OWASSO, Okla. – Originally from Bethel Acres near Shawnee, Cherokee Nation citizen Jessica Jean Garrison spent a majority of her life living on a farm.
Her experiences on her family’s farm and her love for writing led her to creating “Maybelle Jean,” a children’s book that tells the story of a “country princess” who learns life lessons through resolving conflicts.
“This is the first one (in the series), and it’s about a little girl that is a country princess but not like the princesses she reads about. It’s definitely more of a country side of the princess trying to take the roots of our Oklahoma values,” she said.
She said growing up on a farm inspired her for some of the story’s concepts. “I grew up on a farm, and I’ve always lived in Oklahoma, so I just wanted to bring some of those concepts for other people to read especially in other areas.”
Garrison said in the book something always happens to Maybelle, and as the story progresses she learns life lessons through conflicts.
“This particular story she’s got a brother that is kind of the antagonist in the story and throughout the series is going to kind of be the one who always seems to cause a problem with her,” she said. “She gets upset and her Papa is trying to teach her how to love her brother. So it’s funny yet you’re going to be able to teach the kids a value. At the end of every story she learns a lesson. In this one her Papa teaches her a lesson about loving people even when things go bad.”
Garrison said the book was published in July after she decided to pursue her writing career following her divorce.
“I’ve always loved to write, even as a little girl. I just wrote little stories growing up. After I got a divorce, and I’ve got three kids, I just decided to take some of my writing and start pursuing it,” she said.
Garrison said she’s received positive feedback for the book and feels her use of “farm language” is fun for children to read.
“Everyone really loves the book. The kids think it’s funny,” she said. “I try to talk in more of like a farm language. She (Maybelle) describes her brother as like an irritating little scratch on her back, like a mosquito you would get on the farm. The kids love it. I’ve got parents that send me messages that they’ve read this story over and over.”
Garrison said she’s already written the next few stories in the series and hopes her Maybelle stories get children to read.
“They’re already written and in the works,” she said. “I love to read, and I want to inspire children to read from all kinds of books, not just this one.”
Garrison said her “dream” is to have Maybelle viewed as a character who can help children with their “values.”
“My dream…is to get her, Maybelle Jean, looked in that way as a character who can help children with their values in a fun way, teaching them good values and morals in the stories,” she said.
Garrison said the book is for ages 2 to 8 but could also be for younger children.
“I made more of a picture book…because I wanted the parents to be able to read even to the smaller kids,” she said. “It’s good for the parents to read with the children.”
Aside from “Maybelle Jean,” Garrison published a collection of inspirational quotes called “Sunshine for the Soul.”
“It is an inspirational book with just inspirational quotes on each page on just letting the sun in your soul and just on (being) positive, being happy and stuff like that,” she said.
To purchase “Maybelle Jean” visit, <a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com" target="_blank">barnesandnoble.com</a> or <a href="http://www.amazon.com" target="_blank">amazon.com</a>.
For more information on Garrison’s books and appearances, find her on Facebook.
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – During the past several years, Cherokee Nation citizen Jules Brison has tried to preserve Cherokee culture through her art. That preservation has evolved into a business that shares culturally significant art to people from all over.
Brison owns and operates Water Spider Creations. She makes textiles art such as finger-woven belts, moccasins, ribbon shirts and tear dresses.
“I originally started doing art at a very young age. In some areas I’m self-taught, and some others I’ve had great influence from various other artists. My uncle Robert Lewis was probably my biggest influence along with my grandmother,” she said.
Lewis started her focus in textiles, she said. With regards to her sewing, both of Brison’s grandmothers were seamstresses, and they both shared their knowledge with her, which allowed her to create and wear items she had a hand in making.
“When I was Miss Cherokee and Junior Miss Cherokee, I actually helped create my tear dresses. When I ran for Miss Indian Summer my cousin Terri Fields and I and Cierra Fields actually helped make my entire regalia set to compete,” she said.
With influence from others she decided to sell her artwork. She began working as a paid artist two years ago, and each piece commissioned or created for show is unique.
“Each new piece of art I create is not exactly the same as another piece. So each individual piece is original. You’ll see artists that can duplicate things a million times, and that’s not exactly one of my fortes. I feel like that each piece of art has its own character or its influences drawn from other things,” Brison said.
She said it’s not uncommon for her to have multiple projects going at once. For this story, she was working on beaded moccasins, a finger-woven belt and a feather cape for her wedding.
“It kind of gives me a way to express myself in various different forms all in one setting,” she said.
