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.”
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.
Dart was named CNT for his traditional and contemporary basketry. A resident of Fairfield in Adair County, he began weaving baskets at age 16, but developed an interest in it earlier in life watching his grandmother construct baskets with native materials she found. In his baskets, Dart uses commercial and traditional reed, including honeysuckle, buck brush and wood splints. He also uses natural dyes such as black walnut, bloodroot and bois d’arc wood. He said even in his contemporary baskets he still implements traditional Cherokee elements.
Being mostly self-taught, Dart spent years perfecting his technique, and in 2005 he entered his first art show. Since then he’s won numerous awards, including Best of Show at the 2016 Artesian Arts Festival in Sulphur with a replica of a Southeastern Burden Basket woven from wood splints and colored with natural dye. The basket also appeared in the book “Oklahoma Cherokee Baskets.” Other awards include Best of Show at the 2017 Native American Heritage Festival in Cushing, third place and judges’ choice at the 2017 Cherokee Art Market in Catoosa and first place at the 2018 the Trail of Tears Art Show in Tahlequah. Along with winning awards, his baskets can are in private collections and museums, including the Briscoe Museum of Western Art in San Antonia, Texas, and the Cherokee National Museum in Tahlequah.
Dart said he’s dedicated to the preservation of Cherokee basketry and teaches the art. He said the most important thing is to make sure it continues to the next generation and generations to come.
“My main goal I have right now is focusing on my students. I want them to be able to, you know, if something happened to me, I want them to be able to continue doing this and pass it on. I want them to be successful more than me, and I think if they’re successful then I am successful.”
TAHLEQUAH – Each year before the Cherokee National Holiday, a chosen few Cherokee Nation citizens who have shown exceptional knowledge of Cherokee art and culture receive a Cherokee National Treasure designation. In 2017, Mike Dart and Jesse Hummingbird earned that honor, joining 94 others who have earned the title since 1988.
Located in northeast Wyoming in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains, Ucross fosters the creative spirit of deeply committed artists and groups by providing uninterrupted time, studio space and living accommodations, while serving as a good steward of its 20,000-acre ranch.
Mallory was chosen through a juried national selection process. The award includes a one-month residency at Ucross, a stipend of $1,000 and inclusion in a forthcoming exhibition at the Ucross Art Gallery in 2019. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts is providing major support for the fellowship.
Mallory’s work ranges from individual wall hangings and sculptures to large-scale installations. She works with mixed media, creating multiple forms that are joined with crude hardware or mechanical devices in ways that “imply tenuous connections and aberrations.”
She said she’s interested in ideas of interference and disruption of long-established systems in nature and human cultures. Mallory grew up in Oklahoma and lives in Portland, Oregon. She received bachelor’s degrees in linguistics and English from UCLA and in fine arts from Pacific Northwest College of Art.
UCROSS, Wyo. – Ucross recently announced its second Ucross Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists has been awarded to mixed-media artist and Cherokee Nation citizen Brenda Mallory.
Cherokee artist Bryan Waytula, of Sand Springs, Oklahoma, received first place in the Painting Category and the “Best of Class” award for his painting titled “We Stand As One.” He also received first place for his drawing titled “A Cherokee Treasure,” which is a colored pencil piece with a piece of mat weaving placed at the bottom of the artwork.
Waytula said he used remnants from one of his mom’s traditional river cane baskets.
His mother, Vivian Garner Cottrell, and his grandmother, Betty Scraper Garner, are both Cherokee National Treasures, which means they have been honored by the Cherokee Nation for their basketwork and for sharing their knowledge of basket making with others.
“I’m trying to follow big footprints left my grandmother and mother, both treasures. Those two are rock stars to me,” Waytula said.
INDIANAPOLIS – At the 26th annual Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival held June 23-24, Native American artists, including Cherokees, were awarded nearly $16,000 in cash prizes, as well as ribbons for art works they entered into competition.
A new exhibit at the Cherokee National Prison Museum explores the period of time when the building served as the Cherokee County Jail by sharing stories of both lawmen and lawbreakers.
The “Cherokee Prison: Post Statehood” exhibit runs July 13 to Jan. 31.
The Cherokee National Prison was the only penitentiary building in Indian Territory from 1875 to 1901. It housed sentenced and accused prisoners from throughout the territory. The interpretive site and museum give visitors an idea about how law and order operated in Indian Territory. The site features a working blacksmith area and reconstructed gallows; exhibits about famous prisoners and daring escapes, local outlaws and Cherokee patriots; and jail cells.
The Cherokee Nation’s museums are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, call 1-877-779-6977 or visit www.VisitCherokeeNation.com
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee National Prison was built to hold the most hardened criminals in Indian Territory from before statehood and into the 20th century.
In a previous Cherokee Phoenix story, 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’ve 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.
After completing the program, students will have 4,000 contact hours with the Cherokee language and spend more than 40 hours each week studying and speaking the language.
“Our program is about more than teaching someone the Cherokee language, it is about naturally absorbing our language and our way of life to the point that it changes the way we see the world and think. The real goal is to activate people that will spread the language wherever they go,” Paden said. “Our learners say it is a challenging program, but every day they push to give them more language. When they graduate, their passion for speaking the Cherokee language is only rivaled by their commitment to share our language.”
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program is accepting applications until Oct. 1. The two-year program is centered on a group language immersion experience and accepts a limited number of applications each year.
