http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgTulsa Youth Opera participant and Cherokee Nation citizen Phillip Bruch sings “Caro Mio Ben” for Aaron Beck, Tulsa Opera’s music and education administrator, during vocal lessons in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Bruch is one of five CN citizens who have been selected to be a part of the Tulsa Youth Opera for its 2017-18 season. Also shown are CN citizens Megan Jacobs, Barbara McAlister and Katelyn Morton. Jacobs and Morton were also selected to be a part of the Tulsa Youth Opera. Bruch, Jacobs and Morton all study under McAlister, who is an internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano opera singer. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHEONIX
Tulsa Youth Opera participant and Cherokee Nation citizen Phillip Bruch sings “Caro Mio Ben” for Aaron Beck, Tulsa Opera’s music and education administrator, during vocal lessons in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Bruch is one of five CN citizens who have been selected to be a part of the Tulsa Youth Opera for its 2017-18 season. Also shown are CN citizens Megan Jacobs, Barbara McAlister and Katelyn Morton. Jacobs and Morton were also selected to be a part of the Tulsa Youth Opera. Bruch, Jacobs and Morton all study under McAlister, who is an internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano opera singer. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHEONIX

5 Cherokees selected for 2017-18 Tulsa Opera season

08/14/2017 08:15 AM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Five Cherokee Nation citizens who are students of CN citizen and internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano opera singer Barbara McAlister were recently selected for the Tulsa Opera’s 2017-18 season.

Megan Jacobs, 17; Phillip Bruch, 16; Katelyn Morton, 17; and Haley Hitt, 14, were accepted into the Tulsa Youth Opera, while Steven Osborne, 47, was selected for the Tulsa Opera Chorus.

Aaron Beck, TO music and education administrator, said the TO is “proud” to have a revitalized relationship with the CN, and McAlister is the reason.

“Her long and storied career as a professional opera singer, combined with her love for her homeland and the Cherokee Nation is inspiring an entire new generation of Cherokees to love and respect music,” he said. “They all bring a remarkable work ethic, high level of respect and supreme talent to our organization, which speaks highly of the Cherokee Nation’s investment in the artistic training of its citizens.”

Each year the TYO selects singers ranging from grades third through 12th for a tuition-free training program estimated to cost $6,000 per student. Those selected learn the basics of singing and performing with the TO staff, and at the end of the training year they perform a full-length children’s opera at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.

“We have about 100 kids audition, and we have about 50 to 60 spots, so it’s pretty competitive. A lot of the kids study privately with people like Barbara, while some don’t at all. But it’s just a lot of fun to work with all of them,” said Beck.

Bruch said he’s excited for the opportunity and grateful for the “push of confidence” McAlister gave him to audition for the TYO.

“Actually, I didn’t know I was signing up for opera. I thought it was vocal lessons. I listened to Megan sing and I thought ‘OK, maybe I should give this a try.’ I honestly didn’t think I could do it at first but Barbara told me ‘you can do it. You have potential, so don’t be nervous.’ She gave me that push of confidence I needed,” he said. “When I found out that I was accepted I was so excited, but I’m still really nervous because I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work. But I just have to push through it.”

In honor of the TO’s 70th anniversary and the TYO’s 20th anniversary, Beck said there are big plans and that the TO is close to revealing the upcoming performances that will include its singers as well as TYO performers.

Beck said Osborne would be with the TOC, which is part of the TO productions.

“The Tulsa Opera Chorus is for people who know how to sing and perform already,” he said. “If you ever seen an opera, its kind of like a musical. A lot of times you’ll have a chorus on stage that plays the townspeople or something. So we have a chorus that is a professional-level ensemble that does our main productions during the year, and so that is what he (Osborne) is going to be in this year.”

Osborne said he became interested in music in high school, but knew he enjoyed opera after his high school music class attended a TO dress rehearsal. He said it was like a “light bulb” turned on, and he knew opera is where he wanted to be.

“I kind of gave up on music at one point, got married, (had) children, and I began working as manager in food and beverage at the Hard Rock (Hotel & Casino Tulsa) for almost 10 years,” he said. “Then I got the opportunity to study with Barbara. Now I am going to be performing. It’s kind of a lifelong dream to be singing with an opera company and to also be signing with the Signature Symphony this year. So I am going to be singing quite a bit. Hopefully for me, this is a jumping off point, kind of a late start but a beginning to bigger things.”

McAlister said with her students’ acceptance into the opera programs, she’s excited and proud that her instructions are helping them reach their goals.

“We have such amazing talent within the Cherokee Nation. I have probably 20 to 22 students just from the Cherokee Nation. They learn to sing in German, Italian, French and Cherokee. They have to memorize all these songs in whatever language it is and know what they’re singing by the time they perform it,” she said. “This year, four auditioned and all four got into the Tulsa Youth Opera from the Cherokee Nation. And Steve is the only Cherokee to audition for the Tulsa Opera Chorus and be accepted, so it’s a great honor for all of them.”

