Julia Coates: At-Large
Julia Coates has filed for re-election to the At-Large Tribal Council Seat No. 1.
Coates has been instrumental in helping 24 At-Large Cherokee Nation community organizations throughout the country to establish and grow. She has introduced resolutions that created the Cherokee Nation Community Association, a non-profit organization of the Cherokee Nation, and has worked for increased funding for programs for the At-Large groups. She sponsored resolutions to consider At-Large citizens for the National Treasures award and to extend HUD Section 184 program for mortgage assistance to Texas and Arkansas where it had not previously existed. She has been strong in defending At-Large voters by opposing initiatives that would eliminate absentee voting. “It is important that all At-Large voters come out this year to vote for candidates who will support the rights we have enjoyed for over 30 years, and to ask their relatives in the districts to do the same,” she states.
Coates is renowned as the former project director for the award-winning Cherokee Nation History Course. She has taught over 2,000 Cherokee Nation employees and thousands more local and At-Large community members in the past 11 years.
Coates serves as an advisory board member on the Cherokee Nation Community Association and the Cherokee Nation Foundation. Born in Pryor, Okla., she is a professor of Native American Studies at the University of California, Davis, and a visiting professor of Cherokee Studies at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.
VINITA, Okla. – It’s easier for tribal leaders today to keep in contact with constituents via phone calls, social media and emails, but for Dist. 11 Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez nothing is better than seeing them in person.
Dist. 11 encompasses Craig County and parts of Mayes and Nowata counties, and Vazquez said she tries to hold meetings to allow constituents to meet with her, other tribal leaders and representatives from Cherokee Nation programs and departments that are based in Tahlequah about 70 miles south.
“It puts a more personal spin of what my job really is because I talk to individuals at those meetings, and they hear me talk things they don’t see on Facebook,” she said.
The meetings help her hear concerns from constituents. She then takes those concerns to the Tribal Council and other tribal representatives who may be able to address them.
“So many times after a community meeting I will go home with five or six issues that a citizen has told me about at the meeting and then the next day I call or email people in those (CN) departments,” Vazquez said.
During a Nov. 17 meeting at the tribe’s Vinita Health Center, staff from Cherokee Nation Businesses; Election Commission staff, who helped people register to vote; Education Services; Marshal Service; Tax Commission, who provided information about the new hunting and fishing license program; Health Services, who gave free flu shots; Human Services; Child Support Services; Dental Services; and Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation assisted CN citizens.
She said citizens also appreciated seeing their leaders. Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin Sr. all attended. The Hoskins are from Vinita and both served as Tribal Councilors and worked to bring more attention to the needs of people in the Vinita area.
Hoskin Sr., who served three four-year terms on the council from 1995 to 2007, said he has “witnessed tremendous growth” in the area since his childhood. He said “to be quite honest” during all the years of him growing up in Vinita until he got on the council in 1995, if you asked anyone in the Vinita area if there were CN services available “the answer would be no.”
“The only type of services we had was our housing addition out there, Buffington Heights, but as far as service, there wasn’t any,” he said. “Obviously, as you can tell this evening, there’s a lot of Cherokee up here, and I knew that, and the people that live up here, we knew that. So, that was the message, when I was first elected, that people told me to take to Tahlequah, and that’s exactly what I did.”
Hoskin Sr. said he was glad to serve with a council that believed tribal services were for everyone no matter where they lived in the CN. “I’m proud to say we started the first Cherokee health care in Vinita in 1996 when we got the mobile clinic up here. It came to Vinita one day a week, and the people showed up. I used those (clinic) numbers to prove Cherokees were here. We just needed to provide services.”
He said Principal Chief Bill John Baker, who served on the Tribal Council with him, also advocated for services for people in Vinita.
“As more services began to come up here, more and more people began to come out and take advantage of them and use them,” he said.
He said the town eventually received a walk-in clinic and finally a 92,000-square-foot health center in 2012, which was justified by the number of people in the Vinita area who needed and utilized CN services.
