Cherokee National Treasure Betty Frogg demonstrates basket making for visitors at the Eastern Trails Museum’s second annual “Cherokee Days” event on Sept. 30 in Vinita, Oklahoma. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Vinita museum hosts 2nd annual ‘Cherokee Days’ event
VINITA, Okla. - The second annual “Cherokee Days” event was held Sept. 30 at the Eastern Trails Museum with Cherokee National Treasures on hand to demonstrate their artistic skills in basketry, pottery making and flint-knapping.
“Eastern Trails museum does a wonderful job of telling the Cherokee’s story. Last year, at the inaugural event, we brought Cherokee National Treasures out to demonstrate their artistry, which was so successful we’re doing it again this year,” Secretary of State and Vinita resident Chuck Hoskin Jr. said.
Cherokee National Treasures attending included basketry artists Betty Frogg and Mike Dart, pottery expert Jane Osti, bow maker Al Herrin, and Tommy Wildcat, who provided flute music.
“I felt happy to be there representing the Cherokee National Treasures,” Frogg said. “Demonstrating and talking to people about the history of Cherokee basketry and twining are two of my favorite things.”
Eastern Trails Museum Director Kathleen Duchamp said she was thrilled the CN made “Cherokee Days” an annual event.
“Just one year ago today, we opened our Cherokee exhibit inside our museum and held the event in the courtyard and had seven National Treasures here to help us open the event. It was very well received. We’re so happy they decided to hold ‘Cherokee Days’ every year and extremely grateful for the Cherokee Nation ($1,000) donation.”
“Cherokee Days” visitor and CN citizen Linda Hossler said the event was beneficial to her.
“I came to Eastern Trails Museum today to learn more about my Indian/Cherokee heritage. I recently moved here from California, so I loved the basket making, the pottery making and especially the flint knapping. Who knew I’d enjoy flint knapping so much,” she said.
For more information about the Eastern Trails Museum, visit www.EasternTrailsMuseum.com
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.
TAHLEQUAH – Taylor Armbrister, a Cherokee Nation citizen and summer intern for the CN Environmental Resources Department, enjoys nature and plants so much that he earned a scholarship to Dartmouth, an Ivy League school.
How he arrived in Tahlequah, via his hometown of Kansas, Oklahoma, by way of Hanover, New Hampshire, is nearly as impressive as the higher education institute he attends.
“How I got here was by hearing from other Cherokees. I’m interested in environmental studies and Native American studies, and I needed something to do this summer. So I checked out Cherokee Nation’s Environmental Resources Department and spoke with Secretary Sara Hill,” Armbrister said. “She then got me in touch with Senior Director Pat Gwin and cultural biologist Feather Smith Trevino. They told me what I’d be doing, and it sounded interesting. I mean this would be a good first step learning what Cherokee Nation is doing when it comes to the environmental aspect of it.”
He said the then drafted a proposal to the Dartmouth Native American Studies Department because it funds unpaid internships, which includes paying for housing, travel and food.
“Anyway, they decided to fund it, so now I’m out here working with Feather until the end of August,” Armbrister said.
And Smith Trevino said she’s happy to have the extra help. “This is actually the first time since I’ve been working in the garden that we’ve had an intern. It’s really helped me out because things that can take me all day long to get done. Taylor and I can knock out in about half a day.”
Armbrister’s duties include weed eating and watering, but he also helped mulch the garden and is helping redesign a rock garden.
“You never know how people are going to handle Oklahoma heat. It’s really starting to get hot now, but so far Taylor’s done really well. And I appreciate the extra pair of hands,” Trevino Smith said.
Regarding his future and the college he attends, Armbrister said he’s taking things slowly.
“So my plan is to have a double major and possibly go to law school afterwards, and maybe go into environmental law. I received a generous merit scholarship, so luckily I won’t be owing anything afterwards, which is why I’m considering law school. I’ve got time,” he said.
According to its website, when Dartmouth was founded on Dec. 13, 1769, its charter created a college “for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land and also of English Youth and any others.” But this central tenet of the college’s charter went largely unfilled for 200 years as Dartmouth counted only 20 Native American students among its graduates prior to 1970.
