CN providing grants to support spring education tours

02/08/2018 12:00 PM
TULSA – The Cherokee Nation is accepting grant applications for its spring education tours. The sponsored tours provide an exclusive look at the Nation’s rich history and culture. Applications will be accepted Feb. 5 through March 23.

Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism awards the grants in the spring and fall to elementary public schools within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction.

Complimentary curriculum is provided to schools that receive the grant and is available to teachers upon registration. Curriculum includes a teacher’s guide to prepare students for the education tour as well as a student activity.

The tour options are:

• Cherokee History consisting of Tahlequah’s historic Capitol Square and Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum, Cherokee National Prison Museum, Murrell Home, Cherokee Heritage Center and ancient Cherokee village, Diligwa.

• Will Rogers consisting of the Will Rogers Memorial Museum and Dog Iron Ranch.

• Civil War consisting of Tahlequah’s historic Capitol Square, Murrell Home and Fort Gibson Historic Site.

Grants are available for grades third through sixth and funding is provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

Minimum requirements for eligibility for schools include being located within the Nation’s jurisdiction, a majority of the school’s students must hold Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood cards, the school’s class size may not exceed tour capacity and the majority of the school’s students must be eligible for free and/or reduced school lunches.

Schools that do not meet the requirements or miss the deadline may experience the program for a small fee. Special rates are available for seventh through 12th grade and college students.

Applications are available at For more information or to book a tour, call 918-384-7787.


