http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee Nation citizen Randy White, who filed to run in Dist. 11, looks at evidence presented by his challenger’s attorney, Curtis Bruehl, on Feb. 23 at the Election Commission Office. White’s challenger, Chance Hayes, is seated next to Bruehl. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Randy White, who filed to run in Dist. 11, looks at evidence presented by his challenger’s attorney, Curtis Bruehl, on Feb. 23 at the Election Commission Office. White’s challenger, Chance Hayes, is seated next to Bruehl. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

EC tosses White’s candidacy, confirms Cochran’s run

Former Reporter
02/24/2017 04:45 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During a meeting to hear candidacy challenges, the Election Commission on Feb. 23 ruled that Cherokee Nation citizen Randy Junior White could not run for the Dist. 11 Tribal Council seat, stating he is not Cherokee by blood.

The EC cited Article VI of the 1999 Constitution, Section 31.A.1 of Title 26 of the CN Code Annotated and the Judicial Appeals Tribunal ruling Lucy Allen v. Tribal Council (JAT-04-09).

The 1999 Constitution states the council shall consist of 17 members “who are citizens by blood of the Cherokee Nation.” Section 31.A.1 of Title 26 is similar, stating a “candidate shall be a citizen of Cherokee Nation, in accordance with Article IV of the Constitution of Cherokee Nation and shall be a citizen by blood of Cherokee Nation.”

Article IV of the Constitution states all CN citizens “must be enrollees or descendants of original enrollees listed on the Dawes Commission Rolls, including the…Shawnee Cherokee of Article III of the Shawnee Agreement dated the 9th day of June, 1869, and/or their descendants.”

The Lucy Allen v. Tribal Council ruling states “Shawnees are actually listed on the ‘Cherokee by blood’ pages of the Dawes Commission Rolls. There are no separate Cherokee Shawnee pages. On the census cards, Shawnees are listed with a blood degree and are referenced as ‘AS’ or ‘Adopted Shawnee.’ The Shawnee are Cherokee citizens on the Dawes rolls, but they are citizens by adoption, not ‘by blood.’”

It also states the only time a legal right, under Cherokee law, depends on Cherokee blood, is when a person decides to run for elected office.

“In that instance, we rely on the blood degree findings of the Dawes Commission to make sure or Principal Chief and Council members are Cherokee citizens by blood. This guarantees Cherokee control of government, but that government is ultimately elected by a larger and more diverse constituency of citizens,” the Allen ruling states.

The ruling deals with a case brought under the 1975 Constitution. The tribe now operates under the 1999 Constitution, which also calls for elected officials to be citizens “by blood.”

During arguments, White’s attorney, Deb Reed, said White’s knowledge and documents provided by the Shawnee Tribe show that White could trace direct lineage to Thomas J. White, who is on the Dawes Roll.

Reed stated the Constitution, the law that both the CN and the EC abide by, states “citizens by blood” in regards to those running for office within the CN. “And Randy White is a citizen by blood,” she said.

However, attorney Curtis Bruehl, representing White’s challenger, Chance Hayes, argued that conflicting roll numbers show that Randy White’s lineage goes back to Thomas White, an adopted Shawnee.

“I think the record reflects very clearly that while Mr. White is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, he is not a citizen by blood to the Cherokee people which disqualifies him of holding the office of Tribal Council,” Bruehl said. “The Cherokee Nation and the election laws are quite clear not only must a candidate be a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, they shall be a citizen by blood of Cherokee Nation and that has been decided from our Supreme Court in the Allen case very clearly.”

After an executive session, the EC determined White was not qualified to run for Tribal Council based on his not being Cherokee “by blood.”

“…the candidate Randy Junior White does not meet the qualifications to be a candidate for council Dist. 11 in the 2017 Cherokee Nation General Election,” the EC decision states.

White said he was disappointed but thankful for his representation and the ability to attempt to run.

“Evidently we didn’t come with enough evidence. I thank him (Chance Hayes) for filing the paperwork…it’s an honor for him to do that. But did he do it on his own or did somebody have him do it? I live in Vinita my whole life, and I don’t know the man and I know pert near everyone in town,” White said. “I respect him for filing if he did it on his own. If he didn’t, I don’t have nothing to say about that.”

Hayes deferred comment to his attorney, but Bruehl had not responded as of publication.

The period to appeal any EC rulings to the Supreme Court was slated for Feb. 28 to March 6.

The EC also heard testimony on a challenge to Dist. 9 candidate Anthony Cochran.