When Dartmouth’s 13th president took office in 1970, he rededicated the institution to education Natives. Following recruitment, Dartmouth welcomed 15 Native American students that fall. Also, a group of students voiced the need for an academic program dedicated to the study of Native American literature, culture and history. So a committee was formed to look into the creation of a Native American Studies program. The department recently celebrated its 4oth anniversary.
The college’s refocused effort to educate Native Americans has given Taylor and other tribal citizens great opportunities.
“Dartmouth now houses more Native Americans than any other Ivy (League school). The opportunities are endless,” he said.
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation citizen and a foreman for the Manhattan Construction Group, Kenny Foreman, led a group of CN leaders on a tour of the new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah construction job site on July 12 inside the Cherokee Springs Plaza.
“The projects on track right now,” Foreman said. “We’re looking to be finished up and opened up in the spring of 2019. We’re at about 92,000 square feet and got a 1,000-seat convention center, which will be good for all of Tahlequah, not just the Cherokee Nation.”
He said 70 percent of the construction money is going to Tribal Employment Rights Office vendors, who are certified to be Native American-owned and approved by the Tribal Council to do business with the tribe.
Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., who was part of the tour group, along with Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin and Tribal Councilor Rex Jordan, said he was pleased at the progress and happy about the number of Cherokees working at the job site.
In a June report, there were 57 percent TERO-certified personnel working at the job site.
“The new casino, which will have 525 games, a restaurant, a grab-and-go café, a live entertainment venue and a full service bar, will be over three times larger than the existing Cherokee Casino Tahlequah. That means 50 new jobs added to the 175 existing jobs for a total of 225. It’s a game changer for the Cherokee capital,” Hoskin said.
Also included in the plans are 33,000 square feet of convention and meeting space, according to a previous Cherokee Phoenix story.
The CN broke ground on March 26 on the new casino, which is expected to bring more entertainment, dining and convention options to the area.
“We’ve taken one of the largest tracts in Tahlequah’s main corridor and are using it to grow the economy and create jobs,” Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Shawn Slaton said. “We’ve attracted new restaurants and businesses and are now bringing first-class entertainment options to Cherokee Springs Plaza. We know this casino and economic development endeavor will have a lasting impact on the Cherokee Nation and the entire region.”
The current casino is at 16489 Highway 62 and will be donated to the CN’s Cherokee Immersion Charter School to help expand language programs for the tribe’s youth.
The CN broke ground on Cherokee Springs Plaza in 2014. The 154-acre retail, dining and entertainment development is next to Cherokee Springs Golf Course, the tribe’s 18-hole golf course. The plaza has since become home to a new auto dealership, the area’s first Taco Bueno, a Buffalo Wild Wings and a second Sonic Drive-In location.
“We believe in making sound investments that have a lasting impact on the Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee people,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “This new property will be a regional attraction for tourism and economic development and is a complement to the work happening at Cherokee Springs Plaza and all over the Tahlequah area.”
TAHLEQUAH – Local and regional members of the LBGTQ community on June 30 held the fifth annual TahlEquality Pride march and picnic. The march began at Choctaw Street and ended at Norris Park downtown.
Cherokee Nation citizen and Oklahomans for Equality: Tahlequah Chapter President Carden Crow said he was pleased with the turnout.
“We started in 2014. Now it’s 2018 and we’re going strong,” Crow said. “This is a chance for our LBGTQ community and our allies to come out and show our sense of camaraderie and community. This is an opportunity for our culture to celebrate themselves, celebrate their survival, celebrate who they are in this community.”
This year’s event consisted of the march, a daytime family drag show where performers dressed like Disney characters, vendors, speakers, a picnic and an adult drag show held later in the evening.
PARK HILL – After running 777 miles of the Trail of Tears’ Benge Route, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen Kallup McCoy II completed his run on June 28 at the Cherokee Heritage Center.
On his last day, McCoy made the final stretch from Stilwell to Park Hill with his girlfriend and EBCI citizen, Katelynn Ledford, and a group of Oklahoma Cherokees.
The runners were greeted at the CHC by Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band citizens, as well as CN Principal Chief Bill John Baker, CN Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and UKB Chief Joe Bunch.
