200 trees planted on Arbor Day
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - On Arbor Day, Cherokee Nation employees planted more than 200 trees and plants in a recreation area on the north side of the complex.
Principal Chief Chad Smith launched festivities by planting an apple tree at the tribe’s Memorial Garden. The tree, a Junaluska Apple, was a gift to the CN. It was grafted from a tree that was native to North Carolina and believed to be named after a former chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokees.
"This is one tree that really needs to be given special care when it is planted," said Wendell Cochran, special projects coordinator with the CN.
The tribe took nearly two years to decide on just the right spot and occasion to plant the tree, which was kept in cool storage. In addition to planting trees, the CN also gave trees to employees and community members. The CN has given away free trees on Arbor Day since 1981 and has given away around 50,000 saplings.
Arbor Day, first celebrated in Nebraska in 1872, began when homesteaders planted more than 1 million trees to provide shade, shelter, fruit, fuel and beauty for their land. Wayne Isaacs, environmental specialist with the tribe, said that concept is still used.
"These plants will help provide habitat for wildlife and help filter the impurities out of the groundwater," Isaacs said.
The CN’s long-term goal is to restore habitat on tribal lands using native plants and to incorporate Cherokee language into interpretive signs for various plants traditionally used by Cherokees. The signs will be placed along trails or other areas to further environmental education, encourage healthy exercise, promote use of the Cherokee language and provide tourists with a glimpse of Cherokee culture.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation on Aug. 29 became the first tribe to create a fish and wildlife advocacy organization when it launched the CN Fish and Wildlife Association, officials said.
According to a press release, the community outreach association is a platform for fishing and wildlife advocacy but will also provide exclusive information on fishing, hunting and events.
Natural Resources Secretary Sara Hill said the CN Fish and Wildlife Association will offer CN citizens the opportunity to be a part of something that hasn’t happened on a tribal level until now.
“Citizens will have access to exclusive information and events, while also helping preserve our lands and wildlife for future hunting and fishing enthusiasts. Cherokees have long been stewards of the land and wildlife, and this continues that proud tradition,” she said.
According to the release, CN staff will have registration booths for the association at the CN Capitol Square and ONE FIRE Field, located west of the Tribal Complex, during the Cherokee National Holiday.
“Membership is free for Cherokee Nation citizens, and new members will receive a personalized membership card and vehicle decal in addition to exclusive access to information and events. Non-Cherokees may sign up as ‘friends’ of the association in a separate database and opt in to receive notifications that may be of interest to any outdoorsman or environmentalist,” the release states. “Members who register online before Sept. 5 will be entered to win one of 10 prizes, including a Bear Archery Attitude Compound Bow, Garmin fish finder and GPS plotter, YETI 20-quart Roadie Cooler, Muddy the Huntsman Hunting Ladder Stand and more. CN citizens can register for membership at <a href="http://www.cherokeefishandwildlife.com" target="_blank">www.cherokeefishandwildlife.com</a>.
The CN and state entered into a hunting and fishing compact in 2015 that gives every tribal citizen 18 to 65 years old in the state a free hunting and fishing license, plus one antlered deer gun tag and spring turkey tag. The tribe began distributing the licenses earlier this year and has distributed nearly 120,000 licenses as of the beginning of August.
For more information, call Dale Glory at 918-453-5333 or email <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.
NORMAN, Okla. – The 2016 National Native Media Awards were announced Aug. 29, and the Cherokee Phoenix, this country’s first Native American newspaper, won six awards, including first place in “Print - General Excellence.”
There were more than 600 entries across six divisions. The Cherokee Phoenix was in Professional Division III – Circulation above 10,000.
The monthly newspaper won first place for “Best Layout,” while Senior Reporter Will Chavez won first place in “Print/Online – Excellence in Beat Reporting” for his coverage of “Energy in Oklahoma.”
The coverage was on the controversial “Plains & Eastern” energy transmission line that would begin in the Oklahoma panhandle, cross Oklahoma and Arkansas and end in western Tennessee.
Cherokee Phoenix Special Correspondent Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton won first place in the “Print – Best News Story” category for her story “Caney Valley senior fights for eagle feather in graduation cap.” Chavez won second place in that category for his story “Cherokee speakers worried about language’s state.” Krehbiel-Burton also took third place in that category for her story “Dusten Brown urges revisions to ICWA.”
“Within the first few days of my tenure as editor of the Cherokee Phoenix I knew we had some incredibly talented individuals under our roof.” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “I, myself, am extremely honored to have such dedicated journalists on the Cherokee Phoenix staff, and the awards received from NAJA just solidify my belief that we have some of the best journalists in the field.”
