Choctaw Nation Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma http://choctawnation.com/rss/ en-us 40 Campers learn to "Make a Change" for the better <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2374/Raccoon_original.jpeg" alt='Raccoon' /><br> <em>A young raccoon frolics with a camper during a visit from Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation staff at the Make A Change Summer Youth Camp at Jones Academy.</em><br> </p> <h3>Choctaw Nation, Jones Academy host 90 children at three day event</h3> <p><em>By ZACH MAXWELL</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma</em><br></p> <p><strong>DURANT, Okla.</strong> – Ninety children attended the second year of Make A Change Summer Youth Camp held at Jones Academy hosted by the Choctaw Nation.<br></p> <p>This represents an increase in participation over the inaugural 2013 event in which 80 children took part. The camp is a new take on the summer retreat concept focusing on culture, fitness, nutrition, and self-respect.<br></p> <p>“We just wanted to give the kids a positive outlook on life, give them some confidence and social skills. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since working at the Choctaw Nation,” said Raina Sparks, coordinator of the youth camp. “A lot of these kids have never been away from home until they come here. We have different grants that help cover it.”<br></p> <p>Unlike most other Choctaw Nation youth camps, Make A Change was open to all children between ages 8-12 living within tribal boundaries. Participation was made available on a first-come, first-serve basis advertised through the public schools.<br></p> <p>World record holder and Native American inspirational speaker Brian Jackson addressed the group and helped the children set a record for paper football making. “I want to teach you to hold onto something you love to do – and never let that go,” Jackson said to the children. “Impossible situations will come at you in all shapes and sizes. When we get a second chance handed to us, what we do with that second chance is completely up to us.”<br></p> <p>Participants were treated to a variety of events and activities over the two-and-a-half day camp. Choctaw culture was on full display with Dr. Ian Thompson showing kids how to make flint arrowheads, as well as native beadwork.<br></p> <p>Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation staff member Dalton Lyons brought live animals to teach the children about nature. Indoor and outdoor physical activities included tug-of-war, taekwondo, and a nighttime, one-mile glow-run.<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, 20 Aug 2014 16:09:55 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/campers-learn-to-make-a-change-for-the-better/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/campers-learn-to-make-a-change-for-the-better/ Choctaw artist showcases culture in works <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2373/Carole_Ayers_original.jpeg" alt='Carole Ayers' /><br> <em>Carole Ayers shows art enthusiasts one of her recent watercolor paintings depicting a horse, a subject she wishes to produce more art with in the future. Her art was spotlighted during July’s Meet the Artist Event. (Photo by BRANDON FRYE)</em><br></p> <h3>Carole Ayers July’s Choctaw Nation sponsored “Meet the Artist”.</h3> <p><em>By BRANDON FRYE</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma</em><br></p> <p><strong>DURANT, Okla.</strong> – “It has a picture of several generations of women and they are passing on things to the next generation,” Choctaw artist Carole Ayers said, explaining “The Thread of Life,” one of her watercolor paintings. “There are four women in the picture, but they are all connected by the umbilical cord, which I call the thread of life. They are passing on the spirit of the earth, the hope of the future.”<br></p> <p>A young girl watched attentively as Ayers reached over to help her paint a small watercolor during Meet the Artist on July 18. A red cloth, in sharp contrast to the purples and greens of the girl’s painting, covered the table they worked on. A palette of paint, a cup of colorful water, and assorted brushes rested at arms reach in wait to aid the two. Once finished, the girl held the painting up to her mother and received praise for her work.<br></p> <p>Ayers, who is also the president of the Durant Senior Community Center, was a featured artist for Meet the Artist, a monthly event managed by the Choctaw Nation Marketing Department aimed at giving exposure to Choctaw artists and culture. These events are held at the Choctaw Welcome Center in Colbert, which displays cultural items, pieces of art, and handcrafted gifts for travelers interested in Choctaw culture.<br></p> <p>“We had people from all over this time,” Carolyn Cross, Manager of the Choctaw Welcome Center, said. “After it was posted online, some people drove all the way out.” Ayers has had art booths set up at different art shows, including at the Choctaw Labor Day Festival, Red Earth, Haskell Indian Art Market, Tulsa Indian Art Market, the Chickasaw Festival, among others. She said she sees her art less as business and more as sharing her culture and preserving it for future generations. “After I retired from my nursing job—I worked 35 years as a nurse—my husband asked me what I wanted to do with my time and I said I’d like to study my heritage more and do more painting,” Ayers said. “He got me a very nice camera. I went to Red Earth and took my camera and become fascinated with the dancers and the colors and the music.”