http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgThe Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma Tahlequah office recently teamed up with the Cherokee Nation through a medical legal partnership to provide civil legal needs to those who qualify. COURTESY
The Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma Tahlequah office recently teamed up with the Cherokee Nation through a medical legal partnership to provide civil legal needs to those who qualify. COURTESY

Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, CN enter partnership

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
08/10/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation have formed a medical legal partnership to offer certain civil legal help to Native American citizens in the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction.

Michael Figgins, LASO executive director, said the partnership began after LASO approached the tribe regarding the AmeriCorps’ Partnering for Native Health Grant.

“This special program came up through AmeriCorps, and we’re part of a consortium with six other states. It’s all tribes doing medical legal partnerships, one big AmeriCorps grant and we were awarded,” he said. “When Legal Aid approached Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Nation was very responsive. We talked about it in the past, and I’m pretty sure that Cherokee Nation saw the value of having the medical legal partnership.”

Laci Klinger, managing attorney for LASO in the Tahlequah area, said the idea is to help those who are in poverty by providing legal aid to help alleviate medical needs or issues.

“The ideal behind this grant is if we can assist with some of the barriers that indigent people, people in poverty, are facing then it will help with some of the medical issues that they are facing,” she said. “It will help curb some of those benefits. The disparities that they’re facing in society that often lead to the medical issues such as housing issues or benefits issues.”

Some of the legal aid offered is end-of-life planning, estate planning, power of attorney and any type of benefit assistance such as Social Security benefits, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicare and Medicaid. Klinger said end-of-life planning and guardianship assistance is for seniors 60 and over, and benefits assistance is available for people of any age.

To receive services, clients “must be receiving medical services” and be “referred” by the facility from which they receive those services.

With the grant’s help, Klinger said the offered services are free.

“The biggest part with just getting it off the ground is just letting people know what we’re doing, and I think that’s the biggest obstacle that we face is just for people to understand what we’re doing,” she said. “We did a will’s clinic with (W.W.) Hastings (Hospital)…and we had about 50 seniors show up at our office one afternoon, so I know that there is a huge need. So it’s just accessing the people and letting them know that it truly is free. Oftentimes people are skeptical about that and they’re like, ‘what’s the catch?’ There is no catch. It truly is free. We truly are a nonprofit and we do not take money from people.”

Klinger said two attorneys and a paralegal visit health clinics and hospitals within Craig, Delaware, Ottawa, Cherokee, Adair, Sequoyah and Wagner counties to offer legal aid services to those who are eligible.

“The idea is for them to go out into these various communities that have Indian clinics or hospitals to meet with people,” she said. “They’re setting up clinics to take in-take, to give legal advice and to see what legal needs we can meet that are civil legal needs.”

Klinger said help for those seeking services outside the grant’s realm could be provided through LASO’s other opportunities.

“Even though this particular grant is limited to the estate planning aspects and the benefits assistance, that doesn’t mean that if we help a family with benefits assistance and we identify other legal needs that we’re not going to help with that as well,” she said. “So if we identify a family that, ‘ok, this mom might need benefits assistance but she also might need to separate from an abuser’ then we’re going to move her to a different grant and we’re going to assist her.”

Klinger said the nonprofit has been in the state for approximately 50 years, and she’s “excited” to have this opportunity to help Natives in the area.

“We haven’t had anything designated just for tribal members before and this is a specific designation just for tribal members. So it’s pretty exciting,” she said.

The LASO Tahlequah office is located at 224 S. Muskogee Ave. For more information, call 918-708-1150 or 1-888-993-2615.
About the Author
Stacie Guthrie started working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2013 as an intern. After graduating from Northeastern State University with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications she was hired as a reporter.

Stacie not only writes for the Phoenix, but also produces videos and regularly hosts the Cherokee Phoenix radio broadcast.

She found her passion for video production while taking part in broadcast media classes at NSU. It was there she co-created a monthly video segment titled “Northeastern Gaming,” which included video game reviews, video game console reviews and discussions regarding influential video games.

While working at the Phoenix she has learned more about her Cherokee culture, saying she is grateful for the opportunity to work for and with the Cherokee people.

In 2014, Stacie won a NativeAmerican Journalists Association award for a video she created while working as an intern for the Phoenix. She was awarded first place in the “Best News Story-TV” category.

