Choctaw Nation Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma http://choctawnation.com/rss/ en-us 40 Peter Conser Home Returns to Care of Conser family Line <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2815/ConserHouse_AngelaConser-McKean2_original.jpg" alt='Conser House' /><br> <em>Angela Conser-McKean rests in the kitchen of the Peter Conser Home after giving a family a tour of the location.</em></p> <h3>Peter Conser Home Returns to Care of Conser family Line</h3> <p><em>By Brandon Frye</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Heavener, Okla.</strong> - After growing up in Florida away from the stories and people of her ancestry, Angela Conser-McKean moved to Oklahoma to be near family and found herself working as a caretaker of a historical home built by the hands of her great-great grandfather.<br></p> <p>Her distant relative, Peter Conser, was a well-known Choctaw Lighthorseman born in 1852 who lived a life of great impact on a developing Oklahoma. His home, the Peter Conser Home, stands as one of the Oklahoma Historical Society’s (OHS) Historic Homes&#8211;historic sites which the organization claims tell the personal stories of the individuals who built the state of Oklahoma. Conser-McKean’s arrangement with OHS supplies a nearby modern home to her and her husband, with utilities and rent at no cost to the couple. In exchange, Conser-McKean keeps the grounds and interior of the location in pristine condition, plans and holds events filled with learning experiences, and gives tours teaching the history of Peter Conser to anyone interested in visiting.<br></p> <p>“Growing up in Florida I didn’t know anything about Oklahoma or Choctaw history, and it has been amazing learning about my culture,” Conser-McKean said. “I have enjoyed learning some of the stories about Peter, especially from my grandfather.” As Conser-McKean would tell you, the home was built in 1894, near the town now known as Heavener, when Peter Conser was married to his second wife, Martha.<br></p> <p>“The story is there was a tree near a creek which Peter liked to play on when he was a kid,” Conser-McKean said. “He loved that tree and creek, so when he decided he wanted to live somewhere he came back here.”<br></p> <p>Visitors can still spot a very large, old tree just behind the homestead to this day.<br></p> <p>Martha was pregnant with Peter’s 10th child, and the couple needed a bigger home to raise their family. Unfortunately, Martha died during childbirth about two months before the house was finished. But Peter did go on to raise his children in the home. Conser was well equipped for life on the frontier, according to Conser-McKean. Many experiences from his youth readied him for the hardships found in early-Oklahoma.<br></p> <p>Peter’s father was a Swiss immigrant. His Choctaw mother died when he was only 10. <br></p> <p>An old Choctaw named Ainetubby took a young Peter in, helped raise him, and taught him how to work.<br></p> <p>According to Conser-McKean, Peter wrote about an advancing group of Union soldiers who pushed the group of Choctaws Peter lived with into fleeing. Escaping this situation, Peter found himself taking refuge at Robert Jones’ plantation.<br></p> <p>Jones was a wealthy Choctaw with the confederate army. Peter was able to take refuge on his plantation and learn how to farm during his interactions with the slaves. When the war was over, Peter and a friend of his came back to the Heavener area as teens.<br></p> <p>Locals formed a small settlement including a general store and post office near the location where the Peter Conser Home sits. Peter played a large role in this community, offering a gristmill for everyone to grind their grains, a blacksmith shop for metalwork, and a sawmill, which made many coffins as a result of the 1918 flu pandemic.<br></p> <p>His great-great granddaughter, Conser-McKean, said she wants to help her community and open the Peter Conser Home just like he did.<br></p> <p>Taking care of other people and being there for the community was something that Peter and his family did,” Conser-McKean said. “If a child didn’t have a home, Peter opened his home to them. Maybe we can’t still open the Peter Conser Home to live in, but we can hold events for them to come learn and experience something.<br></p> <p>Conser-McKean said since Chief Batton became Chief, the Peter Conser Home has had more Choctaw activities. She listed a quilt show, a pottery class, and plans to start holding stickball games on the property, she said because Peter used to host them in his day.<br></p> <p>Erin McDaniel, with Choctaw Nation Tourism, said her department has worked with the Peter Conser Home, advertised the recent 150th Anniversary event, promoted the site through social media, and submitted it to the website <a href="https://roadtrippers.com">roadtrippers.com</a>. She said the Tourism Department is actively finding ways to partner with the home.