Leon Dick, 81, of Vinita, who is Shawnee and Delaware and a CN citizen, said he comes to the community meetings to “find out what’s going on,” to fellowship and for “the eats.” He also gets to see family and friends in one place, he said.
He said he grew up in nearby White Oak and takes part in the Shawnee stomp dances there, reading the Shawnee prayer before the dances.
He said he appreciates the Vinita Health Center because he only has to drive 4 miles to receive medical care and no longer has to drive to the Claremore Indian Hospital nearly 40 miles away or the tribe’s Nowata clinic about 29 miles away.
“At Claremore you’ve got to wait all day and sit around there all day. Here you get taken right in,” he said.
Vazquez said Vinita has long been a center for Cherokees who built their homes and businesses there. Cherokee attorney Elias C. Boudinot established the Craig County seat in Vinita in 1871.
“It was a center for Cherokees. They built the buildings and lived here, and we had chiefs come from here, streets are named after Cherokees,” she said.
More attention is being brought to that history, she said, because the tribe now has more money to give to the Eastern Trails Museum in Vinita, which stores and displays the area’s history, and to buy artifacts and art to showcase the history of Vinita and Craig County in the Vinita Health Center.
“We have a very caring and giving administration, and I’m just thankful to be a part of that and because of that I’m able to share much more locally than I have been in the past,” Vazquez said.
KESHENA, Wis. – The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin is suing federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Justice after federal agents destroyed the tribe’s industrial hemp crop on Oct. 23.
“The Menominee Tribe, in cooperation with the College of Menominee Nation, should have the right under the Farm Bill to cultivate industrial hemp in the same manner as Kentucky, Colorado and other states,” Gary Besaw, Menominee chairman, said. “These and other states cultivate industrial hemp without threats or interference from the United States government. In contrast, when our tribe attempted to cultivate industrial hemp we were subjected to armed federal agents who came to our reservation and destroyed our crop. The Department of Justice should recognize the equality of tribes under the Farm Bill, and provide us with the same respect they have demonstrated to states growing industrial hemp for research purposes.”
Industrial hemp, which can be grown as a fiber and a seed crop, is used to produce a range of textiles, foods, papers, body care products, detergents, plastics and building materials that are available throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Unlike marijuana, it has no psychoactive effect. Farmers in more than 30 countries around the world cultivate industrial hemp.
“This is a straightforward legal issue,” Brendan Johnson, Menominee attorney, said. “The lawsuit focuses on the specific legal question of whether the Farm Bill’s industrial hemp provisions apply to Menominee. We are confident that the provisions do apply to Menominee, that Menominee is authorized under federal law to cultivate industrial hemp consistent with those provisions and that a federal court will read the Farm Bill provisions as we do and require the federal government to recognize Menominee’s rights under federal law to cultivate industrial hemp.”
The Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board will meet at 9 a.m. CDT, Dec. 8, 2015, via conference call. It is an open meeting and the public is welcome to attend by using the conference call information to join the meeting. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/11/9837_Editorial_Board_Agenda_Dec._2015.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the agenda.
Entry code: 4331082
CATOOSA, Okla. – Singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson will bring his show to The Joint inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Jan. 21. Tickets start at $60 and went on sale Nov. 19.
According to a Cherokee Nation Entertainment release, Robinson features songs such as “Just to See Her,” “Quiet Storm,” “Cruisin’” and “Being with You.”
“The Detroit native has an accomplished 50-year career in music. Robinson founded the critically acclaimed group The Miracles, was instrumental in developing the Motown Records dynasty where he served as vice president for a time, and has more than 4,000 songs to his credit,” the release states. “The hits he has written include ‘The Way You Do the Things You Do,’ ‘My Girl’ and ‘The Tracks of My Tears.’”
Robinson has received awards including the Grammy Living Legend and Kennedy Center Honors.
“He has also been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame,” the release states.
