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 LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
01/22/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – On a cold and windy Jan. 9, Cherokee Nation cultural biologists and Environmental Resources specialists harvested sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes, at the Heirloom Garden and Native Plant Site on the Tribal Complex. It is believed the sunchoke was a main food source for Cherokee people prior to European contact. “The sunchoke is a very important cultural plant. So that was one of the plants that we really wanted to establish in the Seed Bank and the native plant site. We were lucky enough to be gifted some really nice specimens from the Eastern Band (of Cherokee Indians) several years ago. They brought us three really nice plants. The three plants have really expanded,” Environmental Resources Senior Director Pat Gwin said. Gwin said the sunchoke is able to produce in mass amounts to harvest for the Seed Bank and as a food source. “Sunchoke, it was an important plant for a reason. It grows an extremely large amount of product for the amount of space, time and effort that you put into it,” he said. “We produce lots and lots of seeds every year.” Though the harvest ran a little late this season, Gwin said he expected hundreds to thousands of sunchoke tubers to yield. The plant is commonly harvested in the winter and may have been a winter food source for Cherokee because of its ability to grow in cold weather. Gwin said pre-European contact, the sunchoke was an important food source though it “fell out of favor” after contact. The plant has recently started to rise under the name of Jerusalem artichoke. The sunchoke resembles a sunflower when in full bloom. When harvested, the tuber underneath the ground resembles a potato, or water chestnut, and has similar qualities and textures due to its root structure. “When I have cooked these in the past, I’ve noticed that sort of eating them raw kind of tastes like a raw potato or even kind of like water chestnut. If you cook them, and don’t cook them at a high heat, they’ll kind of keep the texture of a water chestnut. They can mostly be cooked just the way that we would cook a potato,” Feather Smith-Trevino, CN cultural biologist, said. She said sunchokes are not commonly found in a grocery store or produced commercially, possibly because of its inability to “keep” once it is out of the ground. “With the potato, once we gather those, they can be stored for months and months at a time and they won’t go bad. But with Jerusalem artichokes, once they’re pulled out of the ground their usually only good for maybe about another week to two weeks. They don’t keep much longer than that,” Smith-Trevino said. For this year’s Seed Bank, around 88 packages were created for Cherokees to grow and harvest their own sunchoke plants.
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 <a href="http://www.CherokeeArtMarket.com" target="_blank">www.CherokeeArtMarket.com</a>. For more information, call Deborah Fritts at 918-384-6990 or <a href="mailto: cherokeeartmarket@cnent.com">cherokeeartmarket@cnent.com</a>. The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett &
STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
01/16/2018 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Family Research Center located within the Cherokee Heritage Center has been assisting individuals with tracing their family genealogies since the 1980s. “We educate people,” Gene Morris, CFRC genealogist, said. “We’re here to promote our mission, which is preserve, promote and teach Cherokee history and culture. That’s what we do on a daily basis with genealogy.” The CFRC is one of two locations in Oklahoma specializing in Native American genealogy and should not be confused with the Cherokee Nation Registration Department. “We (CFRC) have no right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that someone is Cherokee,” Ashley Vann, CFRC genealogist, said. “What we are able to tell them is ‘yes’ or ‘no’ about a paper trail to back up that family’s story that’s been handed down from generation to generation.” Morris and Vann can be hired to help individuals complete their genealogies for a fee of $30 per hour, or $20 per hour for Cherokee National Historical Society members. For those wishing to conduct their own research, the CFRC resources area and the genealogy library are accessible from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday with paid admission into the museum. Before visiting, Norris and Vann recommend gathering as much information as possible from several free and paid websites including <a href="http://www.fold3.com" target="_blank">www.fold3.com</a>, <a href="http://www.ancestry.com" target="_blank">www.ancestry.com</a>, <a href="http://www.oklahomacemeteries.com" target="_blank">www.oklahomacemeteries.com</a> and <a href="http://www.findagrave.com" target="_blank">www.findagrave.com</a>. The CFRC will also process genealogy requests by mail, but the timeframe in which the request is filled depends on demand. “Depending upon how many folks are back here in the library at one time wanting all of our attention all at the same time and depending on if one of us is here or both us are here at that time,” Norris said. “What we try to do is do those requests in the order they are received.” For more information, visit <a href="http://www.cherokeeheritage.org" target="_blank">www.cherokeeheritage.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/08/2018 02:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Speakers Bureau will be held Thursday Jan. 11 from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. We will meet in the Community Ballroom that is located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokee. All Cherokee speakers are invited to attend. If you want to bring a side dish or a dessert, feel free to bring it. Come speak Cherokee and enjoy food and fellowship. For further information about the event, please contact: the Language Program at 918-453-5151; John Ross at 918-453-6170; or Roy Boney Jr. 918-453-5487. Tsalagi aniwonisgi unadatlugv dodvnatlosi Nvgineiga Unolvtani 11 ganvsulvi 12:30 p.m. adalenisgi 4 p.m. igohida. Na Anitsalagi tsunalisdayetiyi tsigotlv unaditli wayvsdi onadilvyvi utani kanvsula dodvnatlosi. Naniv Anitsalagi aniwonisgi otsitayohiha uniluhisdii. Alisdayvdi ayohisdi yodulia. Dodayotsadatlisani ale dodayotsalisdayvna hilutsvi. Ugodesdi tsadulihesdi tsadelayohisdi hiina wigehiyadvdi: Tsalagi Gawonihisdi Unadotlvsv 918-453-5151; John Ross 918-453-6170; or Roy Boney Jr. 918-453-5487.
BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
12/31/2017 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With its 2017 annual homecoming T-shirt now for sale, the Cherokee Phoenix is calling for Cherokee artists to submit design concepts for the news organization’s 2018 T-shirt. In 2016, the Cherokee Phoenix staff introduced a T-shirt to differ from the tribe’s Cherokee National Holiday T-shirt. Phoenix staff members contracted with artist Buffalo Gouge for the shirt’s initial design. For this year’s homecoming shirt, Phoenix staff members selected Daniel HorseChief’s concept out of approximately 10 designs from artists. The Cherokee Phoenix then contracted with HorseChief to create the 2017 shirt. HorseChief said his concept comes from a four-panel painting that features Selu, the Corn Mother in Cherokee lore. The image shows the bust of Selu, who is looking down into a Southeastern art pattern. Behind her on the left side are seven ears of corn with water under it. Behind her on the opposite side is a phoenix with fire below it. Above the phoenix is the Cherokee seven-pointed star. Above the image, written in Cherokee, are the words “Cherokee Phoenix.” Below the image, in English, is “2017 CHEROKEE HOMECOMING.” The limited-quantity, black shirts are short-sleeved, ranging in sizes small to 3XL and sell for $20 plus tax. The shirts are available at the Cherokee Phoenix office in Room 231 of the Annex Building (Old Motel) on the Tribal Complex. For more information, call 918-453-5269. They are also available at the Cherokee Nation Gift Shop, als0 on the Tribal Complex, or online at <a href="http://cherokeegiftshop.com" target="_blank">http://cherokeegiftshop.com</a>. Phoenix staff members will also have shirts available at the Cherokee Phoenix booths at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex and Capital Square during the Cherokee National Holiday in September. The Cherokee Phoenix is accepting concept ideas from artists who are Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band or Eastern Band citizens until midnight on Jan. 1. Artist can email detailed concepts to <a href="mailto: travis-snell@cherokee.org">travis-snell@cherokee.org</a>. For artists contemplating submitting design ideas, please note that if your concept is chosen and you sign a contract, the Cherokee Phoenix will own the artwork because we consider it a commissioned piece. As for what Phoenix staff members look for in a concept, we ask that artists “think Cherokee National Holiday” and include a phoenix.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
12/20/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After seeing a need for more people to create metal works of art, Cherokee artist and jeweler Wolf Walker decided it was important to keep the art form alive in Cherokee culture. Walker said after visiting the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee he noticed there was no metal jewelry on display. And after speaking to the museum director he learned that there hadn’t been for years. “It’s dissipating for some reason. I don’t know why. So that’s important for me to keep alive,” he said. With this in mind, Walker decided to teach metal smith classes at the Cherokee Arts Center with the hope of passing on his knowledge and love for the craft. “We’re having a beginner metal smith class to introduce people to the procedures of basic soldering, cutting, hammering, concepts of temperature, blades for the saw. But more importantly (it’s) having them come up with the creative idea that they’ve always thought about making but never thought that it could be or didn’t think that they had the talent to make,” Walker said. When teaching a class, Walker said it’s important to let students work at their paces. “They move along at their own speed because we don’t have a time clock here,” he said. “When they’re comfortable with moving on to the next stage and they reach how far they want to go and then they can move on to the next stage.” Walker said his Nov. 21 class learned at a “fast” pace, which “excited” him. “That makes me excited because they’re teaching me at the same time because a student always teaches the instructor more than what the instructor teaches the student,” he said. “That’s my philosophy.” Walker said he doesn’t influence students, only helps them imagine their ideas come about. “I don’t push them toward that (Cherokee) traditional way because a lot of them, the students come in, they don’t have any idea of how to apply the designs or the stories they’ve heard with it,” he said. “So I help them develop with that traditional sense because that’s one thing I want them to understand that they have to have, a base of understanding where they want to start from.” Walker said if people wish to enroll in the class he encourages them to do so. “You can come in here as a beginner, or you can come in here as a intermediate, or you can come in here as somebody who wants to learn just something in just one class…I can help you out with that,” he said. “I make them feel comfortable because they’re my boss. They know what they want. I don’t know what they want. I just guide them. I make people feel comfortable with what they’re doing because I want to learn from them. The more mistakes they make, the more I learn.” Although the classes are currently offered in Tahlequah, Walker hopes to take them to communities within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction in 2018. Beginner classes are $35 per student and are from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Tuesday. For more information or to register, visit <a href="http://www.wolfwalkerjewelry.com" target="_blank">www.wolfwalkerjewelry.com</a>.