Leeds co-writes ‘Mastering American Indian Law’

08/16/2013 09:22 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Stacy Leeds, dean and professor in the University of Arkansas School of Law, has co-written the book titled “Mastering American Indian Law.”

The book will be available in September and was co-written with Angelique Townsend EagleWoman of the College of Law at the University of Idaho where she is an associate professor of law.

“Mastering American Indian Law” is designed to provide readers with an overview of Indian law beginning with the important eras of United States Indian policy in the introductory chapter up to contemporary developments in American Indian law. The authors said they hope the book serves as a useful supplement to classroom instruction covering tribal law, federal Indian law and tribal-state relations.

Throughout the text, explanations of the relevant interaction between tribal governments, the federal government and state governments are included in the various subject areas.

In Chapter 10, titled International Indigenous Issues and Tribal Nations, the significant evolution of collective rights in international documents is focused on, as these documents may be relevant for tribal governments in relations with the United States.

For Indian law courses, law school seminars on topics in American Indian Law, undergraduate and graduate level American Indian studies classes, and those interested in the field, this book will provide an easy-to-read text meant to guide the reader through the historical to the contemporary on the major aspects of American Indian law and policy, states the book’s description.

Leeds joined the University of Arkansas in 2011 and became the first American Indian woman in the country to serve as dean of a law school. In 2013, she received the American Bar Association Spirit of Excellence Award for promoting a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. Over the years, she has focused her teaching and extensive research on property, natural resources and American Indian law.

Leeds is the first Native American woman to be a law school dean. She is the first woman to serve as a justice on the CN Supreme Court, and is also one of five appointees to the Secretarial Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform. The commission is conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s management and administration of nearly $4 billion in American Indian trust funds.

Leeds earned her master’s degree after completing a fellowship at the University of Wisconsin Law School, before joining the faculty of the University of North Dakota’s School of Law, where she was director of the Northern Plains Indian Law Center. She worked as a law professor at the University of Kansas before she accepted her position at Arkansas in 2011.


