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.
Five Cherokees were among 50 Indian elders honored at the ninth annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors banquet on Oct. 3 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. United Keetoowah Band citizen Woody Hansen stands with AARP Associate State Director of Outreach Mashell Sourjohn, AARP State President Joe Ann Vermillion and AARP National President Eric Schneidewind after receiving a medallion for his services in the Cherokee community. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Five Cherokees were among 50 Indian elders honored at the ninth annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors banquet on Oct. 3 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. United Keetoowah Band citizen Woody Hansen stands with AARP Associate State Director of Outreach Mashell Sourjohn, AARP State President Joe Ann Vermillion and AARP National President Eric Schneidewind after receiving a medallion for his services in the Cherokee community. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
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Wheelchair-bound archer knows no limits

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
01/09/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – When shooters took the line for an Oklahoma Archery Shooters Association qualifier recently at Obsession Archery, Cherokee Nation citizen Michael Lackey was among them despite being in a wheelchair.

“I didn’t get to play regular sports like kids that were not in a wheelchair, so my dad got me into archery and I started doing that,” Lackey said. “I’ve been shooting bows since I was about 12 or 13 years old.”

Lackey joined 64 archers competing for bragging rights and prize money at the Dec. 17 qualifier. Shooters received four minutes to shoot five arrows at a five-spot target through 12 ends, or rounds, for a total of 60 arrows. Each arrow had the potential to earn up to five points depending on its target placement.

Lackey shot with the compound bow he uses when hunting. “The compound is definitely easier from a wheelchair standpoint, in my opinion, because I shoot the recurve also and they’re a lot longer than your compounds. So a string will hit the wheel sometimes or you’re closer to the ground, so the limbs will hit the ground. The compound is definitely easier to shoot from a wheelchair.”

Although paralyzed most of his life, Lackey said he doesn’t believe in limits. He’s an avid outdoorsman who often hunts, a skill honed by competitive archery.
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Michael Lackey is one of several shooters to compete in the Oklahoma Archery Shooters Association qualifier on Dec. 17 at Obsession Archery in Tahlequah. Unlike the other shooters, Lackey competes from a wheelchair with a compound bow that he also uses during hunting season. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Though Cherokee Nation citizen Michael Lackey has been paralyzed from an accident most of his life, he is an avid outdoorsman who fishes and hunts regularly. He said his decision to get into competitive archery has led to an improved aim during hunting season. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Michael Lackey brings his children, Makayla and Hayden, pictured with a scorecard, to competitive archery shoots. His children compete in a cub class for archers 18 and under with winners taking home trophies. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Michael Lackey is one of several shooters to compete in the Oklahoma Archery Shooters Association qualifier on Dec. 17 at Obsession Archery in Tahlequah. Unlike the other shooters, Lackey competes from a wheelchair with a compound bow that he also uses during hunting season. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Henry participates in GPI journalism program

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
12/20/2017 04:00 PM
WASHINGTON – Cherokee Nation citizen Jessica Henry, of Salina, Oklahoma, was one of five women selected to participate in the Global Press Institute’s training-to-employment program – a weeklong training in Washington, D.C., learning the aspects of journalism.

GPI offers Native American women who have no prior journalism experience, and who are enrolled citizens of federally recognized tribes, the opportunity to become journalists and use journalism “as a development tool to train and employ women in developing media markets to produce high-quality local news coverage that elevates local and global awareness and ignites social change.”

Cristi Hegranes, GPI founder and executive director, said graduates receive long-term employment with GPI covering their communities.

Henry, a Northeastern State University graduate with a public relations degree, was a Cherokee Nation Businesses intern when she applied for the program after seeing an article on www.cherokeephoenix.org.

“It wasn’t really that different because I had to do journalism with my degree plan. I had to be with NSU News for a semester. I kind of had a little bit of knowledge about it but not as in depth as we learned in training,” Henry said.
Cherokee Nation Jessica Henry, front, stands with other Global Press Institute trainees on the Department of Interior’s roof during their weeklong training in December in Washington, D.C. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation Jessica Henry, front, stands with other Global Press Institute trainees on the Department of Interior’s roof during their weeklong training in December in Washington, D.C. COURTESY

Fritts joins Tulsa’s Resilient Advisors on Racial Equity

BY STAFF REPORTS
12/14/2017 03:30 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Deborah Fritts, a Cherokee Nation Businesses employee, recently joined Tulsa’s Resilient Advisors on Racial Equity.

