‘Cherokee chef’ relishes culinary career at Cherokee Casinos

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
08/31/2018 12:00 PM
Audio Clip
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Don McClellan, a chef and the Cherokee Casino West Siloam Springs food and beverage director, stands next to a fireplace inside the Flint Creek steakhouse at the casino. He is responsible for three restaurants, three bars, an employee dining room, the banquet and catering program, the sales department and 252 employees that includes 40 managers and supervisors. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Don McClellan, a chef and the Cherokee Casino West Siloam Springs food and beverage director, assists in the kitchen at the casino. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
WEST SILOAM SPRINGS – Don McClellan, the food and beverage director for Cherokee Casino West Siloam Springs, has many job responsibilities. But after nearly 20 years of culinary and restaurant experience, he welcomes the challenge.

At the casino, which sits on the Oklahoma/Arkansas state line in Delaware County, he’s responsible for three restaurants, three bars, an employee dining room, the banquet and catering program, sales department and 252 employees that includes 40 managers and supervisors. He said he gives his chef the ability to be creative in creating a menu, but he has final say on it.

Originally from Nowata, he grew up there and later in San Diego. He still has family in northeast Oklahoma and appreciates that he gets to work near them.

He said it was his mother, Carolyn McClellan, who sparked his interest in becoming a chef.

“She was always in the kitchen cooking when I was little kid. So I was 5 or 6 when I learned how to make biscuits and gravy,” he said. “My mom was definitely an amazing cook and still is an amazing cook. Watching her I always asked questions and fell into an actual career.”

He said every job he had until he was of “college age” was in a restaurant. He attended Northern Arizona University and had planned to be a history teacher, but then switched to taking hospitality courses because of his restaurant experiences and earned a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management in 1999. He then enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and graduated from there in 2002 with a culinary arts degree.

“College is so diversified with the things you are required to take, whereas everything that was at culinary school was absolutely something I was interested in and something I knew I was going to use, whether it was a chef that had a cool technique or a different opportunity outside of school, where it’s like, ‘hey I’m going to go cater this meal, do you want to come with me? And it’s like absolutely.’”

McClellan credits his mother for his success as a chef because she supported his efforts to go to college and culinary school and kept on him on an educational path. “I wanted go and do other things, and she said, ‘no, you’re going to school for two years and after two years you can do whatever you want. She is absolutely a focal point in the drive to support me and doing what I’m doing now.”

After earning his culinary degree, he interned at the J.W. Marriot in Washington, D.C., before working at a four-star Italian restaurant called Galileo and a three-star restaurant called Equinox, both in Washington, D.C. Then he took an externship where he worked on cruise ships that traveled the coasts of Brazil and Argentina to the Antarctica peninsula and Falkland Islands.

“So, it was an amazing opportunity to travel and see different opportunities outside of being an American in a foreign country, so that was fun,” he said.

He then worked in the New Orleans Marriot, and after other culinary jobs he landed in New Mexico and worked at New Mexico Tech in Soccoro as the executive chef. After that it was the Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town Albuquerque.

McClellan said he traveled from place to place trying to find “what he wanted out of a career” as a chef. And in 2011 his travels led him home to work near family and for the Cherokee people.

He was in Albuquerque working as a chef for a retirement community when he got a call from a representative for Cherokee Nation Entertainment’s food and beverage department who invited him to be interviewed for a Cherokee Casinos chef position.

“Three weeks after that phone call I was back here as the corporate executive chef responsible for all of the outlying properties and helping out where I needed to. And then four and a half years ago I was offered the opportunity to come out here (Siloam Springs) as the director of food and beverage, and I absolutely jumped at the chance,” he said.

Menus created for Cherokee Casinos are based on the area’s target market and clientele. “If we wanted to do something fun and exciting we still need to take into consideration what people want to eat. This is Oklahoma, so we’re focused on a lot of beef products…and lake fish. People will eat shrimp, lobster, crab, but when you get into different fish…liked seared tuna, people might say, ‘no, no,’ I like it well done.’ Again, it’s knowing your target market and also understanding your theme.”

McClellan said beyond being a chef he’s had “amazing opportunities” to mentor students and work with Cherokee Nation staff. His co-workers and other Cherokees accepted him, he said, and is now known as the “Cherokee chef.”

“It was good to have that handle and be able know whether it was Channel 6 and doing the news at noon (cooking show) or doing a tribal dignitary meal, I was involved and was able to put my name out there and be able to give back to the tribe, which is truly an empowering feeling. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, to be able to train and mentor new culinarians.”

He said when he mentors students he tries to “instill a passion in them” that being a culinary artist can be a worthwhile job. “When someone says, ‘that’s the best meal I’ve ever had’ that will keep me going for six months or a year.”