05/18/2018 12:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Three Oklahoma City schools named after Confederate generals may soon be renamed. The school board on May 14 was expected to consider new names for Lee, Jackson Enterprise and Stand Watie elementary schools, which are named after Confederate generals Robert E. Lee, Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson and Isaac Stand Watie, a Cherokee. Committees made up of community members, school staff and parents selected two potential names for each school, which were presented to students at each school who then voted on their preference, district spokeswoman Beth Harrison said. The students’ choices will be presented for the board for approval, although the board could select any name it chooses, Harrison said. The suggested names haven’t been made public. Board member Carrie Coppernoll Jacobs told The Oklahoman that children and employees should feel welcome in the places where they learn and work. “To make amends for the past, we have to own it,” she said. “School names may seem like a small gesture, but all progress has value,” Coppernoll Jacobs said. The board voted in October to rename the schools following violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the removal of a Confederate statue. The Tulsa school board recently renamed Robert E. Lee Elementary as Lee School, although critics say the change doesn’t go far enough. It also renamed Andrew Jackson Elementary as Unity Learning Academy. The Oklahoma City board conducted an online survey for names and the names of Lee, Jackson and Watie received the most votes, while past state and local leaders were also popular. The other names receiving votes include minster and former school board member Wayne Dempsey, educator and civil rights activist Clara Luper, writer and Oklahoma City native Ralph Ellison and Wilma Mankiller, who was the first woman to be principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. The cost of changing the names is estimated at about $40,000, which a local attorney has agreed to pay.
05/16/2018 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Sequoyah High School recently named seniors Katelyn Morton and Aspen Ford as the class of 2018’s valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively. At 6:30 p.m. on May 18 in The Place Where They Play gym, 99 seniors will graduate from SHS. The class of 2018 has accumulated more than $2.5 million in scholarships and grants so far. Morton, 18, of Tahlequah, is the daughter of Kathryn Wood and Nason Morton. She graduates with a GPA of 4.56 and is attending the Oklahoma City University Wanda L. Bass School of Music this fall and plans to double major in music and Spanish. After her audition at the Wanda L. Bass School of Music, Morton received a music scholarship worth $25,600. She also earned a Presidential Leadership Scholarship worth $19,200. “Being accepted into one of these programs creates a lot of connections,” Morton said. “First, I’m going to focus on those connections and probably intern at a casting agency or under a director so I can know the behind-the-scenes. Then, I’ll begin to audition for anything I can.” Through concurrent enrollment, Morton completed nearly 30 credit hours at Northeastern State University during high school. She also participated in National Honor Society, Student Council, Stand for the Silent, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Fellowship of Christian Students. Morton is vice president of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council and is a member of the Cherokee National Youth Choir. She has also been a member of Tulsa Youth Opera and was cast in Tulsa Opera’s American premier of “The Snow Queen.” She has been the captain of Sequoyah’s competitive speech and debate/drama team and president of the drama department. She became the first student in Sequoyah’s history to reach All-State for speech and debate/drama. Ford, 18, of Tahlequah, graduates with a 4.51 GPA. She will attend NSU in Tahlequah this fall with a Presidential Leadership Class scholarship worth around $40,000. She also earned the Cherokee Nation undergraduate scholarship and the James R. Upton Memorial Award through the Cherokee Nation Foundation. “My mom and dad have always pushed me ever since I was young to focus on school and my studies first, before anything else,” Ford said. “I think that stuck with me throughout high school, and I know it will in college. It gave me a mindset to know my priorities and what’s important and what will make me successful.” Ford, the daughter of Amber Arnall and Damon Ford, plans to major in media studies while at NSU and expects to study abroad. She said she hopes to find a career in photojournalism, a passion she garnered during educational trips to Greece and Italy in 2017. While attending Sequoyah, Ford completed 39 hours of concurrent enrollment at NSU and three credit hours at the University of Oklahoma. She also participated in Student Council, Sequoyah’s academic team, National Honor Society, History Club, 4-H and the Oklahoma Indian Honor Society and attended North America’s largest powwow during the Gathering of Nations in New Mexico in 2016 as a member of the Honoring Our People’s Existence Club. Ford is also a member of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council and the Cherokee National Youth Choir.
05/15/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – A recent $5,000 donation by the Cherokee Nation to the RiverHawks Women’s Basketball team will make it possible for Northeastern State University to participate in a two-game basketball classic in Los Angeles over Thanksgiving break. In addition to competing against Division II basketball programs, the trip will provide a memorable student athlete experience for team members. “I am so grateful to Cherokee Nation and (Tribal Council) Speaker Joe Byrd for their generosity and commitment to the RiverHawks women’s basketball program,” NSU women’s coach Fala Bullock, said. “Speaker Byrd made a great statement to me following the photo by reminding me of the positive impact the Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah and University can have on each other through possible future partnerships,” NSU Director of Athletics Tony Duckworth said.
05/15/2018 12:00 PM
