TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation has helped 726 Cherokee youths earn a collective $1.6 million in potential summer wages via its Summer Youth Employment Program.
The tribe placed the youths at jobs in June and July, helping them gain work experience and income for high school, college and other needs.
The program, administered by the tribe’s Career Services, helped the youths, ages 16 to 24, work 40 hours a week for eight weeks. The program was expected to wrap up on July 28.
Each youth earned $7.25 per hour for a total potential income of $2,320 each, and a collective $1.6 million in summer wages.
While many participants work within CN departments across the tribe’s jurisdiction, the program also found opportunities for youths in the public and private sectors, including in schools and businesses.
Nineteen-year-old Madison Shoemaker, a Northeastern State University sophomore from Muskogee and former member of the Cherokee National Youth Choir, found a summer job working with Zomac School of Music in Muskogee County.
This is her second year in the SYEP, and she uses her income to pay tuition for summer classes.
“My primary goal at work is to be a support staff and a customer service representative, and I’ve really had to learn a lot about the industry,” Shoemaker said. “I talk with dealers and corporations, and I feel like this experience has really helped me grow as a person and prepared me to have my own business. While I want to be a doctor, and I hope to work for the Cherokee Nation, I eventually want to have my own practice. I’ve learned things in the summer youth program that have given me the tools I’ll need to do that.”
Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the SYEP is a chance for hundreds of CN youths from within the tribal jurisdiction to earn a good salary and gain invaluable experience and knowledge.
“As history has shown, many youth who participate in the summer program eventually find a full-time career with the tribe, and they continue to serve the Cherokee Nation for years to come. That is an investment we continue to be very proud of, and I commend the staff in Career Services for their commitment to this program,” he said.
Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelley said the program has been a “great opportunity” for hundreds of youths every year since the program’s 1977 inception.
“This program is helping young men and women decide what career path they may choose to take as they prepare to transition into today’s workforce,” she said. “I think it’s a testament to the Cherokee Nation that this year’s number of participants is one of the largest groups of applicants we’ve seen.”
In recent years, the SYEP has connected an average of nearly 690 participants each summer to job opportunities in northeastern Oklahoma. For more information, call 918-453-5555.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) — A teenage boy excitedly plopped a box of horse-grooming tools in the grass and announced, “Here’s the stuff we need to take care of their hooves,” before dropping to his knees and holding out a carrot for Kiss-Me Katie, one of three miniature horses donated to the Cherokee Nation.
A woman from Missouri donated three miniature horses for equine therapy for children in the Indian Child Welfare system and teens at the Jack Brown Adolescent Treatment Center in Tahlequah.
After Barbara Watters arrived with the three little horses in the back of a van, CN employees from the executive director of Indian Health Services to child welfare specialists helped unload them, then lead them to rest under a shady tree to get to know everyone better.
Watters made the trek from Missouri to make the donation because she believes the horses are meant to help children with issues in their lives, she said.
“I had tried for many months to try to sell them. Many people called, but I didn’t feel comfortable. I had to know they were going to have a secure home,” Watters said. “I had to know they had the values to value a little horse. And I thought of the Cherokee Nation, and thought surely they have children’s programs, and these horses love children very much.”
After making calls that led her through the tribe’s Natural Resources department, she was connected with Nikki Baker Limore, the Nation’s ICW executive director.
“We already use average size horses in our equine therapy program, but this was a perfect fit because Jack Brown Adolescent Treatment Center children are going to have the joy of helping take care of them and equine therapy,” Baker Limore said. “And our Indian Nation Child Welfare children will now have miniature horses.”
“When it’s a smaller animal we just feel like the children won’t feel as intimidated, and they can be introduced to the smaller horses and get used to them first. So it’s a win-win for both programs,” she said.
Darren Dry, Jack Brown Adolescent Treatment Center director, said everyone is excited about receiving the miniature horses — Kiss-Me Katie, Iris and Ambrosia.
The center was seeking horses to begin an equine therapy program at the center, which is housed in a former dairy farm and features barns and fields aplenty, he said.
“The boys and girls here can really begin to bond, get life skills, social skills going out every morning to take care of these animals,” Dry said. “Building a bond of empathy and sympathy to hopefully produce those attributes we are looking for in their recovery process — so they can get out there and live healthy, productive lives as Native youth and Native participants in society.”
It didn’t take long after the three horses’ hooves hit the ground for a group of adolescents in a therapy session in a building nearby to see the activity out a window and ask to go outside.
The group, boys ages 13-18, approached the little horses quietly, many crouching down and just looking at the horses at first. Connie Davis, executive director of CN Health Services, held Ambrosia’s lead and let the boys pet her and feed her carrots.
Several boys unloaded the tools Watters brought along for the teenagers at Jack Brown to use, examining tools for hoof care and such — some even jumping right in by gently detangling each horse’s mane with a grooming brush.
Ambrosia, a little white horse with a white mane, took it all in stride — but soon tired of carrots and began pulling the well-manicured lawn up by its roots.
Baker Limore held Kiss-Me Katie’s lead as boys kneeled all around the dainty dark-brown horse, stroking her mane, chattering and asking lots of questions.
Iris, a brown and white pony with a very round belly, was getting doted on as her lead was held by Sandie Hathcoat, senior director of CN Health Services.
“Iris isn’t pregnant, I promise. She just loves food — all the food,” Watters told the boys, laughing with them.
One boy scratched Iris’ head and said, “Then I like this one. She’s just like me.”
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.