http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgThe Echota Ceremonial Ground in Park Hill, Oklahoma, has a history older than the state. A benefit stomp dance will be held for the ground on Feb. 7 at the Tahlequah Community Building. Members from all ceremonial grounds are welcome to come and fellowship and raise funding for improvements to ground. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The Echota Ceremonial Ground in Park Hill, Oklahoma, has a history older than the state. A benefit stomp dance will be held for the ground on Feb. 7 at the Tahlequah Community Building. Members from all ceremonial grounds are welcome to come and fellowship and raise funding for improvements to ground. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Echota Ceremonial Ground has long history in area

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BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
01/17/2015 08:00 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – The Echota Ceremonial Ground operates with the assistance of the Cherokee Nation and with the assistance of its members and other ceremonial grounds in the area.

The ceremonial ground is on CN land near the Cherokee Heritage Center. It moved to Park Hill in 2001 from Adair County.

“It (land) was provided by the (Tribal) Council for the relocation of our fire. We were losing the property where we were at, but before we did we started looking for a new home, and the Council offered several pieces of property and we chose that one for our use,” Echota Ceremonial Ground leader David Comingdeer said. “Since then we’ve had a healthy land-use agreement with the Tribal Council and our chiefs.”

The Echota Ceremonial Ground’s history is older than the state’s, Comingdeer said. It began near the Peavine Community in Adair County and later moved to Coon Mountain, also in Adair County. There the ground struggled as its leadership aged or became ill until the ground was turned over to Comingdeer, who was serving as second chief, in 2002.

“It’s a struggle to keep the ground going, but it’s very rewarding at the same time,” he said.

A benefit stomp dance will be held for the Echota Ceremonial Ground from 7 p.m. to midnight on Feb. 7 at the Tahlequah Community Building located at 908 S. College Ave. Members from all ceremonial grounds are welcome for fellowship and fundraising for improvements to the ground. The emcee will be Opv Mack.

Raffles, cake walks, an auction and drawings for grocery baskets will be a part of the fundraiser. Also, a concession stand will be available for guests.

Comingdeer said some maintenance needs to be done to the ceremonial ground and he wants to update the restrooms available to members and guests.

“There are so many people who come out there. We have primitive restrooms, and we just want to improve things a little bit for our visitors and make it more comfortable when they come,” he said.

Comingdeer said he’s proud that the Echota Ceremonial Ground is still a member of the “Four Mothers’ Society.” He said it is the only Cherokee ground that is still a member of the more than 100-year-old society.

The society began because Cherokee ceremonial people, along with Muscogee (Creek) ceremonial people, opposed the allotment of the tribal lands during the Dawes Commission allotment period in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The people feared it would open up “surplus lands” to white settlement, which did occur.

He said several Muscogee (Creek) ceremonial grounds are still part of the “Four Mothers’ Society.” At the ceremonial grounds stomp dances, stickball games, meetings and ceremonies are held.

“My ancestors from that ground (Echota) and the other core families from that ground, allied with the Creeks,” he said. “To this day, when they have meetings in the Creek Nation, I get invited to meet with the Creek ceremonial chiefs to discuss different issues. The Creeks still acknowledge us as part of the alliance.”

Comingdeer said he expects to receive support at the benefit stomp dance from Muscogee (Creek) ceremonial grounds and local Cherokee groups. He said members of the Echota Ceremonial Ground also support the Muscogee (Creek) grounds with their fundraisers and events.

“We are a Cherokee community, and we embody the Cherokee ceremonial culture. We work hard to perpetuate, nor preserve, our ceremonial values and ceremonial ways the way they were passed down to us,” he said. “That’s what makes us a tribe. It’s not enterprises or businesses or whatnot. You can take all that away as long as we still have our ceremonial ground and our language and our ceremonial beliefs, we’re still a tribe. That’s what gives us our federal recognition...so it’s important that we uphold that.”

Members of the Echota Ceremonial Ground have five dance meetings during the spring and summer with the first dance in April.

