TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. proposed the largest investment in language programs in the tribe’s history and detailed even more historic initiatives during his first State of the Nation Address Saturday.
Chief Hoskin announced he is asking the Council of the Cherokee Nation to approve a plan that will dedicate millions of dollars in business profits to create a new language program facility. The plan will also quadruple the size of the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program, an adult immersion program that pairs novice language learners with master-level fluent Cherokee speakers 40 hours per week for two years.
“We must act boldly and quickly on language preservation,” Chief Hoskin said. “If we fail to act now, Cherokees generations from now will be unimpressed by our health facilities. They will be unmoved by the size of our casinos. They will be bewildered as to why, in 2019, the great Cherokee Nation failed to do what was necessary to save our language. We cannot fail, we must not fail, and we will not fail.”
A second proposal by Chief Hoskin will double the amount of business revenue the Cherokee Nation uses to pay for Cherokees to complete career training programs.
“As the grandson of an iron worker and as a man whose father also started his career in the building trades, I recognize that not every bright and industrious Cherokee wants to go to college,” Chief Hoskin said. “I recognize that jobs across our region call for hard work and education. But, they do not all call for a college degree. If we are going to build a bright future for our people, we need to make sure that we don’t leave any of them behind. I believe firmly the Cherokee people want to work. They just need a government that has their back and will lend them a hand. From building trades to health care to information technology, we will help our fellow Cherokees get the skills they need to earn a good living.”
Over the past eight years, the Cherokee Nation has seen the largest expansion of services to Cherokee Nation citizens in its history, Chief Hoskin said. In the coming year, the tribe is poised to continue its growth with the recent approval by the Council of the Cherokee Nation of the largest budget in the tribe’s history.
“Whether it is opening the largest outpatient health facility in all of Indian Country at the W.W. Hastings campus, building new or expanded Child Development Centers in Tahlequah, Stilwell, Pryor and Sallisaw, or honoring our veterans with a new veterans cemetery, one thing is clear: We are already on a path this year to do more for our people than ever before,” Chief Hoskin said.
As part of his “First 100 Days” initiatives, Chief Hoskin has already announced a $30 million plan to repair hundreds of Cherokee homes, signed an executive order raising the tribe’s minimum wage to $11 per hour, created the tribe’s first cabinet-level Secretary of Veterans Affairs position, and appointed Cherokee Nation Director of Government Relations Kim Teehee as the first Cherokee Nation delegate-designate to the U.S. Congress.
“The state of our Nation is strong because our foundation is strong,” Chief Hoskin said. “Our foundation is strong because for generations, when we have been allowed the God-given right to self-govern, we have looked towards the horizon and prepared as one people to meet the challenges ahead. And so, my fellow Cherokees, let us continue in that tradition. Let us aim high. Let us be bold. Let us be prepared. Let us be worthy of all who came before us. And let us get to work.”
Chief Hoskin’s address was part of the 67th Annual Cherokee National Holiday in Tahlequah, the capital of the Cherokee Nation. The address was held at the Cherokee National Peace Pavilion following the Cherokee National Holiday parade.
For the full video of Chief Hoskin’s State of the Nation Address, visit https://bit.ly/34eIONu.