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
06/26/2016 10:00 AM
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack has appointed Dr. Charles Gourd to the Forest Resource Coordinating Committee as an Indian tribe representative. Gourd, a Cherokee Nation citizen from Keys, Oklahoma, said he “considers it an honor and privilege to serve” on the national board. “My work through the years has been to find resources that promote, preserve and protect forest areas in Indian Country. The USDA is a tremendous resource that enables multiple interests in agricultural pursuits, including forest management, to coordinate and share the benefits of our magnificent forest resources,” he said. The committee provides coordination within the USDA, state agencies and private-sector interests to effectively address national priorities for private, non-industrial forest conservation. There are 20 members of the committee who work with the U.S. Forest Service, which includes the National Parks, state agencies and the 20 percent of all U.S. forests that are in private ownership. “This opportunity became available when a classmate from the Kennedy School of Government, Steve Kohen, left as head of the State of Maryland Forest Service to become the director of Cooperative Forestry at USDA,” Gourd said. “He contacted me and indicated that a position to represent Indian Country was open on the committee and that I had been nominated. That set in motion a series of letters of recommendation from a number of elected leaders of Indian Nations and individuals who had an interest in USDA and the Forest Service.” Gourd thanked Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby, Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton, Muscogee (Creek) Nation Chief Bill Fife and Pam Kingfisher, who serves as the regional director of the USDA Farm to School program, for “their timely and complementary letters” that helped provide him the opportunity to serve on the committee. “Most of all, I look forward to providing information both to the Forest Service, Indian tribes and nations, public and private forest owners, as well as the general public who shares our interests and desires for preservation of our great national forest resources. This will be a great learning experience and my hope is to provide meaningful representation to the entities involved,” Gourd said.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
06/23/2016 08:15 AM
OWASSO, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Katherine Horne recently helped the Owasso High School’s girls golf team bring home the Class 6A state title. Sixteen-year-old Horne, who will be a junior at Owasso in the fall, shot a personal-best 76 in the tournament’s second round. The score was 15 strokes better than the 91 she shot in the first round. “We won 6-A state title in golf. I personally shot myself all-time career low of 76, helping clinch our teams victory,” Horne said. Horne said she wants to attend college after graduating, but is also keeping her options open. “I plan on attending college and majoring in pre-med or engineering. I am currently interning at St. John’s hospital two times weekly and gaining exposure to a variety of areas of interests. I’m proud to represent the Cherokee Nation.”
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
06/22/2016 08:15 AM
FORT GIBSON, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Emilee Rigsby has been playing golf at Fort Gibson Public Schools since eighth grade. After years of hard work, she will attend Northeastern State University this fall on a golf scholarship. “I’ve grown up playing sports, so I always wanted to play in college, and I was really wanting to go to NSU because it’s close enough to home, but it’s not in the same town,” she said. “(Head NSU golf) Coach (Scott) Varner didn’t contact me. I actually contacted him and he’s never recruited from Fort Gibson at all. So I contacted him a couple of times, and he actually contacted me back and we never met. He never came and watched me play, which is what most college coaches do. He just told me to keep him updated on my scores and everything, and after I told him we went for a visit and then like the next day, or a couple days later, he actually offered the scholarship. There wasn’t any question. I accepted as soon as he said it.” Rigsby said she is excited to join the golf team at NSU. “Their women’s team did really good this year, and they have a really solid team so I really hope to fight and get one of those top five spots and play because a lot of times you go to the colligate level and you don’t play as a freshman,” she said. “So it’d be awesome to actually get to play a few tournaments as a freshman, but I mean the way I see it is you’re not expected to play every single tournament, so just work as hard as I can and just do the best I can and hopefully it’ll pay off.” During the years at the Class 4A Oklahoma girls golf championship, she placed eighth in 2013, second in 2014, third in 2015 and second in 2016. She said she was also named the 2015 South Central Junior PGA “Player of the Year.” Rigsby said while in high school she also competed in basketball and softball, but her main focus was golf. “It means a lot to me because it’s an individual sport. You work and you do your best and you pay off for it. So it’s unlike other sports where you count on the team…It’s all on you,” she said. “It’s really helped me grow as a player and as a person just knowing that you know you have to do the best you can and you will either learn from it or benefit from it.” Rigsby said while at NSU she plans to major in criminal justice. “If golf does happen to happen I’d love to do that. But I actually want to major in criminal justice because I want to be a forensic nurse, so I’ll have to major in criminal justice and go somewhere else to get my nursing, but I hope to get that while I’m there,” she said.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
06/20/2016 08:45 AM
