Choctaw Nation Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma http://choctawnation.com/rss/ en-us 40 Choctaw Nation assists Memorial Day storm victims <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2917/JohnsonStormCleanup_TheJohnsons_WEB_original.jpg" alt='JohnsonStormCleanup_TheJohnsons_WEB' /><br> <em>Patricia and Richard Johnson wait outside of their home near Tushka while a crew with the Choctaw Nation cleans up debris from a recent storm. (PHOTO BY BRANDON FRYE)</em><br></p> <h3>Choctaw Nation assists Memorial Day storm victims</h3> <p><em>By Brandon Frye</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma</em><br></p> <p>The tornado-producing storm, which followed U.S. Highway 69/75 northeast from Texas into Oklahoma on May 25, swept through the countryside near Tushka while Choctaws Patricia and Richard Johnson sought shelter in their storm cellar.<br></p> <p>“All I could hear was the sound of wind, and I could smell cedar,” Patricia said.<br></p> <p>The smell Mrs. Johnson recalled was a sign of the damage her land and house were enduring just outside the walls of her shelter. The towering cedar trees her father, original enrollee Fulsom Jacob, planted when he built a home on the land in 1969 were being ripped up, broken over, and falling to the ground.<br> </p> <p>Patricia said it was around 3 pm when the couple entered their cellar, and approximately 45 minutes later the storm hit. A silence broke in the commotion so she and her husband thought about getting back above ground, but it picked up again.<br><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2912/JohnsonStormCleanup_BiscuitOnShelter_WEB_original.jpg" align="right" width="350" alt='JohnsonStormCleanup_BiscuitOnShelter_WEB' /></p> <p>“We stayed in for a while, but when we came out everything was just gone,” Patricia said.<br></p> <p>“It was so pretty out here before,” Richard recollected, “the cedar trees came all the way down the driveway and wrapped around.”<br></p> <p>Their home had been moved a few feet, leaving the foundational cinder blocks leaning sideways. Their front patio appeared to have lost support and was toppling forward away from the home. A tree had fallen over onto the south end of the house, cracking the walls inside. The electricity lines were broken, with poles being knocked over. The water line to their home had been busted. The couple had no access to utilities after the storm.<br><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2915/JohnsonStormCleanup_FrontOfHouse_WEB_original.jpg" align="right" width="300" alt='JohnsonStormCleanup_FrontOfHouse_WEB' /></p> <p>But they were thankful. Patricia expressed appreciation for the 30-minute-early warning before the storm hit. She also thanked the Choctaw Nation and Councilman Anthony Dillard for having recently installed her storm shelter.<br></p> <p>“I am glad they helped because we might not have survived if they hadn’t,” Patricia said.<br></p> <p>Two days after the storm, Richard and Patricia stood outside on their lawn as workers with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Office of Environmental Health (OEH) used heavy machinery, chainsaws, and their hands to clean up the debris.<br><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2913/JohnsonStormCleanup_CrewDoingWork_WEB_original.jpg" align="right" width="300" alt='JohnsonStormCleanup_CrewDoingWork_WEB' /></p> <p>The OEH team, lead by Tim Noahubi, had arrived the day before to begin cleanup and had returned for a second day to help the Johnsons reclaim a safe and clear house and yard.<br></p> <p>Normally, OEH works with water, sanitation, and waste water. It is a program which aids CDIB holders within the 10 1/2 counties of the Choctaw Nation with problems involving wells, city water, rural water, septic tanks, and city sewers.<br></p> <p>Noahubi said his team has offered this new kind of help for the last few years, cleaning up after heavy storm emergencies. After the Tushka tornado, there was a focus on community assistance, he explained.<br></p> <p>“This is why our service is here, to help the Choctaw people,” Noahubi said. “We turn into a tree and debris removal crew for the tribe, and if it is needed it is what we do. When storms like this come through, hopefully we can be here for people who need emergency help.”<br><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2914/JohnsonStormCleanup_DozerAndHouse_WEB_original.jpg" align="right" width="350" alt='JohnsonStormCleanup_DozerAndHouse_WEB' /></p> <p>Choctaws who are experiencing emergencies similar to what the Johnsons did are welcome to call the Choctaw Nation and see if assistance is available. An office has set been organized to handle relief for those affected by the recent storms and flooding. To inquire about assistance this storm season call: (800) 522-6170 ext. 2183 or 2496.<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Thu, 28 May 2015 20:17:04 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-assists-memorial-day-storm-victims/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-assists-memorial-day-storm-victims/ Taking the pressure off your heart <h3>Taking the pressure off your heart</h3> <p><em>By Erin Adams</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Durant, Okla.</strong> - National High Blood Pressure Education Month is upon us this month of May. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) what we eat can either increase the risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) or decrease the risk. Research has shown that high blood pressure can be prevented as well has lowered by following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan. <br></p> <p>High blood pressure, according to the NHLBI, affects more than 65 million, or 1 out of every 3 American adults. Prehypertension, which increases the risk of developing high blood pressure, also is at an alarming rate of 59 million Americans diagnosed with this risk factor. <br></p> <ul> <li>High blood pressure defined as blood pressure higher than 140/90 mmHg<br></li> <li>Prehypertension defined as blood pressure between 120/80 and 140/89 mmHg<br> </li> </ul> <p><strong>The Dangers of High Blood Pressure</strong> <br></p> <ul> <li>By making the heart work harder this:<br> </li> <li>Increases the hardening of the walls of the arteries<br></li> <li>Can cause the brain to hemorrhage<br></li> <li>Can cause the kidneys to have decreased function, which can progress to kidney failure<br></li> <li>Can lead to heart and kidney disease<br></li> <li>Can lead to stroke<br></li> <li>Can lead to blindness<br></li> </ul> <p><strong>The good news, high blood pressure can be avoided and lowered by taking a few steps:</strong><br></p> <ul> <li>Follow a healthy eating plan, such as DASH, that includes foods lower in salt and sodium.<br> </li> <li>Stay physically active for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.<br> </li> <li>Get and maintain a healthy weight<br></li> <li>Avoid tobacco and heavy alcohol use<br></li> </ul> <p>If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and your doctor has prescribed medicine, take your medicine as directed in addition to the above steps.<br></p> <p>The DASH eating plan is rich in fruits, vegetables, fat-free or 1% milk and milk products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. All of which provide potassium, magnesium, and calcium, protein, and fiber. These nutrients have all been associated with lowering blood pressure. In turn the DASH eating plan recommends less intake of salt and sodium; sweets, added sugars, and sugar containing beverages; saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol ; and red meats. When following the DASH eating plan you will look at you age and level of daily activity. This will guide you on your daily calorie needs.<br></p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2910/Screen_Shot_2015-05-28_at_1.00.05_PM_original.png" alt='Heart Pressure' /><br></p> <p>Now that you know how many calories you’re allowed each day, find the closest calorie level to yours in the chart called “Following the DASH Eating Plan” found at www.nhlbi.nih.gov. This shows roughly the number of servings from each food group that you can eat each day.<br></p> <p>To help get you started below is a recipe rich in potassium and protein. Serve this with broccoli and whole wheat orzo to add extra magnesium, calcium and fiber.<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Thu, 28 May 2015 17:53:41 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/taking-the-pressure-off-your-heart/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/taking-the-pressure-off-your-heart/ Choctaw linguists attend 13th annual Native youth language fair <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2905/WEB_LangFair_Sign_original.jpg" alt='Youth Language Fair Sign' /><br></p> <h3>Choctaw linguists attend 13th annual Native youth language fair</h3> <p><em>By Brandon Frye</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Norman, Okla.</strong> -Students and instructors of Native languages came together for the 13th Annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair at the Sam Noble Museum in Norman on April 6-7. The gathering aims to give recognition to young students, as well as give them an opportunity to use their tribal language skills publically. Many Choctaws did just this, as students from schools within and outside of the Choctaw Nation’s boundaries made trips to compete individually and on teams. Public school students attended, competitors from Jones Academy showed up, Choctaw speakers from community classes around the state demonstrated their skills. In addition to plainly speaking tribal languages, competitors recited poetry, performed songs, voiced chants alongside drums, took every chance to sharetheir language with a large audience.<br></p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2906/WEB_LangFair_SydneyAnderson_original.jpg" alt='Sydney Anderson-Cullum' /><br> <em>Sydney Anderson-Cullum earned 1st place in the 6-8 grade individual spoken language competition. Sydney also won the poster art design contest for this year’s language fair, and her piece “One Voice, Many Voices” decorated the flyers and shirts for the event.</em><br></p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2907/WEB_LangFair_AprilAndEcho2_original.jpg" alt='April Osburne and Echo Merryman' /><br> <em>April Osburne and Echo Merryman, with Talihina Public Schools, perform in the 9-12 small group spoken language competition.