http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee Nation citizen Ray Kirk holds the blade he made in the first “Iron Mountain Metal Craft Grudge Match” forging competition in September at the 14th annual Old Mill Heritage Day in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. On the table to his left are knives he’s made and kept since 1989. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Ray Kirk holds the blade he made in the first “Iron Mountain Metal Craft Grudge Match” forging competition in September at the 14th annual Old Mill Heritage Day in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. On the table to his left are knives he’s made and kept since 1989. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Kirk offers knowledge, quality knives this holiday season

Cherokee Nation citizen Ray Kirk holds the blade he forged in his shop on Oct. 16 at his shop in Park Hill, Oklahoma. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Ray Kirk twists the handle of a blade he forged in his shop Oct. 16 at his shop in Park Hill, Oklahoma. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Master knife maker Ray Kirk hammers a piece of hot steel to flatten it during the early stages of the knife-making process. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Master knife maker Ray Kirk keeps a close watch on steel as it heats in his gas-blown forge at his shop in Park Hill, Oklahoma. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Master knife maker Ray Kirk pulls a piece of hot steel from the forge during the middle stages of the knife-making process. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Two pieces of steel heat in a gas-powered forge during the early stages of the knife-making process at master knife maker Ray Kirk’s shop in Park Hill, Oklahoma. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Examples of knives that Cherokee Nation citizen Ray Kirk makes lay on a blanket at his shop in Park Hill, Oklahoma. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Ray Kirk holds the blade he forged in his shop on Oct. 16 at his shop in Park Hill, Oklahoma. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY MARK DREADFULWATER
Multimedia Editor – @cp_mdreadfulwat
11/24/2017 10:00 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Ray Kirk forged his first knife as a Christmas gift in 1989. Twenty-eight years later, he creates knives from steel for his livelihood.

“I’ve been retired since (20)04 and my knife-making is just what I do. I enjoy it,” he said.

The master knife maker works in a small gravel floor shop behind his house. Sounds of humming from the gas forge, knocking from the hydraulic hammer and the ‘ping’ from a hammer striking the hot steel echo throughout nearby woods. It’s there, he spends most of his day thinking of knife designs and bringing those ideas to life.

“I enjoy making knives. Right now I’m working on cross-between a little panabas and a karambit that is easy to make. It’s simple in design and it’s affordable. It’s always fun to figure out a new knife design and then figure out how to make it…easily, and it’s what I like to do.”

Kirk said he continually makes certain knives to keep in stock. He said he has the largest inventory this year that he’s had in a long time.

He takes custom orders, he said, but it should be a knife he’s used to making. He added that custom orders need to be planned and take more time to make.

“I don’t do wild, scary, scientific…blades,” he said. “I enjoy making using knives, mostly.”

Kirk said if someone custom orders a knife during the holiday season, he or she wouldn’t receive it until spring. “If I have something that they (customer) like, I might already have it in inventory. As far as a special knife of this design, this size, I couldn’t get to it.”

He said a special-ordered knife creates a “connection” between the maker and the buyer and adds more time to the creation process. “I do heirloom knives where I take some steel and wood…from a customer…and if it’s weldable, I’ll forge-weld it together, and I’ll add some of my steel and make a usable knife out of it. It takes longer sometimes. I made some out of a crescent wrench. How good of an edge it holds, I do not know, but the guy said it’s working good.”

Kirk said he sells knives ranging from $50 to $1,500 and offers discounts to veterans, active-duty military, police, fire fighters and Boy Scout leaders.

Along with forging knives to sell, Kirk also desires to teach his craft. He said he’s going to Auburn, Maine, in mid-November to teach a two-week introduction bladesmith class for the American Bladesmith Society. “It makes you feel good whenever someone shares your enjoyment…and you’re able to share it with them.”

Kirk said he plans to start a class at his shop next year and wants to hold sessions over multiple days instead of a few hours in the evenings. He plans to renovate a house on his property so attendees can have a place to stay.

“What my wife and I plan on doing is we’ll have a place for them to stay, and it will run about $400 for three days,” he said. “We’ll make my kind of knife, and they should be able to make two of them in three days.”

