(L to R) Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Boys & Girls Club of Tahlequah representatives Dennis Kelley and Dr. Robert Webb, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick, and Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory-Jordan. Other Boys & Girls Clubs received checks.
One of the most important things we can do for the future of the Cherokee Nation is to ensure there are ample opportunities for the next generation to thrive. We’re proud to be a partner and financially support the Boys & Girls Clubs of America within our tribal boundaries. These community-based groups play a significant role for our people, providing stable and safe environments for Cherokee youth to learn, play and grow.
Principal Chief Bill John Baker
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America has a large presence in Indian Country across the nation. Just like Cherokee Nation, they have made an investment in our children and truly care about the future of our tribal youth. I can’t think of a better partner or a better mission. That’s why last year we donated more than $205,000 to nine different Boys & Girls Club chapters within the Cherokee Nation’s 14-county jurisdiction in northeast Oklahoma. We will make that investment again this year. Currently, we support clubs in Bartlesville, Gore, Chelsea, Nowata, Tahlequah, Adair County, Delaware County and Mayes County.
Almost 11,000 Cherokee Nation youth receive benefits from these organizations. Club participation can foster lifelong friends and mentors. Local clubs empower youth to support and influence their community, sustain meaningful relationships with others, develop a positive self-image and good character, participate in the democratic process, and respect their own and others’ cultural identities. Because of their involvement with Boys & Girls Clubs, those kids have one more positive influence in their young lives.
Locally, one of the most important functions they provide is a safe place for Cherokee kids to go before and after school and during the summer.
Our young people represent the future of our communities and our tribe. They deserve every opportunity to grow into their full potential. Teaming up with the Boys & Girls Club means better access to education, physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices for our Cherokee youth. Club participation develops character and leadership skills, something we deem important. Many of our local clubs even offer cultural classes based on Cherokee games, crafts and traditions.
There is nothing more critical to our future right now than investing in young Cherokee lives. We look forward to our continued partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs here in northeast Oklahoma.
Bill John Baker is the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.