Brison, who has sold pieces to people as far as England and Japan, uses different media to sell her art. Etsy.com – an online marketplace of individual sellers/creators of handmade or vintage items, art and supplies – is one of which she said is a great tool for artists.
“I encourage more artists to use that because that gets your art on a global scale. Anybody from, you know, Ukraine, China, Japan, England – anybody can get on there, see your work and order it,” she said. “I’ve actually sold things all across the globe.”
Brison is also available on Facebook at Water Spider Creations, where she said she enjoys working with customers most because it can be more personal that way.
On April 3, the Cherokee Phoenix will draw a winner for her finger-woven belt that she donated as part of the newspaper’s quarterly giveaway.
“Finger weaving is one of our oldest traditional arts, and it’s also one of the arts that is finally seeing a revitalization,” she said. “The finger-woven belt that I actually did for the Phoenix is purple, cream and maroon. It took me about six hours to complete and is an average waste length, but the colors essentially pop.”
Readers can get one entry in the drawing for every $10 spent with the Cherokee Phoenix. For more information, call 918-207-3825 or 918-207-4975.
To contact Brison for more information about her art, find her on Facebook or email her at <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.
BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – Doris Lane (Coke) Meyer, 97, of Bartlesville and great-niece, and perhaps the last of Will Rogers’ relatives who personally knew him, died on Jan. 29.
Born Nov. 12, 1919, in Chelsea, she spent a great deal of her childhood in Chelsea with her paternal grandmother, Maud Ethel Rogers Lane, Will’s sister.
Among her fondest memories of her great-uncle were the things he did to make his sister more comfortable when she was ill and before her death in 1925, when Doris was 6 years old and living with her grandparents.
Perhaps her most vivid occurred on Aug. 15, 1935, when the Lane family lived in Bartlesville. The Bartlesville newspaper called their home to tell her father that his uncle Will had been killed in a plane crash in Alaska.
She said when her uncle came to Bartlesville he “ate with us, but stayed at Woolaroc in the main lodge (Rogers was a friend of the Phillips family). His room was on the mezzanine.”
Doris and her husband, James William Meyer, operated a flower shop and greenhouse in Caney, Kansas, retiring in 1968 to Scottsdale, Arizona, where they operated a hardware store before returning to Bartlesville in 1984. He died in 2004.
Proud of her Cherokee heritage, soon after her return, she immersed herself in Cherokee and family lore. She shared her love and history with her uncle with many, rarely missing any activities at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum, even during the past year. She joined the Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club and became a part of the “Museum Ropers” (docents).
She was often the spokesperson for the family and was responsible with Joe and Michelle Carter, former museum directors, with putting together a 125th anniversary celebration of Will’s Nov. 4, 1879, birth and family reunion during Will Rogers Days in 2004.
“Coke Meyer’s spirited efforts to enhance the memory of Will Rogers had tremendous impact especially within the Rogers family,” the Carters said. “Her vivid, human and warm recollections about her childhood when Will Rogers visited Oklahoma were greeted with cheers by hundreds who heard her speeches.”
Jennifer Rogers Etcheverry, Will’s great-granddaughter, reflected on her last visit to Claremore in November when she and Coke were interviewed for an Rogers State University TV production.
“As I sat beside her, listening to her share memories of her childhood and relationship with my great-grandfather, I was in awe at her spunk, wit and humor. I will always treasure that day. We are so fortunate to have had her in our lives.”
In 2012, Doris published “I Called Him Uncle Will,” a recollection experiences with her great-uncle.
She lived in Claremore a short time before returning to Bartlesville where she shared a home with her son, Jim, and his wife, Susan. A son, Jerry, and his wife, Suzie, of Liberty, Kansas, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren also survive.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Northeastern State University associate professor of English Dr. Bradley Montgomery-Anderson was awarded with the Linguistic Society of America’s Leonard Bloomfield Book Award for 2017 for his work “Cherokee Reference Grammar.”
The award was presented Jan. 7 at the LSA Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.
First presented in 1992, this award recognizes a volume that makes an outstanding contribution of enduring value to our understanding of language and linguistics.
In the recommendation for the award, the Leonard Bloomfield Book Award Committee noted that “Cherokee Reference Grammar” is the first major reference work in more than 35 years on the Cherokee language. They described the reference grammar book as carefully structured to be accessible to students and scholars engaged in language revitalization regardless of formal background.
Montgomery-Anderson said the book was originally his doctoral dissertation when he was a student at the University of Kansas.
“I wanted my dissertation to be a work that could have practical application for Cherokee language revitalization.”
