Cherokee chef Don McClellan speaks to judges during an Iron Chef-style competition July 24 at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. McClellan created two appetizers, three entrees and two desserts for the competition. COURTESY PHOTO

Cherokee chef competes in Iron Chef-style competition

Cherokee chef Don McClellan prepares a dish during an Iron Chef-style competition July 24 at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. McClellan lost the competition by one point. COURTESY PHOTO
Cherokee chef Don McClellan prepares a dish during an Iron Chef-style competition July 24 at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. McClellan lost the competition by one point. COURTESY PHOTO
BY WILL CHAVEZ
07/29/2011 07:07 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen and chef Don McClellan stepped out of his comfort zone July 24 to compete in an Iron Chef-style competition as part of the 2011 “Living Earth Festival” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

The annual Washington, D.C, festival celebrates Native contributions to protecting the environment, promoting sustainability and using indigenous plants for health and nutrition.

McClellan, 34, originally of Nowata, said he was invited to compete by his mother Carolyn McClellan, who is the NMAI assistant director of community and constituent services.

“With my education and experience, she thought it would be a great opportunity for me to come to D.C. and showcase all my talent,” McClellan said.

His competition was Chef Richard Hetzler, the executive chef for the NMAI’s Mitsitam Café, who won the 2010 inaugural competition.

McClellen has been a chef for 17 years and is the executive chef at Atria Vista del Rio in Albuquerque, N.M. He describes his dishes as “flavorful New Mexican.”

He said he prefers to keep his preparations simple and flavorful and that his Southwestern style meshed well with the competition’s ingredients of corn, beans and squash – the traditional “Three Sisters” among Native farmers.

He said having worked with the main ingredients for the past six years as a chef in Albuquerque prepared him the competition. He also said he was able to use the derivatives of corn, beans and squashes in addition to the actual ingredients.

“I can use squash blossoms as opposed to using zucchini or yellow squash…Corn tortillas would constitute use of the corn,” he said before the competition. “It’s going to be challenging for the simple fact that corns, beans and squash have to be in each dish.”

For the competition, each chef and his assistants had to prepare two appetizers, three entrees and two desserts using the main ingredients. They also had fresh salmon, duck and buffalo meat available.

McClellan said creating dessert pastries is not one of his strengths and that he was concerned about his desserts. To prepare for the competition, he said he ate New Mexican-style food, read cookbooks and studied various ways “the Three Sisters” can be prepared.

He said one of the strengths he brought to the competition was his ability to flavor foods to make them multi-dimensional in taste. He takes pride, he said, in flavoring and seasoning food so that his customers don’t feel the need to flavor it after it reaches their tables.

The competition was judged on taste, color and presentation and included a time limit. The chefs had one hour for prep work and one hour to prepare their dishes before serving.

The competition was held in the museum’s outdoor amphitheater, and McClellan said during the competition the temperature was around 102 degrees, with a heat index of about 115 degrees.

He said he knew he had to focus in the heat and “cook with his heart” and that he was capable of winning because he had a good menu.

“It’s an opportunity I don’t want to walk away from and say, ‘oh well, I could have done this or I should have done this.’ I want to leave it all out there in the competition,” he said.

Judgment was handed down by a group of local chefs. The panel consisted of Scott Drewno, executive chef at “The Source by Wolfgang Puck” and last year’s Washington, D.C., Chef of the Year; Brian Patterson, Hetzler’s opponent from 2010; and Pati Jinich, executive chef at D.C.’s Mexican Cultural Institute and host of the cooking show “Pati’s Mexican Table.”

A report from the competition states McClellan was the crowd favorite. However, he lost by one point, 629-628.

McClellan said he “loved the competition,” networking and getting out of his “comfort zone” and believes it will help his career.

He said it was a learning experience and that it confirmed he could keep up with the “big boys.”

