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:


06/27/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At a June 26 special meeting, the Election Commission amended the contract of Commissioner Carolyn Allen by adding $15,600. The commission also voted to give EC clerk Kendall Bishop its Employee Appreciation Award for Employee of the Year. She will receive it during the Cherokee Nation’s employee appreciation picnic on June 30. The EC also approved minutes from the June 13 regular and June 5 special meetings.
06/26/2017 12:00 PM
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – According to a U.S. Attorney’s Office release, 12 people, including some Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizens, were charged with marriage fraud conspiracy and related charges, for entering into sham marriages for the purpose of evading U.S. immigration laws. Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, said the indictments were unsealed on June 21 naming Ruth Marie Sequoyah McCoy, 54, of Cherokee; Timothy Ray Taylor, 41, of Cherokee; Golan Perez, 38, of Cherokee; Ofir Marsiano, 41, of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; Kaila Nikelle Cucumber, 27, of Cherokee; Jessica Marie Gonzalez, 26, of Cherokee; Jordan Elizabeth Littlejohn, 28, of Cherokee; Kevin Dean Swayney, 36, of Cherokee; Ilya Dostanov, 28, of Panama City, Florida; Ievgenii Reint, 26, of St. Simons Island, Georgia; Shaul Levy, 26, of Norfolk, Virginia; and Yana Peltz, 30, of Israel. The release states all defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. Marsiano is also charged with four counts of marriage fraud, and McCoy and Perez are each charged with three counts of marriage fraud. Taylor, Cucumber, Gonzalez, Littlejohn, Swayney, Dostanov, Levi and Peltz each face one additional count of marriage fraud. According to allegations in the indictment, beginning in or about June 2015, and continuing through December 2016, in Swain and Jackson counties, the defendants engaged in a fraudulent marriage scheme, in which foreign nationals paid to enter into fraudulent marriages with U.S. citizens to secure lawful permanent residence in the U.S. The indictment alleges McCoy, Perez and Marsiano arranged the marriages by connecting U.S. citizens, including Cucumber, Gonzalez, Littlejohn, and Swayney, with non-citizens, including Dostanov, Reint and Peltz. The non-U.S. citizens typically would pay $1,500 to $3,000 in exchange for the services. The indictment alleges once paired, the U.S. citizens and non-citizens would travel to Sevier County, Tennessee, and enter into fraudulent marriages with each other. The indictment states that, in most cases, after obtaining their marriage certificates, the non-citizens applied for adjustments to their immigration statuses based on their marriages to their U.S. spouses. The indictment further alleges that, at times, McCoy and Taylor also acted as “sponsors” for the non-citizens’ applications for adjustments to their immigration statuses, and in exchange, they received additional monetary compensation. Of the 12 defendants charged, seven were arrested on June 21 and appeared in federal court on the charges. Littlejohn, Dostanov, Reint, Levy and Peltz had not been arrested as of publication. The marriage fraud conspiracy and marriage fraud charges each carry a maximum prison term of five years, per count.
06/25/2017 02:00 PM
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge won't decide until later this year whether to shut down the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline while federal officials conduct a more thorough environmental review. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg on Wednesday approved a schedule under which both sides in a lawsuit over the pipeline will submit written arguments on the matter in July and August. "We would expect a decision sometime after that, probably September," said Jan Hasselman, an attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux, which filed the lawsuit last summer that was later joined by three other Sioux tribes. The Standing Rock tribe sued because it believes the $3.8 billion pipeline built by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners threatens cultural sites and its water supply. The company disputes that and maintains the pipeline is safe. The long-delayed project was finished earlier this year after President Donald Trump took office and called for its completion. On June 1, the pipeline began moving North Dakota oil to a distribution point in Illinois, from which it's shipped to the Gulf Coast. But Boasberg last week ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which permitted the pipeline, didn't adequately consider how an oil spill might affect the tribe. He ordered the agency to reconsider parts of its environmental analysis. About 50 anti-pipeline protesters rallied outside the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., during Wednesday's hearing. They sang, chanted, held signs with messages such as "water is life" and gave speeches in support of the tribe. "If that (pipeline) spills, it means game over," said the Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus activist group. "It means they can't wash, they can't clean, they can't feed their children. It means their way of life ends."
