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Cherokee Nation to Host Traditional Native Games Competition in Ochelata

June 25, 2019 - 1:00am

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation will host its 14th annual Traditional Native Games competition Saturday, June 29, at the Cooweescoowee Health Center in Ochelata.

Competitions include a cornstalk shoot, Cherokee marbles, and horseshoes, which all start at 10 a.m., with the hatchet throw and blowgun starting at 11 a.m. and chunkey at 12 p.m. Registration is held 30 minutes before the start time of each game.

“The Traditional Native Games are a fantastic opportunity to experience our cultural games. The games are open to the public and are no cost to the competitor or spectator, so we invite all to come to enjoy a fantastic day of competition and fellowship,” Traditional Games Director Bayly Wright said.

The top three finishers in each game at qualifying events receive a T-shirt and an invitation to compete in the Traditional Native Games Championship in August. The Cherokee Nation will host additional qualifying events in Locust Grove and Jay this summer.

For more information on game times and information, contact the individual game coordinators. Coordinators for the Traditional Native Games competitions:

  • Cornstalk shoot: Brian Jackson, 918-316-4243

  • Cherokee marbles: Pam Bakke, 918-207-6562

  • Chunkey: Tonya Wapskineh, 918-399-8474

  • Horseshoes: Lisa Cookson, 918-458-1339

  • Blowgun: Jason Kingfisher, 918-316-0030

  • Hatchet-throwing: Danny McCarter, 918-871-0085

For more information, contact Bayly Wright at 918-822-2427 or


Chickasaw Nation MC Receives Recognition for Support of Nursing Certification

June 25, 2019 - 1:00am

ADA, Okla. — The Chickasaw Nation recently earned a coveted designation from the Competency & Credentialing Institute that is awarded to facilities having at least 50 percent of their operating room nursing staffs CNOR certified.

Nurses who attain CNOR certification have been documented as consistently achieving exceptionally high standards of practice in providing care for their patients before, during and after surgery.

The honor is also based on the host medical facility providing continued programs that reward and recognize these nurses.

According to Ralania Tignor, senior manager of Surgical and Obstetrical Services at the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center, the award is highly sought by both medical facilities and staff.

“Through the efforts of my staff and their dedication to professionalism and desire to maintain the highest levels of patient safety in the operating room, this has been accomplished,” Tignor said.

“Personally, passing my CNOR certification is one of the highlights of my career.”

The CNOR certification program is for perioperative (operating room) nurses interested in improving and validating their knowledge and skills, while providing the highest quality perioperative patient care.

Certification also recognizes a nurse’s commitment to professional development and is an objective, measurable way of honoring the achievement of specialty knowledge beyond basic nursing preparation and registered nurse (RN) licensure.

“The CNOR Strong award recognizes health care facilities that have had at least 50 percent of their perioperative RNs successfully complete CNOR certification,” Tignor said.

“Our hospital has reached 79 percent, showing our strong commitment to excellence in perioperative patient care. Achieving CNOR certification is met via a process of validation through rigorous testing of the RN’s knowledge, skills, and abilities specific to perioperative nursing care. Obtaining this certification is a highly valued personal and professional achievement.’’

Research shows that nurses who earn the CNOR credential have greater confidence in their clinical practice. CNOR certified nurses who have mastered the standards of perioperative practice provide even more empowerment, further advancing a culture of professionalism and promoting improved patient outcomes.

Patient safety and positive surgical outcomes are of the utmost importance to the Chickasaw Nation and supporting nurses as they exceed expectations to achieve their perioperative nursing certification reaffirm the Chickasaw Nation’s commitment to its core values.

“We are fortunate to have the support needed to encourage nurses to participate in this program,” Tignor said. “The Chickasaw Nation Medical Center provides each nurse the opportunity to attend a preparation course and testing, offsetting the initial costs associated with accreditation.”

About the Competency & Credentialing Institute (CCI)

Established in 1979, CCI provides the CNOR® and CSSM® credentials to more than 35,000 registered nurses, making it one of the largest specialty nursing credentialing organizations and the leading certification body for perioperative nurses. The mission of CCI is to lead competency credentialing that promotes safe, quality patient care and supports lifelong learning.

For more information about the Competency & Credentialing Institute, visit

About the Chickasaw Nation Department of Health

The Chickasaw Nation Department of Health (CNDH), consisting of four locations within the boundaries of the Chickasaw Nation, attends to the health care needs of CDIB cardholders of Native American tribes in south-central Oklahoma and beyond. The Chickasaw Nation Medical Center is located in Ada, Oklahoma, with outlying clinics in Ardmore, Purcell, and Tishomingo.

The Chickasaw Nation Medical Center is a 370,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art health care facility and features a 72-bed hospital, level three emergency department, ambulatory care facility, diabetes care center, dental clinic, diagnostic imaging center, women’s health center, administrative offices and tribal health programs, as well as a centrally located “town center” bridging the centers of patient care.

The mission of the CNDH is to provide an exceptional customer service experience that focuses on health promotion and disease prevention. Its vision is to be the health care provider of choice. Chickasaw Nation Medical Center teams work daily to make the mission and vision a reality for patients.


Navajo Nation & Pueblo of Zuni Unite to Promote Health & Wellness

June 25, 2019 - 1:00am

ZUNI, N.M. – Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Pueblo of Zuni Gov. Val R. Panteah came together at the Zuni Veterans Memorial Park in Zuni, N.M. on Friday, as they signed the “Running for Stronger and Healthier Navajo and Zuni Nation” proclamation to promote health and wellness among the Navajo and Zuni people. The proclamation also highlights the upcoming “9th Annual Running for a Stronger and Healthier Navajo/Zuni Nation” that is scheduled to begin on July 8 through July 15. Participants in this year’s event will run through Navajo and Zuni communities.

The “9th Annual Running for a Stronger and Healthier Navajo and Zuni Nation” is coordinated by the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Program in cooperation with the Zuni Healthy Lifestyles Program, which promotes healthy lifestyles, diabetes prevention, and serves to bring awareness to obesity, cancer, chronic diseases.

“The Navajo Nation and Pueblo of Zuni are committed to empowering our communities by promoting the benefits of active living and healthy eating to live better lives,” said President Nez. “Vice President Myron Lizer and I are proud to partner with the Pueblo of Zuni as we work together on this important initiative.

The proclamation states that all Navajo Nation Chapter affiliates and Pueblo of Zuni divisions and departments, health care facilities, school health, athletic programs, local communities, and national organizations will combine efforts, strategic partners, and volunteers to coordinate a successful run across the Zuni Tribal lands and across the Navajo Nation.

This year’s run will officially begin at Ramah Chapter on July 8 and proceed westward to Pine Hill, Zuni Pueblo, Kamp Kiwanis, Chichiltah Chapter, Bread Springs Chapter, Red Rock Chapter, Manuelito Chapter, Tseyatoh Chapter, and then to Lupton Chapter, Houck Chapter, Pine Springs Community, and St. Michaels Chapter. On July 14, the participants will proceed to Window Rock where they will join horseback riders, bike riders, and others to commemorate the start of the 2019 Summer Council Session, which begins on July 15.

Gov. Panteah was joined by several Zuni Tribal Council and Zuni Healthy Lifestyles Program officials during the signing ceremony, where each expressed their support for the initiative and for working together with the Navajo Nation.

