http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee Nation citizen Callie Chunestudy stands by her new hot water heater that she was able to purchase as a participant in the CN’s Commerce Services iSave program. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen Callie Chunestudy stands by her new hot water heater that she was able to purchase as a participant in the CN’s Commerce Services iSave program. COURTESY

iSave helps Cherokees save money for home rehab

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
10/23/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Commerce Services helps Cherokees whose homes are undergoing rehabilitation pay for the work with its Individual Development Account program known as iSave.

iSave teaches individuals to budget their incomes and how to save money. After saving money, the program matches those individuals’ savings.

“We were actually the very first Indian tribe to start a Individual Development Account program in 1998,” Commerce Services Executive Director Anna Knight said.

The program went through changes after Knight said she discovered Cherokees were mostly using funds for housing rehab.

“Now we focus specifically on housing rehab. And when we talk about rehab, we’re talking about improvements that are made to the home that increase the value of the home,” she said.

Improvements include adding storm windows, fencing the yard or enclosing a garage.

Another change is that participants are allowed to save money for up to six months before utilizing matched funds. Previously, participants were required to save for 24 months.

“We learned through our own clients that 24 months was sometimes just too long. If people don’t get gratification a little bit sooner in the process, then it makes them lose interest in the process,” Knight said.

Funded by the Native American Housing and Self Determination Act, Knight said iSave matches $3 for every $1 saved up to $1,000 and the match could be up to $3,000.

“Say in the first six months they save $500 and then they wanted to put in new air conditioning, they wanted to redo the floors in their house, something like that. We would match them $3 for every $1 that they saved. That would be $1,500,” Knight said.

The money saving program works with participating local banks helping people open accounts for as little as $30 to begin saving and have account fees waived.

“The philosophy behind that is that the bank is building a future customer, so later when this person needs to borrow money or needs to open another account, they’ll become a customer for that bank,” Knight said.

She said an important component is financial education. Through financial education, a participant is provided with a one-on-one financial coach, provided copies of his or her credit report, taught how to improve his or her credit, given lessons on how to pay off debt and taught how to look at his or her budget and find where he or she can save money.

“Once they go through the financial education then overwhelmingly they come back and tell how much they’ve learned from the classes, how much they’ve learned from the business coaches and didn’t really realize how much they did not know that was actually out there,” Knight said. “At every opportunity that we can we try to teach people to save.”

iSave has helped more than 550 participants so far. Participants are allowed to stay in the program up to 36 months.

CN citizen Callie Chunestudy is a participant who’s been in the program for nearly a year and half. Her home rehab includes purchasing a hot water heater and she’s in the process of having drainage work on her property to help keep her home from flooding.

Chunestudy said the program is “wonderful” and helps her afford renovations she would otherwise not be able to afford.

“If you can take the initiative to save a little bit of the money yourself, which they’re asking you do, which is kind of a self-help program, then they’ll also pitch in and increase that money exponentially so that you can get your project finished,” Chunestudy said.

Chunestudy said she’s learned to outline a plan and budget her funds for the types of projects she wants done.

“You’ve got to budget your projects and figure out what you want to work on and get finished. You can’t just sit on it forever and wait for something to happen to the house. You kind of have to have a plan for what you want to use it for,” she said.

A participant must meet the National Median Income guidelines, be a citizen of a federally recognized tribe and own a home.

For more information, call 918-453-5536 or email sbac@cherokee.org.
About the Author
Lindsey Bark grew up and resides in the Tagg Flats community in Delaware County. She graduated from Northeastern State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, emphasizing in journalism. She started working for the Cherokee Phoenix in 2016.
 
Working for the Cherokee Phoenix, Lindsey hopes to gain as much knowledge as she can about Cherokee culture and people. She is a full-blood Cherokee and a citizen of the United Keetoowah Band.
 
Her favorite activities are playing stickball and pitching horseshoes. She is a member of the Nighthawks Stickball team in Tahlequah and enjoys performing stickball demonstrations in various communities. She is also a member of the Oklahoma Horseshoe Pitchers Association and competes in sanctioned tournaments throughout the state.
 
Previously a member of the Native American Journalists Association, she has won three NAJA awards and hopes to continue as a member with the Cherokee Phoenix.
lindsey-bark@cherokee.org • 918-772-4223
Lindsey Bark grew up and resides in the Tagg Flats community in Delaware County. She graduated from Northeastern State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, emphasizing in journalism. She started working for the Cherokee Phoenix in 2016. Working for the Cherokee Phoenix, Lindsey hopes to gain as much knowledge as she can about Cherokee culture and people. She is a full-blood Cherokee and a citizen of the United Keetoowah Band. Her favorite activities are playing stickball and pitching horseshoes. She is a member of the Nighthawks Stickball team in Tahlequah and enjoys performing stickball demonstrations in various communities. She is also a member of the Oklahoma Horseshoe Pitchers Association and competes in sanctioned tournaments throughout the state. Previously a member of the Native American Journalists Association, she has won three NAJA awards and hopes to continue as a member with the Cherokee Phoenix.