“I know that I can cook, and I’ve been doing it for a long time. People love my food,” he said.

will-chavez@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961

ᏣᎳᎩ
ᏓᎵᏆ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎻ.--- ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎩᎳ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎦ Don McClellan ᎤᎳᏍᎬᏒ ᎾᏃ ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᎤᏪᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᎦᏰᏉᎾ ᏔᎵᏍᎪᏅᎩᏁᎢ ᎤᏖᎳᏛ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬ ᏧᎾᏓᏃᏣᏟ ᎠᎾᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏌᏚ “ᎠᏕᏗ ᎡᎶᎯ ᎠᎾᎵᎮᎵᎬᎢ” ᎾᎿ Smithsonian’s ᎬᎾᏕᎾ ᎤᏂᏍᏆᏂᎪᏔᏅᎲᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎹᏱᏟ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ ᎤᏃᏢᏒᎢ.

ᎾᎿ ᏑᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎢᏳᏓᎵ ᎠᏍᏆᎵᎰ ᏩᏒᏓᏃ, D. C, ᎠᎾᎵᎮᎵᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎠᎾᎵᏍᎪᎸᏗ ᎠᎾᎵᏏᏅᏗᏍᎩ ᏄᏍᏗᏓᏅ, ᎠᏂᏁᏉ ᏄᏍᏗᏓᏅ ᎠᎴ ᎬᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᎤᏛᏒᏅ ᎾᎿ ᏓᏤᏢ ᎠᎴ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎨᏒᎢ.

McClellan, ᏦᏍᎪ ᏅᎩ ᎢᏳᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎾᎿ ᏃᏩᏛ ᏂᏓᏳᎶᏒ, ᎤᏛᏅ ᎤᏥ Carolyn McClellan,ᎤᏬᏎᎴ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᏖᎳᏗᏍᏗ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎠᎵᏍᏕᎵᏍᎩ NMAI ᎠᎵᏍᏕᎵᏍᎩ ᏗᎫᎪᏔᏂᏙᎯ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎥ ᎠᏁᎲ ᏂᏓᏛᏁᎵᏙᎲᎢ.

“ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏓᏆᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎩᎦᏙᎲᏒ, ᎤᏪᎵᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏱᎦ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏇᏅᏍᏗ ᏩᏒᏓᏃ ᏯᏆᏛᏗ ᏂᎦᎥ ᎠᏆᏕᎶᏆᎥᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ McClellan.

ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎠᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎩ ᎯᎠ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ Richard Hetzler, ᏄᎬᏫᏳᏒ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᏧᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎪᏢᏒ NMAI’S Mitsitam ᏧᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ, ᎤᏓᏠᏒ ᏔᎵᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏍᎪᎯ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬᎢ.

McClellan ᏗᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᏂᎨᏐ ᎦᎵᏆᏚ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎠᎴ ᏄᎬᏫᏳᏒ ᏗᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ Atria Vista del Rio ᎾᎿ Albuquerque, N. M. ᏄᏍᏛ ᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏓᏍᏓᏴᏅ ᎠᏑᏯᎾᎢ ᎢᏤ ᏍᏆᏂ.”

ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏟ ᎬᏩᏰᎸᏗ ᎤᏓᏍᏓᏴᏅ ᎠᏛᏅᏫᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᎯᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᎩᏍᏗ ᎤᎲ ᎤᎦᎾᏮᎤᏕᎵᎬ ᎤᏃᏢᏗ ᎪᏢᏍᎪ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏑᏴᏅᎲᏍᎬ ᎯᎠ ᎨᏐ ᏎᎷ, ᏚᏯ, ᎠᎴ ᏍᏆᏏ-- ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏧᏅᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᎨᏎ ᏗᎩᎶᏒ “ᏦᎢ ᎠᎾᏓᎸ” ᏓᏃᏎᎲ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎠᏁᎲᎢ ᏗᏂᎶᎩᏍᎩ.

ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎬᏗᏍᎬ ᎯᎠ ᏭᏍᎪᎵᏴ ᎠᏑᏴᏓ ᏕᎬᏗᏍᎬ ᏑᏓᎵ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎬ Albuquerque ᎤᏍᏕᎸᎲ ᎠᏛᏅᎢᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬᎢ. ᎤᏛᏅᏃ ᎡᎵᏊ ᎬᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᎦᏎᏍᏔᏂ ᎾᎿ ᏂᏓᏳᏓᎴᏅ ᎾᎿ ᏎᎷ, ᏚᏯ, ᎠᎴ ᏍᏆᏏ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎠᏑᏯᎾᎥᎢ ᎡᎵᏊ ᎤᏠᏯ ᏱᎩ ᎬᏗᏍᎪᎢ.

