http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgTranslation specialist John Ross translates a document from English to Cherokee. Ross and five other translation specialists translate documents and create materials for the tribe’s immersion school. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Translation specialist John Ross translates a document from English to Cherokee. Ross and five other translation specialists translate documents and create materials for the tribe’s immersion school. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Cherokee Translators: Translation specialist set on preserving Cherokee language

Cherokee Nation translation specialists are, from left, Dennis Sixkiller, Anna Sixkiller, David Pettit, Durbin Feeling, John Ross and Phyllis Edwards. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX John Ross One of many stop signs and street signs at the Tribal Complex are written in Cherokee and English and translated by the tribe’s translation department. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX A sign written in Cherokee and English at the Cherokee Nation Tag Office in Tahlequah, Okla., informs people where they can leave their car tag information. DILLON TURMAN/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Posters inside the Tribal Complex highlight important plants and animals for Cherokee people. This poster for watercress also provides the Cherokee name for the plant in the Cherokee syllabary and English phonetics. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Signage throughout the Tribal Complex in Tahlequah uses Cherokee and English. This signage is for the Cherokee Nation Office of Veterans Affairs. DILLON TURMAN/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation translation specialists are, from left, Dennis Sixkiller, Anna Sixkiller, David Pettit, Durbin Feeling, John Ross and Phyllis Edwards. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
01/31/2012 08:05 AM

Editor's note: The Cherokee Phoenix is running a six-part series on the Cherokee Nation Translation Specialists. Cherokee Nation translation specialists are Dennis Sixkiller, Anna Sixkiller, David Pettit, Durbin Feeling, John Ross and Phyllis Edwards. The stories will run every other day.



TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee speaker and translator John Ross is focused and determined to do his part in preserving the Cherokee language.

Ross, 56, originally of the Greasy Community in Adair County, is one of six translation specialists in the Cherokee Nation’s translation department where documents, signs, books and other printed items are translated from English into Cherokee.

Ross said his main task is translating three books a month for Cherokee Immersion School students. “That’s our priority. Then we work with all the departments in the Cherokee Nation. We translate words and phrases, and we do about 30 translations a month.”

The department also translates three to four articles from English into Cherokee for the Cherokee Phoenix each month, and coordinates the Cherokee language proficiency test for employees wanting to be recognized for their language knowledge. He said about 100 employees have taken the proficiency test.

“It makes you feel good about our language. As a Cherokee speaker, I like to see more people learning the language and also come in here and talk to us. That’s what we are here for, to try to promote the language,” he said.

Ross said during a busy week 30 or more people, employees and community members will come to the translation department needing help with a word or reading a document written in Cherokee. The translators also get phone calls from people out of state wanting help with translating phrases, words and even prayers.

“There’s stories that they have that have been passed down, and they want it translated,” Ross said. “It makes you feel good when you help people like that.”
Translating for people and programs keeps him “on his toes” and his translation skills sharp.

“It sharpens your language and writing skills. It just helps you all around to be able to translate,” he said. “Like we say here, ‘not everybody that speaks the language can be a translator.’ It’s a gift, I believe. If they work at it, I think they become translators too, but it’s not easy.”

The translation staff is also part of the Cherokee Speakers Bureau – a group of about 50 Cherokee speakers from area communities that meet once a month in Tahlequah to discuss Cherokee words, translate English words into Cherokee and fellowship. The bureau is also part of a larger group consisting of Cherokee speakers from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Ross said the most rewarding experience he’s had is translating historic documents written in Cherokee. Some are located at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa. And sometimes while translating historic documents, he finds Cherokee words that are no longer used. Ross said the translation department is beginning to use those “lost” words again, and a found word may be one less word the translation group and Cherokee Speakers Bureau has to create.

“We’re finding a lot of names or towns or communities. They (ancestors) used these words, and now they are all coming back,” he said.

Ross handles historic documents perhaps hundreds of years old while embracing the latest technology that helps him do his job. The translators use Apple iPhones and iPads and computers with the Cherokee syllabary. He said the staff uses iPads to send emails in the syllabary to other Cherokee language users.

“That’s pretty neat. This is going to be the future I believe,” he said.

Despite the efforts being put toward preserving the Cherokee language, the language’s survival still seems uncertain. Ross said his generation is the last generation that speaks the language in everyday conversations.