President Nez also noted that the joint proclamation aligns with the Nez-Lizer Administration’s goal of working with other tribes to increase positive relationships and collaboration amongst tribal nations.

Vice President Myron Lizer also met with Gov. Panteah a few months ago and discussed possibilities of working together to create economic and community development opportunities in the Fort Wingate area, where both tribes have neighboring lands.

“We are much stronger and powerful when we work together and speak with a united voice,” said President Nez. “With the signing of this proclamation, we’re building a stronger foundation for the Pueblo of Zuni and the Navajo Nation to collaborate and work cooperatively for many years to come.”

For more information about the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Program, please visit


Tom Porter (Mohawk), Received Lifetime Achievement Award

June 25, 2019 - 1:00am

Sacred Fire Foundation presented Mr. Porter with 2019 Wisdom Fellowship Award on June 22, 2019, in New York City.

NEW YORK — Tom Porter (Sakokwenionkwas – “The One Who Wins”) Haudenosaunee Educator, Elder and Spiritual Leader, a member of the Bear Clan of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, received the Wisdom Fellowship Award for 2019 from the Sacred Fire Foundation (

The Wisdom Fellowship Award is presented annually to honor the work of an elder who has demonstrated lifelong achievement in bringing wisdom, leadership, and learning to their people and community.

Mr. Porter was recognized for his lifelong service and commitment to his community, located in the ancestral Mohawk Valley of New York State.

He is a champion for the revitalization of native languages and traditions, devoting his life to implementing programs that facilitate the understanding of Indigenous culture.  He has been widely recognized and honored for his work.

Mr. Porter was accompanied by his wife Alice Joe Porter as well as many members from his immediate family.  Guests from as far away as Brazil attended to witness Mr. Porter’s award ceremony.

Sacred Fire Foundation Board of Trustees President Keiko Cronin said, “Tom Porter has dedicated his life to ensuring that the Mohawk nation and tradition will thrive for generations to come.  He is an inspiration to many and we are very excited to be presenting this year’s Wisdom Fellowship Award to someone so deeply deserving.”


US Navy to Name Newest Rescue Ship the ‘Cherokee Nation’

June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The U.S. Navy is naming its newest rescue ship the “Cherokee Nation” to honor the service and contributions the Cherokee people have made to the Navy and Marine Corps.

The ship is expected to be built in July 2021.

“The Cherokee Nation is extremely honored that the U.S. Navy is recognizing our tribal nation and the generations of Cherokee men and women who have bravely and humbly sacrificed for our freedom today,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Our Cherokee people have contributed to every major battle and war ever fought in this country and continue to serve in the Armed Forces in some of the highest rates per ethnicity. Cherokees are a strong, resilient people, and we are privileged to have a U.S. ship at sea that reflects both our country and tribe’s history and values.”

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer announced on Thursday the newest $64.8 million contract award for the towing, salvage and rescue ship, named the Cherokee Nation.

The ship will serve as an open ocean towing vessel and will additionally support salvage operations and submarine rescue missions. 

According to the U.S. Navy, this is the fifth U.S. ship to be named in honor of the Cherokee people. Previous ships include:

  • USS Cherokee (1859), a blockade gunboat during the American Civil War

  • USS Cherokee (SP-1104), a steam yacht built in 1903 and commissioned as a patrol ship in the Atlantic during World War I

  • USS Cherokee (SP-458), built in 1891 but commissioned as a tug during World War I

  • USS Cherokee (AT-66), a World War II-era tug

Thousands of Cherokee Nation citizens served in the Navy, including the first Native American to graduate from the Naval Academy, Joseph James “Jocko” Clark. Clark went on to command the USS Suwannee and USS Yorktown during the Battle of Midway in World War II.

For more about the Navy ship, visit


EC certifies vote, determine runoff order

June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation Election Commission on June 3 certified vote counts for the June 1 general election, then confirmed those race outcomes on June 20.

A total of 13,870 of the tribe’s 72,781 registered voters cast ballots for a 19.06 percent turnout, according to the EC.

The official election report is as follows:

Principal Chief
Chuck Hoskin Jr.:7,933 (57.51 percent)
Dick Lay: 3,856 (27.95 percent)
David Walkingstick (disqualified): 2,006 (14.54 percent)

Deputy Chief
Bryan Warner: 8,060 (58.88 percent)
Meredith Frailey: 5,630 (41.12 percent)

District 1
Rex Jordan: 672 (57.88 percent)
Ryan Sierra: 489 (42.12 percent)

District 3
Wes Nofire: 310 (29.47 percent)
Debra Proctor: 306 (29.09 percent)
Billy Flint: 124 (11.79 percent)
RJ Robbins: 113 (10.74 percent)
Jim Cosby: 103 (9.79 percent)
Larry Dean Pritchett: 79 (7.51 percent)
Brandon Girty: 17 (1.62 percent)

District 6
Daryl Legg: 794 (56.71 percent)
Gary Trad Lattimore: 466 (33.29 percent)
Ron Goff: 140 (10 percent)

District 8
Shawn Crittenden: 603 (83.4 percent)
Ralph F. Keen II: 80 (11.07 percent)
Jodie Fishinghawk (disqualified): 40 (5.53 percent)

District 12
Dora L. Smith Patzkowski: 215 (32.92 percent)
Phyllis Lay: 197 (30.17 percent)
Todd M. Branstetter: 150 (22.97 percent)
Don Scott: 91 (13.94 percent)

District 14
Keith Austin: 579 (56.82 percent)
Cara Cowan Watts: 440 (43.18 percent)

Julia Coates: 994 (44.75 percent)
Johnny Jack Kidwell: 679 (30.57 percent)
Steve Adair: 371 (16.70 percent)
Pamela Fox: 143 (6.44 percent)
Wanda Hatfield (disqualified): 34 (1.53 percent)

Runoff election
Three races will be decided July 27 in a runoff election for Dist. 3, 12 and an At-Large seat.

The top two vote-getters in Dist. 3’s seven-candidate race were Debra Proctor with 29.09 percent and Wes Nofire with 29.47 percent. Proctor will be listed first on the ballot, then Nofire based on a random draw for positioning by the EC on June 20. The winner will replace David Walkingstick, who will term out after having served eight years in office.

In Dist. 12, there were four candidates. Phyllis Lay and Dora L. Smith Patzkowski took the top spots with 32.92 percent and 30.17 percent, respectively. Based on the ballot draw, Patzkowski will be listed first. The victor will replace Lay’s husband, Dick Lay, who is terming out after eight years in office.

The At-Large seat drew five candidates, one of which, incumbent Wanda Hatfield, was disqualified prior to the June 1 general election. Johnny Jack Kidwell, with 30.57 percent of the vote, and Julia Coates, with 44.75 percent, will face off in the runoff election. Coates will be listed first on the ballot.

The EC planned to have an estimated 5,000 absentee ballots printed June 20, then mail them on June 24-25.

Voters who received an absentee ballot for the general election will be sent an absentee ballot for the runoff, according to the EC. For those who did not receive an absentee ballot for the general election, the deadline to request one was June 17.

All winning candidates will take their oaths of office on Aug. 14.