Tulsa became part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities program in 2015. As part of the program, the advisory committee develops strategies addressing physical, social and economic challenges facing Tulsa.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to be asked to serve in this capacity,” Fritts said. “The spirit of Tulsa is built on resiliency, and it is a trait shared by the Cherokee people. However, there is always more work to be done, and we must all do our part to stay engaged in our communities and informed on the issues impacting our fellow residents. I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve on this committee and look forward to the positive impact we can have on our city.”

Fritts has worked at CNB for 13 years and manages the Cherokee Art Market.

To learn more about Tulsa’s Resilience Challenge, visit www.CityofTulsa.org. For more information about the 100 Resilient Cities program, visit www.100resilientcities.org.
Deborah Fritts
Deborah Fritts

Lawrence named cross-country All-American

BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
12/13/2017 08:15 AM
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Cherokee Nation citizen Sydney Lawrence recently earned All-American status at the 2017 National College Athletic Association Division II women’s cross-country championship.

Lawrence, 20, was one of two student-athletes to achieve the status for Oklahoma Baptist University. She and her teammate, Abby Hoover, are the first athletes of any sport to receive that honor for OBU since it joined the NCAA in August.

“It is a huge honor to be one of the first to receive something like this in OBU’s history, but I cannot take all of the credit for it. God has worked in incredible ways to allow me to be here at OBU and to continue to run and compete for his glory, Lawrence, who OBU recruited from Stilwell (Oklahoma) High School, said. “It was an honor to receive this because this was my first time to ever compete in the NCAA. All of the work I had put in since my freshman year of college to prepare for this opportunity paid off.”

She also thanked her family, coach and teammates for her and the Lady Bison’s success, which as a team placed 20th at the championship.

“My family has supported me through this entire process and helped me keep the right perspective about everything,” she said. “And also my coach and teammates, everyone’s dedication to being successful and also having the mindset of competing and living for Christ is what makes this team and program such a special and life-changing thing to be a part of.”
Cherokee Nation citizen Sydney Lawrence, right, stands with teammate Abby Hoover after being awarded All-American medals at the 2017 NCAA Division II Women’s Cross-Country Championship in Evansville, Indiana. Lawrence and Hoover are the first student-athletes to receive All-American honors of any sport from Oklahoma Baptist University since it joined the NCAA in August. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen Sydney Lawrence, right, stands with teammate Abby Hoover after being awarded All-American medals at the 2017 NCAA Division II Women’s Cross-Country Championship in Evansville, Indiana. Lawrence and Hoover are the first student-athletes to receive All-American honors of any sport from Oklahoma Baptist University since it joined the NCAA in August. COURTESY
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Dowell honored for humanitarianism, contributions to Native communities

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
12/12/2017 12:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen JoKay Dowell on Nov. 7 received a 2017 Dream Keepers award from the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission and the city of Tulsa Human Rights Department as part of National Native American Heritage Month.

The GTAIAC’s annual Dream Keeper Awards Banquet celebrates Native American leaders “who exemplify strong character and have made a difference through solid dedication to public service.”

Dowell (Cherokee/Quapaw/Peoria/Eastern Shawnee) was awarded the “Will Anquoe Humanitarian Award.” The award “recognizes humanitarianism and overall contributions to the Native community but also recognizes those who bridge communication and understanding among diverse groups.”

Dowell was honored for her “strong history of advocacy and activism in the areas of Indigenous peoples’ rights, human rights, anti-war actions, peace and the environment.” She has traveled to Central and South American Indigenous communities to collaborate on ways to address shared injustices and successes, stated the Dream Keepers booklet.

In 2016, she and her daughter Anna delivered supplies to the Oceti Sakowin camp on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota and spent five weeks there to help resist the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Cherokee Nation citizen JoKay Dowell is awarded the “Will Anquoe Humanitarian Award” during the annual Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission Dream Keepers banquet on Nov. 7. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen JoKay Dowell is awarded the “Will Anquoe Humanitarian Award” during the annual Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission Dream Keepers banquet on Nov. 7. COURTESY

Studi discusses new film ‘Hostiles’

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
12/11/2017 12:15 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee actor and Nofire Hollow native Wes Studi sat down with the Cherokee Phoenix on Nov. 29 while attending the Tribal Film Festival Showcase at Circle Cinema to discuss his new film “Hostiles.”

