The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians’ casino sign flashes in front of the casino in Tahlequah, Okla. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is considering an application by the UKB to put the casino land into trust. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

BIA considering UKB trust application

The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians’ casino sign flashes in front of the casino in Tahlequah, Okla. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is considering an application by the UKB to put the casino land into trust. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians’ casino sign flashes in front of the casino in Tahlequah, Okla. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is considering an application by the UKB to put the casino land into trust. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
11/18/2011 02:40 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Bureau of Indian Affairs is considering placing land into trust for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians for gaming purposes, but Cherokee Nation officials said they would object to the UKB trust application.

According to a Nov. 4 letter from BIA Acting Regional Director Charles Head to CN Principal Chief Bill John Baker, the bureau’s Eastern Oklahoma Regional Office is considering placing 2.03 acres of fee simple property into trust for the UKB. The UKB casino sits on the property, which is located at 2450 S. Muskogee Ave.

However, CN Attorney General Diane Hammons said the CN would file an objection to the trust application. According to the letter, the CN has until Dec. 3 to do so.

“I do not know of any other federally recognized tribes that have attempted to have land put into trust within our jurisdiction,” she said.

The UKB, which formed under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act, has no trust-land base and operates within the CN 14-county jurisdiction.

Although the letter was sent to Baker and CN Real Estate Services on Nov. 4, Baker, Hammons and the Tribal Council didn’t learn of the letter until Nov. 14 due to a delivery error by mailroom staff.

Todd Enlow, CN Leadership executive director, said mailroom workers pick up all certified, registered and express mail from the U.S. Postal Service; electronically checks in the mail; and then delivers the mail to the proper addressee within the Tribal Complex.

“When they received that letter, I’m not sure if it was just accidentally appended to another letter, or if it was accidentally grabbed in the wrong batch,” Enlow said.

The letter was processed in the mailroom on Nov. 7 and delivered on Nov. 8 to the CN Indian Child Welfare Office. After ICW workers opened the letter, they realized the letter was delivered to the wrong department and rerouted it to Real Estate Services on Nov. 10, Enlow said.

He added that the two workers in Real Estate, who have responsibility for viewing such letters, were out on real estate closings on Nov. 10, and all CN offices were closed Nov. 11 for Veteran’s Day. So, Enlow said, nobody in Real Estate saw the letter until the morning of Nov. 14.

Within 20 minutes of the letter being discovered, it was scanned and sent via email to Baker and Hammons, Enlow said.

“Just because of a busy normal day, that email was not noticed by the chief until it was brought to his attention at the council meeting,” he said. “He hadn’t had a chance to go through all of his email. He received it sometime around 11 a.m. on the 14th, but he hadn’t read it yet.”

Tribal Councilors inquired at their meeting on Nov. 14 as to why Hammons wasn’t notified sooner about the UKB trust request.

“It stuns me that nobody has come to us before now with this information. I’m just stunned and I’m upset,” Tribal Councilor Dick Lay said.

Prior to learning of the UKB request, councilors were discussing legislation regarding other tribes possibly requesting trust land within the CN.

“This is pretty serious stuff when another tribe comes within our jurisdiction and tries to put land in trust,” Tribal Council Speaker Meredith Frailey said.

After some discussion, councilors unanimously approved an act addressing “foreign” tribes attempting to place land into trust within the CN. According to the act, the principal chief and his officers would reject any application by a foreign Native American tribe to acquire, transfer or otherwise place land in federal trust status within the CN jurisdictional boundaries unless the principal chief is authorized by a two-thirds vote of the council’s entire membership.

Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts went a step further by emailing Head on Nov. 17.

“Attached you will find the Land into Trust Act passed unanimously at full Cherokee Nation Tribal Council meeting the night of Monday, November 14, 2011,” Cowan Watts wrote.

“Although I have not seen a signed copy from Principal Chief Baker’s office, he assured us publicly he agreed wholeheartedly on the issue and would fight to protect our sovereign borders from foreign Tribes including the United Keetoowah Band (UKB).”

In her email, Cowan Watts referenced the BIA letter and wrote that Nov. 14 was the first time she heard of the UKB application.

