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:


10/20/2017 04:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Technologies is hosting job fairs from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 28 at 10837 E. Marshall St. The tribally owned company anticipates hiring 100 bilingual call center specialists to respond to calls from Disaster Recovery Service Centers. Hired support specialists will answer questions and perform data entry for individuals and businesses affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. CNT is looking for experienced and entry-level bilingual agents. All applicants must be U.S. citizens, be at least 18 years of age with a high school diploma or GED and have the ability to pass a background and drug screening. Job fair attendees should bring their résumés and be prepared for an interview at the CN Nation Career Services office on Marshall Street. CNT is part of the Cherokee Nation Businesses family of companies and is headquartered in Tulsa, with a regional office in Fort Collins, Colorado, and client locations nationwide. CNT provides unmanned systems expertise, information technology services and technology solutions, geospatial information systems services, as well as management and support of programs, projects, professionals and technical staff. For more information or to apply online, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
10/19/2017 04:00 PM
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in October announced the selection of Bryan Rice, a veteran federal administrator and Cherokee Nation citizen, as the new director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the federal agency that coordinates government-to-government relations with 567 federally recognized tribes in the United States. “Bryan has a wealth of management expertise and experience that will well serve Indian Country as the BIA works to enhance the quality of life, promote economic opportunity, and carry out the federal responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes and Alaska Natives,” Zinke said. “I have full confidence that Bryan is the right person at this pivotal time as we work to renew the department’s focus on self-determination and self-governance, give power back to the tribes, and provide real meaning to the concept of tribal sovereignty.”?? Rice, who started his new position on Oct. 16 recently led the Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire, and has broad experience leading Forestry, Wildland Fire and Tribal programs across the Interior, BIA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Native Americans face significant regulatory and bureaucratic hurdles to economic freedom and success,” Rice said. “I am honored to accept this position and look forward to implementing President Trump’s and Secretary Zinke’s regulatory reform initiative for Indian Country to liberate Native Americans from the bureaucracy that has held them back economically.” His federal government career has spanned nearly 20 years, beginning with service on the Helena Interagency Hotshot Crew for the U.S. Forest Service in Montana. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal, working in both community forestry and rural development and supervised timber operations as a timber sale officer on the Yakama Reservation as well as a forester on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. Rice also served in leadership capacities internationally in Tanzania, Mexico, Brazil and Australia for both Interior and the U.S. Forest Service. ?? Rice has served in two senior executive service natural resources management leadership positions, including as deputy director for the BIA Office of Trust Services from 2011-14, and as director of Forest Management in the U.S. Forest Service from 2014-16. ?? Rice spent his school years in the Midwest in Whitewater, Wisconsin, and Peoria, Illinois. ?He holds a bachelor’s degree in forestry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Alaska – Southeast, focusing on rural development and transportation systems. Principal Chief Bill John Baker said he looks forward to working with Rice. “The Cherokee Nation is certainly proud of our citizen, Bryan Rice, and his accomplished career stemming in natural resources and now in Washington, D.C., overseeing the agency that most directly works with all federally recognized Indian tribes,” Baker said. Rice’s position does not require Senate confirmation.
News Writer
10/18/2017 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee National Treasure Betty Frogg voiced concerns that she and other treasures have regarding the CNT program during an executive session of the Sept. 28 Culture Committee meeting. Frogg said she told the committee that several treasures feel they don’t have access to information regarding the program such as who gets nominated to its advisory board, feel as if they cannot attend monthly advisory board meetings and don’t have access to CNT policies and bylaws. Frogg also said some treasures feel as if they don’t have input on who is nominated and selected to the CNT advisory board. Advisory board members are Cherokee National Treasures Jane Osti, Vyrl Keeter, Durbin Feeling, Eddie Morrison and Vivian Cottrell. Frogg said she also told the Culture Committee about how the Cherokee Nation Businesses-ran program now allows contemporary artists to become treasures when before only traditional artists were considered. “The issues I wanted to bring before the committee was basically for somebody to listen to us (and) for the traditional arts to stay traditional,” Frogg said. Frogg said she told the committee the difference between a “traditional” artist and a “contemporary” artist. “Basically traditional means you use traditional materials to make your baskets, bows, arrows, (stickball) sticks. All of the treasures that are traditional do that. They gather their own materials. They process their own materials. Contemporary, you can go buy the stuff in Walmart or an art store (or) Hobby Lobby. That’s the difference to me in traditional and contemporary,” she said. Committee members voted to speak with Frogg in executive session because of a lack of public decorum in the public meeting. During the public portion of the meeting, Culture Committee Chairwoman Victoria Vazquez said that a committee member had requested that a CNT spokesperson be given the floor. Vazquez denied the request. “This is unnecessary, and I do not intend to conduct the meeting by opening it up to spokespeople. We can be productive and effective by doing our jobs representing our constituents and engaging and discussing with each other,” Vazquez said. Molly Jarvis, CNB vice president of marketing communications and cultural tourism, presented packets to the Culture Committee with information regarding the CNT program’s history and supporting documentation such as bylaws and policies. “The Living Treasures National Master Craftsman resolution was passed by the Council in 1988 and was amended in 2009. Cherokee Nation Businesses assumed financial and administrative management of the National Treasures program in October 2015,” Jarvis said. Jarvis added that CNB has managed the budget and administration of the CNT program while the five-person advisory board has reviewed and updated bylaws. “We have clearly communicated the updated standards of conducts and mentor program policy as well as many other documents and the budget,” Jarvis said. Tribal Councilor Dick Lay asked Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. about the term limits of the advisory board and if living treasures had input on who is placed on it. Hoskin said Principal Chief Bill John Baker nominates the advisory board members. “I know from experience working for Chief Baker that he’s always willing to get input and that he’s gotten input, and that input, not just this committee but other committees, has guided his decision on who to nominate,” he said. Hoskin added that treasures could suggest people they want added to the advisory board to him and Baker. As a result, Frogg was nominated to be on the advisory board to help select future treasures. The Rules Committee was expected to vote on her nomination on Oct. 26. Also, as a of result of the Culture Committee meeting, treasures will have access to the advisory board’s policies and bylaws and be able to attend future advisory board meetings.
