Cherokee Nation citizens Adam Childress, left, and Amanda Ray, along with actor and Northeastern State University Drama faculty member Chris Miller star in Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” on Feb. 15 at the NSU Playhouse in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Ray stars in ‘Virginia Woolf’ production
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen and Sequoyah High School drama teacher Amanda Ray starred in Northeastern State University Drama’s production of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” which ran Feb. 15-18 at the NSU Playhouse.
Ray, a NSU graduate, said as an acting teacher she’s a firm believer that if she’s going to teach it she needs to do it well.
“I think coaches should play a game every once in a while. I think it’s good for you.” Ray said.
“In my career I have been fortunate to inhabit numerous different roles, whether it was a straight drama or a fun musical, but no experience comes close to playing Martha in Edward Albee’s Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play, ‘Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ It has been one of my favorite plays and by far my favorite role, and one I didn’t think I’d ever get the chance to play. NSU Theatre Company, which is my home stage, gave me that chance this past February, and I can’t thank my director, Dr. Robyn Pursley, enough for choosing me for this role.”
Ray said it was “exhilarating” being on the stage again in a role that was “emotionally draining and so rewarding.”
“It meant so much to me that so many of my students, friends, family and a few of my fellow faculty members were in the audience. I don’t think a lot of people are aware of how much work goes into a production like that and also that the heart of theater is to make you think, feel, contemplate, and that supporting the arts is more than just getting off your duff and going to see a play, but as teachers it is setting an example for our students. The heart of the theatrical experience is empathy. A concept so basic and yet so fleeting in this day and age that we have classes devoted to learning what empathy actually is and how to implore that emotion.”
She said the arts can be overlooked in this part of the state yet they are beneficial.
“My former speech/debate/drama students are excelling at the college level at NSU, Harvard, Brown, NYU (New York University), OU (University of Oklahoma), OSU (Oklahoma State University). Some, but not all, are pursuing theater degrees, but what they have in common is a work ethic, a broad and exploratory intellect, writing and public speaking skills that were utilized and enhanced through their involvement in the performing arts. I love what I do, and feel so extremely lucky to have a career in the arts in Tahlequah.”
Ray started working at Sequoyah in 2008. She started its speech and theater program. Her classes range from acting, theater history, musical theater, Native storytelling and performance, speech/debate and honors competitive speech/drama/debate, which are devoted to preparation for the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association’s speech/debate tournaments.
Along with teaching full time, she directs, creates costumes and choreographs one act plays and main stage productions each year for Sequoyah. She also oversees a traveling troupe that performs Cherokee children’s play and puppet shows at the Cherokee Heritage Center, as well as elementary schools.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Phoenix visited local fall and Halloween attractions to help readers find ways to celebrate the season. Included is also a list for those looking for related attractions for either family friendly fun or something spookier.
<strong>Rockin’ R Farms: Tahlequah</strong>
<a href="http://cnmediav1.cherokee.org/vod/Phoenix/News/2017/vid_171018_Rockin'RFarms_sgbb_wc.mp4" target="_blank">Click here to</a>watch the video.
Rockin’ R Farms officials hope visitors “get lost” with them as they offer a family friendly environment that is fun for children and adults.
“This place is just not for the kids, it is adult-friendly. Anything that I’ve built, if I can’t get in it, it isn’t fun for adults, so I build it for everybody,” Richard Roberts, owner and Cherokee Nation citizen, said. “We just can’t have the kids having fun. We have to have everybody.”
Roberts said the farm’s biggest attraction is the five-acre corn maze, which during October turns into a haunted maze at night.
“We started laying it out last year. This was just a pasture with three big ol’ (old) pine trees in it,” he said. “We come out, we dug up the trees. I spent days digging up roots and killing the grass and preparing the soil for growing the corn. We wanted it to still be green at this time, so we waited to plant the corn until July.”
For the haunted maze, Roberts said they only use a portion of the maze.
“At dusk we will kick everybody out of the maze that come out during the day, and then we’ll go in here and set up,” he said. “We’re going to locate haunted people in special spots to basically drive you where we want you to go. No flashlights, no phones, it’s just walking through here in the dark.”
There’s also a 1-acre pumpkin patch where visitors can pick a pumpkin.