<br></p> <p>Kathy Dickson, Director of Museums and Historic Sites with the Oklahoma Historical Society, said the arrangement her organization worked out with the family is a way for the family to share their heritage with visitors. <br></p> <p>“It is Angela’s family history,” Dickson said. “It’s not just a job for her, it’s part of her family heritage. She is very committed to the property.”<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, 22 Apr 2015 17:50:34 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/peter-conser-home-returns-to-care-of-conser-family-line/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/peter-conser-home-returns-to-care-of-conser-family-line/ Tvshka Homma Female Institute Highway Marker Unveiled <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2813/FemaleInstitute_UnveilingPosed_original.jpg" alt='Female Institute Highway Marker POSED' /><br> <em>Chief Gary Batton, Tribal Council Members, and descendents of the first institute superintendent unveil the highway marker.</em><br></p> <h3>Tvshka Homma Female Institute Highway Marker Unveiled</h3> <p><em>By Brandon Frye</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Tvshka Homma, Okla.</strong> - In 1892, near the Choctaw Capitol, the Tvshka Homma Female Institute (alternatively, the Choctaw Female Academy) opened its doors for up to 100 young Choctaw women to develop an education, and after burning down, being turned into a home, and purchased by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO), the site received a historical highway marker on April 15.<br></p> <p>Cooperation between CNO and the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) lead to the placement of the highway marker as part of a statewide program, which started in the 1940’s and has grown to include more than 650 markers. <br></p> <p>According to Kathy Dickson, Director of Museums and Historic Sites for OHS, historical markers let travelers know when they are near a historical site, and inform them of what happened there. She said many times people travel and don’t know what is in the area or the historical importance, and the markers help.<br></p> <p>The Tvshka Homma Female Institute location earned one of these markers for being of historic importance for the Choctaw Nation and the state of Oklahoma.<br></p> <p>Peter Hudson was an original enrollee and the first superintendent for the institute. Three of his grandchildren&#8211;John Hooser, Suzanne Heard, and Betty Heard Watson (who were all educators themselves)&#8211;attended the unveiling of the highway marker to share their first and second-hand knowledge of the institute.<br><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2814/School_original.jpg" align="right" width="250" alt='Female Institute School' /></p> <p>“After the location burned [in 1925], the land and material were sold. Anna Lewis, she was a teacher, bought this place,” Hooser said. He explained the new owners salvaged material from the institute to build a home for retirement, a home Hooser eventually lived in during his youth.<br></p> <p>“If you look at the old pictures, you’ll find these rocks and bricks were all part of the original structure,” he said. Ownership of the location changed hands a number of times, and the spacious interior and rolling hills of the surrounding land offered home and shelter to each new family.<br></p> <p>In 2014, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma purchased ownership of the historic site, which rests in the middle of established Choctaw land being used for ranching.<br></p> <p>Hooser’s cousin, Suzanne Heard, said, “I’m so thrilled that our great Chief Gary Batton, Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr., and the Tribal Council consented to buy the property here. My mother was born here, and my grandfather was the first superintendent.”<br></p> <p>CNO’s departments of Historic Preservation and Tourism have not yet planned what is in store for the location, though contacts from both expressed a desire to work together.<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, 22 Apr 2015 17:33:22 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/tvshka-homma-female-institute-highway-marker-unveiled/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/tvshka-homma-female-institute-highway-marker-unveiled/ Choctaw Nation partners with City of Atoka to help finish sports complex <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2807/atoka_ballpark_original.jpg" alt='atoka_ballpark' /><br> As part of the Community Development Initiative, Choctaw Nation partnered with the City of Atoka to help finish the new Atoka Sports Complex. Choctaw Nation provided a parking lot and walking path with lights around the park. A dedication ceremony was held April 21, 2015. &#8220;To