http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgSeveral Cherokee Freedmen gather for the Dec. 11 Rules Committee meeting in the Tribal Complex in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. In the meeting the Tribal Council indefinitely tabled legislation to appeal a federal ruling that gives Freedmen tribal citizenship rights. BRANDON SCOTT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Several Cherokee Freedmen gather for the Dec. 11 Rules Committee meeting in the Tribal Complex in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. In the meeting the Tribal Council indefinitely tabled legislation to appeal a federal ruling that gives Freedmen tribal citizenship rights. BRANDON SCOTT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Freedmen legislation tabled indefinitely, suit filed

Tribal Councilors Mike Shambaugh, left, and Bryan Warner talk to fellow legislator David Walkingstick on Dec. 11 about his legislation that called for a vote on whether to appeal a court ruling that gives Cherokee Freedmen tribal citizenship rights. BRANDON SCOTT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Tribal Councilors Mike Shambaugh, left, and Bryan Warner talk to fellow legislator David Walkingstick on Dec. 11 about his legislation that called for a vote on whether to appeal a court ruling that gives Cherokee Freedmen tribal citizenship rights. BRANDON SCOTT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
12/22/2017 01:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During the Dec. 11 Rules Committee meeting, Tribal Councilors voted to indefinitely table David Walkingstick’s legislation calling for a vote on whether to appeal a federal court ruling that gives Freedmen tribal citizenship.

“The Tribal Council hasn’t made a decision to appeal or not appeal,” Walkingstick said. “We’ve tabled it, but the only way we’re going to be able to get this appealed is our legislators are going to have to not waver and make an informed decision on behalf of the Cherokee Nation constituents and the Cherokee Nation government.”

Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez motioned to table, saying the decision to do so was correct.

“Councilman Walkingstick has had many options during the past three months to express his views on this issue. His belated and hasty attempt to push unconstitutional legislation was a poor choice on his part,” she said. “I felt obliged to propose an option to councilors which would let us return our focus on issues like education, health care, housing and cultural preservation, rather than some futile effort to pass unconstitutional legislation.”

Walkingstick said as a legislator he demands “difficult” issues be dealt with.

“I’m having a hard time understanding why we’re not trying to protect our sovereignty and defend our Constitution. Just because you’re opposed of certain subjects you don’t want to discuss or debate the opposition, it’s cowardly,” he said.

Walkingstick also said Principal Chief Bill John Baker’s administration has pressured legislators on how to vote on the issue. “The administration is putting pressure on our Council and trying to intimidate them and more or less bully them to make certain decisions, and that’s why it was tabled indefinitely on Monday (Dec. 11) is due to the pressure from the administration.”

However, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said that wasn’t the case.

“We as a rule do not, and in this instance absolutely did not, engage in bullying and intimidation as Councilor Walkingstick alleges,” he said. “Councilman Walkingstick is frustrated over his failed attempt at legislation, and his frustration appears to have gotten the better of him for him to make such a claim.”

Marilynn Vann, Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes Association president, said she’s pleased with the decision yet concerned because the bill only targets Freedmen and not Delaware and Shawnee citizens.

“The very people that shout they want a tribe that’s all Cherokee by blood, they haven’t gone out here and started a movement to remove adopted Delaware, adopted Shawnee…other people who’ve been adopted. Their ancestors were adopted in different times and put on the Dawes Rolls. They’ve never done that,” she said. “So why single out the Freedmen people to be thrown out of the tribe against our will? We just want to take our place as tribal members.”

Walkingstick said he plans to follow procedural rules and re-introduce the bill pending a ruling by U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan. He said a “final order” was not given during a December conference in Washington, D.C., and that the next meeting was planned for January.

As of publication, the Cherokee Phoenix had not received a response from the attorney general’s office regarding the December conference.

Walkingstick, Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard and several CN citizens also filed a motion in the CN Supreme Court asking it to order the attorney general’s office to appeal the CN v. Nash, Vann and Interior Department ruling.