WASHINGTON – Cherokee Nation citizen Cierra Fields has for several years advocated on the dangers of skin cancer, but during the past two years she’s crusaded against sexual assault and violence against women following her rape at 2014 conference. Her educating the public about sexual assault got the attention of several people who nominated the 16-year-old for the initial United State of Women Summit that was held in June in Washington, D.C. Around 10,000 women were nominated and about 5,000 were selected to attend the conference. Of those 5,000, White House officials recognized eight women, and Fields was among them. In receiving this recognition, she gave interviews to media networks covering the event. “I’m humbled to be nominated,” Fields said. “My work to educate others about sexual assault and violence against women was the main part of my nomination.” On the conference’s first day, Fields said Vice President Joe Biden gave an excellent speech about ending rape culture. “And (actress) Mishka Hartigay is working on getting all rape kits tested. I’m determined to bring those topics back to Cherokee Nation and Indian Country,” she said. “With the Stanford rape (Brock Turner, a Stanford swimmer was convicted of raping an unconscious woman and given a 6-month sentence) case outcome, the violence against women has been a major topic during this summit. As a survivor myself, I shared my thoughts in our groups encouraging the increase in the statute of limitations, more transparency in the legal system regarding sexual assaults, improved training for DA (district attorney) when dealing with victims and proper sentences for those convicted of rape. Rapists need to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.” Fields added that by attending the summit she has been inspired and energized by the speakers. “I learned much on topics that I hadn’t even considered. I was able to share my thoughts in breakout sessions about the realities of being a Native and a woman in this country,” she said. “I am making partnerships with various organizations that I hope to bring back to Cherokee Nation to improve the lives of all Cherokee women. This summit has been life changing. I am dedicated to lending my voice to helping improve the lives of women, especially Native women. We have come so far but there is much work to still be done.” For more information on the summit, visit <a href="http://www.theunitedstateofwomen.org" target="_blank">http://www.theunitedstateofwomen.org</a> or by using the Twitter hashtag #StateOfWomen.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
06/17/2016 08:15 AM
BARTONVILLE, Texas. – Cherokee Nation citizen Kelsey Landrum was recently selected to represent North and South America in the ASICS “Beat the Sun” relay. Landrum and five teammates, all amateur runners, were expected to run against the sun to complete a 15-hour, 41-minute relay on June 21 around Mont Blanc in the Alps. The mountain lies between the regions of Aosta Valley, Italy, and Savoie and Haute-Savoie, France. “The six of us will divide up about 93 miles of the race into various legs to run around the mountain and hopefully do it before the sun sets,” the 20-year-old said. “It’s just a really unique event too because you’re racing against kind of yourself and your mind. It’s incredibly challenging. But you’re also racing against other teams, and then you have kind of the third element of racing against, not necessarily just time but the sun, against nature. It’s very challenging but I’m looking forward to it.” “The Americas” team was slated to compete against the “Europe,” “Africa” and “Asia-Pacific” teams. Landrum said before the race she and her teammates would train and adjust to Mont Blanc’s altitude. The mountain is 15, 777 feet tall and the highest in the Alps. “I’ll arrive there on the (June) 16, and so we have from the (June) 16 until the (June) 21 to adjust to the altitude and train with our team for the first time and do different press events and just enjoy our time there,” she said. Landrum said the representation of diversity is something that stands out to her about the race. “I think this race is really unique in that every single person, even everyone within each team is from a very different background. Different countries, different cultures, different heritages and so something that’s really, I think, been highlighted is our diversity,” she said. “I am really excited to share with everyone that I am a Cherokee (Nation) citizen, and share some of our culture with them, too. I think this is just a very exciting opportunity to do that, and I think everyone is just so excited to be apart of something that combines so many different cultures.” Landrum said she’s been running since middle school but struggled with “un-diagnosable leg paralysis” and an “unknown mass” in her right hamstring, which kept her from running for years. She said after years of “therapy, training and unwavering determination” she was able to run again. Landrum said recently running some half marathons is what gave her the confidence to apply for the race. “The last two half marathons I did I was third overall…in one of them and then seventh in a different one and that was out of about 600 to 700 women,” she said. “That was just so fun and definitely some of the most challenging races. I think definitely where I really started to remind myself that, ‘OK, I can do this. I definitely should apply for this race.’” She said being accepted to represent “The Americas” was a “surreal” experience and means “everything” to her. “I think just the fact that such a large running corporation and the runners that I look up to, or have looked up to for so long that, you know, they saw something in my running and in me that they wanted to help me and help me learn and everything,” she said. “I think that that’s just so incredible and humbling, and I’m so grateful for that and just to be able to represent our Cherokee Nation and the U.S. and the Americas is such an incredible opportunity.”
