http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee Nation citizen Feather Smith-Trevino stands in front of her home she and her husband purchased through the CN’s Mortgage Assistance Program. The program provides funds to first-time homeowners to help them buy a house. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen Feather Smith-Trevino stands in front of her home she and her husband purchased through the CN’s Mortgage Assistance Program. The program provides funds to first-time homeowners to help them buy a house. COURTESY

MAP helps Cherokees obtain homeownership

Cherokee Nation citizen Morgan Hogner and her husband stand in front of the home they built through the CN’s Mortgage Assistance Program. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen Morgan Hogner and her husband stand in front of the home they built through the CN’s Mortgage Assistance Program. COURTESY
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
11/28/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Mortgage Assistance Program, located within Commerce Services, helps qualified Cherokees become first-time homeowners through homeownership preparation and down payment assistance.

“A house is a person’s biggest investment that they’re ever going to make in their life, basically. And it’s an appreciable asset, so it increases in value over time,” Commerce Services Executive Director Anna Knight said.

The MAP provides participants classes that educates them of the process of becoming a homeowner such as pre-qualifying for a non-predatory loan, having good credit, finding a realtor, finding a home and having the home inspected.

The program is income-based and funded through the Native American Housing and Self Determination Act program. To qualify, a participant must be a citizen of a federally recognized tribe, household income must not exceed 80 percent of the current National Median Household income, attend homebuyers education classes, not owe any outstanding delinquent debt to the CN and purchase a home in the CN jurisdiction.

The program recently underwent policy changes regarding the amount of assistance for which a participant is eligible, the housing price and the definition of a homebuyer.

Knight said prior to the changes, eligible participants received $20,000 in assistance and down payment. The new policy tiers the funds based on income, which enables MAP to help more people with a 3 percent down payment and closing cost.

The tier system, per the National Median Household income, states that 60 percent and below receive $20,000; 60.01 percent to 70 percent receive $15,000; and 70.01 percent up to the maximum of 80 percent income receive $10,000.

Prior maximum housing prices went up to $200,000. Now the limit is $150,000.

The definition of a homebuyer used to be a participant could not have owned a home in the past three years. Now participants must have never owned a home to be eligible.

Since the program’s 2008 inception, 1,707 participants have become homeowners such as CN citizen Feather Smith-Trevino.

Smith-Trevino and her husband entered the program in 2010, at a time when they rented an apartment but wanted something permanent.

“I never really like renting. I always felt like that I wanted to put our money towards something that was going to last longer. I wanted a house of our own,” she said.

Not knowing anything about homeownership, the couple was in the program for nearly a year before purchasing a home in July 2011.

“We knew that we wanted to be able to get a house that we were going to be happy in and be able to live,” Smith-Trevino said. “We’ve been in our house now for six years.”

CN citizen Morgan Hogner and her husband participated in MAP intending to build a home.

“The program has helped us tremendously with budgeting. It has also greatly expanded our knowledge of the processes of construction and financing a new home,” Hogner said.

Applying for MAP in 2014, Hogner said she and her husband attended the required homebuyers classes and monthly meetings with their counselor while planning their home’s construction by drawing up floor plans and getting necessary construction estimates.

“The process took a long time to complete for us due to the fact that we were doing our build in baby steps. We were trying to play it smart as to not overwhelm ourselves and get in over our heads,” Hogner said.

Hogner moved into her new home in August. She said the home was created to be “self-sufficient” meaning it is solar-powered, has well water, is designed to vent heat without an air conditioner to keep it cooler in the summer and has three layers of insulation to retain heat for the winter.

“We are very grateful for this program. We figured it would be years before we would be able to even start with construction on our own. We truly appreciate the tremendous love and support our family has given us throughout our journey,” Hogner said.

For more information, visit http://www.cherokee.org/sbac/Mortgage-Assistance-Program-MAP.
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.