The Dahlonegah Indians softball team celebrates its second-place trophy in the Oklahoma Rural Elementary Schools Division II softball championship. In the front row, from left, are Callie Spears, Kynsi Grimmett, Adrianna Littledeer, Rumor Livers, Adrianna Jones and Kayden Duck. Back row, from left, are coach Kenny Limore, Krista Nofire, Jessie Sanchez, Sammie Duncan, Jaivyn Gann, coach Nate Bunch, Robyn Grimmett, Shelby Ross, Hayden Woods and coach Mike Girdner. COURTESY PHOTO

Dahlonegah takes 2nd in ORES softball tournament

Senior Reporter
10/28/2013 09:50 AM
STILWELL, Okla. – The Dahlonegah Indians played a marathon day of softball on Oct. 8 to reach the Oklahoma Rural Elementary Schools Division II championship game and wound up taking second place.

In a tournament held in McAlester, the girls played five games to reach the championship game because of previous rainouts. Coach Mike Girdner said games had been rained out three times before being played.

“We had been rained out three weeks in a row. We had to stay motivated to play for three weeks,” he said. “We practiced the whole time, every day.”

Girdner coaches all of the girls’ athletics for the Adair County school and is assisted by coaches Nate Bunch and Kenny Limore.

On Oct. 8, the 12-member Dahlonegah team first lost 4-2 to Oak Grove in a made-up rainout game. In the second game the team defeated Jennings 5-0 before beating another Adair County school, Rocky Mountain, 3-2. For its fourth game the team defeated Grandview School from Comanche County, 5-2.

“And then we had to play Oak Grove again because we had to come through the loser’s bracket. We beat them 9-1 and that put us in the finals, and then we got destroyed by Zaneis. We ran out of pitching,” Girdner said.

When the day was over, the Indians played from 11 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Zaneis Elementary, located in Carter County, defeated Dahlonegah 12-0.

“We took it on the chin. I told the girls if you get that far there’s no losers,” Girdner said. “Our little pitcher, she had thrown all of the games, and she wanted to pitch in the finals, so I let her throw. They were good...we didn’t have an answer for them.”

He said his team was disappointed but it also appreciated making it to the championship game.

“Their morale was good. They were somewhat disappointed they didn’t win the whole thing. They did their best, and I thought they took it pretty classy. They showed some real good sportsmanship to the other team,” Girdner said.

It was the first time the school had reached the ORES softball tournament. The team compiled a record of 14-5 during its two-month season.

“I am proud of the girls,” he said. “We had really good parent support. They made the trip (to the state tournament) as many times as I did, so that helped.”


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. • 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.