On his last day, McCoy made the final stretch from Stilwell to Park Hill with his girlfriend and EBCI citizen, Katelynn Ledford, and a group of Oklahoma Cherokees.
The runners were greeted at the CHC by Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band citizens, as well as CN Principal Chief Bill John Baker, CN Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and UKB Chief Joe Bunch.
McCoy ran into the CHC wearing a cape made of CN and UKB tribal flags tied together.
He said the run was not for him but for all Cherokees and to honor his ancestors who made the original journey due to the forced removals in the 1830s.
PARK HILL – After running 777 miles of the Trail of Tears’ Benge Route, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen Kallup McCoy II completed his run on June 28 at the Cherokee Heritage Center.
Each week, “Stories on the Square” concludes with a different hands-on activity or craft. The make-and-take activity schedule is below:
July 11 – Soap stone necklaces
July 18 – Painting garden rocks
July 25 – Clay pinch pots
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism is offering free, family-friendly storytelling events on Wednesdays in July. The one-hour program is hosted in the Cherokee National Peace Pavilion starting at 10 a.m.
To download the application, visit https://www.cherokee.org/Services/Education/Cherokee-Ambassadors, and then scroll to the bottom of the webpage. Applications are also available at the Cherokee First desk at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex.
The deadline for all applications is July 16.
The Miss Cherokee Leadership Competition is held on Aug. 25, with the Junior Miss Cherokee Leadership Competition on Aug. 18 and Little Cherokee Ambassador Competition on Aug. 4.
“These three competitions provide an opportunity for contestants to share their knowledge of Cherokee history, culture and language,” Lisa Trice-Turtle, Miss Cherokee sponsor and 1986-87 Miss Cherokee, said. “As ambassadors and messengers of the Cherokee Nation, Miss Cherokee, Junior Miss Cherokee and our Little Cherokee Ambassadors are role models, and they are expected to exemplify the best qualities of Cherokee youth.”
TAHLEQUAH – Applications for the 2018-19 Miss Cherokee, Junior Miss Cherokee and Little Cherokee Ambassador competitions are available.
TAHLEQUAH – It may not be well known that “Remember the Removal” cyclists are supported by a staff of drivers, navigators, medics and Cherokee Nation marshals.
Marisa “Sis” Cabe of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians said she serves as support staff because she did the ride in 2016 and “it was such a moving and life-changing experience” for her. This year she drove a vehicle and performed tasks to ensure the cyclists’ nutritional needs were met and they were well enough to ride daily.
“I’ve always wanted to give back to the program. I try to be as active as I can and continued to ride with 2017’s riders, not as their trainer, but to go along and help out in any way that I could,” she said. “This year I took on the job of training the 2018 riders for the Eastern Band, and have become very close to and attached to my team members. I just really wanted to be here to help take care of them and to make sure they can experience it (the ride) to their fullest abilities.”
Her tasks involved getting up early to ready drinking water and snacks, as well as to help riders load the bicycle trailer with luggage and other items. Once cyclists were on the road, she helped drive the vehicle pulling the trailer and rode behind or in front of the cyclists as directed by the marshals who drove behind the cyclists.
“If need be, we go ahead and set up water breaks, food breaks and lunch to make sure they are staying hydrated and have enough calories in their bodies to keep their bodies going for this grueling ride,” she said. “Once that’s done, we get them checked in to their hotels and give them time to take their showers, and then we may load them back up and go to dinner.”
In the evenings, Cabe sometimes had “rolling parties” where she rolled out cyclists’ leg muscles using what looks like a bread roller, and sometimes bread rollers were used, to work out soreness.
“They’ve actually been calling it ‘Sis’s House of Horrors’ or the ‘Torture Chamber,’ but it helps them with soreness and stiffness to be able to ride better the next day,” she said.
Support staff also made sure ice was available for water coolers and ice chests for the next day’s ride and pre-packaged snack packs in zip lock bags. The pre-packaged items were given to cyclists during breaks.
Sandy Long, a CN Management Resources special projects manager, said she always wanted to take part in the ride and went this year as a support person. She drove the lead vehicle and helped prepare water and food.
“I’ve always wanted to go on the ride and to see these young kids so involved with learning more about the past and looking into their future. And I love to help people,” she said. “It was an experience I can’t explain without tears in my eyes. I learned so much from the kids, like how to never give up no matter what’s in your path.”
Sherry Johnson, CN Management Resources special projects coordinator, said her experience is an asset to serve as a support person. She also drove a vehicle and prepared food and water and handled projects to help keep the group moving through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
“I went three years ago (as support staff), and it’s not just to go somewhere or to do something, it was to learn about my history because I’ve been told my great-great-grandparents were supposed to have traveled the Trail of Tears. I wanted to see some of the places that they had been, that they had walked and to see where they came from,” she said. “It is a very emotional thing. Not only do you learn, but also you bond with the kids and the adults that are on the team. You give them (cyclists) support and cheer them on. Seeing them grow is something to watch. It’s amazing. It’s like watching one of your own grow up.”
Johnson said she’s still in contact with many cyclists from the 2015 ride, and it’s like a family reunion when she sees one of them.
“We catch up with what’s going and what’s been happening in their lives,” she said. “It’s just amazing to get to know them and see the many things that there is to see out here and learn about our people.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”