Indian Falls Creek assembly a tradition for Indian families

BY STAFF REPORTS
07/17/2018 12:00 PM
ADA – For 70 years, campers representing more than 50 Indigenous tribal nations from across North America gather for Indian Falls Creek Baptist Assembly in Ada.

This family camp provides Bible classes, training, a health fair, recreation, fellowship and worship services for all ages.

The opportunity to attend with the entire family and people of all ages makes IFC an annual event for many churches. Some campers have attended IFC since childhood and now make it an annual tradition for their children and grandchildren.

Prayer Walk Warriors start the morning early and join the daily sunrise service. Later in the week walkers and runners participate in the annual 5k Hot and Sweaty Run.

More than 500 preschoolers and children attend classes and Vacation Bible School each day and campers 6 to 11 years old attend Children’s Church twice daily. Class sessions for youth, young adults and adults are also offered and vary in topics. A nursery is provided during morning youth and young adult services and evening family services.
Indian Falls Creek camp attendees meet in a counseling room during the camp that takes place every summer. COURTESY
Indian Falls Creek camp attendees meet in a counseling room during the camp that takes place every summer. COURTESY
http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Article/index/42330

UKB to distribute clothing vouchers, gift cards

BY STAFF REPORTS
07/17/2018 10:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The United Keetoowah Band will distribute clothing vouchers and gift cards for exclusive UKB students beginning at 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on July 21 in the Education Building at 4547 S. Whitmore Lane.

Students ages 4-12 will receive $100 vouchers and backpacks, while students ages 13-18 will receive $100 gift cards. Students must present their tribal ID card and proof of enrollment or last semester’s report card to receive funds, which can be used at Walmart to purchase items including clothing, shoes and school supplies.

For students who cannot attend, vouchers and gift cards can be obtained by visiting the UKB offices beginning on July 23. Students ages 4-12 will need to visit the Henry Lee Doublehead Child Development Center at 18771 W. Keetoowah Circle. Students ages 13-18 will need to visit the Community Services building at 18263 W. Keetoowah Circle.

District representatives can also obtain cards for students if needed. Parents and guardians can pass along the required verification items and district representatives will sign before returning all items to them.

Disbursement of funds is also not dependent upon income guidelines.

CN leaders tour new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah site

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
07/17/2018 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation citizen and a foreman for the Manhattan Construction Group, Kenny Foreman, led a group of CN leaders on a tour of the new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah construction job site on July 12 inside the Cherokee Springs Plaza.

“The projects on track right now,” Foreman said. “We’re looking to be finished up and opened up in the spring of 2019. We’re at about 92,000 square feet and got a 1,000-seat convention center, which will be good for all of Tahlequah, not just the Cherokee Nation.”

He said 70 percent of the construction money is going to Tribal Employment Rights Office vendors, who are certified to be Native American-owned and approved by the Tribal Council to do business with the tribe.

Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., who was part of the tour group, along with Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin and Tribal Councilor Rex Jordan, said he was pleased at the progress and happy about the number of Cherokees working at the job site.

In a June report, there were 57 percent TERO-certified personnel working at the job site.
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation officials on July 12 take a tour of the new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah site The building is expected to have 525 games, a restaurant, a grab-and-go café, a live entertainment venue and a full service bar. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation officials on July 12 take a tour of the new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah site The building is expected to have 525 games, a restaurant, a grab-and-go café, a live entertainment venue and a full service bar. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
http://cherokeepublichealth.org/

Election Commission amends its bylaws, rules

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
07/16/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH - The Cherokee Nation’s Election commission held a special meeting on July 10 in the Cherokee Nation Election Commission building.

Commissioners revised various segments of the EC bylaws, rules and regulations.

The commission also discussed actions to be taken on the recent water damage to its headquarters. The commission then voted to allow EC Chairwoman Shawna Calico to vote on all motions. Before this decision, Calico only voted when votes ended in ties.

Later Commissioner Carolyn Allen motioned for the commission to go into executive session after attorney Harvey Chaffin told the five commissioners he saw no need for executive session.

Once the commission came out of the private discussion, Calico announced no action was taken during the executive session. The Cherokee Phoenix covered the event and produced the following video of the entire meeting, not including the executive session.
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix

Oklahoma advocates want amendment on medical marijuana

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
07/15/2018 02:00 PM
TULSA, Oklahoma (AP) — Activists in Oklahoma are looking to entrench the right to use marijuana in the state's constitution by promoting a pair of ballot measures.

The Tulsa World reports that the first state question would classify marijuana as an "herbal drug" and amend the Oklahoma Constitution. The other initiative says a person 21 years or older can possess or consume up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use. Both were filed in April.

