Cherokee Nation citizen Keith Harper will be the first Native American to serve as an ambassador for the United States after being confirmed by the Senate as the country’s representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council. COURTESY
Harper confirmed as U.N. Human Rights Council ambassador
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate today confirmed Cherokee Nation citizen Keith Harper as the country’s ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Nominated by President Barack Obama in 2013, Harper will be the first Native American to serve as an ambassador for the United States.
“Native peoples have conducted nation to nation diplomacy throughout the Americas for thousands of years. Upon confirmation, Keith Harper will join a small number of Native peoples who have been called upon to serve the United States as Ambassador,” said the National Congress of American Indians in a statement. “Mr. Harper’s extensive legal experience, both in Indian law and beyond, will be an invaluable resource to the UN Human Rights Council. As a tribal citizen, Mr. Harper will serve the United States with a sense of both the terrible history of human rights abuses against Native peoples and the strength of Indigenous cultures that always seek justice for all peoples.”
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, said Harper has had an “exemplary” career as a lawyer and a judge after confirming him.
“I’m pleased that my colleagues have voted to appoint another historic first in Indian Country,” he said. “As a longtime advocate for the civil rights of Native Americans, Keith will be a great Ambassador for our country.”
According to Civil Rights org., which endorsed Harper’s nomination, the U.N. General Assembly is slated to hold a World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in September, and “Mr. Harper’s presence there on behalf of the United States will send a strong message about the United States’ commitment to the rights of indigenous peoples.”
Harper served as a member on the president’s Commission on White House Fellowships. Prior to that, Harper was senior staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund from 1995 to 2006. From 2007-08, he served as a Supreme Court justice on the Supreme Court of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and from 2001-07 he served as an appellate justice on the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.
From 1998 to 2001, he was an adjunct professor at the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and from 1999 to 2001 he was a professorial lecturer at the American University Washington College of Law.
Harper was a law clerk to the Honorable Lawrence W. Pierce on the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. He began his career as a Litigation Associate with Davis, Polk & Wardwell in New York. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a juris doctorate from New York University School of Law.
The Senate approved Harper with a 52-42 vote, with 6 senators not voting. Both of Oklahoma’s Republican senators, Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, voted against Harper. The CN is located within Oklahoma.
Republicans stated that Harper is a fundraiser for Obama who has exhibited poor judgment on the issue of human rights. All those opposing Harper’s nomination were Republicans.
Both of Maryland’s Democratic senators, Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, voted for him. Harper resides in Maryland. All those voting to confirm were Democrats, along with independent Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Officials with the eighth annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors are accepting applications for the next round of tribal elders to be recognized this year.
Applications are being accepted until June 1 for the October event.
During the event, 50 elders from federally recognized Oklahoma tribes and nations will be honored for their contributions to their tribe or nation, family, community state or nation.
According to an AARP press release, AARP wants to honor at least one person from each of the 39 federally recognized tribes and nations in Oklahoma.
Those nominated must be enrolled in an Oklahoma tribe or nation, must be at least 50 years old and living.
The press release states, the AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors is the largest Native American recognition program in the state and since its inception in 2008 has honored 350 elders.
The AARP welcomes the general public and Tribal governments to submit nominations.
Nominations are being accepted at <a href="http://www.aarp.org/okindiannavigator" target="_blank">www.aarp.org/okindiannavigator</a> or by calling 405-715-4474.
Eight Cherokee Nation citizens and one United Keetoowah Band citizen were among 50 honorees at the seventh annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors held Oct. 6 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
CN citizen Tom Anderson, director of the Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center of the Oklahoma City Area Inter Tribal Health Board, was awarded the Dr. John Edwards Memorial Leadership Award.
Retired Sgt. 1st Class Norman W. Crowe Jr., a CN citizen and former Marine and retired Army sergeant, was honored for volunteering at Indian nonprofit organizations such as the Indian Health Care Resource Center and Red Earth and serving on the Mayor’s Indian Affairs Commission in Tulsa.
