http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCandace Alsenay
Candace Alsenay

Alsenay joins Illinois architecture firm

09/29/2017 04:00 PM
Kankakee, Ill. – Carlile Architects, an architecture firm in Illinois, recently hired Cherokee Nation citizen Candace Alsenay as a computer-aided design technician.

A native of Park Hill, Oklahoma, Alsenay is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering.

Prior to joining the Carlile Group, she was a research assistant at OU’s Fears Structural Engineering Lab where she specialized in the mechanics and testing of concrete and the physical realties of working with various types of concrete mixtures.

While at OU, Alsenay was a member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the University Innovation Fellows, was a Jerry Holmes Engineering Leadership associate, served as president of the Architectural Engineering Institute and was the financial liaison for OU’s Concrete Canoe team.

Her responsibilities at Carlile Architects will include residential and commercial drafting, development of construction documents, design and information technology management. She can be emailed at

“The addition of Candace adds a great amount of depth and knowledge to our team,” Jacob J. Carlile, managing principal of Carlile Archictects, said. “She will play a key role in providing and implementing high quality design solutions for our clients and continuing the Carlile commitment to being the leading firm in our industry. Her skills will enhance our ability to serve a broad range of commercial, civic, educational, and residential clients using the latest technology and innovations.”


Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
06/12/2018 08:30 AM
PARK HILL – Cherokee Nation citizen Cooper Keys is a 4-year-old with a passion for motocross. Born in 2013, Cooper began riding his 2004 Yamaha PW50 in February after finding tri-cycling slow and monotonous. With half a dozen races under his belt on the peewee dirt track at Jandebeur’s Motor Sports Park in Okmulgee, he’s notched five third-place finishes and one second-place finish. Cooper competes in the 50cc shaft drive/air cooled and 50cc beginner divisions and is the only 4-year-old racing against 5-to 7-year-olds. “We got him a starter balance bike when he was about a year and a half old,” CN citizen and Cooper’s mother Emily Keys said. “Balance bikes don’t have pedals or training wheels, so he just kind of pushed himself around until he eventually got to where he could ride around without using his feet.” Emily said Cooper soon began riding down hills, balancing perfectly on the bike that was designed for pushing around the yard. “When he outgrew the balance bike, we got him a bicycle that resembled a dirt bike, which he mastered in no time,” she said. It was around then that Emily and her husband, Justin, began thinking that Cooper’s abilities” weren’t “normal.” Cooper’s agility was only surpassed by his constant request for a real (motorized) dirt bike,” she said. “He was just gung-ho, and would not be quiet about it. My husband had a mini-bike when he was little but only rode it around the field, so we really knew nothing about dirt bikes or the sport,” Emily said. She added that it was eventually her parents who sprang for Cooper’s first dirt bike, as a Christmas present. She said she thought he would just want to ride around the field with it. But that wasn’t the case. Cooper wanted to ride all the time. “We were concerned about him racing at such a young age, so we just started at the bottom, learning everything we could on teaching Cooper how to ride safe and smart. We purchased every piece of safety gear a kid could have. Now the poor (child) looks like (a) mix between an astronaut and the Terminator when he’s all suited up to go,” Emily said. “He’s had some crashes but that hasn’t deterred him in the least.” Cooper’s father and CN citizen Justin Keys said Cooper’s can-do attitude was only one of the qualities he noticed. “It makes me really proud that he has such good sportsmanship and how he strives to make himself better. I mean he’s pushing himself more than anybody. He gets out there with a ride, ride, ride attitude and he never gives up. More than once, I’ve seen him fall down, get up and want to go again. You can’t teach that.” “We don’t want him hurt, and it is scary putting him on such a fast bike, but we’ve done all we can,’ Emily said. “We continue to teach him about safety, and we can’t let our fears get in the way of something he’s that passionate about.”