Runoff Precincts

District 3
Sequoyah High School Cafeteria
17091 S. Muskogee Ave., Tahlequah

Keys Community Building
19083 E. 840 Road, Park Hill

District 12
NO WE TA CN Community Center
1020 Lenape Drive, Nowata 

Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation Keeler Heights
1003 S. Virginia Ave., Bartlesville

VFW Post 7977
133169 N. Cincinnati Ave., Skiatook


Remember the Removal Bike Ride Cyclists Complete 950-mile Memorial Ride

June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Twenty-one cyclists from 2019 Remember the Removal Bike Ride arrived in Tahlequah Thursday, finishing their three-week journey that retraced the northern route of the Trail of Tears.

The ride began June 2 in New Echota, Georgia, the former capital of the Cherokee Nation before forced removal to present-day Oklahoma. Cyclists from the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians rode nearly 950 miles through portions of seven states.

The Cherokee Nation held a return ceremony at the tribe’s Cherokee National Peace Pavilion in historic downtown Tahlequah on Thursday, where tribal leaders, friends, and family gathered to welcome the returning cyclists.

“These Cherokee men and women have honored our ancestors by riding hundreds and hundreds of miles, from New Echota, Georgia, to the Cherokee Nation capital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma,” said Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “Along the way they have formed new bonds with fellow Cherokees, gained a deeper understanding of what their ancestors endured, and faced their own personal adversities – only to defeat them, because that’s what Cherokees do. I am so proud of 2019 Remember the Removal cyclists and what they have accomplished.

This year marked the 35th anniversary of the inaugural Remember the Removal Bike Ride, which was held in 1984. In honor of that anniversary and to commemorate the 180th anniversary of the end of the Trail of Tears, governors in Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma issued proclamations declaring it “Trail of Tears Remembrance Week” as cyclists made the trek through their respective states. Oklahoma Secretary of Native American Affairs Lisa Billy presented Oklahoma’s proclamation during the return ceremony on behalf of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.

After the original ride in 1984, the leadership program resumed in 2009. Each year, cyclists learn about Cherokee history, language and culture while gaining a deeper understanding of the hardships faced by their ancestors who walked the Trail of Tears.

“Coming home was probably one of the most monumental moments of the ride,” said Ashley Hunnicutt, a Cherokee Nation citizen from Tahlequah. “I appreciate home more than I ever have. I was just overwhelmed with gratitude and love and peace to be here. The ride was life-changing. I am a whole new person, and I’m ready to be here to share what I’ve learned with my family and my friends and the people of my community. Hopefully, that will empower them to share that with others, and our ancestors’ legacy will continue to live on.”

During the journey from Georgia to Oklahoma, Remember the Removal Bike Ride participants visited historical landmarks that were important to Cherokee people, including Blythe Ferry in Tennessee, which was the last part of the Cherokee homeland walked by Cherokee ancestors before they began their journey into Indian Territory. Cyclists also visited Mantle Rock in Kentucky, which provided shelter to many Cherokees as they waited for safe passage across the frozen Ohio River.

Of the estimated 16,000 Cherokees forced to make the Trail of Tears journey to Indian Territory 180 years ago, around 4,000 died due to exposure to the elements, starvation, and disease.

2019 Remember the Removal Bike Ride cyclists:

Cherokee Nation:

Brooke Bailey, Lost City

Joshua Chavez, Tahlequah

Marie Eubanks, Rocky Mountain

Kayli Gonzales, Welling

Shadow Hardbarger, Marble City

Elizabeth Hummingbird, Peavine

Ashley Hunnicutt, Tahlequah

Destiny Matthews, Watts

Sydnie Pierce, Locust Grove

Steven Shade, Briggs

Kevin Stretch, Fort Gibson

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians:

Tonya Carroll, Birdtown community, N.C.

Dre Crowe, Big Y community, N.C.

Zach Goings, Birdtown community, N.C.

Manuel Hernandez, Big Y community, N.C.

Danielle Murray, Painttown community, N.C.

Keyonna Owle, Birdtown community, N.C.

Micah Swimmer, Painttown community, N.C.

Skye Tafoya, Wolftown community, N.C.

Monica Wildcatt, Wolftown community, N.C.

Blythe Winchester, Wolftown community, N.C.

The 2019 Remember the Removal Bike Ride is chronicled on Facebook at and on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags #RememberTheRemoval, #RTR2019 and #RTR35.


Run Strong: A Partnership with Fox River

June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

Running Strong is proud to announce that we have partnered with Fox River Mills® to launch the Run Strong by Fox River® sock line.

Inspired by our National Spokesperson, co-founder and Olympic Gold medalist Billy Mills, Run Strong socks are high quality running socks that support Running Strong's work building a new generation of Native American leaders who demonstrate healthy lifestyles, inspire youth, preserve their cultures, and celebrate their identities. 

$1 of every pair sold is donated to Running Strong and goes back into strengthening Native communities. 

Run Strong socks are made from 37.5® technical fiber to regulate temperature. These socks will support your run and will help lift up Native youth, just like Billy has since 1964.

"The partnership between Running Strong and Fox River is exciting. It's powerful. This is a product that represents the sacredness of my Lakota culture." -Billy Mills



NAJA selects Trahant as 2019 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award recipient

June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

NORMAN, Okla. — The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) will recognize Mark Trahant (Shoshone-Bannock) as an awardee during the 2019 National Native Media Conference in Prior Lake, Minnesota.

NAJA selected Mark Trahant (Shoshone-Bannock) as the 2019 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award recipient.

The award honors an individual who has made a lasting impact on media to the benefit of Indigenous communities and is given jointly by the Native American Journalists Association and the Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University to celebrate responsible storytelling and journalism in Indian Country.

The award honors an individual who has made a lasting impact on media to the benefit of Indigenous communities and is given jointly by the Native American Journalists Association and the Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University to celebrate responsible storytelling and journalism in Indian Country.

The award also includes a $5,000 cash prize and an invitation to the recipient to speak with Medill faculty and students on campus in Evanston, Ill., to further advance the representation of Indigenous journalists in mainstream media.

Trahant’s contributions will be highlighted during the award presentation ceremony set for Monday, Sept. 16 from 12-2 p.m. in coordination with the NAJA Membership Luncheon during the 2019 National Native Media Conference at Mystic Lake Center Sept. 15-18 in Prior Lake, Minnesota.

Conference attendees must have a ticket to attend this event. NAJA members may RSVP for free. Tickets are available for $50 each for non-members and may be purchased online in advance or on-site at the registration desk (limited availability).

His nomination was reviewed and selected by the NAJA-Medill Selection Committee based on the following award criteria:

  • Body of journalistic work during a career

  • Contribution to society through outstanding journalism

  • Recognition and respect from peers and community

  • Significant contributions to the advancement of Native Americans in the field of journalism

  • Commitment to NAJA and its values such as free press, accurate representation of Indigenous communities in media, etc.

Trahant is the editor of Indian Country Today (ICT). He reflected on the first tribal editor, Elias Boudinot (Cherokee), the namesake for another of NAJA’s top awards when reflecting on the standard for Indigenous journalism.

“[Boudinot] described his paper as ‘a vehicle of Indian intelligence.’ Even though the ink has been replaced by pixels; the task remains the same – to publish an informative daily account that’s comprehensive and adds context to the stories missing from the mainstream media.

