Cherokee National Treasures host art show

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
07/19/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee National Treasures hosted their first Children’s and Student Art Show on July 7 in the Tsa-La-Gi Community Ballroom featuring artwork made by youth and adult students who were mentored and trained by Cherokee National Treasures.

Some student artists who presented are already accomplished artists but wanted to learn another artistic medium. Such was the case with Cherokee Nation citizen Harry Oosahwee.

“I’ve been carving stone and wood for years, and I’ve been painting for years” he said. “And so I decided I wanted to do something different. And when (Cherokee National Treasure) Bill Glass’s class came along, I decided to take it. I’ve really enjoyed working with ceramics, and think it might be a new medium I’ll start really working on.”

Oosahwee wasn’t the only adult Cherokee looking for a new artistic avenue. CN artist Tana Washington and Oosahwee’s daughter, Sedelta, along with several other CN citizens, signed up for the mentorship program. That is fine with CNT Committee Chairwoman Jane Osti, who said the mentorship program is crucial for developing future artists.

“Every treasure…has from two to 10 students.” Osti said. “The mentors who are teaching are experts in their field. In many cases, some of them have taught for 40 and 50 years, and they have knowledge that we’re going to lose if we don’t teach someone. This program is teaching a lot of people and they’re doing very well. In some instances, we have students who could actually go out and teach. And whether they teach the next generation or a daughter or grandchild, it’s going to produce more people practicing our cultural arts.”
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen and inaugural Cherokee National Treasures Children’s Art Show participant Alexis Rietman displays her award-winning basketry under the mentorship of Cherokee National Treasure Mike Dart on July 7 in the Tsa-La-Gi Community Ballroom in Tahlequah. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen and inaugural Cherokee National Treasures Children’s Art Show participant Alexis Rietman displays her award-winning basketry under the mentorship of Cherokee National Treasure Mike Dart on July 7 in the Tsa-La-Gi Community Ballroom in Tahlequah. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Article/index/42330

Dartmouth student interning in tribe’s garden

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
07/18/2018 03:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Taylor Armbrister, a Cherokee Nation citizen and summer intern for the CN Environmental Resources Department, enjoys nature and plants so much that he earned a scholarship to Dartmouth, an Ivy League school.

How he arrived in Tahlequah, via his hometown of Kansas, Oklahoma, by way of Hanover, New Hampshire, is nearly as impressive as the higher education institute he attends.

“How I got here was by hearing from other Cherokees. I’m interested in environmental studies and Native American studies, and I needed something to do this summer. So I checked out Cherokee Nation’s Environmental Resources Department and spoke with Secretary Sara Hill,” Armbrister said. “She then got me in touch with Senior Director Pat Gwin and cultural biologist Feather Smith Trevino. They told me what I’d be doing, and it sounded interesting. I mean this would be a good first step learning what Cherokee Nation is doing when it comes to the environmental aspect of it.”

He said the then drafted a proposal to the Dartmouth Native American Studies Department because it funds unpaid internships, which includes paying for housing, travel and food.

“Anyway, they decided to fund it, so now I’m out here working with Feather until the end of August,” Armbrister said.
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Nineteen-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen and Dartmouth College student Taylor Armbrister works in the CN Seed Bank garden on July 2 as an Environmental Resources summer intern. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Taylor Armbrister
Nineteen-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen and Dartmouth College student Taylor Armbrister works in the CN Seed Bank garden on July 2 as an Environmental Resources summer intern. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

CN leaders tour new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah site

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
07/17/2018 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation citizen and a foreman for the Manhattan Construction Group, Kenny Foreman, led a group of CN leaders on a tour of the new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah construction job site on July 12 inside the Cherokee Springs Plaza.

“The projects on track right now,” Foreman said. “We’re looking to be finished up and opened up in the spring of 2019. We’re at about 92,000 square feet and got a 1,000-seat convention center, which will be good for all of Tahlequah, not just the Cherokee Nation.”

