http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgThe all-Cherokee band War Pony consists of, from left to right, Justin Graham, Sherman Connelly, Preston Postoak and Jason Billie. The band is from Sequoyah County. COURTESY PHOTO
The all-Cherokee band War Pony consists of, from left to right, Justin Graham, Sherman Connelly, Preston Postoak and Jason Billie. The band is from Sequoyah County. COURTESY PHOTO

War Pony hitting its stride as band

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
07/24/2012 08:50 AM
SALLISAW, Okla. – The all-Cherokee band War Pony is breaking out of Sequoyah County where it began about 18 months ago and is becoming a regional band.

The four-member group is led by lead guitarist and singer Sherman Connelly and includes Preston Postoak on drums, Jason Billie on bass and Justin Graham on rhythm guitar.

Like many bands, War Pony consists of remnants of other bands. Connelly and Billie continued to play together after playing in another local band.

“That band never really got off the ground,” Connelly said.

After Connelly won the “Great Arkansas Talent Search” in 2010, he decided to put a band together and recruited Billie to join him. After bringing in Postoak and Graham, Billie said the band members quickly synced and “had a good band after a few shows.”

Connelly said the band’s sound is hard to label but it’s a mixture of Red Dirt, edgy blues and hillbilly rock ’n’ roll. He added that War Pony plays its own compositions as well as some covers during shows.

Billie said he prefers playing songs that get his “fingers to popping.” But Connelly said he prefers a heavy blues and classic rock sound to sing live because his early influences were Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix.

“Anything really along those lines, but as far as picking a particular song that I like to play, I really couldn’t tell you. I like them all,” he said. “One of the requirements of the songs that we play is that I have to like them.”

The band gets regular airplay on KTCS, a country music station in nearby Fort Smith, Ark., and is a regular act at Cherokee Casino Sallisaw.

Connelly said he enjoys playing gigs around Sequoyah County and seeing familiar faces in the crowds, but wants to expand to other areas.

He said War Pony will soon play at Cherokee Casino West Siloam Springs and T-Bones in Tahlequah. The band has also played at the Wormy Dog Saloon in Oklahoma City and has a few Choctaw Nation casinos scheduled.

“We’ve been trying to get out past the Sequoyah County line. We’ll go just about anywhere they’ll have us around. We’ve played a few gigs in Little Rock (Ark.) at Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack, a pretty well-known venue. A lot of Red Dirt guys play there,” Connelly said.

The band recently participated in a showcase for Virgin Records at the Chicken Shack.

Connelly said the band is being asked more often to play middle-of-the week gigs, which may allow him to quit his day job of hanging drywall and metal stud frames.

He said the gigs are becoming more frequent, but he would always be grateful for the Sallisaw Veterans of Foreign Wars for helping him get his start.

“The staff there is super nice and they’ve been supportive of me from day one,” he said.

War Pony is working on a second album of original music in Ada with producer Mike McClure, who has produced albums for singer Stoney LaRue and bands Ragweed and Turnpike Troubadours. Connelly said the band needs only one more session to complete the album and should be putting out a single soon. Its first album is available on iTunes, Amazon.com and at its shows.

He said the number of fans on the band’s Facebook page has almost doubled in the past two months. The band’s booking information can also be found on the page.

Connelly said he’s amazed at how fast the band has evolved and gained in popularity.
“I’ve been really blessed and fortunate,” he said.

Billie said he hopes the band can eventually play music for a living.

“It’s something we’re really passionate about,” he said. “Come out and get rocked with War Pony. That’s all we can hope for is to make new fans.”

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.

