http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgIn this archive photo, Natasha Bell, right, smiles at her son while Cherokee Nation Women, Infants and Children specialist Teresa Tackett records his weight at the W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. ARCHIVE
In this archive photo, Natasha Bell, right, smiles at her son while Cherokee Nation Women, Infants and Children specialist Teresa Tackett records his weight at the W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. ARCHIVE

WIC continues tradition of helping families

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.

Click here to readthe WIC Income Eligibility Guidelines.

Cherokee Nation WIC eligibility criteria

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.

Cherokee Nation WIC locations

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
About the Author
Brittney Bennett is from Colcord, Oklahoma, and a citizen of the United Keetoowah Band.  She is a 2011 Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and summa cum laude honors.
 
While in college, Brittney became involved with the Native American Journalists Association and was an inaugural NAJA student fellow in 2014. Continued mentorship from NAJA members and the willingness to give Natives a voice led her to accept a multimedia internship with the Cherokee Phoenix after college.  
 
She left the Cherokee Phoenix in early 2016 before being selected as a Knight-CUNYJ Fellow in New York City later that same year. During the fellowship, she received training from industry professionals with The New York Times and instructors at the City University of New York. As part of the program, she completed a social media internship with USA Today’s editorial department.
 
Now that Brittney has made her way back to the Cherokee Phoenix, she hopes to use the experience gained from her travels to benefit Indian Country and the Cherokee people.
brittney-bennett@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560
Brittney Bennett is from Colcord, Oklahoma, and a citizen of the United Keetoowah Band. She is a 2011 Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and summa cum laude honors. While in college, Brittney became involved with the Native American Journalists Association and was an inaugural NAJA student fellow in 2014. Continued mentorship from NAJA members and the willingness to give Natives a voice led her to accept a multimedia internship with the Cherokee Phoenix after college. She left the Cherokee Phoenix in early 2016 before being selected as a Knight-CUNYJ Fellow in New York City later that same year. During the fellowship, she received training from industry professionals with The New York Times and instructors at the City University of New York. As part of the program, she completed a social media internship with USA Today’s editorial department. Now that Brittney has made her way back to the Cherokee Phoenix, she hopes to use the experience gained from her travels to benefit Indian Country and the Cherokee people.

