Work begins on Cherokee Veterans Center

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
06/14/2011 06:59 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Construction workers on June 10 discuss site preparation for the Cherokee Veterans Center in Tahlequah, Okla. The 8,700-square-foot building will sit adjacent to the Cherokee Nation Complex and the Cherokee Warrior Memorial. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Foundation and site work started in early June for the Cherokee Veterans Center, and Cherokee Nation officials say they expect the building to soon rise at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex.

CN Human Services Group Leader Norma Merriman said contractors recently performed foundation and site work for the center. But because its construction is not a usual build, Merriman said she was uncertain what would come next, saying only “we go up from there.”

“This is the most interesting build you’ll ever be involved in probably. It’s taken a long time. It will take quite a while to finish,” she said. “Our next goal is to get to dry-in, and while we are getting to that point, we’ll be working on the next phase.”

Dry-in is a term for when a building reaches the point where it is fully enclosed and safe from precipitation.

Merriman said the building of the center is a “ga-du-gi” project, meaning it will rely on community volunteers for most of the work, donations of funds and building supplies, as well as CN funding.

Because there are so many factors for completing the building, including weather, she said CN officials are not giving a final completion date.

Volunteers had pledged 29,000 volunteer hours during a three-year period. Merriman said she is uncertain about the commitment of some people who volunteered nearly three years ago when the project was first announced. There are likely not enough volunteers for the project, but Merriman said there are never enough volunteers for a construction project like the vet center.

“You don’t know until you start getting back with them at the time you need them,” she said. “My feeling is some would have lost their enthusiasm because of the time this project has taken. That’s not a negative; that’s just the way people are.”

Merriman said she’s confident the project will make the dry-in phase with skilled volunteers before contacting other volunteers to ask if they are still willing to contribute their skills and time.

Ground was broken for the center in September 2009 next to the Cherokee Warrior Memorial on the Tribal Complex. Human Services has taken the lead for the project because it oversees the CN Office of Veterans Affairs and programs.

The CN is providing $500,000 for the project and is contributing labor through its programs.
The cost for the center has risen since initially envisioned three years ago from about $800,000 to approximately $2 million. Building revisions and costs for materials increased in three years, which accounts for most of the increase, Merriman said.

The 8,700-square-foot building will sit on the site of the former tennis courts that were part of a motel the tribe once operated. Work crews have removed the courts and fenced off a construction area.

Included in the building will be space for veterans services, counseling offices, a kitchen area, library and community room. A special “Hall of Honor” museum will present the stories of individual Cherokee veterans, and in accordance with Cherokee tradition, the building will face east.

Merriman said even though the CN is building the veterans center, it is for all veterans.
“It does not matter if they’re Native or non-Native. Anyone who is a veteran, it is for them and their families,” she said. “Our services for veterans have always been open to any veteran and will continue to be when this building’s built.”

However, she said some veterans programs have specific funding guidelines and may not be available to everyone.

People willing to volunteer to help build the Cherokee Veterans Center can call Rogan Noble at 918-453-5694 or visit http://veteranscenter.cherokee.org.

will-chavez@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
ᏣᎳᎩ

ᏓᎵᏆ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎻ.— ᎦᎫᏍᏓᎥ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎾᏁᏍᏗ ᎤᏓᎴᏅᎲ ᎢᎬᏱᎯᎨᏍᏗ ᏕᎭᎷᏱ ᎧᎸ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎤᏂᏲᏏᏙᎸ ᎠᎵᏟ, ᎠᎴ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎤᎾᏛᏅ ᎤᏚᎩ ᎤᏅᎭ ᏛᏓᎴᏅᎯᏒ ᎠᎾᏁᏍᎨᏍᎬ ᎠᎭᏂ W.W Keeler ᎪᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎤᎾᏓᏁᎸᎢ.

ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎢᏗᎾᏛᏁᎯ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᏗᏓᏘᏂᏙᎯ Norma Merriman ᎤᏛᏅ ᏯᎾᏛᏁᎯ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎤᏃᏢᏅ ᎦᎫᏍᏓᎥ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎴᏅᏙᏗ ᏄᏅᏁᎸ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏰᏟ. ᎠᏎᏍᎩᏂ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎢᏯᎾᏛᏁᎯ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏂᏛᎦᎵᏍᏔᏂᏒ ᏃᏊ ᎠᎾᏁᏍᎨᏍᎬᎢ, ᎤᏛᏅᎢ Merriman Ꮭ ᏙᎯᏳ ᏳᏅᏕ ᏳᏍᏗ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏔᏂᏒ ᏃᏊ “ ᎠᏗᏍᎬᏃ ᏛᎵᏌᎳᏓᏂ ᎾᎿᏂ.”