“The Cherokee Nation is adamantly opposed to any other tribe putting land into trust within the legal and sovereign boundaries of the Cherokee Nation per the fee patents of 1838 and 1846,” she wrote. “The Cherokee Nation is adamantly opposed to the United Keetoowah Band putting land into trust for any reason within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation as defined by the highest form of land ownership, our fee patents of 1838 and 1846.”

Cowan Watts also requested all forms of correspondence between any CN official and the BIA, as well as the written process for notification of land into trust.

CN officials said Baker is opposed to other tribes putting land into trust within the CN.

“Chief Baker will always protect and defend the sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation and will aggressively defend the Nation’s boundaries and any encroachment within those boundaries,” Baker’s spokesperson Kalyn Free wrote in a Nov. 16 email to the Cherokee Phoenix. • 918-207-3825


10/26/2016 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Thanks to its sellout success at the Cherokee National Holiday, the Cherokee Phoenix is bringing back its Buffalo Gouge-designed T-shirts, with a slight twist, for the upcoming shopping season. The T-shirts will be similar to the T-shirts the Cherokee Phoenix sold at the Cherokee National Holiday during Labor Day weekend. However, the words “NATIONAL HOLIDAY” and the year “2016” will be omitted from the shopping season shirts. Also, Gouge’s signature will be moved closer to the artwork. The Cherokee Phoenix’s logo will also adorn the left sleeve. Gouge said the Cherokee National Holiday design was inspired by the original Cherokee Phoenix logo with modern modifications. As the phoenix rises from the fire, the seven Cherokee clans are featured behind the bird. The Phoenix banner is amid the bird’s wingspan, and above the banner are seven stars also representing the clans. “Because the national holiday shirts that Buffalo designed for us sold out so quickly and because we had so many people asking if we were going to print them again, we decided to do a second run for the holidays season with a slight modification,” Assistant Editor Travis Snell said. “We hope the people who didn’t get a shirt during the Cherokee National Holiday will get one for the upcoming shopping season.” A run of 300 shirts were printed in graphite heather gray ranging in sizes small to 3XL. Shirts are $20 and available at the Cherokee Phoenix office. Shoppers can stop by the office located in the Annex Building (old motel) on the W.W. Keeler Complex or order by calling 918-207-4975. Shipping is $5 per order with a maximum of three shirts per order. More shirts may be printed depending on demand. Earlier this year, Cherokee Phoenix staff members came up with the idea to introduce a T-shirt that would differ from the tribe’s Cherokee National Holiday T-shirts. Snell said he initially thought of Gouge and approached him to be the first artist to bring the idea to life. When it came to designing the shirt, Snell said staff members gave Gouge an idea of what they wanted it to represent as well as freedom to create. After several meetings with the staff regarding the shirt’s look, the design came to fruition. The Cherokee Phoenix staff printed 200 shirts for the Cherokee holiday and sold out in two days. Snell said the Cherokee Phoenix plans to continue using artists such as Gouge to create Cherokee National Holiday T-shirt designs annually. Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band and Eastern Band citizens are encouraged to email their design ideas to <a href="mailto:"></a> by Jan. 1.
10/26/2016 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials honored Vietnam veteran Leonard McCarty with the Medal of Patriotism at the Oct. 17 Tribal Council meeting. Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden gave the medal to McCarty, 77, of Vian, as acknowledgement for his service to the country. Sgt. 1st Class McCarty was born July 12, 1939, in Owasso and joined the U.S. Army in 1958. McCarty completed basic training at Fort Carson, Colorado, and advanced individual training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He spent the next 10 years of his military career improving and building infrastructure on U.S. military bases. In 1968, McCarty deployed to Vietnam where he was part of a team that recovered and retrieved fallen soldiers so that their bodies could be shipped home. After his tour in Vietnam, McCarty returned to the United States and was stationed at Fort Benjamin Harrison, where he wrote training and testing materials as part of a forward-planning process for the Army. McCarty retired from the Army in 1978 after 20 years of service. “It was an honor to serve my country, to serve my nation and to serve the people of my country. I would not have changed anything in my life,” McCarty said. “I’m just proud to be a Cherokee.” McCarty received numerous medals and ribbons for his service, including the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, six Good Conduct Medals, Vietnam Service Medal with five campaign stars and more. Each month the CN recognizes Cherokee service men and women for their sacrifices and as a way to demonstrate the high regard in which the tribe holds all veterans. Native Americans, including Cherokees, are thought to have more citizens serving per capita than any other ethnic group according to the U.S. Department of Defense. To nominate a veteran who is a CN citizen, call 918-772-4166.
Media Specialist – @cp_rgraham
10/26/2016 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation ONE FIRE along with tribal dignitaries and several young people helped Principal Chief Bill John Baker on Oct. 5 declare October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the CN. Baker made the declaration official by signing a proclamation. ONE FIRE Executive Director Nikki Baker-Limore said she felt the signing of the proclamation was important for several reasons. “It’s important because 39 percent of Native women will suffer from domestic violence in their lifetime,” she said. Baker-Limore added that getting the word out about ONE FIRE services was crucial. “We can help these women survive.” Some of ONE FIRE’S October events included a booth at the W. W. Keeler Tribal Complex with information about ONE FIRE Victims Services programs and domestic violence prevention, a bulletin board at W.W. Hastings Hospital with domestic violence stats and information regarding ONE FIRE programs and intertribal meetings in Durant to share information about ONE FIRE programs as well as domestic violence and sexual assault information. Other ONE FIRE events included asking CN employees to wear purple on Oct. 20 and an annual Pack It Purple game at Sequoyah High School is scheduled for Oct. 28, in which ONE FIRE staff was expected to sell T-shirts before and at the game to blanket the stands with purple. Purple footballs and information pertaining to ONE FIRE programs were also expected to be given out, and domestic violence stats were to be made available during the game. For the ONE FIRE hours emergency hotline, call 1-866-458-5399. For more information, call 918-453-6939, 918-772-4257, 918-453-5684 or 918-772-4258.
10/25/2016 01:45 PM
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Oct. 21 designated eight counties that are fully or partially located within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by a recent drought. Those counties are Adair, Cherokee, Delaware, Mayes, McIntosh, Muskogee, Rogers, Sequoyah, Tulsa and Wagoner in northeastern Oklahoma. “Our hearts go out to those Oklahoma farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Oklahoma producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.” All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity. Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include the Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program; and the Tree Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
10/24/2016 04:00 PM
FORT YATES, N.D. – Cherokee Nation officials and employees presented a $10,000 check to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in mid-October to help with attorney fees and delivered three truckloads of firewood to the Sacred Stone Camp where thousands of people continue to unite to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. According to a CN press release, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd and other tribal representatives met with several Standing Rock Sioux officials as well as campsite leaders and water protectors while in North Dakota. Hoskin Jr. said the Cherokee people are ones who have been “dispossessed, forcibly removed and had economies built on the backs of our people in their natural resources.” “That is a history that the Lakota and Dakota who are now protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline share,” Hoskin Jr. said. “It is a history that Indigenous people all over this world have shared and we are here to help change that history.” Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Vice Chairman Jesse McLaughlin said having the CN’s support meant much. “We are grateful. It’s getting cold and we are hunkered down until the end so we want everyone to stay warm. Firewood, fuel, and winterized tents are the biggest needs,” he said. According to the release, after approval from the CN Tribal Council, CN donated $10,000 to help the Sioux tribe with attorney fees and other costs to keep out the pipeline. Including the 54 ricks of wood delivered in October, the tribe has donated more than 100 ricks with plans to send another delivery in November. “This is the first time in history of tribes sustaining this much energy for one cause. It’s not about one tribe, it’s about all tribes coming together for a common cause,” Byrd said. “The Cherokee Nation is standing up for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all tribes who deserve a voice and respect.”
10/24/2016 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokees For Standing Rock group and the Mankiller Flats Water Protectors will host “Stickball for Standing Rock” on Oct. 29 on the grounds of the Cherokee Nation Male Seminary Recreation Center. According to the event page on Facebook, The Mankiller Flats Water Protectors are putting on a round robin stickball tournament to benefit the camps near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. “Men and women teams will play each other in round robin format. The men’s team with the most wins will play the women’s team with the most wins and the winner will be the champ and will win T-shirts,” the page states. “Max players per team is 10 and minimum is 4.” The entry fee for each team is $50. The event will include youth activities, arts and crafts tables as well as Indian tacos. Sticks will be available for those who don’t own any. To sign up for the tournament contact Abraham Bearpaw, Callie Benoit or Cole Hogner on Facebook or visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a> to view the event page. The event will begin at 10 a.m. The Male Seminary Recreation Center is located at 1123 W. Fourth St.