STUTTGART, Germany – Cherokee Nation citizen and Lt. Col. Brian W. Wright, a U.S. Army Special Forces officer, will retire after 32 years and 9 months of service on Dec. 1.
Lt. Col. Wright is a 1991 graduate of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, as well as his great-grandmother who attended the Cherokee Female Seminary prior to what is known as NSU today.
Wright served in the U.S. Army Special Forces as a Green Beret. The Special Forces symbol is the crossed arrows, which was derived from Native American Indian Scouts who served the U.S. Army in the 19th century and passed on this legacy to the modern Special Forces. Their motto “De Opresso Liber” means, “to free the oppressed” in Latin.
Wright, 51, said he believes serving his country came natural because his father, Ged Wright, is a retired brigade general who served with the Oklahoma Air National Guard.
“I think service was kind of a natural thing for me. It was kind of natural for myself, my brother, my sister. All of us ended up joining the National Guard. I took a little different route,” Brian said. “The infantry was really a way for me to go because it’s very outdoorsy. You’re outdoors and you’re having fun, and I love the outdoors. It was a natural fit.”
Brian’s military career began as an enlisted airman radio communication repair specialist in the Oklahoma Air National Guard in 1983. After two years, he transferred to the Army National Guard. And after three years reached the rank of sergeant. In 1986, he was selected and attended the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, Georgia, becoming an infantry officer with the 1-279th Infantry OANG.
He spent the next six years in the OANG as an infantry officer commanding several platoons and a rifle company. He then transferred to the Alabama National Guard, where he served the next two years as a Special Forces officer. He was selected to serve on active duty in 1994 and spent the next 21 years serving in various leadership positions around the world as an active duty U.S. Army Special Forces officer, serving in South America, Central America, Mexico, Europe, Southwest Asia and Africa.
His active duty assignments include detachment commander, A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina; detachment commander, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Panama City; instructor Mexican Military Academy, Mexico City; detachment commander, B Company, The Training Battalion, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (Airborne), Fort Benning; G3 Staff, Headquarters, 7th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado; Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Arabian Peninsula Iraq liaison officer to the Multi-National Division Baghdad; company commander, A Company, 3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Carson; strategic planner Special Operations Command Europe (Airborne), Stuttgart; strategic planner Special Operations Command South (Airborne), Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida; and strategic planner U.S. Africa Command, Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart.
Lt. Col. Wright is the only known member of the Special Forces Regiment and CN citizen who has commanded five Special Forces Operational Detachment “Alphas” as a regular commissioned officer. He has served at the highest levels in the Department of Defense and has more than eight years of service in Joint Staff Organizations.
He said he would “miss the troops” the most and miss serving with them after leaving the Army.
“The NCOs (non-commissioned officers), the junior officers, they are really the heart of our country. They are the young people that serve, that volunteer. The old guys like me, we like to stick around, but it’s the young blood that continues to come in and volunteer and do what they do,” he said.
Brian was born outside Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma. Along with his father, his brother Brent is a colonel and is serving as the deputy chief of staff for the Oklahoma Air National Guard and is also commander of the 138th Support Group in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and his sister Janna formerly served as a captain in the Oklahoma Air National Guard Aero Med Squadron.
“In my family everybody served. My grandfather served in World War II and got four or five battle stars in the Pacific,” Wright said.
Friends and family will gather on the Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart on Nov. 30 to celebrate his military career and transition into civilian life. His wife of 20 years, Monica, from Lima, Peru, was expected to attend along with his son, Brian, 19, and his daughter Michelle, 22.
LOS ANGELES – The LA KISS have been assigned quarterback Nathan Stanley, who was most recently on the San Jose SaberCats when they won the 2015 Arena Bowl Championship. The third-year quarterback looks to bring his championship pedigree to the LA KISS for the upcoming 2016 season.
“We are very excited to have a player of Nate Stanley’s caliber join the LA KISS,” said Omarr Smith, KISS head coach, said on Nov. 9. “Over the last two seasons, Nate has proven to be one of the top up-and-coming signal callers in this league. I have seen Nate mature on and off the field over the last two seasons and I am looking forward to watching Nate compete at the quarterback position. I think big things are in the future for Nate and the LA KISS.”
