TULSA, Okla. – Jonathan Powell, director of marketing and business development for Cherokee Nation Industries, was recently named to the Federal Communications Commission’s Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council.
“It is an honor to receive this nomination and to have the opportunity to serve as a voice for rural and tribal communities while influencing advancements in our nation’s communications systems,” said Powell. “My focus is providing the best services to all citizens, continuing to bridge interoperability gaps and ensuring rural and tribal land is a consideration when making recommendations to the FCC.”
A CN citizen and Pryor native, Powell has more than 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern State University in finance and a master’s degree in business administration from Oklahoma City University.
Powell will join the fifth charter of the CSRIC, which provides guidance, expertise and recommendations to the FCC to ensure optimal security and reliability of the nation’s communications systems.
The council addresses the availability of communications during natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other events that result in exceptional strain on the communications infrastructure, as well as the rapid restoration of communications services in the event of widespread or major disruptions.
“Mr. Powell is a valuable asset at CNI, leading teams in the areas of market strategy and research, partnership development, sales planning and business development,” said Chris Moody, CNI president. “As a leader within a tribally owned business, he provides a unique and valuable insight to the CSRIC that will be crucial for the future of communications in tribal entities and Indian Country.”
Members of the CSRIC are appointed by the chairman of the FCC and selected from public safety agencies, consumer or community organizations or other nonprofit entities and the private sector to balance various expertise and viewpoints.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn announced June 16 that Indian Affairs offices and bureaus have hired nearly 600 American Indian and Alaska Native veterans in fiscal year 2015.
Those numbers exceed the goal set last year to increase the number of Native American veterans employed by these agencies from nine percent of the workforce to 12.5 percent.
“Our intent to build a 21st century Indian Affairs workforce depends upon attracting and retaining experienced and motivated personnel, and we know that America’s veterans are among the most capable, dedicated and well-trained individuals we need,” Washburn said. “I am very proud that we have not only met, but exceeded our goal of hiring American Indian and Alaska Native vets. We will continue to provide those veterans with opportunities to use their knowledge and skills in our mission of serving Indian Country.”
On June 14, 2014, Washburn announced the launch of a new initiative to hire more American Indian and Alaska Native veterans throughout Indian Affairs, which includes the Office of the Assistant Secretary, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Bureau of Indian Education. The initiative targets veterans prior to their discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces and actively seeks members of the National Guard and reserves who are looking for careers that serve Indian Country.
Indian Affairs bureaus, regional offices and agencies provide a wide range of direct services to 566 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and thousands of Indian Trust beneficiaries. Almost all Indian Affairs positions are filled with American Indians and Alaska Natives under a congressionally approved Indian Preference policy.
In total, Indian Affairs employees number approximately 7,940. They work throughout the United States not just with tribes, but also with state, local and other federal agencies in matters ranging from public safety, family and child welfare, and education to infrastructure maintenance, environmental protection, land and natural resources management, and other areas.
For more information about Indian Affairs’ Hire American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans Initiative, visit <a href="http://www.bia.gov/Jobs/Veterans/" target="_blank">www.bia.gov/Jobs/Veterans/</a> or call Nancy Nelson, Human Resources Specialist, Indian Affairs Office of Human Capital Management, at 202-208-6175.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With quiet determination, 19 “Remember the Removal” cyclists pedaled up a long, steep hill on June 24 about two miles from Stilwell – the next-to-last stop of their nearly 1,000-mile journey retracing the northern route of the Trail of Tears.
On a hot day, the cyclists stared at the pavement or looked straight ahead as they quickly ascended the hill with legs strengthened by climbing mountains in Tennessee and rolling hills in Missouri. One of those riders, 37-year-old Kevin Tafoya, of the Wolftown Community in Cherokee, North Carolina, was a cyclist at the rear of the group, but still moved steadily up the hill. He was riding with his new “family” and would not quit nor let them down.
