US House OKs bill extending Amber Alerts to tribal lands

03/13/2018 04:00 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. House gave final approval on March 5 to a bill that will give tribes direct access to funds that will let them quickly post Amber Alerts over text messaging, radio and television to counties within reservation borders.

The Amber Alert in Indian Country Act was sparked by the May 2016 abduction of Ashlynne Mike, an 11-year-old Navajo girl. Authorities did not post an alert that Ashlynne was missing until the day her body was found near Shiprock, New Mexico.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, passed the House on a voice vote Feb. 26 and now goes to the president for his signature. It is identical to a House version that was co-sponsored all nine members of the state’s congressional delegation, among others.

“There is a massive hole in the system when the only areas in the country not protected with Amber Alert access are those in tribal lands,” said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, lead sponsor of the House version. “By expanding already available grants to include tribes, we are ensuring Indian country communities have resources that better protect their children.”

Amber Alerts — for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response — are used to quickly spread the word about missing children. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children says there are currently 144 open missing children cases in Arizona.

“We know that Amber Alerts are often critical in the safe recovery of an abducted child,” said Emily Farrell, a spokeswoman for the center. “The Amber Alert in Indian Country Act of 2017 will help improve and lead to the expansion of the Amber Alert system on Native American reservations.”

Until now, tribal law enforcement agencies had to work through state and local police agencies to get an alert posted. The bill passed Feb. 26 would give funding directly to tribes to help them improve their technology and post alerts on their own.

The bill would provide 573 tribes with funding that Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, said the tribes “ need to secure and protect their children in the unfortunate event that they go missing.”

“By creating tribal Amber Alert systems and integrating them with existing state systems, we’re renewing our commitment to the communities of Indian Country to ensure that their children are protected,” Grijalva said in a statement Feb. 26.

Virginia Davis, a senior policy adviser for the National Congress of American Indians, called it another example of tribes suffering because they do not have a seat at the table.

“What we see across the board in public safety legislation is that tribes aren’t really included upfront in the decision making, so years later we have to go back and rectify policies that end up not working for us,” Davis said. “Unfortunately, this is one of many examples where we are forced to advocate for our voice in legislation that should have included us from the start.”

She welcomed the bill’s requirement for reports to Congress, saying they will let federal lawmakers “understand exactly what safety barriers tribes are facing.”

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, said the bill is just the beginning of improving public safety on tribal lands.

“Increasing the tribes’ access to funding and support is the first step, but we need to be able to assess what other safety barriers there are so we can fix them and make this new system really work,” Gosar said in a prepared statement.

Davis said the change is long overdue.

“Indian tribes shouldn’t be an afterthought to Congress when they are passing these national public safety laws,” she said. “They should be included right there on the front lines, in a direct manner than can help each of their unique circumstances.”


