http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee Nation dignitaries break ground on March 26 for a new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah, which is expected to bring more entertainment, dining and convention options to the area. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation dignitaries break ground on March 26 for a new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah, which is expected to bring more entertainment, dining and convention options to the area. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Tribe breaks ground on new Tahlequah casino

BY STAFF REPORTS
03/28/2018 04:00 PM
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation broke ground on March 26 on its new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah, which is expected to bring more entertainment, dining and convention options to the area.

“We believe in making sound investments that have a lasting impact on the Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee people,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “This new property will be a regional attraction for tourism and economic development and is a complement to the work happening at Cherokee Springs Plaza and all over the Tahlequah area.”

According to CN Communications, the 92,000-square-foot entertainment destination will feature 525 electronic games, a 144-seat restaurant, a grab-and-go cafe, a live music venue, a full-service bar and complimentary nonalcoholic beverages.

The property includes 33,000 square feet of convention and meeting space that accommodates up to 1,000 people.

“We’ve taken one of the largest tracts in Tahlequah’s main corridor and are using it to grow the economy and create jobs,” Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Shawn Slaton said. “We’ve attracted new restaurants and businesses and are now bringing first-class entertainment options to Cherokee Springs Plaza. We know this casino and economic development endeavor will have a lasting impact on the Cherokee Nation and the entire region.”

According to CN Communications, the current Cherokee Casino Tahlequah near Sequoyah Schools, which is located about 3 miles west of Cherokee Springs Plaza, employs 174 people. A tribal press release states that nearly 220 will be employed at the expanded property, which should create a new market for meetings, conventions, banquets and other gatherings, bringing new people and investment to Cherokee County.

The release also states that construction on the new casino and convention center is expected to take less than a year. The current Cherokee Casino will be donated to the CN’s Cherokee Immersion Charter School to help expand and grow language programs for the tribe’s youth.

The CN broke ground on Cherokee Springs Plaza in 2014. The 154-acre retail, dining and entertainment development is next to Cherokee Springs Golf Course, the tribe’s 18-hole golf course. The plaza has since become home to a new auto dealership, the area’s first Taco Bueno, a Buffalo Wild Wings and a second Sonic Drive-In location.

The release states that nearly 30,000 cars pass by Cherokee Springs Plaza daily, which is halfway between the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex and Northeastern State University. About 3,500 CN employees work in Cherokee County, and more than 9,000 students are enrolled at NSU, the release states.

For more information on Cherokee Springs Plaza, including leasing opportunities, visit www.CherokeeSpringsPlaza.com.

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, including a horse racing track; three hotels; three golf courses; and other retail operations.

The tribe and its businesses currently employ more than 11,000 people and have a $2.03 billion economic impact on the state, the release states.

For more information about Cherokee Casino, visit www.cherokeecasino.com.

