Anadisgoi Issue 14 - Spring/Summer 2023

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2 The Official Cherokee Nation News Anadisgoi Protection for
Cherokee Nation Office of the Marshal Cherokee Nation Judicial System
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CREATING KINSHIP

Sense of community the lifeblood of the Cherokee Nation

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SECURING HOMES FOR CHEROKEES

Housing programs create opportunity to strengthen Cherokee families, help them build a stronger foundation for the future

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CULTIVATING FOOD SOVEREIGNTY

Cherokee Nation prioritizes making healthy food easier to produce, process, and distribute to citizens

ON THE COVER

Cherokee Immersion School students Nel and Olivia Daugherty spend time with their father and Cherokee speaker Steve Daugherty and their grandmother and Cherokee speaker Nellie Green at the new Durbin Feeling Language Center playground.

16 BUILDING A NATION

From historic housing investments and language perpetuation to revolutionary tribal wellness initiatives, the blueprint for a healthy and thriving Cherokee Nation is found in community, family, culture

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ᏍᎦᏚᎩ COMMUNITY

Expanding Internet access

Tribe bolstering broadband connections for more rural Cherokee communities

Providing water

Improved water quality and accessibility changing lives in Northeast Oklahoma

FAMILY

Prioritizing health

Well-being of Cherokee families a foundation of tribe’s historic healthcare expansion

Protecting families

Cherokee Nation ONE FIRE empowers victims, provides a shelter in the storm, and strives to end intergenerational violence

Teaching a new generation

Significant investments in early childhood improving the education, health, and welfare of young Cherokees

ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ CULTURE

Carving a new path

From time immemorial, artistic expression has reflected the distinctness of the tribe and the highest aspirations of Cherokees

Documenting Indigenous lifeways

Cherokee Nation Film Office expands Native American visibility, provides state-of-the-art filmmaking opportunities for Cherokees

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OSIYO. We often measure our strength as a sovereign Nation by speaking in terms of data - from our over $2 billion annual economic impact to our population of more than 450,000 citizens around the world. It’s true that these are surely measures of the Cherokee Nation’s strength, but the true strength of the Cherokee Nation is its people.

Cherokee citizens are the very foundation on which we build generation after generation. This is why we must measure our strength by how well we are serving the Cherokee people - and we have already made historic progress.

We recently unveiled a plan to create a comprehensive behavioral health system to better address generational trauma. We’re putting more focus on rural health care, adding wellness spaces in our communities, building a new hospital, and expanding services and staffing at health centers. We’re always looking for new opportunities to provide more services to Cherokees.

The Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act set aside historic funding to replace or repair hundreds of Cherokee elders’ homes, construct hundreds of new homes for individuals and families, and help the most vulnerable among us. It has also allowed us to build neighborhoods

for fluent Cherokee speakers, establish crisis shelters for homeless citizens and survivors of domestic violence, and bolster Cherokee community centers with energy efficient infrastructure.

We are proud of the new Durbin Feeling Language Center, which houses all of the tribe’s language programs including the Tahlequah Cherokee Immersion Charter School and the Cherokee Language Master/Apprentice Program for adult learners. When I walked into the new 52,000-square-foot facility and found myself surrounded by young people all speaking Cherokee, I have never been more proud. When we provide quality learning environments for young Cherokees, we are building the next seven generations. That’s why we also created the Verna D. Thompson Early Childhood Education Act, which is giving us resources to replace or repair every tribal Head Start center throughout the reservation. Somewhere in these classrooms is a future Principal Chief.

All of these efforts and so many more are built in the hopes, ideas and expectations of our collective Cherokee family. As Cherokees, we listen to each other, learn from one another, and we have each other’s back. Together, let us continue to honor our past and build for our future.

Wado.

Editor

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Staff Writers

Josh Newton

Justyne Eden

Dan Mink

Stephanie Remer

Katelynn Bowden

Jared Porter

Allison Cochran Price

Bryan Dugan

Arielle Barnett

Leann Reader

Anadisgoi (ah-nah-dee-sko-EE):

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Contributors

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Colton Branstetter

Julie Hubbard

KenLea Keys

Sera Edwards

Cherokee for “what people are saying”

CONTACT: anadisgoi@cn-bus.com

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CREATING KINSHIP

Sense of community the lifeblood of the Cherokee Nation

It’s a Thursday night and the room is buzzing. Dishes of homemade food are being passed around, and everyone is catching up with one another.

Welcome to the monthly community dinner at the Native American Fellowship Inc. in South Coffeyville, Okla.

“It’s always a great time, and our tables are always full,” said Bill Davis, president of the community organization in a town that is so far north on the Cherokee Nation Reservation that it borders the state of Kansas. “We just share with each other: stories, food, news. It’s a time for Cherokees to gather together.”

Whether someone has always lived in a tight-knit community on the reservation or grown up and moved away, or if they have always lived elsewhere, creating a sense of community — ᏍᎦᏚᎩ (s-ga-du-gi), in Cherokee — is just an innate part of being Cherokee.

Cherokee Nation’s Community and Cultural Outreach department works with nearly 70 Cherokee community organizations, most of them across the tribe’s 7,000-squaremile reservation, as well as more than two dozen others that are “at-large” organizations scattered across the U.S. The organizations focus on a variety of efforts including cultural preservation, nutrition and other forms of community service.

Community and Cultural Outreach administers a number of grant and outreach programs, including the Community Impact Grant program that Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner announced in 2022. That program set aside $1.6 million for a one-time grant of up to $25,000 for each of the nearly 70 community groups.

“This funding from CCO allows our Cherokee citizen-led organizations to grow their organizations,” said Kevin Stretch, the director of the Community and Cultural Outreach department. “In all corners of our reservation to Cherokee hubs across the country, these groups are creating a sense of community. For Cherokees, that means gathering together. But it also touches on having enough money to help mitigate food insecurities or just keeping the lights on at community buildings.”

Davis said his community organization is using its grant to offset utility costs and to keep its food pantry stocked for Cherokees in the community.

“I guarantee you, Cherokee Nation’s help has made a huge difference,” Davis said. “This funding helps us take care of some of the basics of operating our community organization and allows us to focus on other things, like cultural events and our work within the community.”

The South Coffeyville-area’s Native American Fellowship Inc. was founded in 1999 and started out with about 20 members. Davis said it’s grown to more than 800 over the last 20 years.

“We would not have been able to have growth like that,” he said, “without the support we get from the Cherokee Nation.”

