The Cherokee Nation’s Early Childhood Unit Tahlequah (Oklahoma) facility, also known as the Children’s Village, is one of seven ECU facilities to receive a safe room unit through an Indian Community Development Block grant provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The safe rooms will provide another layer of safety for children during tornado season. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
CN Head Starts to get safe rooms
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation received an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to install safe room units at seven Early Childhood Unit Head Start campuses in the tribe’s jurisdiction.
The safe rooms will be add-ons to existing buildings and used during tornado season.
“We want to provide the utmost safety for our children because that’s that highest priority. Having the storm shelters is a dream come true because we’ve always wanted to add another layer of safety for our children because we are in tornado alley in Oklahoma,” ECU Director Verna Thompson said.
Construction is slated to begin in May and must be completed in 24 months for all seven sites: Children’s Village in Tahlequah, Cherry Tree facility in Stilwell, Redbird facility in Stilwell, Jay facility, Kenwood facility, Wauhillau facility in Nowata and Pryor facility.
Six of the units will be 233 square feet each, with the largest being 1,300 square feet at the Children’s Village. All units will be constructed to withstand an EF-5 tornado, which is the highest rating on the Fujita scale used to measure a tornado’s intensity.
The shelters will service approximately 536 people, including children ages 6 weeks to 4 years old, teachers, staff and parents.
“It includes parents that might have siblings with them as they are picking up or dropping off if there’s a threat of a tornado then they can join the existing folks in the facilities,” Thompson said.
She said the current safety measures are “basic” and include tornado drills and moving children to a room with no windows. “Just like most houses around here don’t have the availability of storm shelters, they would go to a room with no windows like a closet.”
She said the drills are required and would be continued once the safe rooms are installed.
ECU lead teacher B.J. Garcia said in teaching young children he has to be repetitive with practicing drills so if the time comes to get to safety they won’t be so apprehensive or scared.
“One of the things that we have to remind our kiddos on a daily basis is if this does happen this is what we’re going to do,” he said.
Thompson said the safe room at the Children’s Village would double as a learning unit for gross motor development.
“In preparation to get the children comfortable with the routine, those facilities, this one especially, will be used as a gross motor. So when it’s constructed they can go over there comfortably, walk over there and be familiar with the facility so that it’s not a scary thing when they actually need to go,” she said.
The safe room units are a result of an effort between the ECU, CN Emergency Management and Marshal Service to apply for the grant. The CN was one of 77 tribes to receive a part of a $55.2 million award from HUD on Sept. 14 as part of an Indian Community Development Block Grant.
“This grant is providing a great opportunity to keep our students out of harm’s way during severe weather,” Education Services Deputy Executive Director Ron Etheridge said. “I can think of no better investment than in the safety of our children and the staff charged with teaching those students on a daily basis.”
TAHLEQUAH – Beginning this fall, Northeastern State University will increase the number of President’s Leadership Class scholarships awarded to incoming freshmen each year.
According to NSU officials, the President's Leadership Class is a unique leadership and scholarship program designed to cultivate the outstanding potential of proven student leaders.
Previously offered to about 15 incoming students each fall, the President’s Leadership Class scholarship will be awarded to 20 incoming freshmen in the fall 2018 semester and will increase to 25 over the next two years. The expansion will allow for a more comprehensive scholarship experience for student leaders, officials said.
In the fall 2018 semester, incoming members of the President’s Leadership Class will receive more than $5,000 per semester for four years for housing, tuition and foundation support.
“The President's Leadership Class is among the very best student aid programs in the state in terms of length (four years) and total value,” NSU President Steve Turner said. “By increasing the number of leadership scholarships over the next two years, we are demonstrating our commitment to meet our state's need for highly skilled college graduates.”?
Applicants for the President’s Leadership Class should display outstanding leadership capabilities and must have an exceptionally strong academic record. High school seniors are required to have an ACT composite score of 20 or higher for consideration. Applications are available online at <a href="http://www.scholarships.nsuok.edu" target="_blank">scholarships.nsuok.edu</a>.
NORMAN, Okla. – The application process for the Native American Journalists Association’s student-training program is open through Jan. 31.
The Native American Journalism Fellowship is a student-training program committed to creating the next generation of storytellers through hands-on training in a weeklong immersion experience with professional journalists.
“The Native American Journalism Fellowship is NAJA’s flagship program for Native media students. It has evolved over more than 25 years into a hands-on experience and has launched the careers of many successful NAJA members through mentorship, training and professional connections,” Rebecca Landsberry, NAJA executive director, said.
College and graduate students will be able to broaden their reporting and multimedia skills by receiving multimedia training, a professional NAJA mentor, skills for job-readiness, connections to media jobs and internships though NAJA’s national network and upper-level college credit hours.