He said the bill and motion are needed so the tribe can “determine its citizenship.”

“The Nation is not much of a sovereign nation if it cannot determine its own citizenship. The federal Nash opinion turns the Cherokee Nation into a heritage club by allowing a third party to decide Cherokee Nation’s citizenship,” he said.

The motion also asks the court to withdraw its order instructing the CN to accept Freedmen citizenship applications. It also seeks to find that the Nash decision is not a final judgment and the tribe should litigate it to the fullest degree, including an appeal.

The Phoenix could not reach Attorney General Todd Hembree or his office for comment.

However, Hembree has previously stated the federal ruling was an order. “This is a decision that was based on the law and the facts of the case that required an legal interpretation. It’s not a settlement of the case as he (Walkingstick) alluded to in his act. It is a decision to abide by a court’s order.”

Walkingstick said he also hopes the court finds that Hembree violated the Attorney General Act by not appealing the ruling. “How he violated it was he didn’t consult the clients, which is the Tribal Council. That AG act clearly states that the Tribal Council and the principal chief, we authorize any litigation that has to deal with programming or sovereignty issues.”

However, Hembree has previously stated he believes he upheld his oath as attorney general. “I believe that I’ve upheld the oath that I took as attorney general, and I believe that I have protected the interest of the Cherokee Nation and have, in fact, promoted its sovereignty by agreeing to uphold previsions of a treaty that was signed between the Cherokee Nation and the United States.”

Walkingstick said he also hopes the motion leads to the court rescinding its “preliminary order.”

“If they rescind that, it will give the Tribal Council an opportunity to have a authorization in the finalization of the appeal process,” he said.

The Phoenix attempted to contact Buzzard but was unsuccessful as of publication.

Click here to readthe Motion to Intervene, For Writ of Mandamus.

Click here to readthe letter from the Office of the Attorney General.