Cherokee Nation citizen Steve Russell won first place in the “Online – Best Editorial” category for his column in the newspaper Indian Country Today titled “The Oregon Standoff and the Cowboy Lawyers.” He also won second place in the “Online – Daily/Weekly Best Column” category for his column “The untrustworthy feds teach Natives about trust.” And CN citizen Graham L. Brewer of The Oklahoman won second place in the “Print-Online – Excellence in Beat Reporting” category for his coverage “Criminal justice in the state of Oklahoma.”
CN citizen Jennifer Loren won first place in the “TV – Best Feature Story – Monthly/Semimonthly” category for a story on Cherokee radio host Dennis Sixkiller. She also won third place in that category for a story on wild onions. Both stories were produced for the television show Osiyo TV.
Osiyo TV also won second place in the “TV – General Excellence” category.
Loren also won first place in the “TV – Best News Story” category for the story “Saving Cane” and third place in the same category for the story “Cherokee Warriors.”
The Native American Journalists Association will award more than 200 National Native Media Awards recognizing members’ coverage of Indian Country during the 2016 NAJA Media Awards Banquet on Sept. 20 in New Orleans. The annual competition recognizes excellence in reporting by Native and non-Native journalists across the U.S. and Canada.
For a list of all the awards, visit <a href="http://www.naja.com/news/m.blog/509/naja-announces-2016-national-native-media-award-winners" target="_blank">http://www.naja.com/news/m.blog/509/naja-announces-2016-national-native-media-award-winners</a>.
OZARK, Ark. – The Ozark Area Museum will host a dedication ceremony at 1 p.m. on Sept. 24 for a memorial to honor five tribes that passed the Ozark area via land routes and the Arkansas River during the forced removal of tribes known as the Trail of Tears.
Representatives from the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole and Muscogee (Creek) nations have been invited to the ceremony. Seminole Assistant Chief Lewis Johnson will play the flute to open the program. Executive Director the National Trail of Tears Association and Cherokee Nation citizen Troy Wayne Poteete will be the main speaker.
“We wish to honor those that were forced to leave their homes on a journey that took the lives of many family members before reaching the land in Indian Territory. The people of Ozark invite the members of the Five Civilized Tribes to come to Ozark and allow us to honor you as well as your ancestors,” Dusty Helbling, project coordinator and Trail of Tears historian, said.
The memorial is a stone slab that is 6 feet tall and 4-1/2 feet wide. It sits on a 14-by-16-foot stone-stamped-concrete slab. In front of the standing rock marker are two smaller stones. All three stones came from a hilltop overlooking the Old Military Road the tribes traveled during the removals from 1832-40.
Also mounted in the concrete in front of the standing memorial are four pieces of diamond-shaped Cherokee Marble 1 foot in size from a quarry in Tate, Georgia. This is the same marble used for the Lincoln Memorial and other U.S. government buildings.
The Ozark Area Museum, with the help of Main Street Ozark, helped designed the memorial.
“They found a copy of a design in the museum files I had sketched out in the 1990s and ask if I could come up with a new one. I wanted to make this more personal and symbolic for the five tribes and at the same time remember that the site of the memorial was part of the old original Western Cherokee Reservation (1819-29) here in Arkansas,” Helbling said. “We used Sequoyah’s syllabary as part of the marker because he completed it while living near Scottsville, Arkansas, on this reservation, and it was the only Native American written language during the removal period.”
Ozark is on the bank of the Arkansas River where the tribes passed on riverboats and between two land routes that passed north and south of the city, Helbling said.
Cherokee artist Ron Mitchell’s depiction of the Trail of Tears is also a part of the memorial and will be unveiled on Sept. 24.
Ozark is located 35 miles from the Oklahoma state line on I-40. It is recommended people use Exit 37 to get to the dedication site located at 103 E. River St. For more information, call 479-667-5015.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Aug. 28, nine people left Tahlequah with a U-Haul loaded with supplies to aid the Standing Rock Sioux Nation’s fight against the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline in North Dakota.
The Standing Rock Sioux has requested supplies and support from other tribes’ citizens and communities in its fight against the pipeline that it says threatens its property and water supply.
The nine people who were traveling to Standing Rock, ND were Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band citizens, as well as non-Natives, all of who came together with the support of the community to provide aid to the Standing Rock Sioux.
