TULSA, Okla. — Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. told more than 100 public school educators Tuesday that renewal of the tribal-state car tag compact this year is critical to ensuring millions of dollars continue to flow to school districts, law enforcement and infrastructure throughout Northeast Oklahoma in the coming years.

Chief Hoskin’s remarks came as the Cherokee Nation distributed a record $7.9 million to 107 school districts as part of the tribe’s annual Public School Appreciation Day initiative. This year’s disbursement brings the total funds awarded to school districts to $92 million since the tribe began funneling the car tag revenue to schools through its motor vehicle compact with the state.

The Cherokee Nation allocates 38% of its annual car tag revenue directly to education, aside from the millions of dollars the tribe provides to the state of Oklahoma for education funding each year through gaming.

“For over two decades, the Cherokee Nation has demonstrated our unwavering commitment to public education in Oklahoma through our unique motor vehicle tag compact with the state. Since then, we have distributed more than $92 million directly to public school districts, providing vital discretionary funds that support teacher salaries, classroom technology, and other critical needs,” said Chief Hoskin. “That funding is in jeopardy if the state does not renew the car tag compact this year. Tribal-state compacting benefits everyone, and that’s why we are asking the state legislature to step in and help renew the compact if the governor refuses to do so. Our car tag compact with the State of Oklahoma is good for schools, good for students, good for teachers and good for communities across the state. We firmly believe that investing in education, including through the sale of tribal car tags, is one of the most important things we can do to build strong communities and ensure a brighter future for the next generation. That’s why renewal of the Cherokee Nation tag compact is so critical.”

Cherokee Nation operates its own tag agency, issuing its own titles and registrations as part of the compact. A significant portion of revenue collected is allocated to more than 100 school districts each year through the compact, benefiting all students in each district that receives funding.

The tribe also allocates portions of the revenue for law enforcement, water and road infrastructure, cell towers and other investments within the tribe’s reservation.

“The Cherokee Nation understands that investing in education today builds a stronger foundation for the future leaders of our tribe and communities,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said. “By directly allocating a portion of our car tag revenue to local schools, we can have a positive impact on the classroom experiences of students as well as their teachers.”

Each school district makes the decision on how to use the funding provided by the Cherokee Nation. In past years, schools have used the funds to cover teacher salaries, upgrade facilities, support operations, expand technology and bolster school programs.

Chouteau-Mazie Public Schools, which currently enrolls 200 Cherokee students, has used the Cherokee Nation funds in recent years to help support its STEM program for high school and middle school robotics. The funds have also been used to support an archery program, to purchase classroom supplies and math manipulatives, and more.

“The Cherokee Nation funds are very important to our school and many others. They are uncategorized funds, meaning you can spend them where you need them,” said Lori Helton, Chouteau-Mazie Public Schools Superintendent. “I think the Cherokee Nation has always been very generous in that they could make a lot of rules for everything that comes with it, but they let the schools use it wherever their greatest needs are, and every school is going to have different needs.”

Chuck Perry, Broken Arrow Public Schools Superintendent, said his school district used the Cherokee Nation funds it received in 2023 to hire additional security guards.

“Our goal, first and foremost, is to keep our students and staff safe. With that being our top priority at Broken Arrow Public Schools, being able to hire additional security staff was a blessing,” Perry said. “We will now be able to have a security guard patrol all of our campuses across the district.”

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. visits with school administrators.

School leaders from across Northeast Oklahoma gathered at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino for a luncheon on Tuesday and received this year’s annual distribution from the Cherokee Nation.

“The tremendous support from our Cherokee Nation citizens and the tireless work of our Tax Commission staff helped make this record $7.9 million contribution possible,” said Sharon Swepston, Administrator of the Cherokee Nation Tax Commission. “Each year, we are proud that the tax revenues we collect can directly fund educational opportunities that will leave a positive, lasting impact on students across Northeast Oklahoma.”

During Chief Hoskin’s remarks, he called on all public educators to help the tribe press for a renewal of its tag compact.

“Put out the call loud enough so that the governor and the legislature can hear you loud and clear,” said Chief Hoskin. “Let’s make sure that today’s gathering to distribute funds to public schools is not our last.”

Funding totals by county include the following:

  • Adair - $613,161.95
  • Cherokee - $1,021,167.29
  • Craig - $178,488.10
  • Delaware - $586,220.35
  • Mayes - $604,983.25
  • Muskogee - $785,155.20
  • Ottawa - $122,199.40
  • Nowata - $102,714.85
  • Rogers - $843,608.85
  • Sequoyah - $689,175.75
  • Tulsa - $1,729,554.50
  • Wagoner - $279,759.65
  • Washington - $353,608.50

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