CHEROKEE EATS: The Kickin’ Taco Truck serves Mexican cuisine

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
06/19/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – From fish salad to loaded tacos, customers can rest assured their food will be fresh when they place their orders with The Kickin’ Taco Truck.

“We’re trying to cater a little more to the people that may have diabetic problems, weight, just watching what they eat, with fresh food,” Paula Thompson, co-owner and Cherokee Nation citizen, said. “I think that fresh food is just something that most people are starting to look for in and on a menu, and it just tastes better.”

Co-owner and cook Denisse Ramos and her assistant shop each day, sometimes multiple times a day depending on demand, for supplies and ingredients.

“Everything you get for the day, we buy it that day,” Ramos said. “We order meat the day before, and they have it all cut fresh for us. There’s no leftovers from the day before.”

Thompson and Ramos began the business in 2014. Thompson said she focuses on the business side after growing up watching her mother own a restaurant, while Ramos focuses on cooking.
Denisse Ramos, left, and Cherokee Nation citizen Paula Thompson, right, are the co-owners of The Kickin’ Taco Truck. The two began the business in 2014 and serve various Mexican specialty cuisines, including quesadillas, burritos and tortas. ARCHIVE The Kickin’ Taco Truck has this menu item for customers –a steak-filled quesadillas with avocado, pico de gallo and melted cheese topped with sour cream in a flour or corn tortilla. Denisse Ramos is the head cook and buys the ingredients each morning, while Cherokee Nation citizen Paula Thompson manages the business and catering. ARCHIVE The Kickin’ Taco Truck takes Mexican cuisine on the road to Muskogee, Stilwell and Tahlequah each week. When not operating within the Cherokee Nation jurisdiction, co-owners Denisse Ramos and Paula Thompson travel the world getting food ideas and inspiration for their menu. ARCHIVE
Denisse Ramos, left, and Cherokee Nation citizen Paula Thompson, right, are the co-owners of The Kickin’ Taco Truck. The two began the business in 2014 and serve various Mexican specialty cuisines, including quesadillas, burritos and tortas. ARCHIVE
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Cherokee-owned Spears Travel providing travel services since 1958

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
06/18/2018 08:45 AM
TULSA – Since 1958, the Cherokee-owned Spears Travel has provided travel services to the people of Tulsa, Bartlesville and surrounding communities.

Spears Travel CEO and Cherokee Nation citizen Greg Spears said he started in the business when his parents opened their first agency in Bartlesville. Now he and his brother run the business, which consists of the Bartlesville office and a Tulsa location.

“I grew up basically filing brochures and delivering tickets, which is what we did back in those days. Just kind of got in the business that way,” Spears said.

After graduating from the University of Tulsa, Spears said he continued to work and now heads the Tulsa office.

“People are very happy and in a good mood when they’re getting to travel. So we kind of help them navigate through all that and have a great experience,” he said.
Spears Travel CEO and Cherokee Nation citizen Greg Spears selects a brochure to better help clients with their travel needs on June 5 in Tulsa. The Tulsa branch is at 8180 S. Memorial Drive while the Bartlesville office is 500 S. Keeler Ave. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX A Spears Travel agents, left, on June 5 confers with a client about travel plans at Spears Travel in Tulsa. Spears Travel is a Cherokee-owned business that has been in operation since 1958. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Spears Travel CEO and Cherokee Nation citizen Greg Spears, left, confers with one of his travel agents about a client’s travel arrangements on June 5 at Spears Travel in Tulsa. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Spears Travel CEO and Cherokee Nation citizen Greg Spears selects a brochure to better help clients with their travel needs on June 5 in Tulsa. The Tulsa branch is at 8180 S. Memorial Drive while the Bartlesville office is 500 S. Keeler Ave. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Cherokee casinos offer their own special amenities

BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
06/05/2018 04:00 PM
CATOOSA – From electronic games and card tables to live entertainment and dining, Cherokee Nation Entertainment offers 10 casinos in northeast Oklahoma that offer their own special mixture of fun.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa

From its modern hotel to the gaming floor, this 1.3 million-square-foot resort offers guests rock star treatment. Guests can play more than 2,300 electronic games, 34 table games and 14 poker tables while being surrounded by some of the world’s greatest rock memorabilia. The facility also has it 51-TV sports bar, Cherokee Hills Golf Course, as well as the musical venues Riffs, Center Bar and The Joint – a 2,500-seat theater. Guests can choose from eight dinning options from dine-in establishments such as Tobey Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill and McGill’s on 19 to grab-and-go options such as Slice and Flip Side. The hotel, rated No.2 on the 2018 Best Tulsa Hotels list, features 454 rooms and suites with modern amenities. In addition, the resort features a luxury spa, two swimming pools and more than 75,000 square feet of convention space and meeting rooms. It’s located at 777 W. Cherokee St. in Catoosa.