Carol “Jane” Davis, a full-blood CN citizen, was honored for assisting tribal citizens and families in the health care system as a licensed clinical social worker, often serving as an interpreter for patients who only spoke Cherokee.
Dr. John Farris, a CN citizen, was celebrated for working to improve the quality of health care for American Indians in Oklahoma. For more than 10 years he has served as chief medical officer for the Oklahoma City Area Office of Indian Health Services and previously served as clinical director at W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah.
Howard Hansen Sr., a full-blood UKB citizen was honored for his service as Veterans of Foreign Wars commander and chaplain of the Grove Post and as service officer at the American Legion in Kansas, Oklahoma. He is a decorated veteran for his service in Vietnam.
Doris “Coke” Lane Meyer, a CN citizen, was recognized for devoting much of her life to her community and Cherokee cultural activities involving the Cherokee Women’s Pocahontas Club, which was founded in 1899. She supports the club’s scholarship program, which sponsors young Cherokee women seeking higher educations.
Ollie Starr, a CN citizen, was honored for promoting care issues for older Cherokees, securing grant money that has enabled young women to pursue higher educations and helping improve living conditions in Cherokee senior facilities.
Bonnie Thaxton, a citizen of the CN and Delaware Tribe, was honored for more than 30 years of work with the War Mothers, Cultural Preservation and Elder committees.
Dr. Pamela Jumper Thurman, a CN citizen, was honored for her work as a clinical psychologist and researcher. She has published extensively on issues challenging American Indians and Alaska Natives, especially issues such as methamphetamine treatment and prevention, violence and victimization and rural women’s issues.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Launched during the 2013 Cherokee National Holiday, the Cherokee Nation is moving ahead with its Project 320K as the 2016 race to the White House heats up.
Cohle Fowler, CN Government Relations legislative assistant, said he is coordinating the outreach initiative that aims to raise voter registration among the approximately 320,000 CN citizens.
“Project 320K’s goal is to expand voter registration, and ultimately participation in all elections, including tribal, local, county, state and federal,” Fowler said. “We also aim to encourage parents to expose their children to the political process. When parents take their kids with them into the voting booth, it both demystifies the process for children, and teaches them that voting is an important part of citizenship.”
Fowler said with more than 320,000 CN citizens, the CN has the ability to become a powerful voice if it registers and mobilizes its voting population.
“In last year’s Cherokee elections, around only 7,500 votes were cast out of our tribe made up of over 320,000 citizens around the world,” he said. “Only 34 percent of voters participated in the state of Oklahoma’s general election last year, and turnout in the 2014 national midterm elections only 41.9 percent of voting age citizens participated which is the lowest rate in 45 years. Our hope is that through our efforts to educate Cherokee families on the impact of their vote and cultivate a positive culture around the process of voting, the Cherokee Nation will be able to stand as an example of civic responsibility in a nation seeing historic low turnouts at the polls.”
Fowler said the simplest way CN citizens can participate is to register and vote. He added that sitting down with friends and family members to ensure they are registered is another way to participate.
“Remind those friends and family to vote when elections occur. If you are really excited to get out there and make a difference, you can volunteer with us by registering and talking with possible voters at events and activities we attend,” Fowler said.
He said Government Relations staff members, volunteers and CN Tribal Youth Councilors plan to attend community meetings to register voters throughout Oklahoma and At-Large events in states where CN citizens reside.
“In addition to community meetings, we also set up at high-traffic events such as the Tulsa State Fair. In addition to our work out in communities, we also hold phone banks where we call to remind voters we have registered of upcoming deadlines or elections,” he said. “We are constantly learning and looking for new ways to reach out and change the culture around voting in our Cherokee communities.”
While many presidential campaigns are focusing their mobilization efforts on baby boomers and millennials, Fowler said Project 320K is focusing on all tribal citizens.
“We are focusing on all Cherokees, not on a certain age group,” he said. “We want to register people to vote, get people in the voting booths and teach kids that voting is a responsibility and a privilege for citizens.”
As the brainchild of Government Relations staff members, the project is an ongoing program but officials are making a push this year because of the presidential elections.
“Voting will be on everyone’s mind, but we also do this work in non-election years,” Fowler said.