JAY – Cherokee Nation citizen and Jay High School senior Gabe Simpson, 19, was recently named a 2018 Gates Scholar. The prestigious Gates Scholarship is a highly selective, full-ride scholarship for exceptional, Pell-eligible, minority, high school seniors who have shown academic excellence, as well as strong leadership abilities. Simpson is one of 300 high school students out of nearly 30,000 applicants from across the United States to be awarded the scholarship. “I know a lot of people apply for it (Gates Scholarship), so I was really happy when I found out,” Simpson said. He also said upon graduation in May, he plans to attend Oklahoma State University in Stillwater this fall to play football. “There was a lot of Division IIs that wanted me and a few DI schools,” he said. “OSU offered me a preferred walk-on, and I always wanted to play at a big powerhouse college like that, so I thought I would give it a shot.” He said although he plays other sports such as basketball, baseball and competitive cheerleading, he’s been playing football since he was “big enough to play” and his “love” for the game is what led him to want to play in college. As for a career choice, he said he hopes to pursue a career in pharmacy or physical therapy. “Pharmacy is because I love math and science, and it’s a lot of that like chemistry. And physical therapy is because I love sports, and they work with a lot of athletes through that,” he said. Simpson’s words of advice to other students thinking about applying for the Gates Scholarship is to “start young because there’s a lot of people who slack off during freshman and sophomore year, and when they realize they want to go to college their grades weren’t as good to apply. But also, apply for as many scholarships as you can.”
05/15/2018 08:00 AM
LONDON, ENGLAND – Cherokee Nation citizen Ashlee Fox, of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, is a junior studying economics at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. “I decided to study economics because after taking my first economics class as a freshman at Reed it changed the way I thought about the world. Economics has given me the tools to think about policy, ask big questions and solve problems with a combination of theory, math and critical thinking,” Fox said. While at Reed, Fox won four fellowships that advanced her in different areas of economic studies – the Financial Services, Evan Rose Fund, Winter International Travel and the Opportunity fellowships. She also founded American Indians at Reed, which is a Native student union. “When I got to Reed, thousands of miles from home, I knew no Native students. It was a steep learning curve. I didn’t want new Reedies to walk on campus and have that same experience, so I wanted to create a community for Native students at Reed,” she said. In September she traveled to England to begin study at the London School of Economics. “I was placed in the social policy department at LSE, which has given me the opportunity to think about how policy works, and what doesn’t work, in the United Kingdom and European Union,” she said. “It is an interesting time to be in the UK, given that the country is in the midst of Brexit (Britian’s exit from the EU) and facing a lot of difficult questions.” While in London, Fox has involved herself with the nonprofit agency FoodCycle, which takes would-be food wasted from grocery stores and restaurants and turns it into meals for those in need. She said this also helps her understand food and agriculture policy in the UK. Also, Fox was recently named a 2018 Truman Scholar. The scholarship is for aspiring public service leaders in the United States. Fox was one of 59 students selected and will receive a scholarship up to $30,000 for graduate study. “I’m humbled and deeply honored to represent Oklahoma as this year’s Truman Scholar, and the scholarship has undoubtedly changed my life. I figured out a long time ago that I wanted to pursue public services. I started working on campaigns in high school, from Tribal Council campaigns to congressional campaigns, and I led a political organization. I was fired up to create change and I decided politics was the way to do it,” Fox said. Upon graduation from Reed, Fox said she would pursue a master’s degree in public policy, a law degree and wants a career in federal Indian law and policy. “I strongly believe that tribal sovereignty is at the heart of every good policy in Indian Country. Tribal sovereignty is a fundamental right of nationhood, but too many policymakers on Capitol Hill don’t understand that. I want to change that. Broadly, I am interested in the intersections of tribal sovereignty, food and agriculture policy and economic development.”
05/11/2018 12:30 PM
MUSKOGEE – Bacone College officials said the school would temporarily suspend operations due to lack of funding beginning May 14. Outgoing President Frank Willis made a Facebook live statement to Tulsa’s KJRH Channel 2 on May 8 announcing the suspension of operations. The school had an estimated 700 students enrolled in the spring 2018 semester with about 100 students to graduate at the college’s May 12 commencement ceremonies. “We’ve run out of money, and so we’re temporarily closing as of this coming Monday,” Willis said. “We’ll complete the semester then we’ll lay almost everybody off.” He said about 95 full-time and part-time faculty and staff will be laid off, with some already receiving notices on May 4. Willis said the school’s reopening is in the hands of incoming President Dr. Ferlin Clark, who has been working around the country to obtain funds for Bacone. Willis said Bacone has also sought help from tribal nations. The Cherokee Phoenix asked the Cherokee Nation’s administration if it planned on giving any funds to the school but had not received a response as of publication. Willis said there are “a couple of reasons” why the school is on the verge of permanently closing, including a lack of student tuition payments. He said though many students adhere to their payment plans, others have been “scamming” or “dodging” to complete their financial work. Willis said student tuition equates to about $2 million. “Last year we were about $2 million short of completing the year. The American Baptist Home Mission Society, whose missionaries founded this school, provided a line of credit of $1 million, and we were able to get $1 million from other sources, including a loan from me, that got us through last year,” Willis said. Willis said he hopes the school is able to get approved for another line of credit again this year from the ABHMS and find other sources of money. Students were given notification that they had to be moved out of their dormitory rooms by May 11 for undergraduate students and May 12 for graduate students, according to a Tulsa World article. This caused problems for students who live out-of-state or are international students who attend the college. Due to the temporary suspension, students will not be allowed to use a summer housing waiver to continue living on campus. Willis said the school is expected to close for three weeks, pending funding, to continue into its summer courses and fall semester. Bacone was founded in 1880 and is Oklahoma’s oldest center for higher education. It was started by Professor Almon C. Bacone, a missionary teacher, who started a school in the Cherokee Baptist Mission in Tahlequah. Seeing the need to expand, the Creek Nation Tribal Council granted 160 acres of land in Muskogee where the school resides.