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.
SALLISAW, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Justin Pettit grew up with a passion for radio broadcasting after listening to sports on the radio during his early years.
Pettit said he grew up listening to broadcasts of the University of Oklahoma Sooners and University of Arkansas Razorbacks basketball teams.
“Now, I do my own stuff. I do basketball or game of the week here on 105.1 (KXMX in Sallisaw). I do the play-by-play, the color (commentary), all my own stats, everything,” he said.
He initially thought about going into the radio broadcasting business in 2010 while working as realtor in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
“I always had a passion for radio, and I got a note from one of my friends about doing broadcasting school, and it was all online so I was able to do it,” Pettit said.
In 2011, he graduated from the American Broadcasting School and started with Cumulus Broadcasting Inc. in Fayetteville. While there, Pettit honed his skills as a radio broadcast host by covering local and college sports.
In 2015, he became a host at Mix 105.1 FM with a show called “JP in the Morning.” He is also the station’s sports director.
“I’m on the air 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. having a good time, getting people ready for the morning, getting them ready for their job or school or whatever it is they got going on,” Pettit said.
He said one of his favorite aspects of the job is interacting with listeners and fans.
“I love the interaction. That’s probably my favorite part. We’re a local radio station. We’re not owned by any big company. We get to do whatever we want. So if there’s a big event happening across town that involves the kids or anything, we’re there. We go out and interact with all the people. They love us,” he said.
He said the radio station provides more than just a show to its listeners.
“We play a mix of music. We play country, rock, Christian, all of it. They know any type of music they like they know they can listen to us and we’ll have it there for them,” he said. “They know if they need any kind of breaking weather, if there is any news happening in and around the area they tune to us. We’re live on the air. A lot of radio stations aren’t live anymore. So if there’s an accident or a road’s blocked off or anything, the people know they can tune to us or call us and we’ll let them know where to be and where not to be.”
He said to work in radio his personality has to come through in his voice.
“In radio you got to have a big personality, and a lot of guys have a radio voice. I don’t really have one. I don’t put it on because when I go out with the public, we have a lot of interaction. People say ‘well you sound just like you do on the radio.’ Well I don’t put the big…radio voice on so that’s kind one of my trademarks,” he said.
Pettit said though the radio station is only 3 or 4 years old, the ratings “are up there with the guys” who have been in the radio broadcasting business for 30 or 40 years.
His fellow employees praised Pettit for his work ethic.
Delanna Nutter, sales director, said Pettit steps up when they need him to do extra voice work and that he is “always right on point.”
“I’m just a normal guy working the job that I love and living the dream,” Pettit said.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Election Commission, with one commissioner and its attorney absent, held a special meeting to discuss the approval of past meeting minutes and take possible action on items for the upcoming Tribal Council elections.
On the agenda were items including vault sign-in procedure, delivery drivers and candidate financials as well as possible action on new badges for EC employees.
PRYOR, Okla. – Nanabelle’s Boutique in downtown Pryor has a mission to motivate women and assist them in purchasing trendy clothes that will help them feel “good” no matter their sizes.
Owner and Cherokee Nation citizen Jennie Marlin, 22, said her boutique offers a broad range of clothing sizes because it was “needed.”
“I started this boutique because I thought there was something we needed in downtown Pryor that wasn’t even being offered in other places,” she said. “I, as a plus-size woman, would like to look trendy, and I wanted to be able to do it and still be able to afford it, especially being younger and going to college. When you walk in you’ll be able to find everything in our store in a size small through 3X.”
She said after gaining experience as a part-time manager for a retail store she decided to “take a chance” and open a shop.
“I started a pop-up shop when I was 20 years old at a little event we had in downtown Pryor. I kind of got some good feedback from that, so I decided while I was in college that I was going to open up a little spot in the back of an antique mall. Then whenever I did that I got even more great feedback, and social media was really positive and I just keep growing and growing. So about 10, 11 months ago I opened here in Pryor,” she said.
She said she wants to help women feel “good” in their clothing. “I just kind of wanted to…create an environment where women can come in and shop no matter what size you are, what your budget is like and be able to find something trendy that you’ll be able to feel good in.”
She said her prices don’t fit the “boutique pricing range,” with the most expensive item being a $49 pair of jeans.
“I know when a lot of people think boutique clothing they think, ‘oh, expensive.’ We kind of want to stray away from that,” Marlin said. “The most expensive thing that I think we’ve ever carried was a pair of our denim brands and those were for $49. We do a lot of things like coupons and reward points. So we’re able to make it affordable that way people of any income can be able to come shop.”
She said something Nanabelle’s will offer in the coming months is the “Belle’s Box,” a monthly subscription in which women can pick their budgets, fill out their style profiles and new outfits or a couple of new items will be mailed to them each month.
“We’re going to have bronze, silver and gold levels. We’ll send them an outfit or a couple of items based off their style profile within that budget. So you’re kind of getting a personal stylist that’s mailed right to your door each month,” she said.
Marlin said her goals for Nanabelle’s have been “blown out of the water,” which led her to a second location in Coffeyville, Kansas, set to open in late January.
