Remember the Removal bike rider Tighe Wachacha celebrates on June 20 as he crosses into Oklahoma from Arkansas. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Cyclists return after retracing Trail of Tears

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians rider Marvel Welch of Cherokee, N.C., center, helps lead the Remember the Removal riders on June 21 into Tahlequah, Okla. At 53, Welch was oldest rider. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Friends and family greet LaTasha Atcity of Tahlequah on June 21 as she enters the Cherokee Courthouse Square in Tahlequah, Okla., during a welcoming ceremony for the Remember the Removal bike riders who retraced the northern route of the Trail of Tears. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians cyclist Hilary Gallegos, right, rides into the Cherokee Courthouse Square during a welcoming ceremony on June 21 for 22 Cherokee riders who retraced the Trail of Tears on the 175th anniversary of the forced removal. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Casey Cooper, CEO of the Cherokee Indian Hospital in Cherokee, N.C., speaks on June 21 during a welcoming ceremony about the importance of the Remember the Removal bicycle ride. Cooper, who rode the trek in 2011, commended the Cherokee Nation for organizing the ride. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX A map showing the route of the Remember the Removal bike ride from New Echota, Ga., the old Cherokee Nation capital, to Tahlequah, Okla., the current CN capital. COURTESY PHOTO
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians rider Marvel Welch of Cherokee, N.C., center, helps lead the Remember the Removal riders on June 21 into Tahlequah, Okla. At 53, Welch was oldest rider. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
06/25/2013 08:36 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Marvel Welch, 53, the oldest of the 2013 Remember the Removal bicycle riders, helped lead the cyclists on June 21 into Tahlequah as they ended their journey to cheers by family and friends.

Welch was one of seven riders from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who joined 15 riders from the Cherokee Nation. Together, they rode through seven states in three weeks – from New Echota, Ga., to Oklahoma – to commemorate the Trail of Tears. This year marks the 175th anniversary of the beginning of the forced removal that began in May 1838 when Cherokees were captured and moved to Indian Territory.

Welch of Cherokee, N.C., said her Cherokee ancestors remained in their North Carolina homelands after the removal, but dispelled the thought that her ancestors were not affected.

“My grandfather French moved back to North Carolina (after living in Oklahoma) and brought my mother. He traveled back and forth between Tahlequah and Cherokee,” she said. “This journey has been truly amazing with the young spirits that are with me. They’re all younger. I consider them kids. Their energy has kept me going. The land, at the places we have stopped, you can feel our past relations with us.”

Welch said she struggled at times during the journey, once riding up a large hill in Tennessee’s Cumberland Gap. She said she refused to get off of her bike and walk as other riders saw her struggle and came back to encourage her and put their hands on her back without pushing as she made it to the top of the hill.

“It’s just the amazing the energy that was there and the togetherness. I thought I was here to watch over them, and they were watching over me,” she said.

LaTasha Atcity of Tahlequah said she’s known of the ride since 2009 when it was reorganized 25 years after the initial trek. She hesitated turning in an application for four years. After hearing more about the ride she thought it would be an “amazing experience” because she knew little about her Cherokee heritage or the Trail of Tears and saw the ride as a way to learn.

“That’s something that really motivated me – to figure out what my heritage is and (learn about) the ancestors that brought me where I am today,” she said. “When I struggled every single day or when it was hot and I’m hungry, I knew that there was an end. My ancestors didn’t really know what the end was going to be. I’m going to go home, and I’m going to be able to sleep in my bed and see my family. They didn’t have that opportunity.”

EBCI rider Tighe Wachacha helped film a documentary about the ride two years ago. He applied for the ride in 2012 but was not selected. He trained and applied for this year’s ride and made the cut.

“After I watched them complete the ride...I immediately knew I wanted to try it,” he said. “Yeah, my ancestors didn’t have to make the trip, but the people of the Cherokee Nation are cousins or brothers and sisters of mine. I get a sense of how they felt leaving my own family behind because I’ve got two girls and a wife at home who I’ve not seen in three weeks.”

Fellow EBCI rider Hilary Gallegos said the opportunity to take the journey gave her a chance to learn about a time in Cherokee history that her family barely discussed and to form a bond with Oklahoma Cherokees.

“I’m glad I had this opportunity to get to know the facts about the Trail of Tears and what happened and to let everyone know we’re still here,” she said. “I’m just overwhelmed with joy for getting to know those that are in this journey that will forever be my family.”

The riders pedaled 950 miles through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma via a land route known as the Northern Route. Approximately 16,000 Cherokee people were removed from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina in the spring of 1838. It’s estimated nearly 4,000 of them died during the roundup, incarceration and removal.