CN citizen Dalene Kirk claimed Cochran did not meet the residency requirement of being domiciled within his district for 270 days prior to an election.

According to election law, “the candidate shall have established a bona fide permanent residence in the district for which he or she is a candidate for no less than 270 days immediately preceding the day of the general election in which he or she is seeking election.”

Kirk claimed Cochran’s residence, according to county and state voting records, indicated he lived at an address outside the district. However, Cochran said he had moved to his new residence inside the district and lived in a small travel trailer while building his home.

He testified to staying on the property full time beginning in the summer of 2016, excluding one day a week to spend the night with his wife and children at his other residence. He also stated that moving on site was due to a large amount of theft in the area.

After testimony the EC determined that Cochran was domiciled within Dist. 9 for no less than 270 days.
Cochran said he was glad the commission ruled in his favor.

“I was in the district the allotted time I was needed to be in the district. And as I said before, those challenges come up. You got to face those challenges and meet them head on,” he said.

Kirk and her representative, Suzanne Gilstrap, declined to comment after the hearing.

On Feb. 22, Dist. 4 candidate Bo Highers withdrew his candidacy stating he made a mistake in regards to his residency. “I learned from my attorney that I may not meet the residency requirements for the fourth district council seat as I understood them. When I filed my application I truly believed that I met the residency requirements of the CNCA and rules and regulations as interpreted by me as a layman wishing to serve our Cherokee Nation.”

In addition, CN citizen Angela Collins withdrew her challenge to Sarah Cowett’s At-Large candidacy. Collins had claimed Cowett could not run because she works for the Muscogee Creek Nation.

The tribe’s election law states the “candidate shall not hold any office of honor, profit or trust in any other tribe of Indians, either elective or appointive, if elected to the Cherokee Nation office which he or she is seeking.”

Also, CN citizen Kathy White withdrew her challenge to Shane Jett’s At-Large candidacy claiming he “possessed a disqualifying conflict of interest at the time he filed for office” because he works for the Citizen Potawatomi Tribe.

White’s attorney, Jim Cosby, said the CN Election Code is “ambiguous and needs updated to remove inconsistent sections.”

“In this contest the issues that were contested were questions of law and not of fact that would most likely have to be appealed by one party and heard by the CN Supreme Court,” Cosby, said. “Although worthy claims, it was decided that these are important issues that need to be clarified by ways other than one citizens stepping forward and expending her money.”

Jett said he and his legal team were confident that the challenge was without merit.


Cherokee Nation Constitution:


02/18/2018 02:00 PM
LONGMONT, Colo. – A new First Nations Development Institute report highlights that community foundations often fall short when it comes to philanthropic giving to Native American organizations and causes. In its report titled “Community Foundation Giving to Native American Causes,” First Nations researchers find that on average only 15/100ths of 1 percent of community foundation funding goes to Native American organizations and causes annually. The report looks at giving by 163 community foundations in 10 states. In all of the states studied, except Alaska, which was an outlier, the dollar amount of grants given to Native American organizations and causes was lower than might be expected given Native American population size and levels of need. “Our data suggest that there is very little funding interaction between Native communities and local community foundations,” First Nations Vice President Raymond Foxworth, who was the lead researcher on the project, said. “Obviously we think that’s a problem that can be addressed, so we conclude the report by highlighting strategies and practices we think can expand collaboration between community foundations and Native nonprofits. Overall, we hope that community foundation giving can, in the long term, become more reflective of the rich diversity within states, and this includes supporting Native American organizations.”?? The states studied were Alaska, Arizona, California, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon and South Dakota. The full findings and recommendations can be downloaded at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. If you don’t already have one, you will need to create a free online account to download the report.
02/18/2018 10:00 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY – February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic, a nonprofit clinic providing services to American Indians in central Oklahoma, wants people to know that there’s a lot parents can do to prevent teen dating violence and abuse. About one in 10 teens were physically, sexually, emotionally or verbally abused on a date by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year. One of the most important things parents can do is keep the lines of communication open with their children, OKCIC officials said. Officials said parents can be a role model and treat their kids and others with respect. They can start talking to their kids about healthy relationships early before they start dating, and they can get involved with efforts to prevent dating violence at their teen’s school, officials said. If parents are worried about their teen, they can call the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 22522. “Conversations about healthy relationships and teen dating violence and abuse need to happen early, before teens are experiencing it,” Robyn Sunday-Allen, CEO of OKCIC, said. “Although there aren’t many current studies that identify the rate of dating violence in Native communities, we do know that Native women in the United States experience some of the highest rates of sexual assault in the country. Because of this, OKCIC offers a variety of cultural activities and after-school educational events to prevent domestic violence and promote healthy relationships for American Indians in central Oklahoma.” The clinic offers a monthly “Clinic Culture Night.” This is a relaxed evening together where people enjoy learning to create a Native American craft, and listen to a speaker talk about domestic violence and how it can be prevented. The next “Clinic Culture Night” is March 21. For more information about OKCIC’s domestic violence prevention program or to register for a “Clinic Culture Night” class, call 405-948-4900, ext. 604.
02/17/2018 02:00 PM
A lawyer representing two American Indian tribes urged a federal appeals court Tuesday to keep in place the changes a judge ordered for a South Dakota county's system of removing children from homes in endangerment cases. Stephen Pevar, a tribal law specialist with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that before those protections were imposed, the system was stacked against tribal families. From 2010 through 2013, the state was granted custody of all 823 Indian children it sought to remove from homes in Pennington County. "The state won 100 percent of the proceedings," said Pevar, who is representing the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux tribes in the case. "It would have been a miracle if these parents had prevailed because they were denied elementary due process." The tribes sued the county in 2013, saying its procedures for conducting initial hearings in such cases violated the federal Indian Child Welfare Act. The tribes argued parents were denied basic due process protections in these informal hearings, including the right to a court-appointed attorney and to see and challenge the allegations against them. The chief U.S. district judge for South Dakota, Jeffrey Viken, sided with the tribes in three rulings in 2015 and 2016. He ordered changes to give parents more rights at those initial hearings, which are required to be held within 48 hours of a child's removal from the home to decide whether the child should be returned to the home or be placed in the custody of the state Department of Social Services. Parents previously weren't guaranteed legal protections until a later stage in the process. The county, which includes Rapid City, is now abiding by the judge's orders. While the case applies most directly to Pennington County, the case has attracted attention elsewhere in Indian Country. The Cherokee Nation and Navajo Nation, the two largest tribes in the U.S., and other tribal groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief that said this lawsuit is vital to ensuring that courts follow the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was enacted in 1978 in response to widespread abuses by state child welfare systems against Indian children and families. The law sets standards for removing Indian children from their families, terminating parental rights and placing them in foster or adoptive homes. The brief says other states in the 8th Circuit have statutes or procedures in place to ensure those standards are met. Lawyers for Pennington County State's Attorney Mark Vargo and other officials named in the case argued that the lower court did not follow proper legal procedures, so its decisions should be overturned. Much of their appeal turns on complex legal arguments over whether the state's attorney or the presiding judge in the southwest corner of the state counted as policy-makers responsible for the old procedures who could legally be sued over them. Parents did get full legal protections later in the process well before their parental rights could be terminated, said attorney Jeff Hurd, who represents Craig Pfeifle the presiding judge for the South Dakota judicial circuit that includes Pennington County. The appeals court took the case under advisement. Chief Judge Lavenski Smith called it "a very difficult case" and said the panel would rule as soon as possible, but didn't specify when.
02/16/2018 03:00 PM
