Native helpline launches for domestic, dating violence survivors
AUSTIN, Texas – For the first time, a culturally-relevant, safe and confidential resource is available for Native American survivors of domestic violence and dating violence, who now make up more than 84 percent of the entire U.S. Native population.
The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and the National Domestic Violence Hotline on March 6 launched the national crisis-line dedicated to serving tribal communities affected by violence across the U.S., called the StrongHearts Native Helpline.
Native survivors in Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska – the helpline’s initial service areas — will be able to connect at no cost, one-on-one, with knowledgeable StrongHearts advocates who will provide support, assist with safety planning and connect them with resources based on their specific tribal affiliation, community location and culture.
Callers outside of these states can still call StrongHearts while the helpline continues to develop its services network. All services available through the helpline are confidential and available by dialing 1-844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483) from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Central Standard Time Monday through Friday. Callers after hours will have the option to connect with the National Domestic Violence Hotline or to call back the next business day.
“The reality is that so many of our American Indian and Alaska Native people experience domestic violence and dating violence every day,” Lucy Rain Simpson, NIWRC executive director and Navajo Nation citizen, said. “It has never been more evident that our Native people need a Native helpline to support efforts to restore power and safety in our tribal communities. The StrongHearts Native Helpline is ready to answer that call.”
The helpline was created by and for Native Americans who, compared to all other races in the U.S., are twice as likely to experience rape or sexual assault, 2-1/2 times more likely to experience violent crimes and five times more likely to be victims of homicide in their lifetimes. Even though four in five experience violence, Native Americans have historically lacked access to services.
“The hotline has served victims and survivors of domestic violence for 20 years, and we recognize that Native American survivors have uniquely complex needs,” Katie Ray-Jones, hotline CEO, said. “Through StrongHearts, domestic violence advocates will be able to address those complex needs with an unparalleled level of specificity.”
Advocates at the StrongHearts Native Helpline are trained to navigate each caller’s abuse situation with a strong understanding of Native cultures, as well as issues of tribal sovereignty and law, in a safe and accepting environment, free of assumption and judgment. Well-trained professionals will treat callers with dignity, compassion and respect.
“To enhance services is critical,” Marylouise Kelley, Family Violence Prevention & Services Act program division director, said.
Initially, StrongHearts will focus efforts on providing services to survivors who live in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma, which combined make up more than 12.5 percent of the country’s entire Native American population.
“The team will leverage the large number of Native-centered resources established within these states to begin providing services, with further outreach to tribal communities as StrongHearts continues to grow,” said Simpson.
The StrongHearts Native Helpline plans to purposefully and thoughtfully expand its services to Native American survivors nationwide – based on utilization, demand and resources available.
“Verizon is proud to be the first corporate sponsor of the StrongHearts Native Helpline, a resource that will provide a crucial space for Native people to find support,” said Stuart Conklin, program manager at the Verizon Foundation. “We look forward to its success and continuing to build on a lasting partnership.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Phoenix recently made a change to its Elder Fund to make U.S. military veterans eligible for free yearlong subscriptions to the Cherokee Phoenix.
Thanks in part to a donation from Cherokee Nation Businesses, as well as donations from Cherokee Phoenix individual subscribers, it was possible to expand the fund to include Cherokee veterans of any age.
“The Elder Fund was created to provide free subscriptions to Cherokee elders 65 and older,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “Due to an influx of recent donations, we had the ability to extend the Elder Fund to include Cherokee veterans. We will continue to give free subscriptions to our elders and veterans as long as we have money in our Elder & Veteran Fund.”
Using the newly renamed Elder & Veteran Fund, elders who are 65 and older and Cherokee veterans of any age can apply to receive a free one-year subscription by visiting, calling or writing the Cherokee Phoenix office and requesting a subscription.
The Cherokee Phoenix office is located in the Annex Building on the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The postal address is Cherokee Phoenix, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465. To call about the Elder & Veteran Fund, call 918-207-4975 or 918-453-5269 or email <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a> or <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.
No income guidelines have been specified for the Elder & Veteran Fund, and free subscriptions will be given as long as funds last.
Tax-deductible donations for the fund can also be sent to the Cherokee Phoenix by check or money order specifying the donation for the Elder & Veteran Fund. Cash is also accepted at the Cherokee Phoenix offices and local events where Cherokee Phoenix staff members are accepting Elder & Veteran Fund donations.
