http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgRaven Girty, of Gore, speaks about her experiences on the annual “Remember the Removal” bicycle ride that she took part in 2017 during a panel discussion held in April at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. Sitting with her are KenLea Henson, left, and Macie Sullateskee, who also participated in the 2017 ride. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Raven Girty, of Gore, speaks about her experiences on the annual “Remember the Removal” bicycle ride that she took part in 2017 during a panel discussion held in April at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. Sitting with her are KenLea Henson, left, and Macie Sullateskee, who also participated in the 2017 ride. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Research shows ‘RTR’ ride benefits participants

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen J.D. Arch, left, speaks about how the “Remember the Removal” bicycle ride benefitted him in 2016 and how it continues to help him. With him is Trey Pritchett, who rode in 2017 and also spoke about the benefits of the ride during an April panel discussion at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen J.D. Arch, left, speaks about how the “Remember the Removal” bicycle ride benefitted him in 2016 and how it continues to help him. With him is Trey Pritchett, who rode in 2017 and also spoke about the benefits of the ride during an April panel discussion at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
05/29/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Research is ongoing on how the annual “Remember the Removal” bicycle ride benefits participants, and during an April panel discussion at Northeastern State University, some past cyclists shared how it has benefitted them.

The ride groups Cherokee Nation and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizens for a three-week, 950-mile ride from New Echota, Georgia, to Tahlequah. It follows the Northern Trail of Tears route to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. Approximately 4,000 Cherokees died during the roundups, incarceration and removals over land and water trails, as well as after the journey.

Dr. Melissa Lewis, of the University of Missouri, began her “RTR” research in 2013 and started using focus groups in 2015. Riders from the 1984 and 2015 rides were interviewed and their answers compared. In 2017, Lewis began using lengthy surveys with 19 riders participating. The survey focused on social, physical, emotional and cultural health and feelings before and during training, after the ride and six months later.

“People told us they lost weight and had improved their eating habits, had decreased stress, had increased feelings of a connection to peers and a stronger connection to Cherokee culture,” she said.

Lewis also studied Native-specific measures, including micro aggressions or “everyday subtle discriminatory experiences;” discrimination and historical trauma such as losses of land, culture, people in their families; and things related to the effects of colonization and how often people think about those things.

“We know that all three of those particular things – micro aggressions, discrimination and historical trauma – relate to worsening mental and physical health, so that’s why we took a look at those things,” she said.

Lewis added that results show the riders’ daily hassles, at first, “were significant,” but after the ride their stress and anxiety had improved, and this improvement continued six months later. The ride also helped those dealing with depression feel better, and this got even better six months later, she said.

Also, after six months, participants had less anger and experienced less micro aggressions.

Two areas Lewis said was concerning were post traumatic stress disorder and historical trauma. Right after the ride, the numbers for those were “statistically significant” and had increased. She said a likely contributor was that cyclists constantly visit or see gravesites of Cherokee people lost during the removals or read about the removal in a journal written by an eyewitness who traveled with Cherokees.

“It doesn’t seems there are many days that go buy where you all don’t see graves, and so these thoughts about historical loss, it’s not surprising that they went up,” Lewis said. “As the peak of knowledge happens…they felt sad and angry and frustrated, but the cultural pieces are so strong, that’s what the riders are left with. They’re not left with thinking about graves every day.”

During the panel, Billy Flint, a CN rider, said the history he learned in 2015 changed him and made him a stronger person. “I had a photograph of my third great-grandmother who was a child during the removal, and I carried that with me on the ride. And for someone who has dealt with issues of self-esteem and self-doubt for a good chunk of their life…the ride was truly a godsend in my life. I’m a stronger person. I’m a more socially conscious person than I was before. I realize I can do anything.”

Raven Girty, a 2017 CN cyclist, said she believes the PTSD and historical trauma can be attributed to seeing the graves of her people and learning about what happened to them. “You don’t come out of the ride the same as you were before the ride. You are going to change in some way. And what she (Lewis) was talking about with the PTSD and historical trauma, you see things that will break your heart. You see fields and fields of mass burials. You pass by areas that will have plaques that will tell you who passed away there. You learn stuff you had never been taught before, and it really hits home.”

However, Lewis’ research shows the biggest impact is to physical health.

J.D. Arch, an EBCI citizen who rode in 2016, said he weighed 270 pounds when he started training, and when it was over he weighed about 245. He said he’s stayed at that weight thanks to eating better and not consuming sugary drinks.

CN citizen KenLea Henson, who rode in 2017, said training and the ride taught her to eat healthier and that she continues that practice. “During the training period I really wanted to eat better because every time I ate better, I felt better. So to get through those really long rides, I had to make sure I was fueled with really healthy foods to help me keep going. So now, to feel better, I eat vegetables and fruits and no fast food and just drink water. So it really improved my health.”

Trey Pritchett, a 2017 CN rider, said the ride drove him to be conscious of his physical health. “Throughout high school, I was really an athletic kid. I played a lot of sports and did a lot of working out. When I graduated high school, I wasn’t playing sports anymore, so I thought there’s no need to be working out the way I did because I’m not competing anymore, so I just kind of let myself go. Throughout the course of this training I actually realized how important it is to actually be healthy and to stay fit whether you compete or not.”