Cherokee Casino Ramona

Cherokee Casino Ramona offers guests nearly 500 electronic gaming machines to play, and its Ramona Grill serves foods from specialty burgers to homemade Indian tacos. For guests on the go, The Ramona Grill also offers a “grab n’ go” option that includes fruit cups, salads and sandwiches. For a cocktail or brew, The Watering Hole features a drink menu and offers live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. The 31,974-square-foot property is at 31501 U.S. Highway 75.
Cherokee Casino Ramona offers guests nearly 500 electronic gaming machines to play, and its Ramona Grill serves foods from specialty burgers to homemade Indian tacos. It’s at 31501 U.S. Highway 75. COURTESY Cherokee Casino South Coffeyville, located at 1506 N. Highway 169, has The Bar and Grill, which is open daily and includes a large cocktail and beer menu as well as appetizers, soups and salads, entrees, sandwiches, burgers and desserts. COURTESY The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa offers many amenities, including a luxury spa. It’s located at 777 W. Cherokee St. in Catoosa. COURTESY Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs’ 55,245-square-foot complex is one of two racinos in Oklahoma and offers gaming, live music, dining and more. It’s located at 20900 S. 4200 Road in Claremore. COURTESY Cherokee Casino West Siloam Springs has a hotel, live entertainment, fine and casual dinning and full-service bars. Inside the more-than-369,000-square-foot facility, there are 1,475 electronic games, 18 table games and an eight-table poker room. It’s at 2416 Highway 412. COURTESY Cherokee Casino Fort Gibson features more than 29,000 square feet of gaming, dining and entertainment space. The Three Rivers Tavern is a full-menu restaurant offering live entertainment every Friday and Saturday night from the over-the-bar stage. The casino is at 107 N. Georgetown Road. COURTESY The Cherokee Casino Tahlequah features more than 400 electronic games, and its River City Café is open seven days a week and features a menu from appetizers to homemade desserts as well as homemade fry bread and golden-brown fried catfish and hushpuppies. It’s at 16489 Highway 62. COURTESY Within minutes from Fort Smith, Arkansas, the Cherokee Casino & Hotel Roland sits along Highway 64. Choose from 120 non-smoking hotel rooms, including 12 suites, and enjoy a dip in the specially designed pool and hot tub. The 323,210-square-foot facility is at 205 Cherokee Blvd. COURTESY
Cherokee Casino Ramona offers guests nearly 500 electronic gaming machines to play, and its Ramona Grill serves foods from specialty burgers to homemade Indian tacos. It’s at 31501 U.S. Highway 75. COURTESY

Native Uniques boutique continues successful run

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
06/05/2018 12:00 PM
BARTLESVILLE – After nearly two years of business, Native Uniques owner Samantha Barnes is working on more outreach in her community for women interested in making beadwork items.

Native Uniques is a women’s clothing store that has handmade Native American-style jewelry including bracelets, necklaces and earrings.

“We are a boutique that features our beadwork. The beadwork comes from our Native American heritage (Cherokee/Delaware). A lot of our designs comes from our heritage,” Barnes said. “And our clothing, it goes well with our jewelry. They complement each other.”

Barnes, who operates her store with the help of Kelly McCracken and Naomi Park, is an artist who enjoys beading and sharing her beading knowledge.

