http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgThe 2018 “Remember the Removal” Bike Ride participants are, standing left to right: Sky Wildcat, Autumn Lawless, Courtney Cowan, Parker Weavel, Lily Drywater, Dale Eagle and Daulton Cochran. Seated left to right: Amari McCoy, Emilee Chavez, Jennifer Barger Johnson. WILL CHAVEZ/ CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The 2018 “Remember the Removal” Bike Ride participants are, standing left to right: Sky Wildcat, Autumn Lawless, Courtney Cowan, Parker Weavel, Lily Drywater, Dale Eagle and Daulton Cochran. Seated left to right: Amari McCoy, Emilee Chavez, Jennifer Barger Johnson. WILL CHAVEZ/ CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Participants announced for annual “Remember the Removal” bike ride

Daulton Cochran of Bell smiles after climbing a hill on Stone Chapel road in western Cherokee County on March 24. “Remember the Removal” cyclists rode 31 miles that day in preparation to riding three weeks retracing the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX “Remember the Removal” cyclists rest before continuing on Stone Chapel Road on March 24. The cyclists road 31 miles that day to prepare for the annual “Remember the Removal” bicycle ride in June. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Daulton Cochran of Bell smiles after climbing a hill on Stone Chapel road in western Cherokee County on March 24. “Remember the Removal” cyclists rode 31 miles that day in preparation to riding three weeks retracing the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Former Reporter
03/29/2018 04:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation has selected 10 participants to put their physical and mental endurance to the test as they retrace the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears by bicycle for the 10th annual “Remember the Removal” bike ride.

For the past two months the participants have been meeting in Tahlequah on Saturdays and Sundays to take history and Cherokee language classes as well as to exercise and train together in preparation for the three-week journey from Georgia to Oklahoma in June.

This years participants are Daulton Cochran of Bell; Lily Drywater, Dale Eagle, Parker Weavel and Emilee Chavez all of Tahlequah; Courtney Cowan of Kansas, Oklahoma; Autumn Lawless of Porum; Sky Wildcat of Muskogee; Amari McCoy of Sallisaw; and mentor rider Jennifer Barger Johnson of Sallisaw.

“I feel really lucky to be a part of this year’s bike ride,” said Cowan. “I’ve been given an opportunity to learn about my culture and honor my ancestors. I know this experience will be emotional, and it will be physically tough, but overall I hope to come out of this as a stronger Cherokee.”

Cowan said she wasn’t raised immersed in the Cherokee culture, but through the bike ride she hopes to finding a piece of her that she feels is missing.

“I’ve struggled to find my identity after graduating and finishing college basketball, but from what I’ve heard this ride brings you back with a very different perspective.” she said. “Since I didn’t grow up traditionally the participants on this ride, to me, are considered my Cherokee family. Each and every one of them are so special and unique in their own way, and I’m learning something new every single day with them.”

The participants were selected based on essays, interviews and a physical to ensure they can endure the physical challenge.

The approximately 950-mile journey travels through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. The cyclists will average 60 miles a day, mirroring in part the hardships of their Cherokee ancestors who made the same trek on foot, by horse and by wagon 180 years ago. Of the estimated 12,000 Cherokee who were rounded up and forced on the journey, 4,000 died due to exposure, starvation and disease.

Johnson said she wanted to participate as a mentor rider to not only experience and learn about the Trail of Tears first hand but to also be support to the “youthful” riders.

“My primary role is to help the youthful riders realize their leadership potential and help them recongnize what they are capable of and not really through leading them but showing them how they can lead,” she said. “Often those of us that are older who are involved with young people we kind of take the reigns and do what we know to do and lead by example that way. Well, that’s not what we’re here to do. We are here help these youthful riders see when and how they can be better leaders, and I am excited because they are phenomenal group of kids. I am excited for the future of our tribe because I can see each of them doing some really incredible things.”

Johnson added although the training has been rigorous, she said one of the most challenging aspect for her has been studying the Cherokee language.

