Cherokee Nation citizen Sharon Kyles of Locust Grove, Okla., completes a change-of-address form on June 22 after casting a challenged ballot in the Dist. 15 Tribal Council race. Precinct workers in the Locust Grove Town Hall said she was supposed to vote in the Dist. 9 race despite Kyles receiving a letter from the tribe’s Election Commission stating she was in Dist. 15. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

6 incumbents to remain on Tribal Council

Cherokee Nation citizen Jimmy Leeds of Tahlequah, Okla., signs in on June 22 to vote in the Tribal Council election at the Dist. 2 precinct in the W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX A Cherokee Nation citizen on June 22 places her ballot into a ballot machine at the District 2 precinct located in the W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Okla. Candidates Tamsye Dreadfulwater and Joe Byrd were vying for the seat. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Lorraine A. Gifford of Rocky Ford, Okla., places her ballot for the Dist. 2 Tribal Council race in a ballot machine located at the precinct inside Lowery Public School. The Cherokee Nation’s election was held on June 22 and Dist. 2 pitted Tamsye Dreadfulwater against incumbent Joe Byrd. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Jeanette Riley of Locust Grove, Okla., votes in a Tribal Council election on June 22 at the precinct located in the Locust Grove Town Hall. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Linda Keener of Rose, Okla., votes in the Tribal Council elections on June 22 at the precinct located in the tribe’s AMO Clinic in Salina. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Jimmy Leeds of Tahlequah, Okla., signs in on June 22 to vote in the Tribal Council election at the Dist. 2 precinct in the W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
06/23/2013 04:42 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to unofficial results from the Cherokee Nation’s June 22 election, six current Tribal Councilors will remain on the legislative body when the new 15-district representative map replaces the five-district map on Aug. 14. In two other district races, one incumbent faces a runoff while another incumbent lost.

Incumbent Joe Byrd of Tahlequah will serve as councilor for the new Dist. 2. Unofficial results showed Byrd receiving 67.97 percent of the votes, or 416 ballots, while Tamsye Dreadfulwater of Tahlequah received 32.03 percent or 196 votes.

“Now it’s time to go to work,” Byrd said. “And all the people that helped, the volunteers, the people that let me put signs in their yard, it was really a team effort and there were a lot of people involved with my reelection and I just want to thank all of the people that supported me.”

Byrd previously served on the Tribal Council from 1987-95 and since 2012. He also served as principal chief from 1995-99.

“One of my main initiatives in this go-around is going to be making sure that any of the elderly that want a storm shelter, I want to make sure they have one available to them because of the uncertainty of what our weather patterns have been,” he said. “Everybody talks about health care and scholarships, and that’s OK and I still support that, but I’m really going to concentrate on our elders this go-around.”

In the Dist. 4 race, incumbent Don Garvin of Muskogee will face challenger Mike Dobbins of Fort Gibson in a runoff election on July 27 because Garvin did not receive more than 50 percent of the vote.

Garvin received 304 votes, or 43.8 percent, while Dobbins received 240 votes or 34.58 percent. Candidate Justin Carlton of Muskogee received 150 votes or 21.61 percent.

Attempts to reach Garvin for a comment were unsuccessful.

Dobbins said he was “happy” to be in the runoff and he has a lot of work in front of him. He added that the biggest concern for Dist. 4 constituents is health care.

“With sequester cuts, I’m trying to reassure the Cherokee people that we will everything we can to keep health services intact,” he said.

Incumbent David Thornton of Vian will serve as Tribal Councilor for the new Dist. 5 when he’s inaugurated. Results showed that Thornton received 56.75 percent of the votes, or 311 votes, while his opponents Dink Scott of Vian received 35.22 percent or 193 votes. Candidate Sherri Doolin of Braggs received 44 votes for 8.03 percent.

Thornton was first elected to the council in 2003. The Phoenix attempted to reach him but was unsuccessful.

