http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgRemember the Removal bike rider Tighe Wachacha celebrates on June 20 as he crosses into Oklahoma from Arkansas. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
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
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
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. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
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. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.

News

BY STAFF REPORTS
02/18/2018 02:00 PM
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BY STAFF REPORTS
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BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
02/17/2018 02:00 PM
A lawyer representing two American Indian tribes urged a federal appeals court Tuesday to keep in place the changes a judge ordered for a South Dakota county's system of removing children from homes in endangerment cases. Stephen Pevar, a tribal law specialist with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that before those protections were imposed, the system was stacked against tribal families. From 2010 through 2013, the state was granted custody of all 823 Indian children it sought to remove from homes in Pennington County. "The state won 100 percent of the proceedings," said Pevar, who is representing the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux tribes in the case. "It would have been a miracle if these parents had prevailed because they were denied elementary due process." The tribes sued the county in 2013, saying its procedures for conducting initial hearings in such cases violated the federal Indian Child Welfare Act. The tribes argued parents were denied basic due process protections in these informal hearings, including the right to a court-appointed attorney and to see and challenge the allegations against them. The chief U.S. district judge for South Dakota, Jeffrey Viken, sided with the tribes in three rulings in 2015 and 2016. He ordered changes to give parents more rights at those initial hearings, which are required to be held within 48 hours of a child's removal from the home to decide whether the child should be returned to the home or be placed in the custody of the state Department of Social Services. Parents previously weren't guaranteed legal protections until a later stage in the process. The county, which includes Rapid City, is now abiding by the judge's orders. While the case applies most directly to Pennington County, the case has attracted attention elsewhere in Indian Country. The Cherokee Nation and Navajo Nation, the two largest tribes in the U.S., and other tribal groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief that said this lawsuit is vital to ensuring that courts follow the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was enacted in 1978 in response to widespread abuses by state child welfare systems against Indian children and families. The law sets standards for removing Indian children from their families, terminating parental rights and placing them in foster or adoptive homes. The brief says other states in the 8th Circuit have statutes or procedures in place to ensure those standards are met. Lawyers for Pennington County State's Attorney Mark Vargo and other officials named in the case argued that the lower court did not follow proper legal procedures, so its decisions should be overturned. Much of their appeal turns on complex legal arguments over whether the state's attorney or the presiding judge in the southwest corner of the state counted as policy-makers responsible for the old procedures who could legally be sued over them. Parents did get full legal protections later in the process well before their parental rights could be terminated, said attorney Jeff Hurd, who represents Craig Pfeifle the presiding judge for the South Dakota judicial circuit that includes Pennington County. The appeals court took the case under advisement. Chief Judge Lavenski Smith called it "a very difficult case" and said the panel would rule as soon as possible, but didn't specify when.
BY STAFF REPORTS
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BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
02/15/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH (AP) – Within the past 10 years, technology has advanced so rapidly that Americans are racing to stay abreast of the latest computer software, cellular devices and the ever-expanding reach of the Internet. The Cherokee Nation Community and Cultural Outreach Program is helping citizens stay up to date with the newest and most efficient technology, so nonprofit organizations and individuals can excel in a more connected world. “Most of the folks that we work with are in their 60s or retirees, so they’re definitely digital immigrants,” said Chris Welch, technical assistance specialist. “Sometimes they’re scared of the process of technology. We want to bring it to light to them and show them it’s not as scary as it seems.” The CCO hosts the Technology Webinar Series the second Thursday of every month. The group has been offering the seminars for two years now, and the lessons have become more intensive. “We started with very basic computer tips and tricks, even to the point of navigating the desktop - how to copy and paste, just simple things,” said Brad Wagnon, technical assistance specialist. “Then we’ve gone through a lot of Microsoft programs, like Powerpoint, and just have gotten more advanced as it goes.” After working with the CCO and watching webinars, nonprofits have taken steps to improve their method of getting their message to the public. One nonprofit organization “gave a new meaning to cut and paste,” said Welch. “They literally typed their grant out on a typewriter, cut it out and then pasted it into the space with glue,” he said. “That’s what we were dealing with to begin. That same organization now has built its own website and they do a digital newsletter every month, so they’ve gone from that to the other end of the spectrum within a three-year period.” In the past, the CCO has offered training on self-improvement topics, like how to manage stress. The department has since tried to help citizens build skills that will transfer into a successful nonprofit organization. This year, the group’s technology webinars have focused on social media. “With the social media stuff we’re focusing on this year, it’s going to help them market and tell the story of their nonprofit organization to everybody,” said Welch. “Most of them don’t realize this, but most of their viewers these days are millennials. By 2025, 75 percent of the workforce is going to be millennials, so they definitely are going to have to learn to tell their story in a different way, so we want to try and help them with that.” The CCO helps nonprofit groups through the help of another nonprofit organization. The webinars are based on trainings from gcfreelearn.org, which was created to help nonprofits grow. The most recent webinar spotlighted how to use Google Hangouts and Skype. Each webinar airs at 6 p.m. the second Thursday of the month, and is available on the CN YouTube page. All of the videos are archived, so anyone who misses one can still watch it. The next Technology Thursday Series is March 8 and will focus on Instagram. For more information, call 918-207-4953.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
02/15/2018 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Local veterans gathered on Feb. 13 at the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center for the center’s first Valentine’s Day dance and social event. The Veterans Center was transformed into a Valentine’s wonderland with paper hearts leading attendees into the building and holiday décor placed throughout. The event featured a live band, a photo booth, food, desserts and fellowship. “We always enjoy hosting our veterans, and tonight is a special opportunity for them to fellowship and create some lasting memories at our Cherokee Nation Veterans Center,” Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden said. Couples, as well as singles, young and old, listened and danced to the music of the Three F’s. The band transported attendees back in time with songs from genres such as country and western and sweetheart songs from the 1950s and 1960s. Loretta Reed and her husband Terry Reed, both served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam. Loretta said they were “thrilled” to have a place to celebrate Valentine’s Days. “We are so thankful and so blessed to have an event offered like this. So thank you so much Cherokee Nation and everyone who had a helping hand in this. The food was delicious and so very well-prepared and beautifully placed,” Loretta said. “We are just so thrilled that they would take the time and energy to provide us a place to have a party and have a happy Valentine’s Day.” Barbara Foreman, CN Veteran Affairs director, said the dance is one of many new events the center is trying. “We have been looking at some new ideas and we thought the only way we are going to know if they work or not is to try them. The veterans were excited when we mentioned it and their spouses were really excited, so we thought we would go ahead and try it. This is just a fun social event for them to come together at,” Foreman said. “We just want to get the word out and to let our veterans know that our facility is here, so that’s why we are doing these activities.” She said veterans could expect to see more social events on the Veterans Center calendar this year. For more information, call 1-800-256-0671 or visit <a href="http://www.cherokee.org" target="_blank">www.cherokee.org</a>.