http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgSaddle bronc riding was just one of the many competitive events in the Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo, which ran Aug. 23-26 in Vinita, Oklahoma. COURTESY
Saddle bronc riding was just one of the many competitive events in the Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo, which ran Aug. 23-26 in Vinita, Oklahoma. COURTESY

Cherokees turn out for Will Rogers rodeo, Vinita events

Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
08/31/2017 08:15 AM
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
VINITA, Okla. – The 81st annual Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo and related events, including a parade and old settlers reunion, were held Aug. 23-26 and Cherokees turned out for the fun.

The Cherokee Nation was well represented in all facets of the town’s tribute to one of their own.

“As everyone knows, Will Rogers was Cherokee,” Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin said. “He attended school here in Vinita at Willie Halsell College, and he challenged the people here that if they would have a rodeo here next year, that he’d not only be back but would participate.”

Hoskin said Rogers perished in an airplane crash in Alaska in 1935 and never got to attend the rodeo in Vinita.

“But the people of Vinita felt so strongly that they wanted to keep the memory of Will Rogers alive, that they’ve continued to host a memorial rodeo to this day,” he said.

The Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo parade was held on Aug. 23. Both the CN and its Health Services entered floats in the event while many CN staff members walked the route, passing out candy to children.

“We came out here to bring our granddaughter to the parade,” said CN citizen Jon Page. “She loves horses, and my wife is originally from this area. She grew up coming to this parade as a child. It’s become sort of a family tradition.”

As for CN being heavily involved in the event, Page said, “it’s great to see Cherokee Nation so well represented here.”

On Aug. 24, the Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo hosted “Cherokee Night.”

“Well Cherokee Nation has a sponsorship with the rodeo,” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “This is an important event for the community, and Vinita is an important Cherokee community, so it makes sense that we be heavily involved as supporters and as participants. There’s Cherokees entered in almost every event tonight.”
About the Author
Roger began working for the Cherokee Nation in 2005 and joined the Cherokee Phoenix staff in 2008. After 25 years in broadcast news and production, Roger enjoys producing videos about Cherokee culture and events. He attended the University of New Mexico for one year before achieving Federal Communications Commission operator and engineering licenses through on-the-job training. In his youth, Roger represented the United States in gymnastics and diving. • 918-207-3969
Roger began working for the Cherokee Nation in 2005 and joined the Cherokee Phoenix staff in 2008. After 25 years in broadcast news and production, Roger enjoys producing videos about Cherokee culture and events. He attended the University of New Mexico for one year before achieving Federal Communications Commission operator and engineering licenses through on-the-job training. In his youth, Roger represented the United States in gymnastics and diving.


