http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgFive Cherokees were among 50 Indian elders honored at the ninth annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors banquet on Oct. 3 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. United Keetoowah Band citizen Woody Hansen stands with AARP Associate State Director of Outreach Mashell Sourjohn, AARP State President Joe Ann Vermillion and AARP National President Eric Schneidewind after receiving a medallion for his services in the Cherokee community. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Five Cherokees were among 50 Indian elders honored at the ninth annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors banquet on Oct. 3 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. United Keetoowah Band citizen Woody Hansen stands with AARP Associate State Director of Outreach Mashell Sourjohn, AARP State President Joe Ann Vermillion and AARP National President Eric Schneidewind after receiving a medallion for his services in the Cherokee community. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

AARP Oklahoma opens Indian Elder Honors nominations

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/12/2018 12:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – AARP Oklahoma is accepting nominations for its 10th annual Indian Elder Honors to celebrate 50 Native American elders who have positively impacted their respective communities, families, tribes and nation.

Since its inception in 2009, AARP Oklahoma has recognized 450 elders from all 39 tribal nations in Oklahoma.

“The AARP Indian Elder Honors recognizes the extraordinary contribution of Indian elders – many of whom have never been recognized before,” AARP Oklahoma Volunteer State President Joe Ann Vermillion said.

The 2017 honorees from 33 Oklahoma tribal nations included teachers, veterans, nurses, artists, tribal leaders, language and culture preservationists, champion archer and champion arm wrestler.

Cherokee Nation citizens Mary Rector Aitson, Dianne Barker Harrold, Marcella Morton and Joe T. Thornton, as well as United Keetoowah Band citizen Woody Hansen, were honored in 2017 and presented medallions by national and state AARP officials.

“This event celebrates a lifetime of service from these distinguished elders,” AARP State Director Sean Voskuhl said. “The common thread between the honorees, regardless of the contribution, is the commitment to community and service.”

This year’s Indian Elder Honors will be held Oct. 2 in Oklahoma City. Nomination applications are available at https://www.aarp.org/states/ok/stateeventdetails.eventId=671063&stateCode=OK/.
Nominations may be submitted electronically or mailed to AARP Oklahoma, 126 N. Bryant, Edmond, OK, 73034.

Nominees must be enrolled citizens of federally recognized Oklahoma tribal nations, at least 50 years old and be living. Nominees do not have to be AARP members. For more information, call Mashell Sourjohn at 405-715-4474 or email msourjohn@aarp.org. The deadline for submitting nominations is April 30.

