http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgAuthor and Cherokee citizen Daniel Wilson releases his New York Times best seller earlier this year. Shortly after he had written 100 pages of the novel, DreamWorks purchased it to turn into a movie production. “Robopocalypse” is expected to hit theaters July 3, 2013. COURTESY PHOTO
Author and Cherokee citizen Daniel Wilson releases his New York Times best seller earlier this year. Shortly after he had written 100 pages of the novel, DreamWorks purchased it to turn into a movie production. “Robopocalypse” is expected to hit theaters July 3, 2013. COURTESY PHOTO

Cherokee citizen sells best-seller to DreamWorks

Former Reporter
09/26/2011 06:52 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After writing novels for six years, Cherokee citizen Daniel Wilson will be able to see his New York Times best-seller “Robopocalypse” on the big screen as a Steven Spielberg-directed DreamWorks movie.

“Robopocalypse” is a science fiction novel that takes place in the near future after a robot uprising where several characters from across the world tell their stories and eventually meet and come together in an attempt to fight back.

At the time that Wilson found out DreamWorks wanted to purchase his book, he had only written 100 pages.

“My literary agent sent that to some publishing houses and then someone in a publishing house, without me knowing it, actually sent those pages to DreamWorks,” Wilson said. “So DreamWorks just called us and said ‘we want to buy this.’ We didn’t go out and try to sell it to anybody. I mean we would have after we sold it as a book. So that was really a fairy tale sort of situation.”

Wilson wrote the remainder of “Robopocalypse” while production of the movie was already underway.

“I ended up writing the rest of the book while they were doing their thing at the studio,” Wilson.

He had the opportunity to talk to the artist that was doing the pre-visualizations and illustrations and also to the screenwriter about his story.

“…That was interesting to hear their take on things as it was progressing and they were desperate to get more pages,” Wilson said. “They were constantly bugging me ‘come on just give us a chapter.’ Of course you know I have to get all of that cleared – you just can’t throw around book chapters. It was an interesting experience.”

The book title, “Robopocalypse,” really says it all, Wilson said.

“It’s a pretty descriptive title. It’s a story of a really desperate group of survivors who are living through, basically, a revolt. All of our technology turns against us,” Wilson said. “At the beginning, all of it is stuff that exists like cars that drive themselves, just various artificial intelligence. I know a lot about these robots so I was able to choose the kind of stuff that I’d think is really likely to be around in about 10 or 15 years.

“I didn’t want to have big, killer robots that came out of no where because I don’t think that’s really very likely; it’s not that interesting to me. So instead it’s very realistic.”

The book has several story lines that follow many different characters, and those story lines take place in countries such as Japan, the United Kingdom, Afghanistan and even the state of Oklahoma.

Wilson hopes the movie will stay true to the foundation of the book.

“I think the book is epic so there are a lot of different characters and the story is told through a lot of different perspectives,” Wilson said. “My feeling is that they’ll keep the core of the book. It’s up to them which of the other perspectives they choose to keep because there are a lot of story lines that they could drop.”

Wilson said the movie process isn’t really about him anymore.

“For the movie process the book is really just the beginning,” he said.

Originally from Tulsa, Wilson attended the University of Tulsa and received a degree in computer science. Wilson furthered his education to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh where he received a Ph.D. in robotics in 2005. It was in that year that he decided to start writing books.

“I had a choice of either writing books or working in a laboratory and so I started writing books and I didn’t really know if it would pan out or not,” Wilson said. “I thought I could always go back and work as a scientist if this doesn’t work out but it kind of did, it just kept progressing to the point where earlier this year I finally had a book that was a New York Times best-seller.”

Before “Robopocalypse,” Wilson had written seven other books including a short novel for children called “A Boy and His Bot.”

“I really like technology. I like learning about it. I like thinking about it and writing about it,” Wilson said. “I liked it enough to go get a degree in it and since then it’s just what I know about. It’s definitely a strength for me to write about technology and particular robotics.”

Wilson currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and daughter and continues to write. He expects his next book to be out next summer.

“It’s called ‘Amped’ and it’s basically about a near future when people start putting technology into their bodies,” he said. “At first these implants are things that can cure epilepsy and other disabilities and then they start getting better and better so it’s kind of a human rights story.”

“It’s about how society reacts when there’s a new type of person that’s a little bit smarter and a little bit faster than everybody else. And it kind of takes place in eastern Oklahoma. That’s what I know about so that’s what I write about.”

The movie “Robopocalypse” is set to be released in theaters July 3, 2013.