News

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
04/22/2018 12:00 PM
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – A judge has rejected the request by two American Indian tribes to be more involved in a court-ordered environmental review of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg last June ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to further review the pipeline’s impact on tribal interests, though he allowed oil to begin flowing. In December, he ordered Texas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners to produce an oil spill response plan for Lake Oahe, the Missouri River reservoir in the Dakotas from which the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux draw water. Boasberg also ordered a review by an independent engineering company on whether the pipeline complies with federal regulations. The two tribes have said they were being left out of the process and they asked Boasberg to order that they be given more involvement. Corps and company attorneys accused the tribes of being difficult to work with. Boasberg wrote in an order dated Monday that “the parties engage in a lengthy dispute over who is refusing to talk to whom.” “The court does not believe that further inserting itself into the minutiae of this disagreement is either permissible or wise,” he wrote. Boasberg also noted that ETP submitted the spill response plan and the independent review on April 2, making any request for additional tribal involvement in that work moot. The Standing Rock tribe has started raising money for its own spill response program. As for the Corps’ additional review of the pipeline’s impact on tribal interests, Boasberg said the tribes can continue to press their argument that the study is flawed when that work is completed and presented to him. The Corps had anticipated an April 2 completion date, but that has been delayed by what the agency maintains is difficulties obtaining needed information from the tribes. Standing Rock attorney Jan Hasselman in a statement to The Associated Press said the Corps “is missing the opportunity to engage with the Standing Rock tribe meaningfully on its legitimate concerns about the safety of this pipeline, and continuing to accept without question Energy Transfer’s shoddy technical work.” The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River tribes are leading the four-tribe lawsuit against the $3.8 billion pipeline that is moving oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. They fear environmental and cultural harm. ETP says the pipeline is safe.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/22/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Phoenix needs your help in determining what type of content we should focus on to better please you, the reader. You can help us by completing and mailing back the survey you received with this month’s issue. If you don’t want to complete the form and mail it in, or if you got this issue at one of our many distribution sites, then you can complete the survey online at <a href="https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PHOENIXSURVEY2018" target="_blank">https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PHOENIXSURVEY2018</a> until April 30. “Ultimately this survey helps us serve the Cherokee people better,” Brandon Scott, Cherokee Phoenix executive editor said. “Any method we use to gather information is used to improve and give our readers what they want and need in a newspaper. I hope everyone will take a few minutes of their day to answer a few questions. Thank you in advance.” Readers who complete the survey will have a chance to win a $100 gift card as well as one of several Cherokee Phoenix prize packages, which consist of Cherokee Phoenix tote bags, shirts, fleece jackets and office supplies. The Cherokee Phoenix is also still taking names of Cherokee elders and military veterans to provide them free newspaper subscriptions. In November, Cherokee Nation Businesses donated $10,000 to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Fund, which provides free subscriptions to elders 65 and older and military veterans who are Cherokee Nation citizens. “The Elder/Veteran Fund was put into place to provide free subscriptions to our Cherokee elders and veterans,” 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.” To request a subscription using this fund, or to nominate an elder or veteran, visit, write, call or email the Cherokee Phoenix. 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. You can call 918-207-4975 or 918-453-5269 or email <a href="mailto: justin-smith@cherokee.org">justin-smith@cherokee.org</a> or <a href="mailto: joy-rollice@cherokee.org">joy-rollice@cherokee.org</a>. 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. For anyone who donates to the fund, you will be entered into our quarterly drawings as well. For every $10 donated, you will receive one entry. The prize for the second quarterly giveaway is a custom 12-foot, two-piece fishing pole by Larry Fulton of Larry’s Bait and Tackle in Fort Gibson. We’ve also heard that some communities in the tribe’s jurisdiction have no Cherokee Phoenix distribution sites. Most of our paid distribution sites center around CN offices, health facilities and Cherokee casinos. However, if you want to sponsor a distribution site, call 918-207-4975 or email <a href="mailto: justin-smith@cherokee.org">justin-smith@cherokee.org</a>. A bundle of 50 newspapers costs $15 a month.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
04/21/2018 04:00 PM
