Tulsa Indian commission honors 3 Cherokees

BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
11/09/2012 08:58 AM
TULSA, Okla. – The Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission honored three Cherokees at its 15th annual Dream Keepers Awards dinner on Nov. 6 in cooperation with the Tulsa Human Rights Department.

Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts received the Charles Chibitty Family Community Award, which is given to someone with “overall community participation involvement, and caring are important attributes for citizens for any community.”

Cowan Watts serves as one of three Cherokee Nation District 5 Tribal Councilors.

“I had the honor of meeting Charles Chibitty several times. I was always touched by his sincerity and service to Indian Country and the United States,” Cowan Watts said. “I am humbled to be chosen by the Tulsa Indian Affairs Commission for an award in memory of such an incredible individual acknowledging my passion for community service.”

CN citizen Raymond Rogers received the Rennard Strickland Education Leadership Award. It’s given to one who “believes education is truly the key to the future and the cornerstone of every dream,” according to the TAIAC.

“Ray Rodgers is passionate and tireless in his ongoing work and concern for native students. He doesn't just do his job in Indian Education but works continuously with students, families, teachers and school administrators and staff to make the lives of the students the best possible,” TAIAC commissioner Ann Dapice said.

CN citizen James Ryals received the Lewis B. Ketchum Excellence in Business Award, which is awarded to one who shows that “leadership in business is vital for the community and for the survival of future generations.”

Ryals was hired as operations manager for Arnold Electric in 1995. In 2000, he became president of Arnold Electric Inc., and he now owns the company. AEI has experience in the federal, county and local government levels and the company holds certifications with the SBA, City of Tulsa and CN, according to Ryals’ biography.

The event was held at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa Campus at the Schusterman Center.

The TAIAC presents awards to 12 local and former residents of Tulsa who have contributed to the local community. The commission holds the event to coincide with the National Native American Heritage Month, which celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments of the peoples who were the original inhabitants, explorers and settlers of the United States, the release states.

Other recipients were:

· Jimmy and Eunice Wildcat - Kenneth Anquoe Lifetime Achievement Award

· Curtis Zunigha - Will Anquoe Humanitarian Award

· Justin Giles - Moscelyne Larkin Cultural Achievement Award

· Patty Beaston - Dr.Ralph Dru Career and Professional Award

· Teresa Runnels - Perry Aunko Indigenous Language Preservation Award

· Nancie Warrior Longacre - Jim Thorpe Sports Excellence Award

· Charles Diebold - Red Eagle Sacred Circle of Spirituality Award

· Richard Tilden - Roberta Gardipe American Indian Veterans Award

jami-custer@cherokee.org


918-453-5560

About the Author
Reporter

Jami Murphy graduated from Locust Grove High School in 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2006 from Northeastern State University and began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2007.

She said the Cherokee Phoenix has allowed her the opportunity to share valuable information with the Cherokee people on a daily basis. 

Jami married Michael Murphy in 2014. They have two sons, Caden and Austin. Together they have four children, including Johnny and Chase. They also have two grandchildren, Bentley and Baylea. 

She is a Cherokee Nation citizen and said working for the Cherokee Phoenix has meant a great deal to her. 

“My great-great-great-great grandfather, John Leaf Springston, worked for the paper long ago. It’s like coming full circle. I’ve learned so much about myself, the Cherokee people and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Jami is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. You can follow her on Twitter @jamilynnmurphy or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jamimurphy2014.
jami-murphy@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560
Reporter Jami Murphy graduated from Locust Grove High School in 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2006 from Northeastern State University and began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2007. She said the Cherokee Phoenix has allowed her the opportunity to share valuable information with the Cherokee people on a daily basis. Jami married Michael Murphy in 2014. They have two sons, Caden and Austin. Together they have four children, including Johnny and Chase. They also have two grandchildren, Bentley and Baylea. She is a Cherokee Nation citizen and said working for the Cherokee Phoenix has meant a great deal to her. “My great-great-great-great grandfather, John Leaf Springston, worked for the paper long ago. It’s like coming full circle. I’ve learned so much about myself, the Cherokee people and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.” Jami is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. You can follow her on Twitter @jamilynnmurphy or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jamimurphy2014.