Services

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/20/2018 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Phoenix is now taking names of elders and military veterans to provide free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper. In November, Cherokee Nation Businesses donated $10,000 to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Fund. The fund provides free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper to elders 65 and older and military veterans who are Cherokee Nation citizens. Subscription rates are $10 for one year. “The Elder/Veteran Fund was put into place to provide free subscriptions to our Cherokee elders and veterans,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “Some of our elders and veterans are on a very limited budget, and other items have a priority over buying a newspaper subscription. The donations we receive have a real world impact on our elders and veterans, so every dollar donated to the Elder Fund is significant.” Using the Elder/Veteran Fund, elders who are 65 and older as well as veterans can apply to receive a free one-year subscription by visiting, calling or writing the Cherokee Phoenix office and requesting a subscription. The Cherokee Phoenix office is located in the Annex Building on the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The postal address is Cherokee Phoenix, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465. To call about the fund, call 918-207-4975 or 918-453-5269 or email justin-smith@cherokee.org or joy-rollice@cherokee.org. No income guidelines have been specified for the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veteran Fund, and free subscriptions will be given as long as funds last. Tax-deductible donations for the fund can also be sent to the Cherokee Phoenix by check or money order specifying the donation for the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veteran Fund. Cash is also accepted at the Cherokee Phoenix offices and local events where Cherokee Phoenix staff members are accepting Elder/Veteran Fund donations. The Cherokee Phoenix also has a free website, <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org" target="_blank">www.cherokeephoenix.org</a>, that posts news seven days a week about the Cherokee government, people, history and events of interest. The monthly newspaper is also posted in PDF format to the website at the beginning of each month.
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
01/17/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Seed Bank is set to go live for online orders on Feb. 1. The Heirloom Garden and Native Plant Site produces enough seeds to disperse around 2,000 to 5,000 seed packets per year, depending on growing conditions. “We’re actually in two years of what I would considered fairly poor growing conditions. It hasn’t been catastrophic, but it wasn’t the best. We’re going to say just a little bit above average. It takes some really bad stuff for us to not be able to make a product for folks,” Environmental Resources Senior Director Pat Gwin said. He said the growing season is dependent on 4-inch soil temperatures. The ideal temperature for most plants to grow in is 65 degrees to 70 degrees. “Last year, unfortunately that didn’t happen until June 1. We’ve actually put some things in the ground prior to that and it was just a disaster,” he said. A planting guide comes with each seed order that contains information such as when to plant, soil temperatures, amount of sun exposure and germination. The Seed Bank generally offers around 20 to 30 variations of seeds per year. However, in the Seed Bank proper there are more than 100 varieties of plants growing. Gwin said this is because some plants are not flowering every year. He said crops such as corn, tobaccos, and gourds are “fairly simple” to grow and are not weather dependent unlike native heirloom plants. “The native plants are just as much, or even a little bit more so, a part of the Cherokee culture than are the crops. The native plants are harder to deal with because most of the native plants, about 99 percent of the plants that we have over there, that’s not where they want to be. A lot of very important cultural Cherokee plants are grown in an understory, wetland-cool-type environment. We’re out in the middle of a field over there so it’s pretty tough,” Gwin said. The Heirloom Garden was started in 2006 and produces native plants and crops important in Cherokee culture. The Cherokee Language Program ensures that the Cherokee names of the plants and crops are not lost. Most of the plants and crops are found around the CN and North Carolina. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has shared many native plants with the CN. To create an account and order seed packets, visit <a href="https://secure.cherokee.org/seedbank" target="_blank">https://secure.cherokee.org/seedbank</a>. Follow the instructions to order. Seeds are only available to CN, United Keetoowah Band and EBCI citizens. For more information or to submit questions, email seedbank@cherokee.org or call 918-453-5336. <strong>Seeds Available in 2018</strong> <strong>Heirloom Crops</strong> <strong>Corn (Zea mays):</strong> Cherokee Flour – a large flour corn Colored (multi-colored) White Yellow Cherokee White Eagle – a dent corn <strong>Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)</strong> Cherokee Long Greasy Trail of Tears (a small jet black bean) Turkey Gizzard Black Brown <strong>Squash (Cucurbita maxima)</strong> Georgia Candy Roaster (a long storing squash that can be prepared as squash, sweet potatoes or pumpkin) <strong>Gourds (Lagenaria siceraria)</strong> Basket Dipper Jewel Buffalo Gourds (Cucurbita foetidissima) <strong>Trail of Tears Beans</strong> Indian Corn Beans (Coix lacrima) <strong>Tobacco</strong> Native Tobacco (Nicotiana rustica) – ceremonial tobacco, not smoking tobacco and restricted to those at least 18 years of age <strong>Native Plants</strong> Buttonbush Cutleaf Coneflower Hearts-a-bustin Jewelweed New Jersey Tea Possum Grape Purple Coneflower Rattlesnake Master Rivercane Sunchoke Wild Senna