</em><br></p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2908/WEB_LangFair_SarahAlishaAndLoren_original.jpg" alt='Sarah Willison, Alisha Hardy and Loren Crosby' /><br> <em>Sarah Williston, Alisha Hardy, and Loren Crosby, with the Choctaw Language Class, performed Choctaw Hymn #53 during the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair at the Sam Noble Museum.</em><br></p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2909/WEB_LangFair_LexisAndMicah_original.jpg" alt='Micah and Alexis' /><br> <em>Micah and Alexis, with Talihina Public Schools, hold their award for placing first in the 6-8 grade small group spoken language contest.</em><br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Thu, 28 May 2015 17:43:56 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-linguists-attend-13th-annual-native-youth-language-fair/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-linguists-attend-13th-annual-native-youth-language-fair/ Oklahoma Universities honor graduating Native students <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2903/WEB_EDUC_SOSUNativeGrad_original.jpg" alt='SOSU Native Graduation' /><br> <em>Southeastern Oklahoma State University students collect for a photo after attending the 10th Annual Native American Graduation event.</em><br> </p> <h3>Oklahoma Universities honor graduating Native students</h3> <p><em>By Brandon Frye</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p>Native American students across Oklahoma walked across stages, shook hands, and received the degrees they have worked so hard for this month. Oklahoma Universities went above and beyond to recognize our Native students while celebrating alongside them as they move into the next phase of their lives.<br></p> <h3>SOSU holds 10th annual Native American Graduation ceremony<br></h3> <p>Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU) hosted the 10th annual Native American Graduation recently in the Fine Arts Recital Hall. The 2014-2015 Southeastern graduating class consists of 227 Native American students from Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Comanche, Citizen Band of the Potawatomie, Creek Nation, Kiowa, Osage, Ponca, Seminole, and Miami tribes.<br></p> <p>Tribal representatives from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Chickasaw Nation, along with University faculty and staff, were present for the event. Dr. Bryon Clark, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Graduate Dean, welcomed the guest speaker, James Parrish.<br></p> <p>Parrish, Executive Director of Education for the Choctaw Nation and a graduate of Southeastern, reminded graduating students of their unique purpose with three important words &#8211; “you are special.” Parrish acknowledged the important role of the supporting staff from tribal programs and the Native American Center for Student Success at Southeastern for their assistance in helping the students achieve their academic goals.<br></p> <p>The Choctaw Nation Higher Education Program attended the ceremony and gifted Choctaw students with their own book of Choctaw Hymns. Debbie Vietta, Scholarship Officer with CNHEP, said “as part of the Choctaw Nation Higher Education Program, we were happy to support tribal members at the Native American Graduation Ceremony.”<br></p> <p>The Native American Center for Student Success on campus at Southeastern supports students with scholarships, grants and tribal resources. The retention services contribute to Southeastern being ranked 6th nationally for graduating Native American students with bachelor degrees.<br></p> <p>“The ceremony and reception is most important for the graduates to feel celebrated for their academic success, ” said Chris Wesberry, director of the Native American Center for Student Success. “We are proud of their accomplishments and enjoy recognizing each student’s achievement.<br></p> <h3>OU celebrates graduates with American Indian Academic Achievement event<br></h3> <p>Oklahoma University (OU) hosted the American Indian Academic Achievement Celebration, an annual event aimed at recognizing the success of the university’s Native students, on May 8.<br></p> <p>The American Indian Student Life Office and the OU American Indian Advocacy Council planned and hosted the event, offering appreciation and community among all Native graduates of the college.<br></p> <p>Many American Indian students, including 13 Choctaw soon-to-be graduates, collected to share the experience of reaching this milestone.<br></p> <p>Among them was Heather Dalke, who carried the Choctaw tribal flag for the opening of the OU graduation commencement.<br></p> <p>“I am super excited to be graduating from the University of Oklahoma and honored to be carrying my tribe’s flag during commencement,” Dalke said. “I could of not have done this without the help from my tribe through scholarships and other services that are provided for its members.”<Br></p> <p>Felicia Manning, a Choctaw who is also graduating from OU, said she attended the American Indian Academic Achievement Celebration because it was a good opportunity to represent her tribes and make her family proud.<br></p> <p>“American Indians have overcome many obstacles, so I think it is great and important for us to be receiving recognition for our success,” Manning said.<br></p> <h3>OSU celebrates graduates with Native American Graduation Ceremony<br></h3> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2904/WEB_EDUC_OSUNativeGrad_original.jpg" alt='OSU Native Graduation' /><br> The Native American Student Association at Oklahoma State University (OSU) hosted a Native American Graduation Ceremony on April 26.