http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgPeople attending an Oct. 15 ceremony to dedicate three interpretive markers in Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, read a marker that provides information about the Old Setters, the first known Cherokee settlers in the area. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
People attending an Oct. 15 ceremony to dedicate three interpretive markers in Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, read a marker that provides information about the Old Setters, the first known Cherokee settlers in the area. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

TOTA dedicates interpretive markers in Webbers Falls

A marker titled “really a beautiful fall” provides a firsthand account of the falls in 1828. The falls near Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, spanned nearly the width of the Arkansas River and were about “three or four feet in height.” WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX “The Last Detachment” marker states that the last forced removal detachment came up the Arkansas River to where it meets the Illinois River. There, Cherokee people disembarked at the Illinois River’s mouth and made their way to Tahlequah by foot and wagon where they disbanded. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The “Old Settlers, New Homeland” marker provides information about the Cherokee people who moved to Arkansas and then to Indian Territory in the 1820s before the forced removals. Chief Walter Webber established a trading post at Webbers Falls on the Arkansas River. The marker also provides an 1895 map of the Cherokee Nation to show where Tahlequah, Fort Gibson and Fort Smith, Arkansas, were in relation to Webbers Falls. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
A marker titled “really a beautiful fall” provides a firsthand account of the falls in 1828. The falls near Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, spanned nearly the width of the Arkansas River and were about “three or four feet in height.” WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
10/24/2017 04:00 PM
WEBBERS FALLS, Okla. – Trail of Tears Association and National Park Service officials, as well as Cherokee Nation citizens and guests, gathered Oct. 15 on the Arkansas River bank to dedicate three interpretive Trail of Tears markers.

The ceremony kicked off the 22nd annual Trail of Tears Conference & Symposium held Oct. 16-18 in Pocola.

“We are marking the place where the last (forced removal) detachments who came on the Trail of Tears stopped on the water. They were supposed to go to Fort Gibson, but the water was too high. There was a set of falls out there on the river that stopped boat traffic a lot of the year anyway,” TOTA Executive Director Troy Wayne Poteete said. “Records say they got to Webbers Falls (and stopped) at the mouth of the Illinois (River), and we know it’s just around that corner (on the Arkansas River). The boats got that far.”

“The Last Detachment” marker states the last forced removal detachment came up the Arkansas River, and Cherokee people disembarked at the Illinois River’s mouth in March 1839 and made their way to Tahlequah where they disbanded.

Poteete said TOTA volunteers along Cherokee removal routes work with the NPS to mark routes to tell the removal story of the Cherokee people in 1838-39. He said markers like the ones placed in Webbers Falls commemorate the removal and show that Cherokee people are “tenacious, resilient, resourceful” and “survivors.”

“We’re still here,” he said. “That’s what this is about.”

Aaron Mahr, NPS National Trails Intermountain Region superintendent, attended the ceremony to thank the people involved in creating the markers and placing them in Webbers Falls. “It’s just nice to see this fellowship and this type of support for such an important event. Troy is being a little modest. Troy was also a very important part of this and helping us tell the story and convey the story the Cherokee wanted to see told here and that the city supported also.”

Mahr also thanked NPS employee Carol Clark for “putting the markers together” that tell “a well-rounded story.”

“You see three little signs here and you might think that’s an easy thing to do, but it really isn’t because it means a lot of people coming together, talking about the story, identifying the story and what they want to tell the public, what they want to tell children who come here to learn and to stand in the footsteps of the original (Cherokee) settlers that were here back in the 1820s and 1830s,” he said.

Mahr said one marker offers an opportunity to show what the river looked like 150 years ago.

The “really a beautiful fall” marker provides a firsthand account of the falls in 1828. The falls spanned nearly across the whole of the Arkansas River and were about “three or four feet in height.” They were covered by water when the river was expanded to create a navigation channel for boat traffic.

“I want to express my appreciation for all the people involved in this project, particularly the city of Webbers Falls and the National Park Service,” TOTA President Jack Baker said. “It’s fitting that we have the markers here. It’s not only the site where the last detachment came in and moved on to Tahlequah, but it also tells about the Old (Cherokee) Settlers who were already here and founded the city of Webbers Falls. It’s also significant because this is the place where we started rebuilding the Cherokee Nation.”

He said the Cherokees who were forced to Indian Territory in 1838-39 and the Old Settlers came to an agreement, an Act of Union, in August 1839, which paved the way for a new CN Constitution that was approved in September 1839.

“It is interesting that we came together. We did rebuild our nation and our nation still exists today, and it’s thriving,” Baker said. “I’m glad to see our Cherokee citizens here today as well as guests from around the country.”