Ken Harper, chair of the Cherokee Society of the Greater Bay Area in California, said Cherokee Nation’s support has been critical for the group, both in the past and now.

“The Cherokee Nation has supported our efforts to grow,”

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Harper said. “Sending speakers and culture keepers out here for cultural programming and bringing in the tribal registration department has helped increase engagement and interest.”

Cultural programming has also helped foster a sense of community, he said.

“It helps us educate our own citizens about ourselves and our culture,” Harper said. “Being able to see speakers like Crosslin Smith, we were able to realize what it means to be Cherokee and how our culture is distinct and unique and beautiful.”

Harper said the tribe’s funding programs have also helped jumpstart his organization’s meetings, helping to pay for meeting spaces until its membership and donor base had grown enough to make it selfsufficient. The group plans to utilize the Community Impact Grant to continue supporting community meetings and to increase cultural

programming by bringing in more Cherokee speakers, scholars and artists, Harper said.

On the other side of the country, the Capital City Cherokee Community helps Cherokees in the Washington, D.C., area find community with one another.

“We’ve always been in the habit of meeting monthly,” said April Day, secretary of the Capital City group. “It’s a time for all of us here to gather and connect.”

To foster their connection with Cherokees living on the reservation, the group donates to the annual Cherokee Nation Angel Project and meets up with Cherokee Nation delegates who travel to D.C. for Cherokee Days and to greet veterans traveling to D.C. as part of Cherokee Nation’s Warrior Flight program.

Like all Cherokee communities, both on and off the reservation, the COVID-19 pandemic kept most citizens at a distance, affecting community ties.

“COVID-19 put us through hoops,” said Barbara Warren, president of the Capital City group. “We mastered Zoom, because nothing keeps Cherokees from connecting, but now it’s time to return to in-person meetings. It’s time for us to gather.”

ᏍᎦᏚᎩ COMMUNITY
Cherokee National Treasure Noel Grayson, left, demonstrates flint knapping during a Cherokee Nation at-large community gathering in Oregon in 2022. Council of the Cherokee Nation At-Large Councilor Julia Coates greets visitors during a community meeting in Florida in February 2023.

ᎠᏚᏓᎸᏗ ᎠᏏᎳᏕᏫᏒ EXPANDING i

NTERNET ACCESS

Tribe bolstering broadband connections for more rural Cherokee communities

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F or Florida resident and Cherokee citizen Charles Harp and his daughter Audra Harp, finding affordable and reliable Internet access was a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But then the Harps saw a post online from Cherokee Nation publicizing the tribe’s Respond, Recover and Rebuild relief initiative that provided free Internet hot-spot devices. All it took was signing up through the tribe’s online Gadugi Portal system at https://gadugiportal.cherokee.org/.

“I was just in awe,” Charles said. “I even asked, ‘Are you serious, we can get this here and it actually works?’ We have a hard time getting even a regular cell signal.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the tribe formed partnerships with Internet providers to help meet the needs of Cherokee citizens, deploying nearly 11,000 mobile hotspots to Cherokee households lacking Internet access as well as installing 35 drive-up Wi-Fi locations in Cherokee communities across the reservation.

“I was in an online college program and having the hotspot from Cherokee Nation helped me considerably with my work,” Audra said. “I was able to take my quizzes, tests, and get studying done right from the comfort of my home.”

The mobile hotspots provided by the tribe to citizens during the pandemic will help provide Internet service through April of 2025 for devices that remain actively used.

Cherokee Nation’s 7,000-square-mile reservation includes many rural areas where the Cherokee language and culture are thriving, but where resources like reliable Internet can be hard to find. The tribe is working to find creative ways of bringing Internet connectivity to these communities so citizens can connect with family and friends, access healthcare and continue their education.

Part of this work is being completed with a $34 million federal grant received through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, which is allowing Cherokee Nation to expand high-speed Internet networks.

Dorothy Teehee is a first-language Cherokee speaker from the rural community of Belfonte. Cherokee Nation worked to connect Teehee to the Internet in August of 2020.

“Now that I know how handy and helpful the Internet can be, I realized that there was a lot I didn’t even realize I couldn’t do,” said Teehee. “For instance, right now it is incredibly helpful to me because I am a diabetic. My community is not close to a hospital, you would have to drive 25 miles out just to find one around here. It helps ease my mind to know that we can reach out for help if we ever need it. I’m also able to see my results from the doctor a lot quicker now, so instead of waiting for the mail to come in a week later, I’m able to get onto the patient portal and see them immediately.”

The tribe also recently worked with AT&T to build a cell tower in Kenwood, a rural Cherokee community where cellular phone service was nearly non-existent. Access to quality broadband and cell service can bridge the digital divide between those on the Cherokee Nation Reservation.

“I just think having the Internet is so crucial now,” said Teehee. “We are now able to stay in touch with family and friends who live far off. It is just so great that the tribe has brought out Internet connection to a community like ours. Now we can be in the know when it comes to what the Cherokee Nation has to offer.”

Cherokee Nation has created a website that provides locations of drive-up Internet hubs across the tribe’s reservation and provides more details about the Cherokee Nation’s ongoing broadband efforts at https://connect. cherokee.org/locations/.

ABOVE: Executive Director of Cherokee Nation Housing Programs Todd Enlow, who previously served as Chief of Staff, explains to Cherokee speakers Jack and Brenda Bush how to connect to their new affordable, high speed Internet in the Belfonte community.

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LEFT: Cherokee Nation employees install satellite Internet in rural areas on the reservation.

PROVIDING WATER

Improved water quality and accessibility changing lives in Northeast Oklahoma

Gans, Okla., Mayor Gary McGinnis nearly broke down in tears when Cherokee Nation District 6 Councilor

Daryl Legg called him to share the good news. For the small Gans town that had been dealing with a massive water infrastructure concern for years, help was finally on the way.

And all it took was one chance meeting between McGinnis and Councilor Legg at a Cherokee Nation event in the spring of 2022.

“It was my first time meeting Councilor Legg, and we just talked and talked about Gans,” McGinnis said. “And when I told him that we had a water infrastructure problem that could be catastrophic to our town, he heard me. I never imagined that conversation would lead to him calling me with a solution just weeks later.”

The solution came in the form of a $500,000 contribution from Cherokee Nation to Gans to help significantly bolster the town’s water infrastructure needs and make a positive impact on the community for generations to come.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, Chief of Staff Corey Bunch and Councilor Legg visited Gans later in the year and met with town officials to sign a Memorandum

Gans is just one of dozens of communities that benefited from more than $100 million the Cherokee Nation allocated in 2022 alone to kickstart water and sewer infrastructure projects throughout the reservation. In 2022, the projects benefited well over 8,000 Native families.