He said 70 percent of the construction money is going to Tribal Employment Rights Office vendors, who are certified to be Native American-owned and approved by the Tribal Council to do business with the tribe.

Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., who was part of the tour group, along with Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin and Tribal Councilor Rex Jordan, said he was pleased at the progress and happy about the number of Cherokees working at the job site.

In a June report, there were 57 percent TERO-certified personnel working at the job site.
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Cherokee Nation officials on July 12 take a tour of the new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah site The building is expected to have 525 games, a restaurant, a grab-and-go café, a live entertainment venue and a full service bar. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation officials on July 12 take a tour of the new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah site The building is expected to have 525 games, a restaurant, a grab-and-go café, a live entertainment venue and a full service bar. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
http://cherokeepublichealth.org/

Tahlequah LBGTQ community holds annual pride event

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
07/09/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Local and regional members of the LBGTQ community on June 30 held the fifth annual TahlEquality Pride march and picnic. The march began at Choctaw Street and ended at Norris Park downtown.

Cherokee Nation citizen and Oklahomans for Equality: Tahlequah Chapter President Carden Crow said he was pleased with the turnout.

“We started in 2014. Now it’s 2018 and we’re going strong,” Crow said. “This is a chance for our LBGTQ community and our allies to come out and show our sense of camaraderie and community. This is an opportunity for our culture to celebrate themselves, celebrate their survival, celebrate who they are in this community.”

This year’s event consisted of the march, a daytime family drag show where performers dressed like Disney characters, vendors, speakers, a picnic and an adult drag show held later in the evening.
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Eastern Band citizen completes running Trail of Tears Benge Route

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
07/06/2018 12:00 PM
PARK HILL – After running 777 miles of the Trail of Tears’ Benge Route, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen Kallup McCoy II completed his run on June 28 at the Cherokee Heritage Center.

On his last day, McCoy made the final stretch from Stilwell to Park Hill with his girlfriend and EBCI citizen, Katelynn Ledford, and a group of Oklahoma Cherokees.

The runners were greeted at the CHC by Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band citizens, as well as CN Principal Chief Bill John Baker, CN Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and UKB Chief Joe Bunch.

McCoy ran into the CHC wearing a cape made of CN and UKB tribal flags tied together.

He said the run was not for him but for all Cherokees and to honor his ancestors who made the original journey due to the forced removals in the 1830s.
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen Kallup McCoy II on June 28 puts on a cape made of Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band tribal flags before the final turn into the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill. McCoy ran 777 miles of the Trail of Tears’ Benge Route from North Carolina to Oklahoma. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen Kallup McCoy II, far right, makes a turn on June 28 at Park Hill Road in Tahlequah as he nears the end of his 777-mile Trail of Tears run. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen Kallup McCoy II on June 28 puts on a cape made of Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band tribal flags before the final turn into the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill. McCoy ran 777 miles of the Trail of Tears’ Benge Route from North Carolina to Oklahoma. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
https://www.facebook.com/CASA-of-Cherokee-Country-184365501631027/

Cherokee veteran Houseberg receives Medal of Patriotism award

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
06/28/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation officials honored CN citizen Sammy Houseberg on June 21 with the Medal of Patriotism award for his service in the military.

The Medal of Patriotism Awards is given at monthly Tribal Council meetings. Tribal Councilors can nominate a person to receive the award.

Houseberg is also a “Remember the Removal” alumni rider who rode in 2016 as a CN Elder Ambassador. He was in town to watch this year’s riders come in the same day he received the patriotism award. Originally from Stilwell, Houseberg has resided in Pearl City, Hawaii, since he was honorably discharged from the Army.

During his 22 years of service, he rose in rank from private to first sergeant, armor senior sergeant, platoon sergeant to senior scout/section leader.

