http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee 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
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

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
03/14/2017 09:15 AM
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
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.
About the Author
Roger began working for the Cherokee Nation in 2005 and joined the Cherokee Phoenix staff in 2008. After 25 years in broadcast news and production, Roger enjoys producing videos about Cherokee culture and events. He attended the University of New Mexico for one year before achieving Federal Communications Commission operator and engineering licenses through on-the-job training. In his youth, Roger represented the United States in gymnastics and diving.
roger-graham@cherokee.org • 918-207-3969
Roger began working for the Cherokee Nation in 2005 and joined the Cherokee Phoenix staff in 2008. After 25 years in broadcast news and production, Roger enjoys producing videos about Cherokee culture and events. He attended the University of New Mexico for one year before achieving Federal Communications Commission operator and engineering licenses through on-the-job training. In his youth, Roger represented the United States in gymnastics and diving.

Multimedia

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
12/13/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The annual lighting of the Cherokee Nation Capitol building was held Dec. 1 when Principal Chief Bill John Baker turned on Christmas lights decorating the downtown square. The event unofficially announced the arrival of the holiday season. Visitors enjoyed refreshments as well as music by the Cherokee Nation Youth Choir. Children were also treated to a live nativity scene and holiday train rides.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
12/12/2017 08:00 AM
TULSA, Okla. – Oklahoma audiences were treated to a special Q&A with Cherokee actor Wes Studi after screening his new film “Hostiles” on Nov. 29 during the Tribal Film Festival at Circle Cinema. “The story itself goes on to touch on the basis of the fact that we do have to come together, be it for survival or whatever,” Studi said. “It’s really a matter of survival that we bring our minds together to forge a better beginning as we move forward.” “Hostiles” is set in 1892 and follows Capt. Joseph J. Blocker (Christian Bale) as he battles hatred towards dying Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk (Studi) while being forced to escort him and his family from New Mexico back to their ancestral lands in Montana. The film also stars Rosamund Pike, Adam Beach, Q’orianka Kilcher and Ben Foster. Christina Burke, curator of Native American and Non-Western Art at the Philbrook Museum of Art, moderated the panel. Also participating were “Smoke Signals” director Chris Eyre and Dr. Joely Proudfit, who were tribal consultants for the film and brought in to the production to assist with creating an accurate portrayal of Cheyenne people and customs. “We were brought in pretty early on, and we were on set most of the time. I would say over 90 percent of the time, everyday on the set, both of us or at least one of us,” Proudfit said. “We had an actual Cheyenne chief come and do a blessing before we began shooting. And for a production of that caliber to take that time to allow for this culture and tradition to be a part of the process, I’ve never seen anything like that.” Studi was quick to agree and praised their efforts on the film. “(Eyre and Proudfit) really brought a lot to the table in terms of authenticity, of not only the language, but customs and other things we needed from the Cheyenne community,” he said. “I think that the film is much better off for the fact that they were there to help us.” The audience was also given a peak into the choices made during filming, including what motivated certain characters and that the cast and crew shot two versions of the ending. The panel also shared with the audience that while they have screened “Hostiles” multiple times, there are still new things to discover about its message. “This movie is a touchstone to so many ideas that we have right now in this country and that’s why I think this movie is so valuable because it’s about the gray areas,” Eyre said. “I keep watching, and I think the highest compliment to the movie is that I keep getting new things out of the movie.” Proudfit agreed, telling audiences that “you have to see it again.” “It takes time to marinate because these are such deep issues,” she said. “We’ve seen it eight times and every time we hear something new. We’ve been entertained so much with film and media now that we’re not ever asked to feel or think anymore, and I think we do that in this film.”