see a facility like this, Atoka you should be extremely proud. As Chief, I’m proud to be a part of a community that’s progressing like the town of Atoka and to have such a beautiful facility like this,” says Chief Gary Batton. Pictured with Chief Batton are Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr., Atoka Mayor Bob Frederick, and Councilman Anthony Dillard. </p> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 21:37:25 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-partners-with-city-of-atoka-to-help-finish-sports-complex/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-partners-with-city-of-atoka-to-help-finish-sports-complex/ Assistant Jack Austin Jr. is ECU Distinguished Alumnus <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2805/AustinAlumni_JackAndMassey_original.jpg" alt='AC Jack Austin JR ECU Alumni' /><br> <em>Linda Massey presents Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr. with a Distinguished Alumni award from East Central University. Austin earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the university.</em><br></p> <h3>Assistant Jack Austin Jr. is ECU Distinguished Alumnus</h3> <p><em>By Brandon Frye</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Ada, Okla.</strong> - Assistant Chief Jack Austin, Jr., received a Distinguished Alumni Award from East Central University (ECU) in Ada on April 17.<br></p> <p>The Distinguished Alumni Award, granted by ECU’s Department of Human Services, recognizes alumni who attain distinctive success in his or her chosen field and perform outstanding service for their community. Service and contributions to the advancement of the university are also considered.<br></p> <p>Awardees must be graduates or former students of the university, and Assistant Chief studied extensively at ECU alongside his wife Philisha Austin. He earned an undergraduate degree in human resources, a master’s degree in education, and earned credit toward being a Licensed Professional Counselor at the university. <br></p> <p>Austin then went on to serve in the military, work in the healthcare system in the Material Management department, and spent time as program director for the Choctaw Nation Recovery Center, before being selected as Assistant Chief.<br></p> <p>Austin said he did not set out to earn titles. “What I set out to do was merely help people, the best I could,” he said. One of Austin’s mentors, Linda Massey, Professor at ECU and Coordinator of Clinical Rehabilitation and the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program, said she has known and respected Austin for years.<br></p> <p>“Jack really is such an inspiration, and such a blessing to his family, his friends, as well as the Choctaw community,” Massey said. “He has been with the Choctaw Nation for 24 years. He has been a youth pastor, a mentor, someone that all people can look up to with his humble heart. He leads by his faith and the love of his people.”<br></p> <p>Speaking of Assistant Chief, President of ECU John Hargrave said, “We are very proud of Jack Austin Jr., and his wife Philisha. Both are East Central University alumni. Everyone who knows Jack stresses what an outstanding man and leader he is. We are pleased to have him as this year’s Distinguished Alumni in Counseling.”<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, 21 Apr 2015 15:12:48 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/assistant-jack-austin-jr-is-ecu-distinguished-alumnus/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/assistant-jack-austin-jr-is-ecu-distinguished-alumnus/ We Never Lose Hope <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2804/Isabelle_sGarden_Photo_01_original.jpg" alt='Isabelle's Garden 4/20/15' /><br></p> <h3>The Inspirational Message behind Isabelle&#8217;s Garden</h3> <p><em>By Amadeus Finlay</em><br> <em>Contributing Writer</em><br></p> <p>The world of cinema has long been the realm of immense budgets and computer generated animation, but in a small corner of southeastern Oklahoma a pair of native filmmakers have successfully challenged the status quo. Debuting to critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival, Isabelle&#8217;s Garden is a moving, eight-minute film detailing how one young Choctaw girl works through poverty to ensure that her society can benefit from the produce of her vegetable patch.<br> </p> <p>&#8220;My husband, Jeffrey, and I were inspired to make a film about uplifting stories in our communities,&#8221; explains the film&#8217;s producer, Lauren Palmer.<br> </p> <p>&#8220;Far too often do you see negative stories surrounding Indian Country. We wanted to overturn that perception by allowing a young girl to be the catalyst for change and lifting up her people from poverty and supporting the community.