CFRC shines light on Cherokee genealogy

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett &
STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
01/16/2018 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Family Research Center located within the Cherokee Heritage Center has been assisting individuals with tracing their family genealogies since the 1980s.

“We educate people,” Gene Morris, CFRC genealogist, said. “We’re here to promote our mission, which is preserve, promote and teach Cherokee history and culture. That’s what we do on a daily basis with genealogy.”

The CFRC is one of two locations in Oklahoma specializing in Native American genealogy and should not be confused with the Cherokee Nation Registration Department.

“We (CFRC) have no right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that someone is Cherokee,” Ashley Vann, CFRC genealogist, said. “What we are able to tell them is ‘yes’ or ‘no’ about a paper trail to back up that family’s story that’s been handed down from generation to generation.”

Morris and Vann can be hired to help individuals complete their genealogies for a fee of $30 per hour, or $20 per hour for Cherokee National Historical Society members. For those wishing to conduct their own research, the CFRC resources area and the genealogy library are accessible from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday with paid admission into the museum.
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The library at the Cherokee Family Research Center contains books, periodicals, archives and other material available for visitors to use as resource material for tracing Cherokee ancestries. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The library at the Cherokee Family Research Center contains books, periodicals, archives and other material available for visitors to use as resource material for tracing Cherokee ancestries. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
https://www.facebook.com/CASA-of-Cherokee-Country-184365501631027/

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.
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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

CN participates in area Christmas parades

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
12/18/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Between Dec. 2-9, Cherokee Nation representatives took part in Christmas parades in Nowata, Bartlesville, Fort Gibson, Locust Grove, Vian, Vinita, Tahlequah, Stilwell, Jay, Hulbert and Sallisaw.

Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said Christmas parades are an opportunity to meet citizens away from the CN capital.

“These Christmas parades are something everyone including our citizens look forward to, especially in smaller towns, and there are strong Cherokee communities in all of them. This is our chance to not only wish them season’s greetings, but to learn how they’re doing,” he said. “Our Tribal councilors take advantage of this seasonal opportunity as does our Principal Chief Bill John Baker. Fellowship is a big part of the holiday season.”

CN citizen and Nowata resident Brianda Medlin agreed with the secretary.

“I came here to watch my cousin in the Christmas parade, but it’s nice to hear Cherokee Nation is in it too. A lot of us are Cherokee up here so that’s kind of a big deal,” she said.
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Cherokee Nation employees, legislators, administrators and volunteers participate in the Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Christmas parade. Christmas parades provide opportunities for CN officials to meet tribal citizens away from the CN capital in Tahlequah. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation employees, legislators, administrators and volunteers participate in the Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Christmas parade. Christmas parades provide opportunities for CN officials to meet tribal citizens away from the CN capital in Tahlequah. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

CN Capitol Square lights up for Christmas

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
12/13/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The annual lighting of the Cherokee Nation Capitol building was held Dec. 1 when Principal Chief Bill John Baker turned on Christmas lights decorating the downtown square.

The event unofficially announced the arrival of the holiday season.

Visitors enjoyed refreshments as well as music by the Cherokee Nation Youth Choir. Children were also treated to a live nativity scene and holiday train rides.

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“Hostiles” cast and crew holds Oklahoma Q&A

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
12/12/2017 08:00 AM
TULSA, Okla. – Oklahoma audiences were treated to a special Q&A with Cherokee actor Wes Studi after screening his new film “Hostiles” on Nov. 29 during the Tribal Film Festival at Circle Cinema.

“The story itself goes on to touch on the basis of the fact that we do have to come together, be it for survival or whatever,” Studi said. “It’s really a matter of survival that we bring our minds together to forge a better beginning as we move forward.”

“Hostiles” is set in 1892 and follows Capt. Joseph J. Blocker (Christian Bale) as he battles hatred towards dying Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk (Studi) while being forced to escort him and his family from New Mexico back to their ancestral lands in Montana. The film also stars Rosamund Pike, Adam Beach, Q’orianka Kilcher and Ben Foster.

Christina Burke, curator of Native American and Non-Western Art at the Philbrook Museum of Art, moderated the panel. Also participating were “Smoke Signals” director Chris Eyre and Dr. Joely Proudfit, who were tribal consultants for the film and brought in to the production to assist with creating an accurate portrayal of Cheyenne people and customs.

