Cherokee Nation Workforce Enhances Northeast Oklahoma Economy

Cherokee Nation Staff Appreciation Day was celebrated last Friday, June 29, 2018 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma outside tribal headquarters.

Guest Commentary

We recently celebrated our annual staff appreciation day at Cherokee Nation. It’s a time we recognize our employees and issue awards for years of service as well as for commitment to excellence.

Between the Cherokee Nation government and Cherokee Nation Businesses, we have more than 11,000 employees. Most of them make their home and raise their family right here in northeast Oklahoma. That economic impact is immense across our 14-county jurisdiction, and today, we have more Cherokees than ever working for our government and businesses. We strive to create a workplace environment that is attractive so that we are able to retain our talented employees. We are committed to our employees, just as we are committed to our citizens.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker

At Cherokee Nation, where 70 percent of the government’s employees are women, we have made progressive changes to ensure our workforce feels appreciated and valued. We’ve raised the minimum wage to $9.50, well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25. We also established family-friendly policies like expanded maternity leave for expecting mothers, which provides eight weeks of fully paid maternity leave for female employees of the tribal government. We also established paternity leave for fathers, and for our staff willing to become a foster parent for a Cherokee child, we instituted one of the most progressive foster policies in the country, the first of its kind in Oklahoma and Indian Country.

At CNB, we have a workforce of about 6,800 people. This past March, our CNB staff helped create more revenue than in any other month in our history. Not only was it the most successful month in history in terms of revenue, but also in terms of profit. The credit for that success goes to the dedicated men and women we have as employees, who do the work that builds our tribe and our region. I want to give them the recognition they richly deserve. Our employees take great pride in their work and business success, and we are proud of them.  At CNB, where almost 4,500 jobs fall under Cherokee or Native preference codes, Cherokees fill more than 73 percent of those jobs and citizens from other tribes fill another 6 percent.

At Cherokee Nation and CNB, we will endeavor to remain an employer of choice that fuels the continued economic growth of northeast Oklahoma. The better we retain and compensate this talented workforce, the better our businesses and services will be.  

Bill John Baker is the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.

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