The marker titled “Old Settlers, New Homeland” provides information about the Cherokee people who moved to Arkansas and then to Indian Territory in the 1820s before the removals. Chief Walter Webber established a trading post at Webbers Falls. The marker also provides an 1895 map of the CN to show how Tahlequah, Fort Gibson and Fort Smith, Arkansas, were in relation to Webbers Falls.

TOTA has chapters in the nine states in which the Cherokee Trail of Tears passed: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

“Their purpose is to back up and help the National Park Service carry out their congressional mandate, and that mandate is to mark the forced removal routes of the Cherokee Nation,” Poteete said. “We weren’t the only tribe removed, but ours was the most publicized, and it was the largest and biggest mess probably of all the removals, so that’s the one Congress decided to mark.”

He said TOTA also tells the removals of the other four Southeastern tribes that were removed in the early 1800s: Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole and Muscogee (Creek).
About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.

News

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
02/17/2018 02:00 PM
A lawyer representing two American Indian tribes urged a federal appeals court Tuesday to keep in place the changes a judge ordered for a South Dakota county's system of removing children from homes in endangerment cases. Stephen Pevar, a tribal law specialist with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that before those protections were imposed, the system was stacked against tribal families. From 2010 through 2013, the state was granted custody of all 823 Indian children it sought to remove from homes in Pennington County. "The state won 100 percent of the proceedings," said Pevar, who is representing the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux tribes in the case. "It would have been a miracle if these parents had prevailed because they were denied elementary due process." The tribes sued the county in 2013, saying its procedures for conducting initial hearings in such cases violated the federal Indian Child Welfare Act. The tribes argued parents were denied basic due process protections in these informal hearings, including the right to a court-appointed attorney and to see and challenge the allegations against them. The chief U.S. district judge for South Dakota, Jeffrey Viken, sided with the tribes in three rulings in 2015 and 2016. He ordered changes to give parents more rights at those initial hearings, which are required to be held within 48 hours of a child's removal from the home to decide whether the child should be returned to the home or be placed in the custody of the state Department of Social Services. Parents previously weren't guaranteed legal protections until a later stage in the process. The county, which includes Rapid City, is now abiding by the judge's orders. While the case applies most directly to Pennington County, the case has attracted attention elsewhere in Indian Country. The Cherokee Nation and Navajo Nation, the two largest tribes in the U.S., and other tribal groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief that said this lawsuit is vital to ensuring that courts follow the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was enacted in 1978 in response to widespread abuses by state child welfare systems against Indian children and families. The law sets standards for removing Indian children from their families, terminating parental rights and placing them in foster or adoptive homes. The brief says other states in the 8th Circuit have statutes or procedures in place to ensure those standards are met. Lawyers for Pennington County State's Attorney Mark Vargo and other officials named in the case argued that the lower court did not follow proper legal procedures, so its decisions should be overturned. Much of their appeal turns on complex legal arguments over whether the state's attorney or the presiding judge in the southwest corner of the state counted as policy-makers responsible for the old procedures who could legally be sued over them. Parents did get full legal protections later in the process well before their parental rights could be terminated, said attorney Jeff Hurd, who represents Craig Pfeifle the presiding judge for the South Dakota judicial circuit that includes Pennington County. The appeals court took the case under advisement. Chief Judge Lavenski Smith called it "a very difficult case" and said the panel would rule as soon as possible, but didn't specify when.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/16/2018 03:00 PM
TULSA — Cherokee Services Group has secured a contract to aid the federal government in its effort to analyze, measure and manage tribal forest lands located in Indian Country and the United States. CSG, a Cherokee Nation Businesses consulting company, is supporting the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Branch of Forest Resources Planning with assisting the Forest Service in restructuring and improving its Continual Forest Inventory software, which is used to monitor and quantify forest composition and conditions. “The Forest Management Service Center is working with Cherokee Services Group on the development of a new CFI processing and analysis software tool for the BOFRP,” Mike Van Dyk, forest vegetation simulator group leader for FMSC, said. “We are pleased to be part of such an important collaboration with the BIA in providing essential tools for the assessment and management of tribal forest lands.” CNB officials said the five-year contract currently has a value of $810,000 but they expect that amount to increase of the contract’s life because of the amount of work and resources necessary for the project. The tribally owned company is refactoring the software to best practice and tested-development standards