<br></p> <p>Soon, Ayers began painting the photographs she took while at cultural gatherings. She said she preferred to work in watercolors, and preferred to work with people as her subjects. “There is a special thing to water coloring, you have to look at the light, and you have to leave the light. Once you put paint on it, you can’t go back,” she said. “For me, one of the main things was, I discovered that I like to do pictures of people. It’s almost as if the face in the paper comes out, the personality of that person comes out of the paper.” “This little girl…” Ayers said, beginning a story. “I was in my booth one day and a lady came in and had her child stand there and look in the same direction as the painting. She was a dead ringer for my picture. I had never seen anything like that.”<br></p> <p>Verree Shaw, Marketing Director for the Choctaw Nation, said there are currently 285 Choctaw artists like Carole Ayers registered with the nation, and they aim to reach 1,000 artists. “The artists are invited to cultural meetings and meet-the-artist events at the Choctaw Welcome Center. And we are striving to have Choctaw artist bazaars four times a year,&#8221; Shaw said.<br></p> <p>Shaw also said, through the events, with marketing plans, everyone who loves both traditional and contemporary Choctaw culture should have the capability of getting in contact with the artists and their artwork. Additionally, art lovers can view the artists on display at <a href="http://www.choctawstore.com">Choctaw Store</a>.<br></p> <p>Ayers said, with her art, she hopes “people get a sense of the history of our culture, and it will make them think about where they are today, and what they want to preserve of their past and their ancestors.”<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, 20 Aug 2014 16:03:33 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-artist-showcases-culture-in-works/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-artist-showcases-culture-in-works/ Choctaw Nation receives Innovation Award from REI <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2372/REI_Award_original.jpeg" alt='REI Award' /><br> <em>Minority Business Development Agency Project Director, James Ray, Executive Director of Tribal Policy, Brian McClain, and REI Oklahoma President and CEO, Scott Dewald.</em><br> </p> <h3>Choctaw Nation receives Innovation Award from REI</h3> <p><em>By STEPHENIE OCHOA</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma</em><br></p> <p><strong>DURANT, Okla.</strong> – The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma was given the “Innovation Award” during the Oklahoma Minority Enterprise Development (MED) banquet coordinated by the REI Native American Business Centers.<br></p> <p>REI Native American Business Centers deliver technical assistance and training programs in an effort to build successful Native American and minority-owned businesses. Companies utilizing the Centers receive specialized assistance with bids, contracting and procurement opportunities, training and business counseling, access to capital, and more.<br></p> <p>With the recent nomination of the Promise Zone, the Choctaw Nation is expected to be an even bigger part of the growth of new businesses and services throughout the southeastern Oklahoma areas. As an incubator for many minority owned small businesses, utilizing its servant leadership role, business growth is anticipated.<br></p> <p>James Ray, Minority Business Development Agency Project Director said, “The progressive work of the Choctaw Nation continues to open the doors of development within the communities its people live.”<br></p> <p>For additional information about the Choctaw Nation and business development, visit the <a href="http://www.choctawnation.com">Choctaw Nation.</a><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, 20 Aug 2014 15:58:30 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-receives-innovation-award-from-rei/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-receives-innovation-award-from-rei/ Choctaw Nation Community Health Nurses offer vaccines at annual festival <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2371/Health_Care_Van_original.png" alt='Health Care Van' /><br> <em>Choctaw Nation Community Health Caring Van.</em><br></p> <h3>Choctaw Nation educates and assists public with Tdap and Pneumovax vaccines</h3> <p><em>By Kelly Adams, RN/CHN Director</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma</em><br></p> <p><strong>DURANT, Okla.</strong> – Most people don’t know the details when it comes to vaccines, but this year, the Choctaw Nation hopes to educate and vaccinate the public about Tdap (a combined vaccine aimed to immunize against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough) and Pneumovax (immunization for the prevention of the streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria).<br> </p> <p>Along with the facts, the Choctaw Nation Community Health Nurses will offer both vaccines from the Caring Van located behind the Healthy Living Tent at the Tushka Homma Capital grounds. Vaccines are free to the public.<br></p> <p>Here’s what the public can learn about from the Choctaw Nation Nurses:<br></p> <p><strong>What is Whooping Cough and Tdap?</strong> <br> Whooping cough—or pertussis—is a very serious respiratory (in the lungs and breathing tubes) infection caused by the pertussis bacteria. It causes violent coughing you can’t stop. Whooping cough is most harmful for young babies and can be deadly.<br></p> <p>Everyone around a baby needs a whooping cough vaccine Anyone who comes in close contact with a baby, from older siblings and cousins to grandparents and caregivers, should be up to date with whooping cough vaccination. CDC recommends only one dose of Tdap for most people 11 years and older. Currently, the only group that CDC recommends get more than one dose of this vaccine is pregnant women, who should get the vaccine each time they are pregnant.<br></p> <p>The recommended time to get Tdap is at 11 or 12 years of age. Teens who didn&#8217;t get Tdap as a preteen should get one dose the next time they visit their doctor. CDC recommends that all adults 19 years of age and older who didn&#8217;t get Tdap as a preteen or teen should also get one dose of Tdap.<br></p> <p>If you aren’t up to date with Tdap vaccine, getting vaccinated at least two weeks before coming into close contact with a baby is especially important. These two weeks give your body enough time to build up protection against whooping cough. You can get Tdap no matter when you got your last tetanus shot.<br></p> <p><strong>Who needs Pneumovax?</strong> Pneumococcal disease is caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria and it is a leading cause of vaccine preventable illness and death in the United States.<br></p> <p>Although anyone can get pneumococcal disease, some people are at greater risk than others: Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV) protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria, including those most likely to cause serious disease.<br> • People 65 years and older<br> • Smokers<br> • People with certain health problems (i.e., heart or lung disease, sickle cell disease, diabetes, asthma, alcoholism, cirrhosis)<br> • People with a weakened immune system<br> • HIV/AIDS<br> Pneumococcal disease can lead to serious infections of the:<br> • Lungs (pneumonia),<br> • Blood (bacteremia), and<br> • Covering of the brain (meningitis).<br></p> <p>Pneumococcal pneumonia kills about 1 out of 20 people who get it. Bacteremia kills about 1 person in 5, and meningitis about 3 people in 10. For further information, you may contact Kelly Adams, RN/CHN Director at 580-584-6697 ext. 33008.<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, 20 Aug 2014 15:51:46 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-community-health-nurses-offer-vaccines-at-annual-festival/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-community-health-nurses-offer-vaccines-at-annual-festival/ Annual Labor Day Festival celebrates the role of women <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2370/2014_Labor_Day_Art_Color_INDD_original.jpg" width="450" alt='Labor Day Logo' /><br> <em>Choctaw Labor Day Festival emblem “Honoring the Giver of Life.”</em><br></p> <h3>Choctaw Nation dedicates festival to honor the “Giver of Life.”</h3> <p><em>By STEPHENIE OCHOA</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma</em><br></p> <p><strong>DURANT, Okla.</strong> – This year the Choctaw Nation dedicated the annual Labor Day Festival to the strong Choctaw women who are the heart of Choctaw culture. Throughout history and from the beginning, Choctaw mothers and grandmothers gave life, love, and learning to the tribe’s children and formed the core for the tribal matrilineal society. Women have harvested the crops, tended to the homes, were incredible artists, and were valued members of a tribe and thus were referred to as “beloved”. “Honoring the Giver of Life” is meant to signify the special bond and guidance given to the Choctaw people by the modern Choctaw woman and to show appreciation for continual leadership in faith, family, and culture.<br></p> <p>Events for this year’s festival will begin at 7 p.m. August 28 with the Princess Pageant and continue through September 1 ending with Chief Gary Batton’s State of the Nation Address along with door prize drawings and lunch.<br> </p> <p>The Labor Day Festival is held at the Choctaw Nation Capitol building at Tushka Homma and expected to draw over 100,000 visitors. Admission to the festival is free as well as parking, rides, and concerts.<br></p> <p>Pow Wow Grand Entry will begin 7 p.m. on the Capitol lawn with a special statue unveiling ceremony of treasured former Choctaw council member Charlotte Jackson. Jackson’s statue will be the first female statue to be erected at the Capitol and women attending will receive commemorative buttons as a special honor.