TULSA — Cherokee Services Group has secured a contract to aid the federal government in its effort to analyze, measure and manage tribal forest lands located in Indian Country and the United States. CSG, a Cherokee Nation Businesses consulting company, is supporting the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Branch of Forest Resources Planning with assisting the Forest Service in restructuring and improving its Continual Forest Inventory software, which is used to monitor and quantify forest composition and conditions. “The Forest Management Service Center is working with Cherokee Services Group on the development of a new CFI processing and analysis software tool for the BOFRP,” Mike Van Dyk, forest vegetation simulator group leader for FMSC, said. “We are pleased to be part of such an important collaboration with the BIA in providing essential tools for the assessment and management of tribal forest lands.” CNB officials said the five-year contract currently has a value of $810,000 but they expect that amount to increase of the contract’s life because of the amount of work and resources necessary for the project. The tribally owned company is refactoring the software to best practice and tested-development standards that leverage modern object-oriented practices. The updated software will assist service center representatives with long-term forest plans for tribal entities. “The Forest Service Management Center’s Forest Vegetation Simulator model and the National Volume Library, both of which are heavily integrated into the CFI application, use scientifically validated, merchantable volume estimates to project future forest conditions,” CSG Manager Bob Freeman said. “Our placement of resources at the center allows for direct, unimpeded communication with the developers of this nationally recognized and industry standard software.” The FMSC provides products and technical support for the Forest Service and is solely responsible for development and maintenance of the Forest Vegetation Simulator, a nationally supported framework ensuring consistency among forests in vegetation dynamics modeling. For more than a decade, CSG has been providing federal and commercial clients with IT solutions and business support services. Wholly owned by the Cherokee Nation, CSG specializes in software and application services, network infrastructure services and business process services. Headquartered in Tulsa, it has a regional office in Fort Collins, Colorado, and 22 additional offices nationwide. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
02/15/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH (AP) – Within the past 10 years, technology has advanced so rapidly that Americans are racing to stay abreast of the latest computer software, cellular devices and the ever-expanding reach of the Internet. The Cherokee Nation Community and Cultural Outreach Program is helping citizens stay up to date with the newest and most efficient technology, so nonprofit organizations and individuals can excel in a more connected world. “Most of the folks that we work with are in their 60s or retirees, so they’re definitely digital immigrants,” said Chris Welch, technical assistance specialist. “Sometimes they’re scared of the process of technology. We want to bring it to light to them and show them it’s not as scary as it seems.” The CCO hosts the Technology Webinar Series the second Thursday of every month. The group has been offering the seminars for two years now, and the lessons have become more intensive. “We started with very basic computer tips and tricks, even to the point of navigating the desktop - how to copy and paste, just simple things,” said Brad Wagnon, technical assistance specialist. “Then we’ve gone through a lot of Microsoft programs, like Powerpoint, and just have gotten more advanced as it goes.” After working with the CCO and watching webinars, nonprofits have taken steps to improve their method of getting their message to the public. One nonprofit organization “gave a new meaning to cut and paste,” said Welch. “They literally typed their grant out on a typewriter, cut it out and then pasted it into the space with glue,” he said. “That’s what we were dealing with to begin. That same organization now has built its own website and they do a digital newsletter every month, so they’ve gone from that to the other end of the spectrum within a three-year period.” In the past, the CCO has offered training on self-improvement topics, like how to manage stress. The department has since tried to help citizens build skills that will transfer into a successful nonprofit organization. This year, the group’s technology webinars have focused on social media. “With the social media stuff we’re focusing on this year, it’s going to help them market and tell the story of their nonprofit organization to everybody,” said Welch. “Most of them don’t realize this, but most of their viewers these days are millennials. By 2025, 75 percent of the workforce is going to be millennials, so they definitely are going to have to learn to tell their story in a different way, so we want to try and help them with that.” The CCO helps nonprofit groups through the help of another nonprofit organization. The webinars are based on trainings from, which was created to help nonprofits grow. The most recent webinar spotlighted how to use Google Hangouts and Skype. Each webinar airs at 6 p.m. the second Thursday of the month, and is available on the CN YouTube page. All of the videos are archived, so anyone who misses one can still watch it. The next Technology Thursday Series is March 8 and will focus on Instagram. For more information, call 918-207-4953.
02/15/2018 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Local veterans gathered on Feb. 13 at the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center for the center’s first Valentine’s Day dance and social event. The Veterans Center was transformed into a Valentine’s wonderland with paper hearts leading attendees into the building and holiday décor placed throughout. The event featured a live band, a photo booth, food, desserts and fellowship. “We always enjoy hosting our veterans, and tonight is a special opportunity for them to fellowship and create some lasting memories at our Cherokee Nation Veterans Center,” Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden said. Couples, as well as singles, young and old, listened and danced to the music of the Three F’s. The band transported attendees back in time with songs from genres such as country and western and sweetheart songs from the 1950s and 1960s. Loretta Reed and her husband Terry Reed, both served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam. Loretta said they were “thrilled” to have a place to celebrate Valentine’s Days. “We are so thankful and so blessed to have an event offered like this. So thank you so much Cherokee Nation and everyone who had a helping hand in this. The food was delicious and so very well-prepared and beautifully placed,” Loretta said. “We are just so thrilled that they would take the time and energy to provide us a place to have a party and have a happy Valentine’s Day.” Barbara Foreman, CN Veteran Affairs director, said the dance is one of many new events the center is trying. “We have been looking at some new ideas and we thought the only way we are going to know if they work or not is to try them. The veterans were excited when we mentioned it and their spouses were really excited, so we thought we would go ahead and try it. This is just a fun social event for them to come together at,” Foreman said. “We just want to get the word out and to let our veterans know that our facility is here, so that’s why we are doing these activities.” She said veterans could expect to see more social events on the Veterans Center calendar this year. For more information, call 1-800-256-0671 or visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.