Bryan Scott Dugan

CN citizen joins The New York Times staff

08/08/2013 09:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Bryan Scott Dugan joined The New York Times staff on July 31 as a copy editor.

He is working at the newspaper’s editing center in Gainesville, Fla., which serves as an area for copy editors to prepare stories for the paper’s national and international editions and other newspapers that subscribe to receive The New York Times articles.

Dugan is a copy editor for the wire service and a designer for international versions of the newspaper.

A 2008, graduate of Sallisaw High School in Sequoyah County, Dugan graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

He also edits for “Mental Floss” magazine and previously served as a “Dow Jones News Fund” copyediting intern last summer. This position is a highly sought after position for collegiate journalists interested in a career in editing and design.

At OU, Dugan was editor-in-chief of the 2012 Sooner yearbook, a national Pacemaker finalist book that has won 19 Gold Circles from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. The association will announce in October if the yearbook will be awarded a Pacemaker, often called the Pulitzer Prize of collegiate journalism.

Dugan is also a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

He is the son of Scott and Tonya Dugan of Sallisaw and is the grandson of George and Linda Turnipseed Collins of Midland, Ark.

His future plans include completing and publishing a “fun” novel and to hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail, which would take three months or longer.


09/02/2015 08:17 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation now has fresh young faces representing the tribe as goodwill ambassadors. On Aug. 22 a new Junior Miss Cherokee was crowned, and on Aug. 8 six youths took home the titles of Little Cherokee Ambassador. Madison Whitekiller, a 16-year-old junior at Verdigris High School, is the 2015-16 Junior Miss Cherokee after competing against four other girls during a competition at the Armory Municipal Center. During her reign she is expected to promote the tribe’s history, language and culture to those in the tribe’s jurisdiction and throughout the country. Whitekiller, who focused her platform on reading, said she has always enjoyed reading and thought it was important for more youths to become more immersed in reading. “Ever since I was younger reading has always just helped me escape any stress that I felt,” she said. “When I realized that it helps students do better in school, it was just an easy choice for me to chose reading.” She said she chose the importance of the Cherokee syllabary for her cultural presentation. “I’m a descendent of Sequoyah, and so the syllabary, it’s always interested me with my love of reading. I have always tried to learn the syllabary,” she said. “There’s been times when I’ve slacked off a bit, but I’m definitely going to try and go full steam with that.” Contestants were also asked impromptu questions. Whitekiller’s question asked what is one significant thing that she could do for the Cherokee people. “The one significant thing that I could do for the Cherokee people is to try to start a program that would help single parents in the Cherokee Nation. I come from a family that consists of my mother and I, and I think how hard she works to give me everything that I need in life. I would try to do my best to give the Cherokee Nation a program that would help single parents like her,” she replied. Whitekiller said she is “so happy” she won Junior Miss Cherokee. “It just felt very gratifying because I’ve worked for so long for this, and my mom has really pushed me for it even when I just wanted to be lazy and sit around. She always helped me get up and go over my platform and cultural, and so it just felt really good that all my hard work had paid off,” she said. 2014-15 Junior Miss Cherokee Chelbie Turtle, who passed the crown to Whitekiller, said she didn’t think handing over the crown would be so hard. “It was very difficult. I didn’t expect to feel what I was going to feel. I didn’t expect to cry,” she said. She said her advice for Whitekiller is for her to take advantage of every opportunity she can. “You are Junior Miss Cherokee for 365 days and anything you don’t do you won’t get back. That’s something that I had to learn because I wanted to do other things but my job for this year was Junior Miss Cherokee,” she said. “I just wish her the best of luck.” On Aug. 8 at Sequoyah High School’s The Place Where They Play approximately 25 youths competed in the 10-12, 7-9 and 4-6-year-old categories for the titles of 2015-16 Little Cherokee Ambassador for each category. A young boy and girl were chosen from each category. Little Cherokee Ambassador Coordinator Kristen Snell Thomas said the ambassadors will “participate in representing the tribe at the local level, usually in conjunction with Junior Miss Cherokee and Miss Cherokee.” “Occasionally, if the older ambassadors aren’t available then the Little Cherokee Ambassadors will step in and help,” Snell Thomas said. Casey Henderson, 11, won the 2015-16 Little Cherokee Ambassador title for the 10-12-year-olds. Nathan Lowery, 11, of Tahlequah, won alongside Henderson. Maysi Fields, 8, of Sallisaw, and Max Purget, 8, of Hulbert, won for the 7-9-year-olds. Cherokee Immersion Charter School students Kashyah Teehee, 5, and Logan Dreadfulwater, 5, won in the 4-6-year-old age group.
