Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Statement on "Baby Veronica" case decision today from SCOTUS

"While we are thankful that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act and protected a law vital to the survival of Indian country, we are deeply, deeply disappointed that this case was not fully resolved.

We believe Veronica Brown’s best interests are served continuing to live in a loving home with her biological father Dusten Brown.

My heart, and no doubt the hearts of all of Indian Country, goes out to Dusten, our fellow Cherokee citizen, and his entire family – his parents, his wife and two small children, including Veronica.

Everything this family has gone through the past few years, just to keep his biological child—HIS baby girl— is more overwhelming than any of us can imagine.Keeping Veronica Brown with her family is what’s best for her, her family, the Cherokee Nation and all of Indian Country.

The Cherokee Nation remains committed to the protection of all Indian children and families.

And we will continue to support the Brown family with our thoughts, prayers and every available resource we have, so that they can keep their family whole.

Their fight is our fight, and we will be there every step of the way."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Teaming with State to Create Jobs

This profile is from the NW Arkansas Media...

LED-maker moves plant to U.S.

Arkansas-based firm will manufacture in Oklahoma

By John Magsam

NextGen Illumination Inc. is moving its manufacturing operation from overseas to Oklahoma.

The Fayetteville-based maker of light-emitting diode lighting for industrial, commercial, residential and agricultural applications has struck a deal with Cherokee Nation Industries to build products in Stilwell, Okla., a few miles from the Arkansas border. The company’s manufacturing operation had been in Asia.

NextGen had always wanted to produce its lights in the United States but cost had been a factor, said Patrick Rush, the company’s legal officer and director of media relations. With labor costs rising outside the United States, along with savings the company could realize through no longer paying duties and certain taxes and dramatically reducing shipping costs, it seemed the timing was right to bring the operation to Oklahoma, he said.

The shift to U.S. production gives the company more flexibility and more control over its products, Rush said. Eventually, more supportstaff is expected to be added to the company’s main office in Fayetteville.

“Those are all things that have frustrated us over the years,” Rush said.

Founded in 2008, Next-Gen’s LED lights use less energy than standard bulbs, last longer and don’t use toxic chemicals in their construction, Rush said. The company supplies lights for a variety of applications, including use in the poultry industry, where its patented dimming technology is considered advantageous.

NextGen will work with Cherokee Nation Industries to train workers to produce, assemble and package the company’s products. Theoperation will supply Next-Gen’s clients in North and South America.

Rush said the jobs will be tech-based, including spots in simple assembly and management.

Cherokee Nation Industries is a Cherokee Nation company. It was established in 1969 to serve as the economic and work-force arm for the Cherokee Nation, according to its website. It specializes in aerospace and defense manufacturing but also works in telecommunications and distribution services. It operates a 120,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Stilwell. Key clients include Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Chris Moody, president and chief executive officer of Cherokee Nation Industries, said in an interview Thursday that the Stilwell plant’s work force is well-trained in electronic assembly, so manufacturing the NextGen products is a good fit. He said some of the nearly 300 workers at the Stilwell operation have been trained to make the NextGen products and work will begin soon on the first order. He said additional workers likely will be added when production increases.

Cherokee Nation citizens make up 85 percent of the Adair County plant’s work force, Moody said. The workers primarily live in Adair County, but a small percentage commute from Arkansas. Adair County borders Arkansas’ Washington, Benton and Crawford counties.

Adair County’s unemployment rate for April was 6.5 percent, up slightly from6.3 percent for the same period last year, according to statistics from the federal Department of Labor. Oklahoma’s unemployment rate for the period was 4.4 percent, down from 4.6 percent in 2012. Adair County’s labor force for April was 10,143, according to preliminary data, down from 10,563 for the same period in 2012.

Moody said the working relationship with NextGen also meets a long term goal of Cherokee Nation Industries - diversification. He said working with companies like NextGen will help keep work steady at the plant, because demand in the defense and aerospace segments can be spotty at times.

“We’ve been looking for a good commercial program,” he said.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cherokee Heritage Center opens Diligwa

New village portrays most authentic Cherokee experience based in early 1700s

Cherokee Heritage Center officials celebrated Monday the opening of Diligwa, a new village portraying the most authentic Cherokee experience based on life in 1710.

Diligwa replaces the Ancient Village, which opened in 1967 and was originally designed as an interpretive area to showcase Cherokee daily life prior to European contact. The new village is a more accurate representation of the past due to the resources available today and more in-depth research.

“This is a monumental moment for the Cherokee Heritage Center,” said Cheryl Parrish, interim executive director for the Cherokee Heritage Center. “Our mission is to preserve and promote Cherokee culture, and Diligwa allows us to do that better than ever by more accurately showing what life was like 300 years ago.”

Diligwa is a name derivative of Tellico, a village in the east that was once the principal Cherokee town and is now underwater. Tellico was the Cherokee Nation capital and center of commerce before the emergence of Echota in Monroe County, Tenn. Tellico was often referred to as the “wild rice place” and became synonymous with a native grain that grew in the flat open spaces of east Tennessee.

Many believe when the Cherokees first arrived in Indian Territory, the native grasses that grew in the open spaces around the foothills of the Ozarks reminded them of the grassy open areas of Tellico. They called their new home “Di li gwa,” Tah-le-quah or Teh-li-co, “the open place where the grass grows.”

“We created a world-class venue that gives users a firsthand look into the Cherokee Nation’s culture and traditional lifeways,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “The new village will be an authentic educational experience for Cherokees and non-Cherokees alike. We are proud to use this new setting to promote the tribe’s history and ensure our culture tourism efforts remain second to none.”

The new village provides visitors the chance to experience Cherokee life in the early 18th century and features 19 wattle and daub structures, 14 interpretive stations, and a detailed historic landscape set on four acres of land adjacent to the Cherokee Heritage Center.

Visitors can witness daily life as they are guided through the interpretive stations where crafts are demonstrated, stories are told, and Cherokee lifeways are explained.

Diligwa includes eight residential sites, each with a Cherokee summer house and winter house, which will soon feature a corn crib, a “kitchen garden” and additional landscaping, including the placement of foliage at the fenced perimeter. The public complex consists of the primary council house and summer council pavilion overlooking a large plaza that served as the center of community activity.

In addition, two recreation areas featuring a marble field and stickball field will showcase the Cherokee games that are still played today.

Rounding out the list of contributors is Tom J. and Edna Mae Carson Foundation, $250,000; Cherokee Nation Businesses, $250,000; Mary K. Chapman Foundation, $100,000; Boyd Group, $36,000; and the Gelvin Foundation, $2,500.

The project began with planning and design from Feb. 2007 to Dec. 2010. Implementation began with site preparation from Jan. to July 2011, and construction began in Oct. 2011.

The Cherokee Heritage Center is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive, Park Hill, OK 74451. It is the premier cultural center for Cherokee tribal history, culture and the arts. For information on the 2013 season events, operating hours and programs, please contact the Cherokee Heritage Center at(888) 999-6007 or visit www.CherokeeHeritage.org. It can also be found on Facebook by searching “Cherokee Heritage Center.”