Selected students will attend the 2018 National Native Media Conference set for July 16-22 in Miami, Florida, where they will attend regular meetings with a mentor and participate in all planned webinar trainings. Throughout the remainder of the fellowship, students are required to participate in online check-ins and trainings throughout the year, write and edit reporting assignments for inclusion on the NAJA Native Voice website and seek media-focused internships.
“All fellows attend our national conference with all expenses paid, covering the event and local community as working journalists. In addition, they get on-site newsroom experience working with some of the best Indigenous media professionals from across the U.S., including other fellows. It’s an immersive experience, and they really get a chance to dig into the nuances of covering Indian Country, ask questions in a safe space and emerge from the experience as better reporters,” Landsberry said.
Mentors can also apply to help oversee the fellows in their training.
Mentor requirements include being a current NAJA member in good standing; journalism experience in print, broadcast or digital media; and are encouraged to bring any professional equipment to the newsroom experience such as cameras, video equipment, recording gear, etc.
Visit <a href="http://www.naja.com" target="_blank">www.naja.com</a> to apply for the student fellowship or mentorship and to renew or become a new NAJA member. Annual memberships dues are $20 for college students and $55 for individual professional members.
For more information, email NAJA Education Committee Chairwoman Victoria LaPoe at <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Northeastern State University American Indian Heritage Committee is accepting proposals for individuals interested in presenting at the 46th annual Symposium on the American Indian.
Priority consideration will be given to proposals received by Dec. 15.
The symposium will be April 16-21 on NSU’s Tahlequah campus. The theme, “Walking with our Ancestors: Preserving Culture and Honoring Tradition,” will provide a space for the Indigenous community to examine American Indian history and reflect on how the collective past influences who American Indians are as Indigenous peoples today.
According to a NSU press release, American Indian people are often left out of conversations about minority groups, and many people believe they are only a part of the past not the present nor the future.
“On the contrary, American Indians are still here preserving their culture and honoring their traditions by incorporating this knowledge into their present day professional careers,” the release states. “While Indigenous communities may look different, they still managed to maintain their identity and hold fast to their language, sovereignty, and Indigenous ways of living.”
Proposals should focus on one of the following: cultural preservation, Indigenous knowledge (multi-disciplinary), history (from an Indigenous perspective), intergenerational/historical trauma (impact, healing, etc.), tribal sovereignty and/or language revitalization.
The committee will conduct a blind review of each proposal. The best proposals will articulate a clear objective and purpose as well as importance of the point of view to be expressed. Proposals need to show evidence of scholarly care, clear and effective argument and/or a basis in research. Proposals can be sent to <a href="https://offices.nsuok.edu/centerfortribalstudies/NSUSymposium.aspx" target="_blank">https://offices.nsuok.edu/centerfortribalstudies/NSUSymposium.aspx</a>.
The Symposium on the American Indian is a community event. There is no registration fee and events are open to the public.
For more information, visit <a href="http://www.cts.nsuok.edu" target="_blank">cts.nsuok.edu</a>
and follow the link to the NSU Symposium or email <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a> or call 918-444-4350.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Dec. 2, the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program graduated four students at a graduation ceremony in the Armory Municipal Center.
Larry Carney, of Tulsa; Ronnie Duncan, of Bell; Lisa O’Field, of Hulbert; and Toney Owens, of Rocky Mountain received a certificate of completion, copper gorget and Pendleton blanket.
Operated through the Cherokee Nation’s Community and Cultural Outreach, participants are taught the Cherokee language by master speakers Doris Shell, Cora Flute and Gary Vann. The program is geared towards teaching CN citizens to be proficient conversational Cherokee language speakers and teachers.
Howard Paden, CLMAP manager, said the program stemmed from a “need” for the language.
“This program gets people speaking our language again. You know, we seen a need for it because a lot of the (Cherokee) Immersion (Charter) School parents seen a need to not only push their kids to learn the language but to learn themselves and start having Cherokee speaking households,” Paden said.
Students spend two years and typically 40 hours a week learning the Cherokee language in a classroom from the master speakers. Students are also encouraged to visit with fluent Cherokee-speaking elders to practice and learn from them. However, to ensure individuals are able to dedicate the needed time to the program, they each receive a $10 an hour stipend.
“They learn a lot of Cherokee. From when they first walk into the classroom to probably two months they already learn about 5,000 words,” Paden said. “The first year is primarily learning as much as they can, and by the second year we expect them to start teaching. Of course they have a master speaker there that can assist them, but they begin to teach phrases to the next group that comes in. So every January we get a new group, so the people that are in their last year will begin teaching in January to the new group that we have coming in.”
Since its inception nearly three years ago, the program has graduated six students and is expected to graduate six more in 2018 and eight in 2019.
Gary Vann, CLMAP master speaker, said he’s seen an increase in applicants since the program’s first year.