He said by being fit he might add 20 years to his life and be that elder who can help keep the tribe’s culture and traditions alive. “One day, I could be that 80- or 90-year-old elder that people are going come to. Attempting to prolong it (life) and live longer, that gives me more time to be with my people to teach them and help them.”
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.

People

BY STAFF REPORTS
07/17/2018 04:15 PM
MUSKOGEE – As of July 14, Cherokee Nation citizen Johnny Tehee, of Vian, was expected to take over as the new chief for the Muskogee Police Department. Tehee has been with the MPD for more than 30 years. For the past 15 years he’s been the deputy chief to Chief Rex Eskridge, who was to retire on July 13. For about 10 years on the force, he’s specialized in investigating child abuse. Before the promotion, Tehee served as the deputy chief of the Investigation Division. Tehee said he believes the most important thing to concentrate on is community relations. He wants the community more involved on what the police are doing, and the police more involved on what the community is doing. “Back about 20 years I ran the Muskogee Police Athletic League, which means all the police officers would coach young kids’ football, baseball and basketball,” Tehee said. “We quit doing that about five or six ago, and I definitely want to get that back in place. I just think it’s a big asset for the community if you have officers involved in young kids’ lives.” In the 1990s, Tehee said Muskogee had a problem with drugs and gangs with the murder rate high going into the 2000s. Since that time, he said the MPD has put more officers on the street and crime rates have gone down. “We went from having double digits homicides to one or two a year. For the most part it’s a matter of keeping things going in the right direction,” Tehee said. He added that he’s “excited and looking forward to the challenges” of being the police chief. “I want to continue to move the Muskogee Police Department forward and carry on the legacy that was created by Chief Eskridge to remain one of the top law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma,” he said. Tehee graduated Vian High School in 1982 before studying criminal justice at Northeastern State University. He also graduated from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He said he’s been a member of First Baptist Church of Muskogee for more than 30 years and has spent years travelling the world on mission trips. He also said he’s been a long-time teacher in the church’s youth department. “Deputy Chief Tehee has the experience, the community relationships and leadership skills needed to be an outstanding chief of police,” Muskogee City Manager Mike Collier said. “He has big shoes to fill, but I know he’s more than capable and will do great things in our community.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/10/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Three local Cherokee youths competed in the U.S. Kids Golf – Tulsa Spring Tour held between March and June that consisted of seven tournaments. Kylie Fisher, Edwin Wacoche and Chase Jones also competed in the season-ending Tour Championship at the Cherokee Hills Golf Course at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa on June 10. They received points based on how they finished in each tournament with each player with the most points winning the division. Fisher, of Tahlequah, competed in the Girls 7-Under Division and won all seven tournaments played at Tulsa-area golf courses, plus the championship on June 10 with a score of 36 for nine holes. Wacoche, of Tahlequah, won the Boys 6-under Division and Jones, of Park Hill, won the Boys 10 Division. Fisher also recently won the U.S. Kids Golf Texas State Invitational for girl’s 7-under held June 18-19, by shooting 35 and 35 for a score of 70. The competitors in the tournament played 9 holes each day at the Brookhaven Country Club in Farmers Branch, Texas. “We were surprised she won it. She shot her best score to date in that tournament,” her mother Shauna Fisher, said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/03/2018 12:45 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Arts Center, in conjunction with the Spider Gallery, will host an art exhibit by local Cherokee artist J. Wade Hannon titled “Returning to the Cherokee Nation: A Selection of Paintings from Before and After” from July 6 to Aug. 3. In 2014, Hannon moved to Tahlequah from Chicago’s south side where he lived and worked. His family was part of the migration out of the Cherokee Nation between 1930 and 1950. The paintings in the show feature works completed in Chicago as well as works finished since relocating to Tahlequah. His work is primarily abstract done in acrylics with items added such as glitter and mica flakes as well as shells and feathers he’s collected. He’s been referred to by some as the “Jackson Pollack of the Cherokee art world.” “Being Cherokee has always been a part of my identity. When I found the opportunity to move to Tahlequah it made perfect sense to me. I have enjoyed the camaraderie with other Indian artists and have grown as an artist and a person being here,” he said. “I started painting in the ninth grade and continued painting off and on until about five or so years ago when I took up the brushes full time.” Hannon earned a doctorate in counseling from the University of Arkansas. He worked in mental health counseling after that until obtaining a position at North Dakota State University in Fargo where he was a professor in the master’s and doctoral programs in counseling. Along the way he fathered two children. A reception, featuring wine, cheese and crackers and other adult beverages will be held at 5:30 p.m. on July 6 in the Cort Mall located downtown. The show will run during the Spider Gallery’s business hours. For more exhibit information, call 918-453-5728. For more information about Hannon, call 539-832-9858 or email <a href="mailto: wadehannon@gmail.com">wadehannon@gmail.com</a>.
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