Auditions for the 2018-19 seasons for the TYO and TOC are set for May and June. For more information, visit or email Beck at
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05/17/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation citizen and employee Stephen Highers on May 3 graduated from the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute. “Having graduated from the OU EDI program, I can now set for the test to become a Certified Economic Developer through the International Economic Development Council,” CN Entrepreneur Development Manager Stephen Highers said. According to the IEDC website, it’s a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization serving economic developers. It also states that with more than 5,000 members, the IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. “Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities, by creating, retaining and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base,” the site states. “From public to private, rural to urban and local to international, IEDC’s members are engaged in the full range of economic development experience.” Highers, who also serves as a Tahlequah city councilor, said he was excited to bring back knowledge he gained at the OU EDI to Tahlequah. “Economic development is not easy, especially if you don’t understand the data and process by which to make informed, sound decision. Through my coursework and training at the OU EDI, I’m able to bring back to Tahlequah concrete ideas and solutions that will enhance our future growth in a healthy, competitive, and objective manner,” he said. Highers said the program is a two-year program, and he has plans to become certified in the winter of 2019. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
05/17/2018 01:15 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Family, friends and community members gathered on May 11 at the Cherokee Casino Tahlequah grounds for a surprise ceremony for 9-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen Grant York. York suffers from several health conditions, including mitochondrial mutation. His mother, Kasie Mendenhall, said with mitochondrial mutation he is unable to absorb nutrients and hasn’t been able to eat solid food since he was 3 years old. In April, he was admitted to Physicians Choice Hospice. “The last two years have been hard on him. He has spent most of all of it in the hospital,” Mendenhall said. “Physicians Choice Hospice has allowed Grant to have his pain adequately controlled and for him to remain home and not in the hospital.” Caring for their patients is not the only thing PCH nurses do. They also grant wishes – Butterfly Wishes. York’s wish was to go to the “Dixie Stampede” in Branson, Missouri, and through the Butterfly Wishes program he and his family received an all-expense paid trip for him to fulfill that wish. However, before York and his family left for Branson, the nurses surprised him with a special ceremony that included York’s class at Keys Elementary School. This was the first time York met his classmates and teacher in person, Mendenhall said. The Tahlequah Police Department also joined the ceremony making York their first junior officer, and he even took the official TPD oath. He was also presented a certificate, T-shirt and badge. “Grant loves police and now he is a real police officer,” Mendenhall said. After a photo shoot for the family, the TPD gave York a police escort out of town. Once they reached Branson, the Branson police, fire department and Missouri Highway Patrol were waiting to escort him into town. Mendenhall said she was thankful for the community’s support her son and family received. “Seeing our entire community come together to support Grant and our family leaves me speechless. Without the support of the community things like this wouldn’t be possible,” she said.
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05/17/2018 08:15 AM
BROKEN ARROW – An old Vaudevillian joke goes something like this: “She shall now hang upside down while juggling pianos...on horseback.” Adding a horse to an impossible task makes the joke funnier and even more impossible. That is, unless you’re 10-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen Sophie Duch. Take away the pianos and that’s exactly what she does as a professional trick rider at rodeos. On May 11-12, Sophie and her trusted horse, Jesse, took their act to Broken Arrow for the 2018 Rooster Days Festival and Rodeo. Born and raised in Stilwell, Sophie’s love for western trick riding began when her parents took her to a rodeo in 2011 where the All-American Cowgirl Chicks trick riding team performed. “I knew we were in trouble the moment Sophie saw the Chicks perform. She was only 3 years old but latched onto the fence and watched their every move,” said her mother and CN citizen Shawna Duch. “After the rodeo, Sophie had to meet each one of them. I could tell even then she was hooked.” Sophie has received much help learning her craft during her young life, including from her first coach, CN-sponsored professional trick rider Haley Ganzel. “There’s a lot of people around here to help you,” Sophie said. “They’ll even loan you a horse if you need one.” This has never been a problem for Sophie. The other half of Sophie’s team, Jessie’s Girl, is a good-natured bay mare and has been with her since she fell in love with trick riding. “She (Jessie’s Girl) just kind of took to it,” Sophie’s father Troop Duch said. “She’s a natural show-off. She really shines once she gets in the arena.” Having a well-trained horse is key to the success and safety of the trick rider because many of the most difficult and dangerous tricks are performed with little or no control of the horse’s reins. Sweeping and precise ovals of the arena must be completed at the right speed to be successful. For safety’s sake, tricks are performed from the inside or left as the horse runs counter clockwise, thus keeping the horse between the acrobatic rider and the arena’s fence line. At the Rooster Days Rodeo, Sophie performed not only as entertainer, but she also carried the American flag into the arena for the national anthem. In her act Sophie performed three tricks and demonstrated twice during Jessie’s giant loop giving spectators on both sides of the arena a look. On the second night of the rodeo, Sophie performed her mounted shooting act, in which she shoots targets while on horseback. For more information, call 918-696-1648 or 918-696-1648 or email <a href="mailto:"></a>. ??
