Tulsa Indian commission honors 3 Cherokees

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



About the Author

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.


Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
05/26/2016 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Robert Nofire, 18, continues to shine in the artistic community with his graphite pencil drawings. His latest achievement was for his drawing of Sioux Chief High Bear, for which he won the drawing category and overall at the 2016 Congressional Art Competition. The drawing recently circulated Facebook, reaching thousands after his teacher, Charlotte Wood, shared a photo of Nofire and the portrait on Tahlequah Central Academy’s Facebook page. Nofire, a TCA senior, said at first he was nervous during the award ceremony but was “happy” his family and friends attended. “I was just really happy because there was a bunch of people around. People that I love,” he said. “I love the support that everybody gives me.” During the ceremony, Nofire also received a $1,000 scholarship to Northeastern State University. “I didn’t know that I was going to get anything over there. I just thought we were just going to go over there and they were going to say my place, but I didn’t expect them to pull up a scholarship or anything,” he said. Nofire’s win also provides him the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C., for free for a week as well as have his drawing displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol. CN citizen and U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R –Okla., said he and others are able to put on congressional art competitions in their districts, which give students chances to showcase their skills. “Every congressional district…we get to run an art competition. Through that art competition you get to have your congressional district displayed by the art winner in the tunnel that connects the House office buildings and the Capitol. So it’s where members walk every day back and forth, several times a day, and this piece will be something of pride every time I walk by,” he said. “I think this one’s going to stand out among all the 435…up there.” Since that competition, Nofire drew a portrait of retired teacher Beth Harrington and presented it to her during the school’s May 6 Arts in the Park event. “What inspired me to draw this was she like toured Tahlequah with us and she was just really nice,” he said. “Then Mrs. Wood said she was like really known around Tahlequah, so I asked her if I could draw her and she said, ‘yeah.’” He said the drawing is based off of a portrait of her smiling with a piano in the background. He said he used graphite pencils to create the piece. Nofire said he credits his art teacher, Anthony Amason, for his progress. “When I first went into Amason’s class I didn’t really think I was good or anything. I was just doing the projects. Then the first project we did, I turned it in and he thought it was really awesome and he was like, ‘I can help you more with that to help you get more values between there’. That’s what I’m strong with is values. That’s what makes the picture pop. He just saw that I had potential, I guess,” Nofire said. Amason, who has taught Nofire for nearly two years, said he appreciates that Nofire gives him credit but Nofire’s skill is all him. “I like taking the credit sometimes. I’m not going to lie. I enjoy that, but ultimately it’s him. It’s his talent. He just listened to what I had to say. I told him to do this and he did it,” he said. “I really want to give my students all the credit, and I’m just so proud of all the work that he does.” To view Nofire’s artwork, visit <a href="http://www.facebook.com/rwntribalart" target="_blank">facebook.com/rwntribalart</a>.
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
05/18/2016 01:00 PM
FORT GIBSON, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Cierra Fields was recently named to the United National Indian Tribal Youth Inc.’s second class of “25 Under 25 Native Youth Leaders” that honors Native American and Alaska Native youth. One aspect for being named to the 2016 class is her volunteerism. Fields, a 16-year-old from Fort Gibson, has given her time to different causes for several years. “First, I worked with Greg Bilby and the Cherokee Nation Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. I traveled with Greg telling people about my cancer (melanoma) and how to prevent cancers. I’ve visited hospitals, public schools, summer school programs, health fairs, job fairs, conferences and even a couple universities,” Fields said. “I’ve created several donation drives such as collecting coloring books/crayons to pediatric patients at Hastings and St. Francis hospitals. I also have collected coloring books/crayons for One Fire Victim Services to give to each child while they do in-take with their clients. I’ve collected prom dresses for my high school and the Talking Leaves Job Corps.” Also, Fields serves as a National Congress of American Indian Youth Cabinet member and a board member for the Urban Indian Youth Alliance in Washington, D.C. Other honors Fields has received include being named a Champion for Change, and she’s participated in Indian Child Welfare Act work groups to fight for Native