Bill John Baker

Candidates for 2015 election declare

S. Joe Crittenden Chad Smith Cara Cowan Watts Lee Keener
S. Joe Crittenden
01/10/2014 02:55 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Despite the filing period for the Cherokee Nation’s next election being more than a year away, three CN citizens have stated their intentions to run for the principal chief position in 2015.

Current Principal Chief Bill John Baker, former Principal Chief Chad Smith and Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts have publicly stated they plan to run for the position in 2015.

As of Jan. 10, CN Election Commission officials said they had not set dates for the candidate filing period. According to the tribe's election law, the filing date shall be a four-day period commencing at 8 a.m. on the first Monday of March of the election year and end at 5 p.m. on the first Tuesday following the first Monday.

Baker, who was elected principal chief in 2011, said he intends on having a second term as principal chief.

“We’re making progress everyday. We’ve got $100 million in our hospital and clinics. We’re in different stages of construction. We’re building homes for our people for the first time in a decade. We’ve done more scholarships for Cherokee students than have ever been done. The businesses are more profitable than they have ever been. We’ve expanded car tags to the entire state of Oklahoma. I mean things that have been dreamed about for years have happened only in the first two years of my administration.”

Baker also said he plans to have Deputy Chief Joe Crittenden as his running mate in the 2015 election.

“When I was running the first time, one of the things I heard when I was out in the communities was the need for positive change,” Crittenden said. “I believe change has happened and working with someone who has a vision and such a benevolent heart like Bill John Baker, it’s easy to follow someone like that. It’s been a good couple of years and I look forward to more.”

Smith, who announced his intention to run on Dec. 23, served three terms as principal chief from 1999 to 2011. Smith lost to Baker after a tumultuous election that had four recounts, the federal government intervening and a second chief’s election.

“Thousands and thousands of Cherokees have believed in me in the past years, and in the last election, and continue to share our optimistic vision for our Cherokee Nation,” he said.

Smith said he currently has no running mate.

Cowan Watts, who was elected as a Tribal Councilor in 2003, currently represents the tribe’s Dist. 13. She said she decided to run for chief in 2015 because she wants to continue serving the Cherokee people.

“I pledge to restore the Cherokee Nation to the Cherokee people by ensuring Cherokee preference in hiring and contracting is fully enforced,” Cowan Watts said. “By serving the Cherokee people first, there are many opportunities to improve our government and protect tribal sovereignty for future generations.”

Cowan Watts’ running mate for the deputy chief seat will be fellow Tribal Councilor Lee Keener, who represents Dist. 14. Keener said he is deciding to run as deputy chief because he feels the Nation is on an uncertain course.

“We will work with the council to bring transparency to our government, increase our productivity and workforce and expand access to health care, housing and education. Instead of making promises, we will deliver on them. It's time for new faces and new perspectives. We need new thinking in government. I run for the Cherokee families and for the future that they will inherit.”

The CN is Oklahoma’s largest American Indian tribe and one of the nation’s biggest, with a citizenship of more than 300,000 people. The Tahlequah-based tribe has a 14-county jurisdiction in eastern Oklahoma.

As of Jan. 9, the CN had more than 50,000 registered voters, according to EC officials.

According to a previous Cherokee Phoenix article, more than 15,000 voters cast ballots in the 2011 principal chief election.

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About the Author
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter.    

In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization. • 918-453-5000 ext. 6139
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter. In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.


