TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation was met with both “difficulties and triumphs” over the past year, with huge investments being made in language preservation, career readiness and elder housing, holding governments accountable for their promises, and emerging with a response plan to COVID-19 that is among the best in the country, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. says in his upcoming State of the Nation Address.
Chief Hoskin’s State of the Nation Address is part of the virtual 68th Cherokee National Holiday this Labor Day weekend and can be viewed online starting at noon Saturday, Sept. 5, on the Cherokee Nation Facebook page and at www.thecherokeeholiday.com
“This past year has seen us tackle problems in our communities, protect our sovereignty and invest in our shared future,” Chief Hoskin says in the address. “We made historic strides to hold the governments of the United States and the State of Oklahoma accountable for their promises.”
The tribe’s advocacy in the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt case was a momentous victory for the Cherokee Nation and Indian Country as a whole.
“It means that the United States and Oklahoma must now acknowledge what we have always known: That our reservation was never disestablished,” Chief Hoskin said. “I have created a commission and task force and the Council has approved my legislation that will help ensure that McGirt is the kind of enduring legacy it needs to be and that our sovereignty is protected.”
Chief Hoskin notes other successes such as appointing a Cherokee Nation delegate to Congress and standing up for the state’s gaming compact renewal in which tribes were victorious.
“As Chief I will always try to work with other leaders. But, Governor Stitt has learned that I will not tolerate disrespect for the Cherokee Nation and I will stand up for our rights,” Chief Hoskin says.
The loss of Cherokee Nation citizens due to COVID-19, and the impacts the virus has had on the Cherokee people, has been a difficult challenge. To help respond, recover and rebuild, the tribe advocated for its fair share of CARES Act funds from the U.S. treasury and for essential protective gear and supplies.
“I am proud of our response to the pandemic and our efforts to recover. Our response and recovery is not just the best in Indian Country, it’s the best in the country,” Chief Hoskin says. “The reason is that we are guided by medical science, facts and compassion. I refuse to allow politics, ignorance or our natural impatience with this virus to lead us to make bad decisions.”
The tribe’s Respond, Recover and Rebuild spending plan has kept Cherokee communities safer, addressed food insecurity by providing well over 5 million meals to more than 80,000 Cherokee citizens, put funding into the hands of students to assist with distance learning, and assisted elders with utility payments and other necessities. The tribe also used those federal dollars to avoid devastating cuts and layoffs it may have been forced to make as a result of shutting down tribal businesses for months during the pandemic. Funding allowed the tribe to ensure all employees received a paycheck.
Chief Hoskin also vows in his speech to do more to preserve and share Cherokee history and culture in the year ahead.
“Deputy Chief [Bryan] Warner and I will work with the Council of the Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee Nation Historical Society trustees to ensure the long-term viability of the Cherokee Heritage Center,” Chief Hoskin says in the address. “Over the course of the next year we will take major steps to create the kind of world-class experience at the Heritage Center envisioned by those who founded it in 1963.”
He says the tribe will continue protecting tribal sovereignty, the Cherokee language and its many vital programs, while also helping Cherokee citizens recover from the devastation caused by the coronavirus. He also praises his family, cabinet, Council of the Cherokee Nation, employees and citizens for working together to get through the challenging times and emerging stronger – a trait of the Cherokee people.
“As we look toward the coming year we must be prepared for uncertainty and change. There will be challenges to our sovereignty. As our businesses recover, we will need to adjust our tribe’s budget without sacrificing those core areas in which we must continue to invest for our future. We must do all of this while dealing with a pandemic that will be with us for the near future and which will require us to continue sacrificing and putting our communities ahead of ourselves,” he says. “But, we can do it. After all, we are Cherokee. Our ancestors weathered many storms. We can weather this one. We can do it because we have two things you can’t measure in numbers dollars or programs: we have strength, and we have hope.”
To view the State of the Nation Address of Chief Hoskin, along with those of Deputy Chief Bryan Warner and Speaker of the Council Joe Byrd, log on to www.thecherokeeholiday.com beginning at noon on Saturday, Sept. 5. A full transcript of Chief Hoskin’s State of the Nation address will also be available Saturday, Sept. 5, at www.anadisgoi.com.
The Cherokee National Holiday commemorates the signing of the Cherokee Nation Constitution in 1839. It is an annual celebration of Cherokee history and heritage.
This year’s theme is “We the People of the Cherokee Nation: Celebrating Tribal Sovereignty.”