Senior Reporter
12/19/2014 10:40 AM
BIXBY, Okla. – The Bixby Spartans football team finished its season hoisting the Class 6A Division II state championship on Dec. 5 after defeating the Lawton Wolverines 35-21 in Moore. Cherokee Nation citizen Zack Brown, 18, played a big part of the team. The 5-foot, 11-inch, 240-pound lineman started every game his senior season after working in the offseason to compete for an open slot at left guard. “The season was pretty crazy. We lost our first game to Jenks, which was kind of upsetting, but we just stuck to it and kept winning games and eventually made it to the state championship and pulled that one off,” he said. Brown also stuck to his dream of starting for the Spartans. He was a second-teamer his eighth grade, freshman, sophomore and junior years, but was determined to start his senior year. “I realized there was an opening for me and a chance for me to start, so I just worked really hard in the offseason and busted my butt to get where I am now,” he said. “I just realized this was my last shot to have a chance to play high school football, so I just gave it my all and became a starter.” Becoming a starter was not easy, Brown said. He competed for the position with two other linemen. “I just kind of kept an eye on them through the offseason and always tried to do one more rep than the other guy and just become better at everything I did,” he said. Brown said his best game of the year was against Sand Springs in the state playoff semifinal. He won “Lineman of the Week” after out-grading the other offensive linemen on the team. Coaches grade linemen for their effort and how well they keep their assignments during a game. In 13 games this year, he won “Lineman of the Week” five times. “It was the most out of all the other lineman,” he said. He said for the state championship, Bixby knew Lawton had some “pretty big defensive linemen.” However, the No. 1 Spartans had a good offense that averaged 44 points and nearly 500 yards per game. “We knew it was going to be a good game and a hard-fought game. We just kept fighting because at halftime it was tied up 14-14,” he said. “At halftime we were talking in the locker room that we’ve just got to keep pushing and keep working and the best team will come out on top, and that’s what happened.” Brown said he was “nervous” in the third quarter until Bixby’s offense took control of the game and scored a touchdown early. The defense quickly scored another touchdown on an interception. Another Bixby touchdown in the third quarter sealed the game as Lawton scored only one touchdown for the 35-21 final. “I could kind of see with five minutes left in the third quarter that they were starting to break and they were getting up slower. When (linebacker) Adrian Mica had an interception for six on defense that motivated us to score again, and then we scored again and we just kept running with it. We realized we could win this game,” he said. Bixby finished the season 13-1 and on a 12-game winning streak that began after being beaten by eventual Class 6A Division I champion Jenks. The Spartans brought home their first gold ball after finishing runner-up seven times since 1964. At the beginning of the season, Brown said the team knew its strengths and weaknesses and knew the offensive line may be a weakness. As the season went on, the line improved. “The coaches said we improved the most out of anyone else on the team,” he said. “Basically, they said we made everyone else better and caused everyone to work harder to become state champions.” After graduation, Brown plans to attend the University of Arkansas to study nursing.
12/11/2014 10:39 AM
LOCUST GROVE, Okla. – Seventeen-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen Mason Fine received the 2014-15 Gatorade Football Player of the Year for Oklahoma on Dec. 4 at Locust Grove High School, the school’s first winner of the award. The junior helped lead the Pirates to a 13-0 record, as of Dec. 9, and a playoff berth in Class 3A. He said being recognized with the award meant a great deal not just to him but also to his team, coaching staff, family and community. “It’s a huge honor to be awarded with that, and not so much as an individual goal, but as a team goal. It just shows how much we work here, (and how much) we work everyday,” he said. Mason said he was contacted about the award around mid-season and had complete paperwork for it. He didn’t learn he had won until the morning of the presentation. He added that his teammates and coaching staff have been supportive. “You know they’re all happy for me. We’re all glad to be a part of this award and accomplishment. It shows where our team is at,” Mason said. Dale and Terrah, his parents, said they were so thankful for everyone that’s had a hand in Mason’s life. “They have been a huge part of Mason’s life and have helped him in so many ways. This is a huge honor for our son and our family. We are very proud of him and his team’s accomplishment,” Terrah said. According to a Gatorade Player of the Year release, it’s the 30th year of honoring the “nation’s best high school athletes.” It also states the award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field and distinguishes Fine as Oklahoma’s best high school football player. Fine joins an elite list of past award-winners, including Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, California), Wes Welker (1999-00, Heritage Hall HS), Terrell Suggs (1999-00, Hamilton HS, Arizona), Anquan Boldin (1998-99, Pahokee HS, Florida) and Jerome Bettis (1989-90, Mackenzie HS, Michigan). Fine carries a 4.0 grade point average, is No. 1 in his class and serves as junior class president. He also has served as a youth football instructor and is a member of the National