children in the adoption industry. Fields also created the Charles Head Memorial Native Youth Summit, which hosts Native youths from different tribes. “Two years ago I was raped while I was a keynote speaker at a Native youth summit out of state. I’m sure my rapist had hoped that I would just silently go away. But he didn’t know how Cherokee women are. I didn’t go away. I went to the hospital, reported my rape, filed charges, testified to a grand jury, and the day before my case was to go to trial, my rapist pleaded guilty,” she said. “I learned a lot during that time and One Fire Victim Services, Cherokee marshals, Attorney General Todd Hembree and (Principal) Chief Bill John Baker stood with me. I wanted to be as vocal of an activist as I possibly could. One Fire gave me the opportunity to speak at public events to share the services they offer so other rape survivors could access the help they offered. The most powerful three words that can be said to a rape survivor – ‘I believe you.’” Fields said she was humbled to be selected as “25 Under 25” Native leader. “I am honored to represent Cherokee Nation and our people. I just want to make a difference in Indian Country.” <strong>2016 Class of “25 Under 25 Native Youth Leaders”</strong> Birk Albert, 17, Athabascan – Lake Placid, New York Caitlin Bordeaux, 24, Rosebud Sioux – St. Francis, South Dakota Seth Cooper, 19, Walker River Paiute/Assiniboine/Muscogee Creek – Glendale, Arizona Michele Danner, 18, Inupiaq – Anchorage, Alaska Sarah DeHerrera, 21, Choctaw Nation – Santa Clarita, California Cierra Fields, 16, Cherokee Nation – Fort Gibson, Oklahoma Anissa Garcia, 21, Akimel O’odham – Sacaton, Arizona Mariah Gladstone, 22, Blackfeet – Kalispell, Montana Shandiin Gorman, 17, Navajo – Mesa, Arizona Vance Home Gun, 22, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes – Arlee, Montana Sarah Jones, 22, Chickasaw Nation – Ada, Oklahoma Rebecca Kirk, 24, Klamath – Seattle, Washington JoRee LaFrance, 20, Crow Nation – Crow Agency, Montana William Lucero, 19, Lummi – Ferndale, Washington Jessica McCool, 18, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians – Solvang, California Lakota Pochedley, 24, Citizen Potawatomi – Shawnee, Oklahoma Hamilton Seymour, 16, Nooksack – Bellingham, Washington Dyami Thomas, 22, Klamath/Leech Lake Ojibway – Seattle, Washington Tatiana Ticknor, 17, Dena’ina/Tlingit – Anchorage, Alaska Claullen Tillman, 20, Eastern Shoshone – Lander, Wyoming DeLesslin George-Warren, 24, Catawba – Washington, DC Rory Wheeler, 18, Seneca Nation – Irving, New York Brayden White, 21, St. Regis Mohawk – Hogansburg, New York Christie Wildcat, 17, Northern Arapaho – Riverton, Wyoming Eric Woody, 17, Navajo – Kirtland, New Mexico
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
05/16/2016 12:00 PM
BARTONVILLE, Texas – Cherokee Nation citizen Kelsey Landrum has been selected as a finalist from 56,000 runners from all over the world for a June 21 relay race around Mont Blanc in the Alps. “I was chosen as one of 50 finalists in the running for the race of a lifetime: a 15-hour, 41-minute relay race around Mont Blanc. If chosen, I will be blessed with the opportunity to represent both North and South America in one of the world’s most elite races,” Landrum said. According to <a href="http://races.asics.com/us/en-us/beatthesun" target="_blank">http://races.asics.com/us/en-us/beatthesun</a>, on June 21, eight teams will attempt to Beat the Sun in a relay race around Mont Blanc. ASICS has selected 50 amateur semi-finalists to have the chance to participate in this challenge. The competition is up to a public vote and the top three candidates from the Americas will be chosen. “Not only is this race an incredible and humbling opportunity to represent North and South America in the race of a lifetime, but a way that I hope to help people who are facing challenges similar to my own. I struggled with un-diagnosable leg paralysis and an unknown mass in my right hamstring for many years. More doctors than I can recollect told me to forget any chance of running again, and to just move on with my life without it,” she said. “Years of therapy, training and unwavering determination are finally paying off. Every step that I take is a blessing and by participating in this challenge I am proving that no person can set your limitations for you. This challenge has reminded me more than ever to never ignore the fire and passion in your heart. It is something that no person or challenge can take away, and it will drive you to accomplish things you once only dreamed of.” Each person can vote one time per day, per email account. Those interested in voting can visit <a href="http://races.asics.com/us/en-us/beatthesun/" target="_blank">http://races.asics.com/us/en-us/beatthesun/</a>vote and click on “The Americas” and finding Landrum’s name and picture. Votes can be made through May 20. “If I am lucky enough to be one of the competitors, I hope people see how truly proud I am of our heritage. It is such a unique, special and important part of our world and something I find is too often forgot about. Being a Cherokee citizen is something I will always be proud of, and representing the Cherokee Nation in this competition would truly be one of the biggest honors I have ever had,” she said.
