Members of law enforcement agencies take merchandise from a United Parcel Service worker on Nov. 27 in Tahlequah, Okla. The package was to be delivered to Outer Zone, a head shop, but shop workers declined to take it. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Tahlequah business served warrant for illegal substances

12/03/2012 08:34 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Nov. 27, the drug task force of the District Attorney’s Office for District 27, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, the Tahlequah Police Department and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control served a warrant and confiscated several items from at local head shop.

Outer Zone, located at 1014 S. Muskogee Ave., was served with the warrant from the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office for possible merchandise being sold that can be used as an inhalant.

“The investigation concerned the sale of certain synthetic cannabinoids also known as spice also known as K2. It’s got a number of names,” District Attorney Brian Kuester said.

Kuester said a sting-type investigation occurred earlier, which led to the warrant’s issuance and execution. A similar investigation also occurred at an Outer Zone near Moffett in Sequoyah County at 10 a.m. on same day, he added.

“In Roland, we did one simultaneously this morning,” Kuester said.

He said officers were ordered to continue searching the business to determine what could be seized.

“I think it will take a little bit of time. We could be here for awhile,” Kuester said. “If there’s evidence to support criminal charges against the owner, if the evidence shows that there should be criminal charges filed against the employee who was here at the time that’s a possibility. There are a number of possibilities…it will be awhile before the DA’s office and the prosecutorial function receives the entire report and a prosecutor makes a decision as to what charges to file and who to charge.”

According to business license with the City of Tahlequah and the Sequoyah County Sherriff’s Department, Brenda Jason and Cecil Tuck Jr. are the owners of the Outer Zone businesses.

At the time of publication, the investigation of the inventory had not been completed.

Synthetic cannabis is a psychoactive designer drug derived of natural herbs sprayed with synthetic chemicals that, when consumed, allegedly mimic the effects of cannabis.


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 • 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


