MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 12, 2013

Youth summit addresses citizenship

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— FORT GIBSON — Cierra Fields says she cares about good citizenship and wants her peers to care as well.

The Fort Gibson Middle School eighth-grader invited 4-H Club members and other students from across the area to learn about government at a Native Youth Summit, held Friday at Fort Gibson High School’s cafeteria. About 50 students from Fort Gibson, Hilldale, Muskogee, Tahlequah and Sequoyah Schools attended.

“I just wanted to help kids learn about government,” Cierra said. “Too many times people think, ‘This person looks like a nice guy, I’ll vote for him.’”

The summit focused on Cherokee Nation tribal government. Cierra, whose parents are citizens of the Cherokee Nation, said she wanted to show how Cherokee government is similar to state and federal government.

Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Charles Head compared and contrasted his job with that of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“We work with the federal and state government and federal and state leaders,” he said. “Right now, we’re working with the attorney general on tag issues. We also work with federal agencies and federal offices.”

Miss Cherokee, Christy Kingfisher, encouraged summit participants to become good citizens.

“And part of being a good citizen is being involved in the community,” Kingfisher said. “You can go to tribal council meetings. You can vote. You can become involved.”

The summit included information beyond tribal government.

Junior Miss Cherokee Julie Thornton encouraged those present to seek a college education.

Cierra, a skin cancer survivor, talked about the importance of skin cancer awareness. The agenda also included discussion on opportunities in 4-H.

The summit featured a meal of Native American dishes such as fried hominy, fry bread and eggs with wild onions.

Muskogee County Extension Educator David Adams said Cierra came to him a couple of months ago with the idea to put on the summit. He said her project area is citizenship, and this was one of the programs.

“This is a neat deal,” he said. “Different kids have different projects. We have a lot of kids doing pretty amazing things.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.