Cherokee Nation citizen Cheyanne Hodge, 16, of Tulsa, Okla., works on a news story as part of “Project Phoenix” on July 10 in Santa Clara, Calif. The Native American Journalists Association conference project exposes high school students to journalism and how it impacts Indian Country. “Project Phoenix” honors the first Native American newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Cherokee students learn journalism basics at NAJA conference

United Keetoowah Band citizen Brittney Bennett, 21, of Kansas, Okla., takes part in the “Native Voice” project at the annual Native American Journalists Association conference in Santa Clara, Calif. Here she works on a news story on July 10. The project strives to help college students gain hands-on experience in print, digital and broadcast media under the guidance of Native professional mentors from across the country. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
United Keetoowah Band citizen Brittney Bennett, 21, of Kansas, Okla., takes part in the “Native Voice” project at the annual Native American Journalists Association conference in Santa Clara, Calif. Here she works on a news story on July 10. The project strives to help college students gain hands-on experience in print, digital and broadcast media under the guidance of Native professional mentors from across the country. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
08/04/2014 08:27 AM
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Two Cherokee students from Oklahoma traveled to the annual Native American Journalists Association conference in July to learn the skills of good journalism.

Cherokee Nation citizen Cheyanne Hodge, 16, of Tulsa was part of “Project Phoenix,” which exposes high school students to journalism and how it impacts Indian Country. “Project Phoenix” honors the first Native American newspaper – the Cherokee Phoenix, which was first printed on Feb. 28, 1828, in New Echota, Ga.

United Keetoowah Band citizen Brittney Bennett, 21, of Kansas took part in the “Native Voice” project, which helps college students gain hands-on experience in print, digital and broadcast media under the guidance of Native professional mentors.

Hodge will be a junior this fall at Will Rogers College High, a college prep school. Along with learning more about journalism, she wants to become a veterinary technician.

She said she spent her week as a “Project Phoenix” student shooting videos, gathering stories and interviewing people, and “more and more” she’s also looking at journalism as a career.

She said what interested her about journalism is that “you have a voice and that people can hear you.”

“There are so many things offered to you because you get to go and see things that other people don’t,” Hodge said.

She added that the most important thing she learned from mentors was to learn how to write news and shoot video.

“That’s a lot for me because I didn’t have any experience,” she said. “I’ve definitely learned to be patient. We’ve been in this (news) room from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep. You just have to put your all into it.”

Mentor Benny Polacca, a reporter with the Osage News in Pawhuska, Okla., said the students are exposed to all disciplines used by today’s reporters. They wrote news stories for the newspaper published during the conference, wrote stories for the “Native Voices” website and created audio and video assignments using Apple technology.

“In the end we are giving the children an opportunity to learn the tools of the trade, especially during this time when we’re seeing a shift in ways of communication, a shift toward online and computer gadgets, including smart phones,” Polacca said. “I think this is a good opportunity to introduce students to those skills because in the end we would really like to see more Native journalists working in the field, and these are the tools of the trade they need.”

Bennett attends the University of Oklahoma where she’s studying public relations.

“I’m here to get a better feel for journalism and kind of learn the ins and outs that I haven’t gotten to (learn) because I am a PR major. It’s similar in a lot of ways, but different...especially this year since they are going more digital,” she said. “I haven’t really worked with a lot of the equipment. Being PR you don’t take that many broadcast classes or any editing classes, so that is definitely new to me.”

Bennett was selected as a 2011 Gates Millennium Scholar and has been named to the President’s and Dean’s Honor Roll at OU multiple semesters.

She said the first few days of the “Native Voice” project was spent learning the “nuts and bolts” of journalism. From there the students produced short stories about local events, and then produced short videos on local attractions.

She graduated to helping work on a web story about the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay area, which is not recognized by California or the federal government. She said it required her to make “a lot of calls” and do research. She also worked on a print and video story about NAJA raising more than $10,000 for a fellowship.

NAJA oversees “Project Phoenix and the “Native Voice” project.

She said during the week she got rid of the misconception that a journalist has to have the “nicest equipment” and work “in the nicest studio” to be successful. She learned there are phone applications and computer programs she can use to help her report news.

Bennett is focusing on a career in the film industry and doing public relations work for Native American actors and films. She landed an internship at the Oklahoma Film and Music Office’s PR department for the fall semester. She plans on graduating next May.

Polacca said students participating in the student projects have the opportunity to network, meet other Native American journalists and possibly find a place to work in the future.

“Who knows, maybe in the future the students will work for someone in the field whether it’s a journalist working with the student project program or whether they are here as a conference participant,” he said.
About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years.

