The Cherokee Nation honors 131 northeast Oklahoma volunteer fire departments with $3,500 checks at the tribe’s annual Volunteer Firefighters Awards Ceremony on May 7 in Catoosa. COURTESY
CN gives nearly $500K to volunteer fire departments
CATOOSA – Northeastern Oklahoma’s rural fire departments received a financial boost on May 7 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino as Cherokee Nation officials handed out checks totaling nearly $500,000 to 131 departments across the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction.
According to a CN press release, volunteer fire departments rely on fundraisers, membership dues and other types of help to maintain their operations. So to help, CN officials gave each department a $3,500 check – totaling $458,500 – to help with equipment, fuel or other items needed, the release states.
The funding is appropriated in the tribe’s budget annually, according to the release.
“Every single day in communities throughout the Cherokee Nation, the men and women of volunteer fire departments are on call,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Volunteer firefighters are committed to the communities they serve, and they deserve the thanks and support of the Cherokee Nation. That’s why year after year the tribe invests in rural fire departments so they can be better equipped to protect our families, our homes and our property.”
Langley Fire Department in Mayes County and Brushy Mountain Volunteer Fire Department in Sequoyah County were recognized as 2018 Volunteer Fire Department of the Year.
Firefighters in Langley near Grand Lake spent weekends going door to door installing smoke alarms for community residents. The effort saved a life when a home caught fire just months after the department installed a smoke detector, which alerted the residents to evacuate, the release states.
The Langley department responded to 340 calls in its community in 2017, and firefighters have spent nights and weekends training to better themselves as first responders, according to the release. The release states the department plans to use the CN donation to update equipment such as self-contained breathing apparatus.
“We really appreciate what the Cherokee Nation does for us every year. The donation really helps the small departments like Langley, and it really means a lot to us,” Langley Fire Chief William Long said. “I’m really fortunate that we have 20 firefighters on our department who are all willing to do the training asked of them. We’re pretty fortunate.”
Firefighters at Brushy Mountain Volunteer Fire Department near Sallisaw have spent the past year working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Oklahoma Forestry Services battling wildfires that charred nearly 4,000 acres in one month, the release states.
“Our firefighters never give up, and they work well with any agencies involved,” Brushy Mountain Fire Chief Bobby Caughman said. “They always watch out for each other. When we had a 500-acre fire, a 450-acre fire and a 3,000-acre fire in one month, they all showed up as soon as they could and they worked until the job was done.”
The release also states the CN selected five recipients for Volunteer Firefighter of the Year:
• Jerry Hammons, of Illinois River Area Fire Association, for his work in a senior leadership role as an active first responder. Hammons’ 30-year service to the department includes saving a number of lives as a skilled airboat pilot trained in water rescues. He dedicates hundreds of hours each year to training and fire department projects, and became trained in emergency medical response when a need for trained responders rose in the fire district.
• Tonya Broyles, of Whitehorn Fire Department, for traveling to Houston after 2017’s devastating Hurricane Harvey and rescuing flood victims. Broyles, who is also a teacher at Porter Public Schools, volunteered to travel with a team to Houston, where they faced hazardous conditions while rescuing those impacted by the hurricane and subsequent flooding.
• Gina Buzzard, of Marble City Volunteer Fire Association, for her dedication and work ethic. Buzzard is a certified first responder and firefighter who has stepped up to serve her community. During Thanksgiving, when many volunteer firefighters were out of state, the department received more than a dozen calls for help, and Buzzard responded to every call and worked the entire week.
• Chuck McConnell, of Chance Volunteer Fire Department, for saving the life of a gunshot victim. McConnell, a co-founder of the department and a captain to the firefighters, arrived at the scene when a woman was shot and found in critical condition. He used the skills he learned in a tactical combat casualty care course to quickly treat the woman’s nine gunshot wounds and keep the victim awake until an ambulance arrived. The actions of McConnell and other firefighters are credited with saving the woman’s life.
• Robert Long, of Ketchum Fire Department, for his 22 years of service as chief of the department and for his dedication to the community and fire department. Long recently stepped down as chief but has organized trainings for the fire department and responded to the vast majority of calls since joining the department in 1989. He’s known for helping farmers and ranchers by coordinating controlled burns of their pastures, and has donated his own time, equipment and food to areas impacted by natural disasters.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Registration Office stays busy year round receiving, processing and sending out CN citizenship and Certificate Degree Indian Blood cards to applicants.
Registration officials said the office receives an average of 1,200 CN citizenship applications per month. For a quicker processing time, Registration staff recommend citizenship applications be made shortly after a child is born. This will give staff time to process the application should any services be requested for the child in the future.
All applicants need to complete applications listing their direct lineal ancestors (parent, grandparent) back to a Dawes Roll enrollee. The application process times vary. Some applications may require more or updated information such as correct birth certificates and affidavits, and some applications may not be completed correctly.
“If the applicant’s parent is already registered, then we just need an application and birth certificate listing the Indian parent,” Associate Tribal Registrar Justin Godwin said. “If no one in the family has received CDIB (Certificate Degree Indian Blood) card or citizenship (card), then we will need the birth or death certificate beginning with the applicant back to the enrollee.”