He also attended Air Assault reconnaissance and surveillance training with his cavalry squadron where he became capable of short notice deployments in support of combat operations all over the world to provide reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence assets to commanders.
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Sammy Houseberg received a Medal of Patriotism from CN officials for his service in the military on June 21 at the W.W. Keeler Complex. Family and friends joined him as he received the award. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, right, pins the Medal of Patriotism award on CN citizen Sammy Houseberg at a small ceremony on June 21 at the W.W. Keeler Complex. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Sammy Houseberg received a Medal of Patriotism from CN officials for his service in the military on June 21 at the W.W. Keeler Complex. Family and friends joined him as he received the award. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

‘Remember the Removal’ cyclists return home on June 21

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
06/25/2018 10:35 AM
TAHLEQUAH – After three weeks of riding through seven states, the “Remember the Removal” cyclists on June 21 rode into downtown through a sea of family and friends waiting to greet them.

They stopped at the new Cherokee National Peace Pavilion where leaders from the Cherokee Nation and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians honored them with a ceremony.

Before riding from Stilwell on the ride’s last day, Cherokee Nation Businesses Executive Vice President Chuck Garrett discussed what he learned about the ride and its participants. He rode the first week through Georgia and part of Tennessee with the cyclists. He said his pre-ride perception was that the annual event was primarily a bike ride rather than being about history and a shared experience.

“Working as a team together and visiting the historical sites that we visited, it became clear to me that this is a lot less about the bike, and it’s a lot more about our people and our history and a shared experience,” he said.

Garrett said he had not spent much time with young people like he did while riding the Trial of Tears’ Northern Route, but that it was “a good experience” to understand them better.
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“Remember the Removal” cyclists pedal down a hill on June 21 near Stilwell as they make their way to Tahlequah to finish their three-week ride retracing the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen Bo Taylor waves at friends on June 21 as the “Remember the Removal” cyclists ride into downtown Tahlequah. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen Bo Taylor hugs his daughters on June 21 after reaching downtown Tahlequah with the other “Remember the Removal” cyclists. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen Ahli-sha Stephens waves to her family on June 21 as she enters downtown Tahlequah with the “Remember the Removal” cyclists as they complete their three-week journey. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
“Remember the Removal” cyclists pedal down a hill on June 21 near Stilwell as they make their way to Tahlequah to finish their three-week ride retracing the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

4-year-old Keys jumps into motocross

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
06/12/2018 08:30 AM
PARK HILL – Cherokee Nation citizen Cooper Keys is a 4-year-old with a passion for motocross. Born in 2013, Cooper began riding his 2004 Yamaha PW50 in February after finding tri-cycling slow and monotonous.

With half a dozen races under his belt on the peewee dirt track at Jandebeur’s Motor Sports Park in Okmulgee, he’s notched five third-place finishes and one second-place finish.

Cooper competes in the 50cc shaft drive/air cooled and 50cc beginner divisions and is the only 4-year-old racing against 5-to 7-year-olds.

“We got him a starter balance bike when he was about a year and a half old,” CN citizen and Cooper’s mother Emily Keys said. “Balance bikes don’t have pedals or training wheels, so he just kind of pushed himself around until he eventually got to where he could ride around without using his feet.”

Emily said Cooper soon began riding down hills, balancing perfectly on the bike that was designed for pushing around the yard.
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Cooper Keys is a 4-year-old who loves motocross racing. He competes in the 50cc shaft drive/air cooled and 50cc beginner divisions at Jandebeur’s Motor Sports Park in Okmulgee. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Cooper Keys is a 4-year-old who loves motocross racing. He competes in the 50cc shaft drive/air cooled and 50cc beginner divisions at Jandebeur’s Motor Sports Park in Okmulgee. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Native Explorers visit Cherokee Nation to spark science, medicine interests

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Former Reporter
06/06/2018 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Students with the Native Explorers program participated in various traditional activities while visiting Cherokee Nation landmarks on May 22-23 as part of the program’s mission to increase Native Americans in science and medicine.