10/02/2015 12:00 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – On Oct. 22, the Beatles tribute band, The Fab Four, will perform at The Joint inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. The Fab Four’s stage performances include three costume changes representing every era of the Beatles ever-changing career, from the moptop early days in London to the shaggy-haired final public performance on the Apple headquarters’ rooftop. Formed in 1997, this loving tribute to the Beatles has amazed audiences in countries around the world, including Japan, Australia, France, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and Brazil. In 2013, The Fab Four received an Emmy for their PBS special “The Fab Four: The Ultimate Tribute.” For more information about the tribute band, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. Tickets go on sale Oct. 1 and start at $40. For more information, call The Joint box office at 918-384-ROCK or visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
10/02/2015 10:00 AM
PHOENIX – Native American activist and Cherokee Nation citizen Jess Sixkiller was slain in a home invasion on Sept. 25. He was 78. Reports state his wife locked herself in a room and called 911 around 3:15 a.m. after she heard noises inside the home she shared with her husband. When the police arrived they removed her from the home and re-entered the home to perform a sweep and discovered the body of Sixkiller, who had been shot to death. “The Cherokee Nation and tribal citizens throughout the country lost a true champion with the tragic passing of Jess Sixkiller. He was the first Native detective on the Chicago Police Force and in Phoenix he continued to champion the rights of Indian people. He was a warrior and advocate for Native rights, especially urban-based Indian people,” said Principal Chief Bill John Baker in a statement. “Throughout Indian Country, Jess will be forever known as a man committed to his Native brothers and sisters who suffered as a result of federal relocation and assimilation policies.” Baker said as the leader of the National Urban Indian Organization, Sixkiller fought tirelessly for the rights of those he said faced a different kind of crisis than Indians living close to their community or on the reservation. “Jess was a man who led by example, and I was proud to have met and known this iconic activist. He was proud to be Cherokee, and we are proud of him. He will be missed immensely, and we are holding his family in our thoughts and prayers,” Baker said. By the time he was 30 years old, Sixkiller was the first Native American to become a detective for the Chicago Police Department. Soon he gained national recognition within the National Congress of American Indians. He was an urban representative to NCAI’s annual conference in 1968 from the Chicago American Indian Center. At that conference in Seattle, Sixkiller was elected to chair a 12-person committee called the National Urban Indian Consultation that was charged with studying the issues impacting urban American Indians living away from reservations. The committee progressed rapidly and received an $88,500 grant from the Ford Foundation and formed the National Urban Indian Organization. Sixkiller became the organization’s first director. The Phoenix Police Department described the home invasion as “random” and has no suspects. Phoenix Police Homicide detectives are asking anyone who may have seen or heard anything at the time of the shooting or anyone who has information about this homicide to call Silent Witness at (480) WIT-NESS. As always, any caller may remain anonymous. A memorial fund has been set up in Sixkiller’s name at Wells Fargo Bank. Donations can be made to Wells Fargo Bank, Jess Sixkiller Memorial, account No. 2457886071.
10/01/2015 02:00 PM
VONORE, Tenn. – The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum is offering a Cherokee language class from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Oct. 19 and 26 and Nov. 2 and 9. Cost of the class is $40 for all four nights. Shirley Oswalt and Mary Brown, who are Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian citizens, will teach the class. People interested in taking this class should call the museum at 423-884-6246. In case of inclement weather, please call before coming. Sequoyah was born near the museum site in 1776. The mission of the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, a property of the EBCI, is to promote the understanding and appreciation of the history and culture of the Cherokee Indians in Eastern Tennessee, particularly the life and contributions of Sequoyah. The museum collects, preserves, interprets and exhibits objects and data that support this mission.
10/01/2015 01:03 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – There will be two Oklahoma Blood Institute blood drive in Cherokee County this October. The first blood drive will be at the Support Services Conference Room, near Urgent Care, in W.W. Hastings Hospital and begins at 9:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Oct. 1. The second blood drive will be at the Cherokee Nation Ballroom Room behind the Restaurant of the Cherokees at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 8. Blood donors will receive a choice of either a University of Oklahoma inspired donor t-shirt or an Oklahoma State University inspired donor t-shirt for their contribution. Aside from receiving the shirt, everyone will also be entered to win a pair of bedlam football tickets for this year’s game in Stillwater, Oklahoma. According to an OBI press release, “blood donation is voluntary. No donation is necessary to enter the prize drawing.” Blood donors will also receive a free health screening and Donor Reward Points that can be redeem online at the OBI’s online store. Donating blood takes approximately an hour. A photo id is required to donate at OBI blood drives. Participants must be 16 years old or older to donate. Participants who are 16 years old must provide a signed parental permission form and weigh in at 125 pounds or more to donate, those who are 17 years old must weigh in at 125 pounds or more and those 18 and older must weigh in at 110 pounds or more to donate. The OBI provides all donated blood to 156 hospitals statewide.