“ᎡᎵᏊ ᎠᏮᏙᏗ ᏍᏆᏏ ᎤᏥᎸᏅ ᎾᏃ ᎠᏮᏙᏗ Zucchini ᎠᎴ ᏓᎶᏂᎨ ᏍᏆᏏ…… ᏎᎷ tortillas ᎡᎵᏊ ᎬᏙᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏎᎷ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᏱᎩ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏄᎴᏅᏓᏊ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬ. “ᎡᎵᏃ ᎠᏓᏅᏖᎸᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏳᏍᏗ ᎪᏢᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏎᎷ, ᏚᏯ, ᎠᎴ ᏍᏆᏏ ᏂᎦᏓ ᏗᎬᏙᏗ ᏖᎵᏙᎩᎢ.”

ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬ, ᎠᏂᏏᏫᎭ ᏗᎾᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎬᏩᏂᏍᏕᎵᏍᎩ ᎤᏃᏢᏗ ᏔᎵ appetizers, ᏦᎢ entrees ᎠᎴ ᏔᎵ ᎤᎦᎾᏍᏗ ᎬᏙᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏍᎪᎵ ᎬᏗᏍᎬᎢ.

ᎯᎢᏃ ᎤᏂᎰ ᎾᎿ ᏧᏂᎩᏣᏍᏗ ᎠᏣᏗ, ᎧᏬᏄ ᎠᎴ ᏯᎾᏏ ᎭᏫᏯ ᎬᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ.

McClellan ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎪᏢᏍᎪ ᎤᎦᎾᏍᏗ Ꮭ ᏙᎯᏳ ᏩᏍᎪᎵᏴ ᏱᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏓᏅᏖᏗᎭ. ᎯᎠ ᎪᏢᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬ, ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᎵᏍᏓᏴᏁ ᎢᏤ ᎠᏂᏍᏆᏂ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ, ᎠᎪᎵᏰᏓ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎪᏪᎵ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎦᏎᏍᏔᎾ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎢᏗᎦᎬᏁᏗ “ᏦᎢ ᏗᎾᏓᎸᎢ” ᎦᎪᏢᏙᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ.

ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏌᏊ ᎤᏟᏂᎪᎯᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏲᎯᎲ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎤᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᏑᏴᏅᎲᏍᏗ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᏑᏴᏅᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ. ᎠᏢᏈᏍᏗᏍᎪᎢ, ᎠᏗᏍᎬ, ᎠᏑᏴᏅᎲᏍᏗ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ Ꮭ ᎠᏎ ᎢᎤᎾᏑᏴᏗ ᏱᎦᎩ.

ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬ ᏓᏄᎪᏗᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᏄᏍᏛ ᎠᎩᏍᏗᎢ, ᎤᎵᏑᏫᏓ ᎠᎴ ᏄᏍᏛ ᏅᎬᏁᎲ ᎠᎴ ᎢᎪᎯᏓ ᏚᏟᎢᎵᏙᎸ. ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᏑᏟᎶᏓ ᎠᏛᏅᎢᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏑᏟᎶᏓ ᎬᏂᏍᏔᏅᏗ ᏃᏊᏃ ᎦᏍᎩᎸ ᏩᏠᏗ ᎤᏂᎩᏍᏗᎢ.

ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏪᏘ ᎤᏂᏍᏆᏂᎪᏔᏅ’ ᎤᎦᎾᏮᎦᎶᎯᏍᏗ ᎤᏂᏍᏆᎸᎡᏗ, ᎠᎴ McClellan ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏄᏗᏝᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᏔᎵ ᎨᏒᎢ, ᎾᏃ ᏄᏗᏞᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᏍᎩᎦᏚ ᎨᏒᎢ.