<br></p> <p>Graduates were honored with stoles provided by the OSU Native American Faculty and Staff Association and the OSU American Indian Alumni Society. There were 48 Choctaw students who graduated from OSU this spring with bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees.<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Thu, 28 May 2015 15:32:23 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/oklahoma-universities-honor-graduating-native-students/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/oklahoma-universities-honor-graduating-native-students/ Many Choctaw high school students join ranks of honor society with help of MAD <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2902/WEB_EDUC_HeavenerHonorSociety_original.jpg" alt='Heavener Honor Society ' /><br> <em>The Oklahoma Indian Student Honor Society inducted the following Heavener High School students into their honor roll: (Front) Barbara Johnson, Bethany Cook, Makenzie Wilson, Makaylee Wilson, Lily Friedl, (Middle) Emaline Wiles, Sydney Crase, Shaylie Sanders, Faith Clark, Cheyanne Cranfield, Emily Yandell, (Back) Devon Mathews, Lakota Vickers, Malory Lynch, Gunner Sanders, Dawson Adrean.</em><br></p> <h3>Many Choctaw high school students join ranks of honor society with help of MAD</h3> <p><em>By Brandon Frye</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Durant, Okla.</strong> - The Making a Difference (MAD) program of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma helped raise the number of Native high school honor society students in the state by 115 for the 2014-2015 school year.<br></p> <p>The Oklahoma Council for Indian Education sponsors the Oklahoma Indian Student Honor Society, of which there are now many more Choctaw members. The organization advocates within Oklahoma for Native students and teaches effective educational strategies addressing the unique cultural and academic needs they possess.<br></p> <p>According to Lori Wells, Director of MAD, the program mailed out applications to all 9-12 grade Choctaw students, many found they qualified for the Oklahoma Indian Student Honor Society, and many mailed the application back.<br></p> <p>The number of awardees jumped from 73 to 188 Choctaw honors students in Oklahoma, and five to 30 within the 10.5 counties of the Choctaw Nation.<br></p> <p>These Choctaws and members of other tribes were invited to a banquet in Edmond at the University of Central Oklahoma, an event meant to acknowledge the success of the young Native students.<br></p> <p>“I got an envelope in the mail from Making a Difference and it came with three scholarships along with a form to fill out for the Indian Honor Society,” Malacha Austin, graduating senior at Talihina High School said. “I filled them all out and received one back saying congratulations and that I was inducted into the Oklahoma Indian Student Honor Society.”<br></p> <p>Austin said she received A’s and B’s throughout her high school career and finished with a GPA of 4.2, above the requirement of 3.9 for the honor society.<br></p> <p>Among the high schools within the Choctaw Nation, Heavener High School saw the most growth. Heavener had no awardees in the previous year, but after receiving letters from MAD rose to 15 honors students.<br></p> <p>Earning a spot on the honor society will help students with their future plans, according to Wells, because of how good the membership will look on college entrance applications and work resumes.<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Thu, 28 May 2015 14:32:05 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/many-choctaw-high-school-students-join-ranks-of-honor-society-with-help-of-mad/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/many-choctaw-high-school-students-join-ranks-of-honor-society-with-help-of-mad/ During Autism Awareness Month, new initiative grows hope <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2803/MOU_signed-1_copy_original.jpg" alt='MOU Signed TELI' /><br> C<em>hoctaw Nation Tribal Early Learning Initiative (TELI) members signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday, April 17, as part of an early childhood “systems of care” effort during National Autism Awareness Month. Rebecca Hawkins is signing the document surrounded by other Choctaw Nation early childhood leadership team members Barbara Moffitt, Patti Rosenthal, Kathy Pruitt, Monona Dill, Brandi Smallwood, Lisa Blackmon, B.J. Robinson-Ellison and Angela Dancer.</em><br></p> <h3>Caregivers, teachers, parents, and supporters offer time and resources to better the lives of children and families impacted by autism</h3> <p><em>By Brandon Frye and Zach Maxwell</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Durant, Okla.</strong> - It started with a symbolic bubble release and finished on a celebratory note with community gatherings across the Choctaw Nation.<br></p> <p>The hope is awareness and understanding of autism will take root in the rural communities within Choctaw Nation as a way to improve the lives of an often overlooked segment of our people: families and children living with autism.