House approves Native American liaison bill
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.
A lawyer representing two American Indian tribes urged a federal appeals court Tuesday to keep in place the changes a judge ordered for a South Dakota county's system of removing children from homes in endangerment cases.
Stephen Pevar, a tribal law specialist with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that before those protections were imposed, the system was stacked against tribal families. From 2010 through 2013, the state was granted custody of all 823 Indian children it sought to remove from homes in Pennington County.
"The state won 100 percent of the proceedings," said Pevar, who is representing the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux tribes in the case. "It would have been a miracle if these parents had prevailed because they were denied elementary due process."
The tribes sued the county in 2013, saying its procedures for conducting initial hearings in such cases violated the federal Indian Child Welfare Act. The tribes argued parents were denied basic due process protections in these informal hearings, including the right to a court-appointed attorney and to see and challenge the allegations against them.
The chief U.S. district judge for South Dakota, Jeffrey Viken, sided with the tribes in three rulings in 2015 and 2016. He ordered changes to give parents more rights at those initial hearings, which are required to be held within 48 hours of a child's removal from the home to decide whether the child should be returned to the home or be placed in the custody of the state Department of Social Services. Parents previously weren't guaranteed legal protections until a later stage in the process. The county, which includes Rapid City, is now abiding by the judge's orders.
While the case applies most directly to Pennington County, the case has attracted attention elsewhere in Indian Country. The Cherokee Nation and Navajo Nation, the two largest tribes in the U.S., and other tribal groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief that said this lawsuit is vital to ensuring that courts follow the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was enacted in 1978 in response to widespread abuses by state child welfare systems against Indian children and families.
The law sets standards for removing Indian children from their families, terminating parental rights and placing them in foster or adoptive homes. The brief says other states in the 8th Circuit have statutes or procedures in place to ensure those standards are met.
Lawyers for Pennington County State's Attorney Mark Vargo and other officials named in the case argued that the lower court did not follow proper legal procedures, so its decisions should be overturned. Much of their appeal turns on complex legal arguments over whether the state's attorney or the presiding judge in the southwest corner of the state counted as policy-makers responsible for the old procedures who could legally be sued over them.
Parents did get full legal protections later in the process well before their parental rights could be terminated, said attorney Jeff Hurd, who represents Craig Pfeifle the presiding judge for the South Dakota judicial circuit that includes Pennington County.
The appeals court took the case under advisement. Chief Judge Lavenski Smith called it "a very difficult case" and said the panel would rule as soon as possible, but didn't specify when.
TULSA — Cherokee Services Group has secured a contract to aid the federal government in its effort to analyze, measure and manage tribal forest lands located in Indian Country and the United States.
CSG, a Cherokee Nation Businesses consulting company, is supporting the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Branch of Forest Resources Planning with assisting the Forest Service in restructuring and improving its Continual Forest Inventory software, which is used to monitor and quantify forest composition and conditions.
“The Forest Management Service Center is working with Cherokee Services Group on the development of a new CFI processing and analysis software tool for the BOFRP,” Mike Van Dyk, forest vegetation simulator group leader for FMSC, said. “We are pleased to be part of such an important collaboration with the BIA in providing essential tools for the assessment and management of tribal forest lands.”
CNB officials said the five-year contract currently has a value of $810,000 but they expect that amount to increase of the contract’s life because of the amount of work and resources necessary for the project.
The tribally owned company is refactoring the software to best practice and tested-development standards that leverage modern object-oriented practices. The updated software will assist service center representatives with long-term forest plans for tribal entities.
“The Forest Service Management Center’s Forest Vegetation Simulator model and the National Volume Library, both of which are heavily integrated into the CFI application, use scientifically validated, merchantable volume estimates to project future forest conditions,” CSG Manager Bob Freeman said. “Our placement of resources at the center allows for direct, unimpeded communication with the developers of this nationally recognized and industry standard software.”
The FMSC provides products and technical support for the Forest Service and is solely responsible for development and maintenance of the Forest Vegetation Simulator, a nationally supported framework ensuring consistency among forests in vegetation dynamics modeling.
For more than a decade, CSG has been providing federal and commercial clients with IT solutions and business support services. Wholly owned by the Cherokee Nation, CSG specializes in software and application services, network infrastructure services and business process services.
