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MEET THE CANDIDATES Tribal Council candidates answer five questions posed by the Cherokee Phoenix staff. Page 6

PHOENIX CHEROKEE Election officials OK precinct sites CHEROKEEPHOENIX.ORG

APRIL 1, 2019


The Election Commission approves the general election voting locations within the tribe’s 15 jurisdictional districts. BY CHAD HUNTER Reporter

TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation election officials on March 12 approved voting locations for the tribe’s June 1 general election. The approved precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day. “If your precinct has changed, the information of the location is printed on the voter ID card you will receive in April 2019,” a news release from the Election Commission states.

Dist. 1 Precincts are Sequoyah High School Cafeteria, 17091 S. Muskogee Ave., in Tahlequah; Hulbert Community Building, 316 Rider Lane in Hulbert; and the Senior Citizen Center, 3701 E. 75 St. N. in Okay. Dist. 2 Precincts are Sequoyah High School Cafeteria, 17091 S. Muskogee Ave., in Tahlequah; Tri-Community (W.E.B.) Association, 17914 S. 580 Road in Briggs; and Lowrey VFD, 9775 Hwy. 82-A. Dist. 3 Precincts are Sequoyah High School Cafeteria, 17091 S.


Muskogee Ave., in Tahlequah; and the Keys Community Building, 19083 E. 840 Road in Park Hill. Dist. 4 Sites are the Fort Gibson Community Building, 200 W. Poplar St. in Fort Gibson; Three Rivers Health Center, 1001 S. 41st St. E. in Muskogee; and Warner Public School Event Center, 1012 5th Ave., in Warner. Dist. 5 Locations are the Gore Police and Fire Station, 1201 N. Main; Redbird Health Center, 301 S. J. T. Stites St. in


EC confirms 2019 election’s candidates list Thirty-two of the original 36 filers move forward for June 1. BY CHAD HUNTER Reporter

PHOTOS BY WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Bicycle mechanic Jose Alcala, right, speaks with 2019 “Remember the Removal” cyclists following their training ride on March 10. He encouraged them and gave them advice for their training. The Cherokee Nation honored Alcala for volunteering his time since 2014 to assist with the annual bicycle ride. In June, the 11 cyclists will retrace the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears, a nearly 1,000-mile journey.

LOOK National Road Series Technical Director Jose Alcala has assisted with the bicycle ride since 2014 and is honored on March 11. BY WILL CHAVEZ Assistant Editor


AHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation honored bicycle mechanic Jose Alcala on March 11 for volunteering his time to assist the annual “Remember the Removal” bicycle ride. Alcala, who is the technical director for LOOK National Road Series in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has provided technical assistance for the ride since 2014. Each year he meets the cyclists near their midway point in Kentucky or Illinois and spends several days with them cleaning and servicing their bicycles. He said he learned of the annual ride from a park ranger while visiting the former CN capital in New Echota, Georgia. “I decided to visit there after listening to a National Public Radio broadcast about the Trail of Tears written by (Cherokee author and actress) Sarah Vowell. He saw my Volvo and all the bikes on it and began to tell me about the modern journey that retraced the Trail of Tears route on bicycles,” he said. “I went back home to Wisconsin and began to research the ride. I tried to find as much information as I could via the Internet, and I was fortunate to come across the ‘RTR’ Facebook page.” He said he followed the 2014 riders on the internet as they began their trek and located the closest point they would be to him while he was visiting Tulsa. “I then decided I would travel from an event I was at in Tulsa and drive all day to where they would be in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, with hopes of offering my assistance if needed,” he said.

LOOK National Road Series Technical Director Jose Alcala has assisted with the “Remember the Removal” bicycle ride since 2014 and was honored on March 11 for volunteering his time to provide assistance. Principal Chief Bill John Baker, left, and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden presented him with a Pendleton blanket.

‘RTR’ bike ride coordinators Marvel Welch of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and CN citizen Joseph Erb met Alcala and accepted his offer. “I decided to help because for me it was the right thing to do. I have all of these resources, (car, bikes, wheels, tires and inner tubes) from all of my cycling sponsors, and I wanted to offer support in any way I could,” he said. “I thank my mother for teaching me to, ‘Always do what you can for others, and share what you have when you can.’ And so that’s what I intended to do. A big thank you to Marvel Welch and Joseph Erb for welcoming me that day, and allowing me to do what I could for the riders.” Some ‘RTR’ cyclists Alcala has met during the years came to the March 11 Tribal Council meeting to see him honored. Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden presented him with a Pendleton blanket, and cyclists joined him for a photo in the Council Chambers. Also, during his visit to Tahlequah, he accompanied cyclists during their training ride on March 10 to service their bicycles if needed, to encourage them and to give them advice for their three-week trip in June when they will retrace the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears. “It has been great to see the ride organization, and ride support grow each year. Having a skilled team of people attending to the needs of the participants is so important on such a long journey. Such a variety of things can (and do) happen in the weeks the riders are in route to Tahlequah. The assistance of a great staff is so key to getting everyone home safe,” Alcala said.

LOOK National Road Series Technical Director Jose Alcala speaks with “Remember the Removal” trainer Sarah Holcomb following a March 11 Tribal Council meeting in which he was honored by the Cherokee Nation for volunteering his time to provide technical assistance to the annual bicycle ride.

TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation election officials adopted a general election candidates roster in March, minus two candidates who withdrew and another two who failed to meet eligibility requirements. In total, the Election Commission certified 32 of 36 hopefuls who filed to run. Deputy chief candidate Linda Sacks and Dist. 1 Tribal Council candidate Randy Dirteater withdrew from their respective races in February. The EC and Supreme Court deemed principal chief candidate Rhonda Brown-Fleming and Dist. 13 Tribal Councilor Buel Anglen ineligible to run. Two CN citizens challenged Brown-Fleming’s eligibility. “The candidate lives in California and does not meet the residency requirements of the election code,” EC attorney Harvey Chaffin said March 11. A special qualification for the principal chief position includes living within the tribe’s jurisdictional boundaries for at least 270 days prior to the election. Brown-Fleming filed a Supreme Court appeal, which was dismissed in a March 12 order. A Supreme Court opinion issued March 14 affirmed the EC’s earlier decision to prevent Anglen from running in the general election based on term limits.


CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Marcus Fears, Cherokee Nation Election Commission administrator, holds up a candidate name for the principal chief’s race on March 18 during a ballot order drawing in Tahlequah.

EC sets general election ballot order BY CHAD HUNTER Reporter

TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation candidates headed to the June 1 general election will be listed on the ballot based upon a drawing held in March by the Election Commission. The process was handled during an EC meeting on March 18. Election officials drew names randomly from a foam cup in front of commissioners, their attorney, other election staff and audience members. Before election law was changed, Elections Director Connie Parnell said, candidates or their proxies were allowed to draw for the ballot order. That practice ended in 2013. “It was a big show more than anything,” Parnell said. “Not everybody got to be here, so a few got to make those decisions.” The victor of this year’s principal chief race will





ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᎤᎯ • JO/ 1, 2019

Hoskin-Warner ticket tops in campaign income Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Bryan Warner report the most donated money and most number of maximum contributions. BY D. SEAN ROWLEY Senior Reporter TAHLEQUAH – According to campaign financial disclosures of the three principal chief and two deputy chief candidates, the ticket of Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Bryan Warner has brought in the most campaign income from contributions, combining for more than $981,000. The disclosures give figures through Feb. 28 for principal chief candidates Dick Lay and David Walkingstick, as well as deputy chief candidate Meredith Frailey. For principal chief candidate Hoskin and deputy chief candidate Warner, the figures show financials up to March 14. Hoskin reported contributions of $675,415.44 since Dec. 1. He also lists total campaign expenditures of $224,428.43 and in-kind contributions of $24,442.16.

According to Hoskin’s report, 90 donors gave the maximum donation of $5,000, and another 105 contributed at least $1,000. Hoskin listed campaign expenses of $5,949.75 for advertisements, $7,688 for printing, $10,064.90 for office expenses, $1,709.36 for food and $199,016.42 was categorized as miscellaneous. Lay reported $850 in contributions, another $400 in miscellaneous income, and $300 of in-kind contributions. He also reported loans of $9,256.55 for a total campaign revenue of $10,506.55. He reported outlays of $6,250 in staff compensation, $1,703.81 in office expenses, $1,777.74 for printing and $775 on advertising. Walkingstick reported $16,205 in contributions and $13,024.93 in loans for total revenue of $29,229.93. His report listed $13,186.33 in campaign expenses, and $18,543.60 worth of in-kind expenses. Through Feb. 28, Walkingstick reported two donations of $5,000 and another three of at least $1,000. Reported

CN monitoring actions of ‘Northern Cherokees’ BY D. SEAN ROWLEY Senior Reporter

TAHLEQUAH – During the previous decades, it seems an ethnic fashion has taken root with millions across the U.S. It isn’t a type of music or hairstyle, but a claim of lineage. It has become cool to be descended from American Indians, and there seem to be a disproportionate number of claims to be Cherokee. Such assertions span a spectrum. There are many non-Natives who claim a slice of tribal heritage due to stories passed down through their families, and perhaps see it only as an interesting page in their ancestral histories. But others are using numerous claims – often dubious – to seek state and federal recognition. They may even give names to their “tribes,” or stereotypical names to themselves, and the motivation can have more to do with money than honoring a long-deceased ancestor. Federal recognition would have extensive consequences, perhaps even allowing claims of party to treaty. “There might be some artists with no affiliation to the tribe displaying their art,” Troy Wayne Poteete, Cherokee Nation citizen and National Trail of Tears Association executive director, said. “If the artist refers to his Native lineage and there isn’t any, it is a disservice to all of us. If groups start referring to themselves as a tribe, band or clan, they are misrepresenting Cherokee culture and it needs to stop.” Poteete has dealt with unrecognized groups before, including as part of an unnamed task force that challenged the contentions of organizations such as the “Lost Cherokee Nation of Arkansas and Missouri” during the 2000s. The “Lost Nation” has since splintered. Poteete said it began as a nonprofit seeking state recognition. “It’s almost like a loophole to get some states to recognize them,” he said. “If they are recognized, then they become eligible for certain federal funds for staterecognized tribes. The original intent of those was for colonial tribes back on the East Coast that had treaty relationships with the colonies, but had never dealt directly with the federal government and didn’t develop the relationship, but there are very few of those tribes.” Poteete said the “Lost Tribe” received money in the mid-2000s from Arkansas schools for helping bring Office of Indian Education funds to schools. Under the Indian Education Act, schools were provided a certain amount of money for each Indian student enrolled. This resulted in “Lost Cherokees” enrolling their children in schools as Natives, letting the schools collect the federal dollars – but charging the school an

“administrative fee” of 5 percent. Roughly $1.1 million was awarded to 24 schools. In 2005, the Arkansas attorney general said the state could not recognize Indian tribes. The schism created three nonprofits that are registered in Missouri: the Northern Cherokee Nation of the Old Louisiana Territory, the Northern Cherokee Nation and the Sac River/ White River Bands of the Chickamauga Cherokee Nation Inc. All claim to be “Green Band” tribes descended from Benjamin Green, son of Gardner Green, who appears on the 1835 CN census. In 2018, CN citizens made further challenges concerning the claims of the Missouri groups. Firstly, CN citizen Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark, of the Missouri House of Representatives, introduced House Bill 1384. It included language requiring that a citizen of a federally recognized tribe must produce any American Indian art described as authentic. Secondly, CN citizen, professional genealogist and blogger Twila Barnes announced the findings of research into the family of Gardner Green. “They don’t meet the criteria, and in recent months I have been blogging it,” Barnes said. “The original claim was that they were descended from Gardner Green in 1835. Their ancestors, who are now dead, used that claim to try to get citizenship in the tribe back in 1896. There were about 40 at that time and they were all denied. When the Eastern (Cherokee) forms were being filled out, there were between 200 and 500 people. They thought it would sound more believable with more people. They were advertising in the newspaper that their ancestor Green was entitled to $5 million, and they claimed it was for the family, not the nation. Of course, people came out of the woodwork to make claims. They were rejected again.” On her blog (pollysgranddaughter. com), she claims the man listed as Gardner Green in 1835 was Young Wolf, son of Mouse, and could not have been a matriarch of the Green family of Boone County, Missouri. She writes the commissioner assigned to oversee the roll and payments, Guion Miller, also noticed discrepancies between the Green on the census and claimants’ descriptions. Barnes also states that all heirs of the 1835 Gardner Green are known, and none of the claimants are actually descended from him. “They said he was very old, but he actually died at about age 28 before the Removal (Trail of Tears). His money was paid to his heirs, who were his wife, and a son who was about 6 years old. A lot of researchers worked on it for years. We knew it was fake. We just had to get the information on Gardner Green.”

expenses were $1,011.99 for ads, $2,867.45 for printing, $2,000 for compensation, $1,061.32 for office expenses, $3,595.57 for food and $150 categorized as miscellaneous. Frailey reported $500 in contributions and $1,500 in loans for $2,000 of campaign revenue. The campaign had not yet claimed any expenses. Warner reported $306,276 in contributions and $135,355.86 in expenses. The expenditures include $373.75 for advertisements, $5,807.11 for office expenses, $1,675 for food, and $127,500 declared miscellaneous. Reported in-kind contributions total $19,604.31. Warner reported 42 donors making the maximum contribution of $5,000 and another 40 making donations of at least $1,000. Tribal law states candidates must submit monthly campaign finances to the Election Commission. Tribal citizens can visit the EC during business hours to inspect campaign finances or obtain copies.

