League of Women Voters of the Cherokee Nation forms

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
10/29/2012 08:08 AM
TULSA, Okla. – The newly formed League of Women Voters of the Cherokee Nation plans to be active in the upcoming CN election and is looking for members to help with the group’s efforts.

Cheryl Nichols Brown, a co-leader of the league, said CN citizens started the group this past summer because they wanted to assist the tribe and Cherokee voters.

“The League of Women Voters is non-discriminatory. Anybody can join, including men, and we do have some members who are male,” she said. “We are non-partisan. We encourage Cherokee citizens to join us because that’s what we want.”

To get started, the group sought help from the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa. Since then the national League of Women Voters office has approved the Cherokee league.

“From what I understand we are the first tribal unit of the League of Women Voters,” Brown said. We’ve had a very good reception from the public. We expect a lot of good to come out this and a lot of positive things.”

Currently, the league has approximately 35 members with a majority of them being CN citizens. The rest are spouses of tribal citizens. Membership is scattered throughout the CN, Brown said, which makes the league different from others. The group stays in touch through emails and social media.

Because the league’s membership is scattered, Brown said the group’s meetings will be held at alternate locations each time to give members an opportunity to attend in person.

Brown said she tries to keep members informed of opportunities to set up voter registration booths at area events and community meetings.

“This is kind of a learning process for us. The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa is mentoring us during this time. They are trying to help us learn the ropes as to what should we be doing,” she said. “At this time, the most important thing for us is registering Cherokee voters and trying to update voter information because we have 14,000 plus bad addresses out there.”

Voters with “bad addresses” are those whose current addresses are unknown to the tribe and its Election Commission.

Brown added that added another important task is the hold candidates accountable to CN citizens.

In the coming months, the league will be involved with the 2013 tribal election and is going to share information about the tribe’s voting process because it is “slightly confusing,” Brown said.

“For example, when election time comes, we would like to host candidate and issue forums. We’d like to write candidate questionnaires and distribute those questionnaires to the candidates and then publish the findings to the voters,” she said. “We’re trying to make certain a member of our group is always at the Election Commission meetings so we’ll know firsthand what is being discussed and what is going on.”

League members also attend Tribal Council committee meetings to stay abreast of legislation being discussed and approved. Brown said the league would research legislation and issues affecting CN citizens and share the results with them.

“There’s a lot going on in our tribe right now, and we’re trying to make certain we’re informed,” she said.
“There was quite a bit of confusion last year with the elections and such, and we were just trying to think what can we do as private citizens. I think sometimes voters don’t know where they have to turn if they feel like they’ve had an issue with voting, and so protecting the voters’ legal rights within the laws of the Cherokee Nation is another objective of ours.”

For more information, call Brown at 918-441-3905 or email Cherokee4Cherokees@gmail.com.
People can join the LWVCN by visiting the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa website at http://lwvtulsa.org. When joining through the Tulsa league website, put in the notes section “Cherokee Unit” so that memberships will be placed with the CN league.

will-chavez@cherokee.org


918-207-3961



ᏣᎳᎩ
ᏔᎸᏒᎢ , ᎣᎦᎳᎰᎹ. – ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᏤᎢ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏅᎢ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᎠᏂᏁᎩ ᎿᎿ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏁᎳ ᏓᏄᎪᏗᎲᎢ ᎤᏅᏂᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎯᎠ ᏥᏓᏲᎢ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏓᎾᏙᎩᏯᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏚᏂᏲᎲᎢ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᏕᎵᎯᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᎥᎿ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬᎢ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎲᎢ . Cheryl Nichol Brown , ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬᎢ ᏔᎵᏁ ᏗᏓᏘᏂᏙᎯ , ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎯᎠ ᏥᏗᎦᎶᎯ ᎪᎩ ᎤᎾᎴᏅᎲᎢ ᏧᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᎤᎾᏚᎵᎲᎢ ᎠᏂᏍᏓᏢᎢ ᏧᏂᏍᏕᎸᎯᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏁᎩ .

“ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬᎢ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᎠᏂᏁᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ Ꮭ ᏱᏚᎾᏓᏓᎸᏙᎢ . ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᎲᏭ ᎩᎶ ᏯᏖᎳᏓ , ᎾᏍᎩᏊ ᎠᏂᏍᎦᏯ , ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩᏊ ᏙᎩᎧᎭ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎠᏂᏍᎦᏯ”, ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ . “ ᏝᏢᎢ ᎣᎦᎵᎪᎯᏱ . ᏙᏥᏂᎳᏅᏤᎰ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎪᎦᏖᎳᏕᏗᎢ ᎣᎦᏚᎵᎰᎢ.”

ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᎴᏅᏙᏗ , ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎩ ᎤᏂᏯᎸᎢ ᎨᏥᏍᏕᎸᏗᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏁᎩ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎩ ᎿᎿ ᏔᎸᏒᎢ ᎠᏍᏛᎢ ᏕᎦᏚᎲᎢ , ᎾᎯᏳ ᏗᎬᏓᎴᏂᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎬᎾᏕᎾ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎩ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᎠᏂᏁᎩ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎣᏏ ᎤᏂᏰᎸᏅᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᎯ. “ ᏄᏍᏛᎢ ᎪᎵᎬᎢ ᎠᏯᏃ ᎢᎬᏱᎢ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢᎢ ᎣᎦᏙᏢᎢ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᎠᏂᏁᎩ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Brown ᎢᎦᏃ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏙᎦᏠᏒᎢ ᎾᏂᎥᏭ ᏴᏫ ᎠᏁᏙᎯ. ᎣᎬᏐᎢ ᎤᎪᏗᏓ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ .

ᎾᏊᏃ Ꮎ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬᎢ 35 ᎾᏂᎠ ᎠᏁᎳ ᏭᏂᎪᏛᎢ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏁᎳ . ᏭᏅᎩᏛᏃ ᏓᏂᏁᎸᎢ ᏌᏊ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢᎢ ᎨᎳ ᎢᎩ . ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏁᎳ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵᎢ ᏂᎬᎾᏛᏭ ᎠᏁᎯ ᎢᎩ, ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Brown , ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏥᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᎭ Ꮎ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᎤᏓᎴᎿᎢ ᎢᎩ ᏏᏅ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᎨᏒ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎩ ᏓᎾᏟᏃᎮᏍᎪᎢ ᎪᏪᎵ ᏓᎾᏓᏅᏁᎰᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏓᎾᏠᏍᎪᎢ.
ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᎭ Ꮎ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᎢ ᎠᏁᎳ ᏂᎬᏭ ᏥᏓᏁᎭ. Brown ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬᎢ ᏓᎾᏠᎠᎬᎢ ᏧᏓᎴᎿᎢ ᏚᏙᏢᏩᏗᏒᎢ ᏓᎾᏠᏍᎨᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏢᏅᏓᏁᎮᏍᏗ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎤᏁᏓᏍᏗᎢ.

Brown ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬ ᎠᏁᏟᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎤᎾᏂᏘ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎢᎬᏩᎾᏛᏁᏗ ᎤᎾᏛᏅᏍᏙᏗ ᎢᏴ ᏭᏂᏁᏍᏗᎢ ᎿᎿ ᎢᎬᎾᏕᎾ ᎠᏍᏆᎵᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏓᎾᏠᏍᎬᎢ.

“ ᎯᎠᏃ ᏳᏍᏗ ᎠᏱᎸᏍᏗ ᎠᏕᎶᏆᎠᏙᏗ. ᎾᏃ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᎠᏂᏁᎬ ᎿᎿ ᏔᎸᏒᎢ ᎠᏍᏛ ᏕᎦᏚᎲᎢ ᎣᎨᏲᎲᏍᎦ. ᎠᏁᏟᏗ ᎣᎨᏲᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏱᎦᏲᎦᏛᏁᏗ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᎪᎯᏃ ᏣᏟᎢᎳ, ᏭᎵᏍᎨᏗᏴᏃ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎦᏳᏂᏁᏍᏗ ᏱᎨᏅᏁᏗ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎾᏁᏟᏗ ᏧᏂᏤᎲᏍᏗ ᎧᏁᎩ ᎨᎪᎵᏍᏗᎢ ᏂᎬᏂᏏᏍᎩ 14,00 ᎢᏯᏂᎢ ᎪᏪᎵ ᏧᏂᏁᏍᏗ Ꮭ ᏦᎠᏍᏓ ᏱᎩ,”

ᎠᏂᏁᎩᏃ Ꮭ “ᏦᏍᏓ ᎪᏪᎵ ᏧᏂᏁᏍᏗ Ꮭ ᏱᏚᎾᏔ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎾᏙᎩᏯᏍᎩ ᎧᎻᏏ.

Brown ᎤᏠᏯᏍᏔᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏠᏯᏍᏗᎲ ᏐᎢ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏗ ᏱᎬᏛᏁᏗ ᏗᎾᏙᎩᏯᏍᎩᏃ ᎨᎦᏚᏓᎸᏗ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏁᎳ. ᎲᎸᏍᎩᏃ ᏱᏅᏓ, Ꮎ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ, ᎠᏁᎳᏗᏙᎮᏍᏗ 2013 ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢᎢ ᏓᎾᏙᎩᏯᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏯᏙᎢᎮᏍᏗ ᎧᏃᎮᏢᎾᎢ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢᎢ ᎤᏂᏁᎢᏍᏗ ᎢᏯᏛᏁᏗ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ “ ᏍᏗ ᎦᏁᏄᏟ ᎪᏟᏍᏗᎢ “ ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Brown.

“ᏱᏛᏟᎶᏍᏓᏭ, ᎾᎯᏳ ᏳᏟᎠᎶᏝ ᏗᏙᎩᏲᏍᏗ ᏲᎦᏚᎳ ᎩᎶ ᎤᏛᏅᏍᏙ ᎤᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗ ᎠᏙᎩᏯᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏛᏅᏍᏙᏗ ᏧᎾᏠᎯᏍᏗᎢ. ᏲᎦᏚᎳ ᏦᎪᏪᎶᏗ ᏗᎾᏙᎩᏯᏍᎩ ᎠᏍᏛᏛᎮᏢᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᏧᏂᏯᏙᎢᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ Ꮎ ᏗᎪᏪᎵ ᏗᎾᏙᎩᏯᏍᎩ ᏧᏂᏁᏍᏗ ᎠᎴᏃ ᏧᏂᎴᏙᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏕᎳᎰᏒᎢ ᎤᏂᎪᎵᏰᏗ ᎠᏂᏁᎩ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.

ᎣᏣᏁᏟᏗ ᏱᎬᏩᎵᏍᏙᏓ ᎨᏒ ᏌᏊ ᎨᎳ ᎿᎿ ᎣᎦᏓᏡᎬ ᎤᏪᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᎥᎿ ᏗᏙᎩᏯᏍᎩ ᎧᎻᏏᏂ ᏓᎾᏠᏍᎬᎢ ᏲᎦᏂᏘᏃ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎠᏂᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏔᏅᏍᎬᎢ,” ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎠᎴᏍᏊ ᏗᏂᎳᏫᎩ ᎧᎻᏗ ᏓᎾᏠᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᏁᏙᎰᎢ ᎤᎾᏂᏘ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏓᏄᎪᏔᏂᏙᎲᎢ ᎠᏂᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏓᏂᎶᎯᏍᏗᎲᎢ,ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Brown Ꮎ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬᎢ ᏯᏃᎷᏩᏘ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎾᏅᏛᏁᎲᎢ ᏗᎧᏅᏩᏛᏍᏗ ᏗᏃᏢᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎤᏂᏃᏟᎩ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏯᏙᎢᏍᏗ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏕᎳᎰᏒᏅᎢ.

ᎤᏓᏍᏈᏍᏙᏒᎢ ᎦᎵᏍᏔᏅᏍᎩ ᎿᎿ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎢᎦᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎾᏊ ᏥᎩ,ᎠᎴ ᎣᏣᏁᏟᏗᎭ ᎢᏙᎯᏳᎯᏯ ᎢᎦᏅᏘ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗᎢ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏯᏅᏍᎬᎢ ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ “ᏙᎯᏳ ᎤᏦᏎᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎡᏘ ᏥᎨᏒ ᏥᎥᎾᏙᎩᏯᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᏊ ᎠᎴ ᎣᏣᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬᎢ ᎢᎦᏘᎦᏛᏁᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ ᎣᏤᎳ . ᏂᎨᎵᎰᎢ ᎢᎦᏓ ᎠᏂᏁᎩ Ꮭ ᏳᎾᏂᏙ ᎢᏗᏜ ᏭᎾᎩᏙᏗ ᏳᎾᏕᎳᎰᏏ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎦᎵᏍᏔᏅᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᏂᏁᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏧᎾᎦᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᏂᏁᎩ ᏧᏂᏍᏓᏩᏛᏍᏗ ᏗᎧᎿᏩᏛᏍᏗ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ,”

ᎤᎪᏗᏓ ᏲᏚᎵ ᎠᏕᎳᎰᎯᏍᏗᎢ, ᏩᏟᏃᎮᏙᏗ Brown 918-441-3905 ᎠᎴ email cherokee4cherokee@gmail.com ᎠᏂᏏᏴᏫᎭ ᏯᎾᏖᎳᏓ LWVCN ᏱᏛᏩᏛᎯᏙ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᎠᏂᏁᎩ ᎿᎿ metropolitan Tulsa website at http://lwvtulsa.org. ᎾᏊᏃ ᏴᏖᎳᏗᎠ Ꮎ ᏔᎸᏒᎢ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ website, ᏱᎬᏁᏗ ᏗᎪᏪᎵ ᎤᏜᏅᏛᎢ “Cherokee Unit” ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏖᎳᏗᏍᏗᎢ ᏱᎨᎦᎧᎲᎦ ᎿᎿ CN ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ.
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.
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.