“We have so many stories to tell. Our mission is simple but important: Solid, factual reporting. Great writing. Photography that inspires and records. Provide a real service to readers across Indian Country’s digital landscape,” Trahant said.

Trahant has exemplified this standard during his career, which includes his past work as editorial page editor of ‘The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’ and employment with the ‘Arizona Republic,’ ‘Salt Lake Tribune,’ ‘Seattle Times,’ ‘Navajo Times Today,’ and ‘Sho-Ban News.’

He has been a reporter for the PBS ‘Frontline’ series, publishing ‘The Silence,’ which detailed the sexual abuse by priests in an Alaska Native village.

Trahant is known for his election reporting in Indian Country, developing the first comprehensive database of American Indians and Alaska Natives running for office. His research has been cited in publications ranging from ‘The New York Times’ to ‘The Economist’ and most recently, ‘Teen Vogue.’

During the 2018 Election, Trahant launched a journalism initiative and as a result, more than 40 Native media professionals conducted the first ever live coverage of election night.

Six hours of TV programming was produced at the First Nations Experience | FNX studios in California and viewers were able to get reports about the dozens of Native candidates running for office during this election, which included the first two Native American women voted into Congress.

Trahant was recently elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been a professor at the University of North Dakota, the University of Alaska Anchorage, the University of Idaho and the University of Colorado.

He moderates his blog,, and reports on events and trends on Facebook, Twitter (@TrahantReports) and social media.

He does a weekly commentary for ‘Native Voice One’ and is chair of the board of directors for ‘Vision Maker Media,’ which works with Native producers to develop, produce and distribute education telecommunications programs for all media, including public TV and radio.

Trahant was appointed to lead ICT as a digital enterprise on March 1, 2018, after the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) took ownership of the outlet the month before. In May 2019, ICT assumed a new legal structure and board of directors under the ownership of the non-profit arm of NCAI.

Trahant explained how this will support the outlet’s operational autonomy, a mission in line with the highest values of NAJA.

“The structure of a company does two things. First: It sets us on course as an independent, non-profit media enterprise. And second, it sets in place a governing structure to protect that independence,” Trahant said.

This year, ICT completed the first investigative series on #MeToo, begun opening a newsroom on the campus of Arizona State University and developed a national news program for PBS stations.


FEMA Declares Public Assistance Disaster for the Oglala Sioux Tribe

June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

U.S. Government Grants Tribal Request for Federal Disaster Declaration Two Months After Uncharacteristic Winter Storm Flooding on Pine Ridge Reservation


PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced yesterday that the White House has declared a major public assistance disaster for the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation.

“We are grateful that FEMA has responded to our dire situation,” said Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner. “We are very much eager to use this aid to begin our path out of poverty. We find ourselves increasingly pummeled by unprecedented weather events, and now more than ever, it’s critical that the federal government partner with tribal nations and other vulnerable communities. There must be a timely response to these climate-related disasters.”

The Midwest is experiencing a record year for precipitation in 2019, and Pine Ridge has already been hit especially hard by two “bomb cyclones” — severe weather systems which brought massive flooding to the rural reservation.

In mid-March, Winter Storm Ulmer wrought more than $10 million in devastation to Pine Ridge. Two weeks later, Winter Storm Wesley followed in Ulmer’s wake, increasing damages and delaying flood relief efforts across the reservation’s near 3,500-square-mile expanse, an area larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.

Bear Runner said that his government requested the public assistance disaster declaration — which provides aid specifically to repair damage to roads, water systems, bridges, culverts, public housing, and other publicly shared infrastructure — several weeks ago.

The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council chose to appeal directly to FEMA for public assistance disaster relief rather than joining with the State of South Dakota, which recently received a similar disaster declaration from the White House.

Chase Iron Eyes, public relations director for President Bear Runner, explained that, if somewhat risky, the decision to go it alone was also important. “Seeking this declaration is an expression of the inherent sovereign status of the Oglala Sioux Tribe,” Iron Eyes said. “And now we have the crucial experience in navigating the logistics of the aid process.”

According to tribal officials, this is the first time FEMA has granted a federal disaster declaration directly to the Oglala Sioux Tribe independent of the State of South Dakota.

“Our government has spent hundreds of thousands of scarce dollars in recent weeks to professionalize our emergency and disaster response,” Iron Eyes continued. “We hired FEMA experts, grant writers, tradesmen, and other skilled laborers to increase the chance of a positive outcome in our appeal for federal support. FEMA neglected our tribal nation last year when a devastating hail storm hit in July. We are pleased that now we’ll be able to fund adequate repairs for the shared benefit of all our people.”

The public assistance declaration follows on the heels of FEMA’s individual assistance declaration for the State of South Dakota on June 8. That declaration, which included Pine Ridge, is providing funds only to repair the private property.

FEMA has established a disaster recovery center in Pine Ridge, which has processed more than 300 registrations by private home and property owners for individual assistance. Tribal officials said they expect that number to grow to approximately 1,500 claims.

“We have much to do,” Bear Runner said. “I’m looking forward to making sure that every family in every one of our communities comes out of this emergency with every opportunity for an improved quality of life.”


‘We’re All Related’: Treaty Days Festival Celebrates the Homecoming

June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

SHIPROCK, N.M. — The Treaty Days Festival represents the “the return home,” says artist Candace Williams, whose painting with that title depicts the Long Walk home that began on June 18, 1868.

“The treaty day celebration is basically a reflection of strength, courage, and how we stand as a nation,” said Williams. “We can always look back on that, not to dwell on it, but to remember where we come from. It’s all about strength. Everybody has that inner strength.”

Held last weekend at the Healing Circle Wellness Center grounds, where Williams and other artists showcased their work, the festival was intended to celebrate the joy of that return.

From lectures to dances, art demonstrations, singing and poetry readings, participants shared the happiness of Navajos returning home in 1868, after an extended period of suffering and trauma.

Event Coordinator Anthony Lee said that the presenters delved into what it would have felt like for the people that walked out of Ft. Sumner.

“We share the history of how our relatives felt and the joy of ‘We’re going home!” exclaimed Lee. “That’s what we celebrate.”


Ancestral guided wellness: A way of life for our ancestors, will heal our bodies

June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

As Native people, we are very aware that the colonization of America and being stripped of our foodways was the beginning of our decline in health; it's important to utilize the teachings of our ancestors to counter this says, Donell Barlow

In the United States, we live in a society of consistent dieters. The more modernized and advanced we have become, the further we have disconnected from nature and real food. With the billion-dollar industry of mass processed food, along with popular fad diets created to slim down the physical body without acknowledging the mind, body, and spirit connection.

I have been working as a Certified Holistic Health Coach for the past seven years, with a broad range of individuals of all ages, families, and Native American communities. The common theme seems to be, not understanding our relationship to food. Our family unit and environment formed our initial connection to food, whether it was abundant or was scarce, processed or whole. Our traditional foods to be celebrated and home-cooked, or primarily processed.

As Native people, we are very aware that the colonization of America and being stripped of our foodways was the beginning of our decline in health. Our traditional foods provided the medicine and an abundance of nutrients that kept us thriving with vitality. The ceremonies around our foods prepared us to receive this medicine with and sacred understanding.

