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
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.”
KETCHUM, Okla. –The Cherokee Nation recently presented the Native American Association of Ketchum a $57,273 grant to build a park in Ketchum.
The park will include two pieces of commercial playground equipment, spring rockers, spinners, swings, teeter-totters and more. The group also plans to add volleyball and basketball courts, as well as a walking trail in the park’s next phase of development.
The playground is set to be complete by the end of summer and is located at the corner of Grand Lake Avenue and Amarillo Street.
“It means a great deal to partner with the Cherokee Nation because without the tribe there would not be a park in Ketchum,” NAAK President Jerry Taylor said.
According to a CN press release, the NAAK is one of several community organizations to receive a grant from the tribe’s Community and Cultural Outreach in 2015. The department awards about 45 grants per year to local organizations that want to make improvements in their communities, helping both Cherokees and non-Cherokees alike.
“Helping the town of Ketchum build a family-friendly park is part of the Cherokee Nation’s mission to invest in our citizens and communities,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “This will soon be a beautiful space for children and families to gather and enjoy. I’m proud we are able to improve the quality of life for all citizens in the Ketchum community.”
The release states the NAAK was established in 2013 and has been active in the community. In addition to obtaining a grant for the town’s first-ever park, the organization has distributed weatherization kits to citizens in the area and will partner with the CN to do home repairs in the community next month. The organization also hopes to build a community building in the future.
For more information about Community and Cultural Outreach, call 918-207-4953.
WEST SILOAM SPRINGS, Okla. – The 10th annual Blast to the Past Car & Truck Show makes its return to the Cherokee Casino & Hotel West Siloam Springs on Aug. 15. The show is one of the largest car shows in the region.
According to a press release, categories consist of classics built between the years 1900-60, 1961-80 and 1981 to present and customs built between 1900-60, 1961-80 and 1981 to present. There are also the Redneck Award, Car Club Attendance Award and Grand Champion.
Steve Perry, of Bentonville, Arkansas, took home the first place prize in the 1900-60 classics category for his 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air at the 2014 show.
“It’s a great show and one of our favorites every year,” Perry said. “Blast to the Past is one of the larger draw car shows around. There are a lot of great cars for the enthusiasts in the area. The fact that you can go inside to grab a nice lunch and cool off in a beautiful facility also makes it a great time for the family.”
There will be cash prizes and trophies awarded for those who place first through third in each category. All participants will also receive a free shirt.
“We are excited to bring back Blast to the Past for the 10th consecutive year,” Cherokee Casino & Hotel West Siloam Springs General Manager Tony Nagy said. “This has been a huge event for us. We’ve had so much interest, we just had to bring it back for 2015. We have some exciting things in the works for this year. It’s going to be a great time.”
Jeff Johnson, also of Bentonville, won first in the 1961-80 classics category with his 1971 Chevrolet Camaro 228.
“Last year was my third time to attend this show. It is one of the best we have in the region. Everyone in the area looks forward to it,” Johnson said. “The setup is fantastic. We like the environment, and it’s a great place to come show off your hobby. The entire show is nicely put together, with a great location and wonderful employees. It’s a whole lot of fun.”
Registration and entry into the car show are free. Those who want to register can do so through noon at the casino on Aug. 15. Participants can also fax their registration forms to 918-422-6229.
For more information, visit the promotions page on the Cherokee Casino & Hotel West Siloam Springs section of <a href="http://www.cherokeecasino.com" target="_blank">www.cherokeecasino.com</a> or call 1-800-754-4111.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – In Oklahoma, there is a tax-free weekend in which the state does not require individuals to pay taxes on clothing and shoes. Oklahoma’s sales tax holiday is set for Aug. 7-9.
According to the Oklahoma Tax Commission’s website, the annual sales tax holiday will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 7 and end at midnight on Aug. 9.
“Retailers are required to participate and may not collect state and local sales or use tax on most footwear and clothing that are sold for less than $100 during the holiday.
Clothing is indicated by all “human wearing apparel,” which includes, but not limited to, aprons, belts, coats, underwear and socks.
Having to set aside money for clothing, shoes and school supplies can be a burden on some families that might be struggling financially. USA.gov suggests families to look into qualifying for federal programs that may help ease financial burdens, including low-cost meals and affordable health insurance.
For more information and answers to common questions on the sales tax holiday, as well as a listing of sales tax exempt items, please visit the OTC website at <a href="http://www.tax.ok.gov" target="_blank">www.tax.ok.gov</a>.
OOLOGAH, Okla. – Will Rogers and Wiley Post died in an Alaska plane crash on Aug. 15, 1935. It is often called the “crash heard around the world.” This year the Will Rogers & Wiley Post Fly-In at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch is set for Aug. 15, the 80th anniversary of the history-making event when bold headlines in newspapers all over the world carried the story.
That day and the lives of the two, undoubtedly the world’s strongest aviation boosters of their time, is remembered each year on the Oologah, Indian Territory, ranch were Will Rogers was born. Usually a Sunday event, it was changed to Saturday to reflect the anniversary of the deaths, said Tad Jones, Will Rogers Memorial Museum executive director.