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
05/13/2016 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Students in Barbara McAlister’s Vocal Class on April 28 took to Sequoyah High School’s Chapel to give their spring recital performances. McAlister said her students came from places such as Muskogee, Checotah, Stigler and Tahlequah to sing for those who filled the chapel’s pews. McAlister, opera star and Cherokee Nation fine arts instructor, said her students have worked extensively to prepare for the recital. “For the recital, some of them have worked for one month. Some have worked longer than that on these particular songs,” she said. “To the study time, some have studied four years, five. One or two are brand new so we’ll see how they do. I admire them for getting up in front of people and performing.” CN citizen and SHS sophomore Katelyn Morton, 16, sang the operatic aria “Quando M’en Vo” from “La Boheme” and the duet “All I Ask of You” from “The Phantom of the Opera.” “I’ve always liked “La Boheme,” and I’ve always liked that song. It really shows off the vocal range and everything, and “All I Ask of You,” “(The) Phantom of the Opera” is my favorite play,” she said. Morton said she’s worked with McAlister for about two years and that McAlister has helped her evolve as a singer and performer. “I want to be a performer when I grow up, and Barbara has really gotten me out of my shell, gotten me to sing louder, given me a personality,” she said. Morton said McAlister also helped her with her role as Maria in Sequoyah’s performance of “West Side Story” in April. “With ‘West Side Story’ I had Barbara help me to reach the vocal range, and she helped me with the volume and how to sing into a mic properly,” she said. “She’s just helped me with everything singing wise and telling a story.” CN citizen Michael Stopp, who’s been in McAlister’s class since 2012, said it’s an “honor” to work with her. He said when he was younger he sang at his church and school but didn’t sing much as an adult. “(I) came back to work on another bachelor’s degree and thought, ‘well, I have some extra time.’ Barbara was available and Cherokee Nation’s providing it so I started taking voice lessons and it’s turned out really well,” he said. At the recital, Stopp sang two Italian pieces that McAlister helped him learn. “We started out with musicals where I was singing in English and now I’m singing in Italian,” he said. Stopp said singing for people helps him conquer one of his fears as well as embraces his family’s musical background. “I don’t like to have fear, and I’m actually a little scared of singing in front of crowds, so it kind of forces me to deal with that and get up and do it,” he said. “The other thing is I grew up with a musical family. My mother’s side of the family always played some kind of instrument and was doing some kind of musical thing, so it’s just always been part of the life. Kind of took a break during my adult time, but I’ve come back to it again.” McAlister said she’s “proud” of her students and their accomplishments. “Some are having leads in musicals. They’re winning ones in state competitions. It aids them in debate. Speech is so important, and I teach a speech-based singing,” she said. “It’s (singing) simple. It can take a long, long time also. From one year to 20 years. It depends on how the voice is developing and how slowly or quickly that particular voice develops.” She said her students are trained for solos and have the opportunity to learn to sing in other languages, including Cherokee. “They can go anywhere in the world, and sing many beautiful songs and that’s what they’re being trained to do,” she said. “That’s one-on-one training, and they learn in all languages. Cherokee, Italian, German, French, whatever they have to learn and they pick up the language very quickly because of the vowel sounds. They’re doing great.” McAlister said she typically trains with a student for one hour a week and that students must be CN citizens and at least 13 years old. For more information, call 1-646-241-3299.
