In November, Cherokee Nation Businesses donated $10,000 to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Fund. The fund provides free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper to elders 65 and older and military veterans who are Cherokee Nation citizens. Subscription rates are $10 for one year.
“The Elder/Veteran Fund was put into place to provide free subscriptions to our Cherokee elders and veterans,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “Some of our elders and veterans are on a very limited budget, and other items have a priority over buying a newspaper subscription. The donations we receive have a real world impact on our elders and veterans, so every dollar donated to the Elder Fund is significant.”
Using the Elder/Veteran Fund, elders who are 65 and older as well as veterans can apply to receive a free one-year subscription by visiting, calling or writing the Cherokee Phoenix office and requesting a subscription.
The Cherokee Phoenix office is located in the Annex Building on the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The postal address is Cherokee Phoenix, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465. To call about the fund, call 918-207-4975 or 918-453-5269 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Phoenix is now taking names of elders and military veterans to provide free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper.
“It’s for people that have little or no resources to bury a loved one,” CN Family Assistance Manager Angela King said.
In fiscal year 2017, BAP provided aid for 395 burials, and so far in FY 2018 (Oct. 1 to Jan. 31) the CN has aided with 80 burials. The tribe’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
The program is designed to alleviate financial stress that comes with funeral costs for low-income families. The deceased’s immediate family’s income must not exceed greater than 150 percent of the National Poverty Level income standards.
To be eligible, the deceased must be a citizen of a federally recognized tribe: have resided in the CN jurisdiction six months prior to date of death: must not, or family must not, have resources that exceed $2,900, which include life insurance, veteran’s benefits, savings, checking or prepaid burial; and must select a funeral home that has an active burial contract with the tribe.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Human Services Burial Assistance Program continues to help families with funeral expenses. For nearly 20 years, the program has helped provide tribal citizens financial aid to bury family members who have passed with the Bureau of Indian Affairs paying a portion of those expenses.
Deputy Chief and U.S. Navy veteran S. Joe Crittenden, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., as well as Miss Cherokee Madison Whitekiller and Junior Miss Cherokee Danya Pigeon, gave the cards to dozens of veterans at the medical center as part of tribe’s Valentines for Vets program.
Now in its 10th year, the Valentines for Vets program shares handmade Valentines with Cherokee and non-Cherokee veterans across the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction.
“We always enjoy going out into our communities and shaking hands with the men and women that served this great country,” Crittenden said. “This program gives us a chance to spend time with veterans and remind them that we care and are so grateful for their service.”
This year, Cherokee Nation Businesses, Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council, Cherokee Immersion Charter School and other area schools and churches donated cards. Veterans at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center, Claremore Veterans Center and veteran health clinics in Jay, Vinita and Tulsa benefitted from the handmade cards.
MUSKOGEE – Cherokee Nation officials and ambassadors delivered hundreds of handmade Valentine cards to veterans on Feb. 9 to the Jack C. Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center in time for Valentine’s Day.
The CNEM worked to fill 10,000 sandbags for use by community members in the tribe’s 14 jurisdictional counties, with the goal reducing the chances of floodwater destruction.
“Every year I’ve been here, we have had a flood,” Jeremie Fisher, CNEM manager, said. “So we’re going to be putting them strategically at different locations for our citizens: in the community centers, any of our community partners in our 14 counties that might need them, municipalities and other people who may need some on hand, just in case. The goal is to be proactive and help mitigate things before it happens.”
During the past two large floods, homes were lost, families were displaced and businesses suffered serious damage to infrastructure. CNEM was just one of the local entities that witnessed the destruction.
While a similar flood would likely cause damage to the city of Tahlequah no matter what, Philip Manes said he hopes the sandbags will prevent him from having to see as many displaced families.
TAHLEQUAH (AP) – After the massive floods that impacted the greater Tahlequah area in 2015 and 2017, Cherokee Nation Emergency Management is taking a proactive initiative to prepare the community in case it happens again.
The six vans were disbursed among Ki Bois Area Transit System (KATS), Pelivan, Cimarron and Muskogee County Transit, with KATS and Pelivan each receiving two new vans and Cimarron and Muskogee County Transit each receiving one.
“Many of our Cherokee Nation citizens rely on these four public transportation services to get to and from work, school, the grocery store and their medical appointments on a daily basis,” Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden said. “Easy, affordable transportation remains an essential part of life. I’m proud of the Cherokee Nation for helping ensure these transit services meet those transportation needs, not only for our citizens but for non-Cherokees as well.”
The Ford 350 Transit vans were purchased through a Federal Transit Administration grant worth more than $321,500, with an additional $46,200 being provided through CN Tribal Transportation Program funds.