For more information on Wilson and his novels, visit • 918-453-5000, ext. 6139


Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
10/16/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Oct. 9, Native Americans, including many Cherokees, celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day in Tahlequah and on Northeastern State University’s campus. The following Cherokee Phoenix video highlights people and events of the day.
10/15/2017 04:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A small Oklahoma town is irate that the state has decided to restore its Capitol with marble from a Chinese vendor over marble produced from the town's own quarry. Locals in Marble City, located near the Arkansas border, say the marble used for the project should come from Oklahoma, not another country. Over the next four years, workers will replace parts of the Capitol's lowest floor, eventually laying down about 25,000 square feet of marble. One of the bids was linked to Polycor, a manufacturing company that produces marble from a quarry in Marble City. The Oklahoman reports that construction officials said the bid using those materials came in over budget, and called the Chinese marble "superior" to the quality of the Polycor product in every measurement category.
10/15/2017 12:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Three hung juries in the case of a white former Oklahoma police officer charged with fatally shooting his daughter's black boyfriend had one thing in common besides unwillingness to convict: Each had only one African-American juror. Race has been an undercurrent in ex-Tulsa officer Shannon Kepler's first-degree murder case, which is headed for a fourth trial. Criminal law experts and U.S. Supreme Court cases point to the importance of racial identity and policing when it comes to jury selection, which is set to start Monday. Kepler, a 24-year veteran of the force, was off duty in August 2014 when he fatally shot 19-year-old Jeremey Lake, who had just started dating Kepler's daughter. Kepler doesn't deny pulling the trigger but says he did so only because he thought Lake was armed. No weapon was found on or near Lake's body. Officers across the U.S. involved in fatal shootings of black residents have recently faced similar trials. In the past year alone — including in Tulsa — juries were unwilling to vote for a conviction or prosecutors were unwilling to charge officers in cases from Baltimore to St. Louis. In May, a jury acquitted now-former Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby in the killing of an unarmed black man, which roiled the city's black community. "I don't see how race cannot play a role," said Kris McDaniel-Miccio, a professor at Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver and a former Bronx-based prosecutor. "I don't think there's any way to get around it because of what has happened in this community." The racial makeup of the juries in Kepler's previous trials prompted criticism from at least one civil rights group. Tulsa activist Marq Lewis with We the People Oklahoma said Kepler's defense attorneys have been booting potential jurors based on skin color. "The last three juries somehow felt that Jeremey was a bad person because he was black," Lewis said. "They couldn't bring themselves to believe this off-duty officer would literally shoot someone in cold blood without thinking somehow the black guy is sinister and he's done something bad." Richard O'Carroll, Kepler's defense attorney, has denied race played a role in Lake's killing. O'Carroll did not return messages this past week seeking comment on the case. Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler declined to comment specifically on the racial makeup of the past juries, but acknowledged "frustration" with the results of the trials. "I know I had citizens who put in a lot of effort and worked very hard and I know from their perspective they are frustrated as well," Kunzweiler said. Another racial element was recently added to the case when Kepler argued that he couldn't be tried by state prosecutors because he's a member of an American Indian tribe. A judge determined the fourth trial could move forward in state court. Kepler says he's 1/128th Muscogee (Creek). Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-1 that prosecutors violated the Constitution by excluding African-Americans from an all-white jury that convicted a black Georgia death row inmate of killing a white woman. The decision emphasized rules set by the court in 1986 to prevent racial discrimination in jury selection. Seating more jurors of color — especially in cases involving police who have fatally shot people — could be a factor in how a jury ultimately votes, said Bridgette Baldwin, professor of law at Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts. "The life experience is different," said Baldwin, who is black. "I may not be scared of a young male with a hoodie on because I've been socialized to be around these types of individuals. You see things differently, you hear things differently, you process things differently." McDaniel-Miccio, the Denver law professor, said the Kepler case illustrates what the U.S. is trying to address when it comes to race, police and the justice system. "How many generations do we have to have pass before we come to the honest realization that there is a distinct racial and ethnic asymmetry in this country?" she said. "We live in a world where we should believe that when something like this happens, they will be facing justice and they will be held accountable if they broke the law — no more, no less.”
