CNTS wins Army medical research contract

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/18/2018 04:00 PM
TULSA – Cherokee Nation Technology Solutions is one of six companies awarded a $249 million indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract supporting research activities at four Army medical agencies during the next 10 years.

“We are proud to support the Army and to serve an integral role in maintaining and promoting the health and well-being of our service members and their families,” John Hansen, CNTS operations general manager, said. “This award builds on our existing relationship with the Department of Defense and our growing reputation as a premier provider in the field of medical research.”

Officials said CNTS will work to preserve and advance the health and well-being of soldiers and military retirees, their families and Army civilian employees. The four participating agencies — the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, the U.S. Army Public Health Center and the Extremity Trauma and Amputation Center of Excellence — can award task orders through the contract.

CNTS will have an opportunity to provide biomedical research and surveillance, information management, and business operations and information technology activities in support of burn, trauma and combat casualty care and rehabilitation, chemical warfare mitigation and public health services.

For more information on CNTS’ medical research support, email dawn.munoz@cn-bus.com.
https://www.facebook.com/CASA-of-Cherokee-Country-184365501631027/

Baron Fork Outfitters celebrates first anniversary

BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
01/12/2018 08:15 AM
STILWELL – January 2018 marked one year in business for two brothers with a dream to start a clothing brand that expresses their love for the outdoors and represents their roots.

Cody Killer, 26, and Dakota St. Pierre, 19, named their brand Baron Fork Outfitters.

The Cherokee Nation citizens and brothers grew up in Stilwell and appreciate being outdoors and engaging in outdoor activities. But it was spending time on Baron Fork Creek that inspired the brand’s name.

“It brings back memories of summers from our childhood we spent with family fishing and swimming in the Baron Fork Creek. It was a big part of our childhood to go and spend family time at there,” Killer said. “And when Dakota presented the name to me I thought this was a pretty sweet name, a name that people from around here would recognize. And for the people that don’t, it sounds like a pretty cool name.”

The idea of starting a T-shirt brand developed more than a year before they launched the company in 2017. Killer said getting the name really got the “ball rolling.” The goal was to create a brand that captures northeast Oklahoma’s beauty as well as the area’s significance to which locals could identify.
Brothers and Cherokee Nation citizens Cody Killer and Dakota St. Pierre own Baron Fork Outfitters, an outdoor clothing brand inspired by nature and local destinations in Oklahoma. It opened in January 2017 and has flourished into an outdoor brand. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Baron Fork Outfitters’ most popular design is the bear (yona in Cherokee) T-shirt, displayed here with the brand’s signature mountain design cap and bear design koozie. Baron Fork Outfitters is an outdoor clothing brand owned by Cherokee Nation citizens Cody Killer and Dakota St. Pierre. COURTESY Baron Fork Outfitters’ newest designs are the scissortail T-shirt and cup and bass design cap. COURTESY Baron Fork Outfitters display some of its outdoor designed T-shirts at a Christmas bazar on Dec. 16 in Stilwell, Oklahoma. The company offers various colors, designs and styles of clothing and other items. It is an outdoor clothing brand owned by Cherokee Nation citizens Cody Killer and Dakota St. Pierre. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Brothers and Cherokee Nation citizens Cody Killer and Dakota St. Pierre own Baron Fork Outfitters, an outdoor clothing brand inspired by nature and local destinations in Oklahoma. It opened in January 2017 and has flourished into an outdoor brand. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Cherokee Nation Red Wing earns quality accreditation

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/04/2018 08:15 AM
PRYOR, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Red Wing recently earned Nadcap accreditation and Supplier Merit Status by demonstrating an ongoing commitment to aerospace quality, as well as satisfying customer requirements and industry specifications.

“This marks Cherokee Nation Red Wing’s third consecutive year earning the Nadcap Electronics accreditation, and this year we achieved the added recognition of Supplier Merit status,” Adam Due, Cherokee Nation Businesses’ engineering and manufacturing division director of quality assurance, said. “The CNRW team is committed to exceeding customer expectations, and these well-earned accomplishments are proof of that continued commitment and hard work.”

Nadcap is an industry-managed assessment approach that brings together technical experts from both industry and government to establish requirements for accreditation, to accredit suppliers and to define operational program requirements.

“Achieving Nadcap accreditation is not easy; it is one of the ways in which the aerospace industry identifies those who excel at manufacturing quality product through superior special processes. Companies such as Cherokee Nation Red Wing work hard to obtain this status, and they should be justifiably proud of it,” Joe Pinto, Performance Review Institute executive vice president and chief operating officer, said. “PRI is proud to support continual improvement in the aerospace industry by helping companies such as Cherokee Nation Red Wing be successful, and we look forward to continuing to assist the industry moving forward.”

More than 5,000 Nadcap audits are conducted annually around the world. Industry experts, whose role is also to evaluate each audit for compliance, determine the audit.

Helicopter business takes customers to new heights

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
12/19/2017 08:30 AM
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Chuck Dixon found a way to turn his passion for vertical flight into a helicopter tour business called Tulsa County Helicopters.