For more information on his tour, visit <a href="http://www.smokeyrobinson.com" target="_blank">www.smokeyrobinson.com</a>.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is located off Interstate 44 at exit 240. Ticket prices and information on upcoming shows are available online in The Joint section of <a href="http://www.hardrockcasinotulsa.com" target="_blank">www.hardrockcasinotulsa.com</a> or by calling (918) 384-ROCK. The Joint box office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
WEBBERS FALLS, Okla. – Located in Muskogee County along the Arkansas River is a small town that has survived for more than 180 years. After facing Civil War, fires and floods, it continues with its rich Cherokee history.
Named after an Arkansas River waterfall and Walter Webber, a Western Cherokee or Old Settlers leader, the town today has more than 600 residents.
“People would say ‘the falls at Webbers’ and eventually it became Webbers Falls,” Troy Wayne Poteete, Webbers Falls Historical Society founder and Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice, said.
Poteete said when the Cherokees were trying to find a settlement along the Arkansas River, they reached the falls and couldn’t go any further, so they stopped and created Webbers Falls.
Moving to Indian Territory before the Trail of Tears, Webber established a trading post, portage service and salt works in 1828.
“Webbers Falls, after reading a lot of older newspapers, was supposed to have been one of the nicest, largest towns in Oklahoma, they predicted it to be and it never did make it,” said George Miller, Webbers Falls Historical Society and Webbers Falls Museum president. “I think the maximum amount of people that lived here was probably 700, maybe 800 people.”
After the Indian Removal Act, many Cherokees settled in Webbers Falls.
“Webbers Falls was home to several prominent Cherokees who fought in the Civil War, served as justices on the Cherokee Supreme Court and were very involved in Cherokee government and politics,” Poteete said.
One prominent Cherokee was Joseph “Rich Joe” Vann. A wealthy man, Vann established a cotton plantation in Webbers Falls and built a replica of the mansion he was forced from in Georgia. Vann also established a steamboat business.
In 1842, in an attempt to escape Indian Territory to Mexico, nearly 25 slaves of Vann’s and other wealthy Cherokee slave owners revolted and fled with guns and horses. More slaves joined on the way. However, the slaves were pursued and 14 were killed or captured in a conflict that resulted in the pursuers turning back for reinforcements. The other fugitives continued to south.
The slaves were recaptured and five were executed for killing two slave catchers in an effort to free a slave family being taken to Choctaw territory. Vann put his surviving slaves to work on his steamboat. Vann later died aboard his steamboat after the boiler exploded.
In 1863 during the Civil War, while trying to capture Cherokee Confederate Gen. Stand Watie, who stationed his troops in Webbers Falls, the Union Army burned Vann’s plantation along with most of the town. The town was later rebuilt.
“Most of the people here sided with the Confederacy eventually,” Poteete said. “After the Civil War this was designated as the place for Confederate sympathizers and Freedmen. Not many of the freed slaves came here but several Confederate Cherokees who thought they couldn’t live in peace in the other parts of the Cherokee Nation, they moved here and one of them was the last Confederate general to surrender, Stand Watie.
After statehood in 1907, Webbers Falls was home to Brewer’s Academy, which was later named Webbers Falls Public School. Brewer’s Academy was named after the Brewer family that resided in town. Oliver Hazard Perry Brewer was born in 1829, attended the Cherokee Male Seminary and married Delia Vann, the daughter of Joseph Vann, in 1856. Brewer was elected to the Cherokee Senate in 1859 and was elected CN superintendent of education in 1871 and 1876. He was selected as Cherokee Board of Education president in 1881, and in 1890, was appointed to the CN Supreme Court. He died in office a year later.
His son, Oliver Hazard Perry Brewer Jr., was born in Webbers Falls in 1871 and also attended the Cherokee Male Seminary. He also was elected to the tribe’s Senate and served as CN Board of Education chairman. In 1906, he was a Constitutional Convention delegate. In 1913, Brewer Jr. was appointed postmaster in Muskogee until 1921. He then was elected a Muskogee County judge for three terms, and in 1931 he was appointed by the U.S. government as a CN “chief for a day.” He died in 1951.
Another prominent Cherokee in Webbers Falls was Robert T. Hanks, who held several positions in the CN government, including secretary.
