Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden acknowledged Fields Smith, 84, of Vian, and Kenneth Golden, 68, of Stilwell, for their service to the country.
Sgt. Smith was born in 1933 and drafted into the Army in 1955. He completed basic training at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas and trained to become an infantryman. Later, he completed Fire Directing Control School and was sent to Fort Polk in Louisiana where he spent the remainder of his two-year service term. During his service, Smith completed non-commission school and received a sharpshooter medal for his rifle skills. Smith received an honorable discharge in 1957.
“I want to thank the Chief, the Deputy Chief and the Tribal Council for all of the good work that they do for our people,” Smith said.
Sgt. Golden was born in 1949 and enlisted in the Navy in 1968. Golden completed basic training in Chicago. After basic training, he was transferred to the Naval Air Station Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida, where he served as an aviation boatman mate. During his service, Golden was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and received an honorable discharge in 1972.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation honored U.S. Army and Navy veterans with the tribe’s Medal of Patriotism during the March 12 Tribal Council meeting.
“Cherokee Nation is joining with Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, an entity within the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education, to bring health care education to W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah,” the resolution states.
The lease will encompass part of Hastings’ floor space and parking space.
Earlier in the day during the Resources Committee meeting, Dr. Charles Grim, Health Services interim executive director, said the leased portion would be located where the current physical therapy, diabetes, orthopedics and optometry locations are. Those departments will move to the new primary health care facility, which is expected to be finished in 2019.
Grim said because OSU is a state university the medical school would not have a Native American preference. However, he said the architecture within the remodeled facility for the school would highlight Cherokee culture. He also said officials would ask Indian Health Service to set aside scholarships and/or loan repayment for Native students wishing to attend the school.
TAHLEQUAH – During its Feb. 12 meeting, the Tribal Council unanimously authorized a lease with Oklahoma State University’s Center for Health Sciences to put a medical school in the current W.W. Hastings Hospital after the new Outpatient Health Center opens.
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.
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.”
“I love serving the Cherokee people. They’ve got somebody that’s going to work for them again for the next four years, and I’m really looking forward to that,” said Byrd.
Originally from Belfonte/Nicut, Byrd was the youngest Cherokee Nation legislator to be elected. He served on the Tribal Council from 1987-95, followed by term as principal chief from 1995-99. In January 2012, he won a special election to replace Bill John Baker on the Tribal Council. Baker had taken office as the principal chief on Oct. 19, 2011, after a contentious and lengthy principal chief’s race against incumbent Chad Smith.
In 2013, Byrd was re-elected to serve his first full term under the tribe’s 1999 Constitution, which limits elected officials to two consecutive four-year terms before having to sit out a term. He was also named speaker of the Tribal Council in 2015 after then-Speaker Tina Glory Jordan termed out.
When he first ran for office in 1987, Byrd said he felt the need to help the Cherokee people with the issues they were facing.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With 18 years of experience serving the Cherokee people, Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd looks forward to serving another four years as the representative for Dist. 2, which consists of most of northern Cherokee County.
Buzzard worked for the Cherokee Nation for 24 years before running for Tribal Council in 2007. After a term serving Dist. 2, he was elected for Dist. 10 in 2013. He ran again this year because he said there was more he could help improve such as agriculture, sanitation and education. “There was just some things I felt I wanted to be involved with, see if I could help get it done.”
He said he’s stressed agriculture’s importance with the hope that Cherokee children would learn how to grow their food. “Now we’re just eating fast foods and pre-cooked meals and things like that, and our children don’t know about gardening. I’d like to get it to the point where we could raise enough to supply all our families that want those fresh vegetables, but also on a commercial basis too (by) putting it into our casinos and stuff like that.”
Buzzard said he would also like to see improvements with roads and water lines in his district.
He said he has much experience with water and sanitation engineering and that he sees a lot of Cherokee families that do not have inside plumbing and water. A water line extension for rural water is something he would like to work on, he said.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Harley Buzzard is beginning his third Tribal Council term. It’s his second for Dist. 10, which consists of northern Delaware County and parts of Ottawa and Mayes counties. Prior to that he served from 2007-11 for the former Dist. 2, which consisted of Delaware County and part of Ottawa County.
“I chose to run for re-election because I have enjoyed serving the Cherokee people. There are projects that I want to see completed, and there is still work to be done.” She said.