“One thing we are doing right now is we are starting to reach out to women to help them to learn how to bead. For me, it was extra income, beading. I had to teach myself everything, so, it’s nice for me to be able to show them the shortcuts, and I can tell them where to find supplies. I teach individual classes, too,” Barnes said. “We are reaching people who don’t have the means, so we can help supply them. Hopefully it takes off.”
Native Uniques owner Samantha Barnes, left, assists a customer with clothing in the boutique located in Bartlesville. The women’s clothing store also has unique handmade Native American-style jewelry, including bracelets, necklaces and earrings. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Native Uniques owner Samantha Barnes works on a beaded bracelet using a peyote stitch pattern in her boutique in Bartlesville. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Native Uniques owner Samantha Barnes carefully stitches a bead onto a cuff. The boutique is located in Bartlesville and offers women’s clothing and jewelry. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX A beaded cuff made Native Uniques owner Samantha Barnes incorporates a peyote stitch pattern. COURTESY The team of Kelly McCracken, left, Naomi Park, center, and owner Samantha Barnes, is available to assist customers at Native Uniques, a women’s clothing and jewelry store in Bartlesville. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Native Uniques owner Samantha Barnes, left, assists a customer with clothing in the boutique located in Bartlesville. The women’s clothing store also has unique handmade Native American-style jewelry, including bracelets, necklaces and earrings. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo shows growth in past 7 years

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
06/05/2018 08:30 AM
PARADISE HILL – For the past seven years, the Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo in Sequoyah County has pro- vided a way for visitors to learn about different types
of animals through hands-on experi- ences on a nearly 4-acre ground.

From farm animals such as goats, pigs, chickens and ducks to exotic species such as salamanders, geckos, iguanas and chinchillas, the petting zoo provides an array of animals to see. Cherokee Nation citizen and owner Jillian Gates said the zoo, located 25 miles south of Tahlequah, carries up to 50 different animal species.

It got its start in 2011 when she and her husband bought a travel- ing petting zoo and put it on their land, which provides an ideal mix of space, trees and shade for the animals.

When visitors come to the zoo, they pay an entrance fee and are pro- vided a cup of feed for the animals.

Cherokee Nation citizen and Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo owner Jillian Gates interacts with a young visitor to the zoo on April 12 near Paradise Hill in Sequoyah County. The petting zoo offers farm and exotic animals in exhibits for a hands-on experience. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Two donkeys are a part of the farm animal exhibit where visitors can roam the nearly 4-acre grounds and view exhibits offered at Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo in Paradise Hill in Sequoyah County. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo’s Nature Center contains turtles, a salamander, geckos, hermit crabs, an iguana, a ball python, a tarantula, Madagascar cockroaches and a tortoise. The zoo is located in Paradise Hill in Sequoyah County. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Jill Gates – who owns the Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo in Paradise Hill – helps children from Grand View School with animals during a field trip in 2015. ARCHIVE Summer Cochran, a Grand View School student, holds a hedgehog at Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo in Paradise Hill during a school field trip in 2015. ARCHIVE Cherokee Nation citizens and siblings Swimmer and Sadie Snell feed an eager llama on April 28 at the Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo. The zoo features domestic and exotic animals. TRAVIS SNELL/ CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen and Peek-A-Boo Petting Zoo owner Jillian Gates interacts with a young visitor to the zoo on April 12 near Paradise Hill in Sequoyah County. The petting zoo offers farm and exotic animals in exhibits for a hands-on experience. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
http://cherokeepublichealth.org/

CHEROKEE EATS: Harmony House offers meals in 100-year-old tearoom

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
06/04/2018 04:00 PM
MUSKOGEE – When Cherokee Nation citizen Mandy Scott took ownership of the Harmony House tearoom in 2017, she kept things business as usual.

“I have the same wait staff. Some have been here five, six, seven years. The kitchen staff is exactly the same. Everybody has pretty much stayed on since I’ve taken over,” she said. “Everything has just been really smooth and a good transition from the previous (owner) to me, and it’s just been great.”

Scott said she always dreamed of owning a restaurant, and once Harmony House became available, she approached the previous owner without hesitation. “I’ve always kind of wanted my own restaurant, and this was a perfect opportunity for me, just for its history here. It’s a very prestigious landmark for the city of Muskogee. I’m a dreamer, and I believe if it’s something you want to do, you at least need to try it.”

Scott said the building is more than a century old and functioned as a home, bank and church before being converted into a tearoom lunch spot. “It’s a tearoom where ladies from all ages come in and have lunch with their best friend or mothers or daughters. It’s definitely a woman’s atmosphere, but we have a lot of men that come in here too because our food is just so good.”

