TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — Cherokee elders across the Cherokee Nation’s 14-county jurisdiction have been invited to the first-ever Elder’s Summit on Monday, June 15, at 10 a.m. in the Sequoyah High School gymnasium. The summit will mark the launch of a new Cherokee Nation program, the Elder Fraud Protection Initiative.
Led by Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, the Cherokee Nation administration, Attorney General’s office and Marshal Service will join forces, seeking to put an end to the growing problem of elder abuse. This group will collaborate with state and local agencies to prevent elder abuse and prosecute individuals who financially exploit or otherwise abuse Cherokee elders.
“Our elders are our most valuable asset. They are the keepers of our traditions and customs, and serve as the head of household in homes across the Cherokee Nation,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “But the problem of elder abuse has grown faster than the solutions over the past several years. This coalition will seek ways to prevent and end elder abuse and prosecute those responsible for such terrible acts. This is close to my heart and the heart of Deputy Chief Crittenden, and I have full confidence that he’s the right person to oversee this initiative.”
Various booths will be set up at Monday’s summit, offering information on how to spot and report elder abuse and resources if one is a victim. Elder abuse has reached epidemic proportions in Oklahoma. In 2012, Oklahoma Adult Protective Services received nearly 19,000 reports of abuse, neglect or exploitation of seniors. Often elders experiencing abuse or exploitation don’t know where to turn or how to seek help.
“Elder abuse is one of the most heartbreaking crimes,” said Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden. “These people work their entire lives, raise children and grandchildren, and take care of everyone around them, only to be taken advantage of at the most vulnerable periods in their lives. This is a much-needed program, and I’m proud that we are taking the initiative to end elder abuse.”
In addition to information and resources, the Cherokee Nation Elders Summit will also provide lunch and time for fellowship for attendees. In order to get an accurate attendee count, Cherokee elders 60 years of age and older are encouraged to RSVP to Kamisha Hair-Daniels at (918) 453-5238 or Kamisha-Hair-Daniels@Cherokee.org.