House approves Native American liaison bill

03/20/2012 04:10 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – State lawmakers voted March 13 to increase the number of individuals qualified to serve as Native American liaisons to the governor of Oklahoma.

Current law states, “Any person appointed to the position of Oklahoma Native American Liaison shall be an American Indian of at least one-fourth blood.”

House Bill 2563, by state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, would change the qualification so that the Native American liaison merely has to be “a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe” possessing “valid proof of membership.”

“To institute a blood-degree requirement duplicates the past discriminatory practices of the federal government,” Wesselhoft said. “The federal government typically set an arbitrary blood-percentage requirement to institute an artificial definition of an Indian and ultimately deny treaty obligations. The state of Oklahoma should not take that path.”

Wesselhoft, a citizen of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, is also an elected representative in that tribe’s legislature.

“Most tribes rely on the historic 1893 Dawes Rolls to ascertain membership in a tribal nation,” Wesselhoft said. “If one is directly related to an Indian listed on the Dawes Rolls, then that person qualifies as an Indian. It is appropriate that the state take its lead from tribal government in this regard.”

Wesselhoft added that imposing any blood degree requirement to obtain a state government job is “discriminatory and ultimately destructive.”

“We should celebrate the diversity of our culture in Oklahoma, not set artificial requirements on what makes someone a ‘true’ Native American,” he said.

The position of Oklahoma Native American Liaison was created last session to replace the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission. The governor has not filled the position. Wesselhoft said in the future he plans to author a bill to make the liaison position a Cabinet post.

House Bill 2563 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 62-19 vote. It now proceeds to the state Senate.


10/28/2016 12:30 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – The Rotary Club of Will Rogers, a 501(c)3, will host the Will Rogers’ Birthday Celebration honoring Principal Chief Bill John Baker at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa’s Sky Room on Nov. 4. The event begins at 6 p.m. with a reception. A dinner and program will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets for the event are $200 for Friends of Will Rogers, which will give admission to the reception and dinner and the program, and individual tickets are $100, which will give admission to the dinner and the program. All proceeds will benefit the Leadership Projects and Scholarship Fund for Will Rogers High School. To purchase tickets, visit For more information, call 918-740-3717.
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.”