Harmony House is known for menu items such as hot chicken salad and its namesake club sandwich, though Scott said the “top” item is the grilled chicken sandwich made with chicken, cheese and homemade honey mustard dressing on homemade pita bread.
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Mandy Scott owns the Harmony House, a tearoom lunch spot located in a century old building in Muskogee. It was first a home, then bank and church before being converted into an eatery. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Harmony House owner Mandy Scott grabs a cupcake out of the display. She said the business offers treats in its bakery such as cookies, cinnamon rolls, pies and bread pudding that are made from scratch daily. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Harmony House offers daily specials and desserts, but is well known for its grilled chicken sandwich. It’s made with homemade pita bread, grilled chicken and cheese before being topped with Harmony House’s homemade honey mustard dressing. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Muskogee resident Kristie Testerman eats lunch recently at the Harmony House. She said she and a friend have gone to Harmony House every Tuesday for the past 12 years. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Mandy Scott owns the Harmony House, a tearoom lunch spot located in a century old building in Muskogee. It was first a home, then bank and church before being converted into an eatery. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Pine Lodge Resort invites guests to enjoy Grand Lake

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
06/04/2018 12:00 PM
AFTON – Just a short walk away from the Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees sits Pine Lodge Resort, a cozy getaway spot with hot tubs, wood-burning fireplaces, charcoal grills and lakefront views.

“We thought we would build a couple of cute little cabins here because there’s a marina next door, and we thought, ‘it’s for people who can’t spend the night on their boat.’ Everybody wanted a place to stay,” owner June Box said. “We’re the only log cabins on Grand Lake. Other places say they’re cabins, but it’s not true log.”

The Cherokee Nation citizen and her husband, Art, began building the resort in 1997 and have expanded to 10 log cabins, 18 mobile homes and 27 recreational vehicle slips. The resort also features a clubhouse with a pool, laundry services, a kitchenette and table games.

It’s open year round and located minutes from hiking, a beach, the South Grand Lake Regional Airport and Arrowhead South Marina. The resort also has a membership with the marina that allows guests access to a limited number of boat slips and fine dining. It’s these amenities, and the resort’s location, that draw visitors from across Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Texas.

“We’re just about making special memories for people,” June said. “We’ve done so many honeymoons that they come back for anniversaries. It’s a nice getaway for a couple. We also do family reunions, and a lot of people that have companies or their branches, they bring them here for sales meetings or whatever they need.”
The Pine Lodge Resort in Afton is a short walk away from the Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees and features log-style cabins, mobile homes and recreational vehicle slips for rent. Cherokee Nation citizen June Box and her husband, Art, began building the resort in 1997. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The Pine Lodge Resort features amenities such as a clubhouse with a pool, laundry services, a kitchenette, table games and movies. It’s always open for guests to use. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Pine Lodge Resort owner June Box says the resort is the only establishment on the Grand Lake to feature true log cabins. Each cabin features a private wood deck with a patio set, charcoal grill and hot tub. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The Pine Lodge Resort in Afton features two lakefront cabins with boat slips on Grand Lake. Summer rates are $198 nightly, and a two-night minimum stay on weekends is required. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Each Pine Lodge Resort cabin is equipped with a queen or king bed, kitchenette, sleeper sofa, rock fireplace and private dining area. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Each log cabin at the Pine Lodge Resort is equipped with cable, a kitchenette with dishes and utensils, as well as a rock fireplace and full bathroom. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The Pine Lodge Resort in Afton is a short walk away from the Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees and features log-style cabins, mobile homes and recreational vehicle slips for rent. Cherokee Nation citizen June Box and her husband, Art, began building the resort in 1997. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Newk’s Eatery to open Cherokee Springs Plaza location

BY STAFF REPORTS
06/03/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – According to a Cherokee Nation Communications press release, a Newk’s Eatery is expected to open its first Oklahoma location in November in the tribe’s Cherokee Springs Plaza.

The eatery is known for its culinary-driven menu, open kitchens and blue-ribbon ingredients, the release states.

“Newk’s brings a fresh take on fast casual dining that emphasizes authentic, flavorful ingredients and dishes prepared in-house the same way we’d make them at home,” Newk’s co-founder and CEO Chris Newcomb said. “We look forward to serving the Tahlequah community and introducing Newk’s to the state of Oklahoma.”

The restaurant will be locally owned by franchisees Jim Lynch and Jim White and operated by Brett Lynch, according to the release. The Tahlequah location joins three other Newk’s Eateries in northwest Arkansas – Fayetteville, Rogers and Siloam Springs (opening in June) – owned and operated by the Lynch/White franchise group, the release states.

