MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Cherokee Nation officials gathered Dec. 8 to break ground on a new walking trail at the tribe’s Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee as part of the Cherokee Nation Public Health and Wellness Fund Act signed by Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. last year.
The paved trail will stretch roughly half a mile near the health center and is expected to be completed in 2023.
“This project is part of a decision to provide health care in a more holistic manner and a larger strategy to achieve a higher level of wellness in our communities,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “This walking trail will benefit not only the patients who visit the health center, but our workforce serving the Cherokee people on the frontlines. The Public Health and Wellness Fund Act is one of our most impactful efforts to ensure the Cherokee people have access to opportunities that can keep them healthy in their daily lives.”
Seven percent of the third-party revenue generated through Cherokee Nation Health Services is dedicated to mental and physical wellness efforts through the Public Health and Wellness Fund Act, estimated to be between $9 million and $12 million annually.
“This is so much more than a walking trail; this is about new beginnings,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “This is not just a place to access physical wellness but also to improve our mental health. When we understand the mental wellness side of health care we can work together to create spaces for our people and communities to thrive.”
Other projects through the tribe’s Public Health and Wellness Fund Act include a wellness center being constructed in Stilwell, a wellness center planned as part of a future new Salina Health Center, and planned substance abuse treatment facilities.
“I’m proud of the Cherokee Nation for being forward thinking and being proactive with prevention efforts that will impact the health of our people for this and future generations,” said District 4 Tribal Councilor Mike Dobbins.
Cherokee Nation also plans to construct walking trails at a number of other tribal health facilities in the reservation.