NSU to increase 4-year leadership scholarships

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/18/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Beginning this fall, Northeastern State University will increase the number of President’s Leadership Class scholarships awarded to incoming freshmen each year.

According to NSU officials, the President's Leadership Class is a unique leadership and scholarship program designed to cultivate the outstanding potential of proven student leaders.

Previously offered to about 15 incoming students each fall, the President’s Leadership Class scholarship will be awarded to 20 incoming freshmen in the fall 2018 semester and will increase to 25 over the next two years. The expansion will allow for a more comprehensive scholarship experience for student leaders, officials said.

In the fall 2018 semester, incoming members of the President’s Leadership Class will receive more than $5,000 per semester for four years for housing, tuition and foundation support.

“The President's Leadership Class is among the very best student aid programs in the state in terms of length (four years) and total value,” NSU President Steve Turner said. “By increasing the number of leadership scholarships over the next two years, we are demonstrating our commitment to meet our state's need for highly skilled college graduates.”?
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2018 NAJF student, mentor applications open

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
12/15/2017 08:15 AM
NORMAN, Okla. – The application process for the Native American Journalists Association’s student-training program is open through Jan. 31.

The Native American Journalism Fellowship is a student-training program committed to creating the next generation of storytellers through hands-on training in a weeklong immersion experience with professional journalists.

“The Native American Journalism Fellowship is NAJA’s flagship program for Native media students. It has evolved over more than 25 years into a hands-on experience and has launched the careers of many successful NAJA members through mentorship, training and professional connections,” Rebecca Landsberry, NAJA executive director, said.

College and graduate students will be able to broaden their reporting and multimedia skills by receiving multimedia training, a professional NAJA mentor, skills for job-readiness, connections to media jobs and internships though NAJA’s national network and upper-level college credit hours.

Selected students will attend the 2018 National Native Media Conference set for July 16-22 in Miami, Florida, where they will attend regular meetings with a mentor and participate in all planned webinar trainings. Throughout the remainder of the fellowship, students are required to participate in online check-ins and trainings throughout the year, write and edit reporting assignments for inclusion on the NAJA Native Voice website and seek media-focused internships.
Cherokee Nation citizen Shea Smith, a 2017 fellow from the University of Oklahoma, takes notes during a class on mobile reporting and multi-platform storytelling during the 2017 National Native Media Conference in Anaheim, California. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen Shea Smith, a 2017 fellow from the University of Oklahoma, takes notes during a class on mobile reporting and multi-platform storytelling during the 2017 National Native Media Conference in Anaheim, California. COURTESY

NSU accepting Symposium on the American Indian proposals

BY STAFF REPORTS
12/13/2017 03:15 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Northeastern State University American Indian Heritage Committee is accepting proposals for individuals interested in presenting at the 46th annual Symposium on the American Indian.

Priority consideration will be given to proposals received by Dec. 15.

The symposium will be April 16-21 on NSU’s Tahlequah campus. The theme, “Walking with our Ancestors: Preserving Culture and Honoring Tradition,” will provide a space for the Indigenous community to examine American Indian history and reflect on how the collective past influences who American Indians are as Indigenous peoples today.

According to a NSU press release, American Indian people are often left out of conversations about minority groups, and many people believe they are only a part of the past not the present nor the future.

“On the contrary, American Indians are still here preserving their culture and honoring their traditions by incorporating this knowledge into their present day professional careers,” the release states. “While Indigenous communities may look different, they still managed to maintain their identity and hold fast to their language, sovereignty, and Indigenous ways of living.”

4 graduate from Cherokee language program

BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
12/08/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Dec. 2, the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program graduated four students at a graduation ceremony in the Armory Municipal Center.

Larry Carney, of Tulsa; Ronnie Duncan, of Bell; Lisa O’Field, of Hulbert; and Toney Owens, of Rocky Mountain received a certificate of completion, copper gorget and Pendleton blanket.

Operated through the Cherokee Nation’s Community and Cultural Outreach, participants are taught the Cherokee language by master speakers Doris Shell, Cora Flute and Gary Vann. The program is geared towards teaching CN citizens to be proficient conversational Cherokee language speakers and teachers.

Howard Paden, CLMAP manager, said the program stemmed from a “need” for the language.

