Cherokee Nation citizen Dusten Brown plays with his daughter Veronica with two unidentified children, far left and far right, in this undated photo. Brown returned to Oklahoma from Army training in Iowa to attend a CN District Court custody hearing regarding his daughter Veronica. COURTESY PHOTO

Dusten Brown returning to Oklahoma

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
08/12/2013 08:36 AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The father of a Cherokee Indian girl mired in an adoption dispute was allowed to leave an Iowa National Guard base and return to Oklahoma, an Iowa Guard spokesman said on Aug. 11.

Oklahoma National Guard spokesman Col. Max Moss said Dusten Brown was cleared on Aug. 10 to return to the Oklahoma National Guard.

Brown, a Cherokee Nation citizen, is charged with custodial interference involving his 3-year-old daughter, Veronica. A South Carolina couple has been trying to adopt Veronica since her birth in 2009. They raised her for two years.

Moss said Brown asked for permission to leave training in Iowa to return to Oklahoma so he could attend a hearing in the guardianship case.

The issue has been clouded by the Indian Child Welfare Act, which prompted a court in 2011 to favor the girl living with her father. But in June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that South Carolina courts should decide who gets to adopt Veronica.

The girl’s biological mother, Chrissy Maldonado, is not Indian and supports the adoption. She has filed a lawsuit against the federal government claiming the Indian Child Welfare Act is unconstitutional.

More recently, a South Carolina judge finalized the couple’s adoption and approved a plan to reintroduce Veronica to the couple, Matt and Melanie Capobianco. Brown didn’t show up for the first scheduled gathering Aug. 4, prompting the charge.

Brown was attending a military training school at Camp Dodge, a National Guard base in the Des Moines suburb of Johnston. Iowa National Guard spokesman Col. Greg Hapgood said Brown had been living in barracks at the camp, as is typical for people receiving training.

Brown and others had been given a two-day pass to leave the camp this past weekend. He was supposed to report back on Aug. 11, but that changed when the Oklahoma National Guard freed him from his training orders on Aug. 10 and required he return to Oklahoma, officials said.

The Capobiancos on Aug. 12 called on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to help them bring the 3-year-old named Veronica to live with them. Matt Capobianco said he would go to Oklahoma himself to retrieve Veronica if that request is denied.

Several American Indian groups are also pursuing a federal civil rights case, saying a hearing should be held to determine if it is in Veronica’s best interest to be transferred to South Carolina.

Cherokee Nation spokeswoman Amanda Clinton has called the move to charge Brown “morally reprehensible” and “legally questionable.”

Clinton noted in a written statement that the case hasn’t been fully litigated and condemned the charge when there is legal action pending in South Carolina, Oklahoma and Cherokee Nation courts.

The Cherokee Nation District Court had scheduled a closed hearing for the case at 9 a.m. on Aug. 12 in Tahlequah, Okla.

The attorneys for Veronica’s adoptive parents and her birth mother argued in a joint statement on Aug. 11 that not only is Brown committing a felony, but anyone who hides the child from law enforcement or stands in the way of the court order to turn her over – including the Cherokee Nation – also should be considered lawbreakers.

“It seems the lesson here is that Matt and Melanie Capobianco should have refused to turn Veronica over 19 months ago, and denounced it as outrageous that they were being forced to comply with a court order when they still had the entire appeals process before them. They did not do that, because they understood that they would be fugitives from justice if they resorted to ignoring the rule of law,” the statement said.

The statement said the charge filed against Brown isn’t surprising: “It is absolutely necessary to ensure that the rule of law is followed and a little girl is returned to her parents.”