For more information about the benefit stomp dance, call Comingdeer at 918-822-2302.
ᏣᎳᎩ

ᎠᏭᏂᏴᏍᏗ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ. – ᎢᏦᏗ ᎦᏘᏲ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎤᏂᎩᏏᏓ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏍᏕᎵᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎠᏁᏙᎯ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏐᎢ ᎦᏘᏲ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᏂᎷᎪ ᏓᎾᎵᏍᏕᎵᏍᎪᎢ.

ᎾᏍᎩ ᎦᏘᏲ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏤᎵᎪᎯ ᎤᏙᏢ ᎠᎴ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᏧᎾᏓᎴᏅ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎾᎥᎢ. ᎤᎷᏨ ᎠᎭᏂ ᎠᏭᏂᏴᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏌᏊ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ ᏂᏓᏳᏂᎩᏓ ᏓᏫᏍᎦᎵ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ.

“ᎦᏙᎯ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᎪᎸᏔᏅ ᎾᎿ ᏗᏂᎳᏫᎦ ᎤᏂᎲᏍᏗ ᎤᏂᏲᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᏥᎳ ᎤᏂᎲᎢ. ᎣᎩᏲᏎᎲᎢ ᎦᏙ ᎣᎩᎲ ᎾᎿ ᏦᎪᏢᏒᎢ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᏙᎯᏳ ᏃᎩᏲᏎᎸᎾ ᎣᎦᎴᏅᎲ ᎢᏤ ᎤᏙᏢᏗᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᏗᏂᎳᏫᎦ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᎪᎸᏔᏅ ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᏂᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᏥᏃᎦᏛᎾ ᎣᎦᏑᏰᏒᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅ ᎢᏦᏗ ᎦᏘᏲ ᏗᏓᏘᏂᏙ David Comingdeer ᏧᏙᎩᏓ. “ᎾᎯᏳ ᏂᏓᎬᏩᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᎾᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᏙᎦᏓᏁᏤᎸ Ꮭ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎡᏍᎦ ᏱᎩ ᏗᏂᎳᏫᎦ ᎤᏠᏯ ᏃᎴᏍᏊ ᎤᏂᎬᏫᏳᎯ.”

ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᏦᏗ ᎦᏘᏲ ᎤᏙᏢᏅ Ꮟ ᎤᎪᏓ ᎢᏳᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅᎢ, ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Comingdeer. ᏧᏓᎴᏅᎲᏃ Peavine ᎾᎥ ᎨᏒ ᎠᎴ ᏓᏫᏍᎦᎵ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎣᏂᏴ ᎤᏂᎲᏒ ᎾᎿ Coon ᏦᏓᎸ ᏭᏂᏅ, ᎾᏍᏊ ᏓᏫᏍᎦᎵ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎾᎿᏃ ᎤᏓᎴᏅᎲ ᎡᏍᎦ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᏗᏓᏘᏂᏙ ᎤᏔᎾᏯ ᎨᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏓᏂᎵ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅ ᎾᎯᏳᏃ ᏓᏥᏲᎯᏎᎸ Comingdeer, ᏔᎵᏁ ᎠᏓᎴᏁᎯ ᎨᏎᎢ ᎾᎯᏳ, ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏔᎵ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ ᎨᏒ ᎾᎯᏳ.

“ᎡᎵᏃ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᎩᏍᏙᏗ ᎦᏘᏲᎢ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎾᏍᏊ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᏰᎸᏗ ᎠᏓᎷᏤᎰᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.

ᎤᎾᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗ ᎠᎾᎵᏍᎩᏍᎨᏍᏗ ᎢᏦᏗ ᎦᏘᏲ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬᎢ ᎦᎵᏉᎩ ᎠᏟᎢᎵᏒ ᏒᎯᏰᏱ ᎠᏓᎴᏂᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᏒᏃᏱ ᎢᎪᎯᏓ ᎾᎿ ᎧᎦᎵ ᎦᎵᏉᎩᏁ ᏓᎵᏆ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎠᏓᏁᎸ ᎠᎭᏂ 908 S. College Ave. ᎠᏁᎳᏗᏙ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎤᎳᏗᏢ ᎦᏘᏲ ᏧᎾᏙᏢᎯ ᏓᏂᏯᏂ ᎢᎦᏓᏟᏐᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏕᎳ ᎤᏂᏟᏐᏗᎢ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎢᏳᏅᏙᏗ ᎦᏘᏲᎢ. ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᎾᎯᏳ ᎤᏒ ᎯᎠ Opv Mack.

ᎠᏆᏂᏲᏍᏗ ᎤᏳᏍᏗ ᏓᏂᎾᏕᎨᏍᏗ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎠᏓᏒᎲᏍᏙᏗ, ᎤᎦᎾᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏓᏒᎲᏍᏗ ᎤᎬᏩᏟ ᎠᎾᏂᎩᏍᎨᏍᏗ, ᎠᏂᎾᏕᏒᎲᏍᎬᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏓᎾᏎᏏᏍᎨᏍᏗ ᎪᏪᎵ ᎠᏓᏒᎲᏍᏙᏗ ᏔᎷᏣ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏓ ᎦᎵᏗᏓᏅᎢ ᎠᏓᏒᎲᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎮᏍᏗ ᎠᏕᎳ ᎠᏂᏟᏏᏍᎬᎢ. ᏃᎴᏍᏊ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎠᏂᎾᏕᏒᎲᏍᎨᏍᏗ ᎠᏁᏙᎯ ᎤᏂᏩᎯᏍᏗ.

Comingdeer ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎢᎦᏓ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎢᎬᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎦᏘᏲ ᎠᎴ ᏙᏯ ᏧᏁᏓᏍᏗ ᏗᏤᎯᎨ ᎢᏧᏩᏗ ᎤᏚᎵᎭ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎾᏓᏩᏛᎯᏙ ᏧᏅᏙᏗ.

“ᎤᏂᎪᏓᏃ ᏓᏁᏙᎰ ᏳᏟᎢᎶᏞ ᏧᏂᎷᎯᏍᏗᎢ. ᏧᏪᏘ ᏙᏯ ᏧᏁᏓᏍᏗ ᏙᎪᏢ, ᎠᎴ ᎣᎦᏚᎵ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎢᏦᎬᏗ ᏗᎬᏙᏗ ᎣᏣᎴᏅᎲᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.

Comingdeer ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎤᏰᎸᏐ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏦᏗ ᎦᏘᏲ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ Ꮟ ᎨᎳ ᎨᏒ “ᏅᎩ ᏳᏂᏥ.” ᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏩᏌ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏘᏲ Ꮟ ᎨᎳ ᎨᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᏳᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ.

ᎾᏍᎩ ᏅᎩ ᏳᏂᏥ ᎤᏓᎴᏅᎮ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏘᏲ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ, ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᎾᏠᏯᏍᏗ ᎹᏍᎪᎩ (ᎠᏂᎫᏌ) ᎦᏘᏲ ᎠᎾᎵᏍᎩᏍᏏᏙ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎠᏂᏍᎦᎩ ᎦᏓ ᏥᏕᎨᏥᏁᎮ ᎾᎿ ᏙᏒ ᏥᎨᎦᏎᏍᏗᏍᎨ ᎤᎵᏍᏆᏗᏗᏒ ᏁᎳᏚ ᎢᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎢᎬᏱ ᏐᏁᎳᏚ ᎢᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ. ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎠᏂᏍᎢᎲ ᎾᎿ “ᏯᎵᏍᏚᎢ ᎦᏓ ᏓᎲ” ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏲᏁᎦ ᎤᏂᎩᏍᏗᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅᎢ.

ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᎹᏍᎪᎩ(ᎠᏂᎫᏌ) ᎦᏘᏲ ᏚᏃᏢᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ Ꮟ ᏅᎩ ᎤᏂᏥ ᏚᎾᏙᏢᎯ.” ᎾᎿ ᎦᏘᏲ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᎩᏍᏗᎢ, ᎤᎾᏁᏦᏗᎢ, ᏧᎾᏠᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎦᏘᏯ ᏓᏍᏆᎵᏍᎪᎢ.

“ᎠᏯ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏗᏋᎾ ᏂᏓᏳᎾᏓᎴᏅ ᎦᏘᏲ (ᎢᏦᏗ) ᎠᎴ ᏗᏐᎢ ᎠᏂᏏᏓᏁᎸ ᏂᏓᏳᎾᏓᎴᏅ ᎦᏘᏲ, ᏚᎾᎵᎪᏁ ᎠᏂᎫᏌ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᎪᎯᎢᎦ ᏥᎩ, ᏱᏚᎾᏠᏏ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᎫᏐ ᎠᏰᎵ, ᏗᎬᎩᏯᏂᏍᎪᎢ ᏦᎦᏠᎯᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎦᏘᏲ ᎤᏂᎬᏫᏳᎯ ᏚᏂᎧᎲ ᎣᎩᏃᎮᏗ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓᏊ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ. ᎠᏂᎫᏌ ᎾᏍᏊ Ꮟ ᎨᎪᏟᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᏗᎦᎵᎪᎯ ᎨᏒᎢ.”

Comingdeer ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏚᎩ ᎤᏩᎯ ᎤᏂᎫᏍᏛᏗ ᎯᎠ ᎠᏕᎳ ᏥᏓᏲᏥᏟᏌᏅ ᎾᎿ ᎹᏍᎪᎩ (ᎫᏐᎢ) ᎦᏘᏲ ᏂᏙᏓᏳᎾᏂᎩᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎥ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎾᏓᏡᎩ. ᎠᏁᎳ ᎾᎿ ᎢᏦᏗ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᎩᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᏊ ᏓᏂᏍᏕᎵᏍᎪ ᎹᏍᎪᎩ (ᎠᏂᎫᏌ) ᏱᏧᏂᏍᏆᎸᎡᎵ.

“ᎣᏥᏣᎳᎩ ᎣᏥᏍᎦᏚᎩ, ᎠᎴ ᎣᎪᎯᏳ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎢᏳᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎤᎲᎢ. ᏍᏓᏯ ᏙᎩᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎰ ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ, ᎣᎩᏍᏆᏂᎪᏙᏗ, ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᏦᎦᏠᎯᏍᏗ ᏧᎬᏩᎶᏗᏳ ᎠᎴ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎣᎩᎲᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏂᎯᏯ ᎡᏘ ᏣᏁᎲ ᎠᏯ ᏃᏊ ᎣᎬᏙᏗ,” “ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏃᎬᏁᎭ. ᏝᏃ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎦᎾᏗᏁᏓ ᏱᎩ. ᏂᎦᏓᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏍᏗᏓᏂ ᏯᏂᎩ ᎠᏎᏃ ᎦᏘᏲ ᎠᎴ ᎣᎩᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎣᎪᎯᏳᏒ ᏰᎭ ᏏᏛ ᎣᏥᎾᏍᏓᏢᎢ ᏱᎩ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏫᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᏩᏥᏅ ᎢᏗᏢ ᎣᎪᎵᏍᏙᏗ…. ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᎩᏍᏗ ᏂᎪᎯᎸᎢ.”

ᎠᏁᎳ ᎢᏦᏗ ᎦᏘᏲ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎯᏍᎩ ᏃᏣᎵᏍᎩᏍᎪᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎪᎨᏯ ᎠᎴ ᎪᎦ ᎾᎿ ᎢᎬᏱ ᎠᎵᏍᎩᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎧᎸᎢ ᎧᎸᎢ.

ᎤᎪᏛ ᎠᏕᎶᎰᎯᏍᏗ ᏲᏚᎵ ᎾᎿ ᎦᏘᏲᎢ, ᏩᏟᏃᎮᏙᏗ Comingdeer at 918-822-2302.