“Getting two more vans from Cherokee Nation is a blessing,” Charla Sloan, Ki Bois Area Transit System director, said.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation has provided six vans to four northeast Oklahoma transit service companies that provide rides for thousands of CN citizens and employees each year.
Liz Rainbolt, CASA advocate coordinator, said while CASA has 24 advocates there is always a need for more. “We just graduated three in November and we’re again starting in February, so we’re hoping to have more than that, but we lose a couple and gain, but we’re hovering at about 24 right now. If we had 100 volunteers I’d be great, but we would still be wanting more. More cases can be done. More kids can be served.”
The advocate role, Rainbolt said, is to “speak and be the voice for child in court.”
“What that means is they gather information about the child’s current situation. They don’t investigate what happened. That’s already been done because they’re now involved in the court…but what is their current situation? Are they in the best placement? They then gather that information and they put it all into a court report,” she said. “It’s an extra set of eyes independent from any Department of Human Services Child Welfare or Indian Child Welfare.”
Rainbolt said CASA’s trainings require 30 hours served in class, online and in court.
TAHLEQUAH – With a flex training beginning Feb. 12, officials with the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cherokee County hope to have more area residents help serve needy children by becoming advocates.
Human Services offered the assistance in 2006 as a pilot program, helping Cherokee children buy school outfits. In 2011, it was expanded to help buy winter coats.
“The goal of the program when it first began was for children to have at least one new outfit to start their school year with. It wasn’t until several years later when this program was in implementation then they decided to do the coats. It was a (Tribal) Council initiative to begin with,” Family Assistance Manager Angela King said.
The program ensures children are able to buy coats using $50 gift cards at Stage department stores. A 40 percent off coupon is also provided by the store to use with the gift card.
“We want them to buy a coat, but if they’re unable to buy a coat or it can’t fit them or whatever, then they can get a hoodie or sweater or jacket rather than a coat. If they have any money left over they can get mittens or gloves, winter-related items,” King said.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Human Services Clothing Assistance Program helped 5,094 Cherokee children buy winter coats in 2017.
Sequoyah High School freshmen Anna Johnson and Ricky Ross, Hulbert High School senior Jamie Keener, Watts High School senior Brendon Garriot, Westville High School senior Jessica York, Kansas High School junior Daris Glass and Vian High School senior Morghan Taylor each received a computer through the “North Pole Project.”
The CNMS receives desktop computers each year to present to deserving students who are chosen by their school leaders. The project is collaboration between the CNMS and Broken Arrow Police Department, which originally started the program. A number of law enforcement agencies, including the CNMS, now participate.
“I plan to go to the University of Oklahoma and major in forensic science, so this is really important to be able to do my work,” Taylor, of Vian, said. “Instead of having to go to the library all the time to use the computers, I’ll have one in my own dorm. I am surprised. I didn’t know I was going to get all of this.”
Glass said he is concurrently enrolled in classes at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and expects to pursue a career in education once he graduates high school.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation Marshal Service recently surprised seven high school students with new desktop computers to use for both high school and college studies.
The Heirloom Garden and Native Plant Site produces enough seeds to disperse around 2,000 to 5,000 seed packets per year, depending on growing conditions.
“We’re actually in two years of what I would considered fairly poor growing conditions. It hasn’t been catastrophic, but it wasn’t the best. We’re going to say just a little bit above average. It takes some really bad stuff for us to not be able to make a product for folks,” Environmental Resources Senior Director Pat Gwin said.
He said the growing season is dependent on 4-inch soil temperatures. The ideal temperature for most plants to grow in is 65 degrees to 70 degrees.
“Last year, unfortunately that didn’t happen until June 1. We’ve actually put some things in the ground prior to that and it was just a disaster,” he said.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Seed Bank is set to go live for online orders on Feb. 1.
YUKON – Though it’s taken several years for Cherokee metal artist Tommy Roe Mitchell to find his stride, his distinctive style is now giving him the opportunity to pursue his passion while stepping out from his father’s shadow.
He grew up close to the art business, as his father Ron is a well-known Cherokee artist who began his career in the 1970s. While both have experience in metal art, Tommy said he’s now setting his work apart with painting and grinding techniques.
“Dad was doing metal artwork, but he wasn’t doing it to the extent that I am now, not with the color,” Tommy said. “He would actually cut the piece out, grind the edges and heat-treat it, but he wasn’t putting the grinding marks in it like I have. Dad never even thought about using the grinder the way I was doing, so already this was out of his league.”