The release states that Newk’s Eatery serves made-from-scratch sandwiches, salads, soups and handcrafted pizzas for lunch and dinner. “Every dish is prepared in Newk’s open-view kitchens with premium ingredients, such as petite tenderloin steak, Atlantic salmon, all-white meat chicken breast and sushi-grade ahi tuna, to give guests a flavor-rich dining experience,” it states.
Cherokee Nation officials say that Newk’s Eatery will open its first Oklahoma location in November at the Cherokee Springs Plaza in Tahlequah. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation officials say that Newk’s Eatery will open its first Oklahoma location in November at the Cherokee Springs Plaza in Tahlequah. COURTESY

Larry’s Bait and Tackle offers more than namesake suggests

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
05/31/2018 08:15 AM
FORT GIBSON – When customers stop at Larry’s Bait and Tackle on their way to the Grand-Neosho River or Fort Gibson Dam, they can walk away with fishing wisdom that goes beyond worms and bobbers.

“Ever since I was a kid I’ve enjoyed fishing, and I’ve developed different techniques and different ways of fishing that I can relay to my customers when they come in,” Larry Fulton, who has owned and operated the business for 22 years, said.

The Cherokee Nation citizen has compiled fishing knowledge extending back to the 1960s and is happy to share it with customers.

“I relay to customers how to fish during certain times of the year,” he said. “There’s different ways in the springtime and in the fall, and when they’re running water and when they’re not running water at the dam. I spent a lot of time learning and knowing about fish.”

Fish are more active depending on water temperature, he said. “Mother Nature, her way of letting the fish know about the different seasons is through water temperature. That’s what fish have to go by, is water temperature, for them to do their active things. Once that water temperature gets warmer and starts coming up, you’ll see more activity in the water.”
Cherokee Nation citizen Larry Fulton has owned and operated Larry’s Bait and Tackle in Fort Gibson for 22 years. He offers various bait and tackle options, including slip float bobbers used for catching sand bass and catfish. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Larry’s Bait and Tackle is located near the Grand-Neosho River and Fort Gibson Dam, giving customers a convenient location to stop in and gather fishing supplies before a day out on the water. Owner Larry Fulton has expanded the shop’s offerings since taking over the building in 1994. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Larry’s Bait and Tackle is located at 22544 Highway 80 in Fort Gibson, one mile south of Fort Gibson Dam Owner Larry Fulton says he has compiled a lifetime of fishing knowledge extending back to the 1960s and is happy to share advice with his customers. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Larry Fulton, who owns Larry’s Bait and Tackle in Fort Gibson, donated a custom 12-foot, two-piece fishing pole for the Cherokee Phoenix’s second quarter giveaway. Entries can be obtained by donating to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Subscription Fund or by purchasing a newspaper subscription or merchandise. One entry is given for every $10 spent. Drawing will be held July 2. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Larry Fulton has owned and operated Larry’s Bait and Tackle in Fort Gibson for 22 years. He offers various bait and tackle options, including slip float bobbers used for catching sand bass and catfish. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Culture

‘Remember the Removal’ cyclists find strength, develop leadership skills
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
06/20/2018 04:00 PM
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. – Autumn Lawless trained for the challenges she faced on June 15 as she fought the heat and hills of the Ozarks in south-central Missouri.

The 21-year-old from Porum, Oklahoma, said the training the 10 Cherokee Nation “Remember the Removal” cyclists endured from January to May prepared them for the rigors of riding for three weeks through seven states.

“Training was hard, but it was hard for a reason. We were all ready, and we’ve made it this far because of our training,” she said.

She said through the “RTR” program, which started in 1984 for youth leadership, she’s gained more courage and knows “she can do anything.”

“I saw a lot of our riders and how this ride changed them and how strong they were. They were more confident, they were better leaders, and I wanted to be a better leader. I know I can push myself...now. This ride has given me perseverance,” Lawless said. “The ride isn’t just what you see in videos. It’s not just people cheering you on and clapping for you. It’s the time you spend with your teammates on the road motivating each other to get up another hill or just checking on each other. It really is a family, and there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into this ride.”

Ahli-sha Stephens, 34, of Cherokee, North Carolina, said the main reason she wanted to ride was to experience some of the hardships her ancestors endured and “to be able to go where they had been and walk where they walked.”

“It’s something you can tell someone about and they won’t understand it unless they’ve been there and felt it for themselves,” she said.

