Cherokee Nation contributes record $5.7M to 108 school districts

March 1, 2019

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker speaks during the tribe's annual Public School Appreciation Day at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa Friday.

Sale of tribal car tags provides annual boost to education

TULSA, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation contributed more than $5.7 million to 108 school districts during the tribe’s annual Public School Appreciation Day Friday.

School superintendents from across northeastern Oklahoma gathered at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa for a luncheon and to receive checks from the tribe.

Funds provided to the schools are from the sale of tribal car tags. The Cherokee Nation allocates 38 percent of car tag revenue each year to education, providing a boost to Oklahoma public schools and fill education funding gaps.

“Funds from the sale of Cherokee Nation car tags often act as a lifeline to local school districts that may be struggling financially to meet the needs of students and teachers,” said Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “I am proud of the tribe’s continued investment in our children. By being an invaluable partner to public education in Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation is helping ensure a better future for our families and our communities.”

School districts have total discretion on how to use the funding. In recent years, schools have used the funds to cover teacher salaries, operations, technology improvements or school programs.

Zion Public School in Adair County received $43,813 this year. Zion will use funds to update its teaching curriculum and technology devices for students.

“There’s definitely a direct and positive correlation between overall student success and the wonderful support from the Cherokee Nation, so I applaud the tribe’s commitment to education,” said Zion Superintendent Corey Bunch. “Cherokee Nation administration and other leaders from the Cherokee government have made a pledge to support kids and schools, and they are standing behind those promises year after year.”

Bartlesville Public Schools in Washington County received $115,834. Superintendent Chuck McCauley said the donation will help pay for teacher salaries.

“We truly appreciate the support from the Cherokee Nation for public education,” McCauley said. “The money that we receive from the Cherokee Nation car tag sales will benefit all of our students. While we made progress last year in improving teacher salaries in Oklahoma, operational funding for education still lags behind. The additional support from the Cherokee Nation is much needed.”

School districts receive money based on the number of Cherokee Nation citizens they have enrolled, though funding benefits all students.

Since 2002, the tribe has awarded school districts in northeastern Oklahoma $56.3 million in education contributions from car tag revenue.

“The Cherokee Nation Tax Commission is grateful to play a role in making a positive impact for these 108 northeast Oklahoma school districts,” Cherokee Nation Tax Commission Administrator Sharon Swepston said. “This $5.7 million will make a big difference in our communities, and I want to thank Cherokee Nation citizens for choosing to purchase a tribal car tag to help make these contributions possible.”

These counties received funds totaling the following amounts during the 2019 Public School Appreciation Day event:

Adair – $485,901

Cherokee – $878,346

Craig – $153,818

Delaware – $396,017

Mayes – $501,697

Muskogee – $552,280

Nowata – $88,191

Osage – $2,444

Ottawa – $105,679

Rogers – $559,238

Sequoyah – $485,149

Tulsa – $1,141,417

Wagoner – $190,675

Washington – $187,290