- By Chuck Hoskin Jr
Guest Opinion. Recently, I joined students, teachers and school leaders at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa to raise the Cherokee Nation flag over the campus for the first time. Going forward, it will fly every day next to the Oklahoma and American flags. It joins flags of the Osage Nation and Muscogee Nation that were raised at Tulsa Public School locations on the reservations of those tribes.
This new place of honor for the Cherokee flag helps remind students that they are receiving their education on Cherokee Nation reservation lands. I am proud that our reservation is home to this historic school that is a beacon of excellent education in our region.
The flag raising and land acknowledgment by Booker T. Washington students were a powerful way to conclude Native American Heritage Month. Across Oklahoma, students need a deeper understanding of where they live and the history of that community. It’s important that they learn more about the culture and history of Cherokee Nation here on the Cherokee Nation Reservation.
Tulsa Public Schools is currently reviewing its curriculum, as quality school systems do. We hope it includes efforts to teach more Native history -- and most importantly, accurate history. Just as important as knowing the history, students should understand how their day-to-day lives are greatly impacted by tribal nations, now and in the future.
A flag ceremony to recognize tribal land is symbolic, but when it comes with positive action and change, it can be profoundly important. It creates a greater sense of pride and belonging for Cherokee and other Native students as they enter and exit their school. It proudly acknowledges that we are visible and valued contributors to their school and community.
I appreciate the respect Tulsa Public Schools has shown to our tribal nations, and I admire the leadership Tulsa Public Schools has demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership between Cherokee Nation and Tulsa Public Schools is strong and growing stronger.
My administration continues to make historic investments in public education. Cherokee Nation contributed $1.3 million from car tag revenues to Tulsa Public Schools this year, out of $6.3 million to schools across northeast Oklahoma.
We contribute every year because public education is essential, but this year was especially needed as we experienced the worst public health crisis in generations. When it comes to public education, the city of Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma have no better friends and collaborators than the Cherokee Nation. We’ll be there with you in the good times and tough times.
Cherokee Nation has always prioritized education. We created the first public school system on the reservation in 1841 and operated 18 public schools by 1843. We carry on that tradition today. I look forward to seeing the Cherokee Nation flag on the Booker T. Washington campus for many years to come, and I am excited for the next generation of leaders coming out of Tulsa schools with a greater appreciation of the tribes that share this land.
Chuck Hoskin, Jr. is the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.
More Stories Like ThisCherokee Nation’s Delegate to Congress is 187 Years Overdue
Thanksgiving is a Tradition. It's Also a Lie
Billy Mills: A Gentle Giant
Durbin Feeling Language Center Starts a New Chapter in Cherokee Language Revitalization
Native American Heritage Month Musings
You’re reading the first draft of history.
November is Native American Heritage Month in the United States. We feel like every month — and every day — is a reason for celebrating Native Americans and our heritage. That’s what we try to do here at Native News Online, with stories each day that celebrate, inform and uplift American Indian and Alaska Native people. Over the past year or so, we have been especially busy with three important reporting projects that are having an impact across Indian Country:
- Indian Boarding Schools. We’ve reported and published more than 150 stories and special live stream video events to help shine a light on the dark era of boarding schools — and help create momentum for change.
- Native Health Desk. Launched in January, this reporting initiative was created to heighten awareness of Native American health inequities and spotlight pockets of progress in Indian Country. So far we’ve reported and published nearly 120 stories and launched a monthly health newsletter that reaches more than 23,000 readers.
- Native Bidaske. In March, we launched this live stream interview program to highlight the work of Native Americans who are making news and leading change in Indian Country. We have hosted guests from the federal government and Native rights advocates as well as Indigenous actors, comedians, journalists and models.
We hope you will join us in celebrating Native American heritage and history this November and invite you to consider the old adage that “Journalism is the first draft of history.” If you appreciate the voice Native News Online gives to Native American people, we hope you will support our work with a donation so we can build our newsroom and continue to amplify Native voices and Native perspectives.
Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked. Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10. Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.