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
12/11/2017 04:00 PM
VINITA, Okla. – On Dec. 5, Cherokee Nation and city officials unveiled a 12-foot-by-10-foot captioned photo as a mural in honor of the late Anna Belle Sixkiller Mitchell, a Cherokee National Treasure who revived Southeastern-style pottery. “This project started a year ago as a way to beautify the city and celebrate the historic nature that we have with the Cherokee Nation. As people drive by in Vinita they can learn more about our town and our community,” Vinita City Councilor Stephanie Hoskin said. The City Council worked with downtown store owners to find a space for the mural and with the Eastern Trails Museum for the mural’s photo. The project was funded through the city’s hotel tax. The photo depicts Mitchell making pottery in her studio. She is known for restoring the Southeastern-style of pottery back into the Cherokee culture. The tribe’s pottery tradition was not continued after removal to Indian Territory in the 1830s until Mitchell began making pottery in the 1960s. Mitchell was born Oct. 16, 1926, to Oo-loo-tsa and Houston Sixkiller in Delaware County. Several CN officials – including Mitchell’s daughter, Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez – attended the mural’s unveiling. “I saw it on the wall, and I was just blown away. It just made my heart soar because my dad especially would be so proud. He was very proud of what mom did, and if he could have been here today we would just be beaming, but I can feel what he would have felt,” Vazquez said. “Most of all, I’m just so proud of our community, the fact that we would have an idea to do this and make it happen in such a short period of time.” Cherokee National Treasure and graphic artist Dan Mink was responsible for the photo’s look. He said he was up for the challenge of designing the border and selecting the color and font. “Just thinking about what I was doing and what this lady represented, I just wanted to do a good job,” he said. “I thought the little script font that looked like a paintbrush type effect on there, I thought that, to me, it suited her well. I got the color off that vase or the pottery that’s in the picture. It was an ochre red, which is a traditional color of ours, so I took that color and made the border around it.” The mural, located at 127 S. Wilson St., will stay up until it is replaced with another notable Vinita resident who has made a contribution to the community.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
12/11/2017 12:15 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee actor and Nofire Hollow native Wes Studi sat down with the Cherokee Phoenix on Nov. 29 while attending the Tribal Film Festival Showcase at Circle Cinema to discuss his new film “Hostiles.” The film is set in 1892 and follows Capt. Joseph J. Blocker (Christian Bale) as he battles his hatred toward dying Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk (Studi) while being forced to escort him and his family from New Mexico back to ancestral lands in Montana. The film also stars Rosamund Pike, Adam Beach, Q’orianka Kilcher and Ben Foster, who portray characters that each adds layers to the story amid a harsh backdrop of the American frontier. The tagline of the film is, “We are all hostiles,” and reminds audiences that any character is capable of anything when called upon, either by choice or by circumstance. The Western premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in September before making its Oklahoma debut at Circle Cinema where audiences had the opportunity to catch one of three screenings and participate in a Q&A featuring Studi and the film’s consultants Chris Eyre and Dr. Joely Proudfit. “Hostiles” was scheduled to hit theaters nationwide on Dec. 22. Before the Nov. 29 screening, the Cherokee Phoenix sat down with Studi to discuss the film and what attracts the actor to projects. CP: Can you talk about your character, specifically the kind of journey he’s going to go on through this film? Studi: My character, when presented to me through script, was a matter of, ‘wow, this is going to be a challenge. This is going to be a challenge in that I have never done this before, this kind of role before.’ I have never even had this kind of experience before because I am a man dying a slow death over a period of a few months, and I’m described that way in the press for our film. So, yes, it’s kind of a daunting thing in that there is nothing in my background that I can call upon to feel what in the world it feels like to be a slowly dying person, but I gave it a shot and we’ll see at the Q&A if anybody believes me or not. (Laughs.) CP: Was there any other challenges coming in, mental or physical, that came with this character that was different from your other films? Studi: Mentally, the (Cheyenne) language is fairly foreign to me, but we had good instructors. We had plenty of time to work on the pronunciations, the ups and the downs and the flow of the language. That and just a lot of time outside. I believe I have one interior shot in the whole film. Everything else is exterior, so it was quite a challenge. But challenges are something I like. CP: Director Scott Cooper wrote this role with you in mind. Do you feel like you’re the go-to guy for this kind of role? Studi: Ah, Scott Cooper, the Prince of Darkness, had me in mind. That should scare me, don’t you think? (Laughs.) It’s great to have people think of you in terms of your past performances and to write with you in mind. I hope more of that happens in the future. CP: What would you tell people when they go into this film that they might get out of it? Studi: I think what the public can expect from our story is a good old-fashioned concept of a Western that has been brought to a contemporary audience. I think that will be able to take away from it’s story, the kind of world that we could be living in. And perhaps are in danger of living in a world like that again. It’s a cautionary tale in ways, but the message of it is so deeply hidden that is a very entertaining film in itself as a period Western. CP: What did you feel watching it for the first time? Studi: It really blew me away at first. I first watched it and I was simply almost dumbfounded. I was quiet for a good long while afterwards. I really had to absorb what I had just seen. It’s a very effective film in its own way. It left me incapable of conversation immediately thereafter. You know, some films you can walk out of and say, ‘oh, I like this. I like that’ or ‘I didn’t like this or like that,’ but this one…It’s thought-provoking. It absolutely is that, and it’s done in an entertaining way. CP: And in general, has there been a time where you’ve felt pressure to be the go-to Native American actor in Hollywood? Studi: I don’t feel pressure about that. I don’t mind being the go-to guy if it’s the right role. I’m not going to be competing with Jason Momoa (Pawnee actor) for a part, but I would very much like to be a functioning part of the entertainment industry. And that’s mainly what I’ve worked a larger part of my career for is to become not just a Native American actor but an actor in general. CP: And lastly, what attracts you to a project? Studi: My agents and managers, they work very hard looking for sort of crossover, jump out kind of roles that I haven’t done before. I’ve done so many of the wise old guys and somewhere I’m the warrior or the angry Indian. I’ve done a number of different kinds of parts as far as Native American parts go, but I’ve also been able to cross over into comedy with sort of “Street Fighter” and “Mystery Men” in a few films that sort of go outside the Native American sphere. That’s what I look for in terms of future roles is something different, something that I haven’t done before.
