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
12/09/2017 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A nonprofit public watchdog is suing Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter for refusing to release a special audit into criminal allegations connected to the state's effort to clean up heavily polluted communities in northwest Oklahoma. Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Accountability filed the lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court Monday against Hunter and Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones, seeking the audit's release. Jones' office conducted the audit in 2011 at the request of former Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump's pick to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But after the audit's completion, Pruitt ordered it not to be released. The audit looked into suspected unlawful contracting practices of a state trust involved in a buyout of residents in the lead-polluted communities. Hunter's office declined comment Monday on the lawsuit.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
12/07/2017 04:15 PM
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — President Donald Trump's rare move to shrink two large national monuments in Utah triggered another round of outrage among Native American leaders who vowed to unite and take the fight to court to preserve protections for lands they consider sacred. Environmental and conservation groups and a coalition of tribes joined the battle Monday and began filing lawsuits that ensure that Trump's announcement is far from the final chapter of the yearslong public lands battle. The court cases are likely to drag on for years, maybe even into a new presidency. Trump decided to reduce Bears Ears — created last December by President Barack Obama — by about 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante — designated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton — by nearly half. The moves earned him cheers from Republican leaders in Utah who lobbied him to undo protections they considered overly broad. Conservation groups called it the largest elimination of protected land in American history. The move comes a week after tribal leaders decried Trump for using the name of a historical Native American figure as a slur. On Nov. 27, Trump used a White House event honoring Navajo Code Talkers to take a political jab at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat he has derisively nicknamed "Pocahontas" for her claim to have Native American heritage. "It's just another slap in the face for a lot of us, a lot of our Native American brothers and sisters," Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez said. "To see that happen a week ago, with disparaging remarks, and now this." Trump also overrode tribal objections to approve the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. The Navajo Nation was one of five tribes that formed a coalition that spent years lobbying Obama to declare Bears Ears to preserve lands home to ancient cliff dwellings and an estimated 100,000 archaeological sites. Native Americans visit the area to perform ceremonies, collect herbs and wood for medicinal and spiritual purposes, and do healing rituals. A lawsuit from the coalition of the Hopi, Ute Indian, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni tribes and Navajo Nation was filed late Monday night. Earlier Monday, Earthjustice filed the first of several expected lawsuits, calling the reduction of Grand Staircase-Escalante an abuse of the president's power that jeopardizes a "Dinosaur Shangri-la" full of fossils. Some of the dinosaur fossils sit on a plateau that is home to one of the country's largest known coal reserves, which could now be open to mining. The organization is representing eight conservation groups. Trump, in a speech at Utah's Capitol with the governor and other politicians, said the state's lands should not be managed by "very distant bureaucrats located in Washington." "Your timeless bond with the outdoors should not be replaced with the whims of regulators thousands and thousands of miles away," Trump said. "I've come to Utah to take a very historic action to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens." The decision marks the first time in a half century that a president has undone these types of land protections. Trump's move followed months of lobbying by Utah's mostly Republican officials who said the two monuments closed off the area to energy development and other access. Environmental and tribal groups say the designations are needed to protect important archaeological and cultural resources, especially the more than 1.3 million-acre (2,030-square-mile) Bears Ears site featuring thousands of Native American artifacts. Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch said only Congress, not the president, has the power to reduce a national monument, something that the tribal coalition argued in its lawsuit. Additional legal challenges were expected from environmental groups and outdoor clothing company Patagonia. Outside Trump's announcement Monday, roughly 3,000 protesters lined up near the State Capitol. Some held signs that said, "Keep your tiny hands off our public lands," and they chanted, "Lock him up!" A smaller group gathered in support, including some who said they favor potential drilling or mining there that could create jobs. Bears Ears has no oil or gas, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters, though Grand Staircase-Escalante has coal. Bears Ears, created nearly a year ago, will be reduced to 201,876 acres (315 square miles). Grand Staircase-Escalante will be reduced from nearly 1.9 million acres (nearly 3,000 square miles) to 1 million acres (1,569 square miles). Both were among a group of 27 monuments that Trump ordered Zinke to review this year. Democrats and environmentalists accuse Trump and Zinke of engaging in a secretive process aimed at helping industry groups that have donated to Republican political campaigns. Zinke accompanied Trump aboard Air Force One, as did Utah's Republican U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. Hatch and other Utah Republican leaders pushed Trump to launch the review, saying the monuments designated by the former Democratic presidents locked up too much federal land. Trump framed the decision as returning power to the state, saying, "You know and love this land the best and you know the best how to take care of your land." He said the decision would "give back your voice." "Public lands will once again be for public use," Trump said to cheers. Hatch, who introduced Trump, said that when "you talk, this president listens" and that Trump promised to help him with "federal overreach." No president has tried to eliminate a monument, but some have reduced or redrawn the boundaries on 18 occasions, according to the National Park Service. The most recent instance came in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy slightly downsized Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico. Trump signed an executive order in April directing Zinke to review the protections, which Trump is able to upend under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The law gives presidents broad authority to declare federal lands as monuments and restrict their use. Zinke has also recommended to Trump that Nevada's Gold Butte and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou monuments be reduced in size, though details remain unclear. The former Montana congressman's plan would allow logging at a newly designated monument in Maine and more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico. Patagonia President and CEO Rose Marcario said the outdoor-apparel company will join an expected court fight against the monument reduction, which she described as the "largest elimination of protected land in American history."