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/13/2018 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Phoenix recently made a change to its Elder Fund to make U.S. military veterans eligible for free yearlong subscriptions to the Cherokee Phoenix. Thanks in part to a donation from Cherokee Nation Businesses, as well as donations from Cherokee Phoenix individual subscribers, it was possible to expand the fund to include Cherokee veterans of any age. “The Elder Fund was created to provide free subscriptions to Cherokee elders 65 and older,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “Due to an influx of recent donations, we had the ability to extend the Elder Fund to include Cherokee veterans. We will continue to give free subscriptions to our elders and veterans as long as we have money in our Elder & Veteran Fund.” Using the newly renamed Elder & Veteran Fund, elders who are 65 and older and Cherokee veterans of any age can apply to receive a free one-year subscription by visiting, calling or writing the Cherokee Phoenix office and requesting a subscription. The Cherokee Phoenix office is located in the Annex Building on the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The postal address is Cherokee Phoenix, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465. To call about the Elder & Veteran Fund, call 918-207-4975 or 918-453-5269 or email <a href="mailto: justin-smith@cherokee.org">justin-smith@cherokee.org</a> or <a href="mailto: joy-rollice@cherokee.org">joy-rollice@cherokee.org</a>. No income guidelines have been specified for the Elder & Veteran Fund, and free subscriptions will be given as long as funds last. Tax-deductible donations for the fund can also be sent to the Cherokee Phoenix by check or money order specifying the donation for the Elder & Veteran Fund. Cash is also accepted at the Cherokee Phoenix offices and local events where Cherokee Phoenix staff members are accepting Elder & Veteran Fund donations. The Cherokee Phoenix also has a free website, www.cherokeephoenix.org, that posts news seven days a week about the Cherokee government, people, history and events of interest. The monthly newspaper is also posted in PDF format to the website at the beginning of each month.
BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
12/29/2017 01:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation Businesses in November donated $10,000 to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Fund, which provides free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper to elders who are Cherokee Nation citizens. “The Elder/Veteran Fund was put into place to provide free subscriptions to our Cherokee elders and veterans,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “Some of our elders and vets are on a very limited budget, and other items have a priority over buying a newspaper subscription. The donations we receive have a real world impact on our elders and vets, so every dollar donated to the Elder/Veteran Fund is significant.” Using the Cherokee Phoenix fund, elders who are 65 and older as well as any Cherokee veteran can apply to receive a free one-year subscription by visiting, calling or writing the Cherokee Phoenix office and requesting a subscription. The Cherokee Phoenix office is located in the Annex Building on the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The postal address is Cherokee Phoenix, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465. To call about the fund, call 918-207-4975 or 918-453-5269 or email <a href="mailto: justin-smith@cherokee.org">justin-smith@cherokee.org</a> or <a href="mailto: joy-rollice@cherokee.org">joy-rollice@cherokee.org</a>. Subscription rates are $10 for one year, $18 for two years and $26 for three years. The Cherokee Phoenix also has a free website, www.cherokeephoenix.org, that posts news seven days a week about the Cherokee government, people, history and events of interest. The monthly newspaper is also posted in PDF format to the website at the beginning of each month. No income guidelines have been specified for the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veteran Fund, and free subscriptions will be given as long as funds last. Tax-deductible donations for the fund can also be sent to the Cherokee Phoenix by check or money order specifying the donation for the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veteran Fund. Cash is also accepted at the Cherokee Phoenix offices and local events where Cherokee Phoenix staff members are accepting Elder/Veteran Fund donations. Those who donate can also have entries submitted for them into the Cherokee Phoenix’s quarterly artist giveaway. For every $10 donated or spent on Cherokee Phoenix merchandise, a person gets one entry into the quarterly drawing. The next drawing is Jan. 2 when it gives away handcrafted wooden art by Cherokee artist Jay Cox of Notchietown Hardwoods.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
