TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation on Tuesday enrolled its 400,000th tribal citizen and continues to process a historic record number of citizenship applications.
Cherokee Nation’s Registration Department received record numbers of citizenship applications since Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. announced earlier this year that the tribe is providing a $2,000 COVID-19 assistance payment to all enrolled Cherokee citizens along with those who receive approved citizenship status by June of 2022.
“In the coming months, Cherokee Nation Registration will be adding thousands more tribal citizens whose applications are already pending and awaiting verification, making the Cherokee Nation the largest tribe in the United States. With this growth, we will continue to be an important force for economies, education, health care, quality of life issues, and environmental matters,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “Our citizens are engaging and connecting which is a sign that our Cherokee Nation government is a strong Indigenous voice in Indian Country.”
The tribe’s Registration Department is continuing to clear a backlog of thousands of remaining citizenship applications pending since the Cherokee Nation announced its COVID-19 relief payments for citizens. At times, the tribe’s Registration Department has received 2,000 applications for citizenship per week, approximately 10 times the volume typically received.
“Reaching 400,000 Cherokee Nation citizens has really put the tribe’s Registration Department to the test, but we are determined to provide this important service so that our citizens can obtain the COVID-19 relief assistance they need during this pandemic and continue to stay engaged with their tribe,” said Interim Registrar Derrick Vann. “I want to thank Chief Hoskin and his administration as well as those on our Tribal Council for their support. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to each and every one of our Registration employees for their dedication and the personal sacrifices they have made working additional hours in the evenings and on Saturdays to ensure we are processing citizenship applications as quickly as possible. They have really stepped up during these trying times and it is an honor to work alongside them.”
The Cherokee Nation Registration Department is temporarily closed to in-person services through October and will reopen to the public on Nov. 1 to allow staff to continue to focus on clearing the application backlog. A secure vault has been placed in the lobby of the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah for those who wish to drop off citizenship applications during the temporary in-person closure of Registration services.
“Our Cherokee Nation employees continue to show strength to reach amazing milestones in the midst of a pandemic and to help our citizens with citizenship, support and recovery and rebuilding their lives from COVID-19,” said Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “I’m truly proud of this achievement.”
To meet the higher demand in citizenship applications, Registration added 12 additional staff to the existing 45 employees.
Among the Cherokee Nation’s 400,000 tribal citizens about 140,000 live in the Cherokee Nation Reservation.