He said his generation learned Cherokee from their parents. Cherokee after his generation did not for various reasons, and most of the next generation of speakers will likely come from the Immersion School.

“We have over 100 children learning the Cherokee language. It’s so wonderful when we go visit them, and we do that a lot. To converse with our kids in our own language is a wonderful thing,” he said.

He said five years ago that was not possible because only his generation spoke the language. He said he believes more parents today are interested in their children learning the language.

“Our culture is better off if we speak the language,” he said. “If we continue our immersion school the way it is now, then I don’t think we have to worry about our language dying out. A lot of people say our language is dying out, but here’s an example of our kids showing us, if we teach them, they will learn.”

will-chavez@cherokee.org

918-207-3961


ᏣᎳᎩ

ᏓᎵᏆ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎻ.--- ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏁᎶᏗᏍᎩ John Ross ᎤᎦᏎᏍᏙ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏛᏅᎢᏍᏙ ᎢᏳᏛᏗ ᎤᎲ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏗᏒᏍᏓ ᎨᏒ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ.
Ross, ᎯᎦᏍᎪ ᏑᏓᎵ ᏳᏕᏘᏴᏓ, ᎪᎢ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎤᏛᏒ ᏅᎿ Adair ᏍᎦᏚᎩ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏌᏊ ᏗᏁᎶᏗᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏗᎾᏁᎶᏗᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏧᏪᏘ ᏗᎪᏪᎳᏅ, ᏗᎪᏪᎳᏅ, ᏗᎪᏪᎵ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏐᎢ ᏕᎦᎷᎬ ᏓᎾᏁᎶᏗᏍᎪ ᏲᏁᎦ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏂᏓᏅᏁᎰᎢ.

Ross ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏍᎪᎵᏴ ᎾᎿ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏦᎢ ᏗᎪᏪᎵ ᏓᎾᏁᎶᏗᏍᎪ ᏏᏅᏓ ᎨᏒᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏧᏅᏙᏗ. “ᎾᏍᎩ ᏭᏍᎪᎵᏴ. ᎠᎴᏗᏍᏊ ᏂᎦᏓ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏚᎾᏓᏡᎬᎢ. ᏙᏣᏁᎶᏗᏍᎪ ᏗᎧᏁᎢᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎪᏪᎳᏅ ᏯᏛᎾ ᏦᏍᎪᎯ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏙᏣᏁᎶᏗᏍᎬ ᏏᏅᏓ ᎨᏒᎢ.”

ᎯᎠ ᏦᎦᏙᏢ ᏙᏣᏁᎶᏗᏍᎪ ᏦᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏅᎩ ᎧᏃᎮᏢᏅ ᎪᏪᎵ ᏧᏂᎴᏴᏙᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᏅ ᏣᏃᏎᎰᎢ ᏲᏁᎦ ᏗᎪᏪᎳ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏂᏙᏨᏁᎰ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏏᏅᏓ ᎨᏒ, ᎠᎴ ᎪᏪᎵ ᏗᎪᏪᎳᏅ ᏗᎬᏙᏗ ᎤᎾᏚᎵᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᎭᎯᏍᏗ ᎢᎦ ᎠᏂᎦᏔᎲ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ, ᎠᎪᎵᏰᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎪᏪᎶᏗᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ. ᎤᏛᏅᏃ ᎠᏎ ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᏯᏂ ᎤᏂᎩᏓ ᎯᎠ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ.

“ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᏓᏅᏓᏗᏍᏗ ᎨᏐ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏪᏂᎯᏍᏗ. ᏣᎳᎩ ᏥᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏥᎩ, ᎠᎩᎸᏉᏗ ᎠᎩᎪᏩᏛᏗ ᎤᏂᎪᏛ ᎤᎾᏚᎵᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᎷᎪ ᎠᎭᏂ ᎤᏂᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏚᎵᏍᎪ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏄᏰᎸᏓ ᎠᎭᏂ ᏦᏥᏯᎠ, ᎣᎩᏃᎮᏗ ᎣᎩᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ.

Ross ᏒᎾᏙᏓᏆᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᏦᏍᎪ ᎠᎴ ᏳᎶᏒᏍᏓ, ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏂᎪᏛᏋ ᎠᏂᎷᎪ ᎤᎾᏚᎵᏍᎪ ᏗᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᏗᎧᏂᎢᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎪᎵᏰᏗ ᎪᏪᎵ ᏓᏂᏁᎰ ᎤᎾᏚᎵᏍᎪ. ᎠᎴᏗᏍᏊ ᏧᎾᏟᏃᎮᏗ ᏗᏅᏗᏍᎪ ᎤᎾᏚᎵᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎢᏗᎬᏗ ᏗᎧᏁᎢᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏓᏙᎵᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᏊ.

“ᏗᎧᏃᎮᏢᏅ ᎾᏍᏊ ᏚᎾᏅᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎪᏪᎳᏅ ᏙᎩᎾᎠ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎢᏗᎬᏗ ᏗᎬᏩᏂᎪᎵᏰᏓ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Ross. “ᎣᏍᏓ ᎦᏓᏅᏓᏗᏍᎪ ᎩᎶ ᏱᏥᏍᏕᎸᎭ ᎾᏍᎩ.”
ᏕᎦᏁᎶᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏓᎩᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᎠᏆᏎᏍᏙ ᎠᎩᏍᏕᎵᏍᎪ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏯᏆᏛᏁᏗᎢ.

“ᏓᏤᎶᎪ ᏥᏪᏂᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏉᏪᎶᏗᎢ. ᏄᏓᎴᏒᏮ ᎾᎿ ᏗᎩᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᏕᎦᏁᎶᏗᏍᎬ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᎾᏍᎩ ᏃᏥᏪᏍᎪ ᎠᎭᏂ, ᏝᏃ ᏂᎦᏓ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏰᎬᎾᏁᎶᏗ.’ ᎠᏥᏁᎸ ᎨᏐ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎬᏩᏛᏗ ᏥᎨᏐ, ᎠᏉᎦᏳ. ᎢᏳᏃ ᏯᎾᎵᏏᎾᎲᏍᏗ, ᎠᏉᎯᏳ ᎾᏍᏊ ᏱᏓᎾᏁᎶᏗ ᎾᏍᏊ, ᎠᏎᏃ Ꮭ ᎠᎯᏓ ᏱᎩ.”

ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᎾᏁᎶᏗᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᎯ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᏂᎦᏘᏯ ᎠᏁᎳ-- ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏓᏈᎦ ᎠᏎ ᎯᎦᏍᎪ ᏯᏂ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎾᎥ ᏗᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏂᏙᏓᏳᎾᏂᎩᏓ ᏌᏊ ᎢᏳᏩᎪᏗ ᏏᏅᏓ ᏓᎾᏠᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᏓᎵᏆ ᏗᎧᏃᎮᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏗᎧᏁᎢᏍᏗ, ᏗᏁᎸᏙᏗ ᏲᏁᎦ ᏗᎪᏪᎳ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎢᏗᎬᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏙᏣᏓᏩᏛᎯᏙᎰᎢ. ᎠᎴᏗᏍᏊ ᎯᎠ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᏂᎦᏘᏯ ᎤᎾᏓᏈᎬ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏔᎾ ᎤᎾᏓᏈᎬ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎤᏪᏘ ᎠᏁᎭ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ.

Ross ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏭᎪᏛ ᎠᎵᎮᎵᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏗᏁᎸᏙᏗ ᏧᏪᏘ ᏧᏃᏪᎳᏅ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ. ᎢᎦᏓᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏔᎳᏏ ᎾᎿ Gilcrease Museum. ᎢᏴᏓᎭ ᏱᏓᏁᎶᏔᏂ ᏧᏪᏘ ᏗᎪᏪᎳᏅ ᎢᎦᏓ ᏙᏥᏩᏘᏍᎪ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏗᎧᏁᎢᏍᏗ Ꮭ ᏱᏙᎬᏔᏃ. Ross ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᏁᎶᏗᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᎾᎴᏂ ᏓᏅᏗᏍᎬ ᎯᎠ ᏦᎩᏲᏎᎸ ᏗᎧᏁᎢᏍᏗ, ᎠᎴ ᏙᏥᏩᏘᏍᎪ ᏗᎧᏁᎢᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏘᏯ ᏧᏃᏢᎯᏐᏗ.

