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
BY STAFF REPORTS
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.


News

BY STAFF REPORTS
04/24/2015 02:00 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The “Mid-Afternoon Frolic,” second edition, in May at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum is planned for younger talents. Designed for students in the seventh grade and lower, the family friendly talent show will be 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 3 in the museum’s Will Rogers Theater. Will Rogers entertained audiences at the “Midnight Frolic,” held on the rooftop of the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City. Patrons were entertained with music, humor and dance numbers. Named for that venue, the “Mid-Afternoon Frolic” will include talent numbers of music, humor and dance. Space is limited to 20 participants. Acts are limited to four minutes. BancFirst will sponsor cash prizes including $150 for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third place. Applications are available on line at <a href="http://www.willrogers.com" target="_blank">www.willrogers.com</a>, link on Upcoming Events, by email at wrinfo@willrogers.com or by calling 918-343-8118.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
04/24/2015 12:00 PM
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — In an unusually public fight, a Cherokee advocacy group is challenging a half-million dollars in extra pay the Tribal Council recently approved for itself, saying the North Carolina tribe can't afford raises for top officials while other services suffer. The dispute has exposed details of tribal operations not often seen by outsiders and comes months before elections for top tribal posts. The group argues that Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians lawmakers violated tribal law when they voted in October to give current and former council members raises retroactive to 2010, according to a letter to the council. The raises and back pay through 2015 exceed $500,000, and hundreds of thousands more in tribal funds will go to adjusted retirement benefits, the group says. "At a time when vital Tribal programs in the areas of health, elder services, families and children continue to be underfunded, such exploitation of public office for personal gain is simply unconscionable," the letter dated April 16 states. The group's Asheville-based attorney, Meghann Burke, said the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for Justice and Accountability plans to file a lawsuit in Cherokee Tribal Court if the council doesn't return the money by its May 7 meeting. The group quotes tribal law as saying pay raises can't go into effect until the council's next term and that increases "shall not exceed the amount appropriated in that fiscal year for tribal employees." All 12 Tribal Council members, who serve two-year terms, as well as the principal chief, who serves a four-year term, are up for election in the fall. Tribal lawmakers passed the pay raises 9-1, with two sitting out, in their budget in October. Budget documents obtained by the advocacy group show each member received a raise of about $10,000 for the fiscal year starting in October. The new salaries range from about $80,000 for most members to about $86,000 for chairwoman Terri Henry. The group says several former council members also received retroactive payments of as much as nearly $24,000. The members who sat out of the vote, Teresa McCoy and Albert Rose, filed protests and unsuccessfully sought to undo the raises. A memo from Rose to Henry says the "Tribal Council cannot institute a pay increase until the next Council is seated" and the raises are "a direct violation" of tribal law. If filed, the advocacy group's lawsuit would ask the court to declare the raises invalid and make the council members return the money. The tribe's acting attorney general, Hannah Smith, and Tribal Council Vice Chairman Bill Taylor declined to comment, and Henry didn't respond to a phone message. Principal Chief Michell Hicks didn't return a message left Wednesday with his assistant. In the past, dismay over raises for the council led to changes in the law. The 2004 resolution that became the law on council pay raises said tribe members felt the panel had previously given itself unfair raises of $10,000 or more. "Tribal Council should set the example for curbing spending," says the unanimously passed resolution. Documents obtained by the advocacy group show average annual pay increases for tribal employees were between 2 and 4 percent annually for the decade ending in 2013. A 2014 memo from Smith to top tribal officials says tribal employees are in a separate category from members of the government. The tribe has approximately 15,000 enrolled members and employs about 4,000 in government and tribal businesses, spokeswoman Lynne Harlan said. Most of the tribal government's revenue comes from gambling operations anchored by the sprawling Harrah's Cherokee Hotel and Casino, and the tribe is building a second casino. A report by an outside accounting firm showed that gambling provided nine-tenths of tribal government revenues for the 2008 and 2009 fiscal years. The dispute provides a wider look at tribal operations than outsiders typically get. The tribe's laws guarantee enrolled members — but not necessarily others — access to public records and meetings. A reporter for the Smoky Mountain News, a weekly newspaper that has frequently covered the tribe, wrote in December that she and other journalists were denied entry to a meeting that month. Becky Walker, one of the leaders of Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for Justice and Accountability, said a core group of 6 to 10 members has participated for years but support has swelled since the decision on pay raises. "We have been attending meetings for years ... and have been really upset with some of the decisions," she said, adding that this is the first time they've hired a lawyer to take action. There were public protests of the decision, and Walker says she's heard from many tribe employees who are upset but afraid to speak out. Concerns include that the tribe has overextended itself with the new casino and other businesses. "A lot of the enrolled members have concerns about how much debt we're in," she said.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