12/27/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Since 1977, the Cherokee Nation Women, Infants and Children Program has assisted more than 6,700 Native and non-Native American individuals each month with food, wellness and health services. “Cherokee Nation WIC is unique in that we are located and operate within our health clinics and hospital operations and offer a more one-stop-shopping to health care,” CN WIC Director Brenda Carter said. The federally funded program began in 1974 and extended to CN clinics and hospitals in 1977 to help pregnant and nursing women, as well as infants and children from birth to 5 years old living in the tribe’s jurisdiction. It seeks to improve the well-being of mothers, infants and children by helping predict future and public health challenges for families, communities and the health care system. “Studies have shown that the WIC Program is effective in protecting or improving the health and nutrition status of low-income women, infants and children,” Carter said. Enrollment in WIC has led to “fewer premature births and low-birth weight infants, fetal deaths, and infant mortality,” as well as a decreased incidence of iron deficiency in children, Carter said. Nutrition education is one of the program’s main services. Eligible families receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer card, or eWIC, to shop for healthy foods at authorized grocery stores, and it allows them to complete nutrition counseling. “Nutrition education is offered primarily through one-on-one nutrition counseling,” Carter said. “WIC nutrition education is participant-centered, designed to meet the needs of each participant. Through WIC nutrition education, families can learn to make healthy food and lifestyle choices.” Nutrition counseling discusses topics such as best feeding practices for children and how women can eat healthy during pregnancy. WIC also assists new and expecting mothers by promoting and providing breastfeeding support. Whether through education or giving free breast pumps to eligible participants, Carter said all WIC employees undergo breastfeeding training and “have a role” to play. Additionally, WIC can assist women and children through its ability to make referrals. “Partnerships with other public health and social services programs are a key to WIC’s success,” Carter said. “WIC encourages all participants to receive complete health care and does make participant referrals to health care services…” For individuals who identify as Native American, public health service referrals can be made in areas such as drug and alcohol counseling, smoking cessation counseling, behavioral health, family planning, immunizations and general medical care. Referrals to social services programs can also be given regardless of Native American descent to programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SoonerCare, emergency shelters, housing assistance, food banks and domestic violence programs. “Cherokee Nation WIC also works within the communities to offer our non-Indian participants with referrals to health and social services programs available in local areas,” Carter said. For more information, call 918-453-5000, ext. 5589 or visit any WIC clinic. Individuals interested in applying will need an appointment to determine nutritional risk and must provide an address, proof of identification and income statements. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2017/12/11850__ser02_171219_WIC.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to read</a>the WIC Income Eligibility Guidelines. <strong>Cherokee Nation WIC eligibility criteria</strong> 1. To be categorically eligible, a WIC applicant must be a/an: • Women who are pregnant (through pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after birth or pregnancy ends), • Breastfeeding woman with an infant under the age of 12 months, • Non-breastfeeding woman up to 6 months postpartum, • Infant under 12 months of age, or • Child 1 to 5 years of age. 2. Meet the CN WIC Program’s residency requirements. 3. Have an income that is at or below the WIC income guidelines. 4. Meet identification requirements. 5. Be physically present at the eligibility screening appointment or meet one of the exceptions. 6. Have a nutrition risk – a health condition or diet problem that can be helped with nutritious WIC foods and nutrition education. <strong>Cherokee Nation WIC locations</strong> Claremore Indian Hospital 101 S. Moore Ave. Claremore, Oklahoma Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital 100 S. Bliss Tahlequah, Oklahoma Sam Hider Health Center 859 E. Melton Drive Jay, Oklahoma A-MO Salina Health Center 900 Owen Walters Blvd. Salina, Oklahoma Redbird Smith Health Center 301 S. J.T. Stites Ave. Sallisaw, Oklahoma Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center Hwy 51 East Stilwell, Oklahoma Indian Health Care Resource Center 550 S. Peoria Ave. Tulsa, Oklahoma Will Rogers Health Center 1020 Lenape Drive Nowata, Oklahoma Three Rivers Health Center 1001 S. 41st St. East Muskogee, Oklahoma Westville WIC Office Bushyhead Heights Community Building Westville, Oklahoma Cherokee Nation Vinita Health Center 27371 S. 4410 Road Vinita, Oklahoma Kansas WIC Office 211 N. Hwy 10 Kansas, Oklahoma
BY STAFF REPORTS
12/14/2017 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation will accept College Housing Assistance Program applications for the spring 2018 semester starting Jan. 2. The CHAP will provide up to $1,000 per semester for housing costs up to 125 students. Eligible applicants must be a citizen of a federally recognized tribe and reside within the Cherokee Nation. Applications will be accepted through Jan. 12. Applicants must also meet Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act income guidelines as well as other eligibility requirements, according to the CHAP policy. Priority will be given to CN citizens and students who were served on the program the previous semester. The CHAP is a NAHASDA-funded program designed to assist low-income CN citizens and other Native American students in securing safe and affordable housing while seeking a first-time bachelor’s degree and maintaining full-time student status at an accredited institute of higher education. For more information, call 918-456-5482.