The Cherokee Phoenix also has a free website, www.cherokeephoenix.org, that posts news seven days a week about the Cherokee government, people, history and events of interest. The monthly newspaper is also posted in PDF format to the website at the beginning of each month.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Nearly 500 representatives of the 24 at-large and 136 in-jurisdiction Cherokee organizations traveled in June to Tulsa for the Cherokee Nation’s 13th annual Conference of Community Leaders.
The two-day event hosted by the tribe’s Community and Cultural Outreach was held June 9-10 at the Wyndham Tulsa Hotel and Resort. Attendees attended workshops led by experts in sustainability and culture, and also met with tribal leaders, including Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr.
The tribe concluded the conference with the Community Impact Awards banquet, which honors community organizations that do outstanding volunteer work, promote the culture and make other significant contributions.
“These Cherokee Nation citizens deserve to be recognized for the critical work they are doing to improve the lives of others in their cities and communities,” Hoskin said. “Whether it’s mentoring youth or creating greater cultural awareness or volunteering to help elders in need, these individuals and groups define the values of community and family that are so important to us as Cherokee people.”
P.O.T.L.U.C.K. Society, a Cherokee organization based in Rogers County, provides a place for all ages to come together once a month to socialize, learn about different programs available to them, hear special guest speakers, receive wellness checks and eat. The group also provides items to Blue Star Mothers and the local women’s shelter and helps with groups at the local schools and the veterans center.
The CN honored the organization with the Elder Care Award.
“It is a great honor to receive the Elder Care Award. We feel overwhelmed by the support the Cherokee Nation has given us,” said Jacalyn Cook, P.O.T.L.U.C.K. Society board president. “The real award goes to the Cherokee Nation for helping so many in this area.”
Orchard Road Community Outreach, based in Stilwell, was honored with the Mary Mead Volunteerism Award. The nonprofit organization is focused on serving the needs of people in Adair County and surrounding areas. Its services include Turning Point Transitional Housing, which provides temporary housing to individuals or families displaced from their home due to natural disaster, fire or other circumstances. ORCO is also constructing a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
“The ORCO board is comprised of individuals who have a heart for our community; all of their time is volunteered. The work we do is to make a difference in the lives of the people of our community. To be recognized with the Mary Mead Volunteerism Award is a huge honor,” said Reba Bruner, ORCO board president.
Other organizations honored by with Community Impact Awards were:
• Newcomer of the Year Award – Mid County Community Organization,
• Newcomer of the Year At-Large – Cherokees of the Greater Central Valley,
• Most Improved Award – Family Support Center of Oaks,
• Best in Technology Award – Adair County Historical & Genealogical Association,
• Best in Technology At-Large – Cherokees of Northern Central Valley,
• Continuing Education Award – Boys & Girls Club of Adair County,
• Hunger Fighters Award – Fairfield Community Organization,
• Hunger Fighters Award – Marble City Food Pantry & Youth Services,
• Best in Reporting Award – Native American Association of Ketchum,
• Best in Reporting At-Large – Cherokees of the Inland Empire,
• Technical Assistance Award – Cherokees for Black Indian History Preservation Foundation,
• Grant Writer of the Year Award – Grand Nation Inc.,
• Strong Hands Award – Native American Fellowship Inc.,
• Cultural Perpetuation Award – Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club,
• Cultural Perpetuation At-Large – Valley of the Sun Cherokees ,
• Historical Preservation Award – Cherokee National Historical Society,
• Historical Preservation At-Large – Cherokee Citizens League of Southeast Texas,
• Lifetime Achievement Award – Ollie Star (Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club),
• Lifetime Achievement Award – Carol Sonenberg (No-We-Ta Cherokee Community Foundation),
• Community Partnership Award – Stilwell Public Library Friends Society,
• Community Partnership At-Large – Mt. Hood Cherokees,
• Community Leadership Award – Brushy Cherokee Action Association,
• Community Leadership At-Large – Mt. Hood Cherokees,
• Above & Beyond Award – Encore! Performing Society,
• Youth Leadership Award – Spavinaw Youth Neighborhood Center,
• Youth Leadership At-Large – Kansas City Cherokee Community,
• Mission Accomplished Award – No-We-Ta Cherokee Community Foundation,
• Community Inspiration Award – Cherokee Nation Treasures Association,
• Organization of the Year Award – Cherokee’s for Black Indian History Preservation Foundation,
• Organization of the Year At-Large – Capital City Cherokees, and
• Sponsor Award – Cherokee Nation Businesses.
GORE, Okla. — Cherokee Nation officials gave the town of Gore $20,000 to pay for a new outdoor warning siren, which can be activated from a cell phone and will alert residents to various emergency situations.
Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., Tribal Councilor David Thornton Sr. and Cherokee Nation Businesses board member Dan Carter visited the town on May 30 for the donation.
“In Oklahoma, we are in the heart of Tornado Alley, so we must do everything we can to keep families safe and secure. These sirens will offer important advance warnings, which can mean the difference between life and death during a dangerous storm,” Baker said. “This investment in Sequoyah County reflects Cherokee Nation’s continued commitment to build working collaborations with county and city governments within our 14 counties. It is one of the ways Cherokee Nation ensures northeast Oklahoma keeps moving forward.”
While the new siren will be used for severe weather alerts, Gore Town Administrator Horace Lindley said a function of the equipment is its voice-over technology.
“A siren won’t necessarily do any good for some events, like a train wreck, a large fire or a chemical spill,” Lindley said. “On this system, we can get on and actually talk to people to give them specific warnings and information. We have three existing sirens, and the donation from Cherokee Nation will give us a fourth.”
Gore Mayor Ryan Callison said the outdoor warning system would keep residents safer during emergency situations.
“These types of assistance go a long way in our community. The Cherokee Nation funds push us to the edge of getting things done where we might not have had the money to achieve them otherwise,” Callison said. “We’re grateful for this donation.”
While the siren is being installed in Gore, Lindley said residents of neighboring communities have also reported hearing the existing sirens. Town leaders expect the new warning siren to be installed within a month.
“I really appreciate the city of Gore and its leaders and want to help them in any way I can,” Thornton said. “It makes me feel good to see the Cherokee Nation support our communities. With this new siren, residents of Gore and other nearby communities can feel safer during severe weather or other emergencies that could arise. This could save both lives and property.”
CLAREMORE, Okla. – With the goal of helping children in their most vulnerable state, the William W. Barnes Children’s Advocacy Center helps make the process more “confortable” for children when they need to disclose abuse, whether it’s physical or sexual.
On May 19, the Cherokee Nation donated $12,000 to the center to help it provide services for Rogers, Mayes and Craig county children.
Holly Webb, the center’s executive director, said the center is “all about the child.”
“What we do here is we work with law enforcement, child welfare and the district attorney’s office, and we provide services to children who have disclosed abuse. So when a disclosure is made through law enforcement or child welfare, the child comes to our center, and our center is very child-friendly,” she said. “It’s all about the child. We want the child to feel as confortable as they possibly can. We have on staff a forensic interviewer who is trained to speak with children in a non-leading court-worthy way. We have a family advocate who is able to work with the family, the non-offending parent, provide crisis intervention educational materials. We also have mental health therapy available to the child, and then we also have two doctors who are able to come to the center as needed for child abuse examinations.”
Webb said the center has rooms for specific tasks. She said the room where children are interviewed is blue, which she said helps to act as a “calming room.”
“It’s just real soft. It’s just a calming room and this is where our forensic interviewer (Jodie Hunt) interviews the child,” she said. “Our other room is where law enforcement and child welfare watch the interview. They watch the interview as the forensic interviewer is speaking with the child. Our interviewer will step out and speak with them to see if there is any additional questions or anything that they might have.”
She said the center also has a room where doctors can perform child abuse exams.
“It’s just some place that they don’t have to go wait in an emergency room for hours,” she said.
Webb said all services offered at the center are “no cost” to the family.
“This is something that is provided to the family. They don’t have to worry about how they’re going to pay for the medical exam or how they’re going to pay for therapy. We pick up all of that for them,” Webb said.
Webb said the tribe has been a “wonderful” supporter of the center.
“If you look at the artwork on our wall, it was done by Cherokee Nation children. We have an office space here for Cherokee Nation (Indian) Child Welfare so when they need a place to land they’re able to come to the center,” she said. “They have supported us not just financially but other ways, too.”
Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the tribe donates to the organization because it “makes such a difference in the lives” of vulnerable children.
“Those are kids that have been the victims of child abuse. When you’re helping kids that have been abused that is a high priority for the Cherokee Nation.”
The center is located at 213 E. Patti Page St. For more information, call 918-283-2800.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Family Assistance will again give out school clothing vouchers to eligible children through its Clothing Assistance Program this summer beginning July 5.
The vouchers will be distributed from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at:
• Sequoyah High School’s “The Place Where They Play” on July 5 in Tahlequah,
• Carl Albert College’s Multi-Purpose Student Center on July 6 in Sallisaw,
• Stilwell High School cafeteria on July 12,
• Salina Middle School cafeteria on July 13,
• Catoosa New Dome cafeteria on July 25,
• CN Sam Hider Health Center on July 26 in Jay, and
• Sequoyah High School’s “The Place Where They Play” on July 27.