People

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
04/16/2015 01:00 PM
CONCHO, Okla. (AP) — A homecoming celebration for Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Suzan Shown Harjo is planned by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. The homecoming will be Friday starting at 4 p.m. at Concho Community Hall in Concho. Harjo a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes and is a writer, curator and activist and was a member of the administration of former President Jimmy Carter. She has worked to get sports teams to discontinue using names that promote negative stereotypes of Native Americans and for the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
BY LENZY KREHBIEL-BURTON
Special Correspondent
04/14/2015 10:00 AM
STILWELL, Okla. – The postseason awards are rolling in for a few Cherokee high school basketball players. After his team’s second straight trip to the state tournament, Stilwell senior Chase Littlejohn was named the Class 4A state player of the year by the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Association and awarded a spot on the Oklahoma Coaches Association’s Large East All-State team. The 6-foot, 1-inch guard averaged 19.5 points per game this season. “This is an awesome accolade to earn,” Littlejohn said. “Coming into high school, being named an all-stater was one of my two big goals, along with winning a state title. Obviously, the other one didn’t happen, but this is still pretty sweet.” Littlejohn got word of his all-state selection while on his official visit to Rogers State University in Claremore. Littlejohn has since committed to play for the Hillcats, rejoining his former high school teammate and fellow CN citizen, Matt Lea. Littlejohn’s coach, Ron Dunaway, sees the recognition as a welcome boost for the Adair County school and a testament to the hours Littlejohn and the rest of his teammates spent in the gym this season. “It is so difficult at the 4A level for a kid to earn an all-state spot, as we’re bunched in with 5A and 6A schools,” Dunaway said. “The benefit is priceless for our program. It’s a compliment to…how hard they’ve worked. Chase has worked really hard and puts in lots of time. He’s not 6-8 like Matt (Lea), so he’s really had to get in there.” The OCA All-State games are scheduled for July 27-Aug. 1 in Tulsa. For another Cherokee student-athlete, the postseason honors come as she wraps up her basketball career. A starter on Sequoyah’s Class 3A state championship team, senior center Jhonett Cookson made it through two rounds of tryouts to earn a roster spot on the Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Association’s Middle East All-State team, open to seniors at 3A and 4A schools. “It means a lot,” she said. “Over the past four years, I’ve put in a lot of time playing and practicing and have had to give up a lot of things just to put the necessary time. After all of that hard work, it feels great to get picked for this honor.” Joining Cookson on the OGBCA’s Middle East All-State team are CN citizens Kylie Looney from Adair, Courtney Risenhoover from Verdigris and Locust Grove’s Madison Davis. The OGBCA All-State games are scheduled for May 30 at Westmoore High School. Cookson, Looney and Risenhoover will be teammates again come July, as all three were named to the OCA Small East team on April 9. Davis will play on the Large East team. With an eye on eventually going to medical school, Cookson does not plan on playing collegiately. However, her last competitive game will include a familiar face on the sidelines as her coach, Larry Callison, will be on the sidelines for the OCA all-state game after being nominated by other coaches in the area. “It’ll be fun to coach her again one more time,” Callison said. “It also gives our program a little more recognition for all the hard work and effort Jhonett and the other kids have put in this year.”
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
04/14/2015 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Sarah and Layne Holcomb look like all the other cyclists airing up tires, filling water bottles and checking brakes as they prepare in the Cherokee Nation Tribal Complex parking lot for another day of training. The sister and brother from Vian are not among the 12 cyclists who will retrace the Trail of Tears through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas before returning to Oklahoma, but they are helping ensure the cyclists are ready for their June trip. “Remember the Removal” ride coordinator Joseph Erb said the Holcombs are helping this year’s candidates learn to ride advanced bicycles, to ride in a group, to shift their bikes’ gears, road rules and to ride as a team. “They are teaching the responsibility Cherokees have for each other. They show up and help make this a stronger program by their encouragement and Cherokee mindset. They bring a strong understanding of being Cherokee and believing in each other,” Erb said. “This program honors those we lost and those who where able to continue on and allow us the chance to continue as a people. Sarah and Layne got a lot from the “Remember the “Removal” program when they went (on the ride) and are giving that back to this group.” Sarah, 26, uses the experience she gained from going on the nearly 1,000-mile trip five consecutive years to help train the new cyclists. “I come out and try to help train the riders every year because I remember how hard it was for me. I only