Stacie is a member of NAJA.
stacie-guthrie@cherokee.org • 918-453-5000 ext. 5903
Stacie Guthrie started working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2013 as an intern. After graduating from Northeastern State University with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications she was hired as a reporter. Stacie not only writes for the Phoenix, but also produces videos and regularly hosts the Cherokee Phoenix radio broadcast. She found her passion for video production while taking part in broadcast media classes at NSU. It was there she co-created a monthly video segment titled “Northeastern Gaming,” which included video game reviews, video game console reviews and discussions regarding influential video games. While working at the Phoenix she has learned more about her Cherokee culture, saying she is grateful for the opportunity to work for and with the Cherokee people. In 2014, Stacie won a NativeAmerican Journalists Association award for a video she created while working as an intern for the Phoenix. She was awarded first place in the “Best News Story-TV” category. Stacie is a member of NAJA.

Services

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/21/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Phoenix recently made a change to its Elder Fund to make U.S. military veterans eligible for free yearlong subscriptions to the Cherokee Phoenix. Thanks in part to a donation from Cherokee Nation Businesses, as well as donations from Cherokee Phoenix individual subscribers, it was possible to expand the fund to include Cherokee veterans of any age. “The Elder Fund was created to provide free subscriptions to Cherokee elders 65 and older,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “Due to an influx of recent donations, we had the ability to extend the Elder Fund to include Cherokee veterans. We will continue to give free subscriptions to our elders and veterans as long as we have money in our Elder & Veteran Fund.” Using the newly renamed Elder & Veteran Fund, elders who are 65 and older and Cherokee veterans of any age can apply to receive a free one-year subscription by visiting, calling or writing the Cherokee Phoenix office and requesting a subscription. The Cherokee Phoenix office is located in the Annex Building on the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The postal address is Cherokee Phoenix, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465. To call about the Elder & Veteran Fund, call 918-207-4975 or 918-453-5269 or email <a href="mailto: justin-smith@cherokee.org">justin-smith@cherokee.org</a> or <a href="mailto: joy-rollice@cherokee.org">joy-rollice@cherokee.org</a>. No income guidelines have been specified for the Elder & Veteran Fund, and free subscriptions will be given as long as funds last. Tax-deductible donations for the fund can also be sent to the Cherokee Phoenix by check or money order specifying the donation for the Elder & Veteran Fund. Cash is also accepted at the Cherokee Phoenix offices and local events where Cherokee Phoenix staff members are accepting Elder & Veteran Fund donations. The Cherokee Phoenix also has a free website, www.cherokeephoenix.org, that posts news seven days a week about the Cherokee government, people, history and events of interest. The monthly newspaper is also posted in PDF format to the website at the beginning of each month.
BY LINDSEY BARK
News Writer
10/16/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Career Services’ Day Training program helps Cherokees with temporary job placement and training that could potentially result in permanent employment. And because of an influx of applicants during the holiday season, the program will not take applications until the autumn of each year, with the exception of special circumstances. “We realized that we have a need for people more in the late fall during the holiday season, so that they can get that money to get over that hump. So a lot of them are without jobs, they’re without training. So we decided that we would start actually start working on the Day Training program after the Labor Day holiday,” Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelley said. Jonathan Crittenden, Day Training coordinator, said the program has slowed because of participants utilizing newer programs throughout the year such as the Dislocated Worker Program and the Summer Youth Employment Program. Since it’s inception in 2009, Day Training has helped more than 2,000 participants who have attained employment within the CN or its entities. The majority of temporary jobs placements take place within the CN and Cherokee Nation Businesses. The program helps people with little or no job experience, as well as people who have received college degrees or vocational training, to gain work experience through training on the job. To qualify, one must be a CN citizen, live within the CN jurisdiction, have no income, be at least 18 years old and out of high school. The program allows participants to train up to 12 weeks and equal a training payment of up to $1,000. The training payment was recently changed from $3,000 per fiscal year to $1,000 per fiscal year to service more clients. Payouts include $50 per day for 8-hour workdays, $25 for four hours of work or payouts of $100 to $200 for days worked per week. “Day Training affords them that opportunity to get their foot in the door so that either Health (Services) or Education (Services) or (the) department they land in can actually see whether or not they are somebody that would make a good employee. We’ve been very fortunate here at the Cherokee Nation to have the Day Training program so that it affords those directors the opportunity to see what’s out there, and in a lot of cases those people got picked up,” Kelley said. Crittenden said the program is a “day-to-day” program of temporary employment but also services higher education students who are looking to complete internships within the CN. A participant is able to utilize any Career Services program if they qualify. For example, a college graduate who meets the criteria for the