Services

BY STAFF REPORTS
04/21/2018 08:00 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 STAFF REPORTS
04/12/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH — Cherokee Nation citizen and licensed practical nurse Dora Luna is receiving national recognition for her successes in the health care field after participating in the CN Career Services’ employment and training programs. The National Indian and Native American Employment and Training Conference chose Luna, of Claremore, as this year’s Outstanding Participant. Only one candidate from across the U.S. is chosen for the award annually. Luna first sought assistance from Career Services in 2015 when, as a single parent with three children, she found herself struggling to support her family and seeking a new career path. With Career Services’ help, Luna received a grant for dislocated workers and enrolled at Northeast Technology Center in Pryor, where she became a certified nurse aide in 2015. “I’d always wanted to get into the health care field or, more specifically, become a registered nurse, with the end dream job being working for my tribe within a hospital or clinic,” Luna said. “It has been a long journey, and I could not have accomplished it without the help of Cherokee Nation.” When Luna was accepted into Northeast Technology Center’s Practical Nursing Program in 2016, the Career Services’ vocational training program helped cover the costs. She found a health care job in the Pryor area, and in March, earned her LPN license. She is now continuing her education and plans to become a registered nurse. “The vocational training program continues to be extremely beneficial for clients who are engaging their chosen career paths,” Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelley said. “Through the vocational training program, participants have an opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they will need in the workforce through classroom training and hands-on experience. Dora’s recognition by the National Indian and Native American Employment and Training Conference is proof that the tribe’s employment and training programs are a great benefit to Cherokee citizens.” Luna was expected to be honored by the NINAETC on April 11 in Louisiana. The National Indian and Native American Employment and Training Conference was established in 1979 and is the largest and most representative national employment and training association for Native Americans. Career Services department develops and encourages tribal citizens to achieve and maintain work habits and skills that promote employability and self-sufficiency through education, training, rehabilitation and support services. For more information, call 918-453-5555 or log on to <a href="http://www.cherokee.org/Services/Career/Office-Locations" target="_blank">www.cherokee.org/Services/Career/Office-Locations</a> for a list of Career Services offices.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
04/09/2018 08:00 AM
AUSTIN, TEXAS – For more than a year, many Native Americans affected by dating and domestic violence have turned to the StrongHearts Native Helpline for support and referral services in pursuit of freedom from abuse. “It seems like the year has gone by so quickly, and it’s just really rewarding to be able to offer a service that so many people need,” said Lori Jump, StrongHearts assistant director. “I think we’re fortunate to have the support of so many tribes and advocates across the country.” By calling 1-844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483) callers affected by intimate partner violence can be connected with a StrongHearts advocate trained to provide confidential, culturally appropriate advocacy and referral tools at no cost. The helpline is the first of its kind to serve Native Americans nationally, according to StrongHearts. It’s a collaboration between the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program. During its first year, it expanded from its reach of Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma to 68 tribal communities across 40 states. “Every call is different. We try to see things from the point of view of the person calling us, so what their needs are can be varied,” Jump said. “Things that we see most often are requests for shelter and legal services. Those are also probably the least common services that are available to people living in Indian Country.” StrongHearts also maintains a database of organizations within Indian Country that can help tribal citizens unsure where to turn. “We have a database that we have worked very hard to develop and its Native-centered programs that provide services to victims of domestic violence, whether that be crisis intervention, personal advocacy, civil and legal representation, shelter, transitional housing, all of those things that come into play when somebody is a victim of domestic violence and trying to leave,” Jump said. More than four in five Native women and men have experienced violence in their lifetime, with more than one in three women having experienced violence in the past year, according to the National Institute of Justice. Jump said the high rates of domestic violence in Indian Country show that services like StrongHearts are “desperately needed in tribal communities.” “The incidents of violence is higher against women than it is men, but we do know that it certainly happens, and we want to be there to support all victims of domestic violence, whether they are male or female,” she said. Another challenge Native Americans face in abusive situations is access to services, which can be hundreds of miles from their communities. “We can look at whole blocks across the United States where there really are not any Native-centered resources,” Jump said. “For those people to be able to have a place to call for immediate help is critical and to be able to speak to somebody that understands where they’re coming from, understands their situation, the legal aspects, it’s really important.” StrongHearts employs three advocates who have undergone training, including 60 hours on the helpline learning how to locate services for specific areas of the country and the laws that come with living on tribal land. “They train around a database that we use so when advocates are on the call with somebody, they’re able to find resources for them where they’re at in their community, or at least as close to it as they can get,” she said. “Additionally, we focus on sovereignty. There are a lot of jurisdictional issues that we cover, so our advocates are able to help navigate those systems.” The helpline is not operational 24 hours a day, though Jump hopes continued funding would allow expanded hours and digital services. “It would be really great to have our helpline be operational for 24 hours, so that regardless of where you were or when you were victimized, there would be someplace that you could call in and actually speak to somebody,” Jump said. “The other thing is that we would like to expand to digital for chat services. I think a lot of the younger people find it easier to send a chat message into something and communicate that way.” For help, dial 1-844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483) between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Central Standard Time. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.strongheartshelpline.org" target="_blank">www.strongheartshelpline.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/05/2018 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation is accepting applications for low-rent housing openings in Claremore and Vinita. Applications are available at <a href="http://www.hacn.org/" target="_blank">http://www.hacn.org/</a> under the low-income rental housing tab or mailed upon request. Completed applications can be submitted at any HACN office. The Will Rogers Senior Complex in Claremore and Tom Buffington Heights in Vinita have one-bedroom apartments available. Applicants for Will Rogers Senior Complex must be at least 55 years old. The apartment complexes are managed by the HACN and provide affordable homes for low-income families. Rent is not to exceed 30 percent of the family’s adjusted income. Security deposits will also be waived. Eligibility requirements for housing are: • A member of the family must be a citizen of a federally recognized tribe, • Household income must be below 80 percent of the national median income, and • Must be able to pass a background check. Preference will be given to Cherokee Nation citizens who are elderly (62), disabled or handicapped. For more information, call 918-456-5482.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