03/23/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation is celebrating the start of construction on a new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah with a groundbreaking at 1 p.m. on March 26. The tribe is building the casino at Cherokee Springs Plaza and bringing more entertainment, dining and convention options to Tahlequah. The 92,000-square-foot facility will feature 525 electronic games, a restaurant, a grab-and-go cafe, a live music venue, a full-service bar and complimentary nonalcoholic beverage stations. The property will also offer more than 33,000 square feet of convention and meeting space. Cherokee Nation Entertainment is the wholly owned gaming, hospitality, retail and tourism entity of the CN. The company currently operates Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa, nine Cherokee Casinos, a horse racing track, three hotels, three golf courses and other retail operations. The new location is replacing the existing Cherokee Casino Tahlequah located a few miles south of Tahlequah. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
03/22/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation recently allocated $37,500 to four Adair County law enforcement agencies as part of its motor vehicle tag compact with the state. Each year the tribe allocates 20 percent of car tag sales revenue to local law enforcement agencies. Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Tribal Councilor Frankie Hargis presented the checks to law enforcement officials. “Our law enforcement agencies are such a vital part of every community that we serve, and it’s important that we show our support,” Hoskin said. “I am proud that we can help fill the funding gap and work together in communities where Cherokee Nation citizens live, work and raise their families.” The Adair County Sheriff’s Department received $15,000 and the Stilwell, Watts and Westville police departments each received $7,500. The allocations help ensure the safety of both Cherokee and non-Cherokee citizens, officials said. “One of the most rewarding parts of my role as Tribal Councilor is providing assistance to organizations that are vital to our communities,” Hargis said. “As with most sectors in the state, law enforcement agencies have experienced recent budget cuts, and I am glad the tribe can step up and help alleviate some of that financial strain.” For Stilwell Police Chief Chad Smith, partnerships with CN are an important resource. “It is always wonderful to partner with the Cherokee Nation,” Smith said. “This funding helps supply equipment and other needs and really benefits our community as a whole.”
03/22/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The regularly scheduled meeting of the Indian Territory Genealogical and Historical Society will be held at 7 p.m. on March 26 in Northeastern State University’s John Vaughn Library in the Ballenger Genealogy Room. Ashley Thirsty-Vann, Cherokee Heritage Center associate genealogist, will speak about the Cherokee Orphan Asylum and searchable genealogy records. Vann was raised in the Cherokee community of Rocky Mountain in Adair County. She attended Sequoyah High School to honor her grandfather, George Cameron-Campbell, who attended Sequoyah Orphan’s Training School and authored a book about his experiences there. She earned an associate’s degree in liberal arts from Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies, as well as three minors in Cherokee Indians, history and social science from Northeastern University. She said she began delving into genealogy at her grandmother’s request to preserve the family’s history. She is a member of several organizations, including the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association, Genealogical Speaker’s Guild, the Goingsnake District Heritage Association and the Cherokee National Historical Society. There is no charge to attend and the public is welcome. Those wishing to pursue their own family genealogies can find the Ballenger Genealogy Room open from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday. Much work and many additions to the library have expanded the amount of information readily available for individual research and includes the availability of, Fold 3 for Native American and military records purchased by the Genealogy Society, as well as the addition of For more information about the ITGHS meeting, call Anita Dieter at 918-207-9023.
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
03/20/2018 02:30 PM
INOLA – Cherokee Nation leaders joined Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, along with state, county and civic leaders, in welcoming Sofidel CEO and President Luigi Lazzareschi for a March 16 groundbreaking of the Italian-based paper company’s $360-million-dollar plant. The plant is expected to support 300 jobs initially. “This is going to be a big investment with a lot of technology,” Lazzareschi said. “For those who don’t know, this is a family only dedicated to tissues. We have never been in any other business than tissue for more than 50 years.” He said when completed the plant would be about 2 million square feet, which is 5 percent larger than the largest Sofidel plant in Ohio. Fallin called the announcement and groundbreaking a great day in Oklahoma. She said she traveled to Sofidel’s Italian headquarters two years ago. Once there, Fallin said she knew she had found a great opportunity for, Inola, Rogers County, Tulsa and the northeast region of the state. Principal Chief Bill John Baker said he would normally welcome everyone to the CN, but the groundbreaking was held in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s jurisdiction. He said the CN was “within shooting distance” from where he was standing. He also informed Lazzareschi that assistance would be coming from CN Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelly. As for Cherokee Nation’s involvement with the Sofidel plant, much is still in the planning phase, CN officials said. Although after the groundbreaking, CN Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the Sofidel plant site is significant. Sofidel will build on the same site where 40 years ago Public Service Company of Oklahoma proposed building a nuclear energy facility. One of the reasons it was never built is because Native American activists, including many Cherokees, protested against it, he said. PSO has retained ownership of the property, which has remained vacant and undeveloped despite its location on the Kerr Navigation Channel and proximity to the Port of Catoosa, the furthest inland port and one of