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.

Education

BY JAMI MURPHY
Former Reporter
04/06/2016 08:30 AM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – Rogers State University’s Native American Studies Program on March 5 hosted a cultural enrichment day where students and community members had the opportunity to make stickball sticks, stickball balls and traditional baskets. Dr. Hugh Foley – a professor of fine arts at RSU, coordinator of the Native American Studies Program and Cherokee Promise scholar advisor – said it was the university’s 18th annual stickball and basket-making workshop. Foley said he works with Victor Wildcat, and adjunct Cherokee language instructor at RSU, who helps the participants make their crafts. “I’ve known Victor for a long time, graduated Muskogee High together…He contacted me in the (19)90s. My class was on TV here at RSU… He said ‘hey we do stickball workshops. Want to do one at RSU?’ So we started doing it,” Foley said. He added that his department reaches out to area schools and universities to offer them the opportunity to attend the cultural event. “The most important thing is to continue these cultural traditions and life ways and hopefully instilling them in some young people who will be excited about them and want to continue on with them. There aren’t many opportunities like this around. It is free to the people that come here,” he said. The second benefit of the event, he said, includes team, community and leadership building. “Getting students to understand you need to volunteer in your community to make it better, and so that’s a big part of what we do as well,” Foley said. Ty Martinez, a Cherokee Nation citizen and Cherokee Promise scholar, went to RSU for the cultural enrichment day from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. He said during the event he made Cherokee-style stickball sticks. “We’re on a group meeting with our Cherokee Promise scholars. We made Cherokee stickball sticks. Took us about hour or two hours to sand down and get right,” Martinez said. “This is actually the second set of sticks I’ve made, but first pair that I’ve used just the rasp and whittled it all the way down. I used a different tool on the other one, but I’m pretty happy with these.” He added that his first pair might be used for playing stickball, but his second he’s considering modeling them as an art piece. “I’m debating on if I want to put some kind of like burn design, stain them and hang them up. Not really sure yet.” Martinez said using more modern tools made the experience easier, but a lot of work was put into each person’s piece. “So it kind of helps us bring it back to how they used to do it,” he said. RSU President Larry Rice said he was glad to see students from all over attend the event. “It’s a privilege to host this. It’s a privilege to watch how these stickball (sticks) are made, including the ball. It’s a privilege also to watch how the baskets are made. The craftsmanship and creativity of the tribal ancestors is just remarkable,” he said. In November, RSU will host another cultural event in conjunction with Native American Heritage Month. For more information, email <a href="mailto: hfoley@rsu.edu">hfoley@rsu.edu</a>.
BY SHEILA STOGSDILL
Special Correspondent
04/04/2016 04:00 PM
JAY, Okla. – Principal Chief Bill John Baker had a hard time holding back his emotions on April 1 during the grand opening of a new health center located at 859 E. Melton Dr. “This is our most glorious clinic,” Baker said referring to the new 42,000-square-foot Sam Hider Health Center. The $14 million state-of-the-art clinic, located north of Jay, features a basket weave design in the bricks on the building and in the sunshades surrounding the building. The new health center almost doubles the size of the former 27-year-old medical building located at 1015 Washbourne, which is 26,000 square feet. “I believe we have the best health care in Indian Country,” Baker said. “We will soon have the best health care in the state of Oklahoma.” The new Sam Hider Health Center is the fourth and final project completed under a $100 million health care capital improvement plan using casino profits. Under a federal health care plan, the CN will receive $89 million yearly earmarked for health care, Baker said. Baker also spoke of plans of a 459,000-square-foot expansion project for the W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah and for the tribe to have its own medical school. “To grow our own Cherokee doctors to take care of our own Cherokee people,” Baker said as his voice cracked with emotion. Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Baker praised the Cherokee artwork, tools and historical Delaware County photographs that are displayed throughout the medical center. Hoskin also honored Ella Cummings, Sam Hider’s daughter, who was in attendance. The new Sam Hider Health Center also boasts a physical therapy department, something the previous Jay clinic did not have. “We are in the process of recruiting a physical therapist,” Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said. Previously, patients requiring physical therapy were required to travel to Tahlequah. “This will allow more mobility, and offer some wound care and pain management,” Davis said. In addition, the new facility offers primary care, dental, optometry, radiology, behavioral health, public health nursing, pharmacy with mail order, laboratory, nutrition, WIC, contract health and diabetes care. Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard also spoke, giving some history about the previous Jay health clinic and appreciation to the artists whose designs adorn the building. “In the late (19)60s the clinic was located across the corner of the courthouse. Then in 1972 it was moved to what is now city hall, and in 1989 was relocated to the hospital and now to this beautiful building. With this facility and the addition of more providers and more medical staff this will greatly improve the service and help to improve the quality of health for our people,” Buzzard said. “As you will notice the design of the basket weave on the outside and art work through out the clinic were designed to show the culture of our Cherokee people. Just a reminder when you go through the clinic there will be many pictures of families from this area on display so you may just see your family or relatives. I do want to recognize a couple of local artists Sage Butler, Vickie Blackwood, Josie Jones and all of the other artist for their great work.” In 2015, the previous Jay health center had more than 77,000 patient visits and issued nearly 154,000 prescriptions. Also, CN opened a new health center in Ochelata and expanded health centers in Sallisaw and Stilwell in 2015.
BY SHEILA STOGSDILL
Special Correspondent
03/29/2016 12:00 PM
GROVE, Okla. – A $23 million Grove casino is expected to bring in nearly 200 jobs to the Grove and Grand Lake area, Principal Chief Bill John Baker said during a groundbreaking ceremony for the tribe’s newest casino, Cherokee Casino Grove. Many Cherokee Nation dignitaries, as well as Grove and Grand Lake officials, participated in the March 28 ceremony at the proposed site, which is on U.S. 59 Highway near a cutoff road to Monkey Island, approximately 10 miles north of Shangri La Golf Club, Resort and Marina. “One hundred and seventy-five jobs is more important than 1,000 jobs,” Baker said referring to the Tulsa-based Williams Cos. proposed merger that will reduce its workforce. The 39,000-square-foot casino is expected to bring 175 jobs to the area, and be completed this winter, Baker said during the ceremony. “Our entertainment division consistently brings to the market the best jobs and the best entertainment options,” Baker said. “The jobs created by this venue drive our economy, and the financial success of our businesses is reinvested throughout northeast Oklahoma to provide a better quality of life for the Cherokee people.” This is the 10th Cherokee Nation Entertainment casino and its second in Delaware County. CNE also operates the Cherokee Casino West Siloam Springs in the southern part of the county. The Grove casino will also be the county’s third casino as the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe operates the Grand Lake Casino in Grove. The Cherokee Casino Grove’s features will include 400 electronic games, table games, a private high limit poker room, restaurant, full-service bar, live music venue, dance floor and complimentary nonalcoholic drinks. The rustic, lodge-style venue will offer event space for hosting private and community events and an outdoor patio. “We’ve had an interest in the Grove area for years,” Shawn Slaton, CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses, the parent company of CNE, said. “The lakeside community is attractive because of its leisure lifestyle, so the casino’s offerings and amenities will cater to that lifestyle as well as bring the best entertainment experience to the area.” Baker said future plans include a hotel. The CN went into the entertainment industry in 1990 and now employs more than 3,700 people in the entertainment and hospitality division. It operates Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa in Catoosa, eight other Cherokee casinos, a horse track, three hotels, three golf courses and other retail operations.
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