&#8221;<br></p> <p>The film opens with the familiar sounds of dawn, &#8220;weary voices of the crickets and the frogs&#8221; as Isabelle describes it, played over a moody summer morning bruised by an irritable tumult of rainclouds. Isabelle wakes up in a lonely house – we see no other people – her dirty feet poking out the end of her bedclothes, the austere surroundings of her bedroom in direct contrast to the abundance reflected in the vegetable patch outside her window.<br></p> <p>The house is dusty and untended, the cobwebbed corners sprinkled with dried garden mud. But nothing is by chance in Palmer&#8217;s statement piece; all the imagery is intentional, everything deliberately planned to submerge the audience in the reality of Isabelle&#8217;s world. Hers is an existence that is focused on the garden, and the few possessions she owns are singularly designed to help to nurture her plants. And it is here that we find the crux of the film, the basis upon which the allegory is formed. Isabelle, despite living in less than favorable circumstances in which she dreams of a world &#8220;where poverty doesn&#8217;t exist,” is committed to being a symbol of hope, advocating strong social values in a community that needs them most.<br></p> <p>She writes words of encouragement on scraps of brown paper, &#8220;ahni&#8221; (hope) na-yimmi (believe in something) hvpi kvnia kiyo (we will never lose) i-hullo (love), and attaches them to the baskets of vegetables she gives to her neighbors. They are &#8220;to lift people&#8217;s spirits,” she says, each note as much a cultural marker as a kind gesture.<br> </p> <p>The film concludes with Isabelle providing her neighbors with their gifts, commentating throughout on the value of community and the promise of cooperation. It is a simple, yet devastatingly effective use of the visual arts to convey a message relevant to so many. Isabelle is a refreshingly honest character, and in 14-year-old Isabelle Cox, the actress who plays the lead character, both film and reality have an icon in the making.<br></p> <p>Isabelle has an impressive resume. She has attended the Shakespearean Festival at Southeastern Oklahoma State University on several occasions, and recently served as Little Miss Choctaw Nation. But for all her star-struck experiences, Isabelle Cox is more affected by the stories and issues that have the greatest impact on her people.<br></p> <p>&#8220;The film is indicative of Native life in many tribes throughout the United States,&#8221; explains her father, Nate. &#8220;Poverty produces several unfortunate circumstances that Native people struggle with on a daily basis, and this includes accessibility to sufficient food resources.&#8221;<br></p> <p>&#8220;Isabelle loves representing the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in any capacity she can, and when she was approached to star in the film, it seemed to be a perfect combination of two of the things closest to her heart.&#8221;<br></p> <p>Isabelle&#8217;s Garden is a marker upon which future social film projects can only be judged. Free from convoluted storylines or secondary distractions, here is a film with a clear message that can speak to the generations. This acclaim is a sentiment felt by many, yet the impact that it brought came as a surprise to some, not least of which was Lauren Palmers.<br> </p> <p>&#8220;We did not know how successful the film would be,&#8221; she explains, &#8220;Our idea from the beginning was to tell a story about poverty that transcended many audiences.”<br> </p> <p>She pauses for a moment, reflecting on the content of her masterpiece.<br></p> <p>&#8220;These,&#8221; she stresses, &#8220;these are the stories we need to hear today.&#8221;<br></p> <p>Isabelle’s Garden can be viewed in full at <a href="https://vimeo.com/116907675">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> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 13:58:04 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/we-never-lose-hope/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/we-never-lose-hope/ TELI Partners Collaborating on Early Childhood Services <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2803/MOU_signed-1_copy_original.jpg" alt='MOU Signed TELI' /><br></p> <h3>TELI Partners Collaborating on Early Childhood Services</h3> <p><em>By Lisa Reed</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Durant, Okla.</strong> - Choctaw Nation Tribal Early Learning Initiative (TELI) members signed a memorandum of understanding during a conference on Friday, April 17, as part of an early childhood “systems of care” effort as part of Autism Awareness Month. This MOU outlines a non-binding plan to provide more opportunities for tribal members in regard to early childhood services. Tribal programs include a home visitation program, Head Start and various tribal child care programs. Rebecca Hawkins is signing the document surrounded by other Choctaw Nation early childhood leadership team members Angela Dancer, B.J. Robinson-Ellison, Barbara Moffitt, Patti Rosenthal, Brandi Smallwood, Lisa Blackmon, Katy Pruitt, and Monona Dill.