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
06/07/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Spectators who attended the Cherokee Nation’s All-Indian Rodeo on June 2 at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds got to see team and calf roping, mutton busting, steer wrestling, trick riding, sharp shooting, calf riding, bronco riding, barrel racing and bull riding. Overall, there were 270 entries to the traditional rodeo, but because of roping team deviations and multiple event entries, the exact number of competitors was unknown. Cherokee Phoenix was there and produced a highlight video of the event. <a href="" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the list of All-Indian Rodeo 2018 winners
06/02/2018 08:00 AM
CHEROKEE, N.C. – Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen Kallup McCoy II is running the Trail of Tears’ Benge Route to Oklahoma to honor his Cherokee ancestors and raise awareness and funds for his nonprofit organization – Rez HOPE Recovery. McCoy said he started running May 14 in Cherokee at Kituwah Mound, and is expecting to arrive in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, on June 28 after completing a 1,095-mile journey. “I was initially interested in the removal (Remember the Removal) ride and I found during the application process that if you have a felony conviction on your record that you was automatically excluded. I am person in long-term recovery from substance abuse,” he said. “So I wanted to do the Trail of Tears in remembrance of our ancestors, and I decided that instead of doing the removal ride, I would run it.” The Benge detachment began on Oct. 3, 1838, in Fort Payne, Alabama, and crossed into Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and Arkansas before finishing on Jan. 11, 1839, in Indian Territory, near present-day Stilwell, Oklahoma. He said he’s averaging about 20 miles per day and has the support of his mother, girlfriend and cousin, who drive a few miles ahead of him and await him with water and food. “So I run three or four miles to catch up, drink something, eat something, and do the same thing over again all day long. That’s how we do it,” he said. McCoy said after being released from jail in August, he decided to make a lifestyle change to overcome drug addiction. He began competing in endurance and running competitions, leading him to decide to run one of the forced removal routes. “I’ve just really been pushing myself since I’ve been out of jail to be a better person, be the change that I want to see,” he said. After starting his organization RezHOPE Recovery, McCoy said he wants to use this run to raise money to open a recovery house for people who are suffering from addiction, coming out of jail, in rehab and looking for a safe environment. “I feel like as a people we have, since all that happened to our ancestors, we have been in a state of oppression with alcohol, with different substances, with diabetes, all kinds of different things that we struggle with as a people. I know it’s making an impact on the people back home that’s watching this journey,” he said. In addition to his nonprofit, McCoy said he wants to open recovery houses across the United States on Native American reservations and create a speaking tour where he can talk to people about his challenges with addiction and how he’s been able to overcome them. To track McCoy’s journey, follow his Facebook page Kallup McCoy II or his organization’s page Rez Hope.
05/29/2018 12:00 PM
CHEROKEE, N.C. – Since 2011, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizens have joined Cherokee Nation citizens to retrace the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears as part of the nearly 1,000-mile “Remember the Removal” bicycle ride. Although both tribes have a similar application process, as well as the same goal of historical and cultural awareness, the EBCI ride is coordinated through the tribe’s Cherokee Choices program, which is geared to improving health among its citizens from ages 15 to 65. The EBCI riders were expected to initially meet the CN participants on May 31 in Cherokee before the combined group makes its way from New Echota, Georgia, to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, beginning June 3. The Cherokee Phoenix caught up to the EBCI participants to learn more about them. . . <strong>Name: Nolan Arkansas Age: 18 Hometown: Cherokee School: Yale University</strong> <strong>CP:</strong> Why did you apply? <strong>Arkansas:</strong> I decided to apply for RTR after watching a short documentary about the ride. Cherokee people, whether from EBCI or Cherokee Nation, had such a unique perspective on what it means to be Cherokee. They were excited, emotional and ecstatic to be a member of a tribe with such rich and resilient history. I wanted to be a part of that. <strong>CP:</strong> What do you hope to take away from this experience? <strong>Arkansas:</strong> With this biking experience, I hope to mend my own gaps of knowledge about the Trail of Tears and Cherokee history in general. I hope to walk away from this ride knowing that I have experienced just a fraction of what my ancestors experienced, and I want to be sure I am motivated to act and live in a way that honors them. <strong>CP:</strong> How has the training, history and