“We have a 1-acre pumpkin patch where you can pick your own pumpkin for 50 cents a pound,” he said. “Then we have a variety of other types of different pumpkins like Polar Bear, Rascals, Cinderellas that you can buy for 80 cents a pound, and they’re spread out throughout the area.”
Other activities include a petting zoo, hayrack ride, a jump pad and horseshoes. There is also a picnic area and a country store where items such as T-shirts, flashlights, glow bracelets and necklaces, candy bars and beverages can be purchased.
Roberts said he hopes to see new faces stopping by as they plan to stay open through November.
“There’s a payoff in seeing the kids having fun and the adults, too. It’s all for the fun of it and it’s work. It’s a job, but it’s still exciting. I get to meet all kinds of people,” he said.
Rockin’ R Farms is located at 15486 N. Spears Road and is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Admission to the corn maze is $7 per person with children 2 and under free. Admission to the haunted maze, which is only on Friday and Saturday, is $9 per person, and admission for both the haunted maze and spook trail is $12 per person.
For more information, visit Rockin’ R Farms on Facebook.
<strong>The Asylum: Nowata</strong>
<a href="http://cnmediav1.cherokee.org/vod/Phoenix/News/2017/vid_171018_TheAsylum_sgbb_wc.mp4" target="_blank">Click here to</a>watch the video.
People looking for a truly horrifying Halloween haunt may get more blood and guts than they bargain for at The Asylum Haunted Attraction.
Visitors are invited to step inside a 1940s mental hospital, giving them a hands-on experience into the world of deranged doctors and assistants performing experiments on completely sane individuals.
“This is a two-story haunt,” Russell Kyle Rhoades, assistant director, said. “You’re going to be going through twists and turns. You’re going to get turned around quite a few times. A lot of the areas that you see might not actually be a door. There might be something else entirely that you have to find, and it’s just challenging your senses.”
The haunt will also require interaction with several characters, including a demented priest and a disturbed Peter Rabbit, which Rhoades called an “accident,” but has since taken off with visitors.
“People have adopted (the characters) and started to flesh them out for themselves,” he said. “It’s the patrons that make it special. We’re just trying something and it stuck and the patrons just make it what it is.”
Workers design and fabricate each costume and room, allowing what visitors see to be truly unique.
“A lot of these rooms, all these things that you see around here, we’ve built,” Rhoades said. “We spend a lot of time (working) throughout the off season because we do three events now. As soon as one event is done, we’re getting prepared for the next one, so we’re busy all the time.”
Many of the scenes in The Asylum are not for the faint of heart, especially when you might be asked to remove one from a body in the surgery room.
“The scene that we’re known for the most is surgery, and you have to pull assortments of things from a carcass,” Rhoades said. “Prepare to get bloody. This is interactive and that’s what we’re known for.”
No worries, though. The Asylum assures customers the fake blood washes out.
There is no age limit to enter, though parental discretion is advised. If the experience becomes too much, the haunt has an easy out.
“Fear is subjective,” Rhoades said. “It’s all personal, so I would suggest if you bring your kids, be prepared for them to ‘Bloody Mary.’ That’s the safe word that we use to escort them out if they’re too scared. But it’s completely subjective, so if you feel like your kids can make it, come on out. We definitely try to do something different with every event that’s unique in its own way that you’re not going to experience anywhere else.”
The haunt has plans to move to a bigger facility as word of mouth continues to build its reputation. The current site is host to The Asylum in October, Sweetheart Slaughter in February and Dodsfall in June.
The Asylum Haunted Attraction is located at 304 W. Cherokee Ave. It is open Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sundays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. through Oct. 29, with a special encore event on Nov. 4. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.okasylum.com" target="_blank">www.okasylum.com</a>.
<strong>Other Halloween activities around the Cherokee Nation</strong>
<strong>The Castle in Muskogee</strong>
The Castle in Muskogee caters to all ages, from children to adults. Visitors can grab a drink at pubs, participate in a zombie hunt, take a haunted hayride, experience spook trails or see performers practice hypnotism and juggle fire. The activities are spread out across 14 acres and open Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. until Oct. 28.
