Former Deputy Principal Chiefs John Ketcher, center, and Joe Grayson remove a Cherokee Braves flag to unveil a Trail of Tears interpretive marker located at Evansville, Ark. Assisting them was Arkansas Trail of Tears Association President John McLarty. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Trail of Tears marker is dedicated in Arkansas

Former Deputy Principal Chiefs John Ketcher, center, and Joe Grayson remove a Cherokee Braves flag to unveil a Trail of Tears interpretive marker located at Evansville, Ark. Assisting them was Arkansas Trail of Tears Association President John McLarty. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation and Evansville citizens read an interpretive panel unveiled at Evansville, Ark., Sept. 10. The marker includes art from Cherokee artist Max Stanley that depicts the removal Cherokee people in 1838 and 1839 to Indian Territory. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation and Evansville citizens read an interpretive panel unveiled at Evansville, Ark., Sept. 10. The marker includes art from Cherokee artist Max Stanley that depicts the removal Cherokee people in 1838 and 1839 to Indian Territory. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee artist Tommy Wildcat played flute music for the people who traveled to Evansville, Ark., Sept. 10 to witness the unveiling of a Trail of Tears interpretive marker, which is left of Wildcat. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee artist Tommy Wildcat played flute music for the people who traveled to Evansville, Ark., Sept. 10 to witness the unveiling of a Trail of Tears interpretive marker, which is left of Wildcat. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Art depicting the forced removal of Cherokee people in the winter of 1838-1839 by artist Max Stanley is part of a Trail of Tears interpretive panel unveiled in Evansville, Ark., Sept. 10. COURTESY PHOTO, ARKANSAS TRAIL OF TEARS ASSOCIATION Art depicting the forced removal of Cherokee people in the winter of 1838-1839 by artist Max Stanley is part of a Trail of Tears interpretive panel unveiled in Evansville, Ark., Sept. 10. COURTESY PHOTO, ARKANSAS TRAIL OF TEARS ASSOCIATION
Cherokee Nation and Evansville citizens read an interpretive panel unveiled at Evansville, Ark., Sept. 10. The marker includes art from Cherokee artist Max Stanley that depicts the removal Cherokee people in 1838 and 1839 to Indian Territory. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Interim Executive Editor – @cp_wchavez
09/13/2011 11:08 AM
EVANSVILLE, Ark. – Cherokee citizens and Evansville community members gathered at the town’s community building and fire department Sept. 10 to witness the unveiling of an interpretive marker that commemorates the removal of Cherokee people through the area during the Trail of Tears.

At least four Cherokee detachments passed near Evansville, about 10 miles east of Stilwell, Okla., on their way to Indian Territory. Many of them settled in Adair County, which sits adjacent to Crawford County, Ark., where Evansville is located.

“We’re still puzzling out the exact roadway, but it’s possible back in late 1838 and early 1839, if you had been right here, possibly they were right here,” said Arkansas Trail of Tears Association President John McLarty. “They had already come over 800 miles to get here. So this was the end of the journey, and they had lost many loved ones along the way.”

He added after studying the history of the removal, he admires the Cherokee people for their resiliency.

“What a testimony that decades later after this terrible forced removal, here they are representing their nation, their culture, their characteristics and their triumph,” McLarty said. “They are thriving in the land they were removed to. They picked themselves up and rebuilt their nation.”

President of the National Trail of Tears Association and CN At-Large Tribal Councilor Jack Baker, said Congress passed a bill in 1987 to acknowledge the forced removal of Southeastern tribes to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. In 1995, the NTOTA began working with the National Park Service, Baker said, to locate the routes used by the Cherokee and other tribes to reach Indian Territory and mark them with signage.

Baker said in recent years, the Trail of Tears Associations from nine states have been placing interpretive panels along the removal routes and have been working with state governments to commemorate the removal.

“Arkansas has always taken the lead in identifying trail segments and putting up interpretive panels. So we appreciate the Arkansas chapter as well as the state of Arkansas for all their work on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail,” Baker said. “I’d also like to thank the Evansville Fire Department for allowing the sign to be placed here.”

McLarty said the Arkansas chapter recently applied for and received a $25,000 grant from the Arkansas General Assembly to create and install 10 Trail of Tears interpretive panels. He said the chapter is choosing to place the panels in communities that likely cannot afford them. So far, six unique panels have been installed.

“A big city like Fayetteville, they can afford a $1,500 panel, so we chose smaller communities and those that have great significance,” he said.

He added, in northern Arkansas, many of the marked trails and interpretive panels for the removal tell the story of the Cherokee, but farther south near the Arkansas River the stories of other tribes who were removed are told as well.

Arkansas Trail of Tears Association Project Coordinator Carolyn Kent and Historian and Arkansas Trail of Tears Association member Dusty Helbling of Ozark, Ark., researched the detachments of Cherokees that passed through or nearby Evansville during forced the removal.