People

BY STAFF REPORTS
05/27/2018 12:00 PM
NORMAN – Cherokee Nation citizen Storme Jones, a University of Oklahoma student, has been named as one of the five Native American Journalists Association Facebook Journalism Project Scholarship recipients. The Facebook Journalism Project and NAJA established the scholarship to support quality journalism that strengthens and connects communities. For the 2018-19 school year, Jones will receive the $10,000 scholarship for pursuing a media career. Jones is a student at the OU Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication where he has produced content highlighting social issues and underserved communities. His experience in reporting includes in-depth stories with KGOU Radio and the University’s National Public Radio member station, where he has reported on interactions between law enforcement and people with autism and the elevated issues that often harmed people with special needs. His reporting eventually led to a change in the way an Oklahoma police department trained its officers. This summer, Jones is working on a national reporting project through the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. Through the investigative project, he will build upon research conducted this semester to tell the stories of people who have been victimized by hate crimes. In the fall, he will be part of Gaylord College’s inaugural Washington, D.C., program where he will live in the nation’s capital and report on issues affecting Oklahomans, for mainstream media outlets. NAJA will award a total of $250,000 in scholarships through the Facebook Journalism Program over the next five years. Students who applied but were not selected in 2018 are encouraged to re-apply in 2019. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.naja.com" target="_blank">www.naja.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/24/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Four Cherokee Nation employees recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute held in Fort Worth, Texas. Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelley, Career Services Special Projects Officer Hunter Palmer, Commerce Entrepreneur Development Manager Stephen Highers and Jobs Business Development Coordinator Travis Gulley graduated on May 3. OU EDI is a 117-hour certificate program that provides advanced education for economic development professionals. “I’m excited that the Cherokee Nation now has four new graduates from the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute,” Kelley said. “This is a prestigious program, and the knowledge and training we received will improve many of the services we provide to tribal citizens and businesses.” OU EDI classes focus on business retention and expansion, real estate and credit analysis, as well as areas of concentration in marketing, strategic planning, entrepreneurship and managing economic development organizations. Students typically take one to two years to complete the program through a series of in-person seminars, workshops and discussion groups. “OU EDI is the premier organization dedicated to training economic development professionals,” Mary Ann Moon, dean, said. “These graduates represent some of the finest economic development practitioners in the U.S. working to support their local communities. My congratulations to them.” OU EDI began in 1962 and is celebrating its 56th year of service to the economic development community. Fully accredited by the International Economic Development Council, the program has trained more than 5,000 graduates and remains the world’s leading economic development teacher.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
05/22/2018 08:45 AM
KALGOORLIE, Western Australia – From Europe to Western Australia, Cherokee Nation citizen Jeylyn Sharpe is making a name for himself overseas as a professional basketball player. “I get to continue to play the sport I love, get paid for it and see the world,” Sharpe said. “If I didn’t take the opportunity then I would never get that chance again and probably regret not doing it.” The 6-foot-5-inch standout from Ketchum, Oklahoma, said he didn’t seriously consider playing professionally until after his senior season at Rogers State University, where he accumulated 1,125 career points and was named the 2017 Heartland Conference Player of the Year. Emails and Facebook messages from agents overseas wanting to represent him eventually led Sharpe to signing a professional contract in 2017 with BBC Grengewald Hueschtert of the Nationale 2 League in Niederanven, Luxembourg. With help from an RSU assistant coach, the transition from collegiate to professional play was seamless. “After my senior season in college, he put me through a lot of workouts to get me prepared,” Sharpe said. “The pace of play at the next level is faster. The shot clock time is shorter. You always hear ‘Europeans are very fundamental’ and you don’t really get an understanding of that until you play there. We were doing drills I use to do in elementary school. That’s how we would start our workouts and work our way up to the more difficult things.” Sharpe also gave a “special thank you” to the same coach for fostering a connection with Australia after his season in Europe ended. Listed as a guard and forward, Sharpe is one of three Americans playing for the Goldfields Giants, a professional club in the State Basketball League of Western Australia. “I am very fortunate to be at a place that feels like a big family, all the way from the owner down to the water boy,” he said. “The owner, GM (general manager) and coaches have all had us over at their house multiple times for dinner or just to relax and hang out. My teammates are great. I have never once questioned their effort on the court.” Though struggling in the win column, Sharpe said he’s confident in the team’s direction. “Our games have been a fight all the way to the end. Sadly the win and loss column doesn’t show that,” he said. “But we are a team that has stuck together the whole time and never pointed fingers at one another. By the end of this we hope to be a playoff team and keep playing into September, hopefully being a championship contender.” As for the style of play overseas, Sharpe said there are differences. “In college, we had a lot of set plays and quick hitter offenses to score, but out in Australia and Luxembourg we just have different type of motion offenses and they let us play out of it. They know we are good smart players and they expect us to make the correct decision.” Sharpe recorded one of his best games against the Mandurah Magic on May 12, accounting for 38 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and five steals as the team won 105-104. He is also the only Giant named to the 2018 SBL All-Star Games to be held June 4-5 in Mount Claremont. When asked what he brings to the team, Sharpe said his energy and basketball IQ. “In college I played a little bit of guard some times and a little bit of a post. I would also have to guard posts and guards in college, so I can do the same at this level. I try to be the guy that you can put anywhere on the court and you can have confidence that I will get the job you are asking done.” Sharpe’s dedication and leadership have not gone unnoticed by coaches and teammates, who voted him vice captain after arriving in February. “I was honored that they picked me as vice captain after only being there a few weeks. I think that they saw the knowledge and leadership I bring to the table. You don’t have to be a leader with just your voice. You can set the example by your actions, and I think the team saw me do that day in and day out.” Playing overseas has also allowed Sharpe to take the Cherokee culture to that part of the world. “It is cool to be able to tell them that I am Native American and that I am Cherokee,” he said. “I get to show them some pictures of my ancestors, and I know a little bit of Cherokee language, so I am able to show them what that sounds like. It’s great to get an opportunity to show other young Native Americans that goals are achievable if you work hard enough.” As for the future, Sharpe said he’s “going with the flow.” “I have been going with the flow lately, just letting this basketball take me around the world,” he said. “I would really like to play in China and Dubai before I am done playing. After this season I will be spending some quality time at home with family and friends. I really do enjoy it out here and can see myself coming back for another season.