The Gans project will strengthen the water infrastructure for a community of nearly 300 people, many of whom are Cherokee citizens.

of Understanding for the contribution, which will be used to replace water lines to Gans’ existing water storage tank and allow the town to install an additional water storage tank, gate valves and fire hydrants.

“We learned a few years ago that our main water line is old and deteriorating, and we’ve already seen evidence of it containing small leaks,” McGinnis said. “If that worsens and the main line falters altogether, then our entire community will be without water. So when I got that call from Councilor Legg and he told me he had $500,000 he wanted us to have to fix those concerns, I about cried. I mean, I was emotional and just speechless. It was like an answered prayer for this community.”

Part of the Gans project will be the addition of 270 water meters.

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McGinnis said families and businesses interested in moving to the town in recent years had been unable to do so due to a lack of water meters and water storage capacity.

“To this community, it’s much more than just a $500,000 allocation. It’s the salvation of this town,” McGinnis said. “Building a town to leave to your children, grandchildren and beyond requires the opportunity for growth. And Cherokee Nation has certainly done what it can to give us the ability to grow.”

Cherokee Nation’s efforts to provide clean water to homes across the reservation are not limited to community projects. Cherokee Nation is also assisting individual households in need of new or repaired water infrastructure in large part through the Wilma P. Mankiller and Charlie Soap Water Act signed into law in 2021, injecting millions more each year into eliminating barriers to clean water access across the reservation.

Clifford Tanner had no running water for 10 days at his home in Jay, Okla., after his private water well

became faulty in January of 2023. Cherokee Nation sent a team to his home to diagnose the problem and fix it.

“I live way out in the country, and my well just quit working after 25 years,” Tanner said. “But Cherokee Nation checked everything and found out there was a bad wire in the pump. So they came out a couple of days later, pulled out the pump and fixed everything. I was just tickled to death. I was just really happy with what they did. You never understand just how much you need water for so many reasons until you don’t have it.”

Scan here to learn more about the Wilma P. Mankiller and Charlie Soap Water Act

Scan here to learn how to say the Cherokee word for “water”

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“Building a town to leave to your children, grandchildren and beyond requires the opportunity for growth. And Cherokee Nation has certainly done what it can to give us the ability to grow.”
- Gary McGinnis, City of Gans mayor
ABOVE: Cherokee Nation Councilor Daryl Legg, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and City of Gans Mayor Gary McGinnis at the signing of the $500,000 contribution from the tribe to bolster the town's water infrastructure.

Cherokee Nation citizens retain treaty-reserved hunting and fishing rights within the Cherokee Nation Reservation in Northeast Oklahoma.

Who is eligible to hunt and fish within the Cherokee Nation Reservation?

Cherokee Nation tribal citizens are eligible to hunt and fish within the Cherokee Nation Reservation in accordance with tribal laws, which requires a Cherokee Nation citizenship “blue” card or Cherokee Nation ID as a valid hunting and fishing license. Individuals who are not Cherokee citizens are eligible to hunt and fish within the reservation in accordance with state law.

Where can Cherokee Nation tribal citizens hunt?

Cherokee citizens can hunt and fish within the Cherokee Nation Reservation, subject to applicable trespassing laws and respect for private property rights.

CHEROKEE NATION CITIZEN HUNTING & FISHING RIGHTS

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What documentation do citizens need to hunt on the reservation?

Cherokee citizens will need proof of valid Cherokee Nation tribal citizenship, which can include your Cherokee Nation-issued identification card or citizenship “blue” card. Additional forms of ID may be requested to confirm identity.

Where do citizens get deer or turkey tags?

Under Cherokee Nation law Cherokee Nation citizens are not required to purchase tags, however; bag limits and season dates apply and wildlife harvest must be checked in on the Gadugi Portal.

For a Cherokee Nation Reservation fish and wildlife map or for more information about Cherokee Nation hunting and fishing rights and laws, visit cherokee.org.

How does a Cherokee Nation citizen check in their deer, turkey, paddlefish, etc.?

Cherokee Nation citizens must report applicable fish and game harvest on the Gadugi Portal.

Are Cherokee Nation citizens required to have a duck stamp?

Yes. All federal regulations and requirements related to migratory game bird harvest apply to Cherokee Nation citizens hunting and fishing within the Cherokee Nation Reservation.

Contact: Cherokee Nation Wildlife Conservation wildlife@cherokee.org

Scan here to visit the Gadugi Portal Scan here to visit Cherokee.org Shutterstock.com/Tom Reichner

Cherokee Nation opens new food distribution center in Vinita

The Cherokee Nation celebrated the opening of its eighth food distribution center recently. The 6,000-square-foot facility in Vinita was funded through the tribe’s Respond, Recover and Rebuild COVID-19 relief program. The tribe’s last food distribution center was opened in 2014 in Collinsville. Other Cherokee Nation food distribution locations are in Jay, Nowata, Salina, Sallisaw, Stilwell and Tahlequah. “The food distribution program is such a blessing to Cherokee Nation citizens and other tribal citizens who are experiencing food insecurity,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said. “This new facility can mean everything to a family, and it is so great that we will be able to extend that blessing to tribal citizens living in the Vinita area.”

Self-governance compact first of its kind

between tribe, U.S. government

A historic self-governance compact signed with the U.S. Department of Transportation is the first of its kind between a tribe and the federal government. The compact allows the Cherokee Nation to plan and oversee road construction and transit projects without first seeking permission from the federal government. “Signing this compact with the USDOT will mean more and better investments in terms of travel and infrastructure in the Cherokee Nation to the benefit of thousands of citizens,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “The agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation is just the latest example of how Cherokee Nation’s sovereignty brings great benefits for everyone living within our reservation, including our non-Cherokee neighbors. We are building up northeast Oklahoma and investing in rural communities that have had few other sources of support. Cherokee Nation’s forward-thinking policies, backed by our sovereign rights and strong relationship with federal partners, ensure that the future of Cherokee Nation and northeast Oklahoma is bright.”

Patient experience team focuses on helping citizens navigate tribal health system

The Cherokee Nation is utilizing a new “Patient Experience” team to help citizens better navigate the tribe’s expansive health system, which is the largest tribal health care system in the United States. Although the new positions serve the needs of all patients, one goal of the new program is to improve access to health care for at-large Cherokees living outside the reservation, which includes around 300,000 Cherokees. For more information on Cherokee Nation Health Services, visit health.cherokee.org.

