http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgTrail of Tears Association, Memphis, and National Park Service officials gathered with TOTA members on Oct. 7 to dedicate a new Trail of Tears marker on the east bank of the Mississippi River. Taking part in the unveiling of the marker were TOTA Executive Director Troy Wayne Poteete, left, Director of the Tennessee Trails Association Graydon Swisher, Official Shelby County Historian Jimmy Ogle, TOTA President Jack Baker and NPS National Trails Superintendent Aaron Mahr. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Trail of Tears Association, Memphis, and National Park Service officials gathered with TOTA members on Oct. 7 to dedicate a new Trail of Tears marker on the east bank of the Mississippi River. Taking part in the unveiling of the marker were TOTA Executive Director Troy Wayne Poteete, left, Director of the Tennessee Trails Association Graydon Swisher, Official Shelby County Historian Jimmy Ogle, TOTA President Jack Baker and NPS National Trails Superintendent Aaron Mahr. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Trail of Tears marker commemorates water route

During an Oct. 7 ceremony to unveil a marker commemorating a water route that went through Memphis, Tennessee, President of the Trail of Tears Association Jack Baker talks about how it is important to remember that Cherokees were transported by riverboat to Indian Territory. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX A National Park Service marker on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tennessee tells the story of how Cherokee people were moved from their homelands by riverboats in 1838 following the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830. It also provides information about the Indian Removal Policy and the land trails used by Cherokee people to reach Indian Territory during the forced removal. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
During an Oct. 7 ceremony to unveil a marker commemorating a water route that went through Memphis, Tennessee, President of the Trail of Tears Association Jack Baker talks about how it is important to remember that Cherokees were transported by riverboat to Indian Territory. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
10/16/2014 08:18 AM
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Trail of Tears Association, Memphis and National Park Service officials gathered Oct. 7 with TOTA members to dedicate a Trail of Tears marker on the east bank of the Mississippi River.

The NPS marker tells the story of how Cherokee people were moved from their homelands by riverboats in 1838 following the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830. It also provides information about the Indian Removal Policy and the land trails used by Cherokee people to reach Indian Territory during the removal.

The marker dedication was part of the TOTA’s annual convention held Oct. 7-9 in Memphis.

TOTA President and Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor Jack Baker thanked the NPS for “fast tracking” the placement of the marker.

“I think it’s significant that we remember the water route because so much of our work is done on the land route and marking sites along the land route that we tend to forget there was a water route. We forget the three (Cherokee) detachments that were sent west almost immediately after the roundups. One of the detachments had 145 deaths on the way,” Baker said.

He said some of his ancestors used the water route to go to Indian Territory, one of who died.

Baker said Principal Chief John Ross came through Memphis on a boat and three or four days after passing Memphis his wife Quatie died near Little Rock, Arkansas.

TOTA Director Graydon Swisher said Memphis is known as a bluff city, which made it an ideal landing spot for boat traffic on the Mississippi River.

“This is Chickasaw territory. We’ve got a lot of history here in Memphis. The Bell Route (Cherokee) came through Memphis. It was a land route and it came in...where the Wolf River came in,” Swisher said. “We are working on a land route marker just like this one to be put up there some time in the next year or so. Because the convention was here, we were able to make some things happen.”

I think it’s significant that we remember the water route because so much of our work is done on the land route and marking sites along the land route that we tend to forget there was a water route.

– Jack Baker, Trail of Tears Association president
Swisher said other signage has been placed around Memphis to commemorate and mark events that took place during the forced removal of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Muscogee Creek and Choctaw in the 1830s. The Seminoles, who were moved to Indian Territory from Florida, were moved by ship across the Gulf Coast and up the Mississippi for part of their journey.

NPS National Trails Superintendent Aaron Mahr said Swisher played an important role in this year’s conference and for getting the Trail of Tears marker placed along the river.

“This is (a) particularly exciting development here. This is in an urban area. It’s highly visited by families, by all sorts of groups, by ethnically diverse groups who come here and see this on a daily basis. It’s really important that we have that ability to reach so many people,” Mahr said. “You can’t really understand the trail unless you come to Memphis, unless you come to Tahlequah, unless you come to Cherokee, North Carolina. Tying all of these together – these urban areas, these rural areas – that’s what the trail experience is all about, so having this development here in Memphis is particularly important for us. It just raises awareness of the trail that much more.”

The TOTA – made up of nine state chapters from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina and Georgia – met for the first time in Memphis.

TOTA Executive Director and CN Supreme Court Justice Troy Wayne Poteete said the annual meetings are held in part “to encourage scholarship” about the Indian removals among its members.

“It encourages the scholars and professional historians who study our history to continue in that vein and to share their work, and it provides an opportunity for the enthusiasts, the people who study the trail, who work on marking it, to come together and hear those scholars, to interact with them, to hear about their research,” Poteete said. “It also raises public awareness of the removal story in whatever community we go to.”