04/24/2015 10:00 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A group of American Indian actors walked off the set of an Adam Sandler movie this week over complaints about stereotypes, offensive names and scenes they say disrespected Native American religious practices. Actor Loren Anthony told The Associated Press on Thursday that he and eight others quit the production of the satirical Western "The Ridiculous Six" after producers ignored their concerns about its portrayal of Apache culture and the inappropriate use of props. Anthony said the script included offensive names for Native American female characters and a scene where a Native American woman urinated while smoking a peace pipe. Another scene used chicken feathers on teepees, he said. "Right from the get-go, it didn't feel right. But we it let it go," said Anthony, a Navajo actor who started work as an extra on the movie Monday. "Once we found out more about the script, we felt it was totally disrespectful to elders and Native women." "The Ridiculous Six" is produced by Sandler and Allen Covert and is slated for a Netflix-only release. Production began this month in Santa Fe and elsewhere in northern New Mexico. The film is a comedy designed to lampoon stereotypes, Netflix said. "The movie has 'ridiculous' in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous," a company statement released by Netflix said. "It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of — but in on — the joke." A spokesman for Sandler's Manchester, New Hampshire-based production company, Happy Madison Productions, didn't immediately return a phone message. Goldie Tom, another extra who departed the set Wednesday, said producers told the group to leave if they felt offended and that script changes were not up for debate. "This just shows that Hollywood has not changed at all," Tom said. She added the production had a number of non-Native American actors portraying American Indians, a long-standing complaint about the movie industry. The actors said a Native American consultant hired by the production also walked off the set. The New Mexico Film Office said Thursday the dispute was a First Amendment issue and the office had no say over the movie's content. "As long as the production meets the requirements in the film credit statute, there is nothing prohibiting them from filming in New Mexico and receiving the rebate," the office said in a statement. Outgoing Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly lauded the extras' decision. "Our Native American culture and tradition is no joking matter," Shelly said. "I applaud these Navajo actors for their courage and conviction to walk off the set in protest." David Hill, 74, a Choctaw actor from Oklahoma who left the set, said he thought the film industry was heading toward better portrayal of American Indians before this experience. "Over the years, we have seen change. Then this," Hill said. "We told them, 'Our dignity is not for sale.’"
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/23/2015 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Phoenix is asking Cherokee Nation citizens to submit questions they would like to ask either the principal chief or deputy chief candidates during the Cherokee Phoenix Debate 2015. The debates are slated for 6 p.m. on May 16 at the Northeastern State University’s Robert P. Webb Auditorium in Tahlequah. Those interested in submitting a question can do so by using #askthechief2015 on social media websites Facebook or Twitter. The Cherokee Phoenix may select or modify a submitted question and ask it during the debates. Click <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Article/index/9046" target="_blank">http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Article/index/9046</a> for additional information.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
04/23/2015 08:45 AM
EUCHA, Okla. – Three Cherokee families gathered April 18 at the Round Springs Cemetery to honor their respective ancestors who survived the Trail of Tears and later died in the Cherokee Nation. The descendants of Chief Charles “Oochalata” Thompson, Anderson Springston and Charlotte Chopper, some traveling from other states, came to the cemetery west of Jay for a ceremony hosted by the Oklahoma Trail of Tears Association. On the headstone of all three survivors, a metal plaque was placed that read: “In honor of one who endured the forced removal of the Cherokees in 1838-39. The Trail of Tears Association Oklahoma Chapter” and included the TOTA and CN seals. Oklahoma TOTA President Curtis Rohr said 130 survivors’ graves have been marked since 1997. Daniel Tanner, 66, came from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, to honor “Oochalata” Thompson. “It was hard to hold back tears,” he said. “I’m really glad I came down here when I did. I’ve been here for two weeks now, and this is going to be the highlight of my trip. I think it’s a real honor to be recognized in this way, and all the family that’s here should be really proud of our ancestors and those who survived the