“Before eating, always take time to thank the food”

  -Arapaho Proverb

Dr. Gabriel Cousen later defined this intimate connection to our food in his book Conscious Eating. He makes some great statements in regard to his methodology when relating to the body as a whole and considering the connection of what we eat and how it affects our behavior. “ Negativity is often stored in excess fat as blocked energy, when we let go of such forms of negativity as self-loathing, guilt, grief, depression, loneliness, helplessness, anger, fear of others, fear of life, self-pity, blame, and unconscious death urges, this negative, stored energy leaves often leaves the body."

There is significant research to prove that what we eat affects our mind, mood, and behavior. Our stomach is responsible for at least seventy percent of our immune system. It has it's own working central nervous system that works like a second brain which communicates via chemical messages with our primary brain. These messages can come in many forms such as feeling depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, or in many cases bloating, indigestion, acid reflux, and low energy. 

In our culture, these important messages of discomfort are being ignored and treated with an excessive amount of over the counter and prescription medications that only treat the symptoms. This allows the individual to continue poor eating habits while increasing the risk of other health-related ailments to take shape. As a result, the gut weakens and can allow harmful bacteria, or partially undigested food into our bloodstream. This inflammation can travel to any part of our bodies. When the inflammation goes into our joints we feel the effects of arthritis. When it goes into our lungs, we experience worsened asthmatic symptoms. Our brain is affected by this inflammation with increased risk factors such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and dementia, which is also referred to as Type 3 diabetes. The sicker we become the more we rely on prescription medication, with harmful side effects, thus trapping is in a toxic cycle. Medication is not Medicine.

An example of a popular diet craze is the Keto, which is the most popular diet craze currently in our nation and in Indian country. This diet's foundation includes up to eighty percent healthy fats as a daily intake, which is meant to become your main source of fuel. By eliminating carbohydrates for several days your body goes into a state of ketosis. The body burns fat at a higher rate, which can result in significant weight loss and a steady supply of energy. Keto advises eliminating all forms of sugar, grains, legumes, below ground vegetables, and processed food.

The downside of the keto diet is the elimination of a variety of healthful foods that our ancestors ate. While sugar is the number one cause of inflammation, and the most addictive drug on the planet, honey can be very beneficial for the body, especially when sourced locally. Honey helps us treat allergies, can aid cough and give us natural energy. Grains are not created equal and some can hinder proper digestion, others are full of protein, fiber, and minerals. If our ancestors ate these grains, legumes, below ground vegetables, and higher carbohydrate nuts our bodies will recognize these foods as medicine.

Another concern I have for going full keto-diet is the financial investment. For many communities with limited resources, this is not a feasible option. The keto-diet advises eating only grass-fed beef, organ meats, cage-free eggs, expensive oils and sources of fat. While those protein options are ideal, the affordability and accessibility are only available to higher income demographics or those that are able to hunt. As a result, I see many individuals loading up on poor quality meat that is full of hormones. These animals are sick and their quality of life is poor. That negative energy is then transferred onto the consumer, leaving them increased anxiety, depression, and low-vibrational food. Factory farms are also responsible for the largest carbon imprint on the planet. We do not need to desecrate any more sacred land of our Indigenous relatives to meet the demands of these factories. I am not promoting a vegetarian diet, but I am insisting cutting meat out a few days a week would greatly reduce our carbon imprint. Get creative and utilize quality grains, legumes, and nut sources for protein sources. 

Decolonizing our diet and getting back to our traditional foods is one major component to restore balance in our health and overall and wellness. As Native people, we still have the largest number of diabetes in the country, with the numbers of our youth continuing to increase. We have to take our power back and make the change we wish to see for our people and for future generations. Our ancestors always understood the mind, body, and spirit connection and incorporated forms of self-care as just a part of their daily rituals. They ate in harmony with the seasons, which in today's world would greatly reduce our carbon imprint, and as Indigenous people are something to consider.

I recount my own personal experiences and relationship to food in my book “Medicine Tracks, A Memoir". I was raised by my single father since the age of seven, in the city, and my diet consisted of mostly processed food. My father was Ottawa, Otter clan and my mother was Yurok. I experienced traditional foods only when I visited my grandparents, and I took for granted those specially prepared meals. Years of poor eating left me consistent discomfort and eventually affected my quality of life. Modern medicine offered me so-called specialists that didn’t listen or ask "What are you eating?". The doctors advised mild prescriptions that only treated the symptoms temporarily. After a year of little to no progress, I realized it was time to do the work and invest in my nutrition. I was responsible to make any changes my body asked for. 

Keeping our inflammation in check is key to maintaining our overall health and wellness, along with incorporating some form of self-care into our daily rituals. With ninety percent of doctor visits being attributed to poor stress management, studies are showing that while a healthy diet and physical movement are not the most crucial. Stress management is the deciding factor to keep the body running efficiently.

When our bodies are in a constant state of stress, resources that are meant to fight off harmful pathogens and bacteria are depleted. When our bodies consistently release stress hormones like cortisol, inflammation can occur and weaken the entire immune system allowing harmful symptoms to manifest in the body. 

To combat this, I recommend eight forms of Self-care in my Health Coaching. Food as Medicine, Nature Medicine, Spirituality/Mindfulness, Physical movement, Creativity, Relationships, Journaling, Quality Sleep

How we manage our stress makes a huge impact not just on our quality of life, but our overall health and disease prevention. I had to learn the hard way and did not listen to my body’s signals telling me to slow down. This disconnection manifested into a series of injuries refusing to heal, including an emergency trip to the hospital. It was very unexpected considering on paper and in person, I was in excellent health.

In my memoir, I share my story of learning these lessons the hard way. “At this point, my leg had been injured for almost two solid years, with no running, fancy dancing, or any other high-impact cardio movements. I had come to the conclusion it would heal itself when I had connected my spirit in a way I had never known before. I had given it ample time to make a comeback and tried everyone known therapy available to me. The only thing that I could deduce was that his trauma didn’t come from a physical plane that it was in fact, coming from my "pain body" defined by Eckhart Tolle as a collective manifestation of pain accumulating your entire life. This stemmed from the past trauma or inherited family history that had left an imprint inside of my cells. Mine, in particular, had continued to feed on past emotions I had not yet released." 

Understanding our relationship to food is a process, and takes patience to recognize the triggers, and the tangled emotions tied to consuming certain foods. In my health coaching practice, I encourage my clients to journal about the foods they are eating and how they are feeling emotionally throughout the day. This exercise is a great way to reflect and understand what your body is telling you, and how to manage those messages with clear intent. It is important to be conscious of your role in the improvement and management of your own overall health and wellness.

As Indigenous people, we do not need to seek outside sources to understand our relationship to food. Imagine the impact it would make to have a diet influenced by reducing our carbon imprint as opposed to just our weight on the scale. Imagine if we stopped supporting these corporations that supply the majority of processed food that offers poor nutrition and creates tons upon tons of waste. It is estimated that Nestle contributes eight million tons of plastic into our oceans each year. Nestle is also responsible for extracting millions of liters of water daily from the treaty lands of the Six Nations in Ontario. Meanwhile, the Indigenous residents have no access to clean water and have to travel a great distance to buy bottled water for everyday use. This is unacceptable and they have the resources to do better for their consumers, the Indigenous communities they negatively impacting, and the planet.

