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
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
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.

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 ASSOCIATED PRESS
01/19/2017 04:00 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Oklahoma-based American Indian tribe is accusing the National Indian Gaming Commission of shirking a federal court order to reconsider an earlier decision that prohibited the tribe from conducting gambling on its land in southern New Mexico. Attorneys for the Fort Sill Apache filed a motion Tuesday, calling for the commission to be held in contempt. A previous order required the commission to reconsider its 2015 decision as part of a settlement process after receiving an opinion from the U.S. Interior Department on the tribe's eligibility to conduct gaming at Akela Flats, New Mexico. The commission notified the tribe last week there were no grounds for reconsideration. The commission did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Fort Sill Chairman Jeff Haozous says the commission is violating the tribe's right to a speedy resolution of the gaming dispute.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
01/19/2017 10:00 AM
SHAWNEE, Okla. (AP) — A Shawnee casino security guard who shot himself after fatally shooting a fellow officer has died. The Oklahoman reports 28-year-old Justin Wells entered the Grand Casino on Jan. 10, shot and killed 22-year-old Matt Palmer and then turned the gun on himself. An online obituary says Wells was hospitalized and died Wednesday. FBI spokesman Terry Weber says that Wells had not yet been arrested. The agency is handling the case because the casino sits on trust land for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, which also owns and operates the casino. Potawatomi spokeswoman Jennifer Bell says Palmer and Wells were both security guards at the casino, who are not allowed to carry guns. Bell declined to comment on the shooting. The tribe says Palmer was hired in August, and Wells in 2012.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
01/18/2017 04:15 PM
GROVE, Okla. – Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Nation Businesses and Grove officials on Jan. 17 dedicated the Cherokee Casino Grove with a ribbon-cutting and grand opening. The tribe’s 10th casino is expected to bring 175 jobs to northern Delaware County. Principal Chief Bill John Baker said the jobs means employees would be able to take advantage of health insurance, retirement plans and other benefits to better their lives. He added that the casino would also bring more sales tax revenue to Grove. Most importantly, he said, the casino means there would be more funding to provide health care in northeastern Oklahoma. “You don’t have to drive very far to the south to see where we took $100 million dollars and used part of it to build a new clinic in Jay, Oklahoma. So each and every one of these employees that work here can come to work each and every day knowing they are making the lives of their parents, their grandparents and their children better because these dollars...go back into services, scholarships for our kids, builds houses for our people and provides better health care,” he said. The facility offers 400 electronic games, a full-service bar, live music venue, dance floor and restaurant serving lunch and dinner. The rustic, lodge-style venue features an outdoor patio and event space for hosting private and community events. CNB CEO Shawn Slaton told casino employees the fruits of their labor are helping Cherokee people. Along with thanking CNB employees, he thanked Grove’s leaders, Delaware County officials, CN administration officials, Tribal Councilors, CNB management and the construction company for their efforts in helping finish the casino in eight months. “We always had our eye on Grove. We felt with the lake here and the population that comes in the summer it was a good area to take a look at. We did our market surveys and market studies and that supported the decision to go forward with an investment in a property like this,” Slaton said. “We worked on this quite a while and finally made it happen. We’re happy to be here, and we hope that this is just the start for what we do with this facility.” He acknowledged the casino does have “a lot of competition” from area tribal casinos, but he expects people from Missouri and Arkansas to frequent the casino. “The one thing we have that they (competition) don’t is the lake right next door, and we know Grove blossoms in the spring and summer and the early fall, and we’re positioned well to take part in that,” Slaton said. The Red Stone Construction Company started work on the 39,000-square-foot casino in March and finished in December. The casino is located near Highway 59 and E. 250 Road, northwest of Grove. “It’s beautiful. Eight months ago...we were here looking to the future to see what this was going to be, and now here it is. What’s more exciting is what we have to look forward to in 10 years or five years or three years,” said Grove Mayor Marty Follis. “I can’t wait for them to knock out a wall in this place and start expanding. We’ve got a big future ahead of us.” Follis said the casino coupled with the popular 64-mile long Grand Lake o' the Cherokees about 200 yards from the casino should be a winning combination. “It’s a great advantage that we have. We are super excited. It’s a great partnership between the city and the Cherokee Nation,” Follis said. Based on what happened in Rogers County when the tribe expanded the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the intersection of Hwy. 59 and E. 250 Road in Grove is bound to see tremendous growth, Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard said. Buzzard, whose district includes Grove, said he is glad casino profits would go toward health care and other services and that the facility created jobs. “We just recently opened a clinic in Jay (about 10 miles south of Grove), which brought over 100 jobs to Jay, so Delaware County is on the move,” he said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/18/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – More than 30 members of “The Association of Mary,” a Brazilian Christian organization, visited the Cherokee Nation on Jan. 3 to offer prayers for unity and peace in 2017. The group held a cultural and informational exchange with tribal officials. A representative from the association said prayers are offered daily for Indigenous populations in North and South America. Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. addressed the group and thanked them for traveling to learn firsthand about issues facing tribal citizens in America, including the protection of natural resources. “Now more than ever we should embrace an opportunity to bond with people of goodwill all over the world, people who are praying for our wellness and success,” Hoskin said. “They traveled thousands of miles to learn more about Indian issues, history and spirituality. Seeing this global support reinforces just how important and powerful unity can be.”
BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
01/18/2017 01:15 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – On Jan. 17, Cherokee Nation citizen and Dist. 86 Rep. Will Fourkiller refused to appear before the House of Representative’s committee that is investigating him and another state representative for sexual harassment claims. The Stilwell native said he would only speak to the Special Investigation Committee if the proceeding was open to the public. According to reports, the committee has been hearing from witnesses in only closed sessions. “Though uncertain of the precise allegation, I am certain I have nothing to hide,” Fourkiller told Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette, in a letter. Cockroft chairs the committee. “A confidential, closed-door proceeding does not provide the equitable forum to repair my character and reputation.” Fourkiller is under investigation for a sexual complaint lodged against him in April 2015 by a female high school page. “That was the extent of what I was told,” Fourkiller said on Jan. 17 of his 2015 meeting with a House attorney and an employee of the House chief clerk. “The page was not identified and I did not inquire. I denied anything improper but immediately shied away from my normal interaction and role with the page program for that week out of an abundance of caution.” According to the program, high schools students from the state server as pages for a week during regular legislative sessions and do interact with legislators. Fourkiller on Jan. 11 said he was made aware in 2015 that a page had indicated he had said something that made her uncomfortable and he had apologized. “I do not know what I did or said, but whatever it was I certainly didn’t mean to do it, and I apologized,” he said. He added that the 2015 incident is the only one that he was made aware of by House staff. The House has declined to release the complaint, citing personnel reasons. Cockroft on Jan. 17 defended the investigation and said making the committee meetings public would discourage wronged employees from coming forward. “The sole reason for holding these meetings in private is to protect the confidential information of victims and unelected witnesses — not to protect lawmakers,” he said. “In order to have a workplace where employees feel protected and valued, it is vital that we guard the privacy of those who make claims of harassment and discrimination.” Cockroft said the committee would make its findings public and that it could recommend the House take disciplinary action against a member, including up to expulsion. According to reports six Republicans and three Democrats comprise the committee. However, Democrats – Rep. David Perryman, Rep. Steve Kouplen and Rep. Meloyde Blancett – have refused to be involved because of the committee’s secrecy rules. The committee was formed in response to public outrage over a settlement paid to a fired legislative assistant who had accused Rep. Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa, of sexual harassment. The former assistant, Hollie Anne Bishop, complained the House fired her in November 2015 in retaliation for reporting Kirby had sexually harassed her. Former House Speaker Jeff Hickman approved the $44,500 settlement of her wrongful termination claim shortly before he left office. Officials said there was no financial settlement in the complaint against Fourkiller. Fourkiller said he and his family were leaning on God through the ordeal. “We have not lost faith. In fact, it is growing stronger. We know that God is good and at the end of all this there is something great waiting for us.” Fourkiller was first elected to the Dist. 86 seat in 2011. He was re-elected in 2013 and 2015. He also ran for principal chief of the CN in 2015, finishing third at 10.58 percent with 2,040 votes.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
01/16/2017 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission continues to prepare for the 2017 Tribal Council elections with less than a month before people begin filing for candidacy. At the commission’s Jan. 10 meeting, records showed that 40 people had picked up or requested candidate packets from the commission. According to records, three people who picked up packets but do not intend to file are Lisa Trice, who got a packet for education purposes; Commissioner Martha Calico, who got one for reference; and Cherokee Phoenix Senior Reporter Jami Murphy, who got a packet for the news organization. The candidacy filing period is scheduled for Feb. 6-9. At the Jan. 10 meeting, EC Administrator Brooke Tillison reported that there were 66,433 CN citizens registered to vote, which is more than 200 less than the previous month after removing voters who had died but were still registered. Also during the meeting, Commissioner Carolyn Allen asked to be recognized and requested to speak on her own behalf. “There were some comments that were made last month in the December meeting that I consider to be a direct attack on my character. And I thought long and hard about how to address this issue, but I have chosen and I’m going to take the high road on this issue,” Allen said. At the December meeting, Commissioner Teresa Hart read a statement regarding her motion to accept new resumes for the fifth commissioner’s spot that is in holdover after the expiration of Allen’s term. At that meeting, Hart said “we need to vote whether to cast a vote to keep seat No. 5 as is or move to open it up for replacement.” She also read a statement regarding Allen and her actions while on the commission. <a href="http://cnmediav1.cherokee.org/vod/Phoenix/News/2017/vid_170111_CNECregMtg_rjg_wc.mp4" target="_blank">Click here to watch</a>the January meeting <a href="http://cnmediav1.cherokee.org/vod/Phoenix/News/2016/vid_161213_CNECregularMeeting_rjg_wc.mp4" target="_blank">Click here to watch</a>the December meeting.