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.”
KENWOOD, Okla. – Kenwood School’s eight-man football team, the Kenwood Indians, on Nov. 1 won the Organization of Rural Elementary Schools Division 3 state championship against Mosely Schools.
During a recognition ceremony at a Locust Grove High School Football game on Nov. 7, Kenwood head coach and United Keetoowah Band citizen Miguel Ortiz said the state title is something he and the 11 Cherokees on the team have been working towards for four years.
“I’m just super proud of them, you know, I’m just glad. It was my first state championship, and it was their first one too, you know,” he said. “I’ve been here since they were like fourth graders so, you know, ever since we was younger I’ve always told them, I said ‘if you put the work in when you’re young and do things good like right now it will all pay off when you get older.’ They really stuck to that and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
Ortiz said working extra hours and on the weekends is what helped them reach the state championship.
“Actually, we did a lot. We practiced a lot and ran a lot harder than we normally do. You know, in the past few years we got beat in the semis and the finals and we just worked extra hard this year,” he said. “They come on the weekends, you know, over fall break. We practiced two or three different times on Sundays just to get some extra work and running in. And this is a good group of athletes too, you know, not only are they athletic, but they’re a hard working group. That’s why they did really well.”
The team is made up of six eighth graders, four seventh graders and one sixth grader. Of the 11, five are UKB citizens and six are Cherokee Nation citizens. The players are Lucas Vann, Rylee Smith, Kyle Panther, Justin Budds, Nathan Blackbear, Braedon Turner, Jacob Six, Keelan Davis, Leo Chumwalooky, Aaron Budder and Christian Glass.
CN citizen and quarterback Keelan Davis said after playing together so long, they’ve just improved over the years.
“We’ve been playing together since we were real little and just kept getting better over the years. We played as a team. It was what our goal was since were was real little, to win a state championship, to achieve that goal (means a lot). Kept working hard everyday,” Davis said.
Ortiz said during playoffs the team beat Leach, Wickliffe and Rocky Mountain and Mosely in the championship. This is the first football championship for the school, he added.
“This is just a really good group of kids. This is my first championship, too. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The team ended the season with a 9-1 record. Ortiz said to look out for the Kenwood Indians during basketball season, too, because he expects them to do well.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN, Okla. – Jewell Hummingbird Millsap greets people at the door of the Rocky Mountain Elementary School cafeteria during a fundraiser for a community member battling cancer.
She could be considered the community’s unofficial ambassador as she welcomes people, a usual site for this Adair County community.
“She’s a very strong Cherokee woman. She’s the elder of our board, and we rely on her wisdom to guide us with our decisions. She’s very knowledgeable about so many things and of our culture. We appreciate her so much,” Vicki McLemore, Rocky Mountain Cherokee Community Organization president, said.
Millsap said there are people who watch from “the sideline” when there is a need, but she isn’t one of them.
“I’m a go-getter and I help in anyway. Sometimes I really try to help somebody and get in their way,” she said with a laugh.
Along with serving on the RMCCO board, she’s also a member of Echota Baptist Church and does all she can to “serve the Lord faithfully there.”
She’ also served 16 years as a foster grandparent at the Rocky Mountain Elementary School. Five days a week she helps with the first grade.
“That’s a program I really enjoy because grandmas always got time to hug kids, and kids always love to hug grandmas. It’s like coming to a rose garden. You start teaching the kids that need help, and you can just see that rose blossoming and blooming. They get excited about learning to read and they come running and say, ‘hey granny, I can read and I can read ‘Green Eggs and Ham,’” she said. “They get so excited when they start learning.”
She said she prays for help to teach the children who need extra help to learn.
“A lot of them would be left behind if it wasn’t for us grannies,” she said.
Millsap, 78, said she’s “a big cook” and enjoys cooking with the other grannies who volunteer at the school and for the RMCCO for fundraisers and activities.
“We have programs and we put on gospel singings and stuff to make our utility money,” Millsap said. “And then a lot of times we just have free dinners and have games. We have bingo for the elders who like to come out and play that.”
She also partakes in the Cherokee Nation’s Diabetes Prevention Program, which assists Cherokees in keeping diabetes at bay.
“It not only keeps me slim and trim, but I help them out with their programs by being active as much as I can,” she said. “I’ve got my fingers in so many fires. If it wasn’t for that though I would be in a wheelchair or I wouldn’t be able to do what I do now. You have to keep active.”
