http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgDr. Charles Gourd stands in front of the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma. Gourd was recently named as the new CHC director. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Dr. Charles Gourd stands in front of the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma. Gourd was recently named as the new CHC director. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Gourd named new Cherokee Heritage Center director

BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
07/17/2017 09:00 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Dr. Charles Gourd, a Cherokee Nation citizen with a background in nonprofit fundraising and Native American affairs, was recently appointed as the Cherokee Heritage Center’s new director.

Gourd is now responsible for overseeing the CHC’s operation as well as preserving the tribe’s collection of documents, artifacts, photos and books. He is also expected to uphold the CHC’s mission to preserve, protect and teach the Cherokee history and culture.

“Our primary and major function is to be the archives,” Gourd said. “We have a responsibility to protect our most sacred documents and the preservation and teaching of those for future generations.”

Before stepping into the role, Gourd retired from the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission, on which he served as the director. He has also worked on economic development projects with Native American tribes.

But he said it has always been a goal to return to the CHC, where he worked as a tour guide and dancer in the “Trail of Tears” drama in the late 1960s.

“One of the first jobs I ever had was here, and I have always maintained and retained an interest in the heritage center,” Gourd said. “I wanted to give it one shot as the director to make improvements and advance it to its best capabilities.”

Born and raised in Tahlequah, Gourd said he became interested in history at an early age. That interest led to a bachelor’s degree in history. He later earned a master’s degree in public school administration from Northeastern State University.

“At the time I wanted to teach history and coach basketball, so I immediately got a job teaching history and coaching basketball,” he said. “But I wanted to do more.”

Eager to broaden his knowledge, Gourd earned a master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate from the University of Kansas in anthropology, as well as training in entrepreneurship from Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

In 2007, he received the lifetime achievement award for anthropology in non-academic settings from the American Anthropology Association. Gourd was one of only three Native Americans to receive the award.

“For the acknowledgment that the award was for, anthropology in non-academic settings, to me was greater than any award they could give,” he said. “Because we didn’t teach anthropology in universities, we went out in the world and worked, and to see that being recognized was great.”

He credits the experiences he’s had for eventually leading him to where he wanted to be.

“I believe all my background and experiences I have had throughout these years has led me to be ready to take on the responsibility as the new director,” he said. “If I can take all the collected knowledge from the experiences I have had and make them work to make this a better place so we can show the world why we are the most unique people, then I can say I served a good purpose.”

Gourd said he intends to work on business plans for the CHC that will create jobs, generate revenue and add more cultural activities to engage visitors.

Gourd said one project he and the Cherokee National Historical Society are working on is a new archives building that will house and preserve all of the archives at the CHC.

“We have a couple of designs for the building that we are looking at, but it will need all of the environmental controls,” he said. “Some of the stuff we have, like papers, are going to require contained rooms with special gasses to keep it from getting further in degradation.”

Gourd said the project is in its planning stages and that the CNHS is working on funding.

He said the main question he gets as the new director concerns the old amphitheater that was used for the “Trail of Tears” drama.

“This is a project that needs to happen, but there is a lot of maintenance that needs to done,” he said. “The amphitheater was the crowning jewel for the heritage center and Cherokee Nation for years, so our goal is to identify and figure out how to make that a viable function again.”