“I was around the language and had exposure to the language as a kid, but I’m 47 years old so as an adult I have grown away from using the language as I should and that has been really challenging for me,” she said. “I think the combination trifecta of the history, language and culture along with the physical and mental aspect is pretty remarkable.”

Each of the cyclists will also have their family tree mapped out by a professional genealogist prior to the trip, providing them insight into their ancestral past. During the ride, they will visit several Cherokee gravesites and historical landmarks. Among the sites are Blythe’s Ferry in Tennessee, the westernmost edge of the old CN, and Mantle Rock in Kentucky, where Cherokees huddled together for warmth under a hanging rock as the only source of shelter during the winter.

A send-off ceremony is set for May 29 in Tahlequah for the group. The 10 cyclists will then travel to Cherokee, North Carolina, where they will join seven cyclists from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The combined group will begin their journey on June 3 from New Echota, Georgia, the capital of the old Cherokee Nation. They are expected to arrive back in Tahlequah on June 21.

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Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
07/16/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH - The Cherokee Nation’s Election commission held a special meeting on July 10 in the Cherokee Nation Election Commission building. Commissioners revised various segments of the EC bylaws, rules and regulations. The commission also discussed actions to be taken on the recent water damage to its headquarters. The commission then voted to allow EC Chairwoman Shawna Calico to vote on all motions. Before this decision, Calico only voted when votes ended in ties. Later Commissioner Carolyn Allen motioned for the commission to go into executive session after attorney Harvey Chaffin told the five commissioners he saw no need for executive session. Once the commission came out of the private discussion, Calico announced no action was taken during the executive session. The Cherokee Phoenix covered the event and produced the following video of the entire meeting, not including the executive session.
07/15/2018 02:00 PM
TULSA, Oklahoma (AP) — Activists in Oklahoma are looking to entrench the right to use marijuana in the state's constitution by promoting a pair of ballot measures. The Tulsa World reports that the first state question would classify marijuana as an "herbal drug" and amend the Oklahoma Constitution. The other initiative says a person 21 years or older can possess or consume up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use. Both were filed in April. Voters in Oklahoma backed the medicinal use of the drug last month. Yet, Isaac Caviness with Green the Vote says the two state questions being promoted are an "insurance policy" to make sure State Question 788 is not over regulated.
07/15/2018 08:00 AM
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma's 4.0 earthquakes are up significantly this year, but the overall rate of earthquakes is declining. Oklahoma has had six quakes of at least magnitude 4.0 halfway through this year, which is one more than all of last year. But the overall rate of earthquakes has declined, with 96 quakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater through June 30, compared with 144 at this point last year and 302 by the end of 2017, the Tulsa World reported. A magnitude 4.6 in April near Perry was the 12th largest in state history. Scientists are largely seeing earthquakes on unmapped faults that were activated in 2014 by wastewater injection, said state seismologist Jake Walter. Scientists are researching specific mechanisms by which the state's ongoing seismicity is triggered, he said. Wastewater can trigger the initial earthquakes, but quakes themselves can lead to more quakes. "So in some ways the wastewater injection has created a new paradigm that defies how we would categorize main shocks and aftershocks if this were a fault that had slipped in a more natural setting," he said. Walter said that Oklahoma's seismic risk appears to be similar to the latest hazard forecast put out by the U.S. Geological Survey in March. The agency calculated Oklahoma's short-term hazard levels to be similar to active regions in California. The chance of earthquake damage in high-hazard areas of Oklahoma this year ranges from 1 percent to 14 percent, "much higher" than most parts of the U.S.
