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 TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
05/18/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation citizens living outside the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction are eligible for free one-year subscriptions of the Cherokee Phoenix thanks to a $10,000 disbursement from the principal chief’s office on behalf of At-Large Tribal Councilors Mary Baker Shaw and Wanda Hatfield. The Cherokee Phoenix recently received the funds and is taking names on a first-come, first-served basis until the money is depleted. “These funds that have been provided to the Cherokee Phoenix by the joint efforts of our tribal administration and our At-Large (Tribal) Councilors Mary Baker Shaw and Wanda Hatfield will go a long way in providing subscriptions to at-large citizens,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “It has always been our goal here at the Phoenix to make sure that every citizen that wants a copy of the Cherokee Phoenix is able to get one. That is the sole reason we exist. Our success depends on our subscribers. Our ability to remain independent relies solely on the funds we receive from subscriptions, so these funds are not only assisting at-large citizens they are also assisting us in remaining independent. I’d personally like to thank Councilors Baker and Shaw as well as the administration for making this donation possible.” Scott added that there are no restrictions on receiving a free subscription other than living outside the CN jurisdiction and being a CN citizen. Using the fund, at-large CN citizens 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 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>. The Cherokee Phoenix also has a free website, <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org" target="_blank">www.cherokeephoenix.org</a>, 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. Cherokee Nation Businesses in November donated $10,000 to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Fund, which provides free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper to elders and/or military veterans who are CN citizens. No income guidelines have been specified for the Cherokee Phoenix 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 Cherokee Phoenix 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. Those who donate can also have entries submitted for them into the Cherokee Phoenix’s quarterly artist giveaway. For every $10 donated or spent on Cherokee Phoenix merchandise, a person gets one entry into the quarterly drawing. The next drawing is July 2 when it gives away a two-piece, 12-foot fishing rod donated by Larry Fulton of Larry’s Bait and Tackle in Fort Gibson.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/16/2018 04:00 PM
VINITA – Eleven Cherokee families received keys to their new homes on May 11 after participating in the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation’s New Home Construction Program. The 1,350-square-foot brick homes on Miller Street each feature a garage, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. According to Cherokee Nation Communications, $1.1 million was invested into the homes and infrastructure and will provide an estimated $28,000 in impact aid to local schools. CN citizen Candle Melton and her family received one of the new homes. The family of three had lived with her mother, and she said the home is a blessing. “We are so excited to have a brand new house to call our own. This would not have been possible without Cherokee Nation and the New Home Construction Program,” Melton said. “I am definitely proud to be Cherokee and cannot thank Cherokee Nation enough for their investments in our communities and for this wonderful opportunity to become the homeowners of a brand new home.” Principal Chief Bill John Baker implemented the program in 2012. The Vinita home recipients were selected from the HACN’s waiting list of applicants who do not own land. “Helping Cherokees improve their lives by establishing homeownership is creating stronger communities and healthier families in northeast Oklahoma,” Baker said. “We took these acres in Vinita and converted them into a desirable neighborhood of almost a dozen houses. Building safe and secure homes that are affordable for our citizens has established Cherokee Nation’s New Home Construction Program as the unparalleled model of excellence for Indian Country.” Chief of Staff and Vinita native Chuck Hoskin said the homes were the latest in decades of improvements to the area by CN. “In more than 25 years of serving the Cherokee people, I’ve witnessed much progress for this community. These new homes will have a lasting, positive impact,” Hoskin said. The HACN recently received a grant from Bank2 for the home program, which allows the HACN to keep the home recipients’ monthly payment at $350. Schools in the area also benefit from the homes because they receive $2,800 in federal impact aid for each enrolled student who resides in the homes. “The new Miller Street Housing Addition is a major boon for the town of Vinita,” Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez said. “Not only does it help citizens achieve homeownership, it’s also going to bring much-needed revenue to the school system through impact aid dollars.” Along with the homes, the CN also invested more than $100,000 in infrastructure development on Miller Street and within the housing addition. In addition to the 660 homes built through the program, the HACN has nearly 100 more homes under construction in the tribe’s jurisdiction. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.hacn.org" target="_blank">www.hacn.org</a>.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
