Cherokee Nation citizen and Oklahomans for Equality: Tahlequah Chapter President Carden Crow said he was pleased with the turnout.
“We started in 2014. Now it’s 2018 and we’re going strong,” Crow said. “This is a chance for our LBGTQ community and our allies to come out and show our sense of camaraderie and community. This is an opportunity for our culture to celebrate themselves, celebrate their survival, celebrate who they are in this community.”
This year’s event consisted of the march, a daytime family drag show where performers dressed like Disney characters, vendors, speakers, a picnic and an adult drag show held later in the evening.
TAHLEQUAH – Local and regional members of the LBGTQ community on June 30 held the fifth annual TahlEquality Pride march and picnic. The march began at Choctaw Street and ended at Norris Park downtown.
On his last day, McCoy made the final stretch from Stilwell to Park Hill with his girlfriend and EBCI citizen, Katelynn Ledford, and a group of Oklahoma Cherokees.
The runners were greeted at the CHC by Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band citizens, as well as CN Principal Chief Bill John Baker, CN Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and UKB Chief Joe Bunch.
McCoy ran into the CHC wearing a cape made of CN and UKB tribal flags tied together.
He said the run was not for him but for all Cherokees and to honor his ancestors who made the original journey due to the forced removals in the 1830s.
PARK HILL – After running 777 miles of the Trail of Tears’ Benge Route, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen Kallup McCoy II completed his run on June 28 at the Cherokee Heritage Center.
The Medal of Patriotism Awards is given at monthly Tribal Council meetings. Tribal Councilors can nominate a person to receive the award.
Houseberg is also a “Remember the Removal” alumni rider who rode in 2016 as a CN Elder Ambassador. He was in town to watch this year’s riders come in the same day he received the patriotism award. Originally from Stilwell, Houseberg has resided in Pearl City, Hawaii, since he was honorably discharged from the Army.
During his 22 years of service, he rose in rank from private to first sergeant, armor senior sergeant, platoon sergeant to senior scout/section leader.
He also attended Air Assault reconnaissance and surveillance training with his cavalry squadron where he became capable of short notice deployments in support of combat operations all over the world to provide reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence assets to commanders.
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation officials honored CN citizen Sammy Houseberg on June 21 with the Medal of Patriotism award for his service in the military.
They stopped at the new Cherokee National Peace Pavilion where leaders from the Cherokee Nation and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians honored them with a ceremony.
Before riding from Stilwell on the ride’s last day, Cherokee Nation Businesses Executive Vice President Chuck Garrett discussed what he learned about the ride and its participants. He rode the first week through Georgia and part of Tennessee with the cyclists. He said his pre-ride perception was that the annual event was primarily a bike ride rather than being about history and a shared experience.
“Working as a team together and visiting the historical sites that we visited, it became clear to me that this is a lot less about the bike, and it’s a lot more about our people and our history and a shared experience,” he said.
Garrett said he had not spent much time with young people like he did while riding the Trial of Tears’ Northern Route, but that it was “a good experience” to understand them better.
TAHLEQUAH – After three weeks of riding through seven states, the “Remember the Removal” cyclists on June 21 rode into downtown through a sea of family and friends waiting to greet them.
With half a dozen races under his belt on the peewee dirt track at Jandebeur’s Motor Sports Park in Okmulgee, he’s notched five third-place finishes and one second-place finish.
Cooper competes in the 50cc shaft drive/air cooled and 50cc beginner divisions and is the only 4-year-old racing against 5-to 7-year-olds.
“We got him a starter balance bike when he was about a year and a half old,” CN citizen and Cooper’s mother Emily Keys said. “Balance bikes don’t have pedals or training wheels, so he just kind of pushed himself around until he eventually got to where he could ride around without using his feet.”
Emily said Cooper soon began riding down hills, balancing perfectly on the bike that was designed for pushing around the yard.
PARK HILL – Cherokee Nation citizen Cooper Keys is a 4-year-old with a passion for motocross. Born in 2013, Cooper began riding his 2004 Yamaha PW50 in February after finding tri-cycling slow and monotonous.
“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.
“I have the same wait staff. Some have been here five, six, seven years. The kitchen staff is exactly the same. Everybody has pretty much stayed on since I’ve taken over,” she said. “Everything has just been really smooth and a good transition from the previous (owner) to me, and it’s just been great.”