07/14/2018 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Civil lawsuits have been filed in two Oklahoma counties accusing state health officials of improperly imposing strict rules on the state's recently approved medical marijuana industry. Separate lawsuits were filed Friday in Cleveland and Oklahoma counties over the policies that were adopted this week by the State Board of Health and then quickly approved by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin. The board of Fallin appointees voted 5-4 on Tuesday to approve a ban on the sale of smokable marijuana and requiring pharmacists at dispensaries, infuriating activists who had worked for years to get medical marijuana on the ballot. The measure passed June 26 with nearly 57 percent of the vote. Interim Commissioner of Health Tom Bates said July 10 his office anticipated legal challenges and was prepared to defend the new rules.
07/12/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Nearly 500 representatives of the 25 at-large and 88 in-jurisdiction Cherokee organizations recently traveled to Tahlequah for the Cherokee Nation’s 14th annual Conference of Community Leaders. The two-day conference hosted by the tribe’s Community and Cultural Outreach was held June 22-23 at Northeastern State University. Attendees attended workshops led by experts in sustainability and culture, and also met with tribal leaders, including Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Tribal Councilors. The tribe concluded the conference with the Community Impact Awards banquet, which honors community organizations that do outstanding volunteer work, promote the culture and make other significant contributions. “The community organizations, both in the 14 counties and at-large, are some of the tribe’s most valuable partners, because they allow us to reach and help our citizens more effectively and efficiently,” Hoskin said. “Whether it’s mentoring youth or offering cultural enrichment programs or providing housing through temporary shelters, these groups define the values of community and family that are important to us as Cherokee people, and that is something to be commended and recognized.” Cherokee Citizens League of Southeast Texas, an official at-large Cherokee Nation organization based in Houston, was honored with the 2018 Organization of the Year award. After Hurricane Harvey struck the organization’s community, members stepped up to help neighbors recover from the flooding and coordinated efforts to take donations to those in need. The organization also received the Strong Hands Award for its efforts after Hurricane Harvey. “We were all surprised and humbled to be recognized for our work following Hurricane Harvey,” Wade McAlister, Cherokee Citizens League of Southeast Texas president, said. “We were just doing what we do. It was a team effort and exemplifies both the Cherokee ethic of gadugi and the Houston can do spirit.”?? Boys & Girls Club of Adair County received the Youth Leadership Award at the Cherokee Nation Community and Cultural Outreach conference. The nonprofit organization maintains in school, after school and summer programs for the youth of Adair County. “Boys & Girls Clubs of Adair County is based on inspiring and enabling youth to realize their full potential,” Kristal Diver, Boys & Girls Club of Adair County CEO, said. “Receiving the Youth Leadership Award is a great honor and has shown us that we are moving in the right direction. The continuous support of Cherokee Nation has made it possible for us to provide a safe, positive place with fun and engaging activities, supportive relationships with adults and opportunities for our youth.” <strong>Other organizations honored with Community Impact Awards were:</strong> Newcomer of the Year Award – Northern Cherokee County Community Booster Club Newcomer of the Year Award – Illinois River Area Community Organization Mary Mead Volunteerism Award – Native American Fellowship Inc. Mary Mead Volunteerism Award – Greater Wichita Area Cherokees Most Improved Award – Marble City Activity Organization Best in Technology Award – Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club Best in Technology At-Large – San Diego Cherokee Community Continuing Education Award – Spavinaw Youth and Neighborhood Center Hunger Fighters Award – Tailholt Community Organization Roy Hamilton Historical Preservation Award – Adair County Historical and Genealogical Association Roy Hamilton Historical Preservation Award – Mt Hood Cherokees Strong Hands Award – Mid County Community Organization Strong Hands Award – Cherokee Citizens League of Southeast Texas Grant Writer of the Year Award – Adair County Historical and Genealogical Association Technical Assistance Award – Cherokee National Historical Society Best in Reporting Award – Stilwell Public Library Friends Society Best in Reporting At-Large – Kansas City Cherokee Community Community Partnership Award – Tailholt Community Organization Community Partnership At-Large – San Antonio Cherokee Township Community Inspiration Award – Noweta Cherokee Community Foundation Community Inspiration Award – New Mexico Cherokee Community Cultural Perpetuation Award – Washington County Cherokee