Editor’s Note: After being interviewed for this story, McClellan began working at Cherokee Casino & Hotel Roland in Sequoyah County as the director of hospitality.
ᏣᎳᎩ

ᎤᏕᎵᎬ ᏅᏬᏘ ᏕᎦᏅᎪᎬᎢ – Don McCellan, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏗᏔᏍᏗ ᏗᎫᎪᏔᏂᏙᎯ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᏂᏆᎾᏲᏍᏗ ᎤᏕᎵᎬ ᏅᏬᏘᎢ, ᎤᎪᏓ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏧᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎤᎭ. ᎠᏎᏃ ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵᏍᎪ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᏧᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎤᎦᏙᎲᏒ, ᎠᎵᎮᎵᎬ ᏓᏓᏂᎸᎦ ᏧᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎠᏓᏁᏟᏴᏍᎬᎢ.

ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏧᏂᏆᎾᏲᏍᏗ, ᎾᎿ ᎠᏓᏁᎳ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ ᎠᎴ ᏙᏧᏯᏓᏛ ᏗᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎠᏍᏗᏅᏅᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏆᏅᎩ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᏚᏓᎵ ᎾᎿ ᏦᎢ ᏧᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ, ᏦᎢ ᏧᎾᏗᏔᏍᏗ, ᎾᎿ ᏗᎨᏥᎾᏢᎢ ᏧᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎧᏅᏑᎸᎢ, ᎤᏅᏌ ᏧᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏲᎯᎯ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᎯ, ᎠᏂᎾᏕᎩ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᎯ ᎠᎴ ᏔᎵᏧᏈ ᎯᎦᏍᎪ ᏔᎵ ᏯᏂᎢ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏠᏯᏍᏗ ᏅᎩᏍᎪ ᎠᎾᏓᏅᏖᎵᏙ ᎠᎴ ᏄᏂᎬᏩᏳᏒᎢ. ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᏓᎰᎯ ᎠᎾᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᎡᎵᏊ ᎤᏅᏌ ᎬᏩᏃᏢᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎤᏃᏪᎶᏗ ᎤᏂᎩᏍᏗᎢ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎣᏂ ᎧᏁᎪᎢ.

ᏂᏓᏳᏓᎴᏅᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎹ ᏗᎧᏂᎬᎬ ᎦᏙᎥ ᎤᏍᏗ ᎦᏚᎲᎢ, ᎾᎿ ᎤᏛᏒ ᎠᎴ ᏂᏱᏴ San Diego ᏭᎷᏤ. ᏏᏊᏃ ᎠᏂᏏᏓᏁᎸ ᎠᏁᎯ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏴᏢᎧᎸᎬ ᎢᏗᏢ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎵᎮᎵᎪ ᎾᎿ ᎾᎠᏂᎨᏍᏗ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲᎢ.

ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏥᎢ, Carolyn McClellan, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᎴᏅᎲ ᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬ ᏗᎾᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ.

“ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎠᏯᎥ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎬ ᏥᏲᏟ ᏥᎨᏒ. ᎠᏎ ᎯᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᏑᏓᎵ ᏯᏆᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏆᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᎤᏂᏣᎴᏍᏗ ᎦᏙ ᏗᏉᏢᏗ ᎾᏃ ᎠᏑᏍᏗ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. ᎡᏥᏃ ᎢᎦᎢ ᎠᏏᎾᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎤᏓᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏏᏃᏊ ᏥᎩ ᎤᏠᏯ. ᏥᎦᏙᏍᏛ ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᏥᏯᏛᏛᎮᏢᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎦᏛᏁ ᏃᏊ ᎦᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ.”

ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᏂᏓᎩᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎵᏒ ᎩᎳ “ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎢᏳᏕᏘᏴᏓ” ᎢᎪᎯᏓ ᎦᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᏚᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᎤᏴᏢ Arizona University ᎠᎴ ᏚᏭᎪᏔᏅ ᎾᎿ History ᏗᏕᏲᎲᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎤᏁᏟᏴᏒ ᎤᎩᏒ ᏧᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᏴᏫ ᎠᏂᏴᏟᎯᎲ ᏗᏲᎵᎯ ᎾᎿ ᏧᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᎠᎴ Bachelor’s degree ᎾᎿ ᏧᏂᏒᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏧᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎠᏓᏅᏖᎵᏙᎯ ᎪᏪᎵ ᎤᏁᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ 1999 ᏥᎨᏒᎢ. ᏃᎴ ᎤᏬᏪᎳᏅ ᏚᏙᎥ ᎾᏍᎩ Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York ᏧᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ, ᏚᏍᏆᏛ ᏓᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ 2002 ᎤᎵᏍᎪᎸᏓᏁᎯ culinary arts degree.

“ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎢᎦ ᏄᏓᎴᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏗᏕᎶᏆᏍᏙᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎩᏍᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏂᎦᏓ culinary ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎦ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᎾᏆᎵᏍᏓᏁᎲᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏆᏅᏛ ᎠᏆᏙᏗᎢ, ᏯᏛᎾ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᏱᎩ ᎠᎴ ᏄᏓᎴ ᎠᏛᏗ ᏱᎩ ᏙᏯᏗᏢ ᎾᏃ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏓᏥᏫᏛᎯ ᎯᎠ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ, ᏣᏚᎵᎭᏍ ᏍᏓᏩᏛᏍᏗ? ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏙᎯᏳᎢ.”

McClellan ᎠᎵᎮᎵᏤᎰ ᎤᏥ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎯᎠ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅ ᎠᎴ ᎢᎦ ᎤᏍᏕᎸᎲᎢ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏑᎵᎪᎦᎾ ᎨᏒᎢ. “ᎠᏆᏚᎵᏍᎬ ᏄᏓᎴ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏄᏓᎴ ᎠᏆᏚᎵᏍᎬ ᏯᏆᏛᏗ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎡᏥ ᎤᏛᏅ Ꮭ, ᎤᏛᏅ ᏙᏔᏕᎶᏆᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎠᎴ ᏔᎵ ᏫᎾᏕᏘᏴᎲ ᏣᏚᎵᏍᎬ ᏱᎾᏛᎦ. ᏙᎯᏳᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎦ ᎠᎩᏍᏕᎵᏍᎬ ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎲᎢ.”

ᎣᏂᏃ ᎤᏁᏌ ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏧᏍᏆᏛ ᎠᏥᏅᏁᎸ ᎪᏪᎵ, ᎤᎵᏍᏕᎸᎲᎢ ᎾᎿ J. W. Marriot ᎾᎿ Washington, D. C., Ꮟ ᏂᏓᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᏧᎨᏒ ᎾᎿ Four Star Italian ᏧᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗᎢ ᎾᏂᏪᏎᎭ Galileo ᎠᎴ ᏦᎢ ᏃᏈᏏ ᏧᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎾᏂᏪᏎᎲ Equinox, ᎢᏧᎳ Washington, D. C. ᏃᏊᏃ ᎤᎩᏒ externship ᎾᎿ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᎤᏔᎾ ᏥᏳᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏳᎢᏂᏙᎲ ᎤᎵᏍᏛ Brazil ᎠᎴ Argentina ᏃᎴᏍᏊ Antarctica peninsula ᎠᎴ Falkland Islands.

“ᎾᏍᎩ, ᎢᎦ ᎤᏍᏆᏂᎪᏓ ᎨᏒ ᎡᎵᏊ ᎬᏪᏙᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎬᎩᎪᏩᏛᏗ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎠᏝᏅᏓᏗᏍᎬ ᏙᏯᏗᏢ ᎠᎹᏰᏟ ᎾᎿ ᎢᎾ ᎨᏒ, ᎣᏍᏓ ᎨᏒᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.

ᏃᎴᏍᏊ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎸ ᎾᎿ New Orleans Marriot, ᎠᎴ ᎣᏂ ᏗᏐᎢ ᏓᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎬ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᏃᎴ ᏭᎷᏨ Mexico ᎠᎴ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎸ ᎾᎿ New Mexico Tech ᎾᎿ Soccoro ᏄᎬᏫᏳᏒ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎣᏂᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏧᏂᏒᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ Albuquerque ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏪᏘ ᎦᏚᎲ Albuquerque.

McCellan ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎡᏙᎮ ᏂᎬᎢ ᎠᏁᎶᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏩᏛᏗ “ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎤᏚᎵᏍᎬ ᏧᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗᎢ” ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎬ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ 2011 ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ ᎡᏙᎵᏙᎲ ᏭᎷᏤ ᏧᏪᏅᏒ ᎾᎥᎢ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎵᏙᎲ ᎠᎴ ᏂᏓᏛᏁᎲ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ.

Albuquerque ᎡᏙᎮ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎮ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎬ ᎤᏂᏑᎵᎪᏨ ᏚᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᏓᏂᏁᎸᎯ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏁᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎨ ᏧᎾᏟᏃᎮᏗ ᎤᎷᏤ ᎤᏃᏴᎵᏎ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏔᎾ ᎠᏍᏆᎵᏍᎬ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏧᎾᏗᏔᏍᏗ ᏧᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᏧᏲᎯ ᎨᏎᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᏬᏂᏎ ᎯᎠ ᏄᏪᏎ ᏥᏔᏲᎯᎭ ᎠᎭᏂ ᏤᏓᏍᏗ ᎢᏨᏯᏛᏛᎮᏢᏗ ᎠᎭᏂ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᏂᏆᎾᏲᏍᏗ ᏔᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎣᎦᏚᎵᎭ.

“ᏦᎢ ᎢᏳᎾᏙᏓᏆᏍᏗ ᏧᎾᏟᏃᎮᏢ ᎨᏙᎲ ᎠᎰᏂ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᎩᎬᏫᏳᏒ ᎦᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᎨᏒᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎠᏆᏚᏓᎸᏅ ᏂᎦᏓ ᏓᏙᏢᏍᎬ ᎦᏥᏍᏕᎸᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎢᎸᏢ ᎤᏂᏂᎬᎬ ᎦᏥᏍᏕᎵᏍᎬᎢ. ᎠᎴ ᏅᎩ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᏥᎨᏒ ᎬᏆᏛᏛᏅᎯ ᏯᏆᏚᎵ (Siloam Springs) ᏯᏆᏚᎵ ᎠᎩᎷᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎦᏓᏅᏖᎵᏙᎯ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏗᏔᏍᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᎢᎦ ᎠᏆᎵᎮᎵᏨ ᎨᎳᏊ ᎢᏴ,” ᎥᎥ ᎠᏆᏛᏅᎢ.

ᏚᏃᏪᎳᏅ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎤᏂᎲ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᏂᏆᎾᏲᏍᏗ ᏧᎾᎳᏏᏙᏗ ᎾᎥ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏚᎾᏓᎾᏅ ᎠᎴ ᏚᎾᎳᏏᏔᏅ ᏚᎾᏓᎾᏂ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏁᏙᎯ ᏃᎴ ᎤᏂᏩᏍᎩ. “ᎢᏳᏃ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎤᏬᎸᏛ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏬᎸᏗ ᎠᏎᏃ ᎾᏍᏊ ᎯᎠ ᎠᏓᏅᏖᏗ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏚᎵᏍᎬ ᎤᏂᎩᏍᏗᎢ. ᎯᎠᏃ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ, ᎤᎪᏛ ᏩᎦ ᎭᏫᏯ ᎠᏂᎩᏍᎪᎢ..... ᎠᎴ ᎠᏣᏗ. ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏓᏂᏱᏍᎪ shrimp, lobster, crab, ᎠᏎᏃ ᏄᎾᏓᎴ ᎠᏣᏗ ᏳᏭᏟᎵᎶᏟ ᎤᏛᎾ...... ᏞᎦ ᎬᏂᏍᏔᏅ tuna, ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎡᎵᏊ ‘Ꮮ, Ꮮ ᏯᎾᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏩᏅᏒᏛ ᎠᎩᎸᏉᏓ ᏯᎾᏛ.’ ᏃᎴᏍᏊ, ᎣᏅᏛ ᎠᏩᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᏊ ᎪᏟᏍᏗ ᏣᏤᎵ ᏂᏔᏛᏁᎵᏒᎢ.

McClellan ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏗᏗᏟ ᎨᏒ Ꮎ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩᎢᎦ “ᎤᏍᏆᏂᎪᏓ ᎠᏝᏅᏓᏗᏍᎬ” ᎾᏍᎩ ᏗᎨᏲᏗ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏂᎦᏓ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏕᎬᏩᏓᏂᎸᎬᎢ ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏃᏊ ᎠᎦᏅᏛᎢ “ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ.”

“ᎢᎦ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎣᏅᏛ ᎠᎴ ᎣᏅᏗ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏑᏓᎵ ᎪᏪᎵ ᎨᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᏗᎦᏃᏣᏢᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎢᎦ (ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᏣᏓᏴᎳᏛᏍᎪᎢ) ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎤᏂᎩᏍᏗ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎬᎢ, ᎠᏆᎵᏑᏴ ᎠᎴ ᎡᎵᏊ ᏓᏆᏙᎥ ᎠᏂᏁᎢᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎢᎦᎦᏥᏁᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎦ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᏓᏅᏓᏗᏍᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᎠᏆᏚᎵᏍᎬ ᏯᏆᏛᏗᎢ, ᎦᎦᏥᏰᏲᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎦᏲᎦᎵᏗ ᎠᏂᏤᎢ ᎠᎾᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ.”

ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏱᏚᏪᏲᏂ ᎠᏂᏤᎢ ᎠᎾᎴᏂᏍᎩ ᎠᏁᎸᏗᏍᎪ “ᎤᎾᏚᎵᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏗᎢ” ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎤᏂᏱᎸᏗᎢ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗᎢ. “ᎩᎶᏃ ᎯᎠ ᏱᏄᏪᏌ, ‘ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏫᏓᏤᏢ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ’ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏆᏂᎩᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᏑᏓᎵ ᎢᏯᏅᏓ ᎠᎴ ᏑᏕᏘᏴᏓ.”

– TRANSLATED BY ANNA SIXKILLER

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 e ...
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 e ...

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