06/28/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation officials honored CN citizen Sammy Houseberg on June 21 with the Medal of Patriotism award for his service in the military. The Medal of Patriotism Awards is given at monthly Tribal Council meetings. Tribal Councilors can nominate a person to receive the award. Houseberg is also a “Remember the Removal” alumni rider who rode in 2016 as a CN Elder Ambassador. He was in town to watch this year’s riders come in the same day he received the patriotism award. Originally from Stilwell, Houseberg has resided in Pearl City, Hawaii, since he was honorably discharged from the Army. During his 22 years of service, he rose in rank from private to first sergeant, armor senior sergeant, platoon sergeant to senior scout/section leader. He also attended Air Assault reconnaissance and surveillance training with his cavalry squadron where he became capable of short notice deployments in support of combat operations all over the world to provide reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence assets to commanders. Houseberg was honorably discharged as an E-8 first sergeant in 1994. He said he was proud to receive the Medal of Patriotism and that it “probably beats all of my other awards.” In addition to the Medal of Patriotism, he earned several decorations, medals and ribbons during his service including an Army Commendation Medal with five Oak Leaf Cluster, an overseas service ribbon, two Purple Hearts with one Oak Leaf Cluster, an Army Service ribbon, a Combat Infantryman’s badge, four overseas service bars, a Bronze Silver Star medal and six Vietnam Campaign medals. “The military was good for me. It got me out to see the world. I got to learn how to work and deal with people. It was good to me. It was fun,” he said. After receiving the award, Houseberg attended the welcome home ceremony for the 2018 RTR bike ride. “The Removal bike ride taught me a lot about my history. I knew nothing about where my family comes from, where they were or anything,” he said. He said he learned his family originated from Georgia and was one of the first families to be removed. He added that he could not express how important it was for him to be back in Oklahoma to see the cyclists come in. “I just feel like a part of them and riding with the RTR you become brothers and sisters when you do that. Kind of like being in the military, once you’ve done it you all get together, and you stay in touch with all the young riders I rode with,” he said.
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
06/12/2018 08:30 AM
PARK HILL – Cherokee Nation citizen Cooper Keys is a 4-year-old with a passion for motocross. Born in 2013, Cooper began riding his 2004 Yamaha PW50 in February after finding tri-cycling slow and monotonous. With half a dozen races under his belt on the peewee dirt track at Jandebeur’s Motor Sports Park in Okmulgee, he’s notched five third-place finishes and one second-place finish. Cooper competes in the 50cc shaft drive/air cooled and 50cc beginner divisions and is the only 4-year-old racing against 5-to 7-year-olds. “We got him a starter balance bike when he was about a year and a half old,” CN citizen and Cooper’s mother Emily Keys said. “Balance bikes don’t have pedals or training wheels, so he just kind of pushed himself around until he eventually got to where he could ride around without using his feet.” Emily said Cooper soon began riding down hills, balancing perfectly on the bike that was designed for pushing around the yard. “When he outgrew the balance bike, we got him a bicycle that resembled a dirt bike, which he mastered in no time,” she said. It was around then that Emily and her husband, Justin, began thinking that Cooper’s abilities” weren’t “normal.” Cooper’s agility was only surpassed by his constant request for a real (motorized) dirt bike,” she said. “He was just gung-ho, and would not be quiet about it. My husband had a mini-bike when he was little but only rode it around the field, so we really knew nothing about dirt bikes or the sport,” Emily said. She added that it was eventually her parents who sprang for Cooper’s first dirt bike, as a Christmas present. She said she thought he would just want to ride around the field with it. But that wasn’t the case. Cooper wanted to ride all the time. “We were concerned about him racing at such a young age, so we just started at the bottom, learning everything we could on teaching Cooper how to ride safe and smart. We purchased every piece of safety gear a kid could have. Now the poor (child) looks like (a) mix between an astronaut and the Terminator when he’s all suited up to go,” Emily said. “He’s had some crashes but that hasn’t deterred him in the least.” Cooper’s father and CN citizen Justin Keys said Cooper’s can-do attitude was only one of the qualities he noticed. “It makes me really proud that he has such good sportsmanship and how he strives to make himself better. I mean he’s pushing himself more than anybody. He gets out there with a ride, ride, ride attitude and he never gives up. More than once, I’ve seen him fall down, get up and want to go again. You can’t teach that.” “We don’t want him hurt, and it is scary putting him on such a fast bike, but we’ve done all we can,’ Emily said. “We continue to teach him about safety, and we can’t let our fears get in the way of something he’s that passionate about.”
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
06/07/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Spectators who attended the Cherokee Nation’s All-Indian Rodeo on June 2 at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds got to see team and calf roping, mutton busting, steer wrestling, trick riding, sharp shooting, calf riding, bronco riding, barrel racing and bull riding. Overall, there were 270 entries to the traditional rodeo, but because of roping team deviations and multiple event entries, the exact number of competitors was unknown. Cherokee Phoenix was there and produced a highlight video of the event. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2018/6/42327__peo_180606_CNrodeo_rg_ts.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the list of All-Indian Rodeo 2018 winners