For more information or to volunteer, email <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board is searching for a permanent executive editor under the direction of a selection committee it created during a Jan. 25 meeting.
Board Chairman Luke Barteaux, Vice Chairwoman Kendra McGeady and Secretary Lauren Jones comprise the committee. Barteaux said finding a permanent executive editor is critical because of “the decisions that need to be made for moving forward on policy issues.”
The Phoenix is currently under the direction of Interim Executive Editor Will Chavez, who replaced Bryan Pollard after Pollard resigned Dec. 4.
While Barteaux said he appreciates Chavez’s work and believes Chavez has been acting in the organization’s best interest, it is important that a permanent editor be named.
“We don’t need a lot of change over, so if we have an interim and it ends up not being Will as a permanent editor, they may want to change something moving forward,” he said. “It would be better to have a permanent editor in place just for the stability of the paper.”
According to the Independent Press Amendment Act of 2009, the executive editor must be at least 25 years old; have a bachelor’s degree in journalism or related field from a college or university, or an appropriate combination of education and experience; be of good character and have a reputation of integrity; be physically able to carry out the duties of office; certify he or she will adhere to the standards of accepted ethics of journalism as defined by the Society of Professional Journalists and endorsed by the Native American Journalists Association; have experience necessary for the successful operation of the publication; and be a Cherokee Nation citizen.
Barteaux said the board might have additional requirements, though specifics have yet to be discussed.
“It hasn’t been done yet, but I’m assuming that will be a discussion among the committee,” he said. “Really, just someone who can be completely unbiased and report the news to Cherokee citizens.”
The tribe’s Human Resources posted the editor position on the CN website on Jan. 13 and closed it Jan. 19. It drew a pool of four applicants, which Barteaux said the board has not gotten a chance to review.
“We just got the four resumes’ a couple of days ago and we haven’t really got a chance to look over those,” he said. “There may be someone perfect in there, so we don’t really know at this point and time.”
Barteaux said the board wants to advertise the job again to create a larger applicant pool, partly because of minor discrepancies between what was posted by Human Resources and what he said is required by statute.
“We have four right now that have applied, and we think there’s probably more out there that would apply if it’s posted in other areas with the different requirements,” he said. “The original job posting didn’t completely follow what the statutory requirements were, so people may not have applied that could have.”
When asked to elaborate on the requirements, Barteaux said some were too restrictive while others were not restrictive enough.
“I’ll just say that some of the requirements that were posted were a little more, I don’t know if stringent might be the word, than what was required in the law and a few other little things that weren’t posted on it,” he said. “The editor is required to be a Cherokee citizen. I don’t think that was posted on the website. I think the education requirements were off a little.”
Barteaux said despite the job description’s wording not being approved by the board, the board has no ill will toward Human Resources.
Julie Hubbard, CN Communication public relations supervisor, said Human Resources ran the job description for the executive editor position that was previously ran years earlier and that it can be revised as needed at the discretion of the Editorial Board if the board chooses. She added that Human Resources also has the ability to advertise the position locally, statewide or nationally.
Barteaux also called the job posting a “courtesy,” as the editor position “is not a job that’s hired through the Cherokee Nation HR department.”
However, Hubbard referred to the 2009 IPA stating that whenever an executive editor vacancy occurs the Editorial Board recommends to the principal chief an executive editor, but the chief makes the decision whom to appoint.
Barteaux said he also didn’t know how long the search would take and that the time frame is free flowing and that applicants could send resumes directly to board members.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Summer Youth Program will take applications beginning Feb. 22 at all Career Services locations for the upcoming 6-week program.
The program is for youth ages 16-21, who will work 40 hours a week at $7.25 per hour.
Youth can work anywhere within the tribe’s jurisdiction so long as its not dangerous to the youth. This can include offices, banks, restaurants and tribal offices.
A parent or guardian must accompany those interested in applying if under the age of 18 and all must apply in person. The program is open to any citizen of a federally recognized tribe. If a youth isn’t Cherokee he or she must fall within certain financial guidelines. CN citizens have no financial guideline.