Kirk said, for the class, he’s going to accept two to four people per class. “If they pay $400, it’s like them buying two knives that they made plus they get to know how to do it.”

To purchase a knife, visit www.rakerknives.com or Kirk’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ray.kirk.5. For more information on classes, call 918-207-8076 or email ray@rakerknives.com.
About the Author
Mark Dreadfulwater has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2006. He began as a graphic designer, a position that exposed him to all factions of the organization. Upon completing his journalism degree from Northeastern State University in 2009, he was promoted to media specialist, switching his main focus to videography and visual journalism while maintaining his design duties. In 2012, he was promoted to multimedia editor.

He is a member of Native American Journalists Association, Society of Professional Journalists and Society for News Design.
MARK-DREADFULWATER@cherokee.org • 918-453-5087
Mark Dreadfulwater has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2006. He began as a graphic designer, a position that exposed him to all factions of the organization. Upon completing his journalism degree from Northeastern State University in 2009, he was promoted to media specialist, switching his main focus to videography and visual journalism while maintaining his design duties. In 2012, he was promoted to multimedia editor. He is a member of Native American Journalists Association, Society of Professional Journalists and Society for News Design.

People

BY STAFF REPORTS
07/10/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Three local Cherokee youths competed in the U.S. Kids Golf – Tulsa Spring Tour held between March and June that consisted of seven tournaments. Kylie Fisher, Edwin Wacoche and Chase Jones also competed in the season-ending Tour Championship at the Cherokee Hills Golf Course at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa on June 10. They received points based on how they finished in each tournament with each player with the most points winning the division. Fisher, of Tahlequah, competed in the Girls 7-Under Division and won all seven tournaments played at Tulsa-area golf courses, plus the championship on June 10 with a score of 36 for nine holes. Wacoche, of Tahlequah, won the Boys 6-under Division and Jones, of Park Hill, won the Boys 10 Division. Fisher also recently won the U.S. Kids Golf Texas State Invitational for girl’s 7-under held June 18-19, by shooting 35 and 35 for a score of 70. The competitors in the tournament played 9 holes each day at the Brookhaven Country Club in Farmers Branch, Texas. “We were surprised she won it. She shot her best score to date in that tournament,” her mother Shauna Fisher, said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/03/2018 12:45 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Arts Center, in conjunction with the Spider Gallery, will host an art exhibit by local Cherokee artist J. Wade Hannon titled “Returning to the Cherokee Nation: A Selection of Paintings from Before and After” from July 6 to Aug. 3. In 2014, Hannon moved to Tahlequah from Chicago’s south side where he lived and worked. His family was part of the migration out of the Cherokee Nation between 1930 and 1950. The paintings in the show feature works completed in Chicago as well as works finished since relocating to Tahlequah. His work is primarily abstract done in acrylics with items added such as glitter and mica flakes as well as shells and feathers he’s collected. He’s been referred to by some as the “Jackson Pollack of the Cherokee art world.” “Being Cherokee has always been a part of my identity. When I found the opportunity to move to Tahlequah it made perfect sense to me. I have enjoyed the camaraderie with other Indian artists and have grown as an artist and a person being here,” he said. “I started painting in the ninth grade and continued painting off and on until about five or so years ago when I took up the brushes full time.” Hannon earned a doctorate in counseling from the University of Arkansas. He worked in mental health counseling after that until obtaining a position at North Dakota State University in Fargo where he was a professor in the master’s and doctoral programs in counseling. Along the way he fathered two children. A reception, featuring wine, cheese and crackers and other adult beverages will be held at 5:30 p.m. on July 6 in the Cort Mall located downtown. The show will run during the Spider Gallery’s business hours. For more exhibit information, call 918-453-5728. For more information about Hannon, call 539-832-9858 or email <a href="mailto: wadehannon@gmail.com">wadehannon@gmail.com</a>.
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
06/28/2018 08:15 AM
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.
BY ROGER GRAHAM
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.”
BY ROGER GRAHAM
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="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2018/6/42327__peo_180606_CNrodeo_rg_ts.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the list of All-Indian Rodeo 2018 winners
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
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.