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
06/08/2016 08:00 AM
RICHMOND, Va. – This summer Cherokee Nation citizen Kelli Ford will work on her collection of short stories while participating in the Lannan Foundation’s School for Advanced Research’s 2016 Indigenous Writer-in-Residence Fellowship. “This year it’s June 20 through Aug. 5…They provided a Native writer housing for the seven weeks and also a designated office space and then basically that’s it,” she said. “I just get to take my family out to Santa Fe (New Mexico) and get to have a place to live and work for the summer and get a nice stipend to take care of us. Pretty neat deal.” She said by the end of her fellowship she hopes to have her short stories collection titled “Crooked Hallelujah” ready to submit to publishers. “It’s a collection of short stories, so there’s all kinds of stuff going on,” she said. “It’s not necessarily a novel with just one overarching plot, but it’s mainly about a family of mixed-blood Cherokee people. A mom and a daughter, in particular, who leave eastern Oklahoma and move to north Texas in the 1980s. So kind of about their life there and their lives going back and forth and stuff like that.” She said the stories have fictional characters, events and sometimes places but are inspired by her life. “My mom and I left Sequoyah County when I was a little girl and moved to Texas, so it is definitely inspired by that. It’s fiction, so it’s all made-up characters and all that, but it is definitely inspired by my life and people and women in particular I’ve known,” she said. “I come from a family of pretty amazing strong Native women and others. So it’s kind of inspired by that stuff.” Ford said by participating in the fellowship she would be able to focus on writing. “Just the time to write is going to be so valuable,” she said. “My husband’s a teacher, and so since I got the fellowship he’s not going to be teaching. So he’s going to be Mr. Mom, and I’m just going to have the office space away from home and the time to really, really just work. As a writer that’s really huge to get big hours of time rather than sort of write for an hour here or an hour here. I’m really close to finishing my book. It’s really about the time.” Ford said although this is her first book, she’s had short stories published. “I just had a piece that got published in the Virginia Quarterly Review this past spring and then I’ve got some other short stories out there, just individual pieces,” she said. “I don’t have a book out. This is my first one I’m working on.” She said in some of her stories she uses the Cherokee language. “When I was a little girl I grew up hearing it, but I haven’t been around it in so long. I never spoke it, so I don’t know how well I’m doing it. And so I think at SAR with those resources and time I can study the language a little bit just to try to make sure that if I’m going to try to use it a little bit, that I do a good job.” Ford said it’s an “honor” and to write stories for people to read and get a look into her ideas. “It’s an honor and it’s definitely a privilege to get to spend my time working on things that I make up,” she said. “It’s a pretty solitary endeavor, especially at the beginning, but it’s definitely an honor to be able to take people on a ride. Of course, when you first put something out there it’s also pretty scary. You reveal a lot of yourself, and you doubt yourself and all that, but that makes it all the more rewarding to get to share it with people.”