For more information on criteria needed to apply, call a Career Services offices.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – A Bright Start Child Development Center owned by Cherokee Nation citizen Ryan Sierra will host a “Parents’ Night Out” event on Feb. 5 at his new child care facility.
The center is a Department of Human Services-licensed facility that is not only Cherokee-owned, but operated as well. Currently, there is a staff of three including Sierra, all of whom are Cherokee.
“It’s $25 for your first child and $20 for each additional child,” Sierra said. “Children can be dropped off at 6:30 p.m. and must be picked up by 11 p.m.”
He said children from infant to 13 years are welcome at the event, which will be first come, first-served until the center reaches capacity.
“Drop off the kids at a licensed child care facility and enjoy an evening out with a peace of mind,” Sierra said.
He said there would be age-appropriate activities as well as movies for the children to enjoy. If the event is a success he hopes to have another for Valentines Day weekend.
The child care facility is accepting children for its daily day care, but currently is not accepting subsidies. Sierra said he hopes to have all paperwork completed to begin accepting DHS and CN subsidies soon.
The center in located at 509 S. Muskogee Ave. For more information, call 918-207-5834 or 918-772-5155.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – A gem with ties to the Cherokee Phoenix went untouched for weeks on eBay before Cherokee researcher Dusty Helbling purchased it. And in January, he gave it to the Phoenix staff.
“I got it, mainly because nobody realized what it was,” Helbling said.
The piece is an artist proof titled “Sequoyah and the Phoenix” depicting Cherokee syllabary creator Sequoyah against a backdrop of the Cherokee Phoenix logo in shades of blue, red, black and brown. The Cherokee Phoenix is spelled below in embroidered syllabary characters. Under the proof is the title, the French words “bon a tirer” meaning “ready for press” and the artist name Phillip M., though the last name is unclear.
Helbling’s discovery came about after searching for Cherokee-related items on eBay.
“This was a one-of-a-kind artist proof that was on the Internet auction,” he said. “It was on for quite a while. They had one auction and nobody bid on it. They lowered the price by half. I thought it was going to go for quite a bit more than I could afford, but I was able to obtain it.”
Though Helbling doesn’t know much about the proof’s origins, he does know the artist worked for a Georgia company.
“The artist had started to make (the proof) but the company went bankrupt before they got to make any prints, so this is the only one in existence,” he said.
Helbling drove from Ozark, Arkansas, to gift the piece. He had it framed and engraved as a way to honor John Foster Wheeler, who was one of the first printers of the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper.
Wheeler was born in 1808 and began his involvement in the newspaper industry through an apprenticeship in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1822. The experience put him in contact with Isaac Harris, and in 1828 the two men became the first printers of the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper. While Harris eventually left after differing with Editor Elias Boudinot, Wheeler continued.
He saw the U.S. government and the Cherokee Nation clash more than once over treaties and land rights, including the 1835 incident in which Georgia authorities destroyed the paper’s printing equipment. Later that year, Rev. Samuel Worcester, who had moved to Indian Territory, arranged a printing shop at Union Mission, which was north of Fort Gibson, and asked Wheeler to be his printer, making him the first printer in the territory.
“Every turn, the guy was involved in history,” Helbling said. “That’s why I wanted to honor him as the first printer at the Cherokee Phoenix and also the first one in Indian Territory.”
Helbling gave the proof to the Phoenix in part because of his love of history. The son of a professional golfer, Helbling grew up creating history of his own. He was the first 5-year-old in the history of golf to have a hole-in-one and was involved with the Professional Bull Riders in the 1940s and 1950s.
Helbling said he is of Cherokee descent through his great-great-grandfather, which sparked his interest in Cherokee culture. He has spent much time researching the Cherokee people and visiting campsites along the Trail of Tears route in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
His appreciation for Cherokee culture made gifting the proof an easy decision.
“I just thought (the proof) belongs here, and I decided to purchase it and get it all set up with the engraving done to have it up here where it really should be,” Helbling said.
The proof now resides in the Phoenix’s main office. Anyone with information regarding the artist or the proof’s origin can call 918-453-5269.