(L to R) Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden display a Cherokee Nation license plate.
TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council passed legislation last Thursday night to use car tag revenues to fund school districts outside the tribal jurisdiction for the first time ever.
The Cherokee Nation earmarks 38 percent of its motor vehicle tag revenue to fund about 90 public school districts within the tribe’s jurisdictional boundaries each year. About a dozen more school districts from Wagoner, Tulsa and Muskogee Counties are being added to that list, including Broken Arrow, Coweta, Jenks and Wainwright.
In August 2013, the tribe and the state of Oklahoma entered into a compact expanding tribal car tag sales statewide for the first time ever. Prior to the compact, only Cherokees living inside the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction were eligible for a Cherokee Nation license plate.
Nearly $4 million will be awarded to 109 school districts this month at the tribe’s annual Public School Appreciation Day.
“An investment in our children’s education is an investment in our tribe’s future,” said Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor, of Pryor. “By expanding our car tag revenue funding area, our tribe is ensuring that even more schools receive critical funding during a tough economic environment. Schools inside the tribe’s jurisdiction should also receive about $500,000 more to use toward essential academic and support programs for all students.”
Since expanding tribal car tag sales to all 77 counties in Oklahoma, more than 10,000 additional tags have been sold.
In other Tribal Council business, the legislative body approved the appointment of Carrie Philpott, of Stilwell, to the Cherokee Nation Registration Committee.
“Ms. Philpott has a heart to serve and a heart for the Cherokee people,” said Tribal Councilor Frankie Hargis, of Stilwell. “With her wealth of knowledge and experience, she will truly be an asset to the tribe’s registration department.”
Philpott served as the Adair County clerk for 10 years and also worked at Cherokee Nation Industries as a line supervisor from 1970 to 1977.
“I have known Carrie all my life. She has a great love of the culture and history of the Cherokee Nation,” said Tribal Council Sec. Jodie Fishinghawk, of Stilwell. “I am proud to have Carrie, an Adair County citizen, on the committee. She will be replacing Betty Barker, who was a tremendous asset to the Cherokee Nation, its citizens and Adair County and was a wonderful person.”
The Tribal Council also approved the donation of surplus office equipment to several community organizations inside Cherokee Nation’s jurisdictional boundaries.