“ᏙᏥᏩᏘᏍᎪ ᏧᎪᏓ ᏚᎾᏙᎥ, ᏕᎦᏚᎲ, ᎠᎴ ᏗᏍᎦᏚᎩ. ᎾᎿ ᏦᎩᎦᏴᎵᎨ ᏧᏅᏔᏅ ᏗᎧᏁᎢᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏙᎦᎷᎦ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ

Ross ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᏕᎦᏂᏙᎰ ᏧᏪᏘ ᏗᎪᏪᎳᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏎ ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᎢᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎨᏐ ᎾᎿ ᎾᏝᎬ ᎤᎾᏄᎪᏨ ᎬᏗᏍᎪ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ. ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᏁᎶᏗᏍᎩ ᏓᏅᏗᏍᎪ ᏒᎦᏔ ᏧᎾᏟᏃᎮᏗ, ᎠᎴ ᏗᎪᏪᎶᏙᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏍᏆᏂᎪᏗᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏗᎪᏪᎶᏙᏗ ᏗᎪᏪᎳ.
ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᎿ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᏓᏅᏗᏍᎪ ᏗᎪᏪᎶᏙᏗ ᎪᏪᎵ ᏓᎾᏓᏅᏁᎲ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏗᎪᏪᎶᏙᏗ ᎪᏢᎯ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᎤᏠᏯ ᏧᏂᎭ ᎠᏍᏆᏂᎪᏗᏍᎩ.

“ᏙᎯᏳ ᎣᏍᏓ. ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏫᏗᎦᏛᎢ ᎢᎬᏙᏗ ᎠᏉᎯᏳᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ.
ᎣᏣᏟᏂᎬᏁᎰ ᎣᎦᎵᏏᏅᏙᏗ ᎤᏛᎯᏍᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ,
ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎠᎵᏏᏅᏙᏗ ᏴᏓᎭ Ꮟ Ꮭ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏱᏂᎬᏫᏍᏙ. Ross ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎯᎠ ᏣᏁᎲ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏅᏌ ᎬᏩᏂᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎾᎿ ᏂᏓᏙᏓᏈᏒ ᎤᏂᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ.
ᎤᏛᏅᏃ ᎯᎠ ᏧᎾᏛᏒ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᏂᎦᏴᎵᎨᎢ. ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎣᏂ ᏧᎾᏛᏒ Ꮭ ᏳᎾᏕᎶᏆᎡ ᏳᏍᏗ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎬ Ꮭ ᏯᏅᏔ, ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᎣᏂ ᏥᏛᎾᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏗᎾᏓᎴᎲᏍᎨᏍᏗ. “ᎤᎪᏓ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᏯᏂ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᎠ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ. ᎢᎦ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎨᏐ ᏳᏙᏥᏩᏛᎯᏙᎵ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ, ᎠᎴ ᎤᎪᏙ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏃᏣᏛᏁᎰᎢ. ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᏗᏟᏃᎮᏙᏗ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎢᎦ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎨᏐᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ

ᎤᏛᏅ ᎯᏍᎩ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᏥᎨᏒ Ꮭ ᎡᎵ ᏱᎨᏎᎢ ᏅᏗᏍᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎢᏧᎳᎭ ᏧᎾᏛᏒ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᎭ ᏣᎳᎩ. ᎤᏛᏅ ᎤᏬᎯᏳᏐ ᎾᎿ ᏧᎾᏓᎦᏴᎵᎨ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᏄᏅᏃ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ.

“ᎢᏲᎦᏛᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏓᏤᏟ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ,” ᎤᏛᏅ. “ᎢᏳᏃ ᏱᏂᎦᏯᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ. ᏙᎯᏳ Ꮭ ᎠᏓᏅᏖᏗ ᏱᎩ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏙᎯ ᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ. ᎤᏂᎪᏓ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎢᎩᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎵᏛᏗ ᎠᎾᏗᏍᎪ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎨᎩᏃᎯᏎᎰ ᎠᎾᏓᏕᏲᎲᏍᎪᎢ, ᎢᏳᏃ ᏱᏗᎨᏲᎾ, ᏯᎾᏕᎶᏆ.”


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.