People

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
02/22/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – For the past 15 years, Cherokee Nation citizen Janice Dreadfulwater has been perfecting the craft of loom weaving that she learned from her sister-in-law and Cherokee National Treasure, Dorothy Dreadfulwater Ice. Since she was 5 years old, Dreadfulwater said she’s always “dabbled” in some type of craftsmanship. “I was sewing when I was like 5 years (old), making doll clothes. My first (craft) was sewing. Then I went over to crochet and cross-stitch. I’ve done some silversmithing, and I’ve done some beadwork. You know, I’ve dabbled in a lot of areas,” Dreadfulwater said. Once she learned how to loom weave, she said she thoroughly enjoyed it. “My first attempt was awkward, of course. But once I got the hang of it, it started going really fast,” she said. “It was just addictive.” In a two-month span, she said she made approximately 20 loom-woven blankets. Aside from making blankets, she makes scarves and shawls, but blankets are her specialty. To loom weave, Dreadfulwater said she uses Ice’s loom. However, she’s making her own loom. “One of my projects is to get my big loom together and hopefully have a place that I can put it. You’ve got to have the space in order to do it,” she said. “I’m in the process of putting one together. I’ve got the frame made, but as far as the hardware, that’s hard to locate for a larger loom.” She said loom weaving one quilt can take anywhere from a day to a day and a half. “It takes (time) to get it all set up to start weaving, which I don’t like that part, but it’s necessary. The fun part is actually weaving.” Dreadfulwater said she uses diamond, herringbone and non-traditional patterns in her work and different-sized yarn. She also said she’s never marketed her creations and has only sold one blanket. She said she mostly makes them for “enjoyment.” “I’m proud to carry on the traditions that the Cherokee people have established and to be creative,” she said. “I just hope that whoever receives the blanket respects what labor of love that went into the project.” Her donation to the Phoenix is a blanket with a diamond pattern. The drawing will be held April 2. For every $10 spent on elder fund donations, subscriptions or merchandise, one entry is entered in the quarterly giveaway drawing. For more information, call Justin Smith at 918-207-4975 or email justin-smith@cherokee.org, or Samantha Cochran at 918-207-3825 or email <a href="mailto: samantha-cochran@cherokee.org">samantha-cochran@cherokee.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/11/2018 02:00 PM
WEST SILOAM – Tulsa resident Elizabeth “Beth” West manages an hour and a half commute to Cherokee Casino West Siloam Springs each workday but still makes time to give back to her community. The YMCA of Greater Tulsa recently awarded West with an award for her dedication to the organization. “I started off as a contributor but quickly realized that I wanted to do more to help children and families in my community,” West, a food and beverage manager at Cherokee Casino & Hotel West Siloam Springs and Cherokee Nation citizen, said. “The Y helps people in the community in so many different aspects, from early education and after school programs to families affected by cancer.” West is originally from Colcord, where she graduated high school. She received a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University in 2008. She then started her career at Cherokee Casino & Hotel West Siloam Springs, accepting positions at various Cherokee Casinos through the years, including Cherokee Casino Ramona, Cherokee Casino South Coffeyville and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. “Beth has been an asset to our department since returning to the property in 2015,” Don McClellan, property director of food and beverage at Cherokee Casino & Hotel West Siloam Springs, said. “She explains to newly hired employees that she started here in 2008, and that if they want additional responsibilities and to be able to be promoted, the opportunities are available. It has been a pleasure working with Beth and watching her navigate her career path. We are very proud of her dedicated work in the community.” West began supporting the YMCA of Greater Tulsa as a donor but quickly grew into the role of campaigner by helping to raise awareness of the organization’s cause and by finding those willing to help support. West was honored as the 2017 Goal Buster Campaigner of the Year for the YMCA Community Services Campaign. The annual campaign unites volunteers, donors and participants to build upon the strengths of each individual in our community. Financial assistance is made available from the annual support campaign to any individual or family who wants to participate in YMCA programs or activities but may not be able to afford the fee. “As we move into our 2018 campaign season, we are thankful to have Beth’s big heart and passion for change. Our community services goal this year is $15,000, and we are confident the funds will be raised to ensure programs continue to be available to those who need them most,” Emma Sikich, senior director for community initiatives at YMCA of Greater Tulsa, said. “Beth is a great example of someone who works hard, plays hard, but gives more. She is a key player in ensuring the YMCA’s Community Services campaign is a success,” Sikich said. The staff at YMCA of Greater Tulsa is passionate about making a difference in their communities and bettering the lives of the people around them, and that has inspired West and the other 16 campaigners to do more. “I feel it’s my responsibility to ensure that others are afforded chances and opportunities to do more, to grow and learn, to be everything they hope,” West said. “Strength of character comes from helping people succeed, not in holding anyone down.” For more information about YMCA of Greater Tulsa, visit <a href="http://www.ymcatulsa.org" target="_blank">www.ymcatulsa.org</a>.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