06/24/2017 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — State environmental officials say elevated mercury levels in fish have been found in 14 more lakes in Oklahoma than last year. The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality plans a public meeting for Tuesday to discuss the mercury levels. The agency says a total of 54 lakes have mercury advisories — which is up 14 since the last advisory in 2016. The advisories deal with mercury levels in fish and do not affect drinking water safety or lake recreational activities like swimming or boating. The 14 new lakes added to the advisory are: Arcadia Lake, Birch Reservoir, Boomer Lake, Copan Reservoir, El Reno Lake, Greenleaf Reservoir, Lone Chimney Lake, Lake McMurtry, Lake Murray, Pawnee Lake, Lake Ponca, Lake Raymond Gary, Shell Lake and Waurika Reservoir.
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
06/24/2017 11:00 AM
HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. – While traveling the Trail of Tears’ northern route “Remember the Removal” cyclists visited sites where Cherokees stayed during their forced removal in the winter of 1838-39, with several sites housing graves of Cherokees who died along the trek. The Trail of Tears Commemorative Park in Hopkinsville acted as a camping spot and gravesite during the removal. Alice Murphree, Kentucky Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association president, said the site contains Chief Whitepath and Chief Fly Smith’s graves as well as a grave with unknown remains. She said Whitepath, an assistant conductor with the Elijah Hicks detachment, died about 10 days after arriving at the site. “He come sick coming out of Nashville, and as the trail proceeded he felt sicker and sicker. By the time they got to the spot at Hopkinsville he was so ill that the Elijah Hicks detachment had to leave him here and go on,” she said. Murphree said Smith was “sickly” for most of the journey before dying at the site. “Stephen Foreman (minister serving as assistant conductor of the Old Field detachment) and his wife stayed behind with him and that (Old Field) detachment moved on,” she said. “I guess it was just within a day or two. I don’t know exact dates, but they (chiefs) died within hours of one another. They (Foremans) went to the city and asked if they could bury him in the city. The city would not allow them to be buried there. The Latham family owned all of this property and agreed to let him be buried here.” It is said that Cherokees are buried in Union County, Illinois, at the Camp Ground Church and Cemetery. Sandra Boaz, Illinois Chapter of the TOTA president, said it was determined by ground penetrating radar that there are around 10 ground anomalies the sizes of graves at the site. “After 1834 a man by the name of Mr. Hileman took out a land patent and brought his family here. Sometime in the winter of 1837-38 he had two small preschool-aged children who passed away and he buried them, as family oral history says,” she said. “Then when the Cherokee came through…they had made arrangements for them to camp on this site. As they were stopped here due to the ice flows on the Mississippi River, naturally some of them passed away. So story says that Mr. Hileman had them buried out in the field by his little boys. So that was the basis for getting this site certified as a National Trail of Tears site with the National Park Service.” For more information, visit
06/23/2017 04:00 PM
TAHELQUAH, Okla. – The American Indian Resource Center has received a $30,000 Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative grant from the Colorado-based First Nations Development Institute. According to First Nations, the funding will help build a sustainable food source (fruits/vegetables) for three tribal communities with the aim of increasing consumption of healthy foods. Families will be reintroduced to growing/gathering their own foods while making healthier lifestyle choices. The award was one of 15 program grants to Native American tribes and organizations under First Nations’ Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative. According to First Nations, each funded project aims to strengthen local food-system control; increase access to local, healthy and traditional foods; and/or decrease food insecurity and food deserts, all with an emphasis on serving Native American children and families. The release states it is hoped that the projects will noticeably improve a tribe or community’s effort to increase access to healthy and fresh foods for vulnerable children, families and communities. Additionally, the efforts will help increase awareness of and involvement with where the community’s food comes from, and expand knowledge of the linkages between foods, Native cultures and/or contribute to tribal economic growth and the development of entrepreneurially-related food ventures. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States, according to the release. Its states that for more than 36 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage, or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.