Headquartered in Tulsa, it has a regional office in Fort Collins, Colorado, and 22 additional offices nationwide. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.cherokee-csg.com" target="_blank">www.cherokee-csg.com</a>.
TAHLEQUAH (AP) – Within the past 10 years, technology has advanced so rapidly that Americans are racing to stay abreast of the latest computer software, cellular devices and the ever-expanding reach of the Internet.
The Cherokee Nation Community and Cultural Outreach Program is helping citizens stay up to date with the newest and most efficient technology, so nonprofit organizations and individuals can excel in a more connected world.
“Most of the folks that we work with are in their 60s or retirees, so they’re definitely digital immigrants,” said Chris Welch, technical assistance specialist. “Sometimes they’re scared of the process of technology. We want to bring it to light to them and show them it’s not as scary as it seems.”
The CCO hosts the Technology Webinar Series the second Thursday of every month.
The group has been offering the seminars for two years now, and the lessons have become more intensive.
“We started with very basic computer tips and tricks, even to the point of navigating the desktop - how to copy and paste, just simple things,” said Brad Wagnon, technical assistance specialist. “Then we’ve gone through a lot of Microsoft programs, like Powerpoint, and just have gotten more advanced as it goes.”
After working with the CCO and watching webinars, nonprofits have taken steps to improve their method of getting their message to the public. One nonprofit organization “gave a new meaning to cut and paste,” said Welch.
“They literally typed their grant out on a typewriter, cut it out and then pasted it into the space with glue,” he said. “That’s what we were dealing with to begin. That same organization now has built its own website and they do a digital newsletter every month, so they’ve gone from that to the other end of the spectrum within a three-year period.”
In the past, the CCO has offered training on self-improvement topics, like how to manage stress. The department has since tried to help citizens build skills that will transfer into a successful nonprofit organization. This year, the group’s technology webinars have focused on social media.
“With the social media stuff we’re focusing on this year, it’s going to help them market and tell the story of their nonprofit organization to everybody,” said Welch. “Most of them don’t realize this, but most of their viewers these days are millennials. By 2025, 75 percent of the workforce is going to be millennials, so they definitely are going to have to learn to tell their story in a different way, so we want to try and help them with that.”
The CCO helps nonprofit groups through the help of another nonprofit organization. The webinars are based on trainings from gcfreelearn.org, which was created to help nonprofits grow.
The most recent webinar spotlighted how to use Google Hangouts and Skype. Each webinar airs at 6 p.m. the second Thursday of the month, and is available on the CN YouTube page. All of the videos are archived, so anyone who misses one can still watch it.
The next Technology Thursday Series is March 8 and will focus on Instagram. For more information, call 918-207-4953.
TAHLEQUAH – Local veterans gathered on Feb. 13 at the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center for the center’s first Valentine’s Day dance and social event.
The Veterans Center was transformed into a Valentine’s wonderland with paper hearts leading attendees into the building and holiday décor placed throughout. The event featured a live band, a photo booth, food, desserts and fellowship.
“We always enjoy hosting our veterans, and tonight is a special opportunity for them to fellowship and create some lasting memories at our Cherokee Nation Veterans Center,” Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden said.
Couples, as well as singles, young and old, listened and danced to the music of the Three F’s. The band transported attendees back in time with songs from genres such as country and western and sweetheart songs from the 1950s and 1960s.
Loretta Reed and her husband Terry Reed, both served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam. Loretta said they were “thrilled” to have a place to celebrate Valentine’s Days.
“We are so thankful and so blessed to have an event offered like this. So thank you so much Cherokee Nation and everyone who had a helping hand in this. The food was delicious and so very well-prepared and beautifully placed,” Loretta said. “We are just so thrilled that they would take the time and energy to provide us a place to have a party and have a happy Valentine’s Day.”
Barbara Foreman, CN Veteran Affairs director, said the dance is one of many new events the center is trying.
“We have been looking at some new ideas and we thought the only way we are going to know if they work or not is to try them. The veterans were excited when we mentioned it and their spouses were really excited, so we thought we would go ahead and try it. This is just a fun social event for them to come together at,” Foreman said. “We just want to get the word out and to let our veterans know that our facility is here, so that’s why we are doing these activities.”