09/30/2015 12:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – In a joint effort to advance weather forecasting capabilities, Cherokee Nation Technologies, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA are aiming to harness the observational power of Unmanned Aircraft Systems to form forecast models for the National Hurricane Center. “This work is a wonderful representation of what we can achieve when organizations work together,” said Steven Bilby, Cherokee Nation’s diversified businesses president. “Unmanned aircrafts provide a unique vantage point for weather observations, and these advancements allow us the opportunity to learn more about severe weather in uncertain environments without risking the well-being of a pilot or scientist.” The partnering agencies are directing a series of flights over the Atlantic Ocean basin with an unmanned aircraft to collect data on temperature, humidity, pressure, wind speed and direction. The flights build on previous research led by NASA and offer NOAA scientists the opportunity to test UAS capabilities for use as meteorological observation tools. NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft System, the Global Hawk, provides a continuous stream of data from 60,000 feet above the ocean and is able to gather weather data continuously for up to 24 hours. The Global Hawk flights are the preliminary phase of NOAA’s four-year mission, which is called Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology. The mission is closely coordinated with NOAA’s ongoing hurricane field program, which also provides dropsonde, flight level and tail Doppler radar data from the NOAA P-3 and G-IV manned aircraft for the HWRF operational model. SHOUT is funded in part by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, passed by Congress in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. John Coffey, CNT director of unmanned systems, is part of the mission’s project management team. A retired naval aviator and Department of Defense acquisition professional, Coffey joined CNT in 2014 to expand and advance the company’s capabilities in unmanned systems. “CNT provides the NOAA UAS program with a full spectrum of services in science, technology and operations,” he said. “We work diligently to support program management, systems engineering, data management, testing and evaluation, and more to ensure this cutting-edge technology can be utilized in the most challenging environments.” The flight departed Aug. 26 from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and headed towards Tropical Storm Erika and successfully returned on August 27. It was the first time real-time information has been provided to hurricane forecasters. “The work we are doing with the Global Hawk is unlike anything we have been able to achieve in the past,” said John Walker, CNT employee and NOAA project scientist. “We are getting closer to storms than ever before and are hopeful that our new perspective will allow us to enhance our ability to predict severe weather and potentially save lives.”
09/29/2015 10:20 AM
BEAVERTON, Ore. – The N7 Fund is accepting applications for grants to support sports, wellness and physical activities in Native communities. The N7 Fund is committed to creating early positive experiences in sport and physical activity for Native American and Aboriginal youth in North America. Organizations that support Native American and Aboriginal communities through sport and physical activity programming for youth can apply. To apply for a grant from the N7 Fund, you must fill out an application by 11:59 p.m. PST, Nov. 15. Applicants may make grant requests up to $10,000. To be eligible to receive an N7 grant, an applicant must submit a complete application, and all United States applicants must meet all of the following requirements: • A 501(c)(3) public charity; • A federally recognized Indian Tribe; • A school, but you must have a fiscal sponsor who has tax-exempt status; • Primarily serve the Native American community; • Have a sports, wellness, or physical activity focus; • Serve youth, high school age or younger; • Describe how you measure success and results; and • Agree to provide reports demonstrating success and results from N7 grant funds. Applicants that demonstrate consistent or sustained community programming and impacts, rather than one-time events, will be given priority. All applicants will receive final funding result notification on or before April 15. In 2000, Sam McCracken had the idea to sell Nike products directly to Native American tribes to support health promotion and disease prevention programs. Seven years after Nike’s Native American division began, the Nike design team collaborated with various community experts and tribal leaders to create footwear specifically for the Native American community, called Nike Air Native N7. All proceeds from the Air Native N7, which is sold through Native American community centers and tribes, are given back to youth sport and physical activity programs in Native communities across North America through the N7 Fund. Beginning in 2009, Nike expanded N7 product to include a N7 collection available for purchase by anyone inspired by Native athletes and the N7 Fund. For an application or to apply, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.