that leverage modern object-oriented practices. The updated software will assist service center representatives with long-term forest plans for tribal entities. “The Forest Service Management Center’s Forest Vegetation Simulator model and the National Volume Library, both of which are heavily integrated into the CFI application, use scientifically validated, merchantable volume estimates to project future forest conditions,” CSG Manager Bob Freeman said. “Our placement of resources at the center allows for direct, unimpeded communication with the developers of this nationally recognized and industry standard software.” The FMSC provides products and technical support for the Forest Service and is solely responsible for development and maintenance of the Forest Vegetation Simulator, a nationally supported framework ensuring consistency among forests in vegetation dynamics modeling. For more than a decade, CSG has been providing federal and commercial clients with IT solutions and business support services. Wholly owned by the Cherokee Nation, CSG specializes in software and application services, network infrastructure services and business process services. Headquartered in Tulsa, it has a regional office in Fort Collins, Colorado, and 22 additional offices nationwide. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.cherokee-csg.com" target="_blank">www.cherokee-csg.com</a>.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
02/15/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH (AP) – Within the past 10 years, technology has advanced so rapidly that Americans are racing to stay abreast of the latest computer software, cellular devices and the ever-expanding reach of the Internet. The Cherokee Nation Community and Cultural Outreach Program is helping citizens stay up to date with the newest and most efficient technology, so nonprofit organizations and individuals can excel in a more connected world. “Most of the folks that we work with are in their 60s or retirees, so they’re definitely digital immigrants,” said Chris Welch, technical assistance specialist. “Sometimes they’re scared of the process of technology. We want to bring it to light to them and show them it’s not as scary as it seems.” The CCO hosts the Technology Webinar Series the second Thursday of every month. The group has been offering the seminars for two years now, and the lessons have become more intensive. “We started with very basic computer tips and tricks, even to the point of navigating the desktop - how to copy and paste, just simple things,” said Brad Wagnon, technical assistance specialist. “Then we’ve gone through a lot of Microsoft programs, like Powerpoint, and just have gotten more advanced as it goes.” After working with the CCO and watching webinars, nonprofits have taken steps to improve their method of getting their message to the public. One nonprofit organization “gave a new meaning to cut and paste,” said Welch. “They literally typed their grant out on a typewriter, cut it out and then pasted it into the space with glue,” he said. “That’s what we were dealing with to begin. That same organization now has built its own website and they do a digital newsletter every month, so they’ve gone from that to the other end of the spectrum within a three-year period.” In the past, the CCO has offered training on self-improvement topics, like how to manage stress. The department has since tried to help citizens build skills that will transfer into a successful nonprofit organization. This year, the group’s technology webinars have focused on social media. “With the social media stuff we’re focusing on this year, it’s going to help them market and tell the story of their nonprofit organization to everybody,” said Welch. “Most of them don’t realize this, but most of their viewers these days are millennials. By 2025, 75 percent of the workforce is going to be millennials, so they definitely are going to have to learn to tell their story in a different way, so we want to try and help them with that.” The CCO helps nonprofit groups through the help of another nonprofit organization. The webinars are based on trainings from gcfreelearn.org, which was created to help nonprofits grow. The most recent webinar spotlighted how to use Google Hangouts and Skype. Each webinar airs at 6 p.m. the second Thursday of the month, and is available on the CN YouTube page. All of the videos are archived, so anyone who misses one can still watch it. The next Technology Thursday Series is March 8 and will focus on Instagram. For more information, call 918-207-4953.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
02/15/2018 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Local veterans gathered on Feb. 13 at the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center for the center’s first Valentine’s Day dance and social event. The Veterans Center was transformed into a Valentine’s wonderland with paper hearts leading attendees into the building and holiday décor placed throughout. The event featured a live band, a photo booth, food, desserts and fellowship. “We always enjoy hosting our veterans, and tonight is a special opportunity for them to fellowship and create some lasting memories at our Cherokee Nation Veterans Center,” Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden said. Couples, as well as singles, young and old, listened and danced to the music of the Three F’s. The band transported attendees back in time with songs from genres such as country and western and sweetheart songs from the 1950s and 1960s. Loretta Reed and her husband Terry Reed, both served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam. Loretta said they were “thrilled” to have a place to celebrate Valentine’s Days. “We are so thankful and so blessed to have an event offered like this. So thank you so much Cherokee Nation and everyone who had a helping hand in this. The food was delicious and so very