ᎧᏃᎮᏓ NEWS

PRIORITIZING HEALTH

Well-being of Cherokee families a foundation of tribe’s historic healthcare expansion

M artha Zimmerman thought she was only having migraines. The headaches were severe, and she had been dealing with dizziness for a while.

“I had a really bad dizzy spell, and it lasted about six weeks,” she said. “The room was spinning, and I couldn’t open my eyes.”

Because of her symptoms, Zimmerman - who lives in Missouri but drives to Oklahoma to receive care at the tribe’s Sam Hider Health Center in Jay - was referred to Neurology Services at Cherokee Nation’s Outpatient Health Center in Tahlequah. Health Services partners with the Regional Brain Institute for both inpatient and outpatient neurology services and the tribes W.W. Hastings Hosptial is now Primary Stroke Center Certified.

“They did all these tests to figure out what was causing it, and they found the strokes,” Zimmerman said. Cherokee Nation’s historic efforts to expand and increase access to health care are driven by a mission to help Cherokee citizens like Zimmerman.

Along with its partnership with the Regional Brain Institute for stroke care, Cherokee Nation Health Services has also created other partnerships to improve the quality of life

and health of its patients. These include cardiology services at the Three Rivers Health Center through Northeast Oklahoma Heart Center and gastrointestinal care through a partnership with Adult Gastroenterology Associates.

Almost two years after discovering her strokes, Zimmerman still requires treatment for stroke prevention and travels to Tahlequah for follow-ups with the Regional Brain Institute.

“I’ve had somewhere between 30 to 40 strokes, and they’re on the inside of the brain, which is cognitive, which makes memory difficult,” Zimmerman said. “I still am functioning well, and I don’t have any physical issues. I never knew I had a stroke. Never knew I had one, let alone over 30 until they found them on an MRI.”

Zimmerman is thankful for the Cherokee Nation health system.

“They’re a major blessing to me in my life, and I’m very grateful for it,” she said. “I am also going to get hearing aids. It’s going to be so much easier for me.”

Barbara Parris and Maggie Oaks, both residents of Muskogee, receive care from the Three Rivers Health Center and take full advantage of the recently expanded

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imaging services. Parris has utilized health services in Muskogee since the health center’s expansion efforts and now benefits from the tribe’s continued investments.

“They take good care of you here,” she said. Oaks has relied on her local health center for a bone density test, which is now possible due to the imaging expansion in Muskogee.

“My bones are pretty bad and if they didn’t have this here, I’d have to go to Tahlequah. I think it’s great,” Oaks said. “They also mail my medications, especially when it’s snowing and icy, so I don’t have to get out. I’d like to thank the tribe for offering this and improving all the time.”

Cherokee Nation’s investments into health care across the reservation continues: Cherokee Nation Health Services will replace its flagship facility, W.W. Hastings Hospital, with a new $400 million, 380,000-square-foot hospital, and other construction projects include building a new Salina outpatient health center and more health center expansions for additional service lines across the reservation.

The tribe operates nine outpatient health centers throughout its reservation, along with one outpatient health center for employees and the W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah.

Dr. Roger Montgomery, Cherokee Nation Health Services’ Executive Medical Director, is passionate about the tribe’s growth and understands the impact the team of professionals has on the services offered.

“The importance of our brick-and-mortar expansion over the past several years cannot be overemphasized, but the building of new, larger centers also requires increased staffing with people dedicated to the provision of quality health services,” Montgomery said. “This is what I am most proud of: the people who come to work every day to help other people.”

By prioritizing the well-being of its citizens, Cherokee Nation is setting a standard of excellence in rural and tribal health care.

“Cherokees are experiencing better care and better health outcomes than ever before. We value service above all else and increasing access allows us to deliver the best care possible,” Montgomery said.

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ABOVE: Cherokee Nation citizen Barbara Parris receives a CT scan at Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee. Rendering of the Cherokee Nation’s new $400 million hospital to be built in Tahlequah, Okla.

ᎥᏁᏍᎨᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᏰᎵᎢ

BUILDING NATION

From historic housing investments and language perpetuation to revolutionary tribal wellness initiatives, the blueprint for a healthy and thriving Cherokee Nation is found in community, family, culture

As a curriculum specialist for the Cherokee Nation Language Department, Lee Webber is, in a very real sense, helping to both save and perpetuate the Cherokee language.

In 2023, only an estimated 2,000 Cherokee citizens are fluent Cherokee speakers.

Webber began working with the Cherokee Nation when he was selected for the tribe’s Cherokee Language Master/ Apprentice Program, a two-year, immersive program for adult language learners.

“I applied, was accepted to the program, and spent the next two years studying and learning how to speak and write Cherokee,” he said. “This is one of the best programs I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s helping save our Cherokee language.”

After graduating from the program, Webber received assistance through the tribe’s Career Services program and was placed in a temporary job with the language department until a full-time curriculum opportunity was available. Now, Webber works daily to help preserve the tribe’s traditions and heritage.

“Cherokee was my mom’s first language. I get to go out to the Cherokee Reservation and interview fluent speakers and work with them to document the old words and ways

of saying things,” Webber said. “When you love what you’re doing, you’re going to be there every day and give it all you got, and I love what I’m doing.”

The tribe’s innovative language perpetuation efforts are headquartered in the Cherokee Nation’s new $20 million, 52,000-square-foot Durbin Feeling Language Center, which is located in the capital city of the reservation. Officially opened in November 2022, the new language hub is just one of the hundreds of construction projects recently completed, ongoing, or in the planning stages all across the Cherokee Nation Reservation.

Hundreds of new homes are providing comfort and safety for Cherokee elders and Cherokee families. New tribal Head Start centers will help future generations of Cherokees get an early education. Industry-leading healthcare facilities will ensure the Cherokee people have access to the best health and wellness care available in Indian Country. New state-of-theart community centers are bringing growth to the smallest of Cherokee communities and providing new opportunities for fun and fellowship.

While these brick-and-mortar projects have the potential to positively change the lives of Cherokees for generations to

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come, it’s not only the physical work that is helping to build a stronger, healthier Cherokee Nation.