<br></p> <p>The Nation’s Tribal Early Learning Initiative (TELI) took autism head-on in April, which is known as Autism Awareness Month nationwide. Choctaw Nation utilized a federal TELI grant to kick off its autism awareness activities.<br></p> <p>“The Choctaw Nation is one of only four tribes who have received the TELI grant,” said Angela Dancer, Better Beginnings senior director. “We have the infrastructure needed with our child care programs, Head Starts, and the tribal maternal/infant early home visiting program. The directors of each program want to continue to build collaboration and develop a unified application and information system to share.” The centerpiece of the initiative was a training conference held on April 17 in Durant for around 200 educators and caregivers. Key players in tribal early childhood programs signed a symbolic memorandum of understanding to develop “systems of care” for those with autism spectrum disorder.<br></p> <p>Lisa Blackmon, Dallas regional director for the Administration for Children and Families, said the conference is helping meet the needs of providers with education and materials, empowering them to work with parents and children.<br></p> <p>“They have all focused their efforts on trying to identify and meet special needs,” Blackmon said. “The Choctaw Nation has taken a successful simple approach of learning what they have available within their own programs and from there working as a network and referral source for those families.”<br></p> <p>Under the umbrella of the “Autism Community C.A.R.E.S. Initiative,” Choctaw Nation held a bubble release at the Durant Head Start on April 2, in honor of World Autism Awareness Day.<br></p> <p>After words from TELI partners, children filled the playground of the head start and chased after countless bubbles. It was a reminder that all children need care and support to experience such joys as chasing soap bubbles.<br></p> <p>According to Kelli Ostman, Autism Advocate and speaker at the event, the group first intended to use balloons, but in an effort to help conserve the environment, they decided to release bubbles in honor of autism awareness, where every bubble represented hope and love for an individual.<br></p> <p>Ostman said she is herself a mother of a child with autism and knows first hand what these families are going through.<br></p> <p>“When my son was first diagnosed with autism at four years old, we got a pat on our backs and sent on our way,” Ostman said. “There seemed to be nowhere to go for help. Families are handed this diagnosis and they don’t know where to turn, where to go.”<br></p> <p>She said finding out your child has autism can be scary, but the Choctaw Nation Autism Community C.A.R.E.S. initiative and its website are offering help, and have been since the group’s beginning two months ago.<br></p> <p>“We are saying, contact us and we will help you find these resources,” Ostman said. “We want to let families know they are not alone, even if they feel alone. There will be good days and bad days, but it gets better, especially with the right support and network around you.”<br></p> <p>Choctaw Nation communities experienced a variety of autism awareness events during April. These included free autism screenings, resource fairs and community awareness gatherings. These efforts reached a wide audience and gained the attention of local media outlets, including KTEN News that lauded Choctaw Nation for “leading the way in autism awareness.”<br></p> <p>But the main message from organizers of this effort: Information, help and hope are out there. For autism information and resources, visit their new website at <a href="http://www.autismcommunitycares.com">www.autismcommunitycares.com</a>.</p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Wed, 27 May 2015 17:16:57 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/during-autism-awareness-month-new-initiative-grows-hope/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/during-autism-awareness-month-new-initiative-grows-hope/ Protecting children is goal of Choctaw business <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2899/WEB_BSNS_SaferSchools_MotherAndSon_original.jpg" alt='Safer Schools for America' /><br> <em>Sage Dyer Stafford and son Zachary Miller after presenting their three-step plan for locking down classrooms and protecting school children in the case of an active shooter emergency.</em><br></p> <p><em>By Brandon Frye</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Durant, Okla.</strong> - If gas stations and pawn shops deserve protection from ballistics and active shooters, then our schools and children deserve at least this much, according to Sage Dyer Stafford, a Choctaw working to act on this thought with her business Safer Schools for America (SSFA).<br></p> <p>Moments after making this point to a room full of Choctaw Nation officials, police, and security officers, Stafford’s point was punctuated as bullets struck—but did not penetrate—a demonstration door. A bulletproof door shield, designed by Stafford, successfully stopped rounds and shells from pistols, revolvers, and shotguns.<br></p> <p>“I put together the original prototype in my garage,” Stafford said. “We took it out, we shot it, and it worked. So we refined and developed it, and eventually wrapped it in dry erase laminate so it would also be functional for the classroom it protects.”