<br></p> <p>The conference, focusing on Tribal Early Learning Special Needs, featured speakers Lori McCoy, director of special needs at Durant Public Schools, and Amanda Walker, the autism structured learning teacher for Lamar Elementary. Participants attended from throughout southeastern Oklahoma.<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.”<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. “They have all focused their efforts on trying to identify and meet special needs. 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><!-- 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> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 13:49:22 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/teli-partners-collaborating-on-early-childhood-services/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/teli-partners-collaborating-on-early-childhood-services/ Financial Planning, Business Planning,and Food Safety for South & East Oklahoma <h3>Financial Planning, Business Planning,and Food Safety for South &amp; East Oklahoma<br></h3> <p>The University of Arkansas School of Law Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative has joined with the Farm Credit of East Central Oklahoma, the Wallace Center at Winrock International (Washington DC), Morse Marketing Connections (MMC), and the Choctaw Nation and Muscogee Creek Nations to offer an important set of “bootcamp” workshops in southern and eastern Oklahoma during 2015. You will hear the latest on food safety regulations and GAP certification, crop insurance and risk management tools, and will be given hands on experience in what are called “one page” financial, risk assessment and business plan tools. We will also provide information on new markets in the region and how your operation can participate in food hubs that are growing in number across the country as a way to link small, beginning, mid-sized, remote and new producers and their operations into new markets.<br></p> <p><strong>In-Person Workshop Locations and Dates:</strong><br> All workshops will begin at noon with light refreshments and conclude by 5 p.m.<br></p> <p>April 30 Broken Bow, OK Choctaw Nation Community Center May 21 Durant, OK Choctaw Nation Community Center<br> June 11 McAlester, OK Choctaw Nation Community Center<br> July 9 Poteau, OK Choctaw Nation Community Center<br> August 13 Okmulgee Muscogee Creek Nation Community Center<br></p> <p><strong>Each in-person workshop will cover the following information:</strong><br></p> <ul> <li>“One Page” Financials<br></li> <li>“One Page” Business Planning<br></li> <li>“One Page” Risk Assessment<br></li> <li>Food Safety Regulations Update and GAP Overview<br></li> <li>Risk Management and Crop Insurance Policy Updates<br></li> <li>Choctaw Nation Update on Promise Zone, Food and Agriculture Plans<br></li> <li>Muscogee Creek Nation Update on Food and Agriculture Plans<br></li> <li>Food Hubs &amp; Other New Markets<br></li> <li>New and Old Legal Issues Facing Producers<br></li> </ul> <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, 16 Apr 2015 16:23:51 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/financial-planning-business-planningand-food-safety-for-south-east-oklahoma/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/financial-planning-business-planningand-food-safety-for-south-east-oklahoma/ Wild Onions: A Choctaw Tradition <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2798/WildOnionDish_original.jpg" alt='Wild Onion Dish' /><br> <em>Wild onion pancakes</em><br></p> <h3>Wild Onions: A Choctaw Tradition</h3> <p><em>By Lindsey Bilyeu</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br> Spring has finally arrived in Choctaw Nation. The weather is getting warmer, the landscape is finally starting to look green again, and wild onions are waiting to be gathered. Soon Choctaw Nation tribal members will begin gathering and preparing these wild onions in preparation for family gatherings, church events, and community functions. Today we know these events as wild onion dinners. In this month’s Iti Fabvssa we will look closely at wild onion dinners, why they are held and their significance to the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.<br></p> <p>Wild onion dinners are held among the southeastern tribes that are living in Oklahoma today. These tribes, known as the 5 Civilized Tribes, consist of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole. Each tribe will have their own way of carrying out the wild onion dinners. Today in the Choctaw Nation you will frequently see the dinners being used as church fundraisers. Wild onions may also be served at family gatherings, stickball games, and gospel singings.