Culture

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/19/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Thanks in part from an Oklahoma Arts Council grant, the Northeastern State University Center for Tribal Studies will host the Indigenous Arts Education Series in November for American Indian Heritage Month. The series will include the following: <strong>Nov. 2</strong> Marcus Harjo (Pawnee/Seminole) will present “Creative Writing and Music Production Workshop” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the University Center Redbud Room. Harjo uses writing, music production and live performances to promote his passions of youth outreach, cultural awareness and promoting healthy, drug-free lifestyles, specifically among American Indian populations. His workshop will focus on teaching participants how to use writing and music composition skills to enhance the delivery of their message. His workshop will conclude with a live performance. <strong>Nov. 8</strong> Sandy Fife Wilson (Muscogee Creek) will present “Shell Carving Demonstration” from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the University Center Redbud Room. Wilson is an experienced artist having learned her art techniques through both formal education and traditional means as she comes from a long line of family artists. Wilson specializes in Southeastern design shell carvings, finger-woven items and Creek basketry. She will host a demonstration that will educate the audience on this traditional form of art and lead participants through the process using a direct, hands-on approach to instruction. <strong>Nov. 14</strong> Yatika Starr Fields (Muscogee Creek/Osage/Cherokee) will present “Becoming a Mural Artist” from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the University Center Redbud Room. Fields’ presentation will highlight his experience and work as a mural artist and provide attendees with some insight into the highly specialized field of mural art. This event will include a live art demonstration. The Oklahoma Arts Council is the official state agency for the support and development of the arts. The agency’s mission is to lead in the advancement of Oklahoma’s thriving arts industry. Additional information is available at <a href="http://www.arts.ok.gov" target="_blank">arts.ok.gov</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/18/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee National Youth Choir’s album “Celebration” was named Best Pop Recording during the 17th annual Native American Music Awards on Oct. 14. This year’s award marks the fifth honor – referred to as a NAMMY – the Cherokee National Youth Choir has garnered since the choir’s inception in 2000. The youth choir was also nominated for Group of the Year and Record of the Year for its latest album. “We were so excited to win Best Pop Recording at the Native American Music Awards,” Mary Kay Henderson, Cherokee National Youth Choir director, said. “Our CD, ‘Celebration,’ is a collection of Motown music and has been a fun way to encourage our young people to learn our language. Language teacher and choir coordinator Kathy Sierra and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to vote for the Cherokee National Youth Choir.” The “Celebration” record is a combination of the 2017 Cherokee National Youth Choir and its soloists and members of the 2006 youth choir. Songs on the “Celebration” album include “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Celebration,” “Lean On Me,” “My Girl,” “Respect,” “My Guy,” “Stand By Me” and “We Are Family.” Sierra translated the lyrics from English to Cherokee for the recording. The Cherokee National Youth Choir has performed dozens of songs in the Cherokee language in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and at venues across the country, including the Oklahoma State Capitol. The choir also previously performed with such legendary artists as Foreigner, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Roy Clark, Kenny Rogers and the Oak Ridge Boys. The choir is made up of 30 to 40 young Cherokees from northeastern Oklahoma communities. Members are middle and high school youth in grades 6-12. The students compete in auditions every year for inclusion in the group. “The Cherokee Nation Youth Choir has proven time and time again to be excellent cultural ambassadors for our tribal government and our people,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “We are so proud of them for bringing home another NAMMY honor. The accomplishments of these young people should be celebrated, as they are learning and utilizing the Cherokee language. Additionally, they have volunteered their time and talents to be part of the youth choir, which is an opportunity to grow their leadership skills. Congratulations to everyone involved with this wonderful achievement.” The choir’s newest album, “Just Jesus,” as well as past albums will be available for purchase later this year at Cherokee Nation Gift Shop locations and online at <a href="http://www.CherokeeGiftShop.com" target="_blank">www.CherokeeGiftShop.com</a>.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
