Notes from the ChiefBy Bill John Baker
cherokee.org The Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance is a nonprofit dedicated to the growth of northeast Oklahoma. The organization, focused on economic and workforce development in the 14 counties of northeast Oklahoma, recently held its annual conference in Tahlequah. Cherokee Nation has been a proud partner of this group from the very beginning and remains heavily invested in finding new ways to grow our region of Oklahoma. The most recent gathering focused on creating healthier families. Healthy families lead to healthier communities and workforce, which means a healthier regional economy. Cherokee Nation is the historical economic driver of northeast Oklahoma and has made health care a priority over the past six years. The tribe has made significant financial investments, resulting in a trickle-down effect that is improving lives and making generational improvements. Last year, we had a financial impact of more than $2 billion in our great state. We support a dynamic workforce of about 14,000 people between our government and business entities, and more quality jobs are on the way with large-scale projects in development across our tribal jurisdiction. That success is what we do, but it isn’t who we are. A good partner and good neighbor is who we are. There is an old saying: a rising tide raises all ships. That is true in our case. In our corner of Oklahoma, we all benefit through the economic development and diversification of Cherokee Nation. It enables us to do more for tribal citizens as well as non-Cherokees. Cherokee Nation will always remain a leader in the region, because the tribe is not going anywhere. This is our home, and that is why we are committed to the regional development dialogue provided through our NORA association. Our business growth and job creation allow us to make critical investments in health care, public schools, first responder services and critical infrastructure like roads, bridges and water lines. Cherokee Nation has made a commitment to local communities, Cherokee families and all people in northeast Oklahoma. Our tribal government values the collaboration and the partnerships we’ve established with fellow NORA entities. The spirit of regionalism creates effective and lasting relationships. In northeast Oklahoma, alliances with municipal governments and county governments, economic development partners like chambers of commerce and private businesses as well as higher education institutions like Northeastern State University, Rogers State University and career tech campuses enable all of us to do more to improve lives and create healthier families. By working together through the NORA coalition, we continue to strive for the same goals and we make our great state the best place to live, work and raise a family. Collectively, our future is bright. When we forge strong alliances and utilize each and every unique capability of NORA partners, nothing can prevent us from succeeding. We can create a quality of life for our citizens here that is the best, so that moving to a big city or even out of Oklahoma is not necessary to find success. Bill John Baker currently serves as the 17th elected chief of the Cherokee Nation, the largest Indian tribe in the United States. Born and raised in Cherokee County, he is married to Sherry (Robertson) Baker. Principal Chief Baker has devoted much of his life in service to the Cherokee people. He spent 12 years as a member of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council and was elected Principal Chief in October 2011.