Honor Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Mason said his future goals are winning the “gold ball” or state championship in football, having another great season his senior year and going to college on a football or academic scholarship. “Playing football is a very good possibility in college. Football is my love, and I would love to play football as long as I could,” he said. He added that he couldn’t have won the award without the positive influences in his life. “I do want to thank my teammates from the offensive line to my receivers to even the defense for stopping the opponent and getting us the ball back. Even to the scout team defense when our offense is playing at practice,” Mason said. “I got to thank all my coaches, you know, my parents especially for being there always, my family, friends and God. Give God all the glory.” The Gatorade Player of the Year program recognizes one winner in Washington, D.C., and each of the 50 states annually in high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, boys and girls track and field. It also awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. To view Mason’s award video <a href="" target="_blank">Click here</a>. <strong>Mason Fine’s statistics for the 2014-15 season</strong> Passing yards and touchdowns: 4,469 yards, 65 TDs Passing completion percentage: 69 percent – 292 completions of 424 attempts Rushing totals: 134 attempts, 522 yards, 10 TDs According to a Gatorade release, Fine beat the previous single-season Oklahoma records of 3,916 passing yards and 54 TD passes.
12/05/2014 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee author Daniel H. Wilson is teaming up with Oklahoma-born actor Brad Pitt to produce the science fiction movie “Alpha” under Pitt’s “Plan B” banner. According to the Hollywood Reporter and a newsletter sent by Wilson, the movie company Lionsgate picked up “Alpha,” and Wilson, who came up with the idea, will write the screenplay. Project details are being kept secret, but it is known to be sci-fi survival story that has shades of Jack London, the author behind such tales as “White Fang” and “The Call of the Wild.” Wilson – the author of “How to Survive a Robot Uprising,” “Robopocalypse,” and “Where’s My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never Was” – released a follow up to “Robopocalypse” in June titled “Robogenesis,” which received rave reviews from The New York Times and recently made the LA Times Bestseller List. Famed Director Steven Spielberg considered adapting “Robopocalypse” into a movie. Wilson has also written several screenplays, including a remake of Cherry 2000 for MGM and adapted his book “Bro-Jitsu: The Martial Art of Sibing Rivalry” for the Nickelodeon channel. “Plan B” last produced the zombie movie “World War Z” and the Oscar-winning slave drama “12 Years a Slave.” In other news, Wilson is featured in the new science fiction book “Carbide Tipped Pens,” which consists of “17 tales of hard science fiction” written by more than “a dozen of today’s most creative imaginations.” “Hard science fiction is the literature of change, rigorously examining the impact – both beneficial and dangerous – of science and technology on humanity, the future and the cosmos. As science advances, expanding our knowledge of the universe, astounding new frontiers in storytelling open up as well,” states the book’s description. Wilson, is also involved in “EARTH 2: WORLD’S END,” a new weekly comic book series that explores the origins of a world that saw its greatest heroes die – and new ones take their places. It’s also a world where Superman became its greatest villain, and a man named Zod seeks to save it, along with Batman, Green Lantern, The Flash and other heroes. “Death and destruction will follow each week, and you’ll never know who will live and who will die,” states the comic’s description. The comic debuted on Oct. 8 with the 48-page color issue. It is written by Wilson and two other writers and is priced at $2.99. Wilson, 36, was born in Tulsa and is a Cherokee citizen. He attended the University of Tulsa where he majored in computer science. At TU he earned a fellowship to attend Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh. There he received master’s degree in robotics, another master’s degree in machine learning, and in 2005 he completed requirements for a doctorate in robotics. He said he plans to write a third book to make the Robo-story a trilogy. In “Robogenesis,” which is set in the Osage Nation in Oklahoma and has Cherokee and Osage characters, the machine code used by the machines, Archos, has survived. The machine code has fragmented into millions of pieces and is hiding and regrouping. “In this book I think more about intelligent machines and how they would try to manipulate people. The way they manipulate people is through emotion and religion, love and hope, and so as a thriller it just becomes a more complex book,” Wilson said. “Robogenesis” has also received acclaim from horror novelist Stephen King and the Wall Street Journal.
12/05/2014 08:30 AM