“Deputy Chief Bryan Warner and I talk often about the importance of meeting the most important needs, the greatest hopes, and the highest aspirations of our Cherokee brothers and sisters. We strive to do that through a sense of togetherness and through an approach that believes community, family and culture should be our blueprint,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Homes, health centers, schools and community centers all help to build a lasting foundation for the Cherokee people. But if we want to continue to honor our past and build for our future, we must also address matters of the heart and mind. The Cherokee language is certainly the heart and soul of what it means to be Cherokee, so we made historic investments to build new generations of Cherokee speakers who can help ensure the language will once again be spoken instinctively in all facets of Cherokee life. The Cherokee people deserve access to holistic health and wellness, so we’ve worked with the Council of the Cherokee Nation to establish our first in-house drug treatment center as part of a much larger investment in mental health.”

More than $30 million is being used to ensure career training opportunities are available to thousands of Cherokee citizens, which in turn helps improve their lives and employability and strengthens the tribe.

“We opened a new domestic violence shelter and transitional housing in Stilwell to expand our efforts at helping families and children who suffer at the hands of violence. We also hosted a summit for law enforcement officers, judges, prosecutors, victims advocates and other professionals with the goal of sharing resources and expertise, part of our mission to eliminate domestic violence,” Chief Hoskin said. “These issues and so many more are all a part of the hopes, ideas and expectations of our collective Cherokee family.”

Using the Cherokee Nation Public Health and Wellness Fund Act, the tribe is investing $100 million to expand existing behavioral health programs and find new, innovative ways to help Cherokee citizens impacted by substance abuse.

A Cherokee citizen who found hope and help after turning to the Cherokee Nation’s Medication Assisted Treatment program believes these efforts are saving lives: “When I first came to the program, I was … about to lose my family. My

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“The Cherokee people deserve access to holistic health and wellness, so we’ve worked with the Council of the Cherokee Nation to establish our first in-house drug treatment center as part of a much larger investment in mental health.”
-Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.

provider is the person who told me it would be OK and life will get better. The program has kept me clean and away from the drugs that were destroying my life. My life and family have improved so much thanks to the provider and the program. I can live again.”

For thousands of other Cherokee citizens, the tribe has also helped in finding new career paths. Cameron Kirby-Sixkiller said he left high school when his father became ill. He decided to stay home and help care for him. Kirby-Sixkiller later worked what he described as low-paying jobs before he decided to pursue an alternative education.

He enrolled in Cherokee Nation’s Talking Leaves Job Corps program, which for more than four decades has assisted students in becoming employable for the workforce and equipped for higher education. Kirby-Sixkiller earned his high school diploma within two weeks and then began taking Office Administration Certification classes.

“I graduated in January of 2023 and immediately got a job with the public works department at the City of Muskogee,” said Kirby-Sixkiller. “I became financially stable after leaving TLJC. After a short time, I was able to get a car and a house and was ready to look at beginning a career path.”

He now works as a detention officer at the Cherokee County Detention Center in Tahlequah, and is looking forward to pursuing a career in law enforcement.

“We are always asking ourselves how the Cherokee Nation can be of more assistance to citizens without getting in their way. Whether we do that through physical infrastructure, which can make the lives of thousands of Cherokee citizens better with each project, or if we do it through programs and services that meet Cherokees on a much more personal level, it all matters in a very big way,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “The Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses are blessed to have a work family who make these projects possible by serving the Cherokee people each and every day. We see the great impact of their works and their deeds not just here on the reservation, but in every corner of the country where we find Cherokee citizens living.”

Scan here to learn the Cherokee word for “house”

ᏏᏓᏁᎸ FAMILY
ABOVE: Rendering of Cherokee Nation’s in-house drug treatment center to be built on the Cherokee Nation Reservation.

PROTECTING FAMILIES

Cherokee Nation ONE FIRE empowers victims, provides a shelter in the storm and strives to end intergenerational violence

Becke Rodriquez knows what it’s like to take the first steps toward breaking the silence that often accompanies domestic violence. Rodriquez eventually turned to Cherokee Nation’s innovative ONE FIRE Victim Services program for help.

“It was truly eye opening for someone to believe me after I had been conditioned in the violence to blame everything on myself,” she said.

“Through ONE FIRE, I was able to start having a voice and gaining confidence a little at a time.”

The mission of ONE FIRE — an acronym for “Our Nation Ending

Fear, Intimidation, Rape, and Endangerment” — is to empower victims by giving them the tools they need to rebuild their lives and become the strong individuals they were created to be. ONE FIRE also strives to effect social change through outreach and education in order to put an end to intergenerational violence.

“Without ONE FIRE, I would not be where I am today,” said Chyla Cockrum, a former client of ONE FIRE. “They have helped me in so many ways. I was able to gain the mental strength I needed to get back on my own two feet, and their

20 The Official Cherokee Nation News Anadisgoi ᏏᏓᏁᎸ FAMILY
Cherokee Nation ONE FIRE staff in front of one of the new transitional homes at their new Stilwell location.
ᏛᎦᏎᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏂᏏᏓᏁᎸᎢ

ONE FIRE EMERGENCY HELPLINE

help allowed me to stay in school which opened the door for other opportunities within the tribe. I am stable again. I love it and I am grateful every day for the shelter and their staff.”

More than 80% of Native American women and men have been victims of violence, according to the U.S Department of Justice. National statistics show it typically takes seven times for a victim to leave an abusive situation or perpetrator for good.

Debra Proctor, senior director of ONE FIRE, said there are a number of reasons someone might reach out to the tribe’s victim services program: domestic violence, family violence, stalking, dating violence or sexual assault.

ONE FIRE assists by creating a plan focused on the needs of each individual, whether they need housing assistance; everyday necessities like hygiene products, clothing or food; legal assistance; or an advocate in court.

In December 2022, the Cherokee Nation also opened a new domestic violence shelter and three transitional houses in Stilwell, Okla. The shelter provides a safe space along with resources and services to help families and children who are suffering at the hands of abuse.

In 2022, ONE FIRE helped more than 800 individuals seeking assistance, nearly twice as many as those who sought help in 2021. When the new shelter opened in Stilwell, it

quickly filled with clients needing a hand in escaping an abusive situation.

“Be as safe as you can, be very gentle with yourself, and educate yourself as much as you possibly can,” said Rodriquez, who now advocates for women experiencing situations similar to her own. “You don’t have to have the answers, you don’t have to know how you will be fed, you don’t have to know how you’ll pay rent –you just have to trust in the process. The staff at ONE FIRE will anticipate your needs and next steps then stand by you through it all.”

Cockrum now works for Cherokee Nation and knows it’s important that help is there when victims of abuse need it.