<br> </p> <p>Main attractions for this year’s festival will include entertainers Merle Haggard, Jeff Foxworthy, Duck Dynasty’s Willie and Korie Robertson, Chris Cagle, Jason Crabb, and several local performers. Traditional Choctaw cultural events such as gospel singing, dancing, stickball, and crafts will be held throughout the festival. Fast pitch tournament, 5k race, horseshoe tournaments, an arts and crafts show, and special exhibits will also be held.<br></p> <p>For additional information about Choctaw events and activities during the 2014 Honoring the Giver of Life Labor Day Festival and Pow Wow visit <a href="http://www.choctawnation.com">Choctaw Nation</a> or (800) 522-6170. To join in the social conversation during Labor Day events, don’t forget to use #ChoctawFest.<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, 20 Aug 2014 15:36:18 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/annual-labor-day-festival-celebrates-the-role-of-women/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/annual-labor-day-festival-celebrates-the-role-of-women/ Spotlight on Elders With Joy Culbreath <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2364/JoyWithHusband_original.jpg" width="400" alt='Joy Culbreath ' /><br> <em>Joy Culbreath with husband Alton Culbreath photo by Zach Maxwell</em></p> <h3>Choctaw children of tomorrow</h3> <p><em>BY PAYTON GUTHRIE</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma</em><br></p> <p>The Choctaw Nation has changed immensely over the last twenty-one years with Joy Culbreath leading the way into the future of Choctaw education. Culbreath joined the Choctaw Nation in 1993, when there were few programs to help tribal members with goals for higher education. Twenty-one years later, the Choctaw Nation is helping students across the globe reach their goals.<br> Culbreath’s family moved from Boggy Depot, to Lubbock, Texas, in 1942 at the age of three to find work as many families did in southeastern Oklahoma. Joy lived in Lubbock until 1957 when she graduated from Lubbock High just a year after Rock-n-Roll legend Buddy Holly. During her time in Lubbock, Joy “danced with Elvis at the Cotton Club.”<br> Joy met Alton Culbreath during summer trips to Durant to visit her sister. Shortly after graduating high school she married Culbreath and then moved to Durant. Education was also important to Culbreath as she made several sacrifices to pursue her goals of a higher education.<br> “We had to figure it out,” Joy said “we grew a big garden, raised our own beef, and I made all our children’s clothes. We did everything we could to save money so I could go to school.” Joy graduated from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 1967 receiving her Bachelor’s in Business Education and Elementary Education. She later earned a Master of Behavioral Studies and a Master of Administration.<br> Culbreath worked at Southeastern in the Trio Program and with federal programs for the next 30 years becoming the Director of Upward Bound. In 1993, she retired from Southeastern “on a Friday and on Monday morning began working for the Choctaw Nation.”<br> The next twenty-one years Culbreath spent as the Executive Director of Education for the Choctaw Nation was a time of growth and expansion. A number of new programs and scholarships were created to help Choctaw tribal members under Joy’s watch.<br> “It’s taken total dedication,” Joy said about the growth, “I’m a visionary. I’ve always tried to plan and look for what we can do to help children a generation from now.”<br> Now, Choctaw children have the needed programs and opportunity for education. One of these new programs sees the Choctaw Nation teaming up with schools in the Choctaw Nation to form a summer school program.<br> “I can see by us partnering with all eighty-five schools in the Choctaw Nation that summer schools are going to change education in southeastern Oklahoma.”<br> With the Choctaw Nation in good hands, Culbreath announced her retirement although she said she would still be involved with the Nation through several projects including a historical book and various educational programs.<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> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 17:32:34 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/spotlight-on-elders-with-joy-culbreath/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/spotlight-on-elders-with-joy-culbreath/ Choctaw Scholarship Advisement Program services to be distributed among educational programs <p><b><font size="5">Choctaw Scholarship Advisement Program services to be distributed among educational programs</font></b></p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2363/SAP_logo_800x800__original.jpg" align="right" width="200" alt='SAP_logo_800x800_' /> In recent months, the Choctaw Nation Education Department has restructured its suite of educational programs in an effort to streamline its efforts and increase the benefit to tribal members. </p> <p>During this restructuring, the Scholarship Advisement Program (SAP) has been dissolved and services contained therein either dispersed among other programs or discontinued. Pre-college initiatives will now be hosted through the Making A Difference (MAD) program and post-secondary matters completed through the <a href="http://www.choctawnation.com/services/education/higher-education-and-grant-program/">Higher Education Program</a> (HEP). Scholarships formerly hosted through SAP are now housed at the <a href="https://chahtafoundation.com/">Chahta Foundation</a>.