Hampered by osteoporosis and arthritis, she said if she doesn’t stay active she would “stove up” or her body would get stiff. Part of staying active includes weed eating and mowing the lawn at her church and at the church cemetery.
“I look at it this way. I serve one of the greatest servants that ever walked this earth and that’s Jesus Christ because he came as a servant to serve, and that’s what I must do,” she said. “I serve whoever needs help in the community. You do the best you can for everybody. To be a servant you must have a willing heart, and you must be available.”
For all of her community service, Millsap was honored in April in Oklahoma City with the “Karen D. Jacobs Award for Exemplary Community Service.” The award joined others she’s received such as “Granny of the Year for Adair County,” and “All-Around Granny,” which covers 12 counties in eastern Oklahoma. She’s also received pins from Sens. Bob Dole and Robert Byrd for volunteer service.
Her daughter Suzie Mathis said her mother is “a beautiful lady” who gives people rides to town, donates food, sets with the sick and cooks for community events or families dealing with the loss of a loved one.
Mathis said her mother and five other women worked in 100-plus degree heat to build a deck on the RMCCO building when Millsap was 75. Last summer, Millsap helped dig a water line ditch when her church had a water leak.
“Any person or child she has contact with is family and once you’re in blood doesn’t matter, you’re family,” Mathis said. “She’s the most caring person I know. Just talk to her once, and the first thing you get from her is ‘can I help?’”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Izaiah Fiedler, 15, is a ninth grade, straight-A student at Tahlequah High School who has always had an interest in becoming a physician and helping those who are less fortunate. The young Cherokee Nation citizen will take a good step in fulfilling that goal by attend the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, a conference for young students interested in medicine-related fields or becoming a physician.
The National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists-sponsored event was slated for Nov. 14-16 in Washington, D.C., and Fiedler said he’s grateful for the opportunity to attend the conference.
“It’s awesome because I wanted to be in the medical field for a while,” he said. “My plan is I’m going to be a missionary, get my Ph.D. so I can bring medical to third world countries. I think it’s good to start young because the younger you start the more stuff you learn. (It) makes you more prepared.”
Fiedler was expected to be among students from across the country to have the opportunity to hear National Medal of Science winners and Nobel laureates speak about current and leading medical research.
He was also expected to have the opportunity to hear advice from deans of top medical schools on what to expect while attending medical school.
Fiedler’s mother and CN citizen, Drushane Carey, said she was excited when she learned her son received the invite.
“Whenever we first got the notification in the mail and he showed it to me and I was so excited and thrilled because he was so young. I just see a bright future for him,” she said. “Going to this will be a step in the right direction to keep encouraging him to keep going, keep doing what he’s doing.”
Fiedler said he looks forward to being around fellow students who share some of his aspirations.
“I think it’ll make me more comfortable because all of us, we’re going for the same goal,” he said. “It will also be more of a challenge because I’m competitive and want to be better than the person next to me. It’s the future medical leaders and so for someone that’s Cherokee, I think it’s awesome.”
Dr. Connie Mariano, medical director of the NAFPMS, nominated Fiedler for the event. According to a NAFPMS press release, Fiedler was chosen based on his will to serve in the field of medicine, academic achievements and his leadership potential.
Fiedler said attending the event would help him find a more specific area of medicine in which he wants to serve. He added that young students who wish to be in the medical field should not give up on their dreams.
“Keep going after it,” he said. “Don’t stop even when it gets tough. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you’re young.”
LOCUST GROVE, Okla. – When 2015 rolls around two Cherokee Nation citizens will be representing their country in the International Bowl series between Team USA and Team Canada’s top students-athletes going head-to-head in football.
Jason Pirtle, Locust Grove junior, joins Team USA for his second straight year. The wide receiver played in the Under-17 team in 2014 and helped his team to victory against Team Canada, 34-6.
Pirtle now moves up to the Under-18 team and will compete against Team Canada at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 29 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“This year should be fun,” he said. “We get to actually play our game in the (Dallas) Cowboys’ stadium. That will be really exciting, I’m a big fan of the Cowboys. It’s good to have Will (Bates, fellow CN citizen and Locust Grove Pirate) there, somebody I know from here. It’s just an awesome feeling.”
Pirtle said competing with Team USA and being chosen for a second time gives him great pride.