WASHINGTON – Bartlesville High School senior Ashlee Fox spent Dec. 3 missing her calculus class to meet with Vice President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C., and sit in with tribal chiefs from across the country. After being nominated by Principal Chief Bill John Baker, the 17-year-old tribal citizen represented the Cherokee Nation during the first week of December as a youth ambassador for the sixth annual White House Tribal Nations Conference. She was chosen to serve as one of 36 youth ambassadors at the conference, which aims to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. government and the 566 federally recognized tribes. “This conference is a great opportunity since all Native American youth should have a voice in the decision-making that goes on within the federal government,” Fox said. “I’m greatly honored to have been nominated by Chief Baker for this experience.” President Barack Obama’s administration and the National Congress of American Indians hosted the conference. While there Fox toured the White House and met with first lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff. She watched a memorandum of understanding agreement between Indian Health Service and N7, Nike’s Native American brand. Fox also met other Cabinet-level officials and attended breakout sessions on the Violence Against Women Act, tribal health care, education and the Affordable Care Act. “Ashlee is a wonderful example of a Cherokee citizen who is committed to improving her local community and the larger world. I find that impressive at any age, but especially when I meet and work with a high school student who is so dedicated,” Baker said. “She is concerned with the future of Indian Country, and I know she will continue to be an agent of positive change for Native people.” Fox is a Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Councilor, a student representative for the Johnson-O’Malley Program, a member of American Indian Student Association and attends the Squirrel Ridge ceremonial grounds. She also completed an internship under CN Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. this past summer. The conference was Fox’s first trip to Washington, D.C.
Senior Reporter
12/04/2014 11:45 AM
OAKS, Okla. – The Oaks Indian Mission is now being directed by a familiar face. Town native and Cherokee Nation citizen Vance Blackfox returned in October to serve as the mission’s executive director. He previously served as the mission’s chaplain and as annual fund director before leaving about six years ago to return to graduate school at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. There he earned master’s degrees in theological studies and American Indian ministry. Blackfox, 38, said he wanted to return to the Oaks Indian Mission for various reasons. “A few of the reasons would be to continue to serve in this ministry and in this organization where so many of my ancestors and so many of my relatives have served. Secondly, I think it’s a vitally important organization and ministry both to the church and Indian Country. We provide services to children that are just not being met in other places,” he said. He said the mission is residential facility for children who come from different tribes and tribal backgrounds from across Oklahoma. They arrive at the mission because “they have a particular need,” whether it be structure, to escape poverty, educational assistance, leadership and service abilities or with spiritual formation, whether Christian or tribal traditions. Presently, there are 30 children from 15 tribes living at the mission, which nearly straddles the Cherokee-Delaware county line but is located in Delaware County. Blackfox said the mission is licensed to care for 48 children, but at the moment is not able to accommodate that many children. “We’re working on opening up another dorm in the future to expand that number. We’ve had more in the past, but right now that’s the number (30) that we’re caring for,” he said. Ninety percent of the mission’s funding comes from individual donations, families, congregations and organizations. “Almost all of that 90 percent are Lutheran,” he said. “Part of the hope is that others will see the value of our mission here to care for Indian children who are still very much in need. So, we need some others to join in, in order to continue serving children as we have.” He said recently CN Tribal Councilor Curtis Snell recently gave the OIM funding to re-roof two buildings, and in the past other tribes have donated funds when their children are placed at the OIM. But for the most part the mission has had “very little support” from tribes, he said. The children attend Oaks Public School, located across the street from the mission, and if needed can stay at the mission until they graduate from high school. Blackfox said the mission keeps in touch with children who leave to go on to vocational training or college to see how they are doing. “We run into alumni everywhere. I’ll be at a fundraiser that’s related to Indian people or maybe not even related to the mission, and I’ll run into someone who says, ‘Oh, I lived at the mission.’ That happens a lot throughout Indian Country, throughout the United States,” he said. Blackfox said the alumni are usually thankful for their time at OIM and excited to hear the mission still operates to help Indian children. “We have all sorts of young people who are functioning well and are functioning in a healthy way despite the conditions they come from at times. Not all of the conditions are horrible for our children. This just happens to be a better place for them for a variety of reasons that is determined by their family, by them or by their tribal governments or agencies or Indian Child Welfare,” he said. Blackfox said sometimes children who come from ICW or the Department of Human Services “almost feel defeated” and may see the mission as part of the system they have been dealing with for years. “Because of the way we are set up in regard to our homes and to our connection and focus on faith formation and spiritual renewal, and because of all the services we provide to help them to a healthier place, they often times turn into some of our best young people,” he said. “That may be because of their gratitude and thankfulness that they are in a place that’s caring and loving or it could just be that they realize this is a place that they get to stay for a little while. I know