TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. issued the following response to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's 2022 State of the State address.

“It’s time for the governor to move forward and work alongside our tribes. Tribal nations have been crucial to the successes in Oklahoma, contributing to jobs, economic growth, public safety, COVID response, health care and supporting education, communities, roads, and law enforcement.

The crimes that Governor Stitt mentioned in his speech are tragic. Any death is one too many, and we remain fully committed to doing all that we can to support victims and prosecute crime. But the way to resolve these matters is to bring everyone together -- tribes, state leaders, law enforcement, Congress, and local officials -- to develop real solutions, not to seek endless litigation that creates headlines but not much else.

"In the year and a half since the McGirt decision, tribes have been working closely with state, local and federal partners to address public safety challenges and ensure we can provide a blanket of protection to everyone on our reservation. Meanwhile, Governor Stitt prioritized creating instability across Oklahoma, with nothing to show for his quest to overturn McGirt but millions of wasted Oklahoma taxpayer dollars, and lost time that could have been spent working collaboratively on our shared safety goals.

"The relationship between the state of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation is one between a state and a sovereign nation, one with specific rights, with a system of justice and with a separate jurisdiction. We do not advocate for unequal rules, or for discrimination, as Oklahoma’s governor seems to claim. We seek the same ideals as we have for over a century, working together as a partner.”

Cherokee Nation at a glance:

·      Reservation: 7,000 square miles

·      Employee base over 11,000

·      $2.16 billion economic impact in Oklahoma

·      Operates nine outpatient health centers and the W.W. Hastings Hospital

·      COVID Response: 258,880 COVID tests given and 100,910 vaccines/boosters administered

·      3,401 felony and misdemeanor cases filed since 2021

·      Cross-deputation agreements: 90