He said the association does not study and share the Trail of Tears story so that the Cherokee and other tribes who were affected by the forced removals can be seen as “victims.”

“We work on marking this route and talking about this history because it gives us the opportunity to honor their resilience because they persevered. They overcame those hardships and rebuilt the Cherokee Nation. It gives us an opportunity to say, ‘their endurance wasn’t in vain; we’re still here. We’re a viable people,’” Poteete said.

There are around 600 TOTA members, Poteete said, with about 125 to 175 members who attend the annual conference. He expects close to 175 attendees at next year’s 20th annual conference in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Also, at the TOTA conferences participants get acquainted with the NPS and the services they provide to aid the TOTA in carrying out the Congressional mandate, Poteete said.

“The Trail of Tears Association backs up their efforts to carry out the Congressional mandate to mark the trail. A lot of times we look on like they’re helping us, but we’re helping them do what Congress said to do,” he said. “Congress is able to give relatively small amounts of money to the Park Service. Through the volunteer efforts of people in the association, we leverage that funding to get a lot more trail marked than if they (NPS) had to do the research themselves, and if they had to have the personnel to interact with the local officials to make arrangements for the signs to go up.”

For more information about the TOTA, call 501-666-9032 or visit www.nationaltota.org.
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 ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
10/16/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Oct. 9, Native Americans, including many Cherokees, celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day in Tahlequah and on Northeastern State University’s campus. The following Cherokee Phoenix video highlights people and events of the day.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
10/15/2017 04:00 PM
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BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
10/15/2017 12:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Three hung juries in the case of a white former Oklahoma police officer charged with fatally shooting his daughter's black boyfriend had one thing in common besides unwillingness to convict: Each had only one African-American juror. Race has been an undercurrent in ex-Tulsa officer Shannon Kepler's first-degree murder case, which is headed for a fourth trial. Criminal law experts and U.S. Supreme Court cases point to the importance of racial identity and policing when it comes to jury selection, which is set to start Monday. Kepler, a 24-year veteran of the force, was off duty in August 2014 when he fatally shot 19-year-old Jeremey Lake, who had just started dating Kepler's daughter. Kepler doesn't deny pulling the trigger but says he did so only because he thought Lake was armed. No weapon was found on or near Lake's body. Officers across the U.S. involved in fatal shootings of black residents have recently faced similar trials. In the past year alone — including in Tulsa — juries were unwilling to vote for a conviction or prosecutors were unwilling to charge officers in cases from Baltimore to St. Louis. In May, a jury acquitted now-former Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby in the killing of an unarmed black man, which roiled the city's black community. "I don't see how race cannot play a role," said Kris McDaniel-Miccio, a professor at Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver and a former Bronx-based prosecutor. "I don't think there's any way to get around it because of what has happened in this community." The racial makeup of the juries in Kepler's previous trials prompted criticism from at least one civil rights group. Tulsa activist Marq Lewis with We the People Oklahoma said Kepler's defense attorneys have been booting potential jurors based on skin color. "The last three juries somehow felt that Jeremey was a bad person because he was black," Lewis said. "They couldn't bring themselves to believe this off-duty officer would literally shoot someone in cold blood without thinking somehow the black guy is sinister and he's done something bad." Richard O'Carroll, Kepler's defense attorney, has denied race played a role in Lake's killing. O'Carroll did not return messages this past week seeking comment on the case. Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler declined to comment specifically on the racial makeup of the past juries, but acknowledged "frustration" with the results of the trials. "I know I had citizens who put in a lot of effort and worked very hard and I know from their perspective they are frustrated as well," Kunzweiler said. Another racial element was recently added to the case when Kepler argued that he couldn't be tried by state prosecutors because he's a member of an American Indian tribe. A judge determined the fourth trial could move forward in state court. Kepler says he's 1/128th Muscogee (Creek). Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-1 that prosecutors violated the Constitution by excluding African-Americans from an all-white jury that convicted a black Georgia death row inmate of killing a white woman. The decision emphasized rules set by the court in 1986 to prevent racial discrimination in jury selection. Seating more jurors of color — especially in cases involving police who have fatally shot people — could be a factor in how a jury ultimately votes, said Bridgette Baldwin, professor of law at Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts. "The life experience is different," said Baldwin, who is black. "I may not be scared of a young male with a hoodie on because I've been socialized to be around these types of individuals. You see things differently, you hear things differently, you process things differently." McDaniel-Miccio, the Denver law professor, said the Kepler case illustrates what the U.S. is trying to address when it comes to race, police and the justice system. "How many generations do we have to have pass before we come to the honest realization that there is a distinct racial and ethnic asymmetry in this country?" she said. "We live in a world where we should believe that when something like this happens, they will be facing justice and they will be held accountable if they broke the law — no more, no less.