Born in Wichita, Kansas, Dixon was introduced to flying when his father worked as an accountant for the Cessna Aircraft Company.

“From a young age I’ve always had a fascination with aviation. It started out with airplanes. I thought I wanted to be an airplane pilot. What little boy doesn’t think about being an airplane pilot?” Dixon said.

When he got older, Dixon took flying lessons in a Cessna 150 airplane, but it didn’t give him the satisfaction of flying he wanted. By happenstance, he saw a helicopter land and take off from a convenience store parking lot, and it caught his interest.

He began taking lessons in vertical aviation in 2006 at Silver State Helicopters, which operated at the Tulsa International Airport.
Cherokee Nation citizen Chuck Dixon, owner of Tulsa County Helicopters, stands next a Robinson R44 helicopter at the Christiansen Jet Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dixon uses the helicopter for one of many flight services his business offers. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX An aerial view of the Tulsa Hills community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from a Robinson R44 helicopter operated by Tulsa County Helicopters owner Chuck Dixon. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX A helicopter flies over the Tulsa State Fair in October as part of Tulsa County Helicopters’ tours, an attraction for fair visitors. The Tulsa State Fair is one of many events TCH works throughout the year. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen Chuck Dixon, owner of Tulsa County Helicopters, stands next a Robinson R44 helicopter at the Christiansen Jet Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dixon uses the helicopter for one of many flight services his business offers. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

CN volunteers to begin free tax prep Feb. 5

BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
12/18/2017 09:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – It’s 2018, and the new year means tax season. And the Cherokee Nation will once again help individuals within its 14-county jurisdiction with tax preparation through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance service.

Cora Lathrop, CN mortgage loan officer and VITA coordinator, said each year the tribe works with the Internal Revenue Service to train volunteers how to provide free, basic, income tax return preparation for low-to-moderate income taxpayers.

She said the tribe generally offers aid to all people, not just its citizens, who annually make $60,000 or less and need assistance preparing tax returns.

“This is an IRS program. Cherokee Nation partners with IRS to offer free assistance because we want to help community members save the exorbitant fees charged by businesses,” Lathrop said. “Many (businesses) charge between $50 and $400 for simple forms that VITA sites can prepare. This program is designed to help lower-income people save tax preparation fees.”

The tribe’s VITA service is expected to run from Feb. 5 to April 12. No appointments will be made before Jan. 15. The VITA locations will be in Tahlequah, Stilwell, Claremore, Sallisaw, Salina, Westville, Catoosa, Jay, Muskogee, Vinita, Ochelata, Nowata and Pryor.
Cora Lathrop Cherokee Nation mortgage loan officer and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance coordinator, helps Eric and Christy Young of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, file their taxes as part of the tribe’s free VITA program. ARCHIVE Cora Lathrop, Cherokee Nation mortgage loan officer and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance coordinator, left, instructs VITA volunteers on how to prepare federal and state tax returns. The tribe each year helps people who meet income guidelines prepare state and federal tax returns for free. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Skip the headache and upset stomach of doing tax returns yourself by having trained Cherokee Nation volunteers prepare them. The tribe is offering free tax preparation services from Feb. 5 to April 12 at various locations. MARK DREADFULWATER AND TRAVIS/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cora Lathrop Cherokee Nation mortgage loan officer and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance coordinator, helps Eric and Christy Young of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, file their taxes as part of the tribe’s free VITA program. ARCHIVE
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TTA Construction sees success as TERO vendor

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
11/29/2017 08:15 AM
SALLISAW, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Tyler Choate grew up learning the construction business from his father. He eventually parlayed those lessons into a successful business called TTA Construction.

Choate’s construction venture, however, didn’t have an easy start. After the recent economic recession took a toll on his father’s business, he started doing pipeline work. When that didn’t work out, Choate’s first business venture was selling portable buildings, which didn’t last.

Being out of business and work, Choate built his way back into the construction world in 2012. He collected tools and equipment to start a business, and the CN’s Tribal Employment Rights Office certified him as a vendor.

One of his first jobs was helping construct the South Ridge apartments in Tahlequah.

“I literally drove down, walked into the job trailer and ask the guy ‘do you have anyone that’s hanging you all’s dry wall?’” Choate said.
Cherokee Nation citizen Tyler Choate, of TTA Construction, is a CN Tribal Employment Rights Office-certified business owner who has built multiple CN and custom-built homes since starting his business in 2012. COURTESY This Cherokee Nation New Construction home being built is one of more than 100 homes constructed by the CN Tribal Employment Rights Office-certified business TTA Construction, owned and operated by CN citizen Tyler Choate. COURTESY TTA Construction is building this custom home in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. Cherokee Nation citizen Tyler Choate owns and operates the construction company. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen Tyler Choate, of TTA Construction, is a CN Tribal Employment Rights Office-certified business owner who has built multiple CN and custom-built homes since starting his business in 2012. COURTESY

From smudge to revelation

BY NATIVE OKLAHOMA
11/09/2017 08:30 AM
In the lines of his paintings, Tim Nevaquaya sees the influence of his father, the acclaimed Comanche artist Doc Tate Nevaquaya. Although the elder passed in 1996, he left behind an artistic legacy that runs like a current through his children – almost all artists. To his son, that legacy lives, breathes and still creates.