Trail of Tears.” Thompson was born in the CN East circa 1821. Prior to the removal, the family lived on the Toccoa River in what is now Gilmer County, Georgia. In 1838-39, Oochalata’s family endured the removal, traveling with the Choowa-looky/Wofford Detachment, and settled on Brush Creek, south of what is now Jay. In 1875, running on the Downing Party ticket, Thompson defeated Chief William Potter Ross and was elected chief of the CN. He was the last monolingual Cherokee speaker to be chief. His term was marked through its entirety by disagreements with the U.S. government over its refusal to allow the CN to set its citizenship requirements and remove people the Cherokees felt were intruders in the Nation. He died in 1891. Patti Jo King of Muskogee is a descendant of Springston. The director of Bacone College’s Center for American Indians in Muskogee, she has researched her ancestors and knew about Springston before the ceremony. “I’ve been coming out here (cemetery) since I was child,” she said. “I thought the ceremony was absolutely beautiful, and I wouldn’t have missed this for the world…My mother was quite close to Anderson Springston’s son John Leak Springston. I’m so happy that this has happened. I thank the Trail of Tears Association for bringing our family’s history to light.” Springston was born Oct. 13, 1814, in the CN East, probably on the Tennessee River and possibly in present-day Marshall County, Alabama. He was adamantly opposed to removal. In 1834, he and his half-brother, James Foreman, were implicated in the murder of John Walker, a removal advocate. However, they were not convicted. On June 22, 1839, he and five others took part in the assassination of Major Ridge, a signer of the Treaty of New Echota that sold remaining Cherokee lands in the east and leader of the Treaty Party. Disagreements over this removal treaty caused tension in the CN during the next decade. Springston eventually settled near Spavinaw Creek in what is now Eucha in Delaware County. About 1844 he married Sarah “Sallie” Elliott. They had seven children. Trained as an attorney, Springston served as solicitor in the Delaware District from 1841-44. In 1845, he was elected to the Cherokee Committee (later called the Senate) from the same district and served one term. Springston died on March 15, 1866. He was originally buried in a cemetery at Galcatcher Hollow. In 1952, his body was reinterred in Round Springs Cemetery. Carol Hamby came to honor her great-great grandmother Charlotte Chopper. She said she is “proud” of her grandmother for surviving the Trail of Tears and submitted the paperwork to have her grandmother honored two years ago. “I looked at her headstone, saw her birthdate, saw when she died, and said, ‘she had to have come across it’ (Trail of Tears),” she said. “It’s been exciting. I have relatives here from Denver, Joplin, Missouri; Kansas City, Missouri; Dallas, Texas; Tahlequah; Jay; Tulsa. We have a bunch of family here” Sah-lah-dah, known in English as Charlotte, was a full-blood Cherokee born circa 1817 in the CN East. Her father’s name has not been preserved, but her mother was named Ne-di. About 1833, she married Gah-loo-yah, known in English as Chopper. They lived on the Ellijay River in what is now Gilmer County, Georgia, and had four children. In 1838-39, she had her husband and daughter endured the forced removal in the Choowalooky/Wofford detachment. The family settled in the Delaware District near what is now Eucha. She died on Feb. 28, 1858, at Eucha and was buried in the Chopper family cemetery near the Lake Eucha Bridge on Hwy. 59. At the formation of the Lake Eucha in 1952, her body was reinterred at Round Springs Cemetery. National President of the Trail of Tears Association and Tribal Councilor Jack Baker said the markings honor Trail of Tears survivors and enable their families to understand the removal wasn’t an “isolated event” in the tribe’s history and it happened to their family. “This wasn’t just an event in history, but it actually happened to our family,” he said. “We have the markers on the grave, so when you visit the gravesites with your children later on...and they ask what that marker is you can tell them that’s your family and your family was a part of the Trail of Tears.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/22/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On April 17, Principal Chief Bill John Baker signed a proclamation in remembrance of the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the domestic terrorism act that took place in Oklahoma. Baker also released a statement regarding the day and the 20th anniversary: “The April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was an incredibly dark day for our state. It was a tragedy of epic proportions that sent an entire nation into mourning. The loss of 168 innocent civilians, including 19 precious children, was the result of an evil act we never imagined could happen in Oklahoma. As tragic as that day was, what emerged was a united Oklahoma that showed strength, humanity, courage and resilience. No act of terror could extinguish the indomitable Oklahoma spirit. “On Sunday, the 20th anniversary of that tragedy, we will collectively mourn again, but we will also reflect on our strength as a society to pick ourselves up and pull through anything, despite our broken hearts. I hold the deepest admiration for the courage shown by everyone affected by that day: the survivors, their families, first responders and so many others. So while we grieve with you for those we lost, we also honor you for your strength and resilience. “On behalf of the entire Cherokee Nation, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with each and every one of you. God bless.”