<br></p> <p>The first step in the process of wild onion dinners will be the actual gathering of the wild onions. This is a skill that takes time and practice to master. <br></p> <p>Wild onions are typically gathered in February or March. Gatherers use small shovels to dig the onions out of the ground. When choosing wild onions, the gatherer must pay close attention and be careful not to pick onions that are too large, as they tend to get tough. The wild onions are usually best when they are small, around 4 to 5 inches tall. Once the wild onions have bulbs on the ends they are no longer good. It is also easy to confuse wild onions with different plants that closely resemble them. A gatherer must pay close attention so that they don’t gather a different plant that looks like the wild onions, but can be poisonous. It is also easy to confuse wild onions, which have a flat leaf, with garlic, which has a round leaf. It will take several gallons of the wild onions to feed a large number of people. For example, to feed a group of 20 people you will need about two gallons of wild onions. <br></p> <p>Once the wild onions have been gathered, it is time to prepare them. When performing this second step, it is important that the onions be trimmed and cleaned very well. You must wash the onions until all the dirt is gone, which can sometimes be tricky as the dirt can get inside the layers of the onion. Cleaning and trimming the wild onions is similar to the process used when cleaning green onions.<br></p> <p>Once the onions are cleaned and trimmed, you can move on to the third step which is cooking the onions. The onions will need to be boiled in water until they become tender. To add flavor, you can always add the drippings from bacon or the ever-loved Choctaw favorite, salt pork. Once the onions are tender, you can eat them as is or add them to scrambled eggs. Most often the wild onions are served up with scrambled eggs.<br></p> <p>While the scrambled eggs and wild onions are the star of the wild onion dinners, many other Choctaw traditional foods will be served as well. Many times you will find tanchi labona, salt pork, pinto beans, and fry bread served. The traditional Choctaw dessert, grape dumplings, will be served along with pies, cakes, and cobblers. <br></p> <p>While the wild onion dinners take a great amount of time and preparation from talented Choctaw cooks, they are worth the effort. These dinners have become a part of the life that the Choctaws have established in Oklahoma. They bring together families, friends, and communities. The dinners provide an environment in which our traditional Choctaw songs, dances, stories, and games can be carried out. Wild onion dinners contain elements of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s culture that must be carried on. Through these dinners we have the ability to pass on Choctaw cooking, stories, spirituality, history, and pride to our future generations. So this spring let’s get out and enjoy not only the season, but also help preserve and ensure the survival of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma wild onion dinners.<br></p> <p><em>A special thanks to Mary Frazier, Vangie Robinson, and the Blaine family for the information that was shared for this article.</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, 16 Apr 2015 16:01:52 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/wild-onions-a-choctaw-tradition/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/wild-onions-a-choctaw-tradition/ Choctaw Nation Head Start Centers recognized as Certified Healthy Early Childhood Program <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2797/HeadStart_original.jpg" alt='Choctaw Nation Head Starts Early Childhood' /><br> <em>Center Supervisors above from left to right: Marie Cravens (Poteau); Gwen Martin (Idabel); June Dobbins (Bennington); Jennifer Helt (Wilburton); Lindsay Sistrunk (McAlester); Jackie Anna &amp; Kathy Tisho (Broken Bow); Staci Sawyer (Coalgate); Lauren Scott (Durant); Michael Gills (Bethel). Not pictured: Sharon Carter (Antlers); Anita Zurline (Atoka); Natasha Hudson (Hugo); and Rebecca Good (Stigler).</em><br></p> <h3>Choctaw Nation Head Start Centers recognized as Certified Healthy Early Childhood Program</h3> <p><em>By Katy Pruitt</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Durant, Okla.</strong> - Choctaw Nation Head Start centers received recognition as a Certified Healthy Early Childhood Program as follows: (1) Excellence: Antlers, Bennington, Broken Bow, Coalgate, Durant, Hugo, Idabel, McAlester, Poteau, Stigler and Wilburton (2) Merit: Atoka, Bethel. The certification program is administered by the Oklahoma Turning Point Council and the State Department of Health, Center for the Advancement of Wellness.