“We’re loading up all the supplies that have been donated by Cherokee citizens and interested parties who are wanting to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their battle to stop the pipeline that is threatening their land and their water supply,” David Cornsilk, Cherokee Nation citizen, said. “I think a lot of the people that are interested in this are not necessarily opposed to moving oil, they just want to make sure that it’s moved in a way that’s safe, that it doesn’t threaten people’s water supplies and that the tribes that are affected are brought to the table, that they’re not excluded, that tribal sovereignty is respected and that the tribe’s interest is put on the table.”
Cornsilk said other tribes have allowed pipelines to go through their lands and didn’t know if the Standing Rock Sioux would be willing to do that, but they won’t know “if they don’t come to the table.”
“And that’s exactly what a lot of people want to see happen is, they have to have a voice,” he said.
CN citizen Jim Cosby housed the donations at his law office in town prior to them heading to North Dakota. Cosby volunteered to transport the supplies using his vehicle and a U-Haul.
He said it’s important he and others support the Standing Rock Sioux because without help there is no way they can protect their land, and with help they may have a chance.
The group only had a week to gather supplies because of the needs of those protesting in North Dakota.
“They asked for donations to be brought as soon as possible. There was a great response by the Cherokee people to assist them. There have been several trips by others taking things, but this is probably the largest amount of donations being sent by Cherokee individuals so far,” Cosby said. “The donations we gathered are essential items to help the Standing Rock Sioux continue to protect their water and our Earth that is being pillaged by private corporations.”
CN citizen Jeff Davis volunteered to purchase items such as blankets, sleeping bags, medicines, food, cleaning supplies, chairs and tents with donated money at local stores.
“It’s more a support-and-relief effort. We’re going up there to support them some, but mainly it’s to take some relief to them so they can get through the winter. This is our first trip – may not be our last trip – definitely our first trip, and we really excited to lend a hand,” Davis said.
Cornsilk said in this effort there is also an issue of unity among Native people.
“A lot of these folks are donating and saying prayers and standing with them because we’re all Indian people and we’re all in this together,” he said. “We all have to stand with one another, and I think that’s an important point to be made. When something happens here, we may have to put out that call and we may need their help, and I think they would come down here and support us.”
In addition to this group, other small groups have joined the efforts in North Dakota from this area as well as the Cherokee Nation who donated 19 pallets of bottled water in support of the Sioux Nation.
Those interested in donating can call Cornsilk at 918-453-3940 or reach him on Facebook. People can also donate using PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’ll either buy supplies and send them with people that are going or we’ll just donate that directly to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s account that they have set up,” Cornsilk said.
To donate to the Standing Rock Sioux directly, mail to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe DAPL Support, P.O. Box D Fort Yates, ND 58538 or visit <a href="http://standingrock.org" target="_blank">http://standingrock.org</a>.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Pacific Northwest tribe is traveling nearly 5,000 miles across Canada and the United States with a 22-foot-tall totem pole on a flatbed truck in a symbolic journey meant to galvanize opposition to fossil fuel infrastructure projects they believe will imperil native lands.
This is the fourth year the Lummi Nation in northwest Washington has embarked on a "totem journey" to try to create a unified front among tribes across North America that are individually fighting plans for coal terminals and crude oil pipelines in their backyards.
The highly visible tours, which include tribal blessing ceremonies at each stop, fit into a trend of Native American tribes bringing their environmental activism to the masses as they see firsthand the effects of climate change, said Robin Saha, a University of Montana associate professor who specializes in tribal issues and environmental justice.
"I wouldn't go as far as to say there's an anti-development movement, but tribes are feeling the effects of climate change quite dramatically and are responding in a lot of different ways," Saha said. "Some of them feel as if they're not going to survive."
In North Dakota, for example, people from across the country and members of 60 tribes have gained international attention after gathering in opposition to the four-state Dakota Access oil pipeline. The totem pole heads to that site, near the Standing Rock Sioux's reservation, next week.
Tribes in the Pacific Northwest have engaged in public protests and taken legal action as West Coast ports have emerged as strategic locations for crude oil and coal companies to reach customers in energy-hungry Asia. Seven crude oil or coal export terminals are proposed for conversion, expansion or construction on the Oregon and Washington coast. Some have already led to increased freight train traffic along the scenic Columbia River Gorge, where local tribes fish salmon.
A coalition of tribes turned out in June after an oil train derailed in Mosier. The oil from the derailment mostly burned off in a huge fire, but a small amount entered the Columbia River where the tribes have federally guaranteed fishing rights.
