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.”
SALLISAW, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Justin Pettit grew up with a passion for radio broadcasting after listening to sports on the radio during his early years.
Pettit said he grew up listening to broadcasts of the University of Oklahoma Sooners and University of Arkansas Razorbacks basketball teams.
“Now, I do my own stuff. I do basketball or game of the week here on 105.1 (KXMX in Sallisaw). I do the play-by-play, the color (commentary), all my own stats, everything,” he said.
He initially thought about going into the radio broadcasting business in 2010 while working as realtor in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
“I always had a passion for radio, and I got a note from one of my friends about doing broadcasting school, and it was all online so I was able to do it,” Pettit said.
In 2011, he graduated from the American Broadcasting School and started with Cumulus Broadcasting Inc. in Fayetteville. While there, Pettit honed his skills as a radio broadcast host by covering local and college sports.
In 2015, he became a host at Mix 105.1 FM with a show called “JP in the Morning.” He is also the station’s sports director.
“I’m on the air 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. having a good time, getting people ready for the morning, getting them ready for their job or school or whatever it is they got going on,” Pettit said.
He said one of his favorite aspects of the job is interacting with listeners and fans.
“I love the interaction. That’s probably my favorite part. We’re a local radio station. We’re not owned by any big company. We get to do whatever we want. So if there’s a big event happening across town that involves the kids or anything, we’re there. We go out and interact with all the people. They love us,” he said.
He said the radio station provides more than just a show to its listeners.
“We play a mix of music. We play country, rock, Christian, all of it. They know any type of music they like they know they can listen to us and we’ll have it there for them,” he said. “They know if they need any kind of breaking weather, if there is any news happening in and around the area they tune to us. We’re live on the air. A lot of radio stations aren’t live anymore. So if there’s an accident or a road’s blocked off or anything, the people know they can tune to us or call us and we’ll let them know where to be and where not to be.”
He said to work in radio his personality has to come through in his voice.
“In radio you got to have a big personality, and a lot of guys have a radio voice. I don’t really have one. I don’t put it on because when I go out with the public, we have a lot of interaction. People say ‘well you sound just like you do on the radio.’ Well I don’t put the big…radio voice on so that’s kind one of my trademarks,” he said.
Pettit said though the radio station is only 3 or 4 years old, the ratings “are up there with the guys” who have been in the radio broadcasting business for 30 or 40 years.
His fellow employees praised Pettit for his work ethic.
Delanna Nutter, sales director, said Pettit steps up when they need him to do extra voice work and that he is “always right on point.”
“I’m just a normal guy working the job that I love and living the dream,” Pettit said.
BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. – After participating in BMX, or bicycle motocross, for the past few years, Cherokee Nation citizen Payton Sarabia, 7, had a successful 2016 when it came to taking home the gold.
Priscilla, Payton’s mother, said Payton won the Arizona State championship and three other races.
“This year she won the championship for Arizona State, taking home the first, and then we also competed for Gold cup, which is regional (District Championship). She competed in two gold cups, South Central (Regional Championship) and South West (Regional Championship). She won both of those receiving the number one,” she said. “The South Central was in Texas, which was a new track for her, new girls, and she went out there and she had a clean sweep, but she got first place on all three days of the championship so she came home the overall winner. Then the Southwestern was in Arizona, she also brought home first place that weekend.”
In 2015, Payton won the Arizona championship and third place for the DK Bikes Gold Cup Regional Championship, both in the 5-and-under girls’ class.
Priscilla said Payton is doing “awesome” and that her district championship win was not separated by age, gender or skill level.
“In that one she could have competed against a 30-year-old girl who’s been racing for five years or 10 years,” she said.
Payton said she enjoys racing and competing because when she wins it makes her “happy.” She said she also likes to travel. “I mostly like racing because I get to travel.”
Priscilla said thanks to Payton’s wins, a lot of groups have wanted to sponsor her with her main sponsor being Tuff Girlz Trophy Team, which is also the team for which she rides.
“After she got all of these wins she had a lot of sponsors that wanted to sponsor her and send her to various races and give her a discount and various gear for her,” she said.
Payton can also occasionally be seen racing in a purple tutu. Priscilla said Payton’s nickname is “Purple Pickle Flyin Tutu.”
“When she first started BMX she couldn’t decide between BMX or dance, so that was kind of how she got her name…is because she wore a tutu over her riding gear,” she said.
Payton said she practices “mostly everyday,” and Priscilla added that it’s a family affair.
“She’s gotten all of us on bikes to train and work with her,” she said.
Priscilla said she tells Payton to never “undermine” what she thinks she can do.
“Some of the riders that she beat…she never thought that she could beat. When she did she was excited, and she was really proud of herself. She felt like she accomplished something,” she said. “That’s what I’m trying to teach her is accomplishments are great, that you can do anything that you put your mind too. You just got to work for it and stay determined and have confidence.”