01/28/2016 02:00 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – After more than a decade, the Cherokee Heritage Center has a new curator. One who is familiar with the center after having worked at it before. Callie Chunestudy, 34, took over the position on Nov. 9 after former CHC Curator Mickel Yantz accepted a job with the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art in Tulsa. Chunestudy is a graduate of Northeastern State University with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. “The Heritage Center has always held a big place in my heart. It’s where I worked at 16 on (Cherokee Nation) Summer Youth (Employment Program) and at 18 for the pottery division back when that was going on,” she said. Through the Summer Youth Employment Program, Chunestudy said she gave tours in Adam’s Corner, the CHC’s rural village that depicts Cherokee life in the 1890s before Oklahoma statehood. Chunestudy added that she also worked in the museum archives department and as a secretary under the same employment program, giving her a total of two years experience at CHC before her current position. As for her curator job, she said in many ways she wants to follow her predecessor’s path. “Mickel was here 11 years, so I have big shoes to fill. He left a legacy of great shows and exhibits that he put together for the Heritage Center,” she said. “My hope is to continue that legacy while bringing new eyes and new things to the table. We have some really great shows coming up, including our current exhibit, ‘Talking Leaves to Pixels: The History of the Cherokee Syllabary,’ which runs from Jan. 15 until April 2.” Chunestudy said she is also looking forward to the 2016 Trail of Tears Art Show, which follows the syllabary exhibit. “It will be the first time I’m completely in charge of an art show and competition, so I’m very excited about that,” she said. “And for the first time, we’re going to partner with Cherokee Art Market and also hold their youth art show and competition. So it will run concurrent, here at the Heritage Center, and the winners’ art will be up for the duration of the Trail of Tears Art Show.” As for why she wanted the curator job, Chunestudy said she’s always been interested in helping preserve and showcase Cherokee culture. “Art is a great way to do that because everyone can find common ground in beauty. Working at the Cherokee Heritage Center and being a good steward of our collections while helping promote the Cherokee artists that are living today is a very important goal for me,” she said. CHC Executive Director Candessa Tehee said the CHC is fortunate to have Chunestudy join the staff again. “She has a background in fine arts yet brings a deep understanding of Cherokee culture and communities with her to the position,” Tehee said. “Her enthusiasm for Cherokee art traditions is evident in her approach to her work and she has a bright future with the CHC.” The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday from Sept. 16 until June 14 and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday from June 15 to Sept. 15.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
12/03/2015 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Nov. 24, the Cherokee Nation kicked off the season of giving with its 2015 Angel Project event to help provide Christmas gifts to Cherokee children in need. To begin the giving, CPR, a Tribal Employment Rights Office-certified and Cherokee-owned roofing business, donated 250 bicycles to the help fill the wants of children who were a part of the Angel Project. “Giving back is something my mother raised me to do and my employees love helping give back also,” CPR President Robert Brown said. “I remember one year when my mother was unable to buy me a Christmas gift and she received help from a local store owner, who helped her in providing me that one toy under the Christmas tree.” Rachel Fore, CN Indian Child Welfare administrative operations manager, said the donation of bikes would cover a “large amount” of what children are requesting for their respective Christmas gifts. “That’s a fabulous donation that we haven’t ever had before, so it kind of changed the way we had to do things on the application side,” she said. “We pretty swiftly decided that we would just pull all the angels that have requested bikes and then we would utilize the funds that we receive to fill in the needs for those children.” Fore said she became emotional when she saw all 250 bike on various trailers parked outside the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. “I teared up because as you take application after application there are so many needs out there and very little wants really from our Cherokee children that are on the Angel Project, and so to see that someone would identify a very, very big want that a lot of kids wouldn’t even dream to ask for, that’s really impactful, and it’s a great way that Cherokees are helping Cherokees,” she said. Fore said there were nearly 2,000 children who are a part of the project. She added that she expects to see around 100 emergency applicants in the coming weeks. “As we get closer people will say, ‘I didn’t know that I was going to have this expense’ or ‘my husband lost his job last week.’ So we will take in those children and provide for them as well,” she said. “Last year, we provided for 2,016 children so we are going to maintain open and available to operate up to that this year.” Fore said in some cases not all children on the tree are picked, but she said with the help of donated funds they will not go without. “Typically, it is the case that we have to shop for anywhere from 200 to 400 that aren’t selected off of a tree,” she said. “We utilize our donated funds to do that. We focus on their needs first then at least get them one want for the year.” Fore said this is her first year to fully be immersed in the CN Angel Project, and that is has been a “humbling” experience. “You think, ‘what is it going to be like to take these applications?’ and then you look into the eyes of these mothers and fathers that just want to be able to provide for their kids at Christmas,” she said. “I didn’t probably realize that it would impact me so much.” She said is also impacts her family and how they partake in Christmas. “It also impacts me in my own personal life because I look at my kids and think I probably over buy for Christmas most years for my own children,” she said. “So, given a little perspective through the Angel Project we’re looking at that differently in our own family this year. What we can maybe pare back on and provide to those that wouldn’t receive half of what I might buy for my own kids.” The Angel Project is available to CN citizens living within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction, meet income guidelines and have children who are between 0 to 16 years old. Fore said all donations need to be returned unwrapped to Cherokee First inside the Tribal Complex by Dec. 9. “You can come adopt an angel right up until then,” she said. According to a CN press release, tax-free monetary donations to help buy gifts can be made to the CN at <a href="http://bit.ly/1OxObLR" target="_blank">http://bit.ly/1OxObLR</a>. For more information, call Fore at 918-458-6919.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
11/06/2015 08:30 AM
BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. – A young Cherokee Nation citizen is making a name for herself in the BMX world, also known as bicycle motocross. Payton Sarabia, 5, has two big titles under her belt and is just beginning her biking journey. Payton’s mother, Priscilla, said Payton became interested in BMX after attending one session. “It was very hard to find a sport that would take kids at that young of an age, and BMX was one of them. We took her one day and she tried (it) and from there she was hooked,” she said. “She started on one of those little bikes that don’t have pedals, it kind of teaches the kid to balance. From there she moved onto pedal bikes, which is what she’s on now and competing on.” Payton said she likes the sport because she likes making friends and “jumping” her bike. Priscilla said Payton’s usual class she races with, the 5 and under class, is extremely competitive. “For 5 years old you would just expect girls going out there and having fun, but they are very, very competitive,” she said. “Something you would expect for boys, but it actually comes out in the girls.” Priscilla said this year Payton took won the Arizona championship and third place for the DK Bikes Gold Cup Regional Championship, both in the 5 and under girls class. “This year is the first year we’ve actually competed for state and the gold cup,” she said. “The state races, there were several throughout the state. She participated in, I want to say, six of them. Out of the state races they take the highest four scores and then they compete in the final, and whoever has the most points and the most wins at the end is the one who goes home with the state championship.” Priscilla said Payton gets to carry the first-place plate on her bike for winning state. She also received a 2015 state championship backpack. She said Payton competed against girls in the western region of the United States to win the third place title for the DK Bikes Gold Cup. “That’s just kids her age and her proficiency to what area,” she said. “They kind of race it out to see who goes home with the win.” Priscilla said she is proud of her daughter and her accomplishments with the sport. “I was very excited. I was proud. In the end she made part of history,” she said. “It’s very rare to even know somebody who wins one of those because there’s so many kids competing.” The Tuff Gurlz Trophy Team, an all-girl BMX team, sponsors Payton. Priscilla said Payton is known for wearing her purple tutu over her racing gear. “When she first started BMX she couldn’t decide between BMX or dance so that was kind of how she got her name, ‘Payton the Purple Pickle Flying Tutu’ is because she wore a tutu over her riding gear,” she said. “She still holds that name and still wears her purple tutu.” Payton said she likes wearing her purple tutu because it makes her “fast” so that she can win. Priscilla said when parents see Payton wear her tutu they try to get their daughters involved with the sport. “A lot of the races that we go to, some parents have their boys that race and they try to get their daughters into the sport, but you know a girl’s normal reaction is, ‘that’s for boys. No, I don’t want to do that.’ So they always come up to Payton and ask to take a picture of her in a tutu so they can go home and show their daughters that girls do the sport and you can do it,” she said. “She actually motivates quite a bit of people in the sport.”