the busiest ports in the United States. “We routinely work with our state, regional and local partners to find opportunities that best suit all involved, and this was a location that worked best for everyone. About 40,000 Cherokee Nation citizens live within 20 miles of this facility, and when you look at a 25-mile radius, the number of Cherokee Nation citizens grows to more than 57,000,” Hoskin said. “The location is just a couple of miles outside of our (CN) boundaries, and our own Career Services department will help recruit the workforce for Sofidel. Because of that we believe Cherokee Nation citizens will be among the first hired.” Sofidel is one of the leading makers of hygienic tissue paper with locations in 13 countries. It places an emphasis on sustainability and reducing carbon emissions. “We believe our mission alignment and the number of jobs and opportunities they will provide make them an extremely valuable partner in our economic development goals, which are to help make northeast Oklahoma an attractive place to live, work and raise a family,” Hoskin said.
03/20/2018 08:00 AM
MUSKOGEE – To kick off Season 4 of “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People,” three public screening events were held featuring highlights from the upcoming season. The screenings were March 13 in Muskogee, March 14 in Tulsa and March 15 in Oklahoma City. “We felt like since we took the time off and we have been showing reruns, and since everyone has kind of been subject to these reruns, and we have had a lot of people say ‘when are you going to have new stuff?’ we wanted to make a splash and kind of reward everyone for that time they had to sit and wait for a new episode, and we wanted to let everyone know Season 4 is here,” Jennifer Loren, host and executive producer, said. At the screenings, guests had the opportunity to meet with Loren, Cherokee Nation dignitaries and the show’s creators, directors and producers. The directors and producers also held Q&A sessions. In the screenings, guests could view a director’s cut episode featuring CN citizens Brad Eubanks, Martha Berry and Crosslin Smith, as well as the Cherokee significance to “Where the Red Fern Grows” and a segment on the state of Sequoyah. Eubanks, also known as “Fuel,” is the co-owner and star of United Wrestling Entertainment, a nonprofit entertainment wrestling company based in Tahlequah. He said having OsiyoTV tell his story behind UWE and what it does was an honor. “They highlight Cherokee Nation and all of our people, and for them to think of me and to see what we do was amazing,” he said. “They were really interested in it (UWE) and how it ties into my life, as well as learning about the history of the company and learning about me and what drove this Cherokee kid from Tahlequah to become a pro wrestler. After watching that, it drove me to tears, good tears, it was amazing how they put it together, and it was an amazing tribute to my life and a tribute to my grandma.” Loren said this season viewers would see a change. Instead of hosting the show in various places, Loren will host the show in a historical site that will be featured in the “Almanac” segment in that episode with the significance to that site explained. She said the language lesson segment “Let’s Talk Cherokee” would be geared toward basic-level Cherokee for beginning speakers. The show will also be introducing the Cherokee syllabary and teaching words that begin with each syllable. “We are always looking back at seasons past, and we try to improve upon every aspect of the show. But overall I feel like people are going to see a difference in the amount of time we were able to spend with everybody and tell their stories more completely than we have,” she said. Loren said another goal is to become better storytellers for elders. “We do have a good mix of stories on elders in every season, but I think the more we do those stories, the more we realize exactly how important it is to be getting those stories and to be sharing those stories.” The show was slated to premier March 25. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. <strong>OsiyoTV Show Times</strong> <strong>Oklahoma (Statewide):</strong> OETA (PBS) at 3:30 p.m. on Sundays <strong>Tulsa:</strong> RSU-TV at 7 p.m. on Thursdays, at 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays and at 9 a.m. on Sundays <strong>Fayetteville and Fort Smith (Arkansas):</strong> KHBS/KHOG (ABC) at 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays and at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays <strong>Joplin (Missouri):</strong> KSN (NBC) at 12:30 p.m. on Mondays KODE (ABC) at 9 a.m. on Sundays
03/19/2018 04:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Technology Solutions was recently awarded a $21 million indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research’s Viral Disease Branch. During the next five years, CNTS will provide scientific and technical support for infectious disease research. “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to continue our support of the WRAIR Viral Disease Branch and its very important mission of protecting and sustaining the health of the U.S. military,” John Hansen, CNTS operations general manager, said. “CNTS’ professionals, with their extensive medical and technical knowledge and experience, will help ensure these vital programs succeed.” The Viral Disease Branch conducts infectious disease research, with an emphasis on viral disease threats such as dengue, Zika, influenza, adenovirus and other infections that pose a potential risk to service men and women. Through this contract, CNTS will provide epidemiologic disease surveillance and sample collection, basic and exploratory science and translational research, as well as product research and development in an effort to license and field medical countermeasures against infectious disease threats. For more information about the company’s medical research support services, email Lisa Holsinger, CNTS program director, at <a href="mailto:"></a>. CNTS, formed in 2008, provides technical support services and project support personnel to its defense and civilian agency partners. The company provides a tailored management approach for complex government programs and disciplines, including research and development, geospatial intelligence, science, engineering, construction, facilities management, program management, information technology and mission support. It’s headquartered in Tulsa and is part of the Cherokee Nation Businesses family of companies. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.