language classes been so far? <strong>Arkansas:</strong> The syllabary classes have been a great way for our members to become more of a team. Even a small step towards language reclamation has helped us form a stronger crew mentality. As for training, everyone varies in ability and speed, but we are still able to train together, which is rewarding not only because we ourselves improve, but because we have seen improvements in our teammates. <strong>Name: Brooke Coggins Age: 23 Hometown: Bryson City School: Western Carolina University</strong> <strong>CP:</strong> Why did you apply? <strong>Coggins:</strong> I wanted to feel closer to my community and have a better understanding of where our resilience as a people stemmed from. <strong>CP:</strong> What do you hope to take away from this experience? <strong>Coggins:</strong> Insight to our people’s strength and a direction of how to bring back my experience to help better the growth in our community. <strong>CP:</strong> How has the training, history and language classes been so far? <strong>Coggins:</strong> I have learned so much about Cherokee history, culture and my personal family’s history. It has been at times difficult but equally a rewarding journey, especially as it’s almost time to begin our ride. <strong>Name: Seth David Ledford Age: 18 Hometown: Cherokee School: Smokey Mountain High School</strong> <strong>CP:</strong> Why did you apply? <strong>Ledford:</strong> Because I feel I need to feel what my ancestors went through, and I need to get closer to my heritage. <strong>CP:</strong> What do you hope to take away from this experience? <strong>Ledford:</strong> I hope that I come back a better person with a different look on life. <strong>CP:</strong> How has the training, history and language classes been so far? <strong>Ledford:</strong> I found the history and language classes very helpful and interesting. The training has been good. It’s hard, but I expected that with the journey ahead. <strong>Name: Darius Ian Lambert Age: 17 Hometown: Cherokee School: Cherokee Central Schools</strong> <strong>CP:</strong> Why did you apply? <strong>Lambert:</strong> I applied to this ride to learn more about my ancestors who walked the Trail of Tears, but also to challenge myself mentally and physically. <strong>CP:</strong> What do you hope to take away from this experience? <strong>Lambert:</strong> I hope to have more knowledge and a better perspective of life. <strong>CP:</strong> How has the training, history and language classes been so far? <strong>Lambert:</strong> It’s been a challenge for us all, but we’ve become one hell of a group. The classes were great. <strong>Name: Lori Owle Age: 47 Hometown: Cherokee Occupation: Cherokee Indian Hospital Satellite Clinic manager</strong> <strong>CP:</strong> Why did you apply? <strong>Owle:</strong> I was very fortunate to come from a strong, loving family. Family is everything. I have always looked for opportunities to improve myself personally and professionally. I was a teenage mother and always had limits to what I was able to do due to my parental responsibilities along with many struggles, but what I wanted to be was a positive role model for my daughter. Family is what we are about as a tribe. This is an opportunity to grow myself physically, mentally and emotionally while learning about Cherokee history and the removal and how it impacted my family years ago. <strong>CP:</strong> What do you hope to take away from this experience? <strong>Owle:</strong> I hope this experience makes me into a strong Cherokee woman like my grandmother Leola. I experienced a great loss and never felt I was able to overcome the heartbreak of losing my dad at a young age. My grandmother Leola had lost two sons, and even though she grieved she kept her focus on our family and she was a loving hard worker, and her life was about family and she is a great role model. Being able to retrace the route that our ancestors took during the removal will give me the sense of understanding of knowing we may not be able to control events in our life, but we have to appreciate and respect who we are and how strong we are and not let these experiences define us but be able to navigate our lives in a more positive way. I want to be a leader for our tribe by being an emotionally intelligent leader by having compassion for others and be an advocate for the tribe and show pride in who we are. <strong>CP:</strong> How has the training, history and language classes been so far? <strong>Owle:</strong> The training was physically and emotionally hard for me. I was not in the best physical shape and that made the training emotionally and mentally hard knowing I could do better, but I had physical struggles. I was part of a team and I had a team counting on me, so I had to do the best I could. The history and language classes would always bring me back to why I was doing this, and the physical part was not the focus of why I was doing this journey, the education of Cherokee history was. The classes were very rewarding, and we had the best people leading the classes who had wealth of knowledge that I still learn more everyday about our history and language. <strong>Name: Jan Smith Age: 62 Hometown: Cherokee Occupation: Retired educator</strong> <strong>CP:</strong> Why did you