01/25/2018 08:00 AM
FAYETTVILLE, Ark. – When 15-year-old Gaby Nagel isn’t listening to music she is playing it, particularly on the Native American flute. Her enjoyment and talent with the instrument has led her to playing numerous events and partaking in flute competitions. Nagel, an Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian citizen, has been playing the flute for five years. She was introduced to it while walking Fayetteville Square and coming across a man playing one. Listening to him play, she said she became mesmerized. Her mother bought her a flute and she began taking lessons from the same man, Jerry Doubting. She said the flute just came “natural” to her. “A lot of the tricks it took him years to learn, all came natural to me. He would be sitting there and telling me about a technique, and he would say ‘it’s OK, don’t get frustrated if you don’t get it on the first try.’ Well, I would get it on the first try,” she said. Nagel has competed in eight flute competitions of all sizes. However, she said the biggest competition she’s won was the Musical Echo’s in Florida. “I was the first female and youngest competitor to ever win. I got a blue ribbon from them and a check. It was really cool.” In addition to competitions, she’s played at festivals and events such as Indigenous Peoples Day in Fayetteville and the annual Trail of Tears Association Conference this past October in Pocola, Oklahoma. She’s also been invited to play for senior citizens and children at schools to interact with them and share Native culture. She said her most memorable performance was getting playing for a young girl who was battling cancer. “I played for a girl who had cancer in Chattanooga (Tennessee). She was a friend of a flute maker of mine, and we raised money for her to receive treatment. It was such an honor, especially because they invited me.” To be able to travel different places, she said she is thankful for having supportive family and friends, especially her mother. “My mom is my number one. She has driven me around so many miles I can’t even count. She is my number one, and she has always got my back.” Nagel said she is proud to be Cherokee and shares her heritage through the flute. She said her plans for 2018 are to travel more playing the flute and visit more elderly and hospice patients. She said she’s also been learning to play the piano and guitar. “Playing the flute, I feel like I am honoring my ancestors and what they had to go through so we don’t get hated on for being Native American as much anymore,” she said.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
01/24/2018 08:15 AM
COLLINSVILLE – Since age 5, Cherokee Nation citizen Trett Charles has had dreams of singing and playing guitar. Today, the 23-year-old opens for some of the most popular names in Red Dirt music, including Stoney LaRue, whom he opened for on Jan. 20 at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa. Coming from a country music-loving family, Charles learned to play guitar from his great-grandpa. With the help of his uncles he started to grow vocally, too. Charles said his family listened to country music artists such as George Strait, Merle Haggard and Keith Whitley, who influenced him to choose the Red Dirt genre. “The way I look at Red Dirt music nowadays is it’s pure country to me. I am not the type of person that is big about national music. I like the (19)90s country feel because that just the genre I grew listening to,” he said. At age 21, he played his first gig at the Hall of Fame in Catoosa. Since then he’s played venues in Tulsa, across Oklahoma and in surrounding states. He’s also opened for Red Dirt artists Thompson Square, Bart Crow Band, Casey James, Read Southall Band and Jason Boland and the Stragglers. Charles said getting the opportunity to play various places and open for artists has been a blessing and great accomplishment. However, along with accomplishments he also had to overcome struggles. In April, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and spent seven months in chemotherapy. He said taking that in was hard. And even though he couldn’t play shows as much, he said he pushed himself to continue as much as he could. During his treatments he played the Cain’s Ballroom for the first time. “When you’re 22 years old and you’re told you have cancer, and you don’t know if you are going to live or die, at first you don’t really know how to accept that. But the biggest thing that helped me push through it is that I am a big believer in God, and I believe he heals. So when I felt good enough to play a show I would push myself to basically get out there. It was really cool to play at Cain’s for the first time even during the time I was going through chemo because the opportunity was a blessing that also kept me going,” Charles said. Now cancer free, he played at the Cain’s Ballroom for the second time opening for one of his longtime heroes, Stoney LaRue. “I seen Stoney multiple times at Cain’s, so the fact that I am even getting to open for Stoney, it’s an incredible feeling because a lot of people don’t get that opportunity,” he said. Although Charles has only been on the Red Dirt music scene a couple of years, he continues to make a name for himself. He said his goals are to travel and play his music for the world. But he also hopes his music will “touch” someone. “A song can turn your whole day around. My goal is to share the music that I write with people and hope that the music I share touches them in some way,” he said. For more information, follow the Trett Charles Band on Facebook.