Voters in Oklahoma backed the medicinal use of the drug last month. Yet, Isaac Caviness with Green the Vote says the two state questions being promoted are an "insurance policy" to make sure State Question 788 is not over regulated.

https://www.facebook.com/CASA-of-Cherokee-Country-184365501631027/

Oklahoma sees more severe earthquakes, fewer overall

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
07/15/2018 08:00 AM
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma's 4.0 earthquakes are up significantly this year, but the overall rate of earthquakes is declining.

Oklahoma has had six quakes of at least magnitude 4.0 halfway through this year, which is one more than all of last year. But the overall rate of earthquakes has declined, with 96 quakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater through June 30, compared with 144 at this point last year and 302 by the end of 2017, the Tulsa World reported. A magnitude 4.6 in April near Perry was the 12th largest in state history.

Scientists are largely seeing earthquakes on unmapped faults that were activated in 2014 by wastewater injection, said state seismologist Jake Walter. Scientists are researching specific mechanisms by which the state's ongoing seismicity is triggered, he said. Wastewater can trigger the initial earthquakes, but quakes themselves can lead to more quakes.

"So in some ways the wastewater injection has created a new paradigm that defies how we would categorize main shocks and aftershocks if this were a fault that had slipped in a more natural setting," he said.

Walter said that Oklahoma's seismic risk appears to be similar to the latest hazard forecast put out by the U.S. Geological Survey in March. The agency calculated Oklahoma's short-term hazard levels to be similar to active regions in California. The chance of earthquake damage in high-hazard areas of Oklahoma this year ranges from 1 percent to 14 percent, "much higher" than most parts of the U.S.

Marijuana proponents file lawsuits over strict new rules

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
07/14/2018 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Civil lawsuits have been filed in two Oklahoma counties accusing state health officials of improperly imposing strict rules on the state's recently approved medical marijuana industry.

Separate lawsuits were filed Friday in Cleveland and Oklahoma counties over the policies that were adopted this week by the State Board of Health and then quickly approved by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.

The board of Fallin appointees voted 5-4 on Tuesday to approve a ban on the sale of smokable marijuana and requiring pharmacists at dispensaries, infuriating activists who had worked for years to get medical marijuana on the ballot. The measure passed June 26 with nearly 57 percent of the vote.

Interim Commissioner of Health Tom Bates said July 10 his office anticipated legal challenges and was prepared to defend the new rules.

CN hosts training, banquet for community organizations

BY STAFF REPORTS
07/12/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Nearly 500 representatives of the 25 at-large and 88 in-jurisdiction Cherokee organizations recently traveled to Tahlequah for the Cherokee Nation’s 14th annual Conference of Community Leaders.

The two-day conference hosted by the tribe’s Community and Cultural Outreach was held June 22-23 at Northeastern State University. Attendees attended workshops led by experts in sustainability and culture, and also met with tribal leaders, including Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Tribal Councilors.

The tribe concluded the conference with the Community Impact Awards banquet, which honors community organizations that do outstanding volunteer work, promote the culture and make other significant contributions.

“The community organizations, both in the 14 counties and at-large, are some of the tribe’s most valuable partners, because they allow us to reach and help our citizens more effectively and efficiently,” Hoskin said. “Whether it’s mentoring youth or offering cultural enrichment programs or providing housing through temporary shelters, these groups define the values of community and family that are important to us as Cherokee people, and that is something to be commended and recognized.”

Cherokee Citizens League of Southeast Texas, an official at-large Cherokee Nation organization based in Houston, was honored with the 2018 Organization of the Year award. After Hurricane Harvey struck the organization’s community, members stepped up to help neighbors recover from the flooding and coordinated efforts to take donations to those in need.
Trail of Tears Association Executive Director and former Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice Troy Wayne Poteete speaks during his “Treaty Party: Motivations and Considerations” history presentation at the tribe’s 14th annual Conference of Community Leaders. COURTESY Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. speaks during the closing banquet of the tribe’s 14th annual Conference of Community Leaders. COURTESY
Trail of Tears Association Executive Director and former Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice Troy Wayne Poteete speaks during his “Treaty Party: Motivations and Considerations” history presentation at the tribe’s 14th annual Conference of Community Leaders. COURTESY

Vinita firefighters successfully use CN-provided Naloxone in opioid overdose

BY STAFF REPORTS
07/11/2018 04:00 PM
VINITIA – Less than three months after the U.S. Surgeon General released a public health advisory urging more Americans to carry a lifesaving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, Vinita firefighters used that medication, naloxone, to save a life.