03/06/2015 12:00 PM
CHEROKEE, N.C. – The producers of the outdoor drama “Unto These Hills” that is held each summer in Cherokee is searching for male and female actors, ages 18-60, for the 2015 season. Several roles need to be cast for the drama that is performed in a 2,000-seat outdoor amphitheater. Actors are paid $200 to $400 per week, and the production offers on-site housing for $20 per week. The drama’s season runs from May 30 through Aug. 15, with rehearsals starting May 10. The Cherokee Historical Association will accept video auditions. Video submissions should include a monologue (2 minutes maximum); 16 bars up-tempo; 16 bars ballad, if you sing; movement reel (fight or dance) and a picture and resume. For more information, email <a href="mailto:"></a> or call 828-497-3652. This will be the 63nd season for the drama that tells the story of the Cherokee people “through the eons, through the zenith of their power, through the heartbreak of the Trail of Tears, finally ending, appropriately, in the present day, where the Cherokee people...continue to rewrite their place in the world.” There are also job opportunities at the Oconaluftee Indian Village, which is a re-created Cherokee village of the 1700-1800’s. Here the CHA depicts life as it was through historical interpretation and people are in character roles. This venue is open from May 1 through Oct. 24.
03/06/2015 11:24 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – From March 2-5, 36 candidates filed for the 10 seats that will be on the Cherokee Nation’s June 27 general election ballot, according to the Election Commission. Those filing for principal chief are incumbent Bill John Baker, state Rep. Will Fourkiller, former Principal Chief Chad Smith and former CN Community Services Director Charlie Soap. Deputy chief candidates are incumbent S. Joe Crittenden, current At-Large Tribal Councilor Julia Coates and current Dist. 14 Tribal Councilor Lee Keener. The Dist. 1 seat will have two candidates, Rex Jordan and Ryan Sierra. Current Tribal Councilor Tina Glory Jordan is terming out of office in August. The Dist. 3 seat candidates are incumbent David Walkingstick, Brian Berry, Brandon Girty, Kathy Kilpatrick and Larry Pritchett. Dist. 6 voters will have four candidates to choose from: Ron Goff, Natalie Fullbright, Bryan Warner and B. Keith McCoy. Current Tribal Councilor Janelle Fullbright is terming out of office. Shawn Crittenden and Corey Bunch will vie for the Dist. 8 seat, which is currently held by Tribal Councilor Jodie Fishinghawk, who terms out in August. The Dist. 12 seat also has two candidates, incumbent Dick Lay and Dora Smith Patzkowski. Former Tribal Councilor Buel Anglen will vie for the Dist. 13 seat against Kenneth Holloway. Current Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts terms out of that seat in August. Former Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board member Keith Austin will go up against William “Bill” Pearson for the Dist. 14 seat, which is currently held by Keener. The At-Large seat brought out 10 candidates. They are Linda Leaf-Bolin, Trey Brown, Pamela Fox, Shane Jett, Tommy Jones, Wanda Hatfield, Darell Matlock, Benjamin McKee, Deborah Reed and Betsy Swimmer. Coates currently holds that council seat, but she also terms out in August. All candidate filings can be contested through March 12 during the candidacy eligibility period. The Cherokee Phoenix will host a principal chief and deputy chief debate on May 16 at the W. Roger Webb Educational Technologies Center (Net Lab) at Northeastern State University located at 610 North Grand Ave. in Tahlequah. The debate will be live streamed. Time has yet to be determined. The Phoenix will also publish a Tribal Council candidate questionnaire in its May issue. Election Timeline March 5-12: Contest of candidacy eligibility. March 5-19: Candidate withdrawal period. March 5-23: EC investigates candidates. March 24: Meeting to draw for order of candidates and watchers at 4 p.m. March 24: Appeal of EC eligibility decision with Cherokee Nation Supreme Court. March 31: Voter registration closes. March 31-April 3: Supreme Court establishes hearing schedule. April 15: Candidate financial reports due. May 8: Absentee request closes at 5 p.m. May 13: Deadline to set and publish precinct locations on the website and newspaper. May 15: Candidate financials due. May 20: Mail voter cards. May 26-27: Mail absentee ballots. June 15: Candidate financial reports due. June 20: Early walk-in voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 22-27: Verify absentee ballots and take down to the secrecy envelope. June 23: Early walk-in voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 23-27: Drop box for absentee from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 24: Early walk-in voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 25: Early walk-in voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 26: Supplies go out and deliver tubs to precincts. June 27: Election Day. June 29: Request for recount ends 5 p.m. on July 1. July 2-3: Recount held by EC and Supreme Court Justices attend. July 6: Election appeals deadline. July 7-9: Supreme Court hearing and provide results. July 13-14: Run-off absentee ballots mail out. July 15: Candidate financial reports due. July 18 & 21-23: Early walk in 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 21-25: Personal delivery box. July 24: Supplies got out and deliver tubs to precincts. July 25: Run-off election. July 27-July 29: Request for run-off election recount. July 30: Recount held by EC and Supreme Court justices attend. Aug. 3: Run-off election appeal deadline. Aug. 4-6: Supreme Court hearing and provide results. Aug. 7: Final candidate financial report due. Aug. 11: Regular meeting and certification of election and candidates. Aug. 14: Swearing in of elected officials. Aug. 17: Registration opens. Sept. 15: Candidate financial report due. Oct. 15: Candidate financial report due, Nov. 16: Candidate financial report due. Dec. 15: Candidate financial report due.