“The older generations had a lot of knowledge in medicine and we think we can contribute as Native people to the current medical world,” Native Explorers Executive Director Jeff Hargrave said. “If we can get Native kids interested in medicine we can hopefully get them into medical school and they’ll be doctors and return home to Indian Country and service their fellow citizens.”

Founded in 2010 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Native Explorers is offered through the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa. It partners with educational institutions and entities, including the Cherokee Nation to encourage Native American youths to explore how their cultures can intersect with science and medicine.

Barbara Girty, Cherokee Heritage Center board and staff liaison, said she helped craft a “specialized itinerary” for the group during its stay.

“They actually slept in the houses in Diligwa Village on the ground, and it’s a one-of-a-kind experience,” she said. “They also took a tour of the different Cherokee Nation museums around town, the John Ross Museum, the Supreme Court building, the jail. They went over and toured the Native Gardens. They were immersed into the Cherokee culture, and we hope that this will help them in their future endeavors when they go on to become doctors hopefully in our (W.W.) Hastings Hospital (in Tahlequah) taking care of our own Cherokee people.”
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Feather Smith-Trevino, a Cherokee Nation cultural biologist, center, speaks with students in the Native Explorers program at the Heirloom Garden and Native Plant Site on May 23 in Tahlequah about how the CN uses traditional plants for food and medicine. The Native Explorers program tries to increase Native youth in science and medical fields by offering experiences to meet with various educational and tribal entities in Oklahoma. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Two students with the Native Explorers program listen to Cherokee Nation cultural biologist Feather Smith-Trevino as she details the plants grown in the Heirloom Garden and Native Plant Site in Tahlequah. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Heritage Center Curator Callie Chunestudy speaks with students in the Native Explorers program on May 22 at the CHC as part of their first day of activities in the Cherokee Nation. The program selected nine students from various tribal nations, including Cherokee, Comanche, Choctaw, Chickasaw Nation and Standing Rock Sioux, this year. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Feather Smith-Trevino, a Cherokee Nation cultural biologist, center, speaks with students in the Native Explorers program at the Heirloom Garden and Native Plant Site on May 23 in Tahlequah about how the CN uses traditional plants for food and medicine. The Native Explorers program tries to increase Native youth in science and medical fields by offering experiences to meet with various educational and tribal entities in Oklahoma. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Culture

Cherokee National Treasures host art show
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
07/19/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee National Treasures hosted their first Children’s and Student Art Show on July 7 in the Tsa-La-Gi Community Ballroom featuring artwork made by youth and adult students who were mentored and trained by Cherokee National Treasures.

Some student artists who presented are already accomplished artists but wanted to learn another artistic medium. Such was the case with Cherokee Nation citizen Harry Oosahwee.

“I’ve been carving stone and wood for years, and I’ve been painting for years” he said. “And so I decided I wanted to do something different. And when (Cherokee National Treasure) Bill Glass’s class came along, I decided to take it. I’ve really enjoyed working with ceramics, and think it might be a new medium I’ll start really working on.”

Oosahwee wasn’t the only adult Cherokee looking for a new artistic avenue. CN artist Tana Washington and Oosahwee’s daughter, Sedelta, along with several other CN citizens, signed up for the mentorship program. That is fine with CNT Committee Chairwoman Jane Osti, who said the mentorship program is crucial for developing future artists.

“Every treasure…has from two to 10 students.” Osti said. “The mentors who are teaching are experts in their field. In many cases, some of them have taught for 40 and 50 years, and they have knowledge that we’re going to lose if we don’t teach someone. This program is teaching a lot of people and they’re doing very well. In some instances, we have students who could actually go out and teach. And whether they teach the next generation or a daughter or grandchild, it’s going to produce more people practicing our cultural arts.”

Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said he was pleased with how the mentoring program is reaching communities. He said it’s another example of how the CNTs are helping save traditional Cherokee arts.

