http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgAndrew Luethje, Brad Wagnon and Shaelin Beaver fill and tie sandbags in Tahlequah. Cherokee Nation Emergency Management is providing 10,000 sandbags to communities and individuals within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction. COURTESY
Andrew Luethje, Brad Wagnon and Shaelin Beaver fill and tie sandbags in Tahlequah. Cherokee Nation Emergency Management is providing 10,000 sandbags to communities and individuals within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction. COURTESY

CN takes steps to help if floods arise

The entrance to Cherokee Nation citizens Al and Frankie Herrin’s home was impassable due to the flooding on Dec. 28, 2015. Their property is located just off the bank of the Illinois River near Welling Road in the Boudinot Community in Tahlequah. The tribe’s Emergency Management is taking a proactive initiative to prepare the area in case such flooding happens again. ARCHIVE
The entrance to Cherokee Nation citizens Al and Frankie Herrin’s home was impassable due to the flooding on Dec. 28, 2015. Their property is located just off the bank of the Illinois River near Welling Road in the Boudinot Community in Tahlequah. The tribe’s Emergency Management is taking a proactive initiative to prepare the area in case such flooding happens again. ARCHIVE
02/12/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH (AP) – After the massive floods that impacted the greater Tahlequah area in 2015 and 2017, Cherokee Nation Emergency Management is taking a proactive initiative to prepare the community in case it happens again.

The CNEM worked to fill 10,000 sandbags for use by community members in the tribe’s 14 jurisdictional counties, with the goal reducing the chances of floodwater destruction.

“Every year I’ve been here, we have had a flood,” Jeremie Fisher, CNEM manager, said. “So we’re going to be putting them strategically at different locations for our citizens: in the community centers, any of our community partners in our 14 counties that might need them, municipalities and other people who may need some on hand, just in case. The goal is to be proactive and help mitigate things before it happens.”

During the past two large floods, homes were lost, families were displaced and businesses suffered serious damage to infrastructure. CNEM was just one of the local entities that witnessed the destruction.

While a similar flood would likely cause damage to the city of Tahlequah no matter what, Philip Manes said he hopes the sandbags will prevent him from having to see as many displaced families.

“When we were helping people, I don’t think it had sunk in for them, yet,” said Manes. “A lot of them still hadn’t realized what they had lost, and they lost a lot. We were actually pulling out some people in the creek.”

In 2017, once the Tahlequah community learned about the flood, emergency agencies all over the area were scrambling to prepare. This year, forward thinking, combined with a new sandbag machine, has made it easier for the CNEM to get ready.

“Last year, I took five people down to Sallisaw, and we filled sandbags one afternoon right before the flood came,” said Fisher. “That was all done by hand and it was quite a deal. This machine eliminates a lot of the back work and makes it a lot easier.”

The CNEM has already bagged around 1,000 bags after the tribe purchased 50 tons of sand. Fisher said 50 more tons of sand could be needed before all 10,000 bags are filled.

There will be no cost for the sandbags, which the tribe planned to begin distributing Jan. 30. There’s no limit to how many bags a person can get, but with each bag weighing approximately 40 pounds, they will be distributed within reason. Ability to receive sandbags is not dependent on a person’s location in the 14 counties. Recipients do not have to be CN citizens.

“It’s really a community thing,” said Fisher. “When the river floods, it really doesn’t matter; water runs through Cherokee and non-Cherokee homes the same way. So the idea is that we would just be an asset to our 14 counties and have a resource they may not be able to have.”


