pick the option 1 where they don’t owe anything,” King said. For more information, call 918-453-5000 or email <a href="mailto:"></a>. <strong>Burial Assistance Eligibility Guidelines</strong> 1. The deceased must be a citizen of a federally recognized tribe, verified by a tribal citizenship card (blue card for Cherokee Nation citizens). A Certificate Degree of Indian Blood card is not proof of citizenship and will not be accepted. 2. The deceased must have been a resident of the CN jurisdiction for six months prior to date of death. 3. The deceased and his/her immediate family many not have resources (life insurance, veteran’s benefits, cash, savings accounts, etc.) exceeding $2,500. 4. The deceased and his/her immediate family may not have income for the previous month greater than 150 percent of the National Poverty Level income standards. For example, for a household of two, income cannot exceed $2,003 for the previous month or $24,030 for the past 12 months. 5. The family must select a funeral home that has an active burial contract with the CN. <strong>Needed Documents</strong> 1. Residential verification that the deceased has lived within the Cherokee Nation jurisdiction for the past six months. The document must verify the physical location of the residence (utility bill or a rent receipt with the physical location listed), Department of Humans Service statement, statement from a nursing home, 911 statements or any other document including a physical address. 2. Tribal citizenship card. 3. Proof of income for the previous 12 months for the deceased and his/her immediate family. Verification documents include, but are not limited to pay stubs, copies of benefit checks if they cover the previous 12 months, benefit award letters, etc. 4. Proof of all available financial resources including but not limited to bank statements, savings account statements, life insurance police and veterans benefits statements, etc. 5. Social Security Card <strong>Option 1</strong> This option is restricted to eligible Cherokee Nation citizens, and if selected, the service will be paid in full (less any available family resources) by the CN, totally eliminating the eligible family of any financial burden normally associated with funeral expense. This service is limited and cannot be altered. The service shall provide at minimum a 20-gage steel casket, concrete outer container/grave liner (non-biodegradable), tent and cemetery set up, memorial package, one death certificate, burial notice in local paper and the traditional professional service provide by the contracted funeral home conducting the service. If an eligible family selects any type of cremation, the funeral home will explain the contracted options available to the family and if services are within the contract, this service will also be paid in full. <strong>Option 2</strong> This option is for any eligible family where the deceased is not a Cherokee Nation citizen but is a citizen of another federally recognized tribe. The eligible family can select any funeral service the funeral home will sell them and the CN will pay a one-time maximum payment of $2,800 (minus available resources). The family will be totally responsible for all costs above this amount. The family must meet income, resource and residential requirements for this service. This option will also be made available to eligible CN citizens who may have family members (not living in the deceased immediate household) that wish to upgrade the contracted service identified in Option 1. The eligible Cherokee family can select any service the funeral home will sell them and the CN will make the one-time payment in the amount of $2,800 (less available resources) and the family will be totally responsible for paying the balance. Many funeral homes have active contracts with the CN to provide all services outlined in options 1 and 2 identified above. If the family selects a funeral home that is not listed, contact a local Tribal Services office. This list is updated periodically.