“Primarily their jobs have been to nominate or recommend new National Treasures, but they’ve been doing a lot of other things in the last few years. This student art competition is just a great example of how they’re getting artwork into the communities and inspiring new artists to get involved,” Hoskin said.

For more information on the CNT mentorship program, call 918-453-5728.

Education

Dartmouth student interning in tribe’s garden
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
07/18/2018 03:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Taylor Armbrister, a Cherokee Nation citizen and summer intern for the CN Environmental Resources Department, enjoys nature and plants so much that he earned a scholarship to Dartmouth, an Ivy League school.

How he arrived in Tahlequah, via his hometown of Kansas, Oklahoma, by way of Hanover, New Hampshire, is nearly as impressive as the higher education institute he attends.

“How I got here was by hearing from other Cherokees. I’m interested in environmental studies and Native American studies, and I needed something to do this summer. So I checked out Cherokee Nation’s Environmental Resources Department and spoke with Secretary Sara Hill,” Armbrister said. “She then got me in touch with Senior Director Pat Gwin and cultural biologist Feather Smith Trevino. They told me what I’d be doing, and it sounded interesting. I mean this would be a good first step learning what Cherokee Nation is doing when it comes to the environmental aspect of it.”

He said the then drafted a proposal to the Dartmouth Native American Studies Department because it funds unpaid internships, which includes paying for housing, travel and food.

“Anyway, they decided to fund it, so now I’m out here working with Feather until the end of August,” Armbrister said.

And Smith Trevino said she’s happy to have the extra help. “This is actually the first time since I’ve been working in the garden that we’ve had an intern. It’s really helped me out because things that can take me all day long to get done. Taylor and I can knock out in about half a day.”

Armbrister’s duties include weed eating and watering, but he also helped mulch the garden and is helping redesign a rock garden.

“You never know how people are going to handle Oklahoma heat. It’s really starting to get hot now, but so far Taylor’s done really well. And I appreciate the extra pair of hands,” Trevino Smith said.

Regarding his future and the college he attends, Armbrister said he’s taking things slowly.

“So my plan is to have a double major and possibly go to law school afterwards, and maybe go into environmental law. I received a generous merit scholarship, so luckily I won’t be owing anything afterwards, which is why I’m considering law school. I’ve got time,” he said.

According to its website, when Dartmouth was founded on Dec. 13, 1769, its charter created a college “for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land and also of English Youth and any others.” But this central tenet of the college’s charter went largely unfilled for 200 years as Dartmouth counted only 20 Native American students among its graduates prior to 1970.

When Dartmouth’s 13th president took office in 1970, he rededicated the institution to education Natives. Following recruitment, Dartmouth welcomed 15 Native American students that fall. Also, a group of students voiced the need for an academic program dedicated to the study of Native American literature, culture and history. So a committee was formed to look into the creation of a Native American Studies program. The department recently celebrated its 4oth anniversary.

The college’s refocused effort to educate Native Americans has given Taylor and other tribal citizens great opportunities.

“Dartmouth now houses more Native Americans than any other Ivy (League school). The opportunities are endless,” he said.

Council

Tribal Council approves $31M Indian Housing Plan
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
07/12/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – At the July 9 Tribal Council meeting, legislators unanimously authorized the submission of the fiscal year 2019 Indian Housing Plan, estimated at more than $31 million, to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The FY2019 funds will be used for housing assistance such as $5.6 million for housing rehabilitation, nearly $4.5 million for the Rental Assistance Program and $3.4 million for the Mortgage Assistance Program.

Legislators also unanimously adopted revisions to the FY2018 IHP because the Cherokee Nation’s $31.8 million Indian Housing Block Grant allocation was higher than estimates provided. The CN’s submitted FY2018 IHP, as required by the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act, had an original estimate of nearly $29 million.