<br></p> <p>With the momentum of having successfully produced a means for children’s safety, Stafford built up SSFA as founder and CEO. She did this with the help of her sons Justin and Zachary Miller. <br></p> <p>Her door shield is only one of many products offered by the company as part of a three-step plan, and Stafford amassed a team of experts to perfect this plan.<br></p> <p>According to Stafford, right now the three-step process can turn the classroom into a safe room. Step one is to lock down the classroom door, which is done with an instant remote lock system. Step two is to protect the door from being shot down, kicked down, or shattered, and is achieved with the universal door shield. Step three is to protect the glass of the classroom with security laminate. Once in place, the three-step plan leaves the classroom protected without changing the look of a normal classroom setting.<br></p> <p>Warren Pulley, certified international physical threat assessment expert working for SSFA, said the most important thing is to have some way to protect children when they are inside of our school buildings.<Br></p> <p>“At the end of the day, once a gunman fires a round, you have to have some way to stop the round,” Pulley said. “The products I tested for Safer Schools for America do exactly that.”<br></p> <p>Currently, the Choctaw Nation and SSFA are working together to implement the three-step program in all Choctaw head starts and daycares. “With the changing environment and the availability of weapons and active shooter scenarios, I think it would be a disservice to our children to not do this,” Cecilia Armendariz, Director of Facilities Management for the Choctaw Nation, said. “And with this being a Choctaw company, what a great opportunity to live our mission statement.”<br></p> <p>The relationship between SSFA and the Choctaw Nation began with the Preferred Supplier Program, under the supervision of Boyd Miller. The Preferred Supplier Program aims to increase business opportunities for qualified Choctaw tribal member-owned business enterprises, a goal accomplished with SSFA.<br></p> <p>“The Preferred Supplier program is giving us a huge leg up,” Stafford said. “It is very hard to break into an industry with a new product. But the Preferred Supplier Program gives us that opportunity, because it lends credibility to my company when an organization as important as the Choctaw Nation is involved.”<br></p> <p>SSFA makes it easier for schools and parents to help protect their children in a number of ways. Fundraisers are possible through Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA), where parents, teachers, and children can sell items like shirts and hats to raise money. Additionally, 10 percent of every purchase, including purchases from businesses and organizations, is donated to schools unable to afford implementation of the system. Safer Schools for America can be found online, and Sage Dyer Stafford can be contacted at <a href="mailto:sage@saferschoolsforamerica.com">sage@saferschoolsforamerica.com</a>. Also, Choctaw and minority business owners wishing to take advantage of the Preferred Supplier Program can contact Boyd Miller long distance at (800) 522-6170 or locally at (580) 924-8280 ext. 2889.<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Wed, 27 May 2015 16:56:29 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/protecting-children-is-goal-of-choctaw-business/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/protecting-children-is-goal-of-choctaw-business/ Choctaw Nation building boom continues <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2894/AtokaChilisGroundSMALL_original.jpg" alt='Atoka Chilis Groundbreaking' /><br> <em>Two ground-breaking events have been held in Choctaw Nation this month, for a Chili’s restaurant in Atoka and two new facilities in Smithville.</em><br></p> <h3>New projects for job creation and tribal services celebrated in Atoka and Smithville</h3> <p><em>By Zach Maxwell</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Smithville, Okla.</strong> - Expansion of Choctaw Nation facilities is continuing into the summer – even if Mother Nature is being less than cooperative.<br></p> <p>Recent heavy rainfall across Choctaw Country is filling lakes and tearing up roads, as well as dealing minor setbacks for various projects around the Choctaw Nation.<br></p> <p>But that’s not stopping the progress. Ground-breaking ceremonies this month have been held for a Chili’s restaurant in Atoka as well as elder housing and a wellness center in Smithville.<br></p> <p>It is all part of the Choctaw Nation’s 100-year vision to improve facilities, resources and job opportunities for its 173,000 members – 41,000 of whom live in rural southeastern Oklahoma.<br></p> <p>“We’re looking at creating 30 to 40 jobs here in Atoka. They are desperately needed,” said Gary Batton, Chief of the Choctaw Nation, at the Chili’s ground-breaking on May 8. “And we’re continuing to look for more ways to partner with the city of Atoka.”<br></p> <p>Atoka Mayor Bob Frederick called the new restaurant an “amazing” new asset for his city.<br></p> <p>“Choctaws see the potential here, look at this highway,” he said, pointing to a busy U.S. Highway 69/75 in front of the construction site. “All these people could be stopping here to eat. It’s just amazing that this is happening for Atoka.”