TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. announced today members of the At-Large Advisory Committee to guide his administration on ways to better connect with Cherokee citizens living outside the tribe’s 14-county reservation.

Last fall Principal Chief Hoskin signed an executive order establishing the At-large Cherokee Advisory Committee. The goal of the advisory committee is to generate input on policy perspectives from Cherokee Nation citizens living outside of the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction in northeast Oklahoma. The advisory committee was also created to help identify gaps in available support and outreach to ensure the needs of at-large citizens and community organizations are being met.

“By establishing our At-Large Cherokee Advisory Committee, my hope is that we elevate the voices of our citizens living outside the 14 counties and ensure their needs and their perspectives are considered when we craft future initiatives,” said Chief Hoskin. “I couldn’t be happier with this committee of professionals and the heart that each of them have for ensuring at-large citizens feel more connected to their Cherokee roots.”

Chief Hoskin selected members to the At-large Cherokee Advisory Committee based on recommendations from at-large community organizations, at-large members of the Council of the Cherokee Nation, and at-large Cherokee citizens.

The at-large tribal citizens selected to serve on the advisory committee include Patsy Edgar of Dahlonega, Georgia, who will serve a one-year term; Cynthia Ruiz of Los Angeles, California, who will serve a two-year term; Robert Wood of Sacramento, California, who will serve a two-year term; and Wade McAlister of Houston, Texas, who will serve a one-year term.

Committee members will serve a one year term limit, except for an initial two-year term for two seats to allow for staggering. The one-year terms will expire April 30, 2021, and the two-year terms will expire April 30, 2022.

Edgar said she has a deep commitment to the preservation of Cherokee history and culture, as well as an interest in strengthening the connection of the Cherokee Nation with at-large citizens.

“I'm deeply honored to have been selected by Chief Hoskin to serve on the inaugural At-Large Advisory Committee,” said Edgar. “I applaud efforts to educate at-large citizens in our history and culture. I also would like to see us educate at-large citizens in how they can help the Cherokee Nation.”

In addition to the four at-large tribal citizens sitting on the committee, Kevin Stretch, director of Cherokee Nation Community & Cultural Outreach, also serves as a member to facilitate discussion. CCO oversees annual Cherokee Nation at-large community meetings and the at-large community organizations that have been established across the country.

Among 380,000-plus enrolled Cherokee Nation citizens, more than 63 percent live outside the tribal boundaries.

As part of the tribe’s effort to connect Cherokee at-large citizens with tribal programs, information and cultural enrichment, the Community & Cultural Outreach department coordinates at-large community events throughout the year with the 25 official Cherokee Nation satellite community organizations. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person events have been suspended in an effort to keep Cherokees safe.

Chief Hoskin said that feedback he has received from the newly appointed advisory members, as well as during listening sessions with at large leaders, have given his administration new ideas on how to better connect.

“Input from at-large leaders, both those on the new advisory committee and others working in their communities, helped inform our judgment on new at-large grant programs, ideas for how to engage at-large citizens on public policy matters and ideas for better communication,” said Hoskin

At-large members of the Council of the Cherokee Nation, Mary Baker Shaw of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and Julia Coates of Los Angeles, California, also participate in the meetings.

“I’m so proud that we’re staying connected with our Cherokee citizens at-large through this advisory committee, and have the ability to video conference with them as a way to communicate and meet their needs,” At-large Tribal Councilor Mary Baker Shaw said. “Video conferencing is the wave of the future, and the Cherokee Nation has done great work making it safe and easy to reach out to our citizens in this way.”

The advisory committee will meet primarily using video conferencing, though some in-person meetings may be planned when COVID-19 related travel restrictions are lifted.

For more information, call Cherokee Nation Community & Cultural Outreach at 918-525-2436.