News

BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
01/26/2015 11:06 AM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – After growing up on her father’s ranch, Cherokee Nation citizen Dr. Kristin Vickrey knew she wanted to become a veterinarian. “I’ve always wanted to be a vet,” she said. “I grew up raising cows so my dad always had cows. I was always out there working, and I always loved the medicine side of things. Going out and actually helping make the animals feel better, it was just something I’ve always wanted to do. It led to where I am today.” Vickrey attended Oklahoma State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in animal science and veterinary doctorate. In 2011, she began working at the Regional Animal Care Center in Claremore as an associate veterinarian with Dr. Jerome Yorke. While Vickrey still attends larger animals for her family, her focus is small animals such as cats and dogs with the occasional ferret, rabbit and guinea pig. “I think my smallest patient is a little 2-pound Chihuahua and my biggest patient is a 200-pound Bull Mastiff,” she said. “So there’s a big range difference. It makes my job interesting, going from one to the next and everybody is just a little bit different. They might have the same problem but it doesn’t always present the same.” Kimberlee Coates, pet owner and Claremore resident, said she began going to Vickrey after being assigned to her two years ago. “…we just really loved her and the compassion that she had for our pets and the fact that she was very personable and attentive to them and reassured us that everything was going to be OK whenever we had to have a procedure done,” Coates said. “It just gives us a lot of piece of mind to know that our pets will be well taken care of and that we don’t have to worry.” Coates has four cats and one dog that she has brought to Vickrey. “They can’t speak for themselves, and so as a pet parent you really feel like you need a doctor that can tune into them and can show them the compassion because there’s that gap in communication that you so much wish your pets could just talk,” Coates said. “Because if they could it would just make everything so much easier, but they can’t so you really have to have somebody that can fine tune into looking for the signs and the things that we as pet parents sometimes miss and don’t see, and she’s excellent at being able to do that.” Regional Animal Care Center offers several types of surgeries and services such as exploratory surgery, spaying, neutering, bone surgeries, dental, vaccinations, micro chipping, amputations, general medicine, therapeutic lasers, digital x-rays, endoscopic ear exams and blood work. “I think probably my favorite part is that I really like orthopedic work,” Vickrey said. “I like fixing the broken bones and repairing torn ACLs (anterior cruciate ligaments). Those I get the biggest reward out of because I fixed it and now it’s better. I like those big rewarding cases.” Vickrey said the most challenging part of her job is telling owners that their animals will need to be put down. “We’re the advocate for the animal. The animals can’t tell you what they’re going through so we have to come to the owners and tell them ‘unfortunately your animal is not going to make it or it’s suffering’ and it’s not always the easiest part because the owners love it. They want to keep it alive. They want to do everything they can for it, but at the end of the day if I don’t tell the owner that their animal is suffering and is in pain, the only thing it’s hurting is the animal,” she said. “I wish I could save them all, but unfortunately you just can’t.” Vickrey, along with Yorke, also work with a nonprofit animal rescue group called Zoi’s Animal Rescue, which is a no-kill animal rescue with locations in Claremore and Navasota, Texas. Regional Animal Care Center, which is located at 1201 N. Lynn Riggs Blvd., also offers grooming and a full indoor and outdoor boarding facility. For more information, call 918-341-5551.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/25/2015 04:00 PM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – The Jack C. Montgomery Veteran Affairs Medical Center will hold its annual creative arts competition on Feb. 2-3 for enrolled veterans. The competition includes 51 categories in the visual arts division this year that range from oil painting to leatherwork to paint-by-number kits. In addition, there are 100 categories in the performing arts pertaining to all aspects of music, dance, drama, and creative writing. Nationwide, VA medical facilities use the creative arts as one form of rehabilitative treatment to help veterans recover from and cope with physical and emotional disabilities. Each year, veterans treated at VA facilities compete in a local creative arts competition. A national selection committee chooses first, second and third place winners among all of the entries. Select winners will be invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, which will be held Oct. 12-19 at the Durham VA Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. For registration information, call Deborah Moreno at 918-577-4014. For information about the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition and other VA special events, visit VA’s Adaptive Sports website: <a href="http://www.va.gov/adaptivesports/" target="_blank">http://www.va.gov/adaptivesports/</a>.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
01/25/2015 12:00 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) – The new 114th Congress counts more minorities and women than ever, although lawmakers remain overwhelmingly white and male in the Republican-controlled House and Senate. A record 104 women are in the new Congress, and for the first time, African-American members of both genders and representing both parties are among the ranks on Capitol Hill. The number of female lawmakers is up slightly from 100 at the close of the last Congress, but represents about 20 percent of the total in Congress. It's far less than the nearly 51 percent of the U.S. population. A total of 96 racial minorities will serve in Congress, about 18 percent. There are 100 senators and 435 seats in the House. The House will have 246 Republicans and 188 Democrats. One seat is vacant following the resignation on Monday of Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., who pleaded guilty to a felony tax evasion charge. The Senate