Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. of the Cherokee Nation speaks at the National Congress of American Indians 76th annual convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on October 23, 2019. Photo by Kevin Abourezk

Honoring Native American Heritage Month in Oklahoma

By Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.
Cherokee Nation

November is a significant time for the Cherokee Nation and other tribal nations across the United States. This is the time that we commemorate Native American Heritage Month.

Long before there was a United States, Native people on this continent were thriving. Then, during eras of colonization, removal, allotment of tribal lands and attempted termination of our tribes, Indians experienced some of the darkest chapters in American history.

We should always remember that history. We are thankful for our ancestors who fought to survive and to preserve our way of life amid great adversity. Because of their efforts, Oklahoma tribes are today able to contribute greatly to our state’s economy and culture.

In the modern era, tribes have rebuilt and reclaimed their power. We have come to a deeper understanding about sovereign nations and arrived at a rebirth of self-determination. Indian nations, including the Cherokee Nation, are leading on things that build a great society, such as providing a system of justice, caring for the environment and making investments in education, health care and housing, which will ensure a better future.

Today, tribal governments in Oklahoma are some of the most progressive governments in the world, and we should celebrate that. Not only did we beat the odds when state and federal policies tried to diminish or eliminate us, but now we are leading the way. That should be a point of pride for Indians and non-Indians alike.

Tribes generate billions of dollars in economic development, create jobs and build hope for our people, which multiplies to the benefit of all Oklahomans. At Cherokee Nation, we have raised the minimum wage, invested in the homes of our elders, and increased funding for higher education and Career Tech training. We will soon open the largest health facility in Indian Country, and next year we will launch the first medical school campus ever built on tribal land.

We have a bright future with our friends and neighbors in this state. Our willingness to build successful partnerships helps make Oklahoma a great place to live and raise a family.

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, Cherokee Nation is offering free admission to all museums during November. This month is the perfect opportunity to learn about authentic Native American history and culture. We are opening our museum doors for anyone to reconnect with your Cherokee roots or experience the shared history of the Cherokee Nation.

Native peoples are a lasting influence on the cultural fabric of this state and country. This month, we hope you will join us in learning more about our unique heritage and history, and remembering what it took to get here.

Chuck Hoskin Jr. is the 18th elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, the largest Indian tribe in the United States. He is only the second elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from Vinita, the first being Thomas Buffington, who served from 1899-1903. Prior to being elected Principal Chief, Hoskin served as the tribe’s Secretary of State. He also formerly served as a member of the Council of the Cherokee Nation, representing District 11 for six years.

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