College Resources serves 147 high schools in the jurisdiction and surrounding counties. In the 2017-18 school yea, 4,325 undergraduate and graduates students and 417 concurrent students received financial aid.
“We’re primarily focused toward high school juniors and seniors and then the current students that we have trying to keep them in school and trying to make sure they meet the deadlines,” Jennifer Pigeon, CN Education Services’ fiscal management and administration manager, said.
College Resources provides concurrent enrollment scholarships, high school valedictorian and salutatorian scholarships, undergraduate scholarships, graduate scholarships and financial assistance for directed studies.
Concurrent students who are high school juniors receive financial aid for tuition, books and fees for up to six hours of general education courses. Seniors only receive financial aid for books and fees due to a state waiver that pays for tuition.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s College Resources continues to provide scholarships to concurrent, undergraduate and graduate students to help them continue their educational endeavors.
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education on Thursday approved tuition and fees for each of the state's colleges and universities.
Only the University of Oklahoma, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Eastern Oklahoma State College and Murray State College did not seek a tuition increase.
The Oklahoman reports that several college presidents cited the need to raise faculty and staff pay as a reason for the increase.
The increases range from $130.80 at Carl Albert State College to $480 at both Oklahoma Panhandle State University and the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Tuition will increase at 21 of Oklahoma's 25 higher education institutions.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court's recent decision to toss the group's ballot initiative didn't leave enough time to gather the 42,000 signatures needed to place the question on the November ballot, said Ronda Vuillemont-Smith, one of the organizers of Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite.
"The court really cut us short on time," Vuillemont-Smith said.
The anti-tax group led by former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn was seeking a public vote to repeal tax hikes on cigarettes, fuel and energy production that were approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature earlier this year to help fund an average teacher pay raise of $6,100. The tax increases took effect on Sunday.
But the Supreme Court ruled a description of the proposal on signature pages was insufficient and that its ballot title was misleading. The court said the group would have to start over with a new petition and gather the required number of signatures by July 18.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An anti-tax group seeking to roll back a package of tax increases approved by the Oklahoma Legislature to help fund a teacher pay raise said Monday it is abandoning the effort.
Belcher attends OCU’s Wanda L. Bass School of Music. She said she takes 16 to 17 credit hours per semester while attending rehearsals as a bassoon player and teaches every evening at a music-based, after-school program called El Sistema.
“That’s probably the best part of me going off to school because I work with inner city youth in downtown Oklahoma City, and so the program’s really great. We feed them, they get homework help, and we have classes for them,” Belcher said.
Belcher said she was interested in instrument music education to become a teacher upon graduating from OCU. But in light of the recent Oklahoma teacher walkout, she’s considering other options such as obtaining a master’s degree in bassoon performance, nonprofit leadership, or getting a degree to become a radiology technician.
“When I came to this program it was just so music-heavy I thought I was starting to burn out a little bit. I was starting to lose the focus of where the love originally came from. For me to be able to balance that and have the medicine side of things is like really vital,” she said.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Cherokee Nation citizen LaNice Belcher, a junior at Oklahoma City University, is going into her third and final year as an instrument music education major in the fall.
Young was first awarded Cherokee Elementary Teacher of the Year in April, which put her in the running for the district award.
“It’s just super humbling, I think, when you get something like that, that you know your peers chose you,” she said.
In the fall, Young will begin her seventh year at Cherokee Elementary and plans to teach fifth grade. Before joining Cherokee Elementary, she taught two years at the tribe’s Head Start. However, teaching wasn’t her first desire. She said she initially wanted to become a lawyer and work in juvenile justice.
“Growing up, we lived in poverty. My dad struggled with addiction and things like that. So some of these students that I see, I was right there. I know exactly what they’re going through, and I wanted to show kids that hard work will get you where you need to be, and perseverance and work ethic and all those attributes, honesty, integrity, those things matter,” she said.
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation citizen Crystal Young on May 4 was named the Tahlequah Public School District Teacher of the Year for the 2017-18 school year. She is a third grade teacher at Cherokee Elementary.
Representing 20 tribes from across the nation, each student studied in one of four educational tracks pertaining to agricultural business and finance, agricultural law and policy, nutrition and health, and land use and conservation planning.
“What we hope is that young people who are coming here are already leaders in their communities and tribes back home, and we hope what they take away with them are the skills they need to be that next generation of leaders and help develop their tribal food and agricultural systems in their own farms and ranches back home across the country,” Erin Parker, university research director and staff attorney, said.