She said veterans could expect to see more social events on the Veterans Center calendar this year. For more information, call 1-800-256-0671 or visit <a href="http://www.cherokee.org" target="_blank">www.cherokee.org</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Association of the Descendants of Nancy Ward will host a bus trip in conjunction with its March 24, 2018, annual meeting.
Buses will leave Oklahoma on Tuesday, March 20 and return Sunday, March 25.
Sites visited in Tennessee are expected to be: Chota memorial (birthplace and home of Nancy Ward), Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, Blythe’s Ferry, Hair Conrad Cabin, Brainerd Mission and Red Clay State Historic Park.
Sites visited in Georgia are expected to be: The Vann House, Springplace Cemetery, New Echota Historic Site and the 1755 Taliwa Battle Site.
At 9:30 a.m., Saturday, March 24, the association’s annual meeting will be held at Nancy Ward’s gravesite in connection with a monument dedication led by Daughters of the American Revolution.
Buses will pick up passengers on March 20 at the following locations: 8 a.m., Hard Rock Casino, Catoosa; 8:50 a.m., Cherokee Casino, Fort Gibson; approximately 9:40 a.m., Cherokee Casino, Sallisaw.
Cost of the trip for individuals is $705 for single hotel occupancy and $520 for double occupancy. For more information, email <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.
WASHINGTON – The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian James Dinh, Daniel SaSuWeh Jones (Ponca) and Enoch Kelly Haney (Seminole), Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne/Arapaho), Stefanie Rocknak, and Leroy Transfield (Maori: Ngai Tahu/Ngati Toa), who advanced to the second stage of the National Native American Veterans Memorial design competition.
The five finalists shared their visions for the memorial and presented their initial design concepts at a public event held at the museum on Feb. 7. At the event, Kevin Gover, NMAI director, spoke of the gravity of the responsibility to design a national memorial to Native American veterans. Native Americans have served in every American conflict since the Revolution and have served at a higher rate per capita than any other group throughout the 20th century.
“Most important is their pride in what they have done and their commitment to the well-being of the United States,” said Gover. “To realize that these men and women served well a country that had not kept its commitments to their communities over its history. They are perfectly aware of it, and yet they chose to serve. And to me that reflects a very deep kind of patriotism. A belief in the promises of a country that had not kept its promises to them up to that time. I can think of no finer example of being Americans than the way these men and women chose to serve over those years.”
Links to view the finalist’s design are:
• <a href="http://nmai.si.edu/sites/1/files/nnavm/Dinh-Stage-I.pdf" target="_blank">James Dinh</a>
• <a href="http://nmai.si.edu/sites/1/files/nnavm/Jones-Haney-Stage-I.pdf" target="_blank">Daniel SaSuWeh Jones (Ponca) and Enoch Kelly Haney (Seminole)</a>
• <a href="http://nmai.si.edu/sites/1/files/nnavm/Pratt-Stage-I.pdf" target="_blank">Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne/Arapaho)</a>
• <a href="http://nmai.si.edu/sites/1/files/nnavm/Rocknak-Stage-I.pdf" target="_blank">Stefanie Rocknak</a>
• <a href="http://nmai.si.edu/sites/1/files/nnavm/Transfield-Stage-I.pdf" target="_blank">Leroy Transfield (Maori: Ngai Tahu/Ngati Toa)</a>
The finalists will have until May 1 to evolve and refine their design concepts to a level that fully explains the spatial, material and symbolic attributes of the design and how it responds to the vision and design principles for the National Native American Veterans Memorial. The final design concepts for Stage II will be exhibited at both the Washington, D.C., and New York museums May 19 through June 3. The museum’s jury of Native and non-Native artists, designers and scholars will judge the final design concepts and announce a winner July 4.
The memorial is slated to open in 2020 on the grounds of the museum.
This project is made possible by the support of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Bank of America, Northrop Grumman, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker LLP, General Motors, Lee Ann and Marshall Hunt, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the Sullivan Insurance Agency of Oklahoma.
The museum was commissioned by Congress to build a National Native American Veterans Memorial that gives “all Americans the opportunity to learn of the proud and courageous tradition of service by Native Americans in the Armed Forces of the United States.” Working with the National Congress of American Indians and other Native American organizations, the museum is in its third year of planning for the memorial.
For more information, visit <a href="http://www.AmericanIndian.si.edu/NNAVM" target="_blank">www.AmericanIndian.si.edu/NNAVM</a>.