http://www.cherokeephoenix.org“It’s Not That Hard To...” is a new book by Cherokee author Faith Phillips. It is a compilation of personal essays she has written for years. COURTESY
“It’s Not That Hard To...” is a new book by Cherokee author Faith Phillips. It is a compilation of personal essays she has written for years. COURTESY

Cherokee author releases book, working on 2 others

Cherokee author Faith Phillips has published a new book published titled “It’s Not That Hard To...” and is preparing to release two more books. COURTESY
Cherokee author Faith Phillips has published a new book published titled “It’s Not That Hard To...” and is preparing to release two more books. COURTESY
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
11/07/2017 08:00 AM
PROCTOR, Okla. – Cherokee author Faith Phillips has published a new book and is working on two others that will be released soon.

Her new self-published essay book titled “It’s Not That Hard To...” was available in 2016 as a Kindle device download. She said she wanted to get the book into print quickly but decided to wait even after an outside publishing house wanted to publish the book. She said she didn’t go with the publishing house because it would have been a lengthy process, and she wanted to get the paperback book out as soon as possible.

“The book is really (a) compilation of essays that I’ve been writing over my own life for a long time, since I was probably in my 20s. I’ve always kept journal books. At the time I wasn’t thinking of writing an essay. I would just write. I ended up having maybe 50 of these composition books just filled with writing,” she said.

She said she intended to be a fiction writer, and she published her first fiction novel “Ezekiel’s Wheels” in 2014. For that novel, she drew from her experiences of growing up in Adair and Cherokee counties with her Cherokee family. For a twist, she added the legend of the floating “Hornet Spook-light” reportedly seen in northeastern Oklahoma for decades.

Phillips said her best friend told her people were more drawn to her “true-life essays” than her fiction stories. “Which was kind of hurtful because I really consider the fiction art, and the non-fiction essays come to me so easy that it doesn’t feel like work. To me, at a certain point, I needed to have to feel like I was working to make fiction.”

She said she had personal essays she could compile and publish but was devoting her time to writing her second fiction novel when she had her “heart broken” after a “horrible relationship experience.”

“When it happened, it coincided with a lot of things that were also going on in my life, and I just felt knocked off my feet like I’d never felt before at a time when I expected to feel more stable than I’d ever been,” she said. “So I went back and started reading through some of these journals, and I thought, ‘maybe somebody could relate to them.’”

She began gathering essays starting with funny ones because she “was in a bad place” and wanted to get her mind off of her “misery.” She also found essays about insecurity and tragedy. She included about 10 percent of her essays for the book.

“These are the ones that I felt like still resonated with me years after the event had already happened, and that’s usually my test and it usually proves true. If I read something that makes me feel sad or makes me laugh or I feel entertained I want to hear more, and that usually happens in the reader too, I’ve found,” she said. “I probably will do another essay collection later, but in the meantime I have two other books that are brewing.”

She said that neither of the two books she is writing is a follow-up to “Ezekiel’s Wheels,” but said, at 39, if “she lives long enough” there will probably be a follow-up.

Her next book will be out by Christmas and is a true crime novel based on murders that happened in Oklahoma.

“I’ve really kind of lucked out to have access to people directly involved in the investigations and people close to the murder victims. It’s really an intriguing story that happened in Okemah not long ago,” she said. “When I was growing up...I was always intrigued by true crime novels. I read all of the true crime novels I could get my hands on.”

Without divulging the storyline, she said he plans to release her next fiction novel in the spring after carrying around its draft for two years.

“I haven’t polished it to the point where I feel comfortable releasing it yet. I kind of feel like it’s my masterpiece, so therefore I’m a little scared to let it go,” she said. “I know it’s an amazing story, and if I do it justice then it will be an amazing book as well.”

When she is writing, Phillips said, it’s a time in her life when she doesn’t worry and she’s not stressed.

“If I’m writing I am in a completely fulfilled place. That’s my work and that’s what I feel like I’ve been put here to do...whether it’s fiction or non-fiction or some stupid post on Facebook.”