Walking the now-preserved trails that Cherokee people walked 180 years ago was especially moving for her, she said. “It’s humbling knowing you walked where they walked, and you’re walking in their footsteps and are seeing things that they saw. It wasn’t easy, and I can’t imagine doing it the way they did it day after day.”

Stephens added that riding the trail with other Cherokees created a bond that gets stronger daily. “We rely on each other. We help each other, and we’re there for each other. I think if we didn’t have each other’s backs, it would make this journey a whole lot harder.”

Stephens said she’s also learned to be more patient and wants to use her abilities to help others and to “lead, listen and be a team player.”

“Overall, I think I will be more knowledgeable about who our people were, what they did and what they went through, what they faced. I think I will just be a better person all around,” she said.

Daulton Cochran, 21, of Bell, Oklahoma, said he wanted to ride to “connect” with his tribe better.
“I had a lot of friends who did the ride, and it seemed like it changed a lot of people afterwards, and I craved that, I guess,” he said.

Because of the constant strain of riding for two weeks, he said he couldn’t recall the exact spot that moved him the most, but it was a place in Tennessee where his Cherokee ancestors camped.

“I guess it was the idea of campsites really being gravesites. It really gets to you to see stuff like that,” he said.

He added that he’s appreciated taking on the riding challenge with his teammates. “The fellowship has been great. We all connect. We all hang out. It’s just a good thing. We’re a family now.”

Seth Ledford, 18, of Cherokee North Carolina, said he saw how the ride was a “life-changing” experience for others and wanted to experience it.

“It is a once-in-lifetime experience, and it will change you for the better. That’s what I heard about the ride,” he said. “So far the ride has been good. It has been tough at times, and emotional and physical. We’ve had a lot of tough times, but we make up and still like each other.”

He said he would take away leadership skills and bonds he’s developed with fellow riders. He also has learned to work within a team. “When I wrestle (in high school) I’m by myself in everything. This is really helping me with my teamwork.”

Education

Young named Tahlequah Public School District Teacher of the Year
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
06/20/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation citizen Crystal Young on May 4 was named the Tahlequah Public School District Teacher of the Year for the 2017-18 school year. She is a third grade teacher at Cherokee Elementary.

Young was first awarded Cherokee Elementary Teacher of the Year in April, which put her in the running for the district award.

“It’s just super humbling, I think, when you get something like that, that you know your peers chose you,” she said.

In the fall, Young will begin her seventh year at Cherokee Elementary and plans to teach fifth grade. Before joining Cherokee Elementary, she taught two years at the tribe’s Head Start. However, teaching wasn’t her first desire. She said she initially wanted to become a lawyer and work in juvenile justice.

“Growing up, we lived in poverty. My dad struggled with addiction and things like that. So some of these students that I see, I was right there. I know exactly what they’re going through, and I wanted to show kids that hard work will get you where you need to be, and perseverance and work ethic and all those attributes, honesty, integrity, those things matter,” she said.

While attending college, she realized she worked well with children and changed her career path from lawyer to educator.

Aside from teaching, Young is the Cherokee language bowl sponsor and Together Raising Awareness for Indian Life sponsor for Cherokee Elementary. She said she exposes her students to Cherokee culture and to diabetes awareness through the TRAIL’s 12-week curriculum.

“When they’re an adult, this is going to help them. I’m hoping that we’re setting a good foundation for them to be not only good readers, good writers, good mathematicians but just healthy, good individuals,” Young said.

She said there are struggles with being a teacher and that she was one of the many teachers who rallied at Oklahoma City in April for more education funding. She said she believes it’s important to show students that when faced with adversity sometimes not going with what has always been done is acceptable.

“It’s OK to be willing to stand up for what you feel like is right and standing together and being able to bond,” Young said.

She said the rewards and struggles of being a teacher go hand in hand when coming in every day and giving her best while at the same time knowing so many kids rely on her.

“I feel like everything I’ve done or wanted to do has been, at the root of it, has been I wanted to help people. I guess just to encourage people and motivate people to be the best they can be,” she said.

Winning the district award puts Young in the running for Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year, which will be announced in October at the Tulsa State Fair.

Council

Gaming compact amended to add ‘ball-and-dice’ gaming
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
06/13/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Tribal Councilors on June 11 unanimously passed a gaming compact supplement with Oklahoma to allow Cherokee Nation’s casinos to begin offering Las Vegas-style table games such as craps and roulette.