“When we first started out there was only a handful of applicants, this past application process we saw 100 applications come in,” Vann said. “It makes me feel good because there are people out there that still want to learn our language and that are interested in speaking our language again, especially the younger generations.”
Owens, 30, said the program has influenced his life and set him on a path of teaching the Cherokee language.
“I’ve always wanted to learn Cherokee, and I heard about the program, and I couldn’t believe it was real. Now it kind of comes in to your everyday life you start to think about things different and naturally you start speaking Cherokee instead of English, so it just becomes your life, it becomes a part of who you are,” Owens said. “Since I will no longer be employed by the program I will have to find a form of income, but I will continue to pursue a teaching degree at Northeastern State University to hopefully teach Cherokee. My goal is to one day teach at the immersion school because it has the most chance of forming Cherokee speakers.”
Owens said he believes the program has helped him so much to become a proficient speaker that it’s the most effective way to acquire the language. He suggests the program to those who are interested in learning to speak the Cherokee language.
For more information, call 918-453-5445.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Foundation and Northeastern State University’s Native American Support Center hosted a scholarship workshop Nov. 28 for students wanting to get ahead of CNF’s Jan. 31 scholarship deadline.
“This is our first (workshop) through the Native American Support Center as far as hosting the Cherokee Nation Foundation, and so we are looking forward to working with them more and bringing them on campus and getting them involved in our program,” Jade Hansen, NASC advisement and career specialist, said.
The NASC, part of NSU’s Center for Tribal Studies, provides Native students services such as financial aid information to increase retention and graduation rates.
“We really focus these workshops for our new freshmen because a lot of things I’m seeing working here at NSU is that these students are running out of money going into their second year and their third year and their fourth year,” she said. “And so with CNF, it’s pretty much like a hidden gem. It’s getting that information out that a lot of students don’t really know about with the CNF programs.”
Hansen said she was a CNF scholarship recipient while attending NSU.
“Whenever I was in college I got this scholarship, and not a lot of people knew about it, and it helped out,” she said. “It takes a lot to apply for this scholarship as far as recommendation letters, transcripts and different things like that, but hopefully doing it now will get (students) prepared so they’re not waiting around last minute in January.”
Marisa Hambleton, CNF executive assistant, said CNF conducts workshops when an organization or school with a high number of Cherokee students reaches out to it.
“We’re more than happy to travel and come out and help those students apply for those scholarships,” she said. “We really try to reach any schools that really show an interest. We don’t have a specific (process) where we set it up and anything like that yet. With the more scholarships that we receive, we try to market that as best that we can.”
Hambleton said CNF scholarships are not income-based, and students who participate in the workshops should come prepared with updated transcripts and their CN citizenship cards.
The CNF scholarship application is a two-step process. Students must first visit <a href="http://www.cherokeenation.academicworks.com" target="_blank">www.cherokeenation.academicworks.com</a> and complete the general applications, which matches them to individual scholarships for which they are eligible to apply.
“The general application is just basic information, their name, their address, what school they’re interested, what field of study,” Hambleton said. “That information is then what matches them to specific scholarships, and then they apply for those scholarships individually.”
Hambleton said each scholarship includes at least one essay question and asks students to submit information for a reference questionnaire.
“A reference questionnaire is where the student chooses someone who is not a family member, someone that knows them like a teacher or a coach or someone in their community,” Hambleton said. “They’ll put in their email address and their name and it will send a link to a short survey that really asks them to rate the student from one to 10 in different areas.”
The Academic Works website also allows students to check if their reference questionnaires have been completed, and if not, students can resend the links or change their references.
Hambleton also said a student is not required to complete the application in one sitting.
“Our application’s pretty simple, and you can save for later if you need to, so it’s not just a one-time sit down,” she said. “Sometimes you don’t have all the information that you need right then and there, and so it’s easy for students to save and keep editing and then submit at a later date.”
CNF scholarship recipients will be notified by the end of the 2018 spring semester.
Students needing assistance with the scholarship application or organizations and schools interested in hosting a scholarship workshop should call 918-207-0950.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Northeastern State University’s Center for Tribal Studies is accepting applications for Emergency Fund Grants, which are designed to assist students with one-time emergencies.
The funds awarded are not intended for tuition, fees or campus housing. They are allocated for emergency needs that can affect a student’s ability to be successful in his or her academic endeavors. Emergency needs include transportation-related expenses, unexpected utility bill increases, loss in family income due to illness or death and expenses related to dependent care and/or food shortages.
Grant awards range from $20 to $400 and all applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.
The recipient must be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student at NSU, have proof of citizenship in a federally recognized tribe and be willing to complete the required three hours of volunteer service within 30 days of receiving the award.
More information about the grant and the application can be found at <a href="https://offices.nsuok.edu/centerfortribalstudies/Forms.aspx" target="_blank">https://offices.nsuok.edu/centerfortribalstudies/Forms.aspx</a>.