“This program gets people speaking our language again. You know, we seen a need for it because a lot of the (Cherokee) Immersion (Charter) School parents seen a need to not only push their kids to learn the language but to learn themselves and start having Cherokee speaking households,” Paden said.
Principal Chief Bill John Baker, left, stands with Ronnie Duncan, Lisa O’Field, Larry Carney and Toney Owens at the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program graduation ceremony on Dec. 2 at the Armory Municipal Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Along with receiving certificates of completion, each graduate received a copper gorget and a Pendleton blanket. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Principal Chief Bill John Baker, left, stands with Ronnie Duncan, Lisa O’Field, Larry Carney and Toney Owens at the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program graduation ceremony on Dec. 2 at the Armory Municipal Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Along with receiving certificates of completion, each graduate received a copper gorget and a Pendleton blanket. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

CNF, NSU host scholarship workshop

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
12/07/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Foundation and Northeastern State University’s Native American Support Center hosted a scholarship workshop Nov. 28 for students wanting to get ahead of CNF’s Jan. 31 scholarship deadline.

“This is our first (workshop) through the Native American Support Center as far as hosting the Cherokee Nation Foundation, and so we are looking forward to working with them more and bringing them on campus and getting them involved in our program,” Jade Hansen, NASC advisement and career specialist, said.

The NASC, part of NSU’s Center for Tribal Studies, provides Native students services such as financial aid information to increase retention and graduation rates.

“We really focus these workshops for our new freshmen because a lot of things I’m seeing working here at NSU is that these students are running out of money going into their second year and their third year and their fourth year,” she said. “And so with CNF, it’s pretty much like a hidden gem. It’s getting that information out that a lot of students don’t really know about with the CNF programs.”

Hansen said she was a CNF scholarship recipient while attending NSU.
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Marisa Hambleton, Cherokee Nation Foundation executive assistant, assists Northeastern State University students with their CNF applications during a scholarship workshop on Nov. 28 in the John Vaughn Library on NSU’s campus in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Several Northeastern State University students began completing their Cherokee Nation Foundation online scholarship applications during a workshop hosted by CNF and NSU’s Native American Support Center. The CNF scholarship deadline is Jan. 31. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Marisa Hambleton, Cherokee Nation Foundation executive assistant, assists Northeastern State University students with their CNF applications during a scholarship workshop on Nov. 28 in the John Vaughn Library on NSU’s campus in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
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NSU Center for Tribal Studies accepting emergency grant applications

BY STAFF REPORTS
12/06/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Northeastern State University’s Center for Tribal Studies is accepting applications for Emergency Fund Grants, which are designed to assist students with one-time emergencies.

The funds awarded are not intended for tuition, fees or campus housing. They are allocated for emergency needs that can affect a student’s ability to be successful in his or her academic endeavors. Emergency needs include transportation-related expenses, unexpected utility bill increases, loss in family income due to illness or death and expenses related to dependent care and/or food shortages.

Grant awards range from $20 to $400 and all applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.
The recipient must be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student at NSU, have proof of citizenship in a federally recognized tribe and be willing to complete the required three hours of volunteer service within 30 days of receiving the award.

More information about the grant and the application can be found at https://offices.nsuok.edu/centerfortribalstudies/Forms.aspx.

Residents keep Proctor School’s history alive

BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
11/30/2017 08:15 AM
PROCTOR, Okla. – Proctor School closed its doors in 1968 after years of providing children, mostly Cherokees, with education from primary school to eighth grade. Nearly 50 years later, local residents keep the school’s history alive in the form of a community building.

“A lot of people didn’t even know where Proctor was until we got the community center. So I know a lot of people probably don’t know there was a school here or that the school system dates farther back before statehood,” Cherokee Nation citizen Maxine Hamilton, of Proctor, said.

According to the book “History of Adair County,” the area known today as Proctor was a settling point for Cherokee Old Setters and Cherokees who arrived on the Trail of Tears. Once the CN government reformed, it divided its territory into districts with the area that would be known as Proctor being part of the Goingsnake District.

In 1841, the CN established public schools within the districts, and on March 1, 1867, the area received its first school, Tyner’s Valley. It was located on Tyner’s Creek in present-day Proctor.