Stanley, a 6-foot, 4-inch, 225-pound quarterback from Southeastern Louisiana University, is entering his third year in the AFL. Stanley’s career started in 2014 when he threw for 2,436 yards and 50 touchdowns as a rookie for the San Jose SaberCats. The following season Stanley was a backup quarterback for the SaberCats, but he still put up impressive numbers throwing for 723 yards and 20 touchdowns in 9 games. In Week 7, Stanley was named “Russell Athlete Offensive Player of the Week”, when he threw for 242 yards and 7 touchdowns in a victory over the Las Vegas Outlaws.
“We are very happy to have Nate a part the LA KISS family,” said Joe Windham, CEO of the LA KISS. “We know he will fit in our organization nicely since he has been with Omarr the last two seasons so there should be no learning curve.”
Stanley is originally from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, where he played high school football at Sequoyah High School. From there he went to the University of Mississippi before transferring to Southeastern Louisiana University. In 2013, the Baltimore Ravens signed him as an undrafted free agent.
Stanley initially joined the San Jose SaberCats as a backup quarterback. Stanley became the starter, however, when original starter Russ Michna was declared out with concussion-like symptoms.
On Oct. 13, 2014, Stanley was signed to the practice roster of the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. The Stampeders released him on Nov. 6, 2014.
Stanley returned to the San Jose SaberCats in 2015, where he again served as backup. An injury forced Stanley to once again become the team’s starter. In his second season, Stanley threw a total of 20 touchdown passes (and no interceptions) while winning every game in which he started.
For more information about the LA KISS, visit <a href="http://www.lakissfootball.com" target="_blank">lakissfootball.com</a>.
TULSA, Okla. – Nine Cherokee Nation citizens who demonstrate leadership, initiative and dedication were recently recognized in the National Center for American Enterprise Development Native American 40 Under 40, the Global Gaming Magazine 40 Under 40 Emerging Leaders and the iON Oklahoma Magazine 30 Under 30 lists.
The NCAIED award recognizes 40 emerging American Indian leaders from across Indian Country who demonstrate leadership, initiative and dedication and make significant contributions to their tribes.
NCAIED Cherokee awardees were CN Treasurer Lacey Horn, CN Senior Assistant Attorney General Chrissi Ross-Nimmo, Cherokee Nation Businesses Communications Director Travis Noland, Citizen Potawatomi Nation Public Information Director Jennifer Bell and A-sa-ma-di Business Solutions President and owner Andrea Lesher.
According to CN Communications, since 2011 Horn has helped upgrade the tribe’s bond rating, promoted financial disclosure and transparency and received Excellence in Financial Reporting awards from the Government Finance Officers Association. Horn was also named to the 2012 Oklahoma Online Magazine’s 40 Under 40 list and, in 2014, Executive of the Year by the Native American Finance Officers Association.
“I am thrilled and honored to be recognized among young Natives who are committed to promoting tribal success,” Horn said. “When tribes thrive, the people in our regional economies also prosper, regardless of tribal affiliation. I'm grateful to be a part of our bright future.”
According to CN Communications, Nimmo has represented the tribe in more than 300 Indian Child Welfare Act adoption cases, including serving as lead counsel in the case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, or the Baby Veronica case. According to CN Communications, Nimmo develops and provides education and training on ICWA at national, state, tribal and local levels and also serves as the presiding judge for the Kaw Nation of Oklahoma Domestic Violence Court. Nimmo practices law before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Northern Districts of Oklahoma, the Supreme Courts of Oklahoma and the CN and the CN District Court.
“I am honored to be a recipient of the award,” Nimmo said. “It is especially rewarding to know I share the honor with four fellow Cherokees. I am fortunate to be able to contribute to my tribe and community through a job I love and I thank NCAIED for the recognition.”
According to CN Communications, during his 10 years working with CN and CNB Communications, the tribe has been recognized nationally by PR Daily, Public Relations Society of America and Ragan Communications for social media efforts, the quarterly Anadisgoi magazine, an online newsroom and the quarterly publication Where the Casino Money Goes. Noland also served for more than three years on the Pryor City Council.