McCoy ran into the CHC wearing a cape made of CN and UKB tribal flags tied together.
He said the run was not for him but for all Cherokees and to honor his ancestors who made the original journey due to the forced removals in the 1830s.
“I didn’t know what it meant to be Cherokee. I didn’t know what it meant to be proud of my culture, my people. Being out on this run, coming from where I came from and just getting up every day like our people had to do on their way out here and having to push through, I know what it means to be Cherokee, strong, resilient, tenacious, and to love and to forgive,” McCoy said.
He began the run to Oklahoma on May 14 in Cherokee, North Carolina. He averaged about 20 miles per day and stopped at several Trail of Tears markers. McCoy documented his journey via Facebook and met people along the way in support of his efforts.
He said he ran to raise awareness for people struggling and recovering from drug addiction and to raise funds for his nonprofit organization Rez HOPE Recovery. He said he was able to raise nearly $5,000.
“Whenever we see people for their experiences, we see people any differently than us, we’re falling short of the mark,” he said. “It’s not a drug problem we’re in, it’s an opportunity to win souls.
It’s an opportunity to heal our people. And the only way we’re going to do that is by banding together and putting aside our differences. God saved me from six overdoses and so many near death experiences, and three of those times I was flat lined.”
McCoy talked about his experiences at the CHC such as doing drugs at age 11 and drinking at age 13. He said he lost college scholarships to run track and play football and began stealing pain medication and money when his father was ill.
“I got to a point to where I couldn’t stand myself. It ultimately led me to getting sick. It turns us into people we don’t realize who we are,” he said.
McCoy said is now looking for the next opportunity, which is opening a recovery house in Cherokee and to start placing recovery houses around the country, including Oklahoma.
“Building leadership, people that’s struggling with drug addiction and alcohol or whatever it may be. I think that we need to realize that they’re more than just addicts and junkies and felons and the list goes on and on. I was once there, and I was more than that. I think it’s important for me to tell people to reach back and say you are more than that. That’s somebody’s son, daughter, sister, brother. It’s getting Rez HOPE out here, spreading it across the country. That’s my vision,” he said.
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation officials honored CN citizen Sammy Houseberg on June 21 with the Medal of Patriotism award for his service in the military.
The Medal of Patriotism Awards is given at monthly Tribal Council meetings. Tribal Councilors can nominate a person to receive the award.
Houseberg is also a “Remember the Removal” alumni rider who rode in 2016 as a CN Elder Ambassador. He was in town to watch this year’s riders come in the same day he received the patriotism award. Originally from Stilwell, Houseberg has resided in Pearl City, Hawaii, since he was honorably discharged from the Army.
During his 22 years of service, he rose in rank from private to first sergeant, armor senior sergeant, platoon sergeant to senior scout/section leader.
He also attended Air Assault reconnaissance and surveillance training with his cavalry squadron where he became capable of short notice deployments in support of combat operations all over the world to provide reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence assets to commanders.
Houseberg was honorably discharged as an E-8 first sergeant in 1994.
He said he was proud to receive the Medal of Patriotism and that it “probably beats all of my other awards.”
In addition to the Medal of Patriotism, he earned several decorations, medals and ribbons during his service including an Army Commendation Medal with five Oak Leaf Cluster, an overseas service ribbon, two Purple Hearts with one Oak Leaf Cluster, an Army Service ribbon, a Combat Infantryman’s badge, four overseas service bars, a Bronze Silver Star medal and six Vietnam Campaign medals.
“The military was good for me. It got me out to see the world. I got to learn how to work and deal with people. It was good to me. It was fun,” he said.
After receiving the award, Houseberg attended the welcome home ceremony for the 2018 RTR bike ride.
“The Removal bike ride taught me a lot about my history. I knew nothing about where my family comes from, where they were or anything,” he said.
He said he learned his family originated from Georgia and was one of the first families to be removed.
He added that he could not express how important it was for him to be back in Oklahoma to see the cyclists come in.
“I just feel like a part of them and riding with the RTR you become brothers and sisters when you do that. Kind of like being in the military, once you’ve done it you all get together, and you stay in touch with all the young riders I rode with,” he said.