“Find the positivity out there and find someone who can lead you in the right direction,” Cockrum said. “If you really want help and a way out, it is out there. For me, the way out was ONE FIRE.”

In April of 2023, the Cherokee Nation hosted the Families are Sacred Summit in Tulsa. The threeday event provided comprehensive training for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, court staff members, emergency medical service workers, health care providers, advocates and other Cherokee Nation employees involved in addressing domestic violence issues in Oklahoma. Scan here to learn about the grand opening of the tribe’s new domestic violence shelter

ONE FIRE helps all victims of violence who seek assistance, regardless of tribal citizenship.

“Reach out and try to trust a good domestic violence shelter such as ONE FIRE. We will empower you and help you find a new pathway in life that no longer includes violence,” Proctor said.

21 The Official Cherokee Nation News Anadisgoi ᏏᏓᏁᎸ FAMILY
1-866-458-5399 • Cherokee Nation citizens living within the reservation and needing help in escaping an abusive situation are urged to call the helpline to connect with ONE FIRE staff for direct services.

SECURING HOMES FOR CHEROKEES

Housing programs create opportunity to strengthen Cherokee families, help them build a stronger foundation for the future

Cherokee Nation citizen Maxine Hamilton is thankful for her new replacement home provided by the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation through the expanded Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act.

estled in the small town of Proctor, Okla., sits Maxine Hamilton’s new replacement home built by the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation.

Hamilton originally applied for rehabilitation to her previous home through the Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation, but upon inspection, it was determined that it would be more effective to replace her home with a new one.

Her previous home, built in the 1940s, had no insulation, bad flooring, a leaky roof, no central heating and air, old windows and asbestos siding. The new two-bedroom, accessible home is equipped to better fit her needs.

“There’s a lot more room to exercise,” Hamilton said. “I try to keep my legs moving.”

Hamilton is most excited about the warmth and “coziness” her new home brings. Though this is the fourth house to sit on her father’s original allotment land, it marks the first time 94-year-old Hamilton will have a laundry room and a safe room in her home.

Carla Henson, Hamilton’s daughter, said the building of her mother’s new home prevented their family from having to place Hamilton into a nursing home.

“Cherokee Nation has done a lot of good things,” Hamilton said. “Having a new home allows me to live with the things that I need to be happy and healthy.”

In 2019, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner proposed the Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act, which allocated a historic $30 million dollars to repair hundreds of Cherokee homes, remodel community buildings and create construction jobs. The Council of the Cherokee Nation passed the act and was then signed into law in 2019.

The tribe reauthorized the law in 2022 and expanded it at the request of Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner. The reauthorization was the largest housing investment ever by the Cherokee Nation and allocated $120 million to assist hundreds of Cherokee families, particularly Cherokee elders,

low-income families and Cherokees with disabilities, with affordable housing.

Hundreds of Cherokees have already been assisted through the program, and hundreds more projects are underway or in the planning stages.

Cherokee citizen Alice Imogene Morgan’s previous home was in such bad condition that it was beginning to impact her health.

“It needed so much done to it. It had holes in the floor, there was mold in the house and I’m allergic to mold,” Morgan said.

Morgan, 73, has lived in Big Cabin, Okla., since the 1980s. She applied for housing assistance from the Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation and in September 2022, celebrated the one-year anniversary of her new place.

Morgan’s new, accessible home has brought her peace of mind knowing that she now has railing in the bathroom and doorways wide enough to navigate when she has to use a walker.

“I am so blessed. I still just can’t get over it,” Morgan said. “I just want to tell the Cherokee Nation thank you. Thank you, thank you.”

Along with the tribe’s historic housing efforts throughout the Cherokee Nation, the tribe is also partnering with the U.S. Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training Program to build 21 new homes for Cherokee veterans in Tahlequah. Construction officially kicked off in April of 2021 with the Air National Guard, Army National Guard, Navy Reserve and Air Force Reserve Command providing personnel to construct the new homes.

23 The Official Cherokee Nation News Anadisgoi ᏏᏓᏁᎸ FAMILY
“Having a new home allows me to live with the things that I need to be happy and healthy.”
- Maxine Hamilton, Cherokee Nation citizen
N
One of the many replacement homes built for Cherokee citizens through the historic Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act. Scan here to see Cherokee citizen Maxine Hamilton’s new home

TEACHING A NEW GENERATION

Significant investments in early childhood improving the education, health, and welfare of young Cherokees

Cherokees have long recognized the importance of a child’s formative years and the need for a nurturing and enriching environment to learn and grow up in.

In 2021, Cherokee Nation leaders set aside $40 million to replace or repair the tribe’s Head Start facilities located across the reservation with construction planned for Tahlequah, Nowata, Kenwood, Jay, Cherry Tree in Adair County, and Salina.

“Early childhood education is the foundation of the Cherokee Nation. We could be teaching the future Principal Chief of the Nation and I believe our teachers take that very seriously – they are building up the foundation of our tribe and shaping young Cherokees to be the leaders that we need,” said Cherokee Nation Early Childhood Unit Director Verna Thompson. “This investment is about ensuring that our facilities match this high-quality curriculum.”

The legislation earmarking $40 million for this effort is named in honor of Thompson, who has worked for Cherokee Nation and in early childhood education for some 40 years now.

“It is always great to invest in children’s education,” said Cody Youngblood, a parent of two daughters who attend Cherokee Nation’s Head Start facilities. “It is going to benefit them later on in life. Looking at the long term, building the new childhood education centers will allow for less money going into upkeep so that more can go back to our children.”

Cherokee Nation’s original Head Start buildings

were created in 1978 and within the first year of being open the centers housed 120 Head Start children. Some of the original sites are in Kenwood, Redbird in Stilwell, and Cherry Tree. Today the Cherokee Nation currently has 65 classrooms, 175 staff members and serves around 880 children through all of its Head Start programs, including those in partnership with local schools.

For those in Tahlequah, a new two-story, 75,000-squarefoot building funded through the Cherokee Nation Verna D. Thompson Early Childhood Education Act will take some stress off of staff trying to upkeep the older facilities. The tribe unveiled architectural renderings of that new facility, along with renderings of the new facility to be located in Nowata, in October of 2022, when leaders also detailed project goals for the other Head Start construction projects that are upcoming.

“Our world is changing every day and if you don’t keep up with it, you are going to fall behind, that is no different for education facilities,” said Lauren Perez, a Cherokee citizen and a parent of four children, all of whom attended a Cherokee Nation Head Start Facility. “I think it is amazing that the Cherokee Nation has these resources to be able to provide new and upgraded facilities for the kids because we do not want to leave them behind. You need these resources to continue your education, to continue your knowledge, and to progress through everyday life. I think it is even more important for us as Cherokee citizens to maintain our place in history and being able to provide that for our kids now will set them up for success in the future.”