In the Dist. 7 race, incumbent Frankie Hargis of Stilwell received 547 votes, or 55.09 percent, to defeat Joe Adair of Stilwell who received 446 votes or 44.91 percent.

Hargis first won a seat on the council in December 2011 during a special election to fill a seat vacated by now Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden. She also defeated Adair in that race.

Hargis credited her friends and family for working “tirelessly” with her to win the race. She said she appreciated those who voted for her and gave her their support.

Hargis said she’s heard from Cherokee people that they need help with application processes to receive tribal services such as housing, health care and education.

“We’ve made progress with all of that, and I’m so happy that I get to continue to help moving us forward to even better opportunities for our people,” she said.

In Dist. 9, unofficial results show that incumbent Curtis G. Snell of Rose won by 57.49 percent, or 407 votes, to defeat Lonus Mitchell of Rose who got 301 votes for 42.51 percent. Attempts to reach Snell were unsuccessful.

In Dist. 10, Harley Buzzard of Eucha received 66.82 percent of the vote for getting 290 ballots, while his opponent Nettie Detherage of Fairland received 33.18 percent or 144 votes.

Buzzard was not available for comment when election results were posted.

Tribal Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr., drew no opponent for the new Dist. 11, so he will be inaugurated on Aug. 14 as that district’s council representative.

Three candidates campaigned for the Dist. 15 seat and unofficial results show that Janees Taylor of Pryor won with 50.7 percent or 289 votes. Incumbent Meredith Frailey of Locust Grove had 45.96 percent of the vote or 262 votes, and candidate Marilyn Cooper of Locust Grove got 19 votes for 3.33 percent.
Attempts to reach Taylor were unsuccessful.

The council’s At-Large Seat No. 2 had six candidates vying for it. Unofficial results show incumbent Jack Baker of Nichols Hills winning with 739 votes for 51.64 percent.

Candidates Curtis Bruehl of Norman received 30.4 percent from 435 votes. Ken Luttrell of Ponca City got 5.87 percent from 84 votes, while Robin Mayes of Denton, Texas, received 5.24 percent from 75 votes. Curtis West of Klamath Falls, Ore., received 3.63 percent of the vote, 52 votes overall, while Carol Richmond of Tulsa received 46 votes for 3.21 percent.

Although the results were unofficial, Baker said he feels he “fought a clean fight and did not run down any other candidate.”

“Even with all the money that was spent trying to take me out, I think the Cherokee people were able to see through that and still re-elect me,” he said.

The Election Commission is expected to certify the results within three days. – Senior Reporter Will Chavez and Reporters Jami Custer, Tesina Jackson and Stacie Guthrie contributed to this report.