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/12/2018 12:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – AARP Oklahoma is accepting nominations for its 10th annual Indian Elder Honors to celebrate 50 Native American elders who have positively impacted their respective communities, families, tribes and nation. Since its inception in 2009, AARP Oklahoma has recognized 450 elders from all 39 tribal nations in Oklahoma. “The AARP Indian Elder Honors recognizes the extraordinary contribution of Indian elders – many of whom have never been recognized before,” AARP Oklahoma Volunteer State President Joe Ann Vermillion said. The 2017 honorees from 33 Oklahoma tribal nations included teachers, veterans, nurses, artists, tribal leaders, language and culture preservationists, champion archer and champion arm wrestler. Cherokee Nation citizens Mary Rector Aitson, Dianne Barker Harrold, Marcella Morton and Joe T. Thornton, as well as United Keetoowah Band citizen Woody Hansen, were honored in 2017 and presented medallions by national and state AARP officials. “This event celebrates a lifetime of service from these distinguished elders,” AARP State Director Sean Voskuhl said. “The common thread between the honorees, regardless of the contribution, is the commitment to community and service.” This year’s Indian Elder Honors will be held Oct. 2 in Oklahoma City. Nomination applications are available at <a href="https://www.aarp.org/states/ok/stateeventdetails.eventId=671063&stateCode=OK/" target="_blank">https://www.aarp.org/states/ok/stateeventdetails.eventId=671063&stateCode=OK/</a>. Nominations may be submitted electronically or mailed to AARP Oklahoma, 126 N. Bryant, Edmond, OK, 73034. Nominees must be enrolled citizens of federally recognized Oklahoma tribal nations, at least 50 years old and be living. Nominees do not have to be AARP members. For more information, call Mashell Sourjohn at 405-715-4474 or email msourjohn@aarp.org. The deadline for submitting nominations is April 30.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
01/09/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – When shooters took the line for an Oklahoma Archery Shooters Association qualifier recently at Obsession Archery, Cherokee Nation citizen Michael Lackey was among them despite being in a wheelchair. “I didn’t get to play regular sports like kids that were not in a wheelchair, so my dad got me into archery and I started doing that,” Lackey said. “I’ve been shooting bows since I was about 12 or 13 years old.” Lackey joined 64 archers competing for bragging rights and prize money at the Dec. 17 qualifier. Shooters received four minutes to shoot five arrows at a five-spot target through 12 ends, or rounds, for a total of 60 arrows. Each arrow had the potential to earn up to five points depending on its target placement. Lackey shot with the compound bow he uses when hunting. “The compound is definitely easier from a wheelchair standpoint, in my opinion, because I shoot the recurve also and they’re a lot longer than your compounds. So a string will hit the wheel sometimes or you’re closer to the ground, so the limbs will hit the ground. The compound is definitely easier to shoot from a wheelchair.” Although paralyzed most of his life, Lackey said he doesn’t believe in limits. He’s an avid outdoorsman who often hunts, a skill honed by competitive archery. “It’s really helped my shooting, getting back into the target shooting,” he said. “It’s made me more consistent for hunting. I like the competition, and I like to improve myself.” The competition marked Obsession Archery’s first time hosting a qualifier for the ASA, which aims to grow archery through clubs that provide competition, training and education opportunities. It’s a development Lackey said he appreciates. “It’s harder on people who don’t have the funding to drive clear across the state to shoots. So it’s nice to have somewhere where we can do it here in town, in Tahlequah.” Obsession Archery owner John Obenrader called the development a “big deal” for his business and customers. “ASA is the main organization that I shoot for. It’s one of the biggest ones in the country. It’s where all your top archers are and at the state level. They hold championships and qualifiers all across the state. They just came to me and asked me if I wanted to shoot since I have a shop with an indoor range.” Obenrader said he hopes the competition brings in new shooters and their families to get them familiar with indoor and 3-D range shoots. “It’s pretty much a family-oriented kind of sport because a lot of times you’ll see the kids get started in it, and then mom and dad get started in it because they want to do it.” For Lackey, the qualifier was a family affair as both his children competed in the cub class. “My daughter Makayla, she’s been shooting for two or three years now. Hayden just got his first compound bow this year,” he said. “They’re both shooting really well. It’s good for them. It teaches them discipline, practicing. You got to be good to make a shot on a deer. You want to deer hunt, you got to practice and get good at shooting.” In addition to passing his archery passion onto his children, Lackey hopes to see archery grow among others in wheelchairs. “I don’t see it quite as much as I would like to see,” he said. “It’s a big challenge from sitting in a wheelchair, but I do know a lot of guys that hunt (and compete). It just takes lots of practice because I have to, I don’t have a lot of balance, so I have to kind of position myself where I can maintain my balance while I’m shooting my bow.” For more information, call Obsession Archery at 918-951-9540.