The vouchers will be distributed from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at:
• Warner High School on July 11 in Warner,
• CN Vinita Health Center on July 18,
• Nowata Public Library on July 19, and
• Washington County Fairground on July 20 in Dewey.
Family Assistance Manager Angela King said voucher applications would be taken and distributed the same day.
She said 6,850 children received $100 clothing vouchers in 2016, and the program has approximately the same amount of vouchers to distribute this year.
“The intent of this program is so the children can have at least one nice outfit to begin the school year with,” King said.
King said the vouchers must be spent at Stage stores. According to its website, there are approximately 10 Stage locations within the CN.
She said the vouchers must be spent on school clothing and not on accessories such as backpacks or fragrances. She added that the vouchers have no expiration dates and can be utilized during the state’s tax-free weekend of shopping on Aug. 4-6.
To receive vouchers, students and families must meet eligibility requirements and income guidelines. Eligibility requirements and required documents are:
• Student must be a CN citizen,
• Student and family must live within the CN jurisdiction,
• Student must be in grades kindgertarten-12 for the upcoming school year,
• Must bring proof of school enrollment for each child,
• Kindergarten students must be age 5 before Sept. 1,
• Must bring a utility bill, not older than 30 days, that shows physical address or service address,
• Custodial parent or legal guardian must show identification and complete application,
• Guardians must bring letters of guardianship issued by a district court, and
• Must bring verification of income for everyone in the household.
Also, state home schooled children are not eligible for the program.
According to income guidelines, households cannot make more than $15,075 for one person, $20,300 for two people, $25,525 for three people, $30,750 for four people, $35,975 for five people, $41,200 for six people, $46,425 for seven people and $51,650 for eight people. For families/households with more than eight people, add $5,225 for each additional person.
According to the CN website, the Clothing Voucher Program is funded through the Tribal Council and has been implemented through Human Services since 2006. The goal is to assist families with back to school expenses by providing financial assistance for school clothes for the children’s first day school.
For more information, call 918-453-5266 or email <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — According to a Cherokee Nation press release, the tribe’s Emergency Management team is now equipped with the expertise and vehicles to respond to a Type 3-level Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster.
Only about 120 entities nationally have attained the Type 3 all-hazard incident management team status, and the CN is among the first tribe to attain it, Emergency Management Manager Jeremie Fisher said.
As defined by FEMA, a Type 3 team can respond within hours to a natural disaster, a public health emergency, a large-scale crash or another crisis within tribal boundaries.
The status also allows the team to remain active and on scene for several days to help coordinate with other agencies to respond to disasters.
“We are one of the first tribal Type 3 All-Hazard Incident Management Teams in the nation,” Fisher said. “Because we have combined our resources from within the Cherokee Nation, we can coordinate on-scene operations after natural disasters like a tornado or flood, or during other emergencies. Our team includes trained personnel from different departments and agencies who have a variety of expertise.”
According to the release, Fisher came to work for the CN from the Oklahoma State Department of Health where he worked as an emergency preparedness and response planner in charge of pandemic outbreak planning, preparedness training and public health response. The tribe’s Emergency Management team also consists of public health, land surveillance, data officials and marshals.
“The Cherokee Nation is a tribe on the forefront of disaster response by having the leadership, training, manpower and equipment in place for emergencies,” Marshal Shannon Buhl said. “We can better serve and protect our Cherokee people during a crisis by having this response team on the ground with an area to operate out of if the need should arise.”
The Emergency Management department uses a new 36-foot mobile command center, which was purchased from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant in the past year.
It is equipped with satellite communications and Wi-Fi. It can be used for drone aerial surveillance, office space to run operations and space to coordinate logistics with other agencies such as Red Cross.
The Mobile Command Center was first used in March when an EF-1 tornado touched down in Greasy in Adair County and destroyed ball fields and a community activity center and did damage to some tribal citizens’ homes. It served as a hub for volunteers to help with clean up, meet with the Red Cross and survey the area.
The U.S. Fire Administration, which officials say currently tracks more than 120 teams total across the country, including the CN, manages FEMA’s Type 3 program. The federal program offers training assistance and a mentorship program for teams seeking Type 3 status.
For more information about Emergency Management or to download emergency preparedness tips, visit <a href="http://www.cherokee.org/Our-Government/Emergency-Management" target="_blank">http://www.cherokee.org/Our-Government/Emergency-Management</a> or call 918-453-5000.