“I thought I was going to have a hard time matching faces to names, but now that we’ve ridden together, camped together, eaten together, it’s like you know everybody personally, all their little quirks. You can recognize them from behind and their riding style. It’s just like they’re family now,” Tafoya said.
He said if called upon when he gets home to speak about the three-week trip through seven states he would tell people the trip is mostly about remembrance.
“Just to remember what happened to our people and what they had to go through. We need to honor that memory and just keep it alive for our kids, so we know what our past is and how much we’ve been affected as a people,” he said.
Caleb Cox, 19, of Miami Oklahoma, said the ride’s last day was “surreal” and “emotional” for him as he anticipated riding into Tahlequah on June 25 with family and friends waiting on him.
“It’s really bittersweet. We’re all excited to see our families, but we also made another family here. It’s going to be really, really hard, but we’re excited and grateful,” he said. “Coming in I didn’t think that all of these people that I didn’t even know would become family. It’s kind of like those blessings in disguise I guess. I’ve learned a ton about our history and culture, and I’m just really blessed to be a part of the select few that were able to do this.”
He said now that he’s seen firsthand the graves, the tough terrain and other obstacles Cherokee people faced during the forced removals in 1838-39, it’s his and the other cyclists’ responsibility to share those stories and how they felt at those places with others.
The cyclists averaged 60 to 70 miles a day, and Cox said getting up early some mornings, at 5:30 or 6, was tough because the cyclists were always fatigued.
“It was the hardest thing, but then again when you’re sitting there you’re thinking ‘I’m blessed to be able to sleep in a bed, and I’m blessed to be able to rest.’ That’s what kept us going along with all the other riders, the support we had, and the kinship we gained on the ride. When we struggled, we helped each other out, and we just remembered our ancestors had it a lot worse,” he said.
Darius Thompson, 19, of the Wolftown Community, said the trip was life-changing, and he’s more appreciative of what his ancestors went through.
“Just being at the campsites and seeing it firsthand and seeing what they went through...it’s been an amazing journey. I know the true meaning of being Cherokee now,” he said. “Every day was something new. We had a tough time dealing with the heat. Some days I just wanted to fall over on my bike, but I looked over at my teammates and they were struggling with me, so that gave me strength to keep pedaling.”
“Remember the Removal” ride coordinator Joseph Erb also said the trip was a “life-changing experience” for the 12 Cherokee Nation and seven Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians cyclists who started the ride June 7 in New Echota, Georgia.
“You know we travel those long distances and we run into lots of people who don’t know our story, and they’re living right on the trail. This crew represented you guys very well,” Erb said to the parents and family members at the return ceremony held June 25 on the Cherokee Courthouse Square. “It’s a painful journey, to not only learn the history, to see the places where our people perished. Cemeteries, sites, camps, we got to see all of that, and we’re honored and thank our nations for the support. These kids are better than when they left. They’ll be better for the rest of their lives for it.”
The other 2015 Remember the Removal cyclists are CN citizens Tristan Trumbla, 25, Tahlequah; Kayla Davis, 19, Stilwell; Tanner Crow, 19, Tahlequah; Charles “Billy” Flint, 25, Tahlequah; Shawna Harter, 18, Tahlequah; Maggie McKinnis, 16, Hulbert; Wrighter Weavel, 18, Tahlequah; Alexis Watt, 21, Monkey Island; Tennessee Loy, 22, Kenwood; Hailey Seago, 18, Claremore; and Haylee Caviness, 18, Tahlequah.
The other EBCI cyclists are Savannah Hicks, 21, Painttown Community; Corlee Thomas-Hill, 25, Yellowhill Community; Matthew Martens, 30, Yellowhill Community; Kelly Murphy, 25, Painttown Community; and Jake Stephens, 36, Birdtown Community.
The 2015 “Remember the Removal” ride is chronicled on Facebook at www.facebook.com/removal.ride.