Phillips said she was also set to go on a book tour, which included the Cherokee Heritage Center during the Cherokee National Holiday. For more information about the tour, email fthphillips@gmail.com.
About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.

Culture

BY STAFF REPORTS
07/22/2018 02:00 PM
MUSKOGEE – Team Phoenix made up of staff located at the Cherokee Nation’s Three Rivers Health Center is inviting powwow dancers, drummers, food vendors, sponsors and volunteers to assist with and take part in the first “Warriors for A Cure Powwow” to fight cancer. The powwow will be held from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Aug. 11 at the health center located at 1001 S. 41st St. East. The Head Man, Head Lady and Head Singer are Tim Washee, Asa Cunningham-Concha and Jamison Concha, respectively. Junior Head Man is Grayson Miller, and Junior Head Lady is Spring Chalakee. Christopher Moore will be the arena director, and Greg Bilby will be the master of ceremonies. The powwow is a family-friendly event. No alcohol or tobacco is allowed. For more information, call Derek Birdtail at 918-200-3022 or Lora Cortez at 918-839-1372.
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
07/19/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee National Treasures hosted their first Children’s and Student Art Show on July 7 in the Tsa-La-Gi Community Ballroom featuring artwork made by youth and adult students who were mentored and trained by Cherokee National Treasures. Some student artists who presented are already accomplished artists but wanted to learn another artistic medium. Such was the case with Cherokee Nation citizen Harry Oosahwee. “I’ve been carving stone and wood for years, and I’ve been painting for years” he said. “And so I decided I wanted to do something different. And when (Cherokee National Treasure) Bill Glass’s class came along, I decided to take it. I’ve really enjoyed working with ceramics, and think it might be a new medium I’ll start really working on.” Oosahwee wasn’t the only adult Cherokee looking for a new artistic avenue. CN artist Tana Washington and Oosahwee’s daughter, Sedelta, along with several other CN citizens, signed up for the mentorship program. That is fine with CNT Committee Chairwoman Jane Osti, who said the mentorship program is crucial for developing future artists. “Every treasure…has from two to 10 students.” Osti said. “The mentors who are teaching are experts in their field. In many cases, some of them have taught for 40 and 50 years, and they have knowledge that we’re going to lose if we don’t teach someone. This program is teaching a lot of people and they’re doing very well. In some instances, we have students who could actually go out and teach. And whether they teach the next generation or a daughter or grandchild, it’s going to produce more people practicing our cultural arts.” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said he was pleased with how the mentoring program is reaching communities. He said it’s another example of how the CNTs are helping save traditional Cherokee arts. “Primarily their jobs have been to nominate or recommend new National Treasures, but they’ve been doing a lot of other things in the last few years. This student art competition is just a great example of how they’re getting artwork into the communities and inspiring new artists to get involved,” Hoskin said. For more information on the CNT mentorship program, call 918-453-5728.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Former Reporter
07/19/2018 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Each year before the Cherokee National Holiday, a chosen few Cherokee Nation citizens who have shown exceptional knowledge of Cherokee art and culture receive a Cherokee National Treasure designation. In 2017, Mike Dart and Jesse Hummingbird earned that honor, joining 94 others who have earned the title since 1988. Dart was named CNT for his traditional and contemporary basketry. A resident of Fairfield in Adair County, he began weaving baskets at age 16, but developed an interest in it earlier in life watching his grandmother construct baskets with native materials she found. In his baskets, Dart uses commercial and traditional reed, including honeysuckle, buck brush and wood splints. He also uses natural dyes such as black walnut, bloodroot and bois d’arc wood. He said even in his contemporary baskets he still implements traditional Cherokee elements. Being mostly self-taught, Dart spent years perfecting his technique, and in 2005 he entered his first art show. Since then he’s won numerous awards, including Best of Show at the 2016 Artesian Arts Festival in Sulphur with a replica of a Southeastern Burden Basket woven from wood splints and colored with natural dye. The basket also appeared in the book “Oklahoma Cherokee Baskets.” Other awards include Best of Show at the 2017 Native American Heritage Festival in Cushing, third place