“It is an honor to be recognized among so many tribal citizens, representing numerous tribal nations,” Noland said. “I would like to congratulate my fellow Cherokee Nation citizens on their well-deserved recognition. I have an enormous amount of respect for them and their love for the Cherokee Nation and Indian Country. The recent growth and success of the Cherokee Nation, and its businesses, are remarkable, and working with a team to share those successes with the world is rewarding.”
According to CN Communications, Bell is responsible for publishing the Citizen Potawatomi Nation monthly tribal newspaper, developing public relations and marketing campaigns for tribal enterprises and government relations. Bell formerly worked as CNB communications manager where she oversaw public relations for the tribe’s gaming and tourism endeavors.
“I am very honored to be on a list with such an outstanding group of Cherokee citizens,” Bell said. “I feel fortunate to know and have worked with many of them and I’m thankful for all they do to improve the lives of tribal citizens. I’m grateful to be included on such a prestigious list.”
According to CN Communications, Lesher, of Denver, established A-sa-ma-di Business Solutions as a consulting business that advises companies to streamline their business processes to be more efficient and cost effective. The company is a CN Tribal Employment Rights Office-certified company and has secured government contracts as well as private sector clients such as Dish Network. Lesher also established a nonprofit that helps provide families with lodging and meal expenses while their children are getting treatment. It also provides scholarships and school supplies to young Natives.
“I am extremely humbled and I’m so very grateful that people considered enough of me to recommend me for the award,” Lesher said. “It is truly an honor to receive the 40 Under 40 award. When I started the A-sa-ma-di Business Solutions, I was seeking a way to contribute to the Native American community and economic development by solving problems of all types in the private and public sectors. I am blessed by my heritage and humbled by the opportunity to give back.”
Global Gaming Business Magazine, a leading publication dedicated to the gaming industry, awarded Cherokee Nation Entertainment’s Joshua Anderson and DeJuna Frye of the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission to its 2016 Class of 40 Under 40.
Anderson said he oversees and manages the efficiency and accuracy of surveillance for all CNE properties and is responsible for more than 120 employees and oversight of the department’s budget. The job not only encompasses asset protection, but also the protection of guests and CNE employees, he said. He added that he helps develop the strategic plan for the advancement of surveillance technology, which includes research and vetting of the newest and latest technologies.
“It is an honor and very humbling to be recognized among my peers in such a way is something that makes me extremely proud,” Anderson said. “I will push myself to do my best and to live up to this standard. As a Cherokee Nation citizen, I am excited to see myself and others being recognized globally for our contributions to the industry within our respective fields. I am thankful I have a passion and enjoy the work I do. I give a lot of credit to those I work with and our leadership. I am thankful to the Cherokee Nation for allowing me the freedom to achieve my goals and advance my career.”
Frye said in following the CNGC’s mission to protect tribal assets, she oversees the commission’s onsite gaming agents, maintains a machine database and manages projects that require regulatory oversight.
“It makes me very proud to be included in such a prestigious group of individuals from all across the country,” Frye said. “My boss, Jamie Hummingbird, has received several local, state and national awards and recognitions. Another co-worker, Kelly Myers, was named NCAIE’s 40 Under 40 last year. I am so very fortunate to get to work with such an amazing group of individuals like these and so many others. For our peers in the gaming industry to see us, and our co-workers, with such a high level of respect is truly humbling. When I go to a conference and have someone from a tribe on the other side of the country ask my opinion on something they’re dealing with, or to have someone call or email me to get my feedback on a regulatory issue, it really makes me feel like I am contributing something to Indian gaming and making a difference.”
Each year iON Oklahoma Magazine recognizes the next generation of innovative, creative and inspiring Oklahomans under the age of 30 who push the limits in areas such as arts, entertainment, business, media, sports, technology, government and more.
Cherokees who made this year’s iON Oklahoma Magazine list were Taryn Calico, CN principal chief and secretary of state executive assistant, and Martin Madewell, Cherokee Casino Ramona general manager.