Culture

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/19/2018 12:30 PM
PARK HILL – Native American youth are invited to participate in the 2018 Cherokee Art Market Youth Competition and Show, scheduled for April 7 through May 5. All artists must be citizens of a federally recognized tribe, in grades 6-12, and are limited to one entry per person. There is no fee to participate in the competition. Entries will be received between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on March 29 at Cherokee Nation Businesses, 950 Main Pkwy., in Tahlequah. All submissions must include an entry form attached to the artwork, an artist agreement form and a copy of the artist’s Certificate Degree of Indian Blood card or tribal citizenship card. Artwork is evaluated by division and grade level. Awards consist Best in Show - $250; first place - $150; second place - $125; third place - $100; Bill Rabbit Art Legacy Award - $100. The Best in Show winner will also receive a free booth at the Cherokee Art Market in October. A reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 6 at the Cherokee Heritage Center in conjunction with the 47th annual Trail of Tears Art Show. Winning artwork selected from the Cherokee Art Market Youth Competition will remain on display throughout the duration of the Trail of Tears Art Show. Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism is hosting the Cherokee Art Market Youth Competition. Applications are available at <a href="http://www.CherokeeArtMarket.com" target="_blank">www.CherokeeArtMarket.com</a>. For more information, call Deborah Fritts at 918-384-6990 or <a href="mailto: cherokeeartmarket@cnent.com">cherokeeartmarket@cnent.com</a>. The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett &
STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
01/16/2018 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Family Research Center located within the Cherokee Heritage Center has been assisting individuals with tracing their family genealogies since the 1980s. “We educate people,” Gene Morris, CFRC genealogist, said. “We’re here to promote our mission, which is preserve, promote and teach Cherokee history and culture. That’s what we do on a daily basis with genealogy.” The CFRC is one of two locations in Oklahoma specializing in Native American genealogy and should not be confused with the Cherokee Nation Registration Department. “We (CFRC) have no right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that someone is Cherokee,” Ashley Vann, CFRC genealogist, said. “What we are able to tell them is ‘yes’ or ‘no’ about a paper trail to back up that family’s story that’s been handed down from generation to generation.” Morris and Vann can be hired to help individuals complete their genealogies for a fee of $30 per hour, or $20 per hour for Cherokee National Historical Society members. For those wishing to conduct their own research, the CFRC resources area and the genealogy library are accessible from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday with paid admission into the museum. Before visiting, Norris and Vann recommend gathering as much information as possible from several free and paid websites including <a href="http://www.fold3.com" target="_blank">www.fold3.com</a>, <a href="http://www.ancestry.com" target="_blank">www.ancestry.com</a>, <a href="http://www.oklahomacemeteries.com" target="_blank">www.oklahomacemeteries.com</a> and <a href="http://www.findagrave.com" target="_blank">www.findagrave.com</a>. The CFRC will also process genealogy requests by mail, but the timeframe in which the request is filled depends on demand. “Depending upon how many folks are back here in the library at one time wanting all of our attention all at the same time and depending on if one of us is here or both us are here at that time,” Norris said. “What we try to do is do those requests in the order they are received.” For more information, visit <a href="http://www.cherokeeheritage.org" target="_blank">www.cherokeeheritage.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/08/2018 02:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Speakers Bureau will be held Thursday Jan. 11 from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. We will meet in the Community Ballroom that is located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokee. All Cherokee speakers are invited to attend. If you want to bring a side dish or a dessert, feel free to bring it. Come speak Cherokee and enjoy food and fellowship. For further information about the event, please contact: the Language Program at 918-453-5151; John Ross at 918-453-6170; or Roy Boney Jr. 918-453-5487. Tsalagi aniwonisgi unadatlugv dodvnatlosi Nvgineiga Unolvtani 11 ganvsulvi 12:30 p.m. adalenisgi 4 p.m. igohida. Na Anitsalagi tsunalisdayetiyi tsigotlv unaditli wayvsdi onadilvyvi utani kanvsula dodvnatlosi. Naniv Anitsalagi aniwonisgi otsitayohiha uniluhisdii. Alisdayvdi ayohisdi yodulia. Dodayotsadatlisani ale dodayotsalisdayvna hilutsvi. Ugodesdi tsadulihesdi tsadelayohisdi hiina wigehiyadvdi: Tsalagi Gawonihisdi Unadotlvsv 918-453-5151; John Ross 918-453-6170; or Roy Boney Jr. 918-453-5487.
BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
12/31/2017 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With its 2017 annual homecoming T-shirt now for sale, the Cherokee Phoenix is calling for Cherokee artists to submit design concepts for the news organization’s 2018 T-shirt. In 2016, the Cherokee Phoenix staff introduced a T-shirt to differ from the tribe’s Cherokee National Holiday T-shirt. Phoenix staff members contracted with artist Buffalo Gouge for the shirt’s initial design. For this year’s homecoming shirt, Phoenix staff members selected Daniel HorseChief’s concept out of approximately 10 designs from artists. The Cherokee Phoenix then contracted with HorseChief to create the 2017 shirt. HorseChief said his concept comes from a four-panel painting that features Selu, the Corn Mother in Cherokee lore. The image shows the bust of Selu, who is looking down into a Southeastern art pattern. Behind her on the left side are seven ears of corn with water under it. Behind her on the opposite side is a phoenix with fire below it. Above the phoenix is the Cherokee seven-pointed star. Above the image, written in Cherokee, are the words “Cherokee Phoenix.” Below the image, in English, is “2017 CHEROKEE HOMECOMING.” The limited-quantity, black shirts are short-sleeved, ranging in sizes small to 3XL and sell for $20 plus tax. The shirts are available at the Cherokee Phoenix office in Room 231 of the Annex Building (Old Motel) on the Tribal Complex. For more information, call 918-453-5269. They are also available at the Cherokee Nation Gift Shop, als0 on the Tribal Complex, or online at <a href="http://cherokeegiftshop.com" target="_blank">http://cherokeegiftshop.com</a>. Phoenix staff members will also have shirts available at the Cherokee Phoenix booths at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex and Capital Square during the Cherokee National Holiday in September. The Cherokee Phoenix is accepting concept ideas from artists who are Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band or Eastern Band citizens until midnight on Jan. 1. Artist can email detailed concepts to <a href="mailto: travis-snell@cherokee.org">travis-snell@cherokee.org</a>. For artists contemplating submitting design ideas, please note that if your concept is chosen and you sign a contract, the Cherokee Phoenix will own the artwork because we consider it a commissioned piece. As for what Phoenix staff members look for in a concept, we ask that artists “think Cherokee National Holiday” and include a phoenix.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
12/20/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After seeing a need for more people to create metal works of art, Cherokee artist and jeweler Wolf Walker decided it was important to keep the art form alive in Cherokee culture. Walker said after visiting the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee he noticed there was no metal jewelry on display. And after speaking to the museum director he learned that there hadn’t been for years. “It’s dissipating for some reason. I don’t know why. So that’s important for me to keep alive,” he said. With this in mind, Walker decided to teach metal smith classes at the Cherokee Arts Center with the hope of passing on his knowledge and love for the craft. “We’re having a beginner metal smith class to introduce people to the procedures of basic soldering, cutting, hammering, concepts of temperature, blades for the saw. But more importantly (it’s) having them come up with the creative idea that they’ve always thought about making but never thought that it could be or didn’t think that they had the talent to make,” Walker said. When teaching a class, Walker said it’s important to let students work at their paces. “They move along at their own speed because we don’t have a time clock here,” he said. “When they’re comfortable with moving on to the next stage and they reach how far they want to go and then they can move on to the next stage.” Walker said his Nov. 21 class learned at a “fast” pace, which “excited” him. “That makes me excited because they’re teaching me at the same time because a student always teaches the instructor more than what the instructor teaches the student,” he said. “That’s my philosophy.” Walker said he doesn’t influence students, only helps them imagine their ideas come about. “I don’t push them toward that (Cherokee) traditional way because a lot of them, the students come in, they don’t have any idea of how to apply the designs or the stories they’ve heard with it,” he said. “So I help them develop with that traditional sense because that’s one thing I want them to understand that they have to have, a base of understanding where they want to start from.” Walker said if people wish to enroll in the class he encourages them to do so. “You can come in here as a beginner, or you can come in here as a intermediate, or you can come in here as somebody who wants to learn just something in just one class…I can help you out with that,” he said. “I make them feel comfortable because they’re my boss. They know what they want. I don’t know what they want. I just guide them. I make people feel comfortable with what they’re doing because I want to learn from them. The more mistakes they make, the more I learn.” Although the classes are currently offered in Tahlequah, Walker hopes to take them to communities within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction in 2018. Beginner classes are $35 per student and are from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Tuesday. For more information or to register, visit <a href="http://www.wolfwalkerjewelry.com" target="_blank">www.wolfwalkerjewelry.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
12/15/2017 01:15 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Auditions for “Nanyehi,” a musical about the Cherokee Beloved Woman, Nancy Ward, are scheduled for Jan. 13-14 at the Fly Loft. On Jan. 13, auditions will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. with auditions for dancers beginning at 3 p.m. On Jan. 14, auditions will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. as producers seek a cast of nearly 30 actors. Ward was a Cherokee woman who was first honored in the 18th century as a war woman but then as a peacemaker during the American Revolution. The casting call supports the musical’s May 4-5 production at The Joint inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Principal cast members will be compensated. Available principal roles include Nanyehi, the title role and female lead; Tenia; Kingfisher; Fivekiller; Attakullakulla; Oconastota; and young Nanyehi. More than 20 additional supporting roles are also available. If auditioning for a singing role, bring an accompaniment CD or an accompanist. Those auditioning may also sing a cappella or accompany themselves. A keyboard and a CD player will be provided. Non-singing hopefuls will read from the script. Dancers will be taught a short routine and are asked to bring dancing shoes. The 2018 showing will mark the ninth production of “Nanyehi.” It has been presented four times in Oklahoma, twice in Tennessee and single productions in Georgia and Texas. The musical is written by Becky Hobbs, a Nashville-based award-winning songwriter and recording artist, and playwright Nick Sweet. Hobbs is a Cherokee Nation citizen who is a direct descendant of Ward. As a recording/performing artist, she has performed in more than 40 countries and has had over 20 chart records. Her songs have been recorded by Alabama, Conway Twitty, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris, Glen Campbell, Wanda Jackson, John Anderson, Helen Reddy, Shirley Bassey and more. Hobbs was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in October 2015. “Nanyehi” is presented by Cherokee Nation Businesses and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.nanyehi.com" target="_blank">www.nanyehi.com</a> or email <a href="mailto: nanyehiproductions@gmail.com">nanyehiproductions@gmail.com</a>.