well-prepared and beautifully placed,” Loretta said. “We are just so thrilled that they would take the time and energy to provide us a place to have a party and have a happy Valentine’s Day.” Barbara Foreman, CN Veteran Affairs director, said the dance is one of many new events the center is trying. “We have been looking at some new ideas and we thought the only way we are going to know if they work or not is to try them. The veterans were excited when we mentioned it and their spouses were really excited, so we thought we would go ahead and try it. This is just a fun social event for them to come together at,” Foreman said. “We just want to get the word out and to let our veterans know that our facility is here, so that’s why we are doing these activities.” She said veterans could expect to see more social events on the Veterans Center calendar this year. For more information, call 1-800-256-0671 or visit <a href="http://www.cherokee.org" target="_blank">www.cherokee.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/14/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Association of the Descendants of Nancy Ward will host a bus trip in conjunction with its March 24, 2018, annual meeting. Buses will leave Oklahoma on Tuesday, March 20 and return Sunday, March 25. Sites visited in Tennessee are expected to be: Chota memorial (birthplace and home of Nancy Ward), Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, Blythe’s Ferry, Hair Conrad Cabin, Brainerd Mission and Red Clay State Historic Park. Sites visited in Georgia are expected to be: The Vann House, Springplace Cemetery, New Echota Historic Site and the 1755 Taliwa Battle Site. At 9:30 a.m., Saturday, March 24, the association’s annual meeting will be held at Nancy Ward’s gravesite in connection with a monument dedication led by Daughters of the American Revolution. Buses will pick up passengers on March 20 at the following locations: 8 a.m., Hard Rock Casino, Catoosa; 8:50 a.m., Cherokee Casino, Fort Gibson; approximately 9:40 a.m., Cherokee Casino, Sallisaw. Cost of the trip for individuals is $705 for single hotel occupancy and $520 for double occupancy. For more information, email <a href="mailto: descendantsofnancyward@gmail.com">descendantsofnancyward@gmail.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/14/2018 12:00 PM
WASHINGTON – The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian James Dinh, Daniel SaSuWeh Jones (Ponca) and Enoch Kelly Haney (Seminole), Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne/Arapaho), Stefanie Rocknak, and Leroy Transfield (Maori: Ngai Tahu/Ngati Toa), who advanced to the second stage of the National Native American Veterans Memorial design competition. The five finalists shared their visions for the memorial and presented their initial design concepts at a public event held at the museum on Feb. 7. At the event, Kevin Gover, NMAI director, spoke of the gravity of the responsibility to design a national memorial to Native American veterans. Native Americans have served in every American conflict since the Revolution and have served at a higher rate per capita than any other group throughout the 20th century. “Most important is their pride in what they have done and their commitment to the well-being of the United States,” said Gover. “To realize that these men and women served well a country that had not kept its commitments to their communities over its history. They are perfectly aware of it, and yet they chose to serve. And to me that reflects a very deep kind of patriotism. A belief in the promises of a country that had not kept its promises to them up to that time. I can think of no finer example of being Americans than the way these men and women chose to serve over those years.” Links to view the finalist’s design are: • <a href="http://nmai.si.edu/sites/1/files/nnavm/Dinh-Stage-I.pdf" target="_blank">James Dinh</a> • <a href="http://nmai.si.edu/sites/1/files/nnavm/Jones-Haney-Stage-I.pdf" target="_blank">Daniel SaSuWeh Jones (Ponca) and Enoch Kelly Haney (Seminole)</a> • <a href="http://nmai.si.edu/sites/1/files/nnavm/Pratt-Stage-I.pdf" target="_blank">Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne/Arapaho)</a> • <a href="http://nmai.si.edu/sites/1/files/nnavm/Rocknak-Stage-I.pdf" target="_blank">Stefanie Rocknak</a> • <a href="http://nmai.si.edu/sites/1/files/nnavm/Transfield-Stage-I.pdf" target="_blank">Leroy Transfield (Maori: Ngai Tahu/Ngati Toa)</a> The finalists will have until May 1 to evolve and refine their design concepts to a level that fully explains the spatial, material and symbolic attributes of the design and how it responds to the vision and design principles for the National Native American Veterans Memorial. The final design concepts for Stage II will be exhibited at both the Washington, D.C., and New York museums May 19 through June 3. The museum’s jury of Native and non-Native artists, designers and scholars will judge the final design concepts and announce a winner July 4. The memorial is slated to open in 2020 on the grounds of the museum. This project is made possible by the support of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Bank of America, Northrop Grumman, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker LLP, General Motors, Lee Ann and Marshall Hunt, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the Sullivan Insurance Agency of Oklahoma. The museum was commissioned by Congress to build a National Native American Veterans Memorial that gives “all Americans the opportunity to learn of the proud and courageous tradition of service by Native Americans in the Armed Forces of the United States.” Working with the National Congress of American Indians and other Native American organizations, the museum is in its third year of planning for the memorial. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.AmericanIndian.si.edu/NNAVM" target="_blank">www.AmericanIndian.si.edu/NNAVM</a>.