Tommy said he usually draws inspiration from things he sees on television and YouTube. Once he completes a design on sketchpad, he transfers it onto poster board and then onto 14- to 18-gauge sheet metal with a magic marker.
The design is then cut with a plasma cutter before he uses a grinder to smooth jagged edges and polish out imperfections. Once satisfied, he grinds grooves into the metal to give the illusion of feathers and depth.
“I want a nice, smooth, flat surface to start creating, and that’s when I start with the grinding effects,” he said. “I want a three-dimensional look. People have come up to it and actually felt behind it because it looks thicker than it really is. It’s just the way the grinding is.”
Once the overall look comes together, Tommy heat-treats the piece or moves it to his paint booth before sealing it with an automotive clear coat for a smooth finish.
While expanding his range to include hummingbirds and cardinals, his roots lie in mythical symbolism, including his piece “Dance of the Phoenix.”
“Metal artists, they like doing the eagle feathers. I wanted to do something similar, but I don’t want to copy anybody’s work. We thought, ‘Phoenix, why not?’ Who knows what a Phoenix feather looks like? It’s a mythical bird so this is my interpretation of what the flaming feathers look like. It’s the bird that rose from the fire, kind of like me.”
In addition to creating versions of the phoenix, Tommy creates his interpretation of what individual feathers might look like on the creature. The feathers are called “Phoenix Spirit Feathers.”
He has also taken inspiration from Cherokee myths and legends, including that of the Raven Mocker, a feared witch that preys on the sick and frail.
“I was wanting something a little scary, and I started looking into the Cherokee myths, and we came up with something rather scary, which was the Raven Mocker,” he said. “That one is just a little more dramatic, a little more scary.”
Strangely enough, the blooming of Tommy’s metalwork came after being diagnosed with acute anxiety disorder. “When I was diagnosed with acute anxiety disorder, I did not want to rely on the medication. They gave me that to begin with, and I couldn’t take it. I struggled with that so we talked to a therapist, and he suggested art is a relaxing way of dealing with stress. So I thought, ‘OK, I can do this. This is something right up my alley.’”
Tommy said this is the first time his artwork has been something he “truly enjoys” and is “eager” for the public to see more. “I think they’re really nice-looking, and I feel really comfortable doing it. The greatest compliment on this artwork is when I take it to an art show and someone loves it so much that they’re willing to pay for it and take it home and hang it up on their walls. That’s the compliment that I like.”
For more information, visit www.dragonfiremetalart.net
or search “DragonFire Metal Art” on Facebook.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin is being honored as one of nine Northeastern State University 2018 Centurions.
Centurions are individuals whose leadership and commitment, in the course of helping others, have made a significant impact during NSU’s history. Honors are given to university alumni, faculty, staff, students or any member of the NSU community, past or present, who impacted the NSU community or the public at large.
Hoskin graduated from NSU in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and earned his master’s degree in education in 1998. Along with his service to the CN as chief of staff, Hoskin served 12 years on the Tribal Council, between 1995 and 2007, and is now serving his sixth term as an Oklahoma State Representative for Dist. 6.
“Like so many Cherokees in northeast Oklahoma, my experience at NSU helped define my personal life, as well as my professional career as an educator and administrator. I am profoundly honored to be recognized as a Centurion by my alma mater, an institution where I earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees,” Hoskin said. “One of the most important lessons I learned at NSU is the value of public education. As a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and as a former Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor, I have endeavored to make life-changing educational opportunities more accessible. I am proud of NSU, whose rich history is tied directly to the education of Cherokee Nation citizens, and hope its mission continues to flourish.”
Hoskin is a U.S. Navy veteran and a former Ironworkers Union Local 584 member. He also spent nearly two decades working in public education as a high school teacher and school administrator for Locust Grove Public Schools.
As chief of staff, Hoskin oversees Education Services and is an advocate for the tribe’s continued support of NSU. He is a member of the leadership team that contributed funding to restoration and enhancement efforts for NSU’s historic Seminary Hall.
“Chuck Hoskin’s selfless devotion to serving others is a model that few of us can match,” NSU President Dr. Steve Turner said. “He continues to impress me with his humility and tireless effort to improve the lives of Cherokee citizens and all Oklahomans. He embodies all the values of an NSU Centurion. I am honored to call him my friend and to participate in the ceremony of recognition for this honor.”
Hoskin resides in Vinita with his wife, Stephanie. He has three children, Amy, Chuck Jr. and Amelia, along with three grandchildren.
He and eight other new NSU Centurions will be honored during a March 6 luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at the NSU Event Center in Tahlequah. The luncheon is open to the public, and tickets are $25 per person. To reserve a seat, visit www.nsualumni.com/centurions
or call the NSU president’s office at 918-444-2000.