To the average viewer, Tim’s style is nothing like his father’s. But the artist sees Doc’s prints all over it. The traditional forms and the subject matter are his father’s influence, a consequence of learning from an important Native American artists of the 20th century beginning at age 3. Doc surrounded himself with artists.

“I started to observe what they were doing and realized from an early age this was what I was going to do for the rest of his life.”

As a child, he drew. As he grew older, he became his father’s apprentice. They collaborated on paintings, as the son did background work upon which Doc painted the detail for which he was noted. The elder Nevaquaya practiced a style of painting made prominent by the Kiowa Five artists – a style that depicts images in flat two-dimensional representations using neutral or pastel colors. This approach was called the traditional style, and its practitioners ushered in a new era of Native art.

In his early 20s, Tim became serious about his art and looked to his father and other traditional masters for direction. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that he discovered his own.
Tim Nevaquaya’s Strength of a Nation painting. COURTESY Tim Nevaquaya Tim Nevaquaya stands next to a prize- winning painting of his and in front of several other pieces of his work. COURTESY Native artist Tim Nevaquaya’s Buffalo Dance painting. Nevaquaya began his art career studying under his father, Doc Tate Nevaquaya. COURTESY
Tim Nevaquaya’s Strength of a Nation painting. COURTESY

Engage Expo highlights TERO-certified businesses

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
11/07/2017 04:00 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – More than 100 Tribal Employment Rights Office-certified vendors gathered on Nov. 2 to highlight and grow their businesses at the Engage Expo inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.

“It’s just a great chance for our TERO vendors and then our Cherokee Nation entities and then some other outside businesses that do minority procurement to come together and show off their business and network with other people,” Stephen Highers, Cherokee Nation Commerce department entrepreneur and development manager, said.

To be TERO certified, businesses must be Indian-owned by constituting no less than 51 percent ownership. There are more than 800 TERO-certified vendors.

Highers said vendors spanning various businesses come from across the United States to attend the expo, bringing sample products and information.

“We have artists in the room that are here today. We have big construction companies. We have small businesses that are in the room, and then we also have a lot of resource partners,” he said. “So we have different Native American tribes here. It’s just kind of a great day to celebrate all that is being a certified Indian-owned business.”
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Tribal Employment Rights Office-certified vendors gather on Nov. 2 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa in Catoosa, Oklahoma, to showcase their businesses. To become TERO certified, businesses must be Indian-owned and constitute no less than 51 percent ownership. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Greg Stice, owner and designer for Cherokee Copper, holds a tray of copper and silver cuffs on Nov. 2 while at the Engage Expo inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa in Catoosa, Oklahoma. The jewelry-based business is family-owned and operated from Liberty Mounds. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Copper owner and designer Greg Stice discusses a handmade copper cuff with customers on Nov. 2 while participating in the Engage Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Cherokee Copper products include cuffs, earrings, necklaces and pendants. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Tribal Employment Rights Office-certified vendors gather on Nov. 2 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa in Catoosa, Oklahoma, to showcase their businesses. To become TERO certified, businesses must be Indian-owned and constitute no less than 51 percent ownership. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

NDN Custom Frame does custom framing, photo restoration

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
11/03/2017 08:00 AM
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Lori Smiley began framing photos and artwork in Houston nearly 20 years ago. After coming back to Oklahoma, she started a business called NDN Custom Frame.

After residing in Tahlequah for the past 18 years, Smiley moved her business to Tulsa but keeps her Tahlequah ties and works with customers in the area.

NDN Custom Frame is a mobile framing service in which Smiley works with customers in framework customization at their homes or businesses.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on customer service, and so we’ve kind of just taken it to that next level. What we do is we actually go to our customers’ homes or our customers’ businesses and we pick up the artwork and we deliver it back to them,” she said.

Smiley said a customer might show a piece of artwork or a paint chip to help match the framework within their home or business.
Cherokee Nation citizen Lori Smiley, owner of NDN Custom Frame, shows samples of her framework. NDN Custom Frame is a mobile framing service in which Smiley travels to the customers and works with them on customizing framework for their photographs and artwork. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Samples of frames from NDN Custom Frame owned by Cherokee Nation citizen Lori Smiley. NDN Custom Frame is a CN Tribal Employment Rights Office-certified business. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Lori Smiley, owner of NDN Custom Frame, stands between two framed pages from an 1892 issue of the Cherokee Advocate. Smiley’s business framed them several years ago for their owner, Cherokee Phoenix Assistant Editor Travis Snell. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Lori Smiley, owner of NDN Custom Frame, shows samples of her framework. NDN Custom Frame is a mobile framing service in which Smiley travels to the customers and works with them on customizing framework for their photographs and artwork. LINDSEY BARK/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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