The resolution follows Gov. Mary Fallin signing House Bill 3375 into law on April 1o, making the state’s tribal casinos eligible to begin offering “ball-and-dice” games as soon as Aug. 2.

Tribal Councilor Mike Shambaugh said during a May 31 Rules Committee meeting that passing the resolution was important.

“I think we have been progressive as a council in many different ways in how we support gaming. This could be a good way for more revenue, obviously. If other casinos are going to be doing it, we need to stay progressive. We need to do what it takes to be the best casino and give our casinos the best opportunity to succeed. I think this is a good step forward for doing this especially if the state is going to allow it. We need to take advantage of it,” he said.

Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission Director Jamie Hummingbird also said during the Rules Committee meeting that the CNGC has been working on regulations for the new gaming since April. He said the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa would be the first Cherokee Casino property to offer “ball-and-dice” games and that the CNGC is working with casino operations on “where and when” the other casino properties would begin featuring the games.

Legislators on June 11 also authorized placing 39.2 acres of land in southern Delaware County into trust. The acreage, known as Beck’s Mill “has a rich history as a trading post with a grain mill being operated in the 1800s,” the resolution states. The property is located along Flint Creek just north of Highway 412.

Legislators also approved a resolution “agreeing to choice of law and venue and authorizing a waiver of sovereign immunity” so that the Cherokee Immersion Charter School can enter into a software agreement with Municipal Accounting Systems Inc. The agreement will allow the school to submit certain financial information to state officials in the required Oklahoma Cost Accounting System.

Tribal Councilors also increased the tribe’s fiscal year 2018 comprehensive operating budget by $1.8 million for a total budget authority of $694.9 million. The changes consisted of a decrease in the Indian Health Service Self-Governance Health budget by $93,962 and increases in the General Fund, Enterprise, Department of Interior – Self-Governance and Federal “other” budgets.

In other business, legislators:

• Authorized a donation of a modular office building to Project A Association in Muskogee County, and

• Authorized a grant application to the Department of Health and Humans Services, Administration for Children and Families, the Office of Child Care for Tribal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.

Health

Young adults need less sodium, saturated fats and added sugars
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
06/13/2018 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Establishing healthy eating patterns tailored to personal, cultural and traditional preferences that are low in sodium and saturated fat is essential to a balanced diet for young adults between the ages of 20 and 35, Cherokee Nation Clinical Dietitian Tonya Swim said.

“All the food and beverage choices a person makes matters,” Swim said. “For most healthy individuals a balanced diet should have a variety of vegetables and whole fruit, low-fat or fat-free diary, half of their grains from whole grain sources, a variety of protein choices, including lean meats, seafood and vegetable sources.”

Swim said that while a single healthy eating pattern will not fit everyone, all foods high in saturated fat, sodium and added sugar should be limited. She recommends individuals inspect their food’s nutrition facts label when shopping, especially for those who may buy frozen foods such as microwavable meals.

“Most meals like this lack in fruits and vegetables, so adding a whole piece of fruit and a steamed bag of frozen veggies can help to meet a person’s daily fruit and vegetable needs. This is also a great way to add in extra vitamins, minerals and fiber,” she said.

A good method of comparing the nutritional values of two or more food items is to examine the label’s percent of daily value, Swim said. “Search for items with the lowest amount of saturated fat and sodium and the highest amount of fiber. Five percent daily value or less of a nutrient per serving is low, and 20 percent daily value or more of a nutrient per serving is high. One nutrient that we want to strive to get more of is fiber, so this nutrient on the nutrition facts label should be as close to 20 percent daily value as possible.”

That advice is especially important for those who choose to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle.

“If an individual chooses to go 100 percent vegan, please be aware of nutrients that may be lacking in their diet, including iron, zinc, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12, vitamin D and calcium,” Swim said.

She said food sources for proper iron nutrients include almonds, oatmeal and spinach, while hummus, some whole wheat breads and cashews are good zinc sources. Fortified foods are good vitamin B-12 sources.

For protein, Swim recommends peanuts, quinoa, edamame, chickpeas, lentils, black beans and kidney beans, while calcium can be worked into a vegan diet with turnip, mustard and collard greens, figs and kale. Fortified soymilk is also a good source of vitamin D in addition to calcium, while walnuts and flaxseeds are good for Omega-3 fatty acids.

“Following a plant-based diet or even a full vegan plan does have health benefits, such as a lower risk of heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes,” Swim said. “If a vegan plan is something you would like to consider, please speak with your health care provider and registered dietitian before you begin.”