It was one of eight CN schools established in the district. However, as statehood approached in 1907, and white settlers continued to move in, the tribe no longer controlled schools as they were placed under the secretary of Interior.
Students and teachers pose in front of Tyner’s Valley School in 1907. Tyner’s Valley was located near Tyner Creek in present-day Proctor, Oklahoma. It eventually became known as Proctor School after being relocated. COURTESY This photo shows Proctor School in 1950. Community members say the school began its first school term in 1927 and operated until June 1968 when it consolidated with Westville Schools. COURTESY The Proctor Community Center stands in place of the Proctor School. The building was designed to match the school’s size and has the school’s original sandstone covering the front side. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Students and teachers pose in front of Tyner’s Valley School in 1907. Tyner’s Valley was located near Tyner Creek in present-day Proctor, Oklahoma. It eventually became known as Proctor School after being relocated. COURTESY

CN donates $29K to Muskogee school

BY STAFF REPORTS
11/27/2017 12:00 PM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Students at Alice Robertson Junior High School are getting hands-on experience with gardening thanks to a $29,000 donation from the Cherokee Nation.

Tribal funds were allocated for an outdoor garden with seven raised beds and a greenhouse on the Muskogee school’s campus. Art students painted the raised beds in honor of the seven clans of Cherokee society, and the planting of flowers, herbs and vegetables began in October.

“For our students, this is making a huge impact since we have kids who live in the city and have never gardened before,” Jarrod Adair, an Indian education interventionist at Alice Robertson Junior High School, said. “Some kids just like digging in the dirt. Some want to do the business end of it and are eager to get involved and take their produce to the farmers market and sell it. To become young entrepreneurs just from a greenhouse and a gift that was given by the Cherokee Nation is very impactful since it gives students dreams and visions that they can do this at home if they want.”

Seventh- and eighth-grade science students, as well as those in the after-school program, are using the outdoor garden and greenhouse to learn horticulture and ecology, among other studies.

“Outdoor gardening opportunities created by this Cherokee Nation gift will provide Alice Robertson students a chance to put much of what they learn in the classroom to the test in one hands-on environment,” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “This investment is beneficial for the tribe and the school, and I’m convinced the Cherokee Nation will be seeing the positive results of the project for years to come.”

Alternative education closes urban Natives’ achievement gap

BY STAFF REPORTS
11/21/2017 12:00 PM
SEATTLE – A newly released report highlights the challenges facing urban Native American youths in public schools and showcases seven alternative public education programs that are positively impacting these challenges.

The report, “Resurgence: Restructuring Urban American Indian Education,” was released Nov. 16 by the National Urban Indian Family Coalition. According to a release, it tracks the history of the U.S. public education system’s relationship with Native American communities and the ongoing disparities that exist within academic achievement data for urban American Indian students, commonly referred to as “the achievement gap.”

The report states that educators and administrators have worked with policy officials and the philanthropic community to reform the system to close this achievement gap, but the gap still persists for all students of color and is especially bleak for urban American Indian students.

“We wanted to provide a roadmap for other urban Indigenous communities to follow on behalf of their own students,” Dr. Joe Hobot, the report’s author, said. “I hope (the report) will spark further evaluation and discussion by those involved in this arena.”

The report identifies six major urban centers – Denver, Seattle, Albuquerque, Portland, Minneapolis and Los Angeles – that have high concentrations of American Indian students who attend local public schools and investigates seven alternative education programs offered to these students in each city. The report states these alternative education programs leverage traditional Indigenous culture as a means of securing academic achievement and have earned respect and widespread support from the urban American Indian communities they serve.

Culture

Cherokee Art Market hosting Native youth art competition
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/19/2018 12:30 PM
PARK HILL – Native American youth are invited to participate in the 2018 Cherokee Art Market Youth Competition and Show, scheduled for April 7 through May 5.

All artists must be citizens of a federally recognized tribe, in grades 6-12, and are limited to one entry per person. There is no fee to participate in the competition.

Entries will be received between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on March 29 at Cherokee Nation Businesses, 950 Main Pkwy., in Tahlequah. All submissions must include an entry form attached to the artwork, an artist agreement form and a copy of the artist’s Certificate Degree of Indian Blood card or tribal citizenship card.

Artwork is evaluated by division and grade level. Awards consist Best in Show - $250; first place - $150; second place - $125; third place - $100; Bill Rabbit Art Legacy Award - $100. The Best in Show winner will also receive a free booth at the Cherokee Art Market in October.

A reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 6 at the Cherokee Heritage Center in conjunction with the 47th annual Trail of Tears Art Show. Winning artwork selected from the Cherokee Art Market Youth Competition will remain on display throughout the duration of the Trail of Tears Art Show.

Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism is hosting the Cherokee Art Market Youth Competition. Applications are available at www.CherokeeArtMarket.com.

For more information, call Deborah Fritts at 918-384-6990 or cherokeeartmarket@cnent.com.

The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive.

Education

CN offers students, parents College and Career Nights
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
11/20/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Students from the Tahlequah area had the opportunity to learn about colleges, universities and vocational schools during the Cherokee Nation’s College and Career Night at Sequoyah School’s “The Place Where They Play” gym, with a second event planned for Nov. 30 in Vinita.

“The College and Career Night was a way for us to inform students and the parents about scholarship opportunities not only available from Cherokee Nation, but from federal and state sources that they may qualify for, like FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), to attend either vo-tech or college,” Jennifer Pigeon, CN finance manager and College Resources interim manager, said.

With 22 representatives present from schools such as Northeastern State University, University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, Pigeon said the event allowed students and their families the opportunity to learn about schools and programs.

“This night is important to us so that we can help share opportunities, let families meet the various colleges that are available, any vo-techs that they might want to attend and to familiarize themselves with application processes, admission criteria. Some schools offer scholarships that are only available at their school, so this will let them know about some of those opportunities that are available,” she said.

Aside from meeting school representatives, Pigeon said students also had the chance to attend higher learning-related presentations.

“We are going to have a presentation from FAFSA, and then Indian Capital (Technology Center) from Tahlequah will do a presentation followed by (CN) Career Services, who will let us know what they offer to assist in that area, and then we’ll talk about colleges,” she said.

CN citizen Hannah Hudgens, a Sallisaw High School senior, said although she knows what her plans for the future entail, she thought it would be good to attend to learn of tribal scholarships.

“I know I want to do speech language pathology, but I was just wondering what the Cherokee Nation could help me do in terms of scholarships and giving back to my tribal heritage,” she said.

She said she encourages other high school students to take “advantage” of available opportunities.

“Just take advantage of the opportunities around you in terms of scholarships and just learn more about Cherokee heritage,” she said.

OU College of Nursing academic advisor Dawn Johnson said she hoped to speak with students who had an interest in nursing.

“We have several programs at the undergraduate level, but the one that high school students may be most interested in is what we refer to as the traditional BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) program,” she said. “This is a program where you take two years of your basic prerequisites and you could do that close to home. You could do it at OU-Norman or at another accredited school and then you would apply to the College of Nursing and you would be with us for two years.”

Johnson said the event gives students the opportunity to find out that college is “accessible” regardless of career choice.

“I just think this affords them an excellent opportunity to find out what opportunities are available, what scholarships, what might be the best fit for them as far as a career, but also a school,” she said.

Pigeon said a second event was planned for 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 at the Craig County Fairgrounds and Community Center in Vinita.

Council

Council approves Sovereign Wealth Fund
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
12/14/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Councilors on Dec. 11 passed an act that establishes the Cherokee Nation Sovereign Wealth Fund, a fund that is expected to “ensure the continuation of tribal operations and the general welfare of tribal citizens for future generations.”

Tribal Councilor Dick Lay spoke about the act’s importance during the Nov. 14 Rules Committee.

“So the idea was to take a small amount of funding from the businesses, set it aside for just extreme financial emergencies, and I think (Treasurer) Lacey (Horn) and her group have been working along the same lines, so we’re going to try and get those together,” Lay said.

Horn said creating a “permanent fund” was something she had wanted to do, and after working on Lay’s model with Controller Jamie Cole and Assistant Attorney General Chad Harsha they created an act to bring before Council.

“This act establishes a wealth fund, which shall be held by the treasurer in accordance with the act, and assets shall be maintained in an interest-bearing account or otherwise invested to promote growth of the fund's assets,” she said.

Within the fund, Horn said, there would be an Emergency Reserve Fund that would “receive a direct and continuing appropriation.”

“The Emergency Reserve Fund that receives the direct and continuing appropriation of 2 percent of the net income of our dividend-paying corporations as well as not less than 50 percent of funds received by the Cherokee Nation through judgment or settlement of legal claims,” she said. “That’s not to say that we couldn’t put 90 percent. That’s not to say that we couldn’t put some percent higher, but it’s just sort of setting that floor as to what’s going to go into this fund.”
The Motor Fuel Education Trust would also be moved to the new fund, which Horn confirmed would be an added “safety” measure.