Parker said the summit started five years ago via a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to help youth who go into food and agricultural careers in Indian Country know the problems agricultural producers face, specifically Native American producers, and how to solve those problems.
“We know from our work at the Indigenous Food and Agricultural Initiative that Indian producers face legal barriers, financial barriers that no other producer in the country faces when it comes to agriculture. Obviously dealing with an additional regulatory system through the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) around land usage and land management, it creates a lot of potential problems,” Parker said.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Thirty-five high school and college students attended the University of Arkansas’s Indigenous Food and Agricultural Initiative fifth annual Native Youth in Food and Agricultural Leadership Summit June 7-14 at the university’s law school.
Gov. Mary Fallin signed House Bill 1334 into law, which allows school boards to transfer land to tribal housing authorities. Two Cherokee Nation citizens authored the bill – Rep. Chuck Hoskin, of Vinita, and Sen. John Sparks, of Norman.
“School districts often have undeveloped acreage with no plans to build and which is difficult to sell for market value. This law is a win-win solution for local school districts and for tribal governments. Tribal housing authorities can construct good, quality homes for tribal citizens and that provides economic growth locally as more jobs contribute to the local tax base,” Hoskin, who also serves as chief of staff for the CN, said. “This law will help so many schools, rural communities and Cherokee families prosper.”
Another benefit is federal impact aid, which means school districts receive $2,800 per year for every tribal student living in a CN-built home.
“The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation is excited to see this law passed. We’re thankful to Representative Hoskin and Senator Sparks for drafting the bill, the legislators who supported it and Governor Fallin for signing it into law,” HACN Executive Director Gary Cooper said. “The Cherokee Nation has helped schools receive thousands of federal dollars in impact aid with the homes built since 2012 and that amount will climb even higher with the passage of this bill.”
TAHLEQUAH – A new bill signed into law June 12 allows Oklahoma school districts to transfer surplus land to the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation. Transferring surplus land will allow communities to grow and help their local school districts.
The sixth annual TOSS conference was held June 6-7 at Northeastern State University at no cost to the 140 teachers who attended.
The two-day training included remarks by Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Tribal Councilor and Carl Albert State College Campus Director Bryan Warner and Chief of Staff and Oklahoma House Rep. Chuck Hoskin. It also included workshops on everything from reading strategies and using archery to finding STEM activities on a shoestring budget.
“Many schools don’t have the funding to send teachers to fee-based STEM trainings, so the Cherokee Nation is helping these classroom teachers by providing them with free resources,” Warner said. “It not only counts toward professional development hours and enhances learning, but also helps students down the line in their jobs and career paths.”
The tribe also awarded $10,000 total in Creative Teaching Grants to split among 10 teachers that can be used to start STEM projects in their classrooms in the coming school year.
TAHLEQUAH – More than 100 teachers from across northeast Oklahoma participated in science, technology, engineering and math training during Cherokee Nation’s annual Teachers of Successful Students conference.
“The older generations had a lot of knowledge in medicine and we think we can contribute as Native people to the current medical world,” Native Explorers Executive Director Jeff Hargrave said. “If we can get Native kids interested in medicine we can hopefully get them into medical school and they’ll be doctors and return home to Indian Country and service their fellow citizens.”
Founded in 2010 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Native Explorers is offered through the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa. It partners with educational institutions and entities, including the Cherokee Nation to encourage Native American youths to explore how their cultures can intersect with science and medicine.
Barbara Girty, Cherokee Heritage Center board and staff liaison, said she helped craft a “specialized itinerary” for the group during its stay.
“They actually slept in the houses in Diligwa Village on the ground, and it’s a one-of-a-kind experience,” she said. “They also took a tour of the different Cherokee Nation museums around town, the John Ross Museum, the Supreme Court building, the jail. They went over and toured the Native Gardens. They were immersed into the Cherokee culture, and we hope that this will help them in their future endeavors when they go on to become doctors hopefully in our (W.W.) Hastings Hospital (in Tahlequah) taking care of our own Cherokee people.”
TAHLEQUAH – Students with the Native Explorers program participated in various traditional activities while visiting Cherokee Nation landmarks on May 22-23 as part of the program’s mission to increase Native Americans in science and medicine.
INDIANAPOLIS – At the 26th annual Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival held June 23-24, Native American artists, including Cherokees, were awarded nearly $16,000 in cash prizes, as well as ribbons for art works they entered into competition.