Raised in Stillwell, Hargis graduated from Stilwell High School and then from Northeastern Sate University with a bachelor’s degree in education. She has worked for the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Enterprises in several capacities.
“I was raised in Adair County, raised my children here and want only the best for Cherokees in this district. We have made great strides in several areas, including health care, education and housing,” she said.
Before taking a seat on the Tribal Council, Hargis had never planned to run for tribal office. However, when she saw that the people of Adair County needed someone to be a voice she made the decision to “step up” and be that voice.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Frankie Hargis looks to serve the Cherokee people of Dist. 7 for another term after being re-elected in June. Hargis was initially elected on Dec. 2, 2011, to replace S. Joe Crittenden, who resigned after being elected deputy chief. She served her first full term after being elected in 2013.
Baker Shaw, who graduated from Tahlequah High School, said living in Tahlequah gave her a “unique perspective” on now being a CN citizen who lives outside the tribe’s jurisdiction in Oklahoma.
“They (at-large citizens) don’t have the same educational opportunities and benefits as in-jurisdiction has had,” she said. “They don’t have the advantage of the culture. When you’re in jurisdiction it’s just a part of your life more so than at-large. I want to engage our at-large communities to converse with each other and expose them and give them opportunities that they don’t have.”
Baker Shaw comes from a bloodline familiar with serving the Cherokee people. Her father, Amon A. Baker, was a Tribal Councilor under Principal Chiefs Ross Swimmer and Wilma Mankiller.
“His advice is to always vote for what is best for the Cherokees,” she said of Amon’s influence.
BROKEN ARROW, Okla. – New At-Large Tribal Councilor Mary Baker Shaw said she’s “eager and excited” to begin assisting Cherokee Nation citizens in areas including health care and education.
“I had a special election with two opponents that took about six weeks, and on Oct. 22, I was sworn in,” Vazquez said.
In 2017, before the CN’s general election in June, Vazquez faced no opponents to again represent Dist. 11, which includes all of Craig County, part of northern Mayes County and northern Nowata County. Her district includes more than 2,000 constituents.
Before becoming a Tribal Councilor, Vazquez was a self-employed potter. She became well-known for her pottery classes, which she taught for about 20 years. She is a consultant, educator, historian and potter who showcases pottery that southeastern United States tribes once. She also helps preserve that culture, she said.
In 1990, Vazquez took a year off from working to study as an apprentice in pottery with her mother, Anna Sixkiller Mitchell. A full-blood Cherokee, Mitchell revived Southeastern and woodlands-style pottery in Oklahoma more than 40 years ago, Vazquez said.
VINITA, Okla. – In the fall of 2013, Victoria Vazquez was elected to the Tribal Council after then Dist. 11 Tribal Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr. was appointed to serve as the Cherokee Nation’s secretary of state.
Dobbins will take his councilor seat with 37 years of experience in health care, practicing dentistry for 20 of those years.
“I chose to run because from a distance I’ve become quite familiar with the Cherokee health system, and there are some great things about it. The framework’s in place…and a lot of good has transpired. With my experience I feel like I can lend some expertise to help improve the system. That was my primary motive in running for council...to see what I could do to improve the health care system,” Dobbins said.
He said he has more to learn about the CN Health Services and how it functions on a daily basis.
Dobbins is also involved in higher education, teaching at dental schools for the past 17 years and assisting Cherokee students interested in health care.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Dr. Mike Dobbins, of Fort Gibson, said he’s ready to serve his first term as the Dist. 4 Tribal Councilor and looks to improve the Cherokee Nation’s health care system.
CHATSWORTH, Ga. – The next meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will begin at 10:30 a.m. on May 12 at the Vann House.
The meeting will be the second in a series of meetings commemorating the 180th anniversary of the Cherokee removal. The guest speaker will be former association president, Leslie Thomas. Her presentation is titled “The Round-up and Life in the Encampments.” The meeting is open and free to the public.
The U.S. Army established Fort New Echota in 1836 during the Cherokee Removal period in present-day Calhoun, Gordon County, Georgia. It was later renamed Fort Wool in 1838 and abandoned later in 1838 after Cherokee people were rounded up and sent west.
The TOTA was created to support the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail established by an act of Congress in 1987. It is dedicated to identifying and preserving sites associated with the removal of Native Americans from the southeastern United States. The Georgia TOTA chapter is one of nine state chapters representing the nine states that the Cherokee and other tribes traveled through on their way to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).