03/03/2015 03:11 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Regardless of inclement weather expected to hit Tahlequah Tuesday night, the Election Commission’s Election Services Office will open on Wednesday to allow candidates to file for the June 27 election. Election Director Connie Parnell said Cherokee Nation election law states that March 2-5 are the four days that are designated for filing. The filing period for candidates closes at 5 p.m. March 5. “This office will be open tomorrow even if Cherokee Nation is not,” she said. According to News On 6 Tulsa’s weather forecast, Tahlequah is expected to get rain Tuesday evening, which will turn into freezing rain and sleet during overnight with anywhere from 2-6 inches of snow expected by Wednesday morning. Thursday is expected to be sunny with a high of 35 degrees. Registered voters residing outside the CN jurisdiction who wish to vote by absentee ballot may fill out an absentee ballot request to be processed from Feb. 2 to May 8. Absentee ballot requests will be available at the Election Services Office and online at The EC will mail absentee ballots May 26-27. Voter registration will close March 31. To print a voter registration form online visit or pick up one in person at the Election Services Office. Citizens can request to have one sent by email or fax. Also, voters with address changes, name changes or any changed information will need to submit a new voter registration application, according to the release. The Election Services Office is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It’s located at 22116 S. Bald Hill Road. For more information call 918-458-5899.
03/03/2015 02:00 PM
SOUTH COFFEYVILLE, Okla. – On March 5, Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Entertainment officials will celebrate the opening of the Cherokee Casino South Coffeyville, which is expected to bring more than 100 new jobs to the area. CNE, the tribe’s gaming arm, broke ground on the 17,000-square-foot facility in August. The $10 million development offers 300 electronic games and a dining venue featuring lunch, dinner and cocktail options. CNE currently operates Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa, eight Cherokee Casinos, a horse racing track, three hotels, three golf courses and other retail operations. The public ribbon cutting and opening celebration will be held at 2 p.m. at the facility located off Highway 169 south of South Coffeyville.
03/03/2015 10:26 AM
COLUMBIA, S.C. – John Shurr, a Cherokee Nation citizen and longtime free press advocate and Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board member, died at his South Carolina home on March 1 at age 67. Shurr had served on the Editorial Board since 2000, with much time as board chairman. Cherokee Phoenix Executive Editor Bryan Pollard said he had a “handful of mentors” in his career and Shurr was one of them and the most influential. “He was unwavering in his dedication to ensuring press freedoms and access to information in both mainstream and tribal media,” Pollard said. “He was a dedicated journalist and passionate advocate for the truth, but most importantly, he was a good man. He was a proud Cherokee and understood the importance of a free press in Cherokee society. His contributions to the Cherokee Phoenix are indelible. He will be sorely missed.” [BLOCKQUOTE]Former Principal Chief Chad Smith said Shurr was influential in developing the CN Independent Press Act. In 1999 following the tribe’s Constitutional Crisis, it became apparent the value of a newspaper that was independent, Smith said. In determining how the free press act should read, he said Shurr was heavily involved in ensuring language that would allow the press to remain independent. “So I think he was key. While many of us had the general sentiment, he had the experience as a practitioner to give us guidance,” he said. The act’s language, Smith said, was picked up from various free press acts and Shurr was supportive with the legislation written because he knew there was a need for the press act. To the Editorial Board, Smith said Shurr brought experience and professionalism. “We looked for the best qualified Cherokee newspaperman we could find, and having been a bureau chief of AP (Associated Press) and with his experiences, it was very simple decision to make as to how he could benefit the Nation and be sure that the paper could remain independent,” he said. Former board member Jason Terrell said he worked with Shurr at the Native American Journalists Association in the late 1990s and served five years with him on the Phoenix board. “His passion for freedom of the press was unbridled and that passion extended to his immense contributions to the creation and protection of Cherokee Nation’s free press act,” Terrell said. “A Vietnam veteran, he didn’t shy away from confronting the opponents of freedom head on. The mainstream press and the tribal press have both lost a fierce advocate for the First Amendment, and those who knew him best have lost a good friend. Rest in Peace, John. You’ve definitely earned it.” Aside from his work in tribal media, Shurr was dedicated to openness in all media. In the more than 20 years that Shurr led South Carolina’s AP bureau, he continually supported the need for openness and transparency in public records and agencies and in courts. According to the AP, in 1988, the state Supreme Court unanimously voted to refuse to allow cameras or tape recorders in courtrooms. But Shurr did not waver in his commitment to transparency in the courtroom. He continued to speak to judges, lawyers and journalists about the importance of an open government. “At the time, South Carolina was one of a handful of states that didn’t allow journalists to have electronic equipment in courtrooms,” the AP states. “In 1992, largely due to Shurr’s efforts, South Carolina courts began a six-month experiment allowing cameras in the courts. Today, having cameras in the courtrooms is commonplace.” Bill Rogers, executive director of the South Carolina Press Association, said if it were not for Shurr, courtrooms in South Carolina may have still been without cameras and recording devices today. Jay Bender, press association lawyer and University of South Carolina media law professor, said many people may have not know his name, but information was out there for the public because of his efforts in South Carolina. “…But every day our people get information about officials and records they wouldn’t have otherwise had if it hadn’t been for the right-to-know fights he led,” Bender said. Shurr also created a scholarship in his name with the Cherokee Nation Foundation. It’s available to a graduate or undergraduate CN citizen who has been accepted in an accredited journalism or mass communications degree program. The student chosen for this scholarship also must apply for an eight-week, paid, summer internship with the Cherokee Phoenix. Cherokee Phoenix Reporter Tesina Jackson O’Field was the first recipient of this scholarship. “In 2009, John selected me as the first recipient of the John Shurr Journalism Award, which essentially started my career with the Cherokee Phoenix. I was about to graduate from college and unsure of the journalism world that lie ahead of me, but he saw something in me that I did not,” Jackson O’Field said. “He took a chance on me, something that I have been truly thankful for. I only hope that I have made him proud.” Shurr talked to the Cherokee Phoenix in 2009 about his scholarship and why he started it. “It’s very rewarding for me to be able to help get a young