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/14/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation will install storm shelters in its Head Start campuses after recently receiving an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The above-ground storm shelters will protect nearly 300 toddlers, preschoolers and staff at seven Head Start sites from severe weather and will be used as multipurpose facilities at the centers. An internal notification system for staff is also being implemented. “Ensuring our most valuable resource, our children, are able to stay safe and keep sheltered during a life-threatening storm gives us all a better peace of mind,” Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden said. “Providing these additional levels of protection is a responsibility we take very seriously at Cherokee Nation. In northeast Oklahoma, dangerous weather is an inevitability we must prepare for, and these storm shelters will enable the tribe to offer Cherokee families a better sense of security when it comes to their kids.” The CN is one of 77 tribes to receive a portion of $55.2 million worth of Indian Community Development Block Grants awarded by HUD on Sept. 14. The grants are meant to improve housing conditions and community amenities and to stimulate economic development across Indian Country. Shelters built at the seven Head Start campuses will be for the use of students, teachers, parents or visitors who are on-site during an emergency and will not be open for general community use. “This grant is providing a great opportunity to keep our students out of harm’s way during severe weather,” Ron Etheridge, deputy executive director of CN Education Services, said. “I can think of no better investment than in the safety of our children and the staff charged with teaching those students on a daily basis.” The tribe’s Head Start program worked with the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service and Emergency Management to apply for the grant. Planning for the project is underway, and installation must be complete within 24 months. Head Start campuses that will receive storm shelters are the Children’s Village in Tahlequah, Cherry Tree campus in Stilwell, Redbird campus in Stilwell, Jay campus, Kenwood campus, Wauhillau campus in Nowata and Pryor campus.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
10/14/2017 12:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A hearing examiner has determined that Oklahoma City is entitled to a permit for water from a reservoir in the southeastern part of the state. The city seeks to take up to 115,000 acre feet (nearly 1.42 million cubic meters) of water annually from the Sardis Lake reservoir in the Kiamichi River basin, The Oklahoman reported . The reservoir impounds water from Jack Fork Creek, which is a tributary of the river. The city plans to invest $1 billion in infrastructure upgrades to divert the water to Lake Stanley Draper. Jim Couch, the city's manager, said the water will help the city's future growth. The report by hearing examiner Lyn Martin-Diehl was released Tuesday. It said the water the city is seeking is available for appropriation and that the city's plans will put the water to beneficial use, which is a requirement under the law for obtaining a permit. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board will consider Martin-Diehl's recommendations. Opponents of the permit say it negatively would affect the Kiamichi's flow as well as wildlife and tourism in the area. Martin-Diehl said the city's use of Sardis water won't interfere with the area's water needs with the proper management. Acquiring the permit is one of the steps necessary to finalize last year's water settlement between the city, the state, and Choctaw and Chickasaw nations. The settlement aims to end litigation over water management in southeastern Oklahoma. The settlement includes plans to manage the reservoir's levels and the river's flow as well as ensure tribes have a role in resource management in the region.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
10/13/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Oct. 10, Election Commissioner Teresa Hart was presented a letter commending her for her years of service to the Cherokee Nation and citing that her service with the commission “has come to a close.” In the letter, Principal Chief Bill John Baker thanked Hart for her service with the commission. “On behalf of the Cherokee Nation I want to thank you for your service as a Commissioner of the Cherokee Nation Election Commission,” the letter states. “During your years of service on the Election Commission, there has been much progress pertaining to the Cherokee Nation Election process. This progress could not have happened without the guidance of the Commissioners, and for that you should be commended.” Hart said she appreciated the opportunity to serve on the EC. “My life has truly been blessed. I have met so many wonderful people and made several lasting friendships,” she said. “The past year has not been as enjoyable to me, and I’m grateful to be moving on. Thank you Chief Baker for giving me this opportunity.” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. shared his admiration for the work Hart has done at the EC. “We appreciate Teresa’s service to the Cherokee people. Those who serve on Cherokee Nation boards and commissions sacrifice so much of their time and share their talents in the name of good government. Teresa certainly did so and she is rightfully proud of her tenure on the CNEC.” According to a 2013 Cherokee Phoenix story, Hart was appointed by Baker to take the seat of former Commissioner Lindsay Earls. Hart served in her first EC meeting in September 2013. Hart’s letter of dismissal was accompanied with a letter of appointment for Randy Campbell. According to the letter, Baker informed Tribal Councilors that he would be appointing Campbell to fill the vacancy with a four-year term beginning on Oct. 1 and concluding on Oct. 1, 2021. “I’m pleased to appoint Randy Campbell to the Cherokee Nation Election Commission,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Randy has tremendous experience in organizational management which will be beneficial to the election commission.” Newly appointed commissioner Campbell spent 35 years with the Teamsters Local Union 523 where he served as president and business manager before retiring in 2007. He also served on the executive board of the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations). “Its an honor that my chief and the rest of the board would ask me to be involved and take this position on. I hope I can fulfill their expectations and plan to do a great job.” Campbell said.