Understand these fad diets will continue to only work for a period of time, as they will never address the bigger picture and influence only our physical bodies. I advise you to forage and hunt when you can, grow food if it's an option, and support your local farmer's markets. This makes the best possible food more accessible and is setting the standard for a brighter future for the next generations. Honor several forms of self-care to manage your stress and make it a priority. Just as our historical trauma can be passed onto our children our current stress acts in the same manner. What is required of us is to make some effort and utilize the teachings of our ancestors? This will take time and patience but we have nothing to lose and so much to gain. 

Donell Barlow is Yurok and an enrolled member of the Ottawa tribe, Otter Clan. She currently resides in Spokane, WA working as a certified Holistic Health Coach, yoga teacher, hairdresser, and author. Her deep passion for working with the Native Youth utilizing traditional foods as medicine has been at the forefront for most of her work. Her current projects and past work will be featured in the current issue of Where Women Create Work available nationwide. Please visit for more information including recipes, cooking videos, and contact information. 


Indigenous People & Allies Tell Congress to Declare a Climate Emergency

June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

BERKELEY, Calif. — A group of Indigenous activists is telling Congress it is time to declare an emergency on the climate.

Here is a press release sent by Pennie Opal Plant of Idle No More SF Bay:

We are in a climate and ecological emergency. We urgently need a massive effort to reverse global warming and protect humanity and the natural world from collapse. It’s time for Congress to join the United Kingdom and nearly 600 cities around the world in telling the truth about the climate.  Today is the release of the petition to demand that Congress declare a climate emergency.

In order to avert the worsening climate impacts, the United States must mobilize people, resources, and companies on a scale larger than that of World War II to reverse global warming and prevent catastrophe. This must be a wide-scale, inclusive and equitable transformation and rebuilding of our society to one based on renewable energy, employment, and economic opportunity.

Idle No More SF Bay, a group of Native Americans and allies working on climate justice in the Bay Area, has joined with a coalition of groups including Movement Rights, The Climate Mobilization, Extinction Rebellion, Earth Uprising, Mothers Out Front and the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma to petition Congress to Declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency.

“We must recognize that, while climate chaos affects the living environment of all people, certain communities have suffered much more damage than others. These are the communities affected by fossil fuel extraction, transport, refining as well as other extractive industries”, said Alison Ehara-Brown, Cofounder of Idle No More SF Bay, “These communities are mostly indigenous tribal communities, urban people of color communities and rural communities. The job of detoxifying land and air and water must prioritize reparations for the cleaning up of these hardest hit communities so they are safe for the generations to come.”

The Climate Emergency Petition to Congress includes:

  • Democratically transition to zero greenhouse gas emissions and zero fossil fuel economy in ten years or less.


  • This must be a just transition for workers and frontline communities.


  • Hold a national People’s Assembly on the climate emergency


  • Protect the entire web of life by working to end the sixth mass extinction. Protection of biodiversity is critical to our survival.


  • Prioritize funding to repair the damage caused by fossil fuel and other extractive industries, so that Indigenous tribal communities, communities of color, and rural communities hit hardest by environmental injustice can have clean land, air, and water.


  • Declare a Climate Emergency and protect all Americans, all humanity, and all living things, so that we can be safe for generations to come!

The petition can be seen at

“We encourage everyone concerned about the future of life on Earth and future generations to sign the petition and ask their members of Congress to join us for a survivable future”, said Pennie Opal Plant, Cofounder of Idle No More SF Bay and Movement Rights, “We have already lost so much, thousands of species, lives, homes, and more to climate chaos.  The time to act is now.  Join us.”


Hoskin, Warner Name Glory-Jordan to Head Transition Team

June 21, 2019 - 1:00am

Former Cherokee Nation Tribal Council Speaker to lead the transition team for a new administration


TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation Principal Chief-elect Chuck Hoskin Jr. today announced former Cherokee Nation Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory- Jordan to lead the transition team in preparation for his new administration.

“As I said over and over again on the campaign, this is a critical time for Cherokee Nation. We will be prepared for leadership the first day of the new administration,” Hoskin said. “We will hit the ground running to tackle the difficult things that will make our Nation better for future generations. Speaker Glory – Jordan’s involvement will help guide us as we prepare for the challenges ahead.”

Glory-Jordan was named as the first district court judge of the Cherokee Nation by the late Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller and was also a delegate to the 1999 Cherokee National Constitutional Convention. She served on the Tribal Council from 2007 to 2015. Glory Jordan was elected by her peers on the Tribal Council to serve as Speaker during her second term.

“I am honored to serve Chief-elect Hoskin in this important role,” Glory-Jordan said. “The first 100 days of an administration are crucial to making the progress that Cherokee Nation needs and our people deserve. I am honored to help put together a team that will make the next Chief’s administration a success.”

“Former Speaker Glory-Jordan knows the ins and outs of Cherokee Nation government better than most anyone,” said Deputy Chief-elect Warner. “Having her working with us as an important part of the team will help ensure this administration is prepared to achieve all that Cherokee citizens expect of us.”

The team will prepare the incoming administration to address a number of key issue areas, including but not limited to health care, environmental protection, economic development and preservation of language and culture.

“We don’t have time to wait,” Hoskin said. “Deputy Chief-elect Warner and I are so grateful that former Speaker Glory Jordan has agreed to help us get our team up and running well before inauguration day.”


The CRYP’s 5th Annual RedCan Invitational Graffiti Jam Kicked Off

June 21, 2019 - 1:00am
EAGLE BUTTE, S.D. — The Cheyenne River Youth Project’s 5th annual RedCan invitational graffiti jam officially kicked off Wednesday, June 19, and it runs through Saturday evening, June 22. Graffiti artists from across the country are in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, for four days of painting, creative collaboration with local Lakota artists, youth arts education, community engagement, and cultural exchange in the heart of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation. 
On Thursday, all the artists are painting at select mural sites around the city of Eagle Butte. On Friday and Saturday, they will be painting in CRYP’s free, public Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Art Park, where they will be joined by DJ Micah, the Lakota Dance Exhibition, First Peoples’ Fund’s Rolling Rez Arts, the Full Circle Martial Arts Academy, and a variety of youth arts workshops and activities. Also on deck: Live performances from Gunner Jules and Let It Bee at 6 p.m. on Friday, and the Sampson Bros (who also will be leading a hoop-dancing workshop for 10- to 18-year-olds at 3-5 p.m. on Saturday) at 6 p.m. on Saturday. 
Thursday, June 20: Various Locations
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Artists paint at select mural sites in the community
10:30 a.m.: 5K Color Run/Walk, starting at CRYP’s campus
1-2 p.m.: Martial arts self-defense class at the Veterans Tree with Full Circle Martial Arts Academy; call CRYP at (605) 964-8200 to sign up!
1-3 p.m.: “Moon Sand and Stencils” youth arts activity in the Dairy Queen parking lot.
Friday, June 21: Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park
10 a.m.: Artists paint in the art park
12-2 p.m.: Youth art activities (“Slime/Bird Feeders” for ages 4-12, skateboard making for ages 13-18, and “Learn to Spray Paint” for all ages)
2-3 p.m.: Lakota Dance Exhibition
3-5 p.m.: Youth activities (“Ice Cream in a Bag” and “Learn to Spray Paint” for all ages, “Design Your Wall & Photography” for ages 4-18, and “Parfleche” with artist Wade Patton at the Rolling Rez Arts bus for ages 13-18)
5-7 p.m.: Community dinner
6-8 p.m.: Concert in the Park (Gunner Jules & Let It Bee)
Saturday, June 22: Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park
10 a.m.: Artists paint in the art park
12-2 p.m.: Youth art activities (“Bubble Snakes & T-Shirt Printing” for ages 4-12, “Dreamcatchers” for ages 13-18, and “Learn to Spray Paint” for all ages)
2-3 p.m.: Lakota Dance Exhibition
3-5 p.m.: Youth activities (Youth field games for ages 4-12, interactive graffiti wall for ages 10-18, “Color Pastels” with artist Wade Patton at the Rolling Rez Arts bus for ages 13-18, and hoop-dancing class with the Sampson Bros. for ages 10-18)
5-7 p.m.: Community dinner
6-8 p.m.: Concert in the Park (Sampson Bros.)