03/29/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – For nearly 20 years, the National Indian Women’s Health Resource Center has supported Native American women, their families and the communities in which they call home. “We’re a national women’s resource center, but it’s not just for women. It’s for women and their families, so of course men and children are also involved, especially if we have parenting classes,” Janie Dibble, NIWHRC executive director, said. The nonprofit organization began in 1999 with an Indian Health Service grant to provide Native women resources and prevention education on various topics. “Prevention education is the key,” Dibble said. “We do a lot of prevention education on topics including HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, drugs and alcohol, suicide prevention and hepatitis C.” The NIWHRC operates under a board of directors that covers all 12 IHS areas and relies on grant funding for its services. “It’s based on our funding as to how much we’re doing and what we’re doing,” Dibble said. “We write for grants, and sometimes we get contracts with different organizations to do things that they would like for us to do.” It recently partnered with Northeastern State University to teach students between ages 18-24 about safe sex and drug and alcohol abuse. “Statistics show that at an early age, many (youth) are already drinking, doing drugs, having unprotected sex,” Dibble said. “At the college level, a lot of them do not know and understand. They’re meeting all these people and heavily drinking and things like that that maybe an adult hadn’t spoken with them about.” Dibble said she recruits people for NIWHRC trainings by explaining what will be covered. “Everyone is different about the reasons why they will or won’t come to certain trainings,” she said. “People will think, ‘I’m past all that,’ and then I’ll give some examples of stuff that’s their age or older and trying to show them that, ‘yes, there’s still a need.’ When you can kind of share some examples they think, ‘oh, maybe I will come to your class.’” The NIWHRC also advocates for people to get HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C testing. “So many of the sexually transmitted diseases, they’re called silent diseases because so many people don’t even know they have them, not for years,” Dibble said. “That’s one reason sometimes that women are infertile, or men too, because they’ve had sexually transmitted diseases for years and didn’t even know it.” The NIWHRC offers free HIV/AIDS testing in its Tahlequah office at 228 S. Muskogee Ave., though Dibble said much of the testing happens at events when it’s partnered with coalitions. “It really is confidential, and it is free, so when they want to be tested the tester explains all that to them. When we’re doing the prevention education and why we’re doing these classes is to stress to them the importance of testing at an early age because if they were infected with HIV or hepatitis C the sooner they find out the better for getting on medication and live a healthy long life.” Another emphasis is suicide prevention and how to recognize signs of someone struggling with suicidal thoughts. “For the suicide prevention, we provide trainings to the staff, the teachers at the schools that want us to,” Dibble said. “It’s called QPR, or question, persuade, refer. It’s an hour to an hour-and-a-half class, but it gives them the tools to recognize the signs and symptoms of somebody who might be struggling with depression, different things that could eventually lead to suicide.” Dibble said the subject matters are often “difficult” for Native communities. “It can be difficult, you know, because a lot of Native communities aren’t open to hearing about it or think that it won’t happen to them. Or even if it has happened, they don’t want to talk about it to anybody. These people and these communities really need education.” For more information, visit <a href="http://www.niwhrc.com" target="_blank">www.niwhrc.com</a> or call 918-456-6094.
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
03/23/2018 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation Male Seminary Recreation Center employees on March 16 partook in an ALICE active shooter training at the center with the CN Marshal Service. ALICE stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate. The training is to teach employees what to do in an active shooter situation. They were given scenarios and had to decide what was the best plan of action if they came across an active shooter – whether to run, hide or fight. The CNMS has conducted trainings the past three years for several tribal departments. “I think this training’s important for both the police and the public, so one, the public knows what to expect when the police come to the scene, and for the police to observe and help with training helps the police teach the public how to react to a violent situation. You can’t always fight. A lot of times you can run. Sometimes you can hide. But you need to be prepared to do all three,” marshal Mike Roach said. Roach, who played the shooter in the March 16 training, used a firearm that fired 9-millimeter blank cartridges and had a paintball on the end to mark where shots were fired. The blanks emulated the smell of gunpowder. “We use it for a variety of situations. But in here the actual gunfire, the smell of the gunpowder being burned, the people hearing rounds hit and ricochet off things adds that element of realism that really gets them bought into the scenario and gets them up and moving,” Roach said. MSRC Director Julie Kimble said she and her employees have taken the trainings for nearly a year. “We’re trying to prepare our staff as much as possible. The one thing that marshals always talk about is trying to be preventative as far as being suspicious, look for large bags, look for people wearing winter clothing in the summer time and then if they see something that may be suspicious to contact the marshals just so they can check it out,” Kimble said. She added that the trainings make her staff more confident in knowing what action to take in an actual active shooter situation. “It was very nerve-wracking at first, but since we’ve done it quarterly, staff has actually become really confident every time they come in because we’re just doing it as a refresher every time, and so now they’re more confident,” she said. She said the trainings are different every time, with marshals bringing in new scenarios. “The marshals do a really great job of practicing different scenarios. Every time we’ve done a training, they’ve done different scenarios and we’ve kind of upped the scenarios. Like today, we had two shooters in the facility, which was different than what we had before,” she said. She said her staff also learned from the March 16 training about the importance of cell phone usage and how it can benefit during an emergency. “We talked a lot about cell phone usage. Is it good to have your cell phone? We learned that it is good, make sure that it is turned off so that it doesn’t ring or whatever when you’re hiding from the active shooter. Also, we learned to make that phone call to 911 so that we can tell somebody that an active shooter is happening, listen for the shots and how many shots were fired. If you can tell them any information as far as ‘are there two shooters? Is there one shooter?’ you know, what’s going on,” Kimble said. Roach said the trainings allow marshals to see what reactions employees might have and what they can do to better prepare for an emergency.