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The push for legalized marijuana has moved into Utah and Oklahoma, two of the most conservative states in the country, further underscoring how quickly feelings about marijuana are changing in the United States. If the two measures pass, Utah and Oklahoma will join 30 other states that have legalized some form of medical marijuana, according to the pro-pot National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana laws. Nine of those states and Washington, D.C. also have broad legalization where adults 21 and older can use pot for any reason. Michigan could become the 10th state with its ballot initiative this year. Utah and Oklahoma already are among 16 states that allow for use an oil called cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound from cannabis that doesn't get users high but can treat a range of health concerns. Justin Strekal, political director for NORML, is confident the Utah and Oklahoma measures will pass. "America's appetite for cannabis is not going away," Strekal said. "We are in the death rattles of prohibition." Marijuana legalization efforts have faced some pushback from religions before — including in 2016 in Arizona and Nevada from the Mormon church, and the same year from the Catholic Church in Massachusetts. But not to the scale they could face this year in Utah, where Mormons account for about two-third of the population, said Matthew Schweich, executive director of the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project. Mormons have long frowned upon marijuana use because of a key church health code called the "Word of Wisdom," which prohibits the use of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came out against the proposal this month, saying in a statement drugs designed to ease suffering should be tested and approved by government officials first. The church said it respects the "wise counsel" of doctors, and commended the Utah Medical Association for opposing it. The association has accused organizers of trying to disguise their intention of simply paving the way for legalizing recreational marijuana. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert told middle school students in January that he thinks medical marijuana will someday be legalized in the state but in March he announced his opposition to the ballot question, which he argues lacks safeguards for the growing and distribution of marijuana. Advocates remain confident that they've crafted a medical marijuana measure that respects the Mormon church and culture while providing much-needed relief for people with chronic pain, Schweich said. His Washington, D.C.-based organization helped draft the measure. Unlike other medical marijuana states, Utah's proposal would not allow pot smoking or for residents to grow their own, Schweich said. It would create a state-regulated growing and dispensing operation to allow people with certain medical conditions to get a card and use the drug in edible forms like candy, in topical forms like lotions or balms, as an oil or in electronic cigarettes. Proponents turned in the signatures Monday to get the measure on the ballot in November. "It's a question of compassion," Schweich said. Oklahoma will vote in June on its proposal that would allow doctors to recommend that patients receive a medical marijuana license allowing them to legally possess up to three ounces of the drug, six mature plants and six seedlings. Ted Lyon, a 78-year-old Mormon, is a supporter because he saw in the past decade how medical marijuana helped two of his neighbors in Provo — one with multiple sclerosis and another who has seizures. He said he wouldn't support the drug's legalization for recreational use. Lyon, a retired professor at Mormon-owned Brigham Young University, said he's afraid the church's opposition will have a chilling effect on members of the faith but said he remains hopeful there are enough progressive-leaning Mormons who will see the benefits. "In 10 years, the church may say something different," Lyon said. "This is not an eternal banishment of medical marijuana. My father was a good historian, and he used to say, 'If you don't like something in the church, just wait a while because it will change.'" Nathan Frodsham, a 45-year-old married Mormon father of three, is hoping the measure passes so he can get off opioids and back to using the vaporized form of marijuana that he used when he lived in Seattle after his doctor recommended trying for his painful osteoarthritis in his neck. Frodsham wasn't discouraged by the Mormon church statement, which he notes doesn't go as far in opposition as when the church explicitly asked members to vote against full marijuana legalization in Arizona and Nevada. He said marijuana is a natural plant and that the religion's health code doesn't single out cannabis as being prohibited. "I think there's some room for interpretation on this," said Frodsham. The 4,500-member Utah Medical Association isn't against the idea of legalized medical marijuana but has numerous concerns with an initiative it thinks is too broad and doesn't include necessary regulatory measures, said Michelle McOmber, the group's CEO. "We want to be very careful about what we bring into our state," McOmber said. "This is an addictive drug."
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
04/21/2018 12:00 PM
FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — Legislation on an alternative substance that some say could help mitigate the effects of opioid withdrawals is divided along state lines. Kratom, a tropical tree from Southeast Asia with leaves that produce stimulant and sedative effects, has been used in the Fort Smith region to both treat chronic pain and mitigate the effects of opioid painkiller withdrawals. Though it is sold legally through alternative medicine stores throughout Oklahoma, it is listed as a banned substance in Arkansas. People in the United States have started to use kratom as a remedy for drug dependence, anxiety and pain. Proponents argue it is safer than prescription opioids like Vicodin and OxyContin, according to the Associated Press. The Drug Enforcement Agency has listed kratom as a "Drug of Concern." In February, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said