Young adults should also be aware of what they might be adding to their drinks, including coffee.

“It’s important to note that some coffee beverages can include calories from added sugars and saturated fat, such as creamers. So be cautious when getting your specialty coffees,” Swim said.

Coffee consumption should also be “moderate,” according to dietary guidelines.

“A moderate amount would be three to five 8-ounce cups a day,” Swim said. “This would approximately 400 milligrams of caffeine daily. The exception to this may be if a person has a medical condition in which their medical provider has reduced the amount of caffeine they should have, so talk to your primary provider.”

Swim recommends those eligible for services with CN Health Services and seeking more information about individualized diet plans should contact their primary providers and ask to schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian.

Opinion

OPINION: Addressing food insecurity for veterans in northeast Oklahoma
BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
06/01/2018 12:00 PM
The Cherokee Nation is steadfastly committed to our military veterans, those men and women who have sacrificed so much for our tribe, our country and our collective freedoms. Recently, we established a formal partnership with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma to help ensure these real-life heroes do not suffer from hunger and food instability. Nobody in Oklahoma, especially a military veteran, should go hungry.

This collaboration, which is the first time a tribal government has been involved with this local food bank program, means regular access to healthy and nutritious foods, and that will translate to better and fuller lives. It is a blessing that we are able to help, and it is the least we can do for those who have done so much for us.

This endeavor will create a quarterly mobile food pantry at the CN Veterans Center. Fresh produce, bakery items and nonperishable food items are available for about 125 veterans or widows of veterans through the collaboration. The first time we hosted the food pantry in late May, we distributed more than 10,000 pounds of food. The tribe will continue to help identify veterans in need, as well as provide volunteers to help staff the mobile pantry.

Today, the CN Veterans Center offers a wide array of activities for veterans. It serves as a place to sign up for benefits, play bingo or attend other activities, and now we have added the food pantry. It is just one more way we can meet the needs of our people.

The CN continues to look for ways to honor and serve our veteran warriors, and this partnership with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is another avenue to reach those in need. Food insecurity is a very real issue for families in northeast Oklahoma, and almost 20 percent of the households the Food Bank serves has a military veteran who resides there and utilizes the program. Additionally, national studies show veterans are affected more by hunger and food insecurity than the general population. Many struggle to put food on the table because of a myriad of issues, from employability after service to mental health and related trauma or an unwillingness to seek help.

Collaborating with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma means we are increasing and expanding its coverage and furthering its mission. Just like CN, the food bank wants to provide for our veterans so that they have what they need to prosper.

The CN also offers a food distribution program, which some veterans may also qualify for. For more information on the CN Veterans Center and food pantry, call 918-772-4166.

People

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.

“When he outgrew the balance bike, we got him a bicycle that resembled a dirt bike, which he mastered in no time,” she said. It was around then that Emily and her husband, Justin, began thinking that Cooper’s abilities” weren’t “normal.” Cooper’s agility was only surpassed by his constant request for a real (motorized) dirt bike,” she said.

“He was just gung-ho, and would not be quiet about it. My husband had a mini-bike when he was little but only rode it around the field, so we really knew nothing about dirt bikes or the sport,” Emily said.

She added that it was eventually her parents who sprang for Cooper’s first dirt bike, as a Christmas present. She said she thought he would just want to ride around the field with it. But that wasn’t the case. Cooper wanted to ride all the time.

“We were concerned about him racing at such a young age, so we just started at the bottom, learning everything we could on teaching Cooper how to ride safe and smart. We purchased every piece of safety gear a kid could have. Now the poor (child) looks like (a) mix between an astronaut and the Terminator when he’s all suited up to go,” Emily said. “He’s had some crashes but that hasn’t deterred him in the least.”

Cooper’s father and CN citizen Justin Keys said Cooper’s can-do attitude was only one of the qualities he noticed.

“It makes me really proud that he has such good sportsmanship and how he strives to make himself better. I mean he’s pushing himself more than anybody. He gets out there with a ride, ride, ride attitude and he never gives up. More than once, I’ve seen him fall down, get up and want to go again. You can’t teach that.”

“We don’t want him hurt, and it is scary putting him on such a fast bike, but we’ve done all we can,’ Emily said. “We continue to teach him about safety, and we can’t let our fears get in the way of something he’s that passionate about.”
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