Sen. Jerry Moran sees support for re-election from American Indian tribes

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, Pete Marovich - Pete Marovich/MCT
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, Pete Marovich – Pete Marovich/MCT

By Bryan Lowry, The Wichita Eagle

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran has nearly $30,000 from 12 different American Indian tribes since January in support of his re-election bid.

Moran, a Hays Republican who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, received $1.43 million from January through June for his re-election campaign, according to his most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission. So far $1,000 of that has come from Kansas’ Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.

Moran has also received money from Oklahoma’s Chickasaw Nation; Louisiana’s Tunica-Biloxi Tribe; Washington State’s Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Snoqualmie Tribe and Lummi Indian Business Council; Arizona’s Gila River Indian Community; California’s Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and Shingle Springs Band Miwok Indians; Alabama’s Poarch Band of Creek Indians; and New York’s Seneca Nation of Indians.

The donations from the various tribes add up to $29,700.

The support from the tribes shouldn’t come as a surprise. Moran, a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, has championed legislation to strengthen the autonomy of tribal governments in recent years.

He co-sponsored the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act, which broadened tax exemptions for tribes and was signed into law in 2014. He has also sponsored and pushed for the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, which would have exempted tribal governments from the National Labor Relations Act.

“These Native American tribes are part of a diverse group of individuals and organizations who support Senator Moran – including Kansans in each of our state’s 105 counties,” Moran for Kansas spokeswoman Elizabeth Patton said in an e-mailed statement.

Moran has also received money from Kansas born billionaire Phillip Anschutz and his wife, Nancy, for $2,700 each. Anschutz, a native of Russell and alum of the University of Kansas, helped found Major League Soccer.

Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries, gave Moran $2,700. His son, Chase Koch, president of Koch Fertilizer, and Chase’s wife, Anna, also each gave Moran $2,700.

Moran’s most recent report also includes contributions from state Rep. Mark Hutton, R-Wichita, who gave $2,700, and Kansas Secretary of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Robin Jennison, who gave $1,000.

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Obama unveils program to connect low-income areas with high-speed internet

President Obama remarked on Wednesday: ‘A child’s ability to succeed should not be based on where she lives.’ Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP
President Obama remarked on Wednesday: ‘A child’s ability to succeed should not be based on where she lives.’ Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

ConnectHome will launch in 27 cities and the Choctaw Nation, from where the president announced the initiative: ‘The internet is not a luxury – it’s a necessity

By Sabrina Siddiqui, The Guardian 

Barack Obama on Wednesday paid a visit to one of the largest Native American tribes in the United States to emphasize the importance of expanding economic opportunity.

The president chose the Choctaw Nation area, an Indian reservation that spans roughly 11,000 miles across south-eastern Oklahoma, to launch an initiative that would increase access to high-speed internet in low-income households.

“The internet is not a luxury – it’s a necessity,” Obama said. “You cannot connect to today’s economy without having access to the internet.”

The pilot program, called ConnectHome, will serve as part of the Obama administration’s efforts to bridge the gap that leaves many communities – especially in low-income and rural areas – without broadband access.

The plan will launch in 27 cities, in addition to the Choctaw Nation, and will initially provide internet access to 275,000 low-income households and nearly 200,000 children, the White House said.

Citing an achievement gap, Obama said there were many consequences to not having internet access. It might begin with something as basic as young people not being able to complete their homework, the president said, and translate to a math and science gap and later an economic gap.

“In an increasingly competitive global economy, our whole country will fall behind,” Obama said.

The trip marks the second time Obama has directed attention at the Choctaw Nation, the third-largest Native American tribe in the United States. Last year, he included the Choctaw Nation among five so-called Promise Zones – an initiative directed at impoverished areas under which the federal government would partner with businesses and local governments to offer tax incentives and grants as part of a broader effort to reduce poverty.

Following its Promise Zone designation, the Choctaw Nation has received $58m in federal aid that has been used to expand educational opportunities and access to healthcare facilities.

Approximately 23% of individuals residing in the Choctaw Nation live below the poverty line – in some of its communities, the poverty rate is nearly 50%. The national poverty rate was 14.5% in 2013, according to the US census bureau.

“We’ve got a special obligation to make sure that tribal youth have every opportunity to reach their full potential,” Obama said in his remarks on Wednesday. “A child’s ability to succeed should not be based on where she lives, how much money her parents make. That’s not who we are as a country.”

Before his speech, Obama met with youth from the Choctaw Nation, Cherokee Nation, Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Chickasaw Nation.

Obama has stressed the need to improve the conditions of Native Americansbefore, particularly with respect to jobs and education.

“Native Americans face poverty rates far higher than the national average – nearly 60% in some places. And the dropout rate of Native American students is nearly twice the national rate,” he wrote in an op-ed last year. “These numbers are a moral call to action.”