TAHLEQUAH – During its Feb. 12 meeting, the Tribal Council unanimously authorized a lease with Oklahoma State University’s Center for Health Sciences to put a medical school in the current W.W. Hastings Hospital after the new Outpatient Health Center opens.
“Cherokee Nation is joining with Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, an entity within the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education, to bring health care education to W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah,” the resolution states.
The lease will encompass part of Hastings’ floor space and parking space.
Earlier in the day during the Resources Committee meeting, Dr. Charles Grim, Health Services interim executive director, said the leased portion would be located where the current physical therapy, diabetes, orthopedics and optometry locations are. Those departments will move to the new primary health care facility, which is expected to be finished in 2019.
Grim said because OSU is a state university the medical school would not have a Native American preference. However, he said the architecture within the remodeled facility for the school would highlight Cherokee culture. He also said officials would ask Indian Health Service to set aside scholarships and/or loan repayment for Native students wishing to attend the school.
“Its not really an Indian medical school per se, but it will be the first college of medicine campus on Indian land in the country,” Grim said.
Grim said the lease would be for seven years with the option to renew.
In other business, Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Shawn Slaton told Tribal Councilors that CNB is preparing to break ground on April 1 on additional “projects” in the Cherokee Springs Plaza in Tahlequah.
In 2014, CN and CNB officials announced plans to build the plaza with venues for dining, shopping and gaming. In a previous Cherokee Phoenix article, officials said the plaza is anticipated to be 1.3 million square feet of mixed-use space, developed at an estimated cost of $170 million. Officials also said it was to be completed in three phases.
The tribe completed Phase 1 of the project in 2016,which included road construction and pad sites where businesses would be developed. Since then Taco Bueno, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic and Stuteville Ford have opened businesses at the site.
The next phase is the construction and relocation of Cherokee Casino Tahlequah, officials said. The new casino is expected to feature a resort hotel, convention center and golf clubhouse. The final phase includes the creation of a retail strip.
CNB has not confirmed a completion date as of publication.
• amended the Concurrent Enrollment Scholarship Act of 2011 to revise the eligibility requirements,
• reappointed T. Luke Barteaux as a District Court judge,
• confirmed Dr. Charles Grim as a Cherokee Nation Health Partners board member,
• authorized the Vocational Rehabilitation Program to donate surplus equipment to the United Wrestling Entertainment Foundation in Cherokee County.
TAHLEQUAH – At the Jan. 17 Rules Committee meeting, Deputy Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo reported that the tribe was to receive settlement funds from the federal government. The settlement between the Cherokee Nation and Indian Health Service recoups contract support cost totaling more than $8.2 million.
The money was for unpaid support costs for 1998 in correlation to underpayments of more than $31 million, including interest and underpayments, between 2005 and 2013 and as a result of the Supreme Court case Cherokee Nation, et al v. Leavitt.
According to the 2004 Supreme Court opinion, the “Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act authorizes the Government and Indian tribes to enter into contracts in which tribes promise to supply federally funded services that a Government agency normally would provide.”
It also states the act “requires the government to pay…a tribe’s ‘contract support costs’ which are ‘reasonable costs’ that a federal agency would not have incurred, but which the tribe would incur in managing the program…”
However, in that timeframe the opinion states the reasoning the government did not pay the contract support costs as promised is because Congress had not appropriated enough funds.
“In the first case, the Tribes submitted administrative payment claims under the Contract Disputes Act of 1978, which the Department of the Interior (the appropriations manager) denied. They then brought a breach-of-contract action,” the opinion states. “The District Court found against them, and the Tenth Circuit affirmed. In the second case, the Cherokee Nation submitted claims to the Department of the Interior, which the Board of Contract Appeals ordered paid. The Federal Circuit affirmed.”
Nimmo said the tribe had to cover the IHS contract costs that were denied by using CN General Fund dollars.
“There were questions about whether or not half of it will go to the newly created Sovereign Wealth Fund because that law says that half of all settlements will go there,” Nimmo said. “This money…the reason it all goes to the General Fund is because it was improperly expended. And I say improperly not in the sense that we did anything wrong, but we should have, in 1998, we should have gotten this money from the federal government to support IHS contracts. Because we didn’t, we had to spend general tribal dollars to support those IHS contracts. So this money goes into basically replenish tribal dollars that were spent to support federal contracts.”
Nimmo added that the Tribal Council is able to appropriate the recouped funds however it deems necessary.