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.
03/21/2018 12:00 PM
WASHINGTON – According to the Indian Health Service, American Indian and Alaska Natives who are citizens of federally recognized tribes and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Corporation shareholders can apply for health care coverage in Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program or the Marketplace any time of the year. American Indians, Alaska Natives and people eligible for services through IHS, tribal or urban Indian health programs may claim an exemption from the tax penalty for not maintaining health care coverage throughout the tax year. One may do so by completing IRS Form 8965 when filing a federal income tax return. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
03/17/2018 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 or 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="" target="_blank"></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.
03/02/2018 12:00 PM
TULSA – Cherokee Nation Businesses and a team of its employee volunteers are increasing support in the battle against hunger, as well as helping those in need endure the harsh elements of Oklahoma’s ever-changing weather. CNB’s Community Impact Team, a companywide initiative dedicated to helping promote volunteerism and community engagement, has committed an increase in volunteer efforts and donations to Iron Gate’s soup kitchen and grocery pantry. “Iron Gate relies on the generosity of volunteers to help us feed Tulsa’s hungry every day. We are so grateful to the employees of Cherokee Nation Businesses, who not only donated much-needed canned goods, but also gave of their time, helping us serve food,” Carrie Vesely Henderson, Iron Gate executive director, said. “We’re thrilled that they have increased their support recently and will be serving regularly through June. We’re celebrating 40 years of feeding Tulsa, and we couldn’t do it without generous community partners like the Cherokee Nation and its businesses.” The company kicked off this year’s endeavor with supply drives to collect food and winter weather items. Community Impact Team volunteers donated, collected and recently delivered nearly 300 items such as food, toiletries, coats, blankets and winter accessories. “Iron Gate’s Grocery Pantry is always in need of protein-rich items, and Cherokee Nation Businesses really came through for us, donating more than 230 pounds of protein and other canned goods,” Ashli Sims, Iron Gate development director, said. “Many of our pantry guests have jobs. They have a home. They just need a little extra to help make ends meet that month. So this donation will have a huge impact on them.” This year, the tribally owned company moved its service day, when teams of CNB employees volunteer together at Iron Gate, from Saturdays to Wednesdays. The move encourages more employees to volunteer and increases accessibility, allowing entire departments to participate together as a team building opportunity. The schedule of employees signed up for shifts at Iron Gate is booked through the summer and continues to increase. “We are proud partners with Iron Gate and longtime supporters of its mission to feed the hungry while providing a place of comfort,” CNB CEO Shawn Slaton said. “Our employees have given their time and personal resources to the nonprofit’s soup kitchen, grocery pantry and Kids Pantry since 2011. It is their continued dedication that has encouraged us, as a company, to increase our support of the organization.” In 2017, CNB employees dedicated roughly 4,000 volunteer service hours to community outreach projects and numerous charitable efforts, including Iron Gate, Cherokee Nation Angel Project, Junior Achievement and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s Trash-OFF and Adopt-A-Highway programs. They also coordinate essential item and school supply drives, blood donation events, the tribe’s Heart of a Nation annual fundraising campaign and many other efforts. Iron Gate is always in need of additional volunteers, as well as donations of protein-rich canned goods, peanut butter, juice boxes and shelf-stable milk. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
02/28/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – After opening in 2013, the Cherokee Nation’s Veterans Center continues to strive to service all veterans through different programs and events. The center was formerly under Human Services, which set the foundation for what is now offered to veterans. In 2017, Barbara Foreman became the director of CN Veterans Affairs. “I can say that Human Services laid a good foundation here. They actually started some of the programs, so we’re just trying to build on some the programs that have been started here and maybe to extend more services here for our veterans,” Foreman said. The center offers readjustment counselor Matt Tiger of the Tulsa Veterans Affairs Center, who does group sessions and individual counseling. Representatives from the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs and Disabled American Veterans are available every Tuesday to offer help with benefits. “We’re collecting resources to refer them to. In the future we are trying to have more and more services. We’re just trying to add to what we have,” Foreman said. Foreman said she wants to add service personnel from the CN who have the same capabilities the ODVA and the DAV offer. She also said feedback from the veterans is important in knowing what is needed for them. The Veterans Center is the first among many of the tribes in Oklahoma. “I think we kind of, by taking the first steps and being the first tribe out there with this, we set the standard for other tribes. Now when veterans from other tribes are hearing what the Cherokees are doing for their veterans, they start asking those questions. It starts that ball rolling so other tribes think ‘well, we need to be something like that for our veterans, too,’” CN General Counsel Bryan Shade said. Shade said he’s working with the center to help it expand its offerings to veterans. The center also offers various event opportunities for veteran participation. Foreman said they host events on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, the Cherokee National Holiday, and every September a select group of veterans participate in the Cherokee Warrior Flight to Washington, D.C. New events have recently been added such as employee veteran’s lunches, bingo nights and a Valentine’s dance and social event. The Veterans Center is fully funded through a tribal appropriations budget to maintain the building and staff. “We’re never going to stop reaching out for more. We owe it to them to never get satisfied with what we’re doing for them, to keep wanting to do more,” Shade said. For more information call 1-800-256-0671 or visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
02/27/2018 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – A nearly $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation aims to preserve the Cherokee culture through the establishment of a mentor program for young Cherokee Nation citizens. The program will match young Cherokees from northeastern Oklahoma with elders in the tribe’s Medicine Keepers to learn about and sustain traditional Cherokee life ways by working in the tribe’s heirloom garden, learning the language and participating in field botany exercises. Clint Carroll, a CN citizen and University of Colorado Boulder professor, was recently awarded the five-year grant. He is working with Pat Gwin, senior director of CN Environmental Resources, to administer a three-year program in the CN. “Dr. Carroll’s National Science Foundation project promises to be a unique opportunity for Cherokee students to be taught traditional ecological knowledge in a manner and setting as would have been the case centuries ago,” Gwin said. The Cherokee Environmental Leadership Program works directly with the CN Medicine Keepers to educate five Cherokee students about the Cherokee culture, the Cherokee language and local environmental issues. The Medicine Keepers are a group of 12 fluent Cherokee speakers whose mission is to preserve the traditional language, culture and natural resources of the tribe. “The project seeks to revitalize the Cherokee language and traditional knowledge and to inform tribal land conservation policy, which we hope will promote Cherokee cultural resilience and overall well-being,” Carroll said. Carroll has worked closely with the Medicine Keepers since its inception in 2008. Participants will be expected to dedicate 10 hours per week to the project, working in the CN heirloom garden, taking Cherokee language courses and meeting regularly with the Medicine Keepers. Students who live in northeastern Oklahoma and are citizens of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes are eligible to apply. Applications must be submitted by March 16. To apply, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.