He said this book involved working with Cherokee speakers in Lawrence, Kansas, and Tahlequah for many years. “After I finished the dissertation, I kept working on it to make it more user-friendly, so it ended up feeling like writing two dissertations. The whole process was made a lot easier by the wonderful Cherokee speakers I was able to work with.”
Montgomery-Anderson said it was exciting to receive this award.
“It was very humbling because the previous winners are well-known professors that I look up to. It was also exciting because this is the second award the book has received – last spring it was awarded the James Mooney Prize from the Southern Anthropological Society.”
CHEROKEE, N.C. – After growing tired of welding, Cherokee Nation citizen Alva Brown wanted to do something more. So he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
Originally from Oklahoma, he joined in June 1982 with paratrooper ambitions.
“My dad use to jump out of airplanes, so I wanted to be a paratrooper and jump out of airplanes. So that’s why I joined the 82nd (Airborne Division), to become a paratrooper,” he said.
Brown said he didn’t know what to expect when he enlisted.
“The only thing I knew about the Army is what you see on TV,” he said. “I was 21 years old. I wasn’t in any kind of shape. When I joined the Army I was just like, I kind of did it on a whim anyhow. I always wanted to but then I just decided to.”
He went through basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. After basic he was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio to receive his medical training.
“We called it Club Med down there. It was one of the softer jobs in the Army, or the softer MOS’s (military occupational specialty). At that point it was because a lot of people went to the hospital,” he said. “I didn’t. I went to the 82nd. I went to the infantry. So I was a field medical. I stayed in the field, so that was the easiest world for me was when I went to Fort Sam Houston.”
After his medical training he went to Fort Benning, Georgia, for jump school.
“That was probably some of the roughest training. Coming from San Antonio where I didn’t hardly do anything…you can’t have mistakes because you’re jumping out of airplanes,” Brown said.
He said after completing jump school he felt a sense of pride. “By the time you made it through jump school you’re very proud of yourself because it’s something to be proud of. Not everybody makes it to jump school.”
He said the next four years was spent with the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he was assigned as a medic to an armored cavalry unit. He said at this point in his career he climbed the ranks. At three years in he was promoted to sergeant.
“Which was a pretty good thing for the 82nd Airborne Division, and especially being a medic,” Brown said. “Honestly, being from where I was in Oklahoma I had really good work ethics. I got promoted to E5 (sergeant) and then at four and a half years in I went to the E6 (staff sergeant). I was tracking pretty good back then.”
Brown was then stationed as a medic in Italy, went to jump school in Belgium and trained with Europe’s airborne unit. He returned to Fort Bragg before eventually being sent to the Middle East in 1991 for Operation Desert Storm.
“I was working the aid station. It was pretty busy. A lot of horrific things. For a kid from Oklahoma it was just completely different. It was pretty nasty,” he said.
He said after eight months he returned to Fort Bragg and was there until 1995 when he decided to leave the Army. At this time, Brown performed various jobs, moved back to Oklahoma, then to North Carolina before moving to Florida.
However, after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, he re-enlisted in the Army.
“Within a year after coming back in we went back to Iraq. This time it was a whole different story. I was with the infantry battalion. We did security missions for the first 45 days,” he said. “For the first 45 days of the war my wife and family didn’t event know where I was at. I had no way of calling them. No way of contacting anybody. The rest of our battalion was still here in the states, and we were over there by ourselves. I was a medic and I was by myself. I didn’t have any upper echelon doctors to work under, but I knew how to suture, and by this time in the military my medical skills were well-advanced.”
Brown said he was back overseas by 2003 and with the group that rescued Jessica Lynch, a prisoner of war, from (An) Nasiriyah.
“Dropped them off at an exit point to go get Jessica Lynch. We went and got her vehicles after,” he said. “Her convoy was shot up outside of An Nasiriyah. They actually got lost. SF (Special Forces) and a bunch of others went in and got her out of a hospital and she was pretty beat up. We took them all in. An Nasiriyah was really a hot spot.”
Brown said although his time overseas were tough the “worst was yet to come.”
“We followed the Marines into Baghdad, and Baghdad was still burning,” he said. “Looting was going on. People had the little Nissan trucks that were stacked with stuff. These guys had nothing. There was no electric. No infrastructure. No government. No anything. It was just a free-for-all.”
Brown said American soldiers also had bounties on them. “It was like $500 to shoot an American. $500 is like, I don’t know, a year’s pay. The soldiers in the Iraqi army got like $36 a month.”
Brown returned home in 2004. He said when he was overseas he fought for “patriotism, the American way and the Constitution,” but while there he was there for the guy next to him.
“That’s really what you’re there for after that point. To take care of each other because it comes to that point where you do take care of each other,” he said.