The birth or death certificate must contain a state seal, state file number and be certified by the state registrar.
Officials said six years ago more than 23,000 citizenship applications were pending and another 15,000 CN citizens were awaiting CDIB cards under the previous system. Officials said that backlog is now wiped out and a system is in place to keep pace with the applications submitted.
To lower waiting times, officials said the CN added nearly 2,000 square feet to the Registration Office. The department also received a budget increase, which allowed for adding 22 full- and part-time employees.
Employee responsibilities were also realigned, officials said, as five operators were assigned to answer applicant questions, and others were assigned to type or process files, address special projects and work on backlogged applications.
Officials said Registration’s database application was also updated in 2013 to more efficiently process citizenship and CDIB cards. New processes were also developed to provide employees with documents that had been scanned and filed in an electronic database, officials said.
Officials said as a result, citizenship and CDIB applications filed with all necessary documentation can now be processed in as little as one month, compared to previous wait times that often stretched out for two years or more.
Applications can be picked up at the Registration Office or printed online at <a href="http://www.cherokee.org/Services/Tribal-Citizenship/Downloadable-Forms" target="_blank">www.cherokee.org/Services/Tribal-Citizenship/Downloadable-Forms</a>. People may also email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 918-458-6980 or mail Cherokee Nation, Attn: Tribal Registration, PO Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465.
Officials said aside from issuing citizenship and CDIB cards, the Registration Office also produces free photo identifications that serve as a dual citizenship and CDIB card. Since 2012, more than 100,000 photo IDs have been issued, officials said.
The cards have CN citizenship information on one side and CDIB information on the other.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Phoenix is now taking names of elders and military veterans to provide free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper.
In November, Cherokee Nation Businesses donated $10,000 to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Fund. The fund provides free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper to elders 65 and older and military veterans who are Cherokee Nation citizens. Subscription rates are $10 for one year.
“The Elder/Veteran Fund was put into place to provide free subscriptions to our Cherokee elders and veterans,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “Some of our elders and veterans are on a very limited budget, and other items have a priority over buying a newspaper subscription. The donations we receive have a real world impact on our elders and veterans, so every dollar donated to the Elder Fund is significant.”
Using the Elder/Veteran Fund, elders who are 65 and older as well as veterans 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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
TAHLEQUAH – According to a Cherokee Nation press release, the tribe donated a total of $90,000 to six Oklahoma-based domestic violence shelters on July 10.
Each shelter received $15,000. Those shelters are Women in Safe Homes Inc., of Muskogee; Safenet Services, of Claremore; Help-In-Crisis, of Tahlequah; Family Crisis Counseling Center, of Bartlesville; Domestic Violence Intervention Services, of Tulsa; and Community Crisis Center Inc., of Miami.
“Together, these entities are helping hundreds of domestic violence victims across northeast Oklahoma escape the atmosphere of physical, verbal and emotional abuse,” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “All six of these services are doing some fantastic work with the help of their employees and volunteers. There should be no doubt they are committed to breaking the cycle of domestic violence, which is, unfortunately, plaguing Indian Country. I’m proud to say the Cherokee Nation is supportive of their mission.”
Safenet Services operates a 35-bed center for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Among the key services offered by Safenet is an intervention program for those accused of domestic violence.
The release states that the CN’s donation is helping Safenet recruit volunteers and organize approximately 300 who already work with the entity throughout the year.
“Cherokee Nation has always helped us,” Donna Grabow, Safenet Services executive director, said. “This day and age it’s hard to keep the funds coming and not be cut, and it’s really tough because utilities and food costs are going up and we’re helping three times the number of people. When they come in with nothing, it makes such a big difference to have the help of Cherokee Nation.”
Tribal Councilor Keith Austin said he often visits with Grabow and others who work at Safenet Services to check on their programs.
“The team at Safenet, led by Donna Grabow, is so dedicated to helping those who are most vulnerable build a better future,” Austin said. “I am proud the Cherokee Nation supports their good work.”
The donations to the shelters were provided through the tribe’s charitable contributions fund.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation Marshal Services is a tribal law enforcement agency that has 33 deputy marshals who cover the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction, which covers all or part of 14 counties in northeast Oklahoma.
The CNMS received about 40 applications for deputy marshal this past year and has an average of about 30 to 60 applications in a hiring cycle.
“They go through physicals, mental health (testing) and…a psychological evaluation,” Marshal Shannon Buhl said. “They will do their weapons qualification, get sprayed with OC (oleoresin capsicum or pepper) spray and get Taser-certified.”
Deputy marshals can only work “in house” and not on the street until they receive an academy date. The academy, known as FLETC, is the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. It is in Artesian, New Mexico, and is four months long.
Also to become a deputy marshal, one must study a policy manual that is about 600 pages long and be tested on it.