“The actual appropriations are based on what Congress approves in the federal budget. For this year it was $655 million for NAHASDA and our part was the $31,856,007,” Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation Executive Director Gary Cooper said. “The current two appropriations being considered, one in the House, the other in the Senate, both include amounts equal to 2018. Assuming that Congress does pass a budget or omnibus or other type of appropriations bill for next year at the same (amount), we should receive more than the estimate.”

Legislators also unanimously authorized the submission of a tribal soil climate analysis network, also known as TSCAN or a weather station. The weather station will be placed on tribal property near the buffalo ranch in Delaware County.

The resolution said the CN recognizes the importance of addressing food, agriculture and natural resource needs within the CN boundaries through the utilization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Services, Department of Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“This is an NCRS project. It will give us more soil climate data, soil moisture information. It will be really helpful for researches and people who are really involved in agriculture. So it will be a good thing,” CN Natural Resources Sara Hill said in a June 11 Resource Committee meeting.

In other business, legislators:

• Authorized a grant application for an economic development feasibility study for FY2019 on creating a blackberry processing and marketing program utilizing organic blackberry growers who are CN citizens,

• Amending the comprehensive FY2018 capital budget with an increase of $8 million for a total budget authority of $260.2 million, and

• Amended the comprehensive FY2018 operating budget with an increase of $29.7 million for a total budget authority of $724.7 million. The changes reflecting the increase include increases in the General Fund budget of $312,725; the DOI-Self Governance budget of $388,958; the Indian Health Service Self-Governance Health budget of $24.6 million; and the IHS-Self Governance TEH budget of $4.5 million.

Health

Oklahoma Medicaid approved for drug pricing experiment
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
07/19/2018 04:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved Oklahoma’s Medicaid program for a first-in-the-nation drug pricing experiment that supporters say could save taxpayer dollars and provide patients with the most effective medications for their ailments.

Under the “value-based purchasing” program approved in late June, the state and a pharmaceutical company would agree to a set payment if its medication works as advertised, but only a fraction of that if the drug is not as effective as promised.

“When a company signs an agreement, we hope that they’re going to agree to only have us pay for the therapy that works .... and if it doesn’t work we should get a rebate on it,” said Nancy Nesser, pharmacy director for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which administers the Medicaid program in the state.

“One thing we’ve learned is that some companies don’t really stand behind their drugs, and it’s kind of scary,” Nesser said. “We’re paying a premium for them and they’re not willing to say that they will work.”

The companies are not required to take part, but Nesser said several, which she declined to identify, have shown interest and discussions are underway with three. She said she hopes the program can begin by Aug. 1.

“This is a good thing,” said Matt Salo, executive director of the nonpartisan National Medicaid Directors Association, which represents state programs. “It paves the way for states and other payers to start really thinking about how to do value-based purchasing for prescription drugs.”

The federal waiver would allow Oklahoma to get around a potential obstacle to value-based contracts.

A possible pitfall is Medicaid’s “best price” requirement, which says if any purchaser gets a really good deal on a drug, then Medicaid has to get that lower price too.

Some interpret that to apply to value-based deals as well, Salo said. That means that if a drug didn’t work too well, and a state paid only 10 percent of the original price, then every other Medicaid program could get the drug for that rock-bottom price, too.

“This seems to allow for paying less for a failed treatment without triggering the ‘best price’ requirement,” Salo said.

Oklahoma spent about $650 million on prescription drugs in the fiscal year that ended June 30, Nesser said, and the change could save “a couple of million, maybe.”

Medicaid patients, primarily children who do not pay for prescriptions and the elderly, whose costs are fixed, would see no pocketbook impact, according to Oklahoma Health Care Authority spokeswoman Jo Stainsby.

“The change we’re looking for is improved health outcomes,” Stainsby said.

Oklahoma is “taking the lead” in working to bring down the cost of medications, the AARP director for the state, Sean Voskuhl, said.

“It is a great example of how states can implement change in the absence of reform at the federal level,” Voskuhl said.