04/19/2018 12:00 PM
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – “An Indigenous Response to #MeToo” is a half-hour Rematriation Magazine film featuring cultural change-makers from Haudenosaunee Six Nations territories and the Guachichil de La Gran Chichimeca. The film’s purpose is to share a culturally grounded response to address the #MeToo movement in Indigenous communities, start conversations and lean into culturally based solutions. Recently, more than 70 Indigenous people from across Haudenosaunee territories and communities around the world met for the 2018 launch of Rematriation Magazine – “Returning the Sacred to the Mother” at Syracuse University S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Rematriation Magazine, an Indigenous women’s online publication, will include feature stories, videos, podcasts, interactives and other multi-media offerings focusing on topics important to Indigenous women. During the meeting, the women and men also discussed the #MeToo movement and how it has differed in Indigenous communities across Turtle Island from the mainstream. “An Indigenous Response to #MeToo” was a result of this discussion. “The #MeToo movement has taken the country by storm and this is why I asked a group of Indigenous people to come together to discuss what is – and what is not – going on so that we can extend the conversation into our communities and take control of the narrative,” Michelle Schenandoah, Rematriation Magazine CEO and editor-in-chief, said. “We are not part of the mainstream society; yet knowing how pervasive sexual abuse is in our communities, this film provides a backdrop to explore this issue in our own way.” Schenandoah said the mainstream trend has been to outcast prominent men accused of sexual harassment, but asked what does #MeToo look like for Indigenous people. “There is no recourse for both men and women in the mainstream and there really hasn’t been much direction beyond this point for the movement. As Indigenous people, we’ve been working to address sexual abuse a lot longer than in the mainstream.” She said the film was intended to start group conversations within Indigenous communities. “We highlight examples of women and men who’ve created change by leaning into traditional teachings and ceremonies – and the impacts have been profound,” she said. “Acceptance of the mainstream does not have to be our response; it’s not the healthiest option for our communities and we have our culture to help guide us.” Rematriation Magazine sponsored the film for free viewing by Indigenous nations, organizations, health care providers, educators, community members and those interested in joining the conversation. Visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a> to access “An Indigenous Response to #MeToo” on Vimeo. To support similar projects, Rematriation is accepting online contributions at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. The producers are also available for community screenings with discussions.
04/19/2018 08:15 AM
EUCHA – Threats of thunderstorms and cold weather did not hold back nearly 60 flat-bottom boats carrying two-person teams from competing in the annual National Green Country Giggers Association Tournament on April 13-14 at Lake Eucha in Delaware County. In its 46th year, the tournament has become more popular each year. “When we started out there was probably about 12 or 14 boats entered. We’ve had as high as 80 or 90 (boats),” Clifton Hughes, NGCGA board member and Cherokee Nation citizen, said. Hughes said the tournament brings in between 5,000 and 8,000 people during the weekend and that more than two-thirds of the competitors have Native American heritage. CN citizen Doug Postoak said this year was his 12th tournament. “I’ve participated for about 12 years, but we’ve been gigging all of our lives down here,” he said. “This thing started out pretty much with a bunch of us Cherokee boys. We used to get up and wade this creek, and it was two-prong gigging during the daytime. It’s a whole different level now, how far it’s evolved.” Postoak said he’s won two tournaments. His partner, CN citizen John Henry Ward, has won six and makes the three-prong gigs used in competition. “It takes about two hours to make one of them. It’s one of those things of you’re not ever going to get rich doing them, but it’s a fun little hobby and something people around here have to have. It’d be kind of hard to go if we didn’t have any gigs,” Ward said. He said most gigs are made using spring steel for prongs and walnut, ash, oak, poplar or black cherry for handles. Most gigs are around 12 feet long. “Most of the water you go gigging in is 3 feet or lower. Some of it’s a little deeper. But you get in a little deeper, the fish is a little further away, you need a little bit more pole so you can get out there to them,” Ward said. He said his father helped start the tournament in the 1970s, so he’s been around gigging most of his life. Hughes said competitors can use any light source, a 15-horsepower or less motor in a flat-bottom aluminum boat, up to a three-pronged gig and only “rough” non-game fish can be caught, which includes redhorse, white bass and carp. Two people comprise the teams – one to gig and one to operate the motor. “The placement on fish like redhorse is the hardest fish to find because they’re the fastest and they’re five points a pound. Suckers are four points a pound. Bass are three, and carp and anything like perch is one point per pound. Then they combine all the points of the two nights,” Hughes said. He said they place the top 10 teams by points. Takeoff on the first night is at 9 p.m. and giggers have two hours to gig and bring their fish in to be weighed. On the second day, usually a Saturday, all the fish caught from the night before are cleaned and cooked for a free fish fry. As nightfall comes around, competitors are ready for the second night of gigging. “It’s a great deal. It’s a family deal. If you’ll come out here on a regular night, dads will have their little kids out there gigging,” Hughes said.