Cherokee artist Bryan Waytula, of Sand Springs, Oklahoma, received first place in the Painting Category and the “Best of Class” award for his painting titled “We Stand As One.” He also received first place for his drawing titled “A Cherokee Treasure,” which is a colored pencil piece with a piece of mat weaving placed at the bottom of the artwork.
Waytula said he used remnants from one of his mom’s traditional river cane baskets.
His mother, Vivian Garner Cottrell, and his grandmother, Betty Scraper Garner, are both Cherokee National Treasures, which means they have been honored by the Cherokee Nation for their basketwork and for sharing their knowledge of basket making with others.
“I’m trying to follow big footprints left my grandmother and mother, both treasures. Those two are rock stars to me,” Waytula said.
He said it was his first time visiting the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival and was “impressed” with the facility, the artwork and the staff.
“I was very impressed with how amazing the staff was towards all the extremely-talented artists I had the pleasure of meeting and seeing their amazing work,” he said. “My dad, who is now retired, came along and helped me drive so it was a fun bonding trip too.”
Cherokee basket artist and Cherokee National Treasure Mike Dart, of Stilwell, Oklahoma, also won first place and "Best of Class" for his basket titled “Four Winds.” And he won a first place ribbon in the Non-Native Materials Category, a third-place ribbon in the Traditional Basketry Category and second place in the Contemporary Basketry Category.
“Eiteljorg Indian Market is a top of the line show with some of the ‘Best of the Best’ artists from across the nation and Canada. Seeing my name among the list of division winners was an honor. I’m proud and honored to be able to represent the Cherokee Nation in these art markets,” Dart said.
Also, Cherokee artist Lisa Rutherford won third place in the Contemporary Pottery Category and third place in the Cultural Items Category.
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis hosted more than 100 artists from 60 Native American tribes who showed their jewelry, pottery, baskets, beadwork, carvings, paintings and cultural items. The two-day market and festival drew thousands of visitors who met the artists, purchased their art and enjoyed music, food and performances on the museum’s grounds.
“The Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival creates opportunities for collectors and artists to connect and it builds support for today’s Native American artists,” Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall said. “The beautiful art works the artists have created make a powerful impact on our market goers and have contributed to the success of the Indian Market and Festival during its 26 years.”
Images of the winning artworks in 11 categories are on the Eiteljorg Museum’s Facebook page, and a complete list of award recipients in all categories and prize sponsors is at www.eiteljorg.org/explore/festivals-and-events/indian-market-festival
TAHLEQUAH – Northeastern State University’s Alumni Association has named Cherokee Nation citizen Kaylee Switzer, of Keys, as one of the 17 Outstanding Seniors for 2018.
The Outstanding Senior recognition honors graduating seniors, nominated by NSU faculty and staff, who have made significant contributions to NSU through academic achievement, campus activities, community service, honors and awards. The Alumni Association bestows this recognition for the Tahlequah and Broken Arrow campuses each spring.
All honorees received a commemorative stole to be worn at graduation, a framed award certificate and a one-year membership to the Alumni Association.
Alumni Association President Andrea Tucker commended the seniors for their hard work.
“The accomplishments of our 2018 Outstanding Seniors have far reaching impact on NSU and their communities,” she said. “On behalf of the NSU Alumni Association, it is a privilege to bestow this award on each of them, and we’re thrilled to be a part of their journey and desire to maintain a lifelong connection with NSU.”
For more information, visit nsualumni.com
TAHLEQUAH – At the July 9 Tribal Council meeting, legislators unanimously authorized the submission of the fiscal year 2019 Indian Housing Plan, estimated at more than $31 million, to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The FY2019 funds will be used for housing assistance such as $5.6 million for housing rehabilitation, nearly $4.5 million for the Rental Assistance Program and $3.4 million for the Mortgage Assistance Program.
Legislators also unanimously adopted revisions to the FY2018 IHP because the Cherokee Nation’s $31.8 million Indian Housing Block Grant allocation was higher than estimates provided. The CN’s submitted FY2018 IHP, as required by the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act, had an original estimate of nearly $29 million.
“The actual appropriations are based on what Congress approves in the federal budget. For this year it was $655 million for NAHASDA and our part was the $31,856,007,” Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation Executive Director Gary Cooper said. “The current two appropriations being considered, one in the House, the other in the Senate, both include amounts equal to 2018. Assuming that Congress does pass a budget or omnibus or other type of appropriations bill for next year at the same (amount), we should receive more than the estimate.”
Legislators also unanimously authorized the submission of a tribal soil climate analysis network, also known as TSCAN or a weather station. The weather station will be placed on tribal property near the buffalo ranch in Delaware County.
