OU to host symposium on environmental issues on March 24

03/20/2017 04:00 PM
NORMAN, Okla. – The University of Oklahoma College of Law on March 24 will host the American Indian Law Review’s annual “Indigenous Peoples, Law, and Power Symposium.”

This year’s theme is “Oil and Water.” The symposium is co-sponsored in partnership with the OU’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Native American Studies Department. The event will begin at 10 a.m. in the Dick Bell Courtroom in Andrew M. Coats Hall.

Experts of Native American environmental issues will sit on two panels and give two keynote addresses. The speakers and their topics include:

Morning Panel: “The Chickasaw-Choctaw Compact in Context,” Sara Hill, senior assistant attorney general of the Cherokee Nation, and Taiawagi Helton, professor of law, University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Morning Keynote: “Water Sovereignty and Stewardship: The Historic Chickasaw-Choctaw Water Settlement,” Stephen Greetham, chief general counsel and special counsel on water and natural resources, Chickasaw Nation and Michael Burrage, managing partner, Whitten Burrage Law Firm;

Afternoon Panel: “Justice and Juxtaposition: Environmental Justice and Protest in Parallel,” Taiawagi Helton, professor of law, University of Oklahoma College of Law; and
Afternoon Keynote: “The Impact of Fracking on Indian Nations: A Case Study,” Walter Echo-Hawk, of counsel, Crowe & Dunlevy.

“This year’s “Indigenous Peoples, Law, and Power Symposium” builds upon several dedicated events we have held this year, all of which have focused on the intersection of Native American rights and environmental law,” said OU College of Law Dean Joseph Harroz Jr. “We are honored to host these discussions on such important issues and we’re pleased to have the partnership of OU’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Native American Studies Department as we do so.”

In December 2015, the OU Board of Regents unanimously voted to elevate Native American Studies from a program to department status at the request of OU President David L. Boren. Since 1994, OU’s Native American Studies focus has attracted and served students of diverse backgrounds who are committed to using distinctly Native American perspectives to place the sovereignty of Native nations and the cultures of Native peoples at the center of academic study. In addition to a graduate certificate in American Indian Social Work, the Department offers bachelor’s, master’s, and joint master’s and juris doctorate degrees.

“This is our sixth year to co-host this special event,” said Dr. Amanda Cobb-Greetham (Chickasaw), chair of the Native American Studies Department and director of the newly established Native Nations Center. “Our partnership grows out of our joint M.A./J.D. program, which makes all of our students uniquely competitive. This year’s symposium topic is of critical importance to Native nations and communities. The subject matter is dear to our hearts as it impacts our lands as well as our political and cultural identities.”