Obama penned that op-ed ahead of a visit last June to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, located in both North and South Dakota. The president characterized the visit as an emotional one that he said left him and first lady Michelle Obama “shaken, because some of these kids were carrying burdens no young person should ever have to carry”.

“It was heartbreaking,” Obama added at the time.

According to a fact sheet released by the administration, the Obama administration is on track to meet its promise that 99% of K-12 students can use the internet in their classrooms and libraries by 2017.

“There are places where internet access can be a game-changer, but where service has not kept up,” Jeff Zients, director at the White House National Economic Council, told reporters ahead of Obama’s trip. “That’s especially true in schools … Students in every community need fast and reliable internet to get ahead and learn.”

According to an analysis by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, released on Wednesday, nearly two-thirds of households among the lowest-income quintile of Americans owns a computer, but less than half have a subscription with an internet service provider.

The report further found a “strong positive association” between median income and use of the web. Minorities were disproportionately affected, according to data compiled in 2013: black and Hispanic households lagged 16 and 11 points behind white households in having internet access, while Native American households were 19 points behind white households.

Ancient canoe exhibit inspires thousands at Chickasaw Cultural Center

Chickasaw Cultural Center Director of Operations Brad Deramus admires a huge dugout canoe dating to approximately 1500 A.D. It is on loan to the center from the Department of Mississippi Archives and History to augment the world-class Dugout Canoes: Paddling through the Americas currently on display through May 6, 2015, at the Sulphur, Oklahoma, location.
Chickasaw Cultural Center Director of Operations Brad Deramus admires a huge dugout canoe dating to approximately 1500 A.D. It is on loan to the center from the Department of Mississippi Archives and History to augment the world-class Dugout Canoes: Paddling through the Americas currently on display through May 6, 2015, at the Sulphur, Oklahoma, location.


By: Chickasaw Nation


SULPHUR, Okla. – They were the metaphorical pickup trucks of their day. Native Americans used them to ferry families across rivers, move trade goods to market and a means of travel.

Dugout canoes were difficult to fashion into water-worthy vessels. All were made from a single tree trunk, fire coals placed atop it and then the charred wood was hollowed out with an adze or similar sharp-edged tool made of stone, sea shells and, eventually, metal.

In 2000, a group of Florida high school students stumbled onto what is believed to be the largest treasure trove of dugout canoes in the world – 101 of them dating from 500 to 5,000 years old, according to experts.

That discovery gave birth to Dugout Canoes: Paddling through the Americas, a world-class exhibit on display at the Chickasaw Cultural Center through May 6, 2015.

More than 9,700 people have experienced the exhibit as of Nov. 1. An additional 6,000 have admired a Mississippi vessel displayed away from the main dugout canoe exhibit which is estimated to be 514 years old.

Window blinds are drawn almost like a secret is hidden in the Aapisa Art Gallery at the Chickasaw Cultural Center.

The lights are dimmed too, along with a sign warning visitors not to touch – a departure from many exhibits more than 300,000 people have enjoyed since the center’s opening in 2010.

Director of Operations Brad Deramus swings open the door and extends an invitation to step foot inside and behold an item made in 1500 A.D., discovered intact and preserved from a swamp in the Mississippi Delta.

Most likely the immense 26-foot long dugout canoe was made by Chickasaws.

“Think George Washington’s great-great-grandfather,” Deramus remarks to illustrate the age of the ancient vessel.

It was discovered in Steele Bayou Lake in Washington County, Mississippi, decades ago. It is on loan from the Department of Mississippi Archives and History to augment Dugout Canoes: Paddling through the Americas.

Weighing in at more than 1,000 pounds., it is made from a single bald cypress tree and is manufactured in the ancient Chickasaw tradition. It is the perfect complement to Dugout Canoes: Paddling through the Americas, a display thrilling adults and children, Deramus said. Interactive kiosks, art endeavors, ancient canoes and signs abound encouraging visitors to touch many of the displayed items.

A 400-year-old pine tree dugout canoe, along with tools dating to 600 A.D. and remnants of some of the 101 dugout canoes discovered by the students are included in the exhibit. Many of the display items are hands-on. Some of the more ancient items are behind glass enclosures. CCC cultural experts are on hand to assist visitors who have questions.

While none of the 101 dugout canoes discovered by the Gainesville, Florida, students in drought-stricken Newnans Lake 14 years ago are displayed, remnants of some of the ancient vessels are at the Chickasaw Cultural Center to be enjoyed.

In fact, while some of the canoes discovered by students are fully intact, most were left in place at Newnan’s Lake because excavating them would prove destructive after centuries of protection by water and mud.