ᎤᏛᏅ ᎤᏅᏛ ᎾᎿ ᎤᎦᏎᏍᏙᏗᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏄᏗᏢᎬ ᎠᎴ “ᎤᏓᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏓᏅᏛ ᎬᏗ” ᎠᎴ ᎬᏩᏓᎪᏅᏙᏗ ᎨᏒ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏃ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎤᎾᎥ ᎪᏪᎵ ᎤᏓᏍᏓᏴᏙᏗ.
“ᎯᎢᎾ ᎠᏆᏜᏅᏓᏕᎸ Ꮭ ᏯᏆᏚᎵᏍᎨ ᎠᎩᏅᏗᏍᏗ ᎯᎠ ᎠᎴ ‘ᎯᎢᏛ ᎡᎵᏊ ᏱᏂᎦᏛᎦ ᎠᎴ ᎡᎵᏊ ᏱᏂᎦᏛᎦ.’ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎦᏓ ᏓᏥᏃᎯᏯ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅ.

ᏗᎫᎪᏗᏍᎩ ᏚᎾᏑᏰᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎢᎸᏍᎦ ᏯᏂ ᏗᎾᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ, ᎾᎿ ᎯᎠ ᏧᎾᏑᏰᏓ ᎯᎠ ᎨᏒ Scott Drewno, ᏩᎦᎸᎳᏗᏴ ᏗᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ “”The Source by Wolfgang Puck” ᎠᎴ ᎡᏘ ᏧᎨᏒ ᏩᏒᏓᏃ D.C., ᏗᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᏑᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎨᏒᎢ; Brian Patterson, Hetzlers ᎤᎾᏓᎪᎾᏔᏅᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏍᎪᎯ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ; ᎠᎴ Pati Jinich, ᏩᎦᎸᎳᏗᏴ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ D.C ᎠᏂᏍᏆᏂ ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎪᏢᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᏓᏓᏴᎵᏛᏍᎬ “Pati’s ᏍᏆᏂ ᎦᏍᎩᎸ.” ᎾᎿ ᏗᎦᏃᏣᏢᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏛᏅ McClellan ᎾᎿ ᎤᏂᎪᏓ ᎤᏂᎸᏉᏓ. ᎠᏎᏃ ᏌᏊ ᎢᎦᏅᏅ ᎤᏲᎱᏎᎸᎢ, 629-628.

McClellan ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᎿ “ᎤᎸᏉᏔᏅ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬᎢ,” ᏓᏏᎳᏕᏫᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏓᏅᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ “ᏄᏦᏎᏛᎾ ᎡᎲ” ᎠᎴ ᎤᏬᎯᏳ ᏓᏳᏍᏕᎸᎯᏒ ᏄᏍᏛ ᎾᏛᏁᎲᎢ. ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᎠᎴ ᎡᎵᏊ ᎤᏠᏯ ᏱᏂᎦᏛᎦ ᎾᏍᎩ “ᏧᎾᏔᎾ ᎠᏂᏧᏣ.’