10/17/2017 04:00 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – Navajo artist Ric Charlie won Best of Show for his jewelry piece “Navajo Bling” at the 12th annual Cherokee Art Market held Oct. 14-15 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Artists from throughout the nation competed in eight categories: painting, sculpture, beadwork/quillwork, basketry, pottery, textiles, jewelry and diverse art forms. Sixty artists received awards, and 150 artists displayed and sold their art during the event. Charlie, 59, of Tuba City, Arizona, makes jewelry, paints and sculpts. “I can’t make a living with those (painting and sculpting), but I do it for therapy,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed all kinds of art, ever since I was a kid.” He said his winning necklace was inspired by “a nice summer day” when he was out of school and had time on his hands. “Navajo Bling” is a 14-karat gold jewelry set featuring more than 1,700 individually set diamonds and is valued at $75,000. “As a kid I was always involved in creating things because on the reservation you had to. I learned a lot from my grandfather because he was the creator of many things,” he said. “The work that I do now is something I only dreamed about doing. When I started making jewelry, I said, ‘I really want to get into gold. I really want to get into diamonds. I really want to do this type of work.’ It’s just a dream come true.” Charlie said he “dreamed big” as a child. “If you don’t dream big, it won’t happen.” He’s participated in other art shows such as the Santa Fe Indian Market, but this was the first time he entered the Cherokee Art Market. He said he plans to enter his work again. “I find it (Cherokee Art Market) really personal. People here are very, very friendly and welcoming, too. The level of artwork here is incredible,” Charlie said. Cherokee artist Bryan Waytula won Best of Class for Class 1: Painting, Drawing, Graphics & Photography for his painting titled “We Stand as One.” Cherokee sculpture Bill Glass Jr. won Best of Class for Class 2: Sculpture for his piece “The Discussion Revolves.” In the Class 5: Pottery Division, Cherokee artist Troy Jackson won Best of Class for his work “Bird Effigy.” Cherokee Art Market Manager Deborah Fritts said one artist came from Alaska and another came from Maine and other artists from in between. She said the show has come a long way from its first year in 2005 when it was held under tents in the casino parking lot. It has been held inside the casino since 2009. Fritts attends other art shows to “scope” out artists and to network. She also meets with other art market coordinators. “A lot of the people that win at the other shows, like at Santa Fe (Indian Market) or the Heard Museum (Phoenix), they come to our show,” she said. Dallin Maybee is chief operating officer for the Southwest Association for Indian Arts, the nonprofit association that produces the Santa Fe Indian Market. He said the Cherokee Art Market has its own “personality,” and he wouldn’t compare it to Santa Fe but “it’s a great show.” “This brings an incredible competitive field of artists. It’s a nice show. It’s intimate. You see a lot of your friends here, and the prize money helps,” Maybee said. “I come to this show every time that I can just because it’s a good time.” For a full list of winners, visit <a href="http://www.Cherokeeartmarket.com" target="_blank">Cherokeeartmarket.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/17/2017 12:00 PM
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. – The next meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 11 at the Bartow History Museum. The speaker will be Jim Langford, and his topic will be “Impact of de Soto on Southeastern Native Americans.” Langford is a member and former officer of the Society of Georgia Archaeology and has been doing research on the Native American presence in the Southeast for many years. The Bartow History Museum is located at 4 E. Church St. Its phone number is 770-382-3818. The TOTA was created to support the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail established by an act of Congress in 1987. It is dedicated to identifying and preserving sites associated with the removal of Native Americans from the southeastern United States. The Georgia TOTA chapter is one of nine state chapters representing the nine states that the Cherokee and other tribes traveled through on their way to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. GATOTA meetings are free and open to the public. People need not have Native American ancestry to attend GATOTA meetings, just an interest and desire to learn more about this tragic period in this country’s history. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.nationaltota.com" target="_blank">www.nationaltota.com</a> or <a href="http://www.gatrailoftears.org" target="_blank">www.gatrailoftears.org</a>. For more information about the November meeting, email Tony Harris at <a href="mailto: harris7627@bellsouth.net">harris7627@bellsouth.net</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/12/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Families looking for a fun, educational adventure for their children during fall break should plan to visit the Cherokee Nation museums on Oct. 20.  