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:


News Writer
08/17/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Dr. Mike Dobbins, of Fort Gibson, said he’s ready to serve his first term as the Dist. 4 Tribal Councilor and looks to improve the Cherokee Nation’s health care system. Dobbins will take his councilor seat with 37 years of experience in health care, practicing dentistry for 20 of those years. “I chose to run because from a distance I’ve become quite familiar with the Cherokee health system, and there are some great things about it. The framework’s in place…and a lot of good has transpired. With my experience I feel like I can lend some expertise to help improve the system. That was my primary motive in running for see what I could do to improve the health care system,” Dobbins said. He said he has more to learn about the CN Health Services and how it functions on a daily basis. Dobbins is also involved in higher education, teaching at dental schools for the past 17 years and assisting Cherokee students interested in health care. “I’ve assisted multiple Cherokee students with scholarship opportunities, not only with Cherokee scholarships, but with other Native American scholarships and try to help them go through college with little-to-no debt as possible,” he said. He said in Dist. 4, he’s also heard concerns from CN citizens about housing issues. “I’m also knowledgeable of the fact that there’s a lot of other Cherokee needs (including) infrastructure, housing, elder care. I’m also sensitive to those areas as well. I plan to be a multi-purpose councilman,” Dobbins said. “I’m on the outside right now, but I intend to see (and) get familiarized with the housing program and make sure that citizens of District 4 are considered for any housing possibilities.” The 2017 Tribal Council election was Dobbins’ second attempt at becoming a CN legislator. He said he learned from his “mistakes” four years ago and that it was a “less stressful” campaign this time around. “I ran four years ago and lost by two (votes) to an 18-year incumbent,” he said. “You learn by experience, and I enlisted more help, actually, this time. I tried to do a lot of myself four years ago. I’d say…most importantly I learned what not to do rather than what to do.” Dobbins said he has an obligation to serve not only the CN citizens who helped or voted for him, but also those who did not. “I’m their councilman now, and I feel a deep debt of obligation to fulfill that duty,” he said. “I just look forward to serving the Cherokee people on the council. I do have a busy schedule but I feel like I will be accessible. I have a busy schedule outside my councilman responsibilities, but my councilman responsibility will be my priority.”
News Writer
08/16/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – E.O. Smith, of Vian, on Aug. 14 will begin serving his first term as the Dist. 5 Tribal Councilor after winning a July 22 runoff election. He will take the seat being vacated by Tribal Councilor David Thornton. Smith won the runoff against Cherokee Nation citizen Uriah Grass by receiving 52.26 of the vote. He previously spent eight years as a CN Food Distribution warehouse manager in Sallisaw. His platform includes improving education, employment and health care for Cherokees. “I want to help. There’s some of these families, they don’t need to live in the condition they live in. (Cherokee) Nation is strong but I’d like to help make it stronger. I just care about people…I just want to make things better for District 5,” he said. Born in Mexico, Smith moved to Vian with his mother and father at age 2. “My dad was a farmer, and back then there wasn’t any farm aid or anything, and a flood wiped them out and they lost everything they had. So he had to move out to Mexico and worked in the oil fields, saved up money to come back home,” he said. After seeing his father’s work ethic and ability to move back to the United States to become a business owner, Smith followed in father’s footsteps by becoming a business owner, operating two stores in Vian for 29 years. Smith was also involved with youth and youth sports, coaching sports teams for more than 42 years. “That’s my passion. That’s what I love to do. I like working with kids,” Smith said. As a councilman for the city of Vian, Smith said he see too many young people, Cherokees and non-Cherokees, with no desire to work and wants to motivate them to find jobs. Smith said in his travels in the CN, about 85 percent of people he talked to brought up improving health care, especially for elders. “Overall, I just want to help improve things. I’m for all the programs we got going. I don’t want to cut any. I’d like to see some improve,” he said. He said he had a tough election but is ready to get his feet on the ground and see what lies ahead of him as a Tribal Councilor to improve programs and other issues in the CN and Dist.5 “We all want good things for the (Cherokee) Nation, or we wouldn’t be running. I’m just so excited for this chance. I can’t wait to get started. I really want to try to help. I’m 66. I feel good and this may be my last chance to do something good,” Smith said. Smith said he is creating an office in Vian where he will be available from 9 a.m. to noon five days a week and will also be accessible by phone at 918-705-1845. “Let’s pull together and help me make this a good four years. Let’s don’t fight. Let’s pull together,” Smith said.