In June, Vinita firefighters responded to a call about a female who had chewed a fentanyl patch. Vinita Fire Chief Kevin Wofford said when they arrived at the scene, firefighters found the patient unresponsive. After obtaining baseline vitals, they administered one dose of Narcan nasal spray, which is a brand name for naloxone.

Within minutes, Wofford said, the ambulance arrived and the EMTs helped the patient into the ambulance where her symptoms abated.

“In about three minutes after they had administered the Narcan, she was becoming more responsive and they got a reversal,” Wofford said.

Wofford said the Narcan nasal spray for helping save this patient and describes the medication as being “a big help” to area first responders as they deal with the growing crisis of opioid overdose deaths.

Culture

Cherokee National Treasures host art show
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
07/19/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee National Treasures hosted their first Children’s and Student Art Show on July 7 in the Tsa-La-Gi Community Ballroom featuring artwork made by youth and adult students who were mentored and trained by Cherokee National Treasures.

Some student artists who presented are already accomplished artists but wanted to learn another artistic medium. Such was the case with Cherokee Nation citizen Harry Oosahwee.

“I’ve been carving stone and wood for years, and I’ve been painting for years” he said. “And so I decided I wanted to do something different. And when (Cherokee National Treasure) Bill Glass’s class came along, I decided to take it. I’ve really enjoyed working with ceramics, and think it might be a new medium I’ll start really working on.”

Oosahwee wasn’t the only adult Cherokee looking for a new artistic avenue. CN artist Tana Washington and Oosahwee’s daughter, Sedelta, along with several other CN citizens, signed up for the mentorship program. That is fine with CNT Committee Chairwoman Jane Osti, who said the mentorship program is crucial for developing future artists.

“Every treasure…has from two to 10 students.” Osti said. “The mentors who are teaching are experts in their field. In many cases, some of them have taught for 40 and 50 years, and they have knowledge that we’re going to lose if we don’t teach someone. This program is teaching a lot of people and they’re doing very well. In some instances, we have students who could actually go out and teach. And whether they teach the next generation or a daughter or grandchild, it’s going to produce more people practicing our cultural arts.”

Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said he was pleased with how the mentoring program is reaching communities. He said it’s another example of how the CNTs are helping save traditional Cherokee arts.

“Primarily their jobs have been to nominate or recommend new National Treasures, but they’ve been doing a lot of other things in the last few years. This student art competition is just a great example of how they’re getting artwork into the communities and inspiring new artists to get involved,” Hoskin said.

For more information on the CNT mentorship program, call 918-453-5728.

Education

Dartmouth student interning in tribe’s garden
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
07/18/2018 03:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Taylor Armbrister, a Cherokee Nation citizen and summer intern for the CN Environmental Resources Department, enjoys nature and plants so much that he earned a scholarship to Dartmouth, an Ivy League school.

How he arrived in Tahlequah, via his hometown of Kansas, Oklahoma, by way of Hanover, New Hampshire, is nearly as impressive as the higher education institute he attends.

“How I got here was by hearing from other Cherokees. I’m interested in environmental studies and Native American studies, and I needed something to do this summer. So I checked out Cherokee Nation’s Environmental Resources Department and spoke with Secretary Sara Hill,” Armbrister said. “She then got me in touch with Senior Director Pat Gwin and cultural biologist Feather Smith Trevino. They told me what I’d be doing, and it sounded interesting. I mean this would be a good first step learning what Cherokee Nation is doing when it comes to the environmental aspect of it.”

He said the then drafted a proposal to the Dartmouth Native American Studies Department because it funds unpaid internships, which includes paying for housing, travel and food.

“Anyway, they decided to fund it, so now I’m out here working with Feather until the end of August,” Armbrister said.

And Smith Trevino said she’s happy to have the extra help. “This is actually the first time since I’ve been working in the garden that we’ve had an intern. It’s really helped me out because things that can take me all day long to get done. Taylor and I can knock out in about half a day.”

Armbrister’s duties include weed eating and watering, but he also helped mulch the garden and is helping redesign a rock garden.

“You never know how people are going to handle Oklahoma heat. It’s really starting to get hot now, but so far Taylor’s done really well. And I appreciate the extra pair of hands,” Trevino Smith said.

Regarding his future and the college he attends, Armbrister said he’s taking things slowly.

“So my plan is to have a double major and possibly go to law school afterwards, and maybe go into environmental law. I received a generous merit scholarship, so luckily I won’t be owing anything afterwards, which is why I’m considering law school. I’ve got time,” he said.