Museums participating are the Cherokee National Prison Museum, the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum and the John Ross Museum. Enjoy free admission and special activities at all three locations. There will be paper bandolier bags at the Cherokee National Prison Museum, Cherokee syllabary lessons at the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum and make your own clay beads at the John Ross Museum. The educational activities occur from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Cherokee National Prison was the only penitentiary building in Indian Territory from 1875 to 1901. It housed sentenced and accused prisoners from throughout the territory. The interpretive site and museum give visitors an idea about how law and order operated in Indian Territory. The site features a working blacksmith area and reconstructed gallows, exhibits about famous prisoners and daring escapes, local outlaws and Cherokee patriots, jail cells and much more. Built in 1844, the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum is Oklahoma’s oldest public building. The 1,950-square-foot museum features exhibits on the Cherokee National Judicial System; the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers; and the Cherokee language, with various historical items, including photos, stories, objects and furniture. Touch screen kiosks offer visitors documentary-style learning on various legal topics as well as teaching conversational Cherokee. The John Ross Museum highlights the life of John Ross, principal chief of the CN for more than 38 years, and houses exhibits and interactive displays on the Trail of Tears, Civil War, Cherokee Golden Age and Cherokee Nation’s passion for the education of its people. The museum is housed in an old, rural school building known as School No. 51 and sits at the foot of Ross Cemetery, where John Ross and other notable Cherokee citizens are buried. The Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum is located at 122 E. Keetoowah St., and the Cherokee National Prison Museum is at 124 E. Choctaw St., both in Tahlequah. The John Ross Museum is located at 22366 S. 530 Road in Park Hill. For more information, call 1-877-779-6977 or visit <a href="http://www.visitcherokeenation.com" target="_blank">www.visitcherokeenation.com</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
10/09/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With the hope of teaching more Cherokees soapstone carving, United Keetoowah Band citizen Matt Girty is spreading his knowledge of the ancient art by offering classes in Tahlequah to people willing to learn. His latest class was on Sept. 16 at the UKB Culture Center, where students gained insight and hands-on experience with soapstone carving. “My goal was to get more carvers out here because I see a lot of opportunity. So what many people are going to have to do around here is look within their self, look (at) who they are, and most of us out here are Cherokees,” he said. “If I can do it, there’s more out here that can do it. Even if they don’t get seen...then they’ve got a piece of their culture. They can show whoever they want to…so that way it’ll stay alive here within us and not die like it almost has been.” Girty said he starts his students with creating a turtle. “This right here is basically to get them to figure out their shapes and to get their hands on soapstone,” he said. “Figure out how to work it, how it feels on your hands.” As for tools, Girty uses X-Acto knives, files and hacksaws to shape his works. “I wanted these guys to get the feel of the grass roots of it because that’s how our people did it, not with power tools,” he said. “I want them to get the slow process of it, to get the blocking out and taking off a lot of the object to get to your main goal of making your object piece. So I want them to get used to doing it by hand first before they jump on any power tools.” By creating stone carved art, Girty said he feels he’s helping keep the art form alive. “It’s better for me to pass this on because this is all I know how to do that could better our people,” he said. “In my opinion, we should all be able to create beauty and make people smile in everything we do…to keep us going as Cherokee people.” UKB citizen Ernestine Berry said she is no stranger to the art world, so when she heard about Girty’s class she decided to take it. “I’m always interested in anything having to do with art,” she said. “I haven’t done stone carving before. I’ve done a little bit of woodcarving. I also have a degree in art for the University in Tulsa. So, I’ve done a little bit of artwork.” She said Girty is a “good” teacher and thinks what he does, by teaching and preserving the culture, is important. “I think anything to do with our tradition and our heritage is important to our people,” she said. “It helps us to know who we are. It helps to know where we came from, and it helps us to understand the ancestors and what they went through and the kind of lives that they lived.” Berry said she encourages anyone interested in preserving Cherokee culture to take Girty’s class. “It’s an enjoyable thing as well as a learning experience,” she said. “I just encourage anybody who wants to come, to come, because we’re not exclusive here. We accept everybody, Keetoowahs, Cherokee Nation, non-Indians, other tribes, anybody that wants to come.” So far Girty has taught two classes and hopes to continue teaching, while building upon each one to help students create more advanced pieces. “I have an idea for you to carve bears. The next class I want you to bring whatever you want to carve and then we can do it,” he said. “Next thing, I have a vision of our old pipe effigies that we used to make. That will be an advanced class because that’s what I’m (personally) doing now is recreating these ceremonial objects.” Girty hopes to have his next class in either late November or early December. “I’m here for instruction. Everything I know, it’s no secret,” he said. “I want to show you everything I know, then in turn you go show who you know. Come back and show me what you did, and hopefully you become to be a lot better than I am.” For more information, find him under Matt Girty on Facebook.