06/26/2017 04:00 PM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials recently donated $29,000 to the Alice Robertson Junior High School to help construct an outdoor classroom focused on environmental sciences. Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Tribal Councilor Don Garvin and Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. presented the check to Principal Peggy Jones and Indian Education liaison Jerrod Adair. “This donation gives our students at Alice Robertson Junior High an opportunity to extend their learning beyond what we could do in a regular classroom,” Jones said. “It gives our kids a hands-on opportunity to do a multitude of kinds of things in an interactive environment.” The donation is expected to provide students a new outdoor space for botany, horticulture, agribusiness and other environmental science hands-on classes and activities. Garvin said the donation would have a major impact on the learning and futures of students at Alice Robertson Junior High School. “As a former educator, I know the impact that a project like this outdoor space learning area can have on students,” Garvin said. “I’m so proud that the Cherokee Nation can step up and help our schools provide some special learning amenities to students that will have a lasting impact on their academic and professional careers.”
06/21/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – A new cornerstone for capacity building was put into place June 14 at the United Keetoowah Band John Hair Cultural Center & Museum with the signing of a memorandum of understanding for cooperation between Northeastern State University and the UKB. “This memorandum solidifies the collaborative opportunities for both institutions. It will help to further our respective missions for developing learning opportunities and creating educational and economic success for the health and productive futures of our populations,” UKB Chief Joe Bunch. “Our tribe is honored to sign this MOU with the university. The alliance with NSU offers incredible resources, experiences and opportunities for both entities to forge new paths and grow together. The cooperative agreement with NSU, an outstanding regional university, represents new promise, hope and progress for enhancing and developing many of the important programs and services for the UKB going forward.” UKB Assistant Chief Jamie Thompson said the UKB Tribal Council unanimously endorsed the dedicated relationship, honoring NSU’s standards of excellence, quality teaching, challenging curricula, research and scholarly activities – particularly its goal to provide immersive learning opportunities for their faculty and students in service to the local community. “We envision the collaborative relationship to include capacity building areas of elder community services, sustainable language, kinesiology/recreation, Indian Child Welfare, child development, tribal libraries and technology and more. The tribe and university have also agreed to consider undertaking mutually beneficial, sanctioned research and grant-funded projects,” he said. After signing the agreement, NSU President Steve Turner cited the rich educational heritage of the Cherokee people and the university’s respect for the UKB as two key elements that led to the partnership. He also acknowledged the UKB’s commitment to higher education and deep roots with the university and the Cherokee Nation. “We seek collaborations such as this alliance with the UKB to advance or mission of helping all of our region to achieve professional and personal success in this multicultural and global society,” Turner said. “NSU continues to devote faculty and student services resources toward collaborative projects with the tribe and other American Indians that encourage, inspire and support tribal members to lead healthy and productive lives and to encourage the pursuit of post-secondary education at our institution.” The memorandum will be supported by a joint committee comprised of individuals from both the university and the tribe who will provide oversight for the activities and projects included in the alliance.
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
06/16/2017 09:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – It has been more than a year since the last cohort for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program was announced, giving several Cherokee recipients time to reflect on the scholarship’s legacy and impact it has made on their lives. “It was just a huge, huge blessing,” Felicia Manning said. Manning is one of 326 Cherokees who are citizens of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes to receive the scholarship during the program’s 16-year run, according to the American Indian Graduate Center, which oversees the GMSP. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation created the program in 2000. It funds any undergraduate study area and seven graduate study areas: computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health and science. A 2010 scholarship selection, Manning recently completed her first year of graduate study in marine science at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida. The program also funded Manning’s 2016 study abroad trip to Mossel Bay, South Africa. While there she tagged sharks with Oceans Research, an organization dedicated to Southern African wildlife management and conservation via marine research. “That’s a group that I had been following for a long time,” Manning said. “The fact that they actually picked my school, and I’m partnered with them and I get to do my thesis work with them, that has just been so awesome. Gates (scholarship) definitely helped pave the way for me to do that.” The scholarship is also paving a better future for Wrighter Weavel, 20, a 2015 recipient. “I wasn’t even going to go to college, but when I found out that I got Gates, that opened so many opportunities for me to go anywhere I want, to experience any life, any culture in the entire United States,” he said. Weavel said he plans to transfer to the University of Oklahoma to complete his undergraduate studies in education or medicine, with an overall goal to obtain a doctorate. “I want to get my Ph.D. and I want to be called Dr. Weavel because I have a plan,” he said. “I want to have little ones, and I want them to look at me and see where I came from and to understand that it doesn’t matter the background you have, if you want to do something, you can do whatever you set your mind to.” Weavel said he has also benefited from the scholarship beyond financial assistance. “They offer mentors, which the mentors are a huge help,” he said. “They really help expand your mind on exactly what the scholarship can do for you.” Weavel’s mentor is Corey Still, 26, a United Keetoowah Band citizen who received the scholarship in 2009. Though initially interested in business and law, Still is now obtaining a doctorate in adult and higher education at OU. “I really began to fall in love with this idea of education and how we can help our communities through education,” he said. “I really wanted to be able to help other people and especially other students.” Still said he looks forward to joining the few