Later in 2004, Brown took a job as a medic for a unit that was working with weapons of mass destruction.
“We came back to Florida. I was still in, and I found a unit that was doing weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “They did chemical and biological anti-terrorism, and I was like, ‘hey, that’s cool.’ What are you going to do after you’ve been to combat? How are you going to fill that void? So I said, ‘hey, that’s what I want to do. And I want to be a medic for one of those teams.’ So it’s like anything else. You put in an application. I was very fortunate, I got selected.”
Brown retired in 2011 with the rank of sergeant first class. He served 22 years of active service, receiving awards such as the National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
For the past four years Brown has taught Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at Cherokee High School in Cherokee.
“I always wanted to teach JROTC. So I got online and found a job in Cherokee, North Carolina. So I was just like, ‘well, I love the mountains anyhow’ and I said, ‘I’m Cherokee’ so I thought that I would fit right in,” he said. “I applied for the job, got hired and just packed up my little truck and trailer and moved up here and been teaching JROTC.”
He said an important lesson he teaches his students is to not have regrets.
“Don’t do something that you’ll regret first of all, but if you have to make a decision, make it the best way you can. Use all the information that you have in hand, and then once it’s made, don’t regret it, ever,” he said. “So that’s the way I try to live my life.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – For the past three years Cherokee Nation citizen Dr. Leslie Hannah has ramped up competitive softball in the state as the Northeastern Oklahoma Softball Association’s founder and president.
Hannah has been involved in softball for 38 years as a certified professional umpire, but he founded NOKSA after his daughter joined Tahlequah’s recreational softball league.
After elected as league president, Hannah made changes with the league’s affiliation to play competitive softball.
“They (parents of league players) said they wanted a competitive league where we played for trophies and bids to state championship tournaments and things like that,” Hannah said. “That’s where Northeastern Oklahoma Softball Association was born, at that point. Back then it was called Cherokee County Girls Softball League.”
He said before NOKSA there were no leagues or organizations in northeast Oklahoma where youths could play competitive softball. Teams had to travel to other areas to play.
“Competitive means if you want a trophy you have to win it, and we’re not giving trophies anyway. We’re giving tournament entry to state championships. If you win this league, I will pay your entry fee to the state tournament championship,” he said.
NOKSA became affiliated with USA Softball of Oklahoma in 2014, and Hannah became deputy commissioner for Oklahoma’s northeast district. USA Softball is the governing body of the U.S. Olympic Softball team.
With the new affiliation, he said he plans to bring state championship youth fast pitch tournaments and softball camps to the area in 2017. In June, there will be a four-day Nike Softball Camp, and in October there will be a two-day Jennie Finch Softball camp.
“This is big time stuff. These things have never been in Tahlequah before. We’re going to fill up every hotel room in Tahlequah…one week for Nike and a weekend for Finch,” Hannah said. “I’ve seen the registration for both. There are people come from as far away as another continent for this. There’s some people coming from Australia for the Finch camp. So big time, big time stuff.”
Both camps are bringing college players and coaches, as well as professional players and coaches from the 2008 USA Olympic Softball team. The camps will help young girls enhance their softball skills, he said.
Hannah said his goal is for players to eventually get scouted by college coaches for the opportunities to play college softball.
“In essence, a lot of this got started because my daughter wants to play softball…I can help other people too by helping her. So that’s why I’m doing this,” he said. “My goal is to send these girls to play college ball, but they’ve got to be college ball material to do that.”
He said Olympic silver medalist Monica Abbott signed the first million-dollar contract to play professional softball in 2016. “Now you can become a millionaire playing a game just like the boys. That’s my motivation right there because I have a daughter…and she needs the same opportunity that the boys…have.”
Hannah said NOKSA also provides scholarship opportunities for Cherokee student-athletes.
“Anything to help them move forward because it’s a student-athlete, that’s what I’m focusing on.”
The Nike Softball camp will be June 5-8 at the CN Sports Complex for ages 8-18. The cost is $235 per camper for four days. Registration can be found at <a href="http://www.websitehere.com" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>ussportscamps.com.
The Jennie Finch camp will be Oct. 21-22 at the CN Sports Complex for third grade students and up. The cost is $205 per camper for two days. Registration can be found at <a href="http://www.jenniefinch.com" target="_blank">jenniefinch.com</a>.
For more information about NOKSA, visit <a href="http://www.noksa.org" target="_blank">www.noksa.org</a>, email <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a> or visit <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Northeastern-Oklahoma-Softball-Association" target="_blank">www.facebook.com/Northeastern-Oklahoma-Softball-Association</a>.