News

BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
04/01/2015 07:39 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court on April 1 denied the Election Commission’s motion to dismiss Tribal Councilor Julia Coates’ appeal regarding her deputy chief candidacy and set a time of 10 a.m. on April 13 to hear the case’s merits. The court convened for Coates’ appeal of the commission’s recent ruling that stated she was not eligible to run for deputy chief in this year’s general election. However, the court heard two motions for dismissal, one filed by the EC and the other by Tribal Councilor Jodie Fishinghawk’s attorney Evan McLemore. Fishinghawk was one of two people to challenge Coates’ eligibility. The EC requested a dismissal based on the fact that Coates did not name the EC as a respondent in her appeal. “The commission is a necessary and indispensable party to this appeal,” the motion states. “And the time to appeal and name the commission as a respondent has passed.” McLemore also states that the appeal must be dismissed because the EC is a necessary party to Coates’ appeal. “By failing to name the Election Commission as a respondent, Dr. Coates has denied the commission its statutory right to appear before the Supreme Court and present evidence, witnesses and make legal arguments supportive of its disqualification of Dr. Coates,” his motion states. However, Coates’ attorney, Chad Smith, said the court gave notice to the commission to “provide a record of its proceeding and the commission has no further mandatory role in these proceedings.” “The hearing before this court is de novo and the contestant and respondent begin over again with the question of Coates’ eligibility by presenting their evidence,” Smith states. “Its statutory role is providing its record, which it has done. The commission has no role in defending its decision before this court – just as the District Court and the Employee Appeals Board have no role in defending their decisions on appeal.” After a recess, the justices denied the EC’s motion to dismiss and set the hearing on the case’s merits. Smith and McLemore said after the hearing that the court had sufficient evidence before it to make a decision on Coates’ candidacy. “The court properly decided the motion to dismiss. This case is not formed over substance. It’s about quickly hearing Ms. Coates’ eligibility case,” Smith said. “There’s not much more to prepare. The record is clear; the evidence is what it is. We have 31 exhibits that show that her domicile is in Oklahoma since 2000. I think that’s overwhelming.” McLemore said although the EC dismissal was denied, his was not. “In theory, my dismissal is still outstanding and I would assume that the court would rule on it on the 13th,” he said. “The court’s decision is that there was enough information in that pleading to put the commission on notice. I’m going to prepare as if it were a normal hearing. I believe the record is complete. If the opposing counsel attempts to introduce evidence that I think is objectionable I’m going to raise my objections, but I believe there’s enough in the record to defend the commission’s decision and I think there’s enough for the court to determine that yeah, maybe she is not qualified, at least for this election.” The EC ruled on March 20 that Coates was not qualified to run for deputy chief because she did not meet the residency requirements. According to CN law, a deputy chief candidate must have a bona fide residence inside the CN jurisdiction 270 days before the general election date. According to the EC ruling, Coates was domiciled in California for part of the 270 days before the election. Check back with the Cherokee Phoenix for updates.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
04/01/2015 04:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A recent report says that Oklahoma Indian gaming revenue increased more than $60 million in 2013, but the amount of tribal fees paid to the state has decreased by more than $3.1 million. The Oklahoman reports the 2015 edition of Casino City's Indian Gaming Industry Report released Monday revealed the revenue disparity and notes that it may be due to the change in types of gaming machines found in Indian casinos. Oklahoma tribes are required to pay the state exclusivity fees based on the amount of revenue they generate from operating Class III games like slot machines or roulette. The report noted the number of Class II games, which tribes do not have to pay state fees for, has increased from 34 percent in 2008 to 42 percent in 2013, while the percentage of Class III games has declined from 66 percent to 58 percent. "This trend toward more Class II machines in recent years is interesting and its starting point (2009) coincides with the withdrawal of restrictive Class II gaming machine regulations that were originally proposed by the NIGC (National Indian Gaming Commission) in May 2006 and ultimately withdrawn in September 2008," the report by economist Alan Meister noted. Mesiter told the paper that not having to pay exclusivity fees may be just one factor in the economic considerations that tribes make when changing from Class III to Class II games. Choctaw Nation spokeswoman Judy Allen said her tribe likes to offer a variety of games to its customers so there has always been a mix of Class II and Class III games in their casinos. The report said revenue reached nearly $3.8 billion in 2013, but the state's fee revenue dropped from $127.8 million in 2012 to $124.7 million in 2013, providing less money for education, mental health services and general operations.
BY STAFF REPORTS
03/31/2015 02:00 PM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Bacone College senior forward Matt Qualls has been named to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics 2014-15 Division I Men’s Basketball All-America teams. Qualls, of Tahlequah, was named to the NAIA Third Team All-America list. Qualls led the country and Red River Athletic Conference in scoring at 26.0 points per game and pulled down a conference leading 11 boards per game. He scored 351 points in the 2013-14 season and 676 points in 2014-15 for a total of 1,027 points. Additionally, Qualls was named RRAC All-Conference first team and a NABC-NAIA Men’s Basketball All-Star for his efforts during the 2014-2015 season. On Feb. 20, Qualls scored a career-high 47 points against LSU Shreveport in an 88-82-overtime loss. Qualls also pulled in 19 rebounds on his way to winning player of the week. He also became just the third player in school history to record 1,000 career points since the Bacone Warriors of Muskogee joined the NAIA. Though frequently injured this season, the Cherokee Nation citizen picked up other honors during the season including being named the Red River Athletic Conference “Men’s Basketball Player of the Week” three times and being named the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics “National Division I Men’s Basketball Player” of the Week for Feb. 16-22. He is studying health and physical education at Bacone and hopes to get a chance in the D-League, the National Basketball Association’s development league, or join a professional team in Europe. Eventually, he said wants to be a coach like his father Leroy Qualls.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