will have 54 Republicans and 44 Democrats, plus two independents - Maine's Angus King and Vermont's Bernie Sanders. Both caucus with Democrats. <strong>HOUSE</strong> A total of 84 women will serve in the House, compared with 80 in the last Congress. The new lawmakers include Elise Stefanik, a 30-year-old New York Republican who is the youngest woman ever elected to the House. Also making history is Mia Love, 38, whose election to a suburban Salt Lake City district made her the first black female Republican to win a seat in Congress. Forty-four African-Americans are in the House, including Love and another black Republican freshman, Will Hurd of Texas. Hurd made news last month as he was named chairman of an Information Technology subcommittee on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, an unusual distinction for a freshman. There are 34 Hispanic lawmakers, including 10 Republicans, as well as 10 Asian-Americans and two Native Americans, both Oklahoma Republicans. <strong>SENATE</strong> The number of women in the Senate remains at 20, following the election of Republicans Joni Ernst of Iowa and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and the defeat of Democrats Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. (Re-elected were Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.) Two African-Americans serve as senators - Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina and Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey. There are three Hispanic senators: Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas and Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey. Democrat Mazie Hirono of Hawaii is the only Asian-American in the Senate. <strong>FRESHMEN</strong> Fifty-eight House freshmen join the ranks - 43 Republicans and 15 Democrats. Three other members are new to Congress but are considered veterans of a few weeks. Reps. Dave Brat, R-Va., Donald Norcross, D-N.J., and Alma Adams, D-N.C., took the oath shortly after November's elections to fill the seats of lawmakers who had left Congress. The Senate welcomes 13 new members - 12 Republicans and one Democrat, Gary Peters of Michigan.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/24/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration is considering improvements on Highway 82 in Cherokee County that would begin near East Allen Road in Tahlequah and go north to near Gideon, according to reports. The meeting will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Jan. 27 in the University Center Ballroom at Northeastern State University. ODOT held a meeting in 2013 regarding the highway, and following that meeting the state performed studies on the corridor. ODOT officials said within that study they evaluated upgrading the existing highway. They plan to discuss their findings from the studies during the meeting. The meeting is open to the public and will be an open-house format. It will allow for some discussion with engineers and planners for the potential project. For more information, call Frank Roesler III at 405-521-2350 or email <a href="mailto: m-coordinator@odot.org">m-coordinator@odot.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/24/2015 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –The Cherokee Nation and the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation NAHASDA Annual Performance Reports are readily available for the public to view and to make comments upon. The reports are available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Jan. 27 at the Cherokee FIRST department located in the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex and in the lobby of the HACN office located at 1500 Hensley Drive in Tahlequah. <a href="http://www.cherokee.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=7G5FQptSBvE%3d&tabid=5274&portalid=0&mid=5878" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> the report.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
01/24/2015 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Businesses officials said before work on any site to be developed can begin they must do due diligence with regards to pre-development steps. Currently, that is where CNB officials area at on the Cherokee Springs Plaza project. Since the project’s September announcement, CNB officials said they have done several “behind the scenes” tasks in preparation for construction. From September to December, CNB officials said they met with Tahlequah officials to review city permit requirements, located all existing utilities and completed some infrastructure planning. They also they developed and posted a request for proposal for civil engineering work, completed the land survey for the site, as well as competed an aerial topography of the site for elevations and civil engineering design work. CNB Executive Vice President Charles Garrett said CNB officials selected a civil engineer in November for master planning and design and are conducting a traffic impact study that’s required prior to roads being designed or built. CNB officials said they also began civil engineering design of utilities, roads and temporary storm water, as well as identified what parts of the land would be submitted for a trust application. “(CNB) Developed, posted and selected a geotechnical firm to do a soils investigation report that is required by civil engineering for the design of foundations, utility and roads,” Garrett said. “In January we will be drilling 56 borings throughout the site. With the soil borings taking place, we will have the information required to develop a grading plan and start turning dirt to develop Phase I of the site.” In September, Garret said the first phase was establishing the infrastructure that creates access and provides the necessary utilities and the “civil engineering” portion of the project that would consist of road construction and pad sites where potential businesses will be developed. The continuation of the project will include two other phases, one being the construction of a new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah that will include a resort hotel, convention center and golf clubhouse. The third phase will create a retail strip, centering along Grand Boulevard, which will enhance the pedestrian and shopper experience. Overall, it is anticipated 1.3 million square feet of mixed-use space will be developed at an estimated cost of $170 million, officials said.