<strong>Muskogee Haunted History Tours</strong>
Muskogee Haunted History Tours invites guests walk or bike a tour of local haunts on Oct. 14, 20, 21 and 27. Tours begin at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $15. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.muskogeehauntedhistorytours.com" target="_blank">www.muskogeehauntedhistorytours.com</a>.
<strong>Route 66 Punkin’ Chunkin’ in Vinita</strong>
Participants from around northeast Oklahoma will launch pumpkins from a catapult-type contraption to see how far their pumpkins go. There will also be free children’s games, pumpkin bowling, a children’s costume contest, pumpkin decorating and more. The event is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets are $5 per person and children 4 and under are free. For more information, visit <a href="https://www.vinita.com" target="_blank">https://www.vinita.com</a> or call 918-256-7133.
The Tulsa Zoo hosts HallowZOOeen from Oct. 27-31, inviting children to dress up and trick-or-treat at Goblin Stops, play carnival-style games in the Pumpkin Patch Playroom and take a ride on the Haunted Train. Activities begin at 6 p.m. Tickets for non-members are $8 and $7 for members, while Haunted Train ride tickets are $5. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.tulsazoo.org/hallowzooeen-at-the-tulsa-zoo/" target="_blank">www.tulsazoo.org/hallowzooeen-at-the-tulsa-zoo/</a>
<strong>Pumpkin Festival at Shepherd's Cross in Claremore</strong>
Families can wander through the Pumpkin Patch, pet farm animals, take a trek through a hay maze or construct a scarecrow at the Shepherd’s Pumpkin Festival. The festival is open from 9 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and runs until Nov. 4. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.shepherdscross.com/PumpkinFestivalatShepherdsCross.html" target="_blank">www.shepherdscross.com/PumpkinFestivalatShepherdsCross.html</a>
TULSA, Okla. – For some it’s traditional games such as stickball or marbles. For other Cherokees it may be weaving baskets with traditional materials that bring them closer to their culture. But for 15-year-old Regina Scott, it’s the love for the fiddle and fiddle music that brings her in tune to Cherokee culture.
“I think it’s really cool that I am Cherokee and that I play the fiddle because the fiddle was part of the Cherokee culture,” Cherokee Nation citizen said. “I know there are a lot of people that are Cherokee that probably don’t have a direct connection to their culture, so I am really proud that I have the fiddle because I feel like it brings me closer to my Cherokee culture.”
The Tulsa native found an interest in the bowed-string musical instrument at age 5 when she began taking classical violin lessons from longtime violinist Jody Naifeh. However, it was hearing her cousin play the fiddle that sparked her curiosity for the instrument.
“My cousin was the only one that fiddled, and she doesn’t anymore. It was kind of a brief thing. But it’s really amazing that I even got into it because really no one in my family is musical. My mom told me that both of her grandmothers were musical...but really I’m the only one,” she said.
Scott continued taking violin lessons and began studying fiddling.
“I started off with classical violin from Mrs. Naifeh, which I am still with her today. The cool thing about her is a lot of classical teachers don’t really do fiddling and aren’t super into that side of music. But she took me to my first fiddle contest, and so because of her I kind of got started in fiddling,” she said.
Although fiddle and violin appear the same, Scott said the styles are different.
“The violin and fiddle are very different styles, but both benefit each other. The violin is classical music and is technically difficult and you sight-read the music to learn it. But fiddling you learn by ear, so it’s more like reading a book versus storytelling,” Scott said. “Violin helps the intonation and technical aspect of fiddling, whereas the fiddling helps me to put feeling into the classical music and make it more than just the notes on the page”
As early as 7 years old, Scott traveled statewide to fiddling contests and performances, learning and watching some of the best fiddle players. Now she plays among them, continuing to make her mark. She has also competed in fiddling contests in surrounding states and as far as Idaho.
“I have competed all over. I do the Oklahoma state fiddle contest, the Colorado state fiddle contest, and there is a fiddle contest in Grove called the Grand Lake National Fiddle Contest, and I actual won that a couple of years ago. I am the youngest person to ever win it,” she said. “I have probably been to, I would say, over 50 competitions.