08/25/2015 08:00 AM
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – On June 9, Cherokee Nation citizen and pitcher Ryan Helsley was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals as the 161st overall pick in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball draft. “It was pretty awesome, especially coming from such a small town and a small school,” Helsley said. “Just to show people that it’s possible no matter where you come from if you just work hard and keep pressing for what you want.” A 2013 graduate of Sequoyah High School, Helsley is the second SHS player and CN citizen to be drafted in the MLB. He is also the first player from Northeastern State University to be drafted since 2009, the first NSU player to be drafted in the first five rounds and the first NSU player to be selected by the Cardinals since the draft started in 1965. Helsley said it was his parents who helped motivate him to practice and work hard. “I have to give a lot of credit to them,” he said. According to the NSU Athletic Department, Helsley made 21 starts in 26 appearances during his two years at NSU, compiling a 14-8 record and 4.06 ERA in 126.1 innings pitched. Helsley won the MIAA Freshman of the Year award in 2014 and was named to the MIAA Second Team. In 2015, he was named to the MIAA First Team, the only underclassmen to earn the honor. Helsley said after his freshman year in college, he became eligible for the MLB draft. “The summer after my freshman year I was in California playing baseball and my coach out there told me that he thought I’d be eligible for the draft because I turned 21 during the summertime and fell on the deadline of the draft,” he said. He said during the fall of his sophomore year, scouts began contacting him and by 2015 he was drafted. Helsley plays for the Johnson City Cardinals in the Advanced Rookie League. After the Advanced Rookie League the baseball classifications are Class A, Double A, Triple A and then the Major League. However, it varies when and into which division a player advances. The Johnson City Cardinals’ regular season begins in June and ends Sept. 1. The team plays more than 60 games. Helsley said he is a starting pitcher with a six-day rotation and his best pitches are his curve ball, changeup and fastball, which is clocked at 98 mph. As a Cherokee and a baseball player, Helsley said it was great to be someone that other Native Americans could possibly look up to and try to model after. “I’m trying to be the best role model that I can be,” he said.
Senior Reporter
08/21/2015 08:00 AM
KEYS, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen and knife maker Ray Kirk recently showcased his knife-making skills for the History Channel show “Forged in Fire” this summer. Kirk appeared in one of the series’ four episodes titled “Forged in Fire: The Moro Kris,” which aired Aug. 10. The show featured world-class bladesmiths competing against each other to create edged weapons from history. Each weapon’s history was told during the forging process and the final weapons were assessed and tested by judges. The show’s producers in May flew Kirk to Brooklyn, New York, to record the season’s final episode. Kirk competed against three experienced knife makers for a chance to win $10,000. Kirk, 70, has been making blades for more than 25 years and is the owner of Raker Knives and Steel, which he operates from home in Keys. He said a friend forwarded him an email about the show thinking he would be interested in taking part. “So, I emailed them (Forged in Fire producers) a picture of myself, a little bit about myself, and they said, ‘we’d love to have you.’ And then they sent me about a 30-page contract,” he said. He said recording the episode was intense and took three days. For continuity reasons he wore the same outfit. He said producers had photos made of all four participants from every angle to make sure their clothing and makeup looked the same every time when recording. He said if he had known he would be wearing the same overalls for three days he wouldn’t have packed as much. For the competition, Kirk made his signature Integral blade that he’s been making and selling for years. The knife makers were required to make at least a 9-inch blade, using materials provided by the judges, within a three-hour time limit, which was a different situation than Kirk is used to. The Brooklyn set had a large digital clock counting down as the four blacksmiths worked on their blades. Kirk chose to use two steel ball bearings that were 1-1/2-inches in diameter. He melted them and forged welded them together to get enough steel. He made it through the first round when one of the knife makers was sent home. For the second round, the three competitors were asked to complete the knife they had forged in the first round. Kirk continued making his Integral-style knife with a hidden tang or handle. He covered the tang with wood taken