Airports across the country have been invited to join in a special Moment of Remembrance at 10 a.m. (CST) at their respective airports to honor those who have lost their lives in a small aircraft accident. At that same time a short program at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch airstrip will pay tribute to the lives of Will and Wiley. Mary West of Oologah will sing the “National Anthem” and Ross Adkins, Fly-In announcer for the past several years, will present the commemoration program and call for a moment of silence.
RSU Radio will live stream the tribute at 91.3 FM and on their website <a href="http://www.rsuradio.com" target="_blank">www.rsuradio.com</a>.
The popular duo of Lester Lurk and Joe Bacon, aka “Will and Wiley,” will land about 9 a.m.
The Fly-In provides an opportunity for the public to get a close-up look at airplanes and meet the pilots. Pilots enjoy the fellowship with fellow aviators and people who just enjoy planes.
Cherokee Storyteller Robert Lewis will be under a shade tree with his tales of animals, so much a part of early Cherokee tradition.
There will be antique cars, inflatables and games for children and food concessions. Ample parking is provided with rides to the viewing area. Roper Martin Howard and members of the Verdigris School football team have assisted with parking several years. Members of Rogers County Sheriff Mounted Troops will be on hand.
Air Evac Lifetime, an air medical service, will fly in and be on hand to show their plane and provide information about the access at the Claremore Regional Airport. Ambulances from Oologah-Talala EMS and Northwest First District will have units for the public to see as well as be on hand for emergencies.
Bring your own lawn chair or blanket and enjoy watching planes land and take off, walk among the aircraft, visit the house and see the room where Will was born and remember the day 80 years ago when the world learned Will and Wiley had died in Alaska.
Admission is free, but donations will be accepted. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.willrogers.com" target="_blank">www.willrogers.com</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to unofficial results, Bryan Warner won the July 25 runoff for the Cherokee Nation’s Dist. 6 Tribal Council seat.
Unofficial results show that Warner received 54.06 percent of votes with 619 votes, while Natalie Fullbright received 45.94 percent of votes or 526 ballots. The numbers include 23 accepted challenged ballots.
Warner said he feels truly blessed by the results.
“This has been a very humbling experience,” he said.
He said when he takes office he wants to take a look at everything and already has an idea of what types of resources the CN needs. He added that he wants to get out and meet more people.
“I still think there’s people out there that I didn’t get to visit with in this district, and I want them to feel apart of this process,” he said.
Warner said he is grateful to all who cast their vote for him to be the next Dist. 6 Tribal Councilor.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you. My family thanks you, all my supporters thank you,” he said. “It’s just been a wonderful experience and there’s no way I could have written it out like this at all. I can’t wait to get to work and see what we can do for Dist. 6. When I say we, I mean all of us.”
Warner extended congratulations to Fullbright for a well-ran race.
“Her family and all her supporters have been wonderful through this campaign, and I feel like they’re all top-notch individuals. They’ve been cordial, they been kind,” he said. “I hope that we can all get together and work together.”
In a Facebook post Fullbright conceded defeat to Warner.
“Well guys we lost. Not by a lot but by enough. I think a lot of Bryan, get behind him, support him, pray for him work with him,” it stated.
The Cherokee Phoenix contacted Fullbright for comment.
“Why in the world are you people calling me? You need to call Bryan Warner,” she said.
Dist. 6 covers the eastern part of Sequoyah County.
Candidates who won their races will be sworn into office on Aug. 14.
According to Election Commission officials, candidates had until July 29 to file for a recount. As of publication there was no request for a recount in the Dist. 6 race.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to unofficial results, Keith Austin won the Dist. 14 Tribal Council race against William “Bill” Pearson on July 25.
Unofficial results, which included 26 accepted challenged ballots, show that Austin garnered 498 votes for 53.9 percent of the ballots, while Pearson got 425 votes for 46.1 percent.
Austin said he would like to thank the Cherokee Nation citizens of District 14 for allowing him the honor of being elected as their next Tribal Councilor.
“I am humbled that you would place your faith and trust in me. This is a responsibility that I do not take lightly, and I will endeavor to represent you with the same energy and integrity that I have practiced throughout life,” he said. “I would like to thank Mr. Pearson for his service to our Nation, the community and his willingness to serve the Cherokee Nation. Also, I would like to thank Councilor Lee Keener for his service to District 14 on the Council and I wish him well with his future endeavors.”
The Cherokee Phoenix attempted to Pearson, but he was available for comment.
The EC rescheduled the Dist. 14 race after the CN Supreme Court on July 8 ruled that a winner could not be determined with mathematical certainty.
Pearson was certified the winner of the Dist. 14 race after the June 27 general election by one vote. Following a recount on July 2, his lead had been extended to six votes.
Austin appealed the recount results to the Supreme Court alleging that ballots were cast that should not have been accepted, ballots were cast that should have been accepted and two absentee ballot envelopes could not be found.
Candidates elected to office during the general and runoff elections are to be sworn into office on Aug. 14, according to the tribe’s election timeline.