Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. takes his oath of office alongside First Lady January Hoskin. Supreme Court Justice John Garrett officiated the oath. Photo: Anadisgoi / Cherokee Nation

Chuck Hoskin: Commemorating a tumultuous and resolute first year in office

Cherokee Nation

One year ago, Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner and I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Cherokee Nation Constitution. We pledged to promote the culture, heritage and traditions of our people. In my inaugural address, I predicted that the strength of our democracy would continue to grow, because the things that unite us are far more powerful than those that divide us.

I believe that more today than ever before. Our Nation is strong because, for generations, we have looked towards the horizon and prepared as one people to meet the challenges ahead.

Our first year in office has been momentous. Working with the Council of the Cherokee Nation, we harnessed more resources for the Cherokee people. We committed $30 million to repair the homes of low-income elders and community buildings. We doubled our investment in career training programs. We committed $16 million for language preservation, and we established a new initiative for preserving our historic and cultural sites. On the health care front, we opened the largest outpatient facility in Indian Country and welcomed the first class of the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation.

Throughout my first year in office, I made it a top priority to invoke and enforce the sovereignty of our great Nation. I appointed Kim Teehee as our first delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, calling on the U.S. government to fulfill this more than 180-year-old treaty right. Thanks in part to the advocacy of Cherokee Nation Attorney General Sara Hill, the Supreme Court declared in the McGirt case what we have always known, that the reservations of the Five Civilized Tribes are still intact.

We also held the state of Oklahoma to its promises. We knew that our gaming compact with Oklahoma was renewed for a new term beginning January 1, 2020. Mayors, county commissioners, school superintendents and many others who have benefited from the enormous economic impact of tribal businesses knew it. More recently, a federal judge confirmed it. Now at long last, the governor of the state of Oklahoma must surely understand it. The gaming compact that has served Cherokee Nation and all 4 million Oklahomans well for 15 years will continue for another 15 years.

We have accomplished much for the Cherokee people in this first year, but like most Cherokees and most Americans, we have had to put some plans on hold to focus on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. I am heartbroken over the Cherokees we have lost or who are ailing from this virus. But I have hope that by working together, we will defeat the virus and emerge even stronger.

To weather the economic crisis brought by COVID-19, we have distributed fresh food and served more than 1 million meals to tens of thousands of Cherokees, prioritizing our elders and those with chronic health conditions. We also made sure that none of our 9,000 plus employees missed a paycheck, and we led the way on safely reopening our businesses.

Through all of this, we successfully fought for the federal funds we were owed. With the support of our Council, we are investing these federal dollars into our Respond, Recover and Rebuild plan to protect elders, help students develop remote learning plans, and keep our communities as safe as possible. From health care to food security to safe workplaces, we have been a national leader on pandemic response.

It is a tremendous responsibility to lead the largest tribal government in the country, but together, we are working to make Cherokee communities, families and culture stronger. The strength of our democracy will continue to grow as long as we remain united toward the common goal of building a better Cherokee Nation, one worthy of its great people.

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.

Join the Conversation
Trending in News
More Headlines