TAHLEQUAH, Okla.—Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. announced Thursday the tribe is earmarking $3 million to better protect Cherokee elders from fraud and elder abuse.
The elder victim services fund was announced during the 2022 Elder Summit where more than a thousand Cherokee elders gathered in Tahlequah. A second Elder Summit is being held in Claremore on Friday.
Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner announced the return of the annual Elders Summit during the State of the Nation Address held in September as part of the Cherokee National Holiday. During the summit events, the tribe is gathering important input from Cherokee elders that will be used to craft new programs and legislation for elder protection in the coming months.
“We have to remember where the strength of the Cherokee Nation comes from which is always from the people, and it starts with our elders. Deputy Chief and I try to do our level best to serve and honor our elders,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “If there are elders living in the shadows we’ve got to reach out and help them. Elders who are victims of crime are our most vulnerable in our reservation and we do not want them to feel lost in the system. This $3 million in funds will bring out more services to protect our elders who are victims of crime and help our elders from becoming victims.”
The $3 million in elder victim services funds is a grant from the Department of Justice and will start in January. The funds will double the Cherokee Nation Human Services elder protection staff from four to eight members.
It will assist elders in changing door locks, repairing and sealing windows, and in obtaining protective orders.
“These funds will also ensure any elders who are the victim of a crime have the food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and living necessities they need,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said.
Human Services elder protection staff will also be placed throughout the Cherokee Nation Reservation to accommodate Cherokee citizens in their communities.
“I realized that I’m an elder now so I wanted to come see what Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner are doing for us and how I might be able to help,” said Geraldine Scott, who attended Thursday’s Elder Summit in Tahlequah. “I’ve worked in nursing homes and seen our elders get lost in the system or suffer from abuse, so I was very excited to hear that the Nation is launching their initiative to protect elders who have been victims of violence.”
Lee Sevenstar, 77, a Cherokee speaker from Belfonte, attended Thursday. He recently received help from the Cherokee Nation's Speaker Services program.
“I recently got a new roof and new flooring,” he said. “It was helpful, and it's good to have these get-togethers for elders.”
During the summit, Chief Hoskin also spoke of other investments being made for Cherokee elders.
The Cherokee Nation has invested millions through the Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act for low-income elders who need safe, affordable housing.
The Cherokee Nation just announced adding new positions in health, starting with patient experience team members to help patients, including elders, navigate the Cherokee Nation’s health system when they have questions.
The Cherokee Nation is also funding a digital navigator position to help residents gain much-needed access to the Internet, devices, and digital skills training.
And the tribe is adding broadband to help many rural Cherokee community households without service.
The 2022 Elder Summit in Tahlequah had a resource fair for elders, giveaways and lunch.
More information on Cherokee Nation elder services and advocacy can also be found online at https://cherokee.org/all-services/human-services/family-assistance/elder-services-advocacy/.