For her accomplishments, CN officials proclaimed Feb. 10 as “Regina Scott Day.” Tribal Councilor Keith Austin presented Scott with the proclamation after her performance at the National Fiddler Hall of Fame Ceremony and Concert in Tulsa in front of an audience of celebrated fiddlers and country musician Vince Gill.
“The National Fiddler Hall of Fame inducts people every year, so I got to play for Randy Howard who was being inducted. So I was on stage and I had just finished and it was a really great moment, and one of the Cherokees came on stage and he said ‘wait, don’t go yet,’ and I was very confused, but then he read a proclamation from the chief that basically said that the day Feb. 10, 2017, was a day dedicated to me and my accomplishments,” she said. “I was thinking ‘is this real?’ like, ‘is this a prank?’ but it was amazing and I have it framed at home.”
As for her violin, Scott still plays. She is part of the Tulsa Youth Symphony, the Holland Hall Orchestra and Honors Orchestra, in which she is first chair violin. She also teaches a beginner’s orchestra class to help her violin teacher.
She advises young musicians who are pursuing their dreams to keep practicing.
“Practice, practice because sometimes you don’t feel like practicing or it’s just not in your schedule, but if you really like it you can make time for it. You know, if you really want to be good at it and it’s something you are really passionate about that’s the only way to get good,” she said.
Scott will be the featured entertainment during the annual Will Rogers birthday celebration reception. The reception begins at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs in Claremore.
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Three Rivers Health Center and Dillard’s partnered on Oct. 12 to provide a free bra-fitting clinic at the health center as part of a “Fit For the Cure” event by the clothing brand Wacoal.
“You’d be surprised at the number of women who have never done this. We have some customers come in who have never had a bra fitting, ever,” Cynthia Acuff, lingerie business manager for Dillard’s in Muskogee, said. “They’ll come in to the store, try on something, then if it looks like it fits then that’s what they go with. And eight out of 10 women are definitely wearing the wrong size.”
Acuff has been with the company for more than 30 years and completes trainings twice a year to help women find correct bra fits, which only take 10 to 15 minutes.
“We go in and we do a measurement on you and once we do a measurement, then we use a specific bra that’s called our Wacoal fit bra to help determine your actual cup size that you will be needing for that bra,” Acuff said.
The event also assisted in highlighting Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is in October. For every complimentary Wacoal bra fitting Acuff completed $2 was donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. An additional $2 donation was possible for every Wacoal or b.tempt’d piece purchased at the fitting.
Since 2000, Wacoal has donated more than $4.7 million to help fund breast cancer research and community programs while raising awareness for screenings.
Acuff said she helps raise breast cancer awareness because her family has been affected by it.
“My grandmother had breast cancer,” she said. “She was a survivor of it. There’s a lot of people who have not survived from it, so if just coming in, that $2 may just be what needs to be done to find the cure for breast cancer.”
Acuff sad she can complete about 45 fittings in a five-hour event like the one at the health center.
“When they come in, they leave their bra on,” she said. ‘They just have to take their shirt off for us. We do the measurement, then we go out and collect bras that we believe is going to be their size. We will take in three different cup sizes, that way we can see which one is going to fit her better to make sure that the wire is in the right place for her.”
She recommended women look for several factors when bra shopping.
“You always want to make sure your bra is tacked in the middle, in the center, that way it separates you and then your wire needs to be back past your breastbone,” she said. “We want to make sure that your band does not move up and down because if it does chances are your straps are not going to stay on correctly. If you get the right support, the wire is doing the work. The straps are doing the work. If you are a bigger-size bust, the right bra is going to help you from not having back issues too because you’re going to be letting that bra do the work for you, rather than your back carrying you around.”
For those interested in a fitting, Acuff was expected to hold another fitting from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 18 at Dillard’s located within the Arrowhead Mall in Muskogee. Each of the complimentary fittings and bra purchases will also be eligible for the $2 donation.
According to the Komen organization, American Indian and Alaska Native women have lower breast cancer rates than other groups, though it is the second-leading cause of cancer death among them.
From 2010-14, American Indian and Alaska Native women saw 82.2 new breast cancer cases per 100,000, compared to 127.7 for Caucasian women and 125.1 for African American women. In the same time period, American Indian and Alaska Native women averaged a morality rate of 10.8 per 100,000 cases, while Caucasian women averaged 21.2 and African American women averaged 29.2 cases.