People

BY STAFF REPORTS
11/30/2016 04:00 PM
EL RENO, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Gary Smith was recently given a Peer Recognition Award from the Indian Health Service’s Oklahoma City Area director for his work at the El Reno Indian Health Center. Smith serves as the sole housekeeper at the El Reno Indian Health Center. He has worked for the El Reno facility for more than a year and with IHS for 12 years. Prior to Smith’s hire as a full-time housekeeper for the El Reno facility in March 2015, he served seven years with Lawton IHS and five years with W. W. Hastings in Tahlequah. Aside from his daily duties, Smith takes on additional tasks such as repainting the facility, grounds maintenance and ensuring patient and staff safety as the facility safety officer.
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/30/2016 08:15 AM
SANTA FE, N.M. – The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development on Nov. 16 recognized seven Cherokee Nation citizens as part of its 2016 class of “Native American 40 Under 40” award recipients. The seven CN citizens are Thomas Jones (also of the Naknek Village Council), Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton, Rebecca Nagle, Mary Jo Pratt (also of the Osage Nation and Delaware Tribe of Indians), Linda Sacks, Casey Sixkiller and Bryan Warner. The award is given to individuals under age 40 who have demonstrated leadership, initiative and dedication and made significant contributions in business and their communities. The winners were honored during the Reservation Economic Summit in Santa Fe, New Mexico. “The ‘40 Under 40’ award recipients are a diverse group of young men and women from across Indian Country who have all made invaluable contributions to their communities,” NCAIED Chairman Derrick Watchman said. “We are proud to honor this extraordinary group of leaders. I have no doubt our ‘40 Under 40’ winners will help define the future of Native American business.” Jones is an analyst and project manager for Allegheny Science & Technology, working specifically with the Department of Energy/Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs. He has also worked for the Office of Indian Energy in Washington, D.C., and the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque. He has also held internships and fellowships across federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Science Foundation, Social Security Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and Congress. He has bachelor’s degrees in biology and Spanish from Oklahoma City University, a master’s degree in tropical conservation biology from the University of Hawaii at Hilo and a doctorate in natural resource studies from the University of Arizona. Krehbiel-Burton is a freelance reporter based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her work appears in the Native American Times, the Tulsa World, the Bigheart Times, Cherokee Phoenix, Native Health News Alliance, Silicon66 and Reuters. She has also held public relations positions. An Oklahoma State University alumna, including a master’s degree in international studies, Krehbiel-Burton also volunteers on the national boards for Alpha Pi Omega Sorority Inc. and the Native American Journalists Association, from which she has won numerous news writing awards. Pratt is a corporate financial analyst for Cherokee Nation Businesses. She reports and analyzes aspects of the business, including labor utilization, manufacturing/engineering and distribution/logistics. Previously, she served as an executive coordinator at Horizon Engineering/Margo Gray & Associates. She is a 2012 graduate of Rogers State University with a bachelor’s degree in forensic accounting and is pursuing her MBA in information technology management from Western Governors University. Nagle is a national leader in the movement to end rape and abuse and is the co-founder of Force: Upsetting Rape Culture and the Monument Quilt. Nagle has also been active in and a leader on the Violence Against Women Act to ensure protections for indigenous women and tribal sovereignty. She is also the founding director of The No Boundaries Coalition, a resident-led advocacy organization in central west Baltimore. Her advocacy has been covered by MSNBC, CNN and The New York Times. Sacks is the vice president of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma and its 2016 Volunteer of the Year. She developed the state’s first tribal cooperative, an educational/leadership program called Leadership Native Oklahoma. She also serves on the board of directors for Goodwill Industries of Tulsa, is a member of the Oklahoma Centers for Community and Justice and a contributing writer for Native News Online. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Oklahoma Christian University. Sixkiller is the president and founder of Sixkiller Consulting in Washington, D.C., a strategic advisory, government affairs and business development consulting firm. Sixkiller was the executive vice president at McBee Strategic Consulting (Now Signal Group) and has worked for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA). He was also a legislative officer in the Washington Office for the CN. He grew up in Seattle and earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College. Warner is the CN’s Dist. 6 Tribal Councilor. He also works at Carl Albert State College as the campus director and a full-time science instructor. He has previously been a member of the Sallisaw City Council and is vice president of the Sallisaw Lions Club. He is a graduate of Northeastern State University and has a master’s degree in education from East Central University. For more information about RES and the NCAIED, visit <a href="http://res.ncaied.org" target="_blank">http://res.ncaied.org</a>.
BY LINDSEY BARK
Staff Writer