Reporter – @cp_bbennett
12/07/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Foundation and Northeastern State University’s Native American Support Center hosted a scholarship workshop Nov. 28 for students wanting to get ahead of CNF’s Jan. 31 scholarship deadline. “This is our first (workshop) through the Native American Support Center as far as hosting the Cherokee Nation Foundation, and so we are looking forward to working with them more and bringing them on campus and getting them involved in our program,” Jade Hansen, NASC advisement and career specialist, said. The NASC, part of NSU’s Center for Tribal Studies, provides Native students services such as financial aid information to increase retention and graduation rates. “We really focus these workshops for our new freshmen because a lot of things I’m seeing working here at NSU is that these students are running out of money going into their second year and their third year and their fourth year,” she said. “And so with CNF, it’s pretty much like a hidden gem. It’s getting that information out that a lot of students don’t really know about with the CNF programs.” Hansen said she was a CNF scholarship recipient while attending NSU. “Whenever I was in college I got this scholarship, and not a lot of people knew about it, and it helped out,” she said. “It takes a lot to apply for this scholarship as far as recommendation letters, transcripts and different things like that, but hopefully doing it now will get (students) prepared so they’re not waiting around last minute in January.” Marisa Hambleton, CNF executive assistant, said CNF conducts workshops when an organization or school with a high number of Cherokee students reaches out to it. “We’re more than happy to travel and come out and help those students apply for those scholarships,” she said. “We really try to reach any schools that really show an interest. We don’t have a specific (process) where we set it up and anything like that yet. With the more scholarships that we receive, we try to market that as best that we can.” Hambleton said CNF scholarships are not income-based, and students who participate in the workshops should come prepared with updated transcripts and their CN citizenship cards. The CNF scholarship application is a two-step process. Students must first visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a> and complete the general applications, which matches them to individual scholarships for which they are eligible to apply. “The general application is just basic information, their name, their address, what school they’re interested, what field of study,” Hambleton said. “That information is then what matches them to specific scholarships, and then they apply for those scholarships individually.” Hambleton said each scholarship includes at least one essay question and asks students to submit information for a reference questionnaire. “A reference questionnaire is where the student chooses someone who is not a family member, someone that knows them like a teacher or a coach or someone in their community,” Hambleton said. “They’ll put in their email address and their name and it will send a link to a short survey that really asks them to rate the student from one to 10 in different areas.” The Academic Works website also allows students to check if their reference questionnaires have been completed, and if not, students can resend the links or change their references. Hambleton also said a student is not required to complete the application in one sitting. “Our application’s pretty simple, and you can save for later if you need to, so it’s not just a one-time sit down,” she said. “Sometimes you don’t have all the information that you need right then and there, and so it’s easy for students to save and keep editing and then submit at a later date.” CNF scholarship recipients will be notified by the end of the 2018 spring semester. Students needing assistance with the scholarship application or organizations and schools interested in hosting a scholarship workshop should call 918-207-0950.
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
12/06/2017 08:15 AM
TULSA, Okla. – In accordance with Native American Heritage Month, the Tribal Film Festival and Circle Cinema on Nov. 29 presented the Tribal Film Festival Showcase, which honored Cherokee actor Wes Studi with a Career Achievement Award. People also had the opportunity to preview Studi’s new movie “Hostiles.” “I saw his performance in ‘Hostiles,’ and then I checked his IMDB credits, and he has over 92 credits and for an actor that’s incredible, let alone a Native actor. So I’m just blown away from what he has done, and I think he deserves this recognition,” Celia Xavier, TFF founder and executive director, said. Studi said he was honored to accept the award. “It’s an honor to be recognized for having achieved a career in this business. It’s not an easy thing.” Chuck Foxen, Circle Cinema film programmer, said the event started out small but grew as Xavier secured the screening of “Hostiles” as well as having Studi present for the film, which was followed with a Q & A with Studi, Chris Eyre (director and co-producer of ‘Smoke Signals’) and Dr. Joely Proudfit. “We were just going to pick a couple films out of her festival and then she was like, ‘let’s wait. I got a bigger film, the ‘Hostiles,’ that we might be able to do.’ And that’s a big film that’s going to release in December,” Foxen said. “Then it evolved into Wes is going to be here, then Chris Eyre and all these other guests were going to come.” The film was originally set to have one showing, but after a high demand two extra screenings were added. Set in 1892, “Hostiles” follows Capt. Joseph Blocker’s (Christian Bale) journey of transporting Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk (Studi), who’s dying of cancer, and his family (Adam Beach, Q’orianka Kilcher) through dangerous territory back to their ancestral lands in Montana after being imprisoned for the past seven years. Along the travel north, the group finds Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike) alongside her children and husband who were murdered by a Comanche war party, ultimately adding another layer to the story with ambushes and murder being a consistent theme as well as a sense of forgiveness and overcoming hatred for one another. After initially watching “Hostiles,” Studi said the “thought-provoking” film “blew” him away. “I first watched it, and I was simply almost dumbfounded. I was quiet for a good long while afterwards. I really had to absorb what I had just seen,” he said. “It’s a very