and judges’ choice at the 2017 Cherokee Art Market in Catoosa and first place at the 2018 the Trail of Tears Art Show in Tahlequah. Along with winning awards, his baskets can are in private collections and museums, including the Briscoe Museum of Western Art in San Antonia, Texas, and the Cherokee National Museum in Tahlequah. Dart said he’s dedicated to the preservation of Cherokee basketry and teaches the art. He said the most important thing is to make sure it continues to the next generation and generations to come. “My main goal I have right now is focusing on my students. I want them to be able to, you know, if something happened to me, I want them to be able to continue doing this and pass it on. I want them to be successful more than me, and I think if they’re successful then I am successful.” As a painter, graphic designer and commercial illustrator, Hummingbird earned a CNT designation for his ability to create Cherokee-themed artwork. Born in Tahlequah, he lives in Bisbee, Arizona. After graduating high school in Nashville, Tennessee, he studied art at Watkins Institute, the University of Tennessee and the American Academy of Art in Chicago. He’s won awards for his paintings, including Best of Division at the Heard Museum Indian Art Market in Phoenix and at the Albuquerque (New Mexico) 2000 Indian Market, as well as second place at the Southwest Arts Festival in Indio, California. He also won awards for the graphic art he creates, including wins at the Santa Fe Market in New Mexico and the Tesoro Foundation Indian Market in Colorado. In addition to awards, Hummingbird has had three paintings hang in the American Embassy in Cambodia, as well as 10 pieces of artwork in the collection of the Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. He was also selected to paint a guitar that’s displayed in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Also, being an illustrator, he’s illustrated two DVDs and two Children’s books titled “Native American Night Before Christmas” and “Twelve Days of Native Christmas.” He said he hopes to teach other Cherokees more about illustrating and publishing children’s books so more traditional stories can be published. “I want to get a package together to send to the National Treasures group to hopefully teach a course on illustrating children stories. Everybody always has a children’s story. So I want to talk people about self-publishing and continuation, things I have gained knowledge of,” he said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/18/2018 12:00 PM
UCROSS, Wyo. – Ucross recently announced its second Ucross Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists has been awarded to mixed-media artist and Cherokee Nation citizen Brenda Mallory. Located in northeast Wyoming in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains, Ucross fosters the creative spirit of deeply committed artists and groups by providing uninterrupted time, studio space and living accommodations, while serving as a good steward of its 20,000-acre ranch. Mallory was chosen through a juried national selection process. The award includes a one-month residency at Ucross, a stipend of $1,000 and inclusion in a forthcoming exhibition at the Ucross Art Gallery in 2019. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts is providing major support for the fellowship. Mallory’s work ranges from individual wall hangings and sculptures to large-scale installations. She works with mixed media, creating multiple forms that are joined with crude hardware or mechanical devices in ways that “imply tenuous connections and aberrations.” She said she’s interested in ideas of interference and disruption of long-established systems in nature and human cultures. Mallory grew up in Oklahoma and lives in Portland, Oregon. She received bachelor’s degrees in linguistics and English from UCLA and in fine arts from Pacific Northwest College of Art. Mallory has received grants from the Oregon Arts Commission, the Ford Family Foundation and the Regional Arts & Culture Council. In 2015, she was an Eiteljorg Museum Contemporary Native Art Fellow, and in 2016 she received a fellowship in visual arts from the Native Arts and Culture Foundation. More information can be found on her website at <a href="http://www.brendamallory.com" target="_blank">brendamallory.com</a>. “It is an immense honor to continue this exciting fellowship initiative by recognizing artist Brenda Mallory. We look forward to seeing her at Ucross this fall and to an exhibition featuring her work in 2019,” said Ucross President Sharon Dynak. The Ucross Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists was initiated in 2017 to support the work of contemporary Native American visual artists at all stages of their professional careers. It is open to disciplines that include but are not limited to painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, video, performance art, installation, ceramics and collaborative projects involving multiple disciplines. Two fellowships are awarded annually, one in the spring and fall. Beginning in 2019, fellowship stipends will be $2,000. The next application deadline for the fellowship is Oct. 1. The application can be found at <a href="http://www.ucross.org" target="_blank">ucross.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/10/2018 08:30 AM