had maybe a couple weeks of training, and it was really tough that first year. So every year after that I’ve always tried to come out and help the trainers and tell them (new cyclists) what they have ahead of them. It just always helps to have an experienced rider there,” she said. She said she tells each year’s cyclists the ride will be “tough,” but it will be nothing like what their ancestors went through to reach Indian Territory in 1838-39. She said she emphasizes communication because the cyclists ride close together on the highway. For instance if one cyclist slows down and doesn’t communicate they are slowing down to the others, they could all run into each and wreck. Along with communication, she encourages them look out for each other and work as a team to get home. Cyclists will put their bodies to the test as they travel an average of 60 miles a day, mirroring in part the hardships of their Cherokee ancestors who made the same trek on foot. Of the estimated 16,000 Cherokees who were forced to make the journey to Indian Territory from eastern Tennessee and other sites in the old Cherokee Nation, 4,000 died from exposure, starvation and disease. Layne watched his sister go the first four years, starting in 2009, and he was chosen to go with her during her fifth trip. Sarah said Layne also was inspired by their mother Sherry, who was part of the first “Remember the Removal” bicycle ride in 1984. Layne, 19, said he enjoys the same camaraderie among the cyclists that he experienced when he rode two years ago. He said he tries to encourage the cyclists as they train and tells them it’s not as hard as they think and the obstacles they face “are all in their head.” “Your body can do much more than you think it can do,” he said. He said this year’s group gets along well, which should benefit them. “I’m really glad they do get along,” he said. “Sometimes people argue, but that’s just inevitable because you’re tired and hungry and you just want to take a shower.” Layne said he tries to help the cyclists with tips on how to work their bike’s gears efficiently. Erb said CN marshal Chad McCarter, who participated in the “Remember the Removal” ride in 2009, is also taking time to help train this year’s cyclists. “Getting in shape for this ride mentally and physically is a difficult task. The extreme miles that we cover and the places we see that had very unjust events that caused the death of so many of our people is very emotional,” Erb said. “Having past participants encourage this year’s group is very important as they train and become educated in this part of our history.” Erb said the 12 cyclists and their trainers ride as a group on weekends and the trainees also make time to ride in groups during the week. “I would just like to ask the local drivers to be looking out for them. Please be patient and share the road. These are exceptional young Cherokees, and we hope all the local drivers will give them room and be kind to them,” he said. This year’s cyclists were chosen by a committee and must complete required trainings and history courses from February through May to go on the three-week trip in June. The cyclists’ names will be released later. The CN group will leave on June 3 for Cherokee, North Carolina, where they will join up with seven cyclists from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The EBCI has been participating in the ride since 2011. The cyclists will begin making their way back on June 7 from New Echota, Georgia, along the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears and arrive on June 25 in Tahlequah.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
04/07/2015 09:16 AM
ST. LOUIS – Montana Drum has competed on a wrestling mat for most of her 20 years and now is a champion wrestler for the Missouri Baptist University Spartans in St. Louis The sophomore from Neosho, Missouri, has a 17-6 record this year and won a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national championship in March. The Cherokee Nation citizen said she developed an interest in wrestling when she was 4, tagging along with her older brother who wrestled and her father who was a wrestling coach. “We went to a lot of tournaments, and I really like being around there. My dad kind of picked up on that and he asked me jokingly ‘you want to wrestle?’ and I took off toward the mat thinking he was meaning then. I was only about 4 years old. He joked and said, ‘next year you can when you turn 5.’ My mom was like ‘nope,’” she said. “They didn’t think I would remember the next year, and I asked once I turned 5. They had promised me, so they ended up putting me in, and I’ve been wrestling since.” However, she had to wrestle boys, even throughout high school, which she said makes her appreciate competing against only women in college because wrestling boys was “really tough.” She lettered in wrestling two years in high school, and her team won the Class III boys wrestling title three of the four years she was on the team. She was the first girl in Missouri history to compete in Class III boys wrestling and win a district championship. “I was on the state team my junior year, and I won boys’ districts...and that qualified me for state. I didn’t place there, but I got to wrestle in the boys tournament,” she said. “It got to the point where I had to realize I’m a girl in a boy’s sport. It made me a whole lot better on and off the mat, and it made me stronger knowing I could do something