“It had previously been collateralized in an interest-bearing CD that was used to borrow funds to build the Vinita (Health) Clinic, and that collateralization was removed whenever we entered into the loan with Bank of Oklahoma for the Tahlequah Joint Venture Project, and so these funds are…free and clear,” she said. “So this will take that fund, put that within the construct of the Cherokee Nation Sovereign Wealth Fund and allow us to invest that fund and continue to grow it.”

Horn said the fund could also have endowments, trusts or other funds incorporated within it periodically. “There’s often endowments, trusts that we receive from individuals that need to be invested for income-generating purposes, and this would be the perfect place to put (those) up underneath as well.”

Horn said all assets for the fund would be “reported and accounted” for separately and would support itself by not relying on any General Fund dollars.

“Expenses incurred and maintenance invested in the fund shall be paid for by the fund. So we won’t be utilizing any General Fund dollars to operate this fund it will be self-sustaining,” she said.

When it comes to distributing the fund’s money, there must be approval from two-thirds of the Tribal Council as well as the principal chief. According to the act, “a distribution from the Reserve Fund may only be made in the event that a financial emergency exists, the severity of which threatens the life, property or financial stability of the Nation.”

Also, according to the act, “a distribution from the Education Trust may only be made to satisfy a substantial need in higher education scholarships resulting from an unexpected funding loss or shortfall and distributions from all endowments, trusts or other funds held in the fund shall be made in accordance with any originating document or restriction applicable thereto, and subject to the appropriation laws of the Cherokee Nation.”

The act also notes that the fund “may not be used to finance or influence political activities.”

“I hope that you can see that we feel very strongly, very happy about this legislation that we put forward, and we hope the Tribal Council feels the same,” Horn said.

Councilors also passed an act relating to the adjustment of dividends known as the Corporation Emergency Dividend Reserve Fund Act, which is included within the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

Lay presented the act during the Oct. 26 Rules Committee meeting where he said it’s not an “original” idea but one that should be implemented as an “emergency fund.”

“It would cause the chief and the super majority of council to bring funding out of it to be used only for abject financial emergencies,” he said.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker was pleased to sign the Sovereign Wealth Fund into law.

“The idea of permanent fund was something we discussed within the administration several years ago. Having reached a number of major policy and legislative goals during the past six years, the time was right to focus our attention on this important safety net. I was pleased to sign this important act into law before year’s end, and appreciate the collaborative effort of my team and members of the Council in achieving this goal.”
According to the act, for-profit corporations that the tribe is the “sole or majority shareholder” and are under CN law “shall issue a monthly cash dividend in the amount of 30 percent” from a “special quarterly dividend” they “deem” appropriate. An additional 5 percent is set aside for Contract Health services for citizens. According to the act, another 2 percent would “be set aside exclusively for an unanticipated and extraordinary revenue or funding loss that creates a budget shortfall where appropriation from any other source would be unavailable.”

To view the Sovereign Wealth Fund Act, click here.

To view the Corporation Emergency Dividend Reserve Fund Act, click here.

Health

Blue Cross and Blue Shield hosting enrollment support in Vinita
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/19/2018 10:00 AM
VINITA — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma’s Mobile Assistance Center is hosting an education and enrollment event from 1 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 22 at the Craig County Fairgrounds and Community Center located at 915 E. Apperson Road.

Tribal citizens and all individuals who attend this free come-and-go event are invited to visit with BCBSOK representatives to receive assistance with their health insurance questions and needs. Tribal citizens have the ability to enroll in coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace at any time, outside of the standard Open Enrollment period. Tribal citizens can also visit to see if they qualify for available financial assistance to help lower the cost of monthly payments. In some cases, this financial assistance may cover the full premium cost. Customer service support will also be available for current members who may have questions about their coverage.

“The Affordable Care Act provides American Indians with opportunities to compare and buy health insurance in a new way,” said BCBSOK President Ted Haynes. “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma wants to help people understand their options so they have an opportunity to enroll and choose a plan that’s right for them.”