Supreme Court affirms ousting of Anglen’s candidacy Tribal Councilor Buel Anglen is not allowed to run for his Dist. 13 seat in the June 1 general election. BY CHAD HUNTER Reporter TAHLEQUAH – A Cherokee Nation Supreme Court opinion issued March 14 affirmed the Election Commission’s earlier decision to prevent longtime Tribal Councilor Buel Anglen from running in the general election based on term limits. Anglen’s only Dist. 13 election opponent, Joe Deere, filed the original eligibility challenge. Erased from this year’s ballot by the EC in February, Anglen appealed to the Supreme Court. “The Election Commission is wrong,” attorney and former Principal Chief Chad Smith told justices on Anglen’s behalf during a March 11 hearing. Anglen’s initial run on the council began in 2002, when he was appointed to fill a Dist. 8 vacancy. He was elected to the seat in 2003, serving a full term. In 2007, when term limits took effect under the current Constitution, Anglen was elected again. However, the typical four-year term was extended to six years to stagger terms of half the council. After losing his seat because of redistricting in 2013, Anglen sat out two years, then ran for and secured the Dist. 13 seat in 2015. Deere’s attorney, Carly Griffith Hotvedt, said Anglen should “be required to sit out four years” before he’s eligible to run again. CN law restricts councilors to two consecutive four-year terms. The Constitution states that, “All Council members having served two consecutive terms must sit out one term before seeking any seat on the Council.” “We find nothing in the law that requires him to sit out four years,” Smith argued. “We all know consecutive is not a vague term. It requires uninterrupted service. His next consecutive term would have been in 2013, but he didn’t run. He waited until 2015 to run.” The Supreme Court’s opinion stated

that staggered terms and redistricting created “a unique fact scenario that would be difficult to repeat” in Anglen’s case. “Anglen has been elected to the Tribal Council in every Buel Anglen single election held in his district since 2003, although the shape and number of that district have changed, at times drastically, during the previous 15 years,” the opinion states. The author of CN term limits language “clarified that she intended the term limit to apply to the individual council member, so that regardless of where he or she moved it would never be possible to serve more than two consecutive terms,” justices wrote. “In this case, it was not the tribal member that moved, but the district that moved around him while he stayed in the same location,” they wrote. “However, the language adopted by the convention limiting consecutive terms in office demands the same result.” The definition of the word term “in these unique circumstances,” the order states, is “a true question of constitutional interpretation.” “It is clear that the framers of the Constitution intended to require that one term of office be allowed to pass before an individual could return for a third term,” the order states. “To give meaning and effect to the requirements of the Constitution, Anglen cannot be elected to a third straight term on the Tribal Council without sitting out for one full, four-year term.” On Deere’s behalf, Hotvedt said they were pleased with the court’s order.“We felt like the Election Commission got it right in the first fight. As soon as we get certified from the Election Commission, that race will be decided.” Anglen was unavailable for comment as of publication.

JO/ 1, 2019 • ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᎤᎯ




EPA: Mushroom compost removes pollutants from Tar Creek site More treatment pond systems could be used on other tributaries to enhance the concentrations of heavy metals flowing into Tar Creek.

TESINA JACKSON/TAHLEQUAH DAILY PRESS Much of Tahlequah is included in one of Oklahoma’s opportunity zones, which offer tax breaks for new investments, but the Tahlequah-based Cherokee Nation can’t take advantage of a key part of the new tax law because Native American tribes can’t form investment funds for the zones.

Tribes shut out of opportunity zone deals BY PAUL MONIES Oklahoma Watch

OKLAHOMA CITY – Native American tribes across the country were left out of a major part of a new federal tax incentive for opportunity zones, with their governments unable to pool investments to support projects in some of the nation’s poorest areas. The oversight came to light as federal agencies continue to refine the rules for the opportunity zones, which came out of a major tax overhaul package passed by Congress in late 2017. Governors in each state last year picked the zones among low-income census tracts, with 8,764 of the zones designated across the country. There are 117 opportunity zones in Oklahoma. As part of the tax law, investors can pool their investments through what’s known as a qualified opportunity fund. But tribal governments can’t form or participate in those funds because the law doesn’t allow tribally chartered corporations or federal corporations formed under a federal law called the Indian Reorganization Act. The Native American Finance Officers Association discussed the oversight in a comment letter to the Internal Revenue Service in December and asked for additional consultation with tribes as the rules continue to be developed. The IRS held a public hearing in February. Another set of rules was to be released for comment in the next several weeks, according to federal regulators. “The lack of a property tax base means that tribal governments rely on revenue from their enterprises to provide government services such as public safety, education, housing and cultural programs. It also makes programs that invest capital – like opportunity zones – even more valuable for Indian Country,” the letter said. Opportunity zones allow investors to reduce or eliminate federal capital gains taxes on long-term investments. The capital must go into designated low-income census tracts and can’t involve gambling establishments, country clubs, golf courses, massage parlors or liquor/beer stores. Tribal governments can still attract outside investors to their opportunity zones, but a big part of the incentive was the ability to pool outside investors into the qualified opportunity funds that can invest in zones across the country. Dante Desiderio, executive director of the Native American Finance Officers Association, said not allowing tribal governments to form the opportunity funds hampers their ability to use the incentive and combine it with others unique to tribal areas. The law allows territories, like Guam and American Samoa, to set up opportunity funds, but tribal governments weren’t given the same status. “So with Indian Country, we have incentives that are already lined up like accelerated depreciation or Indian employment tax credits. But we won’t be able to use them because we have to incorporate outside of the tribal area,” Desiderio said. “So it takes away any incentive to get capital in their projects.”

Tribal governments and their businesses don’t pay federal capital gains taxes, but they would want to participate in many projects in the opportunity zones, he said. Since the intent of the incentive is to bring in additional capital to low-income areas, there would be less incentive for other businesses to partner with tribal governments or their business COURTESY enterprises. Oklahoma Watch “Due to their unique status, if a is a nonprofit, tribal government cannot create nonpartisan media a Qualified Opportunity Fund organization entity within its jurisdiction, producing in-depth tribes will be unable to participate and investigative in creating Opportunity Funds,” stories on issues the finance association said in facing the its comment letter. “This lack of state. For more self-determination means tribal Oklahoma Watch governments may miss out on content, go to lease and potential tax revenue oklahomawatch. and may have more difficulty org. aggregating projects to meet the needs of their communities.” More than 90 opportunity funds have already been formed, according to a list by accounting and consulting firm Novogradac & Co. In total, those funds represent $22 billion in community development investment capacity. About 360 opportunity zones are on tribal land or reservations across the country, according to the finance officers association. Oklahoma has more than 90 of the designated zones, which leads all states. Former Gov. Mary Fallin’s office worked with tribal leaders, chambers of commerce and economic development officials to designate the state’s 117 opportunity zones last year. Five tribes once commonly referred to as the “Five Civilized Tribes” – Seminole, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), Cherokee and Chickasaw – each had at least three zones that the state promised to include on any final list. Other tribes also had input into the selection process. In Oklahoma, 22 tribes have land in designated opportunity zones. Some of the tribes share multiple zones. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation has the most, with 23 designated zones, followed by the Cherokee Nation with 21. The Choctaw Nation has 13 and the Chickasaw Nation has nine designated zones. The Cherokee Nation is exploring its options on the opportunity zones but did not comment on the opportunity fund issue. “The Cherokee Nation is interested in Opportunity Zone funds since they can be useful in helping tribes attract investments,” Chuck Garrett, Cherokee Nation Businesses executive vice president, said in a statement. “The Cherokee Nation has had discussions on finding a model to utilize this program, which have centered on what tribes can do to help attract investments, including market projects and infrastructure improvements to sites that qualify.”

TULSA (AP) – Mushroom compost has been extracting contaminants from the heavily polluted Tar Creek Superfund Site in northeastern Oklahoma for a decade, according to an Environmental Protection Agency report. Tar Creek is a 40-square-mile former mine and one of the nation’s oldest, most complex sites in the Superfund program that funds and authorizes EPA cleanup of contaminated sites. The passive treatment system at the Ottawa County site layers mushroom compost on ponds to remove and separate cadmium, lead and zinc from the tainted water, the Tulsa World reported. The system is one of numerous initiatives named in the Superfund site’s strategic plan announced in March by the EPA, with cooperation from the Quapaw Tribe and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. Bob Nairn, professor at the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Restoration of Ecosystems and Watersheds, has been monitoring the water draining from the ponds for more than 10 years. He said the polluted mine water transforms into something appropriate for aquatic wildlife due to the unique chemistry of the compost and dirt. He said the compost ponds treat about half a million gallons of water a day. Companies mined millions of tons of lead and zinc ore at the Picher Mining Field for seven decades before the field was closed in the 1960s. During mining operations, thousands of gallons of water were pumped through the mines to keep them clear. Once mining operations ended, billions of gallons of contaminated water were left in and around the mines. Left untreated, water carrying high levels of zinc, lead, iron, nickel and cadmium emptied into the Tar Creek and its tributaries. The mine field was declared a Superfund site in 1983. Each pond removes either iron, lead or zinc, and one has a wind-operated power station to operate bubblers that re-oxygenate the water, he said. OU researchers tested various compost materials and determined the J-M, Inc. mushroom compost satisfied all the right conditions. “We put a lot of work in with it in the laboratory,” he said. “We looked at different composts, looked at different manures.” Scott Engelbrecht, growing operations manager at J-M Farms, said the farm’s compost begins as chicken litter with wheat straw, cottonseed meal, gypsum and some urea. The materials are composted until they form a soil in which mushrooms are grown. The original compost laid down 10 years ago at the Superfund site is fertilizer that already had been used to cultivate mushrooms. Nairn said more treatment pond systems could be used on other tributaries to enhance the concentrations of heavy metals flowing into Tar Creek. “One of the most exciting things is we’ve documented a tripling of the number of species of fish in the tributary from about a half dozen up to 18, and there are massive numbers more of the fish,” he said. “Beavers and muskrats have moved back into the stream, as well, although they’ve caused some minor problems for us because they like to stop things that flow.”

DAVID CRENSHAW/TULSA WORLD VIA AP In this 2002 photo, years of erosion create a moonlike landscape on chat piles just west of Picher. The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a pledge of more than $16 million annually for continued cleanup efforts of the Tar Creek Superfund Site in northeastern Oklahoma.



Cherokee Phoenix APRIL 1, 2019

Volume 43, No. 7 The Cherokee Phoenix is published monthly by the Cherokee Nation, PO Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465. Application to mail at Periodicals postage rates is pending at Tahlequah, OK 74464. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Cherokee Phoenix, PO Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465

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Editorial Board Lauren Jones Cusick Kendra McGeady Maxie Thompson Brenda Thompson Ceciley Thomason-Murphy Cherokee Phoenix P.O. Box 948 Tahlequah, OK 74465 (918) 453-5269 FAX: (918) 207-0049 1-800-256-0671 ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS Within the United States: $15 for one year Please contact us at the number above to subscribe. Mail subscriptions and changes of address to the Cherokee Phoenix, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465, phone 918-207-4975. Please include the words “Change of Address” or “Subscription” on the envelope. Back Issues may be purchased for $2.50 postage and handling. Please inquire to make sure the issues are in stock by writing to Back Issues, Cherokee Phoenix, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465; or calling 918-207-4975.


Copyright 2018: The entire contents of the Cherokee Phoenix are fully protected by copyright unless otherwise noted and may be reproduced if the copyright is noted and credit is given to the Cherokee Phoenix, the writer and the photographer. Requests to reprint should be directed to the editor at the above address. Material provided through membership with Associated Press NewsFinder, identified by (AP), may not be reproduced without permission of the Associated Press. Oklahoma Press Association

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ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᎤᎯ • JO/ 1, 2019

Census Bureau hiring for 2020 Census Opportunities offer flexible work hours, including daytime, evenings and weekends. BY STAFF REPORTS WASHINGTON – According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the bureau is recruiting thousands of workers for temporary jobs available nationwide in advance of the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau is using funds appropriated in prior years to continue all critical work in preparation for the 2020 Census, including hiring for field operations. Neither schedule nor cost is impacted by the partial government shutdown at this time. The 2020 Census Jobs website allows applicants to apply for the following positions by completing a single application online: · Recruiting assistants travel throughout geographic areas to visit with community-based organizations, attend promotional events and conduct other recruiting activities. · Office operations supervisors assist

in the management of office functions and day-to-day activities in one or more functional areas, including payroll, personnel, recruiting, field operations and support. · Clerks perform various administrative and clerical tasks to support various functional areas, including payroll, personnel, recruiting, field operations and support. · Census field supervisors conduct fieldwork to support and conduct on-thejob training for census takers, and/or to follow-up in situations where census takers have confronted issues such as

not gaining entry to restricted areas. · Census takers work in the field. Some field positions require employees to work during the day to see addresses on buildings. Other field positions require interviewing the public, so employees must be available to work when people are usually at home such as in the evening and on weekends. Opportunities offer flexible work hours, including daytime, evenings and weekends. Applicants are placed in a pool for 2020 Census field positions and are considered as positions become available. Applications will remain active and updateable throughout the 2020 Census recruiting and hiring period. For more information, call 1-855JOB-2020 and select Option 3. Applicants may also call the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339. For more information, visit and click on the 2020 Census Jobs link or it Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

