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
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.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation honored two brothers who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during the Korean War with Cherokee Medals of Patriotism during the March 16 Tribal Council meeting.
James Darrel Kennicutt, 83, and Herman Diviuns Kennicutt, 80, both of Tahlequah, received a medal and plaque from Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden acknowledging their service to the country.
Pfc. James Kennicutt was born on Feb. 2, 1932, in Tahlequah to C.H. and Onie Kennicutt. He enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard in 1950 and attended basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. After being assigned to the machine gun platoon, he was deployed to Hokkaido, Japan, for eight months of advanced training. In December 1951, his division was deployed to Korea in an area known as the “Iron Triangle.” James served as a .30-caliber machine gunner. He was honorably discharged from the Army National Guard in 1952. He later enlisted into the U.S. Air Force in 1954. He trained as an electronic turrets mechanic and was stationed at Loring Air Force Base in Maine until he was honorably discharged in 1957.
Sgt. 1st Class Herman Kennicutt was born on Oct. 15, 1934, in Tahlequah to C.H. and Onie Kennicutt. He enlisted with the U.S. Navy in 1953 and attended basic training in San Diego. He served aboard the USS Hollister as a torpedo man in Japan and Korea before being assigned to the USS Ozbourn. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1957. Herman enlisted in the Army in 1958 and was deployed to Korea for a year. He was stationed in multiple bases in the U.S. and Germany before spending 1966-67 in Vietnam during that conflict. He retired from the Army in 1974 with more than 20 years of military service.
“I do want to thank the Cherokee Nation for the things they do for veterans, especially this new veterans center that sits down here,” said Herman Kennicutt. “It’s been a real boom for a lot of people, a lot of veterans who didn’t have anywhere else to go or anyplace to go for help. The late Rogan Noble, many of you knew him, gave me a lot of help in getting me disability through the veterans administration. So, to Rogan and all of the Cherokee Nation, thank you very much.”
Each month the CN recognizes Cherokee service men and women for their sacrifices and as a way to demonstrate the high regard in which the tribe holds all veterans. Native Americans, including Cherokees, are thought to have more citizens serving per capita than any other ethnic group, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. To nominate a veteran who is a CN citizen, call 918-772-4166.
BRUSHY, Okla. – On March 5, Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills announced that Cherokee Nation citizen Breanna Potter was a recipient of a $10,000 “Dreamstarter” grant.
This is the first class of American Indian youths to receive the grants for projects that help them bring their dreams to life. Each of the 10 “Dreamstarter” recipients, who are all American Indian youth under age 30, will work together with a community nonprofit to increase wellness supported by Running Strong for American Indian Youth.
Potters’ dream is to work with local youths to educate their rural community about diabetes prevention and healthy eating. Her project will locally address the epidemic of diabetes and poor nutrition that many Native communities face. It would also teach the Native youth team members leadership skills, training in public speaking and promotion and organizing to help them follow their dreams.
“We’ve been working on this for so many months, and we poured a lot of our hearts into this, so it means a lot to us that we got selected,” Potter said.
She said that in her application she had to explain what her project was for her community group, which is the Brushy Cherokee Action Association in Sequoyah County. Her application also had to explain how she wanted to use the funding, a detailed timeline and a detailed budget for how the money would be spent.
Her project has two parts. The first is to establish a youth leadership team using Cherokee youths living in Brushy who demonstrate leadership qualities and do well in school who will likely be future leaders.
“We’re going to take them and try to give them some life skills, teach them to make some good choices now, teach them things like building a resume,” Potter said. “And then those students are actually going to create a diabetes prevention program, which is the second part of our program. They’re going to educate the Native community about what diabetes is and how they can prevent.”
Potter said one reason she chose to tackle diabetes prevention is because her mother lives with type I diabetes, although about 90 percent of Native people who have diabetes have type II diabetes.
“We want people to know in some cases it’s preventable (type II diabetes), and we want people to know that in making healthy lifestyle choices such as healthy eating and being active, things of that nature, they’re able to help prevent it,” she said.
Potter said she is paying forward the help she received from adults in her community who mentored her in high school and encouraged her to attend college. She said they told her “she could accomplish things” and “she could be a role model to other people.”