“ᎯᎢᏃ ᏭᏍᏆᏂᎪᏗᏴ ᎠᏁᎩᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏓᏖᎳᏗᏙᎳ. ᎪᎯᏓ ᏓᏟᎢᎵᏙ. ᎡᎵᏃ ᏝᎦ ᏙᏛᏟᎵᏙᎳ ᎠᏍᏆᏗᏍᏗᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ. “ ᏐᎢᏃ ᎢᏯᏛᏗ ᎤᎧᏲᏓ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ, ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏫᏂᏗᎷᎬᎾ, ᏐᎢ ᎠᏟᎶᎥ ᏃᏣᏛᏁᎮᏍᏗ.”

ᎤᎧᏲᏗ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎦᏛᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᎾᏁᏍᎨᏍᎬ ᏳᏭᏟᎢᎶᏝ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎫᏝᎠ ᎠᎴ Ꮭ ᏱᎦᎦᏚᎳᎦ ᎤᏛᏅ Merriam ᎠᎾᏁᏍᎨᏍᎬ ᎠᏰᏟ ᏃᏊ “ᎦᏚᎩ” ᏛᏓᎴᏅᎯ, ᎦᏗᎬᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏏᏴᏫᎭ ᎠᎾᏓᎵᏍᎪᎸᏗᏍᎬ ᏧᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ, ᎠᏕᎳ ᎠᎵᏍᎪᎸᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏁᏍᏙᏗ, ᎾᏍᎩᎾᏍᏊ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᎵᏍᎪᎸᏗᏍᎬᎢ.

ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎤᎪᏓ ᏚᏙᏢᎾᏂ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏍᏆᏗᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᎾᏁᏍᎨᏍᎬᎢ, ᎠᏠᏯᏍᏗ ᎡᎶᎯ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏔᏅᏍᎬ, ᎤᏛᏅ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ Ꮭ ᏙᎯᏳ ᏯᏂᏁᎦ ᎢᏳ ᎤᎵᏍᏆᏗᏍᏗᎢ.

ᎣᏩᏌ ᎠᎾᏓᎵᏍᎪᎸᏗᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᎪᎸᏔᏂ ᎾᎿ 29,000 ᎢᏳᏟᎶᏓ ᏩᏥ ᎤᏪᏅᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏦᎢ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎢᎪᎯᏓ. Merriam ᎤᏛᏅ Ꮭ ᏙᎯᏳ ᏳᏅᏔ ᎾᏍᎩᎮᏅ ᏦᎢ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᎬᏩᎾᎵᏍᎪᎸᏔᏅ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗᎢ ᎢᎬᏱ ᏧᏂᏃᎮᏢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏯᏛᏗᎢ. ᏝᏙᎯᏳ ᎡᎵ ᏱᎾᏂᎠ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᏎᏝ ᎢᏯᏛᏗᎢ, ᎠᏎᏃ Merriman ᎤᏛᏅ Ꮭ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎡᎵ ᏱᎾᏂᎠ ᎤᎾᏓᎵᏍᎪᎸᏔᏅ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎯᎢᎾ ᏥᏛᎾᏁᏍᎨᎯ ᎤᏂᏲᏏᏙᎸ ᎠᏰᏟ.

“ᏝᏃ ᏙᎯᏳ ᏲᏅᏙ ᎩᎳ ᏱᏓᏛᏛᎾ Ꮟ ᏳᎾᏛᏅᎢᏍᏓ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ. ᏂᎨᎵᏍᎬᏃ ᎢᎦᏓ ᎤᏂᏲᏎᎳ ᎠᎦᏟᏱ ᏚᎾᏓᏅᏛ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎢᎬᏱ ᏧᎵᏁᏨᎢ. ᏝᏃ ᎡᏍᎦ ᏯᎩᏰᎸᎭ; ᎾᏍᎩᏊᏍᎩᏂ ᏄᎾᏍᏓ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ.’

Merriman ᎤᏛᏅ ᎤᏬᎯᏳ ᎯᎠ ᏯᏛᏗ ᏃᏊ ᏣᏟᎶᎯᎭ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᎧᏔᎯ ᏯᎾᏛᏁᎯ ᏛᎾᏓᎵᏍᎪᎸᏔᏂ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ Ꮟ ᏂᎦᏥᏯᏛᎪᏔᏅᎾ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏳᎾᏛᏅᎢᏍᏓ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗᎢ.

ᎦᏙᏃ ᎤᎾᏑᏰᏒ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᎾᏁᎢᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏚᎵᏍᏗ ᎧᎸ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏐᏁᎳ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ ᏅᎥ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏂᏲᏏᏙᎸ ᏚᎾᏙᎥ ᏗᎪᏪᎳ ᏅᏯ ᏥᎨᏔ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎤᏔᎾ ᏗᏓᏁᎸᎢ. ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏗᏂᏍᏕᎸᎯᏙ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᏍᎪᎵᏓ ᎾᎿ ᎯᎠ ᎢᏯᏛᏗ ᏧᏟᎢᎶᏝ ᎾᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎤᎾᎦᏎᏍᏙ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏂᏲᏏᏙᎸ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎵᏙᎲᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏚᏂᎲ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ.

ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏓᏁᏢᏍᎦ 500,000 ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎯᎠ ᎠᎾᏁᏍᎨᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎾᏓᎵᏍᎪᎸᏗᏍᎬ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏚᎾᏙᏢᏒᎢ.

ᏓᎵᎬᏩᏢᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎤᏁᏉᏣ ᎾᎿ ᏩᎪᎲ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏦᎢ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᏥᎨᏒ ᎤᏓᎴᏅᏔᏅ 800,000 ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᎢᏳᏆᏗᏅᏓ. ᎠᎾᏁᏍᎨᏍᎬ ᏅᎬᎪᏔᏅ ᎠᎴ ᏚᎳᎬᏩᏝᏅ ᎬᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᎤᏁᏉᏣ ᎾᎿ ᏦᎢ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ, ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎠᏎᏍᏗ, ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Merriman.

ᎾᏍᎩ 8,700- square-ᏯᎳᏏᏓ ᎠᏓᏁᎸ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏓᏁᎴᏍᏗ ᎾᎿᏂ tennis ᏧᎾᏁᎶᏗ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏧᎾᏂᎩᏍᏗᏍᏗᏒ. ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎤᏂᎲᏌ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎾᏐᏯᎳ ᎾᎿ ᎤᎾᏁᏍᏗᎢ.

ᎤᏠᏯᏍᏛ ᎯᎢᎾ ᏥᏛᎾᏁᏍᎨᎯ ᎤᏠᏅᏛ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᏂᏲᏏᏙᎸ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏎᏍᏗ, ᏧᎾᏟᏃᎮᏙᏗ, ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ, ᎤᎾᏓᏍᏓᏴᏗ, ᎪᏪᎵ ᏧᏂᏅᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎧᏅᏑᎸ. ᎤᏤᏟᏓ “ᎦᎳᏅᏛ ᎠᏥᎸᏉᏗ” ᎤᏂᏍᏆᏂᎪᏔᏅᎲᏍᏗ ᏙᏛᏂᏃᎮᏟ ᎠᏂᏏᏴᏫᎭ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎤᏲᏏᏙᎸ, ᎠᎴ ᏗᏙᎸᎩ ᏂᏧᎵᏍᏔᏅᏍᏔᏅ, ᎾᎿ ᎠᏓᏁᎸ ᎧᎸᎬ ᎢᏗᏢ ᏭᎬᏖᏍᏗ.

Merriman ᎤᏛᏅ ᏙᎯᏳᏃ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏁᏍᎨᎭ ᎤᏂᏲᏏᏙᎸ ᎠᏰᏟ, ᎾᏂᎥᏃ ᎤᏂᏲᏏᏙᎸ ᎤᏅᏙᏗ ᎨᏎᏍᏗ.

“ᏝᏃ ᏱᏓᏓᎴᎦ ᎡᎯᏯ ᏱᎩ ᎠᎴ Ꮭ. ᎾᏂᎥ ᎾᏍᎩᏊ ᎤᏲᏏᏙᎸ ᏱᎩ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎮᏅ ᎤᏅᏙᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏚᎾᏓᏘᎾᎥᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ. “ᎤᏙᏢᏒᏃ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᏲᏍᎩ ᎤᎬᏩᏟ ᎤᎵᏍᏚᎢᏓ ᎾᏂᎥ ᎤᏂᏲᏏᏙᎸ ᏂᎦᏯᎢᏎᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎵᏍᏆᏙᏅ ᎠᎾᏁᏍᎨᏍᎬᎢ.”

ᎠᏎᏍᎩᏂ, ᎤᏛᏅ ᎢᎦᏓ ᎤᏂᏲᏏᏙᎸ ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎤᏂᎭ ᎤᏤᏟᏓ ᎠᎾᎵᏍᎪᎸᏗᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᎰ ᏧᏂᎧᎾᏩᏛᏍᏗ ᏝᏃ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎤᏅᏙᏗ ᏱᎨᏐᎢ.
ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎤᎾᏛᏅᎢᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏓᎵᏍᎪᎸᏙᏗ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎤᏂᏲᏏᏙᎸ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎯᎠ ᎤᎾᏟᏃᎮᏙᏗ Rogan Noble 918-453-5694 ᎠᎴ ᎠᎭᏂ ᏪᏓᏍᏗ http://veteranscenter.cherokee.org.

About the Author
Will Chavez is a Cherokee/San Felipe Pueblo Indian who has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 25 years. During that time he has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a writer, reporter and photographer for the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers. 

For many years h ...
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will Chavez is a Cherokee/San Felipe Pueblo Indian who has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 25 years. During that time he has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a writer, reporter and photographer for the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers. For many years h ...

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