PRECINCTS: April 19 is deadline for absentee requests from front page

Sallisaw; and Vian Public School (BJ Traw Gym), 203 W. Hunter. Dist. 6 Precincts are at United Methodist Church, 2100 McGee Dr. in Sallisaw; the Nicut/Belfonte Community Center, 474894 State Hwy. 101 in Muldrow; Marble City Hall, 120 A N. Main St.; and Muldrow High School cafeteria, 715 W. Shawntel Smith Blvd. Dist. 7 Locations are the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center, 471688 Hwy. 51 in Stilwell; Westville School cafeteria, 500 W. Chincapin; Lyons Switch Community Association, 463101 E. 914 Road in Bunch; and NOAC Chewey Community Building, 64741 S. 4645 Road in Watts. Dist. 8 Sites are the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center, 471688 Hwy. 51 in Stilwell; Westville School cafeteria, 500 W. Chincapin; and Bell Public School, N. 5th St., in Stilwell. Dist. 9 Precincts are the Sam Hider Health Center, 859 E. Melton Drive in Jay; Kenwood School cafeteria, 48625 S. 502 Road in Salina; AMO Health Center, 900 N. Owen Walter Blvd., in Salina; and Kansas High School, 700 N. Woods Ave. Dist. 10 Sites are the Sam Hider Health Center, 859 E. Melton Drive in Jay; AMO Health Center, 900 N. Owen Walter Blvd., in Salina; Afton City Hall, 201 S.W. 1st St.; Grove Community Center, 104 W. 3rd St.; Spavinaw City Hall, 119 S. Main; and the Graham Community Building, 6 N. Adair in Pryor. Dist. 11

Precincts are the CN Health Center, 27371 S. 4410 Road in Vinita; Gateway Assembly of God Church, 440 W. 10th St., in Welch; and Native American Fellowship Inc., 215 Oklahoma St., in South Coffeyville. Dist. 12 Sites are the No-We-Ta CN Community Center, 1020 Lenape Drive in Nowata; HACN Keeler Heights, 1003 S. Virginia Ave., in Bartlesville; and VFW Post 7977, 133169 N. Cincinnati Ave., in Skiatook. Dist. 13 Locations are the American Legion Post 1, 1120 E. 8th St., in Tulsa; HACN Complex, 310 Chief Stand Waite Drive in Catoosa; and Veterans Community Center, 903 W. Main in Collinsville. Dist. 14 Locations are HACN Claremore, 23205 S. Hwy. 66 in Claremore; Boys & Girls Club, 119 N. Ash St., in Chelsea; and Oologah Assembly of God Church, 13462 S. Hwy. 169 in Oologah. Dist. 15 Precincts are the Cherokee Elder Rainbow House, 101 Market Place in Locust Grove; Graham Community Building, 6 N. Adair in Pryor; AMO Health Center, 900 N. Owen Walter Blvd., in Salina; and HACN Claremore, 23205 S. Hwy. 66 in Claremore. A year ago, there were approximately 69,250 registered voters. As of March 13, there are 71,722, Marcus Fears, EC administrator, said. “Currently, the office is being inundated with emails, mail, faxes and calls as anticipated, all regarding voter registrations, absentee ballot requests, all sorts of different questions,” Fears said.

The deadline for voter registration has passed. April 19 is the deadline for absentee ballot requests. Those ballots will be mailed April 30 and May 1. At the polls, CN voters are encouraged to bring voter identification. “Your voter identification card can help precinct officials find your name in the precinct signature book,” an EC news release states, “and it may also help them resolve the problem if you are not listed in the precinct signature book.” Voters who disagree with the information in the signature book or whose names are not found in the book may cast a challenged ballot. “A challenged ballot is sealed in a special envelope and counted after the challenged ballots are returned to the CNEC office if the voter’s information can be verified by the Cherokee Nation Election Commission,” the release states. For more information, call 918-458-5899 or 1-800-353-2895. The Cherokee Phoenix will host debates for the principal chief and deputy chief races on April 16 at Northeastern State University’s W. Roger Webb Educational Technology Center Auditorium. Doors will open at 5 p.m. The deputy chief debate will begin at 6 p.m. Following that debate and a short intermission, the principal chief candidates’ debate will begin at 7:30 p.m. Dylan Goforth, editor-in-chief of The Frontier, a nonprofit journalism group in Oklahoma, will moderate. The Cherokee Phoenix has previously hosted three similar debates in 2007, 2011 and 2015.

LIST: Anglen’s initial run on the council began in 2002 from front page Anglen’s only election opponent, Joe Deere, filed the original eligibility challenge. Anglen’s initial run on the council began in 2002 to fill a Dist. 8 vacancy. He was elected to the seat in 2003, serving a full term. In 2007 when term limits under the current CN Constitution took effect, Anglen was elected again. However, the typical four-year term was extended to six years to stagger terms of half the council. After losing his seat to redistricting in 2013, Anglen sat out two years, then ran for and secured the redistricted Dist. 13 seat in 2015.

CN law restricts councilors to two consecutive four-year terms. The CN Constitution states that, “All Council members having served two consecutive terms must sit out one term before seeking any seat on the Council.” “To give meaning and effect to the requirements of the Constitution,” the Supreme Court order that deemed Anglen ineligible states,” Anglen cannot be elected to a third straight term on the Tribal Council without sitting out for one full, four-year term.” General election candidates who will appear on the June 1 ballot are: · Principal Chief: Chuck Hoskin, Jr., Dick Lay and David Walkingstick, · Deputy Chief: Bryan Warner and Meredith Frailey,

· Dist. 1: Ryan Sierra and Rex Jordan (incumbent), · Dist. 3: R.J. Robbins, Debra Proctor, Jim Cosby, Brandon Girty, Billy Flint, Larry Dean Pritchett and Wes Nofire, · Dist. 6: Ron Goff, Gary Trad Lattimore and Daryl Legg, · Dist. 8: Ralph F. Keen II, Jodie Fishinghawk and Shawn Crittenden (incumbent), · Dist. 12: Don Scott, Phyllis Lay, Dora L. Smith Patzkowski and Todd M. Branstetter, · Dist. 13: Joe Deere, · Dist. 14: Cara Cowan Watts and Keith Austin (incumbent), and · At-Large: Steve Adair, Johnny Jack Kidwell, Julia Coates, Wanda Hatfield (incumbent) and Pamela Fox.

ORDER: Chuck Hoskin Jr. gets top spot in chief’s race from front page replace outgoing chief Bill John Baker, whose term is expiring. The ballot order for that race is Chuck Hoskin Jr., Dick Lay and David Walkingstick. A fourth candidate, California resident Rhonda Brown-Fleming, was tossed because she lives outside the CN jurisdiction, a specific requirement for the job. Hoskin, of Vinita, is a former tribal councilor and the former CN secretary of state. He resigned from his CN position to run for office, as required by law. Lay, of Ochelata, is the current Dist. 12 councilor. Walkingstick, of Tahlequah, is the current Dist. 3 councilor. The terms of both candidates will reach their limits this year. Candidates in the deputy chief race will be listed as Bryan Warner then Meredith Frailey. They are running to replace S. Joe Crittenden, whose term is expiring. Candidate Linda Sacks, of Muskogee, withdrew from the race in February. Warner, of Sallisaw, is the current Dist. 6 councilor. Frailey, of Locust Grove, is a former council speaker.

Ballot listings for district races will be as follows: · Dist. 1: Ryan Sierra and Rex Jordan (incumbent). · Dist. 3: RJ Robbins, Debra Proctor, Jim Cosby, Brandon Girty, Billy Flint, Larry Dean Pritchett and Wes Nofire. · Dist. 6: Ron Goff, Gary Trad Lattimore and Daryl Legg. · Dist. 8: Ralph F. Keen II, Jodie Fishinghawk and Shawn Crittenden (incumbent). · Dist. 12: Don Scott, Phyllis Lay, Dora L. Smith Patzkowski and Todd M. Branstetter. · Dist.13: Joe Deere. · Dist. 14: Cara Cowan Watts and Keith Austin (incumbent). · At-Large: Steve Adair, Johnny Jack Kidwell, Julia Coates, Wanda Hatfield (incumbent) and Pamela Fox. Dist. 1 candidate Randy Dirteater withdrew from the race in February. The Dist. 13 race initially included longtime Tribal Councilor Buel Anglen. Deere challenged Anglen’s eligibility to run based on term limits. The EC deemed Anglen ineligible to run again.

He appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed with the EC. The March drawing was initially planned for February, Parnell said. “The appeal process pushed it all back,” she said. “But everything’s pretty much back on track.” Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, wrote that ballot order and its effect on the outcome “has long fascinated political scientists.” “The advantage for first-listed candidates varies widely,” he says in an analysis of research essays on the topic. “In some elections a first-listing produces just a handful of votes, though they can make the difference in an extremely close election. In other elections a first-listing can generate extra votes up to about 5 percent of the overall tally, according to some studies.” In 2003 and 2007, first-listed candidate Chad Smith was elected principal chief. Listed in the first of two spots in 2011, he lost to Baker. Baker defended his seat four years later while listed second.

JO/ 1, 2019 • ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᎤᎯ

Community • ᎾᎥ ᏄᎾᏓᎸ



Bigfoot buffs assemble in Adair County BY CHAD HUNTER Reporter

STILWELL – Adair County is not only home to Bigfoot researchers, but also the legendary, forest-dwelling beast itself, believers say. “There’s woods, water and wildlife here,” Bigfoot investigator Randy Savig said. “They’ve got everything they need in this area.” Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center members recently hosted their annual state gathering at CC Camp near an established Bigfoot research site in Adair County. A tradition since 2012, the March 9-10 Oklahoma Bigfoot Symposium featured vendors, Bigfoot-related artifacts and evidence, and speakers with tales of the famed creature. D.W. Lee, a Cherokee Nation citizen from Stilwell, is the group’s executive director. He claims to have encountered the elusive Bigfoot on 26 occasions since the 1990s. “There’s a lot of researchers who know what to look for and that does increase their chances,” he said. “But for the most part, people come up on them by accident.” Now 14, Piper Ellis, of Pineville, Missouri, was 9 when she stumbled upon a Bigfoot in Adair County, she said. “It was just squatting right in front of me,” she said, noting that she felt no fear of the creature. Throughout the year, researchers track regional Bigfoot activity. “There’s a high-voltage power line that’s about seven miles over,” Lee said. “Along that power line, that’s where the majority of the sightings occur. I think they use it as a travel corridor. They might not walk right on it, but they use it for navigation.” Descriptions vary, but the most common Bigfoot attributes include a towering height of up to 10 feet and a weight between 400 to 1,000 pounds. “Most of the time you hear they’re either black or brown or a reddish color,” Lee added. A stark white variation is uncommon, but researchers claim they exist even in Adair County. “We’ve got a white Bigfoot that’s been seen here since 1994,” Lee said.

Q&A with Bigfoot expert, author D.W. Lee

PHOTOS BY CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Biologist Jim Whitehead mans a table filled with castings of alleged Bigfoot impressions on March 9 at the annual Oklahoma Bigfoot Symposium in Adair County. “Of course we speculate on stuff, but we think that he’s the alpha male for the troop in this area. He’ll travel the conduit, and we really suspect the troop breaks down into sub-troops to forage for food better. He just kind of seems to go around to all these groups. He’s easy to spot when he’s in the woods.” The most widely recognized Bigfoot footage was taken in 1967 in California. The shaky video from Roger Patterson and Robert “Bob” Gimlin shows what they alleged was a female Bigfoot alongside a creek. “The footage they took has been the focus of intense debate,” Alex Boese with the California-based Museum of Hoaxes website argues. “Skeptics insist the creature is simply a person in an ape suit. Supporters counter that specialeffects techniques were not good enough in 1967 to have created such a convincing costume.” Lee notes the video was taken “50 years ago, so it’s time to get off our butts and get footage from our generation.” Biologist and Oklahoma Bigfoot researcher Jim Whitehead said many older Bigfoot reports “get listed as other things.” “In this area, there’s been historical sightings since the Removal (Trail of Tears) era,” he said. “They aren’t monsters. They’re not out to get you. They’re animals. I’ve seen them so I

know they’re real. But it’s in their best interest to stay quiet and keep attention off of them.” Whitehead, who specializes in Bigfoot tracking and footprint analysis, said casts have been taken from the CC Camp area as recently as last year’s symposium. He and a pair of fellow Bigfoot hunters used thermal imaging to illuminate a 9-foot-tall female lurking behind a tree, according to Bernie Wall, 68, of Pineville, Missouri. “I started walking backwards and she growled,” Wall said. “To see one that big, they said I was white as a sheet. We think she had a young one with her. We went the next day and found the point where she was standing. (The footprint) was 19 inches in length.” For those who suspect a Bigfoot presence, Lee suggests tying a series of strings between trees at heights of 6 feet, 7 feet and 8 feet. “If you have one under 7 foot tall, he’s going to break the 6 foot string,” he said. “If it breaks the 7 foot string, you know it’s over 7 foot tall. If it breaks all three of them, you might want to move.” Modern interest in Bigfoot spiked after the Animal Planet television series “Finding Bigfoot” premiered in 2011, believers said. The show aired until 2018. “We are out to try to help prove the existence of the creature,” Savig said. “It’s not so much for science or the big-

In Memoriam Danny Denson Whitekiller, 88 years - Hulbert, OK - September 19, 1930 - March 10, 2019 - Administrator

Q: What is Bigfoot? A: “I classify it as a big screaming monkey. The ones that I’ve seen myself, they’re not human. They’re more, I would believe, related to gorillas and apes than us.” Q: How smart are Bigfoot? A: “Probably as smart as a dolphin.” Q: Where do Bigfoot live? “I’d like to think they have their special places they hunker down in, a shelter, maybe a box canyon or overhangs.” Q: Should we be scared? A: “I’ve only seen an aggressive Bigfoot on three occasions. That’s because I put my nose right into his business.” Q: What’s the average life span of a Bigfoot? A: “I would say 40, maybe 50 years.”

D.W. Lee, a Cherokee Nation citizen and executive director of the Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center, is seen at the annual Oklahoma Bigfoot Symposium on March 9 at CC Camp in Adair County. city folks, but for the people who have seen it and were ridiculed. It’s to validate what they saw.” For more information, visit mabrc. com.