03/31/2015 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court will hear an appeal regarding the disqualification of Tribal Councilor Julia Coates as a deputy chief candidate by the tribe’s Election Commission. The EC stated that Coates did not meet the residency requirements to run for the seat in the upcoming 2015 general election. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments at 2 p.m. on April 1 at the CN Courthouse in Tahlequah. In the appeal filed March 20, Coates states the EC’s decision is contrary to a previous court ruling. “The Commission’s decision is contrary to this Court’s holding in Mayes v. Cherokee Nation Election Commission,” the appeal states. The SC has until 5 p.m. April 3 to make a decision on Coates’ candidacy. To view the court documents filed in the case, visit <a href="http://www.cherokeecourts.org/SupremeCourt/SC1504CoatesvFishinghawkRichmond.aspx" target="_blank">http://www.cherokeecourts.org/SupremeCourt/SC1504CoatesvFishinghawkRichmond.aspx</a>. Check back with the Cherokee Phoenix for updates.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
03/31/2015 10:00 AM
CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) - The Claremore Police Department and the Cherokee Nation Marshal’s Office recently entered into a cross-deputation agreement, allowing officers from both agencies to serve in each other’s jurisdictions in case of an emergency or any situation. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for about 15 years, when I became deputy marshal,” said Cherokee Nation Marshal Shannon Buhl. “Claremore is one of the largest cities in our jurisdiction we were never cross-deputized with. What that meant was they couldn’t help us if we needed something and we couldn’t help them out if they needed assistance in Native American jurisdictions that are within city limits, such as K2 product being sold at tribal smoke shops.” Buhl said this agreement has been a long time coming. Cross-deputation agreements first went into effect in July 1992 when the U.S. Congress provided authority for the U.S. Secretary of Interior to enter into agreements between the U.S. and Native American tribes and nations, states and their political subdivisions in accordance with the Indian Law Enforcement Reform Act of August 1990. “Cross-deputation can be misunderstood a lot of the time. There’s a lot to it,” said Buhl. “It’s not a mutual aid agreement. There are mutual aid agreements, such as that between the sheriff’s office and Claremore PD or Verdigris; however, Native American tribes cannot create a mutual aid agreement with non-Native American affiliations. “What that means is you have to go through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the city, agency and the State Attorney General’s Office, which can be a long process.” Buhl said one of the reasons the cross-deputation agreement took place is because of efforts from the Claremore Police Department. “Police Chief Stan Brown has been very proactive in the city. He’s a huge supporter of cooperative agreements with us, the sheriff’s office and other agencies, and I think he’s in some ways taken the lead on this to make this happen for us,” said Buhl. “It’s a good day for the people of Claremore and for the people of the Cherokee Nation.” Brown said the agreement acts as a “force multiplier.” “The CPD now has the opportunity to utilize nationally-recognized special operations teams through the marshal’s office for everything from high-priority arrests, to hostage rescue and search and rescue operations,” Brown said. “Anytime you have agencies that can cooperate, it makes the community safer and it raises the level of service that both agencies can bring to the population.” The Cherokee Nation Marshal’s Office covers 9,000 square miles and holds a total of 52 deputations with agencies across the 14 historical counties.
BY STAFF REPORTS
03/29/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –Red Dirt musician Stoney LaRue will be headlining this years Cherokee Nation Employee Appreciation Day, which honors employees for their hard work throughout the past year. The outdoor free concert is open to the public and is on April 2. It will take place just west of the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah. The opening act will be the all-Cherokee group, Pumpkin Hollow Band. They will kick off the show at 5:30 p.m. “These Oklahoma musicians have a strong local following and will put on a great show for our community and the entire Cherokee Nation,” said Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “We wanted to show our appreciation to our employees and the community with a night of good music and family fun.” LaRue, who is Texas-born but a longtime Oklahoman, is known for his hits “Down in Flames,” “Feet Don’t Touch the Ground,” “Oklahoma Breakdown” and “One Cord Song.” The crowd can expect to hear his hits and also songs from his new album, “AVIATOR.” “The theme is, essentially, following direction, trusting in yourself and new beginnings,” said LaRue. “I’d say it’s a little combination of rootsy rock, country, folk and whatever else is in the hodge podge, and separate as much of the pride and ego from it, and put it in a format that’s easy to listen to.” CN citizens Rod Buckhorn, Doo Reese, Kirk Reese and Spider Stopp named the band in honor of their birthplace, Pumpkin Hollow. The country and red dirt genre band has opened for Luke Bryan, Mark Chesnutt, Brantley Gilbert and Tracy Lawrence. According to a CN press release, no alcohol, tobacco or ice chests are permitted on the premises. Food vendors will be on site and shuttles available for parking. Bringing lawn chairs and blankets to sit on is encouraged. The Cherokee Nation W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex is located at 17675 S. Muskogee Ave.