About American Indian Heritage Month

Efforts to establish a time to honor Native American Heritage began as early as 1916, when the governor of New York officially declared “American Indian Day” in May of that year. Since that time, a number of states have designated specific days or weeks to celebrate Native American heritage. Since 1976, Congress and the president have designated a day, a week or a month to honor American Indian and Alaska Native people. November has been set aside for the celebration since 1991, when a Senate Joint Resolution was passed authorizing and requesting the president to proclaim each month of November thereafter as “American Indian Heritage Month.”


OU Law establishes first Native American Law Chair


By Associated Press

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) – The University of Oklahoma College of Law has received a gift from the Chickasaw Nation for the Chickasaw Nation Native American Law Chair.

The position is the first endowed chair of its kind in the nation. It will allow OU to attract and retain national scholars in Native American law.

OU Law offers three different programs providing specialization in Native American law: the Juris Doctor Certificate, the Master of Laws and the new Master of Legal Studies.

The OU College of Law has maintained the highest average enrollment of Native American students among law schools nationwide over the past 10 years. This year, 11.1 percent of the incoming first-year class is Native American.

The college also has one of the most important collections of Native American art in the country.

Chickasaw Nation receives Keep Oklahoma Beautiful Award

Source: Chickasaw Nation

The Chickasaw Nation received top honors at the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful (KOB) awards ceremony Nov. 19 in Oklahoma City at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. The tribe received an Environmental Excellence Award in the tribal government category for partnerships with Chickasha, Ardmore and Ada for disposing of household hazardous waste.

“The Chickasaw Nation was selected as a finalist because of the hard work and dedication of the Environmental Services Department and continued support from administration,” said John Ellis, executive officer of construction and support services.

“This project was our contribution in keeping our communities clean and safe from environmental hazards which includes a partnership with local communities.  Environmental Services is a relatively small department and to be recognized by Keep Oklahoma Beautiful is an honor,” he added.

During the ceremony, KOB honored finalists and announced the winners of the Environmental Excellence Competition. More than 500 guests attended this sold-out event.

KOB shows appreciation of the work of numerous groups and individuals. From elementary-aged children to government programs, the awards banquet was a celebration of excellence happening all over the state in every capacity.

Also presented at the ceremony were winners of five Keep Oklahoma Beautiful Board of Directors awards. Individual recipients included Gov. Mary Fallin, Norma Lynne Paschall, Ardmore Beautification Council, and Buzz McDonald, representing Warren Caterpillar.

Paschall received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her many years of work with the Ardmore Beautification Council. Before her retirement earlier this year, she was instrumental in the success of the household hazardous waste collection held in Ardmore in partnership with the Chickasaw Nation.

“It was wonderful working with the Chickasaw Nation,” Paschall said. “(It is) so efficient and it was impressive how many people came out and supported the collection program. It was the first household hazardous waste event in Ardmore and we hope it will be held again.”

Two organizations received Board of Directors awards as well. Winners included Serve Moore, an organization made up of local churches and community groups combining efforts to assist residents impacted by the May tornadoes, and the Apache Corporation for helping Tulsa area non-profits convert vehicles to compressed natural gas.


About Keep Oklahoma Beautiful

According to web based Linkedin, Keep Oklahoma Beautiful is a statewide non-profit located in Oklahoma City. Its mission is to encourage, facilitate and recognize efforts to improve Oklahoma’s aesthetic, environmental and sustainable quality of life. Founded in 1965, KOB has transformed throughout the years, changing with the times while always working to achieve its mission.

The culmination of each year’s work is the annual statewide awards competition, leading to the annual awards recognition banquet. Well attended and greatly anticipated, the late autumn event recognizes the best of the environmental best in Oklahoma.

As a state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, KOB organizes the annual Great American Cleanup in Oklahoma. KOB provides materials and tools for communities and volunteers. Startup cash grants are available for qualifying KOB network organizations.


CBS Honors Chickasaw Astronaut John Herrington for Heritage Month

CBSJohn Herrington, Chickasaw, highlighted by CBS during Native American Heritage Month. He was the first American Indian in space.
John Herrington, Chickasaw, highlighted by CBS during Native American Heritage Month. He was the first American Indian in space.



John Herrington, Chickasaw, was the first American Indian to take to the stars when he blasted off in the Space Shuttle Endeavour in November 2002.

During Native American Heritage Month he appears on CBS in a short spot bringing attention to Indian contributions to the space program.

“As a Native American astronaut, I was proud to honor my heritage by carrying a Chickasaw Nation flag on a mission to outer space,” he says in the clip.