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/17/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation citizen and employee Stephen Highers on May 3 graduated from the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute. “Having graduated from the OU EDI program, I can now set for the test to become a Certified Economic Developer through the International Economic Development Council,” CN Entrepreneur Development Manager Stephen Highers said. According to the IEDC website, it’s a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization serving economic developers. It also states that with more than 5,000 members, the IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. “Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities, by creating, retaining and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base,” the site states. “From public to private, rural to urban and local to international, IEDC’s members are engaged in the full range of economic development experience.” Highers, who also serves as a Tahlequah city councilor, said he was excited to bring back knowledge he gained at the OU EDI to Tahlequah. “Economic development is not easy, especially if you don’t understand the data and process by which to make informed, sound decision. Through my coursework and training at the OU EDI, I’m able to bring back to Tahlequah concrete ideas and solutions that will enhance our future growth in a healthy, competitive, and objective manner,” he said. Highers said the program is a two-year program, and he has plans to become certified in the winter of 2019. For more information, visit <a href="https://pacs.ou.edu/edi/about/" target="_blank">https://pacs.ou.edu/edi/about/</a>.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
05/17/2018 01:15 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Family, friends and community members gathered on May 11 at the Cherokee Casino Tahlequah grounds for a surprise ceremony for 9-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen Grant York. York suffers from several health conditions, including mitochondrial mutation. His mother, Kasie Mendenhall, said with mitochondrial mutation he is unable to absorb nutrients and hasn’t been able to eat solid food since he was 3 years old. In April, he was admitted to Physicians Choice Hospice. “The last two years have been hard on him. He has spent most of all of it in the hospital,” Mendenhall said. “Physicians Choice Hospice has allowed Grant to have his pain adequately controlled and for him to remain home and not in the hospital.” Caring for their patients is not the only thing PCH nurses do. They also grant wishes – Butterfly Wishes. York’s wish was to go to the “Dixie Stampede” in Branson, Missouri, and through the Butterfly Wishes program he and his family received an all-expense paid trip for him to fulfill that wish. However, before York and his family left for Branson, the nurses surprised him with a special ceremony that included York’s class at Keys Elementary School. This was the first time York met his classmates and teacher in person, Mendenhall said. The Tahlequah Police Department also joined the ceremony making York their first junior officer, and he even took the official TPD oath. He was also presented a certificate, T-shirt and badge. “Grant loves police and now he is a real police officer,” Mendenhall said. After a photo shoot for the family, the TPD gave York a police escort out of town. Once they reached Branson, the Branson police, fire department and Missouri Highway Patrol were waiting to escort him into town. Mendenhall said she was thankful for the community’s support her son and family received. “Seeing our entire community come together to support Grant and our family leaves me speechless. Without the support of the community things like this wouldn’t be possible,” she said.
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
05/17/2018 08:15 AM
BROKEN ARROW – An old Vaudevillian joke goes something like this: “She shall now hang upside down while juggling pianos...on horseback.” Adding a horse to an impossible task makes the joke funnier and even more impossible. That is, unless you’re 10-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen Sophie Duch. Take away the pianos and that’s exactly what she does as a professional trick rider at rodeos. On May 11-12, Sophie and her trusted horse, Jesse, took their act to Broken Arrow for the 2018 Rooster Days Festival and Rodeo. Born and raised in Stilwell, Sophie’s love for western trick riding began when her parents took her to a rodeo in 2011 where the All-American Cowgirl Chicks trick riding team performed. “I knew we were in trouble the moment Sophie saw the Chicks perform. She was only 3 years old but latched onto the fence and watched their every move,” said her mother and CN citizen Shawna Duch. “After the rodeo, Sophie had to meet each one of them. I could tell even then she was hooked.” Sophie has received much help learning her craft during her young life, including from her first coach, CN-sponsored professional trick rider Haley Ganzel. “There’s a lot of people around here to help you,” Sophie said. “They’ll even loan you a horse if you need one.” This has never been a problem for Sophie. The other half of Sophie’s team, Jessie’s Girl, is a good-natured bay mare and has been with her since she fell in love with trick riding. “She (Jessie’s Girl) just kind of took to it,” Sophie’s father Troop Duch said. “She’s a natural show-off. She really shines once she gets in the arena.” Having a well-trained horse is key to the success and safety of the trick rider because many of the most difficult and dangerous tricks are performed with little or no control of the horse’s reins. Sweeping and precise ovals of the arena must be completed at the right speed to be successful. For safety’s sake, tricks are performed from the inside or left as the horse runs counter clockwise, thus keeping the horse between the acrobatic rider and the arena’s fence line. At the Rooster Days Rodeo, Sophie performed not only as entertainer, but she also carried the American flag into the arena for the national anthem. In her act Sophie performed three tricks and demonstrated twice during Jessie’s giant loop giving spectators on both sides of the arena a look. On the second night of the rodeo, Sophie performed her mounted shooting act, in which she shoots targets while on horseback. For more information, call 918-696-1648 or 918-696-1648 or email <a href="mailto: Shawnaduch@gmail.com">Shawnaduch@gmail.com</a>. ??