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Why did you choose to run for Tribal Council?

What do you see as the greatest need in your district and how do you intend to address it?

What, if any, current Cherokee Nation policy/law would you change and why?

How do you plan to protect the Cherokee language and culture and do you speak Cherokee?

What is your stance on the Cherokee Nation’s commitment to the environment and the protection of our natural resources?


ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᎤᎯ • JO/ 1, 2019

Rex Jordan

Ryan Sierra

Jim Cosby

Billy Flint

Dist: 1

Dist: 1

Dist: 3

Dist: 3





In 2015, after working almost my entire life in youth activities and housing, I was in a position to dedicate the next stage of my life to being a full-time Tribal Councilor for District 1. As a Tribal Councilor, I have been able to be available to help tribal citizens of District 1, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I firmly believe being a Tribal Councilor is a fulltime job. You must be ready and willing to answer calls at any time. You cannot work around another work schedule; this must be your first and only job. If reelected, I will spend the next four years continuously working for the Cherokee people, just as I did the previous four.

I am running for Council in order to serve the Cherokee people with the morals and values that were passed on to me. I want to restore the honesty that has been lost. And I want to restore the fairness that continues to be ignored. I want to honor our ancestors for the sacrifices they made for us. I want to restore hope that we have servants like me who are ready and willing to heal our tribe of the divisions that have been created. It is time to elect a council person who is willing to serve all citizens.

I am not a politician, but for many years I have been troubled watching the Cherokee people struggle. I know that more can be done if caring for the citizens is a priority. I chose to run because I didn’t feel the other candidates had my qualifications and would work as hard as I will to get results for all citizens. I have a great deal of experience in legal issues and the operation of the Tribe that the Council mainly deals with. My District cannot wait years for an inexperienced councilor to learn the ropes, they need leadership now.

Originally I had a few people ask me to consider it, I kind of brushed it off at first but after talking to students at Northeastern State University I decided to go through and pursue it. The support of Cherokee youth and elders in my church who encouraged me and thought it was a good idea is what kind of clinched the idea for me.

Education, housing, health and jobs continue and will always be a great need for District 1. Through work addressing each need, we are improving in multiple areas. Homes built through the Housing Authority are not only providing safe, secure housing, but also money to local schools. The new health center will not only provide first-class health care, but also more than 800 new jobs. The partnership with OSU is not only providing a place for our Cherokee youth to attend a state-of-the-art medical school, but also cultivates doctors for our health system. We must continue to utilize strategies that not only address one need, but multiple needs.

As I have spoken with citizens in this district, I have found the greatest need is an honest and fair council person. Our citizens want an honest steward of our resources and an open communicator. This district wants a fair council person who works with and listens to all citizens, regardless of who they are affiliated with. It will be my priority to be an honest steward of our resources and to communicate more openly in order to service more citizens of this district. It is time for our Cherokee people to be a priority again.

The greatest need in my District is available funding. We have needs like community buildings needing financial assistance and having more built since they care for our citizens with the greatest needs. Other great needs are emergency services, such as a fire department closer to Burnt Cabin and ambulances stationed in parts of the District that will reduce response times to outlying areas. There are many more needs within District 3, but it will take funding to make it possible. I will address this by introducing legislation to increase our profits received from Cherokee Nation Business.

I think that really localizing the resources provided by Cherokee Nation is one of the biggest needs, and making direct access more obtainable. I’ll be a diligent worker, constantly on call and there for my constituents on a moment’s notice.

I am a member of all standing committees of the Tribal Council as well as Chairman of the Natural Resources committee. All committees continually consider, as needed, review of acts and resolutions concerning all areas that govern and guide the Cherokee Nation. As a Council member I will continue to review and support all good legislation for District 1 as it comes before each committee.

The first policy I would like to amend is Title 26 of the Cherokee Nation Code Annotated, Article 3. This has to do with absentee voting. I will push to make this policy more specific in how absentee ballots are acquired. Right now, an unlimited number of ballots are allowed to be mailed to a single address. This is a practice called ballot harvesting. This practice is unethical. Although it is not illegal, I believe it challenges the integrity of our elections. I will push for election reform in order to make our elections honest and fair once again.

The greatest thing I would change is the relationship between the Tribe and Cherokee Nation Business (CNB). I am proud of the success and growth of CNB, but because of its success and its growth it’s time the laws are changed so we, as Cherokee citizens have the ability to also succeed and grow. The law needs to be changed where the Tribe receives fifty percent of CNB profits each year. That is only a fifteen percent increase. This increase will make millions of dollars available each year to fund healthcare and programs that will benefit everyone.

I think we directly need to do more to destigmytize and address mental and behavioral health issues and increase funding to that area. It touches such a wide scope of issues, from depression, to substance abuse, to family issues, nobody should feel like they are less of a person for seeking help.

Our immersion school is a language preservation program designed to revitalize the Cherokee language beginning with our children. There has also been the implementation of the Cherokee language into technology devices, enabling all people to use Cherokee Language across multiple platforms. Our TV Show “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People” is a wonderful asset that provides knowledge about Cherokee history, culture as well as the Cherokee language. I will continue to support these and new initiatives that improve knowledge, learning, understanding and preserving our language and culture as a member of the Tribal Council Language and Culture Committee.

Sdikid(i) Tsiwoni! In order to protect something, you must be vested in it. I grew up hearing and singing my language and still do. My eldest son, along with my nieces and nephews, attend the Immersion school with two already graduates of the school. My siblings and I have invested much into perpetuating our language. I want more Cherokee families to have this same opportunity. Therefore, I will advocate for Immersion Schools in each of our 14 counties. This will provide that opportunity, as well as, the opportunity for our fluent speakers to pass on our language.

Our language and culture define who we are as a people. We need to make a strong investment in our language and culture and not depend only on grant money to keep it alive. Our artists need help surviving without the Tribe trying to profit from their hard work. I want to protect these by enacting laws to make a lasting financial commitment to fund and expand them before they are lost. We also need the Amphitheater rebuilt to serve as a native venue for plays, arts, concerts and outdoor festivities. I speak a lot of Cherokee but not fluent.

I myself speak little Cherokee. I believe our tribal government should be actively involved in promoting and funding all things that make us Cherokee, especially language because it shares with the world a uniquely Cherokee perspective. I would propose legislation that would annually take casino funding and put it into giving schools in the 14 counties the chance to hire qualified language instructors to teach at their schools. This would create jobs and perpetuate our culture. I would also like to investigate adding additional immersion schools.

Cherokee Nation with the creation of a cabinet level position for Natural Resources is continually working to protect the natural resources of our great Nation. Water, air and land are all at the mercy of climate change. I have been fortunate to be given the challenge by the Tribal Council of leading this fight as Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee. Our committee reviews and considers all ideas for the protection of the tribe’s water, air and land assets. The tribe’s role is and will continue to be most protective of nature and the natural resources we govern.

One of my priorities is to advocate for diversified economic development. It is time for our tribe to invest more money outside of the gaming industry. I will work to see our money invested into more family-friendly businesses, as well as the energy industry. Solar and wind energy are clean products. Equipping our elders’ housing and existing housing with clean energy can save them money, put more people to work, and help our environment. Cherokees have always used natural resources to live on. Let’s start thinking and acting Cherokee again.

Our environment and natural resources are very important to me. I would like to see a firmer stance taken. Many good things have happened like the removal of nuclear material from the Kerr McGee plant, but issues like pollution from the Cherokee Nation Landfill need addressed. We are now faced with a threat from an old enemy, the poultry industry. This industry is mostly run by out of state corporations and will have devastating consequences if not controlled. We can no longer partner with this industry unless there is a way that it can be done without destroying our environment.

I think that environmental aspects are just as important to our sovereignty as any other facet because much of our culture such as medicine, artwork, and stories come either directly or indirectly from the natural world. I think Cherokee Nation has led the way on many environmental issues, and should continue to do so because we are called to good stewards of what has been entrusted to us.


JO/ 1, 2019 • ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᎤᎯ

Why did you choose to run for Tribal Council?

What do you see as the greatest need in your district and how do you intend to address it?

What, if any, current Cherokee Nation policy/law would you change and why?

How do you plan to protect the Cherokee language and culture and do you speak Cherokee?

What is your stance on the Cherokee Nation’s commitment to the environment and the protection of our natural resources?



Brandon Girty

Wes Nofire

Larry Dean Pritchett

Debra Proctor

Dist: 3

Dist: 3

Dist: 3

Dist: 3




Park Hill


My family has worked for and been involved with the Cherokee Nation from it’s new beginning in 1967. I have seen it change and grow throughout my lifetime from a mostly small bilingual environment into a large more inclusive environment. I want to be an active participant in positive, creative change/ growth going into the future. I want to continue working with the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes; create a working partnership with all Oklahoma Indian Tribes; and work with the National Congress of American Indians to create better opportunities for the CN and all of Indian Country. I’m eager to bring creative ideas to the table that might not yet have been considered. I’m ready to serve the people full time and keep constituents informed.

Being born and raised here, I have seen firsthand the need for the improvement of tribal services from health care to education, housing to senior services. As I raise my children here, I believe it’s time for a new generation of leadership dedicated to protecting the heritage and traditions of our past while committing to working toward the successes in our future. I aim to make our Tribe and this District the best possible place for our elders to live and for our youth to inherit.

I spent more than 27 years working for the tribe. Throughout the years, I served the communities within the Cherokee Nation. I respect Cherokee culture and traditional beliefs. I have spent time visiting with the Cherokee people. Our conversations have been about looking ahead and providing more new projects for our communities and “what we can do together.”

Proctor for the People is more than just a slogan. As a young girl, I stood on the front porch of our dilapidated home at Seneca Indian School, I became aware that people need help. Although I couldn’t voice it as a child, I knew in my heart that helping others would be my lifelong calling and I have dedicated myself to public service ever since. My father, Goodlow Proctor, served on the first elected Cherokee Nation Tribal Council. For 15 years, he served our people. I knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps as a Tribal Councilor.

Jobs. We need to do a better job creating, at the local level, jobs, outside of casinos; training, Indian owned businesses, run and operated by Cherokees. This includes the building trades. My grandfather, John Sunday, Sr., was superintendent of the first buildings constructed on the Cherokee Nation Complex. His crew all spoke Cherokee and were trainees on a program teaching skills such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, masonry, etc. We need to start doing our own construction projects again, not contract jobs out to private companies. I’d also like to see us build a 100 room nursing facility for our elderly.

Health care is our greatest concern, not just in my district, but in the entire Nation. Like many of our services, funding plays a major role in fixing the problems. We need to require new revenue dedicated to health care. This would provide more nurses and doctors which would lower wait times, give doctors more oneon-one time with each patient and help retain doctors and nurses. We also have to address drug and alcohol problems. I’d like to see the Tribe build a facility and create a rehabilitation program to help those with addiction get clean and provide a direction back into the workforce.

I believe housing is one of our greatest needs. Not only building new houses but, remodeling and making them more energy efficient. We need to assist our citizens in acquiring land for home ownership. This is one of the biggest hold ups to getting a new home built.

Healthcare. I am the only candidate with an extensive background of 42+ years with quality and compassionate Nursing/Healthcare in numerous settings including hospital, community and hospice. My priority will be to help craft a plan to reduce patient wait times, improve processes in delivery of care and ensure that our health care staff are not overextended. I worked at both the old Tahlequah City Hospital and the old W.W. Hastings, and at both new hospitals the opening day. We must be willing to hear and understand the concerns of our patients, communities and employees to address issues in a collaborative manner.

A few weeks ago the Council gave approval for the Chief to pick any construction company for Cherokee Nation construction jobs. It seems to me that creates a possibility for collusion whereby donations to campaigns could be swapped out for construction contracts. What happened to the procurement process? That would be one of the first things I would take a look at.

Our Hunting and Fishing compact with the state. Cherokees’ ability to hunt and fish is an inherited right and we have given up that right by compact with the state. The state gains financial assistance from the federal government in excess of $4 million a year to compact. The Tribe receives little to no benefit from this compact. I believe in establishing a Cherokee Nation Hunting and Fishing law that would provide jobs for our people while upholding inherent right to hunt and fish within our jurisdiction without interference from the state.

I believe the Cherokee Nation should implement a merit system for the hiring and promotion of tribal employees. This system should be fair, reward hard work, dedication and retention of employees

Requiring candidates to resign from their tribal or tribal agency employment to run for elected office. While employees have to resign, current elected officials do not. This law is not in accordance with our Tribal Constitution. It’s a policy that deters Cherokees from participating in their own government because they have to give up their career and salary. Look, we want the best and brightest Cherokee Nation citizens working for the tribe, directing our programs and services. We should also empower those same individuals, so that running for elected office does not jeopardize a family’s stability.

I was brought up in a bilingual environment. Cherokee was the first language spoken on both sides of my family. Although I don’t speak the language, I learned a lot of Cherokee words from my E’li’si, and other members of my family, one of which is a Cherokee National Treasure. My three children attend Sequoyah Schools and can read, write and speak Cherokee, thereby perpetuating the continuance of our language. I will continue to do all I can to support our language and culture.

I am not a fluent speaker, but my father is, so I have firsthand experience of the generational gap between our elders and youth. I would like to bridge that gap by requiring our college scholarship application process to include 40 hours of community service with an elder. It would teach our youth the culture from the ones who have lived it and our youth would carry it on to the next generations. I would provide better funding to our programs like the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program to keep our language fully intact and alive.