Opinion

OPINION: Expanded laws allow CN to better enforce VAWA
BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
07/05/2018 12:00 PM
The Cherokee Nation remains committed to protecting our women and children from violence. As principal chief, I reinforced that dedication by creating the ONE FIRE program for survivors of domestic violence, and recently, the Tribal Council passed laws that strengthen our ability to protect Native women and children within our own jurisdiction.

The amended titles 21 and 22 of the Cherokee Code Annotated allow the tribe to better enforce the Violence Against Women Act tribal-jurisdiction provisions aimed at preventing domestic abuse and violence against women and children on tribal reservations.

These amendments authorize the CN to prosecute non-Indians for domestic violence, dating violence or violations of protective orders within our jurisdiction. The CN has the authority to hold offenders accountable for their crimes against women and children regardless of the perpetrator’s race. This law will apply to a spouse or partner of a CN citizen or other tribal citizen with ties to our jurisdiction.

Additionally, the Tribal Council also modified Title 12 of the Cherokee Code Annotated, which gives the CN’s District Court the expanded ability to issue and enforce protective orders for acts of domestic violence occurring within the CN. The amendments enable CN courts and CN marshals to combat domestic abuse more effectively.

Native American women suffer from violent crime at some of the highest rates in the United States. With non-Indians constituting a significant percent of the overall population living on tribal lands, it is imperative that we take this action to close the jurisdictional gap in the CN. This will have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of women and children within the CN’s 14 counties.

I want to commend the CN attorney general’s office for working on this new law for more than two years, and the Tribal Council for taking this major step in flexing the CN’s sovereign muscle to bring justice to Native American victims.

We will continue to offer programs and services that curb the rate of domestic abuse. Our people deserve to live healthy and secure lives within the CN. We have always looked at how our decisions will impact the next seven generations, and providing a safe future for our children and grandchildren is an important part of securing that future.

People

Tehee named Muskogee police chief
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/17/2018 04:15 PM
MUSKOGEE – As of July 14, Cherokee Nation citizen Johnny Tehee, of Vian, was expected to take over as the new chief for the Muskogee Police Department.

Tehee has been with the MPD for more than 30 years. For the past 15 years he’s been the deputy chief to Chief Rex Eskridge, who was to retire on July 13. For about 10 years on the force, he’s specialized in investigating child abuse. Before the promotion, Tehee served as the deputy chief of the Investigation Division.

Tehee said he believes the most important thing to concentrate on is community relations. He wants the community more involved on what the police are doing, and the police more involved on what the community is doing.

“Back about 20 years I ran the Muskogee Police Athletic League, which means all the police officers would coach young kids’ football, baseball and basketball,” Tehee said. “We quit doing that about five or six ago, and I definitely want to get that back in place. I just think it’s a big asset for the community if you have officers involved in young kids’ lives.”

In the 1990s, Tehee said Muskogee had a problem with drugs and gangs with the murder rate high going into the 2000s. Since that time, he said the MPD has put more officers on the street and crime rates have gone down.

“We went from having double digits homicides to one or two a year. For the most part it’s a matter of keeping things going in the right direction,” Tehee said.

He added that he’s “excited and looking forward to the challenges” of being the police chief.

“I want to continue to move the Muskogee Police Department forward and carry on the legacy that was created by Chief Eskridge to remain one of the top law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma,” he said.

Tehee graduated Vian High School in 1982 before studying criminal justice at Northeastern State University. He also graduated from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He said he’s been a member of First Baptist Church of Muskogee for more than 30 years and has spent years travelling the world on mission trips. He also said he’s been a long-time teacher in the church’s youth department.

“Deputy Chief Tehee has the experience, the community relationships and leadership skills needed to be an outstanding chief of police,” Muskogee City Manager Mike Collier said. “He has big shoes to fill, but I know he’s more than capable and will do great things in our community.”
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