</p> <p>Consolidation and elimination of certain services will enable the core services to access greater funding, translating to higher impact in areas most important to tribal members. As other programs absorb certain aspects of SAP, tribal members will see more action and fewer divisions in services. </p> <p>A staple event of SAP, Ivy League and Friends, which was an annual gathering of the nation’s top universities, will still take place with modifications. The new event will be titled Choctaw College Connect and will see a wider variety of schools invited. All previous attendees from past events will be welcomed, along with local institutions which include the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.</p> <p>For more information and a registration form, please see <a href="http://www.choctawnation.com/news-room/events/choctaw-college-connect/">here</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> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 16:45:19 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-scholarship-advisement-program-services-to-be-distributed-among-educational-programs/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-scholarship-advisement-program-services-to-be-distributed-among-educational-programs/ Haileyville leading the way <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2346/HaileyvilleTeachers_copy_original.jpg" height="650" alt='Haileyville Teachers' /><br> <em>Haileyville teachers Brian Weaver and Louise Mitchell are at the top of their game – instructing high school students to create children’s books in the Choctaw language. (Photo by ZACH MAXWELL)</em></p> <h3>High school students win awards at Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair</h3> <p><em>By ZACH MAXWELL</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma</em></p> <p><strong>DURANT, Okla.</strong> - Brian Weaver and Louise Mitchell have won it anonti. (That’s Choctaw for “again.”) The Haileyville High School teachers have led their students to a pair of projects which have earned awards at the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair. Weaver’s class took the blue ribbon for a third time with Opa Yvt Yakni Moma Nitak I Nowa (Owl Visits Day World). Mitchell’s class wrote and illustrated Okak Iskitini (Little Swan), an adaptation of Cinderella, and it took the second-place statewide prize at the April fair hosted by the Sam Noble Museum Department of Native American Languages.<br></p> <p>Their students work with Choctaw language instructor Virginia Espinoza via IETV distance learning. Espinoza is one of many teachers offering Choctaw to high schools throughout the Choctaw Nation via televised distance learning. “I tell students that by the end of the second semester, they will have to write a story (in Choctaw),” Espinoza said. “Haileyville has been the leader. They are the first ones who wrote a book and drew the pictures. I’m very proud of these classes.”<br></p> <p>Between them, Weaver and Mitchell have gathered six awards at the language fair over the last several years. “We’re serious about our Choctaw language,” said Weaver. “I like to do books that involve animals because a lot of stories and legends involve animals. The pictures hook you too, as well as the story.”<br></p> <p>His goal is to publish some of the children’s books to pass on the knowledge and effort of his current and former students. Mitchell’s class turned in an illustrated storybook 12 pages in length - and that’s just in Choctaw, not including English translation. “It’s not something you can throw together in a couple of days,” she said. “The girls enjoy it, and they’re talkers so that helps them stay in context. We knew what our theme was and we looked for pictures which could go with it.” In addition to the book, Mitchell’s class sang in Choctaw at a holiday pageant, choosing Christmas carols as well as “The Star Spangled Banner” translated into Choctaw. The class also performed at the School of Choctaw Language 2013 program finale.<br></p> <p>“I’m learning every year. Mr. Weaver talks to me all the time in Choctaw,” Mitchell said. “But I’m retiring in two years and I’ve got to beat him (to first place) before I leave!” Weaver enjoys learning new languages and passing that gift along to his students, both Choctaw and non-Choctaw.<br></p> <p>“You see a lot of town names and creek names which you didn’t know before, and now they have meaning,” Weaver said. “I look at Choctaw as a gift. They learn a lot about the culture. It’s been a fun experience.” Weaver’s students this year included Cheyenne Downum, Kensey Davidson, Victoria Cole, Desiree Rhodes, and Kevan Stidmon. Mitchell’s class included Breanna Dalpaos, Shelby Drake, Hailey Gorden, and Megan Rich.