According to the Komen organization, mammography screening rates are also “lower than rates among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic Asian women.”
For more information, visit <a href="http://www.komen.org" target="_blank">www.komen.org</a>.
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.
VINITA, Okla. - The second annual “Cherokee Days” event was held Sept. 30 at the Eastern Trails Museum with Cherokee National Treasures on hand to demonstrate their artistic skills in basketry, pottery making and flint-knapping.
“Eastern Trails museum does a wonderful job of telling the Cherokee’s story. Last year, at the inaugural event, we brought Cherokee National Treasures out to demonstrate their artistry, which was so successful we’re doing it again this year,” Secretary of State and Vinita resident Chuck Hoskin Jr. said.
Cherokee National Treasures attending included basketry artists Betty Frogg and Mike Dart, pottery expert Jane Osti, bow maker Al Herrin, and Tommy Wildcat, who provided flute music.
“I felt happy to be there representing the Cherokee National Treasures,” Frogg said. “Demonstrating and talking to people about the history of Cherokee basketry and twining are two of my favorite things.”
Eastern Trails Museum Director Kathleen Duchamp said she was thrilled the CN made “Cherokee Days” an annual event.
“Just one year ago today, we opened our Cherokee exhibit inside our museum and held the event in the courtyard and had seven National Treasures here to help us open the event. It was very well received. We’re so happy they decided to hold ‘Cherokee Days’ every year and extremely grateful for the Cherokee Nation ($1,000) donation.”
“Cherokee Days” visitor and CN citizen Linda Hossler said the event was beneficial to her.
“I came to Eastern Trails Museum today to learn more about my Indian/Cherokee heritage. I recently moved here from California, so I loved the basket making, the pottery making and especially the flint knapping. Who knew I’d enjoy flint knapping so much,” she said.
For more information about the Eastern Trails Museum, visit <a href="http://www.EasternTrailsMuseum.com" target="_blank">www.EasternTrailsMuseum.com</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During an Oct. 5 meeting, the Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission tabled an item regarding its Information Request Form so commissioners can consider creating separate documents for voter list and candidate financial requests.
EC attorney Harvey Chaffin requested that commissioners table the item and suggested creating two forms by clarifying that subsections 25 and 46D of the Election Law fall under different categories.
Subsection 25 deals with obtaining voter lists. It states the most “recent voter list shall be made available to all citizens of Cherokee Nation, subject to the provisions of the Cherokee Nation Freedom of Information Act” and that the “list shall be made available on paper, computer diskette, gummed labels, electronically, or any other method available.” It also states the EC “may charge a nominal fee to cover the costs of duplication of the voter list, provided that the voter list shall be subject to inspection free of charge during the business hours of the Election Commission.”
Subsection 46D deals with corrections, revisions and retention of candidates’ financial disclosure reports. It states the EC “shall give the candidate an opportunity to correct any deficiency or error in his or her reports” and that any “contributions received during the six-month period following said election date shall be recorded on a revised final report to be filed no later than the first of the month following the expiration date of said six-month period.” It also states the “reports shall be maintained by the Election Services Office, which shall preserve the reports in a secure location for at least five years, during which time they shall be a public record available for inspection and copying.”
Chaffin said there should be separate request forms because the law states that only CN citizens can obtain voter lists whereas anyone can request candidate financials.
“There’s several different issues I see after I researched the statute. One is that the voter list is available only to Cherokee citizens and pursuant to that (CN Election Law) Section 25. So I don’t think financial reports and voter lists should be on the same form,” Chaffin said. “I actually think probably the form…we’re using now, would apply more to the public, to the candidate financial reports, and the one we revise would apply more to the (voter) list. My recommendation is let me do a little more work on that, and let’s put it on our next agenda.”
Chaffin also said it would be beneficial for the voter list form to state the subsection under which it falls in the Election Law.
“I think it would be a good idea also to have, maybe on the back of this form or maybe down here somewhere, have a copy of the statute,” he said.
In other business, commissioners approved the 2018 Maxim Consulting contract at $40,000, which covers system upgrades, and the 2018 Hart Intercivic contract at $25,000 that covers all licensing for software that runs the programs used for tribal elections.