Anderson, Payton among Leadership Native Oklahoma class
OKLAHOMA CITY – Two Cherokee Nation citizens were recently announced as participants of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma’s 2018 Leadership Native Oklahoma class.
Amber Anderson, a University of Oklahoma Health Services Center research epidemiologist, and Brandi Payton, a CN Cooweescoowee Health Center administrator, join 41 other 2018 LNO participants.
According to the AICCO, the LNO is a “leadership opportunity” for business and governmental leaders in Indian Country to broaden their networks and sharpen their understanding of self-governance and self-determination.
“I am very appreciative and excited to be selected for this year’s cohort of Leadership Native Oklahoma. Past program participants have shared some of their experiences and I am looking forward to collaborating with Native leaders throughout the state,” Anderson said. “Most importantly, my hope is that I will come out of this program with new knowledge, relationships, and skills to better equip me in my effort to help improve the health of our Cherokee people and Indian County.”
Payton, who in 2015 helped open the Washington County-based Cooweescoowee Health Center, said she’s also dedicated to the betterment of health for the American Indian population, and it has become the focus of her professional life. She’s also taken interest in tribal sovereignty and policy after finishing a fellowship in 2016 with the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C.
“I am honored to be afforded this opportunity. I feel that participating in LNO will further develop my leadership skills as well as will enhance my knowledge outside of my field,” she said. “I look forward to networking with and learning from some of the finest in Indian Country in hopes of continuing to serve my community to the best of my ability.”
This year’s LNO course will include seven monthly sessions of team building and educational sessions, including a two-day “Indianpreneurship Course.” The LNO class will also include professionals with a diverse selection of backgrounds and skill sets in hopes of building a bond unrivaled by other organizations across the state.
“The value of LNO is especially important for the group to be introduced to tribal policy, sovereignty, and commerce,” AICCO President Bailey Walker (Chickasaw) said.
The AICCO is an organization in which American Indian businesses, tribal leaders and other businesses can come together with innovative ideas that will promote and enhance the success of all American Indian people.
“LNO is a unique opportunity to foster cohesiveness from a group of tribal leaders and future tribal leaders. The hours spent together will create a bond between the participants based on respect and interaction to identify, evaluate and implement projects that are of value to Native American businesses in Oklahoma, said AICCO Executive Director and LNO Chairwoman Annetta Abbott (Choctaw). “The LNO program continues to grow and has received a great response from the participants and the tribes.”
LOCUST GROVE – The Cherokee-owned SSLG Trading Group celebrated the grand opening of its family-owned housewares resale business with a ribbon cutting on March 5.
SSLG stands for Susan (Standingwater), Stephanie (Standingwater-Cutrer), Lawrence (Standingwater) and Gabriel (Cutrer). Located at 524 E. Main St., it’s open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
Standingwater-Cutrer and her father, Lawrence, are Cherokee Nation citizens who worked with their spouses to open the business, which started from the back of a truck and has upgraded to a storefront.
The store merchandise sells at lower-than-retail pricing, she said. “At the start of it we bought palletized general merchandise from a warehouse in Arkansas, and it was from major retailers, and we were able to buy it at a decent price. So I decided at that moment that everything I was going to offer for people to buy was going to be half or less (than retail).”
Its merchandise includes kitchenware, tables, television stands, dressers, cell phones cases, books and clothing that one can find in Wal-Mart, Costco, Cato’s or Bill’s Sporting Goods, she said.
Standingwater-Cutrer added that the business stemmed from wanting to add diversity to the town’s business sector.
It will also serve as a resource for people in need. Standingwater-Cutrer said SSLG is networking with the Pryor Area Resource Alliance, a nonprofit organization, to help people pay rent or utilities to buying food or help those in need of substance abuse rehabilitation by connecting them to resources.
“I want to be an example for the kids. We’re just ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Or trying to,” Standingwater-Cutrer said. “I’m just trying to be obedient and do what I feel in my heart that I need to do.”
She said the community has been supportive of her family’s business and efforts, and there is “not really a competition” between businesses. “Everyone’s wanting to better the community.”
She said local residents have also wanted to help the business in some way such as being a cashier or helping with inventory. “We have people that have different talents that want to help us fight what we’re striving for. Everyone else is seeing the bigger picture.”
In addition to getting the business thriving, Standingwater-Cutrer said she and her family are looking to add 1,300 square feet of space to the existing 500 square feet where the store resides. Another goal is to become CN Tribal Employment Rights Office certified as an Indian-owned business.
“It all started with a couple Cherokees on their homestead. I actually have a lot of pride in being Cherokee. We actually just want to bring networking, diversity and being a resource,” Standingwater-Cutrer said.