“ᎠᏆᏅᏔ ᎬᏩᏓᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎨᏒ, ᎠᎴ ᎪᎯᎦ ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎰᎢ. ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎤᏂᎸᏉᏗ ᎤᏂᎩᏍᏗ ᎠᏆᏓᏍᏓᏴᏅ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.
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BY JAMI MURPHY
09/02/2014 04:19 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses officials held a press conference on Sept. 2 at Cherokee Springs Grill announcing specifics about plans to build Cherokee Springs Plaza, a travel destination that will include venues for dining, shopping and gaming. An artist’s rendering shows the complex includes retail spaces, restaurant sites, auto sales lots, office spaces, a convention center, two hotels and a casino near the Cherokee Springs Golf Course on vacant land the tribe owns along Highway 62. Principal Chief Bill John Baker said purchasing the golf course property and the vacant land in 2012 was a business decision of CNB “knowing that anytime they do anything it’s first class.” “It was the largest contiguous piece of property left in the capitol of the Cherokee Nation, and they’ve been on the drawing board for almost a year now with some of the best land developers in the country coming up with their plan to make this a showpiece in not only all of Indian Country, but I think it’s going to be a showplace for Oklahoma,” Baker said. The approximate 150 acres will bring more traffic to Tahlequah and more attention to the CN, he said. “Just be an awesome, awesome development for this part of Oklahoma,” Baker added. CNB Executive Vice President Chuck Garrett said CNB plans to create “a place where people want to come.” “No longer will they need to go to Tulsa or Muskogee,” he said on Sept. 2. When officials unveiled the project, they said there would be spots for approximately six national restaurants. “I don’t know anybody in this part of the country that hasn’t said ‘I wish we had this’ or ‘I wished we had that.’ People don’t realize the dollars that go to Muskogee or go to Tulsa to just go out to dinner, and we think we can reverse that to where folks from Muskogee are going to be coming this way,” Baker said. “Folks from Tulsa, they can play golf. They eat at our restaurants and eventually stay at our hotel. It’s just going to be a destination of a mixture of fine dining, shopping, a casino resort, golfing. It’s going to tie everything together here at the Cherokee Nation.” Baker said the space would also include a convention center so people who often use convention centers at hotels in the Tulsa area can stay closer to home. He added that Garrett had much to do with what the CN envisioned for the property and was the “perfect fit to carry the ball.” Garrett said he’s looking forward to helping execute Baker’s vision for the property. “As chief said, I think that for the first time the citizens of Tahlequah and Cherokee County are going to have the entertainment and amenities that they deserve,” he said. “We also hope to be providing a venue for entertainment and other community activities within a conference center that will be attached to a hotel.” Officials said the venture would create hundreds of jobs for the area and would be completely finished in five to seven years. CNB officials said the property’s development would occur in the three phases. [BLOCKQUOTE]The first phase is establishing the infrastructure that creates access and provides the necessary utilities and the “civil engineering” portion of the project that will consist of road construction and pad sites where potential businesses will be developed. Phase 2 is the construction of a new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah that will include a resort hotel, convention center and new golf clubhouse. The third phase is the creation of a retail strip, centering along Grand Boulevard, which will enhance the pedestrian and shopper experience. Overall, it is anticipated 1.3 million square feet of mixed-use space will be developed at an estimated cost of $170 million. “The creation of a new casino resort continues our efforts to be the industry leader in entertainment for northeast Oklahoma,” CNB CEO Shawn Slaton said. “This development will also create new shopping and dining opportunities not currently found in the Tahlequah market, which bolsters the local economy. The city has been very supportive, and we’re grateful for the confidence they have in us to make this happen.” Phase 1 is underway and is expected to be complete in 12 to 18 months. But citizens will see work on the property within the next month, Garrett said. Garrett added that no land will be sold to retailers or restaurant chains, but they will plan to off lease arrangements for those interested in bring in a business. Once everything is complete, Baker said, the CN would continue with its plan to move the Cherokee Nation Immersion Charter School into what will be the former Cherokee Casino Tahlequah, located west of Sequoyah Schools along Hwy 62. “We designed it that way when we built it…so we won’t have two casinos. But when we build the one there (behind Cherokee Springs Golf Course), the one out here (Hwy 62) will become the immersion school,” Baker said. At this time, no plans need CNB board approval. Everything has been in a discussion phase, Garrett said. All funding for this project will come through the CNB board in phases as building begins to take place. Currently, the acreage is not in trust status, but once CNB has determined the size of the hotel and casino they will section off that part of the land and ask the Bureau of Indian Affairs to place it into trust. Check back with the Cherokee Phoenix for updates.