<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> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:40:43 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/haileyville-leading-the-way/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/haileyville-leading-the-way/ Choctaw firefighters home after battling out-of-state wild land fire <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2343/ChoctawForestryFirefighters_0758_copy_2_original.jpg" alt='Choctaw Firefighters 1' /><br> <em>Choctaw Nation Forestry Department Prevention Tech, Joshua Bates.</em></p> <h3>Uniquely trained Choctaw forestry team travels to aid U.S.</h3> <p><em>By STEPHENIE OCHOA</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma</em></p> <p><strong>DURANT, Okla.</strong> – Recently, two forestry team members returned from a 16-day stent in Arizona battling an intense fire on Apache lands. Prevention tech Joshua Bates and Wallace Kitchel, dozer operator, were dispatched to the fire due to the need for special fire fighting techniques.<br></p> <p>The Choctaw Nation Tribal Forestry Services Department is a unique forestry wild land fire-fighting unit within the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma departmental services covering the entire tribal lands of the Nation. The highly specialized forestry team is comprised of a 6-man crew whose certifications include very dangerous and arduous physical task achievements along with unique skill sets required to be in the department. Some members have mechanical training, some are prevention officers but all can be called for a specific position within forest fires.<br></p> <p>The Choctaw Nation Forestry Department is nestled within the Talihina city limits and is one of the few departments on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and always ready to respond anywhere within the 10 1/2 county stretch. The team is also ready to respond to other area dispatches from the Oklahoma Forestry Department whom can pull them into any Oklahoma forested area, as well as other heavily forested states, specifically if tribal lands.<br></p> <p>In addition to fighting forest fires, the team also responds to calls for help during or after natural disasters such as with Hurricane Sandy. Areas the team has been called to include Arizona, California, Oregon, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Louisiana.<br></p> <p>According to the Director of Forestry, Tom Lowry, “In order to be a forestry firefighter you must be highly trained and motivated to help, but also be able to function during unimaginable stress. These guys have the toughest job in the worst conditions and there are lives at stake.<br></p> <p>Lowry explained the rigorous training that is involved for every wild land firefighter, &#8220;because mistakes can cause lives to be lost, forestry crews are continually updating, adding to or perfecting their skills. They each have personalized planning programs for achieving better knowledge. Many of the tasks they strive to perfect have to be successfully completed three times to get certified in the skill set, and once certification is acquired for this job, they will keep up with retraining efforts to stay up to date.&#8221;<br><p class="alignright" style="margin-left:20px;"><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2344/fire_pic_11_copy_2_original.jpg" align="right" width="250" alt='Choctaw Firefighters 2' /></p> <p>Wild land firefighters are different from traditional fire fighting teams in that they are focused only on the lands and individuals within those areas. If a house or building is on fire, the forestry team will focus more on the land that the structure is on and the lands relative to it versus the building. Also, the methods for fighting land fires vary greatly from structure fires. Clearing the path of a fire, digging fire lines, and burning out fires are the most common ways these unique firefighters use.<br></p> <p>Lowry added that he is proud of the team and they all possess unique talents or gifts that allow them to work well as a team. He says, &#8220;This crew, they never even blink an eye at what has to be done, they just do it. They have been together for many years and they function more as a family than as coworkers and this is what makes them great.&#8221;<br></p> <p>Bates says everybody on the team has the same set of goals within the department, “We just want to protect lives and property and then to come home safely.” Bates has been with the department and has seen many trips throughout the country along with many other fires on home ground and describes fighting fires by saying, “Good communication is important and every fire is different. You have to do whatever you can to get a fire stopped to keep people and places safe.” Bates also stated that forestry fire crews are all very talented individuals and he appreciates the opportunity to meet such amazing people.