Guest Opinion. Cherokee Nation is trusted with dollars to provide services for our citizens, and we take that responsibility extremely seriously. Essential services like housing, health care, elder support and economic development depend on it. Whether our funding comes from tax revenue, federal grants and set-asides, or business profits, we track each dollar carefully to do the most good for Cherokees. The best financial decisions are made with transparency and accountability.
That’s why I was glad to see Cherokee Nation earn the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association. This is the highest level of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting from the leading organization for government finance professionals. With this recognition, Cherokees should feel confident in the financial reports of the Cherokee Nation.
These honors are the result of meticulous work by the Cherokee Nation Financial Resources Department, led by Treasurer Janees Taylor. Treasurer Taylor and her team oversee the tribe’s operating budget, as well as the accounting of multiple federal grants, employee payroll and purchasing. Our knowledgeable and well-trained staff are among the best in the United States.
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic created extra responsibilities across our tribal government, and our financial resources team was no exception. They did a remarkable job overseeing the funding for Cherokee Nation’s COVID-19 Respond, Recover, and Rebuild relief programs as well as the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan funds from the federal government. Pandemic response brought big increases in transactions and reporting requirements, but, in historically difficult times, our team never wavered from their high standards.
We have many checks and balances to ensure Cherokee Nation funds are spent appropriately and properly documented. Cherokee Nation’s Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for the 2021 fiscal year was judged by an impartial panel to demonstrate full disclosure and communicate a clear financial story. The tribe was also awarded the Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award for our condensed version of the comprehensive report designed for non-accountants.
Additionally, the Cherokee Nation Constitution requires an audit of the financial statements by a Certified Public Accountant be completed and presented each year to the Council of the Cherokee Nation. We have received clean, unmodified audit opinions every year for 21 years, and over the last 20 years Cherokee Nation has passed more than 100 federal agency audits. These reflect a similar continuity – the tribe has a 99.999% success rate for properly spending and accounting for its federal funding.
Cherokee Nation Businesses also received another clean year-end audit, showing the tribe’s economic development arm ended its fiscal year with transparent operations while recording record profits. Cherokee Nation is one of the biggest economic drivers in northeast Oklahoma, injecting about $2.2 billion into the state’s economy through our government and business endeavors. That growth enables us to do even more to help Cherokee people through health care, housing and education.
Cherokee Nation’s budgets and financial practices reflect our values of honesty, accountability and caring for each other. Across multiple administrations, our in-house financial experts have proven to be astute stewards of the Cherokee Nation’s financial resources. We have been blessed with another year of growth at Cherokee Nation, and we are building a better future for the next generation.
Chuck Hoskin, Jr. is the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.
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