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 STAFF REPORTS
05/03/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Rocky Mountain Cherokee Community Organization will host two fundraisers in May. A bingo game will be held at the organization’s community building on May 9 with a concession stand opening at 5 p.m. and bingo games beginning at 6 p.m. A gospel singing will begin at 5 p.m. on May 23. Concessions or a dinner will be for sale during the singing. The Rocky Mountain Community is located 5 miles west of Stilwell on Hwy 100. Turn onto Rocky Mountain School road and continue about 5 miles. The RMCCO Community Building is located across the road from the Rocky Mountain School softball field. RMCCO is affiliated with the Cherokee Nation’s Community and Cultural Outreach. Advancement of the Cherokee culture and communities in the Cherokee Nation’s 14-county jurisdictional areas, as well the tribe’s many satellite communities, is important for the future of the CN. CCO is designed to strengthen Cherokee communities. For more information, call Vicki McLemore at 918-506-0487.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/02/2015 04:00 PM
WASHINGTON – The National Park Service has proposed to modify the regulation governing the gathering of plants in national parks. The rule would allow citizens of federally recognized American Indian tribes with traditional associations to areas within specific units of the NPS to gather and remove plants or plant parts for traditional purposes. The gathering and removal allowed by the rule would be governed by agreements that may be entered into between the NPS and the tribes, and would also be subject to permits that identify the tribal members who may conduct these activities. The rule would prohibit commercial uses of gathered materials. To be published on April 20 in the Federal Register, “Gathering of Certain Plants or Plant Parts by Federally Recognized Indian Tribes for Traditional Purposes,” will be open for public comment for 90 days through July 20. “The proposed rule respects tribal sovereignty and the government-to-government relationship between the United States and the tribes,” said NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “It also supports the mission of the National Park Service and the continuation of unique cultural traditions of American Indians.” Many units of the NPS contain resources important to the continuation of American Indian cultures. Indian tribes have actively sought the ability to gather and use plant resources for traditional purposes such as basketry and traditional medicines while ensuring the sustainability of plant communities in parks. At the same time, park managers and law enforcement officers need clear guidance regarding their responsibilities for enforcing park regulations with respect to the use of park resources by American Indians. The proposal provides an approach to plant collecting by members of federally recognized tribes that can be applied across the NPS. In drafting the proposed rule, NPS staff met with or contacted more than 120 Indian tribes. Tribal consultation that followed indicates that the approach taken in the proposed rule would address the need for gathering while respecting tribal sovereignty. Comments on the proposed rule should reference the NPS and Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) 1024-AD84, and can be submitted online through the Federal Rulemaking Portal: <a href="http://www.regulations.gov" target="_blank">http://www.regulations.gov</a>, which provides instructions for submitting comments; or by mail to: National Park Service, Joe Watkins, Office of Tribal Relations and American Cultures, 1201 Eye Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20005. Comments and suggestions on the information collection requirements in the proposed rule should be sent to the Desk Officer for the Department of the Interior at OMB-OIRA by fax at 202-395-5806 or by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov. Comments by email should be sent to <a href="mailto: madonna_baucum@nps.gov">madonna_baucum@nps.gov</a> or by mail to: Information Collection Clearance Officer, National Park Service, 1849 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20240. Reference “1024-AD84” in the subject line.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/02/2015 12:00 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Will Rogers Memorial Museum will host the “Will on the Hill” music festival beginning at noon on May 16. Rogers County native Beau Jennings and his band the Tigers will headline the festival. Jennings, who appeared in concert at the museum two years ago, will play his new album/project, “The Verdigris: in Search of Will Rogers.” To prepare for the project, Jennings, of Inola, retraced the steps in Will’s life, traveling from his Indian Territory birthplace to Alaska, where he and Wiley Post perished in a plane crash. As he traveled to major locations in Will’s life, he recorded new songs written on the way, inspired by nature and places. Activities will begin with a live podcast from noon to 1 p.m. with Bart Taylor, Will Rogers Memorial Museum assistant curator for education and Jacob Krumwiede, Museum assistant director, in an interview with Jennings about the process of writing his Will Rogers’ influenced album. “He will play a song or two on his acoustic guitar to show and talk about his songs,” Taylor said. Cody Brewer, associated with the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, will be putting on a Will Rogers’ themed songwriting class for kids from 1-2 p.m. in the museum’s theatre. He will involve youngsters in songwriting and more specifically, writing about Will Rogers. He does this program at the Woody Guthrie Center, which builds kids’ excitement building as their creativity is aroused using Oklahoma history to tell a story. Other bands and performers are being lined up for the festival from 2-10 p.m. Those other bands include: “Annie Oakley,” an all-girl band founded by singer-songwriters Sophia and Grace Babb, is added to the list of musicians. Their music is described as Americana with a combination of folk, bluegrass, country, indie and soul. The sisters are descendants of both Comanche and pioneer Land Run stock and share the Ulster Scots heritage of Woody Guthrie and Merle Haggard. “Grazzhopper” has a foundation of bluegrass and country. Frontman Cody Brewer draws from influences of his family and surroundings. Grazzhopper’s songs discuss everything from trials and tribulations of life to the power of joy. Other bands and singers expected are Travis Linville, Dana Louise and Joe Mack. Linville has appeared on the David Letterman show and played multi-instrumentals with Hayes Carll on stages across North America, the United Kingdom, Australia, Denmark and Norway. Joe Mack is a singer, songwriter, producer, and teacher with a 30-year history of performing in a variety of situations. At the same time the grounds will be teeming with the Tulsa Windriders, a kite experience, artists and food trucks. Sponsors include Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Nation Businesses, Oklahoma Arts Council and Will Rogers Memorial Foundation.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/01/2015 02:00 PM