04/18/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Musicians, food trucks, a kids’ zone, a vintage plane fly-in, coon hunt, car show and art in the downtown square are all part of this year’s Red Fern Festival. The festival honors the story “Where the Red Fern Grows,” which was written by Cherokee Nation citizen Woodrow Wilson Rawls from nearby Scraper. The book was published in 1961 and was adapted into a movie that was released in 1974. A second movie based on Rawls’ book was released in 2003. The original movie will be shown at 8 p.m. on April 27 in Norris Park. “Where the Red Fern Grows” is about a boy who buys and trains two redbone coon-hunting dogs in the Ozark hills of northeastern Oklahoma. The movie follows the boy as he competes in coon-hunting contests and other adventures with his dogs. Both movies were shot in and around the Tahlequah area with Rawls serving as a consultant for the first movie. Rawls was born on Sept. 24, 1913, in Scraper on his Cherokee mother Winnie (Hatfield) Rawls’ allotment land. His father Minzy Rawls took the family west during the Great Depression that caused economic hardship for people in the 1930s. Woodrow Wilson Rawls’ papers are located at the Cherokee Heritage Center. In honor of the hound dogs in Rawls’ story, hound dog field trials will take place at 10 a.m. on April 28 in Sequoyah Park. Also, on April 28, several antique and ex-military planes will fly into the city’s airport west of town and will be joined by model planes exhibits, static displays from the military and emergency services as well as an antique tractor display. City officials said they have a bigger role in this year’s Red Fern Festival. “The city has always supported these type of events by the Tahlequah Main Street Association, but this year we’re trying to enhance the festival with the addition of the events located at our airport,” Tahlequah Public Relations Specialist Jami Murphy said. The festival is still seeking vendors in arts and crafts and food. If interested, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a> for more information or for a complete list of events and times. “Honestly, there are so many things for you and your family to do during the week and weekend of Red Fern. You just don’t want to miss any of it,” Murphy said.
04/17/2018 04:00 PM
MUSKOGEE – The Cherokee Nation’s Three Rivers Health Center at 1001 S. 41st St. E. will host a Safe Kids Tulsa Area car seat checkup event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 25. Visitors can learn how to install children’s car seats or booster seats or find out if it’s time for a seat change. Nationally certified technicians will be on site to show caregivers how to properly install char seats and check those already installed. A limited number of cars seats will also be available for $10, cash only. To qualify for a car seat, a child or an expectant mother within two months of delivery must be present and proof of government assistance (WIC, SNAP, SoonerCare) must be provided. Limits are one seat per child and two seats per family.
04/17/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The next meeting of the Tahlequah Writers group is 2 p.m. on April 21 in the Cherokee Arts Center multi-purpose room at 212 S. Water St. behind the Spider Gallery. Area writers are encouraged to bring their work to the meeting to share and for feedback. The public is invited. Also, attendees will be able to report on what they are up to regarding writing and reports will be provided on writing activities in the area. Monthly Tahlequah Writers meetings are casual and involve news of interest to writers and updates on what attendees are writing. Attendees include poets, fiction writers, historians, essayists, humorists, playwrights, scriptwriters, and more. Meetings discuss the art of writing as well as the business of publishing and promotion. For information, visit Tahlequah Writers on Facebook.
04/16/2018 04:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of American schoolteachers work second jobs to boost their income. They speak of missing time with family, struggles to complete lesson plans and nagging doubts over whether it's worth the sacrifices to stay in their profession. Nationwide, 18 percent of teachers work jobs outside school, supplementing the average full-time teacher salary of $55,100 by an average of $5,100, according to the latest survey from the U.S. Education Department, from the 2015-2016 school year. That is up slightly from 16 percent in 2011-2012. Teaching is hardly the only profession where people pick up second jobs to pay their bills, and many have the flexibility to do other work in the summer when school is out. But their numbers help explain the outrage behind the teacher revolts in states including West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky. The Associated Press asked moonlighting teachers in four states to describe how they balance the extra hours with their day jobs and family responsibilities: <strong>JANITOR</strong> After a day of instructing first-graders at Oologah-Talala Public Schools in Oklahoma, Melinda Dale puts on a janitor's uniform and begins cleaning the very same school building. "I usually do it right after school," Dale said, "because working with first