11/24/2016 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Inspired by his older brother, Cherokee Nation citizen Lloyd Kingfisher Jr. grew up hoping to succeed in professional baseball. He played football and basketball but excelled at baseball and began pitching in the ninth grade while at Oaks Mission High School. “I was inspired by my brother. He was four years older than I was, and he signed a professional contract when he was 18, right out of high school. He didn’t go to college, and I thought at the time…that’s what I want to do, too. I really got into pitching about the time he signed. He’s been an inspiration of mine all my life, ever since we were little kids,” Kingfisher said. He said his brother, Jim Marrujo, pitched for the New York Yankees and was teammates with Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Yogi Berra. Kingfisher made the all-state baseball team as a high school senior before graduating in 1965. From there, he attended Bacone College in Muskogee on an athletic scholarship. “I actually went down there on a basketball scholarship, but that didn’t work out well so they just transferred it over to a baseball scholarship and I just played baseball. I played both sports the first year I was down there, but I turned all my attention to baseball,” he said. Kingfisher said he pitched for two years for Bacone, garnering a 27-1 record. He was named first-team National Junior College Athletic Association All-American in 1967, the same year Bacone won a national championship. “Being chosen as All-American, that was really a great honor. In junior college, to win a World Series and there was only two pitchers in the United States that year that made first team All-American, and I was one of them. Another was from New York. I was really proud of that,” Kingfisher said. After two years at Bacone, Kingfisher said a scout for the Chicago Cubs talked to him about signing a professional baseball contract. “I didn’t want to further my education. I had several opportunities to go to various schools to finish my education, but I wanted to play ball so bad I thought ‘well I’ll get my education later,’” he said. Kingfisher said he played for four years with the Cubs’ farm teams. He started mid-season with the Caldwell, Idaho, team in 1967 and attended the Cubs’ spring training. The following years he played for teams in California, Illinois and Washington. He said during spring trainings he met players such as Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo and that it was an “overwhelming experience” to meet the people he read about and watched on television. Kingfisher said he watched the Cubs win their first World Series this year since 1908. “You know, 108 years they’ve been trying to do this. How many players have come up through the years trying to do what they did last night over a 108-year period? It’s amazing,” he said. “Every time I watch a baseball game I think about what could have been and I still think about it a lot, especially during baseball season. You know if things had been different…what I like about it is that I did have the opportunity and I did play some.” Kingfisher retired from his four-year baseball career in 1971 after an arm injury. He and his wife, Linda, moved to the Fort Smith, Arkansas, area where they both worked until his retirement as a construction coordinator eight years ago. They have since moved back to Tahlequah. In 2015 Kingfisher was inducted into Bacone College’s Ken Hayes-Enos Semore Athletic Hall of Fame for his accomplishments in baseball.
BY LINDSEY BARK
Staff Writer
11/23/2016 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After 43 years, Cherokee Nation citizen Jerry Snell retired on Oct. 28 as director of CN Family Assistance and reflected on changes he has seen through the years. In 1973, Snell needed a summer job after completing his first semester as Colcord Public Schools teacher. He had the opportunity to work in a CN program called Neighborhood Youth Program. Then another opportunity came up for him to work full-time for CN as a youth councilor. After only one semester of teaching, Snell began his journey with CN. “That summer job has ended up in a job that’s lasted 43 years,” he said. Snell said W.W. Keeler was the principal chief when he started and that he’s had the “good fortune and honor” of working for seven administrations, including the short time in 2011 current Deputy Chief Joe Crittenden served as principal chief. “When I’m asked about who my favorite chief has been, I always tell them Joe Crittenden because I never got called to the front office one time when he was the chief,” Snell said. He said he’s seen the tribe grow significantly and that when started there were less than 100 employees. “At that time, the tribe’s big money maker was a motel, restaurant and the O-Si-Yo Club,” Snell said. He also remembers when the first CN bingo hall was established more than 25 years. Today there are 10 casinos throughout the tribe’s jurisdiction. “It’s (the tribe) provided an unbelievable number of jobs, not to mention resources,” Snell said. “You know, back in the 70s, 80s and biggest part of the 90s we relied totally on federal dollars.” Aside from youth councilor, Snell worked in Career Services as a family advocate. But for the past 23 years he’s served Family Assistance director in Human Services. He said the department has grown in the services provided, the number of people served and budget. “My budget for Family Assistance is probably larger than the whole budget was in 1973 for the whole Cherokee Nation, and I represent a small program, small department,” Snell said. “We’re getting a lot of money through Family Assistance out of the Gen (General) Fund hopper that we didn’t even dream about 10 or 15 years ago. We couldn’t have these programs if it wasn’t for the growth and expansion of the Cherokee Nation over the past 10 years.” Family Assistance serves CN citizens through welfare assistance, energy assistance for low-income families, housing programs, burial assistance, school and winter clothing programs for CN youth, senior nutrition and food distribution. “I have four managers. They’re the ones that really do the work. They’re the ones that deserve all the credit for the success of this department because they’re out there everyday working with our staff, with clients. They’re out on the frontline. They’re doing the real work,” Snell said. He said his motivation for retiring was his wife’s retirement and four grandchildren “to keep up with.” He said he would also have more time for taking care of rental properties and hunting. “I don’t intend to go home and sit around. But like I said, it’s a bittersweet thing,” he said. “I don’t know. It’s been a great ride. It’s been 43 years and I don’t regret a minute of it. You know, at one point in time I think, ‘this is crazy. I’m quitting a job that I love. And with my magnificent staff, it’s the easiest job in the world.’”