claiming kratom is harmless is "shortsighted and dangerous" and that it's "an opioid that's associated with novel risks because of the variability in how it's being formulated, sold and used recreationally." The Jack Henningfield, vice president of Research, Health Policy and Abuse Liability at Pinney Associates, an organization that assesses the medical value of substances, said there is "insufficient evidence" for the DEA to restrict kratom. In Oklahoma, a similar debate is being held. "Right now, I just don't think everyone is on board with banning it," said Kayla Madera, an employee at the kratom store Earthly Mist in Roland. "They're just butting heads right now." Kratom was banned in February 2016 in Arkansas and is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance in the state. It is also banned from Tennessee, Alabama, Indiana, Wisconsin and Vermont. Paul Smith, director of the 12th and 21st District Drug Task Force in Sebastian and Crawford counties, said the legislation that banned kratom likely came about after the substance was tested in the Arkansas state crime lab. He said other substances have been banned in similar fashion in Arkansas. "They start receiving submissions, and they come back for a particular substance," Smith said. "They'll kind of keep track of it and see if it's a problem, and they'll also do their own research around the United States and see what their other colleagues at other state crime labs." Smith, who supports the substance ban, said other countries that have extended experience with kratom consider it to be dangerous. He called such protocols "a good guide for us to go by here in Arkansas." West of the Arkansas border, kratom is dispensed without fear of seizure, the Times Record reported . Though legislation has been brought against kratom in Oklahoma, no law has officially passed that would ban or schedule the substance in the state. Because of its legality, kratom is sold through shops designed purely for its sale and smoke shops across the state. A handful of them are under the brand name Earthly Mist, which has locations in Tulsa and Oklahoma City along with its Roland location. Earthly Mist in Roland receives 7-10 customers a day, including people who have been prescribed methadone, Madera said. She said she does not ID people at the store, as it is not under any licensed medical practice. "They'll come in, and they'll be tired and groggy and all that, and there will be a lot of pain," Madera said. "They'll come back a week or two later and say how great they've been feeling." Smith said law enforcement officials have conducted one kratom seizure in Sebastian County and a handful of seizures of the drug in Crawford County since the substance was banned in 2016. Though the kratom seized in Sebastian County was found in a plastic bag, it was found in Crawford County with labeling from Earthly Mist, Smith said. "They're basically coming from Roland," Smith said of the drug seizures. Though seized like other recreational drugs, Smith has not seen kratom used in Arkansas for recreational purposes. He said people are attracted to the drug to overcome symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea that come from heavy opioid withdrawals. "It can be used to kind of satiate or stop that kind of withdrawal that comes when they don't have any kind of opioid pills to consume," Smith said. Personal testimonies submitted to Earthly Mist line up with Smith's statements. Some even go as far as to say the substance gives the user energy and helps with pain. "I had been prescribed oxycodone and morphine for five years due to chronic illness," one testimony reads. "One of my friends introduced me to kratom when I was complaining about some of the side effects that were making my life miserable. Within one month, I was able to quit taking those drugs because of the effectiveness of kratom." "Kratom has changed my life," another reads. "I have PTSD, bipolar and fibromyalgia. I am also a recovering addict. Since starting to take kratom, I have been able to stop taking all prescription medications." While he has spoken against opioid over-prescribing and its effects in Sebastian County, Smith also spoke against the use of kratom in an opioid withdrawal situation. Smith said anyone going through an opioid withdrawal — especially a severe one — needs to seek medical attention for his or her symptoms. "It's a medical problem that needs to be addressed in a medical setting, not someone who's trying to do it themselves," Smith said of opioid withdrawals. Smith said "all treatment facilities" in Sebastian and Crawford counties have a protocol to ensure the person going through an opioid withdrawal is medically safe while he or she is going through an opioid overdose. "We try to steer people away from these types of remedies into treatment or medically supervised withdrawal protocols," Smith said. Though he has discussed how opioids are over-prescribed in the past, Smith said the difference between prescription opioids and kratom is that prescription opioids are prescribed as the patient needs them. He also said prescription opioids, if prescribed correctly, are given with the patient's medical reactions in mind. "(Kratom) causes different reactions, psychologically and physiologically to the individual that's taking them," Smith said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
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="https://vimeo.com/261177660" target="_blank">https://vimeo.com/261177660</a> to access “An Indigenous Response to #MeToo” on Vimeo. To support similar projects, Rematriation is accepting online contributions at <a href="http://www.rematriation.com/donate" target="_blank">rematriation.com/donate</a>. The producers are also available for community screenings with discussions.
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
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.