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
12/11/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee National Treasures were honored by Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Business officials with an annual holiday luncheon on Dec. 4 in the O-Si-Yo Room at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. Treasures enjoyed a lunch catered by the Restaurant of the Cherokees and received $100 gift cards and chances to win door prizes. The luncheon was hosted by CNB, which officially took on the program in 2015. “Today’s event was the annual holiday luncheon for Cherokee National Treasures. This event brings treasures together to celebrate the holidays and a special meal together where they can visit and just catch up with everyone before the busy Christmas season,” CNB Senior Vice President of Marketing and Cultural Tourism Molly Jarvis said. Tribal Councilor and Cherokee National Treasure Victoria Vazquez spoke about the day’s importance. “It’s very important because throughout the year (Cherokee) National Treasures continually contribute to sharing the art and culture and language that they have learned and used for many years. A lot of times it’s done without anyone knowing about what they’ve done. So it’s a way to pay back for their giving because a lot of these treasures are elderly and probably have been doing this thing that they do probably for 25, 30 years. This is just a small pay back for them.” CN officials spoke about the CNT program and what it means to keep the arts, language and culture alive. Principal Chief Bill John Baker said since the recognition of treasures, the value of their art has increased. “I was talking to Lorene (Drywater)…and her (buffalo grass) dolls have gone up seven and a half times, which is part of the marketing,” Baker said. “I hope that all of our art goes up in value because it’s priceless. It truly is priceless. But it’s my honor and privilege to work with you and work for you. I’m always there with an open ear, an open mind and an open heart to help you do what you do.” Jane Osti, a Cherokee National Treasure for pottery, said she came to the event to see her “treasure” friends and thinks the program is on a “good path” with the mentoring program. “I think we are on a really good path with our mentoring. I think if we continue that, we can continue our arts and language and culture. I think that everybody is wanting to work toward that, that we have a good group of people that care about it,” Osti said. Many treasures brought their “Cherokee National Treasures: In Their Own Words” books to be signed by other treasures with the opportunity to visit and take photos. For more information, call 918-207-3503 or email <a href="mailto: cherokeenationaltreasures@cn-bus.com">cherokeenationaltreasures@cn-bus.com</a>.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
12/07/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Foundation and Northeastern State University’s Native American Support Center hosted a scholarship workshop Nov. 28 for students wanting to get ahead of CNF’s Jan. 31 scholarship deadline. “This is our first (workshop) through the Native American Support Center as far as hosting the Cherokee Nation Foundation, and so we are looking forward to working with them more and bringing them on campus and getting them involved in our program,” Jade Hansen, NASC advisement and career specialist, said. The NASC, part of NSU’s Center for Tribal Studies, provides Native students services such as financial aid information to increase retention and graduation rates. “We really focus these workshops for our new freshmen because a lot of things I’m seeing working here at NSU is that these students are running out of money going into their second year and their third year and their fourth year,” she said. “And so with CNF, it’s pretty much like a hidden gem. It’s getting that information out that a lot of students don’t really know about with the CNF programs.” Hansen said she was a CNF scholarship recipient while attending NSU. “Whenever I was in college I got this scholarship, and not a lot of people knew about it, and it helped out,” she said. “It takes a lot to apply for this scholarship as far as recommendation letters, transcripts and different things like that, but hopefully doing it now will get (students) prepared so they’re not waiting around last minute in January.” Marisa Hambleton, CNF executive assistant, said CNF conducts workshops when an organization or school with a high number of Cherokee students reaches out to it. “We’re more than happy to travel and come out and help those students apply for those scholarships,” she said. “We really try to reach any schools that really show an interest. We don’t have a specific (process) where we set it up and anything like that yet. With the more scholarships that we receive, we try to market that as best that we can.” Hambleton said CNF scholarships are not income-based, and students who participate in the workshops should come prepared with updated transcripts and their CN citizenship cards. The CNF scholarship application is a two-step process. Students must first visit <a href="http://www.cherokeenation.academicworks.com" target="_blank">www.cherokeenation.academicworks.com</a> and complete the general applications, which matches them to individual scholarships for which they are eligible to apply. “The general application is just basic information, their name, their address, what school they’re interested, what field of study,” Hambleton said. “That information is then what matches them to specific scholarships, and then they apply for those scholarships individually.” Hambleton said each scholarship includes at least one essay question and asks students to submit information for a reference questionnaire. “A reference questionnaire is where the student chooses someone who is not a family member, someone that knows them like a teacher or a coach or someone in their community,” Hambleton said. “They’ll put in their email address and their name and it will send a link to a short survey that really asks them to rate the student from one to 10 in different areas.” The Academic Works website also allows students to check if their reference questionnaires have been completed, and if not, students can resend the links or change their references. Hambleton also said a student is not required to complete the application in one sitting. “Our application’s pretty simple, and you can save for later if you need to, so it’s not just a one-time sit down,” she said. “Sometimes you don’t have all the information that you need right then and there, and so it’s easy for students to save and keep editing and then submit at a later date.” CNF scholarship recipients will be notified by the end of the 2018 spring semester. Students needing assistance with the scholarship application or organizations and schools interested in hosting a scholarship workshop should call 918-207-0950.