STILWELL – After graduating college in Colorado, Joe Fletcher returned to Oklahoma looking to make his next move.
He noticed some barbecue trucks popping up in Arkansas in towns such as Fort Smith and Fayetteville. This made him want to try this new-style eatery in Oklahoma, which led him to start Okie Joe’s BBQ in 2005.
“We had seen them, kind of, this new-style thing, so we decided we’d build one and just try it and see what happened,” he said. “So we actually started up in (West) Siloam (Springs) and stayed there about a year and moved back to Stilwell, where we didn’t know if it would make it or not, and 13 years later here we are.”
Fletcher said Okie Joe’s menu began with items such as brisket sandwiches and baked beans, but has expanded to include other smoked choices.
“We have a Super Okie Baked Potato now where we take a baked potato, open it up, pile it full of meat, cover it with cheese. We have our Okie Joe sandwich. That’s our signature sandwich. It’s got all four meats on it: a slice of bologna, a link cut up and then a little bit of beef, a little bit of pork,” he said.
From its humble beginnings in a trailer, Fletcher has made Okie Joe’s a place you can enjoy no matter the season by adding a deck and a place to eat when the weather is inclement.
“When you come in it’s still a little bit hot or cold on the deck depending on the weather,” he said. “So it’s a place you can come in the spring or the fall and all the screens are open on the deck so it’s like being outside on a porch.”
With Okie Joe’s continuous growth, Fletcher is planning to add a drive-thru window and a larger kitchen space later this year.
“We have a lot of business in the evening. No one wants to get out of their car to take their food home, so we think a drive-thru will help this business,” he said. “So we’re going to go ahead and add a drive-thru and a small kitchen where we can add a few more menu options but still keep the rustic atmosphere that we have today.”
When eating barbecue at Okie Joe’s, Fletcher said there’s “no stranger” that walks through the door.
“We’re a small community here in Stilwell. It is a tough place to make a living, but we have the respect of our customers. We treat them right,” he said. “There’s no stranger when they come in the door. Everybody’s treated well.”
Okie Joe’s BBQ is at 210 S. Second St. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
For more information, call 918-696-4637.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – A love for the outdoors prompted Cherokee Nation citizen Gaylon Cornsilk and his brother-in-law Travis Smith to create Woodsman Trading Co., an outdoor lifestyle store.
The two opened on Nov. 26 to share their love for nature.
“We’re kind of an old-fashioned store. We really try to emphasize quality goods,” Cornsilk said. “If we don’t believe in it, we don’t sell it. If I sell something here, I’ve used it, tried it. I know it inside and out.”
Cornsilk’s love for the outdoors began at a young age when he and his father spent three months camping in Alaska and Canada. “I think it kind of put something in my heart that I never forgot.”
Located at The Village, Cornsilk said it’s a kind of store not “typically” seen in the area.
“You feel like you’re either in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or you feel like you’re in Colorado. I think that’s the kind of vibe you can get in here. It’s almost like urban meets woodsman,” he said. “We sell trendy cloths for men and women, but they’re also functional and practical. You can take it out on the trail during the day, out in town during night.”
Aside from clothing, the store offers mugs, caps, blankets, knifes and instructional children’s books about camping and other outdoor activities.
“I’m finding more and more people, as they’re starting to plug in with the outdoors they’re getting their children involved,” he said. “We have books to help children learn how to camp for the first time, how to cook on a open fire, setting up a tent, things that help them understand that being outdoors is enjoyable.”
Cornsilk said promoting other small businesses is important, so a lot of products offered do that.
“We carry a hat line by an artist named Abby Paffrath. She’s out of Jackson, Wyoming. She’s a painter, and what she’ll do is she’ll do a painting and then eventually they’ll put that print on their clothing lines,” he said. “We just try to work with handcrafted stuff, a lot of USA products, and I love working with other small businesses.”
Cornsilk said building relationships with customers is driving business factor, as well as ensuring customers buy the right products to fit their needs.
“If a customer says, ‘hey, I want a camping knife.’ I want to know what are you going to use that knife for? I don’t want to just sell them a product, I want to help him meet his needs,” he said.
Cornsilk said he’s “proud” of his Cherokee heritage and the respect for nature it gave him.
“I grew up with my dad’s side of the family a lot, so I’ve been around Native American communities my whole life. I’m extremely proud, it means a lot to me,” he said. “I think even with the Native American background, respect for nature, creation, there’s a lot of things that’s always kind of stuck with me.”
Cornsilk said the store also gives him a chance to promote being able to “unplug” and connect with nature.