05/14/2018 08:00 AM
PRESCOTT, Ariz. – With more than 30 years of experience in public service, Cherokee Nation citizen Dale Deiter was recently selected as forest supervisor of the Prescott National Forest. Growing up in Arizona, Deiter said he developed a love for public service from his father, who served as a district ranger in Arizona and New Mexico. In 1983, Dieter began his career in the U.S. Forest Service, first as a volunteer and then as a wild land firefighter for the Gila National Forest in New Mexico for three summers and one summer for the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Jackson, Wyoming. During that time he also attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and a later a master’s degree in forestry. After college, Deiter landed a job as a pre-sale forester and then a hydrologist for the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. The hydrologist job took him to the Fishlake National Forest in Richfield, Utah, where he spent more than seven years in that position dealing with watershed management and restoration. In 2007, he went back to Wyoming where he served as the district ranger for Bridger-Teton National Forest, a position he held prior to his promotion as forest supervisor with Prescott National Forest. With a long resume under his belt, Dieter said the best part of having a career in the Forest Service is “leaving a legacy for public lands.” “The (national) forests are a place where people can go to have fun, so knowing you’re part of making that happen is very rewarding,” he said. Deiter said during his time with the Forest Service he’s traveled extensively throughout the western United States, even into Quebec, Canada, fighting fires. He said it’s “neat” to be able to work in places where a lot of people go for vacation. “You get the opportunity to fly the national forest either in a helicopter or a plane or on horseback or by snowmobile into the back country or even hiking as well. You just get see a lot of unique lands in a lot of places that people don’t tread,” he said. In his new role as forest supervisor, his job is to help with the oversight of the management of PNF’s 1.25 million acres of public land located across north central Arizona. He said the biggest challenge for him is adapting to challenging conditions facing climate change. “Even in my career, fire season has gotten longer and fires have gotten bigger, and we are seeing its impact even in terms as snowpack and spring flow and that then presents a lot of challenges in long-term-sustaining management of national forests,” he said. Deiter said he’s happy to be in his new position with PNF and plans to finish out his career there. “I am planning to spend quite a bit of time there. There are a lot of challenges to deal with there, and it’s a really neat forest with great people, and so I will finish out my career there,” he said.
05/11/2018 03:30 PM
STILWELL – Cherokee Nation Distributors, a company within Cherokee Nation Businesses’ engineering and manufacturing sector, has again been named a prestigious supplier in the aerospace industry. Sikorsky Aircraft, part of Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Missions Systems business, recently honored CND among its foremost suppliers. CND received honors as a Sikorsky Elite Supplier for best-in-class performance in achieving on-time delivery, cost and quality standards during 2017. “This is a great recognition of our CND team and of their unwavering dedication to providing first-in-class service,” CNB’s Diversified Businesses President Steven Bilby said. “It is our employees’ commitment to building the highest-quality of products while serving our clients with innovative solutions that truly sets us apart as the best in the industry.” Dan Schultz, Sikorsky president, and Mike Ciocca, vice president Supply Chain Operations at Sikorsky, presented the award at a recent ceremony honoring the company’s top suppliers. “We have developed a long-standing relationship with Sikorsky and, through that relationship, established a reputation for excellence in our field,” Chris Moody, CNB’s executive general manager of CNB’s engineering and manufacturing sector, said. “We are extremely proud to see our employees recognized for their commitment and continued diligence, year after year.” CND has also been awarded Sikorsky Gold Supplier status five times since first earning its Sikorsky Gold Supplier Certification in 2012. CND produces wire harness and electro-mechanical assemblies, interconnect solutions, distribution and kitting. The tribe’s engineering and manufacturing sector also offers laser and water-jet fabrication, 5-axis machining, welding, and assembly for military aircraft, ground vehicles, missile systems and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle programs.
05/10/2018 08:15 AM
VONORE, Tenn. – Cherokee Nation citizen and author Brad Wagnon will sign his new book, “The Land of the Great Turtles,” from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on May 29 at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum. Wagnon is a lifelong resident of the Gideon Community in Cherokee County, Oklahoma. He is a graduate of Tahlequah High School (1997) and Northeastern State University (2001) with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and Native American Studies. He taught Cherokee history, culture and language at THS from 2005-15 and has worked for the CN’s Community and Cultural Outreach as a technical assistance specialist since June 2015. He is the author of two children’s books, “How the World Was Made: A Cherokee Story” and “The Land of the Great Turtles.” Both are based on traditional Cherokee stories. Although the new Sequoyah Birthplace exhibit’s soft opening won’t be until June, with a grand opening in July, museum staff is gearing up to host events, programs and lectures. The creator of the Cherokee syllabary, Sequoyah was born near the museum site in 1776. The mission of the museum, a property of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is to promote the understanding and appreciation of the history and culture of the Cherokee Indians in eastern Tennessee, particularly the life and contributions of Sequoyah. The museum is located at 576 Highway 360. For more information, email or call 423-884-6246.