WESTVILLE, Okla. – In Indian Territory, before Oklahoma statehood, the Cherokee Nation was divided into the Canadian, Cooweescoowee, Delaware, Flint, Goingsnake, Illinois, Saline, Sequoyah and Tahlequah districts.
The Goingsnake District Heritage Association is a nonprofit organization in Westville dedicated to the preservation of Cherokee history and genealogy, especially of the Goingsnake District.
GDHA President Jack Baker, of Oklahoma City, said the association was formed nearly 40 years ago to remember the history of the district, which encompassed what is now northern Adair County, a portion of eastern Cherokee County and a portion of southern Delaware County.
“It was formed in 1978 by a group of citizens in Westville whose families were all Cherokee citizens. They wanted to remember their families and what had happened in the (Cherokee) Nation,” said Baker, who was born on his grandfather’s land allotment in the Chewey Community of northern Adair County. “I may be the only one that’s left from that early time period. All of the ones who went to the early meetings, sometimes there would be only a half a dozen of us there, almost everyone of them are dead. But it was to remember what had happened and to perpetuate the history of the Goingsnake District.”
In 1983, the group started publishing the “Goingsnake Messenger,” a newsletter and historical journal that highlighted the group’s activities, genealogy and Cherokee history. The 30-page journal is now published twice a year.
“Goingsnake Messenger” Editor and GDHA Vice President Luke Williams, 38, has been a member of the group for about four years. After earning a graduate degree in history from Oklahoma State University, he now lives near Chewey and said the county’s history is intertwined with Cherokee history.
“It became a passion of mine to preserve historical sites and also record the history,” he said. “When I was in high school I saw an advertisement for one of the (GDHA) monthly meetings, so I came to one of the meetings in high school and then of course moved away to college. But when I came back I got active in the group again. I started writing a few history articles to put in our newsletter, and now I’m starting to do some editorial work.”
Williams said the most interesting aspect about the group is the knowledge among its members.
“There’s so many aspects of history that one person can’t know everything, but when this group gets together each person has their own area of expertise,” he said.
In the 1990s, Baker said he organized bus trips to the Cherokee homelands in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina.
“We did that and filled it (bus) up with probably 45 people. We did three or four them over the next few years. After that first bus trip, then that suddenly improved the attendance at the meetings. So, we were getting 40 to 50 each month at the meetings,” he said.
He said these days 25 to 30 people attend the monthly meetings, which he understands is good for local historical groups. He said the public is invited to attend meetings.
Documentation of Cherokee blood is not a requirement for membership. Membership is $15 for a regular membership and $20 for a sustaining membership.
“Over the years people have been concerned that our membership is primarily older, retired people and it (membership) is going to die out. No, I’ve seen it before. We keep getting new people interested. It may be that they don’t have time until they retire, but the membership keeps increasing,” Baker said.
The group meets the third Saturday of each month at the John F. Henderson Library in Westville. Normally, the group hosts a guest speaker who presents a program, and members present reports and stories about Cherokee history. In July, the group meets at the Talbot Library and Museum in Colcord in Delaware County.
“That’s our annual picnic, so to speak, although it’s held inside a building because it’s air conditioned. And then we have our annual Christmas dinner, which has almost always been at the Proctor Community Building,” Baker said. “Sometimes we’ve had our meetings elsewhere, and sometimes we have joined other organizations such as the Trail of Tears Association to have a joint meeting.”
GDHA member David Hampton, of Tulsa, said he joined the group because of his interest in Cherokee history and that people who are interested in CN history would appreciate being a part of the Goingsnake group.
“You come to meetings for several years, you’re going to know a lot of stuff or you’re going to know somebody who knows a lot of stuff that you can ask questions,” he said. “It’s not going to be superficial information, it’s going be more in-depth history.”
For more information, visit <a href="http://www.goingsnake.org" target="_blank">www.goingsnake.org</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen and Sequoyah High School drama teacher Amanda Ray starred in Northeastern State University Drama’s production of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” which ran Feb. 15-18 at the NSU Playhouse.
Ray, a NSU graduate, said as an acting teacher she’s a firm believer that if she’s going to teach it she needs to do it well.
“I think coaches should play a game every once in a while. I think it’s good for you.” Ray said.
“In my career I have been fortunate to inhabit numerous different roles, whether it was a straight drama or a fun musical, but no experience comes close to playing Martha in Edward Albee’s Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play, ‘Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ It has been one of my favorite plays and by far my favorite role, and one I didn’t think I’d ever get the chance to play. NSU Theatre Company, which is my home stage, gave me that chance this past February, and I can’t thank my director, Dr. Robyn Pursley, enough for choosing me for this role.”
Ray said it was “exhilarating” being on the stage again in a role that was “emotionally draining and so rewarding.”