I would like to see more community based cultural activities. We must promote the language and pass down the history of our people. We need to reach out and identify fluent speakers and recruit them to teach Cherokee in our communities. Fluent speakers are the most valuable asset we have for continuing our language. Like most of our people, I know a lot of words and phrases, however I am not fluent. What is most helpful is being around fluent speakers. This is how we can carry on our language.

I am not a Cherokee Speaker. I know our language is the cornerstone foundation for all our cultural preservation efforts. That’s why I will advocate to keep growing, supporting and funding the tribe’s programs. We’ve created national models of success, including the Master/ Apprentice Program, Immersion School and all innovative ways to increase the number of fluent Cherokee speakers. Ensuring our language flourishes is critical for future generations. These programs should to be offered throughout the 14 counties with a plan for availability to our AtLarge citizens as well.

I believe Cherokee Nation has a long head start in the area of preserving our environment through the Environment Services Department. Not only is climate change an issue, they’ve been monitoring the air for years, but they’ve also been actively involved in preserving our natural resources. I want to do what I can to assist in that arena. One way to improving air emissions is to change the fuel we burn in our tribal vehicles.

Cherokees are protectors of our natural resources. This starts by ensuring treaties are enforced and our lands and our watersheds remain under the administration of the Cherokee people. As an avid hunter and fisherman, I have a keen interest in stopping the pollution of our water and in protecting wildlife and its natural habitat. Negotiating with other governmental enties requires strong leadership that is selfless, putting natural resources before profit.

It seems that in my life time there has been a lot of extreme conditions. We need to take measures to protect our natural resources and continue to look for energy alternatives. Some initiatives the tribe has implemented are positive such as the electric cars. Water is another resource we must work diligently to keep clean and pure.

I am deeply committed to the protection of our natural resources and applaud the work of administration and the Secretary of Natural Resources in their efforts to protect our air, water, and land. Of note, is the removal of nuclear waste from the Sequoyah Fuels site, which is especially meaningful to me given that I worked in this area conducting environmental health research from nuclear plants. Our people were the first environmentalists, and as Tribal Councilor, I will diligently work to ensure our natural resources are preserved for the generations to follow and include community input regarding concerns.




Why did you choose to run for Tribal Council?

What do you see as the greatest need in your district and how do you intend to address it?

What, if any, current Cherokee Nation policy/law would you change and why?

How do you plan to protect the Cherokee language and culture and do you speak Cherokee?

What is your stance on the Cherokee Nation’s commitment to the environment and the protection of our natural resources?


ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᎤᎯ • JO/ 1, 2019

RJ Robbins

Ron Goff

Gary Trad Lattimore

Daryl Legg

Dist: 3

Dist: 6

Dist: 6

Dist: 6

Dry Creek




I am a lifelong resident of District 3. I have been blessed to live, work and raise my family within its borders. Running for Tribal Council is my way of giving back to the people and the community that has given me so much.

Because I value our Cherokee people! I want to help the people and communities of District 6 with progress in whatever areas that may be for them. I want to see our young people making strides as leader, our elders being taken care of, and the working class making a difference in healthcare, economic development and the preservation of our cultural and traditional ways. Most of all I will be actionable on the issues and changes that the Cherokee people of District 6 want and need.

I live on my great-grandfather’s Cherokee allotment. I have chosen to raise my sons Trajan and Teagan on our family land and I want them to be able to raise their children here. I see so many of my former students, and my sons’ friends leaving the Cherokee Nation for economic opportunities we just can’t provide to them. I believe that as a tribe we can improve our economy, bring jobs to Sequoyah County, and keep our young people here connected to their culture. I am running for our future generations so they can stay here.

I had been employed by Cherokee Nation Career Services for over 12 years. Helping our citizens remove barriers to employment and becoming selfsufficient is my passion. At Career Services we helped our folks in all walks of life whether through job creation or sending them through training in order to get a job. When our citizens call a tribal council member its usually because they are in dire need of services. My experience with the Nation gives me an advantage because I have learned how to fill certain gaps between programs to get the services delivered.

While talking with residents of District 3, I have noticed a great division among the people. One group believes Cherokee Nation is doing a fine job and should continue to stay the course. The other group would love a complete overhaul of the government. We must heal this division and learn to work with each other in order to move forward as a tribe.

There are many areas of need, but the two that come to the top are aging/elder care and raising the minimum wage. I want to provide improved quality of life for aging/elders and more support for their care givers. I promote independence, dignity and respect through educational programs, outreach, and support of CN and community services. Secondly I would vote to change the law and raise the minimum wage for Cherokee Nation. Single parents can’t make a living for their family at the present minimum wage and should not have to work a second job for survival and necessities.

District 6 has many needs but they are all systemic of one main problem and that is poverty and lack of economic growth. I think our biggest need is jobs. If we have more people employed in good living wage positions they will have better access to healthcare, be less likely to abusing illegal substances, and more likely to raise prosperous Cherokee families. While I support Indian Gaming I would like to see diversification of our assets and an industrial park in Sequoyah County. We have a great location for a large industrial park, like Mid-America in Pryor.

As the former Director of Economic Development I would have to say job creation. Economic development is not something that happens overnight. You are always competing against other cities that are answering RFP’s. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. If elected, I would continue to fight just as aggressively for those jobs as I did when I worked there. Offering companies an incentive deal for locating here in form of native tax credits, on-the-job-training and help with infrastructure cost has been a proven recipe for success.

The role of a Tribal Council member is to be a voice for the people. It is not about personal agendas. I know there is room for improvement, and I will work with administration and the other council members to address the needs of the tribe as they arise. With accountability, transparency and collaboration in all aspects of government, we can move the tribe in a positive direction.

I would change the Election law, specifically the Absentee ballot portion. This law creates a hardship, potential for fraud and risk of their ballot being thrown out. This law creates a hardship because a notary is needed for every absentee ballot. Not everyone has access or the money to pay a notary. The potential of fraud include the voter sending the ballot with someone who says they will take care of the notary for them or will mail or take it in for them. We need to ensure equal access to the ballot and modernize the registration and voting system.

I am for election law reform, after participating in this process it is apparent that our election laws have not kept up with modern campaigning. We need more accountability, in particular with the handling of absentee ballots and absentee ballot requests. I would also like to see the legislation on our Cherokee Scholarships changed and increase the amount awarded to our students. Education opens so many doorways for our young people. I am also for increasing the contract health budget, I do not believe we should have elders and children having claims denied.

One thing that comes to mind is the policy of Cherokee Nation employees having to resign in order to run for office. I feel like there are many employees that would make great leaders but could not afford to quit their jobs in order to run. I am not saying it is a “bad” policy but I would definitely like to hear the other side other argument.

As a teacher, I believe education is the key to preserving our language and culture. I would like to see Cherokee Nation partner with area public schools and afterschool programs to expand its language and culture curriculums. Children must be exposed at an early age in order to connect with and retain the language. Unfortunately, I was not exposed to the language as a child and am not a Cherokee speaker.

I plan to protect it through changing laws, additional funding, education, advocacy, outreach and being present. I do speak some Cherokee as I’m a moderate speaker now, but when I started school I couldn’t speak English at all. I’m deeply rooted in the Cherokee culture, customs and traditions and an active lifelong member of Stokes ceremonial ground. Preserving and protecting these things are a vital task that every citizen should take seriously. It’s at a critical stage and it’s going to take citizen and community involvement, providing an array of teaching and learning methods and easy access to it.

Like so many of us I do not speak Cherokee, my family lost our language many years ago. I have worked in public schools for over twenty five years now and I would love to see a Cherokee education program in every public school in the 14 county jurisdictional area. I teach history and I love our tribe’s history and I want to see that being taught to our young people along with their language and culture. I believe a way to do that is by providing certified teachers to teach that elective class in our public school system.

Unfortunately, I am not a Cherokee speaker. It is a beautiful language and being the only tribe to have a written language is something we need to keep alive and pass down to future generations. I am 100 percent in support of our immersion program and would like to see it offered in other areas as well. It is sad that I represent the majority of Cherokee population but by investing in to our language programs, maybe one day that could change.

As a third generation farmer, I still work a portion of the land my grandparents acquired in the 1930s. I have made a home on that land. I make my living from that land. One day, I plan to pass that land on to my children. I may be bias, but I believe District 3 is the most beautiful and diverse region within the Cherokee Nation. With the Ozarks Hills as a backdrop for Baron Fork Creek, the Illinois River and Lake Tenkiller, there is no shortage of outdoor activities to enjoy. It provides ample habitat for wildlife and tourism alike. It is imperative that we protect the environment and natural resources for future generations.

I think we are on the right track but we can always do more. With the development of the InterTribal environmental council, an organization that protects the health of all Native Americans, their natural resources, and their environment as it relates to air, land and water, and the CN Natural resources department, I’m proud to say Cherokee Nation is being a leader in these efforts. These things are all vital in sustaining life, a better quality of life for future generations and the beauty in which we call home.

My late father was a great lover of nature, as am I. I believe the Earth does not belong to us we belong to the Earth. All the job creation, health care improvement, and education we provide to the next generation is meaningless if we are not protecting the planet that provides them with a home. The Cherokee Nation has vast natural resources. Though our public waterways, hunting areas, and fishing rights are the things we think of most often, I believe we as a Nation should be protecting every natural resource we have for the next generation.

I feel that we currently have a strong commitment to our environment. We have a wonderful Natural Resource Department here at the Nation that provides a multitude of services. We have the Bison heard, Geo Data, BIA Forestry Division, Fish and Wildlife etc. If anything, I would like to have more community gardens on a larger scale. And if we can’t do it then maybe we should invest in organizations or communities that are willing to step up to the challenge. Sometimes people think that Cherokee Nation should be able to do everything but that is not the case. But by investing in those that are willing to take on the task it could make these goals more achievable.


JO/ 1, 2019 • ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᎤᎯ

Why did you choose to run for Tribal Council?

What do you see as the greatest need in your district and how do you intend to address it?

What, if any, current Cherokee Nation policy/law would you change and why?

How do you plan to protect the Cherokee language and culture and do you speak Cherokee?

What is your stance on the Cherokee Nation’s commitment to the environment and the protection of our natural resources?



Shawn Crittenden

Jodie Fishinghawk

Ralph Keen II

Todd M. Branstetter

Dist: 8

Dist: 8

Dist: 8

Dist: 12






Someone needs to FiGHT for my family and yours to make sure that services are being provided to the Cherokee people. The people need a connection to the Nation. There are enough people in power that buddy up and don’t fight hard enough for the needs of the people. Too many times their fighting is for what the administration wants them to do, and there are enough of them. I want to continue to be on the people’s side.

District 8 needs a voice on the council, who can and will get things done. I have helped other Cherokees all of my life, just like my father and mother before me. Fishinghawks are tenacious fighters for what is fair, right and beneficial for the people of District 8 and all of the Cherokee Nation. In my former service on the council, I was instrumental in expanding college scholarships to $2,000, in revitalizing health clinics, expanding W.W. Hastings and re-establishing our housing authority. I know how to work with others for real results.

I see a need for strong, committed leadership in District 8 to advocate for its needs, but also to sponsor legislative initiatives, set policy, and work hand-in-hand with the other two branches to build upon our success, expand our jurisdiction, strengthen our sovereignty, and become a rolemodel for tribal governments. As Cherokee, we can be very proud of what we have accomplished in the last fifty years, but we must also recognize the great potential and opportunity we have to grow and prosper in the future - if we can avoid petty infighting and work together for the common good.

As a petroleum engineer, I was fortunate to have had a distinguished and successful career in management, strategic planning and process improvement. After early retirement a few years ago, the voices of elders who inspired me with a commitment to community began to be heard, “Give back to your community. Share your knowledge and experiences.” After years of proudly working with many youth groups, I now want to further serve my people by working full-time on the tribal council. I will examine crucial issues from many perspectives, use knowledge and expertise to advocate for our people and our future.

The greatest need is for the council table to balance out. Right now the independent minds are in the minority. If its not admins idea it doesn’t go very far. If we get that balance, the rose colored glasses can come off of everyone that thinks there isn’t a doctor shortage, housing problems, human service advocate shortages, burial assistance needs, care for our elders, beds for our people wanting to get off drugs, heating and cooling needs, I have a big list. We could get admin or anyone else in gear if we just had that balance at the table. I’ll continue what I’m doing addressing it. I’ll lay out legislation, resolutions, at the least expose where our short comings are.

The Cherokee Nation has made great strides, but more needs to be done in the areas of health and education. In District 8, we need jobs, and we need vocational training for our tradesmen, like welders and electricians. We need to pay our health care professionals a competitive wage to retain them. Half of the tribal budget is devoted to health care and 90 million more dollars will come in for our new Hastings.

The immediate needs of today are many: food, housing, healthcare; but in the big picture, the education of our children must be paramount because they are indeed our future. The greatest need I see is education resources. Every Cherokee child should receive an educational that will empower them to reach their full potential in life. Increased grants for higher education and the technical trades are needed. Cherokee Nation now dedicates 33 percent of its vehicle tag revenues to local school districts. I propose increasing that percentage to 50 percent, and giving scaled preference to economically impacted school districts.

Our health care facilities are shining stars in our common accomplishments and there are many dedicated people working in them. But no one should have to wait weeks for an appointment, only to have it canceled -- several times in a row. No one should have to drive hours or wait months to get the care they need. Most importantly, we need to greatly improve preventative care, early diagnosis methods and access to emergency care. We will accomplish these improvements by more efficient use of resources and technology coupled with a strong commitment to further improve the lives of our citizens.

The ones that keep the council from being able to back a semi truck up to the casinos and put that money back in the hands of who it belongs to, the Cherokees. Why? Too many people getting rich off the people’s money and when I ask to help someone I am told there is not a pot of money for that. Its time to spend the money we brag about on the people!