apply? <strong>Smith:</strong> I have wanted to apply for the ride for a long time. I see the alumni riders giving back to the ride and their community and I wanted to be a part of it. Honoring our people who went before us who struggled but through their resiliency maintained our strong cultural identity. I want our people and the pain they endured to never be forgotten. Remember the Removal is a way to honor them to walk where they walked and feel their pain. It’s a small way for me to show that I am strong and resilient because of them. <strong>CP:</strong> What do you hope to take away from this experience? <strong>Smith:</strong> A feeling that I have honored our removal ancestors and also the struggles of those left behind. To learn more of the Cherokee history, to create lifelong friendships and establish a bond between our western Cherokee brother and sisters and my eastern rider family. To be apart of a team to achieve a significant goal, which is RTR. Appreciate what I have – Cherokee history, culture, values and many benefits that I did not earn but received because of our ancestors. <strong>CP:</strong> How has the training, history and language classes been so far? <strong>Smith:</strong> I love all the classes we have had. The genealogy class helped me to discover my Cherokee roots and generations that I came from. The history class helped me to understand why our people became divided and some removed. The syllabary class helped me to understand the sounds of the characters and how valuable our language is. Those who are fortunate to be fluent speakers are treasures of our tribes. The classes have taught me my Cherokee identity. They have answered my many questions of why things are. <strong>Name: Ahli-sha Stephens Age: 33 Hometown: Cherokee Occupation: Cherokee Elementary School administration</strong> <strong>CP:</strong> Why did you apply? <strong>Stephens:</strong> My husband, Jake Stephens, rode in 2015, and I loved hearing about his experience. I wanted to have my own experience. I wanted to see, feel and experience what our ancestors seen, felt and experienced. I want to honor them and what they went through. This will not only be a physical challenge but also a mental challenge. <strong>CP:</strong> What do you hope to take away from this experience? <strong>Stephens:</strong> A new outlook of myself and my strength. Our Cherokee people were tough and even though my journey will be easier than theirs I want to experience as much of this journey as I can, the good and the bad. I want to return home and share my story and more importantly, their story. I hope to return home a different type of Cherokee woman. <strong>CP:</strong> How has the training, history and language classes been so far? <strong>Stephens:</strong> Amazing! I learned so much. The genealogy classes were the most interesting. To learn about your family and the roles they played in our history is valuable information I will cherish forever. Yonaguska, Junaluska and Tsali were on my family lineage as grandparents four generations back. Each history and language class I soaked up as much information as I could, I look forward to doing the same on the ride. <strong>Name: James Bo Taylor Age: 48 Hometown: Cherokee Occupation: Museum of the Cherokee Indian director</strong> <strong>CP:</strong> Why did you apply? <strong>Taylor:</strong> I applied because of the stories that I heard from the alumni from the past. I heard that it was a life changing experience and I wanted to experience that for myself. Be careful what you wish for. I wanted to challenge myself and I really did not know what to expect. But now that this is my second attempt, I feel I have unfinished business that I need to finish. I need to complete this journey or at least give it my all. I want my girls to know that it is not ok to quit. I have always said that Cherokees always get up and do what they are supposed to do. I made a commitment to my God, family and my people to do my best. So that is why I am back to finish what I started. <strong>CP:</strong> What do you hope to take away from this experience? <strong>Taylor:</strong> It has been probably the toughest thing I have ever attempted. It has challenged me mentally, physically and spiritually. I hope to have an experience that will make me a better person than when I started. I hope to gain life long friends and family. To gain a better sense of what my ancestors went through. It was an honor to be chosen to be a rider. I am humbled by the experience. I am not sure what will happen with the ride, but I do have great expectations that the Creator will make things happen and that we as a team will all be enriched by the journey. <strong>CP:</strong> How has the training, history and language classes been so far? <strong>Taylor:</strong> The trainings on history and culture have been extremely fun and educational. I love that it has been a communal effort made up of volunteers, past alumni and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Even through history and culture is my profession I have gained great insight by getting others prospective. I think it is essential to have this as part of the ride. Otherwise, it is just a sporting initiative. RTR is the link to our past, but also our future. I only wish more people could experience it for themselves.