Cherokee journalist educated and also make available to them an opportunity at our newspaper,” he said. Shurr retired from the AP in 2007. He was married to Debbie Ashe Shurr. Visitation at the family residence is set for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 4. A memorial service will be March 5 at 2 p.m. at Incarnation Lutheran Church in Columbia. A private burial will be held at a later date at the Beaufort National Cemetery. Dunbar Funeral Home-Devine in Columbia is handling the services. <strong>JOHN C. SHURR</strong> Born: March 15, 1947, in Muskogee, Oklahoma <strong>Newspaper History:</strong> • Executive editor of the Oklahoma Daily, the student newspaper at the University of Oklahoma • Muskogee Phoenix, 1966 • Norman Transcript, 1970-1973 • Chicago assistant bureau chief • Oklahoma Associated Press bureau chief, 1981-1984 • South Carolina Associated Press bureau chief, 1984-2007 • South Carolina Press Association FOI chairman, 1986-2009 • Native American Journalists Association member, 20+ years • Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board chairman, 2000 to present <strong>Honors and Awards:</strong> • SCPA Distinguished Service Award • 2 SCPA FOI Awards • Order of the Palmetto • Gavel Award from the American Bar Association • Elias Boudinot Award • Navy Presidential Unit Citations (2) • Navy Unit Commendations (2) • Combat Action Ribbon • Battle Efficiency Awards (3) • Vietnam Gallantry Cross • Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal • Vietnam Service Medal (3 bronze stars) <strong>Education:</strong> B.A. in journalism from the University of Oklahoma <strong>Military Service:</strong> U.S. Navy <strong>Family:</strong> Debbie, his wife – Courtesy of The S.C. Press Association <strong>Remembrances of those who knew him</strong> “You were the first to encourage me to set my sights on becoming an editor. I scoffed then. That was 10 years ago. But look what happened. You were right, sir. We all have it in us to become more that what we aspire to. Walk softly into that good night.” – Lisa Snell, Native Oklahoma and Native Times publisher “I am so saddened at the news that a good friend, John Shurr, has passed. He was one of a handful of mentors I could always count on to steer me in the right direction. Rest in peace dear friend, rest in peace. This is a great loss to our media family.” – Shannon Shaw Duty, Osage News editor “John was also a mentor to many a young journalist. He was dedicated to making sure that the next generation was prepared to take on the challenges of defending a free press and we are all better for his efforts.” – Jason Terrell, former Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board member “He had impeccable comedic timing and always delivered a one-liner when things got stressful in the newsroom. He assigned me an ‘unofficial’ mentor at one point. It was a homeless man with a sign asking for money for beer, pot and hookers. ‘Hey, at least I’m honest,’ the sign read. RIP John Shurr.” – Jacob Jordan, friend and former colleague “John was always there whenever I needed him. When I had computer troubles, he would jokingly say it must be operator error. He came to Columbia the first year I started working for The Greenville News. He followed my work and when I moved to Columbia, he and Lou Krasky gave me a job as a freelancer, which later turned into a staff post in Greenville. My first assignment for the AP was when Pope John Paul II came to Columbia, and I got the front page of The New York Times. Thank you, John and Lou for giving me the greatest time of my life. Peace be with you.” – Mary Ann Chastain, friend “RIP John Shurr. You were a great captain and trusted friend. ‘Fair winds and following seas and long may your big jib draw!’ God speed my friend.” – Ken Elmore, friend “My longtime mentor, friend and primary reason I got my foot in the journalism door 10 years ago has passed away. John Shurr always believed in me and frequently checked in on me and my family. He gave me one of my first opportunities when I worked with him and a newsroom of amazing people in Columbia, South Carolina in 2005. He had a wonderful sense of humor and will be missed by many. Rest in peace, my friend. Thank you for all the wonderful stories and memories.” – Christina Good Voice, Mvskoke Media interim director and Communications manager “John Shurr was a Cherokee citizen who dedicated his life to advancing the profession of journalism. John served his country with distinction in the military and was a servant to the Cherokee people on the Phoenix Editorial Board. His work and patriotism will long be remembered. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.” – Principal Chief Bill John Baker “The people of the Cherokee Nation and beyond owe a great debt to John Shurr. He was a gatekeeper for truthful communication, a career journalist. In the years I knew of him and had the honor of working with him, on the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board, John always spoke and wrote quietly, yet passionately, in defense of the people’s right to know and the people’s right to have a voice in the quest for self-governance, political challenges aside. John’s legacy is now the charge for those fortunate enough to have served under his mentorship. It is a charge that must not be taken lightly as it is endorsed by the Creator of all things who tells us this: Truth goes forth and does not return void; Truth always accomplishes that which it intends; Those who embrace the Truth will prosper. Thank you, John. Do na da’ go hv i (until we meet again). – Clarice Doyle, former Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board member
03/02/2015 04:00 PM
WASHINGTON – The National Congress of American Indians Executive Council Winter Session announced that the White House invited tribal leaders to join the Generation Indigenous challenge. The Gen-I challenge is an initiative that focuses on building a bright future for Native youth. “The White House is inviting tribal leaders to take concrete steps to engage with Native youth in their communities, including working with or creating a youth council, hosting a joint meeting between youth and tribal leaders or partnering with youth to plan a program to support positive change in their community,” NCAI stated in a release. According to the release, seven tribes have accepted the Gen-I challenge, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska, Gila River Indian Community, Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and Three Affiliated Tribes. “Existing elements of the Gen-I challenge include the recently launched Cabinet officials’ Native Youth Listening Tour and a steering committee of Native youth to plan the first ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering,” the release states.