I would like to see a restrengthening of The TERO Act (Tribal Employment Rights Office). TERO gives preference to Cherokee businesses and secondly to any Native Americanowned business. TERO-certified businesses need to be the first we turn to when choosing vendors. The TERO Act should be restrengthened, and utilized to its fullest extent.

One of the basic functions of government is to create infrastructure that will foster employment opportunities for its citizens. I support Indian preference hiring, yet I would see it expanded to include non-Indian spouses. Employing Cherokee spouses will further the objective of Indian preference hiring by benefiting a Cherokee family and bringing income into Cherokee households to support Cherokee children. Often times, there are more job openings than there are qualified Cherokees to fill them. In this situation, hiring a Cherokee spouse should be given priority over other equally qualified nonIndian applicants.

The scholarship program for our High School students has been a beneficial addition to our long culture of educating our youths. Meaningful metrics need to be created to evaluate this initiative regularly and make appropriate changes. We need to make sure the program is sustainable long term, that we are getting the desired results for our students and that our communities are reaping the harvests from these investments. Let’s find ways to help those most who will give the most back to our growing Nation.

I’d probably come in second place if the council had a language bowl but I won’t pretend to be a speaker. Lots of money spent on language programs and facilities with minimal results. It’s going to come down to sparking the youths interest in learning the language. I believe we have to give the youth incentives to learn. What makes the world go around? What are most things based around? Why do people do most of the things they do? Incentive. A thing as precious as our language, why are we not for example offering full ride scholarships to our children who can speak the language? That’s just one example. In a world where there are several things competing for our youth’s time, we have got to get creative here.

I would expand the language program’s budget and put our language teachers in the 14-county area. I’m also a strong believer in the Cherokee Nation Treasures, a program that recognizes master craftsmen and artisans who carry on our art and cultural traditions and I would like to see an increase to their budget from the Cherokee Nation side. I took great pride in managing that program for three years and I would like to see it expanded.

Cherokee was my grandmother’s first language, but sadly it was not taught in my home so I only know a few words and phrases, although I want to learn more. Our language is an inseparable part of our cultural identity which must be preserved. We are the only North American tribe to have developed a written form of its language. Immersion programs such as Master/Apprentice have yielded promising results. I pledge to work closely with tribal elders and experts to formulate new and innovative programs to both preserve and grow the Tsalagi language.

I am not fluent in Cherokee. We need more efforts to teach the Cherokee language and culture through a combination of programs, community activities and local cultural centers. In particular, let’s focus on the very young, the ones 12 and under where we know there is a better opportunity for them to achieve fluency. Use proven techniques, like language competitions (bees) paired with new technology (games) and applications. By the time the students are in High School, there should be ample awards for written essays and interviews. Not only will we preserve our language, we will open and enhance minds.

Adair County is home to 15,040 acres of tribal land that makes up 29 percent of all Cherokee Nation holdings. I believe it’s time to take responsibility for protecting our woodlands and addressing issues with the landfill and not put it off on future generations. We have hundreds of miles of shoreline for many springs, creeks and rivers running through Adair County. I would like to see waterways better protected through land management and stewardship while creating and protecting habitats for indigenous species, hardwood forests and our medicinal plants as well as creating local jobs to support conservation. I had help on that one but I agree. I also think that not getting on so many airplanes in the Nation would help the environment not to mention the money we could put in more important places.

Our natural resources need protection, and we need to enforce all of our treaty rights. We need to improve our hunting compact when renegotiated with the state, take land conservation seriously, and protect and expand our tribal land base.

We must be good stewards of our environment and the natural resources the Great Creator has entrusted to our care. This extends from the lands that we hunt and farm to the streams, rivers and lakes that we fish and enjoy for recreation. Water is life, and the water rights of the Cherokee Nation are significant. Recognizing this, myself and other framers of our new constitution envisioned to create the office of Secretary of Natural Resources as a permanent guardian tasked with the ongoing protection of our environment and the management of our natural resources within the Nation.

We are people of the land and water, we hold these most sacred. I have seen the ravages of pollution in the fields and streams where I live, and in my lifetime, I have seen improvements though the lands are still not healed. The air we breathe must be included. I strongly support the commitment to the environment and want to see our efforts steadily increased. We cannot wait for other government entities to act, we must lead in sustainable energy development and the reduction of all waste products. Jobs can be created and our future will be much brighter.




Why did you choose to run for Tribal Council?

What do you see as the greatest need in your district and how do you intend to address it?

What, if any, current Cherokee Nation policy/law would you change and why?

How do you plan to protect the Cherokee language and culture and do you speak Cherokee?

What is your stance on the Cherokee Nation’s commitment to the environment and the protection of our natural resources?


ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᎤᎯ • JO/ 1, 2019

Phyllis Lay

Don Scott

Dora L. Smith Patzkowki

Keith Austin

Dist: 12

Dist: 12

Dist: 12

Dist: 14





I want to serve the Cherokee people. A part of the Council’s responsibility is approval of the budget and modification of the budget throughout the year. All Cherokee Nation programs and operations require funds. I would like to see a more in-depth management of those funds so that the programs that help the Cherokee people the most are funded. I have a degree in Business and a double major in Accounting and Business. In my work career I worked in Accounting, Auditing and as a systems liaison between IT and Accounting. I understand budgets and the accounting for funding of those budgets.

The Cherokee Nation has helped me and my two boys in a great way through the use of the healthcare and education services. It would be an honor and a privilege for me to give back, work hard, and make a difference, not only for the people of District 12, but for all Cherokee Nation citizens. I will place the best interest of the Cherokee Nation citizens first when making any decisions. I have served the public my entire career as a 29 year public school teacher, bus driver, and coach. I feel God has called me at this time to work toward serving , more specifically, the people of the Cherokee Nation.

Unity is my primary reason. I enjoy experiencing the strength that it takes to unite people and systems. Sadly, egos tend to get in the way of people connecting. I feel the division of Native People comes from a history of broken trust and fighting to survive. I also feel that I have the will and ability to build bridges in our community to strengthen our Culture and People.

My Cherokee Grandfather once said “We all go further if we hook our horses to the same wagon”. Four years ago there was much division between area Tribal Council representatives and the Cherokee Nation Executive Branch. I have made great strides to heal these divisions and these efforts have led to many great partnerships with organizations within District 14. I have always believed we do more when we work together. It has been a true honor to serve as elected representative for District 14 in the Cherokee Nation. I am looking forward to working together to build upon the efforts of the last four years.

The greatest need in District 12 is for better assistance to our elders. Whether that is in the form of addressing better health care specific to elders and/or better housing options, (senior apartments, assisted living, etc.) I would address this by advocating for elder care professionals and physicians who specialize in elder care and by researching and determining whether there is Cherokee Nation owned land where we can build housing and using funding that is available.

The greatest need I am aware of in District 12 at this time concerns the kids and the elders. I have the opportunity to work with Native American kids everyday in the public school system. We need to be sure they have the supplies needed to be productive students and help them achieve their goals. I will also work to see that programs are in place to assist in providing proper nutrition, tutoring, counseling, and mentoring. We also have a responsibility to take care of our elders. I would need to ensure that the current nutrition, wellness, and housing programs that are vital for our elders, are funded and remain an available resource. We also need to find some sort of nursing home assistance for our elders who no longer can live on their own.

Healthcare is a concern that you hear about a lot. A few of the healthcare areas that we could work on are wait times and being able to be seen by the same team of medical staff at every visit. CN has done an excellent job of maximizing their limited resources. I am in favor of constantly self-assessing all of our programs to work through the growing pains that we are experiencing.

Cherokees are a beautifully diverse population, and every community within District 14 is unique with its own needs. It is impossible to identify the single greatest need. The needs of every Cherokee are important and deserve to be addressed.

Extensive review and changes to the Election Laws. The changes would include the way elections are funded with outside campaign dollars, do away with pac funding, and do away with ballot harvesting.

I want to research more about current Cherokee Nation policies and laws. I would collaborate with the members of my district and the other Tribal Councilors to make sure the current policies/laws are effective and meeting the needs of the Cherokee Nation citizens. I would only vote to make changes to policies or laws that are found to be ineffective and/or are not in the best interest of the citizens of the Cherokee Nation. My goal is to make legislative decisions based upon what is best for the Cherokee Nation citizens.

It takes the Legislative branch to change the law. It is important that policy change starts with CN Council, I alone cannot do that, but I would like to effectively work with Council to find common ground to change policy for the good of all Our People. Concerns about healthcare, housing and food commodities are what I hear about the most from the People in District 12. I realize that we rely on some federal funding in these areas which can create some barriers. I am willing to work with everyone to look at these barriers for the needed solutions.

The people of District 14 consistently tell me the very most important thing they want from the Cherokee Nation is accessibility and responsiveness. When someone reaches out to any department or service of the Cherokee Nation they deserve a fast, accurate and respectful response. In recent years we have made drastic improvements in our facilities, we must now insure we match these improvements with the qualified staff to provide the accessibility and responsiveness the Cherokee people deserve.

I have attended language classes and plan to take more, but I’m not a speaker. In other Cherokee Nation districts there is an immersion school, there is Cherokee history taught in the schools, and opportunities for our children that are not available in District 12. I would work with the schools, with JOM, with community groups and Boys and Girls clubs to promote Cherokee heritage, culture and language wherever and whenever there is an opportunity. I would advocate for more funding for language preservation and education as well as culture. Our children are the future of our language and culture.

I do not speak Cherokee, but I have great respect and admiration for those Cherokee members who do. I believe protection and preservation of the Cherokee language and culture starts with the youth. I would like to see programs and curriculums in more of the public school systems located within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation, teaching students the language, culture, and heritage of the Cherokee Nation people.

My mother, Betty Sharp Smith granddaughter of Samuel Foreman, not only spoke fluent Cherokee but also co-authored one of the premier language books, “Beginning Cherokee.” However, like a lot of us during that time, it did not translate into fluency for myself. CN provides a 10-week language class in Bartlesville twice a year and I would make myself available for any possible needed assistance. If there is enough interest, for Our People, and funding is available maybe we could offer more sessions. I will continue to teach basketry, taught to me by National Treasurer Kathryn Kelley and encourage other artisans to come to District 12 to also teach.

The oath we take specifically states we must protect our language and culture. I am proud to have been directly involved in the planning and implementation of the two wonderful and unique programs aimed at this goal. The pilot program of “Cherokee 101” will bring consistent teaching of our, culture and language to our public schools. Our partnership with RSU in developing “Cherokee 1” will bring college credit Cherokee language classes to every person to every person interested anywhere in the world. While I regret I did not learn to speak our language in my youth, I believe these programs will help many more of our young people learn our language as we go forward.

We must take bold steps to protect the environment and protect our natural resources especially our water. If not, we will get to the point where it will become an impossible task. Habitats are being lost. I believe that the more land we can place under environmental protection the more we can do to preserve the natural resources that are populated by wildlife, grow river cane, food for our people, wood for their stoves and to enjoy the beauty of nature. It goes back to funding. Funds should be dedicated to our natural resources along with a commitment to preserve.

God created the heavens and the earth. He gave us the responsibility to take care of it. I stand with the Cherokee Nation’s commitment to protect the environment and our natural resources. It is our duty to maintain the integrity of our land, air, and water supply providing clean, healthy resources for generations to come. We need to demonstrate to our younger generations through our own actions how to care for and respect this Earth we’ve been given.

I fully support all legitimate commitments for the protection of our environment and natural resources. We all depend on the resources of Our Earth to survive.

The Cherokee People have a unique moral authority to lead the efforts to protect our air and water and to preserve our natural resources. I am proud we have established our first ever Secretary of Natural Resources. The nation is leading in electric vehicle infrastructure, we now have a fleet of electric buses, we are establishing our own conservation district and have insured the Sequoyah fuels site is forever free of nuclear waste. It will take us standing together with federal and state authorities to face the challenge of more people and the demand for more resources. As much as we have done we owe to all who follow to never relent.


JO/ 1, 2019 • ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᎤᎯ

Why did you choose to run for Tribal Council?

What do you see as the greatest need in your district and how do you intend to address it?

What, if any, current Cherokee Nation policy/law would you change and why?

How do you plan to protect the Cherokee language and culture and do you speak Cherokee?

What is your stance on the Cherokee Nation’s commitment to the environment and the protection of our natural resources?




Cara Cowan Watts

Julia Coates

Pamela Fox

Wanda Claphan Hatfield

Dist: 14

Dist: At-Large

Dist: At-Large

Dist: At-Large


Los Angeles

Bakersfield, California

Oklahoma City

My heart is in service to the community. I want every Cherokee to have a career path which guarantees their family a great income and stability. We need regular community meetings where you can ask questions and voice concerns openly or privately. I will always push for transparency and accountability for Tribal monies being spent. In addition, everyone deserves an answer for their need regardless of the size of their checkbook or political connections. To contact me, call 918-932-3188, email, write P.O. Box 2922, Claremore, OK 74018 or go online to caracowan. com, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

As the At Large representative on the Tribal Council from 2007 to 2015, I have been involved in achieving significant gains for the At Large citizens. Then, as now, I am driven by the desire to help those outside the Cherokee jurisdiction take their place in their Nation. At Large citizens deserve a representative who reflects their sensibilities about their own issues as well as their feelings about the direction of the Cherokee Nation. They deserve an energetic advocate who will continue to advance their standing in Cherokee Nation. I want to be that energetic advocate.

I want to serve the Cherokee people and to advocate for their best interests. I am especially familiar with at large issues and concerns but also stay apprised regarding issues that are important to all Cherokee citizens. I have always been interested in service professions, which is the reason I am an educator.