GCTOTA meetings are free and open to the public. People need not have Native American ancestry to attend GATOTA meetings, just an interest and desire to learn more about this tragic period in this country’s history.
For more information, email Walter Knapp at firstname.lastname@example.org
TAHLEQUAH – Climate change concerns, preserving Indigenous languages and storytelling though music and art were just a few topics at the 46th annual Symposium on the American Indian held April 16-21 at Northeastern State University.
“This symposium has been a long standing part of the community,” NSU Center for Tribal Studies Director Sara Barnett said. “This is a space for everyone to learn about our people, to learn about our culture, to learn about our perspectives and why we feel certain ways about different things.”
This year’s theme was “Walking with our Ancestors: Preserving Culture and Honoring Tradition.”
“It means to reflect on the experience that American Indians have in terms of walking in two worlds. We have our tradition, our culture, but we also have to operate within mainstream society and balance those two things and integrate them when possible,” Barnett said. “Also, if you travel outside of Oklahoma people don’t believe that you’re a real Indian. They say, ‘we thought you guys were all dead.’ But we’re not. Our culture is here and alive.”
The symposium hosted several keynote speakers, including Dr. Daniel Wildcat.
Wildcat, a Yuchi citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, is a professor at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, who has studied climate change for more than a decade. He used his April 19 session to present “More Trails of Tears: Intergenerational Trauma in an Age of Climate Change.”
“My presentation really focuses on the way that climate change is presently impacting Indigenous people around the globe and is likely to affect a lot more nations and Indigenous peoples in the next century,” he said. “We’re seeing people right now that are really looking at having to relocate.”
Wildcat said there could be as many as “200 million climate refugees by 2050” and that Indigenous people will be taking a “leadership role in the next century” to address climate change.
“The systems that have created the problem aren’t Cherokee systems. They’re not Pawnee systems. They’re not Seminole systems,” he said. “These are systems that came from other people and other parts of the world. I think it’s time for us to speak up and really live up to our caretaking responsibilities for this Mother Earth, and I think we can do so.”
The symposium also hosted smaller sessions on topics including cultural identity, lifeways, tribal research and language revitalization.
Cherokee National Treasure Betty Frogg, a Cherokee Immersion Charter School second grade teacher, brought her students to the symposium on April 18. She, along with NSU Coordinator of Academic Services Dr. Angelina Dayton, showcased how virtual reality technology helps her classroom learn the Cherokee language.
“I think it’s important because it’s what the kids know and everybody keeps saying, ‘technology is the future of learning.’ I think we’re going to be doing some grant writing so we can get everything that we need,” Frogg said.
Showcased on April 20 was Dream Warriors Management, a group of Native artists who uplift others with their creative talents. It consists of poet Tanaya Winder, as well as hip hop and rap artists Frank Waln, Mic Jordan and Tall Paul.
They answered questions about projects that inspired them and when they decided to pursue their passions full time before concluding with performances at the NSU Jazz Lab.
Winder, a Southern Ute/Duckwater Shoshone/Pyramid Lake Paiute Nations citizen, performed spoken word poems from her two books “Words Like Love” and “Why Storms Are Named After People and Bullets Remain Nameless.”
She said the Dream Warriors are “stronger together” and set a “family” example for Indian Country. “Just all of us coming together is kind of like a map of what Indian Country is and can be when it’s at its healthiest, like family. I think just seeing us celebrate our differences is what makes Dream Warriors so successful because people can see themselves in us, and hopefully that empowers them to follow their own path, whether that be art or not.”
Waln, a Lakota from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, followed performances by Winder, Mic Jordan and Tall Paul. His songs included “Born on the Rez,” “What Makes the Red Man Red” and “My Stone” with Winder. He said he hopes his success and that of his fellow artists will leave a “blueprint” for others.
“Hopefully it will leave some of the younger Native people here with somewhat of a blueprint on how to work together as young Native people to build something or our communities that will last past our lifetimes,” he said.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Supreme Court Chief Justice John Garrett swore in Dist. 2 Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd and Dist. 11 Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez as the legislative body’s speaker and deputy speaker, respectively, during the Aug. 15 Tribal Council meeting at the W. W. Keeler Complex.
The Tribal Council re-elected the two legislators earlier in the day at a special Rules Committee meeting to serve in the positions.