“We were brought in pretty early on, and we were on set most of the time. I would say over 90 percent of the time, everyday on the set, both of us or at least one of us,” Proudfit said. “We had an actual Cheyenne chief come and do a blessing before we began shooting. And for a production of that caliber to take that time to allow for this culture and tradition to be a part of the process, I’ve never seen anything like that.”
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From left to right, “Hostiles” cast and crew members Chris Eyre, Dr. Joely Proudfit and Wes Studi answer questions from audience members as part of a special Q&A after the film was screened on Nov. 29 as part of the Tribal Film Festival Showcase at Circle Cinema in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Christina Burke from the Philbrook Museum of Art, far right, moderated the panel. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
From left to right, “Hostiles” cast and crew members Chris Eyre, Dr. Joely Proudfit and Wes Studi answer questions from audience members as part of a special Q&A after the film was screened on Nov. 29 as part of the Tribal Film Festival Showcase at Circle Cinema in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Christina Burke from the Philbrook Museum of Art, far right, moderated the panel. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
http://www.wherethecasinomoneygoes.com

Mural honors Cherokee potter Anna Mitchell

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
12/11/2017 04:00 PM
VINITA, Okla. – On Dec. 5, Cherokee Nation and city officials unveiled a 12-foot-by-10-foot captioned photo as a mural in honor of the late Anna Belle Sixkiller Mitchell, a Cherokee National Treasure who revived Southeastern-style pottery.

“This project started a year ago as a way to beautify the city and celebrate the historic nature that we have with the Cherokee Nation. As people drive by in Vinita they can learn more about our town and our community,” Vinita City Councilor Stephanie Hoskin said.

The City Council worked with downtown store owners to find a space for the mural and with the Eastern Trails Museum for the mural’s photo. The project was funded through the city’s hotel tax.

The photo depicts Mitchell making pottery in her studio. She is known for restoring the Southeastern-style of pottery back into the Cherokee culture. The tribe’s pottery tradition was not continued after removal to Indian Territory in the 1830s until Mitchell began making pottery in the 1960s.

Mitchell was born Oct. 16, 1926, to Oo-loo-tsa and Houston Sixkiller in Delaware County.
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The late Anna Belle Sixkiller Mitchell, shown here making pottery in her studio, was honored with a mural on Dec. 5 by Cherokee Nation and Vinita, Oklahoma, officials. Mitchell was responsible for reviving the Southeastern-style of pottery for the Cherokee people. COURTESY Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez, left, and Cherokee National Treasure Dan Mink stand in front of an enlarged photo of Anna Belle Sixkiller Mitchell, Vazquez’s mother, in Vinita, Oklahoma. The photo honors the late potter for her contributions to the Cherokee culture. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The late Anna Belle Sixkiller Mitchell, shown here making pottery in her studio, was honored with a mural on Dec. 5 by Cherokee Nation and Vinita, Oklahoma, officials. Mitchell was responsible for reviving the Southeastern-style of pottery for the Cherokee people. 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.

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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

Cherokee National Treasures honored with luncheon

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
12/11/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee National Treasures were honored by Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Business officials with an annual holiday luncheon on Dec. 4 in the O-Si-Yo Room at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex.

Treasures enjoyed a lunch catered by the Restaurant of the Cherokees and received $100 gift cards and chances to win door prizes.

The luncheon was hosted by CNB, which officially took on the program in 2015.

“Today’s event was the annual holiday luncheon for Cherokee National Treasures. This event brings treasures together to celebrate the holidays and a special meal together where they can visit and just catch up with everyone before the busy Christmas season,” CNB Senior Vice President of Marketing and Cultural Tourism Molly Jarvis said.

Tribal Councilor and Cherokee National Treasure Victoria Vazquez spoke about the day’s importance. “It’s very important because throughout the year (Cherokee) National Treasures continually contribute to sharing the art and culture and language that they have learned and used for many years. A lot of times it’s done without anyone knowing about what they’ve done. So it’s a way to pay back for their giving because a lot of these treasures are elderly and probably have been doing this thing that they do probably for 25, 30 years. This is just a small pay back for them.”
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Cherokee National Treasures gather for a group photo at the annual holiday luncheon hosted by the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses on Dec. 4 in the O-Si-Yo Room at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The treasures were thanked for their contributions to Cherokee culture. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee National Treasure Lorene Drywater listens as tribal officials speak about the Cherokee National Treasure program and its efforts to help the treasures share their arts at during a luncheon on Dec. 4 in the O-Si-Yo Room at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee National Treasures gather for a group photo at the annual holiday luncheon hosted by the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses on Dec. 4 in the O-Si-Yo Room at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The treasures were thanked for their contributions to Cherokee culture. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

CNF, NSU host scholarship workshop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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