<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, 24 Jul 2014 17:56:08 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-firefighters-home-after-battling-out-of-state-wild-land-fire/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-firefighters-home-after-battling-out-of-state-wild-land-fire/ Choctaw elder spent almost half of his life as missionary outside of U.S. <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2342/curtis_pugh_original.jpg" width="500" alt='Choctaw Elder Curtis Pugh' /><br> <em>Curtis Pugh (Photo by Choctaw Nation)</em><br></p> <h3>Poteau resident visited over 300 churches, founded Christian school, and founded his own church</h3> <p><em>By VONNA SHULTS</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma</em></p> <p><strong>DURANT, Okla.</strong> –- While many descendants from the Choctaw removed from Mississippi to Oklahoma still live within the state, the majority have relocated throughout the years all across the United Sates and internationally.<br></p> <p>Poteau resident Curtis Pugh, while currently living only a few miles from his birthplace of Heavener, has traveled thousands of miles sharing the Gospel as a missionary in the United States and internationally. He was born to Lois McAlvain and Jerome Pugh in 1944. As a youngster, his mother, Lois McAlvain Pugh, worked at the Sequoyah Indian School in Tahlequah. Pugh would have preferred to attend Sequoyah but at that time children of employees were not allowed to attend the boarding school.<br></p> <p>He began his service of ministry at the young age of 16, by traveling once a month to a small community near Quinton called Palestine. He describes his first congregation as fine and patient people and states, “I felt sorry for them because I didn’t know much back then and still don’t know much.” After he would finish preaching, someone would usually take him home to feed him and he would drive back home to Tahlequah after Sunday service.<br></p> <p>He met his wife, Janet Killian, while attending Bible College in Memphis, Tenn., and first introduced himself by telling her he was going to marry her, but admits that is probably not the best way to acquire a date. He chuckles and shares that many of the young female students attending Bible College would attend so they could “get their bachelor.” Janet finally agreed to go on a walk with him, which led to more walks, and they were married on January 29, 1966. They were blessed with two daughters, Anna Cattemull of Auckland, New Zealand, and Ruthie McLellan of Poteau and have eight grandchildren. The Pughs were married for over 45 years until Janet passed away in July 2011.<br></p> <p>Pugh freely admits he has not always done what God had instructed him to do and instead drove a truck for many years to support his family. After many years, God “broke my heart and brought me back so I spent 26 ½ years doing mission work.” He spent 15 years in Canada and 11 ½ years in Romania.<br></p> <p>In Ontario, he pastored the Six Nations Indian Reserve, which had 10,000 Indians on their band list, for five years. He and his wife started a Christian school at the reservation that is still operating after 27 years. From there, he and Janet went onto the Yukon Territory, but before they could make the journey they would travel to different churches to share the next journey God was leading them.<br></p> <p>Pugh estimates they ended up visiting close to 300 churches until they were located with the Tlingit people in a village about 50 miles south of White Horse, in the far northwest corner of the Yukon Territory near Alaska. Next stop was Romania, but would require him and Janet to visit churches for support for approximately one year before they could make the journey.<br></p> <p>While in Romania, they were able to learn about the different levels of communism throughout the country, but also realized the people were among the most generous they had met, and relished anything from the United States. Pugh pastored at a small, country church where they could fit in approximately 150 people. Eventually he was able to start his own church. The building had no air-conditioning, and only a wood-stove for heating in the winter. Nonetheless, people would travel by foot to attend services.<br></p> <p>While in Romania, Pugh was able to witness how simple tasks in the United States would be tiresome and complex in the every day life of Romania, such as waiting in long lines to buy bread, milk, and on occasion, fruits and vegetables. Even though life in Romania is very tough and rugged, Pugh shares that if his health allowed him, he would be back in Romania or traveling back and forth. He is a 7th generation LeFlore County area Choctaw and was one of the contributors of the book, “Touch My Tears” by Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer.<br></p> <p>Pugh may have spent almost half his life outside the borders of the United States, but the love and labor as a missionary sharing the Gospel in remote and foreign areas is truly reflective of the Choctaw history of serving others.<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, 24 Jul 2014 17:45:50 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-elder-spent-almost-half-of-his-life-as-missionary-outside-of-u-s-/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-elder-spent-almost-half-of-his-life-as-missionary-outside-of-u-s-/