“I am humbled by the confidence my fellow councilors place in me by voting for me to serve a second term as speaker of the Tribal Council,” Byrd said. “I believe we are on a positive trajectory in accomplishing great things for our people and look forward to working diligently to continue on that path.”
Vazquez said it was an “an honor and a privilege to serve as deputy speaker.”
“I look forward to continuing to work on behalf of the Cherokee Nation citizens, who should be at the heart and soul of everything we do as a Tribal Council. We are a strong Nation, and I look forward to seeing what the coming years hold for us,” she said.
During the special Rules Committee meeting, legislators also selected chairs and co-chairs for each Tribal Council committee as well as Tribal Council secretary.
Byrd was reappointed speaker by a 15-2 vote, while Vazquez was unanimously re-elected as deputy speaker.
Councilor Frankie Hargis was unanimously reappointed as secretary.
Byrd was also selected as Rules Committee chairman while Councilor Bryan Warner was chosen as co-chairman. Councilor Janees Taylor was reappointed chair as Executive and Finance Committee chairwoman with Councilor Keith Austin as her co-chairman. Councilor Dick Lay kept his position as chairman of the Community Service Committee with Councilor Harley Buzzard as co-chairman. Vazquez and Byrd also retained their positions as chairwoman and co-chairman of the Culture Committee. Councilor David Walkingstick was reappointed as chairman of the Education Committee with Warner as co-chairman. The Health Committee will have Councilor Mary Baker Shaw as its chairwoman and Councilor Dr. Mike Dobbins as co-chairman. Councilor Rex Jordan is the new chairman of the Resource Committee with Councilor E.O. Smith as co-chairman.
In other business, legislators:
• Unanimously passed two resolutions appointing Janice Purcell and Tina Glory Jordan to as commissioners on the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission,
• Increased the comprehensive capital budget for fiscal year 2017 by $79,956 for a total capital budget authority of $279.1 million,
• Increased the FY 2017 comprehensive operating budget by $1.3 million to $705.2 million, and
• Awarded Cherokee Warrior Veterans Medals of Patriotism to Darin McCarty, Jack Shamblin and Wayne Kellehan for their service in the U.S. military.
SALLISAW – When Cherokee Nation citizen Shacotah Sanders lost his hair after undergoing chemotherapy for Stage 2 Hodgkin Lymphoma last year, his mother, Tammie Simms, shaved her head in solidarity.
“Chemotherapy is a really long process. It’s painful. It’s stressful. It’s really emotional because I lost all my hair,” Sanders said. “That was something I was really scared of right there, but the main thing that keeps me going is my mom. She’s like the only one that really keeps me going.”
This familial support is once more a shoulder for Sanders to lie on because while his hair has grown back, so too have the cancerous spots in his neck. It is a possibility that he had accepted after going into remission in October.
“I had prepared myself for it because there’s always that possibility that it could come back,” Sanders said. “Every three months I have a checkup, a PET scan, and we decided to do one in early March this year. We did it, waited about two weeks to get the results. We went back to my oncologist doctor, and he said that it came back, but it wasn’t as big as last time and not as bad. He said it was in the same spot and at the same stage, Stage 2.”
Sanders began undergoing 22 rounds of radiation on April 3 to again battle the cancerous disease, which starts in the white blood cells called lymphocytes. It causes uncontrollable cell reproduction that can potentially invade other tissues throughout the body and disrupt normal tissue function, according to the American Cancer Society.
Sanders travels from Sallisaw to Tahlequah’s Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center five days a week for his radiation sessions and will have checkups every three to six months after the treatments.
“The radiation, they take you to a back room with a really big machine and you just lay on it, like a flat surface, and then they put a mesh mask over your face and tilt your head back so they can get to the spots where the cancer is. There’s no needles involved or anything. It’s just a big machine shooting radiation down on your body,” he said.
The first time Sanders noticed something amiss with his health was in March 2017.
“Every time I went running I noticed my breathing was off quite a bit, so I was just feeling around on my neck and I found these lumps on the right side of my neck, below my jaw. It was just affecting my breathing a lot, so I went to the doctor and had them check it out,” he said.
After a PET scan and surgery, doctors removed two of Sanders’ lymph nodes.
“They sent them off to be tested and they came back cancerous. They told me it was Stage 2 Hodgkin Lymphoma and we started treatment last year in April,” Sanders said.
