Cherokee Nation Receives $6.5M Labor Department Grant: Only Tribe Among 27 States

Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin, who is a lifetime member of the Ironworkers local 584 union, visits the mobile welding lab the tribe had housed at the Tribal Employment Rights Office in Tahlequah earlier this year

Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin, who is a lifetime member of the Ironworkers local 584 union, visits the mobile welding lab the tribe had housed at the Tribal Employment Rights Office in Tahlequah earlier this year

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — The Cherokee Nation is being awarded $6.5 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to invest in the tribe’s innovative job training programs.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Thursday it is awarding $138 million to be split among 27 states and the Cherokee Nation, which is the only tribe in the country to receive part of the funding.

“Teaching our people here at home to do jobs that our industries say they struggle to find workers for not only helps land good-paying jobs, but it also helps bring business to our communities,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “We are very appreciative of the U.S. Department of Labor for having confidence in the Cherokee Nation to fulfill this role.”

The grant is through the Sector Partnership National Emergency Grant Program. It will help Cherokee citizens, and non-Cherokees, who through no fault of their own lost a job or cannot find long-term employment get the skills they need for jobs in high demand locally or which have shortages of workers.

“We must constantly innovate and expand best practices to make sure our nation’s workforce can compete in the global economy,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said in a statement. “Today’s award will help better align workforce skills with the needs of regional industries. By doing so, these funds will have a positive and meaningful impact on the communities they serve now and into the future.”

The Cherokee Nation was one of the lead recruiters for the Macy’s fulfillment center in Owasso. The tribe opened a new Career Services office in Tulsa to help fulfill a variety of jobs in metro Tulsa. Its main office is in Tahlequah but operates 10 Career Services field offices, including in Pryor, Sallisaw, Bartlesville and soon opening in Oklahoma City.

The Cherokee Nation, seeing a need for welders, also initiated a welding apprenticeship training program earlier this year to help Cherokee citizens train and receive a Fast Track Welding Certification. A mobile welding lab served as a classroom on Cherokee Nation property so that Cherokees could find and fill jobs. The program worked closely with the Ironworkers Union in Tulsa and Pryor.

“Through Chief Baker’s vision to expand, we now have the opportunity and collaboration to work with the businesses, workforce and training centers in the northern counties of the Cherokee Nation,” Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelley said.  “These partnerships would not be in place had we not opened new field office locations in Vinita, Pryor, and Tulsa. This grant is such a worthwhile opportunity for the Cherokee Nation and we are very proud to be part of it.”

For more information about Cherokee Nation Career Services call 918-453-5555.

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