from a baseball bat to complete the handle. “I messed up my heat treat. I got in a hurry and wasn’t paying attention. When I quenched it (cooled it in water) I didn’t leave it in long enough and when I took it out I kept it out too long and the heat from the rest of it made it soft,” he said. The mistake showed up when the judges tested the four blades by cutting coconuts. Kirk’s blade cut one coconut, he said, and than it was “boing.” His blade failed to cut the others. “The edge wrinkled on it. I knew what I did,” he said. “You know it was different. You have a routine. Over the years you develop a routine so you don’t forget something. There, everything was changed. You lay awake at night thinking of all the things you could have done different.” He said he “loved” being a part of the show and “it was fun.” He made friends with the other competitors, and “a good friend” won the competition. Kirk began forging knives in 1989 from car springs. Today, he forges most of his knives from 52100 round bar steel. He also sells steel to other knife makers. He is a member of the Alabama Forge Council, the Knife Group Association of Oklahoma, the Kansas Custom Knifemakers Association and the Arizona Knife Collectors Association. For more information about Raker Knives and Steel, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a> or email or call 918-207-8076. For information about “Forged in Fire” visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
08/18/2015 03:44 PM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – On Oct. 16, Cherokee Nation citizen Becky Hobbs will be inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. The event begins at 8 p.m. and will take place at the Muskogee Civic Center. Hobbs will be inducted alongside Restless Heart, Tim DuBois, Scott Hendricks and Smiley Weaver. Hobbs and fellow inductee Restless Heart will perform during the induction concert, then a VIP reception will kick off the event. “The common thread with this group of inductees is Country Music,” said Executive Director for the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame Jim Blair. “Tim, Scott and Becky are all being honored as recipients of the Mae Boren Axton Songwriting Award and Smiley as recipient of the Eldon Shamblin Sideman Award. Additionally, Tim and Scott were very instrumental in the formation and success of Restless Heart.” Tickets for the event are on sale now and can be purchased at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. Hobbs is an award-winning songwriter and recording artist in Nashville. She has recorded seven studio albums. The likes of Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Conway Twitty and Alabama have recorded songs she has written. “I started playing the piano and writing songs when I was 9 years old in Bartlesville, Okla., and through the years I played music,” Hobbs said. Hobbs’ lastest endeavor has been the musical “Nanyehi: Beloved Women of the Cherokee.” In 2008, Hobbs composed and co-wrote the musical. Hobbs, who is a direct descendant of Ward, said she wanted to create the musical to pay tribute to her fifth generation great-grandmother. “Nanyehi: Beloved Women of the Cherokee” will be making a stop on Nov. 5-7 at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa. For more information about Hobbs, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
08/18/2015 08:30 AM
GULF SHORES, Ala. – The Oklahoma Fire 12-and-under fast pitch softball team finished fifth in the nation while using the Cherokee language while competing July 17-19 in the USSSA All-Star World Series. The team was the only Oklahoma representative and entered official tournament play against the Grand Bay All-Stars winning 9-2. The next day the team beat the Tyrone All-Stars, 9-6. However, the Fire lost the next two games with scores of 8-2 and 9-5, respectively. However, assistant coach Miranda King said the losses didn’t take away from the success of the season. “I couldn’t be more proud of them,” she said. “Of course, at the end when they got put out there was a lot of heartache and things like that, but I told them they didn’t have anything to hang their heads about.” Throughout the season King and head coach Bruce Lair put together talent that would eventually get them to Alabama. “We just set a goal at the beginning of the season that we wanted to go to the USSSA World Series and we gathered girls that wanted the same thing that we did,” she said. The coaches were unaware that while doing so, they were also building a team made up almost entirely of Cherokee Nation citizens, as 12 of the team’s 14 girls have Cherokee ancestry. “It was kind of just a weird deal how they came together,” Lair said. “They all come from different schools like Briggs, Lowery, some going to the Cherokee Nation. It wasn’t a planned deal. It just all came together that way.” The team used the discovery to its advantage during the USSSA All-Star World Series after King asked some of the girls who attend the Cherokee Immersion Charter School to come up with Cherokee phrases to use during games. “I’m usually on first base when we’re out running the bases, and Bruce is on third base, and I noticed one time there was a girl