the boys could do. I made a lot of boys cry and a lot of boys made me cry, but it’s always been fun.” She wrestled at 106 pounds in high school. In March, she wrestled at 127.9 pounds in the ASICS Women’s University National Championships in Oklahoma City and won an NAIA national title. In the tournament, Drum wrestled her freshman teammate Erica Mihalca for the championship. After a tough match, Drum eventually pulled away and won by a 15-8 decision. Drum said there are about 21 colleges that offer women’s wrestling. All of the women’s wrestling teams in the country belong to the Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association, which was formed in 2008 and is the governing body for all collegiate women’s wrestling programs at NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA institutions. The WCWA competes in the Olympic discipline of freestyle wrestling, which allows competitors to be on their feet more. The women’s matches are two periods of three minutes. Drum said matches go by faster and more points are scored in freestyle wrestling than folk style or men’s collegiate wrestling where wrestlers usually lie on a mat trying to pin their opponent’s shoulders for a win. Each winter the WCWA holds a tournament. In 2014, Drum place fifth in the tournament and this past February placed sixth. She said her competitors were well prepared and “determined.” “The girls that wrestle are very, very tough. You get all different types of girls from all different places of the country,” she said. “We’re nowhere near what the boys have now, but I think it’s a rapidly growing sport and it’s going to continue to grow because it’s really fun. Seeing women do what the men have done is quite an accomplishment for women.” Drum said she does a lot of conditioning such as sprints and running to stay fit for her matches. She is also mindful of what she puts in her body. “It’s not just what we are able to do in the practice room, it’s what you do on your off time, too. If you’re going out and putting bad things in your body that you shouldn’t be, you’re not going to wrestle well and you’re not going to perform well,” she said. “You have to live the wrestling lifestyle...or you’re not going to feel good when you step on the mat.” She is studying exercise science at MBU, and after she obtains her bachelor’s degree she wants to continue her education by studying physical therapy. Academics are important to her, she said, and she’s not one “to go out and party.” She understands she needs to stay fit to wrestle and to do well with her studies. “My family is not well off, and I knew at a young age that I needed to keep my grades up and get somewhere to better myself and come back and help my family someday, so that’s what I’m trying to do,” she said.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
03/31/2015 08:00 AM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Matt Qualls played through injuries to have a stellar basketball season while playing for the Warriors of Bacone College. The senior forward from Tahlequah earned numerous honors during the season, including the NAIA Third Team All-America, Red River Athletic Conference “Men’s Basketball Player of the Week” three times; the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics “National Division I Men’s Basketball Player” of the Week for Feb. 16-22; and being named to the 2015 NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball All-Star Team. The Cherokee Nation citizen also was named to the first team 2014-15 Red River Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball All-Conference Team. During the first week in February, the 6-foot-7-inch Qualls set career highs in points on consecutive nights. He scored 35 points and 11 rebounds on Feb. 6 against the University of the Southwest (New Mexico). The following night, Qualls scored 37 points and 15 rebounds against the University of St. Thomas (Texas). The game also marked the 12th double-double of the season for Qualls. He connected on 27-of-51 shots from the field and 18-of-22 from the free throw line for that week. “I had some things to prove. I haven’t got to play a full year of college basketball in a couple of years, and I definitely knew my game was the best it’s been in a couple of years. I was really wanted to make a statement,” he said. After receiving all-conference and all-state honors in high school, Qualls suffered a setback before he could play his first college game. He had to have a tonsillectomy a month before his first game at the University of Central Oklahoma. “I couldn’t breathe, and I got strep throat three times in the same semester. I had to miss the whole season. I ended getting a medical redshirt for that,” he said. He transferred to Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford where be finally got to play. At SOSU, because he did not enroll in classes he needed to transfer to a NCAA school, he had to choose a NAIA school and chose Bacone. The Muskogee school is closest to his 6-year-old daughter in Tahlequah about 25 miles away, which he said was huge factor in choosing Bacone. He said he felt like he had something to prove at Bacone because people who knew him and knew how well he played in high school would often ask what happened to him. He said he wishes the Bacone team, which had many freshmen starters, could have won more games his senior season after finishing with a record of 7-22. About 10 of those games were lost by slim