<br></p> <p>A Chili’s restaurant is also planned for Poteau. Both cities straddle major highways but have been overlooked by national sit-down eateries until this partnership between Chili’s and the Choctaw Nation.<br></p> <p>Meanwhile, the tribe is investing $2.8 million in Smithville for an eight-unit independent housing complex for elders, as well as a 1,300-square-foot wellness center. The latter will include various forms of exercise equipment and will be attached to the existing District 3 Community Center. Councilman Kenny Bryant said these additions were all part of a vision started 20 years ago by previous tribal leaders. The leaders of today are following through on those promises, he said.<br><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2895/GroundbreakSMALL_original.jpg" align="right" width="250" alt='Smithville Groundbreaking' /></p> <p>“The Chief and Council are getting these things, great things for Smithville,” Bryant said at the May 19 ground-breaking. “It’s a great day for Smithville.”<br></p> <p>The town of a few hundred souls is a half-hour drive from commercial centers of Broken Bow and Mena, Ark., nestled in a pocket among the thickly-wooded hills of northern McCurtain County. Opportunities are few and far between, and a public water system just went into service this year.<br></p> <p>Many Smithville area residents are full-blooded Choctaw elders who either have lived in the area all their lives or returned home after seeking jobs elsewhere. The eight housing units will be located adjacent to the community center, offering ease of access to it and the new wellness center.<br></p> <p>New facilities underway or set to open soon include a casino expansion and a larger clinic in Durant, independent senior housing and a Travel Plaza in Stigler, several service facilities in McAlester and a food distribution center in Broken Bow.<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Thu, 21 May 2015 15:23:39 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-building-boom-continues/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-building-boom-continues/ Endangered Species Day <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/72/buffalo_original.jpg" alt='buffalo' /><br></p> <h3>Endangered Species Day</h3> <p><em>By Zach Maxwell</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Tvshka Homma</strong> - Choctaw Nation recognizes Endangered Species Day (May 15) with a success story about the Yvnnvsh. This is the Chahta Anumpa word for bison, the animal most of us refer to as the “buffalo.”<br></p> <p>Pre-historic herds numbering some 30 million bison were reduced to fewer than 1,000 by the turn of the 20th century. The National Bison Association counts more than 400,000 of the animals today.<br></p> <p>Choctaw Nation maintains a herd of 65 animals on tribal property at Tvshka Homma, near the town of Yanush (a variant spelling of the Choctaw word for “bison.”) Shannon McDaniel, executive director of tribal management, said the animals are fed a mixture of winter hay, commercial feed and pasture grazing. A breeding program is also in place.<br></p> <p>These animals are a popular part of the Labor Day Festival experience; more importantly, they provide a living link to the Native American heritage that helps define Choctaw and numerous other native nations.<br></p> <p>Here are the endangered and threatened species of the Choctaw Nation, listed by county. Information from <a href="http://www.wildlifedepartment.com">www.wildlifedepartment.com</a>.<br></p> <p>Atoka County: American Burying Beetle, Piping Plover.<br></p> <p>Bryan County: Interior Least Tern, American Burying Beetle, Piping Plover.<br></p> <p>Choctaw County: American Burying Beetle, Interior Least Tern, Scaleshell Mussel, Piping Plover.<br></p> <p>Coal County: American Burying Beetle.<Br></p> <p>Haskell County: American Burying Beetle, Interior Least Tern, Piping Plover.<br></p> <p>Hughes County: Interior Least Tern, Piping Plover, Arkansas River Shiner.<br></p> <p>Latimer County: American Burying Beetle, Piping Plover.<br></p> <p>LeFlore County: American Burying Beetle, Indiana Bat, Interior Least Tern, Ouachita Rock Pocketbook Mussel, Scaleshell Mussel, Piping Plover, Leopard Darter (fish).<br></p> <p>McCurtain County: Black-sided Darter, American Burying Beetle, Indiana Bat, Interior Least Tern, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Ouachita Rock Pocketbook, Winged Mapleleaf Mussel, Piping Plover, Leopard Darter.</p> <p>Pittsburg County: American Burying Beetle, Interior Least Tern, Piping Plover, Arkansas River Shiner.</p> <p>Pushmataha County: American Burying Beetle, Indiana Bat, Interior Least Tern, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Ouachita Rock Pocketbook, Scaleshell, Winged Mapleleaf, Piping Plover, Leopard Darter, Choctaw Pony.</p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Sat, 16 May 2015 19:26:36 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/endangered-species-day/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/endangered-species-day/ A Phoenix Rises <h3>Rebuilding and Surviving After the Trail of Tears</h3> <p><em>By Amadeus Finlay</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation Contributing Writer</em><br></p> <p><em>Note from the author: due to the nature of The Trail of Tears and subsequent social reconstruction in Indian Territory existing as two sequential incidents in social memory, this piece largely concerns the experiences of the first generation of Choctaw in Oklahoma.