grade all day, I tend to lose my energy pretty fast." Dale, who has taught for six years, earns $32,000 a year as a teacher. She spends about 15 hours a week on the janitorial work, which at $10 an hour allows her to earn nearly a quarter of what she makes teaching. She is trying to save money for college for the oldest of her three children, a high school senior. Her youngest, a first-grader, has to wait for Dale to finish cleaning before she can go home, but sometimes other family members help with the cleaning so she can leave sooner and spend time with her kids. Her second job forces her to do lesson plans on the weekend, usually on Sundays after church and lunch with her family. One day, her seventh-grade daughter was waiting in the car for her mother and said: "I'm sorry it's come to this, mom." "It was a very heartwarming but sad moment to hear her say those words," Dale said. "I'll do whatever it takes to be in the career that I'm in, but also provide for them." <strong>LYFT DRIVER</strong> As Lyft driver Stefanie Lowe crisscrosses the metro Phoenix area in her Jeep, many of her passengers are surprised to learn that she is also a full-time teacher. "It's super busy to drive during the week, but sometimes I just have to do it," said Lowe, 28. She earns just under $37,000 as a first-grade teacher at Tuscano Elementary School. She rents a room, instead of having her own apartment, to keep her housing costs down, but to make ends meet she drives for Lyft on nights and weekends and also picks up tutoring jobs. She drives more during the week when she has upcoming expenses like a car registration payment, medical bills or supplies for her classroom. By 7 a.m. the next school day, she's back at her classroom. With 32 students, the class demands her full attention. But Lowe is committed to improving her students' lives. "These kids are going to be taking care of you when you're older," she said. "Let's educate them; let's make them the best people that they can be." Lowe left a job in health care in Pennsylvania to teach in Arizona, where the signing bonus from her first job at a low-income Tucson-area school went entirely toward materials for her classroom. At times, she has considered pursuing a different career, but for now she is dedicated to teaching. "I went to school for this to be my career," Lowe said, "not so I could work three jobs just to be able to afford to go the doctor." <strong>RETAIL WORKER</strong> John Andros knows the drill well after more than a decade of double duty teaching high school and then working at Dick's Sporting Goods. He packs lunch and dinner, puts an extra set of clothes in the car for his retail job, and sets off knowing he won't be home before his daughters go to bed. There was a time earlier in his career, when he was making less than $40,000 teaching, when he considered giving it up to pursue a management job at Dick's that would pay over $50,000. Now in his 19th year of teaching, with two master's degrees, he has reached top scale — $88,000 annually — as a special education teacher at Plainville High School in Connecticut. But he still works 15 hours a week at Dick's and tutors because he feels like he's still catching up financially after years of much lower earnings in an area with high property taxes and a high cost of living. He paid off his college loans three years ago, and he and his wife only recently got out from a requirement to pay mortgage insurance because they didn't have enough for a full down payment when they bought their house. "I became a teacher because I figured I'd get home and get my kids off the bus and do all these things. I never thought in a million years I would still be working so much. This was supposed to be a two, maybe three-year thing. Financially it never worked out," said Andros, whose wife works part-time as a health aide. He makes a point to stay home with his daughters at least two weeknights, but as he looks to build up college savings for them, he frets over the volleyball and field hockey events he misses. "I love what I do. The kids haven't changed. That part of it hasn't changed. But my daughters ask me all the time, 'What do you think of me becoming a teacher?'" he said. "It's a tough question to answer." <strong>PHOTOGRAPHER</strong> Despite more than three decades of teaching experience, Christi Phillips keeps up her longtime second career as a children's photographer. She enjoys working both jobs, but she feels like she doesn't really have a choice. "Thirty-two years, I have to have a second job," said Phillips, who teaches first grade at George Ward Elementary School in Mill Creek, West Virginia. "Isn't that sad? That's very sad. Everybody I know has two or three." Phillips makes $52,000 teaching. That's enough, she says, for her utilities and a car payment. The money from the second job is needed if she and her husband want to eat out at a nice restaurant, buy a second a vehicle or take a vacation. "I can scrape by. I can make due on my salary if I just want to pay bills. That's it," Phillips said. "If I want to live, if I want to do any real living, I can't do it on my salary." West Virginia teachers, who rank among the nation's lowest paid, received a 5 percent raise after a statewide strike in February. It set the stage for teacher protests in other states. "A lot of people think, 'Woo, you make tons of money,'" Phillips said. "If you compare my salary to maybe somebody who works in fast food, I do. But if you compare my salary to somebody who works, say, at our local hardwood plant here, not so great. There's people there probably making as much as I am without the education, without the years of service."