The astronaut is also a veteran, having served as a U.S. Navy pilot. On the Endeavour mission he worked as the flight engineer on shuttle STS 113, which brought equipment to the International Space Station. With him he carried several mementos from Indian country that had been presented him, including an eagle feather, a flute, arrowheads and some sweet grass “that I think represents a lot of the spiritual sense we all feel,” he told Indian Country Today Media Network on December 1, 2002, as the space station flew over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America, just south of the equator.

“I was amazed at how massive the Earth is and looking at the atmosphere how it [is] so small relative to the rest of the Earth and to realize how insignificant we are in the great scheme of things,” he said. “In a spiritual sense it makes you appreciate how grand the grand scheme is of Mother Earth.”

RELATED: John Herrington Speaks to Indian Country Today

Three spacewalks and two delayed landings (due to inclement weather) later, Herrington had returned to that mother, an inspiration to American Indians all over Turtle Island.

“It’s just a deeper feeling—one of your own, finally a Native American,” Deborah Coombs, Oglala Sioux, who works on the shuttle’s parachutes, told Indian Country Today Media Network in 2002 after Herrington’s shuttle landed, assisted by her handiwork. “It’s so important Native Americans be recognized in what they do.”

RELATED: John Herrington, American Indian Astronaut, Returns to Mother Earth

Since then he has been working to get Native children interested in math and science, most notably with a cross-country bicycle ride in 2008 that he named Rocketrek. That’s the same year that another American Indian whose work was key to development of the U.S. space program walked on: Mary Golda Ross, the first Native American female engineer.

RELATED: Native Space Ace Mary Golda Ross (Portrait by America Meredith)

Chickasaw Nation’s Community Garden Serves as Outdoor Classroom

Ten-year-old Sean Higdon, Ada, checks out a caterpillar at the Chickasaw Nation Community Gardens during Environmental Camp.
Ten-year-old Sean Higdon, Ada, checks out a caterpillar at the Chickasaw Nation Community Gardens during Environmental Camp.

Chickasaw Nation Media

Ten-year-old Sean Higdon is well-versed in plants and compost and can even name a few beneficial insects, thanks to Chickasaw Nation Environmental Camp.

Strolling among the raised beds of onions, peppers, beans and other crops on a sunny Friday morning at the Chickasaw Nation Community Gardens, Sean and 27 other students paused to pick ripe strawberries and examine a caterpillar.

“This caterpillar is not a bad one, because he is fuzzy,” Sean explained.

Sean, of Ada, credits time spent at the unique camp for introducing him to such concepts as mulch, water conservation, gardening and natural pest control.

Designed to enlighten 8-12 year olds about the world around them, Environmental Camp offers behind-the-scenes tours of facilities, including a municipal water treatment plant, waste water treatment plant, and community gardens, where the group learned about hydroponics, compost and how the facility uses ladybugs for pest control.

Lesson about compost and how it benefits the soil made an impact on the young lives.

“This right here feels like my own garden,” said the spunky fourth grader, as he surveyed the community gardens, located southeast of Ada.

The Community Gardens is Sean’s garden– as well as all Chickasaw citizens.

The Community Garden Program is a part of the Chickasaw Nation horticulture department, and is dedicated to improving the quality of life of all Chickasaws by providing the tools and training to ensure Chickasaw people have the opportunity to attain healthy and nutritious vegetables.

Workers strive daily to fulfill the mission statement of “renewing the connection between our people and the earth.”

Crops such as corn, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and watermelon from the Community Gardens are consumed in the near-by Chickasaw Medical Center and the Cultural Center Café in Sulphur.

Thousands of tomato, squash and pepper plants are given to Chickasaw elders each spring and the general public can purchase vegetables and vegetable plants at local Farmer’s Markets during the summer months.

Shrubs and flowers grown at the gardens are available to Chickasaw homeowners and are used in landscaping at Chickasaw facilities.

Community Gardens, as well as Environmental Camp, reflects the mission of this year’s June 5 World Environmental Day observance, with objectives of teaching self-sustaining, earth- friendly concepts to young people.

The theme for this year’s World Environment Day celebrations is: Think. Eat. Save.

This campaign discourages food waste and food loss, encourages people to reduce their “foodprint” and to become more aware of the environmental impact of food choices. By purposefully choosing organic foods grown with pesticides and locally grown foods can decrease the use of dangerous chemicals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

World Environment Day celebration began in 1972 and has grown to become one of the main vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.

Every year 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.

Also, one in every seven people worldwide go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of five die from hunger every day.

About World Environmental Day

Through World Environment Day, the United Nations Environment Program is able to personalize environmental issues and enable everyone to realize not only their responsibility, but also their power to become agents for change in support of sustainable and equitable development.

World Environment Day is also a day to remind people from all walks of life of the need to come together to ensure a cleaner, greener and brighter outlook for themselves and future generations.