Scott said she always dreamed of owning a restaurant, and once Harmony House became available, she approached the previous owner without hesitation. “I’ve always kind of wanted my own restaurant, and this was a perfect opportunity for me, just for its history here. It’s a very prestigious landmark for the city of Muskogee. I’m a dreamer, and I believe if it’s something you want to do, you at least need to try it.”
Scott said the building is more than a century old and functioned as a home, bank and church before being converted into a tearoom lunch spot. “It’s a tearoom where ladies from all ages come in and have lunch with their best friend or mothers or daughters. It’s definitely a woman’s atmosphere, but we have a lot of men that come in here too because our food is just so good.”
Harmony House is known for menu items such as hot chicken salad and its namesake club sandwich, though Scott said the “top” item is the grilled chicken sandwich made with chicken, cheese and homemade honey mustard dressing on homemade pita bread.
MUSKOGEE – When Cherokee Nation citizen Mandy Scott took ownership of the Harmony House tearoom in 2017, she kept things business as usual.
“This is a chance to celebrate Sequoyah’s life and his legacy,” Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism Director Travis Owens said. “We’ve had a flute-playing performance, the Cherokee National Youth Choir performed. We had the Girty Family Singers and presenters on our language today.”
Others attending the event included Cherokee National Treasures Lorene Drywater and David Scott, as well as Cherokee artists Roy Boney, Jeff Edwards and Mary HorseChief. Tribal Councilors Bryan Warner and E.O. Junior Smith, and 2017-18 Miss Cherokee Madison Whitekiller also attended.
Another highlight was the Traditional Native Games competition. CN citizen and games coordinator Bayly Wright said “Sequoyah Day” was a great place to hold Cherokee marbles, cornstalk shoot, horseshoes, blowgun, a hatchet throw and chunky competitions.
“Today is the second of the five competitions leading up to the championships, which will be held on Aug. 25, the weekend before the Cherokee National Holiday,” she said.
AKINS – Visitors to the first “Sequoyah Day” event held May 20 experienced all things Cherokee such as art, music, lectures, performances, demonstrations and National Treasures all on the grounds of the historic Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum where the Cherokee syllabary creator lived.
Attractions included a parade, carnival, 5K and fun run, car show, vendor booths, live music, food and strawberries.
One of the two Cherokee strawberry growers, Dylan Collyge, attended the festival even though he was unable to sell his berries or enter them in the competition this year.
“My berries got hit by a late frost in April and set me back about a month,” he said.
Other strawberry farmers did well with their berries and sold them from booths or from their vehicles. Visitors could be seen carrying purchased flats of strawberries around town.
STILWELL – The 71st annual Stilwell Strawberry Festival was held May 11-12, and a strong Cherokee presence could be seen in one of the longest running festivals in Oklahoma.
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 – The Cherokee Nation’s College Resources continues to provide scholarships to concurrent, undergraduate and graduate students to help them continue their educational endeavors.
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.
Senior valedictorians and salutatorians receive a one-time scholarship upon graduating high school. Valedictorians receive up to $1,000 and salutatorians receive up to $750.
Undergraduate and graduate students receive up to $2,000 per semester.
“Once they’re accepted, undergrads are required to maintain a 2.0, concurrent a 2.5, and our graduates just need to remain in good standing with the college that they’re in,” Pigeon said.
She said to renew their scholarships students must turn in their grades and community service hours. One hour of community service is required for every $100 received.
Pigeon said students taking part in directed studies are limited to a University of Oklahoma rate of an equivalent degree meaning. For example, if a student is studying to become a doctor, dentist, or lawyer and do not choose to attend OU, College Resources will pay up to whatever OU’s rate would charge by paying for the tuition, books, fees, any required equipment and a housing stipend.
CN citizens and citizens of federally recognized tribes are eligible to receive College Resources financial aid. However, federally recognized tribal citizens besides CN citizens are only awarded if they qualify for the federal Pell grant known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. The award varies based on the number of applicants.
College Resources also provides a computer lab at the W.W. Keeler Complex equipped with six computer stations, printers and scanners to help students with the application process, and College Resources staff also participate in college and career fairs such the tribe’s College and Career Night to promote scholarship opportunities to students.
Information, applications and deadlines for the 2019-20 school year can be found at www.cherokee.org/Services/Education/College-Resources
or by calling 1-800-256-0671, ext. 5465 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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.