Leading Native American Fashion Brands Bring High End Fashion to Gallup, NM

June 21, 2019 - 1:00am

GALLUP, N.M. — The love of indigenous culture in fashion along with a desire to give back to the native community has provoked Jon Riggs, CEO of Dark Whisper Productions, to bring a celebration of high-end native fashion to the core of Indian country, Gallup, New Mexico. This celebration comes at an opportune time as native fashion continues to make its mark in the greater fashion industry. The “Runway Fashion Show”, scheduled for the evening of June 22nd will be a first-time fashion showcase production for Riggs which will unite acclaimed couture designers JG Indie and ACONAV.

Dark Whisper Productions was conceived by Jon Riggs earlier this year with a mission to generate greater awareness to the hidden talents within the Native American community and to showcase these talents, from all genres of the entertainment industry. This inaugural runway event highlights the work of Loren Aragon of ACONAV, who is best known for of his culturally fueled couture designs that pay homage to his Acoma Pueblo heritage. ACONAV has raised through the ranks in Native fashion with recognized fashion works for Walt Disney World and recently debuted a one of a kind creation on the red carpet at the Tony Awards in NYC. ACONAV is joined by celebrated designer, Jolonzo Goldtooth of JG Indie from the Navajo Nation who continues to make strides with his diverse designs and who was recently showcased in International Indigenous Fashion Week in Paris, France.

“The Runway Fashion Show” event will consist of pop-up boutiques by the featured designers, the anticipated runway show, and a special guest appearance by comedian/actor Ernest Tsosie who will be co-hosting with Jon Riggs.

The event is scheduled to kick off at 8 PM on Saturday, June 22, 2019, at Downtown Gallup Conference Center, 204 West Coal Avenue. A ticket is required for entry and is an 18 + event. Tickets can be purchased by calling (505) 722-8982.


NFL SB Champ Michael Bennett Hosts Free Sports Camp for Tribal Boys & Girls

June 21, 2019 - 1:00am

TULALIP, Wash.  Super Bowl Champion Michael Bennett will continue his outreach to Indigenous youth with a sports camp at the Tulalip Tribes Sports Complex on Sunday, June 23, 2019.

For the third summer in a row, Michael will take time out of his busy life to show Indigenous children that they matter, and to encourage them to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

“I believe that Native kids matter,” said Michael.  “We must amplify the voices of Native children because they are the original Americans.”

Indigenous youth are the most vulnerable youth group in the United States.  Over 25% of Indian children live in poverty and 30% are obese. Native youth graduate from high school at a rate of 17% lower than the national average. Native youth suffer the highest juvenile suicide rate, at more than double the rate for Caucasian youth suicide. Native youth experience PTSD at a rate of 22% triple that of the general population.

“We all have a duty to join forces against the oppression of any people,” Michael continued.

Doing and giving what he can to improve life for Indigenous youth, Michael and the Bennett Foundation conducted a sports camp on the Lower Brule Indian Reservation in South Dakota, in 2017.  Last year, Michael hosted Lummi and Nooksack 306 youth at a closed Seattle Seahawks practice at the team’s headquarters, as well as Native girls from various Pacific Northwest tribal communities at his Girls Empowerment Summit event at Garfield High School in Seattle.

This Sunday at Tulalip, over 500 Indigenous boys and girls are expected to attend.  Michael will run sports drills and exercise with the youth and impart to them the need to eat nutritious foods, make healthy lifestyle decisions, and respect one’s self because each of their lives is valued.

Michael’s Foundation, headquartered in Hawaii, has partnered with the Tulalip Tribes, the Snohomish County-Tulalip Unit of the Boys & Girls Club, Jaci McCormack’s Rise Above non-profit, and Indigenous rights law firm Galanda Broadman, PLLC, to hold the sports camp.

The sports camp will run from 1 to 3 PM; registration begins at noon.  Registration for youth, ages 7 to 18, is free and still open at this link.


NTEC and Bisti Fuels Organize Highway Trash Pickup Project

June 20, 2019 - 1:00am

SAN JUAN CHAPTER, N.M. — Navajo Transitional Energy Company and North American Coal Bisti Fuels teamed up to clean a portion of Navajo Route 36 from Highway 491 to San Juan Chapter during the week of June 20.

“Our community teams are leading the charge to clean up an area that is traveled by residents, Navajo Mineworkers and tourists. Cleaning the roadside is one way we show our appreciation to the community for being excellent neighbors of Navajo Mine,” said NTEC CEO Clark Moseley.

NTEC hired college students for the task. Through four days, nearly 20 college students picked up 90 cubic yards, the size of three 30-yard dumpsters, of trash in a six-mile span. Most of the trash consisted of glass bottles. In addition, nearly 80 tires were picked up in the same stretch of highway.

“We are really happy to be helping out the community by picking up trash. We’re thankful to all the students who have helped us through the week,” said Cortasha Upshaw, NTEC Community Affairs Coordinator.

The crew started their days at 7 a.m. by meeting at the chapter house, then worked until noon each day.

“We have to be cautious of the heat this time of year. We end the day early to avoid any complications directed from the heat,” Upshaw said.

The Navajo Nation Police Department ensured the student's safety on the roadsides. They had police units parked with flashing lights to warn drivers to slow down.

“The officers were a great help in controlling the speed of traffic,” Upshaw added.

Aside from bottles and tires, students found some unique items that were discarded on the roadside.

“The interesting things I found was an old cell phone and pair of car keys,” said Tsaa Henderson, 22.

Henderson said he enjoys helping the community and more can be done.

“I do this because I do feel like we need to do more for our community. From every angle we can from picking up trash to providing lunch for our children and our elderly,” he said.

Leonardo LaMarr, 18, a student at New Mexico State University, said picking up trash is work.

“It was a lot of work. I’m glad it’s over,” he said with a smile.


UPDATE: Cherokee Nation Supreme Court dismisses Lay, Frailey election appeals

June 20, 2019 - 1:00am

TAHLEQUAH – After two days of deliberation, Supreme Court justices on June 19 dismissed the appeals by principal chief candidate Dick Lay and deputy chief candidate Meredith Frailey against principal chief-elect Chuck Hoskin Jr., deputy chief-elect Bryan Warner and the Cherokee Nation Election Commission.