EBCI rider Yona Wade said he can imagine how Cherokee people felt leaving their homes as he left his in Cherokee, crossing the Tennessee River at Blythe Ferry and watching the mountains fade into the distance.

“The Trail of Tears is a very important part of Cherokee history as a whole and us as one people, so it was very important for me to participate in this to understand the trials and tribulations our people faced during their journey to Oklahoma,” Wade said.

During the welcoming ceremony, Casey Cooper, CEO of the Cherokee Indian Hospital in Cherokee, spoke about the importance of the ride and encouraged CN leadership to support it. Cooper, who took the ride in 2011, commended the CN for organizing it to instill leadership in youth and teach Cherokee history.

“I am confident that your investment in your future leadership will bring you more yield than anything else you could possibly invest in,” he said. “We hope that you endeavor to keep this alive and that you will continue to put all the resources necessary into ensuring that not only our tribe, the Cherokee Nation, the Eastern Band, UKB (United Keetoowah Band) and tribes across the country never forgets the Trail of Tears, but that our country never forgets the Trail of Tears.”

will-chavez@cherokee.org


918-207-3961

About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years.

News

BY STAFF REPORTS
04/20/2015 04:00 PM
WASHINGTON – On April 16, the National Park Service announced the awarding of eight Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act grants totaling $74,348, which will assist in the repatriation of individuals and sacred objects, objects of cultural patrimony and funerary objects back to the tribes. “The work funded by these grants is a step toward addressing past violations of the treatment of human remains and sacred objects of native peoples, while restoring the ability of American Indian and Native Hawaiian peoples to be stewards of their own ancestral dead and cultural heritage.” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. Enacted in 1990, NAGPRA requires museums and federal agencies to inventory and identify Native American human remains and cultural items in their collections, and to consult with culturally affiliated Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, and Native Hawaiian organizations regarding repatriation. Section 10 of the Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to award grants to assist in implementing provisions of the Act. The award recipients include the Native Village of Barrow in Arkansas, the Regents of the University of California, Smith River Rancheria in California, Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, The Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma and Sweet Briar College in Virginia.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
04/17/2015 04:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to campaign disclosure reports released on April 15, Principal Chief Bill John Baker has raised more than $830,000, which is more money than all other candidates combined, including two Tribal Councilors who are no longer campaigning for seats. According to the Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission, the first campaign disclosure report was due April 15. A report consists of a beginning campaign fund balance and ending balance. Also included are contribution amounts, in-kind donations, loans, expenditures and advertising statements. Of those running for principal chief, Baker raised the most with $815,054.77 in monetary donations and $17,262.22 in in-kind donations for at total of $832,316.99. He loaned his campaign $4,220 bringing the balance to $836,536.99. After expenditures, his ending balance was $434,934.41. According to the disclosure reports, all other candidates combined raised $572,488.69. Included in that total is Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts, who campaigned for the principal chief seat but did not file to run, and Tribal Councilor Julia Coates, who the EC and CN Supreme Court ruled ineligible to run for the deputy chief seat because she didn’t meet residency requirements. Former Principal Chief Chad Smith received $92,850 in monetary donations and no in-kind donations. He loaned his campaign $10,072.97 bringing the balance to $103,780. After expenditures his ending balance was $50,120.64. Former CN Community Services Group Leader Charlie Soap raised $30,400 while loaning his campaign $7,565.46, bringing his balance to $37,965.46. After expenditures his ending balance was $24,943.56. State Rep. Will Fourkiller’s contributions totaled $10,800. He loaned his campaign $3,153.67 for a balance of $13,953.67. After expenditures his ending balance was $8,538.49. Cowan Watts raised $71,429 in direct contributions and $8,086.99 in in-kind donations for $79,515.99. She loaned her campaigned $50,013.87, which includes direct expenditures, according to the disclosure report. After expenditures her total came to $23,410.88. Also, according to her report, she returned several contributions. In the deputy chief race, incumbent S. Joe Crittenden raised $77,250 with $10,606.50 in in-kind donations. Crittenden loaned his campaign $2,255 making his total revenues $90,111.50. His ending balance for the campaign was $52,517.92 after expenditures. Tribal Councilor Lee Keener totaled $8,450 in direct contributions with $942.27 in in-kind donations for a total of $9,392.27. He loaned his campaign $1,272. After expenditures, his campaign fund was $6,519.97. Coates raised $10,200 with no loans to the campaign. Her ending campaign balance was $0 after expenditures. The Supreme Court on April 13 affirmed the EC’s ruling that stated Coates did not live within the tribe’s jurisdiction 270 days before the June 27 general election, which is required for a deputy chief candidate. To view any candidate’s disclosure report click the links below. <strong>Principal Chief Candidates</strong> <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_allbjbakerfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Bill John Baker's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_csmithfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Chad Smith's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_csoapfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Charlie Soap's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_wfourkillerfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Will Fourkiller's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_ccwattsfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Cara Cowan Watts' campaign financial disclosure report. <strong>Deputy Chief Candidates</strong> <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_sjcrittendenfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> S. Joe Crittenden's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_lkeenerfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Lee Keener's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_jcoatesfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Julia Coates' campaign financial disclosure report. <strong>Tribal Council Candidates</strong> <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_banglenfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Buel Anglen's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bberryfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Brian