<br></p> <p>The three levels of certification (basic, merit, and excellence) are based on the percentage of total criteria met in the following categories: (1) Health Education; (2) Nutrition; (3) Physical Activity; (4) Screen Time; (5) Safe and Healthy Environment; (6) Counseling, Psychological, and Social Services; (7) Community and Family Involvement; (8) Health Promotion for Staff and, (9) Professional Development. To qualify for any level of certification, Head Start programs are held to the highest standard in the Early Childhood Category.<br></p> <p>“The Certified Healthy Early Childhood Program is in its pilot year and recognizes Early Childhood Programs that are working to improve the health of children, families, and staff by providing wellness opportunities and implementing policies that lead to healthier lifestyles. Early Childhood Programs that advocate for health are recognized as leaders in the community!”<br> <a href="http://certifiedhealthyok.com/early-childhood-program/">Certified Healthy Oklahoma</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> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 15:50:30 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-head-start-centers-recognized-as-certified-healthy-early-childhood-program/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-head-start-centers-recognized-as-certified-healthy-early-childhood-program/ Poteau Family Embraces Athletics and Tribal Culture <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2796/HornbuckleWrestlers_original.jpg" alt='Hornbuckle Wrestlers' /><br> <em>Three generations of wrestlers: Jack Hornbuckle, grandson Roderick and son Dewayne pose for a photo at the Oklahoma wrestling tournament earlier this year. Photo Provided</em><br></p> <h3>Tough, Tough Choctaws</h3> <p><em>By Zach Maxwell</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Poteau, Okla.</strong> - Success is piling up for the Hornbuckle family of Poteau.<br></p> <p>The Hornbuckles claim both Choctaw and Cherokee descent, as well as three generations of award-winning wrestlers. The Hornbuckle children, Roderick and Kyra, are both athletes at Poteau High School and participate in stickball as well as Choctaw cultural activities.<br></p> <p>As another season of youth stickball gets under way, Dewayne Hornbuckle is one of the coaches for the new Yvnnvsh Homma (Red Buffaloes) team. Son Roderick, a Poteau junior, plays center defense for the new team. Kyra is on the squad as well.<br></p> <p>Roderick also just completed a third-place finish at the 4A state wrestling tournament, going 3-1 to complete his second straight 30-plus win season at 39-9.<br></p> <p>But it’s in the blood: Dewayne and his father Jack are both wrestling coaches at Poteau, and Jack is still winning world titles in 50-plus competitions in Europe.<br></p> <p>Wrestling fans will recall Jack’s accolades at OSU, where he was part of a wrestling team that won two national titles and made it to Olympic trials.<br></p> <p>“He’s the one with all the credentials,” Dewayne said of his dad. “And he started the wrestling program at Poteau in 1977.” Now, Roderick is following in the footsteps with his award-winning moves on the mat. Not only did he make it to State this year, but he also made the all-conference list and is a three-time wrestling champion at the Jim Thorpe Games.<br></p> <p>“It’s fun, but it takes commitment and determination,” Roderick said. “It takes mental strength, too.”<br></p> <p>Some of the skills help him with tackling in adult-level stickball games; tackling is frowned upon at the youth level. His dad grew up playing the Cherokee “fish game,” a softer, one-pole version of the sport known as a social game throughout most of the Choctaw Nation.<br></p> <p>Roderick is looking forward to taking his wrestling talent to the next level, perhaps at a small school such as Bacone College. He wants to stay close to home. And, he is not confining his native cultural interests to the stickball field. “I’m starting to learn social dance songs,” he said, adding that he has a CD of songs by B.L. Joe that he keeps playing. “I jam out to those in my truck.”<br></p> <p>He is also trying his hand at artwork, inspired by art classes at school. He is sampling beadwork as well as sculpting, in a style his dad describes as “abstract art.”<br></p> <p>Dewayne has taken his children to see artists including Bunkie Echo-Hawk (Pawnee-Yakama) and exposed them to music from native groups such as A Tribe Called Red.<br></p> <p>“This lets them explore as much of these things as we can,” he said. “It’s so kids can have more pride and not be ashamed to learn their native culture and language.”<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, 16 Apr 2015 15:41:39 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/poteau-family-embraces-athletics-and-tribal-culture/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/poteau-family-embraces-athletics-and-tribal-culture/