“The $8.2 million settlement will go into the tribe’s General Fund, where it will help provide the expanded and improved health care services our citizens deserve.” Nimmo said. “Going forward, we expect contract support costs to be funded in full as designated by treaty and federal trust responsibility.”
Preserving the Cherokee language is preserving Cherokee identity, as the heritage and traditions of the tribe are rooted in our language. Our language allows us to pass along traditional Cherokee knowledge and values to our children and grandchildren. That is why I am so proud that Cherokee Nation Businesses has pledged unprecedented financial support to the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program.
Through a signed memorandum of understanding, CNB is providing $180,000 to cover the costs of a language program called the 14th Generation Master Apprentice Program, a pilot program designed for students who originally learned to speak Cherokee at the tribe’s Cherokee Immersion Charter School. We hope it encourages language usage as they progress through junior high and high school. CNB’s monetary commitment will further advance the preservation and usage of the Cherokee language, as graduates of the adult master apprentice program are placed in supervised teaching and mentoring roles.
The new endeavor can be a bridge that unites the mission of our Cherokee Immersion Charter School and the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program, which has graduated six students since it began three years ago and is expected to graduate six more students in 2018 and another eight students in 2019. Both programs have proven successful in their respective area, and now we can connect their goals and participants.
This multigenerational effort will help preserve and promote the use of the Cherokee language for generations to come and fill the gap between the immersion school and high school. Our youth, who have been educated in the immersion school, are among the most valuable Cherokee language assets going forward. We have made significant investments in these children, and we must keep exposing them to language-learning opportunities after completing the sixth grade. Now that we have graduates of the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program, we have developed an expert pipeline and grown the personnel to keep our youth engaged after immersion school graduation. That means language lessons can be utilized at Sequoyah High School as well as within community settings. Creating new Cherokee speakers, and in turn letting them pass along what they have learned, will keep our language flourishing for generations to come.
Supporting cultural education and growing the language curriculum will help Cherokee children succeed on their lifelong journey and allow them to reach their God-given potential in school, in life and as Cherokee speakers. The 14th Generation Master Apprentice Program already has about a dozen Sequoyah High School students gathering for lessons after school. Plans are in place for a summer program with participants gathering from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for 10 weeks. Those students, if they participate over multiple summers, could potentially get about 2,000 hours of language education just through summer participation. CNB continues to support the tribe in its pursuit of preserving Cherokee culture and heritage. Without the aggressive commitment from our tribal government and our business endeavors, the future of the Cherokee language would be in jeopardy.
TAHLEQUAH – For the past 15 years, Cherokee Nation citizen Janice Dreadfulwater has been perfecting the craft of loom weaving that she learned from her sister-in-law and Cherokee National Treasure, Dorothy Dreadfulwater Ice.
Since she was 5 years old, Dreadfulwater said she’s always “dabbled” in some type of craftsmanship.
“I was sewing when I was like 5 years (old), making doll clothes. My first (craft) was sewing. Then I went over to crochet and cross-stitch. I’ve done some silversmithing, and I’ve done some beadwork. You know, I’ve dabbled in a lot of areas,” Dreadfulwater said.
Once she learned how to loom weave, she said she thoroughly enjoyed it.
“My first attempt was awkward, of course. But once I got the hang of it, it started going really fast,” she said. “It was just addictive.”
In a two-month span, she said she made approximately 20 loom-woven blankets.
Aside from making blankets, she makes scarves and shawls, but blankets are her specialty.
To loom weave, Dreadfulwater said she uses Ice’s loom. However, she’s making her own loom.
“One of my projects is to get my big loom together and hopefully have a place that I can put it. You’ve got to have the space in order to do it,” she said. “I’m in the process of putting one together. I’ve got the frame made, but as far as the hardware, that’s hard to locate for a larger loom.”
She said loom weaving one quilt can take anywhere from a day to a day and a half. “It takes (time) to get it all set up to start weaving, which I don’t like that part, but it’s necessary. The fun part is actually weaving.”
Dreadfulwater said she uses diamond, herringbone and non-traditional patterns in her work and different-sized yarn. She also said she’s never marketed her creations and has only sold one blanket. She said she mostly makes them for “enjoyment.”
“I’m proud to carry on the traditions that the Cherokee people have established and to be creative,” she said. “I just hope that whoever receives the blanket respects what labor of love that went into the project.”
Her donation to the Phoenix is a blanket with a diamond pattern. The drawing will be held April 2. For every $10 spent on elder fund donations, subscriptions or merchandise, one entry is entered in the quarterly giveaway drawing.
For more information, call Justin Smith at 918-207-4975 or email email@example.com, or Samantha Cochran at 918-207-3825 or email firstname.lastname@example.org