"We're all trying to unite our voices to make sure we're all speaking out," said Jewell James, a Lummi tribal member and head carver at the House of Tears Carvers.
In recent years, cheap natural gas has prompted many domestic utilities to abandon coal, driving down production at major mines in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming, the nation's largest coal producing region. Asian coal markets have become a potential lifeline for the mining industry — and Pacific Northwest ports are seen as the anchor.
The Lummi Nation launched a savvy public relations campaign last year against what would have been the nation's largest coal export terminal proposed for Cherry Point, Washington, at the heart of their ancestral homeland.
In May, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a needed permit for the Gateway Pacific terminal after finding it would damage tribal fishing rights.
This year's 19-day totem trek started Tuesday in Vancouver, British Columbia, and makes a stop Friday in Longview, Washington, where a similar shipping terminal would export 44 million tons of coal annually to Asian markets. With the Gateway Pacific project on ice, the Longview project would now be the nation's largest coal export terminal.
It would mean 16 coal trains a day, mostly from mines in Montana and Wyoming, and an additional 1,600 round-trip vessel calls a year in the lower Columbia River, said Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, senior organizer with the Columbia Riverkeeper. There are concerns that wake from the ships could strand juvenile salmon and impact tribal fishing, she said.
Bill Chapman, president and CEO of Millennium Bulk Terminals in Longview, said in an emailed response to questions that a draft environmental review by Washington state and county officials found there would be no impacts to tribal fishing. Trains already run through the area on established tracks and have caused no issues, he added.
The terminal on the site of an old aluminum smelter plant would create hundreds of much-needed family wage jobs and is supported by labor unions, Chapman said.
"We're building on a location where industry has existed for over 70 years," he wrote. "Our export terminal is sited on a stretch of the Columbia River dotted with manufacturing plants and docks."
A third large coal terminal in Oregon was dealt a blow this month when a judge upheld the state's right to deny the project based on a similar threat to tribal fishing rights.
If proponents decide to appeal, the case will go to trial in November.
This year's brightly painted totem weighs 3,000 pounds and is carved of western red cedar. An eagle with a 12-foot wingspan sits on top, and the pole itself features a wolf and bear — symbols of leadership, cunning and courage — as well as white buffalo and tribal figures, said James, who has been carving totem poles for 44 years.
To the sounds of drums and a prayer song, the 22-foot-tall totem pole was blessed in a smudge ceremony at the entrance of Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle Thursday. Lummi Nation member Linda Soriano fanned smoke from burning sage, covering the pole in a haze as sun rays beamed down. She then fanned the smoke through the crowd gathered outside the church.
"Mother Earth is hurting," said Lummi Nation member Randy Peters Sr. as he began his prayer song, "Mother Earth has been hurting from all of the abuse that has been going on. The unsafe practices of the coal, and the mining and the transportation of energy."
Tribes in Oregon, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota and Canada will host the Lummi until their end point in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where tribes are fighting oil pipelines bound for the East Coast.
"You can't put a price on the sacred. Our land and our water are sacred," said Reuben George, manager of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative in Vancouver, British Columbia, where his tribe is opposed to a major oil pipeline. "This totem pole represents our laws, our culture and our spirituality."
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Sky Wildcat, 21, was crowned Miss Cherokee during a leadership competition on Aug. 27 at the Cornerstone Fellowship Church.
Wildcat, a senior at Northeastern State University, earned a $3,000 scholarship and will represent the tribe as a goodwill ambassador to promote the government, history, language and culture of the Cherokee people for the next year.
“Being crowned Miss Cherokee means I get to represent our tribe and represent the young Cherokee women that competed…who represent resilience and strength much like our ancestors,” she said.
Wildcat competed against nine women for the crown. The Miss Cherokee Leadership Competition judged contestants on their use of the Cherokee language, cultural and platform presentations and an impromptu question.
Wildcat shared the history of traditional Cherokee basket weaving for her cultural presentation and her platform focused on protecting the land and water and preserving natural resources.
“I really want to advocate for my platform of environmental preservation during my year as an ambassador for the tribe,” she said. “I also just want to educate others and our youth that there is a lot that they can do to change the world.”
Wildcat’s first public event as Miss Cherokee will be Sept. 3 at the State of the Nation Address during the 64th Cherokee National Holiday in Tahlequah.
First runner-up for the title was Amari McCoy, of Sallisaw, who earned a $2,000 scholarship and second runner-up was Madison Shoemaker, of Muskogee, who earned a $1,000 scholarship.