that one of our young people rejoices that he’s been here for six months. That’s the longest he’s been anywhere, not by any fault of his own.” The mission, which is staffed by 20 people, is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and is a Lutheran social service-related organization. It also connected to the Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Oaks. Blackfox said the mission is arguably the longest continuing ministry and service organization serving Indian people in the United States. It began in Georgia when the CN invited the Moravian Church to establish a school to teach Cherokee children. A mission and a school was established at Springplace, Georgia, in 1801 and was later moved to Indian Territory as the Cherokee were forced to what is now Oklahoma. The Moravian Church opened New Springplace near present-day Oaks in 1842. In 1902, the Moravian Mission passed its heritage onto the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the Eben Ezer Lutheran Church was established in 1903. The mission for children was opened in 1926. Blackfox said he grew up poor and lived some of the cycles the mission’s children are living. “That’s why I think it’s important personally because I know some of the journeys that they’re on,” he said. “This isn’t the most glamorous job to have and not always the most thank-filled job to have, but when the creator calls for you to care for children; you have to listen.” For more information, call 918-868-2196 or visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
Senior Reporter
11/26/2014 02:13 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee veteran Peggy Zuber of Tulsa is proud of 21 years of service in the U.S. Navy and the Army Reserve. Zuber served four years in the Navy beginning in 1976 and was involved in communications, held a top-secret clearance and worked with cryptographic equipment. She then served 17 years in the Army Reserve as a communications operator for military intelligence and performed civil affairs, training and inspections. While in the Army Reserve, Zuber supported overseas operations in Belgium and Germany and received medals and ribbons for her service. She retired from the 95th Division in Des Moines, Iowa, as a sergeant first class in 2001. After retiring, she worked as a Department of Defense contractor. Now a contract analyst for Cherokee Nation Businesses, Zuber was named “Oklahoma Veteran of the Year” by the Oklahoma Women Veterans Organization in October, the month after receiving the tribe’s Cherokee Warrior Award and the Cherokee Medal of Patriotism. Zuber, 59, said her military service allowed to experience much more than she would have as a civilian. “I’ve met many people. To me that’s fascinating, meeting people from all walks of life and working with a variety of people all the way from an admiral in the Navy all the way down to a seaman recruit,” she said. “I’ve had a taste of both branches. The Army Reserve provided more of an opportunity for me to go overseas, especially for training. I don’t know what it is, but it seems like once you’ve been in you’re always in. Anytime I can help someone, especially a veteran, it makes me feel really good.” Being a part of the OWVO allows her to help other veterans. It was formed 30 years ago and is based in Norman. Zuber said its Tulsa branch, where she serves as secretary, was formed three years ago. “We’ve all came together, regardless of branches. It’s like we have this bond,” she said. The organization raises funds to help women veterans with financial assistance, care packages and scholarship funds. Zuber has led fundraisers for the organization and raised more than $1,000 at a garage sale in September. The OWVO also assists with homecomings and events such as “Stand Down” and “G.I. Wishes.” She also volunteers as a Veterans Treatment Court mentor to help women veterans working to recover from addictions, have mental health problems or are charged with non-violent felonies. She is also working toward paralegal certification from the University of Tulsa to further assist the Veterans Treatment Court. “I’ve been witness to one (women) that has really made a difference. She was homeless. She’s been going to this treatment court and she’s been going back to school. It’s amazing to see her getting her life back after being homeless for two years,” Zuber said. “It’s just amazing to see the community support. The Veterans Mayor’s Committee has been developed, and there’s so many things starting to come up to support veterans.” She added that some women veterans having difficulties served in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Zuber spent a year total in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 and a year in Amman, Jordan, as a contractor with the Department of Defense in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She worked in bases in Balad, Baghdad, Kirkuk and Tikrit in Iraq. “That was interesting. You’re working with the locals and you’re also working with the local countries to get goods and equipment in as well as getting someone who would really come into the base (to pick up supplies) because their lives were threatened,” she said. While she was there a couple of local Iraqi contractors were killed for associating with Americans. Zuber survived constant mortar attacks while in Iraq, which she said she adjusted to after a while. She said she was “shocked” to receive the Cherokee Warrior Award and the Cherokee Medal of Patriotism because there are so many Cherokee veterans who also deserve the award. “I was really honored to have it as a Cherokee citizen. I was very honored,” she said. “I’m just happy to have been able to be in the military and support the different projects. I would do it again.”