“So we’ve been growing a lot quicker than what I expected, which is a good thing, I’m very thankful for it. So that’s kind of how we’re able to open up our second location,” she said.
Marlin said she and friends are also working on a children’s store called the Hanger.
“There’s a need in a lot of places for children clothing, especially something that’s affordable because kids grow out of stuff so fast,” she said. “As soon as I get my Coffeyville location done I’m going to go full force for the children’s store. I’m excited about that.”
Marlin said she’s happy to inspire people to make their dreams a reality.
“I love that I have this platform that people can come in, and especially women can come in, and see what I’m doing and get inspired by it,” she said. “I was always told growing up, ‘figure out what you want and just go after it.’ So if I can kind of spread that along and help somebody…kind of achieve their own dreams too. I think it’s all worth it.”
Nanabelle’s Boutique is on south Adair Street and open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
For more information, visit <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nanabboutique" target="_blank">www.facebook.com/nanabboutique</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Through the efforts of Sequoyah High School senior Maddie Lamb, she and her fellow students received a DJ’d dance party and taco festival on Jan. 9.
This past fall, the 17-year-old Muskogee (Creek) Nation citizen entered an essay contest through the Get Schooled Foundation’s “2016 Homecoming Court.” After her essay made the top 20, Lamb received the most online votes.
“You had to enter 150 words about how to prevent bullying in your school,” she said.
She is the Junior Miss Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and bullying prevention is a part of her platform, which she said made her decide to enter the essay contest.
“My platform is teen dating, violence, abuse and awareness. And so I told how that tied in with bullying,” she said. “And so I ended up winning… that’s crazy!”
For winning, Lamb received $100, a Microsoft surface Pro 4 and DJ dance party for the entire high school and $5,000 worth of food from Taco Bell, which was one of the contest sponsors. Lamb and Sequoyah Schools also won one more prize – money to create a mural in the old SHS gym.
“We got a call about a week after I won,” she said. “They (Get Schooled Foundation) said, ‘well we got some extra funding, and we’ve never done anything like this, but do you know any artists?’”
Being an artist herself, Lamb said yes, and as she put it, “It just kind of worked out.” With the assistance from renowned artists Dana Tiger and Daniel HorseChief, Lamb created a mural and a method in which each high school class could contribute to creating the mural.
“Once we drew the design on the wall, we divided it into sections. The freshmen had a section, then the sophomores, juniors and seniors. The whole goal of it was just to let everyone in the entire school help out with it,” she said.
Get Schooled Foundation’s Director of Strategic Partnerships Naomi Jefferson, who came from the Get Schooled New York City office, explained the foundation’s mission.
“We at Get Schooled really stand for empowering students and supporting them to fill their passions and to make sure they have the resources, support and tools they need to pursue their education to the highest degree,” she said. “Maddie Lamb and Sequoyah High School are great examples of what student leadership looks like.”
For more information on the Get Schooled Foundation, visit <a href="http://www.getschooled.com" target="_blank">getschooled.com</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Angela Locke recently opened a clothing store named Kachina’s after her grandmother’s Kachina doll collection that was passed down to her.
Locke is from Los Angeles where she manufactured clothing for department stores.
“This was a transition. This is our first retail store…we’re able to give such great prices and good quality clothing, so we wanted to bring that to Tahlequah,” she said. “We’re hoping to get the (Clothing Assistance Program) voucher program from Cherokee Nation to afford the kids some better quality clothing at better prices. So if that happens, we’ll open another nine locations within the next year.”
Locke has been in the fashion business for about 16 years. In that time, she said she has established relationships with manufacturers that allow her to offer such great prices.
“Over the years of my experience, I have a lot of connections, and I’m able to get affordable or deals from factories and suppliers that other stores aren’t able to access,” she said. “We manufacture some of it (clothing) and some of the items come from wholesalers and overseas suppliers.
She said her store offers “a big variety” of men, women and children’s clothing including jackets, sweatshirts, shoes, socks, undergarments and T-shirts.
The store also offers accessories and jewelry as well as a plus-size clothing area for women.
Some of the prices include jackets starting at $12.99 with fleece leggings starting at $5.99 along with men and women’s T-shirts starting at $5.99.
“We have sweatshirts starting at $12.99, so we’re very affordable. There’s nothing in the store over $30,” she said.
Locke said she returned to Oklahoma because her father lives here and he became ill with cancer. After moving to Tahlequah she noticed a place in the market for a men, women and children’s clothing store to offer affordable and stylish clothing.
“So he was battling cancer, so I was taking care of him for a long time here, and I really liked the town and the people, so that’s is why I decided that I’ll do my first store here,” she said.
Kachina’s Clothing Store is Tribal Employment Rights Office-certified, 100 percent woman- and Cherokee-owned and has 100 percent Cherokee employees.
“It is important for me because women usually they don’t have as much opportunity as men. So to be 100 percent woman-owned business and a minority and then also be able to have that opportunity to be able to employ Cherokee citizens, it means a lot to me. So that is what my goal is, to put Cherokees back to work,” she said.
The store is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s located in the shopping center next door to Rib Crib off Highway 82 along Mimosa Lane.