The resolution said the CN recognizes the importance of addressing food, agriculture and natural resource needs within the CN boundaries through the utilization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Services, Department of Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs.
“This is an NCRS project. It will give us more soil climate data, soil moisture information. It will be really helpful for researches and people who are really involved in agriculture. So it will be a good thing,” CN Natural Resources Sara Hill said in a June 11 Resource Committee meeting.
In other business, legislators:
• Authorized a grant application for an economic development feasibility study for FY2019 on creating a blackberry processing and marketing program utilizing organic blackberry growers who are CN citizens,
• Amending the comprehensive FY2018 capital budget with an increase of $8 million for a total budget authority of $260.2 million, and
• Amended the comprehensive FY2018 operating budget with an increase of $29.7 million for a total budget authority of $724.7 million. The changes reflecting the increase include increases in the General Fund budget of $312,725; the DOI-Self Governance budget of $388,958; the Indian Health Service Self-Governance Health budget of $24.6 million; and the IHS-Self Governance TEH budget of $4.5 million.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on July 11 signed into place strict emergency rules for medical marijuana that pot advocates say are intentionally aimed at delaying the voter-approved use of medicinal cannabis.
The term-limited Republican governor signed the rules just one day after her appointees on the state’s Board of Health adopted them at an emergency meeting after last-minute changes to ban the sale of smokable marijuana and require a pharmacist at every pot dispensary.
Those late additions to the rules infuriated longtime medical marijuana advocates who helped get the measure on the ballot in June, when nearly 57 percent of Oklahoma voters approved it. Her quick signature also came just as medical pot advocates were rallying supporters to urge her to reject them.
“People are completely angry. They voted for (State Question) 788 and now you have the health department and our governor pull these shenanigans?” said Isaac Caviness, president of Green the Vote, a marijuana advocacy group that pushed for the passage of the state question. “It’s a slap in the face to all activists. It’s a slap in the face to all Oklahomans who voted on 788.”
Groups that opposed legalizing medical marijuana – including ones that represent doctors, pharmacists, hospitals and chambers of commerce – earlier this week called for new restrictions on the industry, including a ban on the sale of smokable pot and the pharmacist restriction. The board approved the two provisions against the advice of the health department’s general counsel, who said the rules likely were beyond the agency’s legal authority. Marijuana advocates say they’re considering legal action against the board.
In a statement on July 11, Fallin said she thinks the rules were the best way to quickly set up a regulatory framework for medical marijuana.
“I know some citizens are not pleased with these actions,” Fallin said. “But I encourage everyone to approach this effort in a constructive fashion in order to honor the will of the citizens of Oklahoma who want a balanced and responsible medical marijuana law.”
The Cherokee Nation remains committed to protecting our women and children from violence. As principal chief, I reinforced that dedication by creating the ONE FIRE program for survivors of domestic violence, and recently, the Tribal Council passed laws that strengthen our ability to protect Native women and children within our own jurisdiction.
The amended titles 21 and 22 of the Cherokee Code Annotated allow the tribe to better enforce the Violence Against Women Act tribal-jurisdiction provisions aimed at preventing domestic abuse and violence against women and children on tribal reservations.
These amendments authorize the CN to prosecute non-Indians for domestic violence, dating violence or violations of protective orders within our jurisdiction. The CN has the authority to hold offenders accountable for their crimes against women and children regardless of the perpetrator’s race. This law will apply to a spouse or partner of a CN citizen or other tribal citizen with ties to our jurisdiction.
Additionally, the Tribal Council also modified Title 12 of the Cherokee Code Annotated, which gives the CN’s District Court the expanded ability to issue and enforce protective orders for acts of domestic violence occurring within the CN. The amendments enable CN courts and CN marshals to combat domestic abuse more effectively.
Native American women suffer from violent crime at some of the highest rates in the United States. With non-Indians constituting a significant percent of the overall population living on tribal lands, it is imperative that we take this action to close the jurisdictional gap in the CN. This will have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of women and children within the CN’s 14 counties.
I want to commend the CN attorney general’s office for working on this new law for more than two years, and the Tribal Council for taking this major step in flexing the CN’s sovereign muscle to bring justice to Native American victims.
We will continue to offer programs and services that curb the rate of domestic abuse. Our people deserve to live healthy and secure lives within the CN. We have always looked at how our decisions will impact the next seven generations, and providing a safe future for our children and grandchildren is an important part of securing that future.
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.