BY STAFF REPORTS
12/07/2017 12:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation is accepting grant applications for projects in Cherokee County communities with a population less than 6,000. Designed to improve the quality of life for rural Oklahomans, the program will award grants to qualified nonprofit organizations or entities of state and local government for projects that will positively impact the community in the areas of arts, culture and history; health; and libraries and literacy. The deadline for grant applications is Jan. 15. The Community Grant program supports projects that provide opportunities for rural Oklahomans to improve themselves and their communities. Earlier this year, $168,140 was awarded for 16 community projects through the grant program. Grants are available for projects serving communities with a population less than 6,000 in Adair, Atoka, Bryan, Caddo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coal, Greer, Harmon, Haskell, Jackson, Johnston, Kiowa, Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain, Pushmataha, Sequoyah, Tillman and Washita counties. Grants of up to $10,000 will be considered for projects serving one eligible community and/or county and up to $15,000 for projects serving multiple eligible communities and/or counties. The one-year grant may be used to create a program or significantly expand an existing program and should benefit a broad range of individuals in the community. For complete grant guidelines and application information, visit <a href="http://www.ruraloklahoma.org/community-grants" target="_blank">ruraloklahoma.org/community-grants</a>. Call Erika Warren with questions at 405-606-2920 or email <a href="mailto: e.warren@occf.org">e.warren@occf.org</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
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 circlecinema.com. For more information on TFF, visit <a href="http://www.tribalfilmfestival.org" target="_blank">tribalfilmfestival.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
12/05/2017 05:00 PM
MESA, Ariz. – The United National Indian Tribal Youth is accepting nominations for its 2018 UNITY 25 Under 25 Native Youth Leadership Awards. The program is designed to celebrate the achievements of Native American and Alaskan Native youth ages 14-24 who embody UNITY’s core mission and exude living a balanced life developing their spiritual, mental, physical and social well-being. Honorees will be recognized at a ceremony during the National UNITY Conference July 5-9 in San Diego at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center. In addition to being recognized and receiving a custom-beaded medallion, each awardee will receive training by UNITY during a nine-month period that is designed to build on his/her individual achievements and promote community service. The 25 Under 25 Native Youth Leadership Awards has been made possible in past years thanks to a matching grant from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The awards program began in 2014 and is awarded every other year. The 2018 class will be UNITY’s third class of honorees.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
12/03/2017 02:00 PM
AMHERST, S.D. (AP) — A federal agency says a leak in TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone oil pipeline in South Dakota likely was caused by damage during construction in 2008. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a corrective action report Tuesday on the estimated 210,000-gallon oil spill. The report says a weight installed on the pipeline nearly a decade ago may have damaged the pipeline and coating. According to the report, weights are placed on the pipeline in areas "where water could potentially result in buoyancy concerns." TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper said the company has been working cooperatively with the federal agency and has begun "a safe, controlled and gradual startup" of the pipeline. Cooper says that process will continue over the next couple of days. South Dakota officials don't believe the leak polluted any surface water bodies or drinking water systems. The company disclosed the buried pipeline leak on agricultural land in Marshall County on Nov. 16.