Formerly Cherokee Nation
Artist & Attorney
Park Hill, Oklahoma
Kathy is a Cherokee artist and semi-retired attorney. She writes a weekly opinion editorial for the Tahlequah Daily Press. In 2019, she co-founded a 20+ artist-member cooperative art gallery in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. She teaches classes in creative expression. Before that, she was a member of the National Treasury Employees’ Union in Kansas City, Missouri where she worked for the IRS. She formerly worked as a planner, organizer, and policy analyst for ten years with Cherokee Nation, with a focus on sovereignty and sustainable self-governance.
For Cherokee Nation, she helped to start the Cherokee Small Farm Project and helped found the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. The Food Cooperative is both a producer cooperative and a consumer cooperative with approximately 2,000 members, 125 producers, and 2,600 monthly ‘Oklavore’ products. Monthly sales average $65,000, of which 95% goes to the farmer producers.
On the Board of Legacy Cultural Learning Community, she helps to preserve Cherokee ethnobotanical traditions and to give traditional cultural and artistic opportunities to young Cherokees, sustaining intergenerational connectedness to the Earth. As Co-Founder of the Cherokee Film Festival, she was a part of establishing programs to help rural Indian youth learn film-making for the expression of traditional indigenous values.
Kathy is also coordinating an Energy Policy Team to assess Cherokee Nation’s carbon footprint, including that of the government, it’s businesses, and the businesses and governments that Cherokee Nation interacts with. For Blue Sky Water, a Cherokee traditional conservation group, Kathy is helping to bring together stakeholders on a collaborative Greenway of the Cherokee Ozarks with the help of National Park Service. This will link traditional Cherokee, conservation, and recreation nodes along a 94-mile highway route through the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.
Through the conservation group Save The Illinois River, Kathy also produces an annual Earth Day Songwriters’ Music Jam and is working on a second CD music anthology documenting the culture of the Illinois River as a measure of conservation values.
Kathy has a BA degree in Political Science from Univerity of Oklahoma and a JD in Law from University of Tulsa.
For Tibbits, environment at the forefront is an article by Renee Fite that appeared in the Tahlequan Daily Press on June 14, 2011. It focuses on Kathy’s community service, environmental, and law work. “Community service matters,” she said. “We’re all in this together. Our community is what we make it – happy, loving, serene. What kind of a world do you want to live in and how can you make it that way? I want to be the change I want to see. It’s how I’m inspired; being purposeful, making the woodpile higher.”