margins, Qualls said. “Trying to get a double-double every game was basically my goal, and I knew not to take bad shots and it ended up where I led the country in scoring. I played my butt off really because I knew I only had a handful of games left in my college career,” he said. Qualls led the country and the Red River Conference in scoring at 26.0 points per game and pulled down a conference leading 11 boards per game. He scored 351 points in the 2013-14 season and 676 points in 2014-15 for a total of 1,027 points. On Feb. 20, Qualls scored a career-high 47 points against LSU Shreveport in an 88-82-overtime loss. Qualls also pulled in 19 rebounds on his way to winning player of the week. He also became just the third player in school history to record 1,000 career points since Bacone joined the NAIA. “I’d say having that career night down in Shreveport was probably a really memorable night for the season,” he said. Qualls played through a high ankle sprain in early January that slowed him down until late in the month, missed games early in season with calf muscle tear, had to receive four stitches above his eye right after the Feb. 20 LSU Shreveport game. So, Qualls was still able to have a stellar season without being 100 percent for much of the season. He is studying health and physical education and hopes to get a chance in the D-League, the National Basketball Association’s development league or join a professional team in Europe, he said. Eventually, he wants to be a coach like his father Leroy Qualls. “I definitely want to coach for sure in the long run. Basketball is just in my blood. I picked up a lot throughout the years from a lot of good coaches and my dad,” he said.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter
03/30/2015 03:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen and Tahlequah High School junior LaNice Belcher will spend her summer a little different than most teenagers her age, touring throughout the United States with the Genesis Drum and Bugle Corps performing music from “Phantom of the Opera.” Belcher, 17, said at first she wasn’t interested in the corps but changed her mind when realizing that being a part of the group would be the best choice for her future. “I didn’t really want anything to do with the program. I wasn’t interested,” she said. “As I started to read up on it I was like, ‘this is actually really cool.’ I was like, ‘you know what? I really need to experience this. I need to know what it’s like so I can use this as a experience for what I’m going to do later on whenever I’m a band director.’” Belcher said she received the music for the audition but decided not to try out because she believed she couldn’t make the group. After skipping the first audition, she decided to give it a go. “I was freaking out because drum corps is like a really big thing, especially like around here,” she said. “I went to the next audition camp and I have never worked for so long and so hard on music.” Belcher earned the synthesizer 1 spot in the group and has had to perform copious amounts of training, both physically and musically at camp and home, to maintain her spot. “We just rehearse like 12 hours a day. So that’s going to be in the blazing hot sun. That’s going to be a lot of stress because we’re trying to learn all this music, trying to learn the show, trying to get everything down perfectly,” she said. “It’s like a professional group. The atmosphere is very intense.” Belcher said although training is challenging, she looks forward to the experiences she will gain. “I’ve never been part of such a group that’s so devoted to what they do. We give up everything. I’m pretty sure I’m about to give up prom so I can go to camp,” she said. “I’ve given up so much, but it’s all worth it because I know this summer’s going to amazing. I’m going to get to experience so many different things. I’m going to get to go to so many different places, meet so many awesome people and musicians.” Belcher said there are about 120 members consisting of the color guard and brass and drum lines. “That’s what we’re dealing with right now,” she said. “We have quite a few people, but everyone’s hard working and determined.” The Genesis Drum and Bugle Corps will also compete against other groups from the United States. “We’re going up against some of the toughest drum corps in the whole nation,” she said. Belcher said the competition would ultimately make her better as a musician and strengthen her work ethics. She said it is important for people to strive for the best they can be. “If I really want something I will work as hard as I can to get it. I will always be trying to get better. My parents, they have instilled that into me. That’s something that’s very fundamental in my life,” she said. “I want to be able to encourage other people that they can do it, too.” Genesis was founded in 2009 and is based out of Austin, Texas. Each year the group participates in a numerous performances. According to its website, the corps is open to performers between the ages of 15 and 21 and is a full-time summer commitment. Performers and staff travel for 65 days during the summer, participating in more than 25 performances as well as competing for a world championship finalist spot. All camps and rehearsals are held in Austin, and that is where Belcher travels to once a month to rehearse. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.genesisdbc.org" target="_blank">www.genesisdbc.org</a>.