“That made such a difference in my life. I remember seeing so many youth my own age that had all the potential in the world but didn’t have anybody there the help them,” she said. “I’m very thankful to Vickie Owens. She’s been the mentor in this project. She’s poured in a lot of time and energy and a lot of herself. And a big thank you goes to the Brushy community and the Brushy Cherokee Action Association for all that they have done and offered up to the program.”
Potter is a senior at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah majoring in special education. She said she eventually wants to work in a high-Native population and teach in a junior high or high school.
Potter said she hopes to get her project going in July and that she and others are doing prep work for it.
“I’m so inspired by our first class of ‘Dreamstarters,’” said Mills. “The ‘Dreamstarter’ program is one more step towards overcoming the poverty of dreams among so many Native young people. The ‘Dreamstarters’ come from communities and tribes all over the country. They are bound together by the idea that, despite the challenges, their dreams can guide them to build a strong future for themselves and for their communities. I look forward to working with each ‘Dreamstarter’ over the next year, to helping them grow into leaders, and to watching their dreams come to life.”
Running Strong will give away fifty $10,000 “Dreamstarter” grants over the next five years to support Native youths’ dreams. At the end of the grant period, Running Strong will choose five projects to be eligible for an additional $50,000 grant. Each year, grants are awarded to projects around a unifying theme. The 2015-16 theme is wellness.
For more information, visit <a href="http://indianyouth.org/2015Dreamstarters" target="_blank">http://indianyouth.org/2015Dreamstarters</a>.
NORMAN, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Robert “Don” Gifford was recently promoted to colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and has been also selected to be the commander of the 3rd Legal Operations Detachment in Boston.
As the commander of nearly 80 other military lawyers and paralegals, Gifford will oversee operations to provide legal support to deploying soldiers, their families, and veterans. In addition, he will be responsible for deploying judge advocates worldwide to assist in the development of the Rule of Law in foreign countries.
“Being promoted is more than being recognized, it's being asked to take on the honor and privilege to lead, to serve, and to be willing to work harder than those who work for you,” Gifford said.
In his civilian capacity, Gifford, 44, is an assistant U.S. attorney in Oklahoma City serving as the Human Trafficking Coordinator and a tribal liaison, is an adjunct law professor at the law schools at OU and Oklahoma City University, and serves as a part-time tribal court judge for the Kaw Nation. Gifford also serves on the Board of Governors for the Oklahoma Bar Association.
Gifford said he’s proud to be of a long tradition of Native Americans serving in this country’s military.
“The warrior tradition of the Native American soldier has continued into Grenada, Panama, Somalia, the Persian Gulf, the Balkans and currently in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “It is well established that Native Americans have the highest record of service per capita when compared to other ethnic groups. Nearly 16 percent of the Native American population 16 years and older – over 190,000 people – are veterans.”
After graduating from Mannford High School, Gifford received a football, track and academic scholarship to Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, graduating with honors in 1993. After graduating in 1996 from OU Law school where he served as an editor on the American Indian Law Review and as a legal intern under former Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller’s administration, Gifford received his commission as an officer in the U.S. Army where he served on active duty as a JAG at Fort Knox, Kentucky; Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma; and in Bosnia-Herzegovina in eastern Europe.
Upon leaving active duty, Gifford remained in the Army Reserves and served as an assistant district attorney in Tulsa County; an assistant U.S. Attorney in Reno, Nevada; and currently as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oklahoma City where he was named the 2013 prosecutor of the year in Oklahoma.
Gifford was mobilized back onto active duty in 2007 and 2008 to work on the war court trials at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was the legal spokesman to the worldwide media and deputy director of legal operations. Gifford will also graduate this summer from the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, with a master’s degree in strategic studies.
Gifford resides in Norman with his wife Gloria and his three daughters Gabriela, Olivia and Juliana.
PHILADELPHIA – Nick Foles wasn’t Chip Kelly’s franchise quarterback after all.
The Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to send Foles to the St. Louis Rams for Sam Bradford in a stunning quarterback swap. The Eagles will also get a fifth-round pick this season, while sending the Rams their fourth-rounder this year and a second in 2016.
And Kelly’s probably not done dealing yet.
His admiration for Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota is no secret, and Kelly may want to move up from the 20th pick in the draft to pick his former Oregon quarterback.
Bradford hasn’t played since his 2013 season ended after he tore his left ACL. The former No. 1 overall pick and 2008 Heisman winner tore it again in preseason last year.