My grandparents, Sam and Adeline (Bunch) Doublehead, full-blood and fluent Cherokee speakers, along with my father, Jack Claphan and my mother, Carolyn Doublehead Claphan fullblood fluent Cherokee speaker instilled in me to work hard, get a great education and be of service to our Cherokee tribe. In February 2015, at our family home on Doublehead Mountain, Stilwell, OK, my beloved late husband, Roger, daughter, mom, and my siblings gave me the blessing to seek the Cherokee Nation At-Large Tribal Council position. I won and I’m proud to serve all Cherokees of the largest Indian tribe.

Health care, education, and jobs are the greatest need. District 14 needs a new building for Claremore Indian Hospital and a separate Health Clinic added. We need adequate Contract Health Care staff who will respond to them in a timely manner and adequate funding for specialists and necessary surgeries. All ages of students need more access to scholarships and money for higher education and vocational education. Our area needs more assistance for small businesses to grow and provide jobs and economic development beyond Casino jobs. We need staff who will spend time explaining options and helping with paperwork.

At Large Cherokees have an active role to play in the future of this Nation, and we need to develop that role as fully as possible. At Large citizens are a valuable resource and they deserve more than lip service given to their role in this Nation. They deserve a voice and a place. They should be getting accurate information. They need the ability to question their elected officials and have their concerns taken seriously. They must be more than a mere audience to the Nation’s civic and cultural life. At Large Cherokees deserve real engagement.

Open communication between at large citizens is still challenging mostly because the at large area is so large. We all should be aware of the needs and concerns of at large citizens and of all citizens. Social media help in this area, but not all citizens use these sources. Perhaps a monthly at large newsletter generated by both council members could augment the At Large site created by the Cherokee Nation. Email and phone calls are also important ways to communicate. In addition, if the two at large council members could divide the at large geographical area on a rotating basis and visit citizens more frequently, communication and addressing concerns would improve. Funding for those visits should be allocated.

The greatest need of my district is for At-Large Cherokee citizens to stay connected to their heritage and to our tribal government. I’ve advocated increased communication with our At-Large communities. I communicate with our citizens via phone, texts, and emails. I am their voice and connection to the Cherokee Nation. Our citizens can access our Tribal Council meetings online. I along with Chief Bill Baker, cultural artists, and Cherokee Nation departments travel to Cherokee community meetings throughout our country to connect with families. We use social media, the Cherokee Phoenix, Anadisgoi, our magazine, OSIYO television program, along with sending Cherokee Nation speakers and programs throughout the country to get the information to our communities.

I would restore and increase the Contract Health Service budget for Cherokee Nation citizens needing medical assistance. I have met too many Cherokees in Rogers and Tulsa County who are being denied knee surgeries and even life-threatening procedures. Life or death is not a choice. No one should have to go into medical bankruptcy because of Contract Health Services lack of response or lack of monies. If we have to make decisions based on money, we need to set aside dollars to return people to work or keep people working. An example would be a knee or shoulder operation.

I will focus on Election Law reform and will work to eliminate the notary requirement that serves no purpose except to make At Large and absentee voting more difficult. As of now, the process amounts to voter suppression. I will also broaden any policies that exclude At Large citizens from full participation in this Nation. Many qualified people who would love to serve on boards and commissions are never considered. Overall, I will be more active in legislating. In 2018, almost no legislation was even proposed. Until we have a perfect society, we need to keep working for change.

Election policies and procedures should be evaluated and possibly changed because numerous citizens are expressing concerns about current practices or about what they perceive is happening. Whether changes are necessary or not, current practices should be reviewed. Transparency is essential.

We need to speed up our hiring policies for our tribe. The process is very slow. The nineteen- hundred plus children in foster care, family violence, homelessness, facilities for elder citizens that need long term care, facilities for families in crisis especially those with children, truancy and graduation rates are some programs we need to address. For those programs that are intact, we need optimum attention and protection for our tribal citizens.

I speak enough Cherokee to be helpful to our Elders and visit at the ceremonial grounds. The biggest threat to our language besides not passing it on is our lack of health care and access to health care. None of our Elders (or any Cherokee) should have to wait months for a doctor appointment or be put on a waiting list for a primary care physician. Cherokee speakers should be treated as prized possessions, so we can have them with us as long as possible to teach the next generation. We need more community language classes throughout the Tribe.

I will place priority on developing programs for younger learners where we have the best chance of revitalizing the language. The Cherokee government can also offer more support to many private efforts. For example, a non-profit I founded, the Cherokee PINS Project, has sponsored software for perfecting pronunciation. We can support other organizations making similar efforts to revitalize language. Beyond visual and performance culture, our understanding of “culture” should expand to include our civic and governmental life. We should not exclude our At Large organizations from discussion and participation from these aspects of culture as well, as they presently are.

I am a Cherokee language learner. However, I do not have many opportunities to actually speak the language since I lived outside of the Cherokee Nation. To remedy this dilemma, I recommend creating a Conversational Partners Program that utilizes face time technologies and that allows citizens to chat in real time with Cherokee language speakers. I also hope we can offer more on site language and culture classes for our at large citizens and for all citizens. Online classes are good, but not all citizens have access to that technology or do not learn that way. We need to implement a variety of programs that perpetuate and protect our language and culture and that consider diversity in learning styles.

Roy Boney, John Ross, Howard Paden, and Ryan Mackey are the language keepers that I work with to get our language programs more accessible to our communities. I have presented community leaders the book “We are Cherokee Level 1” and I have sent books to citizens who have requested it. Cherokee Nation has sent speakers to Cherokee communities. The Greater Tulsa Cherokee Cherokees is currently conducting Cherokee language classes. We will continually work to expand our language through social media especially online courses. I’m a speaker and understand every word. It’s a language you have to speak every day or you will lose many words. We are fortunate to have speakers who are trying to save our language.

Cherokee Nation is not doing enough to protect our waters. The Tribe should take a strong stand against large chicken houses being built, for example. Our children and their children deserve clean water to swim in and for ceremony. My PhD in Biosystems Engineering was on the phosphorus criteria established to protect the Illinois River and others from chicken litter. I am uniquely qualified to help protect our Tribe. Lack of action on Spring Creek has put one of our most pristine ceremonial waters at risk. Water is culturally significant and deserves strong and swift action. We have one nest.

The Nation needs to advocate strongly for both resource protection and economic security for our citizens, and to be more innovative in finding long-term solutions. Perhaps our most pressing concern is the effort to expand chicken farming within the Nation. More inventive approaches to sustainable farming and ranching exist and we should research them to see what might work better for us. I would also propose developing stronger partnerships with programs at the University of Arkansas around sustainable agriculture. Environmental well-being is the foundation of all of this, and we should embrace our cultural values as good environmental caretakers.

We must do whatever is necessary to protect our environment and our natural resources.

Cherokee Nation has taken a great stance on environmental issues. Thanks to Sara Hill and her staff who are committed to these issues from removing the waste from the Sequoyah Fuels Plant Gore, OK, issues with poultry houses, the landfill in Adair County, protecting our rivers and lakes, usage of alternative energy, and traveling to our legislative bodies to discuss our environmental issue. These are important issues and we can always do more to protect our precious land.



Why did you choose to run for Tribal Council?

What do you see as the greatest need in your district and how do you intend to address it?

What, if any, current Cherokee Nation policy/law would you change and why?

How do you plan to protect the Cherokee language and culture and do you speak Cherokee?

What is your stance on the Cherokee Nation’s commitment to the environment and the protection of our natural resources?

Johnny Jack Kidwell Dist: At-Large Broken Arrow

I decided to run for Tribal Council because I feel a deep calling to serve my Cherokee family. I have always called the Cherokee Nation my home. I was born in Claremore and raised in Spavinaw before leaving Oklahoma for my military career. As an At-Large citizen during my 20-plus years of U.S. Coast Guard service, I found our administrative and electoral processes to be disjointed and burdensome. Then, after returning home, I witnessed first-hand the everyday struggles of my family members while attempting to use services such as healthcare and housing. I know we can do better than this.

We need strong, resolute, even-handed leaders who are laser focused on our Cherokee family and will be immediately responsive to our needs. At-Large council members must be more proactive in outreach to support all citizens – everywhere. I’ll strive to publish a quarterly Cherokee Phoenix article dedicated to At-Large issues. My cell phone number is (918) 964-6545 – the same number I’ll have as councilor. I live one hour from Tahlequah – call and I will respond; require assistance and I will be 100 percent engaged in meeting your needs. I will always be available for ALL of my Cherokee family.

There are two aspects of election reform that is essential for our Cherokee family to quickly address. We must implement transparency and accountability in our laws to ensure our people’s voices are heard in free and fair elections. We must rid our election process of real and perceived negative influences that cause our people to lose hope. People without hope are people in decline. Second, we must explore ways to make voting easier for ALL citizens. During 20 years in the Coast Guard, I changed residences 16 times. I felt the administrative pain that you feel – and we can do better.

Recent efforts to promote our shared culture and language are commendable. I will fight to increase resources for our Cherokee Language Master/ Apprentice Program and other cultural immersion/language courses. Growing up in Spavinaw, Mayes County, cultural events were common and held at our school. I cherish the positive impact this had on my life and I’ll fight for increased funding for cultural outreach specifically directed at our school-aged kids. Our Cherokee children ARE the cultural sustainment we require and – while I’m not a native speaker – our kids must have more opportunities than I did to learn their Cherokee language and appreciate their culture.

I wholeheartedly agree that clean water, air and soil are paramount to ensuring our collective healthy future, and we should be a leader in identifying green and renewable energy sources to decrease our carbon footprint. However, before we heavily invest in those initiatives, my first priority is to ensure a prosperous tomorrow for our citizens today – improve basic services: healthcare, mental health, education, eldercare, jobs and housing – giving the hand up to our people to ensure we can be the strong leaders of the world that our ancestors envisioned us to become. So – first – let’s be brilliant at the basics.


ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᎤᎯ • JO/ 1, 2019



JO/ 1, 2019 • ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᎤᎯ

Health • ᎠᏰᎸ ᏄᏍᏛ



Keep moving toward better health BY CHAD HUNTER Reporter

TAHLEQUAH – Squeezing physical activities into a daily routine, experts say, can help reduce risks for diabetes, some forms of cancer, obesity and the No. 1 killer in the Cherokee Nation – heart disease. A few of the “active” recommendations include short walks, climbing stairs, biking, housework, gardening or simply standing up while working. “Some physical activity is better than none,” the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases suggests. “Start by moving for 10 minutes a day. Every few weeks, add 5 to 10 minutes until you are active at least 30 minutes most days.” The Indian Health Service suggests “individuals of all ages can benefit from daily physical activity.” Specifically, Native Americans have “long experienced lower health status when compared with other Americans,” according to the IHS. “Diseases of the heart, malignant neoplasm, unintentional injuries and diabetes are leading causes of American Indian and Alaska Native deaths,” an IHS report states. “American Indians and Alaska Natives born today have a life expectancy that is 5.5 years less than the U.S. all-races population.” CN health leaders point to heart disease as the leading cause of premature death and disability within the tribe. “I looked at all the patients who came to our health services in calendar year 2018,” Dr. David Gahn, public health medical director, recently told CN leaders. “Of all the people with the diagnosis of heart disease, 57 percent were less than 60 years old. There are people in their 30s and 40s dying of heart disease. Why this is a public health issue is because heart disease is largely preventable. Cigarette smoking is the No. 1 cause of death and disability in the United States, in Oklahoma and Cherokee Nation.” Other major heart disease risk factors, he said, include obesity, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ fitness initiative called Move Your Way, physical activity will “boost your mood, sharpen your focus, reduce your stress and improve your sleep.” The government recommends engaging in moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 150 minutes a week. “Anything that gets your heart beating faster counts,” the Move Your Way guide states. “If you step it up to vigorous-

WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX People of all ages take part in a walk in this 2012 event at Camp Heart of the Hills in Welling as part of the Cherokee Nation’s annual Diabetes Prevention Program retreat. The Indian Health Service suggests “individuals of all ages can benefit from daily physical activity.” intensity aerobic activity, aim for at least 75 minutes a week.” Another recommendation is to take part in muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week. “Do activities that make your muscles work harder than usual,” the guide recommends. Over time, physical activity can lower risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes and some cancers, control blood pressure and help maintain a healthy weight, experts say. The IHS recommends toddlers and children play actively for at least 60 minutes each day. The nonprofit KidsHealth also suggests children get 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous activity daily. “Kids and teens are sitting around a lot more than they used to,” the KidsHealth website states. “They spend hours every day in front of a screen looking at a variety of media. Too much screen time and not enough physical activity add to the problem of childhood obesity.” Healthy adults 18-64 years of age are urged to walk 30 minutes a day “for good health” or an hour a day to also “lose body fat,” according to the IHS. Seniors aged 65 and up, or from 50-64 with chronic conditions, are encouraged to walk 30 minutes five days a week.

ARCHIVE In this 2016 photo, people exercise during a boot camp class at the Cherokee Nation Male Seminary Recreation Center in Tahlequah. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ fitness initiative called Move Your Way, physical activity will “boost your mood, sharpen your focus, reduce your stress and improve your sleep.” “Being active can help protect you from some diseases,” the IHS suggests. “To avoid falls, please see a physical therapist to learn balance exercises that can help.”

To help prevent heart disease, the American Heart Association recommends adopting healthy eating habits combined with regular physical activity.