All five justices – Lee W. Paden, Lynn Burris, Mark L. Dobbins, John C. Garrett, and Chief Justice James G. Wilcoxen – signed the decision.

Hoskin said his only surprise with the hearing was the raising of issues previously examined and discharged by the EC and the attorney general’s office. 

“The issue was nothing new, but that is part of due process,” Hoskin said. “That process is complete, and I am not at all surprised by the outcome, and Bryan Warner and I are ready to assume office and get to work.”

Warner expressed satisfaction with the hearing’s conclusion.

“I’m ready to get things going, and I’m preparing to transition into the new role and help the citizens of the Cherokee Nation,” he said. “I want to go to work and serve the people diligently.”

Lay called the decision “interesting” and said he was proud of his grassroots campaign.

“I’m happy we never resorted to mudslinging,” Lay said. “I’m happy we were honest and transparent enough not to have utilized an LLC. I’m proud that when it came time to be at the courthouse, I was there. I will continue to work for the best interest of the Cherokee Nation.”

Frailey said the hearing demonstrated the strengths of the Nation’s legal system but that there is room to improve the elections. She also commended the justices and all legal counsel for their professionalism.

“I’m disappointed with the decision in part because the facts were similar to the (David) Walkingstick disqualification case, and I think that was used (in the appellate case) as the standard,” Frailey said. “But I thank the justices of the Supreme Court for hearing our argument, and I think it shows that our democratic system of government does work. I believe the election laws need to be amended to eliminate doubt and confusion among the people. There is much improvement to be made, but we are also fortunate to have the government we have.”

In the opinion, Wilcoxen said the post-election appeals process is available as a challenge to the circumstances of the election itself and any attempts to usurp the will of the Cherokee people.

“Notwithstanding, Petitioners here did not make such allegations in their pleadings or their arguments but instead focus on alleged violations of election laws centered on campaign contributions and expenditures by Hoskin and Warner,” Wilcoxen wrote. “Article 5 also provides for this Court to consider the record of the Election Commission on appeal. Even though there is no record because the Commission did not hear this complaint, the Court considered the evidence offered by Petitioners.”

Wilcoxen wrote that campaign finance violation allegations are normally presented to the EC, often seeking a candidate’s disqualification based on conduct. He added that the appellants did not file until nine days after the election, leaving no proceeding for an appeal to the EC. He further stated that similar complaints were made before the election, but found to be without merit by the EC and attorney general’s office.

“Petitioners claim Cherokee Future, a professional campaign corporation, hired by the Hoskin/Warner campaign as a vehicle to pay vendors was acting as a front for other vendors,” Wilcoxen wrote. “Allegedly, Cherokee Future did not disclose the individual actual vendors other than generically and that there were large payments to Cherokee Future under the designation ‘miscellaneous.’ Granted there should be as much disclosure as reasonably possible but the Election Commission considered the changes made in later revised filings made by the Hoskin/Warner campaign and found that there was no evidence of a violation of the election law regarding the disclosure of expenses by the campaign. In fact, there is no evidence that Cherokee Future did anything but pay bills.”

The court also found no indication that Cherokee Future took or requested contributions, or that it funded in-kind contributions to the campaign and that campaign donation actually went to Cherokee Future to cover campaign-related costs. It also stated the campaign disclosed payments to Cherokee Future, which never received contributions and did not run afoul of corporate donation prohibitions.

“The Petitioners themselves are dissatisfied with the level of disclosure, however, those complaints should have been made with the Election Commission and they should have been made in a timely manner and where possible before the election,” Wilcoxen wrote. “A fair reading of the Election Laws indicate that challenges of this nature should be made pre-election as a practical matter to avoid the necessity and expense of a new election should a candidate be disqualified. It should be done to avoid the appearance that the complaining parties have waited to see how the election turned out before filing a complaint against their opponents. While this Court is not saying that is the case here, this Court is saying that there is not sufficient evidence in this record for this Court to order a new election after the fact. Therefore, it is the order of this court that this consolidated action is dismissed with all pending motions being deemed moot.”

The EC was expected to certify June 1 election results on June 20 in a special meeting.


Muscogee Creek Citizen, Joy Harjo, Named Nation’s 23rd Poet Laureate

June 20, 2019 - 1:00am

Harjo is the First Native American to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate


WASHINGTON — Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden today announced the appointment of Joy Harjo as the nation’s 23rd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2019-2020. Harjo will take up her duties in the fall, opening the Library’s annual literary season on Sept. 19 with a reading of her work in the Coolidge Auditorium.

Harjo is the first Native American poet to serve in the position – she is an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation. She succeeds Tracy K. Smith, who served two terms as laureate.

“Joy Harjo has championed the art of poetry – ‘soul talk’ as she calls it – for over four decades,” Hayden said. “To her, poems are ‘carriers of dreams, knowledge, and wisdom,’ and through them, she tells an American story of tradition and loss, reckoning and myth-making. Her work powerfully connects us to the earth and the spiritual world with a direct, inventive lyricism that helps us reimagine who we are.”

Harjo currently lives in her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is the nation’s first Poet Laureate from Oklahoma.

“What a tremendous honor it is to be named the U.S. Poet Laureate,” Harjo said. “I share this honor with ancestors and teachers who inspired in me a love of poetry, who taught that words are powerful and can make a change when understanding appears impossible, and how time and timelessness can live together within a poem. I count among these ancestors and teachers my Muscogee Creek people, the librarians who opened so many doors for all of us, and the original poets of the indigenous tribal nations of these lands, who were joined by diverse peoples from nations all over the world to make this country and this country’s poetry.”

Harjo joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position, including Juan Felipe Herrera, Charles Wright, Natasha Trethewey, Philip Levine, W.S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass and Rita Dove.

Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 9, 1951, and is the author of eight books of poetry – including “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings” (W. W. Norton, 2015); “The Woman Who Fell From the Sky” (W. W. Norton, 1994), which received the Oklahoma Book Arts Award; and “In Mad Love and War” (Wesleyan University Press, 1990), which received an American Book Award and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award. Her next book of poems, “An American Sunrise,” will be published by W. W. Norton in fall 2019. Harjo has also written a memoir, “Crazy Brave” (W. W. Norton, 2012), which won the 2013 PEN Center USA literary prize for creative nonfiction, as well as a children’s book, “The Good Luck Cat” (Harcourt, Brace 2000) and a young adult book, “For a Girl Becoming” (University of Arizona Press, 2009).

As a performer, Harjo has appeared on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” and in venues across the U.S. and internationally. In addition to her poetry, Harjo is a musician. She plays saxophone with her band, the Arrow Dynamics Band, and previously with Poetic Justice, and has released four award-winning CDs of original music. In 2009, she won a Native American Music Award (NAMMY) for Best Female Artist of the Year.

Harjo’s many literary awards include the PEN Open Book Award, the American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award, the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Harjo has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Witter Bynner Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her collection “How We Become Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2001” (W. W. Norton, 2002) was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts for its Big Read program. Her recent honors include the Jackson Prize from Poets & Writers (2019), the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation (2017) and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets (2015). In 2019, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Harjo has taught at UCLA and was until recently a professor and chair of excellence at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has returned to her hometown where she holds a Tulsa Artist Fellowship.