01/25/2015 08:00 AM
CHICAGO – It was while attending a powwow in Chicago when he was 10 that sparked Patrick Rochford’s interest in learning the Cherokee culture and language. After learning the Cherokee language through the Cherokee Nation’s online language courses, Rochford, now 22 and a student at DePaul University, contracts with the CN Translation Department. “I would say I really started when I was 14 and I enrolled for the online classes with Ed Fields (CN Cultural Resource Center language instructor). But before that my dad had bought me a Cherokee language book when I was 10, so I started playing around with the words. But I didn’t get serious about it until I was probably 14,” Rochford said. The book his father bought him was a beginning Cherokee language book. “I didn’t really know what I was reading at the time because I didn’t know how to pronounce the different Cherokee sounds, but I still tried,” Rochford said. “That’s where I started my love of the language. When I went to Ed’s classes, I really went back and was like ‘oh, I know how to say this now’ and that’s how I started.” Rochford said the reason he took the classes was just to learn a few words and more about the Cherokee culture. He said he knew he had Cherokee ancestry but he felt that having ancestry wasn’t enough. He quickly immersed himself in the language and took all of the online language classes about three times each. “I guess I knew I had Cherokee ancestry and it wasn’t enough to say that,” he said. “I really got interested in it and when I started Ed’s classes. I didn’t have the idea of becoming fluent. I just wanted to learn a few words. I figured it would be fun. After I got more into his classes I decided I want to become fluent one day or as close to it as I could become.” Rochford said he enjoyed the way Fields taught the classes because he included the Cherokee culture. “That’s really important for me when I’m learning about something, is to have a sense of culture as well as language,” he said. From 2010-12, Rochford attended Northeastern State University where he was a Center for Tribal Studies student worker, and in 2010, he and other NSU students helped teach an after-school Cherokee language and culture program at Grandview Public Schools in Tahlequah. “That was always fun because we got to work with the kids doing the Language Bowl,” he said. “So to see them pick up words, that made it worth it.” About three years ago, he did an interview on the tribe’s Cherokee Voices, Cherokee Sounds radio show with host Dennis Sixkiller. Rochford still listens to the show to help his learning. “Some of the speakers have a really fast rhythm in the way they speak, but now I’ve gotten used to it,” he said. “It helps for me to listen to the radio show. I listen to the interviews any time that I can because living in Illinois I don’t have anyone to speak with on a daily basis. So that really helps just listening. It gets me used to hearing it.” In 2011, Rochford interned with the CN Language Technology group where he first started working with the translators. “We would put together many dialogues and record them,” he said. “So it gave me a lot of practice with the language.” Today, Rochford majors in international studies with a focus on indigeneity and language revitalization and minors in Italian. And, because of his fluency in the Cherokee language, has been a contract employee with the tribe’s Translation Department since February 2013. “Roy Boney, who is the head of the translation department, he contacted me and asked me if I would be interested,” Rochford said. “I said ‘of course’ because I love working with the language. That’s my passion.” Rochford translates Facebook, Gmail and Microsoft software updates. “This is neat because there are not a lot of indigenous languages that are being made to use on the computer and being updated,” he said. Boney said Rochford worked closely with the Cherokee speakers in the Cherokee Language Program and others in the community to learn Cherokee. “He is recognized among our community as one of the best second-language Cherokee learners,” Boney said. “He collaborates very closely with our speakers in working on translations related to modern technology, which contain a lot of terminology some of the elder generation may not be familiar with. It has been a very beneficial collaboration. Beyond that, Patrick is living proof that learning Cherokee is possible with dedication and hard work.” Boney said Rochford scored master level on the Cherokee Language Program’s proficiency and certification tests. Because of the hard work and studying he’s put in to learning Cherokee, Rochford said it all has been worth it because of what he’s accomplished with it. “I love what I do, and I love that I can still contribute to helping out with the work that needs to be done with the language even though I’m going to school up here currently. It’s worth it when you can understand a joke in Cherokee,” he said. “I think that’s when it’s like ‘yes, I love this language’ because now I can laugh and understand what’s being joked about. I think it’s rewarding and I’m thankful to the countless Cherokee speakers that have helped me in my learning process over the years. I wouldn’t be where I am in my learning of the language without their continued encouragement and support.”
01/23/2015 08:05 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Wade Blevins won gold in China at the International World Traditional Wushu Championships in Chizhou City, China, which was held Oct. 23-29. The 41-year-old from Tahlequah won a gold medal in the barehanded division. Blevins qualified for the United States team in February in Washington, D.C., and joined more than 3,000 top martial artists from around the world in China. Blevins was one of 30 to make the United States Wushu-Kung Fu Federation team in February. Wushu is an ancient martial art created for self-defense and physical conditioning. He is thought to be the only Native American competitor at the international tournament. “To qualify for the team you only had to score an 8.5 or above. I qualified in the bare hands event and the weapons event,” he said. “To win the gold medal feels absolutely incredible. It’s one of the achievements I'm most proud of in my life. All the years of hard work and training in the gym, all the sacrifices I've made and eating better have paid off. I feel like I won this gold for my martial arts school, my family, my community and my tribe.” Blevins also earned a bronze medal in the weapons category during the championship held Oct. 26. He was scored on his balance, speed, technique and form by international judges. He started learning marital arts when he was 12 years old. He said when he was a child his mom “loved Bruce Lee,” the Chinese martial arts expert who changed martial arts before his death in 1973. He said he and his mom would watch Bruce Lee movies together. “That’s what really got me started. Living in Jay, (Oklahoma) I wanted to do gymnastics, but of course there was no place in Jay, America, that taught gymnastics. There was a martial arts class in Grove, and my mom said, ‘why don’t you do that? You like martial arts,’” he said. “My mom really encouraged me, and I started, and I’ve really enjoyed it.” Today, he has a black belt in Korean-style martial arts called Hwarangdo and has experience in Aikido, a Japanese style, and Tai Chi, a Chinese style. “My main focus is on Chinese styles, which is chang-quan, Shaolin fists and wing chun. Weapons has been staff, broad sword, three-section staff, straight sword, nine-section whip and spear,” he said. Blevins works for the Nation’s Johnson-O’ Malley Program that helps provide resources to Native students in public schools.