According to its website, when Dartmouth was founded on Dec. 13, 1769, its charter created a college “for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land and also of English Youth and any others.” But this central tenet of the college’s charter went largely unfilled for 200 years as Dartmouth counted only 20 Native American students among its graduates prior to 1970.

When Dartmouth’s 13th president took office in 1970, he rededicated the institution to education Natives. Following recruitment, Dartmouth welcomed 15 Native American students that fall. Also, a group of students voiced the need for an academic program dedicated to the study of Native American literature, culture and history. So a committee was formed to look into the creation of a Native American Studies program. The department recently celebrated its 4oth anniversary.

The college’s refocused effort to educate Native Americans has given Taylor and other tribal citizens great opportunities.

“Dartmouth now houses more Native Americans than any other Ivy (League school). The opportunities are endless,” he said.

Council

Tribal Council approves $31M Indian Housing Plan
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
07/12/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – At the July 9 Tribal Council meeting, legislators unanimously authorized the submission of the fiscal year 2019 Indian Housing Plan, estimated at more than $31 million, to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The FY2019 funds will be used for housing assistance such as $5.6 million for housing rehabilitation, nearly $4.5 million for the Rental Assistance Program and $3.4 million for the Mortgage Assistance Program.

Legislators also unanimously adopted revisions to the FY2018 IHP because the Cherokee Nation’s $31.8 million Indian Housing Block Grant allocation was higher than estimates provided. The CN’s submitted FY2018 IHP, as required by the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act, had an original estimate of nearly $29 million.

“The actual appropriations are based on what Congress approves in the federal budget. For this year it was $655 million for NAHASDA and our part was the $31,856,007,” Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation Executive Director Gary Cooper said. “The current two appropriations being considered, one in the House, the other in the Senate, both include amounts equal to 2018. Assuming that Congress does pass a budget or omnibus or other type of appropriations bill for next year at the same (amount), we should receive more than the estimate.”

Legislators also unanimously authorized the submission of a tribal soil climate analysis network, also known as TSCAN or a weather station. The weather station will be placed on tribal property near the buffalo ranch in Delaware County.

The resolution said the CN recognizes the importance of addressing food, agriculture and natural resource needs within the CN boundaries through the utilization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Services, Department of Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“This is an NCRS project. It will give us more soil climate data, soil moisture information. It will be really helpful for researches and people who are really involved in agriculture. So it will be a good thing,” CN Natural Resources Sara Hill said in a June 11 Resource Committee meeting.

In other business, legislators:

• Authorized a grant application for an economic development feasibility study for FY2019 on creating a blackberry processing and marketing program utilizing organic blackberry growers who are CN citizens,

• Amending the comprehensive FY2018 capital budget with an increase of $8 million for a total budget authority of $260.2 million, and

• Amended the comprehensive FY2018 operating budget with an increase of $29.7 million for a total budget authority of $724.7 million. The changes reflecting the increase include increases in the General Fund budget of $312,725; the DOI-Self Governance budget of $388,958; the Indian Health Service Self-Governance Health budget of $24.6 million; and the IHS-Self Governance TEH budget of $4.5 million.

Health

Oklahoma Medicaid approved for drug pricing experiment
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
07/19/2018 04:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved Oklahoma’s Medicaid program for a first-in-the-nation drug pricing experiment that supporters say could save taxpayer dollars and provide patients with the most effective medications for their ailments.

Under the “value-based purchasing” program approved in late June, the state and a pharmaceutical company would agree to a set payment if its medication works as advertised, but only a fraction of that if the drug is not as effective as promised.

“When a company signs an agreement, we hope that they’re going to agree to only have us pay for the therapy that works .... and if it doesn’t work we should get a rebate on it,” said Nancy Nesser, pharmacy director for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which administers the Medicaid program in the state.

“One thing we’ve learned is that some companies don’t really stand behind their drugs, and it’s kind of scary,” Nesser said. “We’re paying a premium for them and they’re not willing to say that they will work.”

The companies are not required to take part, but Nesser said several, which she declined to identify, have shown interest and discussions are underway with three. She said she hopes the program can begin by Aug. 1.

“This is a good thing,” said Matt Salo, executive director of the nonpartisan National Medicaid Directors Association, which represents state programs. “It paves the way for states and other payers to start really thinking about how to do value-based purchasing for prescription drugs.”

The federal waiver would allow Oklahoma to get around a potential obstacle to value-based contracts.

A possible pitfall is Medicaid’s “best price” requirement, which says if any purchaser gets a really good deal on a drug, then Medicaid has to get that lower price too.

Some interpret that to apply to value-based deals as well, Salo said. That means that if a drug didn’t work too well, and a state paid only 10 percent of the original price, then every other Medicaid program could get the drug for that rock-bottom price, too.