10/14/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation will install storm shelters in its Head Start campuses after recently receiving an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The above-ground storm shelters will protect nearly 300 toddlers, preschoolers and staff at seven Head Start sites from severe weather and will be used as multipurpose facilities at the centers. An internal notification system for staff is also being implemented. “Ensuring our most valuable resource, our children, are able to stay safe and keep sheltered during a life-threatening storm gives us all a better peace of mind,” Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden said. “Providing these additional levels of protection is a responsibility we take very seriously at Cherokee Nation. In northeast Oklahoma, dangerous weather is an inevitability we must prepare for, and these storm shelters will enable the tribe to offer Cherokee families a better sense of security when it comes to their kids.” The CN is one of 77 tribes to receive a portion of $55.2 million worth of Indian Community Development Block Grants awarded by HUD on Sept. 14. The grants are meant to improve housing conditions and community amenities and to stimulate economic development across Indian Country. Shelters built at the seven Head Start campuses will be for the use of students, teachers, parents or visitors who are on-site during an emergency and will not be open for general community use. “This grant is providing a great opportunity to keep our students out of harm’s way during severe weather,” Ron Etheridge, deputy executive director of CN Education Services, said. “I can think of no better investment than in the safety of our children and the staff charged with teaching those students on a daily basis.” The tribe’s Head Start program worked with the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service and Emergency Management to apply for the grant. Planning for the project is underway, and installation must be complete within 24 months. Head Start campuses that will receive storm shelters are the Children’s Village in Tahlequah, Cherry Tree campus in Stilwell, Redbird campus in Stilwell, Jay campus, Kenwood campus, Wauhillau campus in Nowata and Pryor campus.
10/14/2017 12:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A hearing examiner has determined that Oklahoma City is entitled to a permit for water from a reservoir in the southeastern part of the state. The city seeks to take up to 115,000 acre feet (nearly 1.42 million cubic meters) of water annually from the Sardis Lake reservoir in the Kiamichi River basin, The Oklahoman reported . The reservoir impounds water from Jack Fork Creek, which is a tributary of the river. The city plans to invest $1 billion in infrastructure upgrades to divert the water to Lake Stanley Draper. Jim Couch, the city's manager, said the water will help the city's future growth. The report by hearing examiner Lyn Martin-Diehl was released Tuesday. It said the water the city is seeking is available for appropriation and that the city's plans will put the water to beneficial use, which is a requirement under the law for obtaining a permit. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board will consider Martin-Diehl's recommendations. Opponents of the permit say it negatively would affect the Kiamichi's flow as well as wildlife and tourism in the area. Martin-Diehl said the city's use of Sardis water won't interfere with the area's water needs with the proper management. Acquiring the permit is one of the steps necessary to finalize last year's water settlement between the city, the state, and Choctaw and Chickasaw nations. The settlement aims to end litigation over water management in southeastern Oklahoma. The settlement includes plans to manage the reservoir's levels and the river's flow as well as ensure tribes have a role in resource management in the region.
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
10/13/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Oct. 10, Election Commissioner Teresa Hart was presented a letter commending her for her years of service to the Cherokee Nation and citing that her service with the commission “has come to a close.” In the letter, Principal Chief Bill John Baker thanked Hart for her service with the commission. “On behalf of the Cherokee Nation I want to thank you for your service as a Commissioner of the Cherokee Nation Election Commission,” the letter states. “During your years of service on the Election Commission, there has been much progress pertaining to the Cherokee Nation Election process. This progress could not have happened without the guidance of the Commissioners, and for that you should be commended.” Hart said she appreciated the opportunity to serve on the EC. “My life has truly been blessed. I have met so many wonderful people and made several lasting friendships,” she said. “The past year has not been as enjoyable to me, and I’m grateful to be moving on. Thank you Chief Baker for giving me this opportunity.” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. shared his admiration for the work Hart has done at the EC. “We appreciate Teresa’s service to the Cherokee people. Those who serve on Cherokee Nation boards and commissions sacrifice so much of their time and share their talents in the name of good government. Teresa certainly did so and she is rightfully proud of her tenure on the CNEC.” According to a 2013 Cherokee Phoenix story, Hart was appointed by Baker to take the seat of former Commissioner Lindsay Earls. Hart served in her first EC meeting in September 2013. Hart’s letter of dismissal was accompanied with a letter of appointment for Randy Campbell. According to the letter, Baker informed Tribal Councilors that he would be appointing Campbell to fill the vacancy with a four-year term beginning on Oct. 1 and concluding on Oct. 1, 2021. “I’m pleased to appoint Randy Campbell to the Cherokee Nation Election Commission,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Randy has tremendous experience in organizational management which will be beneficial to the election commission.” Newly appointed commissioner Campbell spent 35 years with the Teamsters Local Union 523 where he served as president and business manager before retiring in 2007. He also served on the executive board of the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations). “Its an honor that my chief and the rest of the board would ask me to be involved and take this position on. I hope I can fulfill their expectations and plan to do a great job.” Campbell said.