SYEP can work at a job in his or her field of study and then shift to the Day Training program to continue gaining work experience until a job opportunity opens. CN citizen Courtney Cowan is a participant who utilized Day Training and the SYEP and is now a special assistant in Career Services. After graduating college and obtaining a degree in health and human performance, she had trouble attaining employment. “With all the connections and stuff I’ve made, it’s been amazing. It’s been a blessing for me because I think just around this area it’s really, really hard for people to find jobs. Even with a degree right now people are struggling,” she said. Kelley said she believes in hiring participants “who make something” of themselves. “If we can’t hire our own people, people that have come through the program that we’ve trained, then what are we even here for? That’s they way we look at it.” For more information, call 918-453-5555 or email <a href="mailto: career-services-dept@cherokee.org">career-services-dept@cherokee.org</a>.
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
10/03/2017 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The first of two meetings for the Cherokee Nation Elders Summit was held Sept. 26 at the Northeastern State University Ballroom. Elder Summit coordinator Kamisha Hair-Daniels said this year’s events marked the third year the tribe has hosted summits specifically created to benefit Cherokee elders. “We feed them, we have a resource fair and we also have presenters who come in and give them useful information regarding identity theft, Medicaid fraud, healthy living and other topics like that,” she said. Daniels said she’s glad that Cherokee Nation officials decided to hold summits for elders. “It’s a day to let them know that there’s help out there,” she said. Daniels said elders are often targeted by scams and can be vulnerable to criminal activity. “Our elders need the information available to them here,” she said. CN citizen Russell Feeling, who attended the event in Tahlequah, said he came for several reasons. “I wanted to pick up information here and see what’s available to seniors, but it’s also a chance to see old friends. Fellowship becomes more important the older we get.” The second meeting of the 2017 Elder Summit was held two days later at the Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs in Claremore. Organizers said holding the summit in Cherokee and Rogers counties cut down the distances elders had to travel to the meetings. Principal Chief Bill John Baker said the knowledge available at Elder Summits are crucial to the well-being of aging CN citizens. “Cherokees have always honored and revered our elders. Bringing them here to let them know what services are available, how we can help, what we’re doing, giving them updates along with feeding them a good meal is extremely important,” Baker said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
09/30/2017 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Senior Services is once again taking applications for its Elder Angel Tree. This program is for seniors 60 and older who have little or no family and will not receive a gift without the program. It is for CN citizens and their spouses or widows. Applications must be completed with a family or elder advocate and be turned in by Oct. 31. Elder Angels will be available for adoption Nov. 1 - 17 and gifts will be delivered in December. For more information, call Crystal Thomas at 918-453-5627, Rachelle Singleterry at 918-453-5694 or Juanita Bark at 918-253-4219.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/13/2017 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to a Cherokee Nation Communications press release, the tribe’s fiscal year 2018 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program grant application will be available for public review at the tribe’s W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex and field offices. A draft plan copy will be available for review Aug. 21-22. During the review process, the public is encouraged to submit either written or verbal comments regarding the development of the final draft of the LIHEAP plan. Anyone unable to review the application at one of the CN locations may request information and submit comments over the phone. For more information and to submit comments, call 918-453-5150 or 918-453-5327.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/11/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Child Support Services recently celebrated the office’s 10th anniversary. Established in 2007, the Child Support Services office collects on average more than $4 million per year for Cherokee children and families. Child Support Services Director Kara Whitworth said the program has changed a lot in the past 10 years and now operates with the whole picture in mind. “When we opened our doors, the goal was focused on providing the basic child support services within our Cherokee communities. But our staff realized that child support is more than just collecting money,” Whitworth said. “It is about ensuring the family members involved in each household we serve are provided information and resources that assist with more than just child support assistance.” In addition to child support enforcement, Child Support Services staff now assesses each family’s individual needs and makes suggestions on tribal programs or trainings that would be beneficial. One program offered to participants is a specialized training called CN Building Blocks. The course educates parents on key issues like child support, legal responsibility, communication skills and more. “Our services go beyond traditional child support. Each caseworker not only gets to know the families, but they assess any other needs they may have that can be addressed by the tribe, like child care subsidy, school clothing assistance and housing assistance,” said Whitworth. Child Support Services has offices in Catoosa, Jay, Pryor, Sallisaw and Stilwell, with the main office located at 1525 Ketcher St. in Tahlequah. For more information, call 918-453-5444.