League of Women Voters of the Cherokee Nation forms
BY WILL CHAVEZ Senior Reporter 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.