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy &
STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
11/21/2016 08:00 AM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – In a small self-built shop outside his home, Cherokee Nation citizen Brendan Crotty turns a hand-crank blower as flames swell in his coal-fired forge. He then places iron in the fire. Not an odd sight to see a blacksmith do such acts. However, Crotty is no ordinary blacksmith. He’s only 14. It was after watching blacksmith re-enactments at age 10 that the craft sparked a fire in him. “I saw some of the stuff they were making, and I thought it was really cool. They were making cookware and knives and all kinds of stuff, so I though it would be fun to try it,” he said. “I started when I was almost 11. And the first thing I made was a little letter opener out of a horseshoe, and made it in my first blacksmith meeting, and I melted it in half the first time I ever tried to make anything.” Other blacksmiths told Crotty of the Saltfork Craftsmen Artist-Blacksmith Association in which he could learn more about the craft. So he joined and now attends as many meetings as possible. “They get together and they make stuff…teach each other different skills…and learn as much as they can,” he said. “They just took me right in and said ‘here, go make something.’ So I went and did, and from there I went to every meeting and made as much as I could and it just took off from there.” Crotty said he makes tomahawks, slingshots and artistic items because he likes creating various items instead of just one thing. He focuses on every aspect of the art that he can, he said, even the history and equipment used hundreds of years ago. He said learning the history came little later after realizing what equipment he needed. “Finding all the old equipment, that’s my favorite part. I love restoring and rebuilding old pieces of history. I’ll find something in a scrap yard. I’ll take it home and completely re-build it and bring it back to life, and then I get to use that equipment. It’s as good as new. I can use it and it functions,” he said. The trade led him to also develop a science project that evaluated insulation materials within a propane forge. He competed in the Broadcom Awards, a national competition among middle-school aged students related to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM sectors. “I got nominated to enter into a national science fair competition called Broadcom Masters. I sent in the application where I had to win a state science fair. I had to get a first place. Once I got the first place, I had to send in the application. I got to be one of three semifinalists ever from Oklahoma,” he said. From there, 30 students traveled to Washington, D.C., to compete in five days of competition. Crotty was the first Oklahoman to be included in the national competition. For the week he and others were divided into six teams in which they competed in team-building activities and visited sites, including the White House and Georgetown School of Medicine. “In the competition I did very well. I ended up getting first in engineering…I got $3,500 towards any STEM-related summer camp of my choice and every contestant got $500 cash. I’m going to use that to buy a door for my shop,” he said. Crotty said he hopes the blacksmithing trade continues to open doors for him and that in the future he wants to work in the engineering field where he’ll not only design, but build. “So hopefully a lot of metal fabrication along with the design,” he said. “Currently, I’m all small blacksmithing, but I plan to do more modern technology, welding machining and grow a little bigger with vast knowledge.” Crotty said he doesn’t know where he would like to attend college, but he’s considering the Navel Academy because of its engineering programs and shipbuilding.
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/18/2016 04:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Bar Association’s Criminal Law Section recently recognized Cherokee Nation citizen Robert “Don” Gifford, an assistant United States attorney, with the Cardozo Award for his work and contributions in the area of criminal law. The award is named for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo who served on the court in the 1930s and is remembered for his significant influence on American law. Gifford was presented the award during the OBA’s annual meeting in November in Oklahoma City. Gifford was also selected to be chair-elect of the Criminal Law Section for 2018 for the 17,500-member bar association. As a federal prosecutor, Gifford is the human trafficking coordinator and a tribal liaison within the Department of Justice. Gifford, who is also a colonel in the Army Reserves and an adjunct law professor at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City University and the University of Arkansas law schools, began his legal career as a law clerk at the CN under the late former Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller. Gifford also serves as chief judge for the Kaw Nation District Court and is an associate justice for the Iowa tribes and is the chairman of the Military Assistance Committee for the OBA that provides pro bono services to service members and veterans. Gifford received his law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law where he served as an editor on the American Indian Law Review.