Doctors prescribed Sanders four rounds of chemotherapy at Warren Clinic Medical Oncology in Tahlequah.
“I was supposed to do four, but three rounds did it,” Sanders said. “During that time, I still went to work, and I didn’t feel good at all going to work, but I still worked my eight hours a day. I still went to work, put a smile on my face. I had a really good attitude about it.”
Though the cancer has returned and forced Sanders to put classes at Carl Albert State College on hold while continuing to work, he remains positive and recommends anyone going through a diagnosis to do the same. “Just have a positive attitude about everything. Surround yourself with positive things, people, family and friends,” he said.
Sanders has a GoFundMe account to help with expenses. To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/hodgkins-lymphoma-fight
.Symptoms and Info
Possible symptoms of Hodgkin Lymphoma include fever, drenching night sweats and weight loss constituting at least 10 percent of a person’s body weight over the course of six months, according to the American Cancer Society. For more information, visit www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkin-lymphoma.html
In today’s world, the term “information super highway” refers to the internet. While this term is modern, the idea behind it is as old as civilization. The idea is to create the shortest and most efficient route to move information. For as long as a thousand years, Indigenous people have used a route of travel not far from here because it was the most efficient route to deliver information and supplies. This route has been referred to at various times as the Osage Trail, the Seminole Trail, the Texas Road and the Military Highway.
A decade before the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee Nation’s first Supreme Court Justice, John Martin, brought his family from their home in New Echota, Georgia, to Indian Territory. His son, Joe, was only 8 years old in 1828 when they settled on the Grand River. He took to his new home quickly. In 1840 when he was just 20, he had already established a ranch that would become known as Greenbrier near the community of Strang.
To call Greenbrier a ranch is a bit of an understatement. By the time the Civil War started in 1861, the Martin family ranch and the river beside it both could be referred to as Grand. It consisted of around 100,000 acres of leased Cherokee land, about the size of what is now Mayes County. On this land was a good portion of the route then referred to as the Texas Road or the Military Highway. Before the war, the route saw many cattle drives from Texas to Kansas.
As the war progressed, it was described as “a critical route for information and supplies” for troops of both the North and the South. It was the shortest route from Fort Scott, Kansas, to Fort Gibson, Indian Territory, and Fort Worth, Texas. Two battles during the war were fought on the route. The North was the victor of the first battle. A year later the South had a much bigger victory by capturing hundreds of mules and wagons. This victory also interrupted supplies bound for Fort Gibson valued at over $1.5 million.
After the War Between the States ended, Greenbrier never regained its former glory. Today there is little more than a few historical markers to prove it once was there. Within a few years of the end of the war, the KATY Railroad followed the route from Kansas to Texas. In the early years of statehood the route developed into what is now known as U.S. Highway 69 and remained a critical route for information and supplies.
In recent years, technology giant Google established a data center complex in Mayes County. This data center could be described as a key component of the “information super highway.” It is fitting that the data center sits a short distance from the Grand River, within sight of Highway 69 and the railroad once known as the KATY. Now, as then, this route can accurately be described as “a critical route for information and supplies.”
DENISON, Texas – Cherokee Nation citizen Blayke Haggard of Gans, Oklahoma, made up one half of the winning fishing team from Northeastern State University to win the YETI FLW College Fishing event on Lake Texoma on April 8.
Haggard and his teammate Cody Metzger of Wagoner, Oklahoma, caught their five-bass limit for a winning weigh to 19 pounds, 4 ounces.
The victory earned the Riverhawk bass club $2,600 and a spot in the 2019 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
The duo said that they spent the day targeting smallmouth bass on main-lake points, about 5 to 8 miles away from the takeoff ramp at Highport Marina.
“We focused on the points where the wind was blowing the hardest, fishing the mid to southeastern areas of the lake,” Haggard, a sophomore majoring in cellular and molecular biology, said. “We had five or six points that we rotated through that all looked very similar, fishing in 4 to 10 feet.”
The Riverhawk club cited citrus shad-colored Bandit 200 crankbaits and a prototype Bandit squarebill crankbait as its most productive lures. Club members said that they caught 10 to 12 keepers.
“We had great execution,” Haggard said. “I caught a 4-pounder early, then three casts later Cody put a 3½-pounder in the boat. Those early fish clued us in that we were doing the right thing. It also helped that we didn’t lose any fish all day.”