The film is set in 1892 and follows Capt. Joseph J. Blocker (Christian Bale) as he battles his hatred toward dying Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk (Studi) while being forced to escort him and his family from New Mexico back to ancestral lands in Montana.

The film also stars Rosamund Pike, Adam Beach, Q’orianka Kilcher and Ben Foster, who portray characters that each adds layers to the story amid a harsh backdrop of the American frontier. The tagline of the film is, “We are all hostiles,” and reminds audiences that any character is capable of anything when called upon, either by choice or by circumstance.

The Western premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in September before making its Oklahoma debut at Circle Cinema where audiences had the opportunity to catch one of three screenings and participate in a Q&A featuring Studi and the film’s consultants Chris Eyre and Dr. Joely Proudfit.
“Hostiles” was scheduled to hit theaters nationwide on Dec. 22.

Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Wes Studi – a Cherokee actor and Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma, native – takes a photo with a fan during a meet-and-greet event on Nov. 29 at the Tribal Film Festival Showcase at Circle Cinema in Tulsa. Studi was on hand to screen and discuss his new film “Hostiles” before receiving the 2017 Tribal Film Festival Career Achievement Award. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Wes Studi – a Cherokee actor and Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma, native – takes a photo with a fan during a meet-and-greet event on Nov. 29 at the Tribal Film Festival Showcase at Circle Cinema in Tulsa. Studi was on hand to screen and discuss his new film “Hostiles” before receiving the 2017 Tribal Film Festival Career Achievement Award. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Bradley crowned 2018 Miss Northeastern

BY STAFF REPORTS
12/10/2017 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Carrigan Bradley, of Fort Gibson, recently won the 2018 Miss Northeastern scholarship pageant.

Bradley, who also won the pageant’s talent competition, is a biochemistry major expected to graduate in 2020. She said she that after graduation she plans to continue her education with a doctorate in pharmacy.

Bradley said she’s looking forward to representing Northeastern State University and her platform “Words have P.O.W.E.R.” The idea for the platform began when Bradley auditioned for the “X-Factor” at age 15, and the harsh critique from judge Simon Cowell that prompted online backlash.

“My hope in creating this platform is to advocate for people in being kind to themselves with positive self talk, as well as being kind to others in their day-to-day conversations,” Bradley said. “As a titleholder, we get to be a voice and a role model for children of all ages to look to. I hope by speaking out about my experience and urging people to be kind and intentional with their words, I'll be able to change the way we speak to one another.”

CN citizen Kayse Stidham, of Grove, was named second runner-up and crowd pleaser. Stidham is an early childhood education major expected to graduate in 2018. After graduation, she said she plans to teach pre-kindergarten and continue volunteering in her Girl Scout Service unit.
Cherokee Nation citizen Carrigan Bradley receives her crown after being named 2018 Miss Northeastern on Nov. 2 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen Carrigan Bradley receives her crown after being named 2018 Miss Northeastern on Nov. 2 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. COURTESY

Kirk offers knowledge, quality knives this holiday season

BY MARK DREADFULWATER
Multimedia Editor – @cp_mdreadfulwat
11/24/2017 10:00 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Ray Kirk forged his first knife as a Christmas gift in 1989. Twenty-eight years later, he creates knives from steel for his livelihood.

“I’ve been retired since (20)04 and my knife-making is just what I do. I enjoy it,” he said.

The master knife maker works in a small gravel floor shop behind his house. Sounds of humming from the gas forge, knocking from the hydraulic hammer and the ‘ping’ from a hammer striking the hot steel echo throughout nearby woods. It’s there, he spends most of his day thinking of knife designs and bringing those ideas to life.

“I enjoy making knives. Right now I’m working on cross-between a little panabas and a karambit that is easy to make. It’s simple in design and it’s affordable. It’s always fun to figure out a new knife design and then figure out how to make it…easily, and it’s what I like to do.”