on third base so I yelled at her across the field,” she said. “I yelled a Cherokee phrase to her. The opposite team, their pitcher kind of stopped and looked at me and she ended up throwing a ball.” Though not Cherokee, Lair appreciates what the culture has brought to the team. “We have girls that can communicate in Cherokee and that’s different than anywhere else around,” he said. “Miranda will yell something out to them and they’ll know what to respond to. The other teams use cheat sheets or whatever you want to call them, but we don’t have to. We use Cherokee.” The team originally earned its way to the tournament by winning the Oklahoma championship in Bixby on June 21 and was rated No. 1 in USSSA standings going into the World Series. “I’m just really, really am proud of the girls and how they came together,” King said. “We ended up getting fifth in the nation. It wasn’t first place, but to me and to Bruce, they got first place in our heart. They did really well.” A new softball season began on Aug. 1 and King and Lair are again gathering girls for their 12-and-under and 14-and-under teams. For more information, call 918-399-9292 or email
Senior Reporter
08/14/2015 08:30 AM
BRUSHY, Okla. – Breanna Potter is fulfilling her dream of improving her community and surrounding Sequoyah County communities by using a $10,000 “Dreamstarter” grant she received earlier this year. She and Cindy Lattimore, Indian Capital Technology Center counselor, met with students from the county the last week of July at the Brushy Community Center. Potter, of Akins, said the youth group is called the Brushy Dream Team and focuses on training youths to be leaders in their communities. “We’re really big on trying to train our kids to be able to go out into the world and be leaders, whether that means to go out and move away and make a difference in other Native communities or whether it means to stay here and be community leaders or whether they decide to be a teacher or lawyer or they want to serve as mayor one day or maybe even serve on our Tribal Council,” Potter said. She said she has already seen the program make a difference in the youths involved because they have become more outgoing or opened up more to their instructors. Morgan Robinson, 14, a 10th grader from Vian, was one of the students from Vian, Brushy and Akins who participated in the weeklong program. “Today we are learning about our personalities and more about ourselves and finding out about what we want to do for our careers, which I already know,” Robinson said. “I want to go into marine zoology, and on the sidelines I want to be a photographer and work in graphic designs.” She said students also learned about applying for financial aid for college, preparing for the ACT test, taking college preparatory courses and gained leadership skills. “I got a lot of information that I’m glad to have,” she said. “I know more about what to look forward to, and I’ve gotten a head start I guess.” Along with learning leadership skills, the youths were given the opportunity to create a diabetes prevention program, Potter said. An entire day was devoted to wellness, she said, where the students learned about the negative effects of alcohol, especially in Native communities, and learned more about diabetes and the prevention methods that are available. Potter said “a good number” of the participating students either have relatives or friends who have diabetes. “Sequoyah County has almost twice the national average for diabetics, and the majority of those are Type II (diabetics). We have 1,300 (diabetic patients) that get served at Redbird Health Center every year,” she said. In April, Potter was invited to Washington, D.C., to meet with other “Dreamstarter” youths and attend the “Dreamstarter” Academy, where the grant recipients learned how to run their projects. “It’s a lot of responsibility. Some of the youth involved in the program are as young as 14. They want to make sure we are well prepared,” she said. In July, she returned to Washington for a Tribal Youth Gathering hosted by the White House. This is the first class of American Indian youths to receive “Dreamstarter” grants for projects that help them bring their dreams to life. Each of the 10 “Dreamstarter” recipients, who are all American Indian youths under age 30, are working with a community nonprofit on a project to increase wellness that is also supported by Running Strong for American Indian Youth. She said that in her “Dreamstarter” application she explained that her “dream” or project was for her community group, the Brushy Cherokee Action Association. Her application also explained how she wanted to use the funding and provided a detailed timeline and budget for how the money would be spent. Potter, 21, is a senior at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah majoring in special education with an emphasis in mild to moderate disabilities. She said her goal after graduating in May 2016 is to work in a high-Native population and teach in a junior high or high school. For more information about this year’s “Dreamstarters” or to learn how to help jumpstart dreams for Native youth, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.