“I think being outdoors is healing for your heart, for your soul, for your body. I want to see more people spend time outdoors if they can,” he said. “We live in such a fast-paced society, we’re always on our smartphones, and I’m guilty of it. Sometimes I think we just need to take a pause, unplug maybe connect with the outdoors.”
Woodsman Trading Co. is at 9705 N. May Ave. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information, “like” Woodsman Trading Co. on Facebook, “follow” it on Instagram or visit <a href="http://www.woodsmantrading.com" target="_blank">woodsmantrading.com</a>.
SALLISAW – The former horseracing track Blue Ribbon Downs has continued to serve racehorse trainers from all over, including Cherokee Nation citizen Andy Gladd.
Gladd said because the majority of people who “run” horses in the community are Cherokee, it’s good to see the CN keep BRD open for training purposes.
Purchased from the Choctaw Nation for $2.5 million in December 2009, Cherokee Nation Entertainment opened the nearly 100-acre property as a racehorse-training center in late 2010.
It’s equipped with barns, stalls and a seven-eighths-of-a mile track, which can be rented for training. It has 354 stalls and currently has approximately 180 horses training there.
Gladd has owned his racehorse training business called Gladd Racing for nearly 12 years, but has used BRD for the past three years. He said at BRD he is able to rent stalls and use the track to run his horses for a better price than if he built a training facility.
“The stall rent is so much cheaper than we could build a facility. People that have small stables can come here, and Gary Dale Brooks (BRD stall superintendent) helps people to gates, get horses schooled and gets them ready to run,” Gladd said. “This place has really been great for to come to. The people here on the ground are really good to us. Anytime we have any type of problems they’re there at our barn to fix it.”
Brooks, a CN citizen, said more than half of the people who bring horses to train at BRD are Cherokee, but people from out of state use the facility, too. “We have a bunch of local trainers from Sequoyah County, and we have a bunch that came from Iowa. We even have some trainers that moved in and brought 30 head of horses from Canada.”
Since the training center is in an area home to a lot of trainers, Brooks said BRD serves a great purpose.
“Every Wednesdays here we have time works, and it just saves lot of time and money on everybody especially the local people,” he said. “If they couldn’t do that they would have to go to another race track, and the closet one is Claremore and it’s an hour and 20 minutes from here. Then you have to realize you got to get a rider up there, and sometimes you can’t get a rider and your whole day is wasted, and you got to come back home and go back and do it again.”
Gladd said he’s been training 30 horses at BRD and will be taking 28 horses to the CNE’s Will Rogers Downs in Claremore to compete in this year’s racing season beginning in March.
PARK HILL – The Cherokee Phoenix visited Nancy’s Homemade Pies and Café for its first installment of Cherokee Eats, a series highlighting Cherokee-owned eateries and their specialties.
Namesake Nancy Bryan said the realization of her establishment took decades and several jobs in between, but when she finally opened in 2017 the effort was worth the wait.
“I had the desire to start a business at a young age, when I started baking with my nanny,” Bryan said. “She taught me how to make pie crusts when I was probably 11-years-old and from that time on, every time I went to visit her we would make pies. I would think, ‘someday I want to do this. I want to have my own business.’ And after working at Keys Public Schools for 32 years, I decided to retire and open up a little shop with pies.”
Everything Bryan makes, including pies and cakes, comes from family recipes.
“I made everything from a recipe, nothing in a box,” she said. “My mother also taught me more skills on making homemade cakes. So from that time on, growing up it was always a treat to me to make something for someone coming into my home.”
Bryan said her customers have their favorites, including coconut and chocolate pecan pie, but she likes to experiment. “We are known for some that I have, as we say, come up with my own self, like the Almond Joy pie, lemon pineapple, chocolate banana. We have different types that you don’t normally get when you go somewhere that I’ve just thought of and put together, and people really enjoy them.”
While Bryan is known for her sweets such as brownies and pumpkin rolls, she also offers appetizers and entrées.
“On the entrées that we have here, we specialize in our chicken and dumplings every Friday with our cornbread salad,” she said. “We have our potato soup every day. That’s something we will always have every day, and we have a different type of soup with that. Everyone wants to come in and have something warm. Then we also have chili as another entrée and our chicken pot pie is really popular.”
Because she spent time selling specialties out of her home, she said she’s grateful to have a physical space for customers to sit and enjoy her food.
“I really enjoy what I’m doing here,” she said. “One of my purposes of opening Nancy’s was also to make sure, when they came in, our customers would feel like they were at home. I want them to know that they’re welcome, and when they’re eating I like to go and visit with them.”
Nancy’s Homemade Pies and Café is at 26426-26484 S. Indian Road. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays and Tuesday through Thursday. On Fridays and Saturdays it’s open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.