Native American men with doctorates, which he decided to pursue because of the “faith” the GMSP puts into its scholars. “Whether they know it or not, that by selecting us as scholars and putting a little bit of faith into us, we’re going to go out and make something with those scholarships and with those degrees, that we’re going to make some type of impact within our community or greater society.” Still serves on the Gates Millennium Alumni Advisory Council as the American Indian Graduate Center liaison and said he appreciates the “communal and family ties” the GMSP creates. “You really see the impact this scholarship has, and not just within Indian Country, because the scholarship itself is for minority students in under-represented fields. And so you really see the connections that are created across cultural barriers and across the country and it really does become a family.” Of the Cherokee recipients, 313 are CN citizens, eight are UKB citizens and five are Eastern Band citizens. In its 16 years, the GMSP funded more than 20,000 scholars and awarded more than $934 million in scholarship funds. The program ended in 2016, but the Hispanic Scholarship Fund manages a new version. <strong>Editor’s Note: Reporter Brittney Bennett is a 2011 Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient.</strong>
06/14/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – More than 150 educators traveled June 7-8 to Northeastern State University for training in the latest science, technology, engineering and math teaching and learning techniques at the Cherokee Nation’s Teachers of Successful Students conference. For a fifth straight year, the CN funded the conference at no cost to teachers. To culminate the conference, the CN awarded a Creative Teaching Grant of $1,000 to 10 teachers to start STEM projects in their classrooms next fall. Angela Wall, who teaches preschool and kindergarten at Bluejacket Public Schools, said the $1,000 grant from the tribe would help the school in implementing a robotics lab for the lower elementary students. “This grant makes it possible for us to establish this lab. It’s not something covered in the daily material, and we will now be able to implement STEM projects in the lower grades,” Wall said. “I’m very appreciative of this grant.” Other teachers receiving $1,000 grants were: • Greasy Public School’s Maygen Clark for “To Infinity and Beyond,” • Maryetta Public School’s Tiffany Clawson for “Motivating Tiny Builders,” • Bluejacket Public Schools’ Amy Rogers for “Beginning Robotics and Coding for 4th-5th Grades,” • Afton Public Schools’ Jason Gibson for “Building Better Bridges,” • Cleora Public School’s Deanna Gordon for “STEM Activities with a Basis in Literature,” • Sallisaw Public Schools’ Christina Magie and Tara Mendrola for “Building Brains with a Maker’s Space,” • Justus-Tiawah Public School’s Desiree Matheson for “STEM in the Library,” • Wagoner Public Schools’ Stephanie Rexwinkle for “From Text to Film,” and • Cleora Public School’s Guy Matzenbacher for “Coding is Fun!”
06/09/2017 04:00 PM
NORMAN, Okla. – Two Cherokee Nation citizens are part of the 10 student journalists selected as members of the 2017 Native American Journalist Fellowship class by the Native American Journalists Association. CN citizens Kaitlin Boyse, a University of Central Oklahoma student, and Shea Smith, a University of Oklahoma student, will join eight other student journalists Sept. 4-10 at the National Native Media Conference as part of the Excellence In Journalism 17 Conference in Anaheim, California. According to a NAJA release, the NAJF is an opportunity for Native students to deepen their reporting and multimedia skills while learning from tribal journalists and industry professionals from across the country. “We are very excited for our incoming NAJF class and look forward to covering issues that matter to NAJA as well as Indian Country,” Victoria LaPoe, NAJA education chairwoman, said. “We look forward to our mentees learning not only from mentors, but from all members attending the conference.” The other student journalists selected are: • A.J. Earl, Portland State University, Comanche Nation, • Aliyah Chavez, Stanford University, Santo Domingo Pueblo, • Jaida Grey Eagle, Institute of American Indian Arts, Oglala Lakota Nation, • Jorge Martínez, Brown University, Jñatro/Ñuu Sau, • Kathleen Flynn, City University of New York, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, • Priestess Bearstops, Minneapolis, Oglala Lakota Nation, • Sarah Liese, University of Mississippi, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and • Tyler Jones, University of Kansas, Choctaw Nation. Under the direction of Val Hoeppner, digital media consultant, and LaPoe, students will work with mentors Tristan Ahtone, 2018 Nieman Fellow and Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma citizen; Graham Brewer, a journalist with The Oklahoman and CN citizen; Khloe Keeler, a reporter based in Colorado with KKTV 11 News and Ponca Tribe of Nebraska citizen; and Mark Fogarty, a correspondent with Indian Country Today Media Network. According to the release, NAJA serves and empowers Native journalists through programs and actions designed to enrich journalism and promote Native cultures. “NAJA’s most important role in Indian Country is to create the next generation of storytellers. This exemplary class of student fellows, mentored by our experienced professionals, will soon find their paths into tribal and mainstream newsrooms where they will have a voice in a more fair and accurate portrayal of our communities and cultures,” NAJA President and former Cherokee Phoenix Executive Editor Bryan Pollard said. “I look forward to meeting them at the conference and would encourage our members to stop by the student newsroom to offer encouragement.”
05/29/2017 03:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Northeastern State University’s Riverhawk Food Pantry is expanding into the newly named Rowdy’s Resource Room to offer students in need more assistance. In addition to food and hygiene items, the Rowdy’s Resource Room will provide clothes, school supplies and cleaning supplies at no cost. Student committee members Skye Boyce and Pate Thomas agreed they would like to see Rowdy’s Resource Room expand to benefit more students by bringing more awareness to the campus. “I would also like for us, in the future, to be able to partner with other community organizations to create bigger drives and to expand our efforts to be able to give back to the community that does so much for Northeastern (State University),” said Thomas. Accepted donations include food, hygiene items, school supplies, new or gently used clothing and business attire. “The resource room relies upon donations,” said Thomas. “It is the only way for us to acquire the items to provide to students in need.” Jacob Patrick, the center’s coordinator, said the two “major” motivations why people donate are “to help others that may be in need and to cut down on the waste that is produced when usable items are discarded.” Donations can be made at the Resource Room, located in the Leoser building by Pizza Hut Express. For more information, email Patrick at patric12@nsuok.edu.