Berry's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bgirtyfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Brandon Girty's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bkmccoyfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> B. Keith McCoy's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bmckeefinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Benjamin McKee's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bswimmerfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Betsy Swimmer's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bwarnerfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Bryan Warner's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_cbunchfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Corey Bunch's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_dlayfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Dick Lay's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_dmatlockfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Darell Matlock Jr's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_dpatzkowskifinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Dora Patzkowski's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_dreedfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Deb Reed's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_dwalkingstickfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> David Walkingstick's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_kaustinfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Keith Austin's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_khollowayfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Kenneth Holloway's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_kpkilpatrickfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Kathy Kilpatrick's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_lbolinfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Linda Bolin's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_lpritchettfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Larry Pritchett's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_nfullbrightfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Natalie Fullbright's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_pfoxfincancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Pamela Fox's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_rgofffinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Ron Goff's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_rjordanfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Rex Jordan's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_rsierrafinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Ryan Sierra's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_scrittendenfinacial_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Shawn Crittenden's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_sjettfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Shane Jett's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_tbrownfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Trey Brown's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_tjonesfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Thomas Jones' campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_wbpearsonfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> William Pearson's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_whatfieldfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Wanda Hatfield's campaign financial disclosure report.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/17/2015 02:00 PM
ROLAND, Okla. – After working at the Cherokee Casino Roland for 25 years, Arvil Norman Wolfe has decided to retire. Hoping for some extra money during the Christmas season, Wolfe went looking for a part-time job in 1990, the same time Cherokee Nation opened the doors to its first casino, Cherokee Bingo Outpost in Roland. “Cherokee Nation put an ad in the Southwest Times Record looking for part-time employees,” Wolfe said. “I applied and was hired immediately.” Wolfe was born in Lees Chapel, a small town on the outskirts of Muldrow. He graduated from Muldrow High School in 1956 and currently resides in Dora, Arkansas, with his wife, Alta. He enjoys his family and fishing for large-mouth crappie and catfish. He decided to retire in April because he celebrates 57 years with his wife. They also share the same wedding anniversary of her parents and her sister. “There has been enormous growth since I’ve been with the company. It’s unbelievable, really,” he said. “At this point in history, the Cherokees are really on the move.” Over the years, he has seen the company transform into an economic engine for the area, hiring thousands of people since he was first hired. Wolfe was an employee in 1997 when $1.2 million was spent for additions and an improved ventilation system. He was also there in 2002 for a remodel and in April 2014 when the tribe broke ground on a new, $80 million casino and hotel. “I would like to thank Arvil for his many years of service to our Roland casino and the Cherokee Nation,” said Shawn Slaton, interim CNB CEO. “Arvil is a stellar employee and a great example to all of us. We will certainly miss him. We wish him the best in his retirement and hope he enjoys it fishing.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/17/2015 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Election Commission discussed the transportation of ballot boxes on April 14 at the Election Services Office. The EC discussed how it would administer money for gas to individuals who are hired to deliver ballot boxes to each precinct in the jurisdiction. However, the commission wanted more information on credit cards so it tabled discussion until more information was received. The commission voted to approve the precinct official manual with minor cosmetic changes. The manual will dictate the processes used by precinct officials to during the 2015 election. Other action discussed including the approval of past meeting minutes as well as entering into executive session where no action was taken.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
04/17/2015 10:00 AM
EDMOND, Okla. (AP) — Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby (ANNA'-tubby) will be the commencement speaker at the University of Central Oklahoma's spring 2015 ceremony for the College of Education and Professional Studies. The ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. May 8 in UCA's Hamilton Field House in Edmond. Anoatubby has served as Chickasaw Nation governor since 1987 and is now in his seventh term in that post.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
04/16/2015 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The National Park Service has announced a $4.103 grant to the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. The grant announced Wednesday is one of eight awarded nationwide under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The act requires museums and federal agencies to inventory and identify Native American human remains and cultural items in their collections, and to consult with culturally affiliated Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, and Native Hawaiian organizations regarding repatriation. The grants are to assist in the repatriation of individuals and sacred objects, objects of cultural patrimony and funerary objects back to the tribes and others.