Cherokee Phoenix Names Seven Feathers Honorees | news

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TAHLEQUAH – To recognize Cherokee citizens who make notable contributions to the Cherokee language, culture, community, service, education, health and business, the Cherokee Phoenix has named honorees of the fourth annual Seven Feathers Awards.

The Cherokee chose Phoenix Ed Fields of Tahlequah as the language. Fields, who is also a National Treasure of the Cherokee Nation, has taught the Cherokee language to students around the world online, in person, and through immersion curriculums. He shares history, stories, love of heritage and other facets of tribal culture through language teaching to his students. He was cited by those who nominated him for his enthusiasm, humor, warmth and encouragement to his students.

The Seven Feathers Award for Culture goes to Nico Albert Williams of Tulsa. As a traditional native cook, Williams uses food and language to reconnect with her Cherokee heritage. She was the founding boss

for Duet Restaurant + Jazz, where she introduced diners to dishes like Three Sisters Dip and Sumac-Crusted Wild Trout. She has since founded Burning Cedar Indigenous Foods, promoting healing and well-being for Native Americans through healthy traditional catering options and education. Her work has been featured by USA Today, Hulu, BBC and the Smithsonian Museum.

The Seven Feathers for the Community winner is Rachel Ray, DO, of Sand Springs. Ray serves as an ER doctor in Sand Springs and was formerly at the Salina Indian Clinic. She is co-founder of Cura for the World, a non-profit medical clinic for uninsured and low-income households. The clinic in Sapulpa opened in 2018. Cura for the World employs volunteer pharmacists, nurses and community assistants. Ray is one of three volunteer doctors on the team. Cura also works with Tulsa Girls Home to review monthly medication records, and Ray is a board member and treasurer of Isaiah 58, In His Service, a non-profit Tulsa ministry that provides food, clothing and furniture to those in need.

For the ministry, Lane Kindle of Stilwell is the seven-spring receiver. Kindle has been a volunteer in his community since he was in school. He now sits on Stilwell City Council and serves as Council President. He serves on several boards, including for Parks & Recreation, and is known for helping organizations – including those he’s not affiliated with – with their community events. He is a longtime volunteer with Stilwell Little League Baseball and has been an assistant coach for a team for the past two seasons. In 2018 he received the Next Gen Under 30 Award.

The Seven Feathers awardee for education is Dr. Angela Walden from Chicago. As Vice Chancellor for Diversity Initiatives at the University of Illinois-Chicago, she influenced how Native Americans were viewed on campus and led the administration to recognize the school’s colonial legacy as a land grant university. She developed a bridge-to-faculty program that mentored students of color and hired them at competitive salaries. She also worked to discard the UIC’s Aboriginal mascot and was consulted for documentaries on the harm of such images. Walden is a licensed clinical psychologist with published research.

Christopher Taylor of Tulsa was chosen to be the recipient of the Seven Feathers for Health. Taylor founded Therapeutic Life Choices LLC to provide mental health services to residents of Tulsa, Muskogee and Tahlequah. After working in behavioral medicine, he wanted to build a “continuum of care” for the clients he worked with. TLC has indeed expanded its operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, offering therapy, psychiatrist visits, medication, and telemedicine appointments for all ages. He volunteers to be a chaplain for the Tulsa Police Department.

From a business perspective, the Seven Feathers winner is Heath Holmes from Stilwell. Holmes began his career in HVAC service in 2013 after earning his journeyman’s license. While with the Cherokee Nation Housing Authority from 2013 to mid-2021, he served as an HVAC services contractor

to Cherokee citizens in the 14 counties. He also founded Holmes Heating and Cooling LLC in 2013. As an individual or through Holmes Heating and Cooling, Holmes has volunteered time and work for HVAC emergencies for older Cherokee citizens, donated funds to several local organizations and Stilwell Public Schools, and volunteered as a tee-ball coach and softball umpire.

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