24 The Official Cherokee Nation News Anadisgoi ᏏᏓᏁᎸ FAMILY
Scan here to learn the Cherokee word for “learn”
ᏛᎨᏲᎲᏍᎬ ᎠᏂᏤ ᎠᏂᏍᏓᏢᎢ
RIGHT: Cherokee children at the tribe’s Head Start facilities across the reservation.
“Early childhood education is the foundation of the Cherokee Nation.”
-Verna Thompson, Cherokee Nation Director of Head Start

CARVING A NEW PATH

Sculpting is more than just a hobby to Cherokee National Treasure Eddie Morrison, who’s been crafting award-winning Cherokee art from wood and stone since the 1980s.

“The purpose of my work is to embody the best of the Cherokee tradition and help keep our tribe’s culture alive,” Morrison said. “I always strive to represent Cherokee people with pride and dignity.”

Morrison, a recipient of the Cherokee National Treasure Award in 2014, is now one of the most widely known Native American sculptors in the world. His work, depicting a variety of animals and people related to traditional Cherokee culture, is displayed in galleries across the U.S. and in private collections in some foreign countries.

The renowned sculptor is just one of the hundreds of Cherokee artists who have recognized the importance of the tribe’s bolstering of culture through art, as well as the importance of resources provided by the tribe to teach new generations and keep Cherokee culture and history alive.

“One thing about Cherokee artists is that we’re basically ambassadors when we go to these different places, meet people and display our work,” Morrison said. “People may meet us and form a different opinion of us. And our work can depict several different things about Cherokee culture —

ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ CULTURE
From time immemorial, artistic expression has reflected the distinctness of the tribe and the highest aspirations of Cherokees
Cherokee National Treasure Eddie Morrison at his shop in Tahlequah, Okla. ᎠᏛᏅᎢᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏰᏗ ᏙᎯ ᎠᏕᏗ

our myths, legends, stories, hand-me-downs and the pride of our people. So I believe it is important, and I’m very proud of our nation for also recognizing that importance.”

More than a decade ago, the Cherokee Nation created the Cherokee Art and Facilities Act, which requires 1% of the total construction or rehabilitation budget for Cherokee Nation facilities and properties to be used for artwork that is culturally and historically appropriate and created by Cherokee Nation citizens.

More recently, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed into law the Cherokee Artist Recovery Act of 2022, which put aside $3 million through 2024 to address the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Cherokee artists. The funding will be used to purchase Cherokee art and provide more opportunities for artists to teach others.

“I think the Artist Recovery Act is going to really bolster the Cherokee arts even more,” Morrison said. “I think it will be a good investment that will benefit us in the long run. Like I’ve said before, I’m 76 years old and I wish I had another 20 years to do this. But I think the number of young artists coming up is great. I know a lot of them and see them at different shows. There are some great artists out there — great potters, great painters and great sculptors.”

Cherokee Nation District 11 Councilor Victoria Vazquez, also a Cherokee National Treasure and artist, said the Artist Recovery Act will greatly help Cherokee artists with expenses related to travel, teaching and operational needs.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the Cherokee Nation for its installment of the Artist Recovery Act, which is the largest single investment in Cherokee art in the tribe’s history,” Councilor Vazquez said. “This initiative is aimed at helping Cherokee artists regain what they lost economically due to the pandemic. It’s also intended to inspire a new generation of Cherokee artists who want to produce their own collections of traditional art and make a living doing so.”

Councilor Vazquez’s interest and involvement in Cherokee art stems from her bond with her late mother, Anna Belle Sixkiller Mitchell, a Cherokee National Treasure and renowned artist who was known as a trailblazer and was widely accepted as an authority on both Southeastern and Eastern Woodlands-style pottery.

Recognized for her traditional handmade pottery and for sharing her knowledge and artistic skills with others, Mitchell was honored as the namesake for the Cherokee Nation Anna Mitchell Cultural & Welcome Center in 2022. The 9,400-square-foot, two-story center located in Craig County is situated on eight acres and overlooks the historic Route 66. It shares the history of both Cherokee Nation and the Vinita community while honoring Mitchell’s efforts to revitalize Cherokee pottery.

National Treasure and clay and pottery artist Jane Osti, a lifelong friend and student of Mitchell’s, said she learned firsthand the importance of experienced Cherokee artists being afforded the opportunities to pass along their knowledge and techniques to others.

“Traditional Cherokee art is our visual history and our visual language before the written word because it tells us where we lived, when we lived there and the ceremonies we had,” Osti said. “And as far as pottery and other claybased skills, it gives us a glimpse of the things our ancestors depended on. It was used for eating vessels, cooking vessels, holding water and more. These were all very important to everyday life.”

ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ CULTURE
Scan here for more information on these Cherokee National Treasures
ABOVE: Cherokee National Treasure Jane Osti demonstrating pottery.

Dennis Steele soaked up the moment as he sat in a deer blind with his daughter, Demi, on a brisk fall morning inside the Cherokee Nation Sequoyah County hunting preserve north of Sallisaw, Okla.

“I’ve been a part of some special hunts in my lifetime, and this was by far one of the nicest as far as the setup, the blind, the comfortability,” Dennis said. “It was perfect.”

And the experience went from perfect to unforgettable as soon as a sizable buck appeared from the foliage and sauntered its way closer and closer to the Coweta, Okla., Cherokee citizens who were partaking in one of the Cherokee Nation Wildlife Departments’ controlled hunts in October 2022.

Demi, 10, looked down the scope of her rifle, let out a deep breath and pulled the trigger for the first shot attempt of her life. And it was right on target.

“Right after she connected on the shot, I could see she was shaking with excitement,” Dennis said. “I asked her how she was feeling and she said, ‘Oh my gosh. I nailed it, Dad!’ She was 100% on cloud nine.”

Demi was one of the Cherokee citizens who had her name drawn for the controlled youth hunts in 2022. There were also controlled hunt drawings for Cherokee veterans, Cherokee elders and Cherokee citizens. The controlled hunts are one example of the Cherokee Nation’s efforts to ensure Cherokee people have opportunities to find food security and food sovereignty. Other examples include the tribe’s opening of the 1839 Cherokee Meat Co., its annual Cherokee heirloom seeds distribution in February, and the addition of bee pollinator homes in the tribe’s heirloom garden to boost the population of bees and butterflies that affect onethird of food supplies across the U.S.