08/16/2017 12:00 PM
JAY, Okla. – After winning a July 22 runoff, Mike Shambaugh is the new Tribal Councilor for Dist. 9, which covers the southern half of Delaware County and part of eastern Mayes County. The current chief of police in Jay, whose has been involved with law enforcement for 28 years, said he’s a goal-oriented person, and it’s been a lifelong goal to serve on the Tribal Council. Shambaugh obtained that goal after by earning 54.96 percent of the vote in the runoff against Cherokee Nation citizen Clifton Hughes. “The opportunity came up, and I thought it would be a great time to run and I won,” he said. Shambaugh said he began his career in law enforcement as a patrolman and worked his way to a district attorney investigator. As Jay’s chief of police and holding an administrator position, Shambaugh is accustomed to dealing with people’s problems in a professional way, he said. “You have to learn to listen as an administrator. Everybody has a story to tell when they have a problem,” Shambaugh said. “The first thing that is out of my mouth is ‘What can I do to help you today?’ I want to know how to help them or where I can send them to get help.” He said he’s most excited to be working and meeting people of Dist. 9 while representing the CN as a whole. He also said he plans to incorporate his experience with doing paperwork to help CN citizens get services while he serving for the next four years. “A lot of people have trouble doing paperwork with the Cherokee Nation because it is pretty extensive in some areas. Well, I would be willing to sit down with them and even write it out for them if they were having trouble filling it out,” he said. Shambaugh added that he believes it is important for people outside of the CN to know the Cherokee people are here to help. He stated that the Nation is always pushing forward to make things better for its people. During his time as a tribal legislator, he said wants to work to improve elder care. “I have already had four of five phone calls from people who need help, and my job hasn’t even started yet. Whether it is handicap ramps or something else,” he said. “Health care, elder care and education are three big things with me, and the Cherokee Nation has shown that these are important issues with them also.” Shambaugh said he’s proud of his Cherokee heritage, and to honor it while on the Tribal Council he said he plans on incorporating his board position at the United Way in hopes of delivering school supplies to schools in the CN that need assistance. “My mother was full blood, and my family as far back as I first remember spoke mainly Cherokee when I was young. Everything that I have seen with the Cherokee Nation has made me proud because the Nation has made great strides to help their citizens,” he said. Shambaugh and the other eight Tribal Councilors who won seats in this year’s elections were inaugurated on Aug. 14.
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
08/15/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The former Cherokee Nation Marshal Service building located west of the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex has had many uses since it was built in the 1980s, but its days are numbered. The building will soon be taken down to provide more parking for the Tribal Complex, on which a second story was recently added to provide more office space and accommodate the tribe’s courts. “The building will be disassembled rather than demolished,” CN Construction Project Administrator Paul Crosslin said. “We’re hoping we can save some parts for future construction projects.” Crosslin said he is not certain when the building will be disassembled. Tests such as tests for asbestos levels first need to be completed. “We’re hoping to start the disassembly next week (week of Aug. 14) but that decision hasn’t been made yet,” he said. Longtime CN employees estimate the building was constructed in the mid-1980s as a green house with no insulation. In the 1990s, the building housed the Cherokee Gift shop. “I worked there when I started in 1992,” Cherokee Gift Shop General Manager Linda Taylor said. “That was before the gift shop was moved to the front of the Cherokee Nation Annex building. CNMS Capt. Danny Tanner said the building housed the CNMS from 2001 until this past March. “Our new location (inside the Cherokee Nation EMS building east of the Tribal Complex) was actually built for the Marshal Service, but the CN Election Commission ended up moving in,” he said. Tanner said he was grateful the CNMS was able to move to its new location. “This is where Cherokee Marshal Service should be located.”
08/15/2017 10:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Nearly 20 Cherokee children competed in three age divisions on Aug. 12 at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center for the titles of Little Cherokee Ambassadors. But only six walked away earning crowns. Salina Elementary School fifth grader Leah Gardner was crowned as the 2017-18 Little Cherokee Ambassador in the 10-12 age category. Gardner, 10, is captain of her school’s Cherokee Language Bowl. She gave a demonstration on basket weaving as her cultural presentation. She also correctly named stickball as a traditional Cherokee game, answered 18 as the age that Cherokee Nation citizens must be to vote and knew the Cherokee Female Seminary was the first institution of higher learning for Cherokee girls west of the Mississippi River. “I’m really excited to be a Little Cherokee Ambassador, and I’m looking forward to all the parades,” Gardner said. Joining her in the male division of Little Cherokee Ambassador is Heritage Elementary School fourth grader Preston Gourd, 10, of Tahlequah. Alayna Paden, a fourth grader at Cherokee Immersion Charter School, and Cooper Dorr, a third grader at Lowrey Elementary School in Tahlequah, won in the 7-9 age division. Winning in the 4-6 age division were Avery Raper, 5, who attends Pryor Learning Center, and Dante Anguiano, 5, a kindergartener at Heritage Elementary School in Tahlequah. The competition kicked off the 65th annual Cherokee National Holiday, which runs Labor Day weekend. The Junior Miss Cherokee competition was slated for 6 p.m. on Aug. 19 at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center. The Miss Cherokee Leadership Competition will be held at 6 p.m. on Aug. 26 at Cornerstone Church in Tahlequah.
08/14/2017 09:45 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation will have nine Tribal Councilors sworn into office at 10 a.m. on Aug. 14 at Sequoyah High School’s gymnasium. The nine Tribal Councilors who will be administered the oath of office by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Garrett are Joe Byrd (Dist. 2), Mike Dobbins (Dist. 4), E.O. Smith (Dist. 5), Frankie Hargis (Dist. 7), Mike Shambaugh (Dist. 9), Harley Buzzard (Dist. 10), Victoria Vazquez (Dist. 11), Janees Taylor (Dist. 11) and Mary Baker Shaw (At-Large). The legislative branch consists of 17 members representing the 15 districts inside tribe’s jurisdiction and two at-large seats representing citizens outside the boundaries. Councilors are elected by popular vote to four-year terms. <a href="" target="_blank">Click here to</a>watch the live feed of the inauguration.