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
05/29/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Research is ongoing on how the annual “Remember the Removal” bicycle ride benefits participants, and during an April panel discussion at Northeastern State University, some past cyclists shared how it has benefitted them. The ride groups Cherokee Nation and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizens for a three-week, 950-mile ride from New Echota, Georgia, to Tahlequah. It follows the Northern Trail of Tears route to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. Approximately 4,000 Cherokees died during the roundups, incarceration and removals over land and water trails, as well as after the journey. Dr. Melissa Lewis, of the University of Missouri, began her “RTR” research in 2013 and started using focus groups in 2015. Riders from the 1984 and 2015 rides were interviewed and their answers compared. In 2017, Lewis began using lengthy surveys with 19 riders participating. The survey focused on social, physical, emotional and cultural health and feelings before and during training, after the ride and six months later. “People told us they lost weight and had improved their eating habits, had decreased stress, had increased feelings of a connection to peers and a stronger connection to Cherokee culture,” she said. Lewis also studied Native-specific measures, including micro aggressions or “everyday subtle discriminatory experiences;” discrimination and historical trauma such as losses of land, culture, people in their families; and things related to the effects of colonization and how often people think about those things. “We know that all three of those particular things – micro aggressions, discrimination and historical trauma – relate to worsening mental and physical health, so that’s why we took a look at those things,” she said. Lewis added that results show the riders’ daily hassles, at first, “were significant,” but after the ride their stress and anxiety had improved, and this improvement continued six months later. The ride also helped those dealing with depression feel better, and this got even better six months later, she said. Also, after six months, participants had less anger and experienced less micro aggressions. Two areas Lewis said was concerning were post traumatic stress disorder and historical trauma. Right after the ride, the numbers for those were “statistically significant” and had increased. She said a likely contributor was that cyclists constantly visit or see gravesites of Cherokee people lost during the removals or read about the removal in a journal written by an eyewitness who traveled with Cherokees. “It doesn’t seems there are many days that go buy where you all don’t see graves, and so these thoughts about historical loss, it’s not surprising that they went up,” Lewis said. “As the peak of knowledge happens…they felt sad and angry and frustrated, but the cultural pieces are so strong, that’s what the riders are left with. They’re not left with thinking about graves every day.” During the panel, Billy Flint, a CN rider, said the history he learned in 2015 changed him and made him a stronger person. “I had a photograph of my third great-grandmother who was a child during the removal, and I carried that with me on the ride. And for someone who has dealt with issues of self-esteem and self-doubt for a good chunk of their life…the ride was truly a godsend in my life. I’m a stronger person. I’m a more socially conscious person than I was before. I realize I can do anything.” Raven Girty, a 2017 CN cyclist, said she believes the PTSD and historical trauma can be attributed to seeing the graves of her people and learning about what happened to them. “You don’t come out of the ride the same as you were before the ride. You are going to change in some way. And what she (Lewis) was talking about with the PTSD and historical trauma, you see things that will break your heart. You see fields and fields of mass burials. You pass by areas that will have plaques that will tell you who passed away there. You learn stuff you had never been taught before, and it really hits home.” However, Lewis’ research shows the biggest impact is to physical health. J.D. Arch, an EBCI citizen who rode in 2016, said he weighed 270 pounds when he started training, and when it was over he weighed about 245. He said he’s stayed at that weight thanks to eating better and not consuming sugary drinks. CN citizen KenLea Henson, who rode in 2017, said training and the ride taught her to eat healthier and that she continues that practice. “During the training period I really wanted to eat better because every time I ate better, I felt better. So to get through those really long rides, I had to make sure I was fueled with really healthy foods to help me keep going. So now, to feel better, I eat vegetables and fruits and no fast food and just drink water. So it really improved my health.” Trey Pritchett, a 2017 CN rider, said the ride drove him to be conscious of his physical health. “Throughout high school, I was really an athletic kid. I played a lot of sports and did a lot of working out. When I graduated high school, I wasn’t playing sports anymore, so I thought there’s no need to be working out the way I did because I’m not competing anymore, so I just kind of let myself go. Throughout the course of this training I actually realized how important it is to actually be healthy and to stay fit whether you compete or not.” He said by being fit he might add 20 years to his life and be that elder who can help keep the tribe’s culture and traditions alive. “One day, I could be that 80- or 90-year-old elder that people are going come to. Attempting to prolong it (life) and live longer, that gives me more time to be with my people to teach them and help them.”
05/27/2018 12:00 PM
NORMAN – Cherokee Nation citizen Storme Jones, a University of Oklahoma student, has been named as one of the five Native American Journalists Association Facebook Journalism Project Scholarship recipients. The Facebook Journalism Project and NAJA established the scholarship to support quality journalism that strengthens and connects communities. For the 2018-19 school year, Jones will receive the $10,000 scholarship for pursuing a media career. Jones is a student at the OU Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication where he has produced content highlighting social issues and underserved communities. His experience in reporting includes in-depth stories with KGOU Radio and the University’s National Public Radio member station, where he has reported on interactions between law enforcement and people with autism and the elevated issues that often harmed people with special needs. His reporting eventually led to a change in the way an Oklahoma police department trained its officers. This summer, Jones is working on a national reporting project through the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. Through the investigative project, he will build upon research conducted this semester to tell the stories of people who have been victimized by hate crimes. In the fall, he will be part of Gaylord College’s inaugural Washington, D.C., program where he will live in the nation’s capital and report on issues affecting Oklahomans, for mainstream media outlets. NAJA will award a total of $250,000 in scholarships through the Facebook Journalism Program over the next five years. Students who applied but were not selected in 2018 are encouraged to re-apply in 2019. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.