At-large Cherokee citizen Mary Price Boday has taken advantage of the Cherokee Nation’s heirloom seed bank in recent years to successfully grow traditional Cherokee crops such as Yellow Flour Corn and White Eagle Corn at her home in Seattle, Wash.

“I have Oklahoma roots, and since I’m an at-large citizen now, my garden is a way for me to feel closer to Cherokee culture and traditions through food,” Boday said. “I’ve always eaten healthy, and food has always been very important to me. The fact that I can grow Cherokee crops and

28 The Official Cherokee Nation News Anadisgoi ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ CULTURE 28 The Official Cherokee Nation News Anadisgoi

make healthy foods means just so much to me. The heirloom seed bank is one resource for people like me who are deeply interested in our Cherokee history.”

Fellow Cherokee Elana Stroble Gallardo said she’s been growing traditional Cherokee crops since 2019.

“My husband and I are very into growing gardens every year, and we decided to try traditional Cherokee crops once we saw the seed bank advertisements on Facebook,” Gallardo said. “So far we’ve grown the White Eagle Corn. We also want to try getting gourds. It’s just a fun way to feel connected to Cherokee tradition and grow beautiful crops in the process.”

The Official Cherokee Nation News Anadisgoi ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ CULTURE 29
“The fact that I can grow Cherokee crops and make healthy foods means just so much to me.”
-Mary Price Boday, Cherokee Nation citizen
here to learn the Cherokee
Shutterstock.com/ZiaMary
Cherokee citizen Mary Price Boday in front of her Cherokee plants. Scan
word for “deer”

F rom Sequoyah’s introduction of the Cherokee syllabary as the first written language among Native Americans, to becoming the first tribe to own and use a printing press in the 1800s, to the use of today’s burgeoning technologies to help preserve and share Cherokee lifeways for generations to come, the Cherokee people have always found innovative ways to create their own messaging and tell their own stories.

Since premiering in 2015, Cherokee Nation’s cultural television series, “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People” has vibrantly featured hundreds of Cherokees from both past and present. The first-of-its-kind Native American programming, hosted and directed by Cherokee Nation citizen, filmmaker and Emmy-winning journalist Jennifer Loren, continues

to bring the rich traditions and compelling modern advancements of the Cherokee people to viewers across the globe.

OsiyoTV, as the popular series is often referred to, is currently airing its eighth season and is broadcast statewide on PBS in Oklahoma and Arkansas, regionally within Tulsa on RSU-TV, in Joplin on NBC and ABC, as well as on FNX, an all-Native programming network in 25 national markets. The documentary-style series ranks among the most awarded Indigenous-run series in the industry, including 16 total Emmy wins.

Just four years after debuting Cherokee Nation’s awardwinning television series, Cherokee Nation Businesses established the first certified Native American film commission in the United States. The Cherokee Nation Film Office immediately began working to help grow Oklahoma’s emerging film industry by promoting the Cherokee Nation Reservation as a destination for filmmakers, maintaining unique databases of Cherokee Nation locations, resources and talent, serving as a cultural and historical consultant on film and television projects, providing scholarship and educational opportunities and perhaps most importantly, creating an environment that cultivates Native filmmaking.

“OsiyoTV, the Cherokee Nation Film Office and our virtual production teams create original and culturally significant content using state-of-the-art technology and skill sets that haven’t been combined in Indian Country before now,” said Jennifer Loren, senior director of Cherokee Film.

“Our virtual production capabilities are a first among tribal nations and serve as an excellent example of how emerging technology is helping Cherokee Nation preserve and share indigenous language, culture, history and more.”

Last year, Cherokee Nation leadership and CNB executives joined state officials, local community leaders and industry

30 The Official Cherokee Nation News Anadisgoi ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ CULTURE

professionals in commemorating the area’s foremost filmmaking destination by celebrating the grand opening of Cherokee Film Studios, Owasso Campus. The facility, a first of its kind in Oklahoma and Indian Country, features groundbreaking technology, including a virtual production LED volume studio crafted with industry-leading software and hardware technologies.

CNFO and its virtual production team are creating original content about the Cherokee people and Indigenous lifeways, including becoming the first Native American tribe to use motion and facial capture technology to help preserve and promote an indigenous language with “Sequoyah: Voice of the Inventor for the Bicentennial.” The production brought Sequoyah to life through real-time graphics and the voice and movements of first-language Cherokee speaker Steve Daugherty.

Cherokee Nation’s talented team of production and studio professionals continually create and publish unique Native American programming, including producing projects for the tribe and its businesses. Cherokee Film Studios projects have included highlighting Cherokee National Treasures, Cherokee Nation Language Department testimonials, The Cherokee Nation Foundation, ONE FIRE Victim services, State of the Nation addresses, cultural art and tourism efforts, tribal voting registration processes, public health forums and tribal exercise videos aimed at helping our Elders stay healthy and fit, internal CNB employee communications, financial updates and orientations.

In addition to producing the “ᏟᎳᎩ: Cherokee Wherever We Are” monthly series, the team is working on longer-term projects like the upcoming language short story, “Cherokee Strawberry.” The Cherokee Film production team is also working on historical, animated and culturally significant documentaries such as an upcoming project exploring the

significance of the red wolf to the Cherokee people featuring the agencies, such as Cherokee Nation Natural Resources department, trying to save it from extinction.

The tribe’s soundstage also served an integral role in helping develop and share vital health messaging, as well as to create a safe means for all Cherokees to stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doubling down on the usefulness of the new soundstage and the LED wall technology, CNFO has invested in increasing its capabilities. With additional LED wall space and motion capture capabilities, the state-of-the-art facility is like nothing else in the region or in Indian Country. In early 2022, Cherokee Nation and its businesses also launched a powerful economic tool within the tribe’s reservation and expanded its effort to help grow the film and television industries in Oklahoma when CNFO became the first tribal film commission to offer an annual $1 million film incentive for productions filmed within the tribe’s boundaries.

The Cherokee Film Incentive continually helps bring multiple film projects to the Cherokee Nation. In pursuit of CNFO’s mission, the cash rebate encourages productions to hire Natives both in front and behind the camera while also helping the industry grow within the Cherokee Nation Reservation.

31 The Official Cherokee Nation News Anadisgoi ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ CULTURE
Scan here to watch episodes of OsiyoTV Scan here to view Cherokee Nation Film Office reel
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