TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation celebrated tribal citizens and organizations for their statesmanship, patriotism, community leadership and devotion to the tribe during a virtual Cherokee National Holiday Awards Ceremony held Thursday, Sept. 2.
The tribe also honored Apple, Google and Microsoft for helping to preserve the Cherokee language and expand its use globally through the use of technology.
“Each year, the Cherokee Nation pauses to pay recognition to Cherokee citizens, as well as our non-Native friends, who have worked tirelessly to promote and advance the efforts of the Cherokee Nation,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “This year’s honorees have gone above and beyond in their service both here on the Cherokee Nation Reservation, and around the world. Their efforts will have generational impacts. Congratulations to former Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard for the Medal of Patriotism Award; to Charlie Soap for the Statesmanship Award; to Jade Day, Channce Condit, Mary Flute-Cooksey Buzzard and Dr. Clint Carroll for the Community Leadership Individual Award; to the Marble City Food Pantry and Youth Services for the Community Leadership Organization Award; and to our friends at Google, Apple, and Microsoft for the Samuel Worcester Award, which is given to non-Cherokees who have made substantial contributions to preserving Cherokee heritage, culture, community and sovereignty. We are honored to have worked with each and every one of you, and we thank you for your service to the Cherokee people.”
Medal of Patriotism Award
The Medal of Patriotism Award is given in recognition of those who answered the call of duty, made great sacrifices and risked their lives in service to Cherokee Nation and the United States of America, tirelessly defending and promoting freedom and liberty for Cherokees and all mankind.
• Harley Buzzard, of Eucha, Oklahoma, is a Vietnam era veteran who served from 1967-1970. He previously served as director of the Cherokee Nation water and sanitation program and director of the tribe’s community infrastructure program, working to bring road improvements, clean water and better facilities throughout the reservation. He also served 12 years on the Council of the Cherokee Nation. In presenting the award, Chief Hoskin noted that Buzzard was known for asking tough but fair questions, always focused on making the work of the Cherokee Nation the best it could be. Buzzard also served on the National Inter-Tribal Association, the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission Advisory Board, and many other organizations.
The Statesman Award is given in recognition of those who, as public servants, epitomize the servant leader ideal, exemplifying Cherokee values and acting with respect, dignity and graciousness while working for the betterment of Cherokee Nation and its citizens.
• Charlie Soap, of Adair County, Oklahoma, formerly served as the executive director of community services for the Cherokee Nation. He, along with his wife and former Principal Chief, Wilma Mankiller, worked tirelessly to create and improve water access in communities now serviced by the Cherry Tree Rural Water District, including the historic Bell waterline. That planning and work as a community organizer started in the early 1980s. In 2021, Principal Chief Hoskin signed the Wilma P. Mankiller and Charlie Soap Water Act, injecting needed funding and strategic planning into the tribe’s efforts at increasing availability of clean water across the tribe’s reservation.
Community Leadership Individual Award
The Community Leadership Individual Award is given in recognition of Cherokee Nation citizens who tirelessly have given, without hesitation, their time to make their communities more vibrant, livable places. Their example of servant leadership embodies Cherokee values, and is held in high esteem by their peers for strengthening the bonds of Cherokee Nation citizens.
• Jade Day, of Muskogee, Oklahoma, advocates for increased awareness for rare diseases in Indian Country and the challenges patients and their families face. She was named by the National Organization for Rare Disorders and the Oklahoma Rare Action Network as an ambassador for Oklahoma to serve as liaison to state agencies, networks and officials to increase awareness of rare diseases and disorders. In February 2020, Chief Hoskin established the tribe’s first rare disease committee, naming Day as a committee member.
• Channce Condit, of Modesto, California, serves as a field representative for the California State Assembly. He began his career in public service by assisting a record number of constituents for his office. His work has consistently demonstrated a commitment to community and a willingness to make a difference. In 2018, Condit was elected to the Ceres, California City Council, and in 2020, he was elected to the Stanislaus County, California Board of Supervisors. As his community has battled the COVID-19 pandemic, Condit has made public health awareness and highlighting the hard work of county employees a priority in his public outreach.
• Mary Flute-Cooksey Buzzard, of Flute Springs, Oklahoma has been guided by the Cherokee principle of “Gadugi” throughout her life. She has served on the Elder Advisory Board of Muskogee for more than 15 years and has assisted Cherokee Nation in many roles, including her service on the Council of the Cherokee Nation and working for Cherokee Nation Elder Services. Recently, she volunteered in a door-to-door effort that brought fresh produce to many households in the Marble City area, and even as COVID-19 has impacted the reservation, she has led her organization in continuing its growth, and has spearheaded capital projects at the community center.
• Dr. Clint Carroll, of Longmont, Colorado, has worked closely with Cherokee Nation for more than 20 years, assuring that Cherokee traditions can be practiced, respected and preserved. Dr. Carroll has been continually active with ethnobotany research and preservation and the Medicine Keepers, a project that shares Cherokee traditions by connecting Cherokee youth and elders.
Community Leadership Organization Award
The Community Leadership Organization Award is given in recognition of Cherokee Nation communities that have demonstrated the spirit of working together through servant leadership, as well as applying Cherokee values to make their communities a better place for Cherokee Nation citizens.
• Marble City Food Pantry and Youth Services is a community-based organization providing critical resources in the Marble City community and Sequoyah County. The organization was an important partner during Cherokee Nation’s COVID-19 emergency food distribution program, and assisted in distributing hundreds of food boxes in their community. Their volunteers are passionate about bringing food security to Cherokee citizens and neighbors.
Samuel Worcester Award
The Samuel Worcester Award is given to non-Cherokees who have made substantial contributions to the preservation of Cherokee heritage, culture, community and sovereignty.
• Dr. Craig Cornelius has worked in internationalization at Google since 2007, and introduced the Cherokee Nation Language Department to the engineering team at Google, which has led to many advancements in Cherokee language technology. Google Search and Gmail support the Cherokee syllabary thanks to the efforts of Dr. Cornelius, and an open-source Cherokee font is also available on millions of Android phones and tablets around the world.
• Peter Lofting collaborated, as lead font developer for Apple, with Cherokee Nation’s Language Department to incorporate the Cherokee Syllabary into Apple’s mobile devices and computer systems. The fonts he developed allow every Apple device in the world to support the Cherokee syllabary. Peter shares recognition with the late Steve Jobs, whose legacy lives on in his wife Laurene Powell Jobs.
• Don Lionetti joined the Microsoft Corporation in 2002 and established the company’s vertical tribal government and gaming market. As director of sales, ionetti leads a team that provides solutions for Native American tribal government, gaming and Alaska Native organizations across the country. He is passionate about technology and helping Native American clients discover solutions that gain efficiencies and provide better service for constituents and stakeholders.