“It was cool to represent my country, my city, my tribe and my school,” he said. “It’s just an awesome experience with a whole lot of other athletes. We’re all out there having fun, helping each other and learning. It’s not often you get to wear USA across your chest and represent a lot of things that you’re proud to be.”
Pirtle said when competing in the 2014 International Bowl he worked on leadership skills with hopes of bringing back what he learned to Locust Grove.
“It’s helped a little bit. I’ve learned to be more open and talk to people and help them out,” he said.
Pirtle’s father, Mark, said seeing his son compete in the 2014 International Bowl and then get accepted to play in the 2015 International Bowl makes him proud.
“The first year that he was selected to play, we went down there (Arlington) to see him competing against some of the top athletes in the nation. It made me very proud,” said Mark. “It was just a great feeling to know that he was selected to play with and against some of the best kids in the nation. Then with the two (Jason and Will) being selected to play in the International Bowl, it just furthers that pride. The feeling of being a part of this is memories that will be made forever.”
Will Bates, Locust Grove sophomore, will be playing for Team USA for his first time. Bates, who plays center, will represent his school, hometown, tribe and country when competing against Team Canada in the Under-17 team.
Bates’ game is set for 7 p.m. on Jan. 30 at AT&T Stadium.
Bates said he was excited when he found out he would be playing for Team USA.
“It was just an amazing feeling. I was just really happy,” he said. “In the competition, we’re expecting it to be really good. Hopefully we can play against them really well and win.”
Bates said it’s “really cool” to be a CN citizen and competing in the International Bowl.
While at tryouts for the international team, Bates said he not only represented his town and tribe but also former teammate Kale Davidson, who died in a car accident in 2013.
“My best memory playing up there, I got to wear number 71 across my chest,” he said. “I got to represent Kale Davidson. That was the best overall feeling and memory of the whole thing.”
Bates’ father and fellow CN citizen, Shawn, said he’s glad his son will be on the Under-17 team.
“We’ve had the distinct pleasure to watch Jason Pirtle be apart of that team (Under-17) last year,” he said. “This year, Will gets to be at that age level and Jason is going to be at the next level (Under-18).”
Shawn said being chosen to play on the Under-17 team is not easy and that his son worked hard.
“Being a parent it makes me feel great because I’ve sat back and watched him work hard. It was pretty gruesome to get to were they are a part of this team,” he said. “This year, Will went to Kansas City for a developmental camp and from that camp he were chosen to go to Baltimore, Maryland, where they participated in games. Once they get to this level, there’s a pool of over 2,000 kids that they chose from to get these kids on these teams. They chose about 45 kids per age level on this international team.”
Shawn said he is happy his son has come this far in his athletic career.
“It makes me even more happy because he’s not only representing Locust Grove, he represents the Cherokee Nation. He also represents the State of Oklahoma, as well as the United States,” he said. “That’s pretty neat to see a Locust Grove Pirate football team member do that. This year we’re lucky enough to have Will and Pirtle.”
Pirtle and Bates underwent tryouts in the summer to make it on the International Bowl teams. The most important tryout was a developmental camp in Baltimore, where they were chosen on their respective teams.
Locust Grove head football coach Matt Hennesy said for the two to make it to Baltimore was a “big deal.”
“Just to get to go to Baltimore and be in the developmental games was a big deal,” he said. “It was a big process. It was done by the evaluation all week long by the coaches…It’s going to be neat to watch them not only represent Locust Grove and Oklahoma but to get to represent the United States against Canada.”
Hennesy was in Baltimore and coached Pirtle and Bates as they worked for roster spots. He said he saw them advance in more than just football.
“Watching them grow as players, just their leadership abilities, watch their confidence grow,” he said. “I think it’s helping them out a lot this year.”
TULSA, Okla. – Four Cherokees were honored Nov. 6 at the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission’s 17th annual Dream Keepers Awards Banquet inside the University of Oklahoma-Schusterman Center.
Buddy McCarty, a Cherokee Nation citizen, was honored with the Lewis B. Ketchum Excellence in Business Award. He said to be honored by fellow Native Americans meant much to him.
“It’s an incredible honor. I never dreamed I’d be up here with all the great business people we have, you know. I’m just very fortunate to be here,” McCarty said.