“This seems to allow for paying less for a failed treatment without triggering the ‘best price’ requirement,” Salo said.

Oklahoma spent about $650 million on prescription drugs in the fiscal year that ended June 30, Nesser said, and the change could save “a couple of million, maybe.”

Medicaid patients, primarily children who do not pay for prescriptions and the elderly, whose costs are fixed, would see no pocketbook impact, according to Oklahoma Health Care Authority spokeswoman Jo Stainsby.

“The change we’re looking for is improved health outcomes,” Stainsby said.

Oklahoma is “taking the lead” in working to bring down the cost of medications, the AARP director for the state, Sean Voskuhl, said.

“It is a great example of how states can implement change in the absence of reform at the federal level,” Voskuhl said.

Opinion

OPINION: Expanded laws allow CN to better enforce VAWA
BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
07/05/2018 12:00 PM
The Cherokee Nation remains committed to protecting our women and children from violence. As principal chief, I reinforced that dedication by creating the ONE FIRE program for survivors of domestic violence, and recently, the Tribal Council passed laws that strengthen our ability to protect Native women and children within our own jurisdiction.

The amended titles 21 and 22 of the Cherokee Code Annotated allow the tribe to better enforce the Violence Against Women Act tribal-jurisdiction provisions aimed at preventing domestic abuse and violence against women and children on tribal reservations.

These amendments authorize the CN to prosecute non-Indians for domestic violence, dating violence or violations of protective orders within our jurisdiction. The CN has the authority to hold offenders accountable for their crimes against women and children regardless of the perpetrator’s race. This law will apply to a spouse or partner of a CN citizen or other tribal citizen with ties to our jurisdiction.

Additionally, the Tribal Council also modified Title 12 of the Cherokee Code Annotated, which gives the CN’s District Court the expanded ability to issue and enforce protective orders for acts of domestic violence occurring within the CN. The amendments enable CN courts and CN marshals to combat domestic abuse more effectively.

Native American women suffer from violent crime at some of the highest rates in the United States. With non-Indians constituting a significant percent of the overall population living on tribal lands, it is imperative that we take this action to close the jurisdictional gap in the CN. This will have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of women and children within the CN’s 14 counties.

I want to commend the CN attorney general’s office for working on this new law for more than two years, and the Tribal Council for taking this major step in flexing the CN’s sovereign muscle to bring justice to Native American victims.

We will continue to offer programs and services that curb the rate of domestic abuse. Our people deserve to live healthy and secure lives within the CN. We have always looked at how our decisions will impact the next seven generations, and providing a safe future for our children and grandchildren is an important part of securing that future.

People

Tehee named Muskogee police chief
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/17/2018 04:15 PM
MUSKOGEE – As of July 14, Cherokee Nation citizen Johnny Tehee, of Vian, was expected to take over as the new chief for the Muskogee Police Department.

Tehee has been with the MPD for more than 30 years. For the past 15 years he’s been the deputy chief to Chief Rex Eskridge, who was to retire on July 13. For about 10 years on the force, he’s specialized in investigating child abuse. Before the promotion, Tehee served as the deputy chief of the Investigation Division.

Tehee said he believes the most important thing to concentrate on is community relations. He wants the community more involved on what the police are doing, and the police more involved on what the community is doing.

“Back about 20 years I ran the Muskogee Police Athletic League, which means all the police officers would coach young kids’ football, baseball and basketball,” Tehee said. “We quit doing that about five or six ago, and I definitely want to get that back in place. I just think it’s a big asset for the community if you have officers involved in young kids’ lives.”

In the 1990s, Tehee said Muskogee had a problem with drugs and gangs with the murder rate high going into the 2000s. Since that time, he said the MPD has put more officers on the street and crime rates have gone down.

“We went from having double digits homicides to one or two a year. For the most part it’s a matter of keeping things going in the right direction,” Tehee said.

He added that he’s “excited and looking forward to the challenges” of being the police chief.

“I want to continue to move the Muskogee Police Department forward and carry on the legacy that was created by Chief Eskridge to remain one of the top law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma,” he said.

Tehee graduated Vian High School in 1982 before studying criminal justice at Northeastern State University. He also graduated from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He said he’s been a member of First Baptist Church of Muskogee for more than 30 years and has spent years travelling the world on mission trips. He also said he’s been a long-time teacher in the church’s youth department.

“Deputy Chief Tehee has the experience, the community relationships and leadership skills needed to be an outstanding chief of police,” Muskogee City Manager Mike Collier said. “He has big shoes to fill, but I know he’s more than capable and will do great things in our community.”
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