“The leaders of the two detachments that came past Evansville from the northern route (of the forced removal) was B.B. Cannon and the second was Rev. Stephen Foreman,” Helbling said.
A few names from the B.B. Canon group were Charles Timberlake, Jesse Half Breed, Rainfrog, Lucy Redstick and James Starr.

“The third detachment that came up the north side of the Arkansas River and joined the Van Buren to Cane Hill Road (Arkansas Hwy. 59) five miles north of Van Buren was led by John Bell and Lt. Edward Deas,” Helbling said

The Bell/Deas detachment of 650 people reached Evansville on Jan. 8, 1839, disbanded and the people went from there to settle in Indian Territory. This detachment consisted of Cherokees that supported the Treaty of New Echota and was the only one that disbanded in Arkansas.

Another Cherokee detachment came from the Arkansas River valley and passed just south of Evansville and settled in what is now the Bell, Okla., area. This detachment passed Evansville Aug. 3, 1838, and was led by Lt. Whiteley. It had started its journey with 875 Cherokees.

“Seventy died in Arkansas due to sickness and by the time they arrived at Bell one half were sick,” Helbling said.

A Cherokee detachment led by Lt. Gustavus S. Drane also passed by Evansville Sept. 2, 1838.
Helbling said most of the removal survivors settled from Evansville to Stilwell and on to Tahlequah.