BY JAMI MURPHY
08/30/2014 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During the Cherokee National Holiday weekend, Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses officials unveiled plans to build the Cherokee Springs Plaza, a travel destination that will include venues for dining, shopping and gaming. An artist’s rendering shows the complex including retail spaces, restaurant sites, auto sales lots, office spaces, a convention center, two hotels and a casino. Principal Chief Bill John Baker said purchasing the former Cherry Springs Golf Course property and the vacant land parallel to Highway 62 was a business decision of CNB “knowing that anytime they do anything it’s first class.” “It was the largest contiguous piece of property left in the capitol of the Cherokee Nation, and they’ve been on the drawing board for almost a year now with some of the best land developers in the country coming up with their plan to make this a showpiece in not only all of Indian Country, but I think it’s going to be a showplace for Oklahoma,” Baker said. The approximate 150 acres will bring more traffic to Tahlequah and more attention to the CN, he said. “Just be an awesome, awesome development for this part of Oklahoma,” Baker added. When officials unveiled the project, they said there would be spots for approximately six national restaurants. “I don’t know anybody in this part of the country that hasn’t said ‘I wish we had this’ or ‘I wished we had that.’ People don’t realize the dollars that go to Muskogee or go to Tulsa to just go out to dinner, and we think we can reverse that to where folks from Muskogee are going to be coming this way,” Baker said. “Folks from Tulsa, they can play golf. They eat at our restaurants and eventually stay at our hotel. It’s just going to be a destination of a mixture of fine dining, shopping, a casino resort, golfing. It’s going to tie everything together here at the Cherokee Nation.” Baker said the space would also include a convention center so people who often use convention centers at hotels in the Tulsa area can stay closer to home. He added that CNB Executive Vice President Chuck Garrett had much to do with what the CN envisioned for the property and was the “perfect fit to carry the ball.” Garrett said he’s looking forward to helping execute Baker’s vision for the property. “As chief said, I think that for the first time the citizens of Tahlequah and Cherokee County are going to have the entertainment and amenities that they deserve. They’re no longer going to have to travel to Tulsa, Muskogee or other larger cities outside of the area to enjoy a restaurant or some shopping opportunities that they’ve previously had to travel for,” he said. “We also hope to be providing a venue for entertainment and other community activities within a conference center that will be attached to a hotel.” The project will be completed in three phases, Garrett said. Phase 1 will include the “civil engineering” portion of the project that will consist of road construction and pad sites where potential businesses will be developed. “So our initial efforts will be focused on the engineering and road construction necessary for the development including water, sewer and those sorts of things,” Garrett said. The first thing citizens will see, he said, will be pad sites along the highway that will be the future homes of restaurants. Phase 1 is underway and is expected to be complete in 12 to 18 months. But citizens will see work on the property within the next month, Garrett said. CN Communications officials said the project’s total cost is about $170 million and will encompass approximately 1 million square feet. Officials also said it should be complete in 24 to 48 months. Once everything is complete, Baker said, the CN would continue with its plan to move the Cherokee Nation Immersion Charter School into what will be the former Cherokee Casino Tahlequah, located west of Sequoyah Schools along Hwy 62. “We designed it that way when we built it…so we won’t have two casinos. But when we build the one there (behind Cherokee Springs Golf Course), the one out here (Hwy 62) will become the immersion school,” Baker said. Check back with the Cherokee Phoenix for updates as this story develops.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/29/2014 02:12 PM
In this month's issue: • Hard Rock Cherokee Tower under revamp • Cherokee Phoenix wins awards at NAJA conference • Tribe requests IHS help to build Tahlequah hospital • Watt strives to enlighten others with his artwork ...and much more. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2014/8/8483_2014-09-01.pdf" target="_blank">Click here</a> to read this month's issue.
BY BRYAN POLLARD
08/29/2014 10:23 AM
The Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board will be meeting via conference call at 9 a.m. CDT, September 10, 2014. To attend, please use the conference call information listed below. The meeting agenda is <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2014/8/8480_140910_EB_Agenda.pdf" target="_blank">here</a>. Dial-in: 866-210-1669 Entry code: 4331082
BY JOSH NEWTON
08/29/2014 08:31 AM