</em><br> </p> <p><strong>Choctaw Nation</strong> - In the late fall of 1831, as the chill of winter began to creep across the southern Mississippi Valley, the first of the 15,000 Choctaw who would walk the Trail of Tears were torn from their homelands and plunged into a bleak unknown. Two thousand five hundred of them didn’t make it. Other groups left at different times after the first wave, making the several-month journey and experiencing varied hardships along the way.<br></p> <p>For the 12,500 individuals who survived, ahead lay a bleak future in a dry land of dust and predominantly flat prairie, a world entirely contradictory to that which they left behind. Their ancestors, the bones that tied them to the place of their birth, were now a distant memory, and the spirituality so intertwined to their homeland seemingly lost.<br></p> <p>It was a set of circumstances so wretched, so utterly distressing, that this writer would not even attempt to describe them. Yet, this was to be their future, and in this future there were only two choices – either submit to the overwhelming pressures of distress and lose whatever was left of the Choctaw, or rally as a community to rebuild a new home in a strange land. In one of the most inspiring stories of post-Columbian America, the Choctaw did not submit to Jacksonian subjugation, but recovered from the trauma of removal and established a society that was destined to flourish. <br></p> <p>Things did not get off to an easy start. In June 1832, the Arkansas River flooded its banks and washed away a number of significant farms owned by Choctaw families. Already highly vulnerable from their forced exodus and lacking any form of backup, the Choctaw people faced famine. It was an unstable and uncertain period, made all the worse by a succession of epidemics that tore through the communities.<br></p> <p>In time, however, the Choctaw recovered, and within two years had built a stable economy and constructed a comprehensive and sophisticated legal code upon which they based their commerce. In fact, so successful was the Choctaw economy that historian Angie Debo reports of small towns such as Skullyville flourishing with hotels, blacksmiths and stores that quickly became popular stopping points for travelers on their way to California and Texas.<br></p> <p>Arguably, one of the most impressive pieces to the reconstruction puzzle was the Choctaw Constitution of 1834. Not only was it one of the most groundbreaking legal documents of its time, but it possessed such versatility that in 1837 it was successfully modified to accommodate the Chickasaw Nation after they too had been removed from their homelands. Eager to extend their democratic system to their new neighbors, the Choctaw legislature went so far as to surrender one-quarter of their votes to Chickasaw representatives.<br></p> <p>There was more than just capital gain and legislative advances to the Choctaw success story. No sooner had the people arrived in Indian Territory, than they built churches throughout the newly formed communities and established an independent public school system for their children. By the mid-1830s, five schools were operating in the new lands, with 101 students enrolled across the board. In 1844, Spencer Academy was opened, with Armstrong Academy opening two years later.<br></p> <p>Over the next decade, affairs remained fairly stable, and in 1848, the first editions of Choctaw Telegraph were printed in Doaksville, with the Choctaw Intelligencer going into circulation two years later. Around this time, reports begin to surface of large cotton plantations along the Red River, while along the Arkansas and Canadian rivers, prosperous farms with orchards and cornfields, cattle, hogs and fowl were producing in abundance. Such was the relative prosperity of Choctaw land that corn, pecans and cotton were exported in exchange for manufactured goods.<br></p> <p>The legacy of that first generation of Oklahoma Choctaw still resonates today, with many of the older members of society having known someone with a direct connection to those who began life west of the Mississippi. Tribal storyteller and elder, Stella Long, is one such individual. Looking back from almost a century of experiences, Stella remembers meeting James Dyer Jr. the son of Reverend James Dyer. Born in or ¬near Eagletown in 1838, Dyer was a first generation Oklahoma Choctaw whose parents had come west on the Trail of Tears. <br></p> <p>Looking back from the 21st Century, it is patently apparent that these first Choctaws were blessed with a remarkable sense of courage and determination. Not only did they create a completely new existence out of an unfathomable unknown, but in doing so provided the foundation on which today&#8217;s Nation is built; a Nation that believes as much in faith and education as those brave few who made it west.<br></p> <p>Let us celebrate that achievement.<br></p> <p>History is closer than you think.<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Wed, 13 May 2015 14:52:28 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/a-phoenix-rises/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/a-phoenix-rises/