Kirk said he continually makes certain knives to keep in stock. He said he has the largest inventory this year that he’s had in a long time.
Cherokee Nation citizen Ray Kirk holds the blade he made in the first “Iron Mountain Metal Craft Grudge Match” forging competition in September at the 14th annual Old Mill Heritage Day in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. On the table to his left are knives he’s made and kept since 1989. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Ray Kirk holds the blade he forged in his shop on Oct. 16 at his shop in Park Hill, Oklahoma. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Ray Kirk twists the handle of a blade he forged in his shop Oct. 16 at his shop in Park Hill, Oklahoma. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Master knife maker Ray Kirk hammers a piece of hot steel to flatten it during the early stages of the knife-making process. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Master knife maker Ray Kirk keeps a close watch on steel as it heats in his gas-blown forge at his shop in Park Hill, Oklahoma. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Master knife maker Ray Kirk pulls a piece of hot steel from the forge during the middle stages of the knife-making process. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Two pieces of steel heat in a gas-powered forge during the early stages of the knife-making process at master knife maker Ray Kirk’s shop in Park Hill, Oklahoma. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Examples of knives that Cherokee Nation citizen Ray Kirk makes lay on a blanket at his shop in Park Hill, Oklahoma. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Ray Kirk holds the blade he made in the first “Iron Mountain Metal Craft Grudge Match” forging competition in September at the 14th annual Old Mill Heritage Day in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. On the table to his left are knives he’s made and kept since 1989. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

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

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.”?

Applicants for the President’s Leadership Class should display outstanding leadership capabilities and must have an exceptionally strong academic record. High school seniors are required to have an ACT composite score of 20 or higher for consideration. Applications are available online at scholarships.nsuok.edu.

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

Latta competes on Discovery Channel series
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
11/21/2017 08:00 AM
WESTVILLE, Okla. – When expert bushcrafters were invited to square off against one another on the Discovery Channel’s new series “Bushcraft Build-off,” Cherokee Nation citizen B.J. Latta was featured among them.

“Back in March, I get a phone call and this lady calls me from Hollywood, California, and she says, ‘hey, we would like to interview you on Skype for a upcoming TV show. You got recommended by (Latta’s friend) Matt Tate.’ It was just crazy being interviewed, and of course, I didn’t think it was going to go anywhere because there’s so many guys who are way more talented,” Latta said.

Hosted by primitive skills expert Matt Graham, the show debuted Nov. 14 and takes survival to the next level by asking two teams of three bushcrafters to outdo one another in challenges meant to test ability and skill.

Latta led his team on the series premiere competing to build the best shelter during a seven-day span in Utah’s Aspen Grove forest. Each team was allowed three hand tools to accomplish the task while being graded by Graham in areas of creativity, sustainability, livability and protection.

“One tool a piece, per person and then we were just turned loose in the environment for seven days,” Latta said. “The part where I filmed was in the mountains of Utah, and we didn’t know what we were doing until we got off the plane, got out of the hotel room and they took us to the mountains. We were kind of kept in the dark, so the challenge was more real.”

In addition to being limited on tools, Latta faced challenges from an unfamiliar environment.

“I was totally out of my environment,” he said. “When you go to the mountains of Utah, there’s no cedar trees up there. There’s not one and that’s one of the main resources, especially for Native American people, here. Cedar trees are very life giving. We use that in everything in Cherokee culture, but when you get up there, there’s none.”

The location itself was also a factor.

“Even just working in the altitude was very tough for us because I’m not used to that, the oxygen levels,” Latta said. “There’s no high altitude here in Adair County. Your body’s different. You’re burning more calories. You’re exhausted more and in a survival situation, all that stuff really, really matters.”

In the premiere episode titled “Built to Survive,” Latta said Graham was quick to offer advice when things started to go sideways.

“I ran into a problem with my shelter,” he said. “I thought it out and thought, ‘man, my idea is not going to work. I need a bigger and better idea,’ and so I ask (Graham), ‘hey, what do you think about this?’ And so this guy, who is world renowned got to sit with me and I got to pick his brain, which is really, really cool.”

The experience also allowed Latta to spend more time with his father, who was on his team.

“To be able to spend that time with my dad, was probably the most rewarding,” he said. “Being on TV is going to be really cool, but that’s like third or fourth compared to spending 15 days with my dad.”

Despite seeing himself on the Discovery Channel, the Stilwell teacher remains humble.

“To know that maybe the world doesn’t see me as maybe successful on paper, but that’s because I’ve been a good steward at everything I’ve done and just worked hard like the Lord says, just showing up and doing your best can elevate you,” he said. “I didn’t put in an application to be on the Discovery Channel. They seen my work ethic working somewhere else and noticed me and asked me to come there.”

For more about “Bushcraft Build-off” or to watch Latta’s episode, visit www.discovery.com. A new episode is aired at 9 p.m. every Tuesday night.
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