To learn more about how to protect their health and finances and save on monthly payments, individuals may attend one of the MAC events, contact an independent, authorized BCBSOK agent, or call BCBSOK’s dedicated customer service representatives and product specialists at 855-636-8702.

To see the full schedule of MAC events, click here. For additional information about health plans and pricing, visit BCBSOK.com

Opinion

OPINION: Never too late to learn Cherokee Language
BY MARK DREADFULWATER
Multimedia Editor – @cp_mdreadfulwat
01/01/2018 02:00 PM
I am Cherokee. I know this because I have a Certificate of Indian Blood card that says so. I also have a blue card that says I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. I have identified as Cherokee my entire life but I have not immersed myself enough in the culture, or most regrettably, the language.

I grew up hearing the Cherokee language, as my dad is a first-language speaker. Cherokee was the only language my paternal grandmother chose to speak on a daily basis. She knew English, but hardly ever spoke it. I heard it so often as a child I was able to understand what my grandmother and dad were saying but never learned to speak, read or write. My granny died when I was 11 and that’s when my knowledge of the language died for me. My dad still spoke it to my aunts and uncles, but for a reason I can’t remember, I stopped really listening to understand it. He would try to get me to learn by giving me directives or asking common questions in Cherokee, but I didn’t take the time to sit down and learn.

As an adult, when people ask if I know how to speak, I tell them I was too busy as a kid playing sports and doing other things to learn. I also took Cherokee I and Cherokee II while at Northeastern State University, but none of the teachings resonated with me. Hearing me say that, and now typing it, I’ve come to realize that is a lame excuse.

I’ll be honest and say I really didn’t see the need to learn the language. I didn’t think knowing Cherokee would get me any further in life. Other than speaking to a few people, I would rarely use it, so why learn. I’ve worked for the Cherokee Phoenix for 11 years. We publish Cherokee stories in our monthly paper and when time allows, we have the translators record audio of the stories in order for readers to hear it spoken by scanning a QR code from a smartphone. I’ve not paid as much attention to it as I should. It’s a great way to see and hear the language.

Now that I’m older, I regret not paying attention to the language growing up and taking the time to learn. I think my generation has made a huge contribution to the downfall of the language. But all is not lost. Although it’s more difficult, it’s not too late to learn. I realize how vital the language is to Cherokees as a people. It is more than a way to communicate. It’s embodies our identity and soul of our tradition, history and the Cherokee way of life.

With the New Year fast approaching, my resolution will be to learn Cherokee. The CN has several outlets as well as online options that are available to learn the language. I also know my dad and aunts will be eager to teach me and I believe they will say, “It’s about time.”

People

AARP Oklahoma opens Indian Elder Honors nominations
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/12/2018 12:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – AARP Oklahoma is accepting nominations for its 10th annual Indian Elder Honors to celebrate 50 Native American elders who have positively impacted their respective communities, families, tribes and nation.

Since its inception in 2009, AARP Oklahoma has recognized 450 elders from all 39 tribal nations in Oklahoma.

“The AARP Indian Elder Honors recognizes the extraordinary contribution of Indian elders – many of whom have never been recognized before,” AARP Oklahoma Volunteer State President Joe Ann Vermillion said.

The 2017 honorees from 33 Oklahoma tribal nations included teachers, veterans, nurses, artists, tribal leaders, language and culture preservationists, champion archer and champion arm wrestler.

Cherokee Nation citizens Mary Rector Aitson, Dianne Barker Harrold, Marcella Morton and Joe T. Thornton, as well as United Keetoowah Band citizen Woody Hansen, were honored in 2017 and presented medallions by national and state AARP officials.

“This event celebrates a lifetime of service from these distinguished elders,” AARP State Director Sean Voskuhl said. “The common thread between the honorees, regardless of the contribution, is the commitment to community and service.”

This year’s Indian Elder Honors will be held Oct. 2 in Oklahoma City. Nomination applications are available at https://www.aarp.org/states/ok/stateeventdetails.eventId=671063&stateCode=OK/.
Nominations may be submitted electronically or mailed to AARP Oklahoma, 126 N. Bryant, Edmond, OK, 73034.

Nominees must be enrolled citizens of federally recognized Oklahoma tribal nations, at least 50 years old and be living. Nominees do not have to be AARP members. For more information, call Mashell Sourjohn at 405-715-4474 or email msourjohn@aarp.org. The deadline for submitting nominations is April 30.
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