MT. VERNON, N.Y. – Women on 20s campaign officials have chosen a day and time that the polls will close for individuals to vote on their favorite woman in the hopes of making a change to the $20 bill. Voters have until 11:59 p.m. EST on May 10 to cast their vote for one of the four women. Those on the ballot are former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller, civil rights activist Rosa Parks, former first lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt and abolitionist Harriet Tubman. According to a Women on 20s press release, officials chose the deadline to be on May 10 to honor women on Mother’s Day. “It’s a day to honor all women, because we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our mothers. And our country wouldn’t be what it is without its founding mothers and the female game changers who’ve gone unrecognized behind the scenes for too long,” the release states. With the campaign, officials hope to replace President Andrew Jackson with one of these women on the $20 bill by 2020, which marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s passing that granted women the right to vote. The release states that soon after the votes are counted and all of the information is complied, campaign officials will then deliver their findings to President Barack Obama and Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew in a “unique way.” For more information on this campaign or to vote, visit <a href="http://www.womenon20s.org" target="_blank">womenon20s.org</a> . Those who do not have Internet access can write in a letter casting their vote. Campaign officials said the vote would not be counted with the others, but it would be part of the presentation that is presented to the president. Letters can be mailed to P.O. Box 2353, Mt. Vernon, New York 10550. All letters should be addressed to Barbara Ortiz Howard, Women on 20s.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/01/2015 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation recently celebrated the opening of its new Gallery Shop, a gift shop inside the Cort Mall that offers everything from handmade coffee mugs and beaded earrings to wall décor in the Cherokee syllabary made by Native artists. “Everything displayed in the Spider Gallery is unique,” Donna Tinnin, the tribe’s community tourism manager, said. “We noticed people would do a lot of looking at the Cherokee art pieces but often weren’t purchasing anything. So, we wanted to offer people the opportunity to purchase something that was still handcrafted by Cherokee artists, but smaller items that may be more adequate for their budget.” Hand-beaded jewelry, postcard prints, miniature gourd turtles, graphic T-shirts, commercial reed baskets and handmade coffee mugs that range in price from $10 to $100 are just a few items available. Artists’ work featured in the Spider Gallery goes through a selective screening process. The Gallery Shop allows more Native artists to display their work in a less rigorous way. Matthew Anderson, 45, is a self-taught artist from Tahlequah. The CN citizen has gourds and pottery in the Spider Gallery and has handmade coffee mugs for sale in the Gallery Shop to appeal to a wider array of shoppers. “Larger pieces of art take longer to produce, which makes them more of a high-end piece,” said Anderson. “When artists start moving things in a new retail environment, everything sells more quickly, giving them more of an opportunity to make and sell more items.” CN Commerce oversees the Gallery Shop, Spider Gallery and Kawi Café, all located inside the Cort Mall, which is owned by the CN. The department also has a Small Business Assistance Center that helps entrepreneurs with loans and Cherokees with mortgage assistance to buy homes as well as programs that cater to artist development. The Gallery Shop is located directly across from the Spider Gallery at 215 S. Muskogee Ave. For more information on the Spider Gallery or the Gallery Shop, call 918-453-5728.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/01/2015 10:00 AM
CATOOSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Business employees recently spent time volunteering to help keep Oklahoma free of trash and debris on the areas aside local roadways. Employees joined a statewide initiative to help the state become more beautiful by keeping it clean. The employees joined Keep Oklahoma Beautiful and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for the 27th annual Trash-OFF. According to a Cherokee Nation press release, Trash-OFF is the single largest one-day cleanup effort in the state of Oklahoma. It is also the state’s signature event in the Great American Cleanup, the nation’s largest community improvement program. “Oklahoma is fortunate to have caring people who want to protect and preserve our state’s natural beauty,” said ODOT beautification coordinator Melody Johnson. “We typically have all 77 counties participate in the Trash-OFF and Great American Cleanup programs, illustrating Oklahomans’ commitment to Keep Our Land Grand. We appreciate each and every volunteer group who gave their time this past weekend to help improve Oklahoma’s environment.” Aside from participating in Trash-OFF, CNB is also involved in the Adopt-A-Highway program. CNB’s volunteer efforts are coordinated by the company’s Community Impact Team, which works to promote community engagement and volunteerism. “I really enjoy being part of a company that cares about us as employees as well as the communities we live and work in,” CNB auditor Leslie Clarke said. “It’s a great feeling to come together with colleagues and do something that benefits residents and visitors alike.” CNB and Cherokee Nation Entertainment have days scheduled within the year to help with volunteer projects. All eight of CNE’s Cherokee Casinos and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa have their own CIT teams that also participate in ODOT’s Adopt-A-Highway program.