11/27/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) - In preparation for upcoming balloting, the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission has made notification of its Dec. 1 election and eligible candidates. The election is Dec. 1 for commissioners representing Cherokee and Adair counties. Those elected serve a term of four years on the OSRC Board of Commissioners, which numbers 12. Running for Cherokee County representative are Gary Dill, incumbent John Larson, Kathy Ryals and Howard Tate. Incumbent George Stubblefield and Kathy Tibbits are running for Adair County representative. Steve Randall, incumbent, is unopposed for the Delaware County seat. Under its rules, the OSRC must post prior public notice of the election in five conspicuous locations in both Cherokee and Adair counties. It must also be published twice in newspapers of record in each county and sent by email to all on the OSRC email list. Eligible voters must be registered to vote in Oklahoma, and reside or own real property within 660 feet of a scenic river. They must also have filed a voter registration qualification affidavit with the OSRC between 2001 and Nov. 7, 2015. Absentee voting is prohibited. Voters may cast ballots from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Cherokee County polling site is OSRC Headquarters, 15971 Highway 10, two miles northeast of Tahlequah. Adair County polling site is the Chewey Area Community Center. For further information contact Ed Fite, OSRC administrator, at 918-456-3251 or write to <a href="mailto:"></a>.
Assistant Editor
11/27/2015 12:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association held a Nov. 17 press conference at the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum to celebrate tribal gaming’s nearly billion-dollar contribution to education in the state. OIGA officials released findings from the 2015 Inaugural Statewide Economic Impact from Oklahoma Tribal Governmental Gaming study. The study states more than $980 million from Oklahoma-based gaming tribes has been deposited into two state education funds in the 10 years since gaming was approved by a statewide vote. “We are thrilled to share the results of this important study, and happy to have such a great story to tell about our vital and growing industry,” OIGA Chairman Brian Foster said. “We are very proud of the enormous contribution our Oklahoma tribes in gaming have been able to make to education and look forward to that number growing substantially in the coming years. With our continued commitment to financially supporting education in Oklahoma, we want to become a driving force in making our state’s education system one others want to emulate.’’ According to the Cherokee Nation’s gaming compact with Oklahoma, the tribe pays fees on Class III gaming activities to the state’s treasurer. The compact states the tribe pays 4 percent of the first $10 million, 5 percent of the next $10 million and 6 percent of any subsequent amount of adjusted gross revenues received by the tribe from its electronic games, as well as a monthly 10 percent payment of net wins from non-house banked card games. In exchange for these fees, the tribe receives certain geographic exclusivity, limits to the number of gaming machines at existing horse racing tracks and the prohibition of non-tribal operation of certain machines and covered games. Prior to the 2004 approval of State Question 712, Oklahoma-based tribes could only operate Class I or Class II gaming, which did not require state compacts. According to, there are now 34 tribes that have state gaming compacts. According to a Nov. 16 Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission report, the CN has paid $162.9 million in gaming exclusivity fees, or compact fees, to the state since 2005. That report also states that $12.1 million in compact fees had been paid this year, with four months remaining. According to the report, compact fees include payments to the state, Fair Meadows racetrack in Tulsa and the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission. The Nation’s payments to the state alone total $111.7 million since 2005, according to the CNGC report. Principal Chief Bill John Baker said the OIGA study shows tribal governments have and will continue to make the state stronger and better for all Oklahomans. “For the Cherokee Nation and other tribes in Oklahoma, gaming represents economic opportunities that improve the lives of our tribal citizens. But secondary economic impacts from gaming revenues are equally important. The direct revenue we pay to the state of Oklahoma is significant, but the Cherokee Nation and other tribes also support thousands and thousands of jobs. That impact on Oklahoma families is immeasurable,” he said. “Money generated by our casinos also creates additional educational opportunities for our children, improves roads and infrastructure in our neighborhoods, provides greater access to quality health care and creates homeownership opportunities for our citizens. Our impact on the lives of Oklahomans is very real. Since the passage of State Question 712, 10 years ago, the tangible results have far surpassed initial expectations, and we are eager to continue our work making Oklahoma better for all.” According to OIGA, the state initially projected $71 million per year in revenue from gaming compacts. Other highlights of the study were: • The total estimated impact on Oklahoma from gaming was nearly $6.2 billion in 2014, • Tribal gaming is now Oklahoma’s 19th largest employment sector, • In 2014, tribal gaming supported 23,277 jobs – 19,523 of which were full-time positions, • Tribal gaming workers earned $1.16 billion in wages and benefits in 2014, and • Gaming workers paid more than $264 million in state and federal payroll taxes in 2014. For more information on the OIGA study, go to <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