Organization Cultural Perpetuation At-Large – Cherokees of the Northern Central Valley Donna Chuculate Cemetery Preservation Award – Webbers Falls Historical Society Museum Donna Chuculate Cemetery Preservation Award – Cherokees of the Northern Central Valley Youth Leadership Award – Boys & Girls Club of Adair County Youth Leadership At-Large – Valley of the Sun Cherokees Conference Attendance Award – Cherokees for Black Indian History Preservation Foundation Conference Attendance Award – San Antonio Cherokee Township Above & Beyond Award – Cherokees for Black Indian History Preservation Foundation Above & Beyond Award – Capital City Cherokee Community Community Leadership Award – Orchard Road Community Outreach Community Leadership At-Large – Cherokee Society of Greater Bay Area Lifetime Achievement Award – Gary Bolin (Brushy Cherokee Action Association) Lifetime Achievement Award – Dude Feathers (Oakhill Piney Community Organization) Organization of the Year Award – Mid County Community Organization Organization of the Year At-Large – Cherokee Citizens League of Southeast Texas Sponsor Award – Cherokee Nation Businesses
07/11/2018 04:00 PM
VINITIA – Less than three months after the U.S. Surgeon General released a public health advisory urging more Americans to carry a lifesaving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, Vinita firefighters used that medication, naloxone, to save a life. In June, Vinita firefighters responded to a call about a female who had chewed a fentanyl patch. Vinita Fire Chief Kevin Wofford said when they arrived at the scene, firefighters found the patient unresponsive. After obtaining baseline vitals, they administered one dose of Narcan nasal spray, which is a brand name for naloxone. Within minutes, Wofford said, the ambulance arrived and the EMTs helped the patient into the ambulance where her symptoms abated. “In about three minutes after they had administered the Narcan, she was becoming more responsive and they got a reversal,” Wofford said. Wofford said the Narcan nasal spray for helping save this patient and describes the medication as being “a big help” to area first responders as they deal with the growing crisis of opioid overdose deaths. The Narcan nasal spray used in the June rescue was supplied to the Vinita Fire Department during a naloxone training hosted by in part by Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health Prevention Programs earlier this year. On Feb. 27, 100 representatives from Craig County area law enforcement agencies, fire departments and emergency medical services, as well as school administrators, teachers and coaches received naloxone training and were given free naloxone kits to use in emergency overdose situations. The training and naloxone kits were supplied by Behavioral Health, which received a $1 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as part of the First Responder Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. “The first part of the grant is to get all ‘traditional’ first responders — police, fire departments, EMS — trained and supplied throughout the 14 counties of Cherokee Nation,” Sam Bradshaw, Behavioral Health Prevention Programs manager, said. “Once we’ve done that, then we’ll come back around and offer the training and naloxone kits to ‘nontraditional’ first responders — doctor’s offices, nurses and other people in the community.” Due to grant requirements, first responders can only receive the naloxone kits from CN if they undergo training. To date, naloxone trainings have been held in 12 CN counties and will soon be presented in the last two. Bradshaw said he hopes to be able to offer the ‘nontraditional’ first responder training toward the end of the year. Anyone interested in attending a naloxone training and obtaining kits should call 918-276-2192. “We will resupply naloxone kits that have been used,” Bradshaw said. “To get the replacement kits, first responders must fill out a form, which allows us to collect the data we need for the grant. They can fill out the form they were given with the naloxone kits or contact Grand Nation, which has the forms and will help them get the form filled out correctly so we can get more kits to the first responders who need them.” Naloxone kits that aren’t used may also need to be resupplied, Bradshaw said. “This is a four-year grant and, hopefully, not all of the kits will be needed,” said Bradshaw. “But even those who don’t ever use it, need to be aware that these kits will expire. So we’ll resupply if they’ve expired.” While the naloxone training focuses on dealing with the consequences of opioid addiction, Behavioral Health Prevention Programs is also working to reduce prescription drug-related harm and increase awareness of the opioid epidemic. To learn more, visit the ThinkSMART Oklahoma Facebook page or <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.