“Robert T. Hanks was considered to have been the best fiddler in the Cherokee Nation and was the first historian of Webbers Falls,” Poteete said. “He was also a writer. He was a correspondent to the newspapers in Muskogee, in Fort Smith (Arkansas). He published a paper here himself, and until he passed away, he was given to writing letters to the editor taking positions on political issues and they dubbed him Black Fox, sage of the Cherokee.”
In 1911, Webbers Falls burned down again and was rebuilt with brick in 1912. Most buildings continue to stand. That same year, the Webbers Falls, Shawnee and Western Railroad began connecting Webbers Falls to Warner, allowing the town to grow and become less dependent on river trade.
Throughout the 1920s, the town’s population grew to nearly 500 and a bridge was built across the Arkansas River as a part of Highway 64, which cut through Webbers Falls, allowing traffic and businesses to boom.
“All the traffic from Highway 64 came through here and we had five or six Phillips stations and cafes, two grocery stores, two banks,” Miller said. “As the trucks grew, the bridge didn’t and the trucks could not get across so they put a light up and made it a one-way road across, and after the bridge came in the train slowly went away.”
In 1943, the town experienced massive flooding in the downtown area causing people to be rescued from rooftops.
Miller said what really affected Webbers Falls’ growth was when Interstate 40 was opened because it bypassed the town.
“When they got I-40 in they tore the bridge down and built the Highway 100 bridge across, a little further up, but nothing came through Webbers Falls anymore and the town just slowly died until what it is today,” Miller said.
In 1971, the Webbers Falls Lock and Dam and Reservoir was created on the Oklahoma portion of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, which provides for barge traffic on the Arkansas River. In 2002, the I-40 bridge collapsed, killing 14 people and injuring 11, after a barge collided with a bridge pier.
Although Webbers Falls has experienced growth, tragedy and decline, it still holds the same Cherokee values with which it was created.
“People were moving west to continue a Cherokee way of life, and many families that were here before are still here,” Poteete said.
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — A court document indicates the woman accused of killing four people and injuring dozens of others after driving through Oklahoma State University's homecoming parade last month had a blood-alcohol content lower than the legal intoxication threshold.
The Tulsa World reported Saturday that 25-year-old Adacia Chambers, a Cherokee Nation citizen, was ordered to submit to a blood alcohol test at Stillwater Medical Center following the Oct. 24 crash.
A document filed Thursday in Payne County District Court by defense attorney Tony Coleman indicates her blood-alcohol content was 0.01. The legal threshold for intoxication is 0.08.
Chambers initially was suspected of driving while under the influence after authorities say she ran a red light and purposely drove around a barricade and over a police motorcycle before crashing into spectators at OSU's homecoming parade. Prosecutors say evidence suggests it was "an intentional act."
Prosecutors have not responded to the latest filing.
Chambers faces four counts of second-degree murder and 46 counts of assault and battery with means likely to produce death.
Killed in the crash were 65-year-old married couple Marvin and Bonnie Stone; 23-year-old University of Central Oklahoma graduate student Nikita Nakal; and 2-year-old Nash Lucas. Chambers is set to reappear in court for a hearing Dec. 10.
Information about Chambers' blood alcohol content is contained in a brief supporting Coleman's request for the court to allocate funds so Chambers can afford an expert witness in psychology and accident reconstruction.
Coleman said his client is considered indigent based on her income and has a "due process right" to confront the evidence and witnesses against her. He said an expert is required to explain the difference between Chambers' state of mind currently and her state of mind at the time of the crash.
An order for competency evaluation states a Payne County Sheriff's Office employee transported Chambers from the county jail to the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita on Tuesday.
Coleman said the results of Chambers' evaluation in Vinita differ from those documented after an evaluation conducted by Edmond-based psychologist Dr. Shawn Roberson at the Payne County Jail on Oct. 26.
Roberson wrote in his evaluation, which was retroactively sealed by Judge Louis A. Duel on Nov. 9, that Chambers seemed to be "acutely psychotic" and appeared to suffer from "severe mental illness" that would affect her ability to stand trial.