Senior Reporter
01/10/2015 08:00 AM
FORT GIBSON, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Dondi Gladd has released a 12-song CD titled “Freedom” that was inspired by Gladd’s believe that God works miracles today. An accompanying book tells the stories and experiences that brought the songs to life. “As you read, you will not only gain knowledge of why the songs were written but also gain wonderful nuggets of truth that were imparted to me by the Spirit of the Lord,” states the booklet. After a severe traumatic brain injury about six years ago left her paralyzed at 38, she said knew through her faith she would talk again and regain the use of her body. “I knew that it was God’s divine will that I share the music that he gave to me and my husband,” she said. “Still left with a traumatic brain injury I continue to defy medical odds and keep moving forward with my faith. Though most of what is left damaged is me is not noticeable by the naked eye, I continue to walk forward in faith despite my challenges.” Gladd said she prays that people find, peace, love and encouragement in the lyrics in her songs. For more information or to purchase the “Freedom” CD, visit <a href="http://www.dondigladd644music.com" target="_blank">www.dondigladd644music.com</a> or email <a href="mailto: lg644music@yahoo.com">lg644music@yahoo.com</a>.
01/07/2015 07:45 AM
TULSA, Okla. – The Dirty Creek Bandits, a band in which the majority of its members are Native American, performed on Nov. 15 at the Mercury Lounge as the opening act for Red Eye Gravy. On Jan. 25, the group will open for John Doe at The Shrine. The members consist of three Cherokee Nation citizens and two non-Natives. Bandmates describe their music as a blending of folk, bluegrass, country and psychedelic rock. “Oh man, the easiest one would be psychedelic folk I guess,” Wesley Barnett said, “or folk rock.” He said the band plays all original music. The band’s lineup consists of CN citizens Justin Reid (guitar and vocals) Barnett (guitar, harmonica and voice) and Brandi Reid (tambourine and vocals), as well as Jason Howard (stand-up bass) and Eli Hackathorn (cajon, washboard and djembe). Barnett said the band started with him, Justin and Brandi about four years ago. “Me, Justin and Brandi went to a concert in Lawrence, Kansas, and decided we could do a better job than the opening bands. Came home and started playing in Jason’s garage and it just grew from there,” he added. Justin said he and Barnett have known each other since their youth and have been writing for a long time. “Me and Wes have been writing songs for a long time, even before the band started. And then finally met all the right people and are able to play them in front of people, so it’s really cool,” Justin said. Howard later joined the band, after he married into the family. “He married my sister, we had to let him in,” Brandi said jokingly. Hackathorn is the newest member, joining after seeing the band play at the Backwoods Bash Music Festival. “I just kind of started playing with them, and then I realized they were a real band and I didn’t want to interrupt them so I ran off,” he said. “Little did I know, I would run into them again at another festival and end up joining the band full time.” Justin said the diversity of people who enjoy listening to the Bandits is odd at times. “There’s not just one kind of person who likes our band. It goes from old to young, hippies and not hippies. Bikers love us,” Justin said. “It’s just strange because we really don’t play anything that sounds like very many other people.” Those who attend a show, Barnett said, can expect to have fun and the unexpected. However, he said it hasn’t been easy the past few years and there are always struggles, but they keep playing. “Just keep going, no matter what happens,” he said. According to the band’s website, the Bandits have played music venues such as The Legendary Cain’s Ballroom and the Wakarusa Music Festival. The Dirty Creek Bandits have one CD and are working on another. Fans can catch listen online at www.dirtycreekbandits.com, on the band’s Facebook page, <a href="http://www.reverbnation.com" target="_blank">www.reverbnation.com</a>, spotify, <a href="http://www.amazon.com" target="_blank">www.amazon.com</a> or iTunes. The band has a couple shows lined up for January in Tulsa. The first will be at 8 p.m. on Jan. 2 at the 6th Street Entry and then on Jan. 25 at the Shrine with John Doe and Jesse Dayton.
01/06/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The next meeting of the Tahlequah Writers group is set for 2 p.m. on Jan. 17 at the Cherokee Arts Center at 212 S. Water St. behind the Spider Gallery. Tahlequah Writers is an informal group comprised of published writers and aspiring writers of various genres. Attendees include poets, fiction writers, historians, essayists, humorists, playwrights, scriptwriters, and more. Meetings discuss the art of writing as well as the business of publishing and promotion. The group will be actively participating in the 2015 Arts on the Avenue with a performance tent for area writers. For more information, call Karen Cooper at 918-207-0093 or email <a href="mailto: karcoocoo@att.net">karcoocoo@att.net</a>. One also can view the Tahlequah Writers Facebook page for more information.
01/05/2015 12:00 PM
LOCUST GROVE, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen and Locust Grove quarterback Mason Fine was recently named Tulsa World’s All State Player of the Year. The newspaper reported that Fine is the “Tulsa World’s high school player of the year and the first underclassman to receive the prestigious honor since Lawton’s Dewell Brewer in 1987.” Although Fine’s size isn’t typical for a Division I quarterback his stats tell a different story. This season Fine passed for 5,006 and 71 touchdowns setting a record for quarterbacks before him. He helped lead the Locust Grove Pirates to a 13-1 record with their loss coming against Oklahoma City Heritage Hall in the semifinal of the state playoffs. OC Heritage Hall later won the 3A championship. Fine threw for 537 yards and six touchdowns during that game. “We came with the expectation of winning a gold ball, but it was still a great season for us. We went out there and executed, and our community came out and supported us very well,” Fine said in the Tulsa World article. There are high expectations for the 2015 season for the Pirates with Fine and his lead receiver Jason Pirtle returning as seniors.