SHS Honor Society holds basketball tourney for tornado victims TAHLEQUAH – National Honor Society students from Sequoyah High School held a 3-on-3 basketball tournament on Jan. 19 to raise money for the victims of the Nov. 30 tornado that caused damage across Cherokee, Adair and Sequoyah counties inside the Cherokee Nation. Fourteen teams participated in the tournament. The effort raised $400. Becca Brant, a SHS teacher and National Honor Society sponsor, said she was proud of sophomore Jamie St. Pierre and her other National Honor Society classmates coming up with the idea for the fundraiser and their efforts to help those in need. “They knew what needed to be done and did it,” Brant said. “And they’re not finished yet.” Brant added that anyone interested in donating could call 918-453-5400 for more information. – ROGER GRAHAM

CN employee named 40 Under 40 for economic development FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Hunter Palmer, the Cherokee Nation’s Career Services Economic Development manager, was recently selected as a winner in the national economic development profession’s 40 Under 40 awards, the only award of its kind recognizing young talent in the economic development industry. “I’m very honored to be selected as a 40 Under 40 Rising Star award winner,” Palmer said. “This is a very prestigious award, and I’m humbled to have been nominated. I look forward to continuing my work in making a positive impact on the communities of Cherokee Nation and northeastern Oklahoma.” Palmer, of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, is a 2012 graduate of Northeastern State University and a 2018 graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institution. In 2016, Palmer was awarded the NextGen Under 30 award. While working with Career Services, he has served as the tribe’s job fair coordinator for more than three years and has assisted thousands in finding employment.

AARP Oklahoma opens nominations for 2019 Indian Elder Honors OKLAHOMA CITY – AARP Oklahoma is accepting nominations for the 11th annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors to celebrate 50 Native American elders who have positively impacted their community, family, tribe and nation. The Indian Elder Honors will be held Oct. 1 in Oklahoma City. Nomination applications are online at https://aarp.cvent. com/2019IndianElders. Nominations may be submitted electronically or mailed to AARP Oklahoma, 126 N. Bryant, Edmond, OK 73034. Nominees must be enrolled citizens of a federally-recognized Oklahoma tribal nation, at least 50 years old and living. Nominees do not have to be AARP members. For more information, call Mashell Sourjohn at 405-715-4474 or email The nominations deadline is April 30.

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People • ᏴᏫ

ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᎤᎯ • JO/ 1, 2019

Long-time trainer to run his horses at WRD BY D. SEAN ROWLEY Senior Reporter

CLAREMORE – Before March ends, the rumble of hooves will again be heard at one of the Cherokee Nation’s popular entertainment venues. The thoroughbred season began March 25 at Will Rogers Downs, and the track and its barns are busy with trainers and their horses. Among them is CN citizen Shad Seaton, 43, of Vinita. His horses are in the track’s “Cherokee Barn.” “The ‘Cherokee Barn’ is the newest barn built here, and it is by far the best,” he said. “It has the biggest and best stalls with the most give to the walls. It has a plastic type of wall. I could not get stalls on the ground until this barn was built, and it is just for Cherokee trainers and owners.” The racing experience will be different for Seaton this year because he owns the horses he trains. “I have trained horses for 27 years, but this is the first year I really went out and owned all my own horses,” he said. “I’ve owned one or two horses here or there, but this year I wanted to not work for anybody else but myself.” For now, Seaton is working with thoroughbreds and not quarter horses. “I went out and bought a bunch of young horses to get started, and hope to find that one good horse,” he said. “You run them when they are ready, not when you are ready. When they come along, they will tell me what kind of horses they are, but I don’t have anything picked out right now.” Seaton is familiar with the WRD venue. He recalls being in the parking lot as a boy when it first opened. He races at Fair Meadows in Tulsa and Remington Park in Oklahoma City, and he has five horses running in Texas at Sam Houston Park, but he considers WRD his home track. “From the time I grew up, my grandpa was a horse trainer,” Seaton said. “I always wanted to be a jockey, and at 16 I got my jockey license. That lasted about a year, and I grew up and got too big. I started training after college.” The racing tradition continues

PHOTOS BY D. SEAN ROWLEY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Shad Seaton, owner and trainer at Will Rogers Downs, takes a horse out for a gallop on the track. in his family. Looking on his career, he points to a high point of winning the Oklahoma Sprint 15 years ago, but adds that he has “never been big time.” “But probably the highlight of my career is my kids,” he said. “They are 20 and 17 now, and they worked with me their whole lives. My daughter got her trainer’s license for the first time. We got her some horses and she ran. So that was probably one of the biggest highlights – helping her get started in the horse racing business.” Occasionally some people believe horse racing mistreats the animals and they criticize the “sport of kings.” Seaton said horses are an expensive investment and that their health is of paramount importance to trainers and owners. “These horses are the way we make our living,” Seaton said. “We treat them with the best care possible. If they are hurt, we don’t run them. If they don’t feel


good, we don’t run them. We give them the best feed, best hay, best exercise we can. They get their shoes on them once a month. The vet comes by every day and checks them. They get the best possible care.” The training benefits go far beyond the monetary motivation for Seaton, and he is excited to get to the track each day. “It gives me a reason to get out of bed every morning,” he said. “You never know if your next horse is going to be your ‘big’ horse. You’re always chasing that dream, always hoping for the better horse. It is a reason to work. I look at it as a workout program for me. I put in 10 or 12 hours a day, galloping and riding horses. It keeps me fit, and hopefully I’ll live longer.” Seaton said the CN has given Oklahoma horse racing – and Cherokee participation in the sport – a tremendous boost with its WRD operation. “They came in and took this place over,” he said. “The purses are bigger than they have ever been, and we can actually make money doing this and not

struggle to get by. If it wasn’t for the Cherokees, none of this would have been possible. They pretty much saved this track.”

As a Cherokee Nation citizen, Shad Seaton has use of the “Cherokee Barn,” which is reserved for Cherokee trainers and owners, at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore.

Blankenship wins 6A state wrestling title A Bixby High School freshman, Zach Blankenship wrestled at 120 pounds in his first state championship tournament and won it. By WILL CHAVEZ Assistant Editor BIXBY – Wrestling in the state’s largest high school class, a wrestler will face some tough competition, but Cherokee Nation citizen Zach Blankenship managed to win the Class 6A state championship in February. A Bixby High School freshman, Blankenship wrestled at 120 pounds in his first state championship tournament and won it on Feb. 23. He said he plans to continue training to win another state championship next season. “Being a two-time state champ would be pretty awesome, but it would also be cool to qualify for dual state, like for our whole team. So that would be cool too,” he said. “Of course I wanted to win state. I wasn’t really expecting to. I didn’t even know where I was going to be at because I had never wrestled in high school.” He said his opponent for the state championship, Jared Hill of Broken Arrow High School, had won second at regionals and “was really good,” but he did pin him. Blankenship finished the 2018-19 season 42-1 and had 26 pins. A pin is a victory when a wrestler holds an opponent’s shoulders or scapulae (shoulder blades) on the wrestling mat for a prescribed period of time. Blankenship’s only loss came when he bumped up to the next weight class to help his team in a dual or team match and suffered a loss to a larger opponent. The 15-year-old won six tournaments and invitationals from Dec. 8 to Feb. 2

COURTESY Cherokee Nation citizen Zach Blankenship has his arm raised in victory after defeating Broken Arrow’s Jared Hill for the Class 6A wrestling championship in the 120-pound weight class. Blankenship attends Bixby High School. before winning the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association Class 6A East Regional meet on Feb. 16, which qualified him for the state tournament. Blankenship said he has been wrestling since he was in kindergarten. “They were handing out fliers for Bixby wrestling. I took one and asked my mom if I could wrestle,” he said. He added that he didn’t know much about the sport before starting, but now he understands it as a “hardworking sport” that helps him get better and is good for him. Wrestling season usually starts in late November or after football season is

over, he said, and continues until March. Blankenship usually practices and trains Monday through Friday and attends wrestling tournaments on weekends. “It can get tiring sometimes,” he said. But all of his hard work is paying off, he said. In practice, he said he is working on his technique and doing what his coach instructs him to do rather than trying to get a pin or fall. Blankenship’s mother, Povi, is of Cherokee, San Ildefonso Pueblo and Navajo heritage. Zach said he is aware and proud of his heritage. “It’s pretty awesome to know that’s my heritage,” he said.

JO/ 1, 2019 • ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᎤᎯ




‘Cherokee Days Festival’ is April 12-14 in Washington, D.C. The annual “Cherokee Days Festival” features the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes – Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. BY STAFF REPORTS

COURTESY PHOTOS Cherokee storyteller Sequoyah Guess is among the Native artists who are invited to Wonder City Coffee in Locust Grove. Guess told stories during the “Tellabration” on the shop’s opening night.

Cherokee storytelling part of Wonder City Coffee’s schedule The Locust Grove-based shop receives a state-level honor for its support of the arts. BY D. SEAN ROWLEY Senior Reporter LOCUST GROVE – For more than two years, an artsy coffee shop has brought art in a big way to this small town’s main street. Art events at Wonder City Coffee span a gamut and include visits by Cherokee storytellers. Owners Kelly and Mark Palmer are not Cherokee, but enthusiastically include a Native art form of special significance to many locals. “When we decided we wanted to open a business in downtown Locust Grove, our first criterion was that it needed to be community based, something that would bring people downtown,” Kelly said. “We have partnered with the Locust Grove Arts Alliance since our opening weekend when we hosted Cherokee storyteller Sequoyah Guess to a packed house. We have continued to host many art, poetry, music and storytelling related events in the past two-and-a-half years that have been well attended, and have provided our community a place to gather and create.” The Palmers are assisted in their efforts to support the arts by Kelly’s sisters, Roxann Yates and Shaun Perkins. Perkins works in the coffee shop, is a poet and runs the Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry in Locust Grove. She is also webmaster for “I’ve been a poet all my life,” Perkins said. “The storytelling came about around the same time I met a group of women who were into myths. They told stories of these myths, and it was then that I found the storytellers, whom I’ve been around since about 1984.” The shop began its association with the arts with its first, and now annual, Wonder City Tellabration, which features Native storytelling. “When we first opened, storytelling is what we did that first night,” Perkins said. “Sequoyah was our special guest, and there were also people in the audience who told stories. It is an important art. It is great for this area and the people to come in and hear stories that ancestors have passed down to storytellers about them and their history.” The Palmers’ efforts have not gone unnoticed. The Oklahoma Arts Council included Wonder City Coffee among its Governor’s Arts Awards honorees that will be recognized in a ceremony on April 16 in the Oklahoma Capitol. A reception follows in the first floor rotunda outside the Betty Price Gallery. Admission is free and open to the public.

WASHINGTON – The National Museum of the American Indian from April 12-14 will celebrate Cherokee history during the sixth annual “Cherokee Days Festival.” The free event features the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes – Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The three-day event will include the installation of the original Treaty of New Echota (1835) between the United States the Cherokee Nation; two banner exhibitions – “The Cherokee Culture” and “A Story of Cherokee Removal;” and a festival full of cultural demonstrations and performances. Media are invited to a special viewing ceremony at 9 a.m. on April 12 with Kevin Gover, museum director, and tribal dignitaries. The festival showcases the shared history and cultural lifeways of the three Cherokee tribes through cultural demonstrations such as storytelling, traditional flute music, weaponry, woodcarving, beadwork, traditional games, basket weaving, pottery demonstrations and dance performances. Hands-on activities in the ImagiNations Activity Center will include making silhouette drawings and miniature gourd necklaces. Treaties – agreements between

sovereign nations – lie at the heart of the relationship between Indian nations and the U.S. Sometimes coerced, invariably broken, treaties still define mutual obligations between the U.S. and Indian nations. The NMAI will display the Treaty of New Echota from April 12 through fall 2019. After the Indian Removal Act was passed in 1830, a small group of Cherokees began to believe that they had no choice but to give up their Nation’s land and move west. Although they had no legal right to represent the Cherokee Nation, they signed the Treaty of New Echota with the U.S. government in December 1835, ceding all Cherokee lands in the east in exchange for lands west of the Mississippi River and $5 million in compensation. On loan from the National Archives, the treaty will be on view in the exhibition “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations.” Displaying original treaties in “Nation to Nation” is made possible by the National Archives, an exhibition partner. Several of the treaties receive extensive conservation treatment by the National Archives prior to loan. There are a total of over 370 ratified Indian treaties in the National Archives. For more information about these treaties, see https://

Choogie Kingfisher is among the Native artisans who have been invited to share their talents at Wonder City Coffee in Locust Grove. The shop recently received a Governor’s Arts Award.

“It is great for this area and the people to come in and hear stories that ancestors have passed down...”

Shaun Perkins of

Wonder City Coffee is the 2019 Business in the Arts award recipient. The business has allowed use of its space for meetings of the LGAA, sponsored performances by the Tulsa Youth Ballet at a local middle school and pushed for a National Endowment for the Arts’ “Big Read” community grant. “I am pleased to congratulate the 2019 Governor’s Arts Award honorees who come from all across our great state,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt in a release. “I look forward to celebrating our honorees’ contributions to the arts in Oklahoma and recognizing their role in fostering a robust and impactful arts industry in our state.” Palmer said the award was an honor and that the success of Wonder City Coffee is enhanced by the LGAA, which she called an indispensable community asset. “We look forward to many more years of continuing to support the arts and serving community by the cup,” Palmer said. People can visit Wonder City Coffee at 118 E. Main St. in Locust Grove. Call 918-479-2885, or go to wonderctycoffee.

COURTESY Cherokee Nation citizens Noel Tim Grayson, left, and Zach Adair often are called upon to dress in 18th century Cherokee clothing to help re-enact that period like at the upcoming “Cherokee Days Festival” April 12-14 in Washington, D.C.



ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᎤᎯ • JO/ 1, 2019

Profile for Cherokee Phoenix

Cherokee Phoenix April 1, 2019  

Cherokee Phoenix April 1, 2019