Calico said she assists the principal chief and secretary of state with all day-to-day operations of the administrative offices. She also helps tribal citizens find the right services for their needs and assists in planning major events for the tribe such as its Christmas party, Employee Appreciation Day and State of the Nation during the Cherokee National Holiday.
“This award is to honor young leaders who are innovative, creative and inspiring, and I am thrilled to be nominated and selected,” Calico said. “It is an honor to be recognized for the work I do, and it gives me an extra push to keep going. As a young professional, it can sometimes be hard for others to take you seriously in your career because you may not have as much experience as they do. However, this award is a boost of confidence to keep working hard every day to make a difference in the lives of Cherokee people.”
Madewell said he is responsible for the oversight of casino operations with approximately 300 total employees. The two properties collectively include 800 gaming machines, two restaurants, two bars and a live entertainment venue. He provides strategic planning and management of profit centers and support functions to ensure that both facilities meet established financial objectives set forth by executive management and the board of directors.
“It is a humbling experience to be able to represent the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Entertainment with an honor of this caliber,” Madewell said. “I have been very fortunate to work under some of the best mentors in the business, who have invested in my career. Likewise, I have had the opportunity to lead many outstanding employees over the past several years. Being able to pay forward the knowledge and experiences gained in this business with those who work for me is the most rewarding part of my job. It is these mentors and employees who have put me where I am today.”
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Cherokee Nation citizen Margaret Verble recently had her first book, “Maud’s Line,” published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
The book is set in eastern Oklahoma, near Fort Gibson in Muskogee County, where Verble’s family is from.
“My whole family, other than my mother, was sitting down that whole section line (near Fort Gibson) and in Muskogee,” she said.
After her family moved from Oklahoma, she grew up near Nashville, Tennessee, went to college there and received two degrees, as well as a doctorate in the education field. She now lives in Lexington, running a business.
Verble said she always enjoyed writing and during the years had several academic articles published. She started writing fiction about 20 years ago.
“(I wrote) Just sort of in my basement simply just because I had a deep urge to do it. And I started doing it every day, and I’ve been doing it every day since. I was just compelled to do it,” she said.
“Maud’s Line” takes place during the late 1920s and features an 18-year-old female character named Maud, who lives with her father and brother on their original Cherokee allotment land.
For years, Verble tried to get another book she had written to get published with no luck. It was set in the same area of the country, but was a more Native American-oriented book.
“I have a real deep passion for that book and tried to get it published for years, but I really got some good advice. If you want to sell a book in New York you have to write it about a single character, particularly a first novel,” she said. “Well you know, that sort of goes against the whole Indian grain. So I had to pick a time period in the tribal history where it was really the low point and where there was a real denigration of the tribe.”
She said many people in the late 1920s had to fend for themselves.
“So that particular historical period then would be a good time to create a character who is a strong character, who is out fending for herself even though she is nestled down there in her family. She has a real individual consciousness as opposed to more of a tribal consciousness,” Verble said of Maud.
Verble began writing “Maud’s Line” in 2012.
“I wrote it very quickly, unusually quickly. I wrote it in about 14 months. Of course I was writing about things I was extremely familiar with,” she said. “Maud is fictional. Booker is fictional. But a lot of those characters, Maud’s aunts and uncles, you know those are my grandparents, my great aunts and uncles. People I’ve known all my life.”
Although the writing was done quickly, she aid it took time to get it published.
“You know you go through all sorts of editing processes after you finish it, and it takes a long time, particularly with this book. It’s with a major publisher. Takes a long time to get a book out,” she said.
With regards to selling a book that is based on Native American descent, Verble said it’s a difficult task in New York. “It’s hard to sell Indians in New York, and I hate to say that, but it’s the truth.”
Many people who write about Natives must decide, she said, whether they will write a book about “Indians” or one about “people as people who happen also to be Indians.”
“And that’s a real distinction. I chose to write about people who are people. You know, being Indian is not right at the top of their minds. You don’t go around every day thinking ‘I’m a Cherokee Indian,’” Verble said. “I think if you want to write a novel that you can get a really good publisher on that you really have to write about people who are people and have people problems and they may happen to be Indians.”