Foles lacked the speed and mobility for Kelly’s offense, but he was 14-5 as a starter, including a playoff loss. After a breakout season in 2013, Foles missed the last eight games in 2014 with a broken collarbone.
The Eagles already agreed to a two-year contract with Mark Sanchez, who went 4-4 after Foles was injured last season.
Foles is the latest star player to depart Philadelphia in the past week. He joins two-time All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy and Pro Bowl wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.
The Eagles officially announced Tuesday that McCoy was traded to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso.
In St. Louis, Foles gets a chance to be the undisputed starter. A third-round pick in 2012, Foles set an NFL record for best TD/INT ratio of 27/2 his second season while helping the Eagles win the division a year after going 4-12. His passer rating of 119.2 was the third-highest in league history.
Foles threw 13 TD passes and 10 interceptions in 2014. He will earn $660,000 in 2015 in the final year of his rookie contract.
Bradford missed the last nine games of the 2013 season after injuring his knee and hurt it again in his second preseason game last August. The 27-year-old 18-30-1 as a starter. He has 59 TD passes, 38 interceptions and a 79.3 passer rating in a five-year career. Bradford is slated to earn $12.9 million this year.
“Sam was a leader on our team in the locker room and on the field,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “He was a great teammate who was dealt some adversity but handled it all with grace and dignity. He represented himself, as well as the organization, in a first-class manner. I wish him nothing but the best throughout his career.”
The Eagles went 10-6 for the second straight season under Kelly, but missed the playoffs after going 1-3 in December. Kelly took full control of personnel decisions after the season and has overhauled the roster.
While he’s losing his best players on offense, Kelly is focused on improving a defense that has been Philadelphia’s biggest problem. Adding Alonso and re-signing linebacker Brandon Graham helps.
The Eagles also signed cornerback Byron Maxwell to a six-year contract. Maxwell started 17 games for the Seattle Seahawks over the last two seasons and played opposite All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman in a star-studded secondary: the Legion of Boom.
The team had agreed to a contract with five-time Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore before he changed his mind and agreed to a deal with the Colts.
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins tweeted: “Is it too late to tell these guys “Philly ain’t bad at all” ... Chip is a great guy! And who doesn’t like sports science and Cheesesteaks?”
NORFOLK, Va. – Petty Officer 3rd Class Vera Rooster, a Cherokee Nation citizen from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, is serving on the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, one of the world’s largest warships.
The 2010 Sequoyah High School graduate is an interior communications electrician aboard the Norfolk-based ship, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and one of only 10 operational aircraft carriers in the Navy.
As a sailor with numerous responsibilities, Rooster said she is learning about herself as a leader, sailor and a person. She added that it is an exciting time to be in the Navy and serving aboard a ship is something she never expected to be doing just a couple years ago.
“I help maintain and repair many of the shipboard communication systems,” she said. “It’s an important job. I make sure the various phones, alarms and speaker systems work correctly.”
She also said she is proud of the work she is doing as part of the Bush’s 6,000-member crew, protecting America on the world’s oceans.
“I work in every space on the ship,” said Rooster. “I really like my job. It’s hands on.”
Named in honor of former President George H.W. Bush, the carrier is longer than three football fields, at nearly 1,100 feet long. The ship is 252 feet wide and weighs more than 100,000 tons. Two nuclear reactors can push the ship through the water at more than 35 mph.
Sailors’ jobs are varied aboard the carrier. Approximately 3,200 men and women make up the ship’s company, which keeps all parts of the aircraft carrier running smoothly. This includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the nuclear reactors. Another 2,500 or so form the air wing, the people who actually fly and maintain the aircraft.
USS George H.W. Bush, like each of the Navy’s aircraft carriers, is designed for a 50-year service life. When the air wing is embarked, the ship carries more than 70 attack jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea. Powerful catapults slingshot the aircraft off the bow of the ship. The planes land aboard the carrier by snagging a steel cable with an arresting hook that protrudes from the rear of the aircraft. All of this makes the George H.W. Bush a self-contained mobile airport and strike platform, and often the first response to a global crisis because of a carrier’s ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere on the world’s oceans.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Rooster and other USS George H.W. Bush sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.
“I joined the Navy to serve my country and see the world,” Rooster said. “Although my father passed away a long time ago, I know he would be proud of me.”