Tahlequah Daily Press TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Authorities with the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service and Ontario Provincial Police in Canada say that until last month, a man living in Tahlequah had been presumed dead as a result of a 1977 barn fire. “The Cherokee Nation Marshal Service, acting on a tip, did locate Ronald Stan alive and living in Tahlequah on Aug. 5,” said Amanda Clinton, the Cherokee Nation communications director. She said the tribe would make no other comment about the discovery. Authorities in Canada say Stan, who has been living in Tahlequah under the alias of Jeff Walton, disappeared from his home in Ontario nearly 37 years ago. According to media reports out of Canada, Stan lived in the former Township of East Williams in Middlesex County, but was reported missing when a barn caught fire on Sept. 29, 1977. Witnesses reportedly saw Stan near the barn before it broke out into a blaze. Remnants of a body were never found, but in 1986, Stan was declared legally dead in Canada. He had reportedly left behind a wife and children there. But authorities in Canada say a recent audit of Stan’s disappearance somehow connected the supposedly missing person to a man living near Tahlequah, 69-year-old Jeff Walton. According to some media reports, police used Facebook connections to pinpoint Walton in Cherokee County. Authorities have not said what Stan’s motives might have been for disappearing 37 years ago, nor whether the barn fire thought to have taken his life was or is now considered to have been suspicious. But Canadian officials have suggested Stan faces no criminal charges there. Stan’s 35-year-old son, Jeff Walton Jr., told the Toronto Star that his family is “still trying to put all the puzzle pieces together.” He said family members from Stan’s U.S. life learned of the former life last month. Stan reportedly has grandchildren in the U.S. as well. On April 23, 2000, Stan, under the name of Walton, married Cherokee County resident Debra E. Proctor in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Court records show Proctor and Stan divorced earlier this month – according to Walton Jr., because of the revelation of his father’s secret Canadian past. In Proctor’s petition for divorce, she cites “incompatibility” between herself and Stan. Walton Jr. told the Toronto Star that his father now suffers from vascular dementia and heart disease, and was in a nursing home when authorities began to uncover Stan’s past. According to court documents, Stan has also gone by the name of Jeff Winton, and reportedly spent some time in Louisiana after leaving Canada. “It’s been tough on me, but he’s still my father,” Walton Jr. told the Toronto Star. “It doesn’t change the man I knew for 35 years. Hopefully one day, he can sit down and write a book and remember all the stuff he’s been through in his life. It’d be a damn good book, I’ll tell you that, just from what I’ve heard.” Canadian media also reported that the Ontario Provincial Police have closed their case. – REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/28/2014 01:21 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The stables are filling up as quarter horse racing returns to Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs on Sept. 6 for a fifth consecutive year. The schedule features 28 days of American Quarter Horse Association, Appaloosa and Paint races through Nov. 8. Races begin at noon every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Each day features 12 races. Popularity of the track’s quarter horse racing meet continues to draw some of the most talented people in the sport to WRD. “We are very excited that Eddie Willis and Toby Keeton, the top two trainers in earnings in the United States, will be returning with full stables to compete at this year’s meet,” Jesse Ullery, WRD racing secretary and simulcast manager, said. The 2014 WRD racing schedule features 34 stakes races. Top 10 qualifiers from the non-pari-mutuel Kansas Jackpot Trials and Black Gold Division 350 Futurity Trials previously held on Aug. 23 will be part of the opening race cards for the finals on Sept. 9. Both finals include added money, with the Black Gold Division 350 Futurity Finals guaranteeing $150,000, while $25,000 is promised for the Kansas Jackpot Futurity Finals. Race fans visiting on Sept. 28 will witness the $15,000 added AQHA Zoetis Starter Allowance Challenge, the $27,500 guaranteed AQHA John Deer Juvenile Challenge Finals, the $30,000 added AQHA Red Cell Distance Challenge Finals and the AQHA Adequan Derby Challenge Finals, worth an estimated $32,500. The 400-yard Black Gold Division 400 Futurity Finals for 2-year-olds on Oct. 5 also promises to be an exciting event, adding $150,000 to the pot with $7,500 going to stallion awards. “We have a very competitive stakes program this year for all ages of horses. There is a lot to see,” Ullery said. The $294,625 Black Gold Futurity Championship highlights the meet on Nov. 8. The finale on Nov. 8 also includes the $25,000 Oklahoma Horsemen’s Association Mystery Derby Finals and the Oklahoma Horsemen’s Association Mystery Futurity Finals Grade II, worth $75,000. Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs is located 3 miles east of Claremore on Highway 20. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.cherokeecasino.com" target="_blank">www.cherokeecasino.com</a> and click on the Will Rogers Downs tab or call (918) 283-8800.