Amazon and retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target carry the book. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.margaretverble.com" target="_blank">http://www.margaretverble.com</a>.
SALINA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials have expressed their sympathies for the death of Dr. Johnson Thorne who died on Nov. 1 following an illness.
Thorne had served the Cherokee Nation since 2006 in several capacities, including clinic director at Three Rivers Dental Clinic in Muskogee and at A-MO Clinic in Salina.
“Dr. Thorne was a compassionate provider as many of his patients, even before this tragic event, have taken the time to call or stop me and let me know,” said Dr. Stephen Jones, senior dental director in an email. “Dr. Thorne was a mentor and a friend to the staff that had the honor to work with him. Dr. Thorne was always willing and volunteering to help with system wide technical issues and I never had to worry if it would get done, he always completed those projects with accuracy and many times better than we had envisioned from the start.”
His services were Nov. 7 at the First Methodist Church in Tulsa.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During the holiday season, Cherokee Nation citizen Buddy Stacy has a toy workshop that can be compared to Santa’s workshop, complete with little helpers who paint toys that will be dispersed to children during the season.
Stacy said Christmas has always been his favorite time of the year, so he combined it with his passion of woodworking and began making toys in 2014.
“When I finally got this shop put together it was a good excuse to put the two together and do something to help people,” he said. “This is the second year, but I hope to keep doing this year after year.”
Stacy said he usually makes simple, wooden toys.
“Nothing real elaborate, nothing real high-tech, just simple wooden toys like Santa Claus would make in his workshop,” he said. “Last year, I made some chairs that really went over well with the people who saw them, so I made sure to make those chairs again this year and also the cars, trucks and buses that I make.”
He said when making toys he likes to create a more “advanced” handmade toy for some toy packages. He said he’s made 100 toy packages, some with a few of the “simple” toys and some with “advanced” toys.
Along with the handmade toys, there were some store-bought items such as puzzles or books, he added.
“I always thought if you’re going to have a car, you need a truck. If you’re going to have a truck, you need a bus,” he said. “Just whatever I think looks good together is what they end up with.”
Stacy said after finishing the woodworking he has volunteers collect them for the painting process.
“The painting rarely gets done here. A lot of the painting gets done by volunteers. My Sunday school class has done some painting. Some co-workers have done some painting. I’ve got a elementary school, Briggs, there is a group of kids there that get involved and they help me paint,” he said.
Stacy said when the toys are finished and packaged he sends them to the Cherokee Cruisin’ Classics Car Club in Tahlequah. From there, they are dispersed to programs such as the CN Angel Project and Help-In-Crisis.
Stacy said he expects to have the toys “prepped and ready to go” in time for the Dec. 6 toy drive in which the car clubs participates. Because he sends the toys off to the car club, he never gets to see the children’s reactions.
“Last year it felt amazing, and I don’t expect it’s going to feel any different this year,” he said. “It’s one of those things even though I don’t get to see their reactions, I know how I would react when I was their age. It feels good to know that I’m helping.”
He said in some cases his toys go to children who are CN citizens, and he thinks this is important since Cherokees “have to support each other.”
“There’s nothing better than supporting your own people. I mean that’s why I work for the Cherokee Nation. That’s why I made sure to get my children enrolled as citizens,” he said. “We have to support each other. That’s what it’s about.”
Stacy said he has a GoFundMe page to raise money for his efforts with the hope of making more toys each year. This year, his goal is to raise $1,000. As of Nov. 4, he had raised $960.
“Any funds left over this year will go into a bank account to start me for next year,” he said.
With more money raised, Stacy said he would like to create more toys and eventually buy new equipment to construct “better quality toys.” When this happens, he said he would need help from more volunteers.
“As this grows, and as I make more toys, as I get more people involved in helping me to cut the wood and make the toys. I will definitely need more help in painting and such,” he said.
For more information, visit <a href="www.facebook.com/santasworkshop74464/?fref=ts" target="_blank">www.facebook.com/santasworkshop74464/?fref=ts</a>. To donate, visit <a href="http://www.gofundme.com/b44macq8" target="_blank">www.gofundme.com/b44macq8</a>.