11/26/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Nov. 21, the 2015-16 Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Councilors were sworn into office to begin serving and potentially help shape future tribal policy. “It’s going to be a good opportunity to get involved and make a difference and build relationships within the tribe,” Laurel Reynolds, a Claremore High School sophomore, said. The 17-member Council learns the CN Constitution and bylaws and identifies issues affecting Cherokee youths to pass on to the Tribal Council and administration. The leadership program started in 1989 and has 184 alumni. Students meet monthly and serve as tribal ambassadors. “The best days of the Cherokee Nation are in front of us and we need leaders in every field imaginable from doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, administrators and business people. Leadership starts with young people like you, who are willing to serve,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “The Tribal Youth Council is an opportunity for young Cherokees from all over the 14-county tribal jurisdiction to gain exposure to our tribal government, get to know the elected officials and have a voice in the discussions that will impact the Cherokee Nation today and in the future.” The 2015-16 Tribal Youth Council members are Taylor Armbrister, of Kansas; Jori Cowley, of Vinita; Bradley Fields, of Locust Grove; Amy Hembree, of Tahlequah; Camerin James, of Fort Gibson; Austin Jones, of Hulbert; Destiny Matthews, of Watts; Emily Messimore, of Claremore; Treyton Morris, of Salina; Sarah Pilcher, of Westville; Sunday Plumb, of Tahlequah; Laurel Reynolds, of Claremore; Abigail Shepherd, of Ochelata; Julie Thornton, of Gore; Chelbie Turtle of Tahlequah; Jackson Wells, of Tahlequah; and Sky Wildcat, of Tahlequah.
11/26/2015 12:00 PM
KETCHUM, Okla. – Pine Lodge Resort at Grand Lake is inviting people to its 12th annual “Winter Wonderland Christmas Light Tour” seven nights a week from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Nov. 26 through January 1. The “old fashion” Christmas light display features nearly half a million lights, lighted antique vehicles, a nativity scene and a host of characters. Admission is free and visitors may drive or walk through the light displays. Pine Lodge Resort is located one-hour northeast of Tulsa and 2.5 miles east of Ketchum off of Hwy 85. The resort, owned by Art and June Box, a Cherokee Nation citizen, sits near Grand Lake and has 17 cabins, seven mobile homes and RV sites for rent. The couple opened Pine Lodge Resort 15 years ago. Ten minutes away from the resort is golfing, a swim beach, spas, hiking, wave runner rentals and the South Grand Lake Regional Airport with free shuttles to and from the airport provided by the Pine Lodge Resort staff. The lodge is also close to casual and fine dining. Groups may reserve the resort’s clubhouse for dinners or special occasions. The resort has won the “Crystal Pelican Award” given by the Grand Lake Association for “The Most Outstanding Visitor’s Accommodations.” For more information, call 918-782-1400 or visit the Pine Lodge website at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. You can also find the resort on Facebook.
Senior Reporter
11/26/2015 08:00 AM
VINITA, Okla. – It’s easier for tribal leaders today to keep in contact with constituents via phone calls, social media and emails, but for Dist. 11 Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez nothing is better than seeing them in person. Dist. 11 encompasses Craig County and parts of Mayes and Nowata counties, and Vazquez said she tries to hold meetings to allow constituents to meet with her, other tribal leaders and representatives from Cherokee Nation programs and departments that are based in Tahlequah about 70 miles south. “It puts a more personal spin of what my job really is because I talk to individuals at those meetings, and they hear me talk things they don’t see on Facebook,” she said. The meetings help her hear concerns from constituents. She then takes those concerns to the Tribal Council and other tribal representatives who may be able to address them. “So many times after a community meeting I will go home with five or six issues that a citizen has told me about at the meeting and then the next day I call or email people in those (CN) departments,” Vazquez said. During a Nov. 17 meeting at the tribe’s Vinita Health Center, staff from Cherokee Nation Businesses; Election Commission staff, who helped people register to vote; Education Services; Marshal Service; Tax Commission, who provided information about the new hunting and fishing license program; Health Services, who gave free flu shots; Human Services; Child Support Services; Dental Services; and Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation assisted CN citizens. She said citizens also appreciated seeing their leaders. Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin Sr. all attended. The Hoskins are from Vinita and both served as Tribal Councilors and worked to bring more attention to the needs of people in the Vinita area. Hoskin Sr., who served three four-year terms on the council from 1995 to 2007, said he has “witnessed tremendous growth” in the area since his childhood. He said “to be quite honest” during all the years of him growing up in Vinita until he got on the council in 1995, if you asked anyone in the Vinita area if there were CN services available “the answer would be no.” “The only type of services we had was our housing addition out there, Buffington Heights, but as far as service, there wasn’t any,” he said. “Obviously, as you can tell this evening, there’s a lot of Cherokee up here, and I knew that, and the people that live up here, we knew that. So, that was the message, when I was first elected, that people told me to take to Tahlequah, and that’s exactly what I did.” Hoskin Sr. said he was glad to serve with a council that believed tribal services were for everyone no matter where they lived in the CN. “I’m proud to say we started the first Cherokee health care in Vinita in 1996 when we got the mobile clinic up here. It came to Vinita one day a week, and the people showed up. I used those (clinic) numbers to prove Cherokees were here. We just needed to provide services.” He said Principal Chief Bill John Baker, who served on the Tribal Council with him, also advocated for services for people in Vinita. “As more services began to come up here, more and more people began to come out and take advantage of them and use them,” he said. He said the town eventually received a walk-in clinic and finally a 92,000-square-foot health center in 2012, which was justified by the number of people in the Vinita area who needed and utilized CN services. Leon Dick, 81, of Vinita, who is Shawnee and Delaware and a CN citizen, said he comes to the community meetings to “find out what’s going on,” to fellowship and for “the eats.” He also gets to see family and friends in one place, he said. He said he grew up in nearby White Oak and takes part in the Shawnee stomp dances there, reading the Shawnee prayer before the dances. He said he appreciates the Vinita Health Center because he only has to drive 4 miles to receive medical care and no longer has to drive to the Claremore Indian Hospital nearly 40 miles away or the tribe’s Nowata clinic about 29 miles away. “At Claremore you’ve got to wait all day and sit around there all day. Here you get taken right in,” he said. Vazquez said Vinita has long been a center for Cherokees who built their homes and businesses there. Cherokee attorney Elias C. Boudinot established the Craig County seat in Vinita in 1871. “It was a center for Cherokees. They built the buildings and lived here, and we had chiefs come from here, streets are named after Cherokees,” she said. More attention is being brought to that history, she said, because the tribe now has more money to give to the Eastern Trails Museum in Vinita, which stores and displays the area’s history, and to buy artifacts and art to showcase the history of Vinita and Craig County in the Vinita Health Center. “We have a very caring and giving administration, and I’m just thankful to be a part of that and because of that I’m able to share much more locally than I have been in the past,” Vazquez said.
11/25/2015 04:00 PM
KESHENA, Wis. – The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin is suing federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Justice after federal agents destroyed the tribe’s industrial hemp crop on Oct. 23. “The Menominee Tribe, in cooperation with the College of Menominee Nation, should have the right under the Farm Bill to cultivate industrial hemp in the same manner as Kentucky, Colorado and other states,” Gary Besaw, Menominee chairman, said. “These and other states cultivate industrial hemp without threats or interference from the United States government. In contrast, when our tribe attempted to cultivate industrial hemp we were subjected to armed federal agents who came to our reservation and destroyed our crop. The Department of Justice should recognize the equality of tribes under the Farm Bill, and provide us with the same respect they have demonstrated to states growing industrial hemp for research purposes.” Industrial hemp, which can be grown as a fiber and a seed crop, is used to produce a range of textiles, foods, papers, body care products, detergents, plastics and building materials that are available throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Unlike marijuana, it has no psychoactive effect. Farmers in more than 30 countries around the world cultivate industrial hemp. “This is a straightforward legal issue,” Brendan Johnson, Menominee attorney, said. “The lawsuit focuses on the specific legal question of whether the Farm Bill’s industrial hemp provisions apply to Menominee. We are confident that the provisions do apply to Menominee, that Menominee is authorized under federal law to cultivate industrial hemp consistent with those provisions and that a federal court will read the Farm Bill provisions as we do and require the federal government to recognize Menominee’s rights under federal law to cultivate industrial hemp.”