“Once they go there (FLETC) they go for four months. They get trained and certified, but they come back and do four-month FTO (training), which is Field Training Officer. This means they go with a training sergeant for four months and are evaluated every shift during the four-month period,” Buhl said. “So it could be a year from the day we hire somebody until they become a deputy marshal.”
Following all the trainings, deputy marshals are able to work and patrol on any given shift depending on how many people are on a shift. Marshals work in shifts but are on patrol 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Also, before candidates are hired they must go through CN Human Resources to see if they qualify, can pass a background check and meet other prerequisites. From there they take physical fitness tests where the top test scores are picked by the trainers before moving on to written exams. Applicants must score a 70 on to be considered. Those with the top exam scores will move on to the sergeants’ board that is made up of five sergeants and a lieutenant who ask the applicants questions. It is the first time applicants are interviewed, after the physical fitness tests and written exams. The next interview period occurs after the sergeants pick who can move to the command level board for a two-hour interview. The command board determines if the applicant is a good fit, and they try to gage an applicant’s stress aptitude.
After the sergeants make their decisions on whom to hire, the names they choose are submitted to Human Resources for a complete background checks. If they pass, Human Resources will then present applicants job offers.
The CNMS has various special operations groups. Before applying for special operations, deputy marshals have to be on the job for a year.
A special operations team is similar to a SWAT team, Buhl said. The team performs hostage rescue, high risk warrant service, can deal with an armed and barricaded gunman and has “direct action” teams that can work on issues affecting communities such as gangs.
“We can put that team in there and concentrate on those issues,” Buhl said.
The second group is a dive team. They do underwater evidence recovery and body recovery.
“We usually have about half a dozen calls for the dive team a year and have around 50 calls for the special operations team,” Buhl said.
The marshals also have a Search and Rescue team that can search for lost or injured people.
The CNMS is located in next to the Tribal Complex. For more information, call 918-207-3800.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission wants to ensure that eligible CN citizens register to vote in the tribe’s 2019 general election, which is set for June 1.
According to an EC press release, CN citizens who are at least 18 years old, or will be 18 on the day of the general election, must register to vote by midnight CST on March 29.
The release also states that people who have never registered to vote or who aren’t registered in the districts of their respective residences, as well as people who are registered but need to change their registration information, may register by completing and submitting CN voter registration applications on or before the voter registration deadline.
According to the release, voters with new 911 addresses will also need to complete voter registration applications, updating their address information on or before March 29.
“Now is the time to check and make sure you are registered to vote. Citizens are encouraged to check with the Election Commission office and to verify the information is correct,” Elections Director Connie Parnell said. “With Cherokee Nation Holiday fast approaching the Election Commission will be attending the holiday celebration. The Election Commission will provide voter registration stations for the visitors to check on their registrations.”
Parnell said the registration stations would be located in the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex during open house and the Courthouse Square during the parade and State of the Union Address.
Voter registration forms can be requested or submitted in person, by U.S. mail, email or fax. Forms are available online at <a href="http://www.cherokee.org/elections.aspx" target="_blank">www.cherokee.org/elections.aspx</a> or in the Election Commission Office at 17763 S. Muskogee Ave. To mail a request, send the request to Cherokee Nation Election Commission, P.O. Box 1188, Tahlequah, OK 74465-1188. To submit an email request, email <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>. For a fax request, dial 918-458-6101.
According to the release, the EC responds in writing to every person who submits a voter registration application. The response is either a voter notification card listing the new voter’s district number or a letter explaining why the application for voter registration was not approved. Any person who has submitted a voter registration application and has not received a response within 30 days should contact the EC, the release states.
Parnell said the EC also plans to provide voter outreach efforts at events and locations such as community meetings, health clinics, high schools and technology centers within the tribe’s jurisdiction.
For more information, call 918-458-5899 or toll free at 1-800-353-2895.
TULSA – Cherokee Nation Management & Consulting, a subsidiary of Cherokee Nation Businesses, has secured two indefinite-delivery contracts with the U.S. Army.
“We are pleased to continue growing our relationship with the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army,” Steven Bilby, CNB’s diversified businesses president, said. “It is a great honor and privilege to serve the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who serve our country so bravely.”
Through the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the tribally owned company will provide the U.S. Army with professional support to ensure sustainable and ready operational services and enhance the ability of the U.S. military forces to fight and meet the demands of the national military strategy.
CNMC will provide a skilled team of analysts and specialists to support the OASA IEE and its Energy and Sustainability Directorates in focus areas such as environment, safety and occupational health, strategic integration, installations, housing, and partnerships.
“We are proud to have these opportunities,” Scott Edwards, CNMC operations general manager, said. “As a company, we are dedicated to providing first-class service, and we’re looking forward to deploying the expertise and skills of our team to support the vital mission of the U.S. military.”
CNMC is fulfilling a $10 million, four-year contract with the Department of Defense and a $15 million, three-year contract supporting the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment.
CNMC formed in 2013, provides technical support services and project support personnel to its defense and civilian agency partners. It’s headquartered in Tulsa and is part of the CNB family of companies. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.cherokeenationbusinesses.com" target="_blank">www.cherokeenationbusinesses.com</a>.