“It meant so much to me that so many of my students, friends, family and a few of my fellow faculty members were in the audience. I don’t think a lot of people are aware of how much work goes into a production like that and also that the heart of theater is to make you think, feel, contemplate, and that supporting the arts is more than just getting off your duff and going to see a play, but as teachers it is setting an example for our students. The heart of the theatrical experience is empathy. A concept so basic and yet so fleeting in this day and age that we have classes devoted to learning what empathy actually is and how to implore that emotion.”
She said the arts can be overlooked in this part of the state yet they are beneficial.
“My former speech/debate/drama students are excelling at the college level at NSU, Harvard, Brown, NYU (New York University), OU (University of Oklahoma), OSU (Oklahoma State University). Some, but not all, are pursuing theater degrees, but what they have in common is a work ethic, a broad and exploratory intellect, writing and public speaking skills that were utilized and enhanced through their involvement in the performing arts. I love what I do, and feel so extremely lucky to have a career in the arts in Tahlequah.”
Ray started working at Sequoyah in 2008. She started its speech and theater program. Her classes range from acting, theater history, musical theater, Native storytelling and performance, speech/debate and honors competitive speech/drama/debate, which are devoted to preparation for the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association’s speech/debate tournaments.
Along with teaching full time, she directs, creates costumes and choreographs one act plays and main stage productions each year for Sequoyah. She also oversees a traveling troupe that performs Cherokee children’s play and puppet shows at the Cherokee Heritage Center, as well as elementary schools.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Approximately 400 archers from 30 schools across visited the Cherokee Nation’s Joe Thornton Archery Range on Feb. 24 to compete in the Oklahoma Rural Elementary Schools Tournament.
Brian Jackson, range coordinator, said the tournament was held to help students prepare for the state tournament.
“They wanted to host a tournament right before the state tournament, so we have 40 targets out there, over 400 archers and they’re going nuts out here,” he said.
Jackson said students could have scored a maximum of 300 points during the shoot.
“They will shoot at 10 meters, and they’ll shoot at 15 meters. They have three scoring rounds at 10 meters, three scoring rounds at 15 meters for a maximum of 300 possible points. Some of them will be in the top 280s, 290s,” he said.
Coy Brooks, 14, an eighth grade student from Brushy Public School, said while competing he’s trying to have “fun” and shoot the “best” he can.
“It’s been going pretty good. It’s a little bit cool, and it’s a little bit windy but it’s pretty good so far,” he said. “There’s a lot of good shooters out here, and it’s going to be real competitive. I just hope everybody shoots good.”
Brooks said he began shooting three years ago and shoots with his uncle, Nathan Brooks, who competes professionally.
“It’s something I like to do,” he said. “I shoot with my uncle. He’s a pro. I shoot with him during the summer, and it’s pretty fun. It’s helped me out.”
Maryetta Public School was named the team champion with an overall score of 3,144, which was tallied by the top 12 shooters, including four girls and four boys on each team. The school received a championship plaque for its win.
Kaitlynn Spradlin, of Peggs Public School, was the top shooter among the female division and scored 286 points. Brooks was the top shooter among the male division and scored 298 points. Both received plaques and Genesis Bows.
Jackson said when the kids weren’t shooting they were able to partake in other activities at the range.
“We built the human foosball field out there. There’s going to be a archery launcher out there to shoot targets flying through the air. There’s a tetherball pole. There’s Frisbee golf. So far they’re everywhere. There’s not a place on this 11 acres that there’s not some kids doing something, including the archery tournament,” he said.
Jackson said he hopes the range can host more schools.
“One reason we wanted this archery range to promote archery in our area but to also help some local schools,” he said. “So this is a really big kick off as far as what we look to do and hope to do in the future with our archery ranges, to host a lot of school tournaments.”
Jackson said the range is open from dawn until dusk seven days a week. Range targets are free while 3D targets are $5.
For more information, call 918-453-5000, ext. 7053 or email <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.
WASHINGTON – Cherokee Nation citizen Anthony “Tony” Walters has been named the executive director for the National American Indian Housing Council, which recently restructured its management positions.
Walters will lead the NAIHC beginning April 3. Tony is from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and most recently served as staff director and chief counsel to Sen. Jon Tester for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, a NAIHC press release states.
“He brings with him a strong background in advocacy and Indian law and policy, including the development of legislative strategies,” the release states.
His education includes a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and juris doctorate from the Oklahoma University College of Law.
“The Board of Directors strongly believes Tony is the right person to lead our organization as we strengthen our advocacy at the federal level,” states the release.
Pamala Silas, the current executive director, will remain with the NAIHC as deputy director until Tony acclimates to his new role, according to the release.
“Pamala has done an outstanding job at the helm of NAIHC and we are grateful. The NAIHC is an ever-changing organization and Pamala’s organizational expertise has been instrumental to our success as we adapted to changes in our environment and the needs of our members,” the release states.
The NAIHC is composed of 278 members representing 463 tribes and housing organizations.