05/06/2016 04:00 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Cherokee Nation citizen Lisa Snell recently finished writing and designing a guidebook for the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association and National Park Service about Native American tribes along the historic Route 66. The guidebook “American Indians & Route 66,” as well as its website, details the histories of more than two dozen tribal communities along the 2,400-mile byway and their relationships to the road that helped change the West. Stretching from Chicago to California, more than half the route cuts through Indian Country. Those behind the project said the work was aimed at filling the gap between reality and the stereotypes once used to lure travelers along the route, from the billboards that featured Indian figures wearing war bonnets to staged photo ops and metal teepees. Tribes now have a venue to tell their own stories, said Snell, who was tapped by the AIANTA to spend a year traveling the route, doing research and conducting interviews. It was an eye-opener even for Snell, who publishes the Native American Times and Native Oklahoma. “It was so much different from what I had been exposed to during childhood, growing up watching the Lone Ranger and what you saw in the advertisements. What I experienced was completely different from the images and the things I read,” she said. The guidebook was unveiled the first week of May by the tourism association. It includes stories of how communities were affected by the commerce that came along with traffic on Route 66. The book and website also cover the role played by the federal government’s Indian relocation program of the 1950s and how the romance of the roadway was partly spurred by the marketing of the Hollywood version of the Indian. Snell's research and interviews indicated what happened along America's Mother Road was more about money than the sharing of a culture. “Because of the socio-economic conditions, what do you do? You take the job, you put on your buckskins, you put on your war bonnet and you have your picture taken. You do the job,” she said. “That’s been perpetrated through today. It’s still that image we have. It’s lingering.” Sammye Meadows, who works with AIANTA, said interest in tourism has grown among tribes now that some have fostered successful programs for tapping their own cultural resources. Foreign visitors alone account for an estimated $7 billion in annual spending in Indian Country and visitation by overseas travelers has grown by nearly 1 million during the past several years, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. “It’s an evolving thing and I think a lot more stories will come forward,” Meadows said. “People will have stories they would like to contribute to the overall sort of correcting of the tribal image.” Aside from history that stretches back to the Pueblo Revolt in the centuries before New Mexico was a state and the creation of reservations, the guidebook includes details about key sites along Route 66 – both old and new – as well as etiquette for attending powwows and tips for buying arts and crafts. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.americanindiansandroute66.com" target="_blank">http://www.americanindiansandroute66.com</a>.
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
05/05/2016 08:15 AM
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Cherokee Nation citizen Steve Hamilton, 87, credits his good health to staying active, as well as his Cherokee blood. Hamilton began running when he was approximately 60 years old and said he’s been running ever since. “I’ve kind of thought maybe that’s the reason I’m able to get around and do things because of being 87,” he said. “I guess also I can give my mom’s side of the family (credit). She has the Cherokee blood and she lived to be 97. So I guess that’s what it is.” Hamilton, who was born in Buffalo Valley, Oklahoma, said he’s competed in races throughout his running career and plans to run until he can no longer. “I’ve run one marathon, two half-marathons, and every year for the last twenty-so years I’ve run at least 10 five-kilometer races per year,” he said. “I’ll just keep running until I can’t go anymore.” He said out of the races he has competed in his favorites were when he ran across the Golden Gate Bridge and a mud run. “I was in the military for 10 years and it was like running a military course with water and mud. I did it in 42 minutes. That was two and a half miles through some of the most mud-filled obstacles that you can think of,” he said. “So, I just thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m waiting for it to happen again this year.” Hamilton said when he began running he had a heart attack, but he didn’t let that stop him from continuing. “I did have a heart attack though, in (19)95 I think it was. It’s been so long ago. I had a stint put in. But I was back running within probably three weeks after that,” he said. He said he makes sure to get regular check-ups to make sure he stays healthy. “I go to the doctor, of course, once a year for a check-up, everything is fine. And just mainly, I stay out of the doctor’s office,” he said. Hamilton encourages others who are older to stay active, and possibly take up running. “I think that that would help them. The thing they need to do is not over indulge. Just do what you can and then a little bit more. If you don’t push yourself then you won’t be able to keep it up,” he said. “I exercise at a facility for six days every week. I look forward to it.” Hamilton said he is also “proud” to be Cherokee. “It gives you a lot to be proud of that we come from a very tough line of people,” he said. “I’m proud of the Cherokee tribe.”