He was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and graduated from Chilocco Indian School in 1961. After getting a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern State University he entered the U.S. Army. After serving he moved to Tahlequah and opened a men’s clothing store that he operated for 15 years. In 1982, he went to work for State Farm Insurance and has resided in Owasso ever since.
McCarty said he also likes to make bow and arrows and enjoys traveling to Tahlequah for bow shoots. He and his wife have been married more than 40 years. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.
CN citizen Mary Baker Shaw of Broken Arrow received the Charles Chibitty Family Community Award. Shaw has devoted time volunteering and fundraising for different organizations in the Broken Arrow/Tulsa area. She said volunteering to raise money for organizations are more important today than ever.
“In today’s economic hardships we find that many of our nonprofits are very dependent. As a matter of fact most of their survival is dependent upon volunteer fundraising,” she said. “So I’d like to encourage everyone if you have any free time, volunteer. I promise you someone will appreciate it.”
Shaw serves on the American Indian Resource Committee for Tulsa City/County libraries, Tulsa Community College Foundation, Bacone College Board of Trustees, Signature Symphony Advisory Board, Salvation Army Advisory Board and is an emeritus board member of Tulsa Opera.
She and her husband Dr. B Frank Shaw have been married for 34 years. They have one daughter and two granddaughters.
Lester Revis, who is of Cherokee Yuchi descent, was honored with the Perry Aunko Indigenous Language Award. Born in Claremore and raised near Kellyville, he works to preserve the Yuchi language and culture by teaching it to the young people of the Yuchi community.
At 10 years old, Revis began learning the language from his mother, Ann Holder, and aunt, Addie George. He later worked with Jimmie Skeeter, the last fluent Yuchi language speaker of the Snake Creek ceremonial ground. In 2003, he began to work with the Yuchi language project in Sapulpa, and in 2006 he graduated Pawnee Nation College with a Native Language teaching certificate.
Revis said he was happy to receive the reward from the commission.
“It’s a wonderful thing and I’m glad to be here with all of you. I never thought I’d ever be standing up here. It never occurred to me, you know, but it’s a wonderful feeling being up here and I appreciate it,” he said.
United Keetoowah Band citizen Mel Cornshucker received the Moscelyn Larkin Cultural Achievement Award for his work as an award-winning potter.
Cornshucker was born near Jay in 1952. After high school, he attended Bacone College in Muskogee and Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri.
He said he was honored to receive the award because he comes from a family of artists that encouraged his creativity and gave him a solid foundation in life.
“At 101, my grandfather was still telling me stories about how life was in the Indian Nation. He would tell me how he got by, how he would go out and get his own materials to make the rugs he wove…and he would tell me stories of how life was in Indian Territory,” he said. “My parents provided me with an education and gave me support as an artist. It’s hard to be an artist. You have to work hard at it. So to have your family behind you is quite inspiring.”
He owns and operates the Brady Artists Studio in Tulsa with his wife Michele. He. They have a daughter and son.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – As of Oct. 8, two Sequoyah High School football players ranked with the top 10 in the state for rushing yards and tackles.
Cherokee Nation citizen Justin Hooper, who plays running back, was ranked third in the state for rushing yards, and Tanner Crow, who plays inside linebacker, was ranked eighth in tackles.
“Both Tanner and Justin worked extremely hard, and as a coach, I’m very proud of them to see that some of their hard work is paying off and they’re getting some of the recognition that they deserve,” Shane Richardson, SHS head football coach, said. “It’s a combination of a lot of hard work of a lot of guys. It’s not about one guy. We always say it’s never about one guy. Their hard work is the fruits of a lot of guys’ hard work.”
Crow, a senior who has been playing football since the third grade, said this is the first time he has been ranked in the top 10 in the state for tackles. As of Oct. 8, he had 74 tackles.
“It’s just something that all linebackers want to do,” he said.
After high school, Crow hopes to receive a scholarship from the University of Texas to play linebacker.
Hooper, a junior who has also been playing football since third grade, was ranked third 8 for 920 yards rushing as of Oct. He also scored nine touchdowns.
Hooper said he likes running back because he’s fast and because he likes to run.
“Nobody can catch me,” he said.
After high school, Hooper said he would like to receive a football scholarship to a Division I NCAA university.
“I’m just real proud of what Justin and Tanner have been able to do this year for us through five games and achieve the recognition that they have,” Richardson said. “It shows positive for our team and for our program.”