INDIANAPOLIS – At the 26th annual Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival held June 23-24, Native American artists, including Cherokees, were awarded nearly $16,000 in cash prizes, as well as ribbons for art works they entered into competition. Cherokee artist Bryan Waytula, of Sand Springs, Oklahoma, received first place in the Painting Category and the “Best of Class” award for his painting titled “We Stand As One.” He also received first place for his drawing titled “A Cherokee Treasure,” which is a colored pencil piece with a piece of mat weaving placed at the bottom of the artwork. Waytula said he used remnants from one of his mom’s traditional river cane baskets. His mother, Vivian Garner Cottrell, and his grandmother, Betty Scraper Garner, are both Cherokee National Treasures, which means they have been honored by the Cherokee Nation for their basketwork and for sharing their knowledge of basket making with others. “I’m trying to follow big footprints left my grandmother and mother, both treasures. Those two are rock stars to me,” Waytula said. He said it was his first time visiting the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival and was “impressed” with the facility, the artwork and the staff. “I was very impressed with how amazing the staff was towards all the extremely-talented artists I had the pleasure of meeting and seeing their amazing work,” he said. “My dad, who is now retired, came along and helped me drive so it was a fun bonding trip too.” Cherokee basket artist and Cherokee National Treasure Mike Dart, of Stilwell, Oklahoma, also won first place and "Best of Class" for his basket titled “Four Winds.” And he won a first place ribbon in the Non-Native Materials Category, a third-place ribbon in the Traditional Basketry Category and second place in the Contemporary Basketry Category. “Eiteljorg Indian Market is a top of the line show with some of the ‘Best of the Best’ artists from across the nation and Canada. Seeing my name among the list of division winners was an honor. I’m proud and honored to be able to represent the Cherokee Nation in these art markets,” Dart said. Also, Cherokee artist Lisa Rutherford won third place in the Contemporary Pottery Category and third place in the Cultural Items Category. The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis hosted more than 100 artists from 60 Native American tribes who showed their jewelry, pottery, baskets, beadwork, carvings, paintings and cultural items. The two-day market and festival drew thousands of visitors who met the artists, purchased their art and enjoyed music, food and performances on the museum’s grounds. “The Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival creates opportunities for collectors and artists to connect and it builds support for today’s Native American artists,” Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall said. “The beautiful art works the artists have created make a powerful impact on our market goers and have contributed to the success of the Indian Market and Festival during its 26 years.” Images of the winning artworks in 11 categories are on the Eiteljorg Museum’s Facebook page, and a complete list of award recipients in all categories and prize sponsors is at <a href="http://www.eiteljorg.org/explore/festivals-and-events/indian-market-festival" target="_blank">www.eiteljorg.org/explore/festivals-and-events/indian-market-festival</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/09/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee National Prison was built to hold the most hardened criminals in Indian Territory from before statehood and into the 20th century. A new exhibit at the Cherokee National Prison Museum explores the period of time when the building served as the Cherokee County Jail by sharing stories of both lawmen and lawbreakers. The “Cherokee Prison: Post Statehood” exhibit runs July 13 to Jan. 31. The Cherokee National Prison was the only penitentiary building in Indian Territory from 1875 to 1901. It housed sentenced and accused prisoners from throughout the territory. The interpretive site and museum give visitors an idea about how law and order operated in Indian Territory. The site features a working blacksmith area and reconstructed gallows; exhibits about famous prisoners and daring escapes, local outlaws and Cherokee patriots; and jail cells. The Cherokee Nation’s museums are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, call 1-877-779-6977 or visit <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>.