KD Wireless employees distribute cell phones to Cherokee Nation citizens and non-citizens on Dec. 16 at the Tribal Council Chambers in the Tribal Complex. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Career Services helps distribute cell phones

A man looks over refurbished cell phones on Dec. 16 at the Tribal Council Chambers in the Tribal Complex. KD Wireless employees distributed free cell phones to people on that day. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX TESINA KD Wireless employees distribute cell phones to Cherokee Nation citizens and non-citizens on Dec. 16 at the Tribal Council Chambers in the Tribal Complex. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
A man looks over refurbished cell phones on Dec. 16 at the Tribal Council Chambers in the Tribal Complex. KD Wireless employees distributed free cell phones to people on that day. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX TESINA
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
12/22/2011 08:09 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Dec. 16, Cherokee Nation Career Services and cell phone distribution company, KD Wireless, distributed refurbished cell phones to CN citizens and non-citizens at the Tribal Complex.

Keith Dudley, founder of KD Wireless, said the free cell phone program is a new one through Universal Service Administrative Co. intended to provide elders and low-income people cell phones to get them away from landline phones.

“It’s a fund called USAC. Everybody that has a cell phone, or home phone, provides the money that goes into this fund, so it really doesn’t have anything to do with the government,” Dudley, 28, said. “It’s all paid for by us, the people that can afford the cell phones. In other words, the money goes into a fund and each state is allocated so much money based on the number of individuals that are on a plan.”

A focus of the cell phone distribution is to help elders. Career Services compliance officer Dennis Carter said he first realized the need for the cell phones after noticing that many Career Service clients didn’t have them.

“It’s helping out Cherokee elders,” Carter said. “A lot of them do not have phones and then their families are worried about them.”

The cell phones that are distributed are easy-to-use flip phones and have been completely refurbished.

“You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if they were new or used,” Dudley said. “There’s nothing on them that’s used except for the interior parts of the phone. They’re really good quality...”

To receive a phone one has to be at least 18 years old and receive assistance from Medicaid; Oklahoma sales tax relief; Supplemental Security Income; vocational rehabilitation; hearing impaired; federal public housing Section 8; tribally administered Supplemental Nutrition Assist Program; Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance; Temporary Assistance to Needy Families; Head Start (income qualifying/residents of tribal lands only); Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; and National School Lunch Free Program (residents of tribal lands only.)

“One thing they have to have is a state ID or drivers license because of the bar code that’s on the back of it,” Carter said. “That’s how they’re scanning them into the computer.”

“And that’s just to help us with duplications,” Dudley added. “Because it’s only one phone per house hold.”

All eligible phone recipients will receive 500 minutes each month with free 911 calls. The first three months are free and then it’s $1 per month after. If one doesn’t meet the qualifications, one can still get the phone for $40 per month.

“This is a non-lifeline plan, so we actually offer it to everybody because we can’t just say that ‘you’re the only ones that qualify. You’re the only ones that we’re going to service,’” Dudley said. “We actually have to offer it to everyone, so there is a $40 unlimited plan per month for non-lifeline people. So if you don’t receive the benefits, you can still take part in the company.”

There are plans to distribute cell phones throughout the CN jurisdiction. Once a schedule is made, the distribution company will be at different CN offices.

“As long as there’s a need we’re going to continue to do it,” Dudley said.

For more information, call Career Services at 918-453-5555.

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org • 918-453-5000, ext. 6139
About the Author
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter.    

In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.
TESINA-JACKSON@cherokee.org • 918-453-5000 ext. 6139
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter. In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.

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