effective film in its own way. It left me incapable of conversation immediately thereafter. You know, some films you can walk out of and say, ‘oh, I like this. I like that’ or ‘I didn’t like this or like that,’ but this one it’s thought-provoking. It absolutely is that, and it’s done in an entertaining way.” Xavier said with the festival’s creation and being the owner of TribalTV, which streams Indigenous films on Amazon Prime and Roku, she provides a platform for Indigenous people to tell their stories. She added that funding is the top issue when telling these stories. “One message…that’s very important is that we have a lot of projects that need to be made and a lot of stories that need to be told,” she said. “Funding is the number one issue that’s holding a lot of these stories back.” Aside from showing major production films such as “Hostiles,” Foxen said Circle Cinema also provides a platform where Native Americans, and other nationalities, can tell their stories. “It’s important for us to show films that are like Native American films, but more importantly ones made by Native Americans and telling like real Native American stories versus stereotyping Natives and putting them in roles that they’ve been in the past,” Foxen said. Circle Cinema hosts a quarterly series called Native Spotlight, which provides a storytelling platform. For more information on Circle Cinema, visit For more information on TFF, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
11/21/2017 08:00 AM
WESTVILLE, Okla. – When expert bushcrafters were invited to square off against one another on the Discovery Channel’s new series “Bushcraft Build-off,” Cherokee Nation citizen B.J. Latta was featured among them. “Back in March, I get a phone call and this lady calls me from Hollywood, California, and she says, ‘hey, we would like to interview you on Skype for a upcoming TV show. You got recommended by (Latta’s friend) Matt Tate.’ It was just crazy being interviewed, and of course, I didn’t think it was going to go anywhere because there’s so many guys who are way more talented,” Latta said. Hosted by primitive skills expert Matt Graham, the show debuted Nov. 14 and takes survival to the next level by asking two teams of three bushcrafters to outdo one another in challenges meant to test ability and skill. Latta led his team on the series premiere competing to build the best shelter during a seven-day span in Utah’s Aspen Grove forest. Each team was allowed three hand tools to accomplish the task while being graded by Graham in areas of creativity, sustainability, livability and protection. “One tool a piece, per person and then we were just turned loose in the environment for seven days,” Latta said. “The part where I filmed was in the mountains of Utah, and we didn’t know what we were doing until we got off the plane, got out of the hotel room and they took us to the mountains. We were kind of kept in the dark, so the challenge was more real.” In addition to being limited on tools, Latta faced challenges from an unfamiliar environment. “I was totally out of my environment,” he said. “When you go to the mountains of Utah, there’s no cedar trees up there. There’s not one and that’s one of the main resources, especially for Native American people, here. Cedar trees are very life giving. We use that in everything in Cherokee culture, but when you get up there, there’s none.” The location itself was also a factor. “Even just working in the altitude was very tough for us because I’m not used to that, the oxygen levels,” Latta said. “There’s no high altitude here in Adair County. Your body’s different. You’re burning more calories. You’re exhausted more and in a survival situation, all that stuff really, really matters.” In the premiere episode titled “Built to Survive,” Latta said Graham was quick to offer advice when things started to go sideways. “I ran into a problem with my shelter,” he said. “I thought it out and thought, ‘man, my idea is not going to work. I need a bigger and better idea,’ and so I ask (Graham), ‘hey, what do you think about this?’ And so this guy, who is world renowned got to sit with me and I got to pick his brain, which is really, really cool.” The experience also allowed Latta to spend more time with his father, who was on his team. “To be able to spend that time with my dad, was probably the most rewarding,” he said. “Being on TV is going to be really cool, but that’s like third or fourth compared to spending 15 days with my dad.” Despite seeing himself on the Discovery Channel, the Stilwell teacher remains humble. “To know that maybe the world doesn’t see me as maybe successful on paper, but that’s because I’ve been a good steward at everything I’ve done and just worked hard like the Lord says, just showing up and doing your best can elevate you,” he said. “I didn’t put in an application to be on the Discovery Channel. They seen my work ethic working somewhere else and noticed me and asked me to come there.” For more about “Bushcraft Build-off” or to watch Latta’s episode, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. A new episode is aired at 9 p.m. every Tuesday night.
11/08/2017 12:00 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Approximately 1,800 elementary school children from 25 Oklahoma schools attended the third annual Cherokee Heritage Festival Nov. 2-3 at the Cherokee Heritage Center. Children participated in various Cherokee cultural activities during the two-day festival. “It’s a celebration of not only Native American (Heritage) Month but of Cherokee culture. We’ve invited schools to attend to experience Cherokee culture with their eyes, their ears and their hands,” CHC Education Director Tonia Weavel said. Activities consisted of visiting the Diligwa-1710 Cherokee Village, Adam’s Corner Rural Village, the Cherokee National Museum, shooting blowguns, playing stickball and chunkey, watching bow and flint knapping demonstrations, hearing the Cherokee language and learning about loom weaving, twining and basketry. “In the past we’ve had people really enjoy this, bringing their children, their students to this event. We have public school, private school and home-schooled children that come and enjoy the event. We’ve had really positive feedback,” Weavel said. Cherokee Nation citizen and Tenkiller Elementary teacher Sinea Girdner said it is important to teach her students about the Cherokee culture and that is why they attended the event. “We brought out students out here today because we are local, and we think it’s important that our children see why our town was founded and what originally started here. They need to know the history of our town,” Girdner said. “What I get out of bringing my students to an event like this is seeing their minds expanding and the light bulb moments that click on when they see things in Tahlequah and they can make a connection with it, that they’re actually here and it’s not just something they read in a book. They actually have the experience.” Girdner said at Tenkiller Elementary, children take part in after-school programs to learn more about Cherokee culture. “If they weren’t taught it in school it would probably be lost,” she said. Weavel said it’s important for the CHC to “share the culture with the world.” “The authenticity of the event means everything to me so that kids experience a real Cherokee event,” Weavel said.