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

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
05/04/2016 02:00 PM
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BY STAFF REPORTS
05/04/2016 12:00 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation awarded 130 volunteer and rural fire departments with $3,500 checks totaling $455,000 on May 3 during its 2016 Volunteer Firefighter Awards Ceremony at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. The tribe treated about 500 firefighters to dinner and presented each station a check to help with equipment, fuel or other items that help maintain their fire stations in northeastern Oklahoma. “Recognizing these brave men and women is one of my favorite duties as principal chief. Every unit is highly trained and skilled. These firefighters are on call 24/7, 365 days a year, and the most impressive thing is that they do all this for the love of their community and to ensure our families remain safe,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “I’m proud our tribal government sees the importance in making this annual financial commitment. Because of this money, 130 rural volunteer fire departments in northeast Oklahoma will be better equipped and better prepared when an emergency strikes.” During the ceremony, the CN named the Illinois River Fire and Rescue in Cherokee County and Afton Fire Department in Ottawa County as “2016 Volunteer Fire Departments of the Year.” In the past year, Illinois River Fire and Rescue increased its volunteer staff to 20 active members. The station formed a “brown water team” that partners with neighboring districts and counties to help with rescues after the 2015 spring flooding on the Illinois River. During the December 2015 flooding, the team worked 40 hours straight to rescue 26 people. There were no fatalities. The department was also commended by the tribe for helping victims with cleanup efforts. “The financial backing from the Cherokee Nation is tremendous, because like everyone else, money is difficult at times. It plays a major role in us being able to continue to provide the best services possible,” Gary Dill, assistant fire chief of the Illinois River Fire and Rescue, said. The Afton Fire Department responded to 325 calls in 2015. Most calls were from first responders. The department helped with grass and structure fires, and also water rescue calls. During the December flooding, the department rescued two families. The tribe honored the firefighters for their efforts, including pulling one family from an SUV that had been swept away and overturned. “It’s a real big honor to have the Cherokee Nation recognize our department as one of the volunteer fire departments of the year, but the biggest honor is having the good lord on scene with us helping in difficult situations,” Terry Miller, fire chief of the Afton Fire Department, said. The CN also named five “2016 Volunteer Firefighter of the Year” awards to the following: • Jeff Mueller, of Vinita, for eight years of service to the Centralia Fire Department in Craig County, • Jordan Shofler, of Vinita, for demonstrating courage, leadership and dedication on every call the Carselowey Fire Department receives, • Brian Gibson, of Afton, for working behind the scenes on the day-to-day operations of the Afton Fire Department, • Austin Moore, of Oologah, for his nine years of service and leading volunteer trainings every month for the Northwest Rogers County Fire Protection District, and • Gary Dill, of Tahlequah, for sharing 34 years of firefighting experience and knowledge with members of the Illinois River Fire and Rescue.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
05/03/2016 12:00 PM
LONGMONT, Colo. – Do you have a ranching or farming operation in your community and want to move it forward? Are you looking to build a sustainable tribal ranching or farming enterprise? Do you desire to increase your business knowledge and fundamentals of running and maintaining a successful agricultural business? Or perhaps you assist producers in your community with advice on how to grow their businesses and by helping them gain access to bigger and better opportunities. Or maybe you are interested in helping assess the status of your community’s food sovereignty and help make it better and stronger? If so, First Nations Development Institute has three, three-day training workshops for you. Two in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Denver are producer-focused, and one in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is intended as a train-the-trainer workshop. The fee for each training is $100, which covers the cost of materials and any meals that are included. Participants will receive copies of First Nations’ The Business of Indian Agriculture curriculum and Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool. Day 1-2: The Business of Indian Agriculture producer-focused trainings in Green Bay and Denver are designed to help farmers and ranchers succeed in managing their businesses. It covers topics such as how to develop a business plan, how to set up bookkeeping systems, agribusiness economics and marketing and land use and management. It also covers important topics such as risk management, personal financial management and using credit wisely. The two-day training offers attendees the opportunity to expand their understanding and knowledge of agriculture business and the opportunity to network with other producers. The train-the-trainer workshop in Tulsa will focus on giving the technical knowledge, tools and guidance to conduct training with farmers and ranchers in a community. Day 3: The optional third day of training covers Food Sovereignty Assessment. Food has always played a central role in Native communities. It reflects environmental, economic, social and political values. For some communities today, the relationship to food is much less visible than it used to be. The diet history, gathering and consumption practices, value of food products and source of foods tell the story of a community and its people and can help define their future. For example, there are complex cause-and-effect relationships between food choices or lack thereof that have consequences for health, economy and even social implications. The Food Sovereignty Assessment Training, utilizing the Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool, is meant to begin the process of telling the food story of a community through a community-driven and participative process of data collection. The information can be used to understand community food supply chains, agricultural and food profiles, as well as community economic and health considerations. It can also be used to improve and strengthen a community's food sovereignty. The Green Bay training is sponsored and hosted by the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. The Denver and Tulsa trainings are sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Room rates vary by location, so visit the individual registration page for each event, which contain specific logistics and other information. Visit the links below for more information or to register. Green Bay: <a href="https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1822850" target="_blank">https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1822850</a> Denver: <a href="https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1833972" target="_blank">https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1833972</a> Tulsa: <a href="https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1834133" target="_blank">https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1834133</a>
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/02/2016 10:15 AM
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BY STAFF REPORTS
04/28/2016 10:00 AM
OCHELATA, Okla. –Tribal Councilor Dick Lay will host a community meeting from noon to 1:30 p.m. on April 30 at the Cooweescoowee Clinic. A meal will be served at noon, and officials with several CN departments will be present to explain the services they provide. For more information, call 918-822-2981.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
04/27/2016 04:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – A sample of an Oklahoma prison’s drinking water had more than 12 times the allowable amount of lead when it was tested last year – an amount so high that officials question whether it could really be that bad or if the test could have been misleading. The sample taken from the Charles E. Johnson Correctional Center in Alva was unusually high, but it came from one of 30 Oklahoma water systems that have been found to have lead levels that exceeded the federally allowable limit between Jan. 1, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2015, according to an Associated Press analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data. They were among nearly 1,400 water systems throughout the country that registered excessive lead levels in that time, the analysis showed. The ongoing crisis in Flint, Michigan, where residents have been without tap water for months, has highlighted how lead-tainted water can poison children. Even low levels have been shown to affect IQ, the ability to pay attention and academic achievement. Children age 6 and under and pregnant women – whose bones pass along stored lead to infants – are considered the most vulnerable to lead, which can also damage brains, kidneys and production of red blood cells that supply oxygen. No amount of lead exposure is considered safe, but the federal government requires all water systems to maintain lead levels below 15 parts per billion in drinking water. According to a USA Today analysis of the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Information System database, three water supplies within the Cherokee Nation had levels higher than 15 ppb: Oklahoma Ordnance Works Authority in Mayes County at 21.4 ppb, LRED (Woodhaven) in Cherokee County at 17.5 ppb and Skelly School in Adair County at 15.5 ppb to 27 ppb. Cannon MHP’s water supply in McIntosh County had a level of 18.6 ppb, according to the analysis. Part of the county falls within the tribe’s jurisdiction. The Alva prison’s sample had 182 ppb. Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terri Watkins said authorities have reason to doubt whether the reported lead levels were accurate. “That facility was built in the early ‘90s – there are no lead pipes,” Watkins said. “The water is all purchased from the city of Alva, and the city of Alva water tested fine. There was only one location inside the prison that tested high.” Watkins said the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality has scheduled another test of the prison’s water system, but she didn’t know the exact date. When more than 10 percent of tap water samples in a local system contain lead levels of at least 15 ppb, the state steps in to review the water system’s treatment for corrosive properties and update the sampling schedule as necessary. In a letter sent on March 31, employees of the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Talihina were informed that drinking water from the facility tested in 2014 may have been contaminated with high levels of lead. Authorities tested a sample at 97 ppb, which is more than six times the permissible level. “Absolutely, we’re concerned, and that’s why we sent out the letter to warn everybody,” said Shane Faulkner, spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs. “There’s never been any type of people reporting being sick or not feeling well from the water. We’ve had nothing like that. So while we are showing precaution, it hasn’t really turned into a problem for us.” The health effects of lead poisoning are often only apparent months or years after exposure. Although lead exposure is most harmful for children, adults can experience serious health problems after sustained exposure to lead. For now, veterans center employees are not being told to avoid drinking the water unless they have a severely compromised immune system, Faulkner said.