VERDIGRIS, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Graham Curtsinger, 11, enjoys hanging with his friends, playing the video game Minecraft and learning about airplanes. He also excels in his studies and can learn at fast speeds.
Tracy Curtsinger, Graham’s mother, said she and her husband Brian started noticing Graham’s learning abilities at an early age.
“When he was 5 he already knew all the countries and capitals of the whole world,” she said. “We just couldn’t figure out what was going on. We didn’t understand how to help him so we got his IQ tested and found out that it was really high.”
Graham’s IQ was tested when he was 5 and it put him the 99.9 percentile, which means he’s in the top 0.1 percent of people who have taken the test.
Although Graham scored high, Tracy said she and her husband have never pushed him to learn all that he does; it’s just something he wants to do.
“We would never give him a globe and say, ‘hey, you have to learn this globe.’ That’s just who he is. Since he was little bitty, he just always had a carving to learn,” she said.
Graham is in the fifth grade at Verdigris Public Schools. Since he learns at fast speeds the school has tried to accompany him the best it can.
“We brought in lots of different things for him to do. Like he had different spelling lists for years. He goes up to seventh grade for science and social studies because those are his two favorite subjects. So they’ve tried,” Tracy said. “It’s not that he knows everything. It’s just he learns so quickly. That’s what people, I don’t think, understand. Schooling’s really tough because I don’t know how to help him. The school doesn’t know how to help him.”
Tracy said although she wants Graham be able to learn on his level, she doesn’t want him to go straight to high school or college and miss out on being a kid.
She said Graham is in the Davidson Young Scholars Program.
“To be in the Davidson (Young) Scholars you have to be in the 99.9 percentile (IQ), so it’s only like 3,000 kids throughout the whole country that is in the program,” she said.
Graham is also enrolled in an online class called G3 or Guinevere’s Gifted Group, a language arts class held once a week after school.
“The G3 class is awesome. It’s for profoundly gifted kids, so he loves it because he learns really, really quick and he only has to go one time a week to learn it and then he does it on his own for the rest of the week,” Tracy said. “There are other kids. They have headphones so he can talk to the other kids, and the teacher’s actually speaking and talking.”
She said because Graham needs these types of classes he doesn’t get the opportunity to take a lot of them because of their costs and no scholarships are offered until college.
As Graham gets older, Tracy said, it becomes harder to get him the type of education he needs.
“We wish somebody could help us,” she said. “We don’t know what to do or how to really help him and for him to achieve what he is capable of. I don’t know if anyone knows what to do.”
Aside from excelling in his studies, Graham has shined on Lifetime’s “Child Genius” television show.
It is a show that consisted of 20 extraordinary and gifted children ages 8 to 12 from across the country. Each child competed for a chance to win a $100,000 college fund and the title of Child Genius 2014.
The competition tested the children’s knowledge of astronomy, current events, earth science and logic, geography, the human body, inventions, literature and arts, math, memory, spelling, United States presidents, vocabulary and zoology.
The series was eight episodes long and first aired Jan. 6. The “Child Genius” season finale was Feb. 24.
Graham finished in third place and received a trophy and $5,000 college scholarship.
“We had no idea he would do well on the show,” she said. “We assumed we would go out once; he’d get off at the very beginning; we’d make a vacation out of it, have fun and come home, but it didn’t turn out.”
Graham said while competing on the show he made friends.
“I made friends with all the boys there. I didn’t make as much friends with the girls because first of all they’re girls, and most of the girls on the show like to study and weren’t very social,” he said. “I made really, really, really, really good friends with Jason (Rackas) and I really want to see him again.”
Graham said at first he wasn’t sure if he would enjoy being on TV or seeing himself on TV at home.
“At the beginning, I was like, ‘that’s my face on the TV.’ Now it just seems almost normal,” he said.
Graham said his favorite part about competing in the show was traveling on an airplane to California.
“That’s what motivated me to get to the next round,” he said. “It was probably one of the most fun things I have ever done in my life. I love it.”
He said ever since flying to California he has wanted to learn more about them.
“Right now I’m really interested with airplanes,” he said. “My favorite kind of plane is a Boeing 737 because they have a good safety record and pretty much all of their crashes were not related to mechanical failure.”
Previously, Graham was learning about hurricanes.
“He usually obsesses on something. Kind of is what he’s always done,” Tracy said. “I’m so glad there’s an Internet.”