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
11/07/2017 04:00 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – More than 100 Tribal Employment Rights Office-certified vendors gathered on Nov. 2 to highlight and grow their businesses at the Engage Expo inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. “It’s just a great chance for our TERO vendors and then our Cherokee Nation entities and then some other outside businesses that do minority procurement to come together and show off their business and network with other people,” Stephen Highers, Cherokee Nation Commerce department entrepreneur and development manager, said. To be TERO certified, businesses must be Indian-owned by constituting no less than 51 percent ownership. There are more than 800 TERO-certified vendors. Highers said vendors spanning various businesses come from across the United States to attend the expo, bringing sample products and information. “We have artists in the room that are here today. We have big construction companies. We have small businesses that are in the room, and then we also have a lot of resource partners,” he said. “So we have different Native American tribes here. It’s just kind of a great day to celebrate all that is being a certified Indian-owned business.” Vendors also took part in free workshops on capacity building and received information about bidding on projects with CN and other businesses. The TERO helps businesses working with the CN fill contractor vacancies by referring TERO-certified businesses. In 2017, TERO vendors earned more than $36 million in contracts. “We hope that this whole day is about capacity building and growing their capacity, whether that is networking with another TERO vendor and they form a relationship and now they can grow together, or figuring out how they can get their foot in the door with the federal government or another procurement agency,” Highers said. CN citizen Greg Stice, owner and designer of Cherokee Copper, a jewelry-based business, attended to promote his work as a TERO-certified artist. “I’m proud to be a TERO-certified artist,” Stice said. “It gives credence or credibility out into the world that we are a Native American company, a Cherokee company, and we’re proud of that.” The company is also family owned and operated and uses copper, silver, brass, hemp and deerskin to create each handmade piece. “In Oklahoma everybody thinks silver and turquoise, but that’s Navajo,” Stice said. “Cherokee (art) is simple – the copper, the pearls, the gemstones, the things that are coming from Mother Earth. It’s either under the land, on the land or in the water.” Stice said Cherokee Copper products begin at $20 for items such as earrings and pendants. More intricate pieces can cost upwards of $400 or more. Custom orders can also be placed. Also on site was Cooper Construction owner Brian Cooper, who started his business more than nine years ago at the urging of several co-workers familiar with the TERO program. “TERO has helped me start, and they’ve helped me grow,” Cooper said. “The program has just been great for us. Without TERO, there’s no way we would be where we are today.” Cooper said more than 96 percent of his business comes from tribes that have found him through the TERO, including the CN to work on the Cherokee Casino & Hotel Roland. He encouraged any Indian-owned business to become TERO certified. “It allows me to stay within the tribe and work with our own,” he said. “You just have to ask for help if you need it and don’t panic whenever you see all the paperwork.” For more information about becoming TERO certified, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
11/02/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation and CN One Fire Victim Services officials proclaimed October as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” on Oct. 24 with a proclamation signing and a “Flowers on the Pond” ceremony. Domestic violence is defined as when a person is an intimate relationship with another, such as a spouse, and an abuser attempts to gain and maintain control of the victim by using physical violence and psychological intimidation. The proclamation, signed by Principal Chief Bill John Baker in the Tribal Complex, states CN officials support One Fire Victim services in the protection of victims, gaining access to legal and psychological support structures, gaining financial independence and being safe. “And whereas the social responsibility inherent to the intervention and prevention of this crime is recognized and is an essential measure for the safety and protection of domestic violence victims and the future generations of the Cherokee Nation,” the proclamation states. After the signing, the public was invited to attend a “Flowers on the Pond” ceremony at the One Fire pond east of the Tribal Complex to release flowers into the water as a way to honor victims and survivors of domestic violence. The ceremony was inspired by a poem from the viewpoint of a domestic violence victim leading up to her funeral where she received flowers. “That’s an event we don’t want to receive flowers for, and so we hope to bring awareness to the purpose of fighting domestic violence,” One Fire Victim Services Director Nikki Baker-Limore said. “Domestic violence touches everyone. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you have, what job, the color of your skin, if you’re old, if you’re young. However, Native Americans do suffer domestic violence at a higher rate. Eighty-four percent of Native American women will suffer domestic violence sometime during their lifetime compared to 35 percent of the general population.” One Fire Victim Services provides aid to people through civil legal assistance, advocacy, divorce, and other services, and are available 24 hours a day. For more information, call 1-866-458-5399.