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
10/16/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Oct. 9, Native Americans, including many Cherokees, celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day in Tahlequah and on Northeastern State University’s campus. The following Cherokee Phoenix video highlights people and events of the day.
10/15/2017 04:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A small Oklahoma town is irate that the state has decided to restore its Capitol with marble from a Chinese vendor over marble produced from the town's own quarry. Locals in Marble City, located near the Arkansas border, say the marble used for the project should come from Oklahoma, not another country. Over the next four years, workers will replace parts of the Capitol's lowest floor, eventually laying down about 25,000 square feet of marble. One of the bids was linked to Polycor, a manufacturing company that produces marble from a quarry in Marble City. The Oklahoman reports that construction officials said the bid using those materials came in over budget, and called the Chinese marble "superior" to the quality of the Polycor product in every measurement category.
10/15/2017 12:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Three hung juries in the case of a white former Oklahoma police officer charged with fatally shooting his daughter's black boyfriend had one thing in common besides unwillingness to convict: Each had only one African-American juror. Race has been an undercurrent in ex-Tulsa officer Shannon Kepler's first-degree murder case, which is headed for a fourth trial. Criminal law experts and U.S. Supreme Court cases point to the importance of racial identity and policing when it comes to jury selection, which is set to start Monday. Kepler, a 24-year veteran of the force, was off duty in August 2014 when he fatally shot 19-year-old Jeremey Lake, who had just started dating Kepler's daughter. Kepler doesn't deny pulling the trigger but says he did so only because he thought Lake was armed. No weapon was found on or near Lake's body. Officers across the U.S. involved in fatal shootings of black residents have recently faced similar trials. In the past year alone — including in Tulsa — juries were unwilling to vote for a conviction or prosecutors were unwilling to charge officers in cases from Baltimore to St. Louis. In May, a jury acquitted now-former Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby in the killing of an unarmed black man, which roiled the city's black community. "I don't see how race cannot play a role," said Kris McDaniel-Miccio, a professor at Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver and a former Bronx-based prosecutor. "I don't think there's any way to get around it because of what has happened in this community." The racial makeup of the juries in Kepler's previous trials prompted criticism from at least one civil rights group. Tulsa activist Marq Lewis with We the People Oklahoma said Kepler's defense attorneys have been booting potential jurors based on skin color. "The last three juries somehow felt that Jeremey was a bad person because he was black," Lewis said. "They couldn't bring themselves to believe this off-duty officer would literally shoot someone in cold blood without thinking somehow the black guy is sinister and he's done something bad." Richard O'Carroll, Kepler's defense attorney, has denied race played a role in Lake's killing. O'Carroll did not return messages this past week seeking comment on the case. Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler declined to comment specifically on the racial makeup of the past juries, but acknowledged "frustration" with the results of the trials. "I know I had citizens who put in a lot of effort and worked very hard and I know from their perspective they are frustrated as well," Kunzweiler said. Another racial element was recently added to the case when Kepler argued that he couldn't be tried by state prosecutors because he's a member of an American Indian tribe. A judge determined the fourth trial could move forward in state court. Kepler says he's 1/128th Muscogee (Creek). Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-1 that prosecutors violated the Constitution by excluding African-Americans from an all-white jury that convicted a black Georgia death row inmate of killing a white woman. The decision emphasized rules set by the court in 1986 to prevent racial discrimination in jury selection. Seating more jurors of color — especially in cases involving police who have fatally shot people — could be a factor in how a jury ultimately votes, said Bridgette Baldwin, professor of law at Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts. "The life experience is different," said Baldwin, who is black. "I may not be scared of a young male with a hoodie on because I've been socialized to be around these types of individuals. You see things differently, you hear things differently, you process things differently." McDaniel-Miccio, the Denver law professor, said the Kepler case illustrates what the U.S. is trying to address when it comes to race, police and the justice system. "How many generations do we have to have pass before we come to the honest realization that there is a distinct racial and ethnic asymmetry in this country?" she said. "We live in a world where we should believe that when something like this happens, they will be facing justice and they will be held accountable if they broke the law — no more, no less.”