05/16/2018 02:45 PM
TAHLEQUAH – During the May 14 Tribal Council meeting, legislators unanimously amended titles 21 and 22 of the Cherokee Code Annotated, regarding the Violence Against Women Act. The amendment “authorizes special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit domestic violence, dating violence, or a violation of a protection order.” The amended Title 22, Section 70 gives the Cherokee Nation special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over a non-Indian defendant under certain circumstances, including if the offender resides or is employed within the CN jurisdiction or is a spouse, intimate partner or dating partner of a CN citizen or Indian who lives within the CN. Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez said the act’s impact on women is the knowledge that women will be valued, treated with respect and empowered going forward. “I voted for the VAWA to be enforced because it’s the right thing to do. Cherokee Nation leads all tribes in profitable businesses, education and health care in Native Country, and we should be the leader when it comes to the safety of our women and children,” she said. In conjunction, the Tribal Council also amended Title 12 of the Cherokee Code Annotated regarding the Civil Protective Order Act. The amendment gives the CN District Court full civil jurisdiction to issue and enforce protection orders if an act of domestic violence occurred within the CN boundaries. However, the amendment states that jurisdiction is not authorized over parties who are both non-Indian. The amendment also states the District Court has the authority to enforce any orders by civil contempt proceedings, excluding violators from Indian land and other appropriate procedures in matters that arise within the CN jurisdiction or within CN authority according to CN law. In other business, Councilors authorized the “execution of certain contracts that preserve sovereign immunity,” which allows CN to enter into certain contracts more efficiently. Legislators also passed a resolution accepting land from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, which will allow permanent access and tribal upkeep of the road entering Sequoyah’s Cabin and Museum in Sequoyah County. The Tribal Council also amended the CN comprehensive operating budget for fiscal year 2018, increasing it by $5.9 million for a total budget of $693.1 million. Steven E. Barrick was also reappointed to the CN Gaming Commission.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/14/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Office of Veteran Affairs will host a Memorial Day ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 25 at the Warrior Memorial east of the Tribal Complex. According to a CN email, the ceremony will honor the men and women who died while serving our country’s armed forces. The ceremony will include a laying of wreaths, a rifle volley and the playing of “Taps.” A breakfast will follow the ceremony.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/14/2018 12:00 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. — The Cherokee Heritage Center will host gospel performances in Cherokee and English at the 19th annual Gospel Sing on May 19. Performances will begin at 1 p.m. The free event is open to the public, and guests are encouraged to bring chairs. The event concludes at 6 p.m. with a hog fry dinner. For more information, call Becky Adair at 918-456-6007, ext. 6160. The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
05/13/2018 04:00 PM
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — A Texas school district is trying to recruit teachers with a billboard campaign in Oklahoma, where teacher protests about salary and other education issues recently closed schools across the state. The Fort Worth Independent School District funded the billboards in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman and Stillwater. The Norman Transcript reports the billboards were revealed Monday with the message: "Your future is in a Fort Worth classroom — teacher starting salary $52,000." According to the latest statistics from the National Education Association, the average salary for a teacher starting out in Oklahoma is $31,919. Only Missouri and Montana are lower. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation last month granting teacher pay hikes of about $6,100 and providing tens of millions of new dollars for public schools. But teachers demand more. Fort Worth Independent School District spokesman Clint Bond said the district is "impressed with the passion and commitment" of Oklahoma's teachers. He said the campaign is a means to tap into a pool of quality teachers and show that Fort Worth has something to offer. "I don't think there's any doubt in anybody's mind that those teachers are passionate about their students," he said. "If they were thinking about moving to somewhere like Fort Worth, I know they would think long and hard about that. Norman Public Schools Superintendent Nick Migliorino said he's familiar with neighboring states' attempts to draw Oklahoma teachers away. "We've been dealing with this for many years now," said Migliorino. "When we go to job fairs, the bordering states, not just Texas, have booths there, and they're giving out large signing bonuses and starting salaries that we can't even touch with decades of experience." He said Oklahoma has a ways to go before it can compete in the market for teachers. "We have made incredible strides as a state over this last legislative session, but there's much more to do," Migliorino said.