http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgDon McClellan prepares a dish at the West Siloam Springs Cherokee Casino. He recently returned to Oklahoma from Albuquerque, N.M., to work as Cherokee Nation Entertainment's executive chef. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Don McClellan prepares a dish at the West Siloam Springs Cherokee Casino. He recently returned to Oklahoma from Albuquerque, N.M., to work as Cherokee Nation Entertainment's executive chef. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Chef comes back home to work

Don McClellan prepares a dish at the West Siloam Springs Cherokee Casino. He recently returned to Oklahoma from Albuquerque, N.M., to work as Cherokee Nation Entertainment's executive chef. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation Entertainment Executive Chef Don McClellan stands inside the kitchen area of the West Siloam Springs Cherokee Casino in West Siloam Springs, Okla. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation Entertainment Executive Chef Don McClellan stands inside the kitchen area of the West Siloam Springs Cherokee Casino in West Siloam Springs, Okla. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
12/21/2011 08:02 AM
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
WEST SILOAM SPRINGS, Okla. – Chef Don McClellan is glad to be back in Oklahoma and doing what he loves.

The opportunity to move from Albuquerque, N.M., to take a job as Cherokee Nation Entertainment’s executive chef came after he competed in an Iron Chef-style competition in July in Washington, D.C.

The Cherokee Nation citizen lost the competition by a small margin. However, CNE’s food and beverage director contacted McClellan regarding him working for CNE after an article about the competition appeared in the Cherokee Phoenix.

“CNE, mainly Paul Jarrell, read the article in the paper and hunted me down in Albuquerque and said, ‘is there anyway we can bring you back here and have you work for the tribe?’ I said ‘it’s an opportunity we need to look at, and lo and behold I’m here,” he said.

McClellan, 35, has been a professional chef for 18 years. Most of his training in culinary school was in traditional French and northern Italian cuisines, which are his specialties. He most recently worked as a chef for a retirement community in Albuquerque before joining CNE in October.

His current duties are to better understand the corporate culture he’s working in and provide leadership for the two restaurants at the West Siloam Springs Cherokee Casino. He expects to be working at the West Siloam Springs property for three to six months before transferring to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa.

“The same thought process will go into the Hard Rock, and I will be training there. And then my ultimate responsibilities will be food costs, menu planning and the overall oversight of the outlining properties, including Ramona, Roland, Sallisaw, Tahlequah, Will Rogers Downs and Fort Gibson,” he said.

As for dishes he wants to create, he said looking at local food products is the best option. He believes using fresh local produce and meat helps sustain local economies and businesses. So he wants to seek out local farms and farmers markets.

He plans to showcase his cooking styles to see what the patrons of the West Siloam Springs Cherokee Casino prefer.

“We’ll get some customer feedback. If it works, then we’ll implement it on the menu, but absolutely having an opportunity to use local products is a first and foremost goal,” he said.
He said his experience at West Siloam Springs has been great because of all the support he’s received from the staff.

“I love it. It’s been a great experience so far. I’ve been very well received at the Siloam property,” he said. “We’ve had the opportunity to do the (principal) chief’s inauguration, which was a great experience for my staff from here to go to Tahlequah to work with the staff from the Hard Rock. We had staff from Roland. We had staff from Sallisaw. So being able to intermingle staff and have them all have conversations was a wonderful thing.”

He said everyone in the food and beverage department at Hard Rock have helped him settle into his job. He will need that support when he transitions from West Siloam Springs with its two restaurants to the Hard Rock Casino, which has four restaurants and more customers.

He said he welcomes the challenge of working in such a large casino like the Hard Rock.

“It’s smaller scale here. You have a close-knit group of customers that come in here. A lot of people from Tulsa come here to eat. They really enjoy the layout and variety of the buffet here,” he said. “But the amount of volume that Hard Rock does is tremendous as opposed to here.”

McClellan grew up in Nowata, about 20 miles east of Bartlesville. He said he had been yearning to return to Oklahoma to be closer to family. One of his two sisters lives in Tulsa. His father lives in Nowata.

He said his wife Karina was supportive of his decision to take the CNE job and move to Oklahoma.

“Now that I’m back, everyone is truly excited to see their cousin or nephew back in town, so it’s been great. I’m truly happy to be here,” he said.

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 LINDSEY BARK
News Writer
08/17/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Dr. Mike Dobbins, of Fort Gibson, said he’s ready to serve his first term as the Dist. 4 Tribal Councilor and looks to improve the Cherokee Nation’s health care system. Dobbins will take his councilor seat with 37 years of experience in health care, practicing dentistry for 20 of those years. “I chose to run because from a distance I’ve become quite familiar with the Cherokee health system, and there are some great things about it. The framework’s in place…and a lot of good has transpired. With my experience I feel like I can lend some expertise to help improve the system. That was my primary motive in running for council...to see what I could do to improve the health care system,” Dobbins said. He said he has more to learn about the CN Health Services and how it functions on a daily basis. Dobbins is also involved in higher education, teaching at dental schools for the past 17 years and assisting Cherokee students interested in health care. “I’ve assisted multiple Cherokee students with scholarship opportunities, not only with Cherokee scholarships, but with other Native American scholarships and try to help them go through college with little-to-no debt as possible,” he said. He said in Dist. 4, he’s also heard concerns from CN citizens about housing issues. “I’m also knowledgeable of the fact that there’s a lot of other Cherokee needs (including) infrastructure, housing, elder care. I’m also sensitive to those areas as well. I plan to be a multi-purpose councilman,” Dobbins said. “I’m on the outside right now, but I intend to see (and) get familiarized with the housing program and make sure that citizens of District 4 are considered for any housing possibilities.” The 2017 Tribal Council election was Dobbins’ second attempt at becoming a CN legislator. He said he learned from his “mistakes” four years ago and that it was a “less stressful” campaign this time around. “I ran four years ago and lost by two (votes) to an 18-year incumbent,” he said. “You learn by experience, and I enlisted more help, actually, this time. I tried to do a lot of myself four years ago. I’d say…most importantly I learned what not to do rather than what to do.” Dobbins said he has an obligation to serve not only the CN citizens who helped or voted for him, but also those who did not. “I’m their councilman now, and I feel a deep debt of obligation to fulfill that duty,” he said. “I just look forward to serving the Cherokee people on the council. I do have a busy schedule but I feel like I will be accessible. I have a busy schedule outside my councilman responsibilities, but my councilman responsibility will be my priority.”
BY LINDSEY BARK
News Writer
08/16/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – E.O. Smith, of Vian, on Aug. 14 will begin serving his first term as the Dist. 5 Tribal Councilor after winning a July 22 runoff election. He will take the seat being vacated by Tribal Councilor David Thornton. Smith won the runoff against Cherokee Nation citizen Uriah Grass by receiving 52.26 of the vote. He previously spent eight years as a CN Food Distribution warehouse manager in Sallisaw. His platform includes improving education, employment and health care for Cherokees. “I want to help. There’s some of these families, they don’t need to live in the condition they live in. (Cherokee) Nation is strong but I’d like to help make it stronger. I just care about people…I just want to make things better for District 5,” he said. Born in Mexico, Smith moved to Vian with his mother and father at age 2. “My dad was a farmer, and back then there wasn’t any farm aid or anything, and a flood wiped them out and they lost everything they had. So he had to move out to Mexico and worked in the oil fields, saved up money to come back home,” he said. After seeing his father’s work ethic and ability to move back to the United States to become a business owner, Smith followed in father’s footsteps by becoming a business owner, operating two stores in Vian for 29 years. Smith was also involved with youth and youth sports, coaching sports teams for more than 42 years. “That’s my passion. That’s what I love to do. I like working with kids,” Smith said. As a councilman for the city of Vian, Smith said he see too many young people, Cherokees and non-Cherokees, with no desire to work and wants to motivate them to find jobs. Smith said in his travels in the CN, about 85 percent of people he talked to brought up improving health care, especially for elders. “Overall, I just want to help improve things. I’m for all the programs we got going. I don’t want to cut any. I’d like to see some improve,” he said. He said he had a tough election but is ready to get his feet on the ground and see what lies ahead of him as a Tribal Councilor to improve programs and other issues in the CN and Dist.5 “We all want good things for the (Cherokee) Nation, or we wouldn’t be running. I’m just so excited for this chance. I can’t wait to get started. I really want to try to help. I’m 66. I feel good and this may be my last chance to do something good,” Smith said. Smith said he is creating an office in Vian where he will be available from 9 a.m. to noon five days a week and will also be accessible by phone at 918-705-1845. “Let’s pull together and help me make this a good four years. Let’s don’t fight. Let’s pull together,” Smith said.
BY CHANDLER KIDD
Intern
08/16/2017 12:00 PM
JAY, Okla. – After winning a July 22 runoff, Mike Shambaugh is the new Tribal Councilor for Dist. 9, which covers the southern half of Delaware County and part of eastern Mayes County. The current chief of police in Jay, whose has been involved with law enforcement for 28 years, said he’s a goal-oriented person, and it’s been a lifelong goal to serve on the Tribal Council. Shambaugh obtained that goal after by earning 54.96 percent of the vote in the runoff against Cherokee Nation citizen Clifton Hughes. “The opportunity came up, and I thought it would be a great time to run and I won,” he said. Shambaugh said he began his career in law enforcement as a patrolman and worked his way to a district attorney investigator. As Jay’s chief of police and holding an administrator position, Shambaugh is accustomed to dealing with people’s problems in a professional way, he said. “You have to learn to listen as an administrator. Everybody has a story to tell when they have a problem,” Shambaugh said. “The first thing that is out of my mouth is ‘What can I do to help you today?’ I want to know how to help them or where I can send them to get help.” He said he’s most excited to be working and meeting people of Dist. 9 while representing the CN as a whole. He also said he plans to incorporate his experience with doing paperwork to help CN citizens get services while he serving for the next four years. “A lot of people have trouble doing paperwork with the Cherokee Nation because it is pretty extensive in some areas. Well, I would be willing to sit down with them and even write it out for them if they were having trouble filling it out,” he said. Shambaugh added that he believes it is important for people outside of the CN to know the Cherokee people are here to help. He stated that the Nation is always pushing forward to make things better for its people. During his time as a tribal legislator, he said wants to work to improve elder care. “I have already had four of five phone calls from people who need help, and my job hasn’t even started yet. Whether it is handicap ramps or something else,” he said. “Health care, elder care and education are three big things with me, and the Cherokee Nation has shown that these are important issues with them also.” Shambaugh said he’s proud of his Cherokee heritage, and to honor it while on the Tribal Council he said he plans on incorporating his board position at the United Way in hopes of delivering school supplies to schools in the CN that need assistance. “My mother was full blood, and my family as far back as I first remember spoke mainly Cherokee when I was young. Everything that I have seen with the Cherokee Nation has made me proud because the Nation has made great strides to help their citizens,” he said. Shambaugh and the other eight Tribal Councilors who won seats in this year’s elections were inaugurated on Aug. 14.
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
08/15/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The former Cherokee Nation Marshal Service building located west of the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex has had many uses since it was built in the 1980s, but its days are numbered. The building will soon be taken down to provide more parking for the Tribal Complex, on which a second story was recently added to provide more office space and accommodate the tribe’s courts. “The building will be disassembled rather than demolished,” CN Construction Project Administrator Paul Crosslin said. “We’re hoping we can save some parts for future construction projects.” Crosslin said he is not certain when the building will be disassembled. Tests such as tests for asbestos levels first need to be completed. “We’re hoping to start the disassembly next week (week of Aug. 14) but that decision hasn’t been made yet,” he said. Longtime CN employees estimate the building was constructed in the mid-1980s as a green house with no insulation. In the 1990s, the building housed the Cherokee Gift shop. “I worked there when I started in 1992,” Cherokee Gift Shop General Manager Linda Taylor said. “That was before the gift shop was moved to the front of the Cherokee Nation Annex building. CNMS Capt. Danny Tanner said the building housed the CNMS from 2001 until this past March. “Our new location (inside the Cherokee Nation EMS building east of the Tribal Complex) was actually built for the Marshal Service, but the CN Election Commission ended up moving in,” he said. Tanner said he was grateful the CNMS was able to move to its new location. “This is where Cherokee Marshal Service should be located.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/15/2017 10:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Nearly 20 Cherokee children competed in three age divisions on Aug. 12 at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center for the titles of Little Cherokee Ambassadors. But only six walked away earning crowns. Salina Elementary School fifth grader Leah Gardner was crowned as the 2017-18 Little Cherokee Ambassador in the 10-12 age category. Gardner, 10, is captain of her school’s Cherokee Language Bowl. She gave a demonstration on basket weaving as her cultural presentation. She also correctly named stickball as a traditional Cherokee game, answered 18 as the age that Cherokee Nation citizens must be to vote and knew the Cherokee Female Seminary was the first institution of higher learning for Cherokee girls west of the Mississippi River. “I’m really excited to be a Little Cherokee Ambassador, and I’m looking forward to all the parades,” Gardner said. Joining her in the male division of Little Cherokee Ambassador is Heritage Elementary School fourth grader Preston Gourd, 10, of Tahlequah. Alayna Paden, a fourth grader at Cherokee Immersion Charter School, and Cooper Dorr, a third grader at Lowrey Elementary School in Tahlequah, won in the 7-9 age division. Winning in the 4-6 age division were Avery Raper, 5, who attends Pryor Learning Center, and Dante Anguiano, 5, a kindergartener at Heritage Elementary School in Tahlequah. The competition kicked off the 65th annual Cherokee National Holiday, which runs Labor Day weekend. The Junior Miss Cherokee competition was slated for 6 p.m. on Aug. 19 at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center. The Miss Cherokee Leadership Competition will be held at 6 p.m. on Aug. 26 at Cornerstone Church in Tahlequah.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/14/2017 09:45 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation will have nine Tribal Councilors sworn into office at 10 a.m. on Aug. 14 at Sequoyah High School’s gymnasium. The nine Tribal Councilors who will be administered the oath of office by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Garrett are Joe Byrd (Dist. 2), Mike Dobbins (Dist. 4), E.O. Smith (Dist. 5), Frankie Hargis (Dist. 7), Mike Shambaugh (Dist. 9), Harley Buzzard (Dist. 10), Victoria Vazquez (Dist. 11), Janees Taylor (Dist. 11) and Mary